Colorado Day of Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional


 The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that governors’ proclamations of a state Day of Prayer violate the Constitution’s provisions for religious liberty.

When the state sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer, the three-judge panel found, it sends a message that those who pray are favored members of Colorado’s political community.

“In doing so, they undermine the premise that the government serves believers and nonbelievers equally,” Judge Steven Bernard wrote in a 73-page decision.

The content of six Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations, 2004 to 2009, is “predominantly religious,” lacking a secular context or purpose, and the effect is “government endorsement of religion over nonreligion,” Bernard wrote. Judges Alan Loeb and Nancy Lichtenstein concurred.

The governors’ proclamations, made by Govs. Bill Ritter and Bill Owens, have included biblical verses and other religious themes. They are calls to actual worship, Bernard wrote.

Let’s now apply this to the National Day of Prayer!


If Easter had been directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

More Americans Say Too Much Religion in Politics


For the first time since 2001, a plurality Americans say there is too much religious talk from politicians, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The poll showed 38% of Americans saying there was too much religious expression from politicians, compared to 30% who said there was too little. Twenty-five percent said the current level of religious rhetoric was the right amount.

Those figures represent a shift from 2010, when more Americans (37%) said there was too little talk of faith compared to those who said there was too much (29%).

Wednesday’s survey was the first time since 2001 the figure for Americans believing there is too much religious talk in politics has surpassed the number who say there is too little.

It scares me that 30% believe that there is not enough religion in politics and that 25% think that the current religion in politics is ok.


Why Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work in one short comic.

New Book Accuses Vatican of Hiding Cases of Sex Abuse of Minors


On the same day Pope Benedict addressed and blessed a group of 1,800 children in Guanajuato, Mexico, three Mexican authors released a book accusing the Vatican of hiding or ignoring cases of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

The book, “La Voluntad de no Saber” (Willing Not to be Aware), chronicles multiple cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by Marcial Maciel, a Mexican-born Roman Catholic priest who was influential at the Vatican.

The book was authored by Jose Barba, a former seminarian who says he was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest. Historian Fernando M. Gonzalez, a co-author, says the book is based on 212 documents leaked from the Vatican.

Alberto Athie, a former Catholic priest and whistle-blower, also contributed to the book.

According to the book, the Vatican had knowledge of multiple cases of sexual abuse committed by Maciel decades ago, but church authorities chose to do nothing about it.

Athie said the church either ignored or archived for years allegations of child sex abuse when he reported them during his years as a priest.

And this is the church that is so offended that they might have to let their publicly funded hospitals and schools cover birth control.


Why Americans Should Embrace Atheists

Despite their negative reputations among many Americans, atheists tend to be very ethical and high-achieving, argue Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close, write Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman.

Murder rates are far lower in secularized nations such as Japan or Sweden than they are in the much more religious United States, which also has a much greater portion of its population in prison. Even within this country, those states with the highest levels of church attendance, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, have significantly higher murder rates than far less religious states such as Vermont and Oregon.

Atheists tend to score high on measures of intelligence, especially verbal ability. They tend to raise their children to solve problems rationally, to make up their own minds when it comes to existential questions and to obey the golden rule. They are more likely to practice safe sex than the strongly religious are, and are less likely to be nationalistic or ethnocentric.

Denmark, which is among the least religious countries in the history of the world, consistently rates as the happiest of nations. And studies of apostates — people who were religious but later rejected their religion — report feeling happier, better and liberated in their post-religious lives.

On numerous respected measures of societal success — rates of poverty, teenage pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, drug use and crime, as well as economics — high levels of secularity are consistently correlated with positive outcomes in first-world nations.

Paul and Zuckerman argue that besides the positive statistics associated with atheists, there are more nonbelievers among us than ever: “Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s. Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers.”

“Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities,” Paul and Zuckerman conclude.