Is This Conan O’Brien Joke ‘Racist’?

The Qur’an says Muslim men may take up to four wives. Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, had nine.

Is it Islamophobic — nay, racist — to tell a joke based on those incontrovertible facts?

It seems so. Conan O’Brien got pilloried when he (or, more likely, one of his staffers) tweeted this the other day:

The reaction was swift: “So fucking gross and racist. Good job guys,” responded a seething Twitter user (one of many who’ll probably be surprised when someone clues them in to the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race). Tweeted another: “Real classy bigotry, Conan OBrien. Did you enjoy having a laugh at the expense of the marginalized?”

Two hours later, O’Brien’s tweet was gone.

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A Reminder That the Original Gettysburg Address Did Not Include the Words ‘Under God’

Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and you’ll undoubtedly hear revisionist Christian historians talk about how even Lincoln’s address featured the words “Under God”:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Just one problem with that. It’s not the original version of the speech.

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Cardinal George’s Sad Attempt at Bashing Illinois Marriage Equality Law

As a newly adopted Illinoisan who is also super gay, I was overjoyed when my favorite state finally passed marriage equality earlier this month. This was long time coming for Illinois, historically one of the nation’s more liberal states, and many legislators and citizens alike were getting antsy and jealous as states around us began passing their own laws at a record pace. When the votes were finally counted, I had no qualms about running tearfully through my workplace to tell everyone the great news that minute.

That’s why it bums me out that, almost immediately, Christian groups started flailing left and right about how terrible same-sex marriage is for Illinois. For one, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield is actually holding an exorcism tomorrow, the day the marriage bill will be signed, as a means of condemning same-sex marriage. So there’s that.

But while some folks might write the bishop off as a little bit extreme, people may just listen to Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, who found it necessary to pen a letter to the state’s Catholics about why marriage equality is so bad. Unfortunately for him, like most pieces of Catholic PR lately, his letter doesn’t actually make much sense. Rather, it proves that now is exactly the right time to pass marriage equality in Illinois and hopefully nationwide.

Let go piece by piece, shall we?

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Slate Mischaracterizes Non-Religious Billionaires in Its ‘Exclusive Circles’ Animation

Ben Blatt and Nicholas Duchesne of Slate put together an animation showing the various characteristics of the world’s richest people — their ages, genders, sources of wealth, etc.

So you know I had to click on the “Religion” tab:

Only two Agnostics? Really?

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How Atheists Can Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses How atheists can help victims of Typhoon Haiyan:

A quick note: After Foundation Beyond Belief quickly raised $50,000 for Citizens’ Disaster Response Center, we realized there was also a strong need for medical and search-and-rescue missions in the area, so we decided to send all additional donations to Team Rubicon, “an outstanding organization of military veterans repurposing their skills for disaster relief.” Therefore, all crisis donations through FBB will be sent to them.

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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