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Non-Theists Need Not Apply

When Deana Weaver, a mem­ber of Dillsburg Area Freethinkers, asked to deliver a non-theistic message before a meeting of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, she was told no.

“My state representative and the House leadership refused to allow me to deliver an opening invocation to the House because I do not believe in a deity,” Weaver said in a recent interview with Americans United. “This makes me feel that I am not being represented in the House on account of my beliefs concerning religion.”

Why People Of Faith Should Support Non-Theistic Invocations

The biblical book of Acts tells a story about the Apostle Paul, known as the greatest church planter in the history of Christianity, walking through the streets of Athens and encountering people from diverse faiths and belief systems.

If you’ve read any of Paul’s letters, you know he was an intense and passionate man, dedicated to evangelizing as many people as he could. Yet, his approach to the Athenians, a people living in a pluralistic society, was not one where he set out to negate or repudiate the value of other religions being practiced.

Why We're In Court: Plaintiffs Seek Equal Treatment For Non-Theists In Pennsylvania

Editor’s Note: Today Americans United and American Atheists filed a lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ invocation policy, which excludes non-theistic voices. Three of the plaintiffs in the case, Brian Fields, Deana Weaver and Scott Rhoades, recently took part in a Q&A and explained what motivated them to get involved in this litigation.

Pa. House Of Representatives Can’t Discriminate Against Non-Theists, Americans United And American Atheists Say In Lawsuit

Legislative Body’s Exclusionary Invocation Policy Is Unconstitutional, Church-State Watchdogs Assert

A Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ policy barring people who do not believe in God from offering pre-meeting invocations is discriminatory, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a federal lawsuit filed today, Americans United and American Atheists explain that several non-theists who requested to deliver opening invocations before the House were deemed ineligible on the grounds that they are “non-adherents or nonbelievers.”

Real (Bad) Alternatives: ‘Secular’ Anti-Abortion Group Seeks Church Exemption To Contraceptive Mandate

On Monday, Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Real Alternatives v. Burwell – yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers who provide health insurance to employees must include contraception coverage.

No Compassion: Far-Right Catholic Group Gloats Over Defeat Of Bill To Help Victims Of Clerical Abuse

A few days ago, I receive the July-August issue of Catalyst, the newsletter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

If you’re not familiar with the Catholic League, it’s a right-wing outfit that exists mainly to scream loudly anytime anyone anywhere dares to criticize the clerical leaders in the Catholic Church or the political goals of the bishops. The group, based in New York City, is run by William Donohue, a man who, when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse of minors by priests, is either deliberately provocative or remarkably tone deaf.

Persecution In Philly?: Man Claims He Was Kicked Out Of Apple Store Because Of His Religious Beliefs

It seems a man known as “Philly Jesus” is not feeling the brotherly love of his namesake city after he was, in his attorney’s words, thrown out of a retail store “because of his religious beliefs.”

The actual charges against him, however, appear to have more to do with inappropriate behavior than faith.

Innocence Abused: A Lethal Combination Of Church And State Fails Pennsylvania’s Children

Last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane released a damning grand jury report about the rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese – and the failure of anyone in authority to stop it.

News of the report hit me hard. I was born and raised in Altoona. For 16 years I attended a Catholic church in that diocese. I spent eight years in a Catholic school appended to one of its churches.

AU Files Legal Briefs In Two Cases Dealing With Religious Symbols

Americans United recently filed two legal briefs in cases challenging the display of religious symbols on government property:

In a Dec. 17 brief, Americans Uni­ted told the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Pennsylvania woman and her minor child should be permitted to sue the New Kensington-Arnold School District over a Ten Commandments display at a local high school.

Pa. Amish Man Challenges Gun I.D. Requirement

A Lancaster County, Pa., Amish man has filed suit in federal court to challenge a state requirement that he present photo identification in order to purchase a handgun.

Andrew Hertzler’s suit names the federal government, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Cormey and officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as plaintiffs.

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