Taking god off US currency

Michael Newdow is the atheist who at one time argued before the US Supreme Court that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance that school children say in school violated the Establishment Clause and was thus unconstitutional. The court ruled against him on a technicality that he was at the time not the legal custodian of his daughter, the one in whose name the suit was brought, and thus lacked standing. His later attempts to rectify that issue by representing other children did not succeed at the Appeals Court level and he gave up on it.
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Score a win for the Satanists

In a post a few days ago, I wrote about how The Satanic Temple had applied to deliver the opening prayer at a meeting of the Phoenix, AZ city council. The council had been having opening prayers for over sixty years but the 2014 Greece v Galloway decision by the US Supreme Court had required government entities that offered such prayers to open it up to all groups and thus avoid the appearance of endorsing specific viewpoints.
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Fundamentalist religious belief more likely to lead to punitive measures

The famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow advised lawyers that they should not pick jurors who had strong Calvinist religious beliefs about right and wrong because they have a harsh and unforgiving attitude. It should not come as a real surprise that new research supports his view.

A new study backs up Darrow’s advice, finding that belief in a vengeful God will lead a person to oppose programs that help prisoners re-enter society, while a person who believes in a loving and forgiving God is more likely to support those programs.

“Stronger feelings of religious forgiveness led to greater support for assisting offenders,” says the study of 386 random Missourians. “The people who had the stronger punitive picture of God were less likely to support transitional programs, things like substance abuse programs,” says Brett Garland, a professor at Missouri State University and an author of the study.

Past research echoes the Missouri findings. “Fundamentalists tend to be more punitive. They do believe in ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’” Monica Miller, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, tells Newsweek. Miller’s research found stronger support for the death penalty among those who take the Bible literally and among fundamentalists, who place more weight on the Old Testament than the New.

In Darrow’s time one did not have the option of picking non-religious people since they were unlikely to publicly declare their unbelief so Darrow advised defense lawyers as to which denominations were preferable.

In his 1936 essay for Esquire, Darrow predicted the views toward criminals and defendants that Guyton, the Methodist, and Moore, the Southern Baptist, would hold almost 80 years later. The guidance he gave defense attorneys for picking sympathetic jurors seems to remain solid.

“The Methodists are worth considering; they are nearer the soil. Their religious emotions can be transmuted into love and charity,” Darrow wrote. “If chance sets you down between a Methodist and a Baptist, you will move toward the Methodist to keep warm.”

The presidential candidates’ religious affiliations

Religion is playing a major role in this year’s Republican primary race, as it generally does in almost every recent election. Nancy T. Ammerman studies the role of religion in politics and has catalogued the religious affiliations of the various candidates and their degrees of dedication to taking past in formal religious observances.
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How influential are evangelical leaders in selecting Republican leaders?

On the surface, it looks like Ted Cruz has cornered the market on endorsements by big name evangelical leaders, edging out Marco Rubio in getting the collective endorsement in early December at a secret meeting of fifty religious conservatives led by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Then after Christmas, about 300 evangelical leaders met at a Texas ranch owned by Farris Wilks, a billionaire who has made his money in fracking, and is supporting Cruz with a Super PAC.
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Great moments in evangelism

Two evangelical preachers Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis explain that they had to ask their congregations to donate money so that they could fly in private luxury because it was not good for them to be cooped up in a ‘long tube’ surrounded by ‘dope-filled demons’. Besides, their god told them that they must have more than one of them in order for their faith to grow and who are they to defy god?
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