I just finished reading Prof. Anthony Pinn’s book When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race. It’s excellent. It’s a fantastic exploration of race and racial justice from a Humanist perspective, for Humanists. In a series of short chapters Pinn explores issues like the complex role of belief in god in African American history; the position of African Americans vis-a-vis movement Humanism; the nature of white privilege; and hip hop culture as a source of inspiration for Humanists. Pinn’s… Read more

This Pride Cleve Jones came to St. Louis. The Cleve Jones. Cleve Jones of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and When We Rise, legendary LGBTQIA+ activist and total badass. He was in town to be Grand Marshal of our Pride Parade and to speak about his new book (also called When We Rise), and it was at his book talk where I heard him speak and he re-energized me for the fights ahead. The past three years have been a tough time to be… Read more

I experience a lot of emotional situations in my work. I’m a clergy person, and I sit with people as they wrestle with questions of life and death. I’m an activist, and I have had more than my share of tense and scary moments on the streets. But tonight’s panel on religion and LGBTQIA+ issues, convened jointly by PFLAG St. Charles and Growing American Youth was one of the most intense emotional roller-coasters of my life, and I sit here crying hot… Read more

A Double Shot of Paranoia I’m at Starbucks to meet Joy Maxwell. Maxwell is Curriculum Coordinator for the increasingly controversial “Best Choice” sex education program, a project operated by ThriVe St. Louis and taught in public schools in and around the Midwestern city. In recent weeks, Best Choice has been the subject of numerous articles – and even protests – questioning its scientific accuracy and its promotion of conservative Christian moral attitudes about sex. I’ve been offered the opportunity to review the… Read more

Last week I debated god. Not as in “I had a debate with the Creator of the Universe,” although that would have been cool. Rather as in “I had a debate about the existence of god with a Christian apologist.” This was new to me. While I enjoy debates immensely, and while I’ve been a Humanist activist for some time, I’ve never before been asked to debate the existence of god directly. Usually I’m asked to debate some topic from… Read more

“Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” – “Justice, justice you will pursue.” This phrase, which I learnt from my Jewish clergy colleagues while protesting together in Ferguson, lies at the heart of faith for many. Almost all religious traditions, somewhere in their scriptures or practices, make a call to justice. From the Muslim call from god “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice”, to the Mormon injunction “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly?”, the pursuit of… Read more

Whenever I write about oppression, I can predict one typical response: “What is this mystical “oppression” you speak of? Can you point to it? Are you talking about discriminatory laws? But there are no laws prohibiting this thing – so how can people be oppressed in that arena?” The question, which is so common, seems to assume that unless a prejudice is enshrined in law or has other easily visible institutional manifestations, it cannot have any effects – and that to… Read more

Political commentator Dave Rubin has a new video out: Why I Left the Left. Ostensibly, its a defense of “classical liberal” values like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and non-discrimination. In reality its a hit piece targeting what Rubin calls “progressives”: people who think trigger warnings are a good idea, who think colleges can expect visiting speakers not to bully their students and staff, and who believe that businesses offering their services to the public should do so without discriminating… Read more

A friend recently posted a question on Facebook which sparked much discussion: are atheists oppressed in the USA? I was not surprised by the troll responses from Christians ranting about how they are the most oppressed group in the States, but I was a little surprised that a number of atheists themselves seemed quite invested in the idea that atheists do not experience oppression in America. The thread suggested a need for the question to be tackled in a systematic… Read more

How do you survive the inevitable tensions of a post-election Thanksgiving, particularly after the most divisive and disturbing election in recent years? How do you navigate the tension between anger at your family and loved ones for their political decisions, and the desire to maintain good relationships with people who are important to you (or, at least, who are important to other people who are themselves important to you)? This post is meant to help help you work that out by offering philosophical… Read more

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