Why Do Many Christians Still Literally Believe in Demons and Satan?

This article was originally published on AlterNet.If there's anywhere in the U.S. where you'd expect aggressively conservative, domineering religion to be a relic of the past, it's tolerant and culturally liberal Massachusetts. But even in that blue enclave, the theocratic impulse is still surprisingly powerful. We found this out when a student group at Harvard University, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, ignited a furor by announcing that they were planning an educational … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

An Honest Look at Catholicism’s Decline

BlackAndWhiteChurch

I came across an essay by Peter Daly, a Catholic priest, that I wanted to address: "An attempt to answer the question: Where are the young adults?" It's notable for being the frankest admission I've seen from a Catholic of the demographic crisis the church is facing, as well as a bracingly honest study of the causes.Daly begins with a statement of the problem:Everywhere from Boston to Minneapolis, Catholic churches have closed or been consolidated into regional clusters. The chief … [Read more...]

When the Pope Excuses Violence

Last week, Pope Francis made some startling remarks about the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. Speaking to journalists, he not only said that freedom of speech shouldn't include the right to ridicule religion, but that if anyone does ridicule religion, violence is an appropriate response!Asked about the attack that killed 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo - targeted because it had printed depictions of the prophet Muhammad - he said: "One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 10

Coffee

• A can't-miss account of Charlie Hebdo's first editorial meeting since last week's horrific attack.• One-man outrage band Bill Donohue didn't kill anyone at Charlie Hebdo, but he's understanding and sympathetic towards the Muslims who did. They made fun of the Pope, after all!• "The right to blaspheme religion is one of the most elemental exercises of political liberalism."• The "radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Help Us Solve This Problem We Created

As I've written before, I get a huge quantity of junk mail from charities begging for money, some of which are religious. (Poor targeting.)Lately, I've gotten several of these come-ons in a row, and most of them are either ironic, galling or both. Here's an example, a solicitation from a group called the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Take a look at what they have the chutzpah to ask:Dear friend,I wish I could send you a box of greeting cards or some personalized … [Read more...]

Let’s Not Be Uncivil Here

Gay-Dictator

Can't we have a calm, reasoned, civil discussion about whether I should stop punching you or not?I mean, sure, I may currently be sitting on your chest aiming one punishing blow after another into your head, neck and shoulders. I'm willing to grant that reasonable people may differ about the ethics of this behavior. But the important thing is that we work it out politely. Why are you being so hostile? I'm inviting you to join me in a serious, sustained dialogue about the continuance of said … [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...]


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