Sunday, November 29, 2015

Harris County Sheriff: Agree With Me on Religion, Or Get Out

Mike Jolley, the sheriff of Harris County which has a population of 32,000 is apparently fed up with 'political correctness' (but actually tolerance) decided to post, with his own money, this exclusionary sign outside of his office. The sign reads, "Welcome to Harris County, Georgia! Warning: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust; We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you...LEAVE!" Unsurprisingly this has caused a bit of a stir. In an interview with WLTZ Jolley said that everyone has the right to free expression. Which yes is a bit contradictory to his sign. The issue here is if Jolley were acting as a private citizen he could put up such a sign without a problem. But the placement of an official looking sign outside the sheriff's office looks a lot like a government endorsement of belief over non belief which is a violation the the First Amendment. Jolley, a 20 year army veteran claims to be a patriot but doesn't seem to understand that the United States is intended to be an inclusive place. By telling people who don't agree with him to leave, Jolley is being anti-American and defying the true spirit of the country.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Religious Discrimination in the Military

A 2004 report on religious preferences of military personnel conducted by the Population Reference Bureau found that 21% of service members identified as Atheist or as having no religion. Despite this data revealing that 1 out of 5 U.S. service members identify as atheist or as having no religion, nontheist serving in the armed forces are frequent victims of religious discrimination and coercive proselytizing. This problem came into public view in 2005 when a report was released showing that officers, faculty, and cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs promoted evangelical Christian beliefs and displayed insensitivity towards and harassed cadets who practiced a different religion or who chose to practice no religion at all. Other forms of discrimination are apparent during basic training on Sundays when those who attend religious services are allowed to do so and those who choose not to and stay behind are forced to clean the barracks or do some sort of physical training. I know this from my brother's time in the Marines where he said it was not uncommon at all for the nonreligious to attend church anyways just to avoid this work --because honestly who wants to be put to work early on a Sunday morning. Most would choose sitting in the air conditioned chapel for an hour where they're for once not being yelled at. This is obviously problematic that it favors the religious.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do You Believe in a Secular America?

This video highlights ten reasons why a diverse population of Americans of varying religious belief want a secular nation. What are your thoughts on the video?

Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA)

November is National Adoption Month. Unfortunately, in many states, adoption and foster care agencies are allowed to discriminate against potential families by citing religious beliefs. The Secular Coalition, along with other LGBT allies, support the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (HR 2449 and S 1382), which prohibits agencies or entities they subcontract with from discriminating against potential families if they receive federal funds. These bills would hold all adoption and foster care agencies to the same standards and ensure that no child should be denied a family because of discrimination against potential parents.

End Public Funding of Religious Schools

A new bill, S.2171 is a bill about to go through the senate that would reauthorize the DC voucher program. The DC voucher program diverts millions of federal dollars from public schools to private religious schools. The problem is that religious private schools are excepting the funds but they are not subject to the federal civil rights laws, meaning that these schools can and do discriminate against students. Tax deductions programs such as this fund private religious institutions indirectly by allowing taxpayers to claim tax credits on their personal income taxes, reducing the amount paid to the state and shifting the money to the private school of the taxpayer’s choice. Private schools unlike public schools can and do discriminate based on income, disability, student or parental sexual orientation, and religious beliefs or lack thereof. This is in direct violation of the federal civil rights laws and yet they still are receiving this indirect federal funding.