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Supreme Court opens door to state funding for religious schools
Jun 30, 2020

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By Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole In a ruling that will open the door to more public funding for religious education, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of parents in Montana seeking to use a state scholarship program to send their children to religious schools. The court said that a Montana tax credit program …


Betelgeuse’s Mystery Dimming Caused By A Star Spot A Hundred Times Larger Than The Sun, Say Scientists
Jun 29, 2020

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By Jamie Carter Betelgeuse, the closest red supergiant star to us, is growing a super-sized star spot as it cools down at the end of its life, according to a new study. A massive star spot a hundred times larger than the Sun could explain its recent odd behavior. Betelgeuse—pronounced “betelgerz” or “beetlejuice” and also known …


Mississippi Lawmakers Vote to Replace Racist State Flag With Religious One
Jun 29, 2020 · 3 

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By Hemant Mehta Mississippi lawmakers voted today to replace the state flag and remove the Confederate symbol that’s currently on it. Governor Tate Reeves has already said he plans to sign the bill. But whatever the new flag will look like, it will have to include the words “In God We Trust,” replacing racism with religion. I posted about this possibility …


The Separation of Church and State Is Breaking Down Under Trump
Jun 29, 2020

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By Micah Schwartzman, Richard Schragger, and Nelson Tebbe The separation of Church and state is supposed to prevent government favoritism of religion in the United States. For most of the past century, the Supreme Court interpreted the establishment clause of the First Amendment to mean that government cannot “pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, …


Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion clinic law
Jun 29, 2020

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By Mark Sherman The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with his four more liberal colleagues in ruling that the law requiring doctors …


CRISPR gene editing in human embryos wreaks chromosomal mayhem
Jun 26, 2020

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By Heidi Ledford A suite of experiments that use the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to modify human embryos have revealed how the process can make large, unwanted changes to the genome at or near the target site. The studies were published this month on the preprint server bioRxiv, and have not yet been peer-reviewed1,2,3. But taken together, they …


Catholic group files lawsuit against Rehoboth Beach over Nativity scene ban
Jun 26, 2020

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By Randall Chase A Catholic fraternal organization is suing a popular Delaware beach resort in federal court over its decision to end a decades-long practice of allowing the display of a Christmas Nativity scene on public property. The Knights of Columbus Star of the Sea Council contends that the 2018 decision by Rehoboth Beach officials …


Religious order releases list of members who allegedly abused kids, many with Dayton ties
Jun 26, 2020

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By Josh Sweigart Leaders of the Marianists — a Catholic religious order with a 170-year history in Dayton — released a list Wednesday of 46 priests and brothers they say were found to have sexually abused children since 1950 in the United States. The list includes 19 men with ties to the Dayton area and …


In Scotland, Humanist Weddings Are Now More Popular Than Christian Ones
Jun 26, 2020 · 1 

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By Hemant Mehta Humanist weddings — officiated by non-pastors yet carrying all the appropriate legal weight — have been legal in Scotland since 2005. And now, according to new data from the National Records of Scotland, Humanist weddings are more popular than Christian ones. In 2019, there were 5,879 Humanist weddings, constituting 23% of all marriages. There …


Colliding black holes may have created a surprising flare of light
Jun 25, 2020

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By Emily Conover In spite of their dark reputations, two black holes may have set off a cosmic light show. Subtle gravitational rumbles from a collision of two black holes may have been accompanied by a flare of light about a month later, physicists report June 25 in Physical Review Letters. It’s a surprising conclusion given …


The Global Divide on Homosexuality Persists
Jun 25, 2020

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By Jacob Poushter and Nicholas Kent Despite major changes in laws and norms surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBT people around the world, public opinion on the acceptance of homosexuality in society remains sharply divided by country, region and economic development. As it was in 2013, when the question was last asked, attitudes on …


New Report Features First-Hand Accounts of “Humanists At Risk” Around the World
Jun 25, 2020

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By Hemant Mehta Last year, when Humanists International released its annual “Freedom of Thought Report” describing serious cases of discrimination and persecution against atheists around the world, the bottom line was that 69 countries still believed blasphemy was a crime. The death penalty applied in six of them. 18 countries punished apostasy (leaving religion), and 12 of …