North Dakota Woman Fined for Loud Public Prayer

English: An Oil Pump in western North Dakota
An Oil Pump in western North Dakota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to this fascinating report from ABC News out of North Dakota, "A Pastor and his family's faith is being tested by law enforcement..." That doesn't sound good. Why would local law enforcement test this family's faith? And what does it mean to test their faith? Could this be undue government interference with the family's right to practice their religion?

The report goes on to explain that the problem is that the pastor's wife, Ms. Martha Nagbe, has allegedly been praying loudly on city property and refuses to stop despite noise complaints.
Lisbon Police say the citations are not about religion or freedom of speech. They say they are just responding to neighbors who are calling in to complain about the loudness of her voice.


Another Atheist Condemns the Murders in North Carolina

Old Well and McCorkle Place 2005Craig Hicks has been arrested and charged with the murder of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. He has not yet been tried, much less convicted. But it certainly appears that he is an atheist who was active online in many of the same ways we are active online. It remains unclear whether atheism played any part in his alleged actions, but it certainly appears that he is a "real atheist." And so, I think it makes sense that those of us who want to express our opposition to these murders feel free to do so.

With that in mind, I posted my initial thoughts on the Chapel Hill murders at Atheist Revolution this morning. I wrote:
But there is one thing I feel comfortable saying no matter what else we learn about it: murder is wrong and does not become any less wrong when the alleged murderer is an atheist. Violence is not an acceptable means of solving problems, and I condemn this despicable act regardless of its motivation or the identity of the perpetrator or the victims. I have little doubt that many other atheists will condemn this violence, and I find that encouraging.
Even if the shooter ends up being someone other than Hicks or even if we learn that the motive for the shooting had nothing to do with atheism, I'm perfectly comfortable expressing my condemnation for the murders and my sympathy for the victims' families. I condemn violence committed by atheists against religious persons just as I condemn violence committed by religious persons against atheists.

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Darwin Day at Southern Miss

Live in South Mississippi and feel like doing something special in celebration of Darwin Day? The Department of Biological Sciences, BSC Graduate Student Forum, and the Tri-Beta Biological Society at the University of Southern Mississippi are sponsoring the Second Annual Darwin Day on February 13 in Hattiesburg, MS.

Evolution exhibits open at 9:00 am, and there will be a public viewing of the PBS documentary, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, at the same time. Dr. Jerry Coyne (Why Evolution is True) will be delivering the keynote address at 2:00 pm followed by a book signing.

The full schedule of events and a downloadable flyer can be found here.

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Should Atheists Oppose Legislation to Make the Bible Mississippi's State Book?

Tamil Holy Bible
By Jegan.M (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Two Democrats in our state House of Representatives, Tom Miles (Forest) and Michael Evans (Preston), have proposed a bill to make some sort of bible our official state book. A Republican who also happens to be a pastor, Rep. Tracy Arnold (Booneville), has proposed a similar bill. A true bipartisan effort! This raises many important questions. For example, what bible are they trying to make our state book?

Based on evidence such as the dire circumstances in which Mississippi's poor find themselves compared to the luxuries enjoyed by the wealthy, our inadequately funded system of public education, and our oppressive grocery tax, I assume that we are probably talking about The Satanic Bible. This would seem to embody the philosophy of blaming the poor for their misfortunes that prevails here in Mississippi. It has been decades since I read this bible, and I wasn't particularly impressed. Still, I suppose it might make for an interesting state book.


Humanist and Atheist Groups in Gulfport-Biloxi

Billboard GulfCoastCoR
If you are a secular Mississippian living in the Biloxi-Gulfport area, you should be aware that you are living in what might be one of the best parts of the state for atheists and humanists. Why? If you are interested in atheism, humanism, and/or freethought, you have two groups in your area in which to get involved:
That's two more groups than secular individuals living in much of the rest of our state have. And now you even have a billboard not too far away in Pascagoula thanks to the Gulf Coast Coalition of Reason.

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