Guess What My 13-Year-Old Just Learned About Islam In Her Public School

Michael Epperson‘s sensible piece on Friendly Atheist, about whether we should refer to Islam as a “religion of peace,” ends with an editorial note: “The opinions expressed here are those of the author.”

Well, for the record, they mirror mine almost exactly. This part was especially good, I thought:

We can’t afford pet names and word games. I understand that [Hillary] Clinton would play the “religion of peace” game even if she viewed Islam as horrific, but this carelessness shut downs the conversation. We need sophisticated conversations about a complicated religion. If your contribution to that conversation is limited to five letters, you’re not doing Muslims, the vast majority of whom are peaceful and tolerant, any favors.

It seems that many people think that they are doing Muslims a favor. But those good intentions foster bad thinking. Some people praise Islam for being a religion of peace and, without coming up for air, condemn critics of Islam for generalizing the faith. The irony is lost on these people.

Unfortunately, Epperson’s opinion, and mine, won’t really matter. At the highest level of government, and throughout most of academe, we’ll all be bombarded for years to come with the mantra that Islam equals peace.

Consider this: My oldest daughter, who is a very mature 13 and interested in becoming a judge or a diplomat, this year learned the following about Islam and its prophet in her blue-ribbon school:

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Fernando Alcántar, a Former Christian, Explains Why Breaking Up with Faith Hasn’t Left Him Bitter

Fernando Alcántar grew up as a poor Catholic boy in Mexico and soon became a rising star in the Christian world… that is, until he came out as a gay atheist. That didn’t go over so well.

His new memoir, with a foreword by Dan Barker, is called To the Cross and Back: An Immigrant’s Journey from Faith to Reason (Pitchstone Publishing, 2015):

In the excerpt below, Alcántar details all the difficult “divorces” he’s gone through, but says he’s not angry about it:

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Conservatives Must Acknowledge How Dangerous Their Anti-Abortion Rhetoric Really Is

It’s time we acknowledge — and time for conservatives to acknowledge — that the radical rhetoric of the pro-life movement isn’t just hyperbolic; it isn’t just dishonest; it isn’t just fanatical; it’s dangerous.

When presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina misleadingly says she “watch[ed] a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain’,” that’s dangerous. When politicians like Mike Huckabee suggest that abortion is worse than the Holocaust, that’s dangerous. When people like Ben Carson equate abortion to slavery, that’s dangerous.

Why? Because some people take those lies, those exaggerations, that extraordinary rhetoric seriously.

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The Best Atheist Books of 2015

For the past several years, we’ve seen a large number of atheism-related books hit the market. Unlike the books written by the “New Atheists,” however, the more recent releases aren’t just about why you should stop believing in God or how religion is bad. They cover different aspects of atheism and cater to a variety of audiences.

I compiled a list of my favorites in 2013 and 2014, and I’m excited to do it again now. These are the books I’ll be referencing for years to come and the ones I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to explore faith with a critical eye.

I should mention this right now: I’ve covered many of these books on the site, I’ve been asked to write back-cover blurbs for some of them, my name appears in a few of the pages, and I know some of the authors personally. That’s inevitable when you do the sort of work I do. None of that, however, has any bearing on this list. I picked these books because I found them both fascinating and useful. You don’t have to believe me, but I just wanted to put that disclaimer right up front. So there you go.

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Jeff Sparrow Misses the Point: Atheism Doesn’t Need Saving

Jeff Sparrow has one of those holier-than-thou articles in The Guardian in which he goes after Richard Dawkins for his comments about Ahmed Mohamed (the kid whose clock was mistaken from a bomb), Sam Harris for saying that Ben Carson understands the threat from Muslim extremists better than Noam Chomsky, and Christopher Hitchens for supporting war in the Middle East a decade ago. You’d think he’s writing for Salon the way he throws everything about atheism under the bus because he finds reason to critique its most popular cheerleaders.

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