Secular aid and charity

The most prominent US humanist organizations, the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Humanist Association, have appeals for donations to help Haiti, through secular channels. (CSH site; AHA site.)In the interests of equal opportunity cynicism, though, I have to wonder how much of this is motivated by a need to demonstrate that the nonreligious can also be charitable. ("Look, we can do this too!") I would expect it's part of the picture. Christians often point out the social benefits … [Read more...]

Haunted by demons

It's nice to know that we can count on Religious Right figures to say something grossly stupid at regular intervals. This time it's Pat Robertson, talking about how Haitians are paying for a past pact with the devil. I guess liberal believers and the nonreligious can use the sense of outrage this produces for a short while. Not a bad thing too—the fact is that people such as Pat Robertson are not just buffoons who are media-fodder. They enjoy real power and influence.Still, outrages aside, … [Read more...]

Multicultural Respect

I keep trying to make sense of recurrent demands for "respect" of religious traditions that come from politically liberal and leftish circles, whom you wouldn't immediately think of as affirming ways of life in which religious faith is central.But then, these days "left" often means the multicultural left, the postmodern animal, rather than the left wing of the Enlightenment political tradition. So maybe the background notion of "respect" for other cultures ("the Other," if I succumb to the … [Read more...]

American Evangelicals Promote Rabid Ugandan Homophobia

Uganda has recently considered imposing insanely draconian laws that would punish homosexuality with death and even imprison landlords who rent to gays or relatives who fail to rat out their gay kin. Who whipped up the homophobic frenzy that led to this madness? You get one guess. Yep. Fundamentalist nitwits, disappointed in their efforts to purge America of godless sodomites, have taken their crusade to Africa. According to Jeffrey Gettleman, writing in The New York Times, last March three … [Read more...]

Danish cartoonist assaulted

Here's the BBC headline: "Danish police shoot intruder at cartoonist's home." The intruder appears to a Muslim who wanted to kill the cartoonist, who is one of those who did one of the Danish Muhammad cartoons a few years ago.As with any terror attack, like the idiot underwear bomber, this'll just feed into a media frenzy that will mostly be a distraction from deeper problems. Not that this sort of thing has no effect: I'm sure the fear of offending violent loonies among Muslims has a real … [Read more...]

New Chick Tracts

Here's a nice way to start a new year.One thing you have to say about Jack Chick is that he's not political. Quite a few Protestant conservatives have made a political alliance with Catholic right-wingers. But Chick denounces everybody that disagrees with his narrowminded craziness. There's no need to worry about him being entangled in authoritarian religious alliances. … [Read more...]

Faith and hope

Chris Hedges is one of the political writers that I like. (Even though he sometimes goes over the top, and he does too much moralizing.) Here is a short description of his faith, from his book American Fascists, bashing the religious right:God is inscrutable, mysterious and unknowable. We do not understand what life is all about, what it means, why we are here and what will happen to us after our brief sojourn on the planet ends. We are saved, in the end, by faith—faith that life is not … [Read more...]

Morality Without God

In Morality Without God, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues against the popular belief that without acknowledgment of God, morality would collapse. He elaborates a form of godless morality centered on avoiding harm, points out that nonbelieving individuals are typically decent people and that secular societies do not collapse into anarchy. He also shows how religious foundations for morality do not work as well as promised. Sinnott-Armstrong wants to do all this in a readable, non-technical style. … [Read more...]


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