The Gospel of Consumerism

In the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is often called Black Friday, both because of the chaos it engenders and because it is the day when many businesses are "in the black", in other words able to show a net profit, for the first time of the year. Both reasons are because Black Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It is becoming increasingly common for retailers to open in the very earliest hours of the … [Read more...]

Sex and Consequence

The spectacular public downfall of Ted Haggard last month continues to reverberate through the media. And now, an aftershock: Paul Barnes, founder of the 2,100-member evangelical Grace Chapel in Colorado, has resigned after admitting he had engaged in homosexual sex acts. (Predictably, Barnes' former church wasted no time in trying to erase his existence from their website, similar to the major religious right leaders who swiftly tried to downplay Haggard's importance after his resignation.)In … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VIII: Religious Tests

Meet Keith Ellison:Ellison is one of the new Democratic representatives elected in the November midterms, the winner of an open seat in Minnesota's 5th District. Representative-elect Ellison is also a Muslim, the first member of that religion ever to be elected to the United States Congress. As such, when he takes his oath of office, he intends to do so on a copy of the Qur'an.And there the story would end... in a world more rational than our own. In our world, the religious right, still … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VII: Season's Warning

With the Democratic victories in the recent midterm elections, I am hopeful that I will have to write considerably fewer Theocracy Watch posts in the near future. This is not to say that the Democrats do not also pander to religion, which they do, but only that they usually show less interest than Republicans in integrating it materially into our government. However, this does not mean that unconstitutional establishments of religion are no longer continuing, and this post will examine one of … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VI: Thoughts in Captivity

There have been many pieces of good news for atheists in November, and I'm happy to be able to report another one. As reported in the November issue of Freethought Today, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has done it again, winning a major victory against the creeping theocracy that is infiltrating our government due to the unconstitutional actions of the Bush administration.Specifically, an FFRF legal challenge has persuaded the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to cancel its plans for five … [Read more...]

What Christians Care About?

In a post from October, I wrote that evangelical Christianity in America today has become "a set of right-wing political talking points" and lamented:Regrettably, the Christians who understand how the aggressive drive for secular power is rotting their faith's foundations from the inside out seem to be outnumbered by those who regard it as an unmitigated good.There is news on this front that, depending on how one interprets it, may be either good or bad. Take this story, President-elect … [Read more...]

We Are the Swing Vote

In a post from October titled "Tipping the Scales", I wrote that although non-believers are still outnumbered by the conventionally religious, there are encouraging signs of recent growth and increasing organization among atheists and agnostics, signs which...may well be the grains of sand that presage a much larger slide in the near future, and lead to a much more dramatic tipping of the scales.If I were inclined to claim supernatural foresight for myself, I might try to turn that … [Read more...]

Religion’s Harm to Women

In our society, it is still widely considered rude to criticize opinions and practices that arise from religious belief, no matter how evil or abhorrent they are. Even when it comes to the murderous fanatics who kill in the name of Islam, politicians and other public figures who criticize them often take pains to label their actions as arising from a twisted or self-serving interpretation, as though it would be impossible for a legitimate and sincere interpretation of any religion to inspire … [Read more...]

Religious Bigotry Caught Red-Handed

November has been quite the month for feeling schadenfreude. Between Kent Hovind's conviction, Ted Haggard's spectacular fall from grace, and the Republicans' crushing loss in the midterm elections, atheists have had much to rejoice over, and our political adversaries much occasion to mourn. And now, there is another encouraging piece of news where the good guys win.According to the Lippard Blog, which came to my attention via Pharyngula, a religious bigot who is a high-school teacher has been … [Read more...]

A Seriously Warped Moral Compass

"So what would you consider immoral?" I asked.It was a crisp, cold night, on the boundary between late fall and early winter, and the tang of frost and woodsmoke hung in the air. An orange gibbous moon was rising through the tangled leafless fingers of the trees into a clear, dark night sky. The air had a biting chill, but my friend and I were not out in it. We were indoors, in the recently built student coffeehouse of Practical Bible College, a warm and well-lit space paneled in rich earth … [Read more...]


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