New on AlterNet: Abortion in the Bible

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, There's Nothing About Abortion in the Bible -- So How Do Right-Wing Christians Justify Their Crusade Against Women? In it, I discuss the biblical verses that touch on abortion - or more accurately, the lack of such verses - as well as the passages which strongly suggest that the Bible's authors didn't consider an unborn fetus to have the same moral status as an adult person. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:One would think … [Read more...]

A Constitutional Rollercoaster


I had another post written for today, but there's much too much going on! This week has been a rollercoaster of disappointment, despair, joy and exaltation, and it's only Wednesday.On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court issued an awful ruling that struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. As compiled by Slacktivist, a flurry of Republican-controlled state legislatures immediately began efforts to pass restrictive voter-ID laws and redraw electoral maps to dilute minority votes - … [Read more...]

The Republicans Can’t Help Themselves


Almost lost in the furor last week over the NSA spying story, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to ban all abortion after 20 weeks. The debate over the bill brought forth some ludicrous moments, such as when Rep. Michael Burgess defended it by arguing that male fetuses at that stage of development can masturbate. This led to one of the better Twitter jokes I've seen lately:Life begins at masturbation. #masturbatingfetus— Julia Ioffe … [Read more...]

Why Edward Snowden Should Be Pardoned


I've been assembling some thoughts on the NSA leaker Edward Snowden who revealed the existence of top-secret government surveillance programs, including the PRISM project to tap into the customer data of the nation's largest internet companies, and a court order requiring Verizon to turn over metadata on all calls in its system on an ongoing basis (I'm still astonished that any court could ever have considered that request to comport with the Fourth Amendment).Already there are fierce … [Read more...]

There Are Now As Many Nonreligious Americans As Evangelicals: 6 Ways Politicians Can Court Their Vote


This article was originally published on AlterNet.In the aftermath of President Obama's electoral romp over Mitt Romney, the media and pundits have paid much attention to the demographics that propelled him to victory, especially women, Hispanics and young voters. But there's one more group which played an underappreciated yet crucial role in his reelection, and which only now is starting to get the recognition it deserves.A growing segment of American society - up to 20%, according to … [Read more...]

The Political Dominance of Fundamentalism


Last week, Alex Knapp and I got into a friendly debate on Twitter about whether it's fair to stereotype conservative and fundamentalist religion as representative of religion generally. I wanted to flesh out some of my arguments there with additional data.I wish it were true that the religious left and the religious right were equally influential. If they were, they'd usually balance each other out, and there would be little reason for atheists to worry about undue religious influence in … [Read more...]

Opposing Imperialism and Islamism


There was a searing editorial in the Times the other week, dictated by one of the men still being held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. A hunger strike is spreading among the detainees there, which strikes me as an understandable response of men driven to despair by endless and indefinite imprisonment in a legal black hole. (The military authorities are retaliating with the barbaric and intensely painful measure of forced feeding.)When the accused Boston bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev was captured, … [Read more...]

The Arc Is Bending


While same-sex marriage is dramatically debated at the Supreme Court this week, it's worth keeping in mind that just a few days ago, Colorado legalized civil unions for same-sex couples, becoming - to my surprise - the 18th state to have either marriage equality or civil unions. I didn't realize the cause had come so far, but indeed it has. By my count, the nine states that have full marriage equality are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maryland … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: A Novel for the 1%

Way back in 2011, I read Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged - all 1,074 pages of it - with a promise that I'd eventually get around to doing a chapter-by-chapter review, like my review of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator. I got sidetracked by other projects for a while, but now it's about time to fulfill that promise.If you haven't read Atlas cover-to-cover yourself (and who could blame you?), here's the plot in a nutshell: In a twenty-minutes-into-the-future United States of America, … [Read more...]

Scattered Thoughts from the #ForwardOnClimate Rally

I just got back from Washington, D.C., where I was taking part in the Sierra Club's Forward On Climate rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, which is intended to carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries. I'm still a bit washed out and don't have anything profound to say, but here are some scattered impressions:• It was cold in Washington, D.C. all weekend, with bitter, frigid winds lashing the National Mall, which made the immense turnout all the more surprising. … [Read more...]