Valerie Tarico

Looming condom shortage shows importance of more and better options

People have more time for sex these days but fewer options when it comes to protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy. Women may not be able to get pill renewals, leaving some couples to fall back on condoms, which have a higher pregnancy rate. (One in six couples relying on condoms will get pregnant each year.) Now the United Nations warns that condoms, too, may become hard to get.

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Here are 5 historical truths that suggest Jesus never existed

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, based on the evidence available they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity. At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

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When the American debate over abortion was sane — and why that changed

People would be surprised by how much less toxic gender politics were in the 1970s than they are now.

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Here are 8 simple ways right-wing evangelicals are driving Americans to atheism

If the Catholic Bishops, their Evangelical Protestant allies, and other Right-wing fundamentalists had the sole objective of decimating religious belief, they couldn’t be doing a better job of it.

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The strange psychological phenomenon that could cause the Democratic primaries to function as a Trump re-election campaign

From an emotional standpoint, attacking character rather than policies can be a one-way street.

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Easter bunnies are more deliciously wicked than you might think

For most of Christian history, those furry little creatures were associated with queer sex, not chocolate.

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What if Jesus never existed?

With Easter coming, some people are debating whether the resurrection of Jesus really happened. Others are debating whether Jesus was even real.

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How “Case for Christ” author Lee Strobel fabricated his best-selling story

Many Evangelicals think of Lee Strobel as the man who can cure your doubts about their religion. His 1998 book, The Case for Christ, has sold millions of copies, was made into a 2017 movie by the same name, and was recently re-issued in a “new and updated” edition.

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Should we treat believers with humanity instead of contempt?

Even assuming credulity is a weakness, decent people don’t jeer at others who are functioning poorly in some part of life.

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Whether vegetarian or flexitarian – ethical eating is working

f you sometimes make food choices based on your values rather than your pocketbook or fancy, you should know that those small, occasional pivots are making a difference.

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Here are the 10 ways Evangelical Christianity warps your mind

Some stuff people tell you messes with your head if you buy into it. Maybe it’s self-contradictory. Maybe it doesn’t line up with what you know about yourself or the world around you. Maybe it makes you question the evidence of your own senses or your ability to think straight. Maybe it muddles your intuitions about right and wrong, making you ashamed of doing things that don’t actually harm anyone—or, conversely, prompting you to do things you would otherwise be ashamed of.

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Here's why Evangelicals and social justice warriors trigger me in the same way

I was Born Again until nearly the end of graduate school, a sincere Evangelical who went to church on Sunday and Wednesday with my family and to Thursday Bible study on my own. I dialed for converts during the “I Found It” evangelism campaign, served as a counselor at Camp Good News, and graduated from Wheaton College, Billy Graham’s alma mater. I know what it is to be an earnest believer among believers.

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Here are the 20 weirdest religious beliefs

We find it easy to dismiss the fantastical beliefs of people in other times and places, but those that we’ve been exposed to since childhood seem not so far out. Virgin birth? Water turning into wine? A fig tree shriveling on the spot? Dead people getting up out of their graves and walking around?

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Evangelical Christianity is facing a political crisis — it will need more than a makeover

Ok, evangelicals do have a brand problem—but they also have a major product problem.

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How some organized religion leads to mental health problems

At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.  But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help couldn’t fix the core problem: I was a failure in the eyes of God. It would be years before I understood that my inability to heal bulimia through the mechanisms offered by biblical Christianity was not a function of my own spiritual deficiency but deficiencies in Evangelical religion itself.

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Here are 6 hints that Baby Jesus stories were late additions to early Christian lore

Picture a creche with baby Jesus in a manger and shepherds and angels and three kings and a star over the stable roof. We think of this traditional scene as representing the Christmas story, but it actually mixes elements from two different nativity stories in the Bible, one in Matthew and one in Luke, with a few embellishments that got added in later centuries. What was the historical kernel? Most likely we will never know, because it appears that the Bible’s nativity stories are themselves highly-embellished late add-ons to the Gospels.

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A former evangelical explains the values she learned from Christianity - and why their secular counterparts are even more profound

People who leave Evangelical Christianity often carry scars, either from their time in the walled community of believers or from their struggle to break free. Getting God’s self-appointed messengers out of your head can be the work of a lifetime, as Recovering from Religion hotline volunteers and therapists can attest; and religious communities can be cruel and unforgiving toward defectors, even when these defectors were once beloved. I’ve written about this with Dr. Marlene Winell, who has a full-time counseling practice with clients who are working to release toxic religious teachings and so reclaim their own thoughts, values and chosen purpose in life.

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You’ve been hacked: The psychology of disinformation and how to protect yourself

Most people genuinely care about truth. I don’t mean that we tell the truth all of the time—though most of us mostly do—but that we very much want to know what is real. Reality can knock you flat if you don’t see it coming.

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Imagine no Black Friday

This year a growing number of businesses are giving employees Thanksgiving Day off work rather than trying to beat out competitors by starting Black Friday on Thursday. Reversing a decade-long trend, close to 100 familiar retailers are closing their doors Thursday, and a few will stay closed on Friday. Most Americans like that. In a survey done by BestBlackFriday.com, almost half of respondents actively disliked the idea of stores being open on the holiday. That’s from a website that actively promotes the gold rush. Retailers who close on Thursday, BestBlack reassures, can make up the sales afterwards. They can bank on the ads and discounts being simply irresistible.

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Here's How the Human Mind Is Wired For Magical Thinking

Are you human? Then at some level you believe in magic. Specific beliefs about miracles and other kinds of magic may get handed down within a religious or cultural tradition, but we all are prone to magical thinking, even the most rigorous scientist or die-hard skeptic. At least that’s what psychological research suggests. In carefully structured experiments, people who don’t consciously believe in magic behave as if they unconsciously do.

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The ‘Ethics’ of the Catholic Bishops? Freud Had a Name for That

As Pennsylvania investigators worked to confirm up to 1000 cases of sexual abusecommitted by Catholic priests, a panel of Catholic ethicist-theologians appointed by the bishops was also hard at work.  

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If the Bible Were Law, Would You Qualify for the Death Penalty?

In a Texas murder case that ultimately reached the Supreme Court, a juror brought a Bible into the sentencing process – showing that the Bible recommends death for anyone who kills another person with an iron rod (Numbers 35:16).

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Here Are 8 Immoral Religious Teachings That Are Still Practiced Today

Religious teachings that once made sense sometimes become harmful under changing conditions. That can put believers in the awkward position of defending practices—either historical or current—that are now widely perceived to be either immoral or questionable at best.

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What the Unborn and the Undead Have in Common

One freakish thing about zombies is that they look like people even though they aren’t.

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The 12 Worst Ideas Organized Religion Has Unleashed On the World

Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good.

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Here's Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart

Human beings are story tellers. Stories help us make meaning of events around us and figure out what to care about. Not surprisingly, conservative and progressive Americans believe they are living very different stories. These differences go way back, but one unexpected and dismaying consequence of the information age has been to widen the chasm to a point that we often can’t see the humanity of people on the other side.

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Why Is the Bible So Badly Written?

Millions of evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was essentially dictated by God to men who acted as human channelers. Each phrase is considered so perfect that it merits careful linguistic analysis to determine His precise meaning.

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The Secret to Wealth and Prosperity for Any Society

This article was first published at Sightline.org, a regional think tank based in Seattle.

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Roy Moore Lost Because Christians Are Better Than the Bible

I’ve said before that the alleged behavior of Alabama Senate Candidate Roy “10 Commandments” Moore toward teenage girls was perfectly biblical. I’ll stand by that, citing chapter and verse. The Bible is a mishmash of texts that were written and assembled over the course of several hundred years by men with varied objectives. All manner of behavior and misbehavior can be justified from the contradictory stories and commandments between its covers. Men like Roy Moore who think they speak for God, who think their end justifies any means, play this to their own advantage.

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Alabama Conservatives Are Right: Roy Moore’s Behavior Is Perfectly Biblical - and That Is the Problem

Conservative Christians often proclaim that the Quran encourages marriage and molestation of girls who are too young for consent. But it’s rare that they take to the airwaves proclaiming that the Bible does the same. By citing the Bible and Christian tradition in defense of Roy Moore, that is exactly what they have done. And their arguments have merit.

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Why Evangelicals Believe They're the Most Persecuted Group in America

A recent Pew study found that white American Evangelical Christians think they experience more discrimination than Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Atheists or Jews.

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