Are Georgia peaches kosher?

My adopted state is in the news twice today for laughable church-state issues.

First up is an AP report (“Is Ga. kosher law kosher?”) that non-Orthodox Jews have their yarmulkes in a bunch over a Georgia law that mandates kosher foods comply with “orthodox Hebrew” rules.  I looked this up on LexisNexus (Title 26, Chapter 2, Article 11 of the Georgia Code) and it’s true–persons who fraudulently present foods as “kosher” can be punished by fine up to $500 and/or six months in jail.  Members of the Conservative branch of Judaism are challenging this law (although why now isn’t clear since the law’s been in place since 1980).

This whole thing begs the question as to why the Georgia legislature is getting into the business of defining what is and isn’t kosher.  I’m guessing there are already laws in place to punish people for false advertising, so if someone discovered that a grocer was presenting something as kosher that wasn’t, a legal remedy is already available.  The state of Georgia ought to get out of the religion business–be it fundamentalist Protestant or orthodox Judaism–once and for all.

Second, you may recall that back in 2007 (in the midst of a severe drought), Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue caused a fuss by organizing a public prayer on the capitol steps to beg God to send rain.  Our own David Driscoll was among those who protested this violation of church-state separation (1)(2), and it was a topic of conversation in American Freethought Podcast #1.  Anyway, now Skeptic magazine’s Gary J. Whittenberger has looked at the results in “A Governor’s Prayer for Rain: An Empirical Analysis of a Supernatural Claim” (scroll down to find the article).  It’s a dry–pun intended–analysis showing that–depending on how you slice-and-dice the numbers–either the theists could claim victory or the skeptics can confirm failure.  Honestly, you’re not going to be able to prove anything from a single anecdote, but the article’s existence alone makes the point that even prayer should be subject to objective scrutiny.

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