Ask Richard: How Was Church on Sunday, Richard?

I went to church yesterday.

Don’t worry, I’m still your friendly neighborhood atheist, and “neighborhood” is the operating term here. I’m literally the friendly neighborhood atheist because back in February two families right on my street were in the audience when I first spoke publicly as an atheist at the Master’s College. Everyone on the block knows, and so far, things are still friendly, but I must do more in the wider neighborhood of my home town:

Since starting the “Ask Richard” column three years ago, I’ve received hundreds of letters from atheists facing difficult conflicts with their religious co-workers, friends, and most often their families. Some of their stories are sad, frustrating, or infuriating, and some are downright appalling. They can be heartbreaking because the strife and suffering is so often unnecessary. The particular issues and situations in the letters vary, but one overriding theme hovers above almost all of them: The co-workers, friends, and families react to the atheist with fear, anger, hurt, and rejection because they believe the stereotypes, misconceptions, and outright lies about atheists that are heard and repeated, heard and repeated, with no one to challenge them, no one to say, “Hey, that is not actually true about atheists.”

Well, I’m tired of only responding to these letters, only being reactive, trying to fix messes that could have been prevented. I want to get out ahead of the letters, be proactive, and bring accurate information to the religious public about atheists before these families explode, before so much love is needlessly thrown away.
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Christian Pastor: My Sons Will Be Taught to Be Independent; My Daughters Will Be Taught *Not* to Be Independent

I was going to skip this, but Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona was talking about how all sins are not equal and this was the screengrab:

How could I resist that?!

Most of it was uneventful, but toward the end, Anderson spoke about virginity and fornication… and we got this gem at the 45:43 mark:

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No Matter What Atrocities Islamists Commit, the BBC Responds With Blind Spasms of ‘Respect’

“Forced marriages: School holidays prompt warning,” says a current headline on BBC News. The article explains that annually, “more than 5,000 people from the U.K.” are reportedly being forced into arranged marriages:

Teachers, doctors and airport staff need to be alert to the problem of forced marriages over the school holidays, the government has warned. Ministers said there were concerns about teenagers being taken abroad thinking they were going on holiday but being forced into marriage instead. Figures suggest cases are particularly common during the summer break. The government’s Forced Marriage Unit received 400 reports between June and August last year.

The piece is remarkable mostly for what it doesn’t say. The words religion, Muslim, God, and Islam are all missing. Another feat is that the reporter more or less manages to sweep the misogynistic aspect of the arranged-marriage phenomenon under the rug, the BBC’s favorite phraseology for the victims being “teenagers” and the non-descript “people,” rather than “girls” and “young women” (those words aren’t anywhere in the article, either).

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Researchers Aggregate 63 Studies and Find ‘Significant Negative Association Between Intelligence and Religiosity’

It’s the age-old question: Are atheists smarter than the religious?

Let’s get the major caveats out of the way: There are brilliant religious people. There are really dumb atheists. “Smarter” is a vague term. And IQ is only one of many ways to measure it.

Anyway, psychologists Miron Zuckerman and Jordan Silberman of the University of Rochester and Judith Hall of Northeastern University have published a paper in Personality and Social Psychology Review that aggregates the results from 63 studies on the issue done between 1928 and 2012.

What did they find?

Turns out the data supports the idea that religion and intelligence don’t always go hand-in-hand — and the researchers have some suggestions as to why that is:

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Judge Says That Baby ‘Messiah’ Will Have to Change His Name Because He’s Not Jesus Christ

Jaleesa Martin and her son’s father went to court on Thursday expecting the judge to settle their 7-month-old child Messiah DeShawn Martin‘s last name.

Instead, Judge Lu Ann Ballew changed the baby’s first name, too:

Judge Ballew ordered the 7-month-old’s name be “Martin DeShawn McCullough.” It includes both parent’s last names but leaves out Messiah.

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said.

Ballew went on to say this was best for the baby since the family lived in such a religious area.

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