The devil is in the details: WHICH Christianity are we making the official state religion, exactly?

Legislators in North Carolina recently introduced a bill to make Christianity the official state religion. That bill has now been turfed, but we can probably expect similar moves in the future.

An Omnibus Poll, sponsored by YouGov.com and the Huffington Post, reveals just how far from the nation’s roots we have traveled on the subject of separating church and state and retaining the nation’s neutrality when it comes to how Americans chose to practice their respective religions.

According to the survey, 34 percent of Americans would favor making Christianity their official state religion while less than half (47 percent) oppose the concept. Thirty-two percent of those polled indicated that they would also favor a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States with just over half (52 percent) opposing the notion.

Leaving aside for a second the abject failure of millions of Americans to grasp the most basic precepts of their Constitution, this poll actually provides more questions than answers. Continue reading “The devil is in the details: WHICH Christianity are we making the official state religion, exactly?”

Tim Tebow decides to do the right thing for professional reasons (but reserves the right to do the wrong thing later when nobody is paying attention)

I was reading the Internets today and guess what? – our boy Timmy is back in the news. New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has decided to cancel his appearance at a Dallas church that is led by a pastor, Robert … Continue reading Tim Tebow decides to do the right thing for professional reasons (but reserves the right to do the wrong thing later when nobody is paying attention)

Are Americans becoming less religious? New Pew study says yes and Dawkins is optimistic

Given the course of Campaign 2012, the idea that Americans are trending toward less religion probably sounds ludicrous. But maybe not. In response to an audience question last night, Richard Dawkins said he’s “optimistic” about the future of religion. (If you’re … Continue reading Are Americans becoming less religious? New Pew study says yes and Dawkins is optimistic

The God Test

Suppose the following:

  • Later today, an organization dedicated to studying science and religion announces it has devised a “God Test.” This process will conclusively reveal whether or not there is a god (or gods). Further, it will discern the nature of god, if one (or more) exists. Does it desire/require obeisance/worship? Of what specific sort? Or is it a distant superior being that doesn’t really concern itself with humans and human affairs?
  • Global religious, political, social, academic and scientific leaders review this test and universally agree that yes, it will in fact do exactly what its developers claim. Despite their many differences, they all agree that once the God Test is run, we will all know, without ambiguity, what there is to know about god. Continue reading “The God Test”

North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war

Rachel Held Evans nails it:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

My generation is tired of the culture wars.  Continue reading “North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war”

Tim Tebow: a morality play in faith and football (and maybe even national pride)

Some time back I called Tim Tebow a “faith-based” quarterback. In that article I took on a prominent sports commentator who had lost all perspective and tried to address the ways in which the questions of religion and quarterbacking ability were getting all twisted up around the second-year Denver Broncos QB.

Since that post, some things have changed and others haven’t. The main thing that has changed is that, after an underwhelming first few games, the Doncs have made Tebow the starter. Which is good. First off, Kyle Orton may be a much better quarterback, but he was playing like hell. Continue reading “Tim Tebow: a morality play in faith and football (and maybe even national pride)”

Time for some straight talk on the NFL’s top faith-based quarterback

This just in:

CBS Sports game analyst Randy Cross believes Tebow haters are bashing him for his outspoken Christian opinions.

“People, especially the media, root against him because of what he stands for,” said Cross.

The 3-time Super Bowl champ added: “My personal belief is there are people in the media, people in the stands, who are predisposed to see a guy like that fail…Just because he’s so public about the way he feels.”

My gut response is to mock Cross for being a barking gongbat. Continue reading “Time for some straight talk on the NFL’s top faith-based quarterback”

The problem with “faith”

Well, Tim Tebow’s new memoir is out, and it’s being joyously welcomed by those who think that sanctimonious 23 year-old jocks have something important to say about life. I got to hear some deep thoughts on the book and on the admirable life of young Tebow from the crew of The Stupid Show as I drove around yesterday afternoon, and while I’m fine with people believing what they feel led to believe, I have finally had about enough of what’s being done to the word faith.

Everywhere we turn here in this most evangelical of cultures, we hear that word. Faith. We revere those who “have great faith,” even when they’re not entirely rational about it. Continue reading “The problem with “faith””

Four quick notes on the Rapture

First, via Ann Ivins: Harold Camping’s Family Radio has completely redesigned its Web site with no mention of the Rapture. Hunh.

I hopped over to have a look, because cynical me wondered if the redesign was sophisticated enough to suggest that they had been working on it since, you know, last week. But have a look. Nothing here that a monkey with a GeoCities account couldn’t have cobbled together in 15 minutes or so. Absolute barking gongbats, yes, but at least Camping & Co. are earnest.

Second, I have a theory: The Rapture actually occurred, as predicted. Continue reading “Four quick notes on the Rapture”

Gays and professional sports: Sir Charles stands up for what’s right. Again.

A few days ago, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he is gay. And the whole sporting world exploded yawned.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. There has been a bit of comment and analysis. But so far, no controversy. No homophobic ranting, no athletes stepping up to say that Jesus doesn’t approve, none of that. This is a wonderful thing. That the public response so far has amount to a collective shoulder shrug is evidence that America is finally getting over the idea that sports just isn’t ready for gays in the locker room. Continue reading “Gays and professional sports: Sir Charles stands up for what’s right. Again.”

30-Day Song Challenge, day 29: a song from my childhood

And now, something completely different.

One of the best things about my life as a child, a thing I looked forward to eagerly, was Sunday morning, before we went to church. Channel 12 had a show featuring gospel quartets and I’d always park in front of the TV and listen to those marvelous harmonies. Religiously, you might say.

Even as I have addressed my issues with the dogma that framed so much of my early life, even as my spiritual identity has evolved into something not even remotely Christian (and even less Southern Baptist), the music has never left me. Continue reading “30-Day Song Challenge, day 29: a song from my childhood”

The American Parliament: our nation’s 10 political parties

Part two in a series.

Forgive me for abstracting and oversimplifying a bit, but one might argue that American politics breaks along the following 10 lines:

Hard times for the pure of heart: is it possible to live ethically in modern society?

I think we’d all love to live every phase of our lives in happy accord with high moral and ethical principles. We’d love it if we were never confronted by logical contradictions and cognitive dissonance, by cases where our walk was at odds with our talk. But the truth is that we live in a society that’s complex, at best, and a cesspool of corruption at worst. It’s just about impossible to get through a day without compromise, and every time we compromise it’s difficult not to feel as though we’ve failed a little.

Some people are better at dealing with the conflict than others, whether through denial or a well-developed, pragmatic knack for keeping things in perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t do denial at all and while I like to think of myself as having a strong pragmatic streak, in practice my principled side tends to dominate my decision-making in ways that occasionally deprive me of convenience and pleasure. Continue reading “Hard times for the pure of heart: is it possible to live ethically in modern society?”

How many American christians are really atheists?

I’m not the first guy to raise this question and I won’t be the last, but what the heck, let’s talk about it.

A lot of Americans think of themselves as “progressive christians” or “liberal christians,” and I count a good number of them among my friends and colleagues. Not long ago I was talking to one of these friends and we wandered into the subject of religion. Dawkins and Harris were invoked, as might be expected. Anti-Dawkins and -Harris resistance was encountered, also expected. So I finally decided to ask some questions that I had always wanted answers to, but had never actually asked.

The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: Do you believe that Mary was a virgin? Continue reading “How many American christians are really atheists?”

Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better

In a recent discussion on one of my political lists Sara Robinson (easily one of the brightest folks in the blogosphere) made an important point about what often causes people to migrate from socially conservative perspectives to more progressive points of view. In describing her experiences with a particular activist group that helped people leaving fundamentalist religions (something that can be emotionally traumatic at the very least, and that frequently comes at a significant price in their lives – lost families, ostracization, etc.), she noted:

[T]he first sliver of doubt came about when the person’s authorities asked them to believe something that they simply could not reconcile with their own experience. In a plurality of cases, this dissonance was caused by knowing and caring for someone who was gay, and realizing that the conservative storyline on the inherent evil of homosexuality just didn’t line up with what they knew of this wonderful person. (If the religious right knew just how often this one issue triggered those first unignorable doubts, they’d walk away from gay-hating and never go back to it.) Continue reading “Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better”

America vs. the Terrorists, 9/11/10: a status report, nine years on…

In September 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. They flew three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth was retaken by the passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. These things we know. Since then, much has transpired. For example:

The Colorado Crusading Rockies: why is the club’s religious mandate such a huge secret in its own hometown?

Here in a few weeks my company is taking all the employees to a Colorado Rockies game. All of us except me, that is – I’ll be begging off for reasons that I feel like I’ve hashed through a million times. I will no doubt be afforded several more chances to explain why I refuse to patronize the Rox as the big day approaches.

Short version: the Colorado Rockies are an evangelical Christian organization that, if I take them at their word, appear to discriminate (as a fundamental operating philosophy that I can only assume includes personnel decisions, both on-field and in the front office) on the basis of religion. I first wrote about the story shortly after it broke in an August 2006 Lullaby Pit piece on Who Would Jesus Play For? Continue reading “The Colorado Crusading Rockies: why is the club’s religious mandate such a huge secret in its own hometown?”

ArtSunday: Let the musicians die

Every once in awhile I come across unrelated stories that somehow associate themselves in my mind. Take these, for instance:

First, I hope you saw Lex’s tribute to Starchild (given name, Gary Shider), he of P-Funk fame. As Lex notes, Shider experienced problems where the cost of fighting the cancer that killed him was concerned.

Second, another American music icon, Alex Chilton, passed away earlier this year. Continue reading “ArtSunday: Let the musicians die”