The Price of Abstinence

A much-heralded study in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics has concluded that the premarital "abstinence pledges" so beloved by evangelical Christians are ineffective. Teenagers who sign up for religious programs such as True Love Waits or Silver Ring Thing, in which participants pledge to remain abstinent until marriage, are just as likely to have premarital sex as nonpledgers, and significantly less likely to use contraception when they do. They also contract STDs at the same rates … [Read more...]

No Holy Ground

The world's attention has been riveted these past few days by Israel's assault on Gaza, in an attempt to oust the Hamas-run government and put a stop to rocket attacks on southern Israel. Hundreds of Palestinians were reported killed in a wave of airstrikes, over a thousand wounded, and as of this writing, a ground invasion looms as a continuing possibility. Although the conflict began after a six-month ceasefire expired and Hamas refused to renew it, it's now Israel that's rejecting calls for a … [Read more...]

Rick Warren? Shame On You, Obama!

Via multiple sources (Greta Christina, Pam Spaulding, Glenn Greenwald, Americans United, as well as others), this unpleasant news: President-elect Barack Obama has apparently chosen megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give a speech at his inauguration day.If you're not familiar with Rick Warren, or if you only know him as the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, here's a few of his greatest hits:• Warren has been a dedicated enemy of marriage equality, equating gay rights to incest and … [Read more...]

Take Action: Support Atheism in Washington State

Last week, in "Getting Our Message Out", I wrote about the winter solstice sign that the FFRF posted in Washington state's capitol building. The sign was put up after the state had legally obliged itself to create an open forum by allowing the placement of other privately sponsored displays carrying specifically Christian-themed messages, including a nativity scene. The FFRF's sign bears the following message:At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.There are no gods, no … [Read more...]

Speaking Truth to Popularity

When the great freethought orator Robert Ingersoll died in 1899, the New York Times eulogized him thusly:...there is something more in the orator's art than the power of expression. There must also be sympathy in the sense of an electrical connection which is set up between speaker and hearers. And eminently Ingersoll had this. He never misjudged, more properly, he never misfelt his audience....He held the keys of laughter and of tears, and there are many passages, mostly, indeed, detached … [Read more...]

Getting Our Message Out

As atheists grow in political power and begin to exert our influence, we should expect to draw attention from religious bigots who will try to silence us. Three stories from the past three days illustrate this principle, showing not just atheism's increasing assertiveness, but the arrogance of religious groups and individuals who think they can prevent us from getting our message out.First is Rancho Cucamonga, California. The Freedom from Religion Foundation had placed an "Imagine No … [Read more...]

On the Mumbai Terror Attacks

I had planned to post on a different topic today, but my attention has been riveted - as I'm sure everyone's has - by the horrific events still unfolding in Mumbai. A well-organized and ruthless group of several dozen heavily armed terrorists has slipped into the city, attacking lightly guarded civilian targets with assault rifles and grenades, apparently targeting Western tourists. Over a hundred innocent people are dead, hundreds more wounded, and some of Mumbai's famous landmarks are in … [Read more...]

The Decline of the Catholic Church

In this past August's post "On Desecration", concerning the infamous PZ Myers wafer affair, I mocked the ignorance of a group calling itself the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy:We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional.At the time, I didn't think this was anything other than the raving of a few right-wing Catholic wackaloons, even if they were priests. But I may have to change that assessment. To judge by … [Read more...]

To Bigotry No Sanction

In August 1790, Warden Moses Seixas of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, wrote an address to the recently elected President George Washington. Jewish congregations were still an unusual phenomenon in America at the time, and Newport's was the new nation's largest. Seixas' letter expressed his congregation's gratitude to President Washington, and to America in general, for their willingness to uphold the separation of church and state and offer shelter and toleration to a minority … [Read more...]

Some More Election Thoughts

My earlier post, "Election Special 2008", didn't fully do justice to all the things I wanted to say about this election. I decided it would be better split into two parts, and here's the second part.First, the historic: A nation built by slaves, that fought a bloody civil war over emancipation, and that has grappled with the poisonous legacy of racism since its founding, has chosen a black man to be its President. Many of those who marched in the civil rights movement, who lived through … [Read more...]