In Defense of Free Speech

In the last few days, both Ed Brayton and Glenn Greenwald have written about the story of Ezra Levant, a Canadian conservative who's currently under investigation by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Levant's "crime" was republishing the Mohammed cartoons first printed in 2005 in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which spurred the filing of a complaint by a Canadian imam named Syed Soharwardy.Before saying anything more, let's get this out of the way: if Levant's political views are as … [Read more...]

Why Atheists Shouldn't Vote for Ron Paul

With the 2008 presidential primary season soon to be in full swing, I figured it was worth the effort to write a post like this. I've received several pieces of unsolicited e-mail in the past few weeks, some from atheists, exhorting me to support the libertarian Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul. This, I believe, would be a grave error for any nonbeliever.I've written in the past about why I'm not a libertarian, but my differences with Paul go far deeper than his advocacy of that … [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia's Biblical Justice

Lately in the news, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has pardoned a rape victim who had been sentenced to prison and 200 lashes. This brutal sentence was handed down because the woman in question was meeting a male friend in public without an escort - violating the country's repressive sharia laws - when she was attacked and raped by a gang of men. Although the rapists were also arrested and sentenced, the punishing-the-victim ethic of Saudi Arabia's antiquated and backward laws had caused an … [Read more...]

Pat Robertson's Pathetic Predictions

At the beginning of last year, I mentioned a prediction made by Pat Robertson:As reported by Americans United, Pat Robertson has joined in the fun, predicting "mass killings" to occur on American soil due to a terrorist attack sometime this year. (Robertson said he expected this to come in the form of a nuclear attack, but emphasized that this was only his educated guess - as opposed to the rest of this prophecy, which was clearly straight from God's mouth and not at all just made up.)The … [Read more...]

How Not to Fight the War on Christmas

Lately, there have been some encouraging signs that believers of conscience are more willing to stand up to the religious right than they once were. But this effort, though well-intentioned, is not the right way to do it.It's time for a ceasefire in the Christmas culture wars....We invite Messrs. O'Reilly, Gibson and Donohue to join us in a new campaign of civility and conscience that restores our focus on the common good during this holy season.This letter, signed by a number of liberal … [Read more...]

The Witch Children of Nigeria

I've written on several past occasions about how belief in malignant supernatural forces causes real harm to real people. There are examples of this from every region of the world, but some of the most wrenching are from Africa, where Biblical beliefs about demons and evil spirits still run rampant.In January, I wrote about the witch camps of Ghana, where people suspected of using black magic to harm their neighbors are exiled as if they were lepers. In April, there were the Pentecostals of … [Read more...]

Season of Division: The Episcopal Church Splits Up

There's at least one Christian denomination that won't be singing "peace on earth" this holiday season. A diocese of the Episcopal Church has seceded and plans to align with a South American branch of the Anglican Church, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. (For readers unfamiliar with the tedious details of church hierarchy, the Anglican Church is the global denomination; the Episcopal Church is the American branch of that church. The Episcopal Church, until this announcement, had 110 … [Read more...]

The Rules Don’t Apply to Me

Last month, Senator Chuck Grassley asked six notorious preachers of the prosperity gospel to account for some highly questionable expenditures, in light of their ministries' non-profit status. So far, it seems that only one of the six, Joyce Meyer, has complied. Three others - Benny Hinn, Paula White, and Kenneth Copeland - have yet to respond. Now the remaining two, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long, have announced that they will not cooperate.The letter from Dollar's attorney expresses concern … [Read more...]

Mitt Romney's Kennedy Moment?

Last Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech in which he argued that his Mormon religious beliefs should not prevent Americans from voting for him.I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions... I will put no doctrine of … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XIII: Fighting Prison Theocracy

Last year, in a previous installment of Theocracy Watch, I wrote about unconstitutional government-supported prison ministries which target a literal captive audience. Many Christian evangelists view these ministries as a great opportunity to preach to those who can't escape, as if the prisons were their own personal factories for churning out converts. Worse, the Bush administration has been all too willing to let them in, and has cooperated in setting up coercive programs that offer special … [Read more...]


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