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Petition for cert.

On the same day that a Colorado judge struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage (pdf), the Utah Attorney General’s Office announced it will take the issue of same-sex couples’ marriage rights back to the Supreme Court, bypassing a 10th Circuit en banc review. All of this news comes just one day after several prominent LGBT groups announced they will no longer support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as written, due to the religious exemptions therein. President Obama is facing pressure from religious groups to write a religious exemption into his promised executive order to protect LGBT federal contractors and workers from discrimination.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 9, 2014 - 24 comments

A less intellectually lazy atheism?

Atheist bashing or tough love? A thought-provoking review by Michael Robbins of Nick Spencer's new book on the history of atheism in Slate magazine. It reads like an autopsy of the recently murdered religious/atheist dialogue, with the "intellectually lazy" new atheism atop the list of suspects. [more inside]
posted by cross_impact on Jul 9, 2014 - 247 comments

"Best Site On The Web!" - Mother Teresa, Mark Twain, and George Carlin

“Those who are awake live in a state of constant amazement.”-Fake Buddha Quotes is your one-stop shopping for all quotes misattributed to The Buddha.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 7, 2014 - 48 comments

pestilence is from the devil.

A federal judge in New York has ruled against a group of parents who had filed a lawsuit, asserting that the New York City policy that allows schools to ban unvaccinated kids from attending classes when another child has come down with a vaccine preventable illness infringed on their practice of religion. The decision cites Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), where the SCOTUS upheld Cambridge, Mass, Board of Health’s authority to require vaccination against smallpox during a smallpox epidemic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 23, 2014 - 88 comments

School chaplaincy program deemed unconstitutional

Today the High Court of Australia ruled (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia [2014] HCA 23) for the second time that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]. [more inside]
posted by wilful on Jun 18, 2014 - 48 comments

So many floating tone arms!

Mesmerizing internal Scientology promotional video - GATII Success Stories
posted by The Whelk on Jun 10, 2014 - 239 comments

Jedi is not the 2nd most popular religion in any state? How disapointing

The second-largest religion in each state
Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon. But what about the rest of us?
posted by davidstandaford on Jun 5, 2014 - 104 comments

Open defecation solves the child mortality puzzle among Indian Muslims

“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Jun 5, 2014 - 33 comments

Selling Buddhism -- Selling Out the Religion

Joanna Piacenza tackles difficulties she sees in the American conception of Buddhism. She was spurred out of writing silence several months ago by Time Magazine choosing for the second time in a decade to sell their magazine with a consumerist representation of Buddhism depicted on their cover with an pretty and ethereal looking white woman. Today, she published an article in First Things on why she believes Buddhism can't be just "an add-on: an energy boost in your spiritual smoothie," but is a religion and the American attitudes that she sees as enabling this misconception.
posted by Jahaza on Jun 4, 2014 - 128 comments

Weekend at Sri Ashutosh's

Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating: Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious sect, has been residing in a freezer in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jun 2, 2014 - 37 comments

Pope Francis never stops talking about the Devil; it’s constant.

"A modern pope gets old school on the Devil" by Anthony Faiola
"Witness to an Exorcism" -An interview with Anthony Faiola
"The Exorcists Next Door"
In their tidy suburban home, Marion and Larry Pollard have dug deep into the recesses of the Scriptures to save tortured souls—and command demons to get out. Get out now!
posted by davidstandaford on Jun 1, 2014 - 64 comments

Prayers get a new blessing

The Supreme Court ruled (PDF) this morning that the town of Greece, New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 5, 2014 - 167 comments

High-dollar trolling

Vice has photos and updated information about the Baphomet statue that the Church of Satan wants to install at the Oklahoma City Courthouse.
posted by Pope Guilty on May 2, 2014 - 132 comments

"Let’s stop telling Adam and Steve jokes."

"We’ve run off at the mouth, said things we shouldn’t have said. We’ve run around like a peacock all over the platform. We have said things because we were playing to the home team, and they all liked our act. On this issue, nobody likes our act, except the redneck factor." That was Pastor Greg Belser speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention's first ever conference on human sexuality currently being held in Nashville. As promising as those remarks are, however, Slate notes that the SBC still has a long way to go.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Apr 23, 2014 - 23 comments

The Next America

"America is in the midst of two major changes to its population: We are becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Explore these shifts in our new interactive data essay."
posted by Chutzler on Apr 13, 2014 - 44 comments

Eppur si muove

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

"...said to be the messianic leader of an apocalyptic Islamic sex cult."

Step inside this surreal world where religious piety meets psychedelic softcore porn, led by the world’s foremost Islamic creationist. "Followers of Harun Yahya (1, 2, 3) wear drag make-up and practice a “sexed-up, Disney version of Islam” that helps promote conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision of a modern, Muslim Turkey."
posted by artof.mulata on Apr 6, 2014 - 27 comments

Saudi Arabia declares atheists and political activists “terrorists”

The Sunni Islamic monarchy/theocracy's restrictive laws on political expression have become even stricter this year. This is in response to potentially dangerous dissidents returning to Saudi Arabia from the Syrian civil war. But the categories of offenses are so broad as to define virtually any non-Muslim as a terrorist, and to ban all independent political expression. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 2, 2014 - 48 comments

When is a church not a church?

NPR reporter John Burnett and investigator Samantha Sunne examine the finances of Christian TV network Daystar.
At NPR's request, the Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group in Dallas that monitors Christian broadcasters, compiled a list of the nation's 30 leading evangelist broadcasters. Twenty-two of them are designated churches, meaning they don't have to report anything to anybody. Of those, two-thirds have churches, while a third of them — including Daystar — hold no regular services.

posted by audi alteram partem on Apr 2, 2014 - 44 comments

At least they don't follow Lazarus Long's philosophy

"The Church of All Worlds, registered as a religion in the United Statesin 1968 and now a significant presence in the contemporary Pagan revival,takes its name from the fictional church in Heinlein’s novel. Tim Zell, now Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, is one of the most influential of contemporary Paganleaders, and his church has developed a revolutionary programme for thetransformation of Western society. CAW core doctrines (‘Thou art God’), rituals (water-sharing), and church organizations (nests) are based on those of Heinlein’s fictional church." -- Carole M. Cusack examines how Heinlein's most famous novel gave rise to a pagan religion that still exists today. (Warning: you may get a pdf download popup, depending on your browser's settings.)
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 2, 2014 - 35 comments

Contraception is my business

This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, two cases where private corporations have challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate. Previously, and previously [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Mar 25, 2014 - 161 comments

What it is like to grow up in Hezbollah culture

A tale of a young woman in Lebanon, related in a manner that should resonate with many Americans. "This story is an analogy to what the Shia, most of whom belong to Hezbollah culture, are like in Lebanon. I tell it because it presents things in familiar terms to many Western readers. When people ask me what it was like, to grow up in the lands where Hezbollah structured the predominant culture, I hesitate to answer, because I want them to understand."
posted by markshroyer on Feb 28, 2014 - 23 comments

Trusting God

Patrick Henry College has been called "God's Harvard." The tiny, elite school is considered a safe haven for fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It teaches a dominionist "Biblical Worldview" and has a uniquely religious campus culture (pdf) that emphasizes evangelical moral values. Which leaves female students in a particular bind: How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2014 - 154 comments

No triggers afaik

How Not to Discuss Sexual Violence against Third World Women
posted by infini on Feb 17, 2014 - 83 comments

La Voz del Pueblo/Voice of the People

More than 12,000 Catholics from five continents answered questions in a massive survey commissioned by Univision and conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International. Topics covered included all the issues most likely to generate lively discussion among Catholics all over the world. Here's how they responded. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Feb 12, 2014 - 15 comments

The Missing Christians

For years, Fred "Slacktivist" Clark has been dissecting, page by page, the Left Behind series of Evangelical Christian potboilers. Clark, a Christian himself, goes far beyond merely mocking them but also analyzes the theology, philosophy, and politics underlying them. As an aside, he's looked at other Rapture narratives and is asking, "Why are Rapture stories always so dull?" To this end he examines The Missing Christians, a 50-minute 1952 movie about the Rapture, which is available to watch on YouTube. Clark warns: "This is far, far worse than you’re expecting even if you take into account that it will be far, far worse than you’re expecting." As usual, Clark goes beyond (but certainly by way of) just mocking the film to get at the core of what he argues the Rapture idea is really about, and why, despite the Apocalyptic material, these stories always end up so dull.
Part of the problem here, as in Left Behind, is that the “storytellers” of Evangel Films aren't nearly as interested in telling their story as they are in settling the score with their perceived enemies. These are the same enemies that haunt the sleep of Tim LaHaye — those sophisticated “liberal” Christians who refuse to concede the expertise of “Bible prophecy” experts. Just like Left Behind, The Missing Christians is a revenge fantasy in which those evil sophisticates are “proved” wrong and the righteous are proved right.
(More Slacktivist on MetaFilter)
posted by Legomancer on Feb 12, 2014 - 115 comments

The Millenial Gospel

If Jesus and company were around today, the Bible may look like a art & fandom Tumblr project, complete with meta essays, headcanons, and playlists. Their writers aim to "follow in the Judeo-Christian tradition of questioning, evolving, and shaking up the status quo in order to update scripture for a secular audience, offering it up as a volatile mix of narrative, social commentary, spirituality, and punk rock." In this version Jesus is a cat-loving activist, Mary Madgalene is a hijabi punk, and the mystics are spoken word artists, musicians, and bloggers.
posted by divabat on Feb 3, 2014 - 18 comments

Potterverse Worldbuilding

The extended setting of the Harry Potter series is fertile soil for fans interested in worldbuilding, especially since the release of Pottermore (previously), a companion site to the books that includes back-story and adjunt information direct from J.K. Rowling. Some of these worldbuilding projects include explorations on wizarding fashion, magical education (including other magical schools), fantastic beasts (and perhaps where to find them), Muslims at Hogwarts, and the next generation of Hogwarts students. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jan 30, 2014 - 116 comments

I sat out there every day trying to dig out that damn stump

"One night in August 2004, I awoke to a man and a woman in my room whom I had never seen before telling me that they were "escorts" and we were going to a place called "wilderness."...There is a legal process where parents can sign over custody of kids who need residential care, which makes sense, because if a kid has to be housed in a mental health facility, the staff needs to be able to make all of the day-to-day decisions for her care. But that same process works for "unruly" teens like me, which meant the company that ran my camp had total legal control over where I went and what I did." --Cracked.com takes on the Tough Love for Troubled Teen camps that, mostly unregulated, are "treating" more and more children every year. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 27, 2014 - 69 comments

The Wars Over Christian Beards

To shave or not to shave? That is the question which has divided the Christian Church for 2000 years.
posted by cthuljew on Jan 26, 2014 - 40 comments

A History of Pain

As part of a settlement between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the victims of 30 pedophile priests, a cache of 6000 documents has been made public, detailing the Catholic Church's efforts over many years to cover up sexual abuse and protect accused priests.
posted by reenum on Jan 22, 2014 - 56 comments

Scilly Automatic: squally showers, becoming bisexual later, good

And now the shipping forecast, issued by the Met Office UK Independence Party on behalf of Little England at 05:20 today. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 21, 2014 - 21 comments

Gods of the Godless

An interview with world-renowned Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi on Lovecraft, atheism, weird tales, and cosmicism.
posted by Pope Guilty on Jan 17, 2014 - 5 comments

"My desire is, as always, to pursue the truth."

"I'm making it official and embarking on a new journey. I will "try on" atheism for a year. For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else's circumstances. (I trust that if there really is a God that God will not be too flummoxed by my foolish experiment and allow others to suffer as a result)."
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Jan 15, 2014 - 130 comments

Does God Exist?

Do we have good reason to think God exists? We do, says William Lane Craig. Craig has debated several high profile atheists, including Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
posted by shivohum on Jan 15, 2014 - 516 comments

Giving You Oral

Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Jan 13, 2014 - 24 comments

A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing what he reads.

Adam Gorightly's Historia Discordia: "Documenting the Origins, History & Chaos of the Discordian Society". Features bios of the early Discordians, Greg "Malaclypse the Younger" Hill's Discordian newsletter, information on forthcoming books detailing the history of Discordianism and the contents of Greg Hill's collection of Discordian works and writings, and a running blog with tons of information on the early days of Discordianism.
posted by Pope Guilty on Jan 10, 2014 - 34 comments

Even hero(in)es have the right to bleed

G. Willow Wilson is the author of the new Ms. Marvel series that is coming out Feb. 5th. Wired interview here. The reboot places Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting Muslim superheroine from New Jersey at the heart of the series. [more inside]
posted by St. Peepsburg on Jan 7, 2014 - 64 comments

A Little Museum in Each Blog

Each of Historian Barbara Wells Sarudy's six blogs contains a wealth of esoteric treasures: "President John Adams declared, “History is not the Province of the Ladies.” Oh well, I'll give it a try." [more inside]
posted by whimsicalnymph on Jan 5, 2014 - 6 comments

Socrates in his own words

An introduction to Socrates in his own words through Plato by Michael Griffin, Assistant Professor of Greek Philosophy at the University of British Columbia [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 17, 2013 - 20 comments

Today, however, simply living together doesn’t amount to being "married"

On Friday, federal court judge Judge Clark Waddoups issued a ruling stating that parts of Utah’s polygamy laws, including the statute that criminalizes cohabitation, is unconstitutional. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 16, 2013 - 153 comments

Naturalis Historia

"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."
Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 16, 2013 - 24 comments

The Big Picture

This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 10, 2013 - 6 comments

A different religion

Interview with a Santeria Priestess
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 5, 2013 - 9 comments

Flexible posturing around religion

Does doing yoga make you a Hindu?
posted by Gyan on Nov 21, 2013 - 63 comments

"Somebody's gotta stand up to these experts!"

Creationists' Last Stand at the Texas State Board of Education
posted by brundlefly on Nov 14, 2013 - 82 comments

I contradict myself

"I am an atheist and a Quaker."
posted by anotherpanacea on Nov 7, 2013 - 79 comments

496 years ago, bittersweet day in church history, great for a potluck.

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.
Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences Commonly Known as The 95 Theses by Dr. Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. or 496 years ago today. [Original Latin]
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2013 - 56 comments

Hell Houses

Evangelical churches across the country run "hell houses" on Halloween. These attractions show how "sinful" activities can ruin young lives. Some churches are trying to be more positive in their messaging. For those who are interested, you can now buy your own "hell house" outreach kit. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Oct 31, 2013 - 68 comments

"There's only one saving grace to this book: it might be right."

Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?
David Birnbaum made his fortune selling jewellery to movie stars. Now he has published a 'remarkable and profound' investigation into the origins of the universe. Is there any reason to take it seriously?
posted by andoatnp on Oct 20, 2013 - 120 comments

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