Popular Delusions: Sovereign Citizens

CastleTower

This month, an Oregon pastor went on trial to face charges that he, like Kent Hovind before him, hadn't paid income taxes since 1994. On the stand, he offered a peculiar defense:Attorney Mark Weintraub argued that Ronald Joling has a deeply held belief that he is not required to pay federal taxes, which he claims was influenced by his conservative Christian views and teachings he's picked up from the sovereign citizen movement.The local newspaper The Register-Guard reported on … [Read more...]

Marriage Equality Isn’t Just for Same-Sex Couples

Scales

Last week, marriage equality made another giant stride in the United States. Three federal circuit courts covering different parts of the country had ruled against same-sex marriage bans; the supporters of those bans had appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Court turned those appeals down. By doing so, it made those decisions final. This means that eleven states under the jurisdiction of those three circuits - Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West … [Read more...]

Maher, Harris and Atheist Islamophobia

Kaaba

Last week on Bill Maher's TV show, Maher, Sam Harris and Ben Affleck sparred over Islam and whether it's prone to violence:"Freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals, these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for," Maher continued, "but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what's lacking, then they get upset."... "How about the … [Read more...]

Colorado’s Conservative History Whitewash

Fig. 1: Slave owners voluntarily set their slaves free.

There are a lot of stories I want to write about, especially the infuriating Texas law that will close down nearly every family planning clinic in the state. But for today, there's an important one that's been flying under the radar and deserves more attention: the fight over high school history classes in Jefferson County, Colorado. It's a local story, but it has a much broader national resonance.The background of this is that, in 2012, the College Board rolled out a new curriculum for … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Help Us Solve This Problem We Created

CMMB1

As I've written before, I get a huge quantity of junk mail from charities begging for money, some of which are religious. (Poor targeting.)Lately, I've gotten several of these come-ons in a row, and most of them are either ironic, galling or both. Here's an example, a solicitation from a group called the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Take a look at what they have the chutzpah to ask:Dear friend,I wish I could send you a box of greeting cards or some personalized … [Read more...]

Tiptoeing Around the Civil Rights Act

Segregation

The Civil Rights Act is an abiding dilemma for members of the right-wing Church of Not Gay. As marriage equality continues to progress, their latest cause celebre is arguing that believers should have the right to refuse service to gay couples - whether they be photographers, bakers, owners of wedding venues, even county clerks - all in the name, supposedly, of "religious liberty", which they believe should be a trump card allowing holders to opt out of any generally applicable law.The … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian? It's about the increasing conflict between liberal and moderate religious believers who feel the doctrines of their churches should be open for reexamination, and the authoritarians who are determined to quash these democratic notions at any cost. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:Religion is a noteworthy exception to this trend of progress. Secular moral reasoning, founded on considerations … [Read more...]

The South Will Not Rise Again

Last year, I wrote about the continuing exodus of members from the Catholic church, and apologists' fumbling suggestions for how to reverse the trend. I noted with amusement that there was an elephant in the room - the church's retrograde doctrines which drive away young people - which the apologists were carefully tiptoeing around while they made minor suggestions about the decor and the color scheme.Well, as they say, history rhymes. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Ferguson

FergusonProtest

I've been gripped by the stories and images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri since last week. This suburb of St. Louis has been wracked with unrest since Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American teenager, was shot to death on a city street by a police officer - while he was standing with his hands raised in surrender, according to three eyewitnesses. The killing has stirred up the community to righteous fury, and the police have harshly cracked down on the ensuing protests.In many … [Read more...]

This One Weird Trick Nullifies All Abortion Restrictions

OK, this is brilliant. The Satanic Temple is asserting that they have a religious-liberty right to ignore abortion restrictions, citing the Hobby Lobby decision:"While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, when in fact they are … [Read more...]


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