The Church of Not Gay

In the riot of awful laws coming out of Republican-controlled statehouses, Mississippi's HB1523 may or may not be the worst. It has a lot of competition for that title. But I'd argue that out of all these bills, it's the one that gives the clearest insight into the motives of its supporters.The law's obligatory Orwellian name is the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act". It claims to shield people from state interference or punishment for following their … [Read more...]

Vote for Harm Reduction, Not Purity

North Carolina's appalling HB2, which I wrote about on Monday, is just one bill in a parade of awfulness from state legislatures. In the last few weeks alone, Indiana has outlawed abortion if the fetus has a defect or disability, and Utah requires women getting abortion to receive unnecessary anesthesia against their will. A South Carolina bill would make anyone who sponsors a refugee criminally liable if that refugee commits a crime. Mississippi wants to grant shoot-to-kill authority to … [Read more...]

Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power

Red-state legislatures around the country seem as if they're competing to pass the cruelest and most inhumane laws. But even by that standard, North Carolina's HB2 stands out. Rushed into passage with the haste and secrecy of a coup d'etat - it was introduced in the legislature, voted on, sent to the governor and signed into law all in a span of less than twenty-four hours - it can only be described as deliberately mean-spirited and spiteful. It bans transgender people from using public … [Read more...]

Why I’m Supporting Hillary Clinton

The last time I wrote about the Democratic primary, I was undecided. I've made up my mind since then. I've decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, and in this post I'll explain why.To start with (because, yes, some of my best friends are Bernie supporters), I still believe there's no bad choice in this race. Both of them are solid candidates, and Sanders' presence has been beneficial. He's pulled Clinton to the left in ways that could have lasting relevance if she becomes president, and he's … [Read more...]

Theocratic Fraud in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Religious sects and cults that conceive of themselves as serving a higher, sacred purpose will, almost inevitably, end up believing that they're above the law. We've seen this recently with the FLDS Mormon splinter cult and the Catholic church protecting monstrous child abusers, and now there's another example on offer.I've written about the malign political influence of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism, both in New York City and in the upstate satellite community of Kiryas Joel. Because they … [Read more...]

How the Right-Wing Scam Economy Created Donald Trump

The rise of Donald Trump has bewildered and dismayed pundits, especially conservative pundits. Many of them are treating it as a freakish fluke, a black-swan event that nobody could have predicted. But the clues were always there, for anyone who knew how to spot them.In his last, doomed line of attack, Marco Rubio accused Trump of being a "con artist" who peddles hazy fantasies and handwaves as a solution to our most pressing problems. He wasn't wrong about that, but Trump is hardly the … [Read more...]

On Not Ceding the Moral High Ground

This already-bizarre campaign season has taken an ugly turn, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump encouraging violence at his rallies and even promising to pay his supporters' legal bills if they were arrested. That's why many people feared the worst last week, when Trump announced he would hold a rally in Chicago, on the campus of the University of Illinois.A massive counterprotest quickly sprang up, and at the last minute, the campaign called off the event. They claim that the police … [Read more...]

What the Catholic Church Did in the Shadows

Although it slipped out of the headlines for a while, the Roman Catholic church's plague of priests raping and molesting children hasn't gone away. This week, we got a jolting reminder of that:Two Roman Catholic bishops who led a central Pennsylvania diocese helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests or religious leaders over a 40-year period, according to a grand jury report issued on Tuesday.The grand jury's report, which is based on documents … [Read more...]

Maryam Namazie Vs. Sam Harris

Since I believe it's important to resist anti-Muslim prejudice in the secular community, I was pleased to hear that Maryam Namazie, the ex-Muslim atheist and international human rights campaigner, was on Sam Harris' podcast. While I agree with Harris on some things, I've often criticized his views on Islam - especially his indefensible beliefs about profiling - and I was hoping she'd give him a dose of perspective. In this post, I want to analyze their exchange and offer my thoughts on … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling, Part II

There's more good news in the saga of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an especially nasty totalitarian religious cult that splintered off from Mormonism. The sect's former ruler, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for facilitating rape, and his absence seems to be destabilizing them. As I wrote last year, outside observers and ex-members have noticed a greater outflow of deconverts from the FLDS than ever before.Now the authorities are closing in from … [Read more...]


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