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October 11, 2017

Hi Blue

The Trump Administration dealt another blow to the separation of church and state and healthcare access by announcing a series of policy changes last week that sharply expanded religious privilege. We put out statements of deep concern laying out our objections. These are certainly challenging times for nonbelievers, and those who support a secular, civil society.

In Michigan, a woman was jailed for seven days for not vaccinating her child per a court order. While this is only one case, it’s important that there are consequences when science deniers harm those around them, even those they love.

It’s not too late to see Richard Dawkins in Hartford, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. The tour begins on October 29 in Los Angeles; he’ll be joined for a live, unscripted conversation with bestselling author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short). On November 4 he comes to Hartford, Connecticut, joined by The New York Times’ Carl Zimmer, author of the upcoming book She Has Her Mother's Laugh: What Heredity Is, Is Not, and May Become. And Richard will be in Pittsburgh on November 7 for a special reception at the 2017 Carl Sagan Fest. Get your tickets now … while they last!

Scientists have developed a new mathematical model of the early Earth that suggest that Darwin was right about those “warm little ponds.” SciShow explains how this model was developed and what it means for our understanding of the beginning of life!

Evangelical Christians are applauding Mike Pence after walking out of the 49ers-Colts game due to many of the players taking a knee during the anthem. Hement Mehta reminds us of Pence’s history with criticizing walk-outs when done to him and urges evangelicals to stop praising him for it.

More good news from science: a stick insect once thought to be extinct has been rediscovered. The insect, called a “tree lobster,” was found on an island near one on which they were wiped out. Good job, little buddy.

Robyn E. Blumner

President & CEO, Center for Inquiry

Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

CFI Response to Women’s BC Mandate Retraction CFI Response to Sessions’s Expansion of Religious Privilege Michigan Woman Jailed for Not Vaccinating Her Child
Last week Trump officials rolled back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for employers to cover birth control in their health care plans. Under the ACA, only religious institutions can refuse to cover birth control in employees’ health benefits. Now any business, including colleges and health insurance companies, can ignore this rule if covering birth control goes against their personal religious and political beliefs.

The Center for Inquiry condemns this mandate retraction as a violation of bodily autonomy under the guise of “religious liberty.”
On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new “religious freedom” guidelines that give businesses, organizations, and individuals the right to discriminate based on religious convictions. The guidelines blow a major hole in protections against discrimination, giving employers the ability to discriminate in who they serve and hire based on moral or religious beliefs. The guidelines come just days after Sessions issued a memo stating that sex discrimination laws do not protect transgender people. Click below to see our response. When Rebecca Bredow and her husband split, they initially agreed on vaccinating their son as part of their custody settlement. However, Bredow, a self-described “educated vaccine-choice mother,” did not keep her end of the bargain, so now she’s sentenced to seven days in jail.
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Video of the Week: Darwin’s Warm Little Ponds

One of the biggest mysteries is how life came to be on Earth. Perhaps the answer lies in numbers. In this week’s video, Hank Green of SciShow explains how complex math equations might be able to help us understand the origins of life on Earth.


Evangelical Christians Support Pence, Not Protest

Much has been made about football players kneeling during the American national anthem to protest police brutality. Some say they’re heroes while others say they’re unpatriotic. Vice President Mike Pence staged his own counter-protest this past Sunday when he left a football game after players knelt during the anthem. Many conservative Christians, such as Franklin Graham, praised Pence, but as Hemant Mehta explains, Pence is a hypocrite.

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The Tree Lobster Lives, Stunning Scientists

Many believe the Dryococelus australis, or “tree-lobster,” went extinct in 1960. However, a recent study shows that the tree-lobster is alive and well. Joanna Klein of The New York Times goes into the strange history of the tree-lobster.

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Debate Richard’s Paragraph of the Week

Welcome to Richard’s Paragraph, a chance to read, consider, and discuss an idea that Richard has plucked from one of his books or from the book of a colleague to spur exploration and debate. This week’s paragraph is from pgs 29-30 of The Necessity of Secularism by Ron Lindsey.

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Question of the Week

In our previous newsletter, we talked about how UC Irvine will be squandering $200,000 on pseudoscience. Let’s pretend you have $200,000 to donate to a university. First of all, congratulations. And second, what would you want them to use that money for and why?

The person with our favorite answer will receive a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.

Want to suggest a Question of the Week? Email submissions to us at (Questions only, please. All answers to bimonthly questions are made only in the comments section of the Question of the Week.)

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© 2017 Center for Inquiry.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science is a divison of the Center for Inquiry.

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