Tag Archives: 1st amendment

Dr. Ellery Schempp – A Humanist You Should Know

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photo of Ellery Schempp in 2012
Ellery Schempp’s protest of required Bible reading in his High School lead to the case Abington School District v. Schempp being decided in 1963

Fifty years ago today, the US Supreme Court handed down their landmark decision Abington School District v. Schempp that struck down a Pennsylvania law that mandated Bible reading in the public schools. The case started with a protest in 1956 by then High School student Ellery Schempp. His case showed us the importance of dissent and that mandatory Bible reading, in public schools, infringes on religious liberty. It’s great that Dr. Schempp is still active in the struggle to protect the 1st Amendment and he is definitely a Humanist you should know.
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IHEU Statement To The United Nations Points Out Criminalization Of Freethought Around The World

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image of a Holy Bible with a warning stickerThe International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) gave a report to the United Nations detailing that Atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other non-religious people are discriminated against around the world, where expression of their views is often criminalized and subject to capital punishment. The report was in response to efforts by Islamic countries to obtain a world ban on “defamation of religion”. Freedom of Religion and freedom of expression shouldn’t be in conflict.
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Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day

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image showing protest signs in Malaysia
Protests by Malaysia Muslims over Innocence Of Muslims film September 2012

September 30th is designated as International Blasphemy Rights Day. This is when we bring awareness to efforts to censor dissent using the false cover of “protecting religious beliefs”. Although very rare in the US, jail time and even death comes to people deemed to have committed Blasphemy. In the US, public bullying sometimes results in “voluntary” self-censorship. Blasphemy laws are bad for freedom. A vibrant society needs and allows dissent in all forms so that the people are able to make informed choices in their lives. And how tolerant we are of dissent says a lot about how we view our country and our freedoms.
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Humanists Needlessly Drawn Into Florida’s Amendment 8 Battle

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image showing wall between church and stateThis November, Florida voters will be deciding if they want to gut the state’s Blaine amendment language so it can give money directly to churches. The main benefit would be to allow school vouchers. In the run up to the vote Jon East, writing on the pro-voucher website redefinED had to bring in the evil secular humanists to make a false argument in support for passage of Amendment 8.
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What Does Religious Freedom Day Really Mean?

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image of the logo for Religious Freedom DayJanuary 16th is National Religious Freedom Day. The day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. The Virginia Statute was the basis of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution and also can be used to support Jefferson’s idea of the separation of church and state. The Religious Right have of course co-opted the day by mass marketing misleading information about what real religious freedom means in this country. Luckily, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) has some help available to tell the truth.
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