Ray Comfort’s fans line up to normalise child sexual assault

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.03.55

In the wake of the news that Josh Duggar sexually assaulted his sisters—sometimes while they slept—evangelicals have a choice. They can either look very hard at the situation and themselves, and ask what can be done to make this type of thing less likely to happen again, or they can pretend this is normal.Guess which option is proving more popular?Ray Comfort announced that he would be refusing to watch TLC, the channel which broadcasted 19 Kids and Counting, until they put the show back … [Read more...]

Josh Duggar apologised. So what?


If you follow other blogs on Patheos or other blogs about the Christian patriarchy movement, you'll have heard the news about Josh Duggar. For everyone else, some context: Josh Duggar is the eldest of the Duggar children, the quiverfull family who star in the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting. This week it came to light that Josh was named in a police report as having been accused of child molestation. Yesterday, he resigned from his job and publicly apologised for his actions.I'm not l … [Read more...]

Don’t like the UK election result? Here’s what you can do about it.

FPTP explained

Today, my Facebook timeline is, um, less positive than usual. There are several statuses that contain more swear words than all other types of word combined. Most are lamenting the election result and predicting dire things for the next five years.I'm not sure about the political leanings of my blog readership, but I suspect they're similar to my Facebook friends'. If I'm right about that, we're a bunch of people who believe we can change things for the better. We are optimists. We know the w … [Read more...]

A ceasefire: I am pausing my campaign against Accelerated Christian Education

Pause button

Sorry for the recent silence. I spent the first three months of this year working hard to increase my blog audience, and now I've frittered that away with two weeks of silence. Hopefully some of the new readers will stick around (hi!), but I imagine most will head off to other Patheos blogs which are actually updated from time to time.As my longtime readers know, I'm currently doing a PhD. I've spent the first two years of this procrastinating (this blog has been an effective outlet for … [Read more...]

Noah’s Ark Found, Says Scottish Education Committee Member


Gust post by Paul Braterman.Yes, today is April 1st. No, this is not a joke.The Reverend David Fraser sits as a full voting member on the Education Committee of Clackmannanshire County Council. So if you live in Clackmannanshire, he helps decide educational policy for your children, and if you teach in Clackmannanshire, he is, in a sense, your boss.Be afraid. Be very afraid. What you see next is straight from the Reverend’s Church’s web site. And there’s worse to come. … [Read more...]

Your Quaint, Silly, Ridiculous, Little Faith Is Not Lovely to Me

Blind leading the blind

Christians say that atheists misrepresent faith when they criticise it. Hoping to avoid this trap, I visited my Patheos colleague Tod Worner's blog, where he had a post entitled "My Quaint, Silly, Ridiculous, Little, Lovely, Lovely Faith". It's a title that seems almost designed to draw derision from atheists, so I won't bother.What interests me is this: You see, the myth, the fairy tale, the lark I believe in says something just a bit more complex, offers something a touch more ext … [Read more...]

After three appearances, I’ve decided The Big Questions is harmful and exploitative

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 23.57.36

I was on the telly yesterday. It was my third appearance on BBC1's The Big Questions, which means that Twitter has finally tired of making jokes about my hair. As usual, my Twitter timeline after the show was full of appreciative Tweets and new followers, and I'm sure the same was true for my debating opponents. That's the way the show works: people tune in to listen the people they agree with, shout at the people they don't, and have their prejudices confirmed. And that's why I'm not sure if … [Read more...]

Sorry, Tim Minchin, the Bible just doesn’t say that about rape

Tim Minchin at TAM 2009. Photo by Prokrastinuft.

I love Tim Minchin. If I start watching him on YouTube, an hour will disappear. And my favourite Minchin tune is "The Good Book". I love that it can be found by Googling Minchin's name along with "This song requires a boot". I love that it nails the absurdity of those who believe that the Bible is not only infallible but also all-sufficient—that it contains the answers to all of life's questions. And I love how he incorporates blistering piano playing like it's no big deal. Here it is:At … [Read more...]

Does creationism = homophobia? Creationists think so.

A bigot in 2012. Photo by John Foxe, public domain.

In January, I claimed creationism is inherently homophobic and misogynistic. Not everyone agreed; there was some discussion over whether I'd committed a logical fallacy. But I'll tell you who hasn't challenged my argument: creationists. They're in no rush to admit to being misogynists: they claim their particular brand of paternalistic sexism—'complementarian' gender roles—is in fact kind to women. But they're queueing up to admit that their belief in creationism excludes gay people.Last Mond … [Read more...]

Indoctrination as a wedge strategy: faith schools and foot-in-the-door techniques

Photo my Marcus Quigmire.

My last post on indoctrination, Children are not that gullible, which makes indoctrination even more odious, was an unexpected hit. I had no idea people would be so interested in the psychology of indoctrination. So here's a follow-up, about how the psychology of Foot in the Door techniques helps explain the exaggerated religious commitment you see from some religious school leavers.In 1966, Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser published the results of a psychological experiments that has … [Read more...]