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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Jun 30th, 2014 10:58 am | By

Via the always useful Cornell Legal Information Institute.

(a) In general
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) Exception
Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

(c) Judicial relief
A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief

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Elizabeth Warren on the Hobby Lobby ruling

Jun 30th, 2014 9:56 am | By

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Get out of the law free card

Jun 30th, 2014 9:40 am | By

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Next stop FFRF

Jun 30th, 2014 9:32 am | By

The Freedom From Religion Foundation suggests repealing the god damn RFRA (the swear is mine).

Today, in a heated 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that for-profit corporations can exercise their so-called religious conscience in order to restrict employees’ access to contraceptives. The ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., absurdly holds that the contraceptive coverage granted by the Affordable Care Act creates a “significant burden” on a corporation’s free exercise of religion.

How could this be? This Alice in Wonderland ruling is based not on the Constitution, but on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute. This statute was adopted by Congress and must be repealed by Congress.

The main justification for this decision is the Supreme

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Now for American Atheists

Jun 30th, 2014 9:22 am | By

The press release from Cranford.

“This is a disgrace and an indignity to Americans’ right to be protected from the abuses of other people’s religions,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Shame on the Supreme Court, which has effectively told Americans that if you can come up with a religious excuse, you are above the law. This is an injustice of the highest order for separation of religion and government, for equality, and for the constitutional protections guaranteed to all Americans.”

“The Court has granted religious liberties to some corporations, claiming they have the same rights as citizens. What about the rights of the women, the workers? We fear the consequences of this decision on publicly traded corporations in

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Next stop, Americans United

Jun 30th, 2014 9:09 am | By

Americans United for Separation of Church and State also has a press release.

The Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the owners of some secular, for-profit companies to deny their employees access to birth control is a blow to individual conscience and medical privacy rights, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“This decision is a double-edged disaster,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It conjures up fake religious freedom rights for corporations while being blind to the importance of birth control to America’s working women.”

Added Lynn, “The justices have set a dangerous precedent. While the Obama administration may arrange for the government to provide contraceptives, a future administration could easily take that

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First stop is CFI

Jun 30th, 2014 8:47 am | By

CFI has a press release.

Center for Inquiry Warns Hobby Lobby Decision Will Prove Deeply Damaging to American Health Care

Secular advocacy group the Center for Inquiry decried the Supreme Court’s ruling today that the health and welfare of female employees should be subordinated to their employers’ religious beliefs, and warned that the impact of the decision will prove deeply damaging to Americans’ access to health care, well beyond the scope of contraception coverage.

In a split decision, and over a vigorous dissent authored by Justice Ginsburg, the Court held that privately owned for-profit businesses are entitled to exemptions from the Contraceptive Mandate of the Affordable Care Act if their owners claim a religious basis for opposing contraception. As

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Hobby Lobby – women lose, religions win

Jun 30th, 2014 8:26 am | By

CNN reports:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court’s conservatives essentially ruled that some for-profit corporations have religious rights.

As if corporations were people, with rights, which they’re not.

The issue before the justices was whether Obamacare could mandate contraception coverage specifically for certain businesses that object for religious reasons.

“This case isn’t that practically important, except for the employees and businesses involved. There just aren’t a huge number of those,” said Thomas Goldstein,

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You can have rights, provided you don’t annoy us

Jun 29th, 2014 5:25 pm | By

Oh lordy, not this again.

An opinion piece in Pink News saying “don’t be so damn flamboyant if you want equal rights.” There was a discussion on Alex’s Facebook page around the same oh so helpful suggestion.

Topher Gen in Pink News:

You’re not being bold, you’re not making a stance and you’re certainly not making a statement – at least not one that’s helping us gain the respect and equality we deserve.

Perhaps you think I’m being too serious, that Pride is just ‘fun’. Well, you know what? Equality is reached through hard work and dedication, not staggering around the streets in a drunken haze whilst dressed in drag. And Pride does a lot more damage to the LGBT

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Anti-feminism conference is anti-feminist

Jun 29th, 2014 4:29 pm | By

MSNBC reports on the Men’s Rights conference held in Michigan yesterday.

“I call it the evil empire,” Erin Pizzey, the British founder of one of the first domestic violence shelters and a staunch anti-feminist, said Friday, borrowing Ronald Reagan’s description of the Soviet Union. “We need to go after them. We cannot allow this to continue. And if we don’t stop it, I don’t see a future for marriage, for love, or for anything.”

Yup. That totally makes sense. Feminism will mean the end for marriage, and love, and everything. Once it has done it’s work, there will be no future for anything. It will be like before the Big Bang.

There are real issues for men, obviously, … Read the rest

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Guest post on “Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s own boy”

Jun 29th, 2014 10:23 am | By

Originally a comment by Harald Hanche-Olsen on The withdrawing room.

 I just finished watching Brian Knappenberger’s documentary on Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s own boy. Driven to suicide by overly aggressive prosecutors seeking to making an example of him for wanting to make knowledge available to everybody, Aaron was likely one of the brightest minds of his generation and a tragic loss to all. Have a look at Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk on The unstoppable walk to political reform to learn about just one important aspect of Aaron’s life.

The documentary is well worth watching. I believe it is screening in US movie theaters starting today. I got a copy because I backed the movie financially albeit very … Read the rest

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The reality check

Jun 29th, 2014 8:49 am | By

Yes.

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A retributive God who must punish sin

Jun 29th, 2014 8:27 am | By

Valerie Tarico reports that Child Evangelism Fellowship is targeting Portland, Oregon this summer, but Portland is fighting back.

 Good News Clubs mix snacks, games, art projects and stories with upbeat moral lessons and the theology of blood sacrifice. In a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Child Evangelism Fellowship argued that they were entitled to operate in public schools because they are running a social and moral enrichment program akin to Scouting.

Much to the dismay of church-state watchdogs, a majority of the Court agreed, but to call Good News Clubs moral enrichment by secular standards or to liken it to Scouting, is a stretch. Despite evangelical influences in the Boy Scouts, scouting programs

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Dawkins v SJWs

Jun 28th, 2014 4:24 pm | By

What about that zany Richard Dawkins, eh? You’ve seen the infamous June 24 tweet, right?

Sun will engulf Earth. If we launch DVD as , what would you put on it? Shakespeare Schubert Darwin Einstein for me. You?

There were prompt rebukes for the all white all male you get the idea. I actually thought that was pretty silly – it’s only four choices, and we’re all allowed to have favorites. But I didn’t say so, because I knew what was going to ensue, and I wasn’t wrong – the assholes got involved, Dawkins said silly things, and it all went to hell even faster than usual.

Then today he let us know that he’s been learning Read the rest

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Red card for shock jock

Jun 28th, 2014 3:22 pm | By

Shock jock booted from lineup for calling Mo a diaper-lifter.

Broadcaster Michael Smith has been dumped from a guest slot on radio station 2GB after he referred to the prophet Muhammad as a paedophile.

Smith had been booked to present Chris Smith’s  afternoon program for three weeks starting Monday.

However, he has revealed on his website that 2GB’s program director, David Kidd, phoned him on Friday evening and allegedly said: ‘‘We won’t be needing you, you can’t call a Deity a paedophile.’’

Mr Kidd declined to comment when approached by Fairfax Media on Saturday.

Smith’s controversial outburst came during an on-air exchange with Ben Fordham on Thursday. ‘‘The prophet Muhammad was a paedophile, a pederast, a sexual offender, a man

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Happy Pride Day

Jun 28th, 2014 3:13 pm | By

Via EXMNA on Facebook:

EXMNA stands in solidarity with everyone celebrating world pride 

We support the simple idea that everyone should have equal rights

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Ramadan, meet Gay Pride

Jun 28th, 2014 12:56 pm | By

They met in Singapore, for one.

Pink Dot has been held every year since 2009. Attendees wear pink clothing and sit down for a mass picnic that ends with the forming of a pink dot.

But this year it falls on the eve of Ramadan, prompting an Islamic teacher to start a Wear White campaign against homosexuality, which has been supported by a Christian organisation.

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

I love it when Christians join with Muslims to oppose other people’s sexual orientations.

The Pink Dot rally proceeded peacefully on Saturday evening with no sign of anti-gay campaigners. Organisers said 26,000 people attended the event.

Wear White issued a statement saying it discouraged supporters from attending Pink

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Of Mollison and Muggles

Jun 28th, 2014 12:04 pm | By

I’ve just read J K Rowling’s novel for grownups Casual Vacancy. It was gripping at first and then got more and more unpleasant to read, but the basic story – about a pleasant village near a city and the tensions between the two, in other words about class – was interesting enough that I read the whole thing. (Usually I stop reading novels I don’t like. I know lots of people who seriously think that once you start a book you’re somehow obliged to finish it, no matter how much you hate it. I think that’s entirely and comprehensively wrong.)

I dislike her mind. It makes me feel dirty. Reading the novel made me feel dirty much of the … Read the rest

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Whiplash

Jun 28th, 2014 11:22 am | By

Chris Stedman interviews Hemant Mehta for RNS.

CS: What do you love most about the nontheist community? Where do you think it can improve?

HM: I love how certain issues that are controversial everywhere else in the country, like marriage equality, comprehensive sex education, and science in schools, are almost non-issues within our community. Where can we improve? In many ways, we act like there’s an atheist orthodoxy everyone must follow. As the demographics shift and atheists increase in number, we have to realize we won’t always agree on every issue. 

Oops.

Hemant must have forgotten what he had just said when he went on to say the exact opposite. He loves how certain issues that are controversial everywhere Read the rest

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Her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood

Jun 27th, 2014 6:23 pm | By

The Guardian has more on Salwa Bugaighis.

Bugaighis, a lawyer from a prominent Benghazi family, was among the first to the barricades in Libya’s 2011 Arab spring revolution, and later resigned from the first rebel administration, the National Transitional Council, accusing it of freezing-out female members.

She was identified as perhaps the most charismatic figure in Libya’s women’s movement, supporting a successful campaign to establish minimum quotas for female lawmakers in parliament. She also opposed moves to make the wearing of the hijab compulsory, and her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist extremists.

“The killing seems intended to silence critics and muzzle dissent,” said Hanan Salah of Human Rights Watch. “Her conviction that dialogue

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