The Problem with Mount Carmel Moments

When one faith is dominant in a culture, it can sometimes lead to weird things being celebrated as positive moments. For example, certain Christians love to reference Elijah's challenge to the worshipers of Ba'al and Asherah on Mount Carmel. Being an exemplar of intolerant monotheism, Elijah hated the idea that other (false) gods were being worshiped in Israel, so he issued a showdown, a challenge between his God and their gods. "Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under. And call ye on the name o … [Read more...]

Quick Note on Missouri’s ‘Right-to-Pray’ Amendment

In elections held yesterday, Missouri overwhelmingly passed a state constitutional amendment that claims to affirm their religious rights, reinforces a student's "right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools," and forces schools to post the Bill of Rights in schools. However, critics of the amendment pointed out that the ballot language doesn't tell the whole story. httpv://"The ballot did not mention language in the amendment allowing students to refuse to participate in school assignments that violate religious beliefs, or ensuring elected officials the right to pray on government property. "This was misleading in its presentation an … [Read more...]

Filtering and Free Exercise: ACLU vs. Salem Public Library

In 2002 Nancy Willard, Executive Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, issued a report that warned of the troubling confluence between content-control software and conservative religious groups.Willard voiced concerns that the relationships between companies providing web-filtering software to public institutions may be "inappropriately preventing students from accessing certain materials based on religious or other inappropriate bias." She went on to note that terms like "occult" or "cult" are "frequently applied to any non-traditional religions" and that it would be "unacceptable for schools to block access to non-traditional religious sites."Five years … [Read more...]

ACLU Tackles the “Occult” Category in Internet Filtering Software

Yesterday the ACLU announced that it has filed a lawsuit against a library in Salem, Missouri (download the full complaint) for using Internet filtering software that blocks websites pertaining to Wicca and Native American religions. As Ars Technica notes, sites blocked by the library's software include Wikipedia's page on Wicca, but not Christian-run pages that are critical of Pagan religions. According to the ACLU filing, Salem's library director, Glenda Wofford, said "she would only allow access to blocked sites if she felt patrons had a legitimate reason to view the content and further said that she had an obligation to report people who wanted to view these sites to the authorities." … [Read more...]