“Your Comment Will Be Visible After Approval”

Bets, anyone? The article is at The Eagle Forum Blog (“Leading the Pro-Family Movement Since 1972″), and was posted by Phyllis Schlafly. It commented on the apparent absurdity of an atheist prayer at a Huntsville, Alabama City Council meeting.

Since I had written on this before (then, though, it was Greece NY), I knew the arguments, so I commented:

Although prayer is of course most often used in the context of praying to a god or gods, the definition does include a plea or entreaty to anyone at all who might give aid–Shakespeare, of course, even used it in its original meaning, as a synonym of “ask”.

As such, it is perfectly appropriate for an atheist to give an opening prayer or invocation, asking (entreating, pleading, praying) that the citizens and councilors gathered there remember that they are there as part of civic action, as governance, not as a religious gathering, and that their actions (according to the constitution) must not trample the rights of the minority to heed the whim of the majority.

The supreme court has held that the establishment clause must not favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion (see the “endorsement test”, as found in Justice O’Connor’s opinion in Lynch v Donnelly). The constitution is thus firmly behind American Atheists in this case; atheists are citizens as much as anyone else, may participate in civic duties as much as anyone else, and excluding them even from the opening prayer sends the message (echoed in your article here) that there is only one meaning of “prayer”, and it involves belief in a god or gods.

The atheists in this case are defending the constitution. The lawmakers in this case took an oath to protect and defend that constitution, but instead have instituted a religious test (in defiance of article VI, paragraph 3 of the constitution).

As for your last paragraph… You claim it is atheists who cannot stand to see Christians pray. We atheists see Christians pray all the time; the constitution says you are free to do so, so long as you are not acting as the representatives of the government while you do so. In truth (and in your description of the events here), it is Christians who cannot stand to see atheists pray, and who have excluded them from praying (to their fellow citizens and lawmakers, not to a god) unconstitutionally. I cannot imagine why–there are as many ways to pray as there are religions, and many more besides. The government cannot take sides, though–if one is included, all are allowed, and all must be invited, and welcome.

Hit post, and “Your comment will be visible after approval”.

Like I said… bets?

Edited to add–first… they published it! Yay! I lose the bet! Second… I honestly did not intend to not link to the post–I have fixed that now and added the link.

If A Page In Thy Science Book Offend Thee, Pluck It Out

Headline: Gilbert school board votes to rip abortion page out of textbook

“And if thy science book offend thee
Pluck it out and cast it from thee”
Matthew 5 was quite explicit; we should cut the cancer out!
If a textbook says “abortion”
In one chapter—just a portion—
We should exorcise the demon—tear the page if there’s a doubt!

Lop your hand off; squish your eye out
See, this textbook is a tryout
Will you heed the word of Jesus, and reject the things he hates?
Rip a page right from your textbook
Leave it wounded; find the next book
If the books are deemed offensive, they deserve their heathen fates!

Though the cover may say “Science”
We shall rip it, in defiance,
Cos the law imposes penalties for telling kids the truth
So we’ll tear offensive pages
And defend the rock of ages
The destruction of some lessons in protection of our youth!

The folks who actually wrote the science textbook seemed to think that a discussion about reproduction should reasonably include a sentence or two on legal means of contraception. Silly them.

GILBERT, Ariz. — The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted this week to redact a section on abortion from a science book used in a high school honors curriculum.

Because school board members know better than textbook authors what belongs in a science textbook.

“You would expect a discussion of abortion maybe to show up in actual sex-ed materials. That’s why I didn’t like abortion in a biology book that all it discusses is natural processes. There’s nothing natural about abortion,” said Daryl Colvin, acting Gilbert school board president.

The discussion in Gilbert was first brought up by a conservative Christian law organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom. According to board member Jill Humpherys, Alliance Defending Freedom had complained to GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto over the summer.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the board voted 3 to 2 to nix the abortion section of the book, citing a recently signed state law that says school lessons on reproduction must give preference to childbirth and adoption over abortion.

“These textbooks were written before the state law so the easiest, simplest, cheapest way to bring them into compliance with state law is to excise that section. It’s only a page,” Colvin said.

Not much natural about the Alliance Defending Freedom, either, but their fingerprints are all over the removal of the page.

Hey, though, for once the comments at the story are [at least mostly] thoughtful!

Americans, Get Off Your Asses And Vote

You think it’s a toss-up?
You don’t want to vote?
You think there’s no difference
Or nothing of note?
You’re thinking of sitting it out?

You don’t see a difference
That merits attention
There’s no one to vote for,
Or even to mention
You’d rather just sit home and pout?

You think it’s decided?
Then go, and be vocal,
Make waves where they’re needed
And vote in the local
Elections, for city and state

The national picture
Is one part of many;
The local and state races
Show us that any-
One’s vote could determine our fate

You want to stay silent?
You think you’re not needed?
Your view won’t be counted?
Then they have succeeded,
Convincing you, give up the fight!

The truth is, you matter
In districts and states;
Your vote makes a difference
To so many fates;
So do it…, cos, frankly, it’s right.
[Read more…]

We’re Not Excluding You—We’re Just Not Including You

You haven’t quite heard what we’re saying—we’re praying
We’d let you, but atheists really don’t pray
We call on a spiritual being, but seeing
As atheists don’t, there is nothing to say
We see your complaint as illusion; ”exclusion”
Implies that you once had a chance to be heard
You didn’t. This can’t be excluding—quit brooding! —
An atheist prayer? Why, the thought is absurd!

Are hippos “excluded” from flying? I’m trying
To think of a way that this even makes sense!
An atheist prayer? Oxymoron! Implore on—
Your huffing and puffing is all a pretense!
You’d “pray” to the people who hear you? It’s clear, you
Have no real conception of praying at all!
You’re different from us, no denying—quit trying
To claim the protection of Jefferson’s “wall”! [Read more…]