By Brian Fields
When Deana Weaver, a member of Dillsburg Area Freethinkers, asked to deliver a non-theistic message before a meeting of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, she was told no.
“My state representative and the House leadership refused to allow me to deliver an opening invocation to the House because I do not believe in a deity,” Weaver said in a recent interview with Americans United. “This makes me feel that I am not being represented in the House on account of my beliefs concerning religion.”
The biblical book of Acts tells a story about the Apostle Paul, known as the greatest church planter in the history of Christianity, walking through the streets of Athens and encountering people from diverse faiths and belief systems.
If you’ve read any of Paul’s letters, you know he was an intense and passionate man, dedicated to evangelizing as many people as he could. Yet, his approach to the Athenians, a people living in a pluralistic society, was not one where he set out to negate or repudiate the value of other religions being practiced.
Editor’s Note: Today Americans United and American Atheists filed a lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ invocation policy, which excludes non-theistic voices. Three of the plaintiffs in the case, Brian Fields, Deana Weaver and Scott Rhoades, recently took part in a Q&A and explained what motivated them to get involved in this litigation.
On Friday a Religious Right legal group called the Liberty Institute published an article titled “5 Dangerous Enemies Against Your Christian Faith” on the site Charisma News.
Americans United made the top five! There we are, right alongside American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. (Sounds like good company to me –and don’t be sad that we’re number four; the list is alphabetical.)
A federal court has denied a legal challenge by American Atheists (AA), in which the organization sought to end many of the privileges houses of worship receive under the tax code.
In an opinion issued for American Atheists Inc. v. Shulman May 19, U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman seemed to agree with the thrust of American Atheists’ argument: that the generous tax exemptions churches receive have no secular purpose and therefore “improperly endorse religion.”
By the end of the month, the courthouse in Bradford County, Fla., will be home to a large granite bench covered with quotes from famous skeptics and atheists.
How did this happen? Is Bradford County some sort of hotbed of atheism?
There’s an old (and inaccurate) military saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. If the brass at Camp Pendleton in California gets its way, however, there may not be any atheists welcome at the base, period.
Ken Reid of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors doesn’t think much of nonbelievers who stand up for church-state separation.
“It’s strictly this group of terrorists,” he told the Washington Times. “They’re fanatics who basically want to stamp out religion in all public life and property.”