‘Tis the Season for Holy War Nostalgia

Most atheist writers in America have encountered the phenomenon of "fatwa envy", where Christian apologists sneer that we wouldn't dare criticize Islam in the same way we criticize Christianity. (This is false, for the record.) Evidently, they're jealous of Islamic extremists' willingness to commit violence in an attempt to silence their critics. Sometimes, it almost comes across as wishing they had more people on their side who were willing to be violent, so they could make us sorry. This isn't … [Read more...]

Are Arab Countries Ready for Democracy?

In a previous post, I wrote about the Arab Spring's effect on women and and whether it may actually be a setback for human rights. It so happens that in the letters section of the latest Columbia magazine, there was an exchange over this issue: In Egypt, which Khalidi holds up as a prime example of a secular, democratic movement in action, 74 percent of citizens in 2007 favored the strict application of Shariah, 91 percent favored keeping Western values out of Islamic nations, and 67 percent … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 12

Here's some miscellany to accompany your morning coffee: • 70 major U.S. corporations and civic organizations call for DOMA to be struck down in a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a federal legal challenge. • Help defend the First Amendment! The U.S. Forest Service is considering a request from FFRF to terminate a Catholic group's no-cost lease for a shrine to Jesus on federal parkland. The public comment period is open until December 8, and we need to make our voices heard. The … [Read more...]

Is the Arab Spring Hurting Arab Women?

While protests continue to rage in Syria and a new government takes shape in Libya, the origin of the Arab Spring has attained a huge milestone: Tunisia successfully held its first election last week, and aside from scattered protests and violence, the contest appears to have been largely peaceful, free and fair - not to mention high-turnout (over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots). Three cheers for Tunisia! But Western secularists may have reason not to be entirely sanguine about the … [Read more...]

Secular Help for Trafficking Survivors

I've written in the past about the phenomenon of people who think that their religious beliefs excuse them from doing their job. The correct solution, of course, is to not accept a job whose duties you won't perform; but the religious privilege that pervades society often leads people to expect that their employer should accommodate them, rather than vice versa, and that they should be paid for work they refuse to do. Usually, this happens in service positions: pharmacists who won't fill … [Read more...]

Is America a Christian Nation?

This essay was previously published on AlterNet. In a campaign speech in September, Rick Perry hit upon some familiar Republican themes: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, in an appeal to evangelical voters, said "Christian values" and not "a bunch of Washington politicians" should be the touchstone guiding how Americans conduct their lives. ..."America is going to be guided by some set of values," Perry told a crowd of 13,000 students and faculty members yesterday at a sports … [Read more...]

American Secularism and Christian Tolerance

My recent post on the godlessness of the Constitution has attracted some attention. Over the weekend, I came across a reply from another of Big Think's bloggers: Peter Lawler, a professor of government and international studies at Berry College and a former member of President Bush's Council on Bioethics, whose blog is Rightly Understood. Prof. Lawler writes about the "complacently atheistic tone" of my article (I wish I could afford to be complacent! I like to think of myself as … [Read more...]

Is America a Christian Nation?

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, Conservatives Want America to be a "Christian Nation" -- Here's What That Would Actually Look Like. In it, I analyze the "Christian nation" rhetoric of the American religious right, illuminating the historical reality they'd love to forget - that their ideological predecessors fiercely criticized the Constitution for being a godless document. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest: But America's Constitution is more than just a … [Read more...]

Rick Perry’s Prayer Follies

Whether you're an atheist or not, you should be alarmed by the sight of elected officials making a big public show of praying during a crisis. It's not that prayer itself does anything one way or the other - it's that their beseeching the gods for help is a good hint, not just that they have no ideas, but that they've given up even trying and are staking their hopes on a miracle. Which is why this story, about the man who happens to be the most recent entrant in the Republican presidential … [Read more...]

6 Ways Atheists Can Band Together to Fight Religious Fundamentalism

This essay was originally published on AlterNet. If atheists were as politically organized as the religious right, we could accomplish a world of good in combating theocracy and standing up for human rights and secularism. But whenever an atheist political alliance is proposed, the objection is inevitably raised that "atheists don't all agree," and that this would be an insurmountable obstacle to forming a unified political movement. I believe, however, that this objection overstates … [Read more...]


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