Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions

Yes! Churches take too much, yet give too little.


Two weeks ago, with a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on the way, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which ensures that religious institutions won’t lose their tax exemptions if they don’t support same-sex marriage. Liberals tend to think Sen. Lee’s fears are unwarranted, and they can even point to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Friday’s case, which promises “that religious organizations and persons [will be] given proper protection.”

But I don’t think Sen. Lee is crazy. In the 1983 Bob Jones University case, the court ruled that a school could lose tax-exempt status if its policies violated “fundamental national public policy.” So far, the Bob Jones reasoning hasn’t been extended to other kinds of discrimination, but someday it could be. I’m a gay-rights supporter who was elated by Friday’s Supreme Court decision — but I honor Sen. Lee’s fears.

I don’t, however, like his…

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The Straw Man Argument: China’s Yulin Festival and the Philippines’ Lechon Festival


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Amidst the uproar against the Yulin festival, I have been seeing a good number of internet memes calling those who speak for dogs and cats but not for pigs and cows hypocrites. One such meme (see image below) calls for the end of the La Loma Lechon Festival with the hastag StopLaLoma.

Image posted by Brent Teodoro Alvarez on the Rational Filipino Facebook page.

I’m not sure if this campaign against the Lechon Festival is a real thing, but since it came out in the midst of protests against the Yulin Festival, I am under the impression that the people who initiated the campaign believe that if Filipinos can speak so vocally against a meat festival in China, then they should be able to show the same, passionate disgust against a meat festival in their own backyard. If my assumption about the reason for this campaign is correct, then this, ladies and gentlemen, dogs and cats, is a wonderful example of the Straw Man Argument.

A straw man argument is a common faulty argument where one misinterprets the position of the other side. This argument for example:

Joeyisared: I am in favor of birth control pills.

Shining Knight of Columbus: Birth control pills have carcinogenic properties. So you’re in favor of giving our wives cancer?

The straw man that the Shining Knight of Columbus created is the idea that Joeyisared favors wives getting cancer. That is not the position of Joeyisared.

Going back to the Yulin and La Loma festivals, I would like to explain my position on the issue. I am against the Yulin festival (and not the La Loma Lechon festival) for the following reasons:

  1. The Yulin festival is illegal. The Lechon festival isn’t. The Chinese government has banned the Yulin festival. When you support the Yulin festival, you are encouraging the people’s disregard for the law. Today they’re disregarding the government ban on a festival; tomorrow they’ll disregard the UNCLOS and claim the West Philippine Sea.

  2. A significant number of the cats and dogs killed in the Yulin festival are stolen pets. I have never heard of any reports of pigs getting stolen because of the Lechon festival. When you support the Yulin festival, you encourage the “petnapping” of dogs and cats. Today they’re stealing their neighbors’ pets; tomorrow, they’ll be stealing their neighbors’ territories.

  3. Because the Yulin festival is illegal, the Chinese health authorities do not guarantee that the dog and cat meat sold at the festival is safe to eat. In fact, Chinese authorities caught a man selling dog meat laced with toxins. Apparently, the man poisoned the dogs to kill them.

  4. The Yulin festival is a celebration of animal cruelty. The Lechon festival is a celebration of food. In the Yulin festival, dogs and cats and hanged, burned alive, beaten to death, or boiled alive. Show me a slaughterhouse that does these cruel things to pigs, and I will be the first to boycott it.

I am not a vegetarian. In fact, I consider myself a carnivore. I am not against eating dog or cat meat. I am against disregard for the law. I am against stealing. I am against selling meat that isn’t safe to eat. I am against animal cruelty. That’s why I’m against the Yulin festival.

If you don’t know what the Yulin festival is, it is an annual festival in Southwestern China where thousands of dogs and cats are killed and sold for their meat. Here’s a link to CNN’s editorial on the festival: Friend of Food? Dog Meat Trade Divides China.


5 Things You Need to Know About China’s Dog-Eating Festival

Stop Yulin Festival forever!


1. It’s real.

In Yulin, summer solstice marks the coming of the hottest days for the Chinese city. The remote, woody city (literally “jade forest”) celebrates the astronomical event—this year, June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere—with its annual dog-eating festival. The local tradition reportedly began in the 1990s, but the local practice of eating dog meat outdates written history.

According to Chinese lore, eating dog meat stimulates internal heat, making it a food that wards off winters’ cold. But on this inaugural day of summer, it’s a superstition that’s driving dog consumption: the meat is believed to bring good luck and health. At the festival, hotpots are fired up, lychees peeled and liquors poured. Animal activists estimate over 10,000 dogs are killed for the festival, according to China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece.

2. China doesn’t have an animal protection law, but experts still claim the festival is illegal.

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Seven Women Ordained Roman Catholic Priests in Morristown, New Jersey on April 25,2015

While Christianity, Judaism, and Islam continue to deny women access to true leadership in their religion, there are those that are slowly making changes for the better.


On Saturday April 24th in Morristown ,New Jersey, seven well prepared women were ordained Roman Catholic priests with Andrea Johnson, Bishop of the Eastern Region of Roman Catholic Women Priests-USA presiding. The women were Barbara Ann Beadles,  Norma Harrington, Patricia Shannon Jones, Susan Marie Schessler, Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, Ann Therese Searing and Mary Steinmetz.  The women had been deacons with RCWP- East since 2013 or 2014 and completed the Program of Preparation and mentoring as they continued to discern their call to serve as priests and developed their own ministries and churches. They hail from Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The holy and auspicious event was hosted by the Church of The Redeemer, an Episcopal church welcoming all within its doors. RCWP is indebted to the generous hospitality of this church and its Rector,Rev. Cynthia Black.  Rev. Black wrote the following about hosting the RCWP Ordinations:

“The Roman Catholic…

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Thank you for writing this, Michael.

Michael A. Sherlock (Author)

The A F

In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

Religious apologists, particularly those of the Christian variety, are big fans of what I have dubbed, the atheist atrocities fallacy. Christians commonly employ this fallacy to shield their egos from the harsh reality of the brutality of their own religion, by utilizing a most absurd form of the tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy, mingled with numerous other logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies.  Despite the fact that theatheist atrocities fallacy has already been thoroughly exposed by Hitchens and other great thinkers, it continues to circulate amongst the desperate believers of a religion in its death throes.  Should an atheist present a believer with the crimes committed by the Holy See of the Inquisition(s), the Crusaders and other faith-wielding misanthropes, they will often hear the reply; “Well, what about Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler? They were atheists, and they killed millions!”

Given the obstinate nature of religious…

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A new exposé of Mother Teresa shows that she—and the Vatican—were even worse than we thought

Christopher Hitchens would have been proud…

Why Evolution Is True

First Christopher Hitchens took her down, then we learned that her faith wasn’t as strong as we thought, and now a new study from the Université de Montréal is poised to completely destroy what shreds are left of Mother Teresa’s reputation. She was the winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, was beatified and is well on her way to becoming a saint, and she’s universally admired. As Wikipedia notes:

[She was] named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most. In 1999, a poll of Americans ranked her first in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In that survey, she out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young.

The criticisms of…

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Dawkins Invades Hitchens’s Blog


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Dawkins, the cat I took in from the street a month ago, has settled in nicely.

Photos by Kat.

Isn’t she adorable? And, like her namesake, she’s extremely smart. She never says anything unless she absolutely memes it.

Expect more of her (and of Hitchens, of course) soon.

For now, remember to use your head and spread the RED!

Challenge Accepted: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


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I was recently nominated by a friend to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Since it was The Godfather, himself, who nominated me, I gladly accepted.

Here’s my video:

For more information on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or if you wish to donate, click here.

For more information about the Laguna Pit Bulls or if you wish to donate, click here.

Remember: Use your head, and spread the RED!

The Non-Fallacy of Brother Eli Soriano: God is a Bigot


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Although Bro. Eli Soriano has not stopped vomiting logical fallacies on his Twitter page, I will not be writing about his natural talent for flawed reasoning today. The guy deserves a break; he’s earned it.

This time, it’s not about his fallacy. This time it’s about this:

From Mr. Soriano’s Twitter page.

To those who don’t speak my beloved Filipino, here’s my best attempt at translating the text.

Mr. Robiel delos Santos (@robiel_11) comments, “A lot of people are saying that atheists have done a lot of good deeds such as scientists who have improved human civilization through their inventions and discoveries.”

Bro. Eli Soriano (@BroEliSoriano) responds, “Even if they are held in the highest regard by men, atheists are vile and disgusting in the eyes of god.”


As an atheist, I am not one bit concerned about what god thinks of me. Mr. Soriano believes that his god thinks I’m vile and disgusting: Okay, his god is a bigot – I get it. Nevertheless, I’m not worried about what he can do to me considering he isn’t real. To me, his wrath is as potent and effective as Zeus’s thunderclouds or Thor’s Mjölnir.

I’m not worried about what impact Soriano’s message has on the imaginary afterlife he preaches to be true; what I’m worried about is the impact Soriano’s message has on the real, present life we all know to be true.

When religious leaders preach that their god loves those who believe in him but is disgusted by those who reject him, what message does this send to his followers? Perhaps we can spin it and say it’s a message that encourages his followers to reach out to non-believers with love and compassion, but it cannot be denied that the same message can just as well encourage bigotry and division. I think it at this point, it is safe to call a spade a spade: Mr. Soriano, you, just like the imaginary god who has helped you raise enough money to buy expensive coats and turtlenecks, are a bigot, and your message, carelessly delivered, encourages your followers to be bigots like you.

I would like to pose a question to those who take Soriano’s message to be true: If your god thinks of atheists as vile and disgusting creatures as your leader clearly preached, what do YOU think of atheists?

I ask because what you think matters more than what your god thinks. What you think matters more because you’re real, and bigotry in the hearts and minds of a real society worries me more than a verdict reached in an imaginary courtroom in the sky presided by an imaginary celestial judge.

That’s it for today. Remember: Use your head, and Spread the RED!