Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

Penitents

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...]

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...]

Book Review: Recovering Agency

RecoveringAgency

(Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)At the American Atheists convention in Salt Lake City this year, I toured the grounds of the Mormon temple with some other attendees. At the time, I thought of it as an exercise in appreciating wacky religious camp. But the goofy theology of the LDS church is a cover for something darker and more troubling, as I found out from author (and ex-Mormon) Luna Lindsey's book Recovering Agency: … [Read more...]

Sexist Religion Still Isn’t a Democracy

BricksInWall

In past eras when ignorance and prejudice were the norm, religious authorities could decree ignorant and prejudiced rules without anyone taking notice. But in the centuries since, the world has changed, while religious morality has largely stayed the same; and to many believers of the modern era, those unchanging doctrines, born in a darker time, are archaic relics at best and an embarrassment at worst. The passage of time casts the contradictions between moral progress and ancient dogma into … [Read more...]

#AAcon14 Wrapup

AAcon14_01

I've just gotten home from Salt Lake City, where I was at the 2014 annual convention of American Atheists. AA always has their convention on Easter weekend (and after all, what better weekend would there be for an atheist not to have other plans?), and this year gave us a double dose of cheekiness by putting it on in the heart of Mormon country.AA's president Dave Silverman took some heat (rightfully so, in my opinion) for his ill-judged comments at CPAC about abortion last month. I didn't … [Read more...]

The Mormons Repeat the Errors of History

SaltLakeCityTemple

Last month, a federal judge in Utah ruled that it violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to deny civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. After a few days of joyful chaos in which gay and lesbian couples flocked to county clerks' offices, Utah state officials managed to convince the Supreme Court to temporarily stay the ruling pending a full hearing by an appeals court. In the meantime, the state announced that they'll refuse to recognize the more than 1,000 marriages their … [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...]

Why Is Atheism a Bigger Obstacle to Political Office Than Mormonism?

This piece was originally published on AlterNet. When America was founded, it was the first modern nation to throw off the rule of absolute monarchy and prove that democracy was feasible. But at the same time, when America was founded, it was hardly a democracy at all. The vote was denied to women, to millions of enslaved human beings -- to everyone except a relatively small number of its citizens. Despite the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests, many states had their own established … [Read more...]

An Ex-Mormon Story

Editor's Note: After a holiday that's all about gratitude, it seemed appropriate to post this. Please welcome Jessa Jackson as she tells the story of how she went from Mormonism to atheism. We're thankful to have you, Jessa! —Adam Lee One thing I remember hearing repeatedly claimed about ex-Mormons is that they "never really knew the truth." The assumption being that if they knew the truth they never would have left. I want to be absolutely clear that I believed. My mother's family was … [Read more...]

Anti-Atheist Prejudice at the Polls

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, Why Is Atheism a Bigger Obstacle to Political Office Than Mormonism? In it, I look at poll results showing that American voters remain prejudiced against atheists, and ask why it is that Mormons and other groups have managed to avoid the brunt of similar bigotry, despite holding beliefs that are equally incompatible with mainstream Christianity and arguably far more bizarre than ours. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:In … [Read more...]


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