Tax the Churches

In the United States of America today, churches and religious groups are treated with enormous sensitivity and deference by politicians and the media, a deference they have not earned. Far too often, the government and society in general bends over backwards to accommodate and encourage religious beliefs even when there is no rational reason why they should do so. The most egregious example of this is the sweeping tax exemptions granted to religion.It is not just one tax that religious … [Read more...]

CAP Alert Reviews II

It's been far too long since I first examined the lunacy that is the CAP Alert site. Interestingly, the site seems to have fallen on hard financial times: it is plastered with ads, and virtually every page contains text begging for donations. Their recent reviews show that the majority of movies released in the past few weeks were not reviewed because no one "sponsored" them to do so. The site's owner claims that it costs him an average of $350 to review one movie. By my calculations, assuming … [Read more...]

What Christians Care About

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? … [Read more...]

Bending the World Around Yourself

In light of all the momentous events currently taking place around the world, this next story might seem somewhat trivial in the grand scheme of things. But it illustrates some important points that are of more general application, and more importantly to me, it concerns my own alma mater, Binghamton University, of which I am a proud alumnus.It seems that a Binghamton sophomore, Aaron Akaberi, recently converted to the Rastafarian religion. As part of his conversion, he decided to adhere to a … [Read more...]

This Is Not America

I am ashamed of my country today. Earlier this week, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, an act that future generations will surely list alongside the Alien and Sedition Acts as one of the most heinous and unconstitutional laws ever enacted by a democratically elected government. Both in letter and spirit, this law is the antithesis to the principles upon which America was founded, and it will be remembered for a very long time as a dark blot on the … [Read more...]

What's Your Secret?

I recently came across MySecret.tv, a website set up by the evangelical megachurch LifeChurch. LifeChurch is a multi-campus church with physical locations scattered across several states that are connected during synchronized worship services by live video streams. MySecret.tv is this internet-savvy ministry's latest venture: essentially, it is an online confessional, where people can log on to post admissions of sins they feel they have committed. Unlike the standard confessional, though, these … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch V: Court-Stripping

In a worrying development for every citizen concerned about protecting state-church separation, the so-called "Public Expression of Religion Act" passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week on a largely party-line vote of 244 to 173. Sponsored by Republican representative John Hostettler, this bill's purpose is to make it too expensive for private citizens and public interest groups to sue the government to compel it to cease actions which violate the Constitution.With the law … [Read more...]

A Godless Recount

Baylor University has recently released a study, titled "American Piety in the 21st Century", on American religious affiliation and church attendance. This study has been widely described as casting doubt on previous studies which have found that religious belief is declining in America. In particular, the Baylor researchers have described their study as an explicit rebuttal to the much-cited 2001 CUNY ARIS study which found that as many as 15% of Americans are non-religious. In contrast to this … [Read more...]

Is Islam Intrinsically Violent?

Inspired by a recent dust-up at the Huffington Post over some remarks by Sam Harris, as well as the furor provoked by the Pope's recent verbal attack on Islam quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologos II, I've decided to offer some thoughts on whether Islam is an intrinsically violent or evil religion.First off, the obvious: Like every religion on this planet, Islam exists only in the collective actions of the people who follow it, and people can act in ways that are either generally … [Read more...]

Newsweek Discovers Atheists

P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula draws my attention to a Newsweek article by Jerry Adler, "The New Naysayers", about several prominent atheists and the impact they have had on American culture and society.In sum, I agree with Myers: this article was terrible. (Newsweek in general has a poor track record when it comes to atheism.) Although any attention paid to atheists is welcome, Adler's article was characterized by the heavy-handed application of logical fallacies and an intrusively opinionated tone … [Read more...]


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