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My Kind of Atheist

frank_302[1]By now Frank Schaeffer’s critique of crazy right-wing Christianity is sufficiently well-known that he didn’t need to write that book again. We are much the richer for the book he chose to write instead: a book that expresses a very wise person’s irreducible double-mindedness in relation to things of the spirit. Schaeffer was once a shining star in the conservative Christian firmament—an iconic figure in part because of his late parents’ high standing in evangelical circles, and also because of his own contributions to the formation of “movement” Christianity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then he dropped out, turned his back on that kind of power and glory. [Read more]

Sending a Torah and Other Cultural Artifacts from Earth to the Moon, Just in Case

crop_Apollo15[1]Think of Earth as a giant supercomputer, with the moon as our backup hard drive. That’s the vision behind plans to use the moon as off-planet storage for the religious, cultural and even genetic trappings of humanity. Proponents of this idea initially plan to rely on groups vying to win millions in a Google-backed space-flight competition, with the first of those missions possibly departing by the end of 2015. [Read more]

Cambodia Welcomes Return of 1,000-Year-Old Statues

460x[1]Three 1,000-year-old statues depicting Hindu mythology were welcomed home to Cambodia on Tuesday after being looted from a temple during the country’s civil war and put in Western art collections. The pieces were handed over at a ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and U.S. diplomat Jeff Daigle after being returned by the U.S. branches of auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and the Norton Simon Museum in California. [Read more]

World Churches Body Urges African Nations to Sign Arms Trade Treaty

armaments[1]The potentially life-saving Arms Trade Treaty that was years in the making is closer to coming into effect, but a World Council of Churches official has urged more African nations to ratify it. Given the lives crushed by illicit weapons each day in places like Syria and South Sudan, the WCC said Tuesday that churches are part of a joint effort by civil society groups and governments to have the treaty ratified as soon as possible. [Read more]

Letter: Swinney Violated First Amendment by Promoting Religion

chick-fil-abowlclemsongoalfootball[1]recent letter writer argues that Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has committed no wrongdoing in arranging Bible studies for and baptizing players. I argue that Coach Swinney has committed wrongdoing. Swinney violated the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. The government cannot promote a religion. Clemson is a public institution funded by taxes, and Swinney is a public employee. Therefore, neither Clemson nor he can legally promote Christianity. [Read more]

Evangelical Immigration Table Documentary, ‘The Stranger,’ Seeks Reform of Laws, Churches

the-stranger-evangelical-immigration-table[1]A new documentary about immigration, “The Stranger,” which will be shown in thousands of churches across the United States beginning Wednesday, seeks to both push lawmakers toward reforming immigration and to make churches a more welcoming place for immigrants. The film emphasizes the brokenness of the current immigration system by showing how that system has harmed the lives of three immigrant families. It was directed by Emmy-award winning producer Linda Midgett. [Read more]

Arrest Shows Europe’s Challenge to Track Jihadi

460x[1]The suspect in the recent killings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels provides a textbook example of a longstanding fear in the West — the threat posed by radicalized citizens returning from the battlefields of Syria. Since Syria became a magnet for Westerners, European nations have been slowly fortifying themselves with measures to detect potential jihadi fighters and counter any plots. [Read more]

Parishioners Plan Appeals to Keep Their Churches Open

20140603_inq_schurch03z-b[1]Sitting in a pew at Notre Dame de Lourdes Church in Swarthmore on Saturday afternoon, Tom Donahue was shocked to hear that his parish would close in one month. “First it’s like anger and sadness, and then once that all settles in you start thinking, what can we do to save the church and prevent this from happening?” he said Monday. After sharing hugs and tears, Donahue and others at the Delaware County parish turned their grief into action. [Read more]

Ministry to Remove Billboard with Hitler Quote

1401798475000-10256899-467475076731798-6661802487853754270-n[1]The founder of a children’s ministry in eastern Alabama says that a billboard featuring a quote from Adolf Hitler will be removed. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports (http://bit.ly/1x05r2w) that the billboard at the Village Mall in Auburn, Alabama, features five smiling children beneath a quote from Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” Lamar Advertising officials say the billboard was rented by Opelika, Alabama-based Life Savers Ministries. [Read more]

Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese Closes 16 Churches, Cites Shrinking Attendance

notre-dame-de-lourdes-swarthmore-pennsylvania[1]Shrinking attendance numbers have forced the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia to announce it is to close 16 churches in and around the city, the fifth most populous in the United States. Church officials in the Archdiocese revealed the plans affecting parishes in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties included in the archdiocese, merging 29 parishes into 13 and effectively closing 16 church locations. [Read more]

A Stellar Discovery on the Milky Way’s Far Side

5F18BC97-C9DE-41EC-91E13B1613A47D84_article[1]A single Hubble Space Telescope image can capture scores of distant galaxies, but the one galaxy we’ll never see from the outside is our own. As a result, no one knows the Milky Way’s exact size and shape. It took more than a century after the discovery of the first spiral in space before astronomers established that our galaxy is a spiral, too, and more years elapsed before they deduced that we inhabit a barred spiral—a type whose bright central region is elongated. Now, for the first time, observers have detected five stars on the far side of the galaxy that serve as outstanding yardsticks, a feat which will divulge secrets about the Milky Way’s terra incognita. [Read more]

James Kirk Wall Critiques Lawrence Krauss vs Muslim Theologian Debate

Lawrence-Krauss-d_2510273b[1]On March 9th, 2013 the University of London hosted a debate between Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis. Krauss gained a lot of recognition as an atheist and cosmologist from a brilliant one hour lecture about a universe from nothing and later a book by the same name. Tzortzis gives lectures on Islam and resembles Ringo Starr in the early 80s. The theologian begins the debate with the classic argument from ignorance. [Read more]

‘Stop Faith-Based Killings’ say UN Experts in Report on Pakistan Muslim Minority

hindus-in-pakistan[1]In Pakistan the plight of Christians and other religious groups such as Hindus has been recently documented. But in the Muslim-majority country a minority Islamic group is facing persecution says a report by U.N. experts. United Nations experts on freedom of religion, minority issues, and summary executions on Monday called on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures to stop faith-based killings. [Read more]

Rabbis Group Joins N.C. Same-Sex Marriage Suit

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Alliance of Baptists have made it official that they are joining as plaintiffs in a Federal District Court lawsuit opposing North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban. [Read more]

After Taking on the Creationist Crazies, Neil DeGrasse Tyson Takes Aim at ‘Untouchable’ Capitalists

If calling out creationists and insulting the religious were not enough for Neil deGrasse Tyson, he has decided to step up his game and go after the very people in the United States who believe they are untouchable: capitalists. [Read more]

No State Aid for Religious Symbols in Park

The latest skirmish in the war over separating church and state is being fought over a vacant lot in downtown Sioux City. On one side is a Christian group that plans to build Shepherd’s Garden on that vacant lot. It would be “a space that pays particular attention to the promise of new life in Jesus Christ that is available to all.” [Read more]

Home – Another Stain to the Catholic Claim to Morality

Ireland has long been a fortress of Catholicism and it is only fitting that some of the Catholic church’s greatest daemons reside here. TW – Death, Child Abuse [Read more]

Israel’s Newest Cyberwarriors: Ultra-Orthodox Jews

On a hillside campus in Jerusalem, 16 young ultra-Orthodox men come together every evening for intensive training to defend Israel’s newest battlefront: the cyber domain. These men are more accustomed to being hunched over the Talmud, the tome of Jewish law that is the center of their life, than computers. [Read more]

Ron Reagan, Not Afraid to Burn in Hell, Promotes Atheism in TV Spot

When I turned on my TV the other day to catch up with “The Daily Show,” I was surprised to see a full-throated celebrity endorsement for atheism. “Hi I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist,” said the 56-year-old son of our 40th president. [Read more]

A Litany of ‘Thou Shalt Nots’: Catholic Teachers Challenge Morality Clause

If you want to teach at a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, regardless of your religion, you must be willing to sign a detailed morality clause that critics say focuses on “pelvic issues.” [Read more]

On Beliefs – What Do We Believe and Why?

Our beliefs are weird and wonderful, strange and funny. They may help us to make sense of life and of our own lives in particular, but they can also cause chaos and mayhem in the lives of others – and even our own. Our beliefs about men and women will likely affect our attitudes towards them and how we treat them. [Read more]

Russian Multimillionaire Makes Peace with Anti-Christ Milk

Having stamped the barcodes of all milk produced at Russkoe Moloko with a red ‘X’ for the past five years owner Vasily Boyko-Veliky has finally explained why: Supermarket barcodes are the mark of the Anti-Christ described in Revelation and the ‘X’ is a actually cross. [Read more]

Faith by the Numbers: Americans Inflate Church Attendance

It’s natural to assume people to go church to pray. But sociology tells us many people go to be seen. After all, if you’re not noticed at church, what might happen to your business? What would the neighbors think? It’s the same impulse that leads people to lie and say they’ve gone to church, even if they haven’t. [Download MP3]

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