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Thomas G. Hungar, who argued for the town of Greece, New York, speaks to the media after oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday (Nov. 6). RNS photo by Katherine Burgess

Atheists may not pray, Brevard (Fla.) county commissioners say

Kimberly Winston Aug 22, 2014

A group of county commissioners in Florida is testing a recent Supreme Court decision by banning atheists from delivering an invocation before local public meetings.

Five members of the Brevard County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday (Aug. 20) against permitting a local atheist from delivering a prayer or invocation before their public meetings. They also voted to limit remarks from nonreligious people to the “public comments” section of their meetings.

In a letter to David Williamson, founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community, the board wrote, “The prayer is delivered during the ceremonial portion of the county’s meeting, and typically invokes guidance for the County Commission from the highest spiritual authority, a higher authority which a substantial body of Brevard constituents believe to exist.”

Robin Williams arriving at The 33rd Annual People’s Choice Awards in 2007. Photo courtesy of s_bukley via Shutterstock

Suicide rates higher among baby boomer men, study finds

Kathleen O'Brien Aug 21, 2014

(RNS) Robin Williams’ suicide may not have been that surprising: Baby boomer men are 60 percent more likely to take their own life than their fathers’ generation, according to a Rutgers University sociologist.

The trend is particularly alarming because middle age is typically a time when suicide rates decline before rising again in old age.

Suicide usually rises drastically during adolescence and young adulthood, then typically levels off in middle age, according to Julie Phillips, a Rutgers sociology professor who researched the effect of unemployment and the Great Recession on suicide rates nationally.

That plateau hasn’t happened with today’s baby boomer men.

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11 Signs You Went To Christian high school

Greg Perreault Aug 20, 2014

You always knew you were different because you went to Christian high school. Was it faith stuff? Sure, but that’s not all.
1. You know WAAY to many obscure facts about the Bible…

Who wrote 1st Timothy? Paul did. Ephesians? Paul did. Galatians? Still Paul. 2nd Thessalonians? Yep, Paul. Acts? Gotcha! It’s probably Luke but nobody knows.

Think the Bible is unreliable. You’ve got an answer for that: there are only 20 early manuscript copies of Tacitus and no one can attest to their interreliability. But the Bible? Keep your cap on fool, there 5600 early copies and they are 99.5% interreliable. Thanks high school!

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The Mind and the Buddha Inside Us

Gabbie Rhodes Aug 18, 2014

This summer I have recently read a few chapters of a book called The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma. In it the actual Zen creator, Bodhidharma, explains Zen Buddhism in further detail and one of the chapters that has really resonated with me is called the Bloodstream Sermon. In this section it teaches that everything stems from the mind and that our own mind is really the Buddha. Essentially that means that there is no Buddha to be looked for or found anywhere, and that searching for a Buddha or praising images of a Buddha does not give someone enlightenment. In fact, the very idea of doing those things is insulting to the whole practice and will not give anyone long lasting results.

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After the Ferguson protests, church volunteers pick up the pieces

Lilly Fowler Aug 15, 2014

FERGUSON, Mo. (RNS) On the fourth morning after Michael Brown’s death, residents from different parts of the region came together to pick up the pieces.

Some were young, some old. The majority arrived as part of the faithful. Others trickled in after spotting volunteers marching up and down West Florissant under the hot sun. Carrying brooms and large garbage bags, they collected whatever they could find: rubber bullets, broken glass, liquor bottles, tear gas grenades.

“I needed to come out today just to get some stability,” said Gary Park, 34, an auto mechanic who lives near the area in Ferguson where Brown was shot and protests erupted. Close by is the looted and burned QuikTrip that sits as a symbol of the severity of the unrest that resulted from an unnamed cop fatally shooting an unarmed 18-year-old.

“I wanted some encouragement,” Park said.

The U.S. Navy will no longer allow Bibles and other religious materials in the guest rooms of Navy lodges, a decision that has infuriated some conservative groups, which recently learned about the new policy. Photo courtesy of Joshua H., via Wikimedia Commons

Bibles booted from U.S. Navy base guest rooms

Lauren Markoe Aug 14, 2014

(RNS) The U.S. Navy will no longer allow Bibles and other religious materials in the guest rooms of Navy lodges, a decision that has infuriated some conservative groups, which recently learned about the new policy.

The Navy’s decision came after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter questioning the constitutionality of religious literature in the Navy lodges’ 3,000 guest rooms.

The June 19 directive from the Navy Exchange Service Command, which runs the Navy’s 39 guest lodges in the U.S. and abroad, allows religious materials to be made available to guests. But it forbids religious items to be placed in guest rooms, aligning the command, known as NEXCOM, with U.S. Navy policy, said NEXCOM spokeswoman Kathleen Martin.

On Tuesday (Aug. 12) the American Family Association made the directive the subject of its latest “action alert,” asking members to call Navy officials to reverse the decision. The Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty has called on the Navy to do the same.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, right, leads a June 9, 2014, panel discussion as David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, listens. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

US must ‘destroy’ Islamic State, say religious conservatives

David Gibson Aug 13, 2014

A coalition of more than 50 religious leaders, led by mostly conservative Catholic, evangelical and Jewish activists, is calling on President Obama to sharply escalate military action against Islamic extremists in Iraq.

They say “nothing short of the destruction” of the Islamic State can protect Christians and religious minorities now being subjected to “a campaign of genocide.”

“We represent various religious traditions and shades of belief,” the petition reads. “None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force.”

But they say the situation is so dire that relief for these religious communities “cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable” the Islamic State forces.

Tuesday Morning Meme, featuring Vladimir Putin

Greg Perreault Aug 12, 2014

Putin-shark weekNope, no religious connection. Except that the image of Putin on a shark will probably change the way you think about everything in your life. Happy Shark Week!

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Q & A with Kevin Glenn on his book Hand Over Fist

Jenna Fear Aug 11, 2014

Dr. Kevin D. Glenn, senior pastor at Memorial Baptist Church, recently released his first book, Hand Over Fist: An Invitation to Christ-Centered Civility, explores the hostility that has swept through the Christian community and offers guidance in learning to be civil.

?The local launch party for Hand over Fist is Thursday, September 4, from 6-8 pm downtown at The Candy Factory.

The book can be found online through West Bow Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Q: When did you begin working on the book?

A: About three years ago. It was originally part of my doctoral dissertation and I started out with a completely different topic. It just kept changing course and ended up with this issue of civility. Once I settled on civility as a topic, that’s when it developed and became the dissertation and eventually the book, so the whole thing has been about a three-year process.