The Dying Branch of Bigotry

The 2008 elections, in which pro-gay-marriage campaigners won a sweep at the ballot box, is a clear sign that the tide of society is shifting in favor of equality. We've known for a long time that this was coming, since the younger generations now replacing the older ones are overwhelmingly comfortable with equal rights. In the Western world, prejudice is like a dying branch - it may still have leaves, but it's dead at the base, and the rot is only going to spread upwards. Still, there are some … [Read more...]

Putting an End to Pulpit Politicking

Now that the election is over, it's time for American freethinkers to turn our attention to some unfinished business. And here's one thing that should be at the top of the list. Churches in America receive a broad array of special tax privileges and exemptions, in exchange for which they have just one meaningful restriction: namely, that they can't tell their members to vote for or against a specific candidate. This is a narrowly drawn and easily evaded rule, but for a long time now, right-wing … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 21

Coffee

Some links from the last week: • As you may have heard, my good friend and awesome secular activist Greta Christina was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. It's fully treatable, but she needed some help to cover her living expenses while she recovers, and the atheist community came through in spades, meeting and exceeding what she had hoped to raise in barely 24 hours. • Dinesh D'Souza, the well-known Christian apologist, showed up at a conference last week with a much younger woman … [Read more...]

How to Ruin Your Moral Authority

On Tuesday, Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary of clergy for the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was sentenced to three to six years in prison for his role in shielding pedophile priests from the law and reassigning them to positions where they could harm more children. At least one boy suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, Edward Avery, whom Lynn assigned to duty in the boy's parish without warning any of the parishioners, despite knowing that Avery had a history … [Read more...]

Complicated Thoughts on Citizens United

At Netroots Nation last week, I attended a panel on Citizens United, the infamous case in which the Supreme Court tossed aside decades of campaign finance laws and ruled that corporations had the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. This gives them an incalculably greater amount of power than before, and not just because corporations can spend in total secrecy, without disclosing the amounts or even the fact of their involvement to the public or even to their own … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 3

There are a couple of stories from this past week that I wanted to mention: • A three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom are Republican appointees, have struck down part of DOMA, ruling that it violates the Constitution for the federal government to deny benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their home state. • You may remember a notorious net kook named Dennis Markuze, who engaged in a longstanding campaign of harassment and threats against … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 17

There's a heap of news I didn't get to write about in greater depth this week, but all these stories deserve at least a look: • Remember the Anglican church, that blandly, Britishly polite bastion of modern liberal Christianity? So it turns out that they're officially against same-sex marriage. In a hilarious piece whining that they should get to vote on the rights of other human beings, Anglican homophobes also argue there should be no such thing as civil marriage in the U.K., that … [Read more...]

Victory for Jessica Ahlquist and the Constitution

I've previously written about the case of Jessica Ahlquist, an incredibly brave young atheist from Rhode Island who's the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional "School Prayer" banner in her high school's auditorium. Today, I'm happy to announce that the judge has ruled, and it was a resounding victory for the good guys: The high school student who sought the removal of a prayer mural from the auditorium at Cranston High School West has won her suit in federal court. U.S. … [Read more...]

It’s About Time a Bishop Was Indicted

As regular readers know, I've devoted considerable time to writing about the child-molestation scandal engulfing the Catholic church. The core of this story isn't that there are child abusers within the ranks of the clergy, but that their superiors within the church have consistently enabled and protected them by hushing up their crimes, failing to report them to the authorities, and continually moving them to new parishes where they could prey upon new victims. As the saying goes, it's not the … [Read more...]

The Biblical Cruelty of Child Beating

In 1877, the great freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll wrote these words about the then-common practice of corporal punishment:I tell you the children have the same rights that we have, and we ought to treat them as though they were human beings. They should be reared with love, with kindness, with tenderness, and not with brutality. That is my idea of children....I do not believe in the government of the lash. If any one of you ever expects to whip your children again, I want you to have a … [Read more...]


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