Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?


This article was originally published on AlterNet.Human history is a story of gradual moral enlightenment. Over the ages, we've become less violent, less xenophobic, more tolerant, more committed to the ideals of democracy and equality under the law. Of course, moral progress is painfully slow, with many holdouts and local reversals, and we have a very long way left to go. But it's hard to deny that the world we live in today is less prejudiced and more peaceful than the world five hundred … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 8

• Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi atheist writer, is brutally murdered in his own home by Islamists. He's the fourth secularist writer in Bangladesh to be assassinated this year, while the government continues to sit on its hands and do nothing.• Prayer can't fight the Ebola virus. But science can.• Today in "why are LGBT people still Catholic" news: a director of religious education at a Catholic school was fired for being a lesbian, and unaccountably seems surprised by it. … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: The Bright Side of Discrimination


My latest column on the Guardian is up: "There's a silver lining in the religious right's onslaught of discrimination".From evangelical colleges to Catholic schools, America's religious right is pulling out all the stops to keep enforcing their prejudices on others, even after Supreme Court rulings that went against them. In this column, I argue that this is a good sign for those of us who care about equality! To find out why, read the excerpt below, then click through to the full … [Read more...]

The Cognitive Dissonance of Pro-LGBT Christians


My post last week asking LGBT people and allies why they still consider themselves Christian touched off a firestorm. Both in the comments here and on Twitter, I got a flood of responses from liberal Christians - some polite and friendly, others extraordinarily hostile and aggressive.There were several objections that came up repeatedly. I want to gather these common objections so I can respond to them in one place:There are LGBT-friendly and inclusive Christian churches. This was a … [Read more...]

The Manhattan Option

In retrospect, the coming of marriage equality to America may well be the high-water mark of religious influence. This was the one social change that Christians fought against harder than any other, and they still failed to stop it. It's not a stretch to conclude that this will irreversibly taint their moral credibility in the eyes of future generations, even if they come to terms with it - and there's precious little evidence that they have any intention of doing that.Even before this … [Read more...]

With Liberty and Justice For All


June 26, 2015 will be remembered as the day love won out in the United States of America. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, striking down all remaining bans on same-sex marriage.While waiting for the decision, I admit I had some doubts. I never seriously doubted that the Supreme Court would rule for equality; they signaled their intent months ago, when they refused to halt pro-marriage decisions by lower courts, and it was obvious that … [Read more...]

Ireland Says Yes to Equality


Last week, Ireland held a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, and the good guys won a landslide victory:Some 62% of the Irish Republic's electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland's journey towards a more liberal, secular society.Ireland isn't the first country to enact marriage equality, … [Read more...]

How Religious Bigotry Was Beaten Back in Indiana


Last month, Indiana's Republican-dominated legislature passed, and Gov. Mike Pence signed, an intensely controversial "religious freedom" bill very similar to the one that almost passed in Arizona last year. It was based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but with several crucial differences, especially the fact that it allowed for-profit businesses to assert a religious-freedom defense in cases brought against them by private parties. In other words, it allowed them to use … [Read more...]

Constitutional Crisis in Alabama?


My newest column on AlterNet is up, Right-Wingers' Secession Threats: Fighting Tooth and Nail on the Wrong Side of History. It's an expanded version of my earlier post on Roy Moore and other social conservatives arguing that they shouldn't have to obey laws they don't like. Here's an excerpt:When a U.S. federal judge - an appointee of George W. Bush, no less - ruled in favor of marriage equality in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore didn't take it lying down. The chief justice of the state supreme … [Read more...]

Meet the American Religious Right Figures Thrilled by Russia’s Brutal Anti-Gay Laws


This article originally appeared on AlterNet.In the past few years, Russia has become a dangerous place for dissent. Its ex-KGB president, Vladimir Putin, has accomplished what Republicans in America only dream of: he's built an electoral majority by appealing to the most religious and conservative elements of society, including by courting the alliance of the Russian Orthodox Church. And with his victories, he's becoming increasingly autocratic, dispensing with even the pretense of … [Read more...]