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Grief Beyond Belief Now Has a Website


Three years ago, Grief Beyond Belief was launched — an online support group for grieving non-believers. It was started as a Facebook group, but while that format worked well for quote a while, the group has become larger, with a wider variety of needs, than a Facebook group could really manage. Also, plenty of people who needed and wanted the service don’t use Facebook. [Read more]

Southern GOPer Says Only Christians Should be Protected by Constitution

screen_shot_2014-06-24_at_1.09.47_pm[1]Being back in Georgia always reminds me of the very different norms governing politics in Deep Red country. Yesterday  I mentioned that in Georgia’s 11th district GOP runoff, Barry Loudermilk and Bob Barr were in disagreement about what, if anything, the U.S. should be doing in Iraq. I didn’t mention they both favored the impeachment of the president (Bob Barr touts his experience as a Clinton impeachment manager as a plus), though Loudermilk thinks maybe it’s a waste of time to pursue it so long as Senate action to finish it is unlikely. [Read more]

Cult Leaders & Psychopaths: Power Beyond the Grave

bt-osho[1]An estimated two million American adults are involved in cults. While the definition of what a cult is ranges—some claim all religions to be one—it usually involves a charismatic leader who serves as an intermediary between divine knowledge and those willing to follow him or her. Unlike the traditional teacher-student relationship in which the student is eventually on the same ground (or even surpasses) the teacher, cult leaders allow no one beyond them. [Read more]

Overturn the Ruling Against a Humanist Chaplain

AT001133_07-22_MinistryOfPresenceLF[1]Jason Heap wants to be a chaplain and by all measures he is more than qualified. He holds masters’ degrees in Divinity and Religious History from Texas Christian University and Oxford University, respectively, and has years of experience as a teacher of Religious Education and Philosophy. Yet the U.S. Navy just rejected Heap’s application. Why? The water-based branch of the armed services seems tongue-tied on the matter, but the reason appears crystal clear. Heap is an atheist and a humanist. [Read more]

Investigating the Social Cost of Atheism in the US

ocbx8q[1]I was once dining out with my wife when a giant of a man burst into the restaurant, desperate and determined, and approached me with a humble request. ‘Hello, sir, would you be able to give me some money to buy gas? My car has broken down, and I have no way of getting home.’ Pausing, my wife and I looked at one another, telepathically communicating our mutual consent to spare the funds, when the man added, ‘Don’t worry, I’m a good Christian man.’ Was he being sincere in his attempt to validate his story with religious membership? [Read more]

American Atheists Asked by Court to Explain Why It Finds Ground Zero Cross ‘Offensive, Repugnant’

world-trade-center-cross[1]American Atheists, the group that has been trying to remove the Ground Zero Cross from the National 9/11 Museum in New York, has been asked by a federal appeals court to explain why it finds the artifact to be “offensive,” “repugnant,” and a violation of the Establishment Clause. “Plaintiffs’ brief should, at a minimum, clarify both the injuries alleged and legal theories relied on to support standing,” the Second Circuit Court of Appeals asked in an order late last week. [Read more]

Public Schools Might be Given Option to Display ‘In God We Trust’

53aa2134eb75b.preview-300[1]The national motto “In God We Trust” could find its way into the classrooms and hallways of area public schools in the near future. The state House of Representatives voted on June 2 to pass a bill that would allow public schools to display the motto — as well as the Bill of Rights — in classrooms and other areas of the buildings. The bill, known as the National Motto Display Act, is currently waiting to be reviewed by the state Senate. [Read more]

The Economist Accuses Pope Francis of ‘Following Lenin’

RNS-POPE-ECONOMISTFirst, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck labeled Pope Francis a Marxist. Now, The Economist is accusing him of following Vladimir Lenin. The respected financial magazine accused the pope of following the founder of Soviet communism in adopting an “ultra radical line” on capitalism. [Read more]

Pope Tells Mafia in Calibri They Are Barred from Catholic Church

In an area where the Italian mafia is strong, Pope Francis has told mobsters straight, “They are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated,” from the Catholic Church. Francis made a one-day trip Saturday to the southern Italian region of Calabria. There he spoke out against the local mafia, deeming its acts as “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.” [Read more]

Evolution Basics: Becoming Human, Part 3: Paleogenomics and the Tangled Web of Human Speciation

ThursLarge[1]In previous posts in this series, we’ve sketched out the general outlines of hominin evolution – the hominins being those (extinct) species more closely related to us than to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. And as we have seen, the hominin family tree was at one time diverse, with numerous species overlapping in both time and geographical distribution. Of particular interest is the fact that this pattern of contemporaneous hominin species extends to humans: we coexisted with other hominin species for tens of thousands of years. [Read more]

The Reason Most Americans are Christian

christian-nation[1]Ask an Evangelical Christian for the reason most Americans are Christians and you will likely get some sort of theological explanation, complete with a personal testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. However, is this really the reason most Americans are Christians? Is it really all about theology and relationship? Perhaps there is another explanation. [Read more]

You Can’t Judge Christianity by the Product it Produces

Or so I am told. Virtually any time I raise the issue of the total disconnect between the way Christians live and the truth they say they believe, I am told that the only issue is the truth of the gospel as found  in the Bible. “Christians are hypocrites.” So what. [Read more]

What’s So Christian About Christianity?

Screen-Shot-2014-06-20-at-11.07.53-AM-1024x820[1]The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is famous for saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Those words have become something of a Philosophy 101 cliché since Socrates first uttered them centuries ago, but cliché or not they’re as true today as they were in ancient Greece. [Read more]

A Simple Faith?

It’s no secret that there are deep divisions in the church today. The war over homosexuality gets a lot of attention, but battles rage over a whole host of other issues from abortion and healthcare to evolution and women in ministry. [Read more]

Israeli Leader Criticizes Presbyterians

460x[1]Israel’s prime minister on Sunday criticized the decision by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to divest from U.S. companies that operate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, saying the vote was misguided and unfair. In an address to an international gathering of Jewish journalists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Israel as a rare bright spot in a turbulent region. While stopping short of accusing the Presbyterians of anti-Semitism, he wondered why Israel had been singled out. [Read more]

Do Prospective Employers Discriminate Against the Religious?

discrimination[1]There seems to be a fair bit of discussion going on about whether prospective employers discriminate against people who list religious work or activity on their resume. Christianity Today reports: “As a Christian and social researcher, I have heard many stories over the years of religious discrimination in the workplace. Some are compelling and troubling, others are trivial and frivolous. And it seems like the workplace climate may be getting worse….” [Read more]

Judge Upholds Policy Barring Unvaccinated Students During Illnesses

23vaccine-master675[1]In a case weighing the government’s ability to require vaccination against the individual right to refuse it, a federal judge has upheld a New York City policy that bars unimmunized children from public school when another student has a vaccine-preventable disease. [Read more]

Anti-Vaccination Movement Strikes Out in Bible Belt States

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Atheist to Offer Invocation in N.Y. Town at the Center of Public Prayer Case

RNS-GREECE-ATHEISTWhat do atheists “pray” for? Municipalities around the country are finding out, as nonbelievers of all stripes — atheists, humanists, agnostics and other freethinkers — begin giving invocations at local government meetings. That’s the result of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court decision handed down in May that allows sectarian prayers of all kinds at public meetings. If Christians can pray in the name of Jesus and Muslims in the name of Allah, then atheists plan to offer invocations of their own. [Read more]

The Strange Case Of The Honour Killing Debate

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is not your run-of-the-mill festival. In its 6th year, the idea of the festival is for people to freely speak their minds, and in an accepting, but challenging, public environment. [Read more]

Religion Is Not the Source of All Evil, But Its Evil Is Exclusive

Of course it’s wrong to say that religion is the source of all evil – that excludes nationalism. OK, I’m kidding, the causes of evil are endless and no single two or three or hundred things can be attributed to it. [Read more]

In Very First Law Passed by Congress the Founding Fathers Took God Out

I can’t even get through a day without breaking my own self-imposed ban.  But I’ll try to keep it quick.  Ever wonder what was the first law Congress ever passed?  Well, this was it: “An Act to regulate the Time and Manner of administering certain Oaths was the first law passed by the Congress assembled after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. It was signed by President George Washington on June 1, 1789, and parts of it remain in effect to this day.” [Read more]

United Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer Reinstated on Appeal

In a surprising reversal, a Pennsylvania pastor who was defrocked last year for violating United Methodist law after he officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding has been reinstated. The Rev. Frank Schaefer learned Tuesday (June 24) his ministerial credentials will be restored after the church’s Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals voted 8-1 in his favor. [Read more]

Pastor David Lovely Shows Me Some Love

David Lovely, pastor of Riverview Baptist Church in Franklin, Ohio stopped by today to dump a load of shit on my doorstep. Lovely, a Peter Ruckman loving Baptist, took offense to my comments on a video I posted last year.  Not only is Lovely a pastor, he is a Biblical counselor with a PhD.  Lovely operates the Hope Counseling Center. [Read more]

Sudan Summons U.S., South Sudan Envoys in Row Over Christian Convert

Sudan has summoned the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors over the new detention of a Christian convert who was trying to fly to the United States with her family after being released from death row, state’s top security service said on Wednesday. [Read more]

Christian Education Europe Must Be Loving All This ‘Persecution’

It’s fair to say the last ten days have not been the best for Christian Education Europe. The coverage continued over the weekend, with stories from The TimesIndependent (syndicated in the Times of India), Huffington Post, and Yahoo News (although most of these seemed to be largely plagiarised from the Manchester Evening News). There was local coverage in both the Windsor Observer and Express. [Read more]

Pickens School Board Weighs Prayer Changes

A hotly disputed topic was once again at the forefront at the School District of Pickens County as board members took up the issue of prayer before public meetings. [Read more]

Lest Ye Be Judged

EVERY DAY IS Judgment Day for an umpire. In the early days of organized baseball, team owners actually encouraged fans to harass umps who made questionable, or just unpopular, calls — throw beer bottles at them, or even the occasional brick. The sadism of Orioles fans was especially well-known, according to the 2008 book Death at the Ballpark. [Watch Video]

Religious Diets and Freedom of Expression

There are people who would be angry if I put spiders in their food. Why? Plenty of cultures eat them. They are a good snack, why should you consider that an insult? Or a prank? [Read more]

Poll Finds Americans’ Growing Tolerance Stops at Atheists

For all the pitched cultural battles recently on issues like gay marriage, affirmative action and immigration, the general trend, happily, is that America is becoming an increasingly tolerant place. In fact, there’s apparently only one type of person left that you just can’t bring home to mother. Me. [Read more]

Atheist Baseball and All-Star Conference with the Minnesota Atheists

Atheist baseball and the All-Star Freethought Conference is coming to Minnesota in July. The Minnesota Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) are partnering with the Saint Paul Saints minor league baseball team for a night of “unbelievable” fun on Friday, July 11 at 7:05pm at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. [Read more]

Ontario Public Health Policy Under Review, Religious Exception for Doctors Debated

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has written the current public policy, adopted by Ontario in December 2008, which binds physicians to provide Human Rights Code-mandated services without discrimination for any reason, including religious or moral beliefs of the physician. [Read more]

For Muslims, Howard Gordon’s ‘Tyrant’ Is a Step in the Right Direction

Does FX’s new TV series Tyrant, co-created by Howard Gordon of Homeland and 24 fame, serve up the same cliché depictions of Arabs and Muslims, or is it something different? [Read more]

Support Rises Among Adults for Student Free Expression, but One-Third of Americans Still Say First Amendment Goes Too Far

In a survey released today by the Newseum Institute‘s First Amendment Center, a growing majority of Americans say high school journalists should be free to explore controversial subjects without prior approval, but 38 percent say the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, up 25 percent from the 2012 survey. [Read more]

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Abuse Lawsuits for $12 Million

The Archdiocese of Seattle has agreed to pay $12.125 million to 30 men who say they were sexually abused as students decades ago at Seattle’s O’Dea High School and Briscoe Memorial School in Kent. [Read more]

The Problem Isn’t the Bible

Earlier this year, I blogged my hunch that this would be the year of the Bible. I felt we were reaching a tipping point after which the cat would be out of the bag, by which I meant that important conversations about the Bible would escape from the seminary classroom to the local congregation. [Read more]

Patrick Links Faith, Public Service During Washington Speech

Republican lieutenant governor nominee Dan Patrick took to the national stage Friday night to emphasize a connection between Christian faith and public service. “We have too many candidates and too many elected officials that think politics and service is about them,” Patrick said during the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s policy conference. [Read more]

I Chose Atheism Over My Friends

Like many kids, I was fascinated by dinosaurs. I was also brought up in a household that celebrated Christian traditions. I knew about Jesus’ birth, his crucifixion and resurrection, Noah and the ark and Adam and Eve, keeping these stories separate from our world’s early history. As I grew older, I started to put these things together, learning about biology and evolution and how these things don’t line up what the Bible told me. [Read more]