Militant Hinduism

People in Western societies often believe that Eastern religions are more peaceful, less fundamentalist, than Judaism, Christianity or Islam have historically been. And it may well be true that the fluid, polytheistic nature of Hinduism and Buddhism makes them more tolerant, more willing to accommodate differing beliefs, than the fiercely monotheistic religions whose gods are unable to abide any competition.Nevertheless, every religion has its violent, fundamentalist wing, and Eastern … [Read more...]

The Religious Right Vision of Marriage, Continued

In my last post on the religious right view of marriage, some commenters took me to task for painting with too broad a brush. In this post, I'll consider how widely held such views are.It's a fair point that not all conservative Christians hold views as extreme as those I criticized. Nevertheless, the views treated in that post are just one end of a spectrum that encompasses nearly the entire religious right. Almost all of them argue that men should always wield the authority in a home and … [Read more...]

The Religious Right Vision of Marriage

Christian conservatives always talk about "defending traditional marriage" - which has that warm, homey, fresh-baked-apple-pie feeling to it - but never make it clear precisely what they're defending.This is deliberate, of course, and a clever political strategy: they choose phrases with positive mental associations but otherwise leave their position vague. That way, ordinary people can project onto it whatever idealized notion of a happy family they happen to hold. By this tactic, the … [Read more...]

The Moral High Ground

It's common for fundamentalist Christians to think of themselves as the moral guardians of our culture, a bulwark against the rampant sex and violence in the mass media. But this self-flattering caricature runs up against inconvenient reality: there is plenty of evidence which shows that Christians as a whole are every bit as drawn to sex and violence as everyone else.One of the best examples of this is Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. This movie had a worldwide gross of over $600 … [Read more...]

Love Is No Sin

In Second Corinthians, the Bible contains a widely cited teaching against interfaith relationships:"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ...Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." … [Read more...]

The Price of Abstinence

A much-heralded study in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics has concluded that the premarital "abstinence pledges" so beloved by evangelical Christians are ineffective. Teenagers who sign up for religious programs such as True Love Waits or Silver Ring Thing, in which participants pledge to remain abstinent until marriage, are just as likely to have premarital sex as nonpledgers, and significantly less likely to use contraception when they do. They also contract STDs at the same rates … [Read more...]

All Things in Moderation

In last month's post "Down to Earth", I discussed Thomas Jefferson's ideal of rich simplicity, what Buddhism calls the Middle Way. Rather than the vain pursuit of happiness through the acquisition of power or material possessions, the true source of contentment lies in the simple pleasures of life that are available to everyone, regardless of social status.Some of the comments mentioned Epicurus, a person I should write about more often. Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who taught a … [Read more...]

De-Mystification

Inspired by a good post on Spanish Inquisitor, as well as a similarly good post by Greta Christina (the atheistic stars have aligned!), I had some thoughts about the role of mysticism in religion, especially as it relates to sex.Freethinkers should be working to disseminate accurate information about sex, of course - information on how to choose a sexual partner, how to use birth control effectively, how to get an abortion if need be, how to be respectful and responsible toward one's partners, … [Read more...]

Is Sex for Procreation?

"Contraception is wrong because it's a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as 'natural law.' The natural law purpose of sex is procreation....sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation."—http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.aspAmong Christian religions, it is a common teaching that the … [Read more...]

CAP Alert Reviews III

It occurred to me recently that I haven't done a post poking fun at the CAP Alert site in quite a while. Well, I intend to correct that oversight right now. For your entertainment, here are some of the more laughably bizarre reasons why the CAP reviewer saw fit to deduct points from various movies:Dungeons & Dragons: "many, many images of a form fitting breastplate - female"How dare those depraved Hollywood liberals imply that men and women are different shapes!King Kong: "human … [Read more...]


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