Can You Criticize a Religion Without Studying It?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Can You criticize a religion without studying it?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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Church That Initially Refused to Post Video of Debate Where Christians ‘Were Not Represented Well’ Finally Relents

A couple of days ago, Richard Wilson posted an article on this site explaining a debate he attended at Adventure Christian Church, a mega-church in Roseville, California.

The debate centered around the question of whether Christianity or Secular Humanism provided a better foundation for civil society. Dr. David Marshall represented the Christian side while Dr. Phil Zuckerman represented the non-theists.

As Richard noted, the church never posted the full debate online. Instead, they posted a few “rebuttal” videos responding to certain points made in the debate. But why not the actual thing so we could see it all for ourselves?

Zuckerman offered an explanation in a Huffington Post piece:

When I called pastor Bryan [Hardwick], and asked him why they are refusing to post the video — even after repeated promises of doing so — he replied, “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.”

In other words, we lost and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves any further.

That’s pretty much the worst thing they could’ve done. Had they posted it a week ago, it probably would’ve gone under the radar. Instead, after the posting on this site, the church’s Facebook page and several comment threads on Reddit were inundated with messages (from both sides) calling for the video to be made available.

Tonight, the church finally did the right thing and posted the video online:

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Turns Out the People Who Don’t Understand Science Don’t Understand Math, Either

On his radio show yesterday, conservative Christian radio host Bryan Fischer spoke with a caller who had an idea of how to fix the health care crisis without that pesky ObamaCare: What if the government just gave every (legal) American $2,000,000 to cover future health care costs and left it at that? It sure as hell would be cheaper than the $634,000,000 it cost for the Healthcare.gov website! (Actually, the cost for the website was under $100,000,000, but you know, facts.)

Fischer thought it sounded like a great idea:



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Announcing the Friendly Atheist Book Club

After months of planning, it’s my pleasure to announce a new project that I hope the secular community will enjoy and appreciate: The Friendly Atheist Book Club!

Every month beginning this November — on a site separate from this one — we’ll discuss one book over a series of blog posts and videos. The moderators (Steven M. Long and Emily Dietle) and I will guide the conversation and we’ll invite the authors of the books to join us for an interview each month, too.

For those of you who (like me) enjoy reading books about religion but don’t always have people to chat with about them, I want this to be your outlet.

I know you have a lot of questions (about moderators, trolls, book selection, cost, etc) and I’ve tried to answer the major ones here.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to announce that the first book we’ll read is Candace R. M. Gorham‘s book The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking out on Religion — and Others Should Too (Pitchstone Publishing, 2013). It’s all about how black women, specifically, are harmed by Christianity and why they need to abandon their faith.

Like I said, this has been in the works for a few months. It’s an experiment, but one I’m devoting a lot of personal attention to, because I think it will be a valuable resource for our community. If you’d like to become a member of the club, please sign up now and order the book right here. The fun begins next month!

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American Legion Group Demands Prayer at Public School’s Veterans Day Ceremony, but School Officials Say No

This past June, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Wallenpaupack Area Schools (in Pennsylvania) Superintendent Michael Silsby letting him know that if a clergy member ever again led a prayer at the district high school’s graduation ceremony, they would be hit with a lawsuit. Silsby wrote back in August: “The District will no longer have religious rituals as part of the commencement ceremony.”

Excellent. Problem solved.

So you can imagine how Silsby reacted when he learned what American Legion Post 311 wanted to do during Wallenpaupack Area High School’s Veterans Day ceremony next month. Normally, the event includes announcing the winners of an essay contest, singing patriotic songs, and listening to a guest speaker. But this year, the Legion made an additional, ungrantable request: Let our chaplain say a prayer at the assembly.

Silsby, not wanting to go through the same legal battle again, told them prayer wasn’t an option. It was a public school ceremony. There would be no mixing of church and state.

The veterans didn’t take the news so well. They’re now saying if the school won’t allow their chaplain to say a prayer at the event, they just won’t show up:



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