The Rising Tide of Republican Extremism

Last week, in a failed last-minute bid to prove himself bigoted enough to be Donald Trump's running mate, Newt Gingrich said this:.@newtgingrich: "We should...test every person here who is of a Muslim background, & if they believe in shariah they should be deported."— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 15, 2016This isn't just unconstitutional, it's anti-constitutional. The idea of a religious test for American citizens, used for expelling those whose views are deemed … [Read more...]

The Injustices of the American Justice System

Again and yet again, America is bleeding. The latest eruption of protests and anger came in response to the brutal, unnecessary police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then the carnage in Dallas where a deranged sniper killed five police officers and wounded more before being killed in turn.Whether any of this will spur reform, or whether violence will only beget more violence, either way it's clear that there's a chasm between police and the communities … [Read more...]

The End of Christian Hegemony

The Atlantic reports on a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute with an eyebrow-raising finding:Almost half of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including blacks and minorities. Three-quarters of Republicans and Trump supporters said this, and so did nearly eight out of 10 white evangelical Protestants.Nearly 80% of white evangelicals say that "discrimination against Christians" is as big a … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Un-TRAPs Abortion Rights

If you're a liberal court-watcher, you may be feeling an unaccustomed fresh breeze blowing from the direction of the Supreme Court. It smells like... optimism.Over the past year, the court has handed down a string of good decisions. The justices legalized marriage equality and upheld Obamacare not once but twice.And this month, there were three more surprising victories, on affirmative action, domestic violence and guns, and now the biggest win of all: Whole Woman's Health v. … [Read more...]

Donald Trump Isn’t the Secular Candidate

The 2016 election presents atheists with a strange contrast. In contrast to Hillary Clinton, who by all accounts is a conventional liberal Protestant, Donald Trump has never had a reputation for being religious. It's no great secret that his outreach to the GOP's Christian-fundamentalist base has consisted of clumsy pandering. For example, here's Trump with Jerry Falwell Jr., with a framed Playboy on the wall behind them:Literally a framed pic on the wall of the candidate and a porn star, as … [Read more...]

The Erasure of Autonomy

Earlier this month, California's assisted-dying law went into effect. As I wrote previously, the bill was passed in a special session of the legislature last year, over the fierce opposition of religious groups.At first, there was uncertainty about what Gov. Jerry Brown would do. Brown studied at a Jesuit seminary in his youth, and some people worried that his former beliefs lingered and would persuade him to veto the bill. But in the end, he signed it into law with a simple, powerful … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Orlando Shooting

If I wrote about every mass shooting in gun-sick America, I wouldn't have time for anything else. But the bloodbath at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, now the deadliest in U.S. history, has a grim power to break through the scar tissue of our indifference.The NRA and right-wing Christianity in this country are locked in a vampiric embrace, each feeding on the other. There's no better proof of that than lawmakers who sold their souls for NRA blood money trying to cloak their … [Read more...]

How Billionaire Lawfare Threatens Free Speech

I didn't have a strong opinion on Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media for posting his sex tape, until I found out that Peter Thiel was secretly funding it. (You may remember him as the billionaire libertarian who's against democracy in general and women's suffrage in particular.) Thiel has held a grudge against Gawker since it outed him as gay a few years ago, and ever since then, he's been quietly looking for a lawsuit to back that could destroy the company. With this case, he may have … [Read more...]

Changing Minds Takes Empathy (and Civility)

I used to follow the liberal writer Matt Bruenig's columns on politics and economics, but I stopped reading a while ago. Although I agreed with him more often than not, he radiated an attitude of aggressive contempt for anyone who disagreed with him that I found insufferable. That's why I wasn't surprised to hear about this:After multiple conversations, Matt Bruenig and Demos have agreed to disagree on the value of the attack mode on Twitter. We part ways on the effectiveness of these … [Read more...]

How Catholic Hospitals Flout the Law

I've often written about the life-endangering refusal of Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, even when a pregnant woman is facing sepsis or hemorrhage and nothing can be done to save the fetus (see here, here and here). Now the ACLU in partnership with MergerWatch has released a new report, Health Care Denied, that reveals the full scope of the problem (HT: Butterflies and Wheels):Today, one in six hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital. In some places, such as … [Read more...]


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