Australian PM Julia Gillard doesn’t believe in God

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I was shocked when I learned that new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard doesn’t believe in God. This is why I need to live either in Europe or Australia since they aren’t hung up on their politicians and religion. What shocked me even more is she was quoted in an interview by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and it was made public. Good on her and Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has no intention of pretending to believe in God to attract religiously-inclined voters.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.

In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.

Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“I am what I am and people will judge that.

Gillard won’t play religion card

*Update* After posting this entry I heard that PM Gillard is opposed to gay marriage. Below is a quote and link to a newspaper article that confirms her view. While I am happy that she is an atheist, there isn’t a valid secular reason to oppose gay marriage. Tax implications and protecting children are red herrings and have roots in religious bigotry.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia.

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show today.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.
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Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

Gillard against gay marriage

Maybe one day we will have the perfect atheist elected official.

Campus groups can’t exclude people and still get funding

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The US Supreme Court ruled today that college groups can’t discriminate in its membership if the college has a non-discrimination policy. The Christian Legal Society, which excluded gays from membership, sued a law school after it refused to give it official campus funding and recognition.

The vote was 5 to 4. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion:

“In requiring CLS – in common with all other student organizations – to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion for the court’s liberals and moderate Anthony Kennedy. “CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy.”

Christian Group Can’t Bar Gays, Get Funding At Hastings College, Court Says

Basically the college’s rule didn’t prevent the Christian Legal Society from keeping its beliefs. The group has to allow everyone in if it wants funding and recognition just like every other campus group.

Camp Quest Ohio is underway

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I wrote about Camp Quest back in March and camp started up this past week. The Columbus Dispatch not only had a print article but also a podcast and short video about the camp. Follow the links below.

The camp director’s housekeeping lecture met the usual disinterest from the dining hall full of sweaty, bug-bitten kids.

Messy cabins are a staple of summer camp. Who wants to tidy up when you can swim, play games and goof around with your friends?

But August Brunsman finished his cleaning directive with a so-subtle-the-kids-probably-missed-it pun that made clear that Camp Quest is not the usual summer offering.

“Remember,” he said, a slight grin crossing his face, “cleanliness is next to godlessness.”

Camp Quest is a sleepaway camp for the children of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nonbelievers, though kids from religious families are welcome, too.

Most of the time, the kids do normal camp stuff such as hike, compete in relay races, sit around campfires.

But the overarching philosophy is that life without religion is a perfectly healthy, viable option.

Kids wrestle with religion at Camp Quest

Faith & Values Podcast | No. 101 Dispatch religion reporter Meredith Heagney talks with Amanda Metskas, the director of Camp Quest, a program for children of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nonbelievers.

Secular lobby opposes Kagan for court

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Secular Coalition for America released a statement today opposing the nomination of Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. It says her previous legal views give concern that she may not strongly defend church state separation as the Justice she is suppose to replace. Their reasons are sound.

President Obama’s choice to replace him, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, does not appear to embrace the fundamental American principle of church-state separation with the vigor and force of Justice John Paul Stevens. This conclusion is based on the evidence that has come to light since her nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

Indeed, in at least one instance, Ms. Kagan appears to directly rebuff the church-state jurisprudence of Justice Stevens.

Thus, Secular Coalition for America opposes Ms. Kagan’s nomination until she makes her support for church-state separation much more clear and emphatic. Five instances raise grave concern that Ms. Kagan does not share the judicial philosophy of Justice Stevens:

Secular Coalition for America Opposes Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

These points the Secular Coalition make concern me as well. I don’t believe, in these days of extreme politics, she will clarify her stance on church and state to the satisfaction of seculars. Today a court nominee has to be passed off as moderate – middle of the road – and I don’t think she will risk taking our side on these issues during her confirmation.

Obama’s solution to oil spill – Prayer

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President Obama gave a speech on the BP Oil spill tonight. While I heard some good things, the end of the speech however didn’t thrill me. How many times do we need to say that praying won’t stop the leak or clean up the Gulf?

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.
The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.

Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill 6/15/2010

I would like my elected officials to stick with facts and reason to deal with troubling issues. Praying doesn’t do anything to solve problems.

Ten Commandments ban upheld by appeals court

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Appeals court ruled that putting 10 Commandments in a display with other secular items doesn’t take away the religious nature of the commandments.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A split federal appeals court upheld a ban on the Ten Commandments in a display that included multiple religious and government documents at two southern Kentucky courthouses.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday in a 2-1 vote that the permanent injunction barring McCreary and Pulaski counties from posting the display can remain in place. The ruling comes in a long-running legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

Along with the Ten Commandments, the displays, called the “Foundations of Law and Government,” included the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta and Star Spangled Banner.

Judge Eric Clay wrote that the two counties could not provide a “valid secular purpose” for the display.

Ten Commandments ban upheld by appeals court

This was a basic argument by religious right extremists. If you include the 10 Commandments in a display with other “secular” items then it doesn’t violate the 1st amendment. The court said it still violates the Constitution.

Like a friend of mine said “Star Spangled Banner? What foundation did that provide?”