A peeve: can we retire the phrase, “Bible Belt”?

It vexes me. The official definition says the Bible Belt is the deep South, but that makes no sense. Dwight Moody, of the influential Moody Bible College, was from Massachusetts. William Riley, the pastor who invented fundamentalism, was from…Minneapolis. Saddleback Church is in Orange County. New Saint Andrews College and Doug Wilson are in Idaho; Mars Hill, before its founder’s meltdown, was based in Seattle. The burned over district? New York.

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Faith kills

Every time I hear these stories, I’m horrified: parents who are so besotted with their dumb-ass religion, that they watch and pray and do nothing more as their children die of easily treated diseases. Type I diabetes symptoms go away with a shot of insulin; appendicitis can be quickly treated with a simple surgery; food poisoning leads to vomiting leads to a ruptured esophagus leads to painful death; childhood cancers are not so easily treatable, but dying slowly of blossoming tumors strangling your organs, without even so much as palliative care, is a misery. But the parents watch, and are no doubt suffering themselves, but the suffering of their children is less important to them than doubting the power of their nonexistent god to cure them. Strangely, never in the history of the world has a god magically intervened to make a cancer disappear, or an acute infection to vanish, or diabetes to simply go away.

So here’s a heart-rending and familiar story of ignorant faith healers betraying their own children, in the name of God.

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If you think the Pope is endorsing science, then you must agree with this guy too

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, explains that good ol’ polytheistic Hinduism is fully compatible with science, just like the Pope finds Catholicism compatible with evolution.

We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time, the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.

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No, the Pope doesn’t support evolution

He’s the Pope; you know he’s not going to defy his dogma to be honest with you. He doesn’t support gay marriage, either, but is good at giving the impression of tolerance, which will then be ‘clarified’ by Vatican spokesmen. Same here. Lots of people are telling me that the Pope says Christians should believe in evolution and Big Bang, but no, he actually isn’t. He’s telling you to believe in the Catholic Church’s weird-ass wink-wink-nudge-nudge version of evolution.

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Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring

It’s very strange, but lately I find myself paying less attention to atheist white men on Islam, and more to ex-Muslims like Heina, Maryam, Tauriq, Taslima, and Marwa (have you noticed how deep the talent pool is here at FtB?), and those are leading me to other ex-Muslim authors like Kunwar Khuldune Shahid and the other writers at Ex-Muslim blogs, and I’m finding my view of Islam is become a lot messier and more complicated. I’m simultaneously less sympathetic to the religion and more interested in the people.

I consider increasing complexity to be a good thing. Diminishing the influence of the uninformed is also a good thing.

Actually, when it involves the Catholic church, it’s never good news

We have a major Catholic sex abuse case going on in Minnesota, and it’s slowly coming to an end. Right now, it’s like a game of “good news, bad news,” though.

Bad news:

Those claims were bolstered by an MPR News investigation last fall that showed top church officials continued to protect priests accused of abuse. One priest, the Rev. Clarence Vavra, had privately admitted to sexually abusing a child on an Indian reservation in South Dakota in the 1970s. MPR News found him living half a block from a school. In another case, Harry Walsh, a former priest who was accused of abusing two children, had been hired by Wright County to teach sex ed to at-risk teenagers.

Archbishop John Nienstedt and former Archbishop Harry Flynn did not notify police or the public about the allegations against Vavra and Walsh and kept other clerics in ministry despite allegations of sexual misconduct, according to documents obtained by MPR News. Flynn and Nienstedt also gave special monthly payments to priests who had admitted to sexually assaulting children.

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Ben Affleck, you are not helping

This is a guest post by Sadaf Ali (@SadafEXMNA) of Ex-Muslims of North America.

Shortly after the Reza Aslan segment from CNN made its rounds on all of our newsfeeds, the scuffle between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris was soon the next big thing to share. My colleagues and co-founders, Sarah Haider and Muhammad Syed brought their perspective to the table with regards to Aslan’s apologism, as shared on Hemant Mehta’s blog on Patheos.

I have a personal appeal to Ben Affleck, after his participation on Bill Maher’s show, because it is attitudes like his that have historically made little to no room for ex-Muslims, secular, reformists, liberal or progressive Muslims to own a dialogue that is supposed to be ours to discuss.

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