Stuyvesant was ahead of his time


In 1658, colonial Gov. Peter Stuyvesant declared a day of prayer and repentance from the sin of religious tolerance. The 17th-century language of Stuyvesant’s proclamation is unfamiliar today, but the ideas and arguments he presents are eerily similar to the ones we hear today from the religious right of 2013. [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars


“We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the Senate,” said a senator doing his best to be one of them — while also proving Patterson Hood’s thesis that “Southerners love electing dumbasses.” Michigan says the state’s job is “to regulate sexual relationships.” And more … [Read more...]

Destroying the ballet in the name of artistic freedom


The commissioners say they’re friends of the ballet. They’re posing as champions of artistic freedom. But their plan is a terrible idea that would, in practice, destroy the ballet and abolish artistic freedom. Here’s how. [Read more...]

‘Everybody’: Blazing Saddles, religious pluralism and the American Constitution


The history of America is summed up in one brief scene of Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ ridiculous, exuberantly rude 1974 masterpiece. It’s the story of how “But we don’t want the Irish!” slowly evolves into “Everybody!” [Read more...]

Texas evangelicals argue against evangelism


If you’re an evangelical Christian and you find yourself arguing that “religious liberty” means that religious identity is immutable and unchangeable, and therefore that evangelism is unnecessary and impossible, then you need to rethink the trap you’ve set for yourself. [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars (9.3)


“They fear freedom. They don’t trust themselves or others to do the right thing without strict rules to follow.” Especially if those others are women. Or LGBT people. Or poor people. Or black, or Latino, or Asian, or Muslim, or atheist, or … [Read more...]

Versus and clobber verses: ‘It’s an almost impossible situation’


But the next word Peter says is “but.” “The Bible says one thing, but …” That’s terrifying for folks like poor Doug Anderson. They revere the Bible as their authority, their lifeline and lifeblood. And so, for them, if “the Bible says” we must never say “but.” If “it is unlawful” then it is unlawful no matter what else the Bible says about a whole theology of welcoming and loving people. [Read more...]

First guarantee minority rights. Elections come later.


Government cannot be sectarian. If the sectarian identity of the government — and therefore of the governed — can be changed in the next election, then no one has freedom of conscience, only the possibility of privilege of conscience contingent on whether one’s own beliefs correspond with those of the majority. The stakes are too high. Freedom of conscience cannot be dependent on whether or not your sect wins the next election. Without a guaranteed right of religious liberty for religious minorities, dissenters and outsiders, elections are profoundly anti-democratic. [Read more...]