Secular Students Week 2015: How to Win at Activism


It's Secular Students Week, when we old folk interview the next generation of secular activists and share stories of the fantastic work that they're doing. The Secular Student Alliance has a goal to get 500 donations this week, and if they reach this goal, they'll unlock a $20,000 challenge grant! Donate and help them reach their goal here.For this post, I spoke to Sarah McCarter of the Students for Free-thought at the University of Michigan-Flint, whom you may remember from my column in the … [Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter in Baltimore

It's only been a few short weeks since the agony of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter protests in New York, and here we are again. This time, the protests, marches and sporadic riots are happening in Baltimore, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a black teenager who was arrested after he ran from police patrolling his neighborhood - which, for the record, is not a crime - and suffered a fatal and so far unexplained spine injury while in the police van. (According to his family, he underwent … [Read more...]

Why Atheism Is a Force for Good


If you've followed my writing these past few years, you know that I've often taken up arms against prominent atheists who've made clueless, sexist comments or worse. I've also insisted that the atheist movement as a whole needs to pay more attention to social justice, an area where it's historically been deficient. In all these things, I insist that we nonbelievers can and should do better than we currently are.I've been asked by various critics why I don't leave atheism behind and join a … [Read more...]

You Got Your Ideology in My Atheism!

My column in the Guardian this week about atheism and social justice got a lot of comments - over 2900 at the time I'm writing this - and most of them were what you'd expect, both for the better and for the worse.But what I'm fascinated by are the people who wanted to argue against my proposal without admitting that that's what they were doing. If you're going to make the case against including social justice in atheism, then do it honestly and have the intellectual fortitude to admit what … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "It's time for atheists to stop debating God's existence and decide what to do about it".In it, I argue that the atheist movement can't make critiques of religious belief its whole focus and should be doing more to create justice in this life, which is the only one we'll ever have. I also argue that the community is already moving in this direction, citing a new mission statement put out by the Secular Student Alliance that makes diversity and social … [Read more...]

Whom Do the Police Serve?

Awful news from Brooklyn this weekend: A disturbed man shot his ex-girlfriend (who's expected to survive), then ambushed and fatally shot two police officers on patrol, and finally shot and killed himself as police closed in. His social media postings indicated that he was angry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, although it's hard to see how the shooting of his girlfriend fits into that.After a senseless, horrific tragedy like this, you have to expect people to be angry and … [Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter: A New Civil Rights Movement


Just a few days after the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson unleashed fury in Ferguson, there's been another civil rights outrage in a nation that's weary of them. This time, it was the police killing of Eric Garner, a black man in Staten Island, allegedly for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk.The circumstances of this are even less debatable than the Michael Brown shooting, since the entire encounter was captured on video. Garner wasn't violent; all he did was argue with the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 7


• Creationists lose a lawsuit seeking to keep evolution out of public schools on the spurious grounds that it's "religious". It's worth noting that they've given up on demanding equal time for their own beliefs and are now just seeking to destroy science education.• This painfully appropriate headline says it all: Actual War on Black People Distracting from Fictional War on Christmas". And along the same lines, don't miss the magnificently righteous anger of my Patheos colleague … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Ferguson, Continued

Ever since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a white police officer back in August, the people of Ferguson, Missouri have been on edge, waiting to see if they would get justice. On Monday night, the grand jury that had been weighing the case for weeks came to a decision: no indictment, no charges - and the town exploded in rage. Businesses and cars went up in flames, and once again America witnessed the brutal spectacle of militarized police unleashing their arsenal … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Living Wage


Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIAt the end of their conference, the villains agree to put Directive 10-289 into effect. When Dagny reads about it in the morning paper, she bursts into Jim's office, announces that she's quitting, and storms out:The newspaper was twisted into a roll by the time she stood before him. She threw it at his face, it struck his cheek and fell down to the carpet."There's my resignation, Jim," she said. "I won't work as a slave or as a … [Read more...]