No, Belief in Satan Doesn’t Make Us Moral

Demon

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

BirthControlPills

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

Masks

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

StatueOfLiberty

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

Coffee

• 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...]

#800deadbabies: A Fresh Catholic Horror

In the last few years, Ireland has been reckoning with a shameful part of its history: the Magdalene laundries. Established in the 1700s and surviving well into the 20th century, these were church-run institutions, overseen by nuns, where women were sent for transgressing against conventional morality or custom, or simply because they were viewed as a burden to society. Prostitutes, unwed mothers, rape victims, orphans, the mentally and physically disabled, or those who were deemed too … [Read more...]

Christian Radio Fans the Flames of Witch Hunting

A few years ago, I wrote about the horrible "witch children" craze in Nigeria. Like the witch hunts that once swept through America and Europe, this one is fed by sects of fanatic evangelical preachers, inflamed by Western missionaries, that believe in a miracle-drenched, demon-haunted world - and teach that people, including children, can be possessed by evil spirits, and that the only cure is to torture or kill them.One of the worst of the lot is a Pentecostal preacher named Helen Ukpabio, … [Read more...]


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