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...]

The Life and Death of Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia has died. The news broke on Saturday night while I was at the movies watching Deadpool (seriously). It was such a sudden and unexpected shock, such a bolt from the clear blue, that at first I had trouble believing it was for real. It brought irresistibly to mind Clarence Darrow's quip that while he's never wished anyone harm, "I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."I don't mean to be crass, but I also think it's a nonsensical tradition to never speak ill of … [Read more...]

What Is Bernie’s Plan B?

The 2016 presidential primaries are approaching, and I find I'm still undecided.I think both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are fine candidates, and either would make an excellent president. This is especially true in comparison to the howling pandemonium that's the GOP field, where all the other candidates are competing to be as vulgar, hateful and regressive as Donald Trump. (I co-sign every word of this post by John Scalzi.)Of the Democrats, I think Bernie is generally the more … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Manifest Destiny

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechJohn Galt is still talking. In this section of the speech, which is the last part that I'll cover, he addresses an important question: what happens to the people who listen to him and come away convinced?After all, you've got to admit, he waited till pretty late in the game to deliver this grand manifesto. Civilization is disintegrating; the world is on an irreversible slide into violent anarchy and mass starvation. He's already swooped in … [Read more...]

Galt’s Gulch Chile Is Going Great

In my Atlas Shrugged series, I've previously written about the libertarians who tried to create their own Galt's Gulch in Chile, a plan which ended predictably in lawsuits, acrimony and accusations of fraud when real human beings turned out not to be as incorruptible as Ayn Rand characters. Now, as PZ informs us, there are some further developments to report.A coalition of disgruntled investors have created Galt's Gulch Recovery (motto: "Where Fraud Never Sleeps"), a site for them to air … [Read more...]

How Donald Trump Won Over the Religious Right

So, it's time we talked about Donald Trump.The improbable presidential candidate has been flying high since his speech at Liberty University, where he was warmly welcomed by president Jerry Falwell Jr. The speech itself was underwhelming: he flubbed a biblical reference, cracked off-color jokes and made his pandering laughably obvious. Yet none of it seems to matter. The Liberty audience cheered and praised him. Among evangelicals, he's beating his closest rival, Ted Cruz, by 42% to … [Read more...]

The Invisible Threat of White Christian Terrorism

Just after New Year's, a gang of self-proclaimed militia members led by two sons of Cliven Bundy (yes, that Cliven Bundy) announced that they'd seized a building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Ostensibly, this was a protest on behalf of two ranchers who'd been sentenced to prison for setting fires on federal land. They vowed to occupy the refuge "for years" if necessary and promised violence if police tried to remove them, saying they were ready to "kill and be killed". Ammon … [Read more...]