Is Civil Marriage a Right?

Last week the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, according to The Daily Mail's write-up of the case, the court ruled that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.Before I get to the main point, I have to say that last part struck me as bizarre. There's not a Catholic church in … [Read more...]

Romney’s a Priest? What does that mean?

Via the Daily Dish, I found an article by Howard P. Kainz, that argues that the media's relative comfort with Romney's religion is proof that most Americans don't consider Mormons to be real Christians.  Here's a pull quote: [T]he fact that Mitt Romney, the first Mormon candidate for the presidency in our nation’s history, is not only a bishop in the LDS church but a High Priest of the highest echelon (the "order of Melchizedek") within that religion, and is not being opposed because of the "s … [Read more...]

The Other Contraception Mandate Fight

Remember you can vote once per day for the Atheism Awards.  I'm one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.I do want to do a substantive post on the contraceptive mandate later in the week, but, to set the stage, I want to talk about the conscience objection for pharmacists first..  Since we haven't all been having this argument to death (at least not recently), maybe it can give us a better lead-in to the more topical fight.A federal judge in Washington … [Read more...]

Fancy a spot of Sharia law?

I've returned from AAAS (jet lag and all) and I'd like to take a crack at one of the questions you guys posted in the Marriage Q&A post (if you've thought of a new question, I'm still watching that thread).  Gilbert asked: As far as I get it covenant marriage rests on the state refusing covenant-violating divorces. Otherwise it would be exactly like ordinary civil marriage: a promise of life-long commitment that can easily be broken without repercussions. So I suppose you support a separate … [Read more...]

Church and State: Two Disputedly-Valued Things that Go Terribly Together

Ok, here comes part two of my reply to Mark Shea's post about New Atheism's War Kinetic Military Action on Christmas.  Part one focused on the reasons you might want to think twice before you complain a group hasn't been victimized enough by a crime to be entitled to be upset.  Now, on to the specific tactic of resolving those disputes in court.If you hate the lawsuits, change the lawIt's one thing to contend that declaring a statewide Day of Prayer (with or without reference to a s … [Read more...]

Tis the Season for Church-State Lawsuits!

I think Mark Shea meant to give me a compliment, but if you read his post today, I sound like the atheist equivalent of a Fox News!democrat -- the kind of Judas you can point to and say "even atheists think X has gone too far."  So let me take a moment to talk about some of the church-state lawsuits that are a traditional part of the holiday season.The discussion was sparked by an Arizona lawsuit in which the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued after Gov. Jan Brewer declared a statewide … [Read more...]

Retronymic Marriage

Temporary marriage (no, not that kind) has been all over the news since some Mexico City lawmakers started pushing for marriage contracts that expire after two years. I don’t know enough about Mexico City politics to guess whether this proposal has a chance of passing or whether it’s a vanity bill, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped the blogosphere from bewailing it as the latest sign of the marriage apocalypse.Instead of defending marriage, religious leaders should work on defining it. Th … [Read more...]