Theocratic Fraud in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Religious sects and cults that conceive of themselves as serving a higher, sacred purpose will, almost inevitably, end up believing that they're above the law. We've seen this recently with the FLDS Mormon splinter cult and the Catholic church protecting monstrous child abusers, and now there's another example on offer.I've written about the malign political influence of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism, both in New York City and in the upstate satellite community of Kiryas Joel. Because they … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling, Part II

There's more good news in the saga of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an especially nasty totalitarian religious cult that splintered off from Mormonism. The sect's former ruler, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for facilitating rape, and his absence seems to be destabilizing them. As I wrote last year, outside observers and ex-members have noticed a greater outflow of deconverts from the FLDS than ever before.Now the authorities are closing in from … [Read more...]

Kim Davis’ Multiple Marriages Are Fair Game

Although the vast majority of American local officials are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, there are a few stubborn bigots determined to hold out. In the state of Kentucky, 3 out of 120 county clerks are still refusing to comply, including the most notorious, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis.After repeatedly losing her appeals and then defying a direct court order - claiming she answered only to "God's authority" and not the courts or the Constitution - Davis was jailed for … [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...]

There’s No Religious Freedom to Refuse Service

Last week in Washington state, another special religious privilege bit the dust. The Ninth Circuit appeals court ruled unanimously that a pharmacist doesn't have the right to refuse to fill a prescription for emergency contraception:A unanimous three-judge 9th Circuit panel on Thursday decided that the rules are constitutional because they rationally further the state's interest in patient safety. Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency … [Read more...]

Obamacare’s Victory Is a Defeat For Fundamentalism

You know it's been a big week when the Supreme Court once again upholding Obamacare is only the second biggest story to come out of the court. But I wanted to write about this ruling and what it means.As you may remember, I exulted in 2012 when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare the first time, rejecting a claim that the law was unconstitutional. It turns out I spoke too soon, because there was another challenge waiting in the wings: King v. Burwell, a right-wing attack which sought to … [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...]

#BlackLivesMatter in Baltimore

It's only been a few short weeks since the agony of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter protests in New York, and here we are again. This time, the protests, marches and sporadic riots are happening in Baltimore, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a black teenager who was arrested after he ran from police patrolling his neighborhood - which, for the record, is not a crime - and suffered a fatal and so far unexplained spine injury while in the police van. (According to his family, he underwent … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling

Eight years ago, a particularly nasty cult leader named Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison. Jeffs was - and still is - the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an extremist Mormon splinter group with enclaves scattered across the American West.The FLDS, like most cults, was controlled with an iron fist, and members were expected to live like slaves serving the whims of an all-powerful leader. Both Warren Jeffs and the previous leader, … [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...]


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