Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and let your ‘no’ be ‘no’

From left: Nenita Bouchard, from Philippines, Gustavo Calix Luque, from Honduras, Michael Cumming, from Canada, Emmanual Dima, from Cameroon, and Mujo Durakovic, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, take the Oath of Allegiance for new United States citizens in June in Syracuse, N.Y. That oath, by law, includes the phrase "so help me God." It shouldn't. (Photo by Dick Blume of The (Syracuse) Post Standard.)

When Rep. Ellison affirms the solemnity of his oath by placing his hand on the Koran, or when soon-to-be Rep. Gabbard affirms the solemnity of her oath by placing her hand on the Bhagavad Gita, or if President Obama should affirm the solemnity of his oath by adding, “so help me God,” I think it best to respect those choices and to appreciate that what matters on such occasions is the seriousness and sincerity of the official and not the sectarian particulars used to signify it. [Read more...]

The oldest image of Jesus Christ is a crude, mocking caricature


We can have laws against blasphemy or we can have religious freedom. We can never have both. We have every right to take offense and every right to give offense. But we should not seek to take offense. And we should not seek to give offense. [Read more...]

If N.J. archbishop John Myers is right, then only Catholic marriage should be legal (and all Protestants are living in sin)

Dignitatis Humanae, Schmignitatis humanae. John Myers does not care for Vatican II's teachings on religious freedom.

Civil marriage is a civil right over which the Catholic church has no jurisdiction. The Catholic sacrament of marriage is a religious rite over which civil authorities have no jurisdiction. This is why the Catholic church is free to deny marriage to people who are legally divorced, and why such people may still be legally married in a civil ceremony or in another denomination. If you understand that much, you’re way ahead of N.J. Archbishop John Myers. [Read more...]

One confusing story, two stories confused, and three versions of 10 commandments

Nifty photoshop fake via Snopes.com.

Richard Beck tackles one of the stranger sections of the Bible — the deliriously weird passage in Genesis 6 about “the Nephilim.” I’ve never figured out what to make of this odd passage, which reads like a fragment from the Silmarillion. It’s one of the big flashing signals that these early chapters of Genesis do not invite or allow a “literal” reading in the style of modern-day American fundies. [Read more...]

Regarding the first rule and the First Amendment

This Austin, Texas, homeowner is, and should be, protected by the First Amendment. But no force on earth can protect him from the consequences of violating Rule No. 1.

Try not to be an asshole. That’s always the first rule. That’s Rule No. 1. No matter what the topic, no matter how specific or how general, Rule No. 1 is always Rule No. 1. It comes first not because it’s the most important, necessarily, but because unless we hear and heed Rule No. 1, [Read More...]

3 things you can do if you want to be a big jerk


Here are a few recent stories in which various people — including some public officials — demonstrate how to be a really big jerk. I don’t recommend being a big jerk, mind you, but if that’s your goal, then study these stories carefully. These folks are putting on a clinic in jerkitude. 1. Walk into [Read More...]

More smart people saying smart things

Emily C. Heath: “How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions” I’ve come up with this little quiz. I call it “How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions.” Just pick “A” or “B” for each question. 1. My religious liberty [Read More...]

Smart people saying smart things

Wells Tower: “Desperately Seeking Mitt” On some level, he must know that the world’s more complex than this, and that these past three decades have been very good to people like him and Harold but not so good for everybody else. It’s a big, ugly truth to have to willfully ignore. Not that it’s his [Read More...]