The number of atheists may be larger than popularly thought

While it is generally accepted that the number of nonbelievers in the US population is increasing, pinning down exact numbers and exactly what is implied by the word ‘nonbeliever’ is problematic because of the social pressures against identifying oneself as non-religious. What is easier to measure is the number of those who are unaffiliated with any religious institution, by not formally being members or attending services and the like.
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Why Easter is Easter

Today is Easter Sunday, a big day in the Christian calendar when they celebrate the idea that Jesus rose from the dead. But why is it called ‘Easter’? And what’s with all the bunnies and painted (and chocolate) eggs that have now come to symbolize this day? Brent Landau explains some little-known facts about the holiday and says that like with Christmas, Easter has a lot of pagan elements folded in, starting with why it is celebrated in the springtime, specifically the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
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Religious people never give up

I wrote before that religious groups are now trying to reverse policies that have long been declared to be unconstitutional, such as the use of class time and facilities to teach the Bible, something that was disallowed as far back as 1948. Now four members of the Republican-controlled legislature in North Caroline have introduced a bill that would outlaw same-sex marriage, although such bans were declared to be unconstitutional in 2015.
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Aung San Suu Kyi has become an apologist for Burmese anti-Muslim bigotry

I have mentioned before how Buddhism, seen in the west as a peaceful, contemplative religion, is not immune from its adherents becoming violent towards minority religious groups. This has happened most noticeably in Sri Lanka and in Myanmar and Peter Maass reports on the shameful role that Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Sui Kyi has played in the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
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Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert discuss whether god exists

Such theological discussions with controversial points of view are not the usual stuff of late-night TV talk shows, and it is interesting the Colbert was willing to explore such an issue. Although he is a believer, he was willing to let the atheist Gervais (who refers to himself as an agnostic-atheist and explains what that is) have his say. Gervais says some things that are widely believed but are not self-evidently true though Colbert concedes them, such as that science proves things to be true or that if all the current scientific knowledge were destroyed, they would come back pretty much intact a thousand years from now.
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Bait and switch

While searching online for a book as part of my research for my own book, I stumbled across another one with the provocative title How to Be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough by someone named Mitch Stokes whom I had not heard of before. But what struck me was that a book that, at least from its title, purported to be advocating atheism advertised a foreword by J. P. Moreland, someone whom I had heard about.
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Trying to sneak the Bible back into schools

Given their recent successes in the courts in getting ceremonial prayer allowed at town council and school board meetings, we see that religious people have been emboldened to try things that have already been deemed unconstitutional, such as Bible classes in schools. In 1948, Vashti McCollum fought her local school district in Illinois when it required her young son Jim to attend Bible classes in school during regular school hours. The teachers would try to pressure the young child to attend the classes despite the wishes of his freethinking parents.
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Atheists and the very religious fear death the least

I was interested in this article about the fear of death.

A team of researchers analyzed 100 relevant articles published between 1961 and 2014, containing information about 26,000 people worldwide and their feelings about death. They found that higher levels of religious belief were only weakly linked with lower death anxiety. The paper, which was published in the journal Religion, Brain and Behavior, also showed that strong religious believers and non-believers appeared to fear death less than those in between.
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