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Religion, Lately: Kamala Khan, Biker Churches, and Discussing Religion on Facebook

Marvel Comics has announced that it’s newest heroine will be a young Pakistani-American Muslim girl named Kamala Khan. There is both excitement and worry over the fact that Khan is Muslim- while the debut of the superheroine is a step in the right direction to fight Islamaphobia, many fear that Khan’s story may perpetuate certain harmful stereotypes, as discussed in this article from The Huffington Post. Religion has always played a role in many popular comics, but lately there has been a rise in comics that are coming out of religious publishing groups, including HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Zondervan.

Religion, Lately: Interview with a Jedi, Biblical Neuroscience, Mormon Women Bare.com

Religion, Lately: Interview with a Jedi, Biblical Neuroscience, Mormon Women Bare.com

By Kenny Smith…While notions of “religion” are deployed in a rather simplistic manner, Fox News offers an otherwise thoughtful interview with a Jedi teacher and a journalist who “spent a weekend” with them. Is it a religion, a philosophy, a way of life? You decide.
In a more typical manner, Fox hosted an angry debate concerning recent atheist billboards and whether religion or non-religion are “irrational.” Elsewhere in atheisdom, free Bible apps (such as YouVersion) are used to disprove the Bible’s legitimacy: “Reading the full story with all its contradictions and violence and sexism, it should make you think, ‘Is this really what I believe in?’”

No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

By Karli Robinson-Myers, Georgia State University

For those of us that support community activism, helping those less fortunate, and especially interfaith dialog, news reports of an atheist group turned away while trying to volunteer at a Christian run soup kitchen in South Carolina last month was gut wrenching. According to the Christian Post, the Upstate Atheists group approached the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to assist with giving out food to the needy. They were upfront about being an atheist group, but they assured the church they would not wear shirts with labels to promote their organization. The church’s kitchen director, Lou Landrum, told them they were not allowed to participate because they had “ulterior motives,” says Eve Brannon, president of the Upstate Atheists.

Religion, Lately: Doing Halloween Biblically, Ghosts v. Religion,  and Cannabis for Shiva

Religion, Lately: Doing Halloween Biblically, Ghosts v. Religion, and Cannabis for Shiva

By Kenny Smith…This year’s Halloween’s top-ten Biblically themed costumes? Pharaoh, Naughty Nun, Priest with Enormous Erection (cleverly packaged as “Keeping Up The Faith”), and of course Zombie Nuns (said to be marked down 20%!). What do practicing witches actually think about Halloween? Some hate it. Some love it. In Mumbai, Wiccans used the holiday Samhain (also on October 31) as an occasion for casting protective spells for the benefit of women in India. And while many continue to lump Wiccans. Pagans, and Satanists together, Real Housewives of Beverley Hills’ Carlton Gebbia stakes out a religious identity not reducible to any of these exactly: “I’m Celtic, which is my ancestry. And I practice witchcraft. My grandmother was a Pagan… There’s no one defined answer.”

Religion, Lately: Biblical Immigration, Heavy Metal Church, Cat Stevens v. Yusuf Islam, and the Religious Complexities of the Culture Wars

Religion, Lately: Biblical Immigration, Heavy Metal Church, Cat Stevens v. Yusuf Islam, and the Religious Complexities of the Culture Wars

By Kenny Smith…Evangelicals are, apparently, quite divided on the issue of immigration reform, and read their Bibles accordingly. Some conclude that because Jesus and the Hebrew Prophets consistently speak of our obligation to care for strangers and the poor, a way to citizenship should be opened up for undocumented workers and their families in contemporary America. Others insist that because in within the Hebrew Bible God warns the ancient Israelites about the dangers of importing foreign ways (e.g., the danger of intermarriage), we need “Biblical Immigration”: walls, not ways.

Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and  bin Laden Halloween Anxieties

Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and bin Laden Halloween Anxieties

By Kenny Smith…..What will Pagan religious traditions (such as Wicca, Druidism, and Asatru, among others) look like in fifty years, in 2063? Full-time Pagan clergy, Pagan celebrities coming out of the broom-closet, and a vast array of Pagan-centric media outlets, one writer predicts. Back here in 2013, new Pagan-themed books for children such as “What is Magic,” and “Who is a Witch?,” hit the shelves, Pagan Pride days continue to be celebrated in various cities nationwide, and Pagan communities prepare for Samhain.

Atheist Allowed To Show His Godlessness On License Plate After New Jersey DMV Reverses

Atheist Allowed To Show His Godlessness On License Plate After New Jersey DMV Reverses

By Nick Wing, Huffington Post…..Earlier this month, David Silverman, president of American Atheists, sent in an order for a vanity plate that read “ATHE1ST,” with the number “1” instead of an “I.” “ATHEIST” was reportedly already taken, though the picture above shows Silverman with a retired version of that plate.

Coming Out As a Heretic

Coming Out As a Heretic

By Kate Blanchard, Religion Dispatches…..
I could very much relate to the recent NPRstory about a Christian minister losing her faith. Like her, I once counted myself among the über-faithful but then “fell away” in my twenties. Despite marrying a clergyman and spending lots of time in theological school, I never made it back to the one true way. But there is a major difference in my story and this minister’s story, which is that she has embraced the name “atheist,” while I cannot bring myself to do so.

An Atheist with Atheists United

An Atheist with Atheists United

By Kile Jones….
On February 28, 2011, I attended a meeting of Atheists United at the Center for Inquiry (CFI) in Hollywood, California. It was a typical day in southern California—sunny, beautiful, without a cloud in sight—when I pulled into the parking lot of the CFI. On a nearby mountain you could see the famous Hollywood Sign looming in the distance. The CFI is located next to a Mexican Pentecostal Church and a Christian Science Reading Room, proof of the religious diversity in Los Angeles. From the outside, CFI looks like more like a warehouse than a Church. Its electric sign, found on the street corner, not only announces headlines and CFI news, but also provides one of the only ways of detecting the building. While in the parking lot I was approached by the treasurer of Atheists United, Norm, who politely asked me if I was attending their meeting.

Fish out of Water: On Being an Atheist in a Religious Culture

Fish out of Water: On Being an Atheist in a Religious Culture

It’s not always easy to be an atheist in a predominantly religious culture, but most of the challenges are manageable and getting easier with time. Some of my fellow non-believers would kill me for saying that, but it’s silly to suggest that it’s as difficult to be openly nonreligious now as it was in 1954. Not to mention 1454.

PARENTING in the Words of Freethinker Dale McGowan

PARENTING in the Words of Freethinker Dale McGowan

By Michel-Camille Bordeau…….
Parenting works in mysterious ways. It’s a complex affair for experienced, willing parents and a intimidating undertaking for those who, like myself, never prepared themselves for it, never imagined they would be fit for the task, or be given the opportunity. Two years ago, I became a born again parent, a step-dad to an 8 year old with an incredible (free)thinking mind and a mean high kick. Overnight, I grew a second heart—the first one being for his mother—and with twice the volume of blood stimulating my (free)thinking brain, I discovered a whole new family of anxieties that can be summed up with: ‘Seriously, don’t fark up (this kid’s life).’

Harold Camping—Penny Guru of Spiritual Scams

Harold Camping—Penny Guru of Spiritual Scams

By Michel-Camille Bordeau….
We can’t expect restoration of trustworthiness with the likes of Harold Camping. He’s already made that very clear. After the fiasco of May 21st, he took time to regroup, and when he was ready to face the public, he came out to announce that he wasn’t wrong, he couldn’t be wrong, and he would never be wrong. The Patriarch, provider of eschatological hope, had spoken. But these were not the expected words. He did not seek forgiveness or offer an apology to his wounded children and/or the rest of the world. Being wrong was the right thing for him—and he was certain that God would forgive him. In fact, he was convinced that it was in God’s plan…for him…through him… and for the rest of the world… whether we liked it or not. Even if some of us, his dearest fans, suffered great emotional injury.

Freethinking in the Words of Matthew Alper

Freethinking in the Words of Matthew Alper

By Michel-Camille Bordeau….
If, like yours truly, you’ve been closely following the new wave of freethinkers, if you’ve helped Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and many others become bestselling authors, you might remember Matthew Alper, author of The ‘God’ Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. You might even recall the original cover of the 1996 self-published edition of his seminal work. Although The “God” Part of the Brain continues to pad Sourcebooks’ pocketbook; although it has been adopted by about 50 college professors; and, although, fifteen years after the initial release, Matthew Alper still receives hundreds of e-mails from students and professors worldwide, I still think it should get more attention. It should get Religion Nerd’s reader’s attention. Here’s why.

In response to Deepak Chopra’s Atheists’ Mistake: Liberal Spirituality

In response to Deepak Chopra’s Atheists’ Mistake: Liberal Spirituality

By Michel-Camille Bordeau……
In his most recent article famed spiritual author Deepak Chopra expressed his concern that “By making belief in God their enemy… atheists deprive themselves of what spirituality is really about: a process of inner growth.” The short article is a blog-jab in Christopher Hitchens direction, a response to a recent letter he wrote for the annual convention of atheists, and, by ‘atheists’, Mr Chopra implies those who think-believe in the manner of outspoken Christopher Hitchens. Though, like any self-respecting minority, Atheists have plenty of reasons and sufficient rights to question majority opinions like those expressed by Mr. Chopra, assuming that every Atheist sees Humanity with Hitchens’ eyes is somewhat reductive, although very flattering, considering the man’s achievements.