October 31, 2012

Watch Out For Halloween Evangelicals

Halloween evangelism There are no shortage of scary stories perfect for Halloween. You have heard all tales about people injecting drugs into the candy they distribute or passing out apples containing razor blades on Halloween. These urban legends have been popular for decades and remain great fodder for scaring parents. You have heard the ancient myths about Halloween being the night when the "world of spirits" is somehow closer to ours and "evil" is close by. This stuff is old news and probably isn't going to scare any self-respecting freethinker. But there is something else going on this year, something even spookier that just might get those hairs on the back of your neck to stand at attention.

It seems that the Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical fundamentalist Christian organization, wants to use Halloween as an opportunity to convert you. Yes, you read that correctly. They've decided that Halloween is the perfect opportunity to spread their preferred delusion. Better prepare yourselves, heathens! Your very sanity could be at stake this Halloween.

What are those papers taped to your child's candy? They could be tracts designed to infect your child's mind with superstition. Think that neighbor is just being friendly? Nah, he's asking himself, "Who are your neighbors and why has God placed you among them?" But isn't Halloween a great opportunity for you to socialize with your neighbor's family? Maybe, but not if your neighbor has a Jesus pumpkin on her porch and is dead set on "how best to bring the light of Christ into the season." Um yes, that would be the Halloween season apparently.

Not scared yet? Well, don't look now but there is a dark figure creeping through your neighborhood. What is that in his hand? It looks like a notebook, but why is he desperately trying to conceal it? This person just might be recording the names of your entire family in order to (gasp) pray for you later.

Happy Halloween!

Disaster Relief: Sandy

sandyIn between horror movies, I've been watching the coverage of Sandy from here in Mississippi, and it certainly looks like a bad storm. Lots of people are still without power, and flooding along the coastal areas caused significant damage in many states. The northeast has such a high population density that it does not take a very powerful storm to wreak havoc there.

It occurs to me that one of the big differences between the hurricanes I have experienced here and what the residents of the northeast region are going through now involves the weather. The hurricane that have hit here have taken place in the summer months when high temperatures and humidity make it difficult to be without a air conditioning when the power goes out. Difficult, but not usually fatal. On the other hand, the colder weather associated with Sandy means that some people are in very real danger without heat.

Now that we know what caused the storm, there will be plenty of time to work on preventing the next one later. We'll need to make drastic changes to U.S. foreign policy, expel all the gays from the U.S., ban abortion, and all sorts of other measures to appease the "god" in which Christians claim to believe. But for now, efforts must focus on restoring power and finding safe shelter for those displaced by flood waters.

For those who prefer a more reality-based approach, donations to the Red Cross can be made here.

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Selling the Supernatural

ghostWhile complaining about the abundance of entertainment-oriented television shows masquerading as educational that present the supernatural as if it was based in fact, I received a much needed reminder from my readers. The supernatural sells. This is why there is so much of it on TV, and until the audience tires of it, it is here to stay. Shows on the paranormal are big year-round, but especially as we approach Halloween. They will soon be replaced by even less interesting drivel about angels and Jesus.

Don't get me wrong - it doesn't bother me that this stuff is on TV. I do not have to expend much effort at all to avoid it. What does bother me is that the very same channels that hold themselves out as having some educational value seem to be the ones pushing it so hard. They lend an undeserved credibility to the subject matter. At least, they used to before they sold their credibility.

Bigfoot, alien abductions, monsters, ghosts, angels, and so on. It is amazing how popular this stuff is today! There wasn't nearly as much of this sort of thing on the air when I was a child; however, I did usually watch it when it was on. I remember thinking that investigating these sort of paranormal phenomena was what scientists did. Fortunately, I would eventually learn that what real scientists did was far more interesting than this stuff. I'd like to think everybody was this lucky, but I know better. There are plenty of adults today who take this stuff quite seriously.

October 30, 2012

Evidence of God

Proof of God

Most of the atheists I've met online and in real life agree that they are atheists primarily because the evidence to support the existence of any sort of god is insufficient (as in completely absent). I'm right there with them. The lack of evidence is the reason I'm an atheist too. This is why it makes so much sense to respond to questions from a believer about why we are atheists by explaining that are do not believe in their preferred god for the same reason they do not believe in the preferred gods of others: lack of evidence.

October 29, 2012

Obstacles to Atheist Activism: Introduction

Activism, in any context, is about changing the world for the better. It involves the perception that one's present circumstances are less than ideal and the motivation to act in order to reduce the gap between what is and what could be. Activism can be hard work, although it does not always have to be.

I thought it might be interesting to pull together some thoughts on the many obstacles to successful activism by the atheist movement and see how we might be able to overcome them. My tentative plan is to write a series of posts, each examining a different obstacle and taking a look at some potential solutions. In this post, I want to note a couple important assumptions I will be making in the series and which I believe must be explained before beginning.

October 28, 2012

Too Much Television Programming Presents Supernatural as Fact

Exterior of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Muse...
Exterior of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here in the United States, educational material has always been rather scarce on television. There have been a few notable exceptions for programming aimed at young children (e.g., Sesame Street) and adults (e.g., Nova), but they represent a tiny proportion of what one finds on network and cable TV. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as we could simply recognize that TV is not the best place for educational material and look elsewhere. What I think might be a bad thing, however, is that there are far too many entertainment programs masquerading as educational.

Take a look at the History Channel, Discovery, the Learning Channel, the Travel Channel, and others that offer the pretense of having some educational value (i.e., content is typically presented as being factual). I suspect that some of these channels do include some educational programming, but it is minimal compared to their entertainment-oriented content, and the distinction between one and the other is rarely made explicit to viewers.

October 27, 2012

Civility, Free Expression, and Power in the Atheist Community

Freedom of expressionThe phrase "vacuous shitbag trolls" was popularized by PZ Myers (Pharyngula) to describe persons who have the nerve to disagree with him. It has caught on to the point where I have seen it used by both defenders and critics of Freethought Blogs. It is kind of catchy, as long as one is not at all troubled by the implication that someone who disagrees is necessarily a troll. But that is not what I want to address here. Instead, I'd like to link this term to a prior post about whether words from a stranger on the Internet really hurt psychologically healthy adults and consider the broader implications for the atheist community.

At the outset, I should point out that I have not seen anyone claiming that they were harmed by being called a "vacuous shitbag troll" by PZ or anyone else. It would not surprise me to learn that someone had made such a claim, but I haven't seen it. And as far as I'm concerned, PZ should be perfectly free to use this insult however he sees fit without worrying about an adult taking offense to it.

October 25, 2012

Personal Experience vs. Science

ScienceGiven the choice between one person's experience (including my own) and scientific consensus, I tend to go with science. I received an email in response to a recent post about the influenza vaccine in which a reader suggested that I was "falling for Big Pharma's shit just like the religious folks fall for the Bible's shit." The author, presumably an atheist, went on to use the argument from personal experience to dismiss my suggestion that I'd prefer to rely on science over superstition when it comes to my health. Specifically, she wrote that her two children "have never had a vaccine of any sort" and have never been sick with anything worse than a typical cold.

I know I should not be surprised to hear something like this from an atheist. We atheists can still accept conspiracy theories, support the type of pseudoscience in which the Huffington Post traffics, or prefer not to exercise reason at all outside of the question of gods. We can be irrational, especially when we've managed to convince ourselves that we are right and others are wrong. And I suppose we can even dismiss science when it suits us.

October 24, 2012

Schrödinger’s Rapist

schrodingers cat is off todayIf you are a regular reader of the more feminist-oriented of the Freethought Blogs, Skepchick, or other feminist blogs, odds are good that you have heard of Schrödinger’s Rapist. Even if you actively avoid such blogs, you've likely encountered reactions to Schrödinger’s Rapist on other blogs. I have read the infamous Schrödinger’s Rapist post a few times, and I'd like to share my reactions. I suspect that they may be a bit different from what you've read elsewhere.


To provide a bit of context for my comments, I want to point out that the Schrödinger’s Rapist post is highly derivative (i.e., unoriginal). I read a few very similar articles back in the 1990s when I was learning about feminist and multicultural theories in graduate school. Some dealt with women and rape in virtually the same way; others dealt with the subtle forms of racism experienced by members of many ethnic minority groups.

What these articles had in common was that they were tools designed to inform readers about privilege. When I note that Schrödinger’s Rapist is derivative, I do so not to criticize it but to place it in this broader context. Being derivative in this case is a good thing, as the post belongs to this tradition. This is why it sounded so familiar when I first read it.

October 23, 2012

President Obama: The Wrong Kind of Christian

My memory for such things is rather poor, but it seems to me that the mainstream media in the U.S. has wasted more ink dissecting President Obama's religious beliefs than any other leader I can remember. They are still talking about it, even though we are getting closer by the day to electing the first Mormon president. Given some of the things Mormons believe, one would think that would be the big news story. But no, apparently we need to continue struggling to understand Obama's faith.

Writing for CNN.com, John Blake notes that some Christians consider President Obama to be the "wrong" kind of Christian. I'm sure this is true. Christian extremists probably will not recognize him as one of their own. And while I know at least a few Christians here in Mississippi who are still convinced that the president is a Muslim, most will acknowledge that the president at least "might be a Christian."

October 22, 2012

International Monitors Needed for U.S. Election

fair electionsI just posted about this at Red State Progressive, but I wanted to mention it here too because it strikes me as a significant story that I expect to be under-reported, if not ignored, in the U.S. media. International election monitors from the world's largest election-monitoring organization, the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), are deploying throughout the U.S. to monitor our upcoming election. Let that sink in for a moment.

You've undoubtedly heard about international election monitors being used in a number of countries to ensure fair elections. This typically happens in so-called third world countries where significant volatility, corruption, human rights violations, or some other noteworthy factor has called the fairness of elections into question. It seems we can now add the United States to the list of countries where fair elections require international monitoring.

According to The Guardian, the mission of the OSCE is:
to assess the election for compliance with international obligations and standards for democratic elections.
And that is necessary here in the U.S. today. Wow!

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Atheism Plus: Ignore It or Challenge It?

MemeAmong those who reject the manner in which the most vocal proponents of "atheism plus" have behaved, I have heard two different opinions on how (or if) we should respond. One group suggests that we should simply ignore them. The rationale appears to be that they are primarily seeking attention (e.g., blog traffic) and that ignoring them will hasten the demise of "atheism plus" and the "freethought bullies." Another group suggests that we should respond to them in much the same way we respond to other examples of irrational thought or destructive behavior in other contexts. Their argument tends to be that we cannot afford to ignore them unless we are content to let them take the atheist movement in directions that bring it closer to a religion of some sort.

I think that both of these groups make valid points. I can see the merit in both approaches, and I find myself a bit conflicted over which makes the most sense for me. I have found myself trying to ignore "atheism plus" and the "freethought bullies" for awhile, but I always seem to come back to address them again. Why? I'll give you the primary reasons I keep coming back to these memes. I write this to explain and not to persuade.

October 21, 2012

Halloween is Almost Here

HalloweenSomething wonderful happens every October. The awful Mississippi heat finally subsides a bit, the bad horror films I love fill the TV, and the local Southern Baptists go into hiding, worried that their children might succumb to demonic influences. Is it any wonder that this is my favorite time of year?

It snuck up on me this year. I've been so busy at work that I barely had a chance to notice that October was here. In fact, it didn't finally hit me until yesterday when I was outside cleaning up fallen leaves and doing other yard work.

I always find myself feeling better this time of year. I have more energy, feel more optimistic, and seem to enjoy doing some things I haven't done in awhile. It is a brief respite until the crass commercialism and Christian privilege of certain other holidays take center stage.

Now if only I can manage to find that perfect horror film that might actually give me a bit of a scare, I'd be set.

October 20, 2012

Flu Vaccine vs. Superstition

Get the Shot Not the FluI got a flu shot yesterday. It seems kind of early in the season, but this is when flu vaccine is widely available around here. I've been getting a flu shot every year for at least the past 10 years. Getting the flu is no fun, and I'm exposed to it fairly often at work. Better safe than sorry.

I assume that my Southern Baptist neighbors who insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that evolution is a Satanic deception of some sort are not interested in flu vaccines. If the influenza virus doesn't evolve (because evolution is a myth), they'd never need more than one vaccination in their lifetime. But why bother to get vaccinated at all when they can simply pray away any illness that might befall them?

The strange thing is that they still seem to get sick, especially the parents with young children at home. Illness seems to sweep through their entire families on a regular basis. They regularly show symptoms I rarely seem to experience, and they end up missing work far more often than I do.

I think I'll stick with science. It has worked far better than superstition.

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October 19, 2012

Trigger Warning

Trigger warningHelp me understand something. What is going on with what seems to be a growing trend where atheist bloggers, as well as others communicating online, attempt to warn their audience of certain kinds of material with the phrase "trigger warning," often in caps or set off in some way?

I feel like I'm seeing it quite a bit lately, particularly on blogs focusing on gender issues. I am well aware that such warnings have a history in certain feminist circles, usually to warn emotionally vulnerable individuals (e.g., rape victims) of content that is likely to be upsetting. I get that, but it seems like this warning is now being used so inconsistently on so many different subjects and with such a diverse audience that I'm not sure what meaning it is supposed to have. Besides, I have a very difficult time believing that the audience of the average atheist blogger is truly as fragile as the bloggers seem to think they are.

October 18, 2012

Keeping Your Cool While Trying to Change the World

activismIf activism was easy, it wouldn't be necessary. The things we seek to change are, by their nature, quite resistant to change. Meaningful change is rarely easy, but that does not make it any less necessary. And so we persist.

Those of us who engage in any sort of activism are almost certain to experience feelings of burnout, disillusionment, or disappointment related to our efforts. We will often feel like giving up, and some among us will undoubtedly do so.

JLLOW over at No Meritocracy has a great post for the activists and aspiring activists among us: The JLLOW Home Journal's Guide to Keeping Cool and Not Losing Your Shit Whilst Trying to Change The World. Given some of my recent feelings, this couldn't have come at a better time.

H/T to Undernews

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October 17, 2012


CircumcisionShould it remain legal for parents in the U.S. to have their infant sons circumcised for reasons other than medical necessity?

Should atheist parents ever consider having their sons circumcised, and if so, why?

I recognize that some in the atheist community have strong feelings about these questions. I have seen several people referring male circumcision as "mutilation" and characterizing parents who opt for the procedure as abusive. I don't believe I've written about this controversial subject yet, for what may strike some of you as a fairly strange reason. You see, I am not sure what to think about it. I have not yet made up my mind one way or another.

October 15, 2012

Feeling Disillusioned With the Atheist Movement

feeling disillusionedFor the past few months, I've gradually recognized a subtle change in my attitudes toward the atheist movement. It has happened so slowly that it kind of crept up on me, but I think it is fair to say that I've been feeling somewhat disillusioned with some aspects of the atheist movement. I'm not really sure why. I'm hoping that my thoughts may become a bit clearer as I write this post. This is one of those that I begin with no idea where it will lead me.

To set the stage, I should note that doubts and feelings of disillusionment are nothing new for me. In looking back over some old posts, I can see them emerging in late 2010. I noted the stagnation in our movement as a source of frustration. I started writing about the importance of atheists being willing and able to look beyond our own experiences. In early 2011, I noted that we had vast but unrealized potential. I point this out merely to explain that I've felt this way before and will almost certainly feel this way again. It tends to be a temporary thing where I'm bummed out for awhile and then eventually get back on track. I have no reason to think that this time will be any different.

October 13, 2012

Blowing Up Churches is Not the Answer

MolotovI missed the story of a 23 year-old man being arrested and charged with planning to blow up 48 Oklahoma churches earlier in the week. I'm not sure what motives this man may have had, but it sounds like authorities suspect he may have been seeking to eliminate churches through violence.

I have no idea if the man who has been accused of these crimes is an atheist. However, I'd like to be clear that I condemn the use of violence in the struggle against organized religion. If we are going to reduce the influence of religion in the U.S., it is going to happen gradually through education and changing cultural values. If we are going to reduce the number of churches, it will be by making them irrelevant and unnecessary, not by bombing them. No matter how impatient we may be at times to bring about change, violence is not the answer.

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The Company One Keeps

Al Stefanelli makes some great points in this post about a number of the controversies related to "atheism plus" and Freethought Blogs. Here's an example:
Skepticism should be the prime directive of any freethinker, and simply asking a question about anything, even those subjects that are controversial, should not elicit anything other than conversation. It is my hope that those involved with Atheism + come to understand this, and embrace an environment that is more conducive to critical thinking.

October 12, 2012

Is Rep. Paul Broun Fit to Serve in Congress?

Rep. Paul BrounWe all understand that in a nation where the overwhelming majority of the population identifies themselves as Christian, we are going to end up with quite a few Christians in Congress. That is how politics works, especially when many Christian voters indicate that they would never seriously consider voting for someone who was not Christian. But every now and then, we have one of these Christian politicians say something so absurd, offensive, or just plain wrong that we have to ask whether we should be working harder to elect atheists to Congress.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has provided us with just such a moment after he made the following statement:
All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.
It doesn't seem like someone who believes this is qualified to be anywhere near that committee, does it? Well, Rep. Broun said something even more troubling that hasn't received nearly the same attention but probably should:
…as your congressman, I hold the holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.
That's a problem. Assuming we'd like our representatives to represent all of us and not only Christians, it is a problem that he insists on making decisions on the basis of a Christian "holy" book. And assuming we'd like our lawmakers to be guided by reality rather than ancient superstition while they're working for us, that's a problem.

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What Religious Leaders Think of the "Nones"

Organized religion is feeding you liesWhile many atheists celebrate the recent poll from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showing a record number of respondents in the U.S. report no religious affiliation, religious leaders are struggling to make sense of the numbers. Is organized religion really on the decline, and if so, why?

For such a complicated phenomenon, there are almost certainly many causes. Still, I suspect that one is more important than the rest. If I had to pick one reason I suspect we are seeing a decline in religious affiliation, it would be the culture war being waged by fundamentalist Christian organizations such as the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists. Essentially, they are giving religion a bad name in the eyes of the younger generation. By waging war against same-sex marriage, women, and a host of other issues, these groups have made themselves far less appealing.

I realize I may be engaging in some wishful thinking here. Perhaps I see this as the main reason for the decline because I want it to be the case. I just know that when I talk to young adults, I'm far more likely to hear support for same-sex marriage and confusion over why religious organizations continue to be on the wrong side of history than I remember from my youth.

October 11, 2012

We Will Come After You As Well

Before leaving the subject of Justin Vacula and whether there are any lessons here for the atheist community behind for now, I thought I'd share this screen capture Katie (Atheist Morality) snagged:

atheism plus

I suspect this is a joke account and not someone being serious. I've seen many of those. Unfortunately, it does not seem that far off from the real thing. It appears that some people are taking a very different lesson from what happened to Justin than the ones I was hoping for. Yes, we certainly do realize the power of the "atheism plus" crusaders to intimidate those who disagree with them. That they would seek to do so continues to be the primary objection many of us have to their behavior.

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October 10, 2012

Lessons From the Justin Vacula Debacle

Justin VaculaAtheist activism is hard work. After toiling for countless hours to promote the separation of church and state in one's community, one is more likely to be met with jeers and threats of hell from Christians than anything passing for appreciation from like-minded individuals. In many communities, such activism may bring social exclusion, vandalism, and may even interfere with one's career. Is it any wonder that it can be difficult to recruit and retain such activists? Those who work publicly to advance the causes on which most of us agree deserve our thanks. Without them, I'm not sure we would have the atheist community we enjoy today.

At the same time, we cannot accept anyone who volunteers for service, especially when such service involves leadership. Some people are simply not cut out for leadership, and there may be many valid reasons to suspect some would be poor in a particular position. It makes sense that we'd want leaders who will represent us well and not with too many skeletons in the closet.

Having said all of that, I find myself uncomfortable with the public effort of many in the atheist community to push Justin Vacula out of his position as co-chair of the Pennsylvania state chapter of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). I say this not because I disagree with the petition; I can see some merit there. What bothers me have been the many vitriolic attacks on the character of someone who has done quite a bit for the atheist community. I'd like to take a look at the case against Justin and see what lessons this entire situation may hold for our community, divided as it appears to be.

October 9, 2012

Unitarians Seeking Those With No Religious Affiliation

IUUA Logo attended church regularly for the first 14-15 years of my life. In addition to attending the same church with my family, I've been to several others. Sometimes it was with my family after they were invited to try out the church their friends attended; other times it was with friends who invited me to join their family at church. I've been to Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, Lutheran churches, Catholic churches, and at least a couple others I cannot specifically recall.

As soon as I was old enough in my parents' eyes, I stopped going to church regularly. I've still been quite a few times since then, but not without good reason. I was married in a church, have been to several church weddings, funerals, holiday services, and the like.

October 8, 2012

Red Mass

RedMassPicHere in the U.S., we recognize that our elected officials are going to attend various worship services. For the most part, even we proponents of church-state separation are content to look the other way. We understand that politicians have to have some personal religious freedom and some downtime in which to exercise it. But there are times when a politician's religious involvement requires some attention on our part. The annual Red Mass tradition is one such time.

October 5, 2012

Time to Stand Up for Church-State Separation

October 7 is being called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," and this is the day when roughly 1,400 Christian pastors in the U.S. are planning to break the law by endorsing political candidates. Such an act is expressly prohibited by the IRS for tax-exempt organizations and ought to lead to the revocation of the tax-exempt status of those churches that participate. And yet, some observers do not expect any such consequences to be forthcoming. It seems that those with the responsibility of enforcing this law rarely do so.

The churches have a reason for doing this. They are hoping to force the IRS to enforce the law so they can simultaneously cry persecution and seek to overturn the law in court.

So what can those of us concerned about separation of church and state do? Should we simply refuse to have the law enforced, or should be be preparing for a fight? As far as I'm concerned, this should be an occasion for activism.

I think this legal fight is going to happen sooner or later. By refusing to enforce the law, we are giving up without a fight. I don't think that is wise. Separation of church and state is too important.

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Vacula Resigns

It appears that the petition mentioned here was successful. Justin Vacula has resigned from his position with the Secular Coalition for America. I'm not really sure what to think about that. It sounds like Justin has acknowledged making some mistakes, and I think he's right that the forces aligned against him were not inclined toward forgiveness. Perhaps they would have even harmed the SCA's work had he stayed in the position. He may have made the right decision by stepping down.

I don't know Justin personally, but I hope he sets the record straight by addressing the allegations made against him in the petition. Given the source of the complaints, I suspect that there may be another version to this story. I've heard bits and pieces from others but not from Justin, at least not organized in one place. I think having something like that would be helpful.

I do find it worth noting that many of the same people who have loudly protested that people are trying to ruin their careers, demonize them, and the like seem to be part of the effort to do the same to Justin. Perhaps there is a lesson in here somewhere.

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October 3, 2012

Attack Blogging

Shark attackWe've all seen it. Some of us have been victims of it, and a few us of may have even done it ourselves. What I am going to label attack blogging because I'm not feel especially creative right now is nothing new. It has been around as long as people have been blogging and trying to come up with content for their blogs. As I mean it here, it involves writing a post (in some cases even an entire blog) focused on attacking an individual. It is distinct from criticism or rational disagreement in both content and tone, but I find that tone is not nearly as good a marker as content.

It seems like this style of blogging happens more often these days in the online atheist community than I remember. But my perception is likely skewed and could easily be false. After all, I've sought some of this stuff out in an attempt to understand why some issues in our community seem to be as contentious as they are.

Skeptic Blogs Rebrands and Vacula Condemned

NewsWork has taken over way too much of my life recently, and I suspect that my trust desktop computer may finally be on its way out. As a result, I've missed out on many of the recent happenings in the atheist community. Here's two examples I thought were worth sharing in case you missed them too.

Skeptic Blogs

Remember the new blog network started by John Loftus? It seemed to disappear completely, as my links to the various blogs no longer worked. What happened?

After about 10 minutes of searching, I discovered that they decided to rebrand the whole network, changing all the links in the process. They are now Skeptic Ink. Cool name, and I hope the abrupt change doesn't hurt their traffic for long.

October 2, 2012

Reasons for Atheists to Address Islam

Violent Muslim protestAtheist bloggers in the U.S. are often criticized for not focusing more on Islam. Sometimes, this criticism comes from atheist readers outside the U.S., especially those in areas where Islam is more prevalent; other times it comes from Christians who think that theirs is the only correct religion. As someone who has received his share of this criticism, I'd like to acknowledge that it is indeed valid. Many of us in the U.S. probably do not write about Islam as much as we should. I have explained why I focus primarily on Christian extremism multiple times (see "Why I Focus on Christianity" and "Why Focus on Christianity?"), but I do recognize that Islam warrants attention here as well.