Weekly Link Roundup

If blogging was my full-time job, I’d probably have written a post about each of these stories! As it is, I leave you with some food for thought – and there’s a virtual banquet this week:

• In the U.K., more and more decaying churches are being converted into homes – a fitting use for these still-beautiful buildings, in my opinion.

• According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, gay teens are more likely to be punished by schools and courts than their straight peers. One wonders if something similar holds true for young atheists; there are plenty of places in the country where I wouldn’t doubt it in the slightest.

• And on that note, a mind-boggling story about former Confederate states celebrating secession – in one city, there will be a parade featuring “a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy” – that’s being cast as a celebration of “self-government” and “states’ rights”. In reality, what the Confederates were mainly fighting for was their right, often justified by religion, to buy and sell human beings as property. A hundred and fifty years later, it’s astonishing that so many people still refuse to admit their ancestors were in the wrong.

Divorce rates are skyrocketing in Iran as Iranian women, increasingly assertive and educated despite living in a brutally patriarchal society, fight back against unwanted marriages and cruel husbands.

• Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show how Ireland’s government caved in to Vatican pressure to grant immunity to church officials suspected of complicity in child rape.

• A council of rabbis in a Lubavitcher Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn have issued a decree forbidding believers to speak to the police, even to report a crime, without the permission of the rabbis.

• In San Francisco, a DMV employee was suspended after he sent a letter threatening hellfire to a transgender woman who applied to have her sex changed on her driver’s license. It appears that he shared her name and address with his church without asking permission. It also appears that this is not the first time this employee has done this. Stories like this need to be better publicized – when bigots cry for “freedom of conscience” clauses that would permit them to refuse to do their job on religious grounds, this is what they’re really demanding the right to do.

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