Controversial Indiana religious freedom law amended to prevent discrimination

By on April 11, 2015 | Discuss

Following the national outcry over a bill which many said would legalize discrimination against LGBT groups, Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed into law an amendment designed to quell such concerns. From The National Law review:

Specifically, the amendment states that the [law] does not … authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services … to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service … or negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana.

Source: The National Law Review: Indiana Amends Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Prohibit Discrimination

Religious festivals may have lead to first cities

By on April 6, 2015 | Discuss

The conventional view regarding the formation of early cities is that they expanded out from farming collectives. New archaeological evidence suggests that in the Mayan civilization and perhaps others, religion may have also played a large part in their formation. From New Scientist:

For the past decade, Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona in Tucson has been excavating the Ceibal site on the banks of the Pasi├│n river, which once had some 10,000 inhabitants and sprawled over tens of square kilometres. His team’s latest investigations reveal that the city’s residential areas are much more recent than the first ceremonial pyramids and temple.

Inomata suggests that the collective activity of building temples and worshipping eventually encouraged integration of the diverse traveller groups and the growth of an urban centre, rather than the other way round.

Source: New Scientist: Jungle festivals led to first Maya cities

Arkansas Legislature Passed ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

By on April 1, 2015 | Discuss

In a similar vein to the recent news about a bill signature in Indiana concerning religious freedom, the Arkansas state legislature sent a bill to Governor Asa Hutchinson who must now decide whether to sign the bill amid a predictable backlash similar to the one being felt by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Governor Hutchinson on Monday:

If this bill reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states then I will sign it.

Like the Indiana law, the Arkansas law is loosely based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Signs Controversial ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

By on March 27, 2015 | Discuss

Starting July 1, 2015 Indiana business owners will have the legal right to deny employment to same-sex couples if they wish.

Titled the Religious Freedom Restoration bill, Indiana SB 101 was signed by Governor Mike Pence on the morning of Thursday, March 26, 2015. Governor Pence:

The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact. I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue.

The law may also be interpreted to support other forms of discrimination. From NPR:

During debate on the legislation, state Rep. Bruce Borders cited the example of an anesthesiologist who objected to putting under a woman who was preparing to undergo an abortion.

The bill has been widely criticized as legalizing discrimination against same-sex couples by many groups and individuals including the Human Rights Campaign.

Tom Manger of the Secular Coalition for California

By on November 20, 2014 | Discuss

Tom talks to the Legislative Chair for the Secular Coalition of California Tom Manger on atheist political representation in America and abroad, and what can be done to help.

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