Podcast #271 – A Brief History of Muslims in America

I read my presentation about Muslims in America, from colonial times to the present. (Image is the portrait by Charles Wilson Peale of Yarrow Mamout, a freed Muslim slave who was born about 1736 in West Africa and died in Washington, DC in 1823.)

Plus:

Monica Miller, whom I interviewed in show #268, has had her day in court! She argued before SCOTUS on behalf of the American Humanist Association that a giant cross-shaped war memorial is actually a Christian symbol and not a suitable secular monument. The Court will rule in June; meanwhile, you can listen to the oral arguments here.

The Southern Baptist Convention has responded to an investigative report showing 380 clergy and other church representatives have been accused of sexual misconduct in the last 20 years. The church seems to be taking the report seriously, and has promised to put measures in place to prevent and deal with such criminal behavior in the future.

The United Methodists have voted NOT to solemnize same-sex marriages and NOT to allow ordination of gay clergy. This decision will doubtless leave to many progressives leaving the church, perhaps to form their own new denomination.

A judge in New Jersey has ordered a new trial after a juror became upset that a Hindu defendant declined to swear in using a Bible. This further reinforces my long-held position that neither Bibles nor “so help me God” have any place in a courtroom or when public officals take an oath of office.

To listen to this episode click here.

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Podcast #270 – Catherine Nixey (The Darkening Age)

I interview Catherine Nixey about her new book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, which explores how the early Christians, once they gained power, did everything they could to eliminate the architectural, artistic and literary heritage of the non-Christian Roman Empire.

Also recommend on the same subject matter: Bart Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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What I’m Reading: When I Spoke in Tongues

For those interested in reading along with me, I’ve just started Jessica Wilbanks’ When I Spoke in Tongues: A Story of Faith and Its Loss. I’ll likely discuss it in some detail during a future podcast, so if you want to add your thoughts here, please feel free.

From the publisher:

Growing up in poverty in the rural backwoods of southern Maryland, the Pentecostal church was at the core of Jessica Wilbanks’ family life. At sixteen, driven by a desire to discover the world, Jessica walked away from the church–trading her faith for freedom, and driving a wedge between her and her deeply religious family.

But fundamentalist faiths haunt their adherents long after belief fades–former believers frequently live in limbo, straddling two world views and trying to reconcile their past and present. Ten years later, struggling with guilt and shame, Jessica began a quest to recover her faith. It led her to West Africa, where she explored the Yorùbá roots of the Pentecostal faith, and was once again swept up by the promises and power of the church. After a terrifying car crash, she finally began the difficult work of forgiving herself for leaving the church and her family and finding her own path.

When I Spoke in Tongues is a story of the painful and complicated process of losing one’s faith and moving across class divides. And in the end, it’s a story of how a family splintered by dogmatic faith can eventually be knit together again through love.

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Podcast #269 – Seven Types of Atheism

I discuss John Gray’s latest book, a critique of 21st century mainstream secularism. Gray argues that Western liberalism is just Christianity warmed over, and it’s wrong anyway.

Plus:

It’s Darwin Day! We celebrate the 210th birthday of Charles Darwin.

Valentine’s Day 2019 is the 30th anniversary of the fatwah against Salman Rusdie.

At least one congressional committee under the newly Democratic House of Representatives is considering dropping “So help you God?” from the oath people must take before testifying.

Donald Trump praises state-level campaigns to include Bible study in pubic schools.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has a favorite Bible verse that’s not actually in the Bible.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Podcast #268 – Monica Miller on Bladensburg Cross at SCOTUS

I interview American Humanist Association Senior Counsel Monica Miller about the upcoming hearing at the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the “Peace Cross” in Bladensburg, MD.

Plus:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Forrest Gump.

Liberty Counsel wants Congress to remove LGBT people from protection under a proposed anti-lynching bill.

To listen to this episode click here.

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What I’m Reading: The Darkening Age

For those interested in reading along with me, I’ve just started Catherine Nixey’s The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. I’ll likely discuss it in some detail during a future podcast, so if you want to add your thoughts here, please feel free.

Apparently Christians didn’t just take over the Roman empire; they destroyed its cultural essence as well. According to the publisher, this book is “a bold new history of the rise of Christianity, showing how its radical followers ravaged vast swathes of classical culture, plunging the world into an era of dogma and intellectual darkness.”

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Podcast #267 – Dan Barker (Mere Morality)

I interview Dan Barker (co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and co-host of the weekly show Freethought Radio) about his new book Mere Morality.

What’s the minimum requirement to be considered a decent human being? Can morality be boiled down to a single core principle? Dan has some interesting insights.

To listen to this episode click here.

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The Last Hangover

If you’ve got 45 minutes to spare and want to bolster your chances of going straight to hell, you could do worse than watching the new Netflix-distributed comedy short “The Last Hangover.” This Brazilian production (in Portuguese–I assume–with English subtitles) is a cross between The Hangover and every overly serious Biblical epic you’ve ever seen.

In this reimagining of the Last Supper, Jesus’ final meal is less a Passover celebration and more a going away party. (One of the running gags is that the Disciples are too busy partying to pay much attention to what Jesus is trying to tell them, so that every time Jesus reminds the Disciples he’s going to die, it comes as a surprise to one or another of them. At one point somebody quips, “Never mind. We’ll write it down later.”)

The jokes come fast and furious, alternatively sly and painfully corny. In any event, it’s blasphemously goofy fun, and guaranteed to give your granny a heart attack.

Heck, make it a double feature! You can watch this and the hilarious “Fist of Jesus” (a Spanish short in which Jesus half-asses the raising of Lazarus and unwittingly starts a zombie apocalypse) in a single evening.

 

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What I’m Reading: Seven Types of Atheism

For those interested in reading along with me, I’ve just started John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism. I’ll likely discuss it in some detail during a future podcast, so if you want to add your thoughts here, please feel free.

From the publisher:

When you explore older atheisms, you will find that some of your firmest convictions—secular or religious—are highly questionable. If this prospect disturbs you, what you are looking for may be freedom from thought.

For a generation now, public debate has been corroded by a shrill, narrow derision of religion in the name of an often vaguely understood “science.” John Gray’s stimulating and enjoyable new book, Seven Types of Atheism, describes the complex, dynamic world of older atheisms, a tradition that is, he writes, in many ways intertwined with and as rich as religion itself.

Along a spectrum that ranges from the convictions of “God-haters” like the Marquis de Sade to the mysticism of Arthur Schopenhauer, from Bertrand Russell’s search for truth in mathematics to secular political religions like Jacobinism and Nazism, Gray explores the various ways great minds have attempted to understand the questions of salvation, purpose, progress, and evil. The result is a book that sheds an extraordinary light on what it is to be human.

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Podcast #266 – RESURRECTION

The American Freethought Podcast is back to continue the fight for separation of church and state, reason-based living and secular culture!

Find out why we’re back and what to expect in the coming weeks.

To listen to this episode click here.

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