Advice to an Atheist

Before now, I've written two previous posts offering, and soliciting, advice for atheist readers who've found themselves in difficult situations. With today's post, I'm thinking I ought to make it a regular series.I was contacted by a reader with the following dilemma:As part of my job, I am often expected to attend and participate in public meetings that are put on either by my employer or by community councils that are affiliated with it. My Canadian employer is considered to be a public … [Read more...]

Maintaining the Mystery

In last year's post "The Default", I quoted this astonishing concession from theist Andrew Sullivan:I have lived with the voice of Jesus read to me, read by me, and spoken all around me my entire life - and I heard it that day. If I had been born before Jesus' birth, would I have realized this? Of course not. If I had been born in Thailand and raised a Buddhist, would I have interpreted this experience as a function of my Buddhist faith rather than Jesus? If I were a pilgrim right now in … [Read more...]

On Atheist Janitors: Followup

Around this time last year, I wrote a post titled "On Atheist Janitors", addressing an e-mail from reader Serban Tanasa that asked whether atheism has something to offer to people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. The other day he wrote back to me with a follow-up post addressing some of the issues first discussed here, and I wanted to offer some further thoughts.Atheist forces and their agnostic coalition members have launched devastating artillery barrages against the veracity of … [Read more...]

Yes to Equality, Yes to Marriage: No on Proposition 8

I woke up this weekend to the extremely welcome news that the State of Connecticut has legalized gay marriage, joining Massachusetts and California as the only three U.S. states with full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Although seven other states have civil unions or domestic partnership laws, as did Connecticut before this ruling, the state supreme court held that this was not enough.I used to believe that civil unions were an acceptable compromise, but I don't believe that … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag

Although I get my share of kook mail, I'd much rather share the truly inspiring e-mails I receive - the ones that remind me why I write and give me the motivation to keep at it. I welcome the reminder that, beyond the political battles and debates that accompany every nascent reform movement, there are real people, fellow freethinkers, whose lives are affected by what we say and do. I'm always grateful to make the acquaintance of a kindred spirit, somewhere out in the wilds of the world; and if … [Read more...]

On Faith Healing Delusions


In April, I wrote about religious exemptions from child abuse laws, and today I want to revisit the topic.I bring this up because, a few weeks ago, I was walking by a Christian Science church and decided to take some of the free literature they had in a box out front. The literature turned out to be issues of the Christian Science Sentinel, a magazine which discusses world events and everyday life from the church's perspective. Most importantly, it contains numerous stories of … [Read more...]

Lessons from Niagara

In last month's post on the contributions of freethinkers, I outlined the life of the pioneering civil-rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Today, I want to focus on one aspect of Du Bois' life, one that still holds resonance for atheists and others continuing the fight for full equality for all people.In July 1905, Du Bois and some fellow civil-rights activists met at Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side of the border, to found the so-called Niagara Movement. Named not just for the location but for … [Read more...]

In Which I Am Attacked By a U.S. Senator


No, I'm not kidding.In August, you may recall, I wrote a post titled "Why I'm Donating to Kay Hagan". This post concerned the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, where Democratic candidate Kay Hagan is running against the Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole. The focus of my post was a press release from the Dole campaign attacking Hagan for attending a fundraiser held by Wendy and Woody Kaminer, who are politically active atheists. In this press release, the Dole campaign pandered to … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality

(Editor's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: A quiet, thoughtful, non-polemical book. At times Comte-Sponville comes close to conceding more than he should, but his positive evocation of atheism is a much-needed effort and may be appealing to theists grappling with the first stirrings of deconversion.Andre Comte-Sponville's The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality is a unique book. Though written by an … [Read more...]

Season’s Warning: The Bowery Mission


The other day, I got this piece of mail soliciting donations for a "Thanksgiving meal ticket" for New York City's homeless, from an organization calling itself the Bowery Mission:I skimmed the letter, which looked like a run-of-the-mill charity solicitation. (I normally give to America's Second Harvest for this sort of thing.) I was about to throw it away when a thought occurred to me: The name "The Bowery Mission" sounds distinctly … [Read more...]