Christian Radio Fans the Flames of Witch Hunting

A few years ago, I wrote about the horrible "witch children" craze in Nigeria. Like the witch hunts that once swept through America and Europe, this one is fed by sects of fanatic evangelical preachers, inflamed by Western missionaries, that believe in a miracle-drenched, demon-haunted world - and teach that people, including children, can be possessed by evil spirits, and that the only cure is to torture or kill them. One of the worst of the lot is a Pentecostal preacher named Helen Ukpabio, … [Read more...]

The FRC’s Bizarre Prayer Barrage

As you probably know, I don't believe in the efficacy of prayer. There's neither empirical evidence nor logical argument to support the proposition that a supernatural being is listening to our requests and can be persuaded to grant them if asked politely enough. Still, when believers pray for the healing of the sick or the welfare of the needy, there's at least a benevolent intention that I can respect. Then there's the Family Research Council. This religious-right group regularly issues … [Read more...]

How Christian Hatemongers Hold the Needy Hostage

Last week, the giant Christian charity World Vision announced that they were changing their rules to permit the hiring of employees in same-sex marriages. As an explicitly Christian organization, World Vision requires its employees to be Christian and to obey a code of conduct which includes no sex outside marriage, and they weren't changing either of those rules. As they took pains to say, they weren't even endorsing same-sex marriage. It was merely a statement that they no longer considered a … [Read more...]

Sexual Assault in Christian Patriarchy

In the last few weeks, there's been a rash of stories about sexual assault at Christian colleges and ministries. It's worth putting them side-by-side to highlight the common elements and show how they're all rooted in the more pernicious teachings about gender that are pervasive in conservative Christian theology. In the New Republic, Kiera Feldman writes about sexual assault at Patrick Henry College, the ultra-right evangelical school in Virginia that was a pipeline to government jobs during … [Read more...]

The Biggest Challenges to Staying Christian

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On Patheos' evangelical Christian channel, Peter Enns has been soliciting comments from his readers about what the greatest challenges are to remaining Christian. He got hundreds of responses, and he's compiled a list of five common themes in the answers: 1. The Bible, namely inerrancy. This was the most commonly cited challenge, whether implicitly or explicitly, and it lay behind most of the others mentioned. The pressure many of you expressed was the expectation of holding specifically … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: May 5

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• A Christian fundamentalist couple that believes in faith healing has now killed two of their children by refusing to seek medical care for them. This likely violates the terms of their probation, agreed to in 2011 after the death of their first child, in which they agreed to obtain medical care for any of their other children who needed it. • John Paulk, the former chairman of the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, has recanted. In a statement, Paulk said he no longer … [Read more...]

Submission Theology Is Abuse Theology

I've written a lot about the child-abuse coverup by the hierarchy of the Catholic church, but not because I believe Roman Catholicism is the only religion guilty of these crimes. Far from it! Any religion that preaches the virtues of submission and obedience is inherently vulnerable to abuses of this kind. When religious leaders are believed to possess special wisdom or special favor from God, it's only too easy for them to abuse that power to violate those who trust them. It's happened at a … [Read more...]

My Interview on the Jesse Lee Peterson Show

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Earlier today, I was on a radio show hosted by Jesse Lee Peterson, an ultra-right-wing black conservative minister who's defended slavery and advocated an end to women's suffrage. We talked about how I became an atheist, my book, and my petition to advance feminism and diversity in the atheist community. You'd better believe it was a lively hour! If you didn't get the chance to listen live, you can hear an archived version through iTunes … [Read more...]

How Influential Is the Religious Right?

My latest column on Alternet, about the failed predictions of the religious right, has gotten a reply from a writer calling himself suburbXn who identifies himself as a liberal Christian, and who thinks I'm vastly exaggerating the influence of the people whose prophecies I cited: You can find extremists and crazies behind ANY belief who will take things to the edge. But please don't write off millions of Christians because of a few extremists, not even if you still disagree with those … [Read more...]

Should I Cash a Christian Charity’s Check?

My desk has a drawer full of free address labels, pens, and other cheap gimmicks sent by charities who hope that sending a gift would make the recipient of their letters feel obligated to give something back. (It doesn't; I plan my giving in advance and never respond to solicitations.) But a letter I got in the mail this week was a new gambit: This mailing came from an evangelical Christian charity (I know - bad targeting on their part). Enclosed with the letter, as you can see, was a $2 … [Read more...]


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