The Strange Tale of Rose Marks


Last month, I wrote about whether we should pity the victims of the prosperity gospel and argued that, unlike in cases of outright fraud or coercion, their poor decisions are their own. There were several responses, such as this post by Russell Glasser, that took a more sympathetic view, arguing that most people who fall prey to this hustle can't be expected to know better.To be sure, lack of education and lifelong immersion in a religious faith that treats such claims as normal are surely … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 14

This is part 14 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew -I always like it when people come to our debates and tell us afterward that neither of us was who and what they were expecting. I take pleasure in confounding expectations!I like your mention of the public school system, which is one of the best things that the government has done: a great equalizer, a stirring rod of the American … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 30


• Oliver Sacks has died. In his final column, "Sabbath", he talks about his humanism and his rejection of his Jewish upbringing when his mother discovered he was gay and was violently hateful towards him: "her harsh words made me hate religion's capacity for bigotry and cruelty".In his closing words, he contemplates the end with acceptance and peace:And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Problem of Original Property


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IINow that his brief moment of genuine, appropriate emotion is over, Francisco goes back to doing what he does best - delivering Randian Monologues. In this one, he explains to Dagny how he joined John Galt's conspiracy:"Dagny, when I took over my father's business, when I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, it was then that I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe. I saw the … [Read more...]

Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?


This article was originally published on AlterNet.Human history is a story of gradual moral enlightenment. Over the ages, we've become less violent, less xenophobic, more tolerant, more committed to the ideals of democracy and equality under the law. Of course, moral progress is painfully slow, with many holdouts and local reversals, and we have a very long way left to go. But it's hard to deny that the world we live in today is less prejudiced and more peaceful than the world five hundred … [Read more...]

Anti-Sex Dogma Can’t Fail, It Can Only Be Failed

There aren't many Christians who've been at the center of not just one but two major scandals, but that twice-disgraced distinction now belongs to Josh Duggar, the Quiverfuller and reality-TV star turned pro-patriarchy political activist.First, there was the confession that he had molested his sisters as a teenager, which his parents helped to cover up, and which got him fired from his job as a professional sex scold for the Family Research Council. And now, last week, we learned that he had … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Grace Potter

I don't see why you'd embark on a solo career when you're best known for a band that already has your name in its name, but why complain when the result is this good? Here's Grace Potter, of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, showing off on her new solo album, Midnight: … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Missing and Presumed

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIDagny has only been in Galt's Gulch for a few days, but she's having a grand old time. Between buying stuff with gold coins, getting constantly lectured at about capitalism, and being John Galt's subservient housemaid, she's got everything a female Randian hero could want. However, an unwelcome realization is about to spoil her fun:Owen Kellogg arrived on the afternoon of her third day in the valley....He descended among a group of men, he saw … [Read more...]

Should We Pity the Victims of the Prosperity Gospel?

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight (watch this show!) had a cutting episode this past weekend about the wealth and arrogance of Christian televangelists:Like other preachers of the prosperity gospel, these shiny-suited hypocrites proclaim that God wants to make you rich, and that by "planting a seed", or in other words giving money to the televangelist, you'll reap a manyfold return. Obviously, the only people who get rich from this theology are the ones who preach it, and Oliver doesn't … [Read more...]

Jewish Fundamentalism Is Poisoning Israel


Last month, a religious fundamentalist attacked a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem, stabbing six people. One of them, a teenager named Shira Banki, later died from her wounds. The attacker, identified by police as Yishai Schlissel, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had previously stabbed three people at another gay-pride parade in Jerusalem in 2005, for which he was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. Just three weeks after his release, he apparently did it again. Horribly, a photographer … [Read more...]