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...]

The Catholic Church Embraces Reform?

Since I've written a fair amount lately about the child-rape scandal engulfing the Catholic church, it would be unfair of me to overlook any steps they've taken toward reform. Well, you all know I'm nothing if not fair, so I have to report on this tiny, hesitant step:Last week, the Vatican for the first time issued guidelines telling bishops they should report cases of abusive priests to police where civil laws require it.Marvelous! At long last, the Vatican has bravely decided that its … [Read more...]

Beware of Pastors Bearing Gifts

Late last year, an evangelical Christian pastor in Brooklyn announced that he had secured a major grant totaling millions of dollars from the massive evangelical charity World Vision. The pastor, Isidro Bolaños, promised to use this money to hire people from the community to do faith-based social work:Mr. Bolaños, pastor of the Christian Church of El Dios Vivo, has reassured employees that the enterprise, called Community Project, Brooklyn Pilot Program, is ready to send them into n … [Read more...]

Demanding the Right to Discriminate

The Supreme Court heard arguments recently in a case out of California, in which a Christian student group at a public law school sued because they were denied recognition and funding by the school. The reason for this denial is that the school requires student groups to be open to all members, and the Christian Legal Society wants to ban - you'll never see it coming - people who are guilty of "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle". That means gays and gays … [Read more...]

Victory for FFRF!

I wrote in 2007 about the National Day of Prayer, a ridiculous ceremony created by Congress in the 1950s to urge all Americans to pray. That obviously unconstitutional objective would be bad enough, but what makes it even worse is that official National Day of Prayer events, held in city halls and government offices across the nation, are overrun by evangelical religious-right groups who claim the day as their own and don't allow members of the "wrong" religions to participate.Well, I'm … [Read more...]

Britain, Fix Your Libel Laws!

Legal observers have noted for some time that the laws governing defamation in the United Kingdom are far more plaintiff-friendly than similar laws in the U.S. In the U.S., anyone claiming they were libeled has to prove that the allegedly libelous statements were false. But in the U.K., the burden of proof is reversed: the defendant in a libel suit has to prove that the statements they made were true. This creates a serious hazard to free speech: rich, litigious individuals can file lawsuits and … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: ID on Trial


The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8The best place to settle a scientific debate is in the peer-reviewed journals and the larger research community - a strategy which, as we've noted, the creationists have steered well clear of. This means, when they inevitably attempt to push their beliefs into public schools anyway, that we have to take them to court, and that's where most direct encounters between science and creationism take place.However, though it's not an ideal forum for the … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I'm happy to report that there's quite a lot of good news this week:• The U.K. government recommends that primary school religious education classes should teach about "secular beliefs such as humanism and atheism", in addition to learning about major world religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. This is just one more symptom of how far ahead of us our European friends are in some respects - can you imagine the religious right frenzy that would ensue if a U.S. politician … [Read more...]

Free Speech Still Threatened in Europe

Scarcely two days into 2010, we've gotten a stark reminder of how free speech is still threatened by religious fanatics: Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew the image of Mohammed depicted to the right, was attacked at home Friday night by a murderous, ax-wielding religious fanatic. Fortunately, neither Westergaard nor his 5-year-old granddaughter, who was with him at the time, were harmed. They escaped to a panic room built into the house for just this purpose and summoned police, … [Read more...]

Another Cult Leader Convicted

I've got to give the government credit: they've been doing an excellent job cracking down on criminals who try to hide behind religion. Between Kent Hovind, Warren Jeffs, and now a new conviction, federal prosecutors have been diligently enforcing the law against creeps, con men, and petty tyrants who claim that the law of God gives them license to break the laws of society.This month's creep is Tony Alamo, former head of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. On Friday, Alamo was convicted on ten … [Read more...]