Francis and Kim

"Pope Francis - Caricature" by DonkeyHotey via Flickr [CC BY-SA 3.0]

I was not planning to write about the visit of the Bishop of Rome, whom I unaffectionately refer to as Pope Fluffy.But that was before I read about his meeting with Kim Davis.Yesterday’s edition of the Times reported that Fluffy was asked what he thought about government employees who refuse to do their jobs: Asked about government employees who refused to discharge their duties as an act of religious conscience, including refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, Francis did n … [Read more...]

Russia Does Not Heart Pussy Rioters Or Gays

Russians seem to love authoritarianism.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the czarist, Communist or modern variety.The latest flavor is different only in degrees.  Czar Vladimir, like his spiritual predecessors, has embraced God, specifically the Russian Orthodox Church, as a convenient enforcer.  Protest band Pussy Riot learned this the hard way.  From Masha Lipman at The New Yorker: … [Read more...]

The Bad News Bears

Exactly ten years ago the U.S. Supreme Court allowed legal after-hours access to elementary schools by religious groups (Good News Club v. Milford Central School).  This was a long standing practice in most upper schools, but many elementary schools felt that children would have a difficult time making the necessary separation between the authority of their school and the religious activities taking place there.  Such a perception could amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause. … [Read more...]

Tennesseans Iz Lernin

I grew up in Miami, but I spent my junior and senior years of high school in Houston, Texas.  My experiences in Jewish suburbia did not prepare me for the wacky Christianity that I would see there.  One day in my social studies class we had a guest speaker who came to “testify” about Christ.  The year after I graduated, students dedicated the yearbook to Jesus Christ.  The place was just nuts.Like Texas, Tennessee lags behind no one in its love of faith-based everything and there is a propose … [Read more...]

Sharia Hysteria And Unintended Consequences

In their continuing effort to make false distinctions among fundamentalist Islam, Christianity and Judaism, lawmakers here in Florida have crafted a law intended to block the rapid (imaginary) spread of Sharia law in America.  Unfortunately for them, it will also affect the application of Jewish halakha in certain cases (from the Forward): … [Read more...]

Another Baby Dies Due To Ritual Circumcision

I wish that I did not have to post things like this.  I’ve already written about my objections to circumcision.  It’s non-consensual, risky and irreversible.  But there’s circumcision and there’s circumcision and the kind of “b’rit milah” that is conducted with the tradition of “metzizah b’peh,” sucking the blood out direcly by mouth, carries risks beyond any other.And once again, it’s resulted in the death of an infant: … [Read more...]

Republican Roundup: Santorum, Kennedy, Romney & Posthumous Conversions

J.J. Goldberg, frequently one of the most sane voices in American Jewish journalism, has a very interesting post about Santorum and his negative effect on the Republican brand name.  Basically a historical review of Jewish support for Democrats, Goldberg points out that, while never a majority, Jewish support for Republicans has seen better days and that a strong showing for Santorum will cause further alienation.  I think he’s right about that.  Santorum’s comments about wanting to “throw up” wh … [Read more...]

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…Onto The Ark We Go!

I just took a few days off to go to Walt Disney World with my daughter and we had a great time.Speaking of Fantasyland, there is another legend that’s getting its own theme park, but this time it’s in Kentucky and called “Ark Encounter.”  It’s a production of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, the people who brought you the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky. … [Read more...]

Reasonable Religion

Am I anti-religious?Many atheists are proudly so.  They see all religion as dangerous and harmful and they seek its eradication.  That’s not my emphasis.  In fact, I generally view liberal religion as my ally.  (I'm what the other atheists call an accomodationist.)In my profile (over there on the right) I state this:I believe in the centrality of ceremony and ritual in human life, but I also believe that it must be de-coupled from the supernatural. I believe that the scientific method i … [Read more...]

Homohater Fosser Fram

Once again Iowa has held its ridiculous caucuses allowing a microscopic number of people to determine the trajectory of our presidential primaries.  This year only 5.4% of registered Republicans showed up and most of them were from the most fundamentalist evangelical communities.I guess Romney’s pandering worked, though those eight (!) votes that put him over the top cost him a bucketload of money. … [Read more...]