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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 the beginning of 2016, our dedicated server at CoreSpace in Michigan contained about 11,000 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 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 Sirius XM Progress. Conservatives tend to listen and watch Fox News and the Patriot channel of Sirius. Thus, many people rarely have their beliefs challenged. Most get a biased account of the news and thus do not have an accurate understanding of recent developments.

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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 moral/ethical topics continually emerging with a religious content -- topics like gun control and polygamous marriages. The battle between fear-based and information-based sex education in schools will continue. With the arrival of marriage equality during mid-2016, both religious conservatives and the LGBT community almost instantly switched from gay marriage to assuring employment and accomodation security to the community, as well as equal rights for transsexuals. 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.

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Why do we have so many essays on sexual minorities?

In recent years, the conflict between religious conservatives and sexual minorities -- defined either by their sexual orientation or gender identity -- have monopolized much of the news. Back in 2011-FEB, the Obama Administration decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Some commentators predicted that this would generate 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. The change has been so rapid that it has formed the bulk of our web site's new essays from 2011 until late 2015.

In most countries, marriage laws are created by a central government. The U.S. and Mexico are exceptions. In the United States, marriage equality has been fought on a state-by-state basis in state and federal courts, state legislatures, and via citizen initiatives. Instead of one country-wide battle, as in Canada and two dozen or so other countries, it has become 56 battles: one for each state, each of the five territories, and the District of Columbia. It has been the main religious/civil rights topic in recent years -- eclipsing even abortion access.

On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court the High Court ruled in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. SSM became immediately legal throughout the U.S., at least in principle if not in practice! The lives of the approximately 32 million Americans who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual -- or who will discover later in life that they have a minority sexual orientation -- have been profoundly changed by nine Justices.

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2016-May's selection

book cover "Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family" by Amy Ellis Nutt

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

Available for
$16.20 plus postage in Hardcover, or $13.30 in Kindle format.

Book description by Erin Kodicek:

" 'Why IS it such a big deal to everyone what somebody has in their pants?' Excellent question, posed by an unusually astute transgender girl, the subject of Amy Ellis Nutt’s emotional and illuminating Becoming Nicole. It’s also a little ironic, since Nicole’s story makes a bit of a deal of it, but in a much different way than other stories we’ve been hearing lately, from celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and television shows like Transparent. Nicole, her twin brother Jonas, mom Kelly, and dad Wayne, are your typical middle class American family. They live next door to you -- are shuttling from work, to Cub Scouts, to softball practice. … They’re also coming to terms with the fact that one of their own has Gender Dysphoria, a medical condition whereby a person does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. And so Wayne and Kelly Maines discover that they don’t have two sons at all, but a son and a daughter. This is a particularly hard pill for Republican, Air Force veteran, Wayne, to swallow, and his journey from denial to accepting and championing his daughter, is one of the more powerful and moving side narratives in a book chock full of them. That is why I really struggled to write this review, because Becoming Nicole is an important book that imparts important lessons, and the ones that resonate most have nothing to do with what’s in anyone’s pants: Be true to yourself, live an authentic life, exercise compassion.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.4 out of 5 stars. It was selected as Amazon's Best Book of October, 2015; a New York Times notable book; one of People's ten best books of the year; and Men's Journal's one of the best books of the year!

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New and revised essays during 2015-MAY:

There have been 9 new and updated essays so far in April including the above recommended book. This is significantly reduced from our normal output of one new or updated essay a day because a great deal of our time was committed to income tax preparation this month:

  • A brief list of some genocides in biblical and modern times: Part 1  Part 2
  • Tennessee: 2016-JAN to APR: A state law was passed to allow counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals to refuse service to LGBT people, atheists, divorced people, literally anyone, by simply claiming that it violates their "sincerely held religious beliefs." Signed into law in late April. Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

  • An introduction to climate change, global warming, and other environmental concerns:
    • Part 1: Cartoon. Webmaster's note. Variation in Carbon Dioxide levels.

    • Part 2: A tweet & two quotes. What would happen if/when all the glaciers melt? Why discuss climate change on a religious web site? An infographic.

  • A conflict between a FTM transgender school teacher and a Roman Catholic School board in Saskatchewan, Canada.

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2016-April's book selection:

book cover "Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics," by Mark A Smith

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

Available for U.S.$
18.51 plus postage in Hardcover, or $10.96 in Kindle format.

Average rating in reviews by 4 Amazon customers: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A group of editorial reviews:

  • David Campbell, University of Notre Dame: "A beautifully written and richly substantive book that convincingly explodes conventional wisdom. On an array of issues, from slavery to divorce, homosexuality, and women’s rights, Smith’s exhaustive research clearly shows that the doctrines of America’s major religious traditions have shifted to conform with contemporary societal norms. Readers will learn much from this book—even those who already consider themselves familiar with one or more of the issues it explores."

  • Alan Wolfe, Boston College: "Far from holding fast to traditions and principles, religion, like everything else, changes to meet the times. Smith adds to our understanding of America's presumed culture wars by showing how often this has happened in our history."

  • Chicago Tribune 2015-SEP-14: "Smith show[s], over and over again, on issue after issue, that religious leaders have changed their tune on almost every subject to accommodate more sweeping changes taking place in broader American society. . . . Smith is after something bigger than just thumbing his nose at those who claim to have The Answer. Instead, [he] wants Americans to take a step back from the culture wars. He wants us to realize that, despite apocalyptic pronouncements that Americans are more polarized than ever before, we actually agree on quite a bit."

  • Catholic Library World 2015-DEC-30: "Has culture driven changes to the Christian faith and adjusted its tenets? Smith argues that this is the case. ... His arguments and critique of Christianity will arouse discussion in many contexts."

About the Author:

Mark A. Smith is professor of political science and adjunct professor of comparative religions at the University of Washington. He is the author of two [other] books: "The Right Talk: How Conservatives Transformed the Great Society into the Economic Society" and "American Business and Political Power: Public Opinion, Elections, and Democracy,"

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New and revised essays during 2015-APR:

There have been 15 new and updated essays so far in April including the above recommended book. This is significantly reduced from our normal output of one new or updated essay a day because a great deal of our time was committed to income tax preparation this month:

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Sponsored link:

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2016-March's book selection

book cover "Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless" by Greta Christina

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
10.56 plus postage in Paperback, or $6.61 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Why are atheists angry? Is it because they're selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God? Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry -- and are ready to do something about it? Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it. This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but also to believers who want to understand the so-called new atheism. Why Are You Atheists So Angry? drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith—and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is a regular contributor to AlterNet, Free Inquiry, the Humanist, and Salon, and is on the speakers' bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry.

Two book reviews by Amazon customers:

  • "If only more people could channel their anger into something so inspiring! Greta Christina has written the perfect book for anyone who wonders about the true impact of religious dogma on women’s health, gay rights, science education, and the daily lives of those who have no faith. Her concluding chapter, which contains solid advice for how to make a positive change in the world, will ensure that you'll have an outlet for all that rage you'll build up by the end of the book. Trust me—you'll need it." —Rebecca Watson, Skepchick.org
  • "Greta Christina’s analysis of religion is acute and witty, and at the same time fair and compassionate. And I'm jealous: I sure wish I could write as well as she does." —Alan Sokal, Professor of Physics, New York University.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.4 out of 5 stars.

There have been 46 new and updated essays so far in March including the above recommended book:

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2016-February's book selection:

book cover "Wisdom for Living as Spiritual Beings" by Dr. Tommy S.W. Wong

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
US $11.50 plus postage in Paperback, or US $3.74 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"While it is easy to live spiritually in a spiritual society, it is undoubtedly challenging to live spiritually in a non-spiritual society. Hence, this book explores the deep questions: (1) How to use beliefs for spiritual living? (2) How do spiritual beings cope with money in a non-spiritual society? (3) What are the characteristics of spiritual beings as compared to physical beings? This book contains a conversation between a young man, Tom, and Guru Harry, who epitomizes someone from a spiritual society and offers a way of living that can lead to peace, love, joy and harmony. In the conversation, they explore all the above questions and other issues related to living spiritually in a non-spiritual society. May this wisdom enable you to live as a spiritual being everywhere!

Dr. Tommy Wong is the author of the book series “Wisdom on How to Live Life”, and other philosophical, spiritual, and self-help books. Since 2009, his books have been available on Amazon and many other online bookstores worldwide. In 2012 and 2013, he was featured on the Radio 938LIVE programme "A Slice of Life Hour". He has also given talks at the Singapore Writers Festival, Heartlands Book Club, Booktique bookstore, Financial Services Consumer Association, as well as various Meetup Groups. Further information about Dr. Wong’s work can be found on his website http://wisdomlife.page4.me/ and the FB page https://www.facebook.com/wisdomlivelife.

No reviews by Amazon customers yet.

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There have been 44 new and updated essays so far in February including the above recommended book:

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2016-January's book selection:

book cover J.D. Brucker, "Reason over Faith: Antitheism & the case against religion." 161 pages.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
9.99 plus postage in Paperback, or $2.71 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Many contend religion is, in its entirety, tolerant and stands as a force for good. Millions of human beings worship a god and follow the doctrine of their chosen faith, never considering how harmful their beliefs may be. In Reason over Faith: Antitheism and the Case against Religion, J. D. Brucker takes a stand against all that is considered holy, giving the reader an introduction to how the top three monotheistic religions and faith have failed the human race in a miserable way. ..."

"J. D. Brucker is an atheist author and blogger, a secular humanist, and an outspoken anti-theist. He is the author of "Improbable: Issues with the God Hypothesis" and "God Needs To Go: Why Christian Beliefs Fail." Currently, Brucker writes for the Atheist Republic and Patheos websites. Other works can be found on various secular websites, including The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and The Natural Skeptic.

A review by an anonymous Amazon customer:

"Brucker offers another excellent book on the issue of religion being integrated into the world. With dozens of examples of prejudice against minorities, psychological harm to people simply for being who they are, and violence that has erupted throughout history, religion is something that should be taken with the smallest grains of salt.

Anti-theism has been touted as the atheist equivalent to conservative Christianity and Islam, but Brucker demonstrates that nothing could be further from the truth. A quick read, but one that still engages and enlightens, this is the book to read for those curious about the anti-theist position. They may be surprised to discover how much it resembles their own.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.0 out of 5 stars.

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There have been 43 new and updated essays so far in January including the above recommended book:

  • A list of links to other web sites featuring religious Jewelry, paintings, T-shirts, artwork, clip art, decals, cards, sculptures, poetry, candles, other religious supplies, etc.  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

  • A "freedom-to-discriminate" court case from upstate New York State found in favor of a same-sex couple. Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

  • Quotes about religion: From authors with names beginning: A to G,   H to P, and Q to Z

  • Additonal quotes about religion by Thomas Jefferson Part 1  Part 2

  • Religious misinformation on the Internet and the rest of the media.
    • The morning after pill: Part 1
    • Planned Parenthood funding: Part 2
    • Estimates of crowd size size at the March for Life in Washington, DC: Part 3

  • Our site introductory essay has now been translated into both Romanian and French languages.

  • Some introductions to Wicca from You Tube and USA Today

  • Books, videos, a poster, and T-shirts about the Golden Rule

  • Passages from the texts of various religions, from the writing of philosophers, etc.
    • Part 1: Quotes by 14 world-wide religions from the Bahá'í Faith to Satanism

    • Part 2: Quotes by eight more religions from Shinto to Zoroastriansm. and other sources.

  • A series of three essays by Rabbi Allen S. Maller that discuss links among the main monotheistic faiths: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

  • A series of four essays that discuss various definitions of the world "religion," including the one used on this web site.

  • The essay describing when the killing of non-combatants is permitted in Islam -- the principle of Tattarrus -- was updated.

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2015-December's book selection

book cover Michael L. Brown: "Our Hands Are Stained with Blood," 251 pages.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
11.66 plus postage in Paperback, or $7.46 in Kindle format. Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.5 out of 5.

Amazon.com book description:

"From the first "Christian" persecutions of the Jews in the fourth century to the horrors of the Holocaust, from Israel-bashing in today's press to anti-Semitism in today's pulpits, this shocking and painful book tells the tragic story that every Christian must hear. ..."

"Michael Brown is a Jewish believer in Jesus (he came to faith in 1971 as a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, hippie rock drummer) and he holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He's written more than 25 books, including wake-up calls to the Church of America, scholarly monographs and commentaries on biblical subjects, a series of volumes on answering Jewish objections to Jesus, and much-discussed books on today's hottest cultural issues. He has spoken throughout America and in more than 25 countries, and he hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show The Line of Fire. He is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC and serves as a visiting or adjunct professor at a number of seminaries. He and his wife Nancy have been married since 1976 and have two wonderful daughters and four incredible grandchildren. His heart beats to see a gospel-based moral and cultural revolution in this generation.

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There were 37 new and updated essays in December including the recommended book for December:

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2015-November's book selection

book cover Dalai Lama XIV: "An Appeal by the Dalai Lama to the World: Ethics Are More Important Than Religion," 36 pages.

Read reviews or order the Kindle version of this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
0.00 in Kindle format. Not available in other formats. Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Amazon.com book description:

"In his appeal to the world, the Dalai Lama outlines a new secular ethics as the foundation of a peaceful century. The answer will come not from religions, but from people embracing an ethics that spans all differences. A provocative and emboldening piece of writing by a humble and eminent man of our times."

A book review by D. Grigsby, an Amazon.com customer:

I love the Dalai Lama's approach to enlightenment through joy so I appreciate his philosophy. The nice thing about this book is the recognition by a major religious leader that religion too often falls short of serving our most common needs and that a secular set of ethics might be a more appropriate tool set. It's not easy for a religious leader to admit that their religion is not the end all be all for everyone, especially considering everyone thinks their religion is the true answer to all our problems.

Brief quotes:

  • "I don’t have any enemies, only people I haven’t met yet."

  • “Ethics are more important than religion. . . Ethics is an inborn trait, but religion is acquired.”

  • "Patience is the most potent antidote for anger, satisfaction for greed, bravery for fear, and understanding for doubt."

  • "On some days I think it would be better if there were no religions. All religions and all scriptures conceal the potential for violence. That is why we need secular ethics beyond all religions. It is more important for schools to have classes on ethics than religion. Why? Because it’s more important for humanity’s survival to be aware of our commonalities than to constantly emphasize what divides us."

  • For thousands of years, violence has been committed and justified in the name of religion. Religions have often been intolerant and still are in many cases. Religion is often abused or exploited – even by religious leaders – in order to further political or economic interests. For that reason I say that in the twenty-first century, we need a new form of ethics beyond religion. I am speaking of a secular ethics that can be helpful and useful for over a billion atheists and an increasing number of agnostics. More integral than religion is our fundamental human spirituality. That is the affinity we humans have for love, benevolence, and affection – no matter what religions we belong to.

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There have been 38 new and updated essays in November:

Part 2:

    • Are Atheists over or under represented among the prison population?
    • Why did God create Atheists? (A bit of a trick question!).
    • Five things for Christians and other theists to not say to Atheists.

  • Three essays dealing with absolute moral truths: Introduction, Brief conclusions and Examples

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2015-October's book recommendation:

book cover Daniel C. Maguire: "Christianity without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative." 352 pages. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.60 plus postage in Paperback. $67.50 plus postage in Hardcover,
and $12.38 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Argues that Christianity does not require its supernatural aspects.

Christianity without an omnipotent god, without a divine savior, without an afterlife? In this bold and hopeful book, theologian Daniel C. Maguire writes that traditional, supernatural aspects of Christianity can be comforting, but are increasingly questionable. A century of scholarly research has not been supportive of the dogmatic triad of personal god, incarnate savior, and life after death. Demonstrating that these beliefs have questionable roots in historical traditions, Maguire argues for a return to that brilliant and revolutionary moral epic of the Hebrew and Christian Bible. Rescued from god, Christianity can offer a realistic global ethic to heal a planet sinking under the effects of our ungrateful mismanagement."

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There have been 32 new and updated essays in October:

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