President Trump and wife Melania shown with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who in July, 2013, requested permission from the Vatican to move $57 million in church funds to protect the the church’s assets from victims of priest sexual abuse. The Vatican approved Dolan’s request in five weeks.
It’s an unfathomably bad day for religion, but a better day to be an atheist, if you already are one. If you’re not already, the news coming out about the Catholic church (again) this week may be enough to flip you, if not just grip you.
A Pennsylvania grand jury has dropped a devastating 1,356 page report (pdf) that describes in excruciating detail the child sexual abuse that has occurred within the Pennsylvania Catholic church, perpetrated by over 300 “predator priests” in that state alone. The grand jury names each priest and has identified over a thousand credible child victims who endured abuse at the hands of the Church over a period of 70 years. Some of the victims are in their 80s now.
The first Thursday in May of every year is the National Day of Reason, a celebration that coincides with the National Day of Prayer, which encourages Americans to pray to God for peace and prosperity for the nation. A big problem with the National Day of Prayer, though, is that it excludes almost a quarter of the U.S. population that doesn’t belong to any religion or doesn’t believe in God. That’s a whole lot of people to leave out of a national celebration.
Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a new digital billboard up in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace on I-70 B just in time for Easter. It shows a child with a shocked look on his face holding a book that looks very much like a Bible. It says “Belief without proof is gullibility.” You can see the board as you are heading west on I-70 B.
WCAF wanted their spring billboard to have an educational component this year. The group wanted to emphasize that people deserve proof before believing what they’re told. They also want to urge people to come to logical conclusions based on verifiable facts rather than on lore, mythology or pure faith.
WCAF’s mission is to educate the public about atheism, promote acceptance of atheism as a rational belief system and preserve and promote the wall of separation between church and state.
The board is up through Tuesday, April 4. WCAF says anyone who takes their photo with the billboard and posts it on WCAF’s Facebook page will get a free package of M&Ms. To donate to more billboards like this, go to WCAF’s Donation page.
“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015
At their workshop Monday evening, Grand Junction City Council decided mixing religion with government was a good thing to do, and they would continue to do it.
City Manager Greg Caton told council members the City’s invocation policy dates back to 2008, saying they all inherited the practice. Council had an opportunity Monday at their workshop to discontinue prayers at City Council meetings and avoid further controversy over the City’s persistent endorsement of religion, modify the current policy or substitute a moment of silence instead.
But history shows the City of Grand Junction always has a hard time coming into the 21st Century.
The Devil is among the many diverse religious players who are likely to get more chances to say invocations at City Council meetings, unless the invocation is eliminated entirely or the invocation policy is changed changed to a moment of silence instead of prayers.
Grand Junction City Council plans to re-assess the issue of hosting religious invocations at public meetings at their Monday, March 5 workshop.
Under pressure from the City’s secular community to abide by the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, in 2008 the City of Grand Junction adopted an invocation policy that opened up the invocation to anyone, instead of reserving the opportunity to say it only to representatives of a few selected religious groups. Over the last ten years, the new policy has resulted in the City making history with invocations given by atheists, Satanists and anarchists.
But the most prominent non-Christian invocation — a Satanic invocation last August, and all the hoopla that surrounded it — TV news cameras, prayer circles at City Hall and Bible-toting people in the audience — seems to have made Council interested in revising their invocation policy.
WakeUp Ministries’ promotion of Caroline Leaf’s talk
Local self-styled Christian missionary June Fellhauer is back in 2018 and this time, her unregistered nonprofit Wake Up Ministries sponsored a talk at Two Rivers Convention Center on January 12 by Dr. Caroline Leaf, another Christian missionary.
Caroline Leaf labels herself a “cognitive neuroscientist.” Her teachings are aimed at helping people “see the link between science and God as a tangible way of controlling their thoughts and emotions.” Dr. Leaf’s talked are based on her own idea that “the mind controls the brain.” She teaches that thoughts are the sole controller of our physical and mental health, that “toxic thinking is the root cause disease” and that thoughts can change our DNA.
The problem is, most of Leaf’s teachings are debunked by science.
So this seems like a perfect time to make people aware that Hobby Lobby was fined millions of dollars by the U.S. government in 2017 for illegally importing thousands of ancient Iraqi clay artifacts into the U.S. that were likely acquired by ISIS (the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”) as the terrorist group criss-crossed the country destroying and looting Iraq’s cultural heritage sites.
Three of President Donald Trump’s nominees for U.S. District Court judgeships have gone down in flames in the last few days for reasons that make Americans scratch their heads about how they could ever have been nominated to in the first place.
Trump’s nominee for U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, Matthew Spencer Petersen, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, December 14, 2017 and was forced to admit he had never tried a single case in any court of law, and had never filed a single motion or conducted even one deposition on his own over the course of his entire legal career. He was also stunningly unable to answer even the most basic questions about legal procedures common to federal courts.
Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican senatorial candidate accused of sexual predation, brings thoughts right back here to Grand Junction, because Moore and Grand Junction have two big things in common.
They are 1) the Ten Commandments, and 2) an eagerness to defy U.S. law.
Moore was twice thrown out of his job as Chief Justice for the state of Alabama for defying U.S. law. After the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage, Moore ordered the state’s probate court judges not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. A commission charged him with violating federal judicial orders and kicked him off the court in 2016. That was the second time Moore was ejected for violating the law.
You don’t typically think of a tax reform bill as a vehicle to push a religious agenda onto the rest of the country, but Trump’s “tax reform” bill does exactly that.
Buried deep inside the Republicans’ proposed “tax reform” bill is a provision conferring rights on “unborn children,” which the bill defines as “a child in utero…a member of the species Homo Sapiens, at any stage of development.” The provision appears on page 93 of the 429-page bill, in a section amending the rules on “529 plans,” which are tax-free investment accounts that allow families to save for a child’s college education. People have long been able to set up 529 plans for children that don’t yet exist, but changing the wording of the law intentionally enshrines recognition of the unborn into federal law, something anti-abortion activists and supporters of fetal “personhood” have long sought to do.
Cidney Fisk, speaking at California Freethought Day last fall
Cidney Fisk filed a lawsuit (pdf) Monday, September 25, 2017, against the Delta County Joint School District 50J for sabotaging her grades and college scholarship opportunities because of opinions she expressed publicly while in their school system, and due to her atheistic beliefs. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for economic and emotional distress.
Cidney appeared on the front page of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on April 1, 2016, criticizing the Delta County School District (DCSD) for persistent Christian proselytizing on school grounds during school hours. After she was quoted in the paper, her counselors threatened to tank her college scholarships and her teachers gave her failing grades. Cidney was an A+ student throughout her time in high school, was on the debate team, served in student government as treasurer, wrote for the school paper and had amassed over 400 hours of community service by the time she was a senior.
Grand Junction, Colorado will host the state’s first Satanic invocation at their regular City Council meeting on Wednesday, August 2 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is at City Hall Auditorium, 250 N. 5th Street. It will be only the second Satanic invocation ever to occur in the continental United States.
Grand Junction became a national trailblazer in alternative invocations after the city crafted an invocation policy in 2008 that welcomes all comers. City Council agreed to open up the invocation opportunity to anyone who wants to say it (rather than just religious groups), refused to censor what is said at the invocation or place a time limit on speakers. The policy led to the City hosting the state’s first-ever atheist invocation (video) on January 5, 2011.
Cidney paid dearly for speaking out about her public school district. She lost grants for college tuition from local funders after the Daily Sentinel published a front page article about the proselytizing which bore her photo and contained extensive quotes about what she had experienced at school. Cidney’s teachers and counselors suddenly turned their backs on her and refused to write letters of support for her applications for scholarships, effectively tanking her chances of getting those scholarships. After speaking out, Cidney struggled to cobble together enough money to attend university. Cidney is from a low income family and completely dependent on grants, loans and scholarships to fund her tuition.
It’s a new thing for people on Grand Junction’s Main Street to cheer the Mesa County Democrats as they pass by in the Independence Day Parade. Years ago, the Democrats’ parade entry consisted four or five people and a donkey, and the crowd was stone-faced when we walked by.
But times are changing in Mesa County.
People are starting to see that the Democratic Party (pdf) isn’t just the party that goes to bat for working people on issues like a living wage, sick pay, parental leave and a diversified economy in Mesa County. It isn’t just the party that believes everyone should be able to get the health care they need. It isn’t just the party that recognizes the value of science and technology to humanity’s future. People now seeing that the Democratic Party is the party grown-up candidates who understand and respect America’s system of government and who show respect towards all people regardless of race, religion or non-religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Yes, Mesa County. That recognition is worth cheering about.