The Pope and Gay People: Nothing’s Changed

DeadEnd

The media has been in a tizzy these past few days over some remarks made by Pope Francis on an airplane flight back from a trip to Brazil:"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word "gay."Judging by the rapturous response from some quarters, one might think that these few mildly conciliatory, off-the-cuff sentences had wiped away centuries of dogmatically entrenched … [Read more...]

Remembering the Holocaust, Respecting the Constitution

OhioHolocaustMemorial

In Ohio, the state legislature recently approved a plan to build a Holocaust memorial on the grounds of the statehouse, with public money to be contributed towards the cost of construction. The winning design incorporates two tall structures of stainless steel, engraved with the testimony of an Auschwitz survivor, that are shaped so as to create a prominent negative space in the shape of a Star of David. You can see an image of the design above, to get a sense of it for yourself.The Freedom … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: You’ll Never Fail Like Common People

UrbanBlight

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VAmerica loves rags-to-riches stories. The idea of the U.S.A. as a land of opportunity is deeply ingrained in our national self-image - we want to believe those Horatio Alger fairytales about how any poor-but-honest young boy with pluck, grit and spunk can start out by sweeping floors and rise to the executive boardroom.No surprise, Ayn Rand is a passionate devotee of this idea. But this does make it all the more surprising that she chooses to write her … [Read more...]

A Conscience Clause for Equal Protection

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she wouldn't defend the state in an ACLU lawsuit challenging a ban on same-sex marriage. She's following the same trail blazed by California, where state officials refused to appeal a district court ruling against the discriminatory Proposition 8. It cheers me enormously to see that more and more government officers are coming to recognize the fundamental injustice of these laws, and refusing to defend them where they … [Read more...]

Atheist Events in NYC This Weekend

If you're in New York City this weekend, there are two great atheist events going down!First, on Saturday the 27th, the Blackout Secular Rally is happening in Flushing Meadows - Corona Park from 1:30 to 6:00. (I've seen different webpages say it starts either at 12:00 or at 1:30, but the official Facebook event page says 1:30, so I'm going with that.) Sponsored by Black Nonbelievers and Black Atheists of America, it's the first atheist rally that will prominently feature nontheists … [Read more...]

The Perils of Scriptural Morality

AcaciaTree

I was cheered by a story I saw last week about about heroic activist groups working to end the barbaric custom of female "circumcision", aka female genital mutilation, that's practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. FGM isn't unique to Christianity or to Islam, but is found across a range of traditional societies that fetishize female virginity and purity and view girls as unfit for marriage if they aren't cut. The harm to women is immense: death from infection and blood loss, … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Of Monsters and Men

New York has been sweltering under an unrelenting heat wave this entire week, so to keep comfortable, we should all be trying to think cold thoughts. And I've got something that might help: hailing from godless Iceland, a video by Of Monsters and Men, an oddly named band whose musical genre is best described as half Scandinavian power metal, half traditional skaldic folksongs. It's a strange combination, but when it works, it really works.I also like this group because it's one of the few … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Meet Francisco d’Anconia

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VWhen Dagny gets back to the office, Eddie shows her a newspaper saying that after seizing the San Sebastian mines, the Mexican government has discovered that they're worthless: there are no copper deposits there and there never were. D'Anconia Copper spent millions of dollars to cut empty mine shafts, seemingly for no reason at all.The government of the People's State of Mexico was holding emergency sessions about their discovery, in an uproar of … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Abortion in the Bible

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, There's Nothing About Abortion in the Bible -- So How Do Right-Wing Christians Justify Their Crusade Against Women? In it, I discuss the biblical verses that touch on abortion - or more accurately, the lack of such verses - as well as the passages which strongly suggest that the Bible's authors didn't consider an unborn fetus to have the same moral status as an adult person. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:One would think … [Read more...]

World News Roundup

FoundationBeyondBelief

I can't write about every story that crosses my radar, as much as I'd like to. But so much that's noteworthy has been happening in the world lately, I'm overdue for a catch-up post.First, there's a glimmer of good news: the Dáil, the lower house of Ireland's Parliament, easily passed a bill that (slightly) relaxes the draconian, no-exceptions abortion ban that killed Savita Halappanavar. The upper house, the Seanad, still has to approve it, but since the government controls both houses by a … [Read more...]


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