The Hypocrisy of Tolerance at the Touro Synagogue

I'm on vacation this week in New England. Yesterday I visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island - the oldest Jewish synagogue in North America, dating back to the colonial era. It was founded by Jews fleeing a long history of persecution in Europe: first the Alhambra Decree expelling them from Spain, then the Inquisition, which harried them from Portugal to the Caribbean. They settled here in Newport and built a synagogue, which survived the Revolution, when most of the city was … [Read more...]

How Low Will It Go? The Continuing Decline of American Christianity

The Pew Research Center has released a huge new survey of the American religious landscape, showing how the demographics have shifted from 2007 to 2014. And the lede is very, very good for us:[A] major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to … [Read more...]

#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine

In a bid to give women scientists other than Marie Curie the recognition they're too often denied, science editor Melissa Vaught asked for contributions to a Twitter hashtag, #BeyondMarieCurie, listing women with noteworthy achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here's the first version of the list:[View the story "#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine" on Storify]I suggested a few other names that weren't already there:Some others: Annie Jump Cannon, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

HumanPyramid

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IJust as Dagny and John Galt prepare to set out, they have a visitor:They were finishing breakfast when she saw Mulligan's car stopping in front of the house. The driver leaped out, raced up the path and rushed into the room, not pausing to ring or knock. It took her a moment to realize that the eager, breathless, disheveled young man was Quentin Daniels."Miss Taggart," he gasped, "I'm sorry!" The desperate guilt in his voice clashed with the … [Read more...]

How We Built the Ghettos, Why We Built the Ghettos

BaltimoreMap

In the wake of the protests and riots that convulsed Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, there was unexpected and welcome news: state's attorney Marilyn Mosby moved quickly to indict the police officers who let him die in their custody. I was surprised and pleased to see that she threw the book at them, including by charging one with second-degree murder.But even if the indictment sticks, even if the officers are convicted, there's a deeper problem which hasn't been touched. The tide … [Read more...]

Why Do Many Christians Still Literally Believe in Demons and Satan?

DevilGrin

This article was originally published on AlterNet.If there's anywhere in the U.S. where you'd expect aggressively conservative, domineering religion to be a relic of the past, it's tolerant and culturally liberal Massachusetts. But even in that blue enclave, the theocratic impulse is still surprisingly powerful. We found this out when a student group at Harvard University, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, ignited a furor by announcing that they were planning an educational … [Read more...]

Upcoming Travel Plans for Summer 2015

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I'm traveling all over the place in the next few months. If you'd like to come out and see me, here's what's on the agenda:• First of all, the week of May 18-22, I'm going on a road trip swing through New England. This is a purely personal vacation, with no conferences or speaking events planned, but I'd be happy to meet up with any Daylight Atheism readers in the area. I'm planning to have some down time in Newport, Rhode Island on May 19, Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 21 and … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Social Atom

Solitude

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IAfter breakfast, Dagny asks John Galt if he'll take her out to see the valley. He agrees to give her the grand tour:He got up, went to the telephone and dialed a number. "Hello, Midas? ... Yes... He did? Yes, she's all right... Will you rent me your car for the day? ... Thanks. At the usual rate — twenty-five cents... Can you send it over? ... Do you happen to have some sort of cane? She'll need it... Tonight? Yes, I think so. We will. Thanks."He h … [Read more...]

Drawing Mohammed in Spite of Violence

The American religious right loves to play-act as martyrs: bemoaning how cruelly the government oppresses them, fantasizing about how they're on the verge of being imprisoned or killed for their beliefs. Usually, these claims are pure fiction. But this weekend in Texas, for once, the pretense became reality.The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a religious right group run by the flamboyant anti-Muslim activist and Ayn Rand devotee Pamela Geller, held a contest for cartoonists to draw the … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Atheists Are Diversifying

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "Finally, atheists are no longer just old white men".The atheist community, in America at least, has long had a reputation for being dominated by geeky white men. I have no onus against geeky white men - I happen to be one myself - but the data suggests that if we stick with this strategy, we'll needlessly alienate potential allies and end up in a demographic cul-de-sac. If the atheist movement wants to succeed in the long run, it's essential that we … [Read more...]


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