A Brief and Amusing Encounter

Yesterday on my lunch hour, I was sitting outside the library, eating lunch and enjoying a rare day of warm weather, when I was approached by two young men in Orthodox Jewish garb."Hello, are you Jewish?" one of them greeted me."No," I said, as cheerfully as possible. "I'm an atheist."Give them credit for one thing: they didn't flinch. "You can be Jewish and an atheist," he insisted, still smiling. "Judaism has nothing to do with what you believe."Now, I acknowledge there's a certain … [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...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• Despite the good sense shown by the British Medical Association in lambasting homeopathy at their annual conference last month, the UK National Health Service has announced that it will still pay for water and sugar pills passed off as medicine.• A court in Utah has thrown out the rape conviction of Mormon cult leader Warren Jeffs, due to a legal technicality, and ordered that the case be retried. Texas is still seeking to have him extradited to face similar charges, so it seems … [Read more...]

An Abundance of Amusing Apocalypticism

I don't know if it's the warm weather here in New York that's bringing out the crazies, but these past two weeks, I've encountered more than the usual number of street preachers handing out loony religious literature. Because I know you wicked, godless atheists need to hear the word of the Lord, I thought I'd share some of the best examples with you.This first one is my favorite. Last week, I was out on my lunch break when I saw a teenager standing on the street corner handing out fliers. He … [Read more...]

No Payment For Prayer: Christian Science and Health Care Reform

With the historic passage of sweeping health insurance reform, Americans have reason to rejoice this week. For the first time, and despite hysterical opposition from the party of conspiracy nuts and theocrats, our government has enshrined in law the idea that every citizen has a right to affordable health care. Even if the law is far from perfect, it's still a huge advance over the alternative of doing nothing - and history shows that most major pieces of progressive social legislation, … [Read more...]

Jehovah Died on the Challenger

By Sarah BraaschIn Loving Memory of My Baby Brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)I was working on this piece when I received news that my beloved youngest brother, Jacob, had taken his own life by hanging himself in my parents' basement.I was ten, almost eleven when my mother told me and my brother and sister that she was pregnant again. I didn't speak to her for weeks. I was a good little Jehovah's Witness girl back then, but I'm pretty sure that the present day equivalent … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Chabad Messianism

You get all kinds of weird and amusing religious literature on the New York subways, and here's the latest proof:Click to enlarge. Also see interior and back cover.If you've attended a college with a significant Jewish population, you're probably familiar with Chabad House, an organization that runs community centers and programs for observant Jews. What you may not know is who runs these centers - or one of this group's stranger and more curious offshoots, the subject of today's … [Read more...]

Stigmata Scars

By Sarah BraaschI'm scared to expose myself like this. But, I'm tired of the shame and the guilt and the fear. I have something important to say. And, I want to comfort other victims of religious abuse who feel alone and afraid.I grew up in an abusive Jehovah's Witness home. When people ask me what my childhood was like, I usually describe it, in all seriousness, as something like growing up in a war zone. I don't mean to belittle or demean the experiences of children who actually grow up … [Read more...]

Jehovah's Witnesses Hate the Smurfs

By Sarah BraaschIn the early 80's, the primary preoccupations of the Jehovah's Witnesses were Armageddon, Smurfs, Michael Jackson and demonic attack, but not necessarily in that order. As a young Jehovah's Witness girl, my worldview was what you might describe as surreal. Smurfs were little blue imps disguised as Saturday morning cartoon characters. They were capable of murder, rape, violence and general mayhem, and, as such, all Smurf paraphernalia had to be either banished or burned or both … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Asatru

I once wrote an essay for Ebon Musings, "Parting the Parthenon", that was a semi-serious debunking of the ancient Greek gods. I wrote this as a reply to Christian apologists who accuse atheists of singling out Christianity for criticism, but also to show how many similarities there are between these ancient myths and the modern religions still believed by millions, and to implicitly ask what makes one more worthy of belief than another.So far, I haven't received any outraged letters from … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X