Christian Terrorism in Colorado

You probably don't need me to fill in the details of the latest shooting rampage in gun-sick America. This time, the target was a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. After a multi-hour gun battle with police, the attacker was captured alive, but not before he'd killed a police officer and two civilians.By now, these slaughters are a drearily familiar story. Other than the city and the number of people killed, they all follow pretty much the same template, and all you have to do is fill … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 15

This is part 15 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,I think Haidt's work on the five foundations of morality has a lot of validity, although I'd argue that the conservative, "beehive" values tend to work better in smaller and more homogeneous societies. Large, multicultural civilizations, by their nature, need to rely first and foremost on the "contractual" values of harm/care and … [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...]

Weekend Coffee: August 8

• Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi atheist writer, is brutally murdered in his own home by Islamists. He's the fourth secularist writer in Bangladesh to be assassinated this year, while the government continues to sit on its hands and do nothing.• Prayer can't fight the Ebola virus. But science can.• Today in "why are LGBT people still Catholic" news: a director of religious education at a Catholic school was fired for being a lesbian, and unaccountably seems surprised by it. … [Read more...]

There’s No Religious Freedom to Refuse Service

Last week in Washington state, another special religious privilege bit the dust. The Ninth Circuit appeals court ruled unanimously that a pharmacist doesn't have the right to refuse to fill a prescription for emergency contraception:A unanimous three-judge 9th Circuit panel on Thursday decided that the rules are constitutional because they rationally further the state's interest in patient safety. Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 13

This is part 13 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,Thanks again for your hospitality when I came to visit Indianapolis earlier this month! I relished the opportunity to go (metaphorically) into the lions' den and speak to some Christian audiences together with you. I got the impression that neither of us were precisely what the audiences were expecting, which is great! I think debates … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 12

This is part 12 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,I'm looking forward to our next in-person meeting, in Indianapolis this July 1. I'm sure we'll have a lot to discuss, especially when it comes to that notorious law that put your state in the headlines last month. Maybe that will be something we can square off about (or maybe not; you never know).Last time, I asked about whether God … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: April 18

The National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon is almost here again! If you've got a few dollars to spare and want to help strike down barriers to choice, please donate to my wife Elizabeth and her team, At Your Cervix.• The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is being blockaded by protesters who believe the mountain is sacred because of a Native Hawaiian myth stating that the world was created starting there.• Just for laughs: The Journal of Universal Rejection, … [Read more...]