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Christians ‘Watch More TV’ in US Than Other Believers and Those of No Faith

big-bang-theory-cast[1]Practicing Christians tend to watch more television than non-Christians a new study by the Barna Group across the United States has found. Barna, a California-based faith research company, asked adults 18 and older what TV shows they watch – and if they’re watching at all. “Friends was the sitcom that brought Gen-Xers and Boomers together more than a decade ago. “In 2014,The Big Bang Theory is the sitcom that brings Millennials and Gen-Xers and Boomers -and even a significant number of Elders -together. [Read more]

UN Committee Against Torture Criticises Vatican Failures on Child Abuse

350x[1]The UN Committee Against Torture has criticised the Vatican (in its guise as The Holy See) for several failures in its handling of the child abuse scandal. The Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and has been questioned by the Committee as part of its regular examination of those states that have ratified the treaty. The subsequent report, published on 23 May by the Committee Against Torture is critical of the Vatican’s failures. Earlier this year, the Vatican was similarly scrutinised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. [Read more]

Even an Increasingly Godless America Doesn’t Trust an Atheist to Run the Country

184995590[1]Atheists are one of the fastest growing groups in the world. At the same time, the latest Pew poll shows that they’re the most distrusted group in America, and Americans would be less likely to support a Godless presidential candidate than an unfaithful or a pot-smoking one. These trends don’t contradict each other in the slightest, and I’d argue that the mistrust is both a consequence and a cause of the rapid decline of religiosity in the U.S. Atheism is gaining, steadily and sometimes with remarkable rapidity, and it’s not at all surprising that this rise meets resistance and fear. [Read more]

Religion as Theater

caught-in-pulpit[1]If people think of church as theater they can assume the speech is a role, a lie even. It doesn’t matter if the pastor is spouting bullshit if you think of them as an actor. Daniel Dennett shows keen insight here. Atheists wonder why we are told to lie when it is a sin to lie. This dissonance is suspended by many when they consider church theater. Atheists use conferences as a kind of revival and community building with well known and “visiting” speakers adding to the mix. It is still a theater as we never agree with everything a speaker says but we support them anyway as close enough. [Read more]

The Myth of a ‘War on Religion’

lead[1]Last week, the Public Religion Research Institute published a study showing that Americans want their fellow citizens to think they are more religiously observant than they really are. When asked by a live human being on the telephone how often they attend religious services, respondents were more likely to say they attend frequently. When filling out a self-administered online survey, by contrast, they were more likely to admit that they do not. Surprising? Not terribly. But this may be: Liberals were more likely to exaggerate their religious attendance than conservatives. [Read more]

Alan Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’: My Father Phil Is a ’21st Century Prophet’

alan-robertson[1]Phil Robertson of the A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” is oftentimes compared to John the Baptist for speaking about the Gospel unapologetically, said his son, Alan Robertson. Alan, a guest speaker at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall 2014” event on Thursday, addressed a crowd of hundreds of pastors to encourage them to continue preaching the Gospel without compromise – much like his family is known to do on their show. [Read more]

Megachurch Pastors Leave Reformed Evangelical Network Amid Child Abuse Scandal

CJ_Mahaney-389x369[1]Two pastors have left a Reformed evangelical group after a pastor from the Maryland megachurch they oversaw confessed to covering up sex abuse claims, the latest chapter in a public struggle over evangelicals coming to terms with abuse within their ranks. Pastors Joshua Harris and C.J. Mahaney left the leadership council of The Gospel Coalition, a central hub for the Reformed evangelical movement, after a trial involving child abuse at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., which both men have overseen. A criminal trial that concluded last week raised questions about what pastors at Covenant Life knew about the abuse and why steps weren’t taken to stop it. [Read more]

What is Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome? Part One

sophias-back-300x211[1]Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome (PTCS) is a spiritual injury that is every bit as real and painful–sometimes more so!—as physical injury or mental illness. Instead of referring to a broken body or mind, PTCS signals a broken, battered, or bruised spirit. A much harder thing to see than a crushed spine, sure—but just as capable of paralyzing you. PTCS is a name for a shared experience of spiritual woundedness. [Read more]

Religion and Learned Helplessness

learned-helplessness[1]Too many anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists have excused the bibles as being reasonable exhortations for impulse control and moral cohesion. Considering the bibles have 600-800 laws one should obey, controlling your every breath and action, impossible to obey all, the real message is to keep people in a constant state of shame, guilt, and control. To immobilize them so they may be further controlled at will in any direction. It gets worse when they demand you have absolute free will to change what you cannot. [Read more]

New Report: Evangelising Hate – Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA)

EvangelisingHate_Report_Web_Page_01-211x300[1]A new report from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain “Evangelising Hate” exposes the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group. You can read the report here. Whilst iERA purports to be a missionary-like charitable organisation, it is in fact a “soft Islamist” group, which acts as the Islamist movement’s public relations arm by promoting and normalising Islamist values and norms, including inciting hatred against ex-Muslims, gays, Jews, women, non Muslims and a majority of Muslims who do not share their values. [Read more]

Duggars, Duck Dynasty Publisher to Release Memoir of Christian Singer Turned Gay Activist

knapp[1]The same publishing company that has released titles by members of the Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” and the Duggar family of “19 and Counting” will release a title by a former Christian contemporary artist who announced in 2010 that she was a lesbian. According to the Howard Books website page for Facing the Music: Discovering Real Life, Real Love, and Real Faith, the memoir will be released in October. “Jennifer Knapp’s meteoric rise in the Christian music industry ended abruptly when she walked away and came out publicly as a lesbian….” [Read more]

“Muslim Gospel” Revealing the “Christian Truth” Excites the Da Vinci Code Set

gbarn_302[1]In Amsterdam in 1709, philosopher John Toland set his eyes upon a remarkable manuscript—what he described in Nazarenus as “a Mahometan [i.e., Muslim] Gospel, never before publicly made known among Christians.”  Associated with the apostle Barnabas, the text essentially retold the life of Jesus in terms familiar from the New Testament, but with some major departures. [Read more]

In Tea Party Senate Candidate’s Dissertation, A Nostalgia for a Populist Christian Nation

sasse_302[1]Ben Sasse, winner of last week’s Republican Senate primary in Nebraska and likely the next senator from that state, is a Tea Party hero with an unusual credential: a PhD in history from YaleSasse—a proud anti-choice activist, homeschooler, and opponent of Obamacare and its “entire failed worldview”—bills himself as an outsider to politics, with an expertise in “business turnaround projects for such powerhouses as Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Company. [Read more]

People Would Rather Vote for a Cheater Than an Atheist

screen_shot_2014-05-21_at_6.28.06_pm[1]In the history of U.S. Presidents, none have been avowed atheists — despite the fact that Presidents Jefferson, Taft, Lincoln and  Obama have been questioned about their beliefs. Also as of 2013, there were no “out” atheists in the current Congress, according to Huffington Post. (Former congressman, Barney Frank has stated since leaving office that he does not believe in god, and former Representative Pete Stark, was the only out atheist in congress until 2012.) [Read more]

How Right-Wingers Are Amping Up Their War on Science and Reality

screen_shot_2014-05-20_at_10.36.28_pm[1]No longer content just to claim to be “skeptical” of scientific findings they find disagreeable, Republican politicians have moved on to a more alarming anti-science strategy: confuse the public about what science even is, claiming it’s just someone’s opinion and ignoring the importance of evidence. Marco Rubio’s recent remarks about climate change epitomize this new era, with conservative politicians deciding that “science” is whatever they say it is. [Read more]

Ex-Muslims Call for Islamic Education Charity to be Classified as a “Hate Group”

350x[1]A report published by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has accused the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) of being a “soft Islamist” group, and has called for its charitable status to be withdrawn. The iERA describes itself as an international organisation “committed to educating and informing humanity about, and inviting to, the truth and noble message of Islam.” The report published by CEMB, entitled Evangelising Hate, accuses the group of using the rights language of diversity, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue to promote and normalise “Islamist values and norms”. [Read more]

Group Decries Iowa Funding for Bible-Themed Park

1398089727000-aroundiowa[1]A national group says Iowa shouldn’t fund a planned Christian-themed park in Sioux City and should take back a $140,000 grant. The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter to Iowa officials last week that giving grant money to The Shepherd’s Garden violates the U.S. and Iowa constitutions. “Clearly, this is a violation of the First Amendment,” Andrew L. Seidel, the foundation’s staff attorney, told the Sioux City Journal on Wednesday. “It couldn’t be more clear that what they’re trying to do is promote religion with a park. If it were just a park, we wouldn’t have any problem with it.” [Read more]

Neil deGrasse Tyson Slams CNN for Its Stupidity on Climate Change

screen_shot_2014-05-21_at_6.18.54_pm[1]Neil deGrasse Tyson is not putting up with the media’s terrible coverage of climate change. He is especially not putting up with their continued insistence that climate change is up for debate. Recently, CNN invited science advocate Bill Nye to its popular show “Crossfire” to debate climate change. But why would climate change even be up for debate? [Read more]

Mississippi Religious Law Seen as Polarizing by Rights Groups

mississippi-business-campaign-stticker[1]The “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act” signed last week by Gov. Phil Bryant is worrying civil liberties and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups. The Senate Bill 2681 will become law July 1 when it in enacted. It was passed by the Mississippi Senate by a vote of 48-0 and will also amend the state seal to include the phrase, “In God we trust.” Civil liberties and LGBT rights groups are opposing the bill, which they claim will legalize state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. [Read more]

Court Blocks Birth Control Mandate for Two Christian Colleges

health-and-human-service[1]A federal court has blocked the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing its birth control mandate on two Christian colleges, Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan, while their cases move forward. The preliminary injunction was granted for three reasons, U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett wrote: 1) The plaintiffs, Dordt and Cornerstone, “may suffer irreparable harm” because “they would be forced to comply” with the birth control mandate “to the detriment of their religious exercise.” [Read more]

Skeptics Will Always Face an Uphill Struggle Against Pseudoscience

Ouija-board[1]If the scientific skepticism movement were to choose a mascot, we could do a lot worse than Sisyphus: the figure from Greek mythology doomed by the gods to spend eternity pushing a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down again the moment he rests. Few other analogies really capture the frustrations and seeming futility of counteracting a widely held pseudoscientific belief. Perhaps worse, it is not enough for us merely to push back against the outrageous claims of pseudoscience, and those who capitalise on the bereaved and the vulnerable (whether knowingly or unknowingly) – we also have to do so responsibly. [Read more]

Freedom From Religion Ad by Ron Reagan Airs on Comedy Central

537e547b935b1.preview-300[1]The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is sponsoring a commercial featuring Ron Reagan on Comedy Central Thursday night, where he concludes with: “Ron Reagan. Lifelong atheist. Not afraid of burning in hell.” The son of President Ronald Reagan has long been an outspoken atheist and is an honorary officer of FFRF. [Read more]

Hot Science News About the Creation Museum

The PhysOrg website — now named Phys.org, formerly Physorg.com — where we go for science news, breaks new ground today by posting an article about the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, which is run by Answers in Genesis (AIG), the on-line ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. The PhysOrg headline is Dino skeleton to go on display at Creation Museum. [Read more]

Don’t Vote for Bigots! Why Atheists Shouldn’t Vote for Anti-Atheist Bigots

You can’t assume that just because someone is politically and religiously liberal, then they don’t share the anti-atheist bigotry which is so common in America. Such bigotry may be less common among liberals than among conservatives, but it’s easy to find liberal Christians who are so full of self-righteous feelings of superiority that they dismiss atheists as having anything worth saying or contributing. [Read more]

Infographic: Is Britain a ‘Christian Country’?

The British Humanist Association coordinated an open letter, signed by more than 50 public figures, including authors, scientists, broadcasters, campaigners and comedians, who wrote to the Prime Minister to challenge his statement that Britain was a Christian country. [Read more]

American Atheists Denied Standing To Challenge Church Tax Breaks

The institutions most sheltered from taxation are churches.  L. Ron Hubbard is reputed to have said “You won’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich start a religion”. The religion he started, Scientology, fought a veritable “Thirty Years War” with the IRS to maintain its church status. [Read more]

Atheists Conduct Friendly March Around Mormon Temple Square

The sky grew angry over some 75 atheists as they assembled to march around downtown Salt Lake City’s Temple Square during the LDS Church’s General Conference. But the gathering storm had nothing to do with the wrath of the Almighty, according to the nonbelievers, because there is no God. [Read more]

Court Ruling Raises Eyebrows at Liberty Counsel

Atheist group American Atheists filed suit in Kentucky federal court claiming that giving religious groups and pastors tax exemptions discriminates against atheists. The court disagreed, ruling that atheists can’t claim discrimination because they had not applied and been rejected for the same benefits. [Read more]

Ken Ham Challenges Pat Robertson To A Debate On Young Earth Creationism

Creation Museum founder Ken Ham is once again furious that Pat Robertson has mocked proponents of Young Earth Creationism, and now wants to appear on the “700 Club” to debate the televangelist. Ham, who recently held a debate with Bill Nye, said in a blog post today that he is willing to debate Robertson either on the “700 Club” or at Regent University, the school founded by Robertson. [Read more]

Twitter Agrees to Block ‘Blasphemous’ Tweets in Pakistan

At least five times this month, a Pakistani bureaucrat who works from a colonial-era barracks in Karachi, just down the street from the former home of his country’s secularist founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, asked Twitter to shield his compatriots from exposure to accounts, tweets or searches of the social network that he described as “blasphemous” or “unethical.” [Read more]

Appeals Court Rules Against Tulsa Officer in Mosque Lawsuit

An appeals court ruled Thursday that top Tulsa police officials didn’t violate a Tulsa police officer’s rights by punishing him for disobeying an order to attend or send subordinates to an Islamic mosque event. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 against Capt. Paul Fields’ claim that the punishment — 10 days of suspension from duty without pay — violated his religious rights. [Read more]

Jewish Troops Get New Prayer Book

Jewish soldiers and sailors will read from a new prayer book this Memorial Day, one that aims to satisfy Jews across the spectrum of Jewish practice — a feat its predecessor did not achieve. [Read more]

Christmas Bill Goes to Governor

Louisiana’s public schools will be given explicit authority to put up nativity scenes and Christmas trees as part of a holiday display, under a bill that received final passage with a unanimous Senate vote Thursday. [Read more]

ACLU And Americans United Say Va. County Board May Not Permit Only Ministers Ordained By Monotheistic Religions To Open Meetings

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling That Permits Pre-Meeting Prayer Does Not Authorize Chesterfield’s Discriminatory Policy, Civil Liberties Groups Say [Press Release]

Palestine Refugees Hope Pope Francis Visit To Camp Will Highlight Worsening Conditions

ope Francis will spend less than half an hour in this Palestinian refugee camp during a jam-packed Holy Land tour this weekend, but residents hope even a brief visit will shine a light on what they say is their forgotten plight. Some 190,000 of the West Bank’s 2.4 million Palestinians live in refugee camps and face tougher conditions – including higher unemployment and overcrowding – than their neighbors in towns and villages. [Read more]

How Moderate Should Atheists Be? How Should Atheists Be Less Extreme?

Many religious theists would like atheists to be more “moderate” in their criticisms of religion, religious beliefs, and theism. They contend that atheists are too intolerant of religion and should show more respect to religious beliefs. [Read more]