Roy Moore’s Final Act

Good news from Alabama: disgraced Christian theocrat Roy Moore has been booted out of his judicial seat. The state Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore without pay for the rest of his term, removing him from office in all but name.This is the final act of a drama that began last year, when Moore attempted to provoke a constitutional crisis by ordering state courts to ignore a federal court decision in favor of same-sex marriage. He called it an "unlawful opinion[] issued without … [Read more...]

Does Religious Diversity Undermine Religion?

There's bound to be more than one reason why religion is on the decline. I've written about the spread of the internet and about churches obstinately clinging to bigotry that turns off younger generations. Now, from FiveThirtyEight, there's another answer: it's because of increasing religious diversity.The practical effect of rising religious diversity is to expose Americans to ideas and views that could challenge their religious beliefs. A recent survey found that 77 percent of Americans … [Read more...]

France’s Burkini Ban Isn’t About Secularism

There was an ugly spectacle this week on a beach in France:Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini....Her ticket, seen by French news agency AFP, read that she was not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals and secularism".As a response to recent Islamist terror attacks, cities like Nice have banned clothing that "ostentatiously displays religious … [Read more...]

The Rising Tide of Republican Extremism

Last week, in a failed last-minute bid to prove himself bigoted enough to be Donald Trump's running mate, Newt Gingrich said this:.@newtgingrich: "We should...test every person here who is of a Muslim background, & if they believe in shariah they should be deported."— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 15, 2016This isn't just unconstitutional, it's anti-constitutional. The idea of a religious test for American citizens, used for expelling those whose views are deemed … [Read more...]

Donald Trump Isn’t the Secular Candidate

The 2016 election presents atheists with a strange contrast. In contrast to Hillary Clinton, who by all accounts is a conventional liberal Protestant, Donald Trump has never had a reputation for being religious. It's no great secret that his outreach to the GOP's Christian-fundamentalist base has consisted of clumsy pandering. For example, here's Trump with Jerry Falwell Jr., with a framed Playboy on the wall behind them:Literally a framed pic on the wall of the candidate and a porn star, as … [Read more...]

God’s Endorsement Isn’t Worth Much

There's only two conclusions we can draw from the 2016 Republican primary: either God doesn't exist, or he has a hell of a sense of humor.I was thinking of this last week, when Ted Cruz dropped out after his crushing loss in Indiana. Cruz, more than any other candidate in the race, exemplified the attitude that God has a very specific political platform and had chosen him to implement it. Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, is a bona fide dominionist who believes that Christians have a divine … [Read more...]

When Catholic Dogma Fuels Medical Negligence

Despite its public image as the faith of kindly Pope Francis, Roman Catholicism still enforces cruel, medieval rules that kill women. Witness this story from the Guardian on how Catholic hospitals' abortion ban forces women to endure life-threatening infections:The woman inside the ambulance was miscarrying... As the vehicle wailed toward the hospital, a doctor waiting for her arrival phoned a specialist, who was unequivocal: the baby would die. The woman might follow. Induce labor … [Read more...]

Jewish Fundamentalism Is Poisoning Israel

Last month, a religious fundamentalist attacked a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem, stabbing six people. One of them, a teenager named Shira Banki, later died from her wounds. The attacker, identified by police as Yishai Schlissel, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had previously stabbed three people at another gay-pride parade in Jerusalem in 2005, for which he was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. Just three weeks after his release, he apparently did it again. Horribly, a photographer … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 8

• Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi atheist writer, is brutally murdered in his own home by Islamists. He's the fourth secularist writer in Bangladesh to be assassinated this year, while the government continues to sit on its hands and do nothing.• Prayer can't fight the Ebola virus. But science can.• Today in "why are LGBT people still Catholic" news: a director of religious education at a Catholic school was fired for being a lesbian, and unaccountably seems surprised by it. … [Read more...]

There’s No Religious Freedom to Refuse Service

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...]