Making Progress Toward a Secular America

The Fourth of July should be a time for patriotic Americans to reflect on the progress our country has made and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of making it better where work still needs to be done. We can find material for both of those avenues in this article by Katrina van den Heuvel in the Nation, Rediscovering Secular America (HT: DC Secularism Examiner). It's a heartening glimpse into the political progress that freethinkers are making, including at least two news items I didn't know. … [Read more...]

A Brief Saturday Morning Thought

Shorter John Ensign: Gay marriage is going to take away my sacred, God-given right to cheat on my wife. … [Read more...]

The Murder of Dr. George Tiller

If you've been following the news, you already know that Dr. George Tiller, one of only a handful of doctors left in the United States who perform late-term abortions, was murdered this week. A suspect, Scott Roeder, is already in custody.Since the election of Barack Obama, there's been a noticeable upsurge in right-wing terrorism. This frightening trend tracks the evolution of the American right in general, which is becoming smaller, more insular, and more ideologically rigid, and its … [Read more...]

The Founders Wept: George W. Bush’s Faith-Based War

Friends, fellow Americans, we never knew how bad things got during the George W. Bush era. And yes, I say that with full knowledge of what it implies. True, we saw the results of Bush's policies: a catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a staggeringly mismanaged quagmire of war, torture and degradation of prisoners, the proliferation of radical Islam and anti-American sentiment around the world.But, until now, we never fully glimpsed the mentality behind it. We had hints, but we … [Read more...]

Obama and Prayer: A Small Step in the Right Direction

This past Thursday was the "National Day of Prayer", another symptom of the ongoing infiltration of religion into America's originally secular government. The National Day of Prayer was first established in the 1950s, another spasm of the reflexive Christianism of that paranoid era. Predictably, it was soon hijacked by right-wing ideologues who use it to push their own highly partisan, extremely conservative version of Christianity and seek to prevent believers of other denominations from taking … [Read more...]

Anti-Gay Bigotry is Anti-American

The past few weeks haven't been good ones for religious bigots. First Iowa and Vermont legalized same-sex marriage in rapid succession; soon afterwards, the state legislatures of New Hampshire and Maine passed marriage-equality bills. (If you live in either state, contact your governor and tell him to sign them!) And now, this stunning poll result from Nate Silver's, Two National Polls, for First Time, Show Plurality Support for Gay Marriage:...a new poll from ABC News and … [Read more...]

Hate-Crime Laws and Loving the Sinner

One of the benefits of a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress is that we can expect action on good, progressive legislation. One such bill is H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which was recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee. As noted by Americans United, this billwould allow the U.S. Justice Department to offer assistance when a crime that results in death or serious injury is committed against any American because of the … [Read more...]

Take Action: Tell Obama to Prosecute Bush's Torturers

Under pressure from the ACLU, the Obama administration has finally released a set of four Bush-era memos from the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Written by assistant attorney general Jay Bybee and acting assistant attorney general Steven Bradbury, these memos detailed the torture techniques which the Bush administration believed could be used on captured terrorists and terror suspects.These techniques included "walling" (slamming a prisoner into a wall by swinging them from a collar … [Read more...]

Congratulations, Iowa!

Last week, friends of equality had some very welcome news: the Supreme Court of Iowa has unanimously struck down a ban on gay marriage in that state. No blue state this, no liberal haven like California or Massachusetts that is so often demonized by conservatives and religious right bigots: Iowa is part of the mythologized "American heartland", a midwestern swing state whose electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2004 (although Barack Obama won it in 2008, and Democrats currently control both … [Read more...]

Barack Obama and Church-State Separation

Although the first hundred days of President Barack Obama's term haven't ended yet, this seems like a good time to examine his record in office so far and see how it's lived up to his own campaign pledges and to freethinkers' expectations. These past few months have been a roller-coaster ride - from the exhilaration of Election Day to the disgraceful selection of homophobic bigot Rick Warren to preside at the inauguration. Now that the euphoria has faded and the Obama administration is getting … [Read more...]