Religious (and general) support for same-sex marriage grows rapidly

While opposition to same-sex marriage is based entirely on religious reasons (although some opponents might try to disguise that fact by finding seemingly secular reasons), it is interesting that a new survey released yesterday by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that the majority of many mainline religious groups support it.
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Who’s Who in Hell

Thanks to reader Norm, I received a copy of the above book and it is incredible. It is a compilation of all the people in the world who are known to be atheists or skeptics of some sort, along with biographical sketches as to their beliefs. The book is by Warren Allen Smith and it is clearly a massive labor of love, clocking in at 1,237 large 8½ x 11 inch pages in two column format, on good quality paper with clear font and not a single typo, at least in the entries that I have read.
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The consequences of the Greece v. Galloway prayer case

The US Supreme Court, in a very confused ruling, decided in the case Greece v Galloway that ceremonial opening prayers were acceptable at the beginning of government sessions provided the prayers were not sectarian in their delivery or in the selection of prayer givers. Even some of the so-called liberal members of the court like Elena Kagan, while dissenting from the verdict approving the Greece prayers, said that “such a forum need not become a religion-free zone.”
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Carrying religious pandering a little too far

American politicians pander to the religious. The tried and true method has been to subscribe strongly to belief in a fairly nondescript ‘Judeo-Christian’ god (with the tacit understanding that the ‘Judeo’ part is only meant to mollify Jewish voters and means nothing more) and only mildly to any given church. That way you minimize the risk of alienating true believers in any faction. That worked for the Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan and for any number of presidents. But fresh out of the gate of the announcement of his candidacy, senator Marco Rubio has run into some problems with giving an answer to what might seem like a simple question: What church do you go to?
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American nuns settle dispute with the Vatican

Readers may recall the fuss that ensued when former pope Benedict ordered an investigation into the largest organization of American nuns, saying that they were too concerned with social justice issues, too supportive of health care reform, and not enthusiastic enough in pushing the Catholic church’s anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-contraception message.
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Is this the future of Christianity?

Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show has stumbled on to new, hipper, variants of that old-time religion.

(This clip aired on April 1, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Should religious colleges not be accredited?

Our university is currently going through the very last stages of renewing its accreditation as an institution of higher learning. It happens every ten years and is a big deal. We have to show the accrediting body that we are meeting our mission of providing a quality education to our students and have the resources to do so, so that our degrees actually mean something. The process requires a lot of work for the university because we have to collect all the evidence to support our case.
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Using children as a weapon of religious coercion

One of the most powerful weapons that highly controlling religious groups have to prevent defections is to threaten apostates that leaving would mean they would lose contact with family members, especially their children. We know that Scientology does this as do fundamentalist religious groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church and the Exclusive Brethren. Mormons who defect also tend to be shunned by those who remain but it is not a formal policy of the church or as severe an excommunication.
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How times have changed

Bob Jones University is an extremely fundamentalist Christian institution that not only denounces homosexuality but also even prohibited inter-racial dating and marriage. When that policy was challenged by the IRS that denied its tax-exempt status because of its discriminatory policies, the university took its case against the IRS all the way to the US Supreme Court, where they lost.
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