The Bible says marriage is one man, one woman, right?

Here are a few points you may find useful when discussing equal marriage with people who oppose it. Christians often argue that marriage has always been properly between one man and one woman. This, they say, is “biblical” marriage, and they claim that Old Testament polygamy was not endorsed by scripture and never part of God’s eternal plan.

But the idea that there’s an unchanging, divine marital template that transcends culture is easily refuted. Today’s understanding of “traditional marriage” is radically different from what the Bible actually commands. Continue reading

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Domino’s Pizza and the fight over contraception

I was getting ready to write an angry post about Domino’s Pizza, whose founder is suing the federal government over the Obamacare contraception coverage mandate. The Associated Press reports:

Tom Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, says contraception isn’t health care but a “gravely immoral” practice.

He filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court. It also lists as a plaintiff Domino’s Farms, a Michigan office park complex that Monaghan owns.

Monaghan offers health insurance that excludes contraception and abortion for employees. The new federal law requires employers to offer insurance including contraception coverage or risk fines.

Monaghan says the law violates his rights, and is asking a judge to strike down the mandate. There are similar lawsuits pending nationwide.

Continue reading

Hitchens on Salman Rushdie, and the pipe bomb that didn’t go off

As protests continue against “Innocence of Muslims” (which I wrote about in an earlier post, “On Blasphemy”), it’s worthwhile to remember an earlier Muslim attempt to stifle free speech through the threat of violence. Open Culture recently wrote about (and linked to) a 2010 BBC radio interview with Christopher Hitchens in which he talks about the 1989 Iranian fatwa against his friend Salman Rushdie, who offended the delicate sensibilities of Muslims with his novel The Satanic Verses. Hitchens said: Continue reading

Glenn Greenwald on free speech hypocrisy

As a follow up to Saturday’s post on blasphemy, I had hoped to say something about people who are calling for censorship of the recent anti-Islam video–and it’s not just Muslims. Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian wrote an excellent post yesterday, “Conservatives, Democrats, and the convenience of denouncing free speech.” He writes, in part:

It is exceedingly easy to invoke free speech values in defense of political views you like. It is exceedingly difficult to invoke them in defense of views you loathe. But the true test for determining the authenticity of one’s belief in free speech is whether one does the latter, not the former.

He criticizes both US political parties, starting with the Democrats: Continue reading

On blasphemy

It’s the twenty-first century and our planet still hasn’t outgrown the ancient concept of blasphemy, as demonstrated by the recent Mideast violence. The more I think about it, the bigger the topic seems, so I’ll restrict myself to a few observations:seven to be precise, a holy number. Therefore, if you disagree with any of them you are hereby damned to hell.

A blood-soaked Muhammad from “Innocence of Muslims.” For all the attention the video has gotten, it’s unwatchably bad.

1)      Blasphemy is personal. I’m thinking specifically about strong blasphemy in the sense of insult and contempt. When you disrespect a devout person’s religion, you’re disrespecting their very identity, and they’ll react accordingly. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to blaspheme, but if you’re openly mocking or condemning someone’s religion to make a point, don’t expect to have a rational conversation with them afterwards. Strong blasphemy makes sense if your goal is to expose an ideology to ridicule by everyone who isn’t already a committed follower. But it isn’t a good conversation starter with the faithful. Continue reading

Orwellian language and religious “liberty”… the latest from the ACLJ

It may be shooting fish in the proverbial barrel to criticize the American Center for Law and Justice for faulty reasoning, but today I’d like to look at a specific example of how the religious right uses deceptive language to frame the discussion of religious liberty.

In an article posted a few days ago, “Atheism on the Rise as Groups Seek to Censor Faith,” the author warns about the rising number of challenges from groups that are “attempting to remove every vestige of our religious heritage as a nation from public life.” Continue reading

How belief in the soul distorts the abortion debate

Why did Missouri Congressman Todd Akin so uncritically accept the false notion that women can’t get pregnant by rape?

Before you answer, “Because he’s an ignorant dick who hates women,” let’s go a little deeper. This isn’t about Akin. It’s about an idea that allows people like him to be taken seriously by a large part of our population.

Rape pregnancies pose a dilemma for pro-lifers. It’s obviously a harsh thing to tell a rape victim that she must carry her attacker’s baby to term—or to tell a twelve-year-old incest victim that she’s required to deliver her father’s baby. But mainstream pro-life organizations are still doing this. (And see this from National Right to Life.)

It’s more comfortable for these people to believe the dilemma doesn’t exist. They would wish it away if they could. Akin tried.

But I wish people would talk about the way belief in the soul underlies this discussion. The debate over reproductive choice isn’t only about misogyny and people trying to drag us back to some imagined golden age when women raised the kids and kept their mouths shut. Those people haven’t gone away, but I think most ordinary pro-lifers (and I speak as a former one myself) are cornered by the logic of their beliefs into accepting brutalities that they would never consider otherwise. Continue reading