Book Review: The Assault on Reason

Summary: A blistering, brilliant counterattack on the forces that have conspired to undermine American democracy.Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's The Assault on Reason is a passionate, scathing book that paints a clear picture of where America has gone wrong. Our democracy is far from dead, but as events of recent years have shown, it is ill - perhaps gravely so. The appalling levels of ignorance of basic scientific and political facts among the voting public; our heedless and disastrous … [Read more...]

An Incident in the Senate

The U.S. Senate traditionally opens each day's session with a prayer, and today's was a first: the invocation was given by Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest who was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This was the first time a representative of Hinduism has ever been invited to do this.However, there was an ugly incident that disrupted the occasion. As Zed began to speak, he was interrupted by three Christians in the visitors' gallery shouting at the top of their lungs, calling Zed's prayer … [Read more...]

The Eisenhower Test

The campaign of Mitt Romney, a Mormon, for the Republican presidential nomination has caused rifts within the party's base, as evangelical Christians agonize over whether they could support a candidate who believes slightly different things about God than they do. The latest spat in this conflict comes in a post by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who argues that Mormons are not Christians. Sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, himself a Mormon, fires back. … [Read more...]

America the Paradox

On this Fourth of July, I've been giving careful thought to what this day signifies. For Americans, this is a date that means more than barbecue grills in the backyard or colorful stars blossoming in the night sky, more even than patriotic music and red-white-and-blue flags rippling in the breeze. These are time-tested symbols, but if we do not look closely and remember, we risk seeing the symbols only and not the underlying reality at which they point.America's history is far more than … [Read more...]

Religious Earmarks

An article in the New York Times this week, "Religious Groups Reap Federal Aid for Pet Projects", gives some troubling details about the growing trend of religious groups seeking - and receiving - no-strings-attached federal grants disbursed by a direct act of Congress, usually called "earmarks", to fund their pet projects. Sometimes these grants are for secular purposes, such as ministries that fund job training programs or religious colleges studying how best to reduce gang violence. However, … [Read more...]

Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America's religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title "The … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch X: The National Day of Prayer

I failed to mention previously that last Thursday, May 3, was the "National Day of Prayer" in the United States. Believe it or not, the nation that created the First Amendment has such a day. The bill creating this national observance was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, and another bill fixing its date as the first Thursday in May was signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The purpose of this day, according to the original bill's text, is for Americans to "turn to God in … [Read more...]

Some Words on Exploiting Tragedy

In the wake of the recent horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a mentally disturbed student named Cho-Seung Hui murdered 27 students and five faculty members before taking his own life, a shocked nation has struggled to understand. There has been agonized debate over what could have caused this young man to commit such a horrific act of violence - whether it was due to persistent harassment and social ostracism which he suffered, or whether it was mental illness, or some combination of both. … [Read more...]

The Congressional Prayer Caucus

I wrote recently about an attack on nontheist Congressman Pete Stark by a right-wing group calling themselves the Christian Seniors Association. The CSA's spokesman James Lafferty, incensed by the idea that atheists think they have a right to be represented in Congress as if they were human beings like everyone else, complained at length about the campaign of persecution waged against the hundreds of believing members of Congress by the single nonbelieving member:That would be the day that … [Read more...]

A Reply from Pete Stark

A few days ago, I received the following letter from U.S. Representative Pete Stark's office in acknowledgement of the contribution I made to him:These are wonderful sentiments that I can strongly support. I don't think there is any necessity for Rep. Stark to be modest - in the current political climate, it does take courage for an elected official to announce their nontheism, whether we like it or not - but it's absolutely correct to say that the mere announcement does not by … [Read more...]


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