RELIGION UPDATE….Hey, remember that post last week where I suggested that we atheists “don’t suffer much serious social ostracism”? Well, it turns out that was pretty stupid. Andrew Sullivan reports:

Eugene Volokh has just written a law article on how atheist fathers and mothers are routinely discriminated against in child custody cases. He cites over 70 recent cases across the country ? and these were only the ones which were appealed, so they probably represent a fraction of the actual cases.

Eugene’s article is here. I’m actually willing to concede that 70 incidents out of millions of custody cases over the last decade isn’t exactly a sign of the apocalypse (so to speak), but it’s still pretty discouraging news.

Meanwhile, among the religious demographic that isn’t routinely discriminated against in custody cases, the “War on Christians” conference presents us with the wingnut Bill of Rights ? a full 29 items long, including all the usual greatest hits. And as Steve Benen says:

Remember, before you laugh these folks off as fringe activists that no credible person should take seriously, take a look at the conference’s guest list, which includes three leading House Republicans (Tom DeLay, Todd Akin, and Louis Gohmert) and two leading Senate Republicans (John Cornyn and Sam Brownback), the latter of which is considered a credible presidential candidate in 2008.

Elsewhere, Steve makes the following observation:

You wouldn’t know it from watching the major news networks, but progressive religious leaders are more articulate and thoughtful on the key issues of the day than anyone in the religious right. Before a TV producer calls James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson to comment on a story, they might also put a call into Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, or Barry Lynn.

Unfortunately, television producers aren’t very interested in “articulate and thoughtful.” They’re interested in provocative and influential. If our guys were more willing to spout obviously unhinged opinions, maybe they’d get more air time. That’s good TV!