How American Christianity Perpetuates: Reasons #3-5 Public shaming by elected officials. That sums up reasons No. 3 through 5 for how Christianity endlessly perpetuates in the United States despite its doctrines being entirely speculative. All three causes were noted in recent posts in the online Patheos Nonreligious hub, including two in Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist blog. Here’s a summary roundup of these latest in my continuing list of religious perpetuators: Reason #3: Official shaming of people who criticize religious behavior… Read more

What do skydivers and mystics, for example, have in common? Their thrilling payoffs are completely psychological and almost identical. This fascinating nexus between fear and faith—and their close cousin, pain—is investigated in a thoughtful recent essay by Guy Claxton in the e-zine Aeon, which calls itself an online “sanctuary for serious thinking.” The gist of the essay is that skydivers, self-harming teens, people paralyzed with depression, deeply religious folks and countless other searchers are all after exactly the same thing…. Read more

How American Christianity Perpetuates Reason #1: Skeptics Inadvertently Enable It As I read the new March 2018 edition of Church & State, the monthly magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, I was reminded of one important reason Christianity so relentlessly perpetuates in America: committed secularists often feel they must enlist Christians to advance their secular agendas. And in doing so, they inadvertently endorse faith. This is the endemic virus of politics (religious or otherwise)—the need to… Read more

Contrary to what ancient Christian theologians hypothesized, the universe was not necessarily created from a pre-existing something. I was recently reminded of this while watching a captivating two-hour British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) documentary, Everything and Nothing: The Amazing Science of Empty Space, first released in 2011. Program host Jim Al-Khalili, an Iraq-born British theoretical physicist, University of Surrey professor and author, explains in the documentary that modern quantum research indicates nothing can indeed birth something. Naturally. Spontaneously. Without divine assistance…. Read more

During the decades I lived in Saudi Arabia, I eventually stopped noticing the dense black veils that hid the faces of local Muslim women. It was just the way it was, like the endless sandy sabkha (salt flats) in every direction. Even in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Saudi women generally accepted their veils as a religious obligation, because Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, apparently required his wives to wear them to avoid the carnal stares of men. Veiling thus… Read more

A double tragedy occurred in January on South Dakota’s iconic Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, two among many serial catastrophes fueled by the often harsh realities of life on the “rez.” At least one reservation resident fears that belief in an afterlife unduly influenced the result. The genesis was the deaths of two Lakota Sioux siblings—a young man, 21, and his 16-year-old sister–within days of each other, reportedly by their own hands. I was told the girl was overwhelmed by grief… Read more

It’s bad enough, but the real issue isn’t the silliness of a few dozen South Dakota state lawmakers who originally wanted to criminalize any inexact representations of the official state seal—even satirical ones. It’s church-state separation. What should concern us most is what has long been embedded in the state seal— the state’s official motto: “Under God The People Rule.” And it’s not a problem because the phrase is mildly ungrammatical (there should really be a comma after “God,” for… Read more

A recent post in Hemant Mehta’s The Friendly Atheist blog about a lawsuit against a school district that allowed Christian indoctrination only hinted at why targeting of schoolchildren by faith-based organizations has been so successful —and why it is so subversive, and dishonest. The post reports on the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s suit against the Kouts (Indiana) Middle/High School, which charges that two youth pastors from the local Heartland Christian Church were being allowed to proselytize to students over lunch… Read more

For long centuries, the Christian establishment has promoted the conceit that reason and religion are intimately conjoined. But it’s a self-delusion. In fact, supernatural theology of any kind versus the material actualities of the cosmos that undergird philosophy are “non-overlapping magisteria,” as so elegantly phrased by the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002). The former is almost entirely based on airy wishfulness, the latter, utter concrete-ness. Never the twain shall meet, no matter how wishful we may be. Yet, before… Read more

The fundamentalist Christian Right movement has changed its strategy but not its stripes as it continues aggressively trying to insinuate faith-based dogma into American voucher schools and children, an excellent New York Times article this week by columnist Michelle Goldberg illustrates. Southern states circumvented the constitutional civil-rights of freed slaves during Reconstruction after the Civil War by terrorizing blacks and constructing a rigidly apartheid social system. Today they circumvent the Constitutional religious-establishment clause as it pertains to education by embracing… Read more

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