Friday Follies: A Round-up Of Stories From Here, There And Everywhere

It's Friday, and here's a quick round-up of some stories with church-state overtones that you might have missed:

* Remember the proselytizing cheerleaders in north Georgia? A lot of people are getting worked up over that, and I feel certain that a "fair and balanced" Fox News report isn't far off.

One Religious Right site I monitor moaned that the cheerleaders were told to stop promoting Christianity during football games because of one complaint. I don't know if that's true, but let's assume it is. I have news for the Religious Right: When it comes to religion, the majority does not rule. And, yes, it only takes one person to uphold the Constitution!

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League has weighed in with a sensible letter to the school.

* Thrice-married serial adulterer, church-state wall basher and wannabe Religious Right leader Newt Gingrich is involved in some amusing trouble over strip clubs. What's that German word again? Schadenfreude?

* Fall is here and you know what that means – it's time for the Religious Right to start whining about the so-called "War on Christmas"! First out of the box is the Christmas police of the American Family Association (AFA), which is already watching companies closely to make sure the proper religiously-correct language is employed at every cash register in the country. (Woe to any clerk who utters "Season's Greetings!") The AFA is also monitoring commercial Web sites to make sure they say "Merry Christmas" and will issue a list of those that don't get it right.

Whipping up hysteria over the "War on Christmas" has become a lucrative and nearly year-round obsession for the AFA and groups like it. But I noticed last year the media seemed less interested in playing along. Here's hoping the Religious Right has finally flogged this reindeer to death.

This year, Santa Claus needs to bring the AFA a life.

* A stunning story out of Ethiopia sheds new light on human evolution. Scientists have found a nearly intact skeleton of a new species of hominid. This ancestor to modern humans has been named Ardipithecus ramidus, "Ardi" for short, and lived 4.4 million years ago.

Expect the creationists to go, um, ape.

* Finally, it's not too late to "adopt" Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn. I've worked with him since 1992 and just want to give a gentle warning to would-be Religious Right adopters: Barry watches a lot of bad movies, tends to misplace his car keys and doesn't do yard work.

You might want to think twice.

Have a great weekend!