Freethought Today · June/July 2012

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.


Wis. faith-healing convictions appealed

The Wisconsin Supreme Court announced June 27 it will hear an appeal of the conviction of a Weston couple found guilty of reckless homicide in the faith-healing death of their 11-year-old daughter. Dale and Leilani Neumann were sentenced to 6 months in jail and 10 years’ probation.

A state appeals court in Wausau declined to rule and sent the case to the Supreme Court. Wisconsin has a prayer exception, but the state contends it doesn’t apply in this case.

Millennials’ belief levels plummeting

A new Pew Research Center found that belief in the existence of God has dropped considerably in the last five years among Americans age 30 and under.

Just 68 percent of “millennials” in 2012 agree with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God.” That’s down from 76 percent in 2009 and 83 percent in 2007.

Of all those surveyed over age 18, the study found, 80% agree and 18% disagree with the statement.

Creationist views change little since 1982

A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted May 10-13 found that 46% of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at some point in the last 10,000 years. That’s virtually unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question.

About a third believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.

Deaths attributed to mohel’s procedure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported June 7 that 11 baby boys in New York City were infected with herpes between November 2000 and December 2011 following an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel puts his mouth directly on the newly circumcised penis and sucks away the blood.

“There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a statement.

Ten of the boys were hospitalized, at least two developed brain damage and two died, according to the New York City Health Department.

Study: Religious

tax breaks costly

A Florida professor estimates tax breaks for religious institutions in the U.S. result in as much as $71 billion in reduced revenues.

Ryan Cragun, a University of Tampa assistant professor of sociology, and two students examined tax laws on exemptions on property, donations, business enterprises, capital gains and “parsonage allowances.” Findings include:

• States lose about $26.2 billion a year in property taxes.

• Capital gains tax exemptions amount to about $41 billion a year.

• Clergy claim as much as $1.2 billion via the parsonage allowance.

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