The Week in Review: March 20 thru 26

Richard Dawkins Announces He Won’t Be Able To Attend the 2016 Reason Rally Due to Health

A note from Richard Dawkins regarding his ability to attend the Reason Rally:

“I’m extremely sorry to be missing the Reason Rally (doctor’s orders). My impression as an outsider is that America is close to a tipping point. The Reason Rally could raise consciousness past the tipping point where politicians will suddenly realise they’ve been sucking up to the wrong lobby all these years. Please come. I wish I could be there too.”

We wish him well in his recovery.

Muslim Shopkeeper Murdered in Suspected ‘Religiously Prejudiced’ Attack After Posting on Facebook of Love for Christians

by Tom Morgan at The Telegraph

A popular shopkeeper was stabbed to death by another Muslim in a “religiously prejudiced” attack hours after posting an Easter message on Facebook to “my beloved Christian nation”.

Asad Shah, 40, a devout Muslim originally from the Pakistani city of Rabwah, had his head stamped on during a savage attack, according to one eyewitness.

Around four hours earlier the victim wrote online: “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation.

“Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.”

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Baptist Minister Who Paid Congregants to Burn His Wife to Death Sentenced to 50 Years

by Danny Wicentowski at the Riverfront Times

A thoroughly wild story out of southern Missouri has a local pastor accused of orchestrating a murder plot so convoluted — and so filled with drama, violence and sex — that it seems ripped from the pages of a Coen Brothers screenplay.

Last week, a Scott County judge sentenced 71-year-old Donald Lafferty to 50 years in prison after a jury convicted him on charges of attempted murder, arson, armed criminal action and financial exploitation of the elderly.

Lafferty was the pastor of Beech Grove Church, a Baptist congregation in rural Bloomfield, Missouri.

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ISIL Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens at a Stadium South of Baghdad

by Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly at The Washington Post

An Islamic State suicide bomber killed at least 41 people who had gathered to watch a soccer match in a stadium south of Baghdad on Friday evening, demonstrating the deadly threat still posed by the group as it is slowly being driven back from the territories it controls.

The attack in the Babil province town of Iskandariyah came hours after U.S. officials said a top Islamic State commander, an Iraqi known by the nickname Haji Imam, had been killed in an American commando raid, though there was no immediate reason to believe the incidents were linked.

The bomber struck as trophies were being handed out to teams after a tournament, according to local officials.

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Phoenix City Council Is Bringing Back Spoken Christian Only Prayer

by Dustin Gardiner at the Arizona Republic

Phoenix’s “moment of silent prayer and reflection” didn’t last long.

City Council members voted 6-2 Wednesday to approve an ordinance that restores spoken prayer at council meetings, but the invocation must be given exclusively by chaplains for the police and fire departments. The spoken prayer is expected to return at the council’s May 4 meeting.

That’s the outcome of a fiery, two-month debate over the role of public prayer at council meetings. The fight began after a group of Satanists were scheduled to give the opening prayer at a council meeting in February.

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ISIL Claims Responsibility for Brussels Attack That Killed Dozens

by Kim Hjelmgaard, Delphine Reuter and John Bacon at USA Today

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for brutal attacks that brought blood and chaos to this capital city’s airport and downtown metro station Tuesday, killing dozens of people, wounding more than 150 and heightening terror alerts around the world.

As of Tuesday evening, the death toll was 34, the Associated Press said a Belgian security official indicated.

Authorities blamed suicide bombers for the attacks, but embarked on manhunt for at least one suspected surviving attacker.

However, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday there was no immediate reason to doubt the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility.

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Alabama Governor Who Says Gays Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Marry in Order to Protect the Sanctity of Marriage Accused of Having Extra-Marital Affair

by Nick Gass at Politico

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is in a heap of trouble.

While acknowledging that he had made “inappropriate” advances and remarks to an aide, Bentley is maintaining that he did not have a physical sexual relationship with the woman, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

“At times in the past, have I said things that I should not have said? Absolutely, that’s what I’m saying today,” the Republican governor said at a news conference Wednesday, nearly seven months after his wife of 50 years, Dianne Bentley, sought a divorce.

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FFRF Sues Connecticut City for Refusing to Allow Atheist Display

from The Freedom From Religion Foundation

A national freethought association and its local member are suing a Connecticut city after their request to put up a display in a city park was denied.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with member Jerome H. Bloom, filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Connecticut, against the city of Shelton and its mayor and parks director.

The American Legion, an ostensibly patriotic organization for veterans, has been allowed to erect a display every December for at least four years in Constitution Park in Shelton featuring heralding angels. The Legion claims it was founded to acknowledge “God as the source of all our rights and freedoms” and is committed to “bring all Americans closer to their Creator and remind them of His proper place at the center of nation’s life.”

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North Carolina Passes Law Blocking Measures To Protect LGBT People

by Camila Domonoske at NPR

The North Carolina state Legislature has passed a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.

The law comes a month after the city of Charlotte passed a measure protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses.

That measure was set to go into effect on April 1.

The state’s General Assembly wasn’t due to meet until late April, but it scheduled a special session — for the first time in 35 years, member station WUNC reports — on Wednesday to respond to the Charlotte measure before it went into effect.

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Brussels Attacks: ‘Man in the Hat’ Charged with Terrorism and Murder as Nuclear Security Guard Killed

by David Chazan, Henry Samuel, Rory Mulholland and Camilla Turner at The Telegraph

Freelance journalist, Fayçal Cheffou, was arrested on Thursday and according to Belgian reports is the third airport bombing suspect. His charge comes as it emerged as security guard at a Belgian nuclear facilty was killed.

A security guard who worked at a Belgian nuclear medical research facility was murdered two days after the Brussels bombings, it emerged on Saturday, deepening fears that Islamist terror cells are plotting attacks against nuclear installations.

Didier Prospero, a guard with the G4S security company, was shot dead at his home in the Froidchapelle district of Brussels on less than 24 hours after Belgian authorities stripped several workers of their security passes at two nuclear plants this week.

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