The unchurched and the post-Christian

One of the interesting things is how news items snowball. The realization that there are a lot of non-religious people out there in the US has resulted in a greater level of interest in what being non-religious means and how many of us there actually are. This has turned out to be rather difficult to do. It has not helped that nonbelievers tend to resist being pigeonholed and there has been a proliferation of labels used by them to self-identify, such as atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, and the like.
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Why does the pope hate America?

Pope Francis has come out with a statement condemning many practices.

“All Christians and people of good will are called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty,” the pope told delegates from the International Association of Penal Law.

“And this I connect with life imprisonment,” he continued. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”
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Catholic synod declines to put out welcome mat for gays and divorcees

The Catholic church is like an aircraft carrier. When it turns around, it happens so slowly as to be almost imperceptible. We see this once again with its latest ‘Synod on the Family’ of bishops convened by pope Francis to discuss the church’s attitude towards homosexuality and divorced people. Their current intolerant attitude has long been recognized as a source of alienation, especially for young people, and cannot last and this meeting started the process of change.
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Symbolic versus literal interpretations of biblical stories

When I was an undergraduate in Sri Lanka, I was also president of the Student Christian Movement, a national body of Christian students on all the university campuses. We used to organize annual residential conferences lasting for about five days and they were great fun. We had mostly secular activities with some talks on social issues as well as outdoor activities and games. It was more like a summer camp with lectures than a serious conference.
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Another evangelical preacher caught in sexual shenanigans

Ernest Angley is one of the TV evangelists who seem to have been around forever, raking in the money from the gullible while preaching against homosexuality and other ‘sins’. Now the Akron Beacon Journal has come out with an explosive series of stories about what he has been up to. He has been accused of touching other men ‘inappropriately’ and having them undress in front of him so that he could explain to them about the vasectomies that he strongly encourages them to have. He also apparently urged women in his congregations to have abortions.
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E. O. Wilson’s strange attitude to religion

The renowned biologist and environmentalist E. O. Wilson wrote a book Consilience in which he argued for the unity of all knowledge. There is a chapter towards the end where he compares the transcendental view of morals and ethics and compares it with his own view, that of an empiricist. In describing his own view, he says (p. 246-247)
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Freshwater loses final appeal

John Freshwater was a public school teacher in Ohio who was teaching creationist ideas in his science classes, keeping Bibles on his desk, and had the 10 Commandments posted on the wall. In one case, parents charged that he had used a Tesla coil to make the sign of a cross on a student’s arm. He was dismissed in 2011 after he refused to obey a district demand that he refrain from such actions.
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