Prayer Can’t Fight Ebola

Ebola

The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola virus is still raging in West Africa. There are over 1,500 confirmed deaths so far - including, heartbreakingly, doctors and nurses treating other sufferers - though the real number is probably much higher, since widespread fear and mistrust means that many of the sick never come forward.The epidemic has also been helped along by traditional herbalists who claim they can treat Ebola, but only end up spreading the virus. Some people don't even believe it … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian? It's about the increasing conflict between liberal and moderate religious believers who feel the doctrines of their churches should be open for reexamination, and the authoritarians who are determined to quash these democratic notions at any cost. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:Religion is a noteworthy exception to this trend of progress. Secular moral reasoning, founded on considerations … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Slash Fiction

MaleSymbols

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVRearden is winning plaudits for the innovative "la la la, I'm not listening to you" defense strategy he deployed at his trial. Even the government overseer at his mills, the boy Rand nicknames the Wet Nurse, is coming to admire him:The Wet Nurse asked him at the mills, "Mr. Rearden, what's a moral premise?""What you're going to have a lot of trouble with."The boy frowned, then shrugged and said, laughing, "God, that was a wonderful show! What … [Read more...]

The Coming Secular Era

NYCSunrise

The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: the long-term, across-the-board decline of Christianity and the corresponding rise of atheism, which has been going on behind the scenes for more than twenty years and is now … [Read more...]

The South Will Not Rise Again

Last year, I wrote about the continuing exodus of members from the Catholic church, and apologists' fumbling suggestions for how to reverse the trend. I noted with amusement that there was an elephant in the room - the church's retrograde doctrines which drive away young people - which the apologists were carefully tiptoeing around while they made minor suggestions about the decor and the color scheme.Well, as they say, history rhymes. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Pound the Table

LegalPapers

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVThe date of Hank Rearden's trial has arrived, so it's time for the obligatory Dramatic Courtroom Scene.The first thing we learn, as spectators file in, is that the Constitution has apparently been revoked, because there's no longer a right to trial by jury (which is guaranteed in Article 3 - it's more fundamental than even the Bill of Rights). When and how this happened, we aren't told. You might think this is a much bigger deal than the Equalization of … [Read more...]

Let’s Not Be Uncivil Here

Gay-Dictator

Can't we have a calm, reasoned, civil discussion about whether I should stop punching you or not?I mean, sure, I may currently be sitting on your chest aiming one punishing blow after another into your head, neck and shoulders. I'm willing to grant that reasonable people may differ about the ethics of this behavior. But the important thing is that we work it out politely. Why are you being so hostile? I'm inviting you to join me in a serious, sustained dialogue about the continuance of said … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Real Religious Persecution

Big news today! I'm very pleased to announce that I've published my first original column for the Guardian, the venerable progressive newspaper, in their Comment is Free opinion section.The column is titled "'Help, help, I'm being repressed!': How conservatives make a mockery of the oppression of religious minorities. It concerns those American Christian conservatives who shriek that their religious liberty is being cruelly denied, while steadfastly ignoring those who experience genuine … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Ferguson

FergusonProtest

I've been gripped by the stories and images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri since last week. This suburb of St. Louis has been wracked with unrest since Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American teenager, was shot to death on a city street by a police officer - while he was standing with his hands raised in surrender, according to three eyewitnesses. The killing has stirred up the community to righteous fury, and the police have harshly cracked down on the ensuing protests.In many … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: #NMOS14

Last Thursday, my wife and I attended one of the National Moment of Silence rallies that were held across the country to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and all other deaths from police brutality and overreach. This one was at Union Square in Manhattan. There was an immense, diverse crowd; the tone was angry and grieving, but peaceful.Though I had been half-expecting the NYPD to show up in force, there was no show of strength by the police at the scene. (There was a … [Read more...]


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