A major atheist group unveiled its own nonreligious holiday monument at Florida's capitol building in response to the recent installment of a nativity scene.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is hanging a secular banner at the state's capitol building in Tallahassee. The banner is reportedly a spoof on the classic nativity scene of Jesus in the manger. Instead of Jesus, there is a Bill of Rights laid in a manger with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Statue of Liberty gazing admiringly at the slip of paper. The banner reads in part: "Let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion without having freedom FROM religion in government."
The banner is being hung in response to a nativity scene recently erected at the state's capitol building by the private Florida Nativity Scene Committee. The Capitol building is open to any group that wants to put up a display for the holidays, as long as they are first approved by the Department of Management Services. Another group has already put up a giant menorah to recognize the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The displays are all privately funded, and they include a disclaimer nearby that asserts the state's government does not support any one religion. more >>
A town in Kansas has installed "prayer phone booths" throughout its city to encourage residents to take time to kneel and pray throughout their day. The booths come equipped with a lowering kneel bar and instructions so passerby may use the device properly, and one local media outlet has noted that the booths' presence in inner city areas is proportional to the decrease in crime rate.
Citizens of Kansas City reportedly lobbied city council for the "prayer booths" to be placed around the city on public park space as "public service monuments of arts and counseling to the people of Kansas City." Since their installment a couple months ago, the prayer booths have reportedly been used 100,000 times per week. According to Topeka News, some of the booths were installed in inner city areas with high crime rates several years ago, and city data confirms that crime has reportedly reduced in those areas in a proportionate manner to the number of people using the prayer booths.
"It is therapeutic, that is how we lobbied them through city council," local pastor Reverend Miles Collier told Topeka News in a recent interview. "We said these prayer booths are not just for Christians, but for any person to take a break to close their eyes, ask out loud for what they need in life and just take a break from it all. It is like having a free counseling session." more >>
A bill has been proposed in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly that would crack down on a practice known as "revenge porn."
Revenge porn is commonly understood to be the posting of nude or pornographic images of a person without their knowledge or consent in order to humiliate them. The action is typically done as a form of vengence against a former spouse or partner.
House Bill 49 was pre-filed Tuesday and set to be offered in January before the House of Delegates. If enacted, it will make "revenge porn" a Class 1 Misdemeanor. more >>
For as long as anyone can remember, teachers at Brooklet Elementary School have posted Christmas cards in the hallways outside their classrooms – until Monday.
When boys and girls returned from Thanksgiving break, they discovered that their teachers' Christmas cards had been removed – under orders from the Georgia school's administration.
Robb Kicklighter's wife is a third grade teacher at the school. He said many teachers are disgruntled by the school's decision to confiscate the Christmas cards. more >>
A federal lawsuit accusing a Kansas public school of violating a student's First Amendment rights was filed last month by the Alliance Defending Freedom organization after the student was prohibited from distributing fliers with biblical verses throughout the school.
According to ADF, a legal organization that advocates for Christian rights, a seventh grader at Robert E. Clark Middle School in Bonner Springs, Kan., posted the fliers to announce the school's upcoming "See You at the Pole" day, an event when students across the country gather around their school's flagpole before the beginning of classes to pray for the school, students, staff and the nation.
"Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas," said Matt Sharp, a legal counsel for ADF, in a statement. "The law on this is extremely clear: school policies cannot target religious speech for exclusion. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs." more >>
As we sat down and enjoyed our traditional Thanksgiving meals, many of us remembered the Pilgrims' quest for religious liberty. We considered how they came to this new country at great sacrifice, seeking the freedom to practice their religion.
But this noble quest is not just part of our history. The freedom to live according to faith is still being pursued today.
This quest is reflected in recent legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which forces Christian employers to supply insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or face enormous and business-killing fines and penalties. Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear and resolve this vitally important issue. more >>