What was Jerry Falwell, Jr. thinking?

The head of the evangelical Liberty University has agreed to take the “indefinite leave of absence” asked for by the university’s Board of trustees after a suggestive photo appeared on the internet of him with his arms around the waist of a Peg Bundy lookalike on a yacht, with both of them showing their midriffs ,and he with his pants unzipped and holding a glass with dark liquid in it.

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Atheists in the US and around the world

This article collects statistics about atheists in America and worldwide.

In America:

Research has shown that most atheists tend to lean to the left in terms of their politics. About 69% of non believers are Democrats while 56% consider themselves to be politically liberal. In keeping with this finding 92% of atheists support same sex marriage and 87% approve of legal abortion. Atheists are also more likely to be young (the median age being 34), male (68%), white (78%), and educated (with 43% having a college degree).

According to the Pew Research Center in terms of the U.S. adult population the average age of Christians was 49 in 2014 which is up from 46 in 2007. This comes as a contrast to atheists whose average age fell from 36 in 2007 to 34 just seven years later. American Jews remained steady over this time period with a median age of 50.

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The evangelical vote and Biden

One of Trump’s most loyal groups of supporters are Christian evangelicals who, in their single-minded devotion to opposing abortion and LGBT equality, are willing to overlook the fact that Trump violates pretty much every tenet of what Christianity professes in return for him appointing conservative judges whom they think will rule in their favor them in the culture wars. But even here cracks are beginning to show as more of them are expressing support for Joe Biden.
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A big question following the court’s LGBT decision

Religious organizations that discriminate against the LGBT community have been stunned by the US supreme court’s ruling handed down last week that it is against the law for employers to fire LGT employees because of their sexual orientation or identity.

The ruling would have “seismic implications” for religious freedom and would potentially set off years of lawsuits for religious organizations, said Russell Moore, the president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of ‘sex’ in our nation’s civil rights law,” the president of the Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop José H. Gomez, said in a statement. “This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life.”

But what conservative religious groups may see as a religious freedom issue, secular and progressive religious groups see as an excuse to discriminate.

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The double reversals of Jane Roe

The landmark US Supreme Court decision that in 1973 legalized abortion in the US is Roe v. Wade where ‘Jane Roe’ was the pseudonym given to the woman who brought the case who feared using her real name given the highly charged nature of the case and the violence that was, and still is, directed against women who seek abortions, abortion providers, and supporters by anti-choice zealots. Over time, Roe’s name was revealed to be Norma McCorvey and she later created a sensation said in the mid-1990s when she said that she had become a born-again Christian and an anti-gay, anti-abortion activist. (She had been a lesbian for almost all her life.) This was treated as a tremendous coup by the Christian right who would parade her before any media microphone and indeed anyone who would listen.

But in a new documentary AKA Jane Roe made by the TV channel FX that is due to be released tomorrow, in interviews just before she died in 2017, McCorvey confesses that her religious conversion and change in attitudes was all a sham. She said that she was broke and homeless and that she was given a lot of money by the religious right to entice her to do what she did.
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The miraculous oil producing Bible

I came across this intriguing story by Ruth Graham bout a Bible that seemed to be producing prodigious amounts of oil. This miracle so captivated believers that they believed the oil had healing powers and so purchased vials of it in large quantities.

The story begins by describing what happened at the end of a small informal prayer meeting held by a small group in the town of Dalton, Tennessee.

Johnny [Taylor]’s girlfriend, Leslie, was there, along with her father, John Barker, and their friend Jerry Pearce and his wife, Joyce. They usually broke up by 8:30, but on this night they kept praying until after midnight. At one point, Jerry fell down on the floor for 45 minutes in a kind of catatonic state that he describes as being “out in the Spirit.” Within a few days, he told me, he opened his Bible to Psalm 39—an uneasy poem of both praise and gloom that includes the words “every man at his best state is but vapor”—and noticed a small spot of oil. Joyce assured him the grandkids hadn’t been near the book. It could only have come from God.
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Falling collections by religious institutions

I wrote earlier that the heads of some evangelical churches are urging their worshippers to attend church services even at the risk of spreading the virus among their parishioners, giving the spurious argument that their god would stop the disease from affecting the faithful. I said that I suspected that part of the reason may be that they are feeling the loss of revenue that is collected by passing the plate during the services.
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Televangelist has request for people attending his video services

According to the satirical website The Onion, there are apparently problems with speaking in tongues during teleconference church services.

In an effort to reduce disruptions during a prayer meeting held by teleconference Tuesday, Pastor Terry McEvers of the First Pentecostal Church of God reportedly asked that any congregants presently speaking in tongues place themselves on mute for the duration of the service.

“If we all fall to the floor and unleash our miraculous gift of tongues at the same time, then everyone will just be shouting their divinely inspired strings of syllables over everyone else, and no one will understand what’s going on. A big garbled mess like that won’t do anybody any good.” According to sources, the pastor went on to request that members enable video on their devices if they intended to take up serpents, because that’s something no one ever gets tired of watching.

TV mini-series review: Unorthodox (2020)

Netflix has just released this four-part mini-series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman about how and why she left the world of Hasidic Orthodox Judaism, though as is usually the case with film adaptations, the story has been changed in several ways. The film is about a very young woman Esther (known as Esty), who is a member of the Yiddish-speaking Satmar community that lives in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. As is the custom in the ultra-Orthodox community, she has an arranged marriage to a very young man. The expectation in such marriages is that the woman will start having babies immediately, as many as she can.
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