Amish convictions overturned

I have previously written about the US Attorney in our region Steven Dettelbach being an overzealous prosecutor. One example of this is his use of civil asset forfeiture laws to deprive people of their possessions without having to first convict them of any wrongdoing. Another is his use of terrorism charges against hapless individuals who were lured into plotting to blow up a local bridge. The third was his use of federal hate crime laws against 16 members of an Amish group that cut off the beards of other Amish people in an internal dispute because one sect’s leader thought that the other Amish were not sufficiently observant and pious. By stretching federal hate crime and conspiracy laws to an extreme level, Dettelbach obtained convictions and harsh sentences against the defendants in each case.
[Read more...]

Humor and atheists

A paper presented at a conference looked at the emergence of the New Atheist movement and argued that it has used humor quite effectively in creating its public image, and that humor is in general quite effective in creating greater acceptance of marginalized groups.
[Read more...]

Atheist politicians in the UK and US

There is no reason to think that the level of unbelief among elected officials in the US is much less than it is in the general public so it is really quite embarrassing that there are no openly atheist members of the US Congress. Compare that with the UK where they actually have a state religion of which the Queen is the head but where their All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group has 150 members, most of them elected atheists.
[Read more...]

Christians in internal exile?

Nonbelievers in the US are only too aware of the ubiquity of religion. Churches and religious billboards are everywhere, Christian broadcasters fill the radio and TV, and public prayer and other forms of pandering to religion by politicians and other public figures is commonplace and even required if they are to be elected to office. So it is a little disconcerting to discover that some Christian conservatives see themselves as a persecuted minority.
[Read more...]

Marcus Brigstocke on the Abrahamic faiths

Once in a while, especially at times when people are fighting and killing over religion more than usual, I like to link to this audio of a rant by British comedian Marcus Brigstocke. The whole thing is worth listening to but especially the part where he talks about how while the violence is committed by a few extremists, the undoubtedly much larger number of religious people who are peaceful cannot completely escape responsibility for what is done.
[Read more...]

Trying their best to keep Ohio’s students ignorant

The new Common Core standards for K-12 education has become the latest battleground for people who are trying to hold back the tide of good education because of fears that it will not support religious dogma, anti-science ideology, and conservative political history. In Ohio, A Republican state legislator Andy Thompson is introducing legislation to do this.
[Read more...]