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Posted inDeep Dive

Should Muslims kill me?

Reading Time: 4 minutes Critics of Islam love the Sword Verse. It’s Koran 9:5, or the fifth verse of the ninth Surah, At-Tawbah, “The Repentance”. The bit they like says, “Kill the pagans wherever you find them.” The charge is often applied that Muslims are being instructed by Allah to murder everyone who does not share their religion. At […]

Posted inThe Secular

Should Christmas trees be banned in tax-funded public spaces?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Although I’m a committed nontheist and ardent church-state separationist, I’m not inflexible about it. Which is to say I see no good reason to oppose Christmas trees, for example, in public, tax-supported spaces. It’s been a centuries-long American civic tradition to erect Christmas trees all over creation, so to speak—in public and private spaces—and these […]

Posted inCritical thinking

The face of Islam

Reading Time: 5 minutes When art history instructor Erika López Prater wanted to show a painting of Muhammad in her class at Hamline University last semester, she took every precaution. It was a 14th-century work by a Muslim for a Muslim audience honoring the last prophet of Islam. She repeatedly warned students that she would show the picture, both […]

Posted inArt

Art History professor fired for using ancient paintings of Muhammad in class

Reading Time: 5 minutes An art history professor in Minnesota was fired after showing students an ancient depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in class. The dismissal came after a Muslim student complained to administrators that the act was offensive and disrespectful; those school officials eventually agreed. The whole controversy has raised important questions about whether potentially offensive content should be censored […]

Posted inFree Expression

Islamic dress codes and women’s rights

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Koran instructs Muslim women to be modest in their dress partly to publicly identify with Islam and partly to avoid sexual assault. Since 630 CE, we have come to understand that the sexual assault of women is not caused by how sexy they look but by male control issues. Human rights groups and feminists universally advise that […]

Posted inReligious News

Cycles of extremism: NGOs suspend services after Taliban bans female staff

Reading Time: 3 minutes In a series of moves surprising no one, the Taliban government in Afghanistan this past week banned women from universities, and also locked girls out of primary school (essentially ending education to female persons across the board), before also banning women from work in any local non-government organizations (NGOs). The usual nonsense reasons pertaining to […]

Posted inReligion

Did Krakatoa’s eruption turn Indonesia Muslim?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Starting at 11:05 p.m. on October 11, 2002, three terrorist bombs detonated in quick succession on the picturesque Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people, mostly Western tourists, in the teeming bar district. Historians said it had been a very long time coming—119 years, by some estimates. One precursor to the 2002 massacre was the […]

Posted inReligion

Something about Muslims

Reading Time: 3 minutes I often write about Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church. Some Christian friends of mine have suggested that I should direct my critical attention onto Muslims. They join the chorus of similar anonymous grumbles I get on my blog. I criticise Islam (and Hinduism and Judaism and others) regularly, but they only notice when their […]

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