Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America's religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title "The … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch X: The National Day of Prayer

I failed to mention previously that last Thursday, May 3, was the "National Day of Prayer" in the United States. Believe it or not, the nation that created the First Amendment has such a day. The bill creating this national observance was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, and another bill fixing its date as the first Thursday in May was signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The purpose of this day, according to the original bill's text, is for Americans to "turn to God in … [Read more...]

Atheists Are Moral: Why It Matters

In the aftermath of the recent Virginia Tech shootings, the lowest and most contemptible specimens of religious fundamentalism have been crawling out of the woodwork to blame atheism for this horrible tragedy, without presenting a shred of evidence. I castigated some of these vile fanatics in my previous post, but since then, yet more of them have come to light. A Load of Bright points out another one, a deceitful and arrogant apologist named Steven Grant:The shooter at Virginia Tech was a … [Read more...]

Some Words on Exploiting Tragedy

In the wake of the recent horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a mentally disturbed student named Cho-Seung Hui murdered 27 students and five faculty members before taking his own life, a shocked nation has struggled to understand. There has been agonized debate over what could have caused this young man to commit such a horrific act of violence - whether it was due to persistent harassment and social ostracism which he suffered, or whether it was mental illness, or some combination of both. … [Read more...]

An Address to Hispanic Freethinkers

This year, I made a New Year's resolution to learn Spanish. In a world of many cultures, I've always felt somewhat embarrassed that I never learned to speak another language, and with the increasing influence of Hispanic people and culture in the United States, Spanish was a rational choice. Both while going to graduate school and working in multicultural New York City, there have been times it would have helped me to speak it, and the next time the opportunity comes, I intend to be prepared. So … [Read more...]

Et Tu, Chris Mooney?

Last year, I read and greatly enjoyed Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science as an invaluable exposition of the harm that ideologically driven antiscience has done to the state of scientific knowledge in this country. But to my great distress, he has taken a turn toward the dark side. In a column published this week in the Washington Post, along with his colleague Matthew Nisbet, Mooney advocates that atheists who want to support science education should stop defending or speaking about … [Read more...]

The Root of All Evil

One of the more bizarre offshoots of fundamentalist Christianity that has been making headway in recent years is the "prosperity gospel", also called the "Word of Faith" movement. Devotees of this theology believe that God, far from the dour, gloomy Puritan deity who expected people to deprive themselves in this life to be rewarded in the hereafter, is actually more like a rich uncle who can't wait to shower us with riches and grant us financial prosperity. In this movement, wealth and fame in a … [Read more...]

On Atheist Fundamentalism

There has been something of a spat lately in the atheist blogosphere, due to an announcement from Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard. Epstein and the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy are sponsoring an event to, in their own words, "take on... atheist 'fundamentalists'" such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and promote the value of humanism and inclusiveness. The Associated Press has run an article on Epstein's announcement.These comments have drawn a sharp response from those who feel … [Read more...]

The Congressional Prayer Caucus

I wrote recently about an attack on nontheist Congressman Pete Stark by a right-wing group calling themselves the Christian Seniors Association. The CSA's spokesman James Lafferty, incensed by the idea that atheists think they have a right to be represented in Congress as if they were human beings like everyone else, complained at length about the campaign of persecution waged against the hundreds of believing members of Congress by the single nonbelieving member:That would be the day that … [Read more...]

A Reply from Pete Stark

A few days ago, I received the following letter from U.S. Representative Pete Stark's office in acknowledgement of the contribution I made to him:These are wonderful sentiments that I can strongly support. I don't think there is any necessity for Rep. Stark to be modest - in the current political climate, it does take courage for an elected official to announce their nontheism, whether we like it or not - but it's absolutely correct to say that the mere announcement does not by … [Read more...]


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