New Jersey Judge Rules Ex-Gay Conversion Therapy is Consumer Fraud

For the first time ever, a United States judge has affirmed what the American Psychiatric Association has been saying since 1973: Homosexuality is not a mental illness.

Judge Peter F. Barsio Jr. of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled last week against the conversion therapy provider Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH). Here’s the official ruling, short and sweet:

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Professor Accuses “Irrationally Hateful” New Atheists of Being Zionists and Supporting Palestinian Genocide

False impressions ought to be corrected. One of mine was that if you teach at a university, you have learned how to think, and you’ve accepted that while you have a right to your own opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

I see now that I was wrong. Jamil Khader, a dean of research and professor of English at Bethlehem University in Palestine, has opened my eyes.

In an op-ed piece for Al Jazeera, Khader’s first foray into conclusion-jumping is to assert as fact that the Chapel Hill victims were murdered by an atheist because they were Muslims. (He even calls it, unbelievably enough, “an extra-judicial execution,” implying the behind-the-scenes involvement of some nefarious state player.)

I have spent more time than I wanted these past four days reminding people on both sides that we don’t yet know one way or the other. In other words, it’s seriously, disappointingly premature to insist that Craig Stephen Hicks killed out of atheistic fervor and anti-Muslim animus; just as it is distressingly partisan and over-early to aver that his anti-theism had nothing to do with it. When the investigators tell us what they’ve found, we’ll be a lot closer to the truth.

If Khader had left it there, I wouldn’t even be writing this. But look where he takes his argument:

Commentators who focus only on the Islamophobic sentiments of the perpetrator and frame this incident within the racial politics of the US, get it half right.

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Do Atheists Need a Wake-Up Call After the Chapel Hill Shootings?

On February 10, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad (below) were gunned down by Craig Stephen Hicks; the three victims were Muslim, and their murderer was an atheist. When news of the shooting broke, the link between the shooter’s anti-theism and the victims’ faith was what seemed to dominate the narrative. While some emphasized the link between the shooting and atheism, some came straight out and said that New Atheists and New Atheism were to blame for the deaths.

Since the initial reports, we’ve learned that the connection to atheism is far less certain than was initially reported, with police (at this point at least) having no evidence that this was actually a hate crime.

It’s a valuable point to make. Hicks had a history of run-ins with his neighbors (sometimes with a gun at his side), particularly with the victims; the parking dispute that police believe led to the shootings had been longstanding, and Hicks’ obsessive pursuit of the issue had gotten his towing requests blocked by the local tow company. Furthermore, it is (sadly) not unheard of for people to unleash lethal force over a parking spot — Hicks isn’t even the first to do so this year.

This isn’t to assert that Hicks was not critical of Islam, or that his antipathy towards religion played no role in the killings. We know he was an anti-theist, and his feelings on the subject may have influenced his decision to murder three people. It’s also worth noting that even if the crime was motivated in part (or entirely) by anti-religious feelings, it may be impossible to prove that those sentiments drove Hicks to pull the trigger. Why? Because he did not reference his lack of faith in relation to the crime. While the family believes it was the case, there is no evidence that faith played a role in Hicks’ ongoing dispute with the victims. Barring additional evidence, this doesn’t illustrate a hate crime — even if it was. A person’s motivation in committing a crime isn’t always apparent.

But even if it was a hate crime, should this, as the New Republic argues, be “a wake-up call for atheists“? Should the news that an atheist is capable of doing something monstrous, and capable of taking a fundamental disagreement over the question of God to a murderous conclusion, be a wake-up call to atheists?

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Article Reveals How Far Leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses Will Go to Cover Up Child Sexual Abuse Within the Church

When it comes to covering up abuse, Jehovah’s Witnesses are rivaling the Catholic Church, if not the Orthodox Jewish community in New York.

Trey Bundy of the Center for Investigative Reporting has a long and detailed expose of the policies used by JW church leaders that shows just how horribly they handle abuse cases, going so far as to tell local spiritual leaders “to form confidential committees to handle potential criminal matters internally” rather than going to the police.

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There’s Another Man?!

She never should have said His name:

(via the New Yorker)

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