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Toni Van Pelt interviewed on First Coast Connect radio show hosted by Melissa Ross. Listen Now 
Strong support for the critical Federal data sources Dear Chairmen Cochran and Frelinghuysen and Ranking Members Leahy and Lowey: We write to provide our perspective on, and to express our strong support for, the critical Federal data sources that inform and strengthen our nation’s world-leading economic, educational, democratic and civic institutions and successes.   Our Federal statistical and data systems provide information that is uniquely accurate, objective, relevant, timely and accessible. America’s families, firms and policymakers are able to make informed decisions because they have open access to this unbiased high- quality information.   We are concerned that a lack of appreciation for the critical importance of our Federal statistical and data systems may worsen, and are worried that, after years of insufficient funding, these systems face deeper funding cuts and further marginalization.
156 Civil and Human Rights Groups Call for Stronger Response to Hate Incidents WASHINGTON –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 155 civil and human rights groups today called upon the Executive Branch to respond more quickly and forcefully to hate-based incidents, which have been occurring at an alarming rate in recent months.  The statement follows: “Our diversity is part of what makes America great, and incidents motivated by hate are an affront to the values we share. No one should face acts of violence or intimidation because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin. Just this year, we have seen an alarming increase in accounts and reports of hate-based acts of violence and intimidation. Some recent examples include: The February shooting in Olathe, Kansas, where two Indian Hindu Americans were attacked, killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla; Four mosques burned in the past two months, in Texas, Washington, and Florida, and more defaced by acts of vandalism; Numerous bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and ADL offices around the country; The recent shooting in Washington state of a Sikh American outside of his home;  Racist graffiti targeting African Americans in Stamford, Connecticut and at a high school in Lake Oswego, Oregon; An attack on a Latino man in Daly City, California, and an attack on a Hispanic woman in Queens, New York, with both targeted because of their ethnicity; The murders of seven transgender women of color, including six African Americans and one Native American. While we welcome President Trump’s remarks to the joint session of Congress, where he noted ‘we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,’ it was the first public acknowledgement he had made on specific recent events.  It is clear that the President has been slow to respond to hate incidents, when he has responded at all.  We strongly believe the President has a moral obligation to use his bully pulpit to speak out against acts of hatred when they occur. (Read More)
 It is a gross mischaracterization of the wide latitude of freedoms that houses of worship enjoy in the United States to claim that their rights of free speech are being abrogated by the Johnson Amendment. These claims mask the more sinister intentions to channel money directly into political campaigns to influence elections.1 In 2016, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr. was quoted in the New York Times saying that repealing the Johnson Amendment would “create a huge revolution for conservative Christians and for free speech.” It is simply false to claim that churches and other houses of worship cannot engage in political speech or that pastors as individuals are unfairly fettered. Houses of worship can engage in political speech, and clergy are free to speak their mind in their personal capacity.  The limit on 501(c)(3) organizations, including houses of worship, pertains only to abstaining from endorsing or opposing candidates in political campaigns. (Read More)
Toni Van Pelt
The Rage of a Black Atheist Young Black atheist Ankh Ma’at Ra has struck a nerve. He can be seen on a video ranting against the God concept and the seemingly irreparable harm it has done to Black people. He liberally uses the f-word, the n-word, the s-word, and so forth. That is to say, he is very hard core. And many people seem to agree with him. The video has garnered over 800,000 views. It is titled “Tired of Waiting.” Ankh is tired of waiting for Jesus to return. He says that his family has believed that we have been living in the last days for four generations. He says that he is the fourth generation, and the madness stops here. He says that Black Christian and Muslim leaders should be “ashamed” of themselves for continually teaching Black people that Jesus will return or that Allah will save them. He says that if there is a God, it must be the “spirit” that dwells within each and every one of us. (Read More)