Weekend Coffee: August 30

Coffee

• Oliver Sacks has died. In his final column, "Sabbath", he talks about his humanism and his rejection of his Jewish upbringing when his mother discovered he was gay and was violently hateful towards him: "her harsh words made me hate religion's capacity for bigotry and cruelty".In his closing words, he contemplates the end with acceptance and peace:And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the … [Read more...]

Jewish Fundamentalism Is Poisoning Israel

Haredim

Last month, a religious fundamentalist attacked a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem, stabbing six people. One of them, a teenager named Shira Banki, later died from her wounds. The attacker, identified by police as Yishai Schlissel, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had previously stabbed three people at another gay-pride parade in Jerusalem in 2005, for which he was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. Just three weeks after his release, he apparently did it again. Horribly, a photographer … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 8

• Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi atheist writer, is brutally murdered in his own home by Islamists. He's the fourth secularist writer in Bangladesh to be assassinated this year, while the government continues to sit on its hands and do nothing.• Prayer can't fight the Ebola virus. But science can.• Today in "why are LGBT people still Catholic" news: a director of religious education at a Catholic school was fired for being a lesbian, and unaccountably seems surprised by it. … [Read more...]

The Charleston Shooting Is No Mystery

By now, you've heard about the massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina where nine people were murdered, including Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and a state senator. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, wore the patches of white-supremacist regimes, told police that he wanted to start a race war, wrote a virulently racist manifesto, and reportedly said to one of the survivors, "You rape our women, and you're taking over our country... you have to go." So of course, … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: May 31

• Rabbis in a British branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism forbid women from driving - and threaten to expel their children from school if they're caught violating the ban.• The horrific news keeps coming out of Bangladesh, as Islamists circulate a hit list of secular writers whom they want to kill.• "As the country becomes less religious, it is also becoming more socially liberal."• The number-two Vatican official says that Ireland's legalization of same-sex marriage … [Read more...]

Drawing Mohammed in Spite of Violence

The American religious right loves to play-act as martyrs: bemoaning how cruelly the government oppresses them, fantasizing about how they're on the verge of being imprisoned or killed for their beliefs. Usually, these claims are pure fiction. But this weekend in Texas, for once, the pretense became reality.The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a religious right group run by the flamboyant anti-Muslim activist and Ayn Rand devotee Pamela Geller, held a contest for cartoonists to draw the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 28

Coffee

• GOP congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked her constituents for Obamacare horror stories. The response she got was rather different.• "Shouldn't you be having these same kind of prayer circles around divorce attorneys' offices to 'save' people from acting on the sin of divorce?"• According to federal investigators, a self-described American "patriot" named Michael Sibley was upset that Muslims weren't committing enough acts of terrorism to make everyone see how evil … [Read more...]

ISIS Is Bleeding Human History

BurnedBook

On top of all the other atrocities they've committed, we have to add another entry to the list of ISIS' crimes against the human race: their penchant for destroying ancient relics and other historical artifacts in the cities they've conquered. While it's not comparable to the mass slaughter of human beings, this cultural vandalism stands out for its sheer senselessness. Like the Taliban fanatics who dynamited the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan, or the militants of Ansar Dine who destroyed the … [Read more...]

Bangladesh Is Killing Atheists

There's horrific news from Bangladesh: the atheist activist and writer Dr. Avijit Roy was murdered on the street in Dhaka, hacked to death by two assailants wielding machetes as he left a book fair at Dhaka University. His wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna was seriously wounded in the same attack. An Islamist group calling itself Ansar Bangla 7 issued a statement claiming responsibility for the murder.Dr. Roy was the author of books such as The Philosophy of Disbelief and The Virus of Faith, as well … [Read more...]

What’s Behind the Appeal of ISIS?

Amidst the steady drumbeat of grim headlines in the Middle East, the trend I've been most concerned by is the strange drawing power of ISIS, also known as Islamic State or Daesh, the brutal extremist group rampaging through Iraq and Syria, capturing cities and committing horrendous acts of violence. ISIS seems to exert an almost magnetic attraction, drawing in not just the disaffected, the disgruntled, petty thugs and criminals, but also young Muslims from middle-class Western families, people … [Read more...]


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