The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates Identifies as an Atheist

I think Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the finest writers working today. Hardly a day, a news story, a crisis, or a controversy goes by in which the people I respect online don’t say something akin to, “TNC nails it,” followed by a link to his take. And they’re usually right.

Coates has recently been steeping himself in European history, which has included a couple of volumes on 20th century Europe in the midst of Hitler, Stalin, the Holocaust, and its struggles to repair, redeem, and unify. Considering the breadth and relentlessness of human violence and disorder, he figured something out:

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A Dangerously Incurious Pope

This is a guest post written by Herb Silverman.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Pope Francis (above) was Time magazine’s Person of the Year. And as an atheist, I’m not particularly disappointed by the decision. While Pope Francis hasn’t changed Church doctrine, he has at least changed its emphasis. I prefer a pope like Francis who focuses more on poverty and economic inequality than on birth control and gay marriage. I would have been more enthusiastic about Time’s choice had the Pope also acknowledged that birth control can help reduce poverty and that loving couples should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. In such an anachronistic and powerful institution, I would welcome small but significant reforms to Catholic Church doctrines that affect many outside the institution.

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BBC Falsely Claims That Islam-Defying Artist Lars Vilks Was ‘Never Attacked’

This post is a twofer. First, I’m happy to share the news that the American wannabe jihadist Colleen LaRose has been given a ten-year prison term for conspiring to murder the Swedish artist Lars Vilk.

Via the BBC:

Colleen LaRose, 50, who dubbed herself Jihad Jane, admitted in 2011 she sought to kill [Swedish artist] Lars Vilks and recruited others to the cause.

She faced up to a life term but a judge reduced her sentence in part because she co-operated with investigators.

“I don’t want to be into jihad no more,” LaRose said at the hearing.

Mr Vilks was targeted after he drew a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Here’s that artwork again:



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Bill de Blasio May Be One of the Highest-Ranking ‘Nones’ in America

We already know that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) refuses to talk about her religious faith publicly, making her the only member of Congress currently labeled as a “None.” She’s not openly atheist — but she’s not openly theistic, either.

Now, it appears that newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is following in her footsteps, as Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports:



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The Money That Was Rejected by the Morton Grove Park District and Public Library Has Finally Been Accepted

For more than two months now, I’ve been trying to give the community of Morton Grove, Illinois over $3,000 that readers raised after a local American Legion post withheld a significant amount of money from the Park District when board Commissioner Dan Ashta wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Park District rejected the donation saying they didn’t want to get “embroiled in a First Amendment dispute” (which was weird, since that was precisely what they were doing by accepting money from the American Legion on the condition that everyone stand for the Pledge).

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