Who Gets a Platform on the College Campus?

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When I was an undergraduate, the Cambridge Union invited Jean-Marie Le Pen – then Leader of the National Front Party of France – to debate immigration. Le Pen is a highly polarizing figure: a darling of the French right wing, and a demon to the left. Seen (rightly, I think) as a race-baiting, foreigner-hating, anti-semitic, [Read More...]

No Such Thing as Islamophobia?

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There is an unfortunate trope in the Freethought movement which suggests there is no such thing as “Islamophobia”. Rather, those who take this view aver, Islamophobia is merely a term used to shut down criticism of inhumane aspects of Islamic belief and practice, a useful weapon in the hands of the liberal thought police. Such [Read More...]

We Must Criticize Islam – Responsibly

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On Monday I helped coach a group of leaders from all around the world in the opening session of the Harvard Kennedy School’s “Global Change Agents Executive Education Program“. It was an inspiring day: participants from all continents and numerous nations shared their stories, explaining  what called them to change the world. One story particularly [Read More...]

Responsible Religious Criticism: Part Two – What is a “Religion”?

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Part of a Series on Responsible Religious Criticism Part One – Questions of Power Update: I edited the section on beliefs, values, and practices to be more (I hope) accurate to the great diversity of religions in the world When engaging in any sort of criticism, it is essential to know what one is criticizing. [Read More...]

Responsible Religious Criticism: Part One – Questions of Power

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Provoked, as so often, by adorably elfin blogger Vlad Chituc, I’ve decided to codify some of my thoughts regarding the responsible criticism of religion, and particularly responsible criticism of Islam. This is a topic which has sometimes divided the freethought community: some see Islamophobia in some of the criticism which prominent atheist writers direct toward aspects [Read More...]

What Do We Mean By “Religion”?: Religions Have No “Heart”

Part of a Series: What Do We Mean By “Religion”? What do we mean by “Religion”? I find that whenever I’m in disagreement – either with a person of faith or with another atheist - it frequently boils down to a disagreement over the meaning of “religion”. Someone will begin with “The problem with religion is X” or [Read More...]


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