THE FOCUS
centerforatheism.org
        
  
  
  
  
 
        
  

October 29, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 28
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
        
  
  
  
 
  
        
  
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Comments, suggestions and subscription:
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FEATURED ARTICLES

Don't pray for us, sing the Atheists - give us your vote

GenevaLunch (blog)

The group includes agnostics, atheists, secularists, rationalists, skeptics and those who are just plain critics of religion. We, and probably a lot of Swiss people who have never thought about humanism or atheism, are tired of the influence the ...

http://genevalunch.com/blog/2011/10/21/dont-pray-for-us-sing-the-atheists-give-us-your-vote/

Mount Soledad Cross Still Unconstitutional

Patch.com

McElroy first became involved with the case in 1989 when he was retained by the late Phillip K. Paulson, an atheist. For anyone to claim that the cross is not a religious symbol would not be very credible, McElroy said. In a lawsuit filed against the ...

http://lajolla.patch.com/articles/mt-soledad-cross-still-unconstitutional-says-u-s-9th-circuit-court-of-appeals

Atheists misquote Jefferson on OC billboard

OCRegister

By JON CASSIDY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER COSTA MESA - A group of atheists called Backyard Skeptics is planning to unveil a billboard at 1545 Newport Blvd., Wednesday afternoon with a quote from Thomas Jefferson bashing Christianity. ...

http://www.ocregister.com/news/jefferson-323913-quote-one.html

Supreme Court considers removal of crosses from public property

AHN | All Headline News

The land later was transferred to the federal government. The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, Inc. says the memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The clause requires a separation between church and state ...

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90063504?Supreme%20Court%20considers%20removal%20of%20crosses%20from%20public%20property

ATHEISM

New student group embraces free thinking

UND The Dakota Student

Founded in September by UND student Kenneth Flagg, the Freethinkers UND group is an organization that supports atheism and freethinking in the Grand Forks area. Flagg says that the goals of the Freethinkers UND are, "advertising our existence in the ...

http://www.dakotastudent.com/features/new-student-group-embraces-free-thinking-1.2659822#.TqXuE5uIk8k

Gov. Brown rejects proclamation for freethinkers group

Sacramento Bee

"You can be a Christian or Muslim or Jewish freethinker, but most are atheist," he said. "It's someone who has decided to investigate the world and find your own truth." Speakers include Fred Edwords (American Humanist Association and United Coalition ...

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/10/21/3992291/gov-brown-rejects-proclamation.html

Atheist Leader Drops Suit Against Judd

The Ledger

EllenBeth Wachs, legal coordinator for the Atheists of Florida, has dropped her federal lawsuit against Sheriff Grady Judd. By Matthew Pleasant BARTOW | EllenBeth Wachs, the legal coordinator for the Atheists of Florida, has dismissed a federal lawsuit ...

http://www.theledger.com/article/20111024/NEWS/111029620

Humanists find a home without a 'religious aspect'

The Daily Princetonian

[for some students] talking to our group is the first time they've revealed that they're atheist, he said. This is especially true for students from conservative, religious families, Schiff said, noting that the club provides a support system more ...

http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2011/10/24/29169/

Freethinkers of UTA meet every other Wednesday to debate faith, science and reason

UTA The Shorthorn

Robinson, an atheist, said she created the group because she felt there was a need for a place where people without religion could voice their thoughts. She noted how differently religion is viewed in Texas compared to her home state of Pennsylvania. ...

http://www.theshorthorn.com/index.php/news/studentlife/28222-freethinkers-of-uta-meet-every-other-wednesday-to-debate-faith-science-and-reason-

New group helps students understand atheism

University Star (blog)

The fourth meeting brought guest speaker Matt Dillahunty, host of Austin-based TV channel, The Atheist Experience, to speak in support of the Secular Student Alliance. Having a student group like this is a great thing. It's hard for people to be open ...

http://star.txstate.edu/node/4838

Atheist drops lawsuit against Judd

News Chief

Wachs is the legal coordinator for the Atheists of Florida and was in court for a hearing on a marijuana possession charge. By MATTHEW PLEASANT BARTOW - EllenBeth Wachs, the legal coordinator for the Atheists of Florida, has dropped her federal lawsuit ...

http://www.newschief.com/article/20111025/NEWS/110255001

Whoops! OC Atheists' Anti-Christian Billboard Misquotes Jefferson

LAist

Atheists in Orange County who have been on a billboard crusade to spread their message forgot to do some research before they unveiled their latest sign. The latest billboard features Thomas Jefferson's mug and the quote "I do not find in Christianity ...

http://laist.com/2011/10/26/whoops_oc_atheists_anti-christian_b.php

Atheist drops lawsuit against Fla. sheriff

MiamiHerald.com

The leader of a central Florida atheist group has dropped a lawsuit that accused a county sheriff of harassing her. The Ledger of Lakeland ( http://bit.ly/t1hXRa) reports that EllenBeth Wachs has dropped her federal suit against Polk County Sheriff ...

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/26/2472228/atheist-drops-lawsuit-against.html

Reno Coalition of Reason launches atheist billboard campaign

God Discussion

"The point of our ongoing nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Such non-theists sometimes ...

http://www.goddiscussion.com/83570/reno-coalition-of-reason-launches-atheist-billboard-campaign/

Atheist group misquotes Thomas Jefferson on billboard

abc7.com

(KABC) -- An atheist group put up a billboard that's kicking up controversy in Costa Mesa. The billboard sits near Newport Boulevard and says, "I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature. It is founded on fables and mythology. ...

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/orange_county&id=8408874

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE

'What do you do when all of your dreams have come true?'

Irish Times

His comedy certainly pulls no punches, with bountiful songs about his firm stance onatheism, the absurdity of alternative medicine and cleverly inverted takes on political correctness. Like his rise to fame here, his popularity in the US is building ...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/theticket/2011/1021/1224306152616.html

Richard Dawkins: 'Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist ...

The Guardian

In the latest in John Harris's National Conversations series of interviews, Richard Dawkins is invited to defend his atheism. What about the comfort, community, and moral education offered by religion

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2011/oct/24/richard-dawkins-video-interview?newsfeed=true

Religion rarely mentioned in Dawkins' book

The Varsity News

The British author, and former Oxford professor, is also one of the most well-known atheists for having written "The God Delusion" in 2006, which has helped add clout to the current New Atheist movement. Whether or not you agree with his ideals, ...

http://www.thevarsitynews.net/religion-rarely-mentioned-in-dawkins-book-1.2665646#.Tqtk-XKZauI

Atheists Treated Unequally in US Military

YouTube

And one man is pleading for atheist chaplains to be accepted, so that those without a religious background can get the same services, as everyone else. Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers explains. ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDWCf05x3io&noredirect=1

Penn Jillette's 10 Commandments for atheists

Washington Post (blog)

atheist magician Penn Jillette tells how he was challenged by conservative radio host Glenn Beck to come up with an atheist's version of The Ten Commandments. I wanted to see how many of the ideas that many people think are handed down from (G)od ...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/penn-jillettes-10-commandments-for-atheists/2011/10/27/gIQATjluMM_story.html

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D.

'Ban teaching creationism in schools'

Independent Online

Those behind the call for evolution not creationism say teaching that God created the world is dangerous and must be prevented by law. Drives by creationist groups at schools mean there is a sense of urgency, they add. Evolution - the idea that we ...

http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/family/kids/ban-teaching-creationism-in-schools-1.1163745

SCIENCE

How the Milky Way Killed Off Nearby Galaxies

ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2011) Two researchers from Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg have revealed for the first time the existence of a new signature of the birth of the first stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. More than 12 billion years ago, the intense ultraviolet light from these stars dispersed the gas of our Galaxy's nearest companions, virtually putting a halt to their ability to form stars and consigning them to a dim future. Now Pierre Ocvirk and Dominique Aubert, members of the Light in the Dark Ages of the Universe (LIDAU) collaboration, have explained why some galaxies were killed off, while stars continued to form in more distant objects...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018092155.htm

Forgetting Is Part of Remembering

ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2011) It's time for forgetting to get some respect, says Ben Storm, author of a new article on memory in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "We need to rethink how we're talking about forgetting and realize that under some conditions it actually does play an important role in the function of memory," says Storm, who is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018111938.htm

Men Win Humor Test (by a Hair)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2011) Men are funnier than women, but only just barely and mostly to other men. So says a psychology study from the University of California, San Diego Division of Social Sciences...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111019173314.htm

Newly Discovered Reservoir of Antibiotic Resistance Genes

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) Waters polluted by the ordure of pigs, poultry, or cattle represent a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes, both known and potentially novel. These resistance genes can be spread among different bacterial species by bacteriophage, bacteria-infecting viruses, according to a paper in the October Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020164020.htm

Nearby Planet-Forming Disk Holds Water for Thousands of Oceans

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) For the first time, astronomers have detected around a burgeoning solar system a sprawling cloud of water vapor that's cold enough to form comets, which could eventually deliver oceans to dry planets...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020171448.htm

Astronomers Explain Blue Stragglers: How Do Mysterious Stars Stay So Young?

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) Mysterious "blue stragglers" are old stars that appear younger than they should be: they burn hot and blue. Several theories have attempted to explain why they don't show their age, but, until now, scientists have lacked the crucial observations with which to test each hypothesis...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020024437.htm

Cooling the Warming Debate: Major New Analysis Confirms That Global Warming Is Real

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) Global warming is real, according to a major study released Oct. 20. Despite issues raised by climate change skeptics, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study finds reliable evidence of a rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 18C since the mid-1950s...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021144716.htm

Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Add a Decade or More Healthy Years to the Average Lifespan, Canadian Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) Health prevention strategies to help Canadians achieve their optimal health potential could add a decade or more of healthy years to the average lifespan and save the economy billions of dollars as a result of reduced cardiovascular disease, says noted cardiologist Dr. Clyde Yancy...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021074730.htm

Brain Scans Support Findings That IQ Can Rise or Fall Significantly During Adolescence

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) IQ, the standard measure of intelligence, can increase or fall significantly during our teenage years, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust, and these changes are associated with changes to the structure of our brains. The findings may have implications for testing and streaming of children during their school years...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020024329.htm

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE

Atheists claim credit for Big Mountain Jesus' denial

The Missoulian

WHITEFISH - A national atheist organization took credit Thursday for persuading the US Forest Service to deny a special use permit that for decades has allowed a statue of Jesus Christ to occupy a bite of public land on Big Mountain. ...

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_d33766a2-fb8b-11e0-90f9-001cc4c002e0.html

School keeps cross at front door

Jamaica Plain Gazette

... school that is in the sticky situation of operating out of a church building still has a Christian cross next to its front door, despite warnings from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that it might violate separation of Church and State. ..

http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2011/10/21/school-keeps-cross-at-front-door/

USFS Wants Public Comment Before Controversial Statue Decision

NBC Montana

The government had decided to pull the statue after a group from Wisconsin complained it violated the First Amendment's guarantee of separation of church and state. Now the Forest Service says it's discovered the statue has local historical ...

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/29555191/detail.html

Florida principal touts school prayer event, irking secularists

Los Angeles Times

The newsletter alarmed the Freedom from Religion Foundation -- the Wisconsin-based national organization of "atheists, agnostics and skeptics of any pedigree" -- who have called the memo item an "unusually egregious violation of state/church separation ...

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/florida_school_prayer.html

Historical status could save Big Mountain Jesus statue from removal

The Missoulian

After Weber's decision to deny renewal of the special use permit - a decision due in part to pressure from a national atheist organization that threatened litigation - an archaeologist with the Flathead National Forest paid a visit to the Jesus statue. ...

http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_e22c53d6-fc56-11e0-995f-001cc4c03286.html

Attorney: Chesterfield schools counseled on church-state separation; Christian ...

The Republic

SUSANNE M. SCHAFER AP COLUMBIA, SC Leaders of a South Carolina school district where a Christian-themed rally was held at a middle school were counseled about the First Amendment'sseparation of church and state, said an attorney who met with them. ...

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/354bb06905214167a3466a38e684adbc/SC--School-Religious-Rally/

Forest Service Reverses Decision To Remove Jesus Statue From Public Land

NBC Montana

Just like the Big Mountain statue, all were fought over the separation of church and state. "We cannot seed federal property to the Knights of Columbus to put up a huge, proselytizing statue, said Co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor The only way to keep ...

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/29557739/detail.html

Is God coming back to public schools?

UPI.com

At issue in the case is whether government can ban worship services from school property to enforce the constitutional separation of church and state or whether the First Amendment's guarantee protects religious worship like any other type of ...

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/10/23/Under-the-US-Supreme-Court-Is-God-coming-back-to-public-schools/UPI-93511319355000/?spt=hs&or=tn

Indiana judge blocks land sale to Catholic school

Louisville Courier-Journal

Miller concluded that the process violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the separation of church and state. City Attorney Chuck Leone said Thursday the city plans to speak to the plaintiffs in ...

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20111023/NEWS01/310230057/1001/Indiana-judge-blocks-land-sale-Catholic-school?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Home|s

Clay County flagpole prayer draws big crowd after controversy

Florida Times-Union

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a secular rights group, said Principal Larry Davis' promotion of the event violates the separation of church and state. The group doesn't believe Baker should even be allowed on Clay Hill campus. ...

http://jacksonville.com/community/clay/2011-10-24/story/big-crowd-attends-mondays-prayer-circle-clay-hill-elementary

Proposed aid for Washington National Cathedral draws criticism

Los Angeles Times

But Joseph L. Conn, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, blogged on the organization's website, "Asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab sets a very bad precedent and jeopardizes a critically important ...

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/political-aftershocks-over-bid-for-disaster-aid-for-washington-national-cathedral-.html

Mount Soledad cross won't go anywhere pending appeal

SignOnSanDiego.com

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order Tuesday delaying the effect of its ruling from January, which said the cross violated the constitutional separation between church and state. The court said Tuesday that the ruling would not become ...

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/oct/25/cross-wont-go-anywhere-pending-appeal/

Hospital merger stance softens

Louisville Courier-Journal

Ayesha Khan, legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said she thinks the latest wording about the directives may be an attempt Ïto make this (merger) more politically palatableÓ and perhaps strengthen UniversityÌs hand ...

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/2011310250010

School district reverses course, will allow 'Bible' on permission slip

Deseret News

Conflicts still flare up along the border between freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. In March, a San Diego student filed a lawsuit against his California high school for banning him from bringing his Bible to school, ...

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700191325/School-district-reverses-course-will-allow-Bible-on-permission-slip.html

Headscarf ban ruled out for school mums

The Local

The French ban derives from its strict separation of church and state, enshrined in a 1905 law. As far back as 1937, the education minister of the day instructed head teachers to keep all religious signs out of their establishments. ...

http://www.thelocal.fr/1561/20111025/#

Group complains about Brooks' pregame prayers

Times Daily

I am simply taking a stand for the Establishment Clause and the separation of church and state in an effort to protect the constitutional rights of the nonreligious, he said. It is illegal for any public school to organize, sponsor or lead prayer at ...

http://www.timesdaily.com/stories/Group-complains-about-Brooks-pregame-prayers,183602

Big Mountain statue draws heated debate

Flathead Publishing Group

A Wisconsin-based atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, claimed credit last week for persuading the Forest Service to deny the permit. "The Knights of Columbus and its backers claim the Jesus statue memorializes World War II veterans ...

http://www.flatheadnewsgroup.com/hungryhorsenews/article_0361944c-fff6-11e0-b963-001cc4c002e0.html

Texas DMV considering 'One State Under God' license plates

The American Independent

But Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, told the Texas Independent that if the government is producing the plate even if it's just an option it shouldn't be promoting religion at all. ...

http://www.americanindependent.com/200896/texas-dmv-considering-one-state-under-god-license-plates

Petoskey School Board meeting draws crowd over religious based group

Petoskey News-Review

Ling said that when Young Life first approached the board about coming into Petoskey schools, she was told all students would be approached equally, no matter what their faith, and that the group would respect the separation of church and state. ...

http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/featured/pnr-petoskey-school-board-meeting-draws-crowd-over-religious-based-group-20111026,0,3061049.story

Jackson County School District's pre-game prayers underfire by

Mississippi Press (blog)

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's bylaws, its purpose is to promote the separation of church and state and to educate the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism and non-theism. The foundation publishes the newspaper ...

http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-news/2011/10/jackson_county_school_district_2.html

Atheist group accuses Alabama school district of violating the law - by saying ...

Daily Mail

By Daily Mail Reporter An Alabama school district has been accused of breaking the law by allowing prayers to be said before football games. The Freedom From Religion Foundation said allowing the Lauderdale County school district to invoke Jesus Christ ...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2054434/Atheist-group-accuses-Lauderdale-County-School-District-violating-law--saying-prayers-football-games.html

Atheist chaplains need to be available in the military, says Military ...

God Discussion

Non-believers are the second largest conscience demographic in the United States military, says Jason Torpy, President of the Military Associations of Atheists and Freethinkers. Torpy was interviewed by Alyona on her program aired by Russia Today, ...

http://www.goddiscussion.com/83593/atheist-chaplains-need-to-be-available-in-the-military-says-military-association-of-atheists-and-freethinkers-atheists-are-2nd-largest-group-overt-displays-of-christianity-endangering-troops/

Church Or Jail Crime Intervention Initiative Still On Hold

WKRG-TV

... Baldwin County churches have signed up for the program, but several civil rights groups have threatened legal action against Bay Minette...calling the church or jail program unconstitutional...and a violation of separation of church and state. ...

http://www2.wkrg.com/news/2011/oct/27/church-or-jail-crime-intervention-initiative-still-ar-2617706/

Court battle begins over ballot measure

The News-Press

There was also disagreement over whether the ballot summary explained that the proposal may violate the US Constitution's "free exercise" and "establishment" clauses that deal with the separation of church and state and protections of religious ...

http://www.news-press.com/article/20111027/NEWS0120/111027043/0/GREEN/Court-battle-begins-over-ballot-measure?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Forsyth files petition to take prayer case to the U.S. Supreme Court

Winston-Salem Journal

The objecting plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of NC and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The Allied Defense Fund took the case for the county, and the issue went to federal district court. ...

http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2011/oct/27/8/county-files-petition-to-take-prayer-case-to-the-u-ar-1546289/

Whitefish Local Speaks Out Against Religious Statue On Public Land

NBC Montana

A Flathead statue that's become part of the national debate over the separation of church and state debate has one Whitefish man speaking out against it. Ian Cameron heads a local group called the Flathead Area Secular Society. ...

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/29608323/detail.html

Petoskey to review outside groups' access to students

Michigan Education Report

Board President Mary Ling said there were concerns about the issue of separation of church and state, the News-Review reported, and at least one parent expressed concern at the meeting about the organization having access to her child during school ...

http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?id=15929

MISCELLANEOUS

American Cancer Society Refused Atheist Donation..And Now Accepts It

iNEWP- Freedom of Speech

Recently, the American Cancer Society released a statement on their Facebook page regarding their controversial, but at the time relatively unknown, rejection of an atheist $500000 donation made by Todd Stiefel's Stiefel Freethought Foundation and ...

http://inewp.com/?p=9405

Atheist Donation Declined by American Cancer Society

Gather.com

An atheist backed donation to the American Cancer Society was declined recently, sparking quite an uproar. Thankfully this uproar got the attention of the offending cancer society, and they (graciously?) re-accepted the donations. ...

http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474980642220


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