Wednesday, March 5, 2014

AU & Allies Ask Federal Appeals Court To Strike Utah’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Ban Violates First Amendment Religious Liberty Protections, Coalition Says

March 5, 2014

Americans United has joined a legal brief asking a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.

The brief, filed by Americans United, the Anti-Defamation League and 23 other religious and public policy groups, says the state’s ban is unconstitutional and argues that it restricts, rather than protects, religious liberty.

[Editor's note:  the legal brief can be read by clicking on the link below.]

“A handful of religious groups should not be allowed to define marriage for all Americans,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “That is fundamentally at odds with what religious liberty is supposed to be about. The Constitution guarantees protection for everyone, not just a privileged few.”

The brief, filed before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that the government cannot adopt a definition of marriage favored by some religious groups.

“A decision overturning the Marriage Ban would assure full state recognition of civil marriages, while allowing religious groups the freedom to choose how to define marriage for themselves,” the groups assert. “It is a violation of the First Amendment to deny individuals the right to marry on the grounds that such marriages would offend the tenets of a particular religious group.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Science and Religion Are Not Synonyms

Science and Religion Are Not Synonyms

I did not watch the  recent Nye/Ham science v. religion "debate" nor am I likely to though I have read several articles with varying POVs, both scientific and creationist magic.

Even a man with the intellect of Chris Hitchens was unable to persuade any flat-earther to admit the impossibility of a god and miracles.

It was finally made clear to me how the flat-earthers are NOT interested in science since they believe their god has made all things and therefor when a phenomenon can't be explained by science it's because their god has made a miracle, no exceptions, no explanations needed.

Science is an enemy to religion only so far as science will not accept myth as evidence when dealing with nature.  Evidence is the lifeblood of science in the same way emotion is the lifeblood of religion.  The two words are not synonyms even though the flat-earthers would like to think so.

It's pointless to give the flat-earthers the opportunity, once again,  to stand in public with a scientific opponent with the intent to attract undecided viewers as it is nothing but another pitch for their god.

All our energy should be directed at keeping these witch doctor dogmas from being manipulated into public law.  There really are religious people who want to live in a scientific world and keep their religion a private matter and don't relish the publicity given to the extreme believers. It's the only legal thing we can do in a constitutional republic.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act - Resources for Citizens

This post collates resources relevant to the Oklahoma version of the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act, legislation originally formulated and passed in Texas.

The current versions of the bill may be found on the legislature's website: HB1456, SB1142. We will be tracking these throughout the legislative session. You can do so yourself by reading the history of the bill, which indicates which step in the legislative process they are currently on, for example, the house bill is currently in the rules committee.

Here are the talking points discussing why these bills are problematic, in a single page, from Americans United. Here are a few of my thoughts on the bill, on my blog at Skeptic Ink. Finally, for a scholarly long read packed with in-depth analysis, check out this article from the UC Davis Law Review.

Share and enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fifth Annual Legislative Preview

Oklahoma City chapter of
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
Fifth Annual Legislative Preview
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Belle Isle Public Library, 5501 N. Villa
10:00am to noon

Crossing the Line


Guest speakers--
Rev. Jim Shields: brief overview of church/state separation in Methodist history.
Jim Huff: brief overview of church/state separation in Southern Baptist history.
Dr. Victor Hutchison: brief look at 2014 proposed legislation affecting science education in public schools.

Apocalyptic Fantasy in Government –-
John Loghry, chapter president, brief remarks concerning religion and government

Repointing Jefferson's Wall--
James Nimmo: brief summary of Bishop v. USA—Federal District Judge Terence Kern's ruling concerning marriage equality in Oklahoma.

Selected discussion of proposed bills--
Chas Stewart, chapter secretary: "School employee religious liberty act", HB 2675.
Damion Reinhardt, chapter treasurer: “Religious Viewpoints Anti-discrimination Act”,
HB 1456, 1040, 2422; SB 1142

Q & A

Useful Websites and Links

Oklahoma Legislature

Same-Gender Marriage and Religious Freedom

Oklahoma Policy Prostitute

Americans United for Separation of Church & State

Oklahoma City chapter of Americans United
Good analysis of Tulsa Judge Kern's marriage equality ruling

Chart describing Biblical history of marriage
courtesy of Ryan Long

(click on the image for a larger view)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Debate Between a Bible Thumper and a Model Citizen

Debate Between a Bible Thumper and a Model Citizen

Here's the streaming video link to the Flashpoint debate between Scott Hamilton of Cimarron Alliance, and Sally Kern, leader of the homo-hater brigade. Watching the video is really better because then you can back it up to listen yet again to Kern make the most unbelievable calumnies against our gay-lesbian citizenship---you won't believe your ears the first time.

I congratulate Scott for his use of the facts to prove Kern is using her religious prejudice to frame the civil laws of Oklahoma against us.  I think dueling bible verses is not the proper defense against the Kern Kult.  The issue is not whether any religion endorses marriage equality--each Christian denomination has differing dogma even about its founder.  The main point should always be made that anyone's exercise of the civil right of marriage--founded in the First Amendment's right of association--is NOT based on a religious ceremony.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Additional information concerning the Legislative Preview--2014

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State (OKC-AU) will hold its fifth annual Oklahoma Legislative Preview on Saturday, January 25, 2014. The event titled, “Crossing the Line” will be held at the Belle Isle Library, 10 a.m. to noon, 5501 N. Villa in Oklahoma City. 

The Preview will include a review of selected proposed bills that OKC-AU feels cross the line between religious point of view and civil rights as defined in our state and federal constitutions.

A brief explanation of how proposed bills become law in Oklahoma will also be presented.

Three featured speakers will outline the history of their respective religious denominations.

Guest speaker Dr. Victor H. Hutchison, George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, will discuss proposed bills involving religion and science education.

Featured speaker Rev. Jim Shields of Oklahoma City, one of the founding members of the Oklahoma City chapter of Americans United, will be outlining the history of church/state separation in the Methodist tradition.

Jim Huff, a Deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, will be speaking about the Baptist history of separation of church and state.

This event previews bills submitted by both Houses of the Oklahoma Legislature that could interfere with First Amendment freedom of religion and could encumber the rights of others. The audience is invited to participate in a Q & A period and a civil open discussion.

James Nimmo, OKC-AU communication chair, said, “This year's theme, Crossing the Line, reflects the intent that some bills introduced during this year's legislative session violate the Constitutional separation of religious views from civil laws.  

“Religious observance is free for all to exercise in private with other like-minded people,” Nimmo added. “However, when tax money, public property or the legal power of the state is used to support religious views that are not shared by others, it crosses the line of legality.”

The first regular session of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature officially convenes on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 12 p.m.

OKAU President John Loghry said, “Our society is meant to have many voices, but much of this legislation seems to be aimed at keeping those that are not evangelical from having equal footing in the conversation."

The Oklahoma City Chapter, one of the most active chapters of American United for Separation of Church and State, arranges this event so that Oklahoma citizens can read and discuss upcoming issues and be ahead of the inevitable curves thrown by those who might diminish a valuable freedom not observed in much of the world.

All interested citizens are encouraged to attend and participate with questions and comments. Light refreshments will be served. 

Americans United (AU) is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans. AU represents over 70,000 individual members and 5,000 churches and other houses of worship nationwide.

For more information about the Legislative Preview or the Oklahoma City Chapter of Americans for Separation of Church and State, please visit or contact James Nimmo at 405-843-3651. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Legislative Preview: Save the Date: Saturday, January 25, 2014,

Save the Date:
Saturday, January 25, 2014, 10:00am to noon, Belle Isle Library,  5501 N. Villa, OKC.

OKC chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

We have invited two speakers to outline the history of their respective denominations.

Then the review of selected proposed bills that we feel cross the line between religious POV and civil rights as defined in our state and federal constitutions.

Q & A from audience.

Free to the public.

Theme:  Crossing the Line in the Sand

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hindus want space for Lordly monument on Okie Capitol Grounds

Hindus want space for Lordly monument on Okie Capitol Grounds

The current 10-commandment monument might be getting some company.

One of the self-serving arguments the flat-earthers used to justify their religious zeal was that the public grounds were going to be developed into a historical park.  Now they can put up or shut up. I love the impending circus.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Bible as Bludgeon

The Bible as Bludgeon

clip  YOU can make a successful run for political office in this country without an especially thick résumé, any exceptional talent for expressing yourself, a noteworthy education or, for that matter, a basic grasp of science.

But you better have religion. You better be ready to profess your faith in and fealty to God — the Judeo-Christian one, of course. And you better be convincing. A dust-up last week in the 2014 race for a United States Senate seat from Arkansas provided a sad reminder of this, showing once again that our ballyhooed separation of church and state is less canyon than itty-bitty crack.   

complete at: