Don’t ask, don’t say “I do”…

…is over.

Cadet Chapel, the landmark Gothic church that is a center for spiritual life at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, hosted its first same-sex wedding Saturday.

Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in an afternoon ceremony, attended by about 250 guests and conducted by a senior Army chaplain.

via West Point chapel hosts its first same-sex wedding,

How to fight atheism

We don’t very often have good things to say about churches here, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. And for once, we’ve got a church that, as the San Antonio Express-News reports, finally gets it right.

Call it the battle of the billboards.

In Lexington, a church has decided to lease billboard space to respond to a recent message from an atheists’ group.

Pastor Jared Henry of Lafayette Church of the Nazarene told the Lexington Herald-Leader ( that the church has gotten “almost exclusively positive feedback” after posting its message, which says: “We believe in God. Join the right club. John 3:16.”

It came on the heels of a billboard message in September and October that said: “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.”

No death threats? No vandalism? Wow.

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FFRF files suit against IRS

The Washington Post reports that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS for selectively failing to enforce laws against political advocacy by non-profit organizations.

The lawsuit argues that the IRS is not enforcing the federal tax code, which prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering. Not enforcing it is a violation of equal protection rights because the same preferential treatment is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the lawsuit contends.

Interestingly, a number of Christian activists have been pushing for churches to deliberately violate the law in hopes of provoking just such a confrontation in court. This isn’t a bunch of unbelievers launching a mere nuisance lawsuit, this is the other side responding to taunts of “bring it on” from certain believers who want all such restrictions removed. Well, removed from believers anyway. I’m sure they see these restrictions as perfectly reasonable when applied to, say, the FRFF.

Good news from Kansas reports more good election results:

Democrat Carolyn Campbell of Topeka won a second, four-year term on the State Board of Education in Tuesday’s election in the 4th District of northeast Kansas. She defeated Republican Jack Wu of Topeka.

Jack Wu moved from California to Kansas to attend the Westboro Baptist Church, and was running for the school board on an “I hate evolution” platform. Apparently Westboro’s famous “God hates America” stand doesn’t play too well in Kansas these days.

Green car really sucks

An Indian car manufacturer hopes to sell a new air-powered car that runs cheap and has zero emissions.

The Airpod’s technology was originally created in France at Motor Development International but has since been bought buy Tata in hopes to bring it to the Indian consumer car market. With virtually zero emissions and at the cost of about a penny per kilometer, it is definitely one of the most environmentally and economically friendly vehicles in the world.

And how do you refuel it?

The tank holds about 175 liters of compressed air that can be filled at special stations or by activating the on-board electric motor to suck air in from the outside.

Yeah, the refueling method sucks (*groan*), but at a market price of only $10,000, it could sure put a crimp in the sale of all those pricey hybrids. You still need a source of electricity from somewhere, so it’s not, perhaps, totally green, but still, it’s a cool idea.

What you are, not what you aren’t

I have to say, I’m tremendously encouraged by the emergence of a new “Atheism+” movement as the logical outgrowth of the New Atheist movement. The problem with atheism (if you’ll pardon me phrasing it in those terms) is that it’s a definition based on what you’re not, or in other words on the things you don’t do. That’s a negative beacon. Sure, it draws in people who have thought things over, and rejected superstition based on reason and evidence, but it also draws in people who disbelieve in God as part of a larger pattern of antisocial attitudes, as well as people who reject religion as a way of drawing attention to themselves.

Atheism+ is a much needed refinement of the original raw idea. It’s not enough just to disbelieve in God for whatever good or bad reasons you might have. To be part of this new movement, we need to be atheists PLUS we need to be decent people committed to making life better for ourselves and those around us. And that means breaking down all the pernicious vices by which we oppress and destroy one another: superstition, patriarchy, bigotry, sexism, racism—whatever penalizes the innocent in order to profit the privileged.

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Heroes that actually deserve the name

There are relatively few people in this world today who impress me enough for me to call them heroes. But they exist. Belatedly, imperfectly, incompletely, I would like to thank them for inspiring me and encouraging me to expect more and better things.

Here, in no particular order, are some of them. Please help me fill in the names I will inevitably overlook.

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So will Christians quit using the Internet now?

This strikes me as mind-bogglingly welcome news:

Google is stepping up its activism on gay rights issues in nations with anti-homosexuality laws on the books, a company official announced Saturday as he kicked off Google’s new “Legalize Love” campaign.

The campaign will focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

Whether this is motivated by genuine humanitarianism or crass public relations, Google deserves major props for recognizing which side is the right side to be on, and for going beyond the passive approach of standing on the sidelines and nodding their heads when people talk about gay rights.

Now they just need to set up a PC recycling program for all the conservative bigots who will be throwing away their computers now that the Internet has come out.

Higgs Boson

I heard a rumor that somebody was getting ready to announce the discovery of the Higgs boson, and now I see the discovery being hailed as a done deed on CNN, so I guess they really did it. This is so cool and so awesome! It’s a bit ironic that the discovery was announced on July 4th, the American independence day, by European scientists—if it hadn’t been for penny-pinching anti-science bureaucrats in Washington, that discovery might have been made by, or in conjunction with, an American research team. But America has lost its drive to be pre-eminent in cutting-edge science, preferring instead to come up with innovative ways to mingle science and superstition in public school curricula.

But I digress, and I don’t want my curmudgeonly rant to cast a pall over this tremendous scientific discovery. Like so many in the field of advanced physics, it seems this answer only serves to raise more questions. And that’s the way science ought to work: each new discovery opens the door to making further discoveries. Yes, we have more questions, but now we know what the right questions are, and can start to work on answering them.

Of course, there’s one truly momentous question that’s on everyone’s mind right now, and I’m sure it’s one you all can’t wait to get answered…

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