Catholicism’s Sex Abuse Scandal Goes Global

February 05, 2014

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child savaged the Vatican today, in a report that accused the worldwide Roman Catholic Church of "systematically" allowing priests to rape and otherwise sexually abuse tens of thousands of children -- and then to evade responsibility for their acts -- over multiple decades. In one sense, this is only a capstone for a scandal that's been erupting in country after country for almost three decades. But freethinkers shouldn't allow the fact that this scandal has been grinding on for so long to blind them to the sheer fact of what a huge, even extraordinary development it represents.

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Nye/Ham Debate Probably a Bad Idea, but I’d Love to Be There for It

January 03, 2014

Planetary Society director and forever "Science Guy" Bill Nye has apparently agreed to debate young-earth creationist Ken Ham on February 4th at Ham's sprawling Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. At least Ham says so on his website, and I haven't seen a denial from the Nye camp yet. Opinions are mixed on this, and mine are too -- there's a very real risk that Nye will shine a fresh spotlight on a fading evangelist whose museum has lately been grasping at straws to keep its attendance numbers up. But it's sure to make for great theater.

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The Difference between Religious and Secular Humanism in Its Essence

December 30, 2013

In a Guardian blog, New Humanist commentator Suzanne Moore has -- if inadvertently -- defined the key difference between religious humanists and secular humanists in a very few words.

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Those Celebrating Only a Holiday Other Than Christmas Barely Outnumber Those Celebrating Nothing

December 24, 2013

Another interesting factoid from the PRRI-RNS study on holiday preferences. Roughly 9 in 10 respondents reported celebrating Christmas in some form. Interestingly, those who reported celebrating only some holiday other than Christmas (Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Diwali, or whatever) numbered 6 percent, compared to the 5 percent who reported celebrating no December holiday whatever (as I blogged yesterday: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/five_percent_of_americans_celebrate_no_december_holiday/).

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Five Percent of Americans Celebrate No December Holiday

December 23, 2013

Yes, I know that quite a few secular humanists and other freethinkers celebrate the Solstice, HumanLight, Newton's Birthday, or even a bowdlerized form of Christmas this time of year. Even so, a new PRRI/RNS survey (click the link beliow full text) indicates that the number of Americans who tell pollsters that they celebrate no holiday in December has reached 5 percent. 5 percent? That's more than double the usual figure for the size of the American Jewish community (2.2 percent). Who knows, this year that figure may include a large number of American Jews, given that Hanukkah unfolded mostly in November. 

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We Shoulda Seen This Coming—Oh, Wait, I Did!

October 02, 2013

Way back in the October/November 2011 FREE INQUIRY, I sounded the alarm about the danger of unintended consequences from the drive for humanist chaplains in the military. Since then, the issue has only mushroomed. Now (partly but not solely by way of Harvard's humanist chaplaincy) tearing down the fences between humanism and religion has become a game almost anyone can play. Today even Peter J. Reilly, an online tax columnist (!) for Forbes, has weighed in with an essay asking "Should Humanist Groups Seek Church Status?"

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Supreme Court Link Rot Highlights Shortcomings of Online Citations

September 24, 2013

The U. S. Supreme Court has a "link rot" problem, and how -- according to one study, 49 percent of the hyperlinks cited in Supreme Court decisions point nowhere. These include not only links to other sites, but even links to former postings on the Court's own Web site. This casts fresh light on an issue I've written about before -- if you're writing something whose references just might be of interest to future scholars, Internet citations are far too emphemeral to rely on.

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White House Interfaith Panel—No Place for Humanists

September 19, 2013

The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) has accepted an invitation from the White House to take part in a Department of Education interfaith panel to help plan campus service projects, and most of the movement is happily abuzz about that. I’d like to offer an alternative view. Speaking personally, I think that to accept that invitation was most unfortunate – and I think that is true on several levels.

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Anti-Humanist Chaplain Vote in the House Has a Lesson For Us

July 26, 2013

By a 253 to 173 vote, the U. S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to H. R. 2397, the defense authorization bill, that will block the appointment of humanist chaplains in the military. Most in the movement have been outraged. I follow a different drummer. By forbidding humanist chaplains, the House majority has reminded us of something important about chaplaincy -- and about religion itself -- something that I fear too many humanists have been willing to overlook in their recent "Ooooh, we want to be chaplains too!" enthusiasm.

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Mehta’s Not Too Friendly to Pierce Prison Religion Info Embargo

July 17, 2013

"Friendly Atheist" blogger Hemant Mehta wasn't too friendly to use the Freedom of Information Act to shake loose bombshell data on the religious affiliations of inmates in the Federal prison system. This pierces (but does not completely shatter) what I believe has been a six-decade embargo by prison administrators to hold back information on how many prisoners are or aren't religious.

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