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CFI Tells Federal Court: End Taxpayer Funding of Clergy Housing

tax_free[1]If your employer provides you with housing at your place of work, and requires you to live in it, the value of this housing is not subject to federal income tax. “Ministers of the gospel,” however, receive a significantly more generous tax benefit. Members of the clergy, and only members of the clergy, can receive a cash allowance designated for housing free of taxes, and, if they use this cash to pay a mortgage, they can still claim a mortgage tax deduction. Moreover, there is no requirement that ministers even reside at their place of work; they can live in a beach house if they want. [Read more]

The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult

lead[1]November 2, 2012, was a beautiful Friday in Kansas City—clear and cool and sunny. I had spent the afternoon reading in the library at an unaccredited college affiliated with the International House of Prayer, an evangelical Christian organization commonly referred to as IHOP (no relation to the restaurant). Around 6 pm, I got a call from my friend Hannah*. [Read more]

Living Life Without Religious Faith

Tim Foster was once a part-time preacher in his church. He is on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Offutt Air Force Base and completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan. And a few years ago, the 26-year-old Bellevue resident became entirely certain he no longer believed in a god. [Read more]

How an Apocalyptic Plague Helped Spread Christianity

140623090755-plague-of-cyprian-0623-story-top[1]Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed relics from an apocalyptic plague that some Christians believed heralded the end of the world  an idea that likely helped spread the faith centuries ago. A team from the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor unearthed the remains in a funerary complex in the ancient city of Thebes. (The city is now known as Luxor.) [Read more]

Muslim Vigilantes Looking for Homosexual and Atheists

A group of eight men attacked Adam Ghafoor and his friends in a café in Male, Maldives on June 8th, accusing them of homosexuality and atheism. The friends had met for breakfast after a session at the gym and were dressed in shorts and tees. “You homosexual atheists are destroying our country – we will not stand back and watch you do it,” said the member of the group to Ghafoor and his friends. [Read more]

So, You Married an Atheist…

FT_14.06.16_marryAnAtheist[1]How would you react if a family member were to marry a born-again Christian – or an atheist? A new Pew Research Center survey found that despite high levels of political polarization overall, most Americans in each major political party said “it wouldn’t matter” if an immediate family member married someone who identifies with the opposite party. [Read more]

Sexist Religion Still Isn’t a Democracy

In past eras when ignorance and prejudice were the norm, religious authorities could decree ignorant and prejudiced rules without anyone taking notice. But in the centuries since, the world has changed, while religious morality has largely stayed the same; and to many believers of the modern era, those unchanging doctrines, born in a darker time, are archaic relics at best and an embarrassment at worst. [Read more]

Bratton and NYPD Still Spying On Muslims

800px-nypd_cops_in_manhattan[1]Linda Sarsour has waited over two years for a new police commissioner who would halt the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) blanket spy program targeting Muslims. [Read more]

Republican Candidate Jody Hice Claims First Amendment Doesn’t Apply to American Muslims

A Republican candidate seeking to represent Georgia’s 10th U.S. House district believes that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty does not apply to followers of Islam. [Read more]

Transgender Priest Gives Sermon at Washington National Cathedral

8_4_2013_national-cathedral-vandalis8201_s160x105[1]The first openly transgender priest to preach at the Washington National Cathedral urged the gay community Sunday to be brave and open-minded as it works to eliminate oppression. The Rev. Cameron Partridge told the audience at the landmark Episcopal church that people need to be unashamed of who they are and embrace “the blessing of collaborating visions.” “We need to see one another, to be revelations to one another, to go out into the world together across our differences,” Mr. Partridge said. [Read more]

Deconstructing Feminist & Atheist Babies

jewish-baby[1]There is a schizophrenic attitude (at least) towards what we call babies. Richard Dawkins has said all babies are atheists. On the other hand he tweeted that this is droll yet too contentious to be a speaking point. Joyce Carol Oates has said there are no misogynist babies. We will take that as meaning all babies are feminists. [Read more]

Courting Evangelicals, Rand Paul Vows To ‘Stand Up For Unborn Children’

Describing a nation “in a full-blown spiritual crisis,” leading Republicans on Friday vowed to fight against abortion rights and protect the role of faith in public life as they courted religious conservatives with an eye on the 2016 presidential contest. [Read more]

Are Prosperity Preachers Destroying the Traditional Black Church? A Review of ‘Black Church Inc’

parishioners-worship-at-a-predominantly-african-american-church-in-this-file-photo[1]A new documentary takes a critical look at the evolution of the historical Black Church in America and puts megachurch pastors under a harsh spotlight, especially those who are treated like superstars and amass wealth from preaching a Gospel they might not necessarily adhere to. [Read more]

The IRS Needs to Start Investigating Churches

At first, the political ad seemed noteworthy only for its inconsistent use of capital letters. A political action committee was running the full-page ad in a small weekly newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, urging Democrats to vote for Sen. Thad Cochran in the state Republican primary against his Tea Party rival. Nothing earth-shattering — that is, until a New York Times reporter investigated the political action committee that paid for the ad and found that it shared an address with a local and influential church. [Read more]

Same-Sex Marriage in the Presbyterian Church Could Hurt Their Seminaries

Presbyterians-GaysLast week, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voted to allow its clergy to officiate over same-sex marriages in states where it is legal, as part of its 221st General Assembly Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. While this is a landmark decision for the denomination, it is one that perhaps will see more members leaving not just the denomination, but its seminaries. [Read more]

Views on Religion, the Bible, Evolution and Social Issues

PP-2014-06-26-typology-5-01[1]There are deep divisions in the political typology over religious beliefs, views of the Bible and social issues such as homosexuality and abortion. And while the right and left differ over these issues, in many cases they also divide both parties’ coalitions. On fundamental views related to belief in God, 53% of the public says it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, while 45% believes it is necessary. [Read more]

Americans United Tells Appeals Court To Rule Against Public Funds To Mo. Religious School

A federal appeals court should uphold a lower court ruling against a religious Missouri preschool denied a state grant, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says. [Read more]

North Carolina Enacts Law Protecting Student Prayer in Public Schools

Pat%20McCrory%20AP[1]North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law last week that protects the religious liberty of public school students, including their right to pray, share religious viewpoints, and distribute religious literature at school without harassment from school officials. S.B. 370 was introduced in March 2013. It passed 106-9 in the North Carolina House and 48-1 in the state Senate before Gov. McCrory signed it on June 19th. [Read more]

Secular Triumph as Government Bans Creationism from Free Schools and Academies

victory-for-secular-campaigners-as-teaching-o.21397320-700x305[1]Creationism cannot be taught as a valid scientific theory in any free school or academy, the government has said. The move, which came in a little noticed document last week, marks a significant victory for secular campaigners, who have long fought to ensure the freedom granted to free schools and academies does not allow religious ideas to be taught in science classes. New clauses for church academies published on June 9th clarify the meaning of creationism and state that it is a minority view within the Church of England and Catholic church. [Read more]

Childhood Indoctrination is Serious Brainwashing

A-GRAPH-Childhood-Indoctrination-color-300x286[1]From this graphic, it should be clear that a child in a fundamentalist Christian environment faces a powerful array of factors influencing indoctrination. Many of these techniques are quite deliberate, such as keeping children at home for their schooling to control what they learn and don’t learn. [Read more]

Why “Fetal Personhood” is a Dangerous Theological Word Game

What does it mean to be a person? For the anti-abortion group, Personhood USA, a “person” is present from the moment a sperm penetrates an egg, and members are fighting to have their definition encoded into law. Online coaching tools for abortion opponents use the term person interchangeably with human or human being. Are they interchangeable? [Read more]

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and the First World Problem of “Religious Persecution”

persecuted[1]Recently, a Sudanese court imposed the death penalty on 27 year old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who at the time was pregnant. Ibrahim, a Christian, was legally considered a Muslim though she had been raised a Christian. Ibrahim was given the opportunity to officially reject her Christian faith prior to sentencing, but refused. [Read more]

Sudanese Christian Woman Freed Again

A Sudanese Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned was freed again on Thursday after being detained on accusations of forging travel documents. Wearing a traditional white and green dress, Meriam Ibrahim, 27, walked out of a Khartoum police station carrying her newborn baby hours after lawyers said she was ordered released. [Read more]

The Controlled Chaos of Creativity

650630_thumbnail-1024x610[1]Fifty years ago, Sarnoff Mednick defined the process of creative thinking as “the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specific requirements or are in some way useful. The more mutually remote the elements of the new combination, the more creative the process or solution.” [Read more]

Marriage to Atheists Still Troubling to American Families

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, aimed at examining political polarization, found that almost half of Americans of would be disappointed if a family member married an atheist. [Read more]

Does Society Need a Science Court to Help Establish “The Facts”?

facts-outweigh-myths-big_think[1]It’s interesting that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was not only a U.S Senator and U.N. Ambassador, but a sociologist. Interesting, because Moynihan is usually credited with the pithy sounding observation that “You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts”, which any entry-level sociologist ought to understand is a really dumb thing to say. [Read more]

Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think ‘Religious Freedom’ Means Forcing Their Faith on You?

142d22b82d15c648d39e83e091a607c5fd1acc4b[1]Religious freedom is one of the most fundamental American values, written directly into the First Amendment of the Constitution. Of course, true religious freedom requires a secular society, where government stays out of the religion game and leaves it strictly to individual conscience, a standard that runs directly against the modern conservative insistence that America is and should be a “Christian nation”. [Read more]

Jesus Ordained Women And We Should Too

Since I’m always welcoming new people to the blog I sometimes like to revisit an old post or two that sparked a good conversation, but may have been missed by those who weren’t around when it was originally posted. [Read more]

AIG Reacts to the UK Creationism Ban

We recently posted about some good news from the British government: UK Bans Creationism in Tax-Supported Schools. We said: “That’s certain to generate a firestorm of outrage from the creationists.” And now we have exactly the reaction we expected. This is from Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry). [Read more]

In Iran, Forms of Birth Control Might Get You 2 or 5 Years in Prison

As I have said before, one of the very few successful programs of the Islamic Regime was its birth control policy, but last year for some unfathomable reason, they completely changed course. The Supreme Leader actually apologized that there was a family planning program and said we need a country of at least 150,000,000 people. [Read more]

Religion Has No Answer for Sectarianism

In Iraq, we are witnessing yet again the tremendous harm caused by religious fanaticism. One interesting aspect of the present conflict is that it largely pits Muslim against Muslim, with some fanatics in the Sunni tradition battling devoted adherents of the Shia tradition. Both traditions, of course, rely on the Quran as the ultimate authoritative text. So why the conflict? [Read more]

The Sunni-Shia Divide: Where They Live, What They Believe and How They View Each Other

The ongoing and intensifying conflict in Iraq has fallen – at least in part – along sectarian lines, with the Sunni Muslim militant group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) advancing against the Shia Muslim-led Iraqi government and Shia militias. Sectarian affiliation has played a role in the politics of the region for hundreds of years. [Read more]

Indian Court Issues Arrest Warrant Against Cricket Captain Dhoni

An Indian court issued an arrest warrant against national cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus, according to local media reports. [Read more]

Karl Giberson is Puzzled Why Theistic Evolution Isn’t Gaining Adherents

Karl Giberson, the former Executive Vice President of the accommodationist organization BioLogos, has started writing for The Daily Beast. And, judging by Sunday’s column, “What’s driving America’s evolution divide?“, he seems to be having either a crisis of faith or a crisis of tactics. [Read more]

First Amendment Ignorance: Survey Reveals Land of the Free and Uninformed

Are we an ignorant nation — aside, of course, from knowing all things Kardashian, Bieber and Cyrus? OK, “ignorant” may be too harsh a word, but how else do we label the twin facts that only 14 percent of adults in the United States know that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the press and that nearly 30 percent cannot name a single right guaranteed by that amendment? [Read more]

Excommunicated Mormon Activist Says She Has No Plans to Change

Twenty-four hours after being excommunicated from the LDS Church for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church,” Kate Kelly said she has no plans to change. “I think I’ve acted with integrity at every step of the way and I’m proud of our group for continuing to ask hard questions,” she said Tuesday. “They took away my membership but they can’t take away my testimony.” [Read more]

5 Things You REALLY Mean When You Say “I Don’t Approve of Your Homosexual Lifestyle”

The phrase “homosexual lifestyle” gets thrown around a lot by conservatives when jockeying for political power or popularity points. Sadly it seems it gets used even more so by otherwise nice enough people when they want to claim how much they love gay people, they  just “don’t approve of their lifestyle.” UGH! [Read more]

Festival of Dangerous Ideas Cancels Event by Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Uthman Badar Titled “Honour Killings are Morally Justified”

Sydney-based Muslim speaker Uthman Badar, from Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was to give the speech, titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August. However, the event sparked an angry response on social media and talkback radio, and drew strong condemnation from two New South Wales Government ministers. [Read more]

Michael Behe: The Edge of Evolution

A few days ago your prescient Curmudgeon posted Our Existence is Improbable, Therefore …, in which we predicted that creationists in general, and Discoveroids in particular, would be leaping upon some recently published research by Dr. Joe Thornton, professor of ecology & evolution and human genetics at the University of Chicago. [Read more]

No, Jailed Rocker Tim Lambesis Didn’t Try to Kill His Ex-Wife Because of Atheism

Tim Lambesis—lead singer of metalcore band As I Lay Dying, who last month was sentenced to six years in prison for plotting to murder his ex-wife—made headlines over the weekend after admitting that he was actually an atheist. This admission was a surprise to many. [Read more]

2014 Pew Research Poll on Evolution

The Pew Research Center has just released new results of a multi-topic poll they’ve been taking. The last time we wrote about this was six months ago: Pew Research Poll on Evolution. We think some of what we discussed in our earlier post is included in this new information. [Read more]

Frank Viola Gives 7 Reasons Why People Leave Christianity

Did you notice the one big reason that Viola left out, the one primary  reason many of us give for our deconversion? Viola fails to mention that many people leave Christianity for intellectual reasons. [Read more]