Darkness Gathers Over Pakistan

    "When we consider the founders of our nation - Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others - we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. They were well-educated. Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history. They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility... They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far … [Read more...]

Atheists Haven’t Forgotten Poland

I've mentioned in the past that as the Catholic church dwindles and ages, it's increasingly having trouble finding enough people who want to join the priesthood, and it's relying heavily on the few Catholic-majority countries remaining, such as Poland, that are net exporters of priests. At the time, I mused:Even former Catholic strongholds such as Italy and Spain, the article points out, have only a 10-20% rate of church attendance. In this respect, it seems that Europe is leading the way; … [Read more...]

Atheists Don’t Debate (Except When We Do)

A Review of When Atheism Becomes Religion, Part IIIn chapter 3, Hedges gives a two-and-a-half-page-long excerpt of a debate he had with Sam Harris at UCLA in May 2007, moderated by the columnist Robert Scheer, about whether Islam encourages suicide bombing:HARRIS: OK, well, let me deal with your taking the measure of the Muslim world. Happily we do not assess public opinion by having New York Times journalists go out and live in the Muslim world and make friends and get a vibe... A single … [Read more...]

Theocrats on the March in Israel

Since I wrote recently about the evil mullahs of the Middle East who ferociously resist the slightest spark of progress, I think it's worth pointing out - in the name of fairness - that destructive, theocratic insanity can be found in every religion. Christopher Hitchens has written an excellent column this week in Slate to remind us of that.The right-wing government that's currently in charge of Israel is continuing the policy of building homes for Jewish settlers on land seized by force from … [Read more...]

The March of Tyranny in the Middle East

The invasion of Iraq was cheered by right-wing Christians as a way to bring democracy to a people oppressed by tyranny. And, on paper at least, it achieved that goal. But in reality, Iraq as a nation hardly exists anymore. The anarchy of the invasion unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodshed, and the fragile stability which the country now possesses survives mainly because the ethnic cleansing is essentially complete - because all the mixed Sunni/Shia neighborhoods have been destroyed, their … [Read more...]

Spotlighting Atheism in Greece

Since Greece was the birthplace of Western philosophy, as well as the home of some of history's first freethinkers, it seems only fitting that it should have a lively atheist movement. And what do you know, it does! (HT: EvanT of On the Way to Ithaca)This is a Greek version of the song "Godless and Free", written and performed by a member of the Atheist Union of Greece (they also have a forum and a blog, for native speakers). I'm told the lyrics can be translated as follows:You believe … [Read more...]

The Iron Curtain of Censorship

Well, it looks like we can add Russia to the list of countries where it's illegal to criticize religion:Two Russian museum curators were found guilty of "inciting religious hatred" for displaying a painting of Jesus Christ with Mickey Mouse's head superimposed.     A Moscow court ordered the two men, Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, to pay fines of £4,200 each.     They ruled that a 2007 exhibition in Moscow called "Forbidden Art" had caused … [Read more...]

Britain Defends the Enlightenment

Despite the ongoing schism of the Anglican church, which I wrote about in my last post, I'm happy to see that there's still plenty of good sense and reason in the U.K. One outstanding example is this story from last month, where the British Medical Association voted to stop funding homeopathy in public hospitals. (UK readers, do you know if is this a binding vote or just advisory?) There's been some trenchant commentary on the decision, like this column from Ed West:The most outspoken … [Read more...]

Simo Says

By Sarah BraaschIn loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)The other night I fled for my life. I fled a brawl in Paris. No, I didn't get entangled in a drunken bar fight. Again. Actually, I was in an elementary school.Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS – Neither Whores Nor Submissives), the women's rights organization in Paris where I have been working as a human rights fellow, organized a public debate on the issue of the anticipated public burqa ban in Fra … [Read more...]

Yes, That’s Me in the Burqa

By Sarah BraaschIn loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)I am an incipient First Amendment lawyer and a staunch church-state separatist. I surpass even my most progressive friends and colleagues in my unflinching and unwavering support of the freedom of speech and expression, including religious expression. I am pretty much the only person I know who hates hate crime legislation as little more than bald-faced thought crime legislation. I am not i … [Read more...]


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