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5 Insane Lessons from My Christian Fundamentalist Childhood

My name is Hannah Ettinger, and I was raised in the Quiverfull movement. The term is taken from a verse in Proverbs, which says: “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of arrows.” We interpreted this to mean: “Blessed is the man who dies with the most kids.” In the Quiverfull movement, children are pretty much metaphorical weapons born to shoot a degenerate modern society in the face. I was one of nine children, and our family was just on the large end of “normal” in size. Really, it was downright small: We didn’t need to use all the seats in our 15-passenger van to get to church. I was brought up to be just one more weapon in this terrible faith-based arsenal, but I didn’t quite hit the target. Here’s what I can tell you about being a weaponized offspring. [Read more]

Is American Christianity Becoming a Workout Cult?

1398635089960.cached[1]Plenty has been written about the cult of CrossFit—the widely popular, DIY workout craze. But maybe CrossFit isn’t a cult at all. Maybe it’s a new religion. CrossFit is a workout philosophy, a brand, and a network of affiliated gyms. It’s also a subculture that, with its manic friendliness and clan-like vibe, carries a whiff of cultishness. Browse the digital pages of our nation’s finest periodicals, and you can read about the cult (or is it more like a church?) of Crossfit, that attracts “Painiacs” who have either joined an ordinary conditioning program or a bona-fide cult that feeds you Kool-Aid. [Read more]

A Fundamental Fight

.i.1.rushdie-fatwa-vf-annie-01[1]When Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or death sentence, on Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, 25 years ago, the novel became more than literature. Talking to Rushdie and those who stood beside him—Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, E. L. Doctorow, and others—Paul Elie assesses the extraordinary impact of a prophetic, provocative book, which turned its author into a hunted man, divided the cultural elite, and presaged a new era. [Read more]

Obamacare Religious Exemption Hard to Get

14765173-mmmain[1]Nestled in the fine print of the Affordable Care Act is a clause that allows people of certain religions to seek an exemption from the requirement to carry health insurance or pay a fine. The clause applies only to denominations that run their own “mutual aid’ system of spreading the cost of health care across the community. That’s how the Amish, and to a lesser extent Mennonites, traditionally handled health expenses. Mennonites are not opposed to the concept of either health care or health insurance. [Read more]

Spanish Government to Face Court After Policing Award Given to the Virgin Mary

spanish govt faces court action over police awardSpain‘s government is being taken to court over a minister’s decision to give the country’s top policing award to a statue of the Virgin Mary. The country’s interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, singled out an icon of the Virgin Mary, in Málaga, to receive the gold medal of police merit – which is normally reserved for police who have died in terrorist attacks. [Read more]

New Clues Cast Doubt on ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’

120918060102-papyrus-front-story-top[1]It seemed real; it seemed fake; it seemed real again; now we’re back to fake. “It” is the controversial little scrap of papyrus, written in Coptic, that seems to have Jesus referring to “my wife,” in contrast to the traditional stance that affirms Jesus’ perpetual bachelorhood. The quick backstory: In 2012, a Harvard professor, Karen King, brought this papyrus to the attention of scholars and the public. Both the material and the script looked authentically ancient at first glance, and though the notion of Jesus having a wife was remarkable, these “lost” Christian writings, such as the Gnostic Gospels, are full of unorthodoxies. [Read more]

Egypt’s ’Secular’ Gov Uses Religion as Tool of Repression

egypt_302[1]Egypt’s military-backed government has followed a pattern established by a long line of Egyptian political leaders who have exhibited public religiosity and presented themselves as men of God. Notably, the recently-ratified constitution—drafted by a group of fifty people hand-selected by the nation’s military-installed president—did not do away with an article dictating Islam as the official religion of the state and Islamic Shari’ah as the primary source of legislation. Three factors make the current Egyptian regime’s use of religion significant, however. [Read more]

Pro-Choice Group Claims Success in Persuading Google to Remove ‘Deceptive’ Crisis Pregnancy Ads; Pro-Life Groups Not Convinced Move Will Impact Work

pro-choice-advocacy-groups-say-they-have-convinced-google-to-remove-listings-to-crisis-pregnancy-center-clinics-that-pop-up-when-users-search-abortion-which-they-claim-are-deceptive[1]NARAL Pro-Choice America announced Tuesday that it has successfully lobbied Google to remove advertisements that appeared to publicize abortion but in reality did not offer the service. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, praised the tech company for agreeing to remove advertisements following a campaign the organization started earlier this year. [Read more]

Conservative Anglican Leaders Back Uganda Anti-Gay Law

Yoweri_Kaguta_Museveni-279x369[1]Leaders of the conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion equate the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack. The Global Anglican Future Conference — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — concluded a two-day meeting in London on Saturday (April 26) with a statement that expressed concern for violence in South Sudan and Northern Nigeria. It then said: “We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation.” [Read more]

Obama and the Paradoxes of Progressive Christianity: An Interview with James Kloppenberg

kloppenberg-550[1]On March 27-29, scholars gathered in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Danforth Center on Religion & Politics for the conference “Beyond the Culture Wars: Recasting Religion and Politics in the Twentieth Century.” At the pinnacle of the three-day event, James T. Kloppenberg delivered the keynote lecture, entitled “Barack Obama and the Paradoxes of Progressive Christianity.” Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University. His lecture drew on his 2011 book, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition. [Read more]

No Guns Allowed in Our Churches, Say Georgia Episcopal Bishops

handgun-in-georgia[1]The Episcopal bishops in Georgia have said no firearms will be allowed in churches or property under their oversight in the U.S. state. Their directives were in response to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signing on April 24 the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 the name of a law expands where guns may be carried within the state and that takes effect July 1. The law can allow for the carrying of firearms into place such as churches and bars in which alcohol is consumed. [Read more]

Liberals, Democrats Need the Religious Left, New Brookings Report Argues

ross-douthat-gary-dorrien-william-galston-e-j-dionne[1]A “Religious Left” movement will remain an essential component of the Progressive Movement in America, yet it will never be as important to liberalism as the Christian Right is to conservatism, a new Brookings Institution report by E. J. Dionne and William Galston argues. While the Religious Left is a lot more ideologically diverse than the Christian Right, the report notes, (there is no agreement on abortion, for instance) the disparate strands of religious progressives can unite on the broad theme of “economic justice,” or advocacy on behalf of the poor. [Read more]

Hicks: Creationists Eschew Darwin, Then Try to Make Their Message Evolve

Apparently, Mike Fair is not a fan of the new hit TV show “Cosmos.” Which is funny, since some people think everything else on Fox is the gospel. The Greenville state senator has persuaded the state Education Oversight Committee to force South Carolina school kids to make arguments for – and against – Darwinism. Really. [Read more]

Why Cliven Bundy Wasn’t A Religious Right Hero

Phillip Bump asks why Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson became a hero of the religious right, and why the rancher Cliven Bundy is being dumped like a hot potato by conservatives (some rather belatedly) who lionized his supposedly brave stand against the big bad federal government, until his racist statements were published in the New York Times. [Read more]
Faith Leaders Urge Support of Federal Minimum Wage LegislationA group of religious leaders stressed the moral obligation to raise the federal minimum wage in an April 29 letter to Congress, describing increased wages as “indispensable to ensuring that no worker will suffer the indignity of poverty.” [Read more]

Anti-Gay Common Ground for Some Christian and Muslim Leaders; Ugandan Catholic Bishops Praise Anti-Gay Laws; Anglican Bishop of Wales Says Scripture ‘Nuanced’

In this week’s recap, we find more evidence that some Christian and Muslim religious and political leaders find common ground in anti-gay scapegoating and rhetorical gay-bashing as a means of nationalist, anti-western political posturing. [Read more]

4 Questions for Anne Marie Waters and Secularists Voting UKIP

Britain’s European elections are in three weeks, with the right-wing UK Independence Party predicted first place. This blog’s core readers aren’t likely to vote for them, but the party has startling support in parts of UK secularism. [Read more]

Nigeria: Surging Bloodshed Strains ‘Marriage of Irreconcilables’

When Fulani raiders carrying rifles, machetes and clubs stormed his village one night last month, Pius Nna was stunned to see his teenage nephew among them. [Read more]

Two U.S. Soldiers Lose Bid to Dress According to Religious Custom

The U.S. Army has denied requests by two soldiers to dress and groom themselves according to their religious beliefs under a revised Pentagon policy, a spokesman said on Monday. [Read more]

Boehner Rival Loses Christian College Job Over ‘Electile Dysfunction’ Ad

A campaign ad including House Speaker John Boehner in a parody Cialis commercial has cost his Republican primary opponent a teaching job at a Christian college in Ohio.

[Read more]