Archive: Susan Jacoby
The irony is that such hearings can only discourage cooperation from Muslim Americans with the efforts of government intelligence agencies to uncover homegrown plots.
By Susan Jacoby | March 7, 2011; 08:33 AM ET | Comments (9)
If Imam Rauf, who plans to deliver many talks around the nation next year, can help bring some honesty to bear on this discussion, he would become a bigger story than the controversy over the mosque.
By Susan Jacoby | December 27, 2010; 02:41 PM ET | Comments (49)
If I were pope, the only statement I'd issue before elections is that it's a positive moral act to vote, because every citizen who is too lazy to go to the polls--who needs to feel "enthusiasm" in order to do his or her civic duty--drains democracy of its meaning and vitality.
By Susan Jacoby | November 1, 2010; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (37)
As an atheist, I have no doubt that intermarriage does, in most cases, lead to attenuation of the more rigid forms of religious faith. On this matter, the priests of my childhood and generations of rabbis were absolutely right. Of course, I consider this a good thing.
By Susan Jacoby | July 26, 2010; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (346)
If religions were all essentially alike, religion could never have been the source of conflict it has been throughout human history. The very different things expected of humans by God in different religions is far more important than any general belief in providence.
By Susan Jacoby | July 7, 2010; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (36)
This controversy is as irrelevant to the basic issue as all of the quibbling over whether a firing squad (in this case, the method selected by the prisoner according to Utah state law) is more barbaric than execution by lethal injection. Death is death. Killing is killing.
By Susan Jacoby | June 22, 2010; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (47)
What is needed for a Middle East peace settlement is the abandonment of illusions that Jews or Muslims, Israelis or their Arab neighbors, are entitled to something they want because of their respective aggrieved histories, or because Yahweh and Allah have have singled them out.
By Susan Jacoby | June 7, 2010; 07:40 PM ET | Comments (33)
The issue here is not the morality of abortion. As it happens, I agree with the religious right that abortion is a moral issue. I simply do not agree that one faction's wickedly rigid definition of immorality should be translated into illegality.
By Susan Jacoby | May 17, 2010; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (53)
Religious correctness demands that we pretend it doesn't matter. But religious conviction does matter, as we have seen time and time again in Scalia's contention that American governmental power derives from God.
By Susan Jacoby | May 10, 2010; 02:18 PM ET | Comments (71)
There could be no better demonstration of why there should never be government-sponsored national days of prayer, prayer breakfasts, prayer picnics, prayer chat rooms, or prayer sing-alongs than the ludicrous spectacle of the Department of Defense deciding who gets to officiate at these thoroughly unconstitutional events.
By Susan Jacoby | April 26, 2010; 01:33 PM ET | Comments (52)
My question for the week is why any sane person would waste five minutes responding to anything Glenn Beck has said. You might as well debate Porky Pig or Donald Duck.
By Susan Jacoby | April 13, 2010; 08:04 AM ET | Comments (49)
Of course there is a problem with American religious groups proselytizing overseas--not because they don't have a perfect right to proclaim their faith from every rooftop and minaret, but because many of these organizations have long received U.S. government funding for their charitable works.
By Susan Jacoby | March 1, 2010; 01:43 PM ET | Comments (57)
The role of religion around the world, and in individual nations and regions, is so complicated that I cannot imagine anything good resulting from American diplomats becoming more closely involved with religious communities abroad.
By Susan Jacoby | February 23, 2010; 04:26 PM ET | Comments (95)
As a writer and a civil libertarian, I'm not crazy about movements to "ban" words; terms that are considered offensive tend to go out of use as soon as they are considered offensive by enough people.
By Susan Jacoby | February 16, 2010; 03:01 PM ET | Comments (98)
I wonder if CBS would have accepted an ad, paid for by the Alzheimer's Association or the American Medical Association, about the higher incidence of early Alzheimer's and other brain disorders among ex-football players who have sustained concussions?
By Susan Jacoby | February 2, 2010; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (182)
No one with a functioning mind ever believed that Obama was a secular or any other kind of messiah. Let us see whether he will become a more effective president as well as a leader of rational--and I emphasize the adjective "rational"--humanity.
By Susan Jacoby | January 25, 2010; 02:17 PM ET | Comments (307)
Haiti is not a special case. There is no way to reconcile senseless suffering, whether caused by man or by nature, with belief in an all-powerful, benevolent deity. It's the theodicy problem, and people of faith who try to rationalize the role of suffering in "God's plan" must inevitably fall back on the bromide, "God must have his reasons."
By Susan Jacoby | January 19, 2010; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (874)
Hume said what he said because Christianity, despite America's growing religious pluralism (including an increase in the number of Americans who reject all religion), still occupies a privileged position in the United States. He said what he said because he could get away with it. At least on FOX.
By Susan Jacoby | January 11, 2010; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (349)
This Irish blasphemy law may be silly and will probably collapse because it is unforceable, but the concept of blasphemy as an offense punishable by the state--or by violent individuals--is more than offensive. It has been an evil throughout history.
By Susan Jacoby | January 5, 2010; 03:24 PM ET | Comments (113)
The most important of these events in the United States in 2009 was the overlooked "Manhattan Declaration," a broad condemnation, signed by numerous leaders of the Protestant Christian Right and by seventeen prominent Roman Catholic bishops, of legislation that allows or finances women's access to legal abortion; of embryonic stem cell research; and of gay marriage and same-sex unions.
By Susan Jacoby | December 24, 2009; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (119)
Can any war be morally justifiable if it is waged by a society in which only a tiny proportion of the population is expected to bear the burden? This is a war presided over by a governing class the has exempted itself from personal consequences.
By Susan Jacoby | December 21, 2009; 04:38 PM ET | Comments (105)
With 40 million Americans having trouble putting food on the table and 10 percent out of work, there are more important things to worry about than whether the president, following the tradition of his predecessors, is disregarding the separation of church and state by displaying a creche in the White House.
By Susan Jacoby | December 7, 2009; 01:38 PM ET | Comments (546)
The Swiss vote was not, of course, about minarets, which are surely more aesthetically pleasing as than the cutesy woodwork that adorns so many Swiss chalets. It was about the widespread European fear of the Muslims within their borders.
By Susan Jacoby | December 1, 2009; 05:20 AM ET | Comments (399)
Something has gone very wrong with anyone who derives pleasure from the pain of others, and that something has to do with the inner man or woman. And when the inner man or woman is twisted, no deity wielding a lightning bolt or the threat of the eternal flames of hell can rescue human beings who have condemned themselves to a living hell. Right here on earth.
By Susan Jacoby | November 23, 2009; 01:18 PM ET | Comments (229)
Of course the Roman Catholic Church, like every other institution, has a right to uphold and fight for its moral beliefs in the public life of this nation. What the church is doing, however, is attempting to hold Americans who do not agree with its views hostage.
By Susan Jacoby | November 17, 2009; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (194)
The particular nature of this man's religious belief, not his general "religious affiliation," is the issue. When someone shouts "Allahu Akbar" before taking aim at a roomful of people, I'd say that's a sign that religious fanaticism -- specifically, a brand of Islamic religious fanaticism -- had something to do with his state of mind.
By Susan Jacoby | November 9, 2009; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (201)
The reason why this issue has become another attack point for the religious right is not, as conservatives contend, fear of government control. It is, rather, the belief that only God has the power of life and death. That's one reason why the right regards assisted suicide with horror.
By Susan Jacoby | November 3, 2009; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (100)
Basic religious and legal strictures are merely a codification of what humans already know, through their own intellect and experience, is necessary to maintain a decent society for all.
By Susan Jacoby | October 26, 2009; 07:19 AM ET | Comments (643)
For the victim, a crime is a crime is a crime. But for society, a crime has more significance if its intent is to undermine basic human rights.
By Susan Jacoby | October 19, 2009; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (187)
The anti-vaccination movement has made the job of public health officials more difficult because of its constant drumbeat, unsupported by credible scientific evidence, that vaccines are responsible for autism.
By Susan Jacoby | October 12, 2009; 04:21 PM ET | Comments (153)
The fact that there are many Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, and atheists whose lives are models of concern for their fellow humans--and many whose lives are sinkholes of selfishness--suggests that religious belief, or the lack of it, has little to do with our daily decisions on behalf of good, evil, or apathy.
By Susan Jacoby | October 9, 2009; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (564)
Somehow, I don't think praying will get the job done here (although if I were a religious believer, arms control would certainly be on my wish list when I spoke with my higher power). Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is presumably praying for another result.
By Susan Jacoby | September 28, 2009; 02:10 PM ET | Comments (419)
To require any religious institution to hire people who do not agree with and represent its principles is absurd. That is why the government should not be in the business of funneling money for social services through any faith-based organization, whatever its hiring practices.
By Susan Jacoby | September 21, 2009; 03:55 PM ET | Comments (299)
What we are seeing is the rage of a minority at an African-American president who is considered not only wrong in his policies but illegitimate as the leader of our nation.
By Susan Jacoby | September 14, 2009; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (657)
This country is currently in the grip of a powerful anti-rationalism that, while it is the work of a minority, is nevertheless seeping like poison into the body politic. That some anti-rational members of the clergy are spreading this same sickness, this paranoia, this exaltation of weapons, is hardly surprising.
By Susan Jacoby | September 9, 2009; 01:49 PM ET | Comments (268)
That Texas, which has already weakened it 21st-century high school biology curriculum to placate fundamentalists who have learned nothing in the last 90 years, is now "revising" its history standards, is a real cause for alarm--though it is hardly surprising.
By Susan Jacoby | August 31, 2009; 02:12 PM ET | Comments (438)
No, this is not the usual subject for an "On Faith" column, but the nonsense about sexually transmitted diseases purveyed by a blogger on my thread needs correction. Ignorance about STDs is one of the main reasons for their easy...
By Susan Jacoby | August 26, 2009; 09:09 AM ET | Comments (96)
The Scottish justice secretary was wrong. The Lockerbie murderer deserved to die in prison, not to return home to be greeted as a hero.for participating in the murder of 270 people on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
By Susan Jacoby | August 24, 2009; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (57)
The truth is that neither liberal secular nor liberal religious forces in our society have stepped up and fought for health care as a moral imperative in a way that has effectively countered the irrational right-wingers, like Sarah Palin.
By Susan Jacoby | August 17, 2009; 01:35 PM ET | Comments (249)
The larger story is the media's universal preference for celebrity gossip and petty personal conflict over substantive issues.
By Susan Jacoby | August 13, 2009; 05:51 AM ET | Comments (22)
I have no doubt that the latest message from God sounds like tweeting to believers.
By Susan Jacoby | August 10, 2009; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (35)
There are a great many more serious moral issues than these periodic eruptions over gay clergy,
By Susan Jacoby | August 3, 2009; 05:29 PM ET | Comments (141)
While religion is not the only source of women's subjugation, it has always been one of the major sources. However, the problem is not "male interpretation of religious texts" but religion itself.
By Susan Jacoby | July 21, 2009; 06:16 AM ET | Comments (281)
The reason why the high court has nine justices, not one, is that the framers of the Constitution knew perfectly well that politics is involved in the interpretation of laws.
By Susan Jacoby | July 14, 2009; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (148)
At a time when American public schools are falling behind public education in other nations in the developed world, it is sheer stupidity to expand the number of days off for any purpose, including a religious purpose.
By Susan Jacoby | July 7, 2009; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (174)
I think it's perfectly obviously that saying you've let down God, your wife and family, and the voters (not always in that order) is part of the ritual of public apology for any politician who is caught committing adultery.
By Susan Jacoby | June 29, 2009; 04:21 PM ET | Comments (174)
This is a rare case of tone-deafness on President Obama's part. He has no more business criticizing the French for following their secular view of what religious symbolism should be permitted in public.
By Susan Jacoby | June 24, 2009; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (18)
Theocracies, as long as they are supported by the military, are always intractable dictatorships.
By Susan Jacoby | June 14, 2009; 05:57 PM ET | Comments (200)
We live in a nation in which any lunatic motivated by racial, religions, political, or just plain personal hatred can buy a gun and use it.
By Susan Jacoby | June 10, 2009; 04:21 PM ET | Comments (57)
No one in the United States has ever contemplated requiring members of the clergy to perform marriage ceremonies that violate their faith. That is just another canard of the Christian right.
By Susan Jacoby | June 7, 2009; 04:46 PM ET | Comments (102)
Obama exaggerated the virtues of all religions--not only Islam--and simply ignored the historical fact that religious liberty for all is a secular principle born of the Enlightenment.
By Susan Jacoby | June 4, 2009; 03:46 PM ET | Comments (85)
In life-threatening situations, parents should not be permitted to withhold established, non-experimental medical treatment from their children for any reason--including but not limited to religious reasons.
By Susan Jacoby | May 22, 2009; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (30)
Can you imagine George W. Bush appearing live before any audience that was likely to contain opponents of the war in Iraq?
By Susan Jacoby | May 16, 2009; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (174)
Torture, like slavery, is one of those grand old human traditions that most civilized humans have now (in theory) turned against.
By Susan Jacoby | May 11, 2009; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (122)
Palestinians and Israelis are going to embrace one another at the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock before the rigid old men who run the Vatican open up the doors of the priesthood to people who want to serve their god and enter into the full experience of loving and being loved by another human being.
By Susan Jacoby | May 9, 2009; 01:26 PM ET | Comments (442)
I would much prefer a proclamation endorsing a "National Day of Reflection and Quiet." The U.S. government has no business issuing declarations taking any position on prayer.
By Susan Jacoby | May 4, 2009; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (200)
We cannot continue to play footsie with states governed by religious laws that sanction every kind of human rights abuses in the name of their deity.
By Susan Jacoby | April 20, 2009; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (122)
We are not a Christian nation, and our government is not a Christian government. That's a simple fact, and one of the glories of our history--as the founders understood.
By Susan Jacoby | April 13, 2009; 05:21 PM ET | Comments (345)
When the Pope apologizes for anything, his statement generally signifies nothing more than an attempt at damage control in the wake of an unanticipated public relations disaster created by his and his church's actions.
By Susan Jacoby | April 4, 2009; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (257)
I do not believe that there is one bit of difference between any religious conviction based on belief in the supernatural and a delusion.
By Susan Jacoby | March 31, 2009; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (156)
Madoff is just another example. albeit a high-profile one, of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. In his case, the prime motivator must have been, could only have been, greed.
By Susan Jacoby | March 23, 2009; 04:41 PM ET | Comments (153)
People who describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious" are like people who say they place great importance on reading but never go to the library, buy a book, or read a book online.
By Susan Jacoby | March 18, 2009; 07:49 AM ET | Comments (253)
The same human reason that propels science can also erect ethical barriers to certain medical practices; the "slippery slope" is inevitable only if we are too stupid or too cowardly to make important moral distinctions.
By Susan Jacoby | March 10, 2009; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (102)
I believe that extending a helping hand -- yes, via higher taxes -- to my neighbor is not only morally required but makes good sense from a self-interested standpoint. All of us who congratulate ourselves on having "played by the rules" ought to take a hard look at the fact that the rules aren't the same for everyone in this country
By Susan Jacoby | March 3, 2009; 04:41 PM ET | Comments (263)
I'm curious about whether Ms. Pappas, from a feminist perspective, or various imams, from a Muslim religious perspective, think that beheading your wife is any more or less of a crime if a man is not religiously motivated.
By Susan Jacoby | February 27, 2009; 07:42 AM ET | Comments (183)
Since I don't consider any texts "sacred," I might as well be commenting on whether people would be better advised to read books alone or in clubs.
By Susan Jacoby | February 23, 2009; 05:35 AM ET | Comments (381)
By Susan Jacoby | February 12, 2009; 12:24 AM ET | Comments (153)
With all due respect to Obama's desire to broaden the program beyond the honeypot for right-wing evangelical groups that it became under President Bush, it is impossible to dole out money for programs directly administered by religious institutions without doing violence to the separation of church and state.
By Susan Jacoby | February 11, 2009; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (82)
Obama is obliged to try to continue to seek peace because that is what decent political leaders do. But I don't think anyone is going to get very far with people who believe that they're entitled to a certain piece of Jerusalem because Muhammad ascended into heaven there, or to some piece of desert because Jewish prophets are supposedly buried there.
By Susan Jacoby | January 30, 2009; 09:16 AM ET | Comments (346)
If there is one indubitable lesson of the Holocaust, however, it is that the horror happened -- and that anyone who says it did not happen should be excluded from the community of civilized religious and secular discourse.
By Susan Jacoby | January 26, 2009; 03:46 PM ET | Comments (275)
Yes, he mentioned God, but as an atheist, I have no objection to a president who believes in God making such a reference. What he did not do was invoke a Higher Power as a source of and a justification for public policy. Most important, he is the only modern president to include "nonbelievers" in his litany to Americans of diverse faiths.
By Susan Jacoby | January 21, 2009; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (518)
Let us hope that our new president and our legislators, in spite of their bowed heads on Inauguration Day, realize that they, and not God, are responsible for getting us out of the economic and foreign policy mess that the previous president got us into on the advice of a "Higher Power."
By Susan Jacoby | January 13, 2009; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (590)
The region is always on the edge of violence. How can it be otherwise, when the primary parties to the conflict both believe that their god has chosen them to live on holy ground? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most tragic example in modern history of the folly of trying to base political arrangements on the myths in ancient books.
By Susan Jacoby | January 6, 2009; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (630)
Why should we expect anything different from religion in 2009? On the bright side, secularists will continue to fight the good fight against ignorance, superstition, and religious attempts to impose their values on different kinds of believers and on nonbelievers.
By Susan Jacoby | December 31, 2008; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (698)
Barack Obama's choice of televangelist Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation on Jan. 20 is an insult to everyone who voted for Obama in the hope that he would restore reason, evidence, and science to their proper place in the governance of the United States.
By Susan Jacoby | December 22, 2008; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (741)
Faith-based arguments on behalf of gay marriage actually give aid and comfort to the sort of right-wing religious groups that threw volunteers and huge amounts of money into the California battle over Proposition 8, because they legitimize the idea that religious belief is a proper test for determining legal rights.
By Susan Jacoby | December 11, 2008; 02:02 PM ET | Comments (235)
One thing that the Obama administration could and should stop doing is acting as if the only violence that counts is terrorism in which westerners die.
By Susan Jacoby | December 3, 2008; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (374)
Lincoln, who was suspected by many of being (gasp!) a secret freethinker and religious skeptic, resisted considerable political pressure in his refusal to join a church. Obama, who is a believer, might choose to remain unaffiliated for different reasons.
By Susan Jacoby | November 25, 2008; 06:06 PM ET | Comments (52)
Presidential proclamations of thanksgiving to a deity offer one more example of an extra-constitutional custom that has now acquired a quasi-sacred status. The problem with these proclamations is that they pave the way for public acceptance of gross violations of the constitutional separation of church and state.
By Susan Jacoby | November 19, 2008; 08:54 AM ET | Comments (57)
Let me say first that I am unequivocally in favor of compassion. But Karen Armstrong's proposal that the world should write a "Charter for Compassion" is typical of the mushy thinking displayed by those who promote the dubious notion that all religions have a similar core.
By Susan Jacoby | November 12, 2008; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (63)
Let us seize this day to celebrate the triumph of what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" over fears rooted not only in our nation's immense problems today but in a tortured racial past that also lives in us.
By Susan Jacoby | November 5, 2008; 08:54 AM ET | Comments (113)
As an atheist, I have no "religious" reasons to vote for any candidate. As a citizen who cherishes the separation of church and state, I will always vote for the candidate who stands farthest from the positions endorsed by the religious right.
By Susan Jacoby | October 28, 2008; 03:29 PM ET | Comments (186)
Any politician who provides fuel for the worst sort of American fire, or remains silent in the face of bigotry and threats of violence, is a disgrace to this country.
By Susan Jacoby | October 14, 2008; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (271)
The candidates' current behavior and recent records--whether you are for or against them--offer ample evidence of their public policy views and their capacity for leadership. We don't need "gotcha" moments from past associations to judge them. By their current words and deeds we can know them..
By Susan Jacoby | October 7, 2008; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (98)
Because Biden has a long record of votes on issues germane to the separation of church and state, I am more interested in Palin's answers. I'd like to find out whether she knows anything, other than what she has been told in extremist churches, about the secular side of American history.
By Susan Jacoby | October 1, 2008; 08:07 AM ET | Comments (205)
Who cares if poor women are the ones who will have to pay the price for the heartless religious fanaticism of right-wing Republicans?
By Susan Jacoby | September 26, 2008; 06:58 AM ET | Comments (98)
Individuals may behave morally or immorally in their financial dealings, but financial institutions and markets are amoral. That is why government regulation is needed to strike a balance between the common good and untrammeled profits.
By Susan Jacoby | September 16, 2008; 08:09 AM ET | Comments (179)
Palin wants to force her values on women who do not agree with her, and that is the definition of religious extremism
By Susan Jacoby | September 12, 2008; 12:03 PM ET | Comments (338)
There is no point in my advising John McCain or Barack Obama about the role that religion should play in their campaigns. Expecting an American presidential candidate to take any advice from an atheist is like expecting a general to take advice from a pacifist.
By Susan Jacoby | August 27, 2008; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (157)
Rick Warren is not to be blamed for taking advantage of the public's faithiness in order to promote his brand of evangelical Christianity. The candidates are to blame for their eagerness to appease not only evangelicals but all who do not understand our heritage as the first secular government in the world.
By Susan Jacoby | August 18, 2008; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (135)
would either of you have accepted an invitation to appear at a forum sponsored by a secularly oriented group like Americans United for Separation of Church and State?
By Susan Jacoby | August 14, 2008; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (114)
I don't think that Edwards deserves any forgiveness from voters or political associates who supported his campaign. He took their money and loyalty under false pretenses. He made a fool out of every one of his supporters.
By Susan Jacoby | August 13, 2008; 09:02 AM ET | Comments (31)
The basic appeal of religion to the poor is that it promises in the next life what its adherents do not enjoy in this life. That is why impoverished workers in South America are flocking to Pentecostal religions and people dying of AIDS in Africa are flocking to Roman Catholicism.
By Susan Jacoby | August 6, 2008; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (502)
The real question, in my view, is why 70 percent of Americans are so sure that they do not harbor racial prejudice. I don't see how any honest American of any race or ethnic group can pretend to be immune to racial bias.
By Susan Jacoby | July 31, 2008; 04:48 AM ET | Comments (71)
The real issue is that right-wing Christian evangelicals, encouraged by the Bush administration and religious conservatives at the top level of the officer corps, have attempted to push their views on non-Christians (and liberal Christians) within the service academies as well and on military bases.
By Susan Jacoby | July 29, 2008; 09:36 AM ET | Comments (327)
What unites all believers in all forms of the supernatural and the paranormal is that they either require no evidence or invent evidence to fit the faith they already hold.
By Susan Jacoby | July 18, 2008; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (356)
Americans as a people have become supremely ignorant about and indifferent to the specific meanings of words, and they are equally confused about important historical distinctions. Why shouldn't some American atheists be as ignorant about the meaning of atheism as many religious Americans are about religion?
By Susan Jacoby | July 1, 2008; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (669)
The King James Bible, which is indeed the only great book ever written by a committee.
By Susan Jacoby | June 25, 2008; 08:14 AM ET | Comments (171)
We can only be grateful to the framers of the Constitution that sharp criticism of religion, including satire, is permitted in movies, on pay television, and in books--none of which, I should point out, anyone is obligated to watch or buy.
By Susan Jacoby | June 18, 2008; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (624)
I date the origins of my atheism from a visit to the hospital, at age seven, to see a playmate in an iron lung, a boy who had been running and playing ball with the rest of us. That made a permanent impression on me. I began questioning all of the nonsense I had already been taught about the existence of a loving God.
By Susan Jacoby | June 10, 2008; 08:24 AM ET | Comments (1017)
The outrage at all of the comments by nut-case clerics that have already surfaced during this campaign reflects a deep split in American attitudes about religion and about what kind of religion they want political leaders to embody.
By Susan Jacoby | June 4, 2008; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (552)
For the past eight years, the United States government has been run by people who basically share the Gordon Gekko "greed is good" philosophy. Economic inequality has increased exponentially as have the value of the gargantuan salaries of CEOs and heads of Wall Street firms.
By Susan Jacoby | June 2, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (342)
I don't have the slightest idea why happily or unhappily married heterosexuals feel so threatened by the very existence of same-sex marriages, but I can only hope that this controversy will not expand and overwhelm the more fundamental issues at stake in the 2008 election.
By Susan Jacoby | May 21, 2008; 07:48 AM ET | Comments (463)
The "Evangelical Manifesto" issued last week in Washington suggests that I may have been wrong in my analysis of the relationship between evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
By Susan Jacoby | May 16, 2008; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (593)
I cannot imagine any political process less suited to finding out whether a candidate is either honest or trustworthy than the American way of running for the presidency in an era when "character" is defined by shrinking sound bites and endless video loops on blogs.
By Susan Jacoby | May 12, 2008; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (618)
I have read the full text of Jeremiah Wright's remarks and I can recognize an egomaniac, black or white, when I read one. Wright represents the "black church" in the same sense that Rod Parsley, John McCain's wacko spiritual adviser, represents the "white church."
By Susan Jacoby | May 5, 2008; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (713)
First, he was saying that the church and its members must live out their faith by engagement in social issues--not only by personal piety. As a secularist, I have no problem with that.
By Susan Jacoby | April 23, 2008; 07:27 AM ET | Comments (356)
One thing that devout believers in ecumenical dialogue simply don't get about the Roman Catholic Church is that its leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, truly believe that theirs is the one, true faith.
By Susan Jacoby | April 9, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (198)
The saying, "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic," a favorite maxim of the nuns in the parochial schools I attended, is no longer true.
By Susan Jacoby | April 7, 2008; 03:42 PM ET | Comments (459)
As a secularist, I also want to point out that the power of King's moral appeal, while rooted in his own faith, transcended all religions.
By Susan Jacoby | April 4, 2008; 06:07 AM ET | Comments (92)
The true mystery is why the majority of Americans, having had a recent look at the goofy views of many clerics--yes, "spiritual advisers" to candidates for the highest office in the land--still regard faith as an essential qualification for the presidency.
By Susan Jacoby | April 1, 2008; 03:27 PM ET | Comments (180)
A candidate should not be held responsible for the whacko views of a friend or family member, but the relationship between a congregant and the pastor of his church is quite different. The very essence of membership in a particular church is an assumed community of values. Obama can't deny that.
By Susan Jacoby | March 25, 2008; 06:30 AM ET | Comments (155)
I have no idea what this question has to do with faith, except that everything involving computers has become a form of faith in our society.
By Susan Jacoby | March 12, 2008; 07:14 AM ET | Comments (19)
Enough with this silly speculation about what Jesus would have done. I am interested in what Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain would do as president of the United States. And I am certain of one thing: none of these candidates is the reincarnation of Jesus.
By Susan Jacoby | March 10, 2008; 12:45 PM ET | Comments (188)
I wish that the large number of Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion would think seriously about secularism and atheism.
By Susan Jacoby | February 29, 2008; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (145)
It seems that it's all right to talk about faith in political campaigns if you're talking about faith in some supreme being (who is not running for the presidency) but it's not all right to talk about faith in ourselves and in the future of our country, as Obama often does.
By Susan Jacoby | February 20, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (178)
The suggestion that British law should, in certain instances, recognize the authority of Islamic religious courts is the most politically destructive, anti-secular, and legally indefensible statement by a western religious leader in recent history.
By Susan Jacoby | February 13, 2008; 07:49 AM ET | Comments (199)
We must find a way to rescue secularism, and the separation of church and state, from the denigration of both the religious right and the religious left.
By Susan Jacoby | February 7, 2008; 01:13 PM ET | Comments (182)
My guess is that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will intervene to overrule this decision, handed down by local judges (without a defense lawyer to represent the accused) in an area of Afghanistan where fundamentalist Islamist mullahs dominate law and culture.
By Susan Jacoby | February 1, 2008; 01:59 PM ET | Comments (142)
Even a great many of Huckabee's fellow fundamentalists, as suggested by the victory of John McCain in South Carolina, know that when you start talking about a godly amendment to the Constitution, you've ruled yourself out as a viable maintream presidential candidate.
By Susan Jacoby | January 24, 2008; 06:05 AM ET | Comments (533)
Although there's nothing good to be said on behalf of gluttony and greed (and American society is certainly filled with both), it seems to me that envy is the most prevalent and destructive of all sins.
By Susan Jacoby | January 16, 2008; 09:25 AM ET | Comments (303)
The neocons like Kristol and Wolfowitz have simply proved that a Jew can be just as stupid as anyone else--say, Bush. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Only in America.
By Susan Jacoby | January 11, 2008; 06:43 AM ET | Comments (253)
I want a president who doesn't confuse his own desires with the will of God.
By Susan Jacoby | December 30, 2007; 02:42 PM ET | Comments (104)
This bill pledges "support for Christians in the United States and worldwide." Whew! And here I thought our government hated Christians around the world!
By Susan Jacoby | December 23, 2007; 08:50 PM ET | Comments (116)
What the religiously correct want is a celebration of the birth of Jesus in public schools and in government ceremonies. This is not about religious belief but about power.
By Susan Jacoby | December 17, 2007; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (108)
What many religious figures, including the empire-builder Rick Warren, do is confuse charity with work for fundamental social change.
By Susan Jacoby | December 13, 2007; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (197)
What does disqualify Romney in my view is that he is yet another right-wing religious candidate who wants to further erode the barrier between church and state.
By Susan Jacoby | December 8, 2007; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (134)
Secular Europe has the right idea: unless you're talking about forced sex or sex that involves the betrayal of national security, the erotic lives of political figures generally have no business in the public square.
By Susan Jacoby | November 28, 2007; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (221)
Thanksgiving, I should note, is most Americans' favorite holiday precisely because it transcends ethnic and religious distinctions
By Susan Jacoby | November 21, 2007; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (65)
There are unforgivable offenses, for which the withholding of forgiveness is a perfectly appropriate response. Unending, corrosive hatred is not the only alternative.
By Susan Jacoby | November 14, 2007; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (230)
Islamist terrorists are no more likely to be telling the truth under torture than were Jews who renounced their religion and embraced Christianity during the Inquisition.
By Susan Jacoby | November 13, 2007; 07:06 AM ET | Comments (238)
We have talk of World War III, wildfires in California, record home foreclosures, and people are worried about the religious and satanic implications of Halloween?
By Susan Jacoby | October 30, 2007; 09:44 AM ET | Comments (91)
If you're willing to stop driving obscene gas-guzzling SUVs, why should I care if you believe that the Bible is literally true?
By Susan Jacoby | October 24, 2007; 09:04 AM ET | Comments (290)
If the merciful ideal of religion defined all religious traditions, the earth would not be filled with the corpses of people murdered for believing in different deities.
By Susan Jacoby | October 17, 2007; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (312)
Say it now. Do it now. Show your love now, because you may never have another chance.
By Susan Jacoby | October 10, 2007; 07:43 AM ET | Comments (147)
I would never vote for hypocrites who try to sound more religious than they really are in order to pander to the religiously conservative.
By Susan Jacoby | October 9, 2007; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (57)
There are good people who believe in all sorts of gods or no god. Why are atheists so threatening to so many Americans that the only way to deal with our arguments is to demonize us as human beings?
By Susan Jacoby | September 22, 2007; 08:57 AM ET | Comments (597)
A more useful distinction would separate religions that attempt to control nearly every aspect of people's lives from religions that don't.
By Susan Jacoby | September 19, 2007; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (247)
There is no point in trying to talk to any of these people. They are utterly delusional (crazy, in lay terms) as well as evil.
By Susan Jacoby | September 11, 2007; 06:27 AM ET | Comments (249)
If there were a deity responsible for both human evil and impersonal natural disasters, I would hate him.
By Susan Jacoby | September 5, 2007; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (557)
What is striking about Teresa's doubt is that it is all about her. She is concerned about the destiny of Teresa.
By Susan Jacoby | August 29, 2007; 08:11 AM ET | Comments (420)
"Don't ask, don't tell" is an immoral policy for hypocrites and cowards. And that's true whether we are talking about a secular institution like the United States Army or a church....
By Susan Jacoby | August 27, 2007; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (127)
I derive comfort and inspiration from voices -- these great, fallible human voices -- raised in praise of mortal life.
By Susan Jacoby | August 16, 2007; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (69)
It is unconscionable for doctors to deprive patients of information they need to make an informed choice. The Bush administration has encouraged this kind of misleading, faith-based medicine.
By Susan Jacoby | August 9, 2007; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (714)
That a Hindu prayer in the Senate is worth a story, much less a front-page story, attests only to our level of national stupidity.
By Susan Jacoby | August 1, 2007; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (213)
As a regular member of the On Faith panel, I am reluctant to bite the hand that publishes me. Nevertheless, I must point out that the "Muslims Speak Out" forum represents a gamut of opinion stretching, roughly, from A to...
By Susan Jacoby | July 25, 2007; 04:45 PM ET | Comments (198)
What is important about this pope's preoccupations is his obliviousness to certain real and disturbing moral issues.
By Susan Jacoby | July 19, 2007; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (99)
What is wrong with a religion that claims to have an infallible leader is the idea that what was once held sacred must remain sacred today.
By Susan Jacoby | July 12, 2007; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (373)
Here is another argument in favor of atheism, as opposed to either polytheistic or monotheistic religion. Atheism costs the taxpayers nothing.
By Susan Jacoby | July 9, 2007; 07:57 AM ET | Comments (446)
Oh, for heaven's sake. This question irritates the...inferno out of me. Of all the pointless, utterly childish notions associated with traditional religion, belief in eternal bliss in heaven or eternal damnation in hell surely tops the list....
By Susan Jacoby | June 27, 2007; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (348)
I have always traced the end of my own faith to the frequent repetition of the story of Doubting Thomas.
By Susan Jacoby | June 13, 2007; 07:35 AM ET | Comments (171)
One of the most repellent aspects of the Democratic debate this week was questioning candidates about how their faith had affected their most intimate lives.
By Susan Jacoby | June 6, 2007; 08:14 AM ET | Comments (300)
There is nothing good to be said for keeping one's faith in the supernatural in the face of war.
By Susan Jacoby | May 30, 2007; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (193)
If people truly believed in an afterlife, they would be happy to have lived into their 80s and ready to join their departed loved ones.
By Susan Jacoby | May 23, 2007; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (363)
Predictably, obituary writers are already portraying the Reverend Jerry Falwell as a more respectable figure than he was. Ah, what a beautiful tradition it is to speak no ill of the dead!...
By Susan Jacoby | May 15, 2007; 02:54 PM ET | Comments (130)
Jesus, it seems, is just about anyone any Christian wants him to be. Poor man.
By Susan Jacoby | May 9, 2007; 08:09 AM ET | Comments (157)
The beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the institution's official title, are no more--and no less--irrational than the beliefs of any other religion.
By Susan Jacoby | May 2, 2007; 09:02 AM ET | Comments (509)
Whether we are talking about pure evil or ordinary human fallibility, no one merits forgiveness for simply saying, "I'm sorry."
By Susan Jacoby | April 26, 2007; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (123)
There are hard distinctions to be made here. Only a bigot or a fool would suggest that all Muslims are fundamentalists.
By Susan Jacoby | April 19, 2007; 07:54 AM ET | Comments (754)
"We, too, have our religion, and it is this: Help for the living--Hope for the dead."
By Susan Jacoby | April 17, 2007; 01:06 PM ET | Comments (111)
You either believe that Jesus rose from the dead or you don't. The proposition is not subject to any kind of natural proof.
By Susan Jacoby | April 10, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (228)
The media do not treat religion fairly because they routinely give preferential treatment to religion.
By Susan Jacoby | March 28, 2007; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (307)
One person's "truth claim" is another's page in a textbook of clinical psychological disorders, and belief in the Rapture end-of-the-world scenario offers an excellent example of the latter.
By Susan Jacoby | March 25, 2007; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (374)
No one can look at the immense social, economic, and political influence of American-born Catholics today and seriously think that anti-Catholicism is a real impediment to their progress.
By Susan Jacoby | March 14, 2007; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (193)
Knowledge fosters skepticism about faith--and I believe that our country needs much more skepticism and much less faith.
By Susan Jacoby | March 7, 2007; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (201)
How revealing and repellent it is that religious people should waste their time arguing about whether two adults who love each other should have the right to solemnize their marriage in church!
By Susan Jacoby | February 28, 2007; 09:09 AM ET | Comments (75)
Right-wing Jews promulgate the idea that liberal Jews, Jews who raise any questions about Israeli policies, are bad Jews.
By Susan Jacoby | February 21, 2007; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (87)
Punitive monotheistic religious attitudes toward sex have changed only to the extent that they have been modified by women who refuse to accept the notion that their enticing bodies are hopelessly impure vessels designed to tempt men.
By Susan Jacoby | February 14, 2007; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (203)
The National Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by a mysterious organization in Arlington, Va. called the Fellowship Foundation, an international nonpartisan Christian outreach group.
By Susan Jacoby | January 31, 2007; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (121)
Any Democratic candidate today must challenge the right-wing assertion that respect for secular government means disrespect for religion.
By Susan Jacoby | January 24, 2007; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (75)
In my most recent posting on women and religion, I raised the baffling question of why women are more religious than men. Astoundingly, many readers seem to think they know the answer: women must be stupider than men. They cite...
By Susan Jacoby | January 18, 2007; 03:41 PM ET | Comments (136)
I admire the determination of women who have fought for equal status within their religions but I am happy that replacing a patriarchal God with a matriarchal Goddess, or unisex Spirit, is not my problem.
By Susan Jacoby | January 18, 2007; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (88)
Our indifference to the hundreds of thousands Iraqi lives lost since we launched a war on their soil speaks volumes about American values.
By Susan Jacoby | January 10, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (106)
My first serious memories about religion date from the period when I, already a religious skeptic, began reading the Bible.
By Susan Jacoby | January 4, 2007; 05:13 PM ET | Comments (272)
There is still a deep prejudice against atheists in this country--expressed in the ridiculous notion that belief in God is some sort of qualification for public office.
By Susan Jacoby | December 28, 2006; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (880)
Take away all of the supernatural tales in the Gospels, and what you have is a complicated man and charismatic speaker.
By Susan Jacoby | December 20, 2006; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (0)
I would prefer to see elected officials take their oaths on the Constitution rather than any sacred book
By Susan Jacoby | December 12, 2006; 06:19 AM ET | Comments (42)
My mom, who was a practicing Catholic, simply replied "I don't know" when I asked why God would put a child in an iron lung. She was honest--and more power to her.
By Susan Jacoby | December 7, 2006; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (174)
The best that outsiders can do...is to support those Muslims who are risking their lives to challenge a religious culture that attempts, as so many religions have in the past, to suppress dissent by killing dissenters.
By Susan Jacoby | November 29, 2006; 12:45 PM ET | Comments (17)
There is no shortage of secular entities for a freethinker to thank
By Susan Jacoby | November 22, 2006; 04:45 PM ET | Comments (16)
One of many naive American beliefs is that all we need to do is talk to one another and our differences will somehow morph into "common ground." But blind faith is impervious to evidence and cannot be swayed by argument--however...
By Susan Jacoby | November 15, 2006; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (13)