Weekend Coffee: March 16

Coffee

• As you all know, there's a new pope in town: Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. He talks a good game on poverty, although like all Catholic hierarchs, he doesn't seem to grasp that his opposition to birth control perpetuates the very problem he claims to want solved. As if there was any doubt, he's also a staunch social conservative who's called same-sex marriage "a move by the Father of Lies".More worrisome, though, is the accusation of Bergoglio's complicity in the Dirty … [Read more...]

What Care Should Doctors Have to Provide?

Stethoscope

My article last week on the increasing problem of church-owned hospitals sparked a debate that I want to address in more detail. Several religious commenters were aghast at the idea that a doctor should have to perform an abortion even if it went against his personal beliefs, like this one from commenter Cheri:Do I understand correctly that people here feel that if someone believes abortion is murder and that there are moral issues with sterilization and contraception, that person has no … [Read more...]

The Increasing Problem of Religious Hospitals

The needless death of Savita Halappanavar last year, after a Catholic hospital refused to terminate her doomed pregnancy, drew a worldwide outpouring of fury against the religious dogmatism that killed her.But as I wrote at the time, Savita's story was only the tip of the iceberg. What happened to her wasn't a fluke or an aberration: it was and is the official policy of the church that if a pregnant woman's life can be saved by abortion, it's better to let two die than to save one.It's … [Read more...]

Christian Activists Demand What They Already Have

CrownOfThorns

This weekend, I saw a story on AU's Wall of Separation blog that was too funny not to share: According to the Jacksonville Daily News, members of the Baysden Chapel Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church trooped down to the Onslow County School Board building in Jacksonville, N.C., this week to demand that students be allowed to pray...."We want to put prayer back into our schools and put God back where he belongs," said David Jarman, pastor of the Richlands congregation. Now, I've written … [Read more...]

Putting an End to Pulpit Politicking

Now that the election is over, it's time for American freethinkers to turn our attention to some unfinished business. And here's one thing that should be at the top of the list. Churches in America receive a broad array of special tax privileges and exemptions, in exchange for which they have just one meaningful restriction: namely, that they can't tell their members to vote for or against a specific candidate. This is a narrowly drawn and easily evaded rule, but for a long time now, right-wing … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 3

Coffee

• The big news, of course, is that the U.S. presidential election is on Tuesday. Take heart, progressives: although the media and the Republicans are straining mightily to pretend that the race is a dead heat, the state-by-state polls make Obama a clear favorite for reelection. • Skepticon 5, the amazing free conference for atheists and skeptics of all stripes, is coming up next weekend - but they haven't raised enough money to cover all their costs yet, and they need your help to … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 7

Coffee

Some links gathered over the week for you to peruse: • Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK's opposition Labour party, is a nonbeliever. He says he doesn't hold religious faith, but rather a faith in human progress. This column by Fraser Nelson admits that this may be a smart move in increasingly secular Britain, which is no longer a Christian country "but... still a country of compassion and principles". • A UK judge rules that parents have "no sacred right" over the education of their … [Read more...]

The Godless Constitution and the Ratification Battle

Over the weekend, JT linked to this post on Patheos by Ben Witherington, an evangelical Bible scholar, opining about the legal basis for separation of church and state in America.But what about those founding documents— the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Didn't they set up a secular society for America? Didn't they set up 'a separation of church and state'? Look hard— can you find any clause that uses that phrase in our founding documents? Basically this … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Cranston

Back in January, I wrote about Jessica Ahlquist's court victory over an illegal "School Prayer" banner in her high school in Cranston, Rhode Island. That was almost the end of the story, but since then, there have been a few further developments. In February, following a tumultuous hearing, the school board grudgingly did the right thing and decided not to appeal. Taking the case further into farce, a few Cranston die-hards tried to intervene after the decision had been handed down and filed a … [Read more...]

Some More Implications of Religious Liberty

The Christian right, both Catholics and evangelicals, wants to outlaw birth control. This isn't a new revelation, but in the last few weeks, they've been saying it so often and so loudly that the public is starting to take notice. Of course, they don't have anywhere near the political muscle to actually achieve this - but what they hope to do is make access to contraception as difficult and expensive as possible, effectively putting it out of the reach of millions of people. As part of their … [Read more...]


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