I Get Religious Mail: Bibles for China

The 1.3 billion people in China are a tempting target for marketers, especially as the country industrializes and they become more affluent. Countless Western companies have tried to expand into China, often complying with the authoritarian government's censorship demands, for the sake of access to that enormous market.Religious evangelists are hungering to make converts in China for similar reasons. And they, too, appear to be engaging in calculated self-censorship to do so, as we can see … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Andrew Cuomo’s Bad Faith

Dear Governor Cuomo:As a New York State resident and a Democrat, I was dismayed to read that you vetoed a bipartisan bill passed by the legislature to reform the state's woefully inadequate public-defender system. What's even more disgraceful is that you let the legislature pass the bill back in June of last year and then sat on it, waiting until the last possible moment to announce your veto, to ensure that the legislative session would be over and there'd be no chance to override it until … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern

[For 2017, I made a New Year's resolution to make sure my elected officials hear from me more often. To hold myself accountable to that pledge, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same, I intend to post the letters I send on Daylight Atheism. I sent a version of this letter to my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Feel free to reuse it or adapt it for your own purposes.]Dear Senator:After Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans' … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Activism Makes a Difference

As you can imagine, I've been feeling pretty pessimistic since the 2016 election. It's seriously undermined my positive and optimistic view of America's future.But I've always believed that minds are changed one at a time, and as slow and difficult as that is, it's the only way to bring about lasting transformation in a democracy. This week, I got an e-mail that reminded me of that. It's from Patrick, a high school senior:I became non-religious (or, as I would call it now, atheist) in … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: St. John’s Folly

I'm continually surprised by what people are willing to declare a "charitable" cause and ask others for money for. This week, I got a solicitation in the mail that pushes those boundaries even further:This letter is asking for money to help pay for the upkeep of St. John the Divine, a huge Episcopal cathedral on the upper west side of Manhattan. Ironically, I know this building well - it's right down the block from where I lived in Morningside Heights when I was in Columbia. … [Read more...]

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...]