The Contributions of Freethinkers: Ann Dunham

Past entries in "The Contributions of Freethinkers" have discussed nonbelievers and dissenters whose lives made a direct and lasting impact on the world in any number of ways: in politics, in science, in the arts and culture. But it's worth remembering that sometimes - in fact, often - our greatest effects on the world are indirect, in the ways our lives influence the lives of those we come in contact with and those who come after us. Today's post is meant to be a reminder of that. You may never … [Read more...]

The Sewers of Hate

Last week, James Adkisson was sentenced to life in prison. Adkisson was the right-wing terrorist who went on an armed rampage against the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville last July, killing two parishioners, Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger. He had intended to kill many more, but the people of the congregation, showing uncommon courage and heroism, swiftly subdued and disarmed him and held him until the police arrived.Adkisson's manifesto has just been released (HT: … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses XII: Communism

"Atheism and communism always seem to go hand in hand," begins a letter to the editor I recently found through a Google alert. And though the fear of communism has died down since the crumbling of the Soviet Union, the prejudice that this writer was parroting has affected our politics for decades.In the Cold War, when anti-communist fear and paranoia were rampant, we sought to differentiate ourselves from the enemy in every way possible. It was this fear that spurred the U.S. government to … [Read more...]

Full Faith and Credit

Why don't we already have gay marriage in all of America?I mean this as a simple question of law, not a matter of fundamental rights or justice. The reason I ask is because we already have legally recognized gay marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and because Article IV of the U.S. Constitution contains the following clause, commonly known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause:Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of … [Read more...]

Book Reviews: The Audacity of Hope and Dreams From My Father

On November 4, I decided that it'd be worthwhile to read the two books written by our new president Barack Obama, to get a better sense of where he intends to take the country in the next four (hopefully eight!) years. I finished the second one just before the inauguration, and here follows a brief review of both of them.The Audacity of HopeSummary: A cautious, middle-of-the-road book, more enlightening about the political process itself than about Obama's views on it.One of the major … [Read more...]

Obama's Inaugural Cavalcade Continues

Following up on my earlier post about Obama's choice of the disgraceful bigot Rick Warren to preside at the inauguration, this news: In a response to progressive anger, the transition team has announced that V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop, has agreed to appear as well. (Obama's spokespeople said this was not a new decision but had been in the works all along. If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.)On one level, this is a good thing. It shows that progressives … [Read more...]

The Roots of the War on Christmas

This year, as they do every year, the religious right is engaging in its annual bout of paranoia and conspiracy-mongering over the supposed secular plot to ban Christmas. Fox News, Christian-right groups, and other outlets in the culture war publish TV segments like "Christmas Under Siege", books like John Gibson's The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought, and websites such as Defend Christmas.Judging by their hysteria, one would … [Read more...]

Rick Warren? Shame On You, Obama!

Via multiple sources (Greta Christina, Pam Spaulding, Glenn Greenwald, Americans United, as well as others), this unpleasant news: President-elect Barack Obama has apparently chosen megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give a speech at his inauguration day.If you're not familiar with Rick Warren, or if you only know him as the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, here's a few of his greatest hits:• Warren has been a dedicated enemy of marriage equality, equating gay rights to incest and … [Read more...]

Take Action: Support Atheism in Washington State

Last week, in "Getting Our Message Out", I wrote about the winter solstice sign that the FFRF posted in Washington state's capitol building. The sign was put up after the state had legally obliged itself to create an open forum by allowing the placement of other privately sponsored displays carrying specifically Christian-themed messages, including a nativity scene. The FFRF's sign bears the following message:At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.There are no gods, no … [Read more...]

Some More Election Thoughts

My earlier post, "Election Special 2008", didn't fully do justice to all the things I wanted to say about this election. I decided it would be better split into two parts, and here's the second part.First, the historic: A nation built by slaves, that fought a bloody civil war over emancipation, and that has grappled with the poisonous legacy of racism since its founding, has chosen a black man to be its President. Many of those who marched in the civil rights movement, who lived through … [Read more...]


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