The Religious Right Vision of Marriage, Continued

In my last post on the religious right view of marriage, some commenters took me to task for painting with too broad a brush. In this post, I'll consider how widely held such views are.It's a fair point that not all conservative Christians hold views as extreme as those I criticized. Nevertheless, the views treated in that post are just one end of a spectrum that encompasses nearly the entire religious right. Almost all of them argue that men should always wield the authority in a home and … [Read more...]

Three Cheers for Blasphemy Laws!

Today is International Blasphemy Day, inaugurated as a protest against the new Irish blasphemy law, the Muslim furor over cartoons of Muhammad, and every other law or social norm intended to protect religious ideas from criticism. From the Blasphemy Day website:The last day in September is the anniversary of the original publication of Danish cartoons in 2005 depicting the prophet Muhammad's face. Any visual depiction of Muhammad is considered a grave offence under Islamic law....The … [Read more...]

The Religious Right Vision of Marriage

Christian conservatives always talk about "defending traditional marriage" - which has that warm, homey, fresh-baked-apple-pie feeling to it - but never make it clear precisely what they're defending.This is deliberate, of course, and a clever political strategy: they choose phrases with positive mental associations but otherwise leave their position vague. That way, ordinary people can project onto it whatever idealized notion of a happy family they happen to hold. By this tactic, the … [Read more...]

Take Action: Defend Marriage Equality in Maine

The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for advocates of marriage equality in the United States. There was the bitter disappointment of Prop 8 passing in California in the 2008 elections, but soon after, it was assuaged in part by victories for marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont. Soon thereafter, Maine and New Hampshire joined the ranks of the states that offer full civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.The momentum is unquestionably on our side. Every poll ever conducted has … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

There are couple of news items this week that I thought merited a brief mention.First, in the New Yorker, James Wood provides another piece of evidence for my theory that the only kind of atheists considered "respectable" are the ones who wish they were religious:What is needed is neither the overweening rationalism of a Dawkins nor the rarefied religious belief of an Eagleton but a theologically engaged atheism that resembles disappointed belief.And while we're on the topic of concern … [Read more...]

Religion Promotes Morality: The Evidence

One could argue that atheism leads to immorality. With no God-given commandments, the atheist pretty much has to make up moral standards as he or she goes along... The philosopher John Locke – one of the intellectual forebears of American democracy – once said that atheists can't ultimately be trusted in their promises and commitments, since they have no ultimate divine authority to whom they must answer.—http://stpaulsamityville.com/messagefeb07.htmThe U.S. Securities and Exchange Com … [Read more...]

Freedom to Dress

It's a sad day when you read stories like this from the city where the renowned Library of Alexandria once stood:Along the miles of crowded beachfront in Egypt's second city, women in bathing suits are nowhere in sight.On Alexandria's breeze-blown shores, they all wear long-sleeve shirts and ankle-length black caftans topped by head scarves. Awkwardly afloat in the rough seas, the bathers look like wads of kelp loosened from the sandy bottom.In Alexandria, a city once renowned for its … [Read more...]

Christians Persecute Atheist Teacher

The next time you hear Christians complaining about being persecuted in America, remember this story.You probably know Hemant Mehta, author of the blog Friendly Atheist. What you may not know, and what I didn't know, is that by day he's a math teacher at a public high school in Illinois. And it seems that a right-wing Christian group, outraged by the thought of an atheist being a teacher and potentially a role model, is now trying to get him fired.You can read the story in Hemant's own words … [Read more...]

The Republicans' Descent into Delusion

I don't usually post on purely political issues, but this one has become impossible to ignore. In the last few weeks, the American right has worked itself into a fever pitch of insanity over the prospect of healthcare reform.If you've been watching the news, you've seen the shouting, raging protestors disrupting town-hall meetings, screaming at their representatives about how the healthcare bill is tyranny and fascism. These people are almost loud enough to drown out all other debate over … [Read more...]

Too High a Price to Pay for Comfort

Religion inspires billions of people around the world today to live honest, decent, law-abiding lives. Faith-based charities of every religious tradition have brought comfort, hope, and healing to millions of people who would otherwise starve, lay homeless, and be left to fend for themselves. Religion gives comfort and consolation to so many who have faced adversity in their lives, whether it be suffering from illness, natural disaster, or the loss of someone whom they … [Read more...]