Atheists Don’t Debate (Except When We Do)

A Review of When Atheism Becomes Religion, Part IIIn chapter 3, Hedges gives a two-and-a-half-page-long excerpt of a debate he had with Sam Harris at UCLA in May 2007, moderated by the columnist Robert Scheer, about whether Islam encourages suicide bombing:HARRIS: OK, well, let me deal with your taking the measure of the Muslim world. Happily we do not assess public opinion by having New York Times journalists go out and live in the Muslim world and make friends and get a vibe... A single … [Read more...]

Qur’an Burnings and Manhattan Mosques

I haven't commented until now on this "Ground Zero mosque" - a ridiculous misnomer invented to inflame prejudice, since it's not at Ground Zero and it isn't a mosque - because, honestly, I don't think there's much that needs to be said. America still has the First Amendment, it still has freedom of religion, and Muslims have the same rights as anyone to build their religious centers anywhere they want. Unless they're directly advocating or planning violence, there's nothing that the government … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• President Obama signs a law to fight British libel tourism by barring such judgments from being enforced in the U.S.• My esteemed guest author, Sarah Braasch, has an article in the latest issue of The Humanist on the French burqa ban.• After a scary brush with mortality, everyone's favorite squid-loving atheist professor is back in action. Visit his blog and leave some get-well-soon comments!• Did a Catholic priest carry out an IRA bombing? And if so, did the church … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

When a new sect with strange and unfamiliar beliefs bursts onto the scene, it almost invariably meets with hostility (most of it from the old sects with strange and familiar beliefs). And depending on the nature of the newcomer, there are two common responses. It may stress its own virtue and righteousness all the more strongly, wearing its persecution as a badge of pride. Or it may become bitter and apocalyptic, denouncing its enemies as God's enemies and warning of a day of reckoning. Those … [Read more...]

How to Eradicate Militant Islam

It's said that nothing is harder to kill than an idea. Trying to stamp out a deeply felt belief by force, especially a religious belief, not only makes its followers cling to it more tenaciously, it gives them an aura of martyrdom that makes the belief look even more attractive to outsiders. And when the belief in question is a religious belief whose scriptures claim that persecution of the faithful is a sign of their righteousness, these tendencies become all the stronger.This is more than … [Read more...]

Simo Says

By Sarah BraaschIn loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)The other night I fled for my life. I fled a brawl in Paris. No, I didn't get entangled in a drunken bar fight. Again. Actually, I was in an elementary school.Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS – Neither Whores Nor Submissives), the women's rights organization in Paris where I have been working as a human rights fellow, organized a public debate on the issue of the anticipated public burqa ban in Fra … [Read more...]

The Futility of Appeasement

Quick! Somebody call the accommodationists!Several men who went to a suburban mosque to perform morning prayers Wednesday were shocked to discover two bloodied wild boar heads wrapped in plastic bags in the mosque compound, said Zulkifli Mohamad, the top official at the Sri Sentosa Mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's largest city.This unpleasant stunt is just the latest symptom of a smoldering religious war that recently erupted in Malaysia, a multiethnic and multireligious … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I'm happy to report that there's quite a lot of good news this week:• The U.K. government recommends that primary school religious education classes should teach about "secular beliefs such as humanism and atheism", in addition to learning about major world religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. This is just one more symptom of how far ahead of us our European friends are in some respects - can you imagine the religious right frenzy that would ensue if a U.S. politician … [Read more...]

Ni Putes Ni Soumises Organizes a Protest for Rayhana

By Sarah BraaschRayhana, a French-Algerian playwright and actress, was attacked last week in front of the theater in Paris where she is performing her provocative play, "At My Age, I Still Hide My Smoking". Rayhana speaks out against Islamism and obscurantism and the Muslim culture of female oppression in Algeria. Her play takes place in a hammam in Algeria and portrays nine women sitting together and discussing their daily lives. The two men who attacked Rayhana grabbed her from behind, … [Read more...]

Free Speech Still Threatened in Europe

Scarcely two days into 2010, we've gotten a stark reminder of how free speech is still threatened by religious fanatics: Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew the image of Mohammed depicted to the right, was attacked at home Friday night by a murderous, ax-wielding religious fanatic. Fortunately, neither Westergaard nor his 5-year-old granddaughter, who was with him at the time, were harmed. They escaped to a panic room built into the house for just this purpose and summoned police, … [Read more...]


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