19 posts

"Atheism," Dmitry Dzhus (2007)

Why do Americans still dislike atheists?

By Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman, Washington Post (April 29, 2011) Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, […]

“New Israel”

Can we take truckloads of soil from Israel and dump it on a platform in the middle of the sea, so as to build an Israel-sized island? We could call it “New Israel.” The Fisk piece below, which collects from memory recent evidence, and the Shawn piece, below that, which diagnoses with terrible accuracy the Israeli mind-set that excuses any number of dead, taken together, give me a sense of hopelessness about resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Can Israel ever be made to behave like a global citizen? Perhaps “New Israel” would be a start. (Thanks for these pieces, Eva […]

God: Better Off Without Him?

[ “Christian fundamentalists claim religion is associated with lower rates of violence, teen pregnancy and divorce. A new study says they couldn’t be more wrong,” reads Alternet’s header for the story. This piece is thought provoking for theists and atheists alike! –BL ] October 13, 2005 | AlterNet by George Monbiot Are religious societies better than secular ones? It should be an easy question for athiests to answer. Most of those now seeking to blow people up — whether with tanks and missiles or rucksacks and passenger planes — do so in the name of God. In India, we see men […]

Nine Defy Vatican’s Ban on Ordination of Women

26 July 2005 | Washington Post by Doug Struck GANANOQUE, Ontario, July 25 — Nine women in white robes knelt on the deck of a cruise boat Monday in religious ceremonies they say will make them the first female Catholic priests and deacons ordained in North America. The Roman Catholic Church immediately dismissed their claim. In 2002, the Vatican excommunicated a group of women who participated in a similar ordination ceremony in Europe. The women here said they expect the same reaction by the Vatican, but they believe they are in the vanguard of social change that will bring equality […]

Venezuela’s Chavez hits back at Catholic critics

Jul 13, 2005 | Reuters by Pascal Fletcher CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez accused Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday of opposing his left-wing rule and being “out of touch with reality” after they questioned his populist policies. The firebrand nationalist has clashed publicly in the past with Catholic Church leaders he accuses of siding with the rich against his self-styled “revolution” in Venezuela, which he says is using the country’s oil wealth to help the poor. Chavez said he had complained this week about the attitude of local bishops to Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Giacinto Berloco, who presented […]

Abortion Opponents For Kerry

[ This piece by Mark Roche, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, follows up an earlier piece on increases in abortions under Bush. Roche, who condemns abortion, writes: … many Catholics seem to think that if they are truly religious, they must cast their ballots for Republicans. This position has … problems…. The overall abortion rate (calculated as the number of abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44) was more or less stable during the Reagan years, but during the Clinton presidency it dropped by 11 percent. There […]

Can Prayers Heal? Critics Say Studies Go Past Science’s Reach

10 October 2004 | New York Times by BENEDICT CAREY In 2001, two researchers and a Columbia University fertility expert published a startling finding in a respected medical journal: women undergoing fertility treatment who had been prayed for by Christian groups were twice as likely to have a successful pregnancy as those who had not. Three years later, after one of the researchers pleaded guilty to conspiracy in an unrelated business fraud, Columbia is investigating the study and the journal reportedly pulled the paper from its Web site. No evidence of manipulation has yet surfaced, and the study’s authors stand […]

Next Church to Shun Israel?: Anglican leaders following Presbyterians

Anglican Network Urges Sanctions on Israel: Report 24 Sept. 2004 | London — Inspired by an earlier successful campaign against apartheid in South Africa, a leading international Anglican group has asked sanctions on Israel and a boycott of businesses there to protest the occupation of Palestinian lands, a leading British newspaper reported Friday, September 24. The call by the influential Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) comes amid growing concern in Israel at rising support among churches, universities and trade unions in the west for a divestment campaign modelled on the popular boycott of apartheid South Africa, The Guardian […]

Violence May Force Iraq to Bypass Hotspots in Election

6 September 2004 | Los Angeles Times Plan would allow voting to proceed in January but might undermine credibility of the results by Patrick J. McDonnell BAGHDAD — Iraq remains on course to hold landmark elections in January, but violence could force authorities to exclude hotspots such as the western city of Fallouja from voting, a top U.S. general said here Sunday. Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, operations chief of more than 150,000 mostly U.S. troops, said in an interview that the “cancer” of anti-American militancy in places such as Fallouja would not derail national elections. A “contingency” plan, Metz […]

In the name of God: George Bush really is doing God’s work – according to the Rev Evans’ best-selling book, that is

August 30, 2004 | The Guardian by John Sutherland One of the surest ways of testing a country’s political temperature is to look at the national bestseller list. The current No 1 on Amazon’s chart, Unfit for Command, in which “Swift Boat veterans speak out against John Kerry”, will draw attention in this country. Formerly No 1, currently holding on at No 3 among the mega-sellers, The American Prophecies, will probably not. It should. The author, Michael D Evans, is part preacher, would-be sooth-sayer, big-time blowhard. He’s also rich, given his book’s runaway sales. Not that money is a main […]

Republican Partisan Bishops Inconsistent on Communion and “Pro-Life” Criteria

[ In this article David Morris points out that the Didache teaches us that to evaluate whether an individual is pro-life depends on far more than his or her position on abortion; that for more than 1500 years the position of the Catholic Church on abortion was very close to that of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade: Early term abortion is not a mortal sin; and that in a private Mass in 2003, the Pope himself gave Communion to Tony Blair, a pro-abortion Episcopalian. U.S. Catholic bishops would be well-served if they were to emulate the example […]

Wallis Challenges Anti-Abortion Bishop on Iraq War

[ Left-leaning Evangelical Jim Wallis challenges Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who announced that “Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia [place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation]. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion….” Wallis: As more and more lives continue to be lost in Iraq, and more and more of our resources are diverted to the war, will the bishop make a similar declaration about […]

Born-Again Rapture

[ From the review: … it would be hard to overemphasize the awkwardness with which [LaHaye/Jenkins] blend[] folksy humour, treacly sentiment and religiously justified bloodbaths. The Left Behind books have been energetically condemned by mainstream reviewers in the United States — not least by more orthodox Christians, who have been as offended by LaHaye?s manglings of biblical tradition as they have by his uncompromising sectarian zeal. Nevertheless, the series?s visions of beleaguered yet plucky evangelists speaks powerfully to the many millions of believers whom secular as well as religious ideologues have been mobilizing since the late 1970s. President Bush — […]

Evangelicals Shape U.S. Foreign Policy

[ From the article: The vast majority of Jews desperately want to avoid a full-scale conflagration between Israel and the Arab world. Dispensationalists don’t. In the dispensationalist narrative, Christians will be raptured to heaven before all the fighting between Jews and Muslims starts. Everyone left will face mass death and destruction… Thus evangelical Christians’ support for policies like the permanent takeover the West Bank and Gaza and even, in some cases, the expulsion of Palestinians into Jordan, should be understood in the context of a worldview in which world war is inevitable….. Dispensationalist Christians believe that this is all in […]

Backward Christian soldier: An open letter to the Christian General

[ Jim Wallis is the editor of the roughly evangelical justice magazine, Sojourners. Here’s his October, 2003 letter to the right-wing fundamentalist, Lt. General Boykin, who characterized the Iraq war as a spiritual war in which Christian Soldiers take on Islam’s “false god.” Bush did not reprimand Boykin — preserving the possibility for the Christian right that Bush may secretly support Lt. General Boykin’s position. But the Administration denied the General speaks for anyone beyond himself — thus preserving the possibility for the rest of the country that the Administration is sane. –doclalor ] by Jim Wallis Dear Lt. General Boykin, […]

Sexual Mores and the Bible

[ Allen H. Brill, founder of “The Right Christians,” is a private citizen and Christian who wanted to see viewpoints of progressive Christians better represented in the public forum. He provides a Weblog on issues involving Christianity and politics that is updated five times a week. Rev. Brill is an ordained Lutheran minister educated at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. He is also a member of the South Carolina Bar with a B.A. degree in Government from Harvard College and a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School. –Suzanne Faye ] The Right Christians, February 25, 2004 (reprinted in […]

Peter, Paul, Mary . . . and God

[ Word on the street in some quarters is that Mel Gibson’s The Passion is noteworthy for its historical accuracy. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Anti-Defamation League commissioned a report that debunks that claim. Nearly as interesting are the uncanonized narratives contemplated below that supply different points of view of the person, Jesus. –doclalor ] February 28, 2004, New York Times By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF For a provocative look at the emergence of Christianity two millenniums ago, skip Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” and examine instead some of the fascinating recent scholarship on the early church. Interest in […]

God is not a right-wing zealot

The Rev. Albert Pennybacker is a Bible Belt preacher with a drawl who's urging people to support “basic religious values.” But he's no Jerry Falwell clone.– – – – – – – – – – – – By Leslie R. Guttman Dec. 24, 2003  |  LEXINGTON, Ky. — In the heart of the Bluegrass, a Bible Belt preacher is rallying people to political action around what he calls “basic religious values.” Think you can describe his politics? Think again. This man of the cloth wants “regime change” in Washington. The Rev. Albert Pennybacker, a Lexington, Ky.-based pastor, is head of […]