Canadian Woman, Kidnapped in Somalia, is Raped Mercilessly by Her Über-Pious Muslim Captors

In an artless but still compelling summary of A House in the Sky, a new memoir by former hostage Amanda Lindhout, the piousness of her Muslim kidnappers is a recurring theme.
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Bishop Spong: Hell isn’t Real, Grow Up Instead of Being Born Again

Serving as almost a direct contradiction to the video I posted yesterday on the Catholic explanation of Hell, today I came upon this 2006 interview with Bishop Shelby Spong, an Episcopalian who is extremely liberal theologically, saying that, in fact, Hell is made up. [Click the headline for more...] [Read more...]

Pope Francis’ First Encyclical Shows What He Really Believes About Unbelievers

The Vatican has released the first encyclical letter written by Pope Francis.

That’s big news for Catholics, who comprise the target audience for this sort of document, and who often put a great deal of stock in the pontiff’s opinions on how to live their faith. In atheist circles, the most likely reaction is a shrug, a raised eyebrow, and a big ‘so what?’ But with news about outreach to the ‘nones’ and dialogue with non-believers making headlines in the early days of Francis’ pontificate – and it is still early days, at least in relative terms – this document is instructive. It gives us a window into what the pope really thinks about the irreligious. [Click the headline for more...] [Read more...]

Teacher in India Fights for His Right to Opt Out of Prayer

The battle over prayer in schools and other public institutions is not exclusive to the United States. In Nashik, India, English teacher Sanjay Salve is in a struggle with his school to be allowed to refrain from prayers, where he has been denied traditional pay grade increases because of his “defiance” — visibly not taking [Read More...]

Even Seculars Pine for Messiahs

There’s little doubt that human beings seem to like the idea of messiahs, deus ex machinas that will save us in our darkest hours. Obviously, even we seculars find something appealing about it, or else we’d be rolling our eyes, or else outright rejecting, stories that are messiah-tastic, such as Harry Potter, Dune (Paul Atreides), and even Lord of the Rings (Frodo and Aragorn are both “foretold”).

At The American ScholarWilliam Deresiewicz sees a pining for messiahs throughout more than our fiction, but in our very response to word events and technology. He cites our collective awe over the Web, and its liberating potential, as well as “politics,” in the sense of either elected leaders (Obama in ’08) or revolutions (the Arab Spring and Occupy) who will magically “change everything.” And he thinks he spots where this inclination has gotten us into serious, serious trouble: Climate change. [Click the headline for more...] [Read more...]


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