Beyond Suicide Prevention, Being Kind to Make the World a Better Place

Chester Bennington died last week. By suicide. At age 41. Chester killed himself on what would have been Chris Cornell's 53rd birthday, if Chris hadn't killed himself in May.

Cue DJs playing Linkin Park songs, news magazines writing tributes, social media posters encouraging their friends in pain to reach out, and everyone sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Those are important things. Reaching out, connecting, and supporting each other in the bad times is vital. Recognizing pain and finding ways to help can make a difference.

5 Challenges of Freethought

Keeping an open mind may be one of the hardest things a human being can do. Our brains are wired to categorize and seek out patterns. As social animals, we learn from our peers and are more comfortable around people who share similar points of view. Our senses are less reliable than we realize, and, whether we acknowledge it or not, our deepest held beliefs are often solidified through confirmation bias and the backfire effect.

Yet many, if not most, people consider themselves to be "open-minded." So let's start by pinning this down and—for the purposes of this post—discussing open-mindedness in the way it applies to freethinkers.

Freethought requires a search for truth and knowledge that goes beyond dogma or conventional wisdom. It is typically based in science and logic, valuing facts that can be proven through evidence and independent testing.

An Atheist Election Guide for 2016?

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The United States was founded as a secular nation. Its design included a clear separation of church and state, protecting the freedom of religion without using religion to dictate government. Article VI of the Constitution even states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Yes. Seriously. Though that may be hard to believe if you watch any modern day election coverage.

Home for the Holidays: Celebrating a Cultural Christmas

Each December--or even earlier--there are some people who like to get up in arms over the War on Christmas. They want to "keep the Christ in Christmas" and they see "Happy Holidays" as an attack on their faith. They may not agree that the "reason for the season" may include a variety of winter holidays, such as Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and, yes, Christmas.

Happy holidays aside, is Christmas itself a religious holiday? Yes and no. Christians do celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, with special masses and other religious traditions, and that is a lovely part of their faith that no one is taking away from them. Yet "Christmas" has become more than that.

How Religious Thinking Disregards Consent

Bloomingdale's recent ad debacle got me thinking about consent—both in the sexual sense and in the wider realm—and about the ways religious thinking may actually encourage a disregard for consent.

If you missed it, the ad in question (pictured right) came from Bloomingdale's holiday catalog. It shows a stylishly dressed man and woman with the caption: Spike your best friend's eggnog when they're not looking.

'Tis the season for holiday parties and drunken date rape?

The backlash was swift on social media and Bloomingdale's has since issued an apology for the ad, saying that they now realize it was "inappropriate and in poor taste."