Why Do They Care?

In the summer of 2006, Republican Senator David Vitter (about whom you might have heard some news lately) said the following about a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage:"I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one," said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. "I think this debate is very healthy, and it's winning a lot of hearts and minds. I think we're going to show real progress."No issue is more important than the drive to ban gay … [Read more...]

What Is Christianity Good For?

What is Christianity good for?I ask this question in all seriousness, not as an insult. I genuinely want to know. Eternal life in Heaven is usually held out as the greatest benefit of becoming a Christian, but that reward is said to be in the next life and is impossible for us to verify. Does Christianity have any benefits in this life, any evidence that can be offered now as partial substantiation of its grander promises later on?I'm not looking for personal testimonies about how … [Read more...]

Aspiring to Slavery

Last month, I wrote about slavery and the Bible's embarrassing (though historically understandable, if we assume there was no divine revelation behind it) endorsement of that vile practice. Today, slavery is widely recognized as the evil it is, and though it still exists in some forms, it lingers only in the shadows, not in the light of mainstream acceptance. Today religious people of all stripes reject slavery, and do their best to gloss over or explain away the unchanged scripture that still … [Read more...]

The Spiral of Sin and Salvation

Since his spectacular public disgrace last year, the once-powerful evangelical preacher Ted Haggard has not returned to New Life Church, the Colorado megachurch he founded. However, a few days after confessing that the allegations laid against him were true, he arranged to have a letter read to his former congregation in which he admitted his guilt and asked for their forgiveness:Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VI: Slavery

Of all the civil rights movements that have swept across America in its history, none is so intimately connected with religion in the popular consciousness as the struggle against racism. Civil rights leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were famous for their use of biblical allusions to demand liberty for all human beings, and from their writings, many believers today have gotten the idea that the Bible teaches the equality of all people. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as … [Read more...]

Atheists Are Moral: Why It Matters

In the aftermath of the recent Virginia Tech shootings, the lowest and most contemptible specimens of religious fundamentalism have been crawling out of the woodwork to blame atheism for this horrible tragedy, without presenting a shred of evidence. I castigated some of these vile fanatics in my previous post, but since then, yet more of them have come to light. A Load of Bright points out another one, a deceitful and arrogant apologist named Steven Grant:The shooter at Virginia Tech was a … [Read more...]

The Bible Is Not a Book of Love

I have been thinking lately about the Christian symbol of the crucifix. It is almost always seen in settings that attempt to create a mood of peace, calm and serenity: on the walls of churches, in the patients' rooms in Catholic-run hospitals, in funeral parlors and cemeteries, to name a few.The ubiquity and familiarity of this icon, I think, often blinds people to what a brutal thing it is. What the cross merely suggests, the crucifix makes explicit. Look at one, or imagine it, and see … [Read more...]

Rebuking the Devil

I have written several times in the past about how religious superstition, when it is taken seriously, causes harm and suffering to real people by dissuading them from seeking the evidence-based treatments they need. But a new story from the March 31 edition of Newsday, Trying to change minds in the Congo, is one of the most horrifying illustrations of this principle I have yet seen.The African Republic of the Congo, a country of 3.7 million people, has only one clinical psychiatrist. Dr. … [Read more...]

Footprints

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord."Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through."—Lamentations 3:43-44Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord."Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be … [Read more...]

Name That God

Think quickly: What was the religion of the person who wrote the following?"Oh God, open all doors for me. Oh God who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help. I am asking you for forgiveness. I am asking you to lighten my way. I am asking you to lift the burden I feel. Oh God, you who open all doors, please open all doors to me, open all venues for me, open all avenues for me. God, I trust in you. God, I lay myself in your hands."Or this: without … [Read more...]


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