The Witch Children of Nigeria

I've written on several past occasions about how belief in malignant supernatural forces causes real harm to real people. There are examples of this from every region of the world, but some of the most wrenching are from Africa, where Biblical beliefs about demons and evil spirits still run rampant.In January, I wrote about the witch camps of Ghana, where people suspected of using black magic to harm their neighbors are exiled as if they were lepers. In April, there were the Pentecostals of … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XIII: Fighting Prison Theocracy

Last year, in a previous installment of Theocracy Watch, I wrote about unconstitutional government-supported prison ministries which target a literal captive audience. Many Christian evangelists view these ministries as a great opportunity to preach to those who can't escape, as if the prisons were their own personal factories for churning out converts. Worse, the Bush administration has been all too willing to let them in, and has cooperated in setting up coercive programs that offer special … [Read more...]

Probing the Prosperity Gospel

I'm surprised that this story, "Going After the Money Ministries", hasn't gotten much attention on atheist blogs. Earlier this month, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White - six notorious televangelists who preach the "prosperity gospel" - received an ominous letter from Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, asking them to account for numerous expenditures whose tax-exempt status seems … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XII: The Army of God

The topic of today's installment of Theocracy Watch is a lengthy one, and I don't know if I can do full justice to it, but I will try. I've written in the past about how Christian fundamentalists disturbingly portray themselves and their mission in the language of war and violence, but this is a far worse and more ominous story: Christian fundamentalists who have infiltrated the U.S. military itself and are openly using its power and command structure to advance their noxious goals.This … [Read more...]

The Thomas Weeks Affair

Since this seems to be a week for tearing down Christian icons, I have another fall from grace to report: Bishop Thomas Weeks, founder of the international Christian ministry Global Destiny, was released on bond last week after turning himself in to face charges of brutally beating his estranged wife Juanita Bynum - herself a nationally renowned Christian evangelist and best-selling gospel singer, and co-founder of that same ministry.The police report of the incident states that, during a … [Read more...]

Coming Soon to an Apocalypse Near You

Any informed observer of religious folly knows that setting dates for the apocalypse ranks among the major pastimes of fundamentalists and fanatics the world over. (The next most-popular pastime is explaining why those dates failed to pan out.) In fact, throughout human history, the years in which the end of the world has not been predicted to occur are probably far outnumbered by the ones in which it has. But what's most astonishing is the way these prophecies, after they have failed, are often … [Read more...]

The Spiral of Sin and Salvation

Since his spectacular public disgrace last year, the once-powerful evangelical preacher Ted Haggard has not returned to New Life Church, the Colorado megachurch he founded. However, a few days after confessing that the allegations laid against him were true, he arranged to have a letter read to his former congregation in which he admitted his guilt and asked for their forgiveness:Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have … [Read more...]

Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America's religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title "The … [Read more...]

The Root of All Evil

One of the more bizarre offshoots of fundamentalist Christianity that has been making headway in recent years is the "prosperity gospel", also called the "Word of Faith" movement. Devotees of this theology believe that God, far from the dour, gloomy Puritan deity who expected people to deprive themselves in this life to be rewarded in the hereafter, is actually more like a rich uncle who can't wait to shower us with riches and grant us financial prosperity. In this movement, wealth and fame in a … [Read more...]

Rebuking the Devil

I have written several times in the past about how religious superstition, when it is taken seriously, causes harm and suffering to real people by dissuading them from seeking the evidence-based treatments they need. But a new story from the March 31 edition of Newsday, Trying to change minds in the Congo, is one of the most horrifying illustrations of this principle I have yet seen.The African Republic of the Congo, a country of 3.7 million people, has only one clinical psychiatrist. Dr. … [Read more...]


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