Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

Penitents

This article was originally published on AlterNet.Human history is a story of gradual moral enlightenment. Over the ages, we've become less violent, less xenophobic, more tolerant, more committed to the ideals of democracy and equality under the law. Of course, moral progress is painfully slow, with many holdouts and local reversals, and we have a very long way left to go. But it's hard to deny that the world we live in today is less prejudiced and more peaceful than the world five hundred … [Read more...]

How the Cross Is Like the Confederate Flag

You can make a bad argument in support of a good conclusion. That's how I felt reading this column "The Cross and the Confederate Flag", written by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre.Unlike his predecessor Richard Land, who was an all-culture-war-all-the-time partisan, Moore has shown some genuine signs of wanting to listen to marginalized voices. In his column, he takes an unflinching look at the deep-seated history of racism and … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian? It's about the increasing conflict between liberal and moderate religious believers who feel the doctrines of their churches should be open for reexamination, and the authoritarians who are determined to quash these democratic notions at any cost. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:Religion is a noteworthy exception to this trend of progress. Secular moral reasoning, founded on considerations … [Read more...]

On Retconning Biblical Violence

NoahsArkCartoon

In 2009, I wrote "The Twisted Moral of Passover", about how this major Jewish holiday is really a celebration of genocide: the mass killing of the Egyptian children that preceded the Israelites' deliverance from slavery. (The very name of the holiday refers to how the Israelite slaves supposedly marked their doors with blood so that the divine executioner would see it and pass over their houses.)Even if there isn't any archaeological evidence for this event, or for the Egyptian captivity in … [Read more...]

Cosmos Upsets the Courtiers

GiordanoBruno

I'm greatly enjoying the new Cosmos, but there are those who are none too pleased by it. Some of the critics are too laughable to take seriously, like the creationists who're whining about not getting equal time. Then there are the ones who represent an allegedly more sophisticated theology, like this post by Andrew Sullivan, in which he straightfacedly asserts that Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson's popularization efforts are giving science a bad name. Why? His complaint stems largely from … [Read more...]

History Repeats Itself Yet Again

Last week, Arizona's governor Jan Brewer vetoed the revolting right-to-discriminate bill passed by her state's legislature. Like the similar bill that collapsed in Kansas, this one moved rapidly at first but then stalled when it gained national attention. As Brewer dithered, both Mitt Romney and the state's Republican senators John McCain and Jeff Flake urged her to veto it. Even three Republican legislators who voted for the bill publicly changed their minds about it.It's possible that that … [Read more...]

The Mormons Repeat the Errors of History

SaltLakeCityTemple

Last month, a federal judge in Utah ruled that it violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to deny civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. After a few days of joyful chaos in which gay and lesbian couples flocked to county clerks' offices, Utah state officials managed to convince the Supreme Court to temporarily stay the ruling pending a full hearing by an appeals court. In the meantime, the state announced that they'll refuse to recognize the more than 1,000 marriages their … [Read more...]

God Doesn’t Solve the “Who Sez?” Problem

I've finished reading Timothy Keller's book The Reason for God. It was a hard slog, especially the last section, in which he announces he's not going to argue for God's existence any more because everyone already agrees with him whether they admit it or not (yes, he actually says that), and instead devotes his time to writing theological fan-fiction about how happy and glorious and wonderful everything will be when Jesus comes back.I've addressed Keller's arguments regarding inherited … [Read more...]

Repost: The Guardians of Tone

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from January 2011.]I was tipped off to this excellent essay by a reader (thanks, bbk, even if it was unintentional!) and since it got buried in the comments on the other thread, I wanted to call special attention to it. It's about the virtues of anger, specifically with reference to the feminist movement, but it contains some valuable lessons that are applicable to atheism … [Read more...]

The Pope and Gay People: Nothing’s Changed

DeadEnd

The media has been in a tizzy these past few days over some remarks made by Pope Francis on an airplane flight back from a trip to Brazil:"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word "gay."Judging by the rapturous response from some quarters, one might think that these few mildly conciliatory, off-the-cuff sentences had wiped away centuries of dogmatically entrenched … [Read more...]


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