By Christy Barritt
Bus Ad from Atheist Group Rejected
A request by an atheist group to place banner advertisements promoting atheism on city buses in the county of Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, has been rejected.
The group is now arguing that its rights to freedom of speech are being denied.
The NEPA Freethought Society wanted to advertise its website by placing the word Atheism, along with appropriate web addresses, on 10 buses in the county of Lackawanna.
The County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) rejected the ad, citing that such an ad would violate an established policy.
COLTS solicitor Timothy Hinton told The Scranton Times-Tribune the ads would violate a policy the agency adopted in June against allowing its property to become a forum for the debate of public issues.
NEPA is now considering teaming up with a bigger national group, American Atheists, to file a lawsuit against the county transit system.
Countries Most Prone to Violate Religious Freedoms Named
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report listing the nations most prone to violating religious freedoms. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission whose principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances surrounding violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the president, the secretary of state, and Congress.
This year, top violators include: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The governments of these countries sanction discrimination and violence against unpopular religious sects, including Christianity.
“Religious freedom abuses must never go unchallenged,” the 2012 report said. “This is not merely USCIRF’s opinion, or a reflection of our own heritage as a free people. It is a basic tenet of humanity, a moral, ethical, and legal duty that the United States ought to honor with action.”
Youth Turned off by Religion and Politics
Young people are turning away from church because they associate the institution with Republican politics.
That’s what a new study done by political science professors David Campbell (University of Notre Dame) and Robert Putnam (Harvard University) found. Their survey was called, “God and Caesar in America: Why Mixing Religion and Politics Is Bad for Both.” The study ran in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs.
The study found that people are either driven away or toward religious involvement because of their political leanings. Those who are politically conservative are more likely to become churchgoers than those who are politically liberal.
These trends are stronger among young adults under 30 and strongest for those under 25.
The authors wrote that to young adults, “religion means Republican, intolerant, and homophobic.”
Born-Alive Infant Protection Bill
A new bill in South Carolina defines infants surviving abortion as people with the right to live.
The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act states that infants who are born alive during abortion procedures may not be treated as medical waste by being left to die or deliberately killed because they’re unwanted.
The state House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.
State-level legislation is needed to protect these babies because right now only federal law protects infants born alive during induced abortions. However, this law is only applied on federal property such as military bases or federally funded hospitals.
The bill will be considered by the full 23-member Senate Judiciary Committee.
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.