Prayer Cult Nation: Faith Healing Scams & Healthcare Reform

By Sikivu HutchinsonRecently on a popular Black Entertainment Network talk show, R&B singer Monica pitched her new reality show and extolled the virtues of prayer. Suited up in hip-high boots like an emissary from God's army, she credited God with guiding her through life and imbuing her with purpose. His word was her marching order, she proclaimed, as the rapt studio audience nodded in approval, giving credence to surveys that indicate African Americans are more religious, more likely to … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch: European Edition

While we Americans have been focusing on this week's elections, there was another important piece of the news from across the Atlantic you might have missed: the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against displaying crucifixes in state-run Italian schools.A panel of seven judges in Strasbourg said the display of Christian crosses, which is common but not mandatory in Italian schools, violated the principle of secular education and might be "disturbing" for children from other … [Read more...]

How Long the Arc

This past Tuesday, marriage equality suffered another setback at the hands of bigotry in the state of Maine. This defeat is especially disappointing because, from all accounts, the No on 1 campaign did everything right: running a well-organized, well-financed campaign with powerful advertising and a dedicated get-out-the-vote effort. But even the smartest and most well-crafted effort of persuasion can't succeed if people aren't willing to be persuaded, and this was evidently one of those times. … [Read more...]

Feminism's Freedom Fighter? On Feminism, Atheism and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By Sikivu HutchinsonIn mainstream media, public conversation about the intersection between atheism and what I will loosely term third world feminism is as rare as Halley's Comet. In the corporate media universe, the groundbreaking work of feminists of African descent like bell hooks, Angela Davis and Patricia Hill Collins remains largely unknown, relegated to academe. Feminism, when invoked at all in mainstream media, is framed as the province of white women, a vestige of a less "enlightened" … [Read more...]

Secular Sabotage!

In their never-ending quest to elevate every ranting wingnut to the same status as genuine experts, the Washington Post has given a guest column to Bill Donohue - the extreme right-wing Catholic bully whose sole purpose in life is seeking out things to be offended by. Whether it's The Simpsons, the "secular Jews" who run Hollywood and hate Christianity, store greeters who say "Happy Holidays", or monogamous gay couples who want to adopt children, no insult or indignity against the Catholic … [Read more...]

Celibacy Is Unnatural

The Roman Catholic church's stated reason for opposing homosexuality is that it violates a vaguely-defined construct they call "natural law". This viewpoint is explained in essays like this one:People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural... The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality — t … [Read more...]

On the Front Lines of Islamism

While we in the West work to defend secularism against creationists, pro-lifers and other would-be theocrats, it's worth remembering from time to time how good we have it. Our church-state wall may be an embattled boundary, but in most of the world, it's nonexistent. This is especially true in most of the world's Muslim-majority countries, where a few heroes of secularism are fighting against nearly impossible odds. Take Kuwait, where two courageous female MPs are refusing to wear headscarves in … [Read more...]

Take Action: Help Free Kareem Amer

Since I wrote about the Center for Inquiry's Blasphemy Day last week, this is a fitting followup. By participating in events like those, we demonstrate our commitment to defending the right of free speech. But we can also show that commitment in a more tangible way: by taking action on behalf of the prisoners of conscience around the world who've been imprisoned and punished for exercising that right.In this case, I'm speaking of Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger and law student who in 2007 was … [Read more...]

Militant Hinduism

People in Western societies often believe that Eastern religions are more peaceful, less fundamentalist, than Judaism, Christianity or Islam have historically been. And it may well be true that the fluid, polytheistic nature of Hinduism and Buddhism makes them more tolerant, more willing to accommodate differing beliefs, than the fiercely monotheistic religions whose gods are unable to abide any competition.Nevertheless, every religion has its violent, fundamentalist wing, and Eastern … [Read more...]

Anti-Atheist Bigotry Enters Another Campaign

Because this strategy worked so well for Elizabeth Dole, another conservative politician has decided to make a play for the bigot vote by stirring up anti-atheist prejudice against a challenger. In this case, it's on a smaller scale: a race for city council in Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can read about it in the New Mexico Independent, a local paper. (HT: Daylight Atheism reader Brian Westley, who was also the first one to tell me about the Dole ads. He's good at finding this stuff!)According … [Read more...]