Thirty years ago this month, at the behest of Carl Sagan, Voyager 1 turned its camera back to its departed home and took this image:

Sagan then penned the essence of his thoughts on the Pale Blue Dot: A Vision on the Human Future in Space:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

We attended a meeting this week of the Committee on Religious Liberty. We were among other secular group voices including, Maggie Garrett from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who came to the table with leaders or religious institutions to discuss law and policy in relation to religion in the United States. 

There are several issues that were covered in the meeting and we will be detailing them in next week's newsletter. 

Have a great week, 


Jason Frye, CEO
Secular Policy Institute                             
International Update:

A leaked government document details how people were selected for internment in China's Xinxiang reeducation camps. 

Through the Citizen Amendment Bill and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Hindu nationalist aims of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are fomenting anxiety amongst India's 200 million Muslims (many of whom fear deportation should the NRC be fully implemented.

While fighting against each other in the Levant, Al Qaeda and Daesh are cooperating in their efforts in the Sahel (largely Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger).

Nearly 3,000 marriages between same-sex couples have been recorded since the laws on marriage became gender neutral. Taiwan legalized marriage for same-sex couples last year.

Upon his acquittal and release with nine others accused of fomenting the attempted 2016 coup, Osman Kvala was immediately arrested upon other charges. 

Science News

HUMAN ATLAS PROJECT: Researchers from 1,029 institutions spanning 71 countries are collaborating to map the location of the different types of 37.2 trillion cells around the human body via single-cell transcriptome sequencing.

Update on SPI Fellows: Dr.s Al-Tamimi, Manea, McWhorter, and Paulos

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Voice of America interviewed Dr. Al-Tamimi on potential avenues of the Syrian campaign against Islamist militias in the ongoing crisis in the Levant. 
Read more....

Elham Manea:
Dr. Manea was interviewed by Time on the unknown condition of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi's family had heard from him on a near daily basis via phone calls that suddenly stopped after 14 January. Manea also spoke to SwissInfo on a Swiss diplomatic intervention in the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. 
Read more....

John McWhorter:
Dr. McWhorter wrote an essay in The Atlantic examining the viability of the Michael Bloomberg presidential campaign.
Read more....

John Allen Paulos:
Dr. Paulos wrote an essay for the New York Times on the public's distorted perception of the fatality of COVID-19. 
Read more....

The State of California sent a letter in response to the Trump Administration, saying that it is the sovereign right of the state to cover abortion services within its borders. Earlier the Trump Administration issued a notice to Sacramento that California was not in compliance with a rider in federal law restricting the funding of abortion services. 

Both chambers of the state legislature of Utah voted to decriminalize polygamy.
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