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Atheist Media Events: Kentucky Ourtrage in ARCW

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/aamedia.htm#kagin

C-SPAN to Air Segments of American Atheists National Convention Saturday July 14

Portions of the 33rd annual National Convention of American Atheists held earlier this year in Seattle, Washington will be aired on the C-SPAN network program “American Perspectives” at 8:00 PM ET on Saturday, July 14.

You can watch via television or the Internet.

AACON XXXIII featured a blockbuster line-up of speakers including Julia Sweeney, Robert Price, Edwin Kagin, Frank Zindler, Dave Fitzgerald and many more.

WHAT: Portions of the 33rd National Convention of American Atheists on C-SPAN

WHEN: Tonight (Wednesday, July 11, 2007) and Saturday (July 14, 2007) at 8:00 PM ET. Check your local listings

WHERE: C-SPAN network or internet feed at c-span.org.

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Edwin Kagin Live on GAYBC Radio, Internet Thursday July 12, 2007 ~ 3:15 PT

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists, will be the guest Thursday, July 12, 2007 on the GAYBC Radio Network out of Los Angeles.

Mr. Kagin, co-founder of Camp Quest will be interviewed on the John McMullen Show. Edwin will be talking about Atheism, separation of church and state in an era of rampant religious fundamentalism, the recent RALLY FOR REASON at the Creation Museum, and more. You can call in to the program via 818-746-3985, or instant message during the program through AOL via GAYBCstudio.

The John McMullen program is broadcast globally daily from 3-6 PM (PACIFIC), 6-9 PM (EASTERN), so check your time zone. Mr. Kagin’s interview segment will begin at 3:15 PM Pacific Time You can live stream the program by clicking on the appropriate icon at www.gaybc.com.

WHO & WHAT: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists on the John McMullen Show

WHEN: Thursday, July 12, 2007, 3:15 Pacific (6:15 Eastern)

WHERE: Internet stream at www.gaybc.com

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http://news.kypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070711/NEWS02/707110354/1014/NEWS02

The Kentucky Post

Bonds OK’d for church project


For the first time ever, Boone Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to give an industrial revenue bond tax break to a local church.

The court voted unanimously to issue up to $2.8 million in bonds on behalf of the Vineyard Christian Church in Burlington in a transaction that renewed debate over the separation of church and state.

The bonds don’t obligate the county financially in any way – they merely allow the church to get a better interest rate on its financing from Fifth Third Bank. Because the county issues the bonds, the bank doesn’t have to report the interest on them as income to the IRS.

The church plans to use the bulk of the money to build a 5,000-square-foot addition for Sunday school classrooms, as well as for the use of community groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The rest of the bond issue will pay for preparing the church property for further expansions and for creating more parking spaces.

The congregation has already received $1.2 million in pledges for the project and hopes to pay off the bonds in three years, said Executive Pastor Cliff Wick.

The bond issue will help Vineyard accommodate its steadily expanding congregation. The church has averaged growth of 12 percent over the past seven years and now draws a total of about 1,200 worshippers for its four weekend services.

Attorney Ian Koffler, who represented the church for the bond issue, said it was only the second one his firm had done for a congregation. The other was for a church in Lexington.

County Judge-Executive Gary Moore told the audience for Tuesday’s meeting that he was happy the county could help out the church, and congratulated the congregation on its growth.

But he advised Koffler that some residents had asked him how the county could do it without violating the constitutional separation of church and state.

Koffler told Moore that federal courts have ruled that if governments offers such a service to other nonprofits, they must also offer it to churches.

A Kentucky attorney general’s opinion from 1993 also said bond issues like the Boone County one don’t violate constitutional principles, he said.

Roger Peterman, a specialist in bonds and financing, and a former director of the Kentucky Development Finance Authority, said the courts have recently broadened their view of the church/state issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati “had a decision about a year ago that if the government is providing a service that it would provide to a non-religious institution, it can provide the same service to a religious organization,” he said.

That decision came in a case involving a bond issue for a religiously affiliated university in Nashville, said Phillip Sparkes, who teaches state and local government at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

The court ruled that a bond issue is a benefit much like fire protection, he said, and no one would object to the county sending fire trucks to extinguish a fire at a church.

Although it may be a first for a church in Northern Kentucky, counties routinely issue such kinds of bonds, Sparkes said.

“This kind of financing has been around for 50 years or more,” he said. “A variety of projects get funded this way.”

The courts have also ruled that the government could bus children to a church-run school, for example, but not to religious services.

“The Kentucky statutes allow bonds for educational purposes. This is an educational wing of the facility,” Peterman said of the Vineyard project.

But Union attorney Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, said that the Kentucky Constitution forbids the government from supporting religion – and that’s what the Boone County bond issue will do.

“If Camp Quest would apply for such a bond issue, do you suppose they would issue bonds for that?” he asked.

Camp Quest is a residential summer camp for the children of atheists. Kagin and his wife, Helen, have served as camp directors for 10 years.

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