Religion Lately: Atheists v. Pagans, Jesus Toasters, & “Sin-Free” Egyptian Vacays

By Kenny Smith, Emory University  

Atheist bloggers turned out in force for a record-setting $180,000 in donations for  Doctors Without Borders, to which some Christians replied “thank God!”  Not bad for a widely distrusted minority (a new study suggests that many people have more faith in the ethics of rapists!)  While fighting Christianity, Atheists wonder whether they should be fighting Wiccans and Neo-Pagans as well. They are, after all, religious.

In Santa Monica, CA., where a lottery determined who would have access to “vandal-proof, cage-like areas surrounded by chain-link fencing” in which to place their public holiday displays, Atheists won 18 of 21 such spaces, with just two going to a coalition of churches, and one to a Jewish group.  

In New Jersey, American Atheists billboards suggest that “free thinkers’ can be found in every family, if we only bother to look.  Conservative Catholics have responded with an “adopt an atheist” campaign aimed at helping those suffering from atheism to “recover their inner [and no doubt Catholic] self.” 

 The Evangelical group, American Family Association, released its long awaited list of merchants said to be friendly to and hostile to Christianity. “The litmus test is whether retailers use ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ in their ads. The latter is considered offensive because it takes away the focus on Jesus…”  For some potentially real Christmas warfare, visit the South and North Korea’s DMZ, with its three steel Christmas trees, “adorned with lights and topped with crosses,” and surrounded by barbed-wire.   

In Long Island, New York, two high school students were suspended for “Tebowing” in the halls, deemed a safety hazard. 

In Omaha, Nebraska, Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups are coming together to form a 35-acre “tri-faith” campus.  

Lowe’s has removed its commercial spots from TLC’s “All American Muslim” after complaints by Christian anti-Muslim groups such as the Florida Family Association,  and a petition drive to smack down the retailing giant has already begun.  

For those weary of waiting for an image of Jesus to miraculously appear in their morning toast, $31.95 buys you a Jesus Toaster at Burnt, which turns out miracles on demand. “Press a button and save a couple of souls, Jesus!” Don’t wait, though, they’re selling 50-100 daily while supplies last.   

Some have tried to understand Newt Gingrich’s “war on Sharia,” his experimentation with various Christianities, and his Dickensian view of the poor.  For the first time in American history, voters in Republican presidential primaries may have to choose between two non-Protestant candidates, a Mormon (Romney) and a Catholic (Gingrich, assuming this lasts through the primaries).  

A Canadian judge has ruled that smoking marijuana is not a religious act, even if participants understand their practices in explicitly religious terms, for instance, as partaking of the “tree of life… to share a collective consciousness, which is an aspect of God… a common belief in countless mystical traditions.”

There’s a new Jedi Order in town, and their website offers links to a host of other Jedi communities and resources. More, the Jedi are showing up in larger numbers and in more places.  In the Czech Republic, for instance, where nearly half of the country’s 10.5 million residents are not affiliated with religion, some 15,000 have listed their religion as “Jedi Knight.” 

We all know there are UFO-based religious movements, but is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence itself a religion? Michael Crichton apparently thought so.   

The Church of Scientology recently celebrated “Human Rights Day” (the 63rd anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights) “with seminars, rallies, concerts, round tables, forums and festivals… and more than 80 human rights walks in 26 countries…”  

Physicists say they are “hot on the trail” of the elusive (and some say non-existent) “God particle” (otherwise known as the Higgs Boson), which would allow cosmologists to explain why mass occurs in the universe, apparently an important variable.  

In what promises to make Egypt an international party Mecca, newly elected legislators have ruled that tourists must observe a “sin free” lifestyle during their stay: no alcohol, no bikinis, no men and women swimming together. Good times!

Filed Under: Around the WebAtheismChristianityFeaturedKenny SmithReligion Lately


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