The Astounding Hypocrisy of Anti-Refugee Christians


With the Syrian civil war plodding through its fourth year, the country is being hollowed out as everyone who has the means to escape flees from the bloodshed. Ordinary Syrians are trapped in a vise between the indiscriminate brutality of Bashar al-Assad's military and the sadistic terror of ISIS. The United Nations estimates that over four million of them are now refugees. The vast majority have gone to neighboring states like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq, but tens of thousands are … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Bibles, Not Peace


The flow of religious junk mail in my mailbox seems to be accelerating. Here's the latest, a begging letter from the American Bible Society. (Click for larger.)The thrust of this solicitation is that American soldiers deployed abroad desperately want to read Bibles, but somehow can't get any - a near-certain falsehood to begin with, given the extreme saturation of fundamentalist religion in the military.Included in the envelope was a … [Read more...]

No, Belief in Satan Doesn’t Make Us Moral


One of the new writers at the rebooted New Republic, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, wrote a column titled Pope Francis's Populist War on the Devil. It begins this way:Pope Francis isn't engaged only in earthly battles. He's also waging a cosmic war against the power of evil, a crusade that has garnered considerably less press than his comments on, say, climate change or homosexuality. For Francis, as for scores of faithful Christians, this struggle isn't abstract. It has genuine agents, real … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: February 22

• Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and science writer, has terminal cancer. Here, he writes a beautiful, elegiac, deeply humanist essay about confronting the prospect of death and what he intends to do with the time he has left.• This can't end well: In response to the increasing threat of ISIS, which is drawing Muslim extremists to its cause from all over the world, Western Christians, most with military experience, are traveling to Iraq and Syria to form an opposing Christian … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 10

This is part 10 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,Well, this little conversation of ours is titled "Of God and Government", after all, and so far we've focused more on the God part than on the government part. I'm glad to get into the other side of things, but I want to return briefly to something you said in the last installment that will be relevant to our new topic.Last time, I … [Read more...]

Marriage Is Suffering and Suffering Is Good: A Catholic View


Last week, I wrote about the crushing burden of fear and guilt about sex that women labor under in Orthodox Judaism. Taught to fear pleasure, to shun knowledge and to regard their own bodies as sinful vessels, they often end up in loveless and unhappy marriages, trapped by religious rules that bar them from happiness and affection.But I don't want to give the impression that Judaism is the only religion which has irrational, anti-humanistic rules about sex, and Catholicism has some uniquely … [Read more...]

Is Terrorism Courageous?

The religious fanatics who murdered twelve people at Charlie Hebdo's offices last week were tracked down by the French police after a two-day manhunt, ending in a shootout at a print shop in the town of Dammartin-en-Goële where both of them were killed. One of their accomplices was also killed by police after taking hostages at a kosher supermarket.Despite my earlier fears, Charlie Hebdo doesn't plan to shut its doors, and in fact their next issue (featuring Mohammed on the cover) will have … [Read more...]

The Deceptive Tactics of Christian Evangelism


I like to think of myself as a basically honest person. And you'd think that, given that whole "false-witness" thing, Christians would feel the same way. So why are there so many instances where evangelical Christians misrepresent who they are and what they really want to trick people into giving them an audience?Last week, the Twin Cities Pride Festival was held in Minneapolis to support and celebrate the LGBT community. And as reported by The Column, the event was infiltrated - there's no … [Read more...]

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property


This article was originally published on AlterNet.Although the United States is a democracy where the will of the majority is sovereign, our framers knew that being persecuted by a mob is no better than being persecuted by a tyrant. That's why they designed the Bill of Rights to be a counter-majoritarian document, limiting what laws can be passed and protecting the rights of minorities against the overreach of the majority. There's no better example than the First Amendment, which forbids … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 14


• Chris Hedges, the left-wing firebrand who really, really despises New Atheists, is apparently a serial plagiarist, according to a lengthy and damning article this week in the New Republic.• In the why-all-atheists-are-Hitler department: Part of the SS oath in Nazi Germany was to swear their allegiance to God and say that atheists are "not one of us".• I wrote in 2007 about José Luis de Jesus Miranda, a kook and would-be cult leader who claimed to be Jesus reincarnated. I … [Read more...]