Protip: If you're using The Bible to justify your opposition to same sex marriage, don't forget to stone to death any woman engaging in premarital sex. And not just your garden-variety stoning, either. You must gather all the people of the town at the doorstep of the woman's father and kill her there. 

God is very specific about this (Deuteronomy 22:20).

Side note:

If you are a man engaging in premarital sex, fear not. God does not condemn you to death. However, if you were engaged in premarital sex, it must logically be with either with a woman who was also engaging in premarital sex (meaning you must now stone her to death, which strikes me as awkward given the intimacy of your relationship) or with a married woman, at which point you and the married woman must both be killed.

So caution is advised.

Rose City Park Church: The sign is real, and the message is fantastic, despite my suggestions for revision.

I assumed that this sign was a fake when I saw it, but no. It's real. 

rose city park united methodist church

It's also both shocking and refreshing. As a person who would like to believe in God and an afterlife but has been unable to do so, a logical, sensible, rational message like this makes religion seem so much more accessible.

Bravo, Tom Tate and company.

I'm also a fan of the Rose City Park United Methodist Church's mission statement (even though I despise the notion of mission statements): 

The Rose City Park United Methodist Church …

 “Where we share God’s love Compassionately and Inclusively

… through Radical Hospitality.”

I could do without the ellipses (of course), but they aren't egregious enough to ruin the spirit of the message.

But it's close.

I also find it amusing that Rose City Park refers to itself as both a city and a park when it's neither. It's actually a small, overpriced (Forbes, 2009) neighborhood in northeast Portland, Oregon.  

As a person who has read the Bible cover to cover three times, I might also suggest changing the word God to Jesus on their sign. Based upon Biblical text, I am quite certain that Jesus would prefer kind atheists over hateful Christians.

The God of the Bible (and particularly the Old Testament) wasn't nearly as reasonable or rational.   

Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was “confronted by God” and nearly knocks the interviewer out of his seat.

Regardless of how you feel about Steven Fry and his position on the Catholic Church and faith in general, you have to admire this answer on purely rhetorical grounds. It’s structured beautifully.


But my favorite part is the look in interviewer Gay Bryne’s face at two or three points during this two minute video.

Appalled is probably the best way to describe it, but even that doesn’t seem to do it justice. He seems to almost knock Bryne right out of his chair by his words. 

God must be so angry about this.

Teenage pregnancy rates have dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded in the 73 years that the government started collecting data.

The reason for this dramatic decrease?

Not a decrease in teenage sexual activity. Those levels have remained stable for the past two decades.

Not abortions. Those rates have been flat for the past 15 years.

The decrease in teen pregnancy is the result of increased contraception use.

Speaking to NBC News, Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University, attributed the change to a greater emphasis on getting effective contraception to teens, especially long-acting methods like the IUD.

Just think:

No rise in teenage sexual activity. No rise in abortions. Yet historically low levels of teenage pregnancy.

It’s practically a miracle.

Except it’s not. It’s just contraception, which has resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies (and the resulting economic devastation) without any other significant changes in teenage behavior.

But if you’d listen to some, the idea that teenagers have better access to contraception and are using contraception in greater numbers signals the end of days. The four horsemen of the apocalypse. The crumbling of the very bedrock of our society.

God must be so angry about this. 


I’m not as concerned about the link between contraception use and God’s wrath. but then again, I am not a right-wing, religious ultra-conservative who believes that abstinence (and the inevitable pregnancies) is the only acceptable form of contraception, and that any other use of contraception prior to marriage (or even thereafter) will send you straight to hell.

And don’t fool yourself. There are a lot of these people out there.

For them, the news that teenage contraception use has increased (and teen pregnancy has dramatically decreased) without an increase in abortion or even sexual activity must be devastating.

I love news that makes crazy people crazy.

Why I am a reluctant atheist

I describe myself as a reluctant atheist.

Essentially, this means that I do not believe in God, but I wish I did. I have tried to believe. At this point in my life, I simply lack the faith required to believe. Despite reading the Bible cover to cover three times in my life, I have been unable to find truth in those words.

Truthfully, the more I read, the less I believe.

Adding the word “reluctant” to my atheist label has had an interesting effect on others in terms of their reactions to my position on religion.

For people of faith, the word “reluctant” seems to have added a level of approachability and acceptance that did not exist before. While many people of faith have a difficult time understanding the non-believer and are often offended by the criticism of their religion, they seem to have an acceptance of the idea of a crisis of faith, and they often assume that this is what I am experiencing.

Even when I take a hard-lined stance against a practice or policy of their religious institution, the addition of the word “reluctant” has seemed to temper their anger and outrage.

This has been good.

I tend to believe that my position on God is not a crisis of faith and more rationale and cemented than some of these people of faith seem to believe, but perhaps I am wrong and someday faith will come to me.

Either way, we seem to be able to engage in discourse more easily now.

For some atheists, the addition of the word “reluctant” has been greeted with skepticism and disappointment. They believe that I do a disservice to nonbelievers when I fail to take a strong position on my atheist views.

I try to explain to these people that my position on atheism is actually quite strong. While I wish that I believed in a higher power and an afterlife, I am convinced that neither exists.

“Then why try to believe in something that you know doesn’t exist?” they ask. “Why wish for the impossible? And for someone who has read the Bible carefully, why would you wish for the God described in the Bible?”

They have a point. The Biblical God, particularly in the Old Testament, is not a friendly guy. 

There are tough questions. I often find myself feeling like the little boy who has just discovered that Santa Claus isn’t real but still desperately wants him to be real. It’s a difficult position to explain or defend.

But I think I’ve found my answer. I’ve found my answer in Antoinette Tuff, the Georgian woman who saved the lives of untold numbers of students and teachers with her quick thinking and steel nerves. Listening to her describe the role that her faith in God played during her encounter with the gunman and the humility that her faith has given her in the wake of all the attention she has received was inspiring.

As I listened to her speak, I found myself jealous of her faith, wishing that I could believe with the absolute certainty that she possesses.

There is nothing wrong with wanting something as powerful as faith, even when you are convinced that it is predicated on something that does not exist.