No, Easter is Not Based on Ishtar

Leading up to Easter last weekend I saw a whole lot of people on my Facebook friends list sharing a meme saying that Easter “was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex.” It was posted by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science on their Facebook page and then shared almost 200,000 times. There’s just one problem: It simply isn’t true.
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Even Atheists Distrust Atheists?

Hemant calls attention to a new study from Will Gervais, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky who has focused much of his scholarly attention to atheism and atheists. That study finds that people will jump at the chance to view a bad person as an atheist even in the absence of any evidence of that — and that atheists do it too! The abstract:
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Saudi Arabia Equates Atheism and Terrorism

Saudi Arabia, whose ruling family includes some princes who support and fund terrorism around the world, has passed a new anti-terrorism policy that defines atheism itself, along with nearly all dissent from that country’s leadership, as terrorism. The new definition of terrorism includes:
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Atheists, Please Stop Saying These Things

Tuesday night I participated in a panel discussion at Grand Valley State University with six other atheists (three students, three professors and me). Someone brought up something that is often said to atheists by Christians, that they really do believe in God even if they claim not to (“in their heart of hearts” in the often annoying phrase). I pointed out that this was offensive and patronizing.
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Guest Post: Forced Baptisms and Other Misadventures in Public Communication

This is a guest post by my friend Dan Linford about a rather unfortunate situation that took place last week after he appeared on HuffPo Live. Dan is, in my opinion, one of the most thoughtful voices in atheism and deserves much more attention and I’m happy to give him this platform to clear the air.
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Why Sagan Matters

As the reboot of the famous Cosmos TV show is set to begin, with Neil deGrasse Tyson at the helm, original host Carl Sagan is the subject of a great deal of discussion. Kimberly Winston at the Washington Post looks at Sagan’s enormous influence in the atheist, skeptic and humanist community and quotes a lot of people I’m happy to consider friends.
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Help Keep Reason Fest Free

April 4-5 I’ll be speaking at Reason Fest in Lawrence, Kansas, an event that is free for attendees. They’re about $1500 short of the entire budget needed to keep it free, so if you have a few extra bucks please toss some their way. And if you’re anywhere near there, you should come. I’m going to be doing some stand up comedy on Friday night, then giving a talk on Saturday. Darrell Ray, Dan Barker and many other great people will also be speaking. It’s gonna be a blast.

School Blackmails Parent Over SSA Club

The story of the SSA club at Pigsah High School in North Carolina just gets worse by the day. First they refused to let the club form, then they approved it, then the young lady who was trying to get it started withdrew due to death threats and intimidation. Hemant reports on what else the school did to scuttle the club:
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Is America on Verge of Secular Tipping Point?

We’re all familiar with the survey data that shows that more Americans are secular-minded (not necessarily atheist) than ever before. But Peter Foster writes in the Telegraph that the trend toward secularization may be going faster than we think and that we may be on the verge of a major shift akin to what has happened with support for same-sex marriage.
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NC School Tries to Block SSA Club

Here’s yet another example of a clueless school administration that doesn’t know the law and wants to prevent students from forming a secular club, this time in Waynesville, North Carolina. The assistant principal is refusing to let a student form an SSA club, in direct contravention of well-established law.
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