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The Real Origins of the Religious Right
Bob Jones University
One of the most durable myths in recent history is that the religious right, the coalition of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, emerged as a political movement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. The tale goes something like this: Evangelicals, who had been politically quiescent for decades, were so morally outraged by Roe that they resolved to organize in order to overturn it. [Read more]

4 Neat Theories of Religion

Chalices-300x300[1]So I recently stumbled across this post from BrainPickings.org, about how to explain religion. It features four of those cute little minute-long animated educational videos that make you feel smart without your actually having to do anything. (You know the kind – they’re quirky, hip, catchy, and they make you feel pleasantly intelligent just by association with the person who made them.) The BrainPickings post purported to be a primer on major theories of religion. Cool, right? Except the original creators – instructors at UK’s Open University – chose to make videos about four thinkers who are almost never cited in the study of religion. Like, ever. [Read more]

A Woman is Stoned. We Politely Look Away

350x[1]I guess I should start by saying that I am half Pakistani. My dad grew up there, has dual citizenship (British and Pakistan) and many of my cousins still live there, including the lovely Zafar, who is based in Lahore. I also have a couple of relatives who, while no longer living in Pakistan, are Islamic fundamentalists, the kind of people who will have read about the stoning to death of a pregnant woman outside a courtroom in Lahore on Monday and nodded approvingly. [Read more]

Skeleton of 12,000-Year-Old Girl Could Show Where First Americans Came From

large_MM7927B-090617-007975-599x400[1]Around 12,000 years ago, a short teenage girl was wandering a system of caves, likely searching out water, when she fell into a deep pit and cracked her pelvis. She likely died almost instantly, and her body remained there untouched until researchers discovered it in 2007, submerged under water that had filled the cave when glaciers began melting 2,000 or so years after her death. [Read more]

Atheist Teen Says Teacher Threatened to Punish Her for Refusing to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

flag1-539x620[1]A New York school district is under fire after an atheist student said her high school teacher threatened to discipline her if she refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The unnamed Southside High School sophomore objects to saying the words “under God,” and approached the American Humanist Association, a secular activist group, for help. The Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the organization’s legal arm, sent a letter to the Elmira City School District Tuesday, calling the teacher’s alleged actions “a serious constitutional violation.” [Read more]

EU Rejects Anti-Stem Cell and Anti-Choice Citizen Initiative

350x[1]The European Commission announced this week that it was to take no further action on the ‘One of Us’ citizen initiative. The initiative, which is a petition-based campaign that was organised and promoted by religious conservatives and officially supported by the Pope, sought a cut to all EU funding for embryonic stem cell research and IVF treatments involving the destruction of embryos. [Read more]

Virginia Atheist Couple: Court-Appointed Officiant Told Us We Had No Right to Get Married

Closeup-of-hands-of-bridal-couple-with-wedding-rings-Shutterstock[1]A court-appointed official in Virginia refused to perform a wedding ceremony for a couple because they don’t believe in God. Tamar Courtney and Morgan Strong planned to get this married after six years together, and they’d hoped a friend would be able to officiate, reported the Friendly Atheist blog. But that friend had trouble obtaining his license, so the couple turned to Franklin County – where a judge referred them to two court-appointed officiants. [Read more]

Send in the Clowns: Guidelines won’t stop school chaplains proselytising

JOBOB_schools_800x600-640x360.jpg.pagespeed.ce.TFE699KREi[1]I’ve learned not to place too much trust in the earnest, public proclamations of Christians-in-receipt-of-public-money. So, when Rach Mason assured us on The Big Smoke that school chaplaincy isn’t a problem because “Chaplains are not allowed to proselytise,” I’ll admit to raising a sceptical eyebrow. [Read more]

Why Franklin Graham Is the Worst Thing to Happen to God

shutterstock_31977463-edited[1]Franklin Graham is the worst thing to happen to God in a while — well, OK, God’s reputation. I’m only slightly exaggerating. You see, Franklin Graham is at it again, making life difficult for thoughtful Christians everywhere. In a speech at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall, Graham made it his business to remind the audience of pastors about the people God hates. “Whom does God hate?” you wonder. Cowards. [Read more]

Why Jesus Would Have Hated Most Modern Day Religion

screen_shot_2014-05-15_at_1.27.39_pm[1]A leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” If Jesus had been a good religious Jew, he would have said, “Be healed,” and just walked away. Instead, he stretched out his hand and touched the leper, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean,” even though he was breaking the specific rules of Leviticus. Two chapters teach that anyone touching a person with leprosy is contaminated. Jesus certainly was not a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity that’s used as a trade-marked product to sell religion. [Read more]

Dinesh D’Souza Admits to Errors in Judgment in Personal and Political Life, Says He’s Come to Point of Restoration

obama-america[1]Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who recently pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud, admits that the last couple of years of his life have been a whirlwind that includes both political and personal failures, as well as successes and restoration. While in the midst of putting the finishing touches on and promoting his new film, “America,” due out in July, D’Souza maintains that his roller coaster life. [Read more]

Creationists Try to Outsmart Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Great Flood and Climate Change

ndtmoyers1_0[1]The great flood as told in the Bible is a myth; a story retold through the generations that predates Christianity itself. Meanwhile, the Epic of Gilgamesh is the same story, but thousands of years older, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson in the latest installment of the television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Biblical literalist Christians, as you might expect, are not happy with this version of events. Creationist Ken Ham’s group, Answers in Genesis (AiG), were at the forefront of complaints. [Read more]

Offering Classes on Historical Method and the Historicity of Jesus

PHmedium[1]I am still teaching the science and philosophy of free will this June (that class starts next week; you can register here). But now my courses for July and August are also open for early registration (and there is a limit on how many students I take on per class, so they might fill up; I will offer them again next year). For July (and this in preparation for August) I will be teaching a course on historical methods: Thinking Like a Historian: Historical Methods, Practice and Theory (details and registration here). [Read more]

11 Kinds of Bible Verses Christians Love to Ignore

screen_shot_2014-05-26_at_11.30.15_am[1]Some Bible-believing Christians play fast and loose with their sacred text. When it suits their purposes, they treat it like the literally perfect word of God. Then, when it suits their other purposes, they conveniently ignore the parts of the Bible that are—inconvenient. Here are 11 kinds of verses Bible-believers ignore so that they can keep spouting the others when they want to. To list all of the verses in these categories would take a book almost the size of the Bible; one the size of the Bible minus the Jefferson Bible, to be precise. [Read more]

Four-Billion-Year-Old Rocks Yield Clues About Earth’s Earliest Crust

old-rock[1]It looks like just another rock, but what Jesse Reimink holds in his hands is a four-billion-year-old chunk of an ancient protocontinent that holds clues about how the Earth’s first continents formed. The University of Alberta geochemistry student spent the better part of three years collecting and studying ancient rock samples from the Acasta Gneiss Complex in the Northwest Territories, part of his PhD research to understand the environment in which they formed. [Read more]

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Lubbock ISD in Jesus Tattoo Lawsuit

A federal judge ruled in favor of the Lubbock Independent School District on Thursday in its case against Little Pencil, a company that sued the district earlier this year for rejecting its Jesus Tattoo advertisement, which the district equated to proselytizing. [Read more]

Atheists Lose Latest Legal Fight Over ‘In God We Trust’

Atheists lost their case against the “In God We Trust” motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday (May 28). It’s a battle they have lost several times before, as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution. [Read more]

Fundamentalism Ruins Religion for Conservatives and Liberals

The Last Acceptable Prejudice hit a chord, not only with religiously conservative folks but with liberals who balk at the notion that we should give religious conservatives any hearing at all. Like so much in our culture we seek enemies and enjoy destroying them, and so we are at loggerheads on religion. The New Atheists, buoyed by a new sense of confidence and numbers, are feeling their oats and will not be silenced, and I say rightfully so. [Read more]

Dazed And Dogma’ed: Discredited Scientology-Linked Narconon Remains In Some Calif. Public Schools

It seems an anti-drug program rooted in the Church of Scientology never left California’s public schools even though it was supposedly removed nearly a decade ago. A recent investigative report by Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle detailed the resilience of “Narconon,” a Scientology-founded program that church members claim can help people wrestling with substance abuse. [Read more]

Anti-Gay Westboro Baptist Church Has a New Target: D.C.’s Wilson High

Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas-based organization best known for anti-gay picketing at military funerals, has chosen a new target: Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, where students are holding a Pride Day next month. [Read more]