Dallas Jewish Group Target of Extremely Lazy Iranian Hackers

Categories: Not-Religion

Sure, there are a few powerful American Jewish groups that blur the line between religion and politics, lobbying congress to spend political and financial capital protecting Israel at all costs. But all obvious signs indicate that Makom is not one of those groups.

Makom, instead, is a loose congregation of young Jews in Dallas who don't like going to temple, instead hosting laid-back holidays at an office space downtown.

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Flower Mound's Big "Year of the Bible" Fight Was Nauseatingly Civil

Damn you, Flower Mound. In December, your mayor, Tom Hayden, stops a Town Council meeting and proclaims 2014 the "Year of the Bible," thus setting the stage for a battle
that can only logically end in Jesus and Richard Dawkins brawling in a no-holds-barred MMA throwdown -- an event we were very much looking forward to covering -- and this is how you react? With a nuanced and respectful discussion of religion in public life?

Especially when Daniel Moran, a nonbelieving UNT student and Texas House candidate, began organizing a protest of Thursday night's Town Council meeting, it seemed that fireworks were inevitable.

Moran accused Hayden of violating the constitutional ban on the establishment of religion, sure, but he did so politely and spent most of his energy lamenting that the mayoral proclamation had made non-Christians feel unwelcome in Flower Mound. Other opponents -- mostly nonbelievers, one self-identified Muslim -- generally shared the critique that the proclamation was divisive.

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The Mayor of Flower Mound Has Declared 2014 the "Year of the Bible"

Hayden for Mayor
Tom Hayden
At the December 16 meeting of the Flower Mound Town Council, Mayor Tom Hayden left his seat at the horseshoe, invited the two dozen or so church leaders in attendance to join him at the dais, and extended a middle finger to non-Christians everywhere.

"I'm very fortunate to have had a father who was a great example," Hayden began. "His entire life, he's had one goal in life, and that's to go to heaven. And he's 81 years old and when he dies, everything he's ever wanted in life will be a reality, and that is a great inheritance as a son to have as a father.

"And so, tonight I'm going to do something that's a special proclamation, and the idea of this is to encourage our community to discuss the Bible -- to discuss it with your kids, to discuss it as a family ... I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, mayor of the town of Flower Mound, Texas, in proclaiming 2014 to be the year of the Bible in Flower Mound, Texas, and to encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible."

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Birdville ISD Lifts Suspension of Isaiah Smith, a Gay Student Punished After Tearing the Bible

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Isaiah Smith
As evangelicals continue to revel in their victory over the Christmas-hating PTA moms in Frisco, the folks at the American Humanist Association are proving that they don't need God on their side to force a North Texas school district to capitulate.

AHA announced today that Isaiah Smith, the Birdville High School suspended after ripping pages out of the Bible, has had his disciplinary record cleared after more than a month of lobbying by the organization's lawyers.

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Sunday Assembly, the World's Hot New Atheist Church, is Coming to Dallas

via YouTube
Jones (suit) and Evans (guitar) lead a Sunday Assembly.
Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans are comedians, but their new project, Sunday Assembly, isn't a joke. It's also not a joke when Evans describes it as "all the best bits of church, but with no religion and awesome pop songs," or when Jones says its goal is to to "bring human potential to dizzying new heights."

It is, for lack of a better phrase, an atheist church, a regular gathering of like-minded people seeking fellowship and fulfillment, and nonbelievers worldwide are taking it quite seriously. Since starting the first one in London this past January, Jones and Evans have embarked upon a world tour, planting churches in Europe, Australia, and North America.

At noon on Sunday, Jones will launch the movement in Dallas. Zachary Moore, the recent head of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, says organizers are trying to find a venue, since their initial spot, the Free Man pub in Deep Ellum, is too small to accommodate the 150 people who have signed up to attend.

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American Humanists Target Birdville ISD for Suspending Student Who Tore Pages From a Bible

via Facebook
Isaiah Smith isn't one to lay down in the face of injustice. When the Birdville High School student, who is gay, learned via a TV show that restaurants can legally refuse to serve gay people, he petitioned the Keller City Council to ban LGBT discrimination. When he decided that the Pledge of Allegiance violates the separation of church and state, and that its claim of "liberty and justice for all" was bull, he protested by refusing to join his peers in saying it. And when his classmates kept telling him that being gay is a sin, and that gays go to hell, he tore several pages of Leviticus from a Bible in class, then carried the Bible around the school after being warned not to.

He was eventually suspended, which is where the American Humanist Association stepped in. Their legal arm sent a letter to Birdville ISD officials on Thursday alleging that their decision to discipline Smith violated his right to free speech and demanding that his suspension be lifted "lest [Birdville ISD] face legal action."

The incident -- Smith's version of it at least -- is detailed in the letter.

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Atheists Wish Local Pastors A Happy Easter the Only Way They Know How

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Last year around Easter-time, local conservative talking head and life-sized Cabbage Patch doll Ben Ferguson was upset with the Dallas Fort-Worth Coalition of Reason, our local band of godless heathen sodomites. He was unhappy that they'd chosen Easter for their newest ad campaign, the theme of which was "Our Families Are Great Without Religion." (He wasn't the only one who got upset; as you might recall, a couple of movie theaters also refused to show the ad.)

This year, DFWCOR is wishing their Christian friends a joyous Good Friday the only way they know how: with the cheery graphic you see above.

"Last year, Ben Ferguson of WBAP criticized the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason's campaign for showcasing our many atheist families in the Metroplex during the Easter season," Zach Moore writes, DFWCOR's coordinator and media point person. "This year, we decided to take his advice and send out a message of celebration and collaboration. The following message has been sent out to local pastors, including Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas, and will be promoted on our website throughout the Easter holiday."

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Metroplex Atheists Square Off Against Rowlett's Mayor. The Mayor Says He'll Pray for Them.

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Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel
This week in godlessness brings us to Rowlett, where Mayor Todd Gottel is feeling pretty good. He'll be running unopposed soon for his second term as mayor and third term on the City Council. The rest of the time, he owns a "sales and marketing" company, per the city of Rowlett's website, is a precinct chair for the Dallas County Republican Party, and runs the sound boards over at First Baptist Church of Rowlett, from whence he posts frequent Facebook updates. And he's not about to let a bunch of atheist malcontents take that away from him.

"Interesting visitors at the Rowlett Council Meeting tonight," Gottel wrote on Facebook on March 5. "The Metroplex Athiests [sic] came to protest our Council Invocations before our City Council meetings begin. Please pray for them that they may be open to God's love and His word."

The Metroplex Atheists contend that Gottel seems to have missed the point of their visit.

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American Atheists Call Out Robert Jeffress, the Pope, GOP Politicians on New Texas Billboards [Updated]

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If you're tired of seeing the Reverend Robert Jeffress' elfin little face at every turn, it might be best to avoid the highway for awhile. The pastor, along with one of his most charming quotes -- "What they [homosexuals] do is filthy" -- will be appearing on a billboard along a highway in Austin beginning this week.

As CNN reported yesterday, the Jeffress billboard is one of seven new ads targeting religious and GOP leaders. They're sponsored by a prominent national atheist group, the American Atheists, which was founded in Austin back in the day by Madalyn Murray O'Hair. The billboards are going up around the Dallas and Austin areas as part of a pitch for AA's 50th anniversary convention, which will be held in Austin at the end of March. The bottom of the Jeffress billboard also features the words "Go Godless Instead," alongside a rainbow flag.

Zachary Moore of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, our local group of godless heathens, sent along the CNN link this morning, writing, "For the record, the DFWCoR was not consulted about this, nor are we involved in this campaign."

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Black Nonbelievers of Dallas, Texas' First Black Atheist Organization, Launches Sunday

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Alix Jules
Just about a year ago, Dallas's atheist community announced a new billboard in South Dallas, celebrating "black atheists and freethinkers." This year, just in time for the tail end of black history month, the Fellowship of Freethought, Dallas' largest atheist group, is announcing a spinoff organization for its black members. Called Black Nonbelievers of Dallas, it's launching Sunday and will be the first dedicated black atheist organization in Texas. The group is modeled on and supported by Black Nonbelievers Inc., an Atlanta-based group.

All of which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend just after our cover story on Dallas' atheists came out a few months ago. She was interested in sending her kid to Camp Quest, the freethinking summer camp the atheists around here help run each year. Her kid is black, though, and she wasn't interested in sending him to a program where he'd feel isolated or uncomfortable.

"How many black atheists are there around here, anyway?" she asked.

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