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...]

Is Richard Dawkins Evolving?

This is big news: Richard Dawkins has apologized for "Dear Muslima", the infamous remarks he made in 2011 belittling the concerns of Western feminism on the grounds that women in Muslim countries have it worse. Here's the relevant part:There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I'm sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.This follows on the heels of a joint statement … [Read more...]

You, Sir, Are No Robert Ingersoll

RobertIngersoll

Before I went on vacation last month, you may recall how I tangled with a mob of nasty sexists who misleadingly call themselves "men's rights activists". Most of their comments were pure ad hominem filth, not worth the trouble of responding to, but there was one I wanted to address: from an atheist MRA who fears that feminism is ruining both science and atheism, and who thinks that some famous historical freethinkers would have taken his side.Surprisingly, my largely religious family was … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins’ Commendable Step on Sexism

SteppingStones

Well, this is most welcome news:[W]e have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people's appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.Richard adds: I'm told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don't indulge in them. … [Read more...]

Repost: Making Non-White Atheists Feel Welcome

BilliardBalls

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2010.]I was reading this outstanding essay by Alom Shaha, an atheist and ex-Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, who describes what it's like to come out as a nonbeliever in a tightly-knit, intensely religious community. But as he makes clear, the social and cultural pressure on people in his situation isn't just a matter of happenstance; it formed as a defensive reaction … [Read more...]

Repost: Green Fields

GreenFields

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2009.]For those who are grieving, for those who mourn, and for all those who are burdened with the weary weight of sorrow, I have a prescription.Find a quiet, peaceful place, a green field of grass where great trees grow and gift the world with their shade. Let it be just before sunset, at that golden hour when the heat of the afternoon is past, when the sky is blue … [Read more...]

When Will We Have an Atheist President?

LincolnMemorial

So far this year, a rightward-leaning Supreme Court has issued two major rulings granting sweeping new privileges to religious belief. Atheists and secularists in America are angry and frustrated, and it's natural to wonder when we'll have a government that heeds our wishes. Is there any prospect of an atheist president any time soon, or a nonbeliever in some other high political office?My message, to atheists and friends of secularism, is that there's reason to hope. It won't be next … [Read more...]

Grief Beyond Belief

I've been writing about atheism for some years now, and one of my great joys has been watching the secular community grow and thrive. Once, our main pastimes were debating philosophy on the internet and filing church-state lawsuits. Now we have political lobbying arms, atheist parenting guides, secular student clubs and summer camps, humanist communities and celebrants, and more. We're getting closer and closer to the ideal of a true secular community whose members offer tangible support to each … [Read more...]

Religious Violence Isn’t a Mental Illness, and Neither Is Misogyny

Sexism

In the wake of the mass shooting in California last month, committed by a killer who left a long, misogynist manifesto vowing to punish women for not dating him, many pundits and commenters have strained to blame something other than sexism for his rampage. The most common claim is that the shooter, Elliot Rodger, was mentally ill, that the illness was the real cause of his killing, and the misogyny is just what his disturbed mind happened to latch onto as an excuse; if not for that, it would … [Read more...]

On Paying Your Atheist Speakers

Money

I was at Women in Secularism 3 this last weekend, a fantastic and nearly flawless conference put on by the Center for Inquiry. I greatly enjoyed every part of it (including Ron Lindsay's opening speech). I intend to write a longer report later, but first: On a Sunday panel, there was a question from an audience member about how to start up a conference of their own, and one of the panelists' suggestions was to look for people who'll come speak for free. This drew some dissent from people … [Read more...]


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