Ayaan Hirsi Ali Takes Aim at the Notion That Muslims Turn to Terrorism Because of Poverty and Bad Governance

In Time, Ayaan Hirsi Ali advises that, from the White House on down, U.S. policy makers come to grips with the reality that Muslims who become jihadis don’t necessarily do so because they’re victims of poverty, bad education, or bad governance.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups such as ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause.

But Hirsi Ali points out that there are plenty of countries where those conditions are all but absent, and they still have to contend with homegrown jihadists.

Both Denmark and the Netherlands have “good governance.” Denmark and the Netherlands not only offer free health insurance but also free housing to Muslim refugees, along with high-quality education for their children. This should produce an outpouring of gratitude by young Muslims towards the host society, and no Jihadists.

Yet there are dozens of Jihadists hailing from the Netherlands, and a recent attack in Copenhagen was committed by a man who was raised in Denmark and had effectively enjoyed years of Danish hospitality.

The question is not limited to Europe. Minnesota, for instance, is hardly a state with “bad governance.” Minnesota offers ample opportunity for immigrants willing to work hard. Yet more than a dozen young men from the Twin Cities area have joined the Jihadist movement in recent years.

I have been arguing the same thing for years (since long before ISIS arrived on the scene), based on the observable fact that jihadists — both leaders and foot soldiers — include lots of well-educated, often middle-class young men with degrees and/or bright prospects, such as Faisal Shahzad, Anwar-al-AwlakiNidal Malik Hasan, Mohamed Atta, Ziad JarrahAbu Hamza al-MasriUmar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and, most famously, Osama bin Laden, who was born into wealth and privilege.



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Atheist Billboards Go Up in Puerto Rico to Promote Upcoming Conference

Billboards sponsored by American Atheists are now up in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico, to mark the upcoming conference there this August:

Translated, that reads: “We’re Puerto Ricans and we’re ChristiansWe’re ex-Christians — We’re atheists!”

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Atheists and Believers Respond to Westboro Baptist Church with Unity, Positivism, and Resolve

On their way to Hollywood to peddle their drug of addiction, hate, outside the Academy Awards Sunday night, half a dozen members of the Westboro Baptist Church paid a morning visit to my home town 50 miles north of Los Angeles. They targeted five churches in a series of brief picket protests for the sin of having female pastors and other doctrinal practices that they abhor. Armed with their typically vile signs and antagonistic rhetoric, they timed their demonstrations to be seen by the parishioners as they arrived for or left Sunday services.

A few of us from the Santa Clarita Atheists and Freethinkers (SCAF) joined 200 to 300 members of the community to counter-demonstrate at each of the churches, despite the drizzle of much-needed rain. Groups from other churches and faith organizations, many students from Gay-Straight Alliance clubs at high schools and the community college, military veterans, and plenty of families and individuals turned out to overwhelm the little sidewalk bigot squad with a flood of harmony, acceptance, and love.

Here’s a small sampling of the nasty and rather goofy messages of the WBC:



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Rapper Common May Have Thanked God After Winning an Oscar, but John Legend Has Religious Doubts

If you’re watching the Oscars, you just saw rapper Common and John Legend (or, rather, Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens) win an Academy Award for their song “Glory” from Selma.

When they accepted the award, Common immediately thanked God, making him only the fifth person (and fourth black person) to do so over the past 12 years.

You might be interested to know, though, that John Legend has doubts about his faith.

Or had them, anyway.

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Don’t Let “God’s Plan” Circumvent Your Own Abilities

J. D. Brucker has written a short-but-powerful e-book called God Needs To Go: Why Christian Beliefs Fail (Atheist Republic, 2015):

In the excerpt below, Brucker explains how God isn’t going to fix your problems; it’s up to you:

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