The Chronicle of Philanthropy on August 20 issued the findings of a new study of Americans and their patterns of giving, based on the itemized deductions for 2008 tax returns, the most recent year available, with the data broken down by zip code. Among the findings was that the most religious Americans — not the richest — were the most likely to give to charities.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has gained its reputation (and a tidy living for its employees) by suing school districts and municipalities over public prayer, has chosen schools in Mississippi and Tennessee as its latest targets. According to the Mississippi Press website, the Wisconsin-based atheist group has threatened all 151 Mississippi school superintendents with lawsuits if they allow prayer over public address systems during school football games. Last September the FFRF targeted Mississippi's Jackson County school district over its inclusion of prayer at athletic and other school events, prompting the district to redouble its efforts to protect the free-speech guarantees of its students.
A Ten Commandments monument on display at the courthouse in Dixie County, Florida, may stay in place for now, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled August 15 as it sent an ACLU lawsuit against the display back to a lower court for reconsideration.
Pro-life leaders are paying tribute to Nellie Gray, the federal government attorney turned pro-life activist who founded and led the annual “March for Life,” which has grown over the past nearly 40 years into the nation's largest one-day pro-life event.
Two hundred years ago today — during the War of 1812 — perhaps the most storied vessel in the U.S. Navy, the Constitution, earned her nickname Old Ironsides when cannonballs from the British warship Guerriere bounced off her hull.
An Amish-Mennonite pastor who helped a woman flee the country with her daughter in order to keep the little girl from being handed over by court order to her lesbian former partner has been convicted by a Vermont jury of “aiding and abetting a parental kidnapping.” In 2009, pastor Kenneth L. Miller of Virginia helped former lesbian Lisa Miller (no relation) leave the country with her daughter Isabella, after a court granted custody of the child to Miller's lesbian former partner, Janet Jenkins. Jenkins is not biologically related to the girl, and never went through legal proceedings to adopt her.
Conservative billionaire Charles Koch is going public with his massive efforts to influence politics in the short run and the direction of the country in the long run. Partly because of his determination to redirect the freedom conversation and partly because his efforts are beginning to have an impact, Koch is now coming into the public square with his beliefs and efforts. In the short run, he hopes his efforts will first show up in the November elections, but he also is working to influence the elections of 2016, 2020 and out.
A security guard working for the conservative Christian Family Research Council is being hailed as a hero after he stopped a gunman trying to gain access to the organization's Washington, D.C., headquarters on August 15. The guard, identified as Leo Johnson, was shot by 28-year-old Floyd Corkins after the gunman entered FRC's lobby and began making statements opposing the group's policies. Law enforcement officials said Corkins' intent apparently was to gain access to FRC's upstairs offices, where the results could well have turned deadly.
A new study out of Dartmouth College confirms what savvy parents have known for years: Hollywood movies are sexually charged, and that fact negatively impacts teenagers who watch them. The study by psychological researchers at Dartmouth and published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that youth who regularly view movies with sexual content have a greater tendency to begin engaging in sexual activity at a younger age, have more casual sexual partners, and engage in what the researchers referred to as “unsafe sexual practices.”
With homosexuals now free to serve openly in the U.S. military it didn't take long for a gay officer to climb to the top of the commissioned ranks. Star and Stripes, the Defense Department's semi-official newspaper, proudly reported that the Army has promoted its first homosexual officer to general status. “Army reserve officer Tammy Smith calls her recent promotion to brigadier general exciting and humbling, saying it gives her a chance to be a leader in advancing Army values and excellence,” reported the military newspaper.
The superintendent of the Wayland, Massachusetts, school district has thumbed his nose at the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), saying that he will continue to allow the Wayland High School band to play “God Bless America” at patriotic-themed events at the school. The classic patriotic Irving Berlin song, made famous during World War II by Kate Smith and sung with the same gusto by millions of Americans ever since, was played by the school band both on Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day, prompting a letter of warning from the FFRF, after a parent of a student supposedly complained about the song.
The atheist group, which is notorious for threatening school districts and municipalities with lawsuits under the (usually accurate) assumption that the local government entities will be too intimidated to mount a challenge, insisted that the school district was somehow violating the First Amendment's supposed separation-of-church-and-state clause by allowing the music.