Now, I wish this were not a terribly large church, or a terribly politically active or important church
The following excerpt is clipped from a post written by a women who successfully walked away from a dominionist cult and now is considered a leading expert. Her articles appear on DKos and Talk2Action.org. She writes under the pseudonym of dogemperor. The dominionist fringe ideas have gradully insinuated themselves into the broader evangelical sects, such as the Southern Baptists. Domionists are a threat to our democracy for the simple reason they hate this country for banning prayer in schools. At least that is why the militancy of the RW Christians is thought to have started. From that beginning each year it became more and more toxic.
In my research on dominionism since (which I have done, in part, to help along my own recovery from the scars of spiritual abuse)…I am becoming increasingly convinced that (especially among the pente/charismatic groups involved in dominionism, possibly increasingly so even among the Southern Baptists) part of the reason people are having such poor success in debating dominionists is because they do not realize they are in essence dealing with someone who is in a coercive religious group.
Dominionist groups, especially those into “spiritual warfare” (cross reference Marguerite Perrin on “Trading Spouses” for an example of this in action–I honestly wish I could say it’s an extreme example, but in some dominionist groups her behaviour is sadly typical), have an entire system designed to isolate their members from “mainstream reality” and to essentially create a dominionist “group-think”.
Speaking from my own experiences as a former dominionist (having been raised in it), here are some of the things that my church has done to pretty much prevent any outside influences:
a) Taught explicitly that everyone outside the group is evil, possibly even in league with Satan, and that Satan may even be “working through them”
b) Taught that criticism of the group was “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” and criticism of members or the church was answered with “touch not mine annointed” or “thou shalt not judge a man of God”
c) Taught that demons were the cause of all hardship and illness (including diseases; genetic diseases along with multigenerational poverty were termed “generational curses” and even colds and flu were the result of “solidified demonic corruption”) and that these could be cured by “naming it and claiming it” as well as donations of up to fifty percent of income to the church
d) Taught that “doorways to Satan” could open up and cause “demonic oppression” by things as innocuous as peace symbols (which they preached were Satanic), Nike shoes, and Pokemon (!) (yes, they literally teach that if kids had Pokemon stuff they’d be demonised; they also do book burnings of Harry Potter books for the same reason, and even criticised C. S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” because it was fantasy)
e) Taught people to not associate with “unsaved” people unless for the purpose of conversion, and even distributed “Christian Yellow Pages” to this effect (which required a fundamentalist statement of faith to be signed before they’d list someone)
f) Ran their own TV and radio “godcasting” network (now focusing largely internationally; see here…the fact they are now vomiting this stuff out over the international airwaves makes me sick and sad like you would not believe) and told people that literally all media outside from the church was Satanic
g) Handed out voter’s guides from the AFA and a predecessor group (Freedom’s Heritage Forum) telling people explicitly whom to vote for (by the way, a deacon of the church is the state head of the AFA)
h) Taught explicitly that deceptive tactics are perfectly permissible in an attempt to convert someone (and yes, this is denomination wide; I’ve documented over 40 separate “front groups” used for various forms of targeted prosyletising by the Assemblies, including targeting other churches)
i) Taught people could literally be hexed into conversion by essentially cursing these people in the name of Christ to be miserable and even suicidal unless they converted
j) Taught that involuntary exorcism of people who were LGBT, not dominionists (and openly critical of the group), and so on were perfectly permissible (I will never be able to come out safely to my parents that I’m bisexual or that I’ve always felt like a man in a woman’s body as a result; it would literally be a death sentence in my case–I saw kids being publically outed involuntarily and subjected to involuntary exorcisms during “revival meetings” and know all too well that people have literally gone insane in these “exorcisms”)
I wish this was an abberation.
Unfortunately, a church deacon at the very church I walked away from is head of the Kentucky AFA (one of our two main dominionist groups here–the other is in Lexington and is the state FotF frontgroup), essentially has been at the center of the dominionist movement in the state for the past thirty years, and is busy setting up a multi-station “godcasting” network on shortwave radio (yes, most of the annoying religious broadcasters on shortwave radio are affiliated with High Adventure Ministries, which is a front group of the very Assemblies church I walked away from). It’s also a major stop on the Assemblies “traveling preacher” circuit, is the second largest church in my home state (with anywhere from 7000 to 17,000 in attendance, depending on whose figures you believe and whether a “revival meeting” is in progress there), and no less than Oliver North has been at the church preaching that the Reds were the Antichrist so he pushed the Iran-Contra arms deal as a mission from God (!) It was also one of the first of the so-called “Third Wave” churches promoting the “Joel’s Army” stuff I’ve written about–the same stuff that “Jesus Camp” teaches to little kids–and was pushing this stuff all the way into the 1960s.
Also, sadly, this view is also not atypical–John Ashcroft’s “eccentricities” like being annointed with Wesson oil (!) are typical teachings in those churches, and practices at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church are very similar to the tactics of “deliverance ministry” preached at the church I walked away from.
The particular denomination I’m a walkaway from, the Assemblies of God, is the largest neopentecostal church in the world with estimates of anywhere from ten to 40 million members; they’re powerful enough that they have a de facto political party in Australia (Family First), may in fact be the religious majority in Brazil now, and operate the largest megachurch in the world–one with nearly three-quarters of a million members in South Korea.
And even more frightening, they are getting more and more control of the government–to the point that someday, they could eventually force us walkaways back at gunpoint–or kill us “just like Hitler did to the Jews”–or, worse yet, start a war that kills everyone.
‘Christianity stole my childhood’ – Katy Perry
KATY Perry says she left her strict religious upbringing behind after her evangelical minister parents left her without a childhood.
The pop singer is on the cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine, where she revealed the differences between hers and her parents’ way of thinking in an interview.
“I didn’t have a childhood,” she told the magazine. She said she was not allowed to use terms like “deviled eggs” or “Dirt Devil,” to listen to secular music or to read any books but the Bible.
In March, Perry’s mother revealed that she was shopping a book about the impact of her daughter’s career on her ministry. She said she was proud of Katy but disagreed with “a lot of choices she makes.”
“I think sometimes when children grow up, their parents grow up,” Katy Perry told Vanity Fair.
“Mine grew up with me. We co-exist. I don’t try to change them anymore, and I don’t think they try to change me. We agree to disagree. They’re excited about [my success]. They’re happy that things are going well for their three children and that they’re not on drugs. Or in prison.”
Perry credited her husband, actor Russell Brand, with opening her mind even more.
“I come from a very non-accepting family, but I’m very accepting,” Perry said of her current religious beliefs.
“Russell is into Hinduism, and I’m not [really] involved in it. He meditates in the morning and the evening; I’m starting to do it more because it really centres me. [But] I just let him be him, and he lets me be me.”
- Katy Perry: “My Career Is Like An Artichoke” (wlte.radio.com)
- Katy Perry On Strict Christian Upbringing: ‘I Didn’t Have A Childhood’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Katy Perry Covers Vanity Fair June 2011 (bittenandbound.com)
- Katy Perry: Yes, I really kissed a girl (via The Marquee Blog) (thespiritportal.wordpress.com)
Osama bin Laden did the world a huge service
Throughout history organized religion has been co-opted by truly warped power mad men who left destruction and horror in their wake. Osama Bin Laden and his crazed Islamic followers were such men. In a way we have him to thank for the remarkable strides Humanists, atheists and anti-theists have made in the last 10 years. He made millions of people think hard about the danger of consciously and deliberately releasing their grip on reality. Worse yet, foisting their madness on vulnerable children.
The attacks on 9/11 roused me from complacency and turned me into a dedicated foe of organized religion, for life. Whatever positive elements people find believing in fantasy are far outweighed by the danger such unquestioned belief imposes. Like Christopher Hitchens has written, religion poisons everything.
How many times must humans learn this lesson? Over and over we have had to put religion back in chains, only for this curse to break out again and be commandeered by madmen. The problem is faith and let us vow that the end of Osama Bin Laden will be the final chapter.
End the unethical practice of forcing faith on vulnerable children. End the betrayal of children by their misguided parents and guardians.
- Do we cheer the death of Osama Bin Laden? (quixoticutopia.wordpress.com)
Religionists often remark that they do not see a way to live without religion. Apparently they are unaware that approximately 2 billion people around the world live lives free of religious control. It is not difficult and now a new book by Eric Maisel tells you how it is done. Here are the reviews from leading freethinkers and authors:
“Eric Maisel is clearly the atheist’s Wizard of Oz to have created a book with such brains, so much heart, and a lion’s share of real courage.”
— Dale McGowan, PhD, editor of Parenting Beyond Belief and 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year
“Millions of people lead happy, moral, loving, meaningful lives without believing in a god, and Eric Maisel explains in exquisite rational and compassionate detail how we do it.”
— Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist and copresident of the Freedom from Religion Foundation
“I find Maisel’s writings more witty than Hitchens, more polished and articulate than Harris, and more informative and entertaining than Dawkins. A 5-star read from cover to cover!”
— David Mills, author of Atheist Universe
“The Atheist’s Way offers a meaningful approach to life that is sublime, eloquent, and inspiring. This book is a true breath of fresh air.”
— Phil Zuckerman, PhD, author of Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment
“Maisel provides a foundation for making meaning and living purposefully without supernatural intervention. A book to be relished by atheists, skeptics, humanists, freethinkers, and unbelievers everywhere.”
— Donna Druchunas, writer on Skepchick.org
“How do you bravely face the world as it is and create meaning for yourself without the crutch of a divine benefactor? Eric Maisel’s wise suggestions, musings, and insights are a wonderful resource for your quest.”
— John Allen Paulos, author of Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up
“Eric Maisel has given us a lovely, thoughtful book about belief outside of the narrow confines of organized religion. The Atheist’s Way offers an uplifting positive answer for anyone interested in how to live life without gods, superstitions or fairytales.”
— Nica Lalli, author of Nothing: Something to Believe In
“With this book, Eric Maisel does what none of the New Atheists have succeeded at doing: elaborating what atheists do believe.”
— Hemant Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay
Product DescriptionIn The Atheist’s Way, Eric Maisel teaches you how to make rich personal meaning despite the absence of beneficent gods and the indifference of the universe to human concerns. Exploding the myth that there is any meaning to find or to seek, Dr. Maisel explains why the paradigm shift from seeking meaning to making meaning is this century’s most pressing intellectual goal.
- Martin Pribble’s Interview With Dan Barker (camelswithhammers.com)
- Dan Barker Interview – Prominent People Project (martinspribble.com)
- The Purpose-Driven Atheist (friendlyatheist.com)
- Book Review: Godless (spaninquis.wordpress.com)
- Robert Ingersoll: Prince of Atheists (new.exchristian.net)
- Hemant Mehta on Identifying Oneself as an Atheist (theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com)
- “Atheist v. Theist” – A Humanist’s Response (thehumanistchallenge.wordpress.com)
- The deity by any other name: Army resilience program gets a thumbs down from atheistsa (scientificamerican.com)
The Morning After Pill and the Religious Agenda
We in America have been told a lot of lies about sex, reproduction, and sexual health. A recent federal district court ruling in Tummino v. Torti has illuminated at least part of the system of corruption and anti-science religious agenda we’ve been subjected to over the past eight years. Judge Korman ruled that the FDA knowingly engaged in arbitrary and capricious decisionmaking regarding the emergency contraception known as “Plan B,” or the “morning after pill.”
For the rest of this post, I will use the words “religious” and “political” interchangeably. I do so with intent and without apologies. Anyone who doubts that the Bush administration was a theocracy needs to have their head examined. The evidence could not be more clear. At any rate, we should be familiar with the way the religious have pushed their agenda. We got a blueprint from the Shrub himself when he invaded Iraq. First, he stirred up emotional outrage, with the help of an unrelated terrorist attack. Then, he spread lies about the Iraqi government hiding WMDs, and trying to buy yellow cake uranium. Then, he strong-armed congress into doing his will with accusations of Anti-Americanism hanging over the heads of any dissenters.
We can look at the morning after pill agenda and see the same pattern. The emotion is already built into the debate. Since Roe v. Wade, hardly an election has gone by that hasn’t included emotional rhetoric about killing babies, or how godless heathens were turning America into a cesspool of sin and corruption because women were choosing not to allow every fetus the chance to grow into a human. Unlike Iraq, there was no need to steal emotion from somewhere else. The Religious Right has been stirring up emotion for decades.
Step Two is the most important in religious agenda programs. Misinformation is the key. With the morning-after pill, like Iraq, we had to believe that it was connected to a “known evil.” For the religious right, that meant linking the pill to abortion. There are still many people who have believed FOX News and their preachers. They think Plan-B is an abortifacient, and it’s not. The reason the pill only works within 72 hours is that it prevents fertilization. It does not kill an already fertilized egg. It works in essentially the same way as birth control pills. There is no controversy about this. The pill is not an abortion pill. The fact that it was ever called an abortion pill is evidence of the agenda. There was never a scientific reason to give it that name. (There were debunked studies indicating that the pill might be implicated in preventing implantation of fertilized eggs, but these studies were, as I said, not borne out by good science.) The United States, which grudgingly approved Plan B by prescription only, is the only country in the modern world which doesn’t have multiple legal options for emergency contraception.
The original request for OTC (over-the-counter) status for Plan B was submitted in 2001. The FDA found that it met all of the criteria for OTC, but a single doctor (at the behest of “political forces” stalled the approval process by citing “safety concerns” including whether or not people would be likely to use Plan B instead of the pill, or whether average women are smart enough to figure out how to take a single dose pill within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. (This, despite evidence from all over the world that women are indeed smart enough to figure it out, and piles of evidence indicating that women prefer birth control pills to Plan-B, given the choice.) After five years of debating “safety concerns” such as these, the FDA denied OTC availability. The decision was largely based on an “Advisory Committee” that was appointed with careful oversight by the Bush administration. Instead of finding highly qualified doctors, scientists, and pharmacists, the government’s stated goal was to create a “balance of opinion” on the committee. In case you are living in an alternate universe, this is political double-speak for “We were trying to change the decision based on non-scientific grounds.”
Let’s not make light of these facts. Unfortunately for the religious, the facts themselves are now incontrovertible. Even taking into account the incredibly unreasonable desire of the religious right to impose their religion on everybody, Plan B is not an abortion-inducing drug. It is functionally no different than the birth control pill, which is legal everywhere in America. There is not one single scientific reason why it should not be made available over the counter. Not one. The only objections to the pill have been religious in nature, but as they are wont to do, the religious have hidden their agenda under levels of thinly veiled concerns for “public safety.”
For those of my readers who think I’m too hard on religious moderates, take this as an example of why I must be so. This religious imposition onto non-religious Americans can only be defended on religious grounds. For anyone who believes that America is a country where religion and government must be separate, the only possible response to this situation has to be outrage. But… where was the moderate religious outrage? I’ll tell you. The religious moderate outrage over the morning after pill was virtually non-existent. Apart from a few Lutherans in Boston and a couple of Unitarians in Nebraska, it appears that nearly the entire body of believers in America sat by silently while science was mocked and the Constitution trampled.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Most moderates will never stand up against fundamentalists. They will not side with us evil atheists because this is not about living together peacefully. It’s about religion versus science. As I wrote yesterday, the intellectual battle has been won. There is no debate between creation/evolution, and there ought not be a debate over either abortion rights or the morning after pill. Intelligent Design has no place in any school. The only argument against abortion rights is religious, and so it should be immediately dismissed without further comment. The morning-after pill is safe and functional. Any religious moderate who is not standing actively against any religious zealot trying to impose his will on me or any of my fellow American atheists is complicit in America’s descent into theocracy.
The Utilitarian argument is dead
In a short blog post today, biologist and blogger PZ Myers has made what I think is a genuinely profound observation, and I hope it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
In the recent controversy involving a nine year old Brazilian girl who was raped and impregnated, the Vatican itself has made a ruling: Fetuses come before people. While this should come as no surprise, I think we should not just brush this aside as one more example of religious nuttery. The Vatican has clearly and emphatically given us proof against one of the most powerful emotional appeals used by apologists — Humans do not need religion to help provide comfort to people in need.
The utilitarian argument is often the last refuge of the defeated in an argument about religion. There are many people who seem to believe more in belief in god than in god himself. They think that religion is some kind of cement holding humanity together against its own nature. This incident provides a stark rebuttal to the notion.
In case you missed it, a nine year old Brazilian girl was raped by her step father, and became pregnant. Doctors, fearing for her life, performed an abortion. In retaliation for this act of kindness, the Brazilian arm of the Catholic Church excommunicated the mother and the doctors involved in the procedure. The Vatican has since upheld the decision.
The utilitarian argument doesn’t hold water. Humans are empathetic without religion. When you superimpose dogma onto an ethical dilemma, you subvert the process of normal human empathy and kindness. Every sane person in the world knows that the responsible thing to do in this situation was save a nine year old girl from living her entire life as the caretaker for living proof of a heinous crime commited against her. As empathetic, rational humans, we can instantly see that a nine year old victim of sexual abuse cannot hope to be a sufficient mother. The step father is certainly not a suitable surrogate caretaker.
Let me make this abundantly clear: The only reason there was any debate about this kindness is religious dogma. Without the unscientific, irrational dogma held by the church, human kindness would have won the day unopposed. Any religious dogma is — by definition — not rational and scientific. If it was, we wouldn’t call it religious dogma. It would be science (and not dogmatic, by definition).
Myers said it very eloquently: ”The utilitarian argument that religion at least provides comfort to people in need ought to be extinct now.”
In Praise of South Africa
Right to life takes precedence over the right to religion
February 20 2009 at 06:13AM
By Kanina Foss
A 12-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl has received a life-saving blood transfusion that she did not want after a Johannesburg High Court order gave doctors the go-ahead.
The girl, who suffers from leukaemia, was admitted to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital on Tuesday. Despite being told that a blood transfusion was needed to save her life, the girl and her parents refused to consent to the procedure.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it’s against God’s will to take other people’s blood, or one’s own blood that has been stored, into one’s body.
The official website of Watchtower, a Jehovah’s Witness organisation to which The Star was referred by the Jehovah’s Witnesses of South Africa, says: “True Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They want to live, but they will not try to save their life by breaking God’s laws.”
The Gauteng Department of Health said doctors consulted the girl’s parents and church elders to explain the need for the transfusion. When their explanations were rejected, they brought an urgent application before the High Court on Wednesday.
The court order was issued on the same day, and the girl was given a transfusion immediately.
According to Department of Health spokesperson Phumelele Kaunda, the parents respected the court’s decision.
The girl is doing well.
SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen said that in such cases, the right to life took precedence over the right to religion.
He said adults were regarded as fit to make informed decisions about their own bodies, but in the case of a child, state intervention was sometimes necessary.
South Africa should indeed be praised for doing the right thing – saving an innocent child’s life rather than giving in to the unfounded religious beliefs of her parents. It is a sad state of affairs when a child can be brainwashed into believing that death is preferable to a simpe blood transfusion procedure. We must not allow superstition to claim the lives of such children, and South Africa got it exactly right: the right to life takes precedence over the right to religion.
Secular Moslems Call for Islam to secularize
The St. Petersburg Declaration
April 5, 2007
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.
We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.
We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.
We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.
We call on the governments of the world to
- reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;
- eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;
- protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;
- reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;
- and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.
We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.
We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.
We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;
to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;
and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.
Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Manda Zand Ervin
Johann Hari: Despite these riots, I stand by what I wrote – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent
Johann Hari: Despite these riots, I stand by what I wrote
The answer to the problems of free speech is always more free speech
Friday, 13 February 2009
Last week, I wrote an article defending free speech for everyone – and in response there have been riots, death threats, and the arrest of an editor who published the article.
* Editor arrested for ‘outraging Muslims’
* Johann Hari: Why should I respect these oppressive religions?
Here’s how it happened. My column reported on a startling development at the United Nations. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has always had the job of investigating governments who forcibly take the fundamental human right to free speech from their citizens with violence. But in the past year, a coalition of religious fundamentalist states has successfully fought to change her job description. Now, she has to report on “abuses of free expression” including “defamation of religions and prophets.” Instead of defending free speech, she must now oppose it.
I argued this was a symbol of how religious fundamentalists – of all stripes – have been progressively stripping away the right to freely discuss their faiths. They claim religious ideas are unique and cannot be discussed freely; instead, they must be “respected” – by which they mean unchallenged. So now, whenever anyone on the UN Human Rights Council tries to discuss the stoning of “adulterous” women, the hanging of gay people, or the marrying off of ten year old girls to grandfathers, they are silenced by the chair on the grounds these are “religious” issues, and it is “offensive” to talk about them.
This trend is not confined to the UN. It has spread deep into democratic countries. Whenever I have reported on immoral acts by religious fanatics – Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – I am accused of “prejudice”, and I am not alone. But my only “prejudice” is in favour of individuals being able to choose to live their lives, their way, without intimidation. That means choosing religion, or rejecting it, as they wish, after hearing an honest, open argument.
A religious idea is just an idea somebody had a long time ago, and claimed to have received from God. It does not have a different status to other ideas; it is not surrounded by an electric fence none of us can pass.
That’s why I wrote: “All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him. I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. When you demand “respect”, you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.”
An Indian newspaper called The Statesman – one of the oldest and most venerable dailies in the country – thought this accorded with the rich Indian tradition of secularism, and reprinted the article. That night, four thousand Islamic fundamentalists began to riot outside their offices, calling for me, the editor, and the publisher to be arrested – or worse. They brought Central Calcutta to a standstill. A typical supporter of the riots, Abdus Subhan, said he was “prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet” and I should be sent “to hell if he chooses not to respect any religion or religious symbol? He has no liberty to vilify or blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech.”
Then, two days ago, the editor and publisher were indeed arrested. They have been charged – in the world’s largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech – with “deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings”. I am told I too will be arrested if I go to Calcutta.
What should an honest defender of free speech say in this position? Every word I wrote was true. I believe the right to openly discuss religion, and follow the facts wherever they lead us, is one of the most precious on earth – especially in a democracy of a billion people riven with streaks of fanaticism from a minority of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. So I cannot and will not apologize.