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Religion & Beliefs
Category archives for: Religion & Beliefs

A Rabbi, a Priest and a Bible Walk Into a Seminar: An Interfaith Class in Palm Coast Delivers Weekly Punchlines

| April 20, 2014

Every week since December at St. Thomas Church in Palm Coast, Rabbi Merrill Shapiro and Rev. Robert Elfvin have led an interfaith seminar, open to all, on the Bible as it is read through Jewish and Christian eyes. No ideas are out of bounds and some are off the wall, but participants find it bracing, eye-opening and overdue. Ezra Salkin reports.

Replacing Salisbury Steak With Sardines, Florida Prisons’ Kosher Option Raises Hackles

| April 11, 2014

Inmates contend that the peanut butter, sardines and cabbage served up daily by the Florida Department of Corrections are designed to discourage them from signing up for the kosher meals or to punish inmates if they do, and that the chow is far from what a federal judge had in mind last year when she ordered the state to start serving kosher meals to inmates.

Neither Marx Nor Hannity: Pope Francis’s Cool Embrace of Simplicity

| February 15, 2014

Even for a pope as refreshingly humble and open-minded as Francis, it’s too much to expect that he will remake the worldwide Catholic Church into one big hippie commune, argues Cary McMullen. Those on the political left may eventually be just as disappointed in him as those on the political right.

As State Mulls Review, Christians and Atheists Agree: Keep Florida Capitol a Free Speech Zone

| January 7, 2014

The threat of a lawsuit is hovering over the state’s rejection of a satanic display, and the rotunda exhibit policy is set to undergo a staff review. But the prevailing view among those who have recently jumped at the chance to use the public floor space to express their beliefs is to simply let everyone have their say.

Before Florida Made an Ass of Christmas, Philadelphia Gave Us a Founding Nativity Scene

| December 20, 2013

The Rick Scott administration’s illiterate interpretation of the Bible and the first amendment turned the Florida Capitol rotunda into a comedy of absurd Christmas displays and discrimination, all of which could have been avoided with a reason and respect–for the holidays and the Constitution.

Deemed “Grossly Offensive,” Satanic Display Is Barred from Florida Capitol’s Christmas Gallery

| December 19, 2013

The state Department of Management Services on Wednesday denied an attempt by “Satanists” to put up a display in the Florida Capitol, which currently showcases a Nativity scene, a Festivus pole made of beer cans, posters from atheists, and a crudely-made Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Satanists Now Want to Join Beer Pole and Nativity Scene at Florida Capitol

| December 10, 2013

The state Department of Management Services has received three more applications, including two from atheist groups and one from satanists, to put up displays after approving a banner for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and an aluminum pole — made of empty beer cans– – to mark the parody festival Festivus.

Nativity Scene in Florida Capitol Will Share Space With Beer-Can Pole Celebrating Festivus

| December 9, 2013

A nearly 6-foot-tall pole made from emptied Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, marking the Festivus holiday once parodied on Seinfeld, will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christian nativity scene by the Florida Prayer Network.

Of Thanksgiving Day Parades and Friends in Exile

| November 28, 2013

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS was a bit like being waterboarded, but matters improved very quickly when the channel changed and the aromas of the day began invading the house, along with just the right spirits: Praise be to Beaujolais Nouveau.

U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide Legality of Bunnell’s Government Prayers, Via Greece

| June 24, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case from Greece, N.Y., where government meetings are started with distinctly Christian prayers, as they are at Bunnell City Commission meetings. The case is being taken to the court by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

A Pastor Reflects on Two Church Community Friends: Leonard Lynn and His Murderer

| June 5, 2013

Rev. Beth Gardner, the pastor at Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church, heard the news of Leonard Lynn’s murder 10 minutes before services Sunday. He had been a member of her church community–as was his murderer, Erick Niemi.

Don’t Cram Your Heterosexuality Down My Throat

| March 31, 2013

Several years ago around Christmas I was standing at a Walmart checkout counter with my son when a stranger behind me felt compelled to make me his homophobia’s bosom buddy. “What’s wrong with that?” I told him. “My son is gay.” My son was 2 at the time.

FAU Stomps on Academic Freedom Over Jesus Controversy as Scott Fans Fanaticism

| March 28, 2013

Florida Atlantic University Professor Deandre Poole’s assignment involving the word “Jesus” on the floor drew in a politically motivated protest from Gov. Rick Scott while the university gave in to his demand that the lesson not be taught anymore.

In a Decision With Local Sway, Federal Court Upholds Prayers Before Government Meetings

| March 27, 2013

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over all of Florida, ruled that the Lakeland City Commission’s custom of opening meetings with a prayer was constitutional, though the court sidestepped the city’s focus on Christian prayers, and its closed door to atheists, agnostics, humanists or other non-clergy representatives.

Sarah Palin in Lakeland: Locking and Loading Assault Weapons With Jesus

| March 18, 2013

Sarah Palin urged her faithfuls to “cling to your god, your guns, your Constitution,” a seamless ideology that would have Jesus waving the American flag with one hand and clicking off the safety of his assault rifle with the other, writes Cary McMullen.

Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Francis I, Church’s First Non-European Pope, Post-Columbus

| March 13, 2013

76-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires is the first-ever South American pope, the first non-European pope in a millennium, and the first-ever pope to name himself Francis (Francis I), after St. Francis, patron saint of the poor.

John Fischer’s Hate Speech

| February 10, 2013

In twice calling for a return of school prayer in the last three weeks, Flagler County School Board member John Fischer did so not from good will but out of angry resentment for “special interests” and “political correctness” that he claims are standing in the way of “our rights.” He is offensively wrong, and the school board should resist his call to prayer.

When Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is the Humane Option

| January 29, 2013

In oncologists’ offices and Alzheimer’s nursing homes, illness is not “a portrait in blacks and whites, but unending shades of gray, involving the most profound of personal, moral, and religious questions.” Including when may it be right to help end a life.

To Combat Bullying, Middle School Student Wants Gay-Straight Alliance, But Officials Balk

| January 23, 2013

As Flagler County schools continues to grapple with bullying through various forums, middle school student Bayli Silberstein in Leesburg sees a Gay-Straight-Alliance club at her school as one measure against bullying–but school officials have so far resisted, in sharp contrast with their admission of other clubs, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Public Schools Are No Place for Bible-Thumping–Or Any Other Thumping

| January 17, 2013

The World Changers of Florida, Inc. is giving Bibles to students at several dozen high Florida schools. It’s wrong. Students of all faiths and traditions attend public schools and they deserve to be respected. We interfere with an already stressful time by making some of them feel like outsiders.

Put God Back in Public Schools?

| January 5, 2013

If we’re going to put God back in schools, which God are we talking about? Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of a United Methodist Church, calmly argues against the notion that God has ever left the public schools, and need not be forced back in.

Corporal Punishment: When a Religious Exemption Becomes a License to Brutalize

| November 14, 2012

A harrowing recent series in the Tampa Bay Times detailed how for 30 years a handful of homes for troubled youth have used a misguided exemption in Florida law to get away with all manner of abuses by using religion as a shield.

Crossing Out Amendment 8: Public Money Does Not Belong in Religious Schools

| October 29, 2012

Religious groups have no rights to public money when it comes to funding private schools, precisely because religious indoctrination is part and parcel of the mission of those schools, and taxpayers should not have to pay for that, argues Cary McMullen.

For Opponents of Amendment 8, “Religious Freedom” Has Never Been Under Threat

| October 15, 2012

The so-called “religious freedom” proposal to amend the Florida constitution would create a government bureaucracy to channel tax dollars to religious organizations, its opponents say, jeopardizing the very religious freedoms it claims to be protecting.

When Riots In Defense of Islam Are More Vile Than Any Parody of the Prophet

| September 15, 2012

“Innocence of Muslims” is a vile movie about Islam, but its movie maker had every right to make it, and it is far less vile than the murderous riots Muslim fundamentalists have launched as a result–or Mitt Romney’s political opportunism over the crisis.

Ayn Rand vs. Paul Ryan

| August 15, 2012

Modern conservatives, Paul Ryan included, ignore the fundamental principles that animated Ayn Rand: personal as well as economic freedom, argues Jennifer Burns, while Maureen Dowd calls Randism “a state of arrested adolescence.”

Palatka Immigrant Khaled Mohd Sentenced To Life in Prison for Setting His Wife on Fire

| August 9, 2012

Khalid Mohd, a Palatka shopkeeper from Jordan, set his wife Rema Jamal on fire, burning 85 percent of her body, when she threatened to return to Jordan with their two boys, after Khaled had himself threatened to bring a second wife to Palatka.

John McCain vs. Michelle Bachmann: In Defense of Huma Abedin

| July 20, 2012

Michelle Bachmann and other conservatives suggested in a letter that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, of Pakistani descent, is a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator. John McCain defended Abedin in a July 18 speech.

Student-Led School Prayers Are Now Legal, But Fear of Litigation Could Trump God

| July 1, 2012

The new Florida school prayer law lets local school districts approve policies allowing students to deliver prayers at school events, but districts aren’t likely to approve such measures for fear of costly litigation.

Mormon, Yes. Christian, No.

| June 13, 2012

“Being a Christian so often involves such boorish and meanspirited behavior that I marvel that any of my Mormon colleagues are so eager to join the fold,” writes David Mason.

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