The Inglorious End of the Oregon Occupation

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people, free for everyone to use and enjoy. The month-long occupation by white Christian terrorists ended in utterly mundane fashion, with most of the militants taken into custody at a traffic stop as they attempted to travel to a public meeting in a neighboring county.For the first few weeks of the occupation, it was frustrating how passive and disengaged the authorities were. The FBI came … [Read more...]

The Life and Death of Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia has died. The news broke on Saturday night while I was at the movies watching Deadpool (seriously). It was such a sudden and unexpected shock, such a bolt from the clear blue, that at first I had trouble believing it was for real. It brought irresistibly to mind Clarence Darrow's quip that while he's never wished anyone harm, "I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."I don't mean to be crass, but I also think it's a nonsensical tradition to never speak ill of … [Read more...]

What Is Bernie’s Plan B?

The 2016 presidential primaries are approaching, and I find I'm still undecided.I think both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are fine candidates, and either would make an excellent president. This is especially true in comparison to the howling pandemonium that's the GOP field, where all the other candidates are competing to be as vulgar, hateful and regressive as Donald Trump. (I co-sign every word of this post by John Scalzi.)Of the Democrats, I think Bernie is generally the more … [Read more...]

How Donald Trump Won Over the Religious Right

So, it's time we talked about Donald Trump.The improbable presidential candidate has been flying high since his speech at Liberty University, where he was warmly welcomed by president Jerry Falwell Jr. The speech itself was underwhelming: he flubbed a biblical reference, cracked off-color jokes and made his pandering laughably obvious. Yet none of it seems to matter. The Liberty audience cheered and praised him. Among evangelicals, he's beating his closest rival, Ted Cruz, by 42% to … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 13

• An editorial on Charisma News accuses atheists of "the height of intolerance" for, basically, existing during the Christmas season.• Mormon Feminists on the Brink: The LDS church has a long record of fierce and diehard opposition to feminism. Their resistance to LGBT rights is well in line with the church's reactionary history.• Hampton Beach, Virginia is an epicenter of the American religious right, the home of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent … [Read more...]

The Case for Prayer-Shaming

In the aftermath of yet another horrific mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, this one apparently committed by a Muslim couple inspired by ISIS, the Daily News ran this amazing front page:An early look at tomorrow’s front page… GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS: https://t.co/eKUg5f03ec pic.twitter.com/j4gEFg9YtJ— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 3, 2015This was, of course, a callout aimed at Republican candidates who have no response to the continuing bloodshed in Ameri … [Read more...]

The Astounding Hypocrisy of Anti-Refugee Christians

With the Syrian civil war plodding through its fourth year, the country is being hollowed out as everyone who has the means to escape flees from the bloodshed. Ordinary Syrians are trapped in a vise between the indiscriminate brutality of Bashar al-Assad's military and the sadistic terror of ISIS. The United Nations estimates that over four million of them are now refugees. The vast majority have gone to neighboring states like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq, but tens of thousands are … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Atheists Fighting for Choice

You may detect a theme this week. My latest column on the Guardian is up: "Abortion opposition is a religious stance. Atheists must help fight for choice".Under an onslaught of anti-choice legislation, abortion rights in the U.S. are threatened as never before. But an ally is beckoning from an unexpected quarter: in spite of our image as a male-dominated and sometimes obliviously sexist community, atheists are by far the most pro-choice demographic in the nation, and some large secular … [Read more...]

The Stingless Sting: The Absurd Attack on Planned Parenthood

The latest religious-right attack on abortion rights is a set of undercover videos made by an anti-choice group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress. Posing as potential buyers for a medical research firm, they tried to get Planned Parenthood officials to accept illegal payments in exchange for tissue samples from aborted fetuses. (Profiting from fetal tissue or organ sales is against the law, but accepting payments to cover the costs of storage and transportation is legal.) But they … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 30

• Oliver Sacks has died. In his final column, "Sabbath", he talks about his humanism and his rejection of his Jewish upbringing when his mother discovered he was gay and was violently hateful towards him: "her harsh words made me hate religion's capacity for bigotry and cruelty".In his closing words, he contemplates the end with acceptance and peace:And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the … [Read more...]


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