Texas messed with us. Our lawsuit to get the Lonestar State to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages has been rejected by a federal court. We have feelings about it, and, yes, we intend to MESS RIGHT BACK:
“This decision has clarified one issue, and very starkly,” said [CFI’s Nick] Little. “If we referred to ourselves as a religion, they would have to allow us to solemnize marriages, for they assume that anyone calling themselves a religion, be they of a traditional faith or a fly-by-night mail-order operation, their ceremonies will contain ‘the necessary level of respect and solemnity.’ This court would rob the nonreligious of the chance for that very kind of respectful ceremony, and gives carte blanche to any outfit declaring themselves to be a religion.” …
… “The religiously unaffiliated make up a fifth of Texas’s population, and that’s millions of people who this court has decided don’t deserve to have the same rights to a meaningful marriage ceremony that religious Texans enjoy,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “We will appeal this wrongheaded decision to the Fifth Circuit, where we fully expect to be vindicated, providing a springboard to further victories in Louisiana and Mississippi as well. Nonreligious Americans will not be denied this most fundamental recognition of their equality.”
I encourage you to read Hemant Mehta’s point by point response to the judge’s opinion, which is very Hemant Mehta, in the best sense:
See? The law isn’t against atheists! Atheists have plenty of options if they’re looking for someone to solemnize their wedding. They can use a judge. Or a priest. Or a friend who pays a few bucks and pretends to be a priest.
If that seems like logical pretzel-making to you, it is. The judge used twisted arguments to pretend that the anti-atheist burdens in Texas’ law don’t really inconvenience atheists. And even when they do, it’s not crossing any legal line.
Vice highlights the website Liminal Earth, a sort of a Marauder’s Map of the paranormal, which actually looks pretty cool:
The idea is simple. It is like Atlas Obscura, but exclusively for UFOs, the supernatural, cryptids, etc.
“Is there a specific place where you’ve seen fairies, ghosts, bigfoot, time travelers, extraterrestrials, ultraterrestrials, crow conferences, sentient lawn computers, lanyard’d ogres, broccoli wizards, etc.?” the website asks, “Does your town have an urban legend you’d love to get to the bottom of? Send us your story and we might include it on our map!” …
… “Even if every account were a case of mistaken identity, imagination, or outright falsehood,” [mythology expert Dr. David] Floyd said, “such a map may still indicate areas where reports, of whatever nature, are prevalent, and still serve a kind of sociological purpose.”
Well, put Cape Cod on the map because there is clearly a 300-yard-long sea serpent living there.
The LA Times says hey, that Trump religious liberty rule is actually a license to discriminate! Thanks for noticing, y’all. They write:
This proposed regulation makes little legal sense, but it does serve the political purpose of burnishing President Trump’s reputation with the Christian conservatives who have made him an improbable object of adulation. But bolstering his base will come at the cost of a further fracturing of what was once broad and bipartisan support for the idea that the government should accommodate sincere religious convictions. The country loses when “religious freedom” is viewed as a pretext for discrimination. This misguided rule makes it easier to equate the two.
Jake Bleiberg at RNS reports on how churches are training up and arming themselves thanks to a new and booming industry of mass-shooter readiness training. Oh, joy.
A San Jose Catholic school is getting over $800,000 in government funds for running a work-study program. That seems, like, maybe a bad idea.
Richard Wade writes at Friendly Atheist about how his group, the Santa Clarita Atheists and Freethinkers, is taking part in a walk to end Alzheimer’s:
Currently, our walking and fundraising team is in second place among the local donor teams. … One of our members has offered to match every donation and has been doing so as they come in. So far, that person has not cried “uncle.” He or she is still able to continue. So right now, every dollar in your pocket that you can spare for our fundraiser is actually a two-dollar bill, and it will go toward research to end this heartbreaking disease.
A new article at the journal Secularism & Nonreligion by Tim Hutchings seeks to explore death as it manifests online:
In digitally networked societies, the dead are remembered online, and their survivors can use digital resources to express grief, find support and construct memorials. New norms and languages of mourning are emerging, including new references to heaven, angels and communication with the dead. The boundary between religion and nonreligion is blurred in these new practices, but we know very little as yet about what this blurring actually means to the bereaved.
There’s an Ebola vaccine! That’s really good! I bet it causes dyslexia.
Catherine Rampell at the Post plots the evil conspiracy that keeps the American people from understanding how GREAT Trump’s economy is:
When Barack Obama was president and the economic statistics were good, then-candidate Donald Trump said they were fake. When Trump became president and inherited the exact same stats, they suddenly became real.
Now that they’re turning south, they’re apparently fake once more. …
… And move over, Illuminati, because this particular conspiracy is massive.
It’s led by the Federal Reserve, Democrats and the media, of course, or so say Trump and his Fox News minions.
Newt Gingrich and Michael Jackson’s publicist are pitching a human mission to the Moon with a kind of reality-show-style competition angle, and it all starts to sound a lot like the Mars One pyramid scheme.
Tennessee Republican Hal Rounds says abortion is wrong because he remembers the end of his own gestation. WHAT?
I have a conceptual memory of being born. In the womb there is a sensation of compression and advancement against one side and another and sudden urgent pressure to burst out.
Jezebel‘s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd says:
Interestingly enough, I, too have a sudden urgent pressure to burst out right now, as well.
Relatedly, LiveScience reports that “hot ionized gas is streaming out of the accretion disk of a supermassive black hole,” and I’m all, oof, yeah, I been there. Not fun.
Quote of the Day
Evan Bergeron is running for Louisiana’s state legislature, and if he wins he’d be its first LGBTQ legislator and Louisiana’s only LGBTQ statewide officeholder. Here’s how he interprets religious liberty:
For me, they mean that I can’t do something because of my religion, not that you can’t do something because of my religion.
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.