THE   FOCUS

May 1, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 18
Published by the Center For Atheism (CFA)
Editor: David Birnkrant
 
The Focus provides links to articles collected from major newspapers and magazines, and is emailed weekly.

This Week in Atheism is a cable show that discusses the articles featured below, every Wednesday at 6:30 PM (EST), Manhattan Cable station 57. 
Live streaming is available at: 
http://www.mnn.org.

Comments, suggestions and subscription:
info@centerforatheism.org.

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                                 MAY 7, 2009 (THURSDAY)


                         (SPECIAL NOTICES - BOTTOM OF PAGE)-                                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FEATURED ARTICLES

Gay marriage bill passed by Senate
The Union Leader - Manchester,NH,USA
This country was not founded on God or religion, we have separation of church and state, and yet the only arguments against gay marriage are that of the ...
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Gay+marriage+bill+passed+by+Senate&articleId=12eb3305-7bf0-4818-9961-30e2118d94bd

Proposed 'Christian' License Plates in Florida May Spark Lawsuit
Common Dreams (press release) - Portland,ME,USA
WASHINGTON - April 27 - Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged the Florida Senate to reject a bill creating two "Christian" license ...
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/04/27-2

Jesus Missing From Obama's Georgetown Speech
By JIM IOVINO - Updated 4:04 AM EDT, Fri, Apr 17, 2009
Amidst all of the American flags and presidential seals, there was something missing when President Barack Obama gave an economic speech at Georgetown University this week -- Jesus...
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jesus-Missing-From-Obamas-Georgetown-Speech.html

Beyond belief
Boston Globe - United States
While only 1.6 percent of respondents declared themselves agnostic or atheist outright, more than 12 percent said they don't believe in God or aren't sure. ...
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/04/26/beyond_belief/

Graduation Ceremonies In a Church?
ABC News - USA
A lawsuit filed last week by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of nine students and parents in the Elmbrook, Wisc., ...
http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=7450933&page=1

ATHEISM

Atheist Berlin to decide on religion's place in its schools
guardian.co.uk - UK
Only 36% of people profess to having a religious allegiance in Berlin, often described as the "atheist capital of Europe". So a referendum today on whether ...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/26/berlin-germany-religious-education-ethics

Atheists target UK schools
Telegraph.co.uk - United Kingdom
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) plans to launch a ...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/5219687/Atheists-target-UK-schools.html

More Atheists Are Shouting It From Rooftops
New York Times - United States
... an opponent of intelligent design, the idea that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them. ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/us/27atheist.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

Atheists campaign by bus in Indiana
Indiana Daily Student - USA
As this rise in non-believers continues, there has been a growing movement to remove the stigma from both atheism abroad and in Bloomington. ...
http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=67967

Atheist group has foothold in S. Carolina
United Press International - USA
CHARLESTON, SC, April 28 (UPI) -- Atheists and agnostics in South Carolina say they have met a friendlier reception than they expected in the heart of the ..
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/28/Atheist-group-has-foothold-in-S-Carolina/UPI-10401240894766/

Summertime camps boom: The 'Godless alternative' for non-believers
Independent - London,England,UK
The organisers remain adamant, however, that the camp will not have a proselytising "atheist agenda". "We don't teach children not to believe in God, ...
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/summertime-camps-boom-the-godless-alternative-for-nonbelievers-1675815.html

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE

Leaving the Fold
New York Times - United States
His explication of religion's capacity for evil is far subtler than the simplistic atheist line that “religions cause wars,” but he doesn't seem to know it. ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Oppenheimer-t.html?em

The virtue of uncertainty
New Zealand Herald - New Zealand
They are just as evangelical, they're out to persuade you and evangelise about atheism. I find that a bit manipulative. I don't mind someone making a case ...
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10568883

Seattle comic tells jokes for atheists
Seattle Post Intelligencer - USA
Despite the taboo on the subject, he regularly identified himself as an atheist both on stage and online, where he's a member of atheistnexus and an East ...
http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/archives/167651.asp

Rapper Greydon Square Is an Atheist Icon
Phoenix New Times - Phoenix,AZ,USA
Internationally — and this ASU student you've probably never heard of has an international fan base — he's known chiefly as "that atheist rapper. ...
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2009-04-30/music/rapper-greydon-square-is-an-atheist-icon/

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D.

Evolution classes optional under proposed Alberta law
CBC.ca - Toronto,Ontario,Canada
(CBC) A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and ...
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/04/30/cgy-bill-evolution-law-alberta-classes-teachers.html

1st edition of Darwin's landmark book up for sale
The Associated Press
The 1859 work established Charles Darwin's international reputation and built the backbone of the theory of evolution. Keys says the book is one of 1250 ...
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gsITd4H0ln_trwdYQ56MlXFDmaKAD97SMPSG0

High School Teachers Influence Student Views Of Evolution ...
Science Daily (press release) - USA
ScienceDaily (May 1, 2009) — College students' views about evolution and creationism are often shaped by what they learned in their high school biology ...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501123336.htm

SCIENCE

Astronomers Discover Youngest And Lowest Mass Dwarfs In Solar Neighborhood
ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) — Astronomers have found three brown dwarfs with estimated masses of less than 10 times that of Jupiter, making them among the youngest and lowest mass sub-stellar objects detected in the solar neighbourhood to date...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085801.htm

Herbal Remedy: Teens Often Use Cannabis For Relief, Not Recreation, Study Finds
ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) — When legal therapies let them down, some teens turn to cannabis. A new study, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy suggests that around a third of teens who smoke cannabis on a regular basis use it as a medication, rather than as a means of getting high...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422191724.htm

'Pillars Of Creation' -- Giant Star-forming Structure -- Formed In The Shadows
ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) — Research by astronomers at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies suggests that shadows hold the key to how giant star-forming structures like the famous “Pillars of Creation” take shape...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422191747.htm

Dusty Galaxies From Early Universe In Throes Of Intense Burst Of Star Formation
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — An international team of astronomers, undertaking a survey with a new submillimetre camera, have discovered more than a hundred dusty galaxies in the early Universe, each of which is in the throes of an intense burst of star formation. One of these galaxies is an example of a rare class of starburst, seen just one billion years after the Big Bang...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085832.htm

Positive Body Image More Effective Than Exercise In Helping Young Women Lose Weight, Quit Smoking
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — One in five women between the ages of 18 and 24 are smokers, and most say they keep lighting up for fear of gaining weight. But researchers at Temple University have found that when it comes to quitting, a little bit of dialogue and support can be more effective than an exercise plan in helping women not only keep off the weight, but also stay smoke-free...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090424122623.htm

Charged Dust From Inside Saturn's Moon Enceladus
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — A team of planetary scientists working on the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission has discovered tiny, charged icy particles in the plume from Saturn’s moon Enceladus that offer a tantalising glimpse of the interior of this enigmatic world...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085841.htm

How Cigarettes Calm You Down
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — The calming neurological effects of nicotine have been demonstrated in a group of non-smokers during anger provocation. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions suggest that nicotine may alter the activity of brain areas that are involved in the inhibition of negative emotions such as anger...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423193946.htm

Peanut-shaped Stellar Explosion Spotted By Hubble
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — Using the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope (HST), an international team of astronomers have taken the first optical images of a dramatic stellar outburst and discovered a peanut-shaped bubble expanding rapidly into space...
http://www.sciencedailycom/releases/2009/04/090422085837.htm

The Price Of Pain And The Value Of Suffering
ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2009) — During these trying financial times, the cost of healthcare and how much we are willing to pay for it is at the top of our economic concerns. The financial value of pain has a wide ranging influence, affecting drug prices and injury compensation. But what about on an individual level — is it possible to place a value on our health, to prevent pain and suffering...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422175334.htm

Most Distant Detection Of Water In The Universe
ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2009) — Astronomers have found the most distant signs of water in the Universe to date. The water vapour is thought to be contained in a jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy, named MG J0414+0534...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085756.htm

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE

Lawsuit won't stop high school graduations at church
New Richmond News - New Richmond,WI,USA
The Americans United for Separation of Church and State carried out their promise to go to court Wednesday. They sued the Elmbrook School District in ...
http://www.newrichmond-news.com/articles/index.cfm?id=33978&section=Wisconsin%20News&property_id=9

Panel: No to marriage, 'bathroom' bills
The Union Leader - Manchester,NH,USA
Go try to find the words "separation of church and state." It can't be found in the document. It comes from a personal letter of Thomas Jefferson. ...
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Panel%3A+No+to+marriage%2C+%27bathroom%27+bills&articleId=2b76a5a3-646f-41b3-881b-1967d07ae1cf

Gays could wed today, but rights don't follow out of state
DesMoinesRegister.com - Des Moines,IA,USA
Neary's decision also prompted a legal challenge from a group that included Republican state lawmakers, King, and the Church of Christ of Le Mars. ..
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090427/NEWS/904270320/-1/ENT06

Marriage Equality Bill Advances In Legislative Process
MPBN News - Portland,ME,USA
For me, it's really about the separation of church and state. And perhaps more importantly for the state, that we make sure that it doles out rights ...
http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNews/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/1858/ItemId/10283/Default.aspx

Group sues to stop graduation ceremony at Elmbrook Church
Brookfield Elm Grove Now - Waukesha,WI,USA
Advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit April 22 in federal court in Milwaukee to stop Elmbrook School District ...
http://www.brookfieldnow.com/news/43894287.html

Injunction filed against schools
Marquette Tribune - Milwaukee,WI,USA
The Americans United for Separation of Church and State argues that holding a public school graduation ceremony in a church violates the First Amendment. ...
http://media.www.marquettetribune.org/media/storage/paper1130/news/2009/04/30/News/Injunction.Filed.Against.Schools-3731221.shtml

Exiting justice had dry wit, avoided DC social whirl
USA Today - USA
He was a vigorous voice in favor of the separation of church and state. In 2005, he wrote the 5-4 court opinion striking down the posting of the 10 ...
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/supremecourtjustices/2009-05-01-souter-profile_N.htm

Souter appears set to leave high court
Boston Globe - United States
... as a crucial defender of abortion rights and the separation of church and state, is retiring from the high court, according to news reports last night. ...
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/05/01/souter_appears_set_to_leave_high_court/?page=2

Crist and Christ Latest Florida Issue
North Country Gazette - Chestertown,NY,USA
... their faith is protected by separation of church and state and whose faith is strong enough not to need state sponsorship of their religious beliefs.”
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2009/04/30/jesus_license/

MISCELLANEOUS

Survey: Half of US adults have switched religions
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life - Washington,DC,USA
... with any religion, most are former Protestants and Catholics who say they didn't quit in a huff or get lured away by science or by atheist philosophy. ...
http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=17984

Survey: Americans switch faiths early, often
The Associated Press
Only 4 percent identify as atheist or agnostic, and one-third say they just haven't found the right religion. "A lot of the unaffiliated seem to be OK with ...
http://www.googlecom/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jEiajReGL1ZXmt95rUtU3NTIZlFwD97QU26G2

Ten Tips for Christian Evangelists (Courtesy of Atheists)
friendlyatheist.com
SarahH began this list on the Friendly Atheist Forums and many others have contributed to it.  It’s a list of the Top Ten Tips for Christian Evangelists. The purpose is not to make the conversion of atheists easier. Rather, it’s to make the Christians who do this sort of thing more tolerable (since we have to deal with them on a regular basis)...
http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/04/22/ten-tips-for-christian-evangelists-courtesy-of-atheists/

Church goers more likely to back torture.
The Young Turks - Los Angeles,CA,USA
We don't tend to hear much about fundamentalist atheism because there really aren't very many of them out there. I know plenty of sane Christians who are ...
http://www.theyoungturks.com/story/2009/5/1/05025/64439/Diary/Church-goers-more-likely-to-back-torture-



=============================================
        CFA Program
 
The Center for Atheism (CFA) was established by the New York City Atheists as a separate and independent national organization to propose, develop, and be a catalyst for new national activities supporting the objectives of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, secularists and separation-of-church-and-state advocates. 

CFA will accept and review suggestions from individuals and other secular organizations that will foster our goals.
 
 
          Special Notices

Atheists to Counter ‘National Day of Prayer' with Blood Donations Lifesaving Action, Not Passive Prayer, Is the Message

What do you do on May 7, 2009, the “National Day of Prayer,” if you are an atheist, do not believe in prayer and are opposed to the observance of a prayer day being imposed on all American citizens?

While Believers are praying on May 7th (an act that has been scientifically proven to be ineffective), groups of atheists will go to Blood Banks in scores of U.S. locales to donate their blood and sign up for organ donation programs. It is a nationwide action which we hope will point out that there are alternatives to silently beseeching a deity to perform miracles.

"While religious people are on their knees, we atheists will be on our feet, giving a part of ourselves for the benefit of humanity. We Atheists know that prayer does not work--but  medical science does."

"We want to make a public statement about how nonreligious people can observe the so-called National Day of Prayer, which we have renamed Gift to Life Day,". "At the same time, we want to let America know that there are millions of us who know that praying is nothing more than talking to yourself. So on that day, we atheists will be engaging in action that we can prove scientifically has real-life impact on our fellow citizens."

If you want to start a Gift of Life Day in your locale, it’s simple. Here’s what you do:

        1) Find your local blood bank by accessing www.americasblood.org or         
            http://www.givelife.org, then type in your zip code to find your local          
            blood bank.

        2) Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation.

            (You will find them amazingly supportive and accommodating.)

        3) Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is

            doing this and why. It’s important to alert them long before the event.

It's simple, it's positive, it's effective. Come on, Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Secularists, Nonbelievers, Separation of Church and State advocates, join us in our humanitarian protest against the Day of Prayer! Show the world that while religious people are on their knees, Atheists are on their feet giving of themselves to humanity.

 

 

 
 
 
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