Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.
Ah, the timeless question that has plagued mankind since the dawning of, well, 2007 or so: What religion is President Obama, really? I think it’s a fairly silly question. But we have right-wingers who suspect, nay, insist, that he’s a Muslim. On the other side we have atheists like Bill Maher who are certain that Obama is one of us (though Maher also thinks the Pope is an atheist, which I think is quite a reach). For me, personally, I think it’s best to take the man at his word, that he’s a Christian, until some overwhelming evidence suggests something else. Like, for example, him saying “I’m actually an atheist.” That would probably convince me. All that said, his particular version of Christianity remains murky to many who care about this kind of thing. As the holidays now pass us by, Ashley Parker at the New York Times notes that the Obamas have not attended any Christmas church services since coming to Washington, nor have they chosen an “official” church as their religious home in DC, choosing instead to visit a variety of them, and even then they haven’t gone all that often. Read more
Jennifer Michael Hecht, one of my absolute favorite writers, recently appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, along with fellow atheist Ron Reagan, to talk about her article in Politico Magazine about atheism as “the last taboo” in American politics. Though it’s a brief segment, they took a serious look at the “poison pill” problem we all presume atheists would face in political contests, particularly in regard to the presidency. Michael Smerconish was the guest host, and it was encouraging to hear him so eager to, as he put it, “test the hypothesis” that an avowed atheist would be effectively barred from high office in the current political climate. As Hecht says in the segment, the culture is just crawling its way out of the religious tensions associated with the Cold War (“godless communism” vs. American Judeo-Christianity) and 9/11, and that the time really has come for nonbelieving politicians to make themselves known. Read more
Even if you never saw The Passion of the Christ when it first hit theaters (and I have yet to see it), you probably couldn’t escape hearing about it. The Mel Gibson-directed, hyper-violent, all-Aramaic-and-Latin telling of Jesus’s last days was an enormous hit, with the faithful showing up to see it by the busload. Recently, the ironically-named History Channel had its biggest hit yet with a miniseries based on the Bible. The lesson here is that giving religion the Hollywood touch can mean big, big bucks. Well, get ready, because there’s about to be a flood (ahem) of biblical blockbusters coming our way. But this time, they won’t be subtitled or relegated to basic cable. As reported by Nick Allen at The Telegraph, the A-listers are about to take on several episodes of God’s book. Read more
Russia-based news network RT covers the apostasy case against Raif Badawi, and his possible execution, in the video below. It includes reaction from Amnesty International, and some context from human rights activist Hala Al-Dosari, who notes that there is little to no actual evidence of Badawi’s alleged “apostasy,” other than a “general description of his attitude as unacceptable” to Saudi authorities. As noted previously, Badawi has already been convicted and punished once, with seven years in prison and 600 lashes. That’s not a typo. Six-zero-zero. Read more
If you delve into skeptic media even a little bit, you probably already know who Kylie Sturgess is. For those who don’t, she’s a first-class communicator of science and skepticism, known best for her podcast and blog Token Skeptic, and her work writing at the Skeptical Inquirer website. Podcasting, though, doesn’t pay the bills like it ought to. So Kylie’s taken to the indie fundraising site Patreon to crowdsource the funding of her podcasting work. Read more