China Sentences Two Cult Members to Death After They Fatally Beat a “Possessed” Would-Be Convert

Back in May, five members of a strange Chinese cult called Eastern Lightning — a.k.a. the Church of the Almighty God — walked into a McDonald’s restaurant in Zhaoyuan and harassed one of the customers, trying to recruit her into the cult. When the woman, Wu Shuoyan, declined to hand over her phone number, the five decided that she deserved to die “because she’s a monster, she’s an evil spirit,” explained Zhang Lidong (55), an unemployed pharmaceutical salesman who led the attack.



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If This Iranian-Born Atheist Doesn’t Get Asylum in Scotland, He Could Be Killed Back Home

Ramin Forghani wears a lot of important hats. He’s the Vice Chair of the Scottish Secular Society, founder of the Iranian Atheists Association, and chairman of Ex-Muslims Scotland.

However, the 25-year-old Forghani (below) is only in Scotland temporarily, studying at the University of Strathclyde… and if he’s forced to go back to his home country of Iran after obtaining his masters degree, there’s no telling what will happen to the now-apostate:



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Brittany Maynard Will End Her Life in a Few Weeks and, Despite What Some Christians Say, It’s a Very Brave Decision

On New Year’s Day, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard (below), a newlywed planning to start her family, got some awful news: she had brain cancer. After months of treatment and doctor’s visits, she received even worse news: her tumor had not only come back, but grown larger.

She wrote in an essay for CNN:

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Reza Aslan Scoffs That You Can Only Be a Credible Public Atheist If You’re a Religious Scholar With a Degree

Salon interviewed Reza Aslan (below) about the contentious exchange on Islam that Ben Affleck and Sam Harris had on Bill Maher‘s HBO show recently.

Whatever else you may think of Aslan’s positions, here‘s one that deserves a little pushback, if not an outright fisking:

“Sam Harris, to me, gives atheism a bad name because he comes from a tradition of atheism that is really disconnected from the titans of intellectual, philosophical atheism who gave birth to the modern world. These were experts in religion who, from a position of expertise, criticized religion. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist; he knows as much about religion as I do about neuroscience. The difference is that I don’t go around writing books about neuroscience.”

This is rich for various reasons.

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Pastor Jim Garlow Endorses Political Candidate at Church, Then Tells IRS, “Sue Me”

Last week, I posted about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event where church pastors defy the law by endorsing political candidates from the pulpits of their tax-exempt churches. (The law basically says that non-profit groups, including churches, don’t have to pay taxes — in exchange, though, they can’t endorse or campaign against specific candidates.)

The IRS ignored pastors participating in this event for years due to (what they say were) bureaucratic reasons, but they recently settled a lawsuit brought about by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and promised they would prosecute pastors who violated the law.

So what does it look like when a pastor endorses a candidate? CNN’s Sara Grossman tells us:

On Sunday, pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in California stood before his congregation of more than 2,000 and told them he would be making an unusual announcement.

The pastor proceeded to warn his audience against voting for a candidate in the upcoming midterm elections who supports gay marriage and abortion, even if that candidate, Carl DeMaio, is a Republican.

Garlow told his followers he would be endorsing DeMaio’s rival, Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, representative for California’s 52nd District, to send a scathing message to Republican leadership that candidates who back abortion and gay rights are unacceptable to the party’s Christian base.

You can watch the video below. It was part of a sermon series called “Brave” (sure…) and featured an in-person message from Rick Santorum. The fun begins around the 53:00 mark:



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