Tag: religion

FFRF: Fruita Monument High School’s Baccalaureate Violates First Amendment

FMHSLogoA concerned member of the Fruita Monument High School community has sought help from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) over a “baccalaureate” ceremony held in the school’s gym last year on May 12, 2014, and possibly over concerns of a similar event occurring this year around graduation time.

A baccalaureate is a religious ceremony held a few days before a school’s official graduation ceremony. Baccalaureates often feature prayers, bible readings, sermons or benedictions, and music. Students may wear their caps and gowns, and readings may be given by school employees.

Because baccalaureates are religious events, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires publicly-funded schools to divorce themselves from any connection to these events. Schools cannot help plan, design or sponsor these ceremonies. School employees cannot participate in organizing such events or appear at them in their official capacities. If school auditoriums or gyms are used for the ceremonies, a private party must rent the venue out for the event. The law requires a complete separation between the school and the baccalaureate in every sense.

Students Who Didn’t Want to Attend Allegedly Threatened

The anonymous complainant reported that FMHS Principal Todd McClaskey, Vice Principal Lee Carleton, and other school staff members helped plan the May, 2014 baccalaureate ceremony at FMHS. They reported that FMHS teachers and administrators spoke in their official capacities at the event, reading bible verses and speaking in general terms about the virtues of being a Christian. FMHS’ choir and orchestra students were required to perform at the baccalaureate, and students who didn’t want to take part in the ceremony were threatened with lower grades and told that if they failed to attend, they would have to perform all of the concert music, solo, in front of the entire class, at a later date.

Online Videos Reveal John L. Casey to be a Fearmonger and Racist

Online videos of talks by John L. Casey, the 2015 Energy Forum and Expo’s keynote speaker, reveal him stimulating fear and racism by telling audiences that in the coming cold era that will occur on Earth, minority groups in urban areas will rise up to become thieves and murderers who will try to steal your food.

In videos of his talks, mostly given to Florida tea party groups, Casey tells his audiences that anthropogenic global warming is a “widespread fraud of climate science.” He says carbon dioxide (CO2) has nothing to do with climate change, that changing climate is purely related to the sun. Casey says the sun is now in a period of “hibernation” that will lead to extreme cold that will devastate crops and result of massive food shortages globally.

One of Casey’s talks in reveals his fearmongering and cultivation of racism.

In a video published to YouTube on December 4, 2014, around minute 56, Casey tells his audience:

“After the first panic, when the shelves are cleared out…your neighbor is going to come across the street — maybe your neighbor’s wife — and say ‘sorry to come to your house’ and say there’s no bread and no milk, would you give me something because we know you have a one year food supply. What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? You’re gonna try and help of course. That’s the human thing. But at some point you’re gonna have enough neighbors lining up and at some point you’re going to have to say ‘I’m sorry we need to preserve our food for ourselves.’

Guess what happens after that point? They’ll beat you up and they’ll kill you. …Nothing is more driven than a starving person. They will do anything, especially if they have children who are starving….

Worst case, have a sanctuary away from urban areas…this may not apply too much here…but it absolutely applies if you live in Miami, New York City, or Atlanta, Georgia,…I mean, pick a major metropolitan area, especially those that are heavily minority and dependent on government food. That’s another reason we need to get rid of the food stamp program, ladies and gentlemen. We need people to be self reliant, not dependent. By making them independent and self-reliant, we give them a chance…”

“The death and destruction will be biblical in scale,” Casey tells the crowd.

See the clip here.

 

 

 

Delta Middle School Teacher Pushes Christianity on Students

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), which advocates for western Colorado’s secular community, has a form on its website where people can submit violations of the separation of church and state that they observe in western Colorado. On December 10, 2014, the mother of a student who attends Delta Middle School submitted the following information about Christianity being forced on middle school students in Delta, Colorado:

Jime Charlesworth, teacher, Delta Middle School

Jime Charlesworth, teacher, Delta Middle School

A teacher named named Mrs. Charlesworth teaches reading and writing at Delta Middle school. She likes to share her Christian beliefs with the class. One day she told the class non Christians were bad people. A student said that the non Christians were the people who bombed people and she did nothing to correct the conversation. On Friday 11-5-14 all DMS students were forced to watch an 1.5 hour long play about the baby Jesus. My daughter repeatedly asked if she could leave the play because she thought it was inappropriate for school. The teachers would not let her leave. My daughter felt like she was forced to attend a Christian church. My daughter has also been forced to read a book called the witness. She said it has a lot of God stuff in it. I haven’t read it yet. I met with the principal and vice principal of DMS today 12-10-14. I informed them they were violating Church and state rules. They told me the play would never be performed in DMS ever again and the Christian bias would stop. They also assured me my child would treated with respect and would not suffer because I complained. Several hours after my meeting with the principals, my daughter was singled out and yelled at by Mrs. Charlesworth, in front of the entire class. My daughter is being retaliated against for
asserting her rights.

This incident of proselytizing to student in western slope public schools joins numerous others that have been reported, like Fellowship Church’s promotion of its 4640 youth indoctrination center to middle school gym classes, and the promotion of Christian “Good News Clubs” in elementary schools.

Why a Fetus is Not a Person

NotADifficultConcept

Updated November 5, 2014

Colorado’s Amendment 67 did not pass, to the relief of most of the state. The measure would have declared unborn human beings as a “person” or a “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code.

It was yet another a personhood measure, but this year Personhood USA, the group pushing these kinds of measures, tried to disguise that fact by calling it the “Brady Amendment,” after a fetus a woman lost in a 2012 drunk driving accident. Naming the measure after a woman’s lost fetus was an attempt to give the measure emotional appeal, because when you can get people to react through emotion, they’ll often bypass their rational thinking.

A fundamentally flawed argument

Coloradans have rejected personhood measures three times now, for good reason. The thinking behind these ballot initiatives is illogical and thus fundamentally flawed.

A fetus is not a person in any legal sense.

Both fertilized eggs and clones represent potential, not actual human beings.

Zygotes, or fertilized eggs, and fetuses lack many of the physical characteristics of human beings. They don’t have brains, skeletons, or internal organs. A fetus cannot engage in human perception or thought. The analogy that fits is that an acorn is not an oak tree and the egg you eat for breakfast is not a chicken.

Fetuses have no social identity, and there is no precedent for giving them such. Names are not legally conferred upon fetuses, only upon babies after birth.  The first legal recognition of a person’s existence is their birth certificate. No government on Earth issues “pre-birth certificates.” The government does not issue death certificates for miscarried or aborted fetuses. The government does not issue social security numbers to fetuses, nor does the government confer any rights of citizenship on upon conception.

Online Database Details Religious Crimes Against Humanity

fishAn eye-opening database publicly available on Google Docs lists known major organized crimes implemented globally by the Catholic church and other religions. The list includes systematic child abductions by the Church (the seizure of millions of babies from unmarried women and girls from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s who were then adopted out for profit), child and female enslavement, sexual abuse, child pornography, abuse of deaf victims, beatings, severe punishments and use of orphans as “guinea pigs” in human experimental and clinical trials. All entries are documented to authoritative sources or reporting. One example of crimes committed by the Catholic church is the so-called “Baby Scoop Era,” in which unwed pregnant girls were “disappeared” into Catholic “Mother-Baby Homes.” There the girls and young women were fed and housed with minimal attention until they gave birth in rooms alone, without support, assistance, counseling or coaching. The new young mothers were then coerced or forced to surrender their babies for adoption. This human rights crime against women is backed up with a link to a one hour investigative news program by Dan Rather titled “What the Catholic Church failed to tell you: Abominations of the Catholic Church in USA and Canada” that details how from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, Catholic nuns coerced over one million American women and girls to give up their babies. The Church then sold them into illegitimate adoptions for “astronomical profits.”

Woman and Girls Used as Slave Labor in Irish Laundries Operated by the Catholic Church

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

A BBC investigation has revealed that Irish nuns from the Catholic church took female children out of church-operated state orphanages and used them as unpaid slave labor in church-owned commercial laundry facilities called the Magdalene Laundries. Women and girls made to work in the laundries were held as prisoners and endured significant abuse. The slave laundries existed into the 1980s and did the laundry for restaurants, railway stations, convents and the airport. Some women were held in the laundries for over 50 years.

The Irish Examiner newspaper investigated the finances of religious orders that operated the laundries in 2012 and found they owned assets of $1.9 billion. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a “B.”).

One woman, the main subject in BBC’s report, escaped the laundry, ran to a nearby church for help, got raped by a priest and returned to the laundry. She became pregnant from the rape. The nuns took her baby away from her at birth and gave it up for adoption. The woman was forced to work in the laundry for 14 years. She was finally reunited with her daughter 40 years after her birth. The woman is demanding an apology — just an apology — from the Church.

Source: Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nunsBBC News, September 23, 2014

Hard-Core Evangelical Christian Group Has its Way with District 51

Permission slip sent home for kids to attend evangelical Christian "Good News Club" events at Tope Elementary.

Permission slip sent home for kids to attend evangelical Christian “Good News Club” events at Tope Elementary.

Many Grand Junction-area citizens are wondering how a group like the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), whose mission is converting as many children as possible to Christianity, could hold Bible study classes for elementary school-aged kids in taxpayer-funded public schools in School District 51, which tries hard to avoid endorsing specific religions. The Good News Club (GNC) says it is just trying to improve life for children all across the country.

But critics of GNC argue that the Club is really bad news for kids, because it purposely strives to make them feel guilty and shame them with lesson plans that describe Jesus’ death in vivid terms and tell children they are personally responsible for it.

The website GoodNewsClubs.info, contains direct quotes from from GNC’s lesson materials:

“The Lord Jesus suffered terrible beatings, then He was cruelly nailed to a wooden
cross, where He bled and died…  As Jesus hung on the cross, God punished Him for
your sin and your deceitful heart.” Patriarchs, p35.

“He chose to die for you. As the nails were driven into His hands and feet and His blood flowed out, God was punishing His Son for your sin…. Jesus was willing to die this awful death… After Jesus suffered and died for you, He was buried in a tomb….” Life of Christ, Book 2, p30.

“First you need to agree with God that you are a sinner and are separated from him because of your sin. Be sorry for your sin and ask God to change you…” Paul: God’s Servant, p. 44

The Clubs tell children that they are desperately wicked and “deserve to die.”

More Reports of Proselytizing in District 51 Schools

This "Hey Kids!!!" poster recruits kids to attend evangelistic Bible classes  at Broadway Elementary.

This “Hey Kids!!!” poster recruiting kids to attend evangelistic Bible classes was photographed at Broadway Elementary.

Grand Junction parents are voicing concern that their children attending District 51 elementary schools are being sent home home with fliers soliciting attendance at Bible study classes held immediately after school on school grounds. The Child Evangelism Fellowship is actively working to recruit young children into to Christianity by promoting “Good News Club” meetings to be held weekly within local public school buildings from about 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. Times apparently vary according to individual school schedules. Parents have reported via a local Facebook group that fliers and posters promoting the religious classes have shown up at Tope, Broadway and Pomona elementary schools.

The mission of the Child Evangelism Fellowship is “to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them with the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”

Concerned parents say a public school is an inappropriate place to carry out that mission, and grade school-aged kids won’t be able to distinguish between their regular classes and the Bible study classes. Parents also believe such religiously-intensive activities are more appropriately held in a church than a taxpayer-funded public school building.

Nonreligous Alcoholism Recovery Group Forms in Western Colorado

Alcohol-RecoveryAt long last, a non-religious alcoholism recovery group is finally available in Grand Junction.

We Agnostics of Western Colorado, meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fourth Door, a music club in a building at the northeast corner of 4th Street and Grand Ave. The group is open to all nonbelievers, including atheists, skeptics and agnostics.

We Agnostics organizer Sam C. is one of four people who spent two months working on finding a suitable place to meet, creating a flier and performing other tasks needed to establish the group. Sam says that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) works best for recovery but notes that nonreligious people who participate in AA have try to “ignore the god stuff.”

The flier promoting We Agnostics says it’s for “Recovering alcoholics who prefer an alternative to the emphasis on religion and ‘Higher Power’ commonly encountered in many meetings.” The group maintains a tradition of free expression and offers a place where people struggling with alcoholism can feel free to express any doubts or disbelief they may have, as well as “share their own personal form of spiritual experience, or their search or rejection of it.” The group does not endorse or oppose any form of religion or atheism. Their only wish is “to assure suffering alcoholics that they can achieve sobriety with the support of AA without having to accept anyone else’s believes or deny their own.”

Sam reminds people that the only real requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.

For more information on We Agnostics. contact Sam C., via text or phone at (303) 818-6312, (he is local), or send an email to WeAgnosticsofWC@gmail.com.

A Pattern of Proselytizing in Grand Junction Public Schools?

4640 Poster

Poster promoting Fellowship Church’s 4640 youth center, photographed at a local high school

 

On February 11, 2014, a sixth grader at Grand Mesa Middle School, a public school in Grand Junction, came home and handed his dad a flier promoting a hip, new youth recreation center in town called “4640.” The child said he and his schoolmates were shown a video during gym class about the 4640 recreation facility and that the name “4640” was derived from a section of the Bible meaning “John 6:40.” Students were instructed to pick up fliers and permission slips to use the facility after the presentation.

The “4640” youth recreation center belongs to Grand Junction’s Fellowship Church, and it’s one serious kid magnet. The fliers students brought home were release of liability forms that advertised 4640 had “spider jumps,” a “giant swing,” a “foam pit” and a “sports court.” The website for 4640 also touted a food court where,

“A couple bucks will buy you more junk food than your mom would approve of. We’re talking about snacks high in sugar, low in nutritional value — just the kind of fuel you need to have a blast with your 500 other Middle School friends!” **

and…

“Ever seen anybody eat a live cricket? Our Youth staff will do anything it takes to blow your mind.” **

Promotional posters for 4640 were also up at Grand Junction and Central High Schools. The posters (pictured above) did not mention that 4640 was actually at a church, that another exciting feature of the facility was a “worship pit,” or that kids using the facility would be subjected to religious indoctrination during their visits.

Mesa County Tea Partiers Continue to Battle “Old Guard” GOP Machine

AnneLandmanBlog has obtained video of western slope conservatives meeting at a local restaurant December 20, 2013 to pressure former Palisade Police Chief Carrol Quarles to run against State Senator Steve King for Mesa County Sheriff.*  King is the candidate the Mesa County Republican Party has selected to run for Sheriff in the upcoming 2014 election. Quarles was fired from his position as police chief by the town of Palisade in October, 2012.

On Google Earth, Illinois Church Looks Like a Penis

The Christian Science Society of Dixon, Illinois building as seen on Google Earth.

The Christian Science Society of Dixon, Illinois building as seen on Google Earth.

When people search for the Christian Science Society’s building in Dixon, Illinois on Google Earth, they’re in for a little surprise. When viewed from the heavens, the building looks like a large brown penis. The church group explains that the building was designed to spare the large oak tree growing in front of it instead of cutting it down, and that the building is energy efficient because of all the south-facing windows.  The church’s motto is “Rising up.” The congregation has a sense of humor, though. They “photoshopped” the Google Earth picture to place a giant fig leaf over their building. Still, when directing people to a map of how to get to their congregation, they use Bing.

Mesa County GOP in Takeover Mode, Now Seeks Control of School Board

Linda Gregory (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Linda Gregory (Photo Credit: YouTube)

On October 16, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that front range billionaire C. Edward McVaney had donated substantial funds to the three local “tea party” candidates in the District 51 School Board race: Patrick Kanda, John Sluder and John Lowenstein. The candidates admitted they didn’t even know who McVaney is, but took the money anyway. Soon after that report, the Sentinel revealed in a follow-up article that McVaney’s money came with strings attached:  the candidates were told to spend the funds on the campaign consulting services of Mark Baisley, who also lives and works on the front range. So who is Baisley?  He is vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party, and a Republican strategist and PR guy. A post on Baisley’s Facebook page reveals he believes that politics boils down to God versus Democrats, for one thing.  But even more interesting to locals should be a post on his page dated September 22, which appears to have been written by Linda Gregory, Chair of the Mesa County Republican Women (McRw).

Court Upholds Fraud Conviction Against Church of Scientology

Scietology's Mark Super VII Quantum E-meter (Photo: Wikipedia)

A Scientology Mark Super VII Quantum E-meter (Photo: Wikipedia) In 1968, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard used an E-meter to determine whether tomatoes feel pain, and subsequently concluded that tomatoes “scream when sliced.” (See: http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-dumbinventions/3/)

A French appeals court has let stand a 2009 conviction against the Church of Scientology for organized fraud. The case started in 1998 after two women complained that the Scientology Church had scammed them. One woman said she was manipulated into paying 20,000 euros for Scientology products, including “exclusive scriptures” an “electrometer,” or “e-meter,” the Church said she needed to measure her mental energy. Another woman said her employer, who was a scientologist, ordered her to undergo testing and enroll in Scientology courses as a requirement to keep her job. She refused and was subsequently fired. The 2009 conviction required the French branch of the Church of Scientology to pay a fine of 600,000 Euros (about $812,000) for fraudulently extorting money from followers. The Church calls the ruling “a show of anti-religious extremism” and “an affront to justice and religious liberty” and plans to appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights. The Church of Scientology was founded in the U.S. in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Its followers believe that humans are inhabited by immortal spirits that have lived thousands of previous lives in other worlds. In the 1980s the Church of Scientology acquired its own cruise ship called the FreeWinds, a 400 foot vessel based in the Caribbean, which the Church says helps followers reach a level within the church titled “Operating Thetans.” Famous scientologists include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley.

 

Main Source: UK Telegraph, October 17, 2013

Court Rules Corporations Aren’t People, Can’t Exercise Religion

The United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously today (pdf) that a private, for-profit corporation is not a “person” capable of “religious exercise,” and so cannot be excused from complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) for religious reasons. The case centered around a lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by Autocam Corporation and Autocam Medical, LLC two for-profit, secular corporations that make products for the automotive and medical industries. The companies are owned and controlled by members of the Kennedy family, all of whom are practicing Roman Catholics. The Kennedy family complained that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employees’ health insurance cover FDA- approved contraceptives would force the family to violate the teachings of their church. The Court ruled that since a corporation cannot exercise religion, it cannot claim that its religious rights are being infringed by the Affordable Care Act. The ruling has implications for other corporations, like Hobby Lobby, that have made the same claim.

Parishioners Worship Aphid Excrement Falling from Tree

Fresno parishioners worship beneath an aphid-infested tree in front of their church (Photo credit: WPTV)

Fresno parishioners worship beneath an aphid-infested tree in front of their church (Photo credit: WPTV)

Parishioners of St. Johns Cathedral in Fresno, California started worshipping a crape myrtle tree in front of their church after someone who stood underneath the tree for shade felt droplets falling from it. A growing group of worshippers from the church believes that the droplets coming from the tree are “tears of God,” and are a miracle. St. Johns parishioner Maria Ybarra told WPTV News  that “When you say ‘glory be to God in Jesus name,’ the tree starts throwing out more water.” But local arborist Jon Reelhorn explains that the droplets coming from the tree are the excrement of aphids that have infested the tree and that are sucking its sap. He noted that the aphid excrement, called “honeydew,” gets so heavy in the summertime that it literally drips off the tree. He pointed out that the same thing happening at another tree across the street. That explanation didn’t throw any water on Ms. Ybarra’s enthusiasm for the phenomenon, however, and she continues to believe the bug excrement is divine. She said to WPTV, “I can tell you looking at it from a scientific standpoint and a spiritual standpoint, it is the work of God manifesting here on earth,” Ybarra said.

Source: KPTV Channel 5, Fresno, California (NBC affiliate), August 10, 2013

NYC Parking Company Appeals to Atheists

Atheists are apparently a significant enough part of the community in New York City that a parking company saw fit to solicit business using a humorous billboard that pokes fun at people who pray to the Lord for personal favors, like a parking space.

Billboard seen in Manhattan's west side (Chelsea district) advertising the services of a parking lot

Billboard seen in Manhattan’s west side (Chelsea district) advertising the services of a parking lot