On Retconning Biblical Violence

NoahsArkCartoon

In 2009, I wrote "The Twisted Moral of Passover", about how this major Jewish holiday is really a celebration of genocide: the mass killing of the Egyptian children that preceded the Israelites' deliverance from slavery. (The very name of the holiday refers to how the Israelite slaves supposedly marked their doors with blood so that the divine executioner would see it and pass over their houses.)Even if there isn't any archaeological evidence for this event, or for the Egyptian captivity in … [Read more...]

When Bishops Tie the Doctor’s Hands

RosaryHands

Although the media has been thrilled by some symbolic statements about poverty by Pope Francis, the inconvenient fact remains that he's changed none of the doctrines that were the biggest reason for atheists to object to Catholicism in the first place. Last week in Michigan, we saw another example of that:Tamesha Means, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that when she was 18 weeks pregnant her water broke and she rushed to Mercy Health, the only hospital in her county.Her fetus had … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 9

Coffee

• Following the resignation of the previous team, CFI has announced the new hosts of their podcast Point of Inquiry, one of whom is my friend Lindsay Beyerstein. Congratulations!• This week's entry in the WTF Department: Richard Cohen, an awful columnist for the Washington Post, saw the movie 12 Years a Slave and was shocked to learn how bad slavery was. I wish I were kidding about that.• Three cheers for science! A new antiviral therapy can cure hepatitis C without a … [Read more...]

Repost: Fossilized Opinions

Ammonite

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2010.]Sam Harris is famous for the argument that religion, even moderate religion, does harm by teaching that faith is a virtue that should not be questioned, which encourages militant and violent strains of fundamentalism. Today, I want to talk about another way, subtle but unmistakable, that religion causes harm to human beings.Because of its tendency to treat … [Read more...]

New Pope, Same Old Dogmas

FrozenFountain

Earlier this summer, I wrote about some conciliatory (but ultimately meaningless) remarks from Pope Francis about gay people. Now he's given a longer interview to the Jesuit magazine America in which he appeared to suggest that the church has been talking about abortion, contraception and gay rights too much:"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was … [Read more...]

Moral Relativism in the Catholic Church

Back in March, I wrote a post about how the Catholic church isn't a democracy and therefore has no obligation to change its teachings in line with popular opinion. One theist commenter enthusiastically chimed in to agree and to insist that this was exactly the point:From my own perspective, the constancy (and internal consistency) of Church teaching is an enormously reassuring thing. How am I supposed to trust a religious tradition which claims to teach about right and wrong but is willing … [Read more...]

The Perils of Scriptural Morality

AcaciaTree

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 female virginity and purity and view girls as unfit for marriage if they aren't cut. The harm to women is immense: death from infection and blood loss, … [Read more...]

Winning a Two-Front War Against Anti-Feminists

LibertyLeadingThePeople

This past weekend, while I was attending Women in Secularism 2, I was also reading Kathryn Joyce's Quiverfull. Joyce's book is an outstanding piece of reporting on the network of fundamentalist Christian churches and preachers who teach that the only role of women in life is to get married, to be completely obedient to their husbands and to bear as many children as possible. Depending on how extreme they are, Quiverfull preachers and other members of the Christian patriarchy movement teach that … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Harassment of Church-State Plaintiffs

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property. In it, I report on the campaigns of harassment, persecution, and even criminal violence that are all too often waged against First Amendment advocates in religious areas of the country. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:As often happens in these cases, FFRF plaintiffs asked to have their identities concealed … [Read more...]

Facing Up to the Bible’s Darkness

DarkForest

Via Slacktivist, I came across an interesting essay by Greg Boyd, Getting Honest about the Dark Side of the Bible. (You might remember Boyd as one of the theologians interviewed in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, as well as his more recent and praiseworthy stand against the use of Christianity to support American imperial militarism.)I have to give Boyd credit for doing something I've rarely seen Christians do: facing up squarely to the dark and savage morality of the Bible. In his post, … [Read more...]


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