Hello Millennials

You see that green bar?

The freakishly large one that’s on the left side of the poster below?

The one representing religiously unaffiliated millennials?

The one that’s crushing all the smaller bars below it?

See it?

Now pat yourself on the back.

(via Tony Jones)

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This Godless Iraqi Citizen Has the Nickname ‘Baghdad’s Converter’

There’s something absolutely inspiring about atheists who are outspoken about their non-belief in countries where you expect that to be more of a death-sentence. Whether it’s in an Islamic nation where apostasy is punished or an African country where the percentage of atheists is somewhere in the low single digits, I root for anyone who has the courage to speak out.

That may be why I enjoyed hearing about Omar Al-Baghdadi, a pseudonym for a guy known as “Baghdad’s Converter”:

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Lighting the Fuse: What Caused Your (De)Conversion? And What, If Anything, Do You Do To Spread Skepticism?

Conversion is a dirty word in atheist circles. We don’t attempt to convert, we tell ourselves and each other. We merely aim to — well, something else.

Plant a seed of reason. Promote logic. Support science.

Anti-theists may go a step further: Call out religious hypocrisy. Tear down clergy who steal and rape. Make mincemeat of superstitions.

All those things are worthwhile to do for their own sake, or I suppose we wouldn’t do them. But I suspect that few of us could honestly argue that we didn’t want to change minds — away from theism. Which we would legitimately and correctly call conversion if the word wasn’t weighed down with a ton of religious baggage.

I have a fairly close relative, on my wife’s side of the family, who, over the past few years, has abandoned his Christian faith. He came out to me as an atheist six months ago. I don’t know for sure if something I said or wrote might have set off or accelerated his drift, but if so, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased. I’d be even happier if it was something I did or didn’t do — in other words, if his change of heart was precipitated by how I live… which I hope, despite the bite in my writing, is with love and without malice.

This hopeful blog post by J.M. Green over at Debunking Christianity, titled “Lighting the Fuse,” made me think about (de)conversion. (Funny thing, metaphors: Green talks about lighting a fuse, while the cover of ex-Christian William Lobdell‘s book shows almost the opposite image — a just-extinguished candle – to express the same idea.)

Green writes:

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President Obama, at Prayer Breakfast, Defends Rights of Those with ‘No Faith At All’

Let us take it as a given that the President of the United States’ participation in the National Prayer Breakfast his highly problematic to say the least. When we make a tradition of the elected chief executive publicly kissing the ring of sectarian religion, it turns it into a quasi-official event, flying in the face of basic secularism and the Constitution. It’s a bad thing.

All that said (and said with fervency), via RNS’s Brian Pellot, we learn that at said breakfast, President Obama had a positive message that we secularists wholeheartedly embrace: the need for people of all religions and of no religion to believe and express themselves as they will, without threat of retaliation, discrimination, or criminalization.

And, importantly, it was said before a conservative religious audience. The president said:

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Catholic Hospital Receptionist Allegedly Tells Couple That Atheists Should Not Be Allowed to Reproduce

Reddit0r chuckyourface says he was in for a surprise when he took his wife to the hospital for some tests the other day.

At the check-in desk,

The lady asked [her] all the usual questions including “Do you have a religious preference?” She answered no, because she really has no preference. She doesn’t identify as atheist or anything else, because it’s all too stupid basically. So I asked the receptionist, “If she says ‘no preference,’ does that mean the hospital gets to pick?,” and she said she just clicked ‘no preference.’

That should have been the end of the conversation, but she went on to say in all her time doing this, she’s had two people claim [to be an] atheist. One was a typical punk teenager with black eye-liner, and just didn’t know any better. The other really surprised her though because she was a sweet lady and had two cute kids with her. “How can she say atheist in front of these kids?! You shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce if that’s how you feel. That’s just my opinion.

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