If the attorney general won’t fight gay marriage, Christians will

By on February 27, 2011 | Discuss

Earlier this week, the US attorney general issued a press release stating that the US justice department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage act (DOMA), in court.  DOMA has been challenged recently in court and seems to be on shaky constitutional ground.

In response to this news, the Religion News Service (a pretty good source, in my opinion) ran a pretty interesting article entitled “If Obama won’t fight gay marriage, conservatives will.” Basically, 3 conservative Christian legal groups are going to continue to go to court to defend DOMA. Who are these groups? Well, I’m glad you asked…

The Liberty Counsel is headed by Matt Staver who also happens to be the Dean of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University Law school. The  Alliance Defense Fund‘s founders include Bill Bright, D. James Kennedy, and James Dobson. The American Center for Law and Justice was founded by Pat Robertson.  All 3 were started around the early 1990’s–apparently the height of the “Culture Wars.”  All three groups have stopping abortion, same sex marriage, and any discrimination against Christians as their goals.

So there you have it. The “Culture War” in a nutshell.  When it comes to legal access to marriage for gays or abortion for women Jerry Falwell(deceased), Pat Robertson and James Dobson are standing in your way and will do anything to stop you–including forming legal groups to defend unconstitutional laws.  The end.

You’re probably asking why I changed the word “conservatives” to “Christians,” in the title of this post.  Although there may be liberal Christians who are pro gay marriage, there isn’t a single non-religious argument against gay marriage. If you’re against gay marriage in this day and age, it’s because of your religious beliefs.

Wrestling with conviction

By on February 21, 2011 | Discuss

I know sports news is not generally in this website’s “wheelhouse” so to speak, but this quote from an ESPN article really stuck out to me.

The Herkelmans — and most of the state of Iowa — praised Northrup for being a boy of faith. “It’s his religion and he’s strong in his religion,” says Megan Black, the only other girl who made state. (These were the first two in the state’s history. Black lost both her matches.) “You have to respect him for that.”

Why?

Does any wrong-headed decision suddenly become right when defended with religious conviction? In this age, don’t we know better? If my God told me to poke the elderly with sharp sticks, would that make it morally acceptable to others?

And where does it say in the Bible not to wrestle against girls? Or compete against them? What religion forbids the two-point reversal?

Via ESPN.

Evangelical vs. Fundamentalist (a response to Robin’s post)

By on February 4, 2011 | Discuss

I have intended to create a blog post on this topic for a while now because I think we atheists tend to use these terms interchangeably, and they are not quite interchangeable. Many fundamentalists would not want to be called an evangelical, and vice versa. But the reality is that the terms fundamentalist, evangelical and mainline Christianity rest on a continuum, with many people and churches on blurry lines between these terms.  My parents were self-identified fundamentalists throughout my childhood, and then switched to a more evangelical church when I was a teenager. This post is only my first-person observations of these groups. I am not familiar with “every jot and tittle” of every point of every denomination’s doctrine. Feel free to post angry comments about how I am wrong about what some sect believes. <sarcasm>

The big issues in this debate are the inerrancy of the bible and cultural conservatism. If you were to set the broad spectrum of Christianity on a right-to-left scale, “fundamentalists” would be on the far right and “mainline” churches (United Methodists, Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterian USA, etc.) would be on the far left. Evangelicals sit on the middle ground between these two extremes. Continue reading…

Creationism: the recent numbers

By on December 28, 2010 | Discuss

Gallup has released an interesting new scientific poll gauging America’s belief (or lack thereof) in evolution.  I think you can look at this data in one of two ways.  If you are a glass-half-empty person, you can look at it like the pollsters did:

Most Americans believe in God, and about 85% have a religious identity. It is not surprising as a result to find that about 8 in 10 Americans hold a view of human origins that involves actions by God — that he either created humans as depicted in the book of Genesis, or guided a process of evolution. What no doubt continues to surprise many scientists is that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the first of these explanations.

These views have been generally stable over the last 28 years. Acceptance of the creationist viewpoint has decreased slightly over time, with a concomitant rise in acceptance of a secular evolution perspective. But these shifts have not been large, and the basic structure of beliefs about human beings’ origins is generally the same as it was in the early 1980s.

On the other hand, if you are a glass-half-full person, you will notice that creationism is currently at an all time-low, and secular evolution is on the rise.  Sure, the overall numbers are 40% to 16%, but that’s still an improvement over 2000, when the gap was 47% to 9%.  Continue reading…

Arizona hospital loses catholic status over surgery

By on December 21, 2010 | Discuss

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life. Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center — recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices — violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops. “In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.

In a statement, St. Joseph’s President Linda Hunt said the hospital will comply with Olmsted’s decision, but she defended its actions. “If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.” The woman is in her 20s had a history of abnormally high blood pressure when she learned of her pregnancy. After she was admitted to the hospital with worsening symptoms, doctors determined her risk of death was nearly 100%. The hospital’s ethics team concluded the pregnancy could be ended under the church’s ethical directives because “the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother’s life,” the hospital said.

Source: USA Today

A Cobert christmas message

By on December 20, 2010 | Discuss

Sorry fans of “Jeezus” (the god of the American version of evangelical Christianity)  but the real Jesus (assuming he really existed) was a bit of a hippie, constantly trying to get people to sell all their possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12:33, Matthew 6:19, etc.).

I really enjoyed the clip below, by Stephen Colbert.  If there’s one thing we can take from Jesus’ teaching this time of year, I hope it’s the charity bit.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
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