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Is the IFB Church Movement a Cult? (4-Part Series)

witness-wore-red[1]Last Friday, I watched Dateline on NBC. Dateline spent two hours detailing the story of Rebecca MusserRulon JeffsWarren Jeffs, and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). You can view the story in its entirety on Dateline’s website. Rebecca Musser was one of Rulon Jeffs’s  sixty-four wives.  She was instrumental in bringing Warren Jeffs to justice and her court testimony and subsequent book, The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justiceexposed the Jeffs and the inner workings of the FLDS church. For two hours I watched and wept as Musser told her story. As her story unfolded, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. It was clear I was in the midst of an emotional crisis. There was something in Musser’s story that was affecting me at a visceral level. What was it about this woman’s story that affected me so deeply? [Read more]

These Four Liberals Believe in Diversity, Tolerance

ayaan-hirsi-ali[1]Amid the recent epidemic of liberals behaving illiberally, some still support the liberal values of diversity, tolerance and open-mindedness. The two most recent examples of liberals behaving illiberally were the ousting of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and Brandeis University’s withdrawal of an honorary degree for feminist scholar and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Eich was forced out of his position by same-sex marriage supporters for making a $1,000 donation in support of traditional marriage in 2008. Ali was disinvited from speaking to Brandeis students because she has argued that Islam in inherently violent. [Read more]

Minister On The Run After Raping 10 Teen Girls For A Decade – Says It Was God’s Will

On-the-run[1]The Star Tribune is reporting that Minnesota authorities are conducting a nationwide search for Victor Barnard, a 59 year-old former minister who is facing 59 counts of first degree sexual assault against teen girls whom he referred to as “Maidens’.” Two women have come forward alleging that Barnard, who was the minister of a cult-like community in Minnesota, repeatedly raped them at very young ages. One of the victims, Lindsay Tornambe, confirmed the details of the charges filed by prosecutors in a phone interview with the Tribune. [Read more]

Bill Nye: Creationism is “Bad for Science Education, Bad for the U.S., and Thereby Bad for Humankind”

ham_nye-620x412[1]Two months ago everybody’s favorite “Science Guy,” Bill Nye, debated Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Though the evangelical Christian Today poll showed that 92 percent of the more than 37,000 responders said that Nye won, many wondered why the well-known scientist even debated Ham in the first place? Why elevate the pseudo-science on such a public platform? Bill Nye has taken the time to respond to critics in an essay published in Skeptical Inquirer. [Read more]

Duggar Daughters Talk Sex, Courtship, and Fear of Ungodly Men

duggargirls_302[1]Growing up Duggar: Its All About Relationships is the third book in the reality TV family’s publishing arsenal, but it’s the first book written by the Duggar daughters, Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger. In the runup to the eighth season of 19 Kids and Counting!, which debuted on April 1st, the young Duggar women launched an ambitious publicity campaign. Interviewers seem to have been particularly fascinated by Jessa Duggar’s announcement last year that she had entered into a “courtship” with fellow conservative evangelical Ben Seewald. [Read more]

A Day In The Life of a Religious Minority

Jesus-billboard-1-300x193[1]There are some ways in which I have privilege in this society and other ways in which I definitely don’t. Religious privilege is something I’m lacking and so it is interesting to me to see those who do have it calling me too sensitive or silly or disrespectful to their religious rights. Let’s do a little exercise. I will tell you a little about what it’s like to be a non-Christian in a heavily Christian country. You try to imagine these same stories but with a religion that you either don’t know or don’t like. What if all these things were Hindu things? How would you feel? [Read more]

The Accused Kansas Killer’s Neo-Pagan Religion

140414064908-newday-howell-jewish-shooting-00011521-horizontal-gallery[1]Frazier Glenn Cross is a white supremacist, an avowed anti-Semite and an accused killer. But he is not, as many think, a Christian. Cross, who also goes by the name Glenn Miller, is accused of killing three people – all Christians – on Sunday at Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas. Authorities are weighing whether to file hate-crime charges against Cross, who is suspected of targeting Jews. The 73-year-old has espoused anti-Semitism for decades. He also founded racist groups like a branch of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Both groups have deep ties to Christian white supremacists. [Read more]

‘Secular Canopy’ is Keeping European Politicians Quiet on Faith

the-rise-in-atheism-across-europe-coincides-with-a-decline-in[1]The European Union has often been characterised as something of a ‘Christian club’ of nations, but does that mean that the people who run it are actually Christians? That is the question behind the research of Francois Foret, a professor of religion and politics at the Université libre de Bruxelles, who presented the findings from his “Religion at the European Parliament” study yesterday. Addressing the Churches’ European Relations Network at London’s Metropolitian University, Professor Foret said religion was “back on the European agenda”. [Read more]

Americans Intuitively Judge Atheists as Immoral

lviv-dominican-church[1]Atheists have been speaking up more loudly in recent years, adding a fresh perspective to debates over meaning and morality. But in spite of this new visibility, the way Americans view non-believers remains extremely negative, according to a newly published study. After reading a description of someone committing an immoral act, participants in five experiments “readily and intuitively assumed that the person was an atheist,” University of Kentucky psychologist Will Gervais reports in the online journal PLoS One. [Read more]

What the Show Cosmos Gets Wrong about Religion—and Science

Yale-550-x-358[1]In its third episode, titled “When Knowledge Conquered Fear,” the new Cosmos reboot, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, tells the story of the discovery and publication of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. Almost three centuries after Newton’s death, these laws, which offer a unified framework for calculating and predicting the movement of a projectile on earth as well as the planets in the heavens, remain a fundamental contribution to our understanding of the physical world. In them, Newton laid the foundations for centuries of scientific exploration, including humanity’s voyages into space in the twentieth century. [Read more]

Pismo Beach Stops Prayer at Council Meetings

pismo-beach-pier-jpg[1]The Freedom From Religious Foundation and a local member of Atheists United San Luis Obispo brought a lawsuit against Pismo Beach asserting that the city’s invocations violated the California Constitution. At Monday’s city council meeting, council voted 3-0 during closed session, to authorize a stipulated judgment that pays the plaintiff’s $1 each in damages. The plaintiff’s attorney’s will be paid $47,500. City council members Kris Vardas and Mary Ann Reiss did not attend the meeting. [Read more]

“Coming Out Atheist” by Greta Christina: A Must-Read Book

Coming-Out-Atheist-cover-550-199x300[1]Greta Christina’s book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Otherand Why came out. I have read the book and I absolutely loved it. I want to tell you why I loved it, my thoughts about coming out as an atheist in Iran (as a theocratic country). Coming Out Atheist is part argumentative, urging the reader to come out, and providing reasoning why it is a good idea to do so, part instruction and help book, sharing tips about how to come out, to whom come out, how to manage your life coming out, etc. Both parts are accompanied with many interesting anecdotes from many atheists from all walks of life. Both parts accompany both general advice and reasoning, and advice and reasoning for specific different groups who are atheists, and also about coming out to different people in your life. [Read more]

Why Do Christian Right-Wingers Pretend America’s Laws Don’t Apply to Them?

screen_shot_2014-04-16_at_10.32.26_am[1]The situation with Cliven Bundy of Nevada should be a no-brainer for people from both the left and the right. Bundy has been stealing from the taxpayers for years, illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands while refusing to pay for the privilege. Both liberals and conservatives pay taxes, so such blatant theft should outrage everyone equally. Indeed, conservative media claims to take theft from taxpayers very seriously, with Fox News spending so much time on the miniscule problem of food stamp cheats that the number of minutes spent on it has likely long ago exceeded the number of pennies lost to this non-problem. [Read more]

Finally, Dawkins Converts People to Christianity

One of the staple criticisms of Richard Dawkins—the Official Lightning Rod of New Atheism™—is that his stridency turns people away from evolution as well as from atheism, so that he actually converts people into both creationists and, if they were originally nonbelievers, religionists. [Read more]

Atheist Freed, But Criminal Case Continues; Pastor Transferred from Psychiatric Hospital

After nearly six months’ imprisonment, 63-year-old atheist and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksandr Kharlamov was today (4 September) freed from prison in Oskemen. However, prosecutors continue to seek evidence for the continuing criminal case against him. [Read more]

Iraq: Don’t Legalize Forced Child Marriage

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalize forced child marriage. The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying. [Sign Now]

. . . and a special posting . . .

Science and Its Institutions
CFI Institute Online Course
May 1 – May 31, 2014

Instructor: David Koepsell, JD, PhD

How did science develop? It is one of the most successful means of understanding nature, and yet it developed not according to some general plan or coordinated effort. Instead it evolved at the dawn of the modern age from a number of contemporaneous movements and practices. We will examine this evolution, look into the nature of its successes, and examine the necessary and sufficient conditions, values, and institutions that endure to provide us with knowledge about the universe in a way no other mode of investigation can.

Class will consist of readings, forum discussions online, and at least one live discussion online through Google Hangouts. Everyone should create a Google account in anticipation of the course so we can conduct our online discussions.

CFI Institute Online course Fees:

$60 per seminar
OR $100 for the 2-course “Naturalistic Humanism” track/
$150 for the 3-course “Science and Reason” track
OR $225 for our entire 2-track/5-course program in 2014

Ready to sign up? Register online here.