Catholics and the US election

Four years ago, according to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Catholics voted for Trump, compared with 44% for Hillary Clinton. And with Biden himself being Catholic, you might expect a change in proportion of Catholic voting. But now this Catholic vote has got a whole lot more interesting. Recently, Pope Francis travelled to Assisi …

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Church bailouts during a pandemic

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, the 2 trillion dollar bill passed last March, granted forgivable loans to “qualifying businesses and non- profits”. The Small Business Administration, which administered part of the Act, declared (but tried to keep it secret) that houses of worship and religious private schools qualified under the Act, …

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An unacceptable taxpayer bailout

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, the 2 trillion dollar bill passed last March, granted forgivable loans to “qualifying businesses and non- profits”.  The Small Business Administration, which administered part of the Act, declared ( but tried to keep it quiet) that houses of worship and religious private schools qualified under the …

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“Blasphemy, a way to control the people, and their thought

Late last week Tahir Naseem, an American citizen, was murdered while standing trial for blasphemy in a Pakistani court. Naseem was a former member of the persecuted Ahmadi minority, and was lured to Pakistan in 2018 to be detained on charges of blasphemy. Coupled with the continued detention of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala since April …

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Supreme Court and religion

”In two blows to church-state separation, Justices Breyer and Kagan joined the conservative majority on the Supreme Court in granting even more preferential treatment to religious bodies. In one case, the court gave the green light to religious employers to apply the “ministerial exemption” to pretty much any employee; a teacher is a coach is …

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Annexation of the occupied West Bank

(This post is a bit longer than usual, but the injustice is so troublesome that I wanted to reproduce it;  one won’t find it easily in the American media): Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) decries the Israeli government’s intended annexation of significant parts of the occupied West Bank (to start this coming Wednesday), for the …

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Barbarism

Horrific killing Iran’s President Rouhani has ordered his government to speed up new laws to increase the penalties for “honour killings”, following the murder of Romina Ashrafi (pictured), a 14-year-old girl who’d run away with her 29-year-old boyfriend. In a case that has appalled Iranians, Ashrafi’s father is suspected of beheading her with a sickle …

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Epicurus and the swerve

If you haven’t read it Stephen Greenblatt’s book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern”, do try to find time to do so.  It a very readable.  It introduces the modern reader to the most famous of Epicurean books, de rerum natura of Lucretius.  Greenblatt’s book, which won several prestigious awards, is contentious because it pictures …

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Abortion: the ruthless scam connected with Roe v Wade

Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017, was the plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the 1973 landmark supreme court case Roe v Wade that led to abortion becoming legal in the United States, made, it turns out, a stunning deathbed confession. In a new FX documentary McCorvey admits that her infamous reversal on abortion rights …

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Religious freedom

I have resurrected the following  two year old news item because it has relevance for Epicureanism, the rights of women and the irrationality of outdated religious practice: “A national conversation is needed in Sweden about “where the limits of religious freedom lie”.  Judging by the stunt in 2018, pulled by the conservative newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, it …

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Bolsonaro and the Brazilian evangelicals

Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, called for a national day of fasting and prayer last Sunday, to “free Brazil from this evil” of coronavirus. Bolsonaro’s popularity has plunged recently, owing to his refusal to take seriously the threat of Covid-19. However, he retains strong support among Brazil’s large community of evangelical Christians, and he has …

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The two Popes

Earlier this year, In a rare public intervention, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI  issued a stout defence of priestly celibacy – just as Pope Francis was considering lifting the restriction on married priests in some circumstances, in particular, the ordination of married men in the Amazon region, where there is a severe shortage. Francis, who has …

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A Humanist dilemma: a letter to the local newspaper

Reader: I know someone who, when she attends luncheons (both business and social), always announces she is a Christian and then asks people around her, “Would you be offended if I pray before the meal?” Often, she gets the attention of the entire group, and invariably they allow her to say grace without protest, regardless …

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Excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita:

“……..Virtuous people find it difficult to believe that such evil exists on earth. It’s proponents, moreover, often proclaim (if they have a degree of intelligence) teachings that are designed purposefully to win others to their side: teachings like “the greatest good for the greatest number” and “each according to his need, from each according to …

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Evangelical support wanes among young people

From the  Washington Post Much white evangelical support for President Trump is based on a bargain or transaction: political loyalty (and political cover for the president’s moral flaws) in return for protection from a hostile culture. Many evangelicals are fearful that courts and government regulators will increasingly treat their moral and religious convictions as varieties …

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The threats to Greenland

We concentrate on the obvious places where dictators thrive and warfare kills thousands, but tend not to note the stress experienced by the people of Greenland, who are struggling to cope with global warming, which is totally altering their way of life.  More than 90% of Greenlanders accept that the climate is changing, while 76% are …

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A humiliating way to treat an old warmonger

From the New York Times: Many of the people who have worked for President Trump have ended up “diminished” or humiliated in some way. To that long list we can now add a new name: John Bolton. Trump’s national security adviser won the role by impressing the president with his regular bellicose contributions to Fox …

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A Polish church stuck in the past

In Poland a simple poster distributed by an LGBT activist featuring an image of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo has got Catholic leaders in a lather. Elzbieta Podlesna allegedly put up the posters near a church to protest an anti-gay Easter message that denounced words like “LGBT” and “gender” as “aggressive” and “deviant”. …

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This cannot stand!

Lawmakers in Alabama have passed a bill that virtually bans abortion. The legislation, to be signed by the state’s Republican governor, outlaws abortion except in cases where the pregnancy poses a “serious health risk to the mother”, the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly”, or the pregnancy is ectopic (in an abnormal place or position). …

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Sex and the Catholic church

In the early church nearly all Christian priests were married.  Popes tried to ban marriage and co- habitation,  but to little effect.  Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?), but right up to the 800’s the majority of priests were nonetheless married. …

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