Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power

Red-state legislatures around the country seem as if they're competing to pass the cruelest and most inhumane laws. But even by that standard, North Carolina's HB2 stands out. Rushed into passage with the haste and secrecy of a coup d'etat - it was introduced in the legislature, voted on, sent to the governor and signed into law all in a span of less than twenty-four hours - it can only be described as deliberately mean-spirited and spiteful. It bans transgender people from using public … [Read more...]

Why I’m Supporting Hillary Clinton

The last time I wrote about the Democratic primary, I was undecided. I've made up my mind since then. I've decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, and in this post I'll explain why.To start with (because, yes, some of my best friends are Bernie supporters), I still believe there's no bad choice in this race. Both of them are solid candidates, and Sanders' presence has been beneficial. He's pulled Clinton to the left in ways that could have lasting relevance if she becomes president, and he's … [Read more...]

Theocratic Fraud in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Religious sects and cults that conceive of themselves as serving a higher, sacred purpose will, almost inevitably, end up believing that they're above the law. We've seen this recently with the FLDS Mormon splinter cult and the Catholic church protecting monstrous child abusers, and now there's another example on offer.I've written about the malign political influence of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism, both in New York City and in the upstate satellite community of Kiryas Joel. Because they … [Read more...]

How the Right-Wing Scam Economy Created Donald Trump

The rise of Donald Trump has bewildered and dismayed pundits, especially conservative pundits. Many of them are treating it as a freakish fluke, a black-swan event that nobody could have predicted. But the clues were always there, for anyone who knew how to spot them.In his last, doomed line of attack, Marco Rubio accused Trump of being a "con artist" who peddles hazy fantasies and handwaves as a solution to our most pressing problems. He wasn't wrong about that, but Trump is hardly the … [Read more...]

On Not Ceding the Moral High Ground

This already-bizarre campaign season has taken an ugly turn, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump encouraging violence at his rallies and even promising to pay his supporters' legal bills if they were arrested. That's why many people feared the worst last week, when Trump announced he would hold a rally in Chicago, on the campus of the University of Illinois.A massive counterprotest quickly sprang up, and at the last minute, the campaign called off the event. They claim that the police … [Read more...]

What the Catholic Church Did in the Shadows

Although it slipped out of the headlines for a while, the Roman Catholic church's plague of priests raping and molesting children hasn't gone away. This week, we got a jolting reminder of that:Two Roman Catholic bishops who led a central Pennsylvania diocese helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests or religious leaders over a 40-year period, according to a grand jury report issued on Tuesday.The grand jury's report, which is based on documents … [Read more...]

Maryam Namazie Vs. Sam Harris

Since I believe it's important to resist anti-Muslim prejudice in the secular community, I was pleased to hear that Maryam Namazie, the ex-Muslim atheist and international human rights campaigner, was on Sam Harris' podcast. While I agree with Harris on some things, I've often criticized his views on Islam - especially his indefensible beliefs about profiling - and I was hoping she'd give him a dose of perspective. In this post, I want to analyze their exchange and offer my thoughts on … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling, Part II

There's more good news in the saga of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an especially nasty totalitarian religious cult that splintered off from Mormonism. The sect's former ruler, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for facilitating rape, and his absence seems to be destabilizing them. As I wrote last year, outside observers and ex-members have noticed a greater outflow of deconverts from the FLDS than ever before.Now the authorities are closing in from … [Read more...]

When Catholic Dogma Fuels Medical Negligence

Despite its public image as the faith of kindly Pope Francis, Roman Catholicism still enforces cruel, medieval rules that kill women. Witness this story from the Guardian on how Catholic hospitals' abortion ban forces women to endure life-threatening infections:The woman inside the ambulance was miscarrying... As the vehicle wailed toward the hospital, a doctor waiting for her arrival phoned a specialist, who was unequivocal: the baby would die. The woman might follow. Induce labor … [Read more...]

The Inglorious End of the Oregon Occupation

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people, free for everyone to use and enjoy. The month-long occupation by white Christian terrorists ended in utterly mundane fashion, with most of the militants taken into custody at a traffic stop as they attempted to travel to a public meeting in a neighboring county.For the first few weeks of the occupation, it was frustrating how passive and disengaged the authorities were. The FBI came … [Read more...]