Weekly Link Roundup

Some scattered thoughts to contemplate on a Saturday morning:• Earlier this year, my post on urban agriculture drew some spirited disagreement. Now there's a study from Ohio State University which concludes that Cleveland could supply all its own produce, poultry and honey if the many vacant lots in the shrinking, post-industrial city were converted into gardens.• A Missouri high school, in response to a complaint from a homeschooling parent who doesn't even have kids in the … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: David Koresh

In a 2008 post on the apocalyptic Millerite sect, I mentioned how several modern Christian denominations were formed from the Millerites' ruin, and how the infamous Branch Davidians originated as a splinter group from one of these. That story, I think, is already well-known: the way a charismatic preacher born as Vernon Wayne Howell changed his name to David Koresh and took control of the group; how he began to proclaim himself a prophet and the reincarnated Son of God; how he decreed that all … [Read more...]

The Evangelist’s Funnel

Through some odd stroke of coincidence, when I was in San Francisco earlier this year, I encountered more than the usual amount of religious nuttiness. I've already written about the woman who gets divine communications in God's actual handwriting. There were also Scientologists handing out pamphlets on a street corner, advertising something called the "Purification Rundown":One or two of these questions, like the one about drug flashbacks, would only apply to people with genuine … [Read more...]

Whom Should We Mock?

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.My last post on Daylight Atheism, asking non-believers to tone down the contempt for Harold Camping and his followers, and many of you disagreed.  Some commenters didn't believe there was anything intrinsically destructive about mocking others, others argued that ridicule was a necessary tactic to help people deconvert.  TommyP commented to say deconversion was catalyzed by the confrontational attitudes of unbelievers, whi … [Read more...]

The Rapture of Charlie Sheen

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked. Adam is on vacation.I'm sure this is just one blog post among many in your feed to reference the Rapture predictions of Harold Camping. His apocalyptic forecast for this weekend is all over the news cycle and even snagged front page coverage in The New York Times. And why is everyone telling this story? Because it's fun to laugh at stupid people.No one outside this small group of zealots gives their claims the slightest bit of credence; they … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• Witchcraft is now a recognized profession in Romania, subjecting its practitioners to income tax. Witches who are unhappy about this are responding pretty much like you'd expect.• A female activist in Israel faces prison time for praying at the Wailing Wall. The telling quote:"The religious world in Israel has become more and more extreme," Mrs Hoffman said. "Much like in Islam, religiosity is now measured by the distances at which women are kept from society."• A … [Read more...]

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...]