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About this web site

Newly created or updated essays over
the past few months. Planned essays

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym referring to marriage by a same-sex couple

"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals

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new symbol New and updated essays:

As of 2014-JUN, our dedicated server at CoreSpace in Dallas, TX contained over 7,250 essays and menus. This includes our home page, thousands of menus and many thousands of individual essays. We have a goal of adding one new essay each day. We also update many dozens of essays each week. We continually add to our interesting quotes section, We attempt to cover emerging stories related to religion, spirituality, morality, and ethics, as well as the historic beliefs and practices of many different religions.

There are lots of other religious web sites on the Internet that cover these same topics. However, they are generally written from a very conservative or very liberal point of view. They often reflect only the beliefs of their webmaster or sponsoring agency. Objectivity and balance are often weak or missing. Our web site is different. We try to explain all sides to each topic while remaining as free of bias as we can. When we do state our personal opinions, we identify them carefully.

We think that people can often understand a topic better by learning what others who hold different opinions believe and why they believe what they do. Unfortunately, religious liberals tend to listen and watch liberal news outlets like MSNBC and the Progress channel on Sirius XM. Conservatives tend to listen and watch Fox News and the Patriot channel of Sirius.

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Essays planned for the near future:

We estimate that we need to write many thousands of essays before our web site will be reasonably complete. Even then, there will undoubtedly be new controversial topics emerge among the main moral/ethical topics with a religious content -- like gun control, polygamous marriages, equal rights for transsexuals, etc. These will necessitate the writing of countless new articles.

We maintain a list of new topics about which we are currently working on or plan to write "someday."  We have a larger list for internal use that, sadly, numbers in the many thousands of topics.

In recent months, the conflict between religious conservatives and sexual minorities -- defined both by their sexual orientation and gender identity -- have monopolized much of the news. Back in 2011-FEB, when the Obama Administration decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), some commentators predicted that this would form a tipping point on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) rights. This seems to have happened, because subsequent months saw an accelerating rate of change towards LGBT equality, including access to marriage for same-sex couples in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The change has been so rapid that it has formed the bulk of our web site's new essays from 2011 to the present time. With 16 states denying their same-sex couples access to marriage (as of 201-NOV-08), activity on a state-by-state basis will probably be the main religious/civil rights topic for the foreseeable future, eclipsing even abortion access. However, most commentators expect that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually issue a ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage (SSM) across the U.S. as it did during 1967 with interracial marriage in the ironically named case: Loving v. Virginia. Some equality advocates predict that this could happen as soon as 2015-JUN.

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2015-January's selection

book cover image Philip C. Almond: "The devil: a new biography" Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $22.19 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $14.20.

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Amazon.com book description:

"Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is the aim of this work to bring modern readers to a deeper appreciation of how, from the early centuries of the Christian period through to the recent beginnings of the modern world, the human story could not be told and human life could not be lived apart from the ‘life’ of the Devil. With that comes the deeper recognition that, for the better part of the last two thousand years, the battle between good and evil in the hearts and minds of men and women was but the reflection of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, the divine and the diabolic, that was at the heart of history itself."—from The Devil

Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance.

In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture.

Almond brilliantly locates the “life” of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the “demonic paradox” of the Devil as both God’s enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil’s doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a “disenchantment” with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) denied the Devil’s existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.

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35 new (and a few extensively rewritten) essays posted so far during 2015-JAN:

In addition to the new items listed so far in this month, hundreds of pre-existing essays are updated monthly.

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During 2014-DEC, we recommend the book:

 book cover image Susan Katz Miller, "Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family" Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available from Amazom.com for $18.90 plus postage in Hardcover or $13.68 plus postage in Paperback. Also available in Kindle format for $14.36.

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Amazon.com book description:

"Susan aKatz Miller grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother, and was raised Jewish. Now in an interfaith marriage herself, she is one of the growing number of Americans who are boldly electing to raise children with both faiths, rather than in one religion or the other (or without religion). In Being Both, Miller draws on original surveys and interviews with parents, students, teachers, and clergy, as well as on her own journey, to chronicle this controversial grassroots movement.
 
Almost a third of all married Americans have a spouse from another religion, and there are now more children in Christian-Jewish interfaith families than in families with two Jewish parents. Across the country, many of these families are challenging the traditional idea that they must choose one religion. In some cities, more interfaith couples are raising children with “both” than Jewish-only. What does this mean for these families, for these children, and for religious institutions?
 
Miller argues that there are distinct benefits for families who reject the false choice of “either/or” and instead embrace the synergy of being both. Reporting on hundreds of parents and children who celebrate two religions, she documents why couples make this choice, and how children appreciate dual-faith education. But often families who choose both have trouble finding supportive clergy and community. To that end, Miller includes advice and resources for interfaith families planning baby-welcoming and coming-of-age ceremonies, and seeking to find or form interfaith education programs. She also addresses the difficulties that interfaith families can encounter, wrestling with spiritual questions (“Will our children believe in God?”) and challenges (“How do we talk about Jesus?”). And finally, looking beyond Judaism and Christianity, Being Both provides the first glimpse of the next interfaith wave: intermarried Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist couples raising children in two religions.
 
Being Both is at once a rousing declaration of the benefits of celebrating two religions, and a blueprint for interfaith families who are seeking guidance and community support."

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31 new (and a few extensively revised) essays posted so far during 2014-DEC:

In addition to the new items listed so far in this month, hundreds of pre-existing essays are updated monthly.

With the start of a new month, we added a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc."

The extermination of Canada's Innu people: Canada's killing fields (revised)

Humanism news feed; books for children and teens; organizations; periodicals; related essays

The Yazidi's, followers of a minority religion in Northern Iraq.(revised)

SSM in Louisiana:

Books, a movie, and webmaster's comments about interfaith marriage:

Books on Wicca and other neopagan religions:

Three proofs that homosexual & bisexual sexual orientations do NOT have a genetic cause, with rebuttals:

  • Part 1: a review of terminology and the beliefs of the public


  • Part 2: A list of three proofs, and a rebuttal to the frequently cited "twin studies" proof

  • Part 3: An effort by PFOX to use Proof #1: Identical twins in which one twin is gay does not necessarily mean that the other is also gay.

  • Part 4: PFOX's effort (Continued)

  • Part 5: PFOX's effort (Concluded)

  • Part 6: Proof #2, based on birth rate of lesbians and gays, with a rebuttal.

  • Part 7: Proof #3, based on the ability of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to "change." Epigenetics: a possible game-changer.

Intersexuality (a.k.a. Disorder of Sexual Development, or DSD)

Same-sex marriage in Ireland:

Same-sex marriage in Scotland:

  • Part 8: 2014-DEC: More remarks from the passage of the marriage equality bill. Will there be human rights conflicts as a result of this law? 2014-DEC: Law came into effect in two stages.

About Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, Part 2: its advisory board, advertising problems, support and opposition within the evangelical community, divisions within evangelical Christianity, & webmaster's comments.

Same-sex marriage in Florida:

  • Part 12: 2014-AUG: Reactions to the District Court ruling. Ruling mostly stayed. Case is appealed to U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. District Court stay made temporary.

  • Part 13: District Court stay to expire JAN-05. State cancels couple's driver's licenses. Liberty Counsel filed brief in state court. 11th U.S. Circuit Court refuses to extend stay.

  • Part 14: Three-judge panel of 11th Circuit Court refuses to extend stay on District Court's decision to permit same-sex marriage. Reactions. Webmaster's comments.

  • Part 15: More reactions to the 11th Circuit Court's decision. Will same-sex couples be able to marry in January? Newspaper suggests state should allow SSM. State seeks stay extension from Supreme Court.

  • Part 16: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to extend stay. Same-sex couples in some counties expected be able to marry in January. Chaos forming?
    Reactions to the developing confusion.

  • Part 17: Chaos forming whether same-sex couples will be able to marry throughout Florida, starting 2015-JAN-06.

About NARTH: The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality: Study of homosexuality. Reparative therapy safety & effectiveness. Racism. Rekers' incidents. (Updated)

Same-sex marriage in Idaho:

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During 2014-NOV, we recommend the book: 

book cover image "Candida Moss, "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $19.82 plus postage in Hardcover or $12.33 plus postage in Paperback. Also available in Kindle format for $15.69.

Amazon.com book description:

"In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.

According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity's inspirational heroes, are still venerated today.

Moss, however, exposes that the "Age of Martyrs" is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.

The traditional story of persecution is still taught in Sunday school classes, celebrated in sermons, and employed by church leaders, politicians, and media pundits who insist that Christians were -- and always will be -- persecuted by a hostile, secular world. While violence against Christians does occur in select parts of the world today, the rhetoric of persecution is both misleading and rooted in an inaccurate history of the early church. Moss urges modern Christians to abandon the conspiratorial assumption that the world is out to get Christians and, rather, embrace the consolation, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance that these martyrdom stories provide."

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46 new (and a few extensively revised) essays posted during 2014-NOV:

In addition to the new items listed so far in this month, hundreds of pre-existing essays are updated monthly.

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During 2014-OCT, we recommended the book: 

book cover image Rob Bell, "What we talk about when we talk about God" Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $11.14 plus postage in Paperback, or in Kindle format for $12.28.

Amazon.com book description:

"New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell, whom the The New Yorker describes as “one of the most influential Christian leaders in the county,” does for the concept of God what he did for heaven and hell in his book Love Wins: He shows how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional and how to return vitality and vibrancy to lives of faith today.

Pastor Rob Bell explains why both culture and the church resist talking about God, and shows how we can reconnect with the God who is pulling us forward into a better future. Bell uses his characteristic evocative storytelling to challenge everything you think you know about God. What We Talk About When We Talk About God tackles the misconceptions about God and reveals how God is with us, for us, ahead of us, and how understanding this could change the entire course of our lives."

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44 mostly new (and a few extensively revised) essays posted so far during 2014-OCT:

In addition to the new items listed so far in this month, hundreds of pre-existing essays are updated monthly.

With the start of a new month, we added a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc." Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Comments received from vistors to our web site; some positive; some viciously hateful. Part 4  Part 5

Ten essays concerning questions received from visitors to this web site, with our responses. These cover a wide range of topics -- from Satanic Ritual Abuse to whether God forgives sins made after baptism.

star 2014-OCT: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals from three Circuit Courts; marriage equality comes to 11 more states: Part 1  Part 2

SSM in Virginia:

  • Part 14: 2014-AUG: Supreme Court issues stay. Reactions. OCT-06: Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal.

  • Part 15: 2014-OCT: More reactions to the Supreme Court refusal to hear appeal. Same-sex couples start to marry. Politicians' & others' reactions.

SSM in Indiana:

  • Part 9: 2014-SEP-04: The path forward. 2014-OCT-06: Supreme Court legalizes SSM in Indiana and eventually in 10 other states.

SSM in Kansas:

SSM in North Carolina:

  • Part 11: 2014-OCT-6: Surprise ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and its impact in North Carolina and elsewhere.

  • Part 12: 2014-OCT-10: District Court decision makes same-sex couples eligible to obtain marriage licenses & to marry

SSM in Alaska:

  • Part 1: Attempts to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in Alaska, between 1994 & mid-1998.

  • Part 2: Attempts to legalize marriage, between mid-1998 & 2014.

  • Part 3: 2014-OCT: District Court held hearings and issues ruling. Same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses.

  • Part 4: 2014-OCT: Same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses (Cont'd). State requests emergency stay from District Court. It is denied. One couple marries.

SSM in Wyoming:

SSM in West Virginia:

SSM in South Carolina:

SSM in Arizona:

  • Part 1: 2003: The Lawrence v. Texas decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  2003: The first lawsuit in Arizona fails to achieve marriage equality.

  • Part 2: 2012 to 2014-OCT: Opinion polls. Two lawsuits filed in District Court. Ruling affirms same-sex marriage. Various reactions.

  • Part 3: 2014-OCT: More reactions to same-sex marriage. Arizona becomes the 31st U.S. state with marriage equality.

SSM in Idaho:

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During 2014-SEP, we recommend the book:

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Robert Boston, "Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store: $12.26 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $7.86.

Robert Boston has written a concise and lucid explanation of what religious freedom should refer to. It is of immense significance now, because of two major shifts in religious beliefs found throughout the U.S., primarlily among religious conservatives:

The redefinition of "religious freedom." The term used to refer to freedom of religious belief, speech, assembly, and proselyzing. It now increasingly refers to the freedom of individual believers and faith groups to actively denigrate and discriminate against others -- primarily sexual minorities.

The large-scale downgrading of the importance of the Ethic of Reciprocity -- often called the Golden Rule in Christianity. Many individuals who run public accomodations -- companies that deal directly with the public -- are seeking to repeal human rights legislation so that they can more easily refuse to serve the LGBT community.

Amazon.com book description:

"Increasingly, conservative religious groups are using religious liberty as a sword to lash out at others. In this forcefully argued defense of the separation of church and state, Robert Boston makes it clear that the religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is an individual right, the right of personal conscience, not a license allowing religious organizations to discriminate against and control others. The book examines the controversy over birth control, same-sex marriage, religion in public schools, the intersection of faith and politics, and the 'war on Christmas,' among other topics.

Boston concludes with a series of recommendations for resolving clashes between religious liberty claims and individual rights."

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33 new (and a few extensively revised) essays posted during 2014-SEP:

In addition to the new items listed so far in this month, hundreds of pre-existing essays are updated monthly.

With the start of a new month, we added a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc."

Ectogenesis: the development of artificial wombs and the cultural implications they will cause: Part 1  Part 2

The Michael Parker Satanic ritual abuse case in North Carolina (rewritten)

SSM in Indiana:

  • Part 6: 2014-JUN to now: Baskin v. Bogan: 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holds hearing (Cont'd).

  • Part 7: 2014-AUG/SEP: Three judge Court of Appeals panel unanimously upholds marriage equality.

  • Part 8: 2014-SEP-04: The ruling (Cont'd). Reactions. The path forward.

Conflicts in Iraq, including activity by the ISIS terrorist group

Picture of a girl beheaded by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists for the crime of being born into a Christian family

Conflicts in Kurdistan, Kashmir, Myanmar, & Gaza

SSM in Wisconsin:

  • Part 8: 2014-AUG /SEP: Appeal heard before a 3-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Court rules in favor of marriage equality.

  • Part 9: 2014-SEP: Panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues ruling favoring marriage equality. (Cont'd)

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds hearings in three marriage equality cases from Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii:

2008: Conflict over Tarot cards in Toronto, ON: Part 1  Part 2 (rewritten)

An essay donated by Rabbi A.S. Maller: "The religious value of celebrating a New Year"

Links to U.S. Government & non-government information sources and lists of available Books on climate change.

Ectogenesis (the use of an artificial womb): Part 3: Speculation on future public opinion. A novel on the theme of ectogenesis

The Gambia: General Assembly passes anti-LGBT legislation

Launching of a new non-profit group: Evangalicals for Marriage Equality

Anti-gay statements by Phil Robertson, star of the TV program Duck Dynasty: Part 1  Part 2

A message allegedly from Yahweh said to have been found in human DNA

The Ten Commandments: What they are. Should they all be followed? Legal challenges. An attempt to preserve 10 Commandment monoliths (Updated)

Menu: Religious stories, myths, and legends

Essays donated by Alton C. Thompson:

Recent indicators and denial of climate change:

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