Secular Community-Building Is Hard Work

Another of Christianity's big names has left the faith and joined us: Bart Campolo, son of the famous preacher Tony Campolo and a well-known evangelical pastor in his own right.As Mark Oppenheimer's article says, Campolo finally dropped his faith after surviving a serious bicycle accident in 2011, which persuaded him of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of it. But his beliefs had been weakening for some time. A lifetime of experience had eroded their … [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...]

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...]

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...]

The Hidden Garden of Ex-Muslim Atheists

While I don't believe there's anything like a law that good and evil have to be in balance, the headlines of the past few months seem to give that impression. Even as the countries of the West shed their theocratic past and progresses toward a brighter and more secular future, there's never been a blacker time to be a freethinker in the Muslim world.ISIS continues its rampage through Iraq and Syria, imposing theocracy through slaughter and erasing the cultural patrimony of the human race. … [Read more...]

The South Will Not Rise Again

Last year, I wrote about the continuing exodus of members from the Catholic church, and apologists' fumbling suggestions for how to reverse the trend. I noted with amusement that there was an elephant in the room - the church's retrograde doctrines which drive away young people - which the apologists were carefully tiptoeing around while they made minor suggestions about the decor and the color scheme.Well, as they say, history rhymes. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Deconverting from Hinduism

Living in a culture where Christianity is the dominant religion, I don't often come into contact with former Hindus or ex-members of other Eastern faiths. But there are atheists in every culture and society in the world, and they all go through the same intellectual and emotional struggles. I got a reminder of that in an e-mail the other day from an ex-Hindu atheist named Vikram who was seeking some advice on handling his own deconversion:Dear Mr. Lee,I have greatly enjoyed your book … [Read more...]

The Church Isn’t Too Good at Introspection

While doing research for another post, I came across a slew of articles with a common theme: young people are leaving the Catholic church at a high rate, and the church's apologists are trying to figure out how they can stem this tide.They're not wrong about this, either. A 1999 survey found that only 14% of Catholics born after 1960 say the church is "very important" in their lives, and a 2009 Gallup poll found that church-going among Catholics has declined dramatically since the 1950s. A … [Read more...]

Breaking the Surface

Imagine what it's like to drown in deep water.I've never had the experience, but I can guess what it must be like: the silence, the darkness closing in, the crushing pressure. It's not a fate I would wish on anyone. But when I look around at the world, I'm convinced that there are millions of people who are suffering something like this every day of their lives. What's more, they've chosen it for themselves.I've written about how religion creates imaginary crimes, turning a vast … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: From Conservative Christian to Progressive Atheist

We may have heard about one notable religious conversion this week, but in the more than ten years I've been writing about atheism (yes, it's been that long!), I've found it's still far more common for things to go the other way. Here's one dramatic example that landed in my inbox this week. The author of this e-mail, whose name is John, gave me permission to share it with you:I have been on a journey for three years that started with a simple "mid-life" commitment to read the bible and be … [Read more...]