Freethought Today · October 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Washington county opens invocations to all

In the state of Washington, the Clark County City Council on Aug. 22 unanimously approved a resolution allowing groups or individuals "having no religious affiliation" to offer a brief statement prior to the start of the meeting.

The guidelines also allow any group or individual to request a moment of silence in place of an invocation.

Earlier versions of the revisions drew concerns from some secular-minded residents of the county and FFRF that they improperly excluded non-religious people from offering an invocation.
Arkansas mandates 'In God We Trust' motto

A new law in Arkansas says that elementary and secondary schools shall display a framed picture or poster of "In God We Trust" above an American flag in their libraries and classrooms.

But taxpayers won't be fronting the bill for the new displays. Act 911 states they either have to be donated from a private organization or purchased with funds made available through voluntary contributions to the local school boards or the Building Authority Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

The law also requires the motto to appear in any public building that's maintained or operated by state funds.

Trump voters: Christians, whites most oppressed

Public Policy Polling's newest national survey finds that Donald Trump's supporters think whites and Christians are the most oppressed groups of people in the country.
The PPP survey shows about 40 percent of voters approve of the job Trump is doing compared to 53 percent who disapprove.

The poll also shows some of his supporters agree with some of the beliefs that inspired white supremacists to rally in Charlottesville, Va. Asked what racial group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 45 percent of Trump voters say it's white people, followed by 17 percent for Native Americans.

Asked what religious group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 54 percent of Trump voters say it's Christians, followed by 22 percent for Muslims.

Blasphemy laws on books in one-third of nations

Laws prohibiting blasphemy are "astonishingly widespread" worldwide, with many laying down disproportionate punishments ranging from prison sentences to lashings or the death penalty, the author of a report on blasphemy announced.

Iran, Pakistan and Yemen score worst, topping a list of 71 countries with laws criminalizing views deemed blasphemous, found in all regions of the world, according to a comprehensive report issued in August by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The bipartisan commission called for repeal of blasphemy statutes, saying they invited abuse and failed to protect freedoms of religion and expression.

Lesbians win $10K in suit against county clerk

A deputy clerk in Gilmer County, W.Va., allegedly chastised Amanda Abramovich and Samantha Brookover as the clerk processed their marriage license, calling them an "abomination" and telling them God would "deal" with them, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

A year and a half later, the Gilmer County clerk's office is paying the two women, who have been together for seven years, $10,000 in damages and issuing them an apology.

During processing, Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen slammed the paperwork on the desk, said she was a Christian and called the couple an "abomination" in a rant that continued for several minutes, according to court documents. Another clerk joined in, shouting that it was Allen's "religious right" to harass the couple, according to the complaint.

Most in Britain say they have no religion

More than half of the British public (53 percent) say they are not at all religious — a figure that has increased by five percentage points since 2015 and by 19 percentage points since 1983, when just three in 10 people deemed themselves non-religious.

The news has prompted renewed calls for the government to cut the amount of public money going to the church and reduce the church's influence in society.

The decline in religious affiliation is hitting the Church of England particularly hard, with the number of people considering themselves Anglican having halved since 2000 — at just 15 percent. Young people were particularly underrepresented, with just 3 percent of those aged 18-24 describing themselves as Anglican.

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