The Pro-Slavery History of the Southern Baptists

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was thrown into chaos by a proposal to condemn racism and the alt-right. This CNN article has a good timeline of how it played out: The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement's "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries" and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw … [Read more...]

Is Belief in Hell Inherently Hateful?

In 2015, the evangelical Wheaton College fired Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor, for taking a stance of solidarity with Muslims against hateful rhetoric. Ostensibly this was because Hawkins, a black woman, had contravened the college's statement of faith by suggesting that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Unofficially, it's easy to see as a reaffirmation that evangelical Christianity is a religion only for bigoted white people.At the time, a Wheaton graduate named … [Read more...]

#800deadbabies: The Grim Conclusion

In 2014, I wrote about the Magdalene laundry in the Irish town of Tuam, one of many institutions where the Catholic church imprisoned and tortured innocent women. Catherine Corless, a local historian, uncovered death certificates for almost 800 children who died there under the harsh and abusive hand of church overseers.Corless embarked on a search for these children's graves. While she had no direct evidence of where most of them were buried, there were no burial records for them in any … [Read more...]

Make Catholicism Cool Again

I've written about the decline of Catholicism and the church's attempts to stay relevant. The latest such attempt is playing out in Brooklyn, as you can see in this puff piece:The two Franciscan friars, complete with floor-length robes, stood behind the bar outside the 100-year-old church taking cash and slinging cans of Coors and Lime-A-Ritas in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.The diocese of Brooklyn called in the friars to revitalize the Holy Family Slovak Church in Greenpoint, which was on … [Read more...]

Repost: The Perils of Scriptural Morality

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]I was cheered by a story I saw last week about about heroic activist groups working to end the barbaric custom of female "circumcision", aka female genital mutilation, that's practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. FGM isn't unique to Christianity or to Islam, but is found across a range of traditional societies that fetishize … [Read more...]

Repost: The Mystical Dogma of Human Equality

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]Recently, the Catholic writer and apologist Mark Shea fielded a question from a reader who was disturbed by pro-slavery Bible verses quoted on an atheist billboard in Pennsylvania. Here's the letter, in part (HT: Friendly Atheist):One of my atheist/anti-Church friends posted a sign by American Atheists quoting Colossians 3:22 (Slaves, obey … [Read more...]

The Bad Parable of the Prodigal Son

The tale of the prodigal son is one of the Christian Bible's most famous parables. But there's something about it that's never sat right with me:"A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Orlando Shooting

If I wrote about every mass shooting in gun-sick America, I wouldn't have time for anything else. But the bloodbath at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, now the deadliest in U.S. history, has a grim power to break through the scar tissue of our indifference.The NRA and right-wing Christianity in this country are locked in a vampiric embrace, each feeding on the other. There's no better proof of that than lawmakers who sold their souls for NRA blood money trying to cloak their … [Read more...]

How Catholic Hospitals Flout the Law

I've often written about the life-endangering refusal of Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, even when a pregnant woman is facing sepsis or hemorrhage and nothing can be done to save the fetus (see here, here and here). Now the ACLU in partnership with MergerWatch has released a new report, Health Care Denied, that reveals the full scope of the problem (HT: Butterflies and Wheels):Today, one in six hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital. In some places, such as … [Read more...]

What the Catholic Church Did in the Shadows

Although it slipped out of the headlines for a while, the Roman Catholic church's plague of priests raping and molesting children hasn't gone away. This week, we got a jolting reminder of that:Two Roman Catholic bishops who led a central Pennsylvania diocese helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests or religious leaders over a 40-year period, according to a grand jury report issued on Tuesday.The grand jury's report, which is based on documents … [Read more...]