I Get Religious Mail: That’s Not What “Miracle” Means

The newest charity that's sent me an explicitly religious solicitation is American Leprosy Missions, "the oldest and largest Christian organization in the United States dedicated to curing and caring for people affected by leprosy and related diseases around the world". Take a look:Imagine pulling a dollar bill out of your pocket and seeing it multiply 33 times, like Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes!That's what you can do today. Because now every $1 you give will turn … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Trust in God, Go Hungry Anyway

The latest religious charity that's sent me a solicitation is Food for the Poor, Inc., a Christian nonprofit that serves poor and malnourished people in the Caribbean and Latin America. Click to see the letter [NOTE: possibly disturbing images of an emaciated infant]:As is standard for humanitarian charities, the letter describes the desperate poverty of the people they serve. Given that Haiti was one of the world's poorest countries even before the 2010 earthquake, I'm willing to … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Minds Do Change

Changing your mind about the belief system that's defined your life is a rare occurrence, one that demands an uncommon degree of courage and intellectual honesty. For obvious reasons, it's something that atheist bloggers don't expect to see too often, even if most of us would say that helping it happen is the whole purpose of our writing.But that doesn't mean it never happens. Here's an e-mail I got a few days ago, whose author, Brent, gave me permission to share it with … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Bibles, Not Peace

The flow of religious junk mail in my mailbox seems to be accelerating. Here's the latest, a begging letter from the American Bible Society. (Click for larger.)The thrust of this solicitation is that American soldiers deployed abroad desperately want to read Bibles, but somehow can't get any - a near-certain falsehood to begin with, given the extreme saturation of fundamentalist religion in the military.Included in the envelope was a … [Read more...]

The Cognitive Dissonance of Pro-LGBT Christians

My post last week asking LGBT people and allies why they still consider themselves Christian touched off a firestorm. Both in the comments here and on Twitter, I got a flood of responses from liberal Christians - some polite and friendly, others extraordinarily hostile and aggressive.There were several objections that came up repeatedly. I want to gather these common objections so I can respond to them in one place:There are LGBT-friendly and inclusive Christian churches. This was a … [Read more...]

You Got Your Ideology in My Atheism!

My column in the Guardian this week about atheism and social justice got a lot of comments - over 2900 at the time I'm writing this - and most of them were what you'd expect, both for the better and for the worse.But what I'm fascinated by are the people who wanted to argue against my proposal without admitting that that's what they were doing. If you're going to make the case against including social justice in atheism, then do it honestly and have the intellectual fortitude to admit what … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: If Wishes Were Airplanes

Most of the religious charity solicitation letters that I get have identifiable humanitarian aims, as much as I might disagree with the religious message those aims are wrapped up in. But that isn't the case for the latest specimen, which begs for money to advance a purely religious mission, without even a pretense of serving people's actual needs. (See end of post for the full letter.)This letter was from Wycliffe Associates, an evangelical missionary organization, and concerns the work … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Help the Jews, Emphasis on Jews

Here's the latest in the list of mistargeted religious solicitations I've gotten in the mail. As you can see, the back of the envelope contains an endorsement from Pat Boone (this Pat Boone), which probably gives you a good idea of what demographic this group was aiming at:Inside was a lengthy letter, which I'll quote some selected passages from:Dear Christian Friend,My name is Yechiel Eckstein. I'm an orthodox rabbi who's been working with thousands of … [Read more...]

Dawkins Needs Better Defenders

This week, I published a column in the Guardian arguing that Richard Dawkins' sexism is overshadowing his contributions to the atheist movement. It got, shall we say, a large reaction. But not all negative, I hasten to add! I was very pleased with the amount of praise and compliments it attracted - I heard from a lot of people who told me that I said exactly what they've been thinking (including this piece by Allegra Ringo in Vice, published the same day as mine).As it turns out, the man … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Help Us Solve This Problem We Created

As I've written before, I get a huge quantity of junk mail from charities begging for money, some of which are religious. (Poor targeting.)Lately, I've gotten several of these come-ons in a row, and most of them are either ironic, galling or both. Here's an example, a solicitation from a group called the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Take a look at what they have the chutzpah to ask:Dear friend,I wish I could send you a box of greeting cards or some personalized … [Read more...]