Atlas Shrugged: The Jolly Roger


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IILeft alone in John Galt's house, Dagny is cooking breakfast when a visitor arrives:She was setting the table, when she saw the figure of a man hurrying up the path to the house, a swift, agile figure that leaped over boulders with the casual ease of a flight. He threw the door open, calling, "Hey, John!" — and stopped short as he saw her. He wore a dark blue sweater and slacks, he had gold hair and a face of such shocking perfection of beauty that s … [Read more...]

The Manhattan Option

In retrospect, the coming of marriage equality to America may well be the high-water mark of religious influence. This was the one social change that Christians fought against harder than any other, and they still failed to stop it. It's not a stretch to conclude that this will irreversibly taint their moral credibility in the eyes of future generations, even if they come to terms with it - and there's precious little evidence that they have any intention of doing that.Even before this … [Read more...]

Obamacare’s Victory Is a Defeat For Fundamentalism

You know it's been a big week when the Supreme Court once again upholding Obamacare is only the second biggest story to come out of the court. But I wanted to write about this ruling and what it means.As you may remember, I exulted in 2012 when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare the first time, rejecting a claim that the law was unconstitutional. It turns out I spoke too soon, because there was another challenge waiting in the wings: King v. Burwell, a right-wing attack which sought to … [Read more...]

With Liberty and Justice For All


June 26, 2015 will be remembered as the day love won out in the United States of America. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, striking down all remaining bans on same-sex marriage.While waiting for the decision, I admit I had some doubts. I never seriously doubted that the Supreme Court would rule for equality; they signaled their intent months ago, when they refused to halt pro-marriage decisions by lower courts, and it was obvious that … [Read more...]

The Charleston Shooting Is No Mystery

By now, you've heard about the massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina where nine people were murdered, including Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and a state senator. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, wore the patches of white-supremacist regimes, told police that he wanted to start a race war, wrote a virulently racist manifesto, and reportedly said to one of the survivors, "You rape our women, and you're taking over our country... you have to go." So of course, … [Read more...]

Erasing the Past, Denying the Future


In the eyes of the religious conservative movement, America's best days are always in the past. They bemoan the modern era of activist government, heightened sensitivity, and moral complexity, and look back fondly to an imaginary golden age where the wealthy could do as they pleased, the state bowed down to the church, and men were real men and women and minorities were subservient. And when inconvenient reality threatens to show that the United States was never the shining city on the hill that … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Can There Be an Atheist Vote?

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "We atheists can use growing clout to beat evangelicals at their own political game".Trying to organize atheists politically is often compared to herding cats. The conventional wisdom is that, while evangelical Christians and other religious groups march in lockstep and can be counted on to vote as a bloc, atheists are all cussed individualists who argue constantly and will never speak with anything like a unified voice, so there's no point in … [Read more...]

Ireland Says Yes to Equality


Last week, Ireland held a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, and the good guys won a landslide victory:Some 62% of the Irish Republic's electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland's journey towards a more liberal, secular society.Ireland isn't the first country to enact marriage equality, … [Read more...]

How We Built the Ghettos, Why We Built the Ghettos


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?


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...]