There’s No Religious Freedom to Refuse Service

BirthControlPills

Last week in Washington state, another special religious privilege bit the dust. The Ninth Circuit appeals court ruled unanimously that a pharmacist doesn't have the right to refuse to fill a prescription for emergency contraception:A unanimous three-judge 9th Circuit panel on Thursday decided that the rules are constitutional because they rationally further the state's interest in patient safety. Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency … [Read more...]

The Manhattan Option

In retrospect, the coming of marriage equality to America may well be the high-water mark of religious influence. This was the one social change that Christians fought against harder than any other, and they still failed to stop it. It's not a stretch to conclude that this will irreversibly taint their moral credibility in the eyes of future generations, even if they come to terms with it - and there's precious little evidence that they have any intention of doing that.Even before this … [Read more...]

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance at the Touro Synagogue

I'm on vacation this week in New England. Yesterday I visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island - the oldest Jewish synagogue in North America, dating back to the colonial era. It was founded by Jews fleeing a long history of persecution in Europe: first the Alhambra Decree expelling them from Spain, then the Inquisition, which harried them from Portugal to the Caribbean. They settled here in Newport and built a synagogue, which survived the Revolution, when most of the city was … [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...]

Weekend Coffee: November 2

Coffee

• After serving most of a ten-year prison sentence for tax evasion, Kent Hovind was due to be released next year... but now the government is pressing new charges, saying that he filed fraudulent liens in an attempt to stop them from seizing his property as part of the punishment for his original conviction.• Virgin Galactic's experimental rocket plane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight in the Mojave Desert, killing one of its two pilots. It's a tragic setback and a … [Read more...]

Maher, Harris and Atheist Islamophobia

Kaaba

Last week on Bill Maher's TV show, Maher, Sam Harris and Ben Affleck sparred over Islam and whether it's prone to violence:"Freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals, these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for," Maher continued, "but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what's lacking, then they get upset."... "How about the … [Read more...]

Book Review: Nature’s God

NaturesGod

(Editor's Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: A dense philosophical-historical synthesis that rewards the diligent reader by opening up a new window on the beliefs of America's founders.Matthew Stewart's book Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, like Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers or Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History, plumbs the freethinking ideals that played an outsize role in the … [Read more...]

The Battle of the Eruv

WalledGarden

Hemant wrote about a story I also wanted to mention: the Freedom from Religion Foundation has written a letter of complaint to the city government of Miami Beach, Florida, demanding the dismantling of Orthodox Jewish eruvin on public property.An eruv is a Jewish ritual boundary made of string or wire, stretched between objects such as trees or light poles, to create a symbolic enclosure which is considered to be part of the "inside". With an eruv set up, observant Jews can carry objects like … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Unleashes Chaos

The Supreme Court handed down its Hobby Lobby decision this week, and it was as bad as many of us had feared. In a 5-4 ruling (of course), five conservative male justices handed down the worst church-state decision in years, possibly even worse than the atrocious Hein decision: that a privately held corporation can impose limits on how workers use the health insurance they've earned as part of their compensation.For better or for worse, past cases about religious exemption have turned on the … [Read more...]

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property

StatueOfLiberty

This article was originally published on AlterNet.Although the United States is a democracy where the will of the majority is sovereign, our framers knew that being persecuted by a mob is no better than being persecuted by a tyrant. That's why they designed the Bill of Rights to be a counter-majoritarian document, limiting what laws can be passed and protecting the rights of minorities against the overreach of the majority. There's no better example than the First Amendment, which forbids … [Read more...]


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