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Posted inGeneral

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 […]

Posted inGeneral

The Gospel of Elvis

Reading Time: 3 minutes In the book God?: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist, William Lane Craig (debating Walter Sinnott-Armstrong) makes the following argument for why God chooses to remain hidden: “Could God reveal himself more clearly?” Of course, He could: He could have inscribed the label “Made by God” on every atom or planted a neon […]

Posted inGeneral

Strange and Curious Sects: Jesus Malverde

Reading Time: 4 minutes Malverde’s shrine stands near the railroad tracks on the west side of Culiacan, well-known to just about everybody in town. Nearby are Malverde Clutch & Breaks, Malverde Lumber and two Denny’s-like cafeterias: Coco’s Malverde and Chic’s Malverde. Outside the shrine people sell trinkets, candles, and pictures. Inside the shrine are two concrete busts of the […]

Posted inGeneral

Strange and Curious Sects: John Frum

Reading Time: 5 minutes Today I’m inaugurating a new series on Daylight Atheism, Strange and Curious Sects. The follies and fallacies of larger, mainstream religions are well known; this series will examine some of the smaller and lesser-known splinter groups, cults, and sects, both past and present, that are part of the vast diversity of religions imagined by human […]

Posted inGeneral

The Pretense of Superiority

Reading Time: 3 minutes Religion has always been used to sanctify inequality here on Earth, in the present no less than in the past. By teaching their followers that they are God’s chosen rulers, religious authorities can accustom the flock to obedience and ascend to positions of power without the consent of the majority. The fundamentally oligarchic and anti-democratic […]

Posted inGeneral

Scientology to Stand Trial?

Reading Time: 2 minutes Some welcome news out of Brussels: A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization. Although I take a dim view of the principle, held by many European countries, that speech and […]

Posted inGeneral

Smoothing Out the Rough Edges

Reading Time: 3 minutes Normal people don’t start new religions. This seems like an obvious thing to say, but there’s an important point behind it. Most people, both in the present time and in past eras, are conformists who are far more likely to follow the trails paved by others than to blaze their own. Theists in general seem […]

Posted inGeneral

The Root of All Evil

Reading Time: 4 minutes One of the more bizarre offshoots of fundamentalist Christianity that has been making headway in recent years is the “prosperity gospel”, also called the “Word of Faith” movement. Devotees of this theology believe that God, far from the dour, gloomy Puritan deity who expected people to deprive themselves in this life to be rewarded in […]

Posted inGeneral

How Religions Are Born

Reading Time: 5 minutes On Tuesday night, after watching the lottery drawing (I didn’t win, alas – and I wished really hard for it, too!), I saw an ABC special about one José Luis de Jesus Miranda, a Puerto Rican man who has announced to the world that he is the second coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. […]

Posted inGeneral

Bending the World Around Yourself

Reading Time: 4 minutes In light of all the momentous events currently taking place around the world, this next story might seem somewhat trivial in the grand scheme of things. But it illustrates some important points that are of more general application, and more importantly to me, it concerns my own alma mater, Binghamton University, of which I am […]

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