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...]

Movie Review: Jesus Camp

I missed seeing the documentary Jesus Camp when it first came out in theaters last September. However, I've finally had the chance to view it, and I think this review is better late than never. In any case, so much relevant to the film has happened since then - the 2006 elections, the downfall of Ted Haggard, and even the announcement that the film itself had been nominated for an Oscar - that this seems an opportune time to review it and see how things have changed.Directed by filmmakers … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VII: Season's Warning

With the Democratic victories in the recent midterm elections, I am hopeful that I will have to write considerably fewer Theocracy Watch posts in the near future. This is not to say that the Democrats do not also pander to religion, which they do, but only that they usually show less interest than Republicans in integrating it materially into our government. However, this does not mean that unconstitutional establishments of religion are no longer continuing, and this post will examine one of … [Read more...]

What Christians Care About?

In a post from October, I wrote that evangelical Christianity in America today has become "a set of right-wing political talking points" and lamented:Regrettably, the Christians who understand how the aggressive drive for secular power is rotting their faith's foundations from the inside out seem to be outnumbered by those who regard it as an unmitigated good.There is news on this front that, depending on how one interprets it, may be either good or bad. Take this story, President-elect … [Read more...]

A Seriously Warped Moral Compass

"So what would you consider immoral?" I asked.It was a crisp, cold night, on the boundary between late fall and early winter, and the tang of frost and woodsmoke hung in the air. An orange gibbous moon was rising through the tangled leafless fingers of the trees into a clear, dark night sky. The air had a biting chill, but my friend and I were not out in it. We were indoors, in the recently built student coffeehouse of Practical Bible College, a warm and well-lit space paneled in rich earth … [Read more...]


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