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Weekly Link Roundup

Reading Time: < 1 minute A couple of noteworthy articles from this week that I didn’t have time to write more about: • To begin with, there’s this excellent and in-depth profile of the FFRF’s Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, from a local alternative paper in Madison. • Archaeologists have discovered a genuine burial shroud from the first century […]

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A God of Obsessions

Reading Time: 4 minutes In the books of the Torah, Yahweh devotes entire chapters to explaining in exacting detail what kind of animal sacrifices he expects from his people. The one common thread, repeatedly emphasized, is that the animals to be slaughtered must be “without blemish”: “And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow […]

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Too High a Price to Pay for Comfort

Reading Time: 5 minutes Religion inspires billions of people around the world today to live honest, decent, law-abiding lives. Faith-based charities of every religious tradition have brought comfort, hope, and healing to millions of people who would otherwise starve, lay homeless, and be left to fend for themselves. Religion gives comfort and consolation to so many who have faced […]

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The Twisted Moral of Passover

Reading Time: 3 minutes This week is the holiday of Passover, one of Judaism’s high holy days which commemorates the ancient Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Although the archaeological evidence for captivity and exodus is lacking, this story has become a fundamental part of Jewish cultural consciousness, as well as a symbol and an inspiration to others. In […]

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No Holy Ground

Reading Time: 3 minutes The world’s attention has been riveted these past few days by Israel’s assault on Gaza, in an attempt to oust the Hamas-run government and put a stop to rocket attacks on southern Israel. Hundreds of Palestinians were reported killed in a wave of airstrikes, over a thousand wounded, and as of this writing, a ground […]

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Why Hanukkah?

Reading Time: 2 minutes For the sake of the holidays, here’s a bit of nostalgia: My parents came from two different religious traditions – Roman Catholicism on my father’s side, liberal Judaism on my mother’s side – although neither of them were practicing. Growing up, I had no exposure at all to Christianity, and the extent of my exposure […]

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Strange and Curious Sects: Sabbatai Zevi

Reading Time: 4 minutes Past editions of Strange and Curious Sects have explored religious splinter groups that came into existence relatively recently. Today’s edition will focus on an older cult that still has lessons to teach us: the bizarre story of the would-be Jewish messiah, Sabbatai Zevi. Sabbatai Zevi was born in 1626, supposedly on the anniversary of the […]

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Religion’s Harm to Women

Reading Time: 8 minutes In our society, it is still widely considered rude to criticize opinions and practices that arise from religious belief, no matter how evil or abhorrent they are. Even when it comes to the murderous fanatics who kill in the name of Islam, politicians and other public figures who criticize them often take pains to label […]

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