How the Duggar Scandal Could Be a Rallying Cry

With media coverage of the Duggar scandal expanding, there is plenty of schadenfreude to go around. It's hard to resist feeling a bit smug, or somehow vindicated, when someone who discriminates against others loses their credibility. On the other side, some steadfast supporters--like POTUS-hopeful Mike Huckabee--are digging in with their own reasons for defending the Duggar family.

The resulting media coverage has focused largely on whether Josh Duggar can, or should, be forgiven. But by turning this into a matter of conservative vs. liberal (or Christian vs. atheist) viewpoints we're missing an opportunity to deal with an issue that affects all of us, regardless of politics or religion.

Responding to "I'll Pray for You"

As an atheist, I don't particularly like to hear "I'll pray for you" or "You're in my prayers" but, when it is a sincere expression of sympathy, I'm grateful for the kindness behind the words. It's the other "I'll pray for you," the one that silently adds because you are an atheist who is going to burn in hell, that offends me.

Let's consider these two general expressions separately.

What Counts as a Bible?

Author of the Brick Bible, Brendan Powell Smith, has just announced that she is transgender. She has changed her legal name to Elbe Spurling and her legal gender to female. Her story of acceptance and pride is nice to hear and I wish her all the best for continued happiness.

The interesting thing (to me) about the comments on her announcement is that several people are upset, not about the trans issue, but because she also said that she is an atheist. It turns out that they were buying the Brick Bible for their kids and are upset to learn that it was written by someone who doesn't believe in god.

CNN Special Report - Why Atheism is Newsworthy

CNN recently published a very nice, very long, article about The Friendly Atheists Next Door. It was nice in the sense that it showed a pleasant once-Catholic, now-atheist family in a positive light. It was long due to its detailed coverage of their journey through questioning, coming-out and finding acceptance. And it ties into a CNN Special Report titled Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers.

Can You Spot the Atheist? Snowstorm Edition

Can you spot the atheist in the snowstorm?
Who is the atheist? Who is the believer?

Test your powers of observation below:

Mindfulness Without Religion

Over the past several years, the concept of "mindfulness" has been gaining traction in the Western world. Mindfulness is often described as a form of meditation which is based on Buddhist spiritual teachings. Yet mindfulness can easily be practiced without religion.