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Wednesday, August 19, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Coming out atheist: young nonbelievers build community in college and online | Shift

by Kate Shellnutt

As teens, they start thinking that it just doesn’t make sense anymore, and for years, it’s their secret… then, in college, surrounded by more open-minded peers, they come out of the dark, still-stigmatized atheist closet.

One in four adults under 30 are atheists, agnostics or unaffiliated, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (see chart), but the number of young people who outwardly identify as nonbelievers is much, much smaller, for fear that it could threaten their careers, social lives or familial relationships. Now, with the help of the Internet and the Obama administration, 2009 may start a more open age for America’s nonreligious"

(Click here to read the entire article)

Sunday, August 16, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Possible fine and jail time for prayer at school

U.Image via Wikipedia

A principal and an athletic director in Florida could be charged with crimes and spend six months in jail after they prayed before a meal at a school event, the Washington Times reported.

Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and athletic director Robert Freeman will go on trial in federal district court Sept. 17. They're accused of violating the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Times.

Local pastors and some students and teachers are outraged that Lay and Freeman face criminal charges, and they have protested during graduation ceremonies, the newspaper said.

"I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I've never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Christian-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.

But an ACLU official said the Santa Rosa County School District has been guilty of "flagrant" First Amendment violations for years, the Times reported.

"The defendants all admitted wrongdoing," said Daniel Mach, ACLU's director of litigation for its freedom of religion program. "For example, the Pace High School teachers handbook asks teachers to 'embrace every opportunity to inculcate, by precept and example, the practice of every Christian virtue.'"

The case stems from a Jan. 28 incident in which Lay, a local Baptist church deacon, asked Freeman to offer mealtime prayers at a lunch for school employees. Staver said no students were there and the event took place on school property after hours.

Mach countered that the event was held during the school day and Lay has admitted in writing that there were students present, according to the newspaper.

The ACLU contends that the allowance of the lunchtime prayer was a breach of last year's settlement, in which the district promised, among other things, to prohibit all school employees from promoting prayers during school-sponsored events, espousing their religious beliefs and trying to convert students.

Click here for more on this story from the Washington Times.

The pros and cons of prayer in school has been a hotly debated subject for decades, and the Supreme Court has ruled on several cases involving prayer in school over the years.

Sunday, August 02, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

I am the Lord who heals you...

the other side v9Image by nimrodcooper (gone for now) via Flickr

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. — Matthew 18:19
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. — James 5:15

A central Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide.

Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

Sitting straight in his chair, Neumann stared at the jury as the verdict in a nearly empty courtroom was read. He declined comment as he left the courthouse.

Defense attorney Jay Kronenwetter said the verdict would be appealed. He declined further comment.

Read the entire story here: Wis. jury: Father guilty in prayer death case.

In Oregon on Friday, Carl Worthington received a 60-day jail sentence for letting his daughter suffer and die in the name of religion. His wife Raylene got a free pass for the same crime, the legal equivalent of a sympathetic squeeze on the shoulder.

Read about the Worthington story here: The Fight over Faith Healing.

The deaths of these children is terrible, to be sure, but are the parents to some extent also victims? Are these people victims of religious indoctrination, or rather, brain washing?

For many years I faithfully trusted in prayer for the sick. Every week the guarantee from the pulpit was that God would honor the promises in His Word. Fortunately I also had enough common sense to get my kids to the doctor, regardless of my "faith."

What do you think? Are these parents guilty of homicide? What about religious leaders who blather on incessantly about faith healing, discouraging their followers from seeking legitimate medical attention? Should faith healers be held accountable for the damage done in the lives of gullible believers?