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Giving Voice to the Image of the Beast

godbb1[1]I drove past another of those black billboards with white typewriter letters forming cute little remarks like, “If you think it’s hot now, wait’ll you get to hell.” Or “Let’s meet at my place Sunday before the game,” signed “God.” The one I saw today said, “There’s no downside to a relationship with me.” Again, God. Not only do such billboards constitute yet more trivialization of the Christian religion by Christians; they also raise more serious questions, not to mention greater ironies. [Read more]

Manteca Pastor Charged With Murdering Man Who Called Him ‘Girlfriend’ During Church Trip Released From Jail

robert-cox-julie-cox[1]The family and friends of youth pastor Robert Cox of Place of Refuge Church in Manteca, Calif., who is currently facing murder charges stemming from a fight in the parking lot of a Las Vegas, Nevada bar last year, celebrated his release from a local jail Monday night where he had been locked up for nearly a week. Cox was arrested by the Manteca Police Department last Tuesday and charged by the Las Vegas district attorney with the murder of 55-year-old Link Ellingson, who died from injuries he suffered during a fight with Cox on June 13, 2013 in the parking lot of a sports bar called Four Kegs Sports Pub. [Read more]

The Devil: Alive and Well?

devil-alive-god-jesus-670-1[1]He is the serpent who tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, the fallen angel who rebelled against God, the Dragon, Beelzebub, the Father of Lies, Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness. A giant beast, he stood frozen to the waist in a lake of ice in Dante’s Divine Comedy, chewed on the damned in early Renaissance paintings, made a pact with Faust as Mephistopheles, rode a tank and “held a general’s rank when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank” — if you trust the Rolling Stones. A popular icon in the past, the devil appears to be alive and kicking also in Pope Francis’ modernizing church. [Read more]

Bible Verses That Atheists Love

shutterstock_162811745-edited[1]A few years back, a cheeky Christian website named Ship Of Fools asked readers to vote on the worst verse in the Bible. The solicitation went out—“It could be a verse which is irredeemably naff, mind-numbingly boring, or a verse which you find offensive or cruel. Please send us your nomination.”—And contenders flowed in. Ship of Fools is the brainchild of two Brits, Simon Jenkens and Stephen Goddard, who met in theology school and who hold among their sacred values a belief in self-examination. “Our aim is to help Christians be self-critical and honest about the failings of Christianity, as we believe honesty can only strengthen faith,” says Jenkens. [Read more]

Justin Bieber Turns to Faith After Video Scandal, Gets Baptized in New York City

justin-bieber-poses-pastor-carl-lentz[1]He’s been insufferable for a while and now Justin Bieber is apparently ready to be settled. The pop star is turning to faith after the leaked video scandal that made him a mouthpiece for racist remarks. Bieber, 20, was baptized by Hillsong New York City pastor Carl Lentz last week, TMZ reports. He also spent a month beforehand doing “intense Bible study” with the celebrity-friendly pastor. He was reportedly baptized in a hotel room to “keep the whole thing private,” according to the gossip site. A video of the “Looking for You” singer surfaced online earlier this month showing him using the N-word in a racist joke. Another clip of Bieber with similar racist remarks came days later, forcing him to issue an apology for the “childish and inexcusable” behavior. [Read more]

Gays Preparing To Slaughter Christians In Homosexual Holocaust According To Tony Perkins

6236354278_348df63f9d[1]Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, asked the attorney Nicole Martin of Alliance Defending Freedom on his show, Washington Watch With Tony Perkins. Martin had recently represented Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver Colorado. Judges on the Colorado Human Rights Council recently unanimously ruled against Phillips in a claim that Phillips had violated a gay couple’s civil rights when he refused to bake them a wedding cake. The discussion on the show about the council decision quickly escalated beyond the usual hateful bigoted remarks usually associated with anything to do with Tony Perkins or the Family research Council and jumped right into Holocaust territory so fast it would make Godwin gasp. [Read more]

Christian Homeschoolers Accused of Running ‘Concentration Camp’

jorgs[1]Like “concentration camp” survivors: Strict punishment for the home schooled girls included hour-long running sessions, missed meals, memorization of Bible verses, and beatings with a wooden paddle. Late last week police in Arizona arrested Johan Glenn Jorg and Kimery Lynn Jorg on suspicion of felony child abuse after their two adopted daughters were found to be severely malnourished and emaciated. The married couple appeared Thursday night before a judge who set bond at $100,000 apiece. [Read more]

5 Doomed, Hilarious Efforts by the Religious Right to Disprove Science

screen_shot_2014-06-06_at_10.43.27_am[1]What happens when you’re part of a religious and political movement whose ideology is contradicted by well-established science? You’ve gotta get creative. Here are the five most ridiculous explanations religious conservatives have conjured up to outflank science, from gay armies to magic birds to the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. 1. Climate Change Isn’t Happening, but if It Is That’s Fine Because It Means Jesus Is Coming – Who’s not worried about climate change? [Read more]

Westboro Baptist Church Gets A Big Surprise While Protesting Wilson High School

BpqRDZyIQAAZDFt[1]Members of the Westboro Baptist Church were met with a rainbow surprise when they arrived in Washington, D.C., to protest a local high school with a gay principal. Wilson High School Principal Pete Cahall came out as gay last week at a Pride Day event at the school alongside D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and openly gay City Councilman David Catania. “I want to say publicly for the first time because of your leadership, care and support that I am a proud gay man who just happens to be the principal of Wilson High School,” the 50-year-old, who also said he was tired of “hiding,” told the crowd. [Read more]

Nate Phelps, Son of Westboro Baptist Church Founder, Details Abuse In New Documentary ‘Not My Father’s Son’

photo-main[1]Nate Phelps grew up in a physically and mentally abusive household headed by Fred Phelps, the founder of the hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church. Since escaping the toxic environment of the ‘church’ known for its trademark slogan of “God Hates Fags,” Phelps has devoted his life to being an advocate for LGBT acceptance. The upcoming documentary “Not My Father’s Son” will give unique insight into the inside workings of the WBC, chronicling Phelps’ journey from his abusive childhood to his eventual departure which cut him off from his family. [Read more]

Barney Frank: Why I Didn’t Talk About My Atheism While Serving in Congress

USA-POLITICS/FRANKThis weekend, the American Humanist Association (AHA) will honor former Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts with their 2014 Humanist of the Year award. Last year, Frank—a trailblazing politician who was the first member of Congress to come out as gay and the first to be in a same-sex marriage while in office—revealed his atheism in an interview with Bill Maher. The atheist and Humanist community has enthusiastically embraced him; earlier this year he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism award by the Humanist Community at Harvard. [Read more]

Marriage is Not a Sacrament for Protestants and Why that Matters to LGBT Christians

henryviii_302[1]Recently, well meaning Episcopal clergy and lay leaders have been urging the church to “extend the sacrament of marriage” to lesbian and gay Episcopalians, moving beyond the blessing of same-sex unions that was approved at the last General Assembly of the church in 2012. Leaders from Baptist, United Church of Christ, and other denominations have likewise pressed for marriage equality in Christian churches, claiming the sacramental blessings of marriage as something that should be available to all Christians, whether gay or straight. [Read more]

God’s Power & Omnipotence: Does God Cause Evil Events?

Most Christians in America seem to believe that their god is omnipotent (though definitions of “omnipotent” seem to vary). They don’t realize that this is a problem because an omnipotent god which can cause anything to happen is ultimately responsible for everything that happens – good and evil (even if this god isn’t the direct and immediate cause of an event). [Read more]

The Secular and the Sacred

Religion has been given comfortable house room in liberal democracies, which protect the right of people to believe as they wish, and accept the wide variety of faiths brought into them by immigrants from all over the world. This is right and proper, for freedom of speech and belief are essential values, and the very idea of democratic society is premised on the idea of responsibly exercised liberty. [Read more]

Stabbing Suspect Wrote About Norse Apocalypse

The 16-year-old suspect in a mass stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school expressed his “dissatisfaction with school and society” in a document he titled “Ragnorok,” the name of a Norse end-of-the-world legend, investigators said in a search warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday. [Read more]

Taliban Claims Responsibility For Attack On Jinnah International Airport In Karachi

Their backpacks stuffed with food and ammunition, a squad of highly trained Taliban fighters attacked Pakistan’s biggest airport in what they clearly expected to be a protracted siege. Seven fighters were shot dead by Pakistani forces after five hours of intense gunfire at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. [Read more]

Philadelphia Freedom: Planning To Bring True Religious (And Philosophical) Diversity To America’s Communities

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia attending the annual conference of the American Humanist Association (AHA). The group had asked me to speak, and I even sold some copies of my new book, Taking Liberties. A lot of people asked me about the Supreme Court’s May 5 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway. [Read more]

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day. After covering important topics, like disparaging each other’s mothers and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane. “So, how’s work going?” he asked. [Read more]

Answers in Genesis: Why Science Is All Wrong

This one is a classic. It’s at the website of Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry). The title is Does Astronomy Confirm a Young Universe?, and it appears to be a chapter in some kind of creationist book. [Read more]