Is this what they are doing with my tsunami relief donations? From the article: "Jubilant at seeing the relief trucks loaded with food, clothes and the much-needed medicines the villagers, many of who have not had a square meal in days, were shocked when the nuns asked them to convert before distributing biscuits and water." Christopher Hitchens also exposes similiar actions in India by Christian missionaries in his book critical of Mother Theresa.
Richard Dawkins discusses religion with a Darwinian outlook. RD: Could religion be a recent phenomenon, sprung up since our genes underwent most of their natural selection? Its ubiquity argues against any simple version of this idea. Nevertheless, there is a version of it that I want to advocate. The propensity that was naturally selected in our ancestors was not religion per se. It had some other benefit, and it only incidentally manifests itself today as religious behavior.
Paul Kurtz on the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, there has been a massive retreat from Enlightenment ideals in recent years, a return to pre-modern mythologies. There has been a resurgence of fundamentalist religions worldwide—Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism. Added to this are occult-paranormal claims, which allegedly transcend the existing scientific paradigm. In the United States—the preeminent scientific-technological-military superpower in the world—significant numbers of Americans have embraced primitive forms of biblical religion. These focus on salvation, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. Evangelical Protestant Christians have made alliances with conservative Roman Catholics and neo-conservative Jews, and they have captured political power—power they have used to oppose secular humanism and naturalism. via the council for secular humanism
SCOTUS rules for seperation of church and state for once. The court's 7-2 ruling held that the state of Washington was within its rights to deny a taxpayer-funded scholarship to a college student who was studying to be a minister. That holding applies even when money is available to students studying anything else. "Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court majority. "Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit."
How to be a bible apologist. Informative, sarcastic, and amusing guide to these religious times of ours. Brought to you by the Evil Atheists Conspiracy, which has a great News section.
105 unconscious children temporarily buried alive in the name of religion. In a horrible ritual witnessed by an Indian government official, who quit his position shortly afterward, children were worked until exhausted, wrapped in cloth, and then buried for one entire minute. Sometimes it feels like that we will never shake off the need for ancient tradition, myth, and groundless faith, but there is a bright side. There are more non-religious people now than ever. As the information age expands, education becomes more accessible and may be the most important factor in determining how religious one is. Unsurprisingly, a follow-up article on the mass-burial quotes, "Inquiries also revealed that no educational programme had been introduced anywhere near Perayur in the last six years."
Inside an American Atheists convention. "Ellen Johnson herself touted a recent City University of New York survey showing that the proportion of Americans who do not adhere to any religion grew from eight percent to 14.1 percent during the past decade. (However, Johnson did not share another finding with the delegates — that just 0.4 percent of Americans consider themselves atheists.)" Could Atheist activist rhetoric and harsh attitudes towards the religious be responsible for this discrepancy? It looks like agnostics and non-religious people may not want to join what they see as an agreeable but fringe group.
School lifts dress code ban on Satanic clothing. "If people are allowed to wear bracelets that say: 'What Would Jesus Do,' they should be allowed to say: 'What would Satan do,'" 10th grader Ashley Williams said. She's got a point. Satanism as defined by the Church of Satan seems to have more in common with modern ideologies (darwinism, existentialism) than the established religions or neo-whatever movements.