Religion Lately: Mabon Celebrations, More Teavangelicals, Ugly Atheists, and the Machine Gun Preacher

By Kenny Smith and Heather Abraham

Wiccans and Neo-Pagans of all sorts celebrate Mabon this September 23 (or there about), a celebration of the fall harvest and the Autumn Equinox, a day in which the hours of day and night are perfectly balanced, and just one day after the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins!  Looking for a primer on Wiccan/Pagan holidays?

Rob Bell, the controversial Christian minister whose book, Love Wins, published earlier this year questions some basic conservative ideas, for instance, that heaven is not a Christians-only club, strikes out on his own.  Elsewhere in Christendom, one Southern Baptist leader argues that state executions are “pro-life.”   Presidential candidate, Tea Party leader, and Evangelical, Michele Bachman, who now argues that the US government should have no tax revenues whatsoever, has self-identified as a Teavangelical.   Perhaps not surprisingly, the Southern Baptist Convention is considering a re-branding with a new and perhaps less insular… name.  

A federal judge has ruled that two film makers, who in 2005-2006 claimed that the Raelian International Religion  recruited members by virtue of pedophilia, in fact fabricated the story entirely.   

While Buddhist “flashmobs” gather for meditation in cities around the world, Jewish ones gather for shofar blowing


The FBI has been criticized for it’s training materials that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as “a cult leader,”  and the Air Force Chief of Staff has warned officers to avoid promoting and expressing preferential treatment for their own personal religious beliefs

One fellow attempts an experiential comparison of demonic exorcism.  This is probably not your religious studies professors’ idea of a comparative study.

The Church of Scientology encounters yet more troubles, as mainstream media pick up recent accusations of the “violent and toxic” nature of its leader, David Miscavige. Elsewhere, Scientology Church schools receive far more positive coverage.  

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has announced that beginning in 2015, Saudi born women will be allowed to vote and run as candidates.  The announcement came just days before this year’s elections in which women are excluded.  Women can vote….just not yet.  

Actor Gerard Butler, a consummate warrior of film, takes on the lead role in “Machine Gun Preacher.” 


The film challenges American Christians get off their comfortable asses and to think globally while giving new meaning to gun carrying Christians.  “Apostle of Violence?”  

Another of God’s warriors, Andrew Marin, is working to bridge the gap between the conservative Christian right and the GLBT community.   

Bay Minette, Alabama judges are giving those convicted of misdemeanors the choice between serving jail time or attending church.  Christianity is the only option available to those who want to opt out of jail.  Christian and non Christian criminals, who choose to participate, will have to report to the local pastor and police for an entire year.  The ACLU is in an uproar calling Bay Minette’s Restore Our Community Program “blatantly unconstitutional.” 

“We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate,” said Bruce Gleason, director of Backyard Skeptics atheist group, who recently gathered in Huntington Beach to rip up pages of the bible they feel are immoral.    The self styled “Atheist Athlete” created a video to capture the event at which he had “a lot of fun” and where he “got hugs” from attendees.   


 Brad Hirschfield explores “When Atheism Turns Ugly,” in his Washington Post On Faith article.   While Christians and Atheists battle it out on the boardwalk, Jewish Atheists flock to welcoming Synagogues.   

The Jewish High Holy Days are upon us and some Synagogues are worrying about “The Hard Economics Of High Holy Days.”

Filed Under: American ReligionAround the WebAtheismChristianityFeaturedHeather AbrahamKenny SmithPagan & WiccaReligion Lately


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