The End of Christian Hegemony

The Atlantic reports on a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute with an eyebrow-raising finding:Almost half of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including blacks and minorities. Three-quarters of Republicans and Trump supporters said this, and so did nearly eight out of 10 white evangelical Protestants.Nearly 80% of white evangelicals say that "discrimination against Christians" is as big a … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Great Chain of Being

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand tells us that her ideal state would be a perfect meritocracy. Everyone would rise or fall as their talents merited. There'd be no corrupt bargains, no discrimination, and no hereditary ruling class.It's an appealing vision, but what the novel shows isn't the same as what it tells. Regardless of what Rand says she wants, she repeatedly undermines her meritocratic ideal by writing characters who do indeed have special … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Un-TRAPs Abortion Rights

If you're a liberal court-watcher, you may be feeling an unaccustomed fresh breeze blowing from the direction of the Supreme Court. It smells like... optimism.Over the past year, the court has handed down a string of good decisions. The justices legalized marriage equality and upheld Obamacare not once but twice.And this month, there were three more surprising victories, on affirmative action, domestic violence and guns, and now the biggest win of all: Whole Woman's Health v. … [Read more...]

Donald Trump Isn’t the Secular Candidate

The 2016 election presents atheists with a strange contrast. In contrast to Hillary Clinton, who by all accounts is a conventional liberal Protestant, Donald Trump has never had a reputation for being religious. It's no great secret that his outreach to the GOP's Christian-fundamentalist base has consisted of clumsy pandering. For example, here's Trump with Jerry Falwell Jr., with a framed Playboy on the wall behind them:Literally a framed pic on the wall of the candidate and a porn star, as … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Brexit

Well, who saw that coming?In a shock 52-48 vote, the United Kingdom has declared its intent to quit the European Union. The value of the pound is plummeting, world stock markets are cratering, and Prime Minister David Cameron, who allowed the referendum as a concession to right-wingers in his party, is quitting in humiliation.I admit, when I first heard about the referendum, I was sympathetic. It's easy to see why people are frustrated.The EU was formed with noble intentions: to end … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

The Erasure of Autonomy

Earlier this month, California's assisted-dying law went into effect. As I wrote previously, the bill was passed in a special session of the legislature last year, over the fierce opposition of religious groups.At first, there was uncertainty about what Gov. Jerry Brown would do. Brown studied at a Jesuit seminary in his youth, and some people worried that his former beliefs lingered and would persuade him to veto the bill. But in the end, he signed it into law with a simple, powerful … [Read more...]

The Bad Parable of the Prodigal Son

The tale of the prodigal son is one of the Christian Bible's most famous parables. But there's something about it that's never sat right with me:"A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 19

• "As I went walking, I saw a sign there And on the sign it said: '© Ludlow Music, a subsidiary of the Richmond Organization, Member ASCAP. All Rights Reserved.' But on the other side it didn't say nothing, That side was made for you and me."• The Cool PopeTM says your marriage is invalid because you don't hate divorce enough, you bad, bad people.• A debilitating vaccine-caused injury is miraculously cured by hidden cameras. (My favorite part is her claim that the shot … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Almighty Dollar

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsWe're almost to the end of our epic journey through Atlas Shrugged. I've reviewed the whole book and all three movies, pointing out the logical holes and untenable assumptions as they were spotlighted in each scene. In this post and a few more to follow, I want to step back and look at Rand's philosophy as a whole. We'll see some broader themes that deserve more attention.One of the cornerstones of Objectivism is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only … [Read more...]


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