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An atheist conversion narrative

« Eventually, Charlotte agreed to tag along for a few atheist lectures and “heathen happy hours,” and, as she met actual atheists, her thinking changed. These people didn’t seem to fit the stereotypes she’d been raised to believe. They were open and kind, raising happy, healthy children. She needed to be just as open about her beliefs, Charlotte thought, for the sake of her own family.

“It is who I am, and I need to own it, for myself and to be a good role model to my kids, so that they know that I really believe the things I’m teaching them.”

The Shaughnessy children are sharp. They knew something was awry when their Sunday mornings became church-free. But Charlotte and Harry hadn’t wanted to explain their beliefs until they were sure they were finished with faith. »

Flying Spaghetti Monster
Scott Beale via Compfight

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The first rule of SF Jail Fight Club…

« Since the beginning of March, at least four deputies at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St. threatened inmates with violence or withheld food if they did not fight each other, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of the deputies, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.

Adachi said the ringleader in these fights was Deputy Scott Neu, who was accused in 2006 of forcing inmates to perform sexual acts on him. That case was settled out of court. »

Recreation yard
Juha Ristolainen via Compfight

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A clockwork lemon

No, Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is not just like 19 other states':

« Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Pence claimed “Then state-Sen. Barack Obama voted for [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. The very same language.”

The same argument is parroted on Fox News and elsewhere.

It’s not true.

The Indiana law differs substantially from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Clinton in 1993, and all other state RFRAs. »

« The Indiana governor just signed into law something called a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” But the law itself is nothing like its 1993 namesake. It’s an artificial Lemon. Indiana’s new law is not an attempt to hold statutes restricting religious liberty to strict scrutiny. It is, rather, a reaffirmation and expansion of the obnoxious logic of the Oregon v. Smith ruling that the real RFRA was written to correct. »

« The federal RFRA and most other state RFRAs provide that in order to pass constitutional muster the alleged burden on the exercise of sincerely held religious beliefs must be “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.” Some versions of the state RFRA now pending before the Indiana Legislature, by contrast, set forth that the state must demonstrate that “applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; …” This difference in language, creating a much higher burden for the state in defending the application of otherwise generally applicable laws in cases where there is an alleged burden on religious liberty rights, is extremely important. This higher burden will be particularly critical in cases where RFRA rights might be asserted as a defense to a claim of discrimination; the RFRA claimant will be encouraged to assert a range of ways, including the market, in which application of the anti-discrimination law is non-essential. Further, the definition of “person” under the proposed RFRA differs substantially from that contained in the federal RFRA, affording standing to assert religious liberty rights to a much broader class of entities than that currently recognized by federal law. »

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#RaceTogether

« After a childhood spent abroad, where he was educated at international schools attended by people of many races and ethnicities, Davis moved at age ten to a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, where he was one of two black kids in his school.

In 1968, on a statewide Boy Scout march to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere, he was chosen by his troop to carry the American flag. He was also the only black Boy Scout present. When people in the crowd started to hurl bottles, cans, and rocks, he thought to himself, these people must not like the Boy Scouts. In time, he realized that he was the only kid being targeted but he didn’t know why. Upon returning home, his parents explained racism to him for the first time. He couldn’t comprehend that people who knew nothing about him would inflict pain based only on the color of his skin: “I literally thought they were lying to me.”

Some years later, a teacher brought the head of the American Nazi Party as a speaker to his 10th grade class…»