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Calif. school district bans atheist scholarships — but allows them from Scientology

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A lawsuit filed in federal court last week accuses California’s Antelope Valley Union School Board of blocking scholarships from atheists while allowing them from Scientology.

Courthouse News Service reported that the district was sued after it refused to let students compete for $17,950 in scholarships from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and $1,750 in scholarships from the Antelope Valley Freethinkers.

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According to the atheist groups, Palmdale High School declined to notify students of their scholarship offers, which required applicants to submit an essay on the challenges of being a “nonbeliever.”

The lawsuit notes that the school did offer scholarships from other groups — including the Church of Scientology — that “solicited religious speech, required applicants to be religious, and dealt with the historically controversial topics of homosexuality and guns.”

Deputy Superintendent Jeff Foster reportedly told Antelope Valley Freethinkers President David Dionne that offers from atheists groups would “upset some parents.” Foster cited the group’s suggestion that students write about being “ridiculed, harassed, or punished for speaking up against religion in the classroom, at school events, in government, or within your family.”

“We simply do not have the time to ‘word smith’ language that might be acceptable to the district and yet meet the intent of your organization,” Foster explained.

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The atheist groups are asking a federal judge to issue an injunction to force the district to stop suppressing free speech.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘Paranoid’ GOP lawmaker who is obsessed with ‘Biblical War’ sought GPS devices to track adversaries: report

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Republican state Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane, Washington reportedly sought GPS devices and other spycraft to use against his political adversaries.

The revelations are part of a trove of emails obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

The paper said that Shea, who has connections to the Christian identity movement, believes that "Muslims, journalists and critics of all political stripes are 'supporting tyranny' if they don’t support his view that the United States is 'a Christian nation.'"

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Conservative columnist claims Trump is victim of racist attacks — links mass shootings to ‘identity politics’

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Donald Trump ruthlessly attacked The Squad -- four young lawmakers of color -- throughout the summer, directing them to go back to their home countries even though all four are U.S. citizens.

In response, Republicans continued to largely rally around the president despite his loud and unapologetic racist rhetoric.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Heather Mac Donald says that Trump himself is a victim of racist attacks.

In a story headlined "Trump Isn’t the One Dividing Us by Race," Mac Donald claims that "He hardly mentions it, while his adversaries are obsessed with ‘whiteness’ and ‘white privilege.’"

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NYC police union lashes out at commissioner and ‘cop haters’ after firing of officer who killed Eric Garner

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The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York on Monday angrily attacked New York City Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill after he fired Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who killed Eric Garner by placing him in a choke hold in 2014.

In a statement released shortly after Pantaleo's firing, NYC PBA President Patrick Lynch accused the commissioner of choosing "politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead."

He then claimed O'Neill was bowing to the pressure of "cop haters" and said he had "opened the door for politicians to dictate the outcome of every single NYPD disciplinary proceeding."

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