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Test your knowledge of wild, weird and outright wacky American religious beliefs

Americans in past generations lived in a sea of religion inherited largely from the Middle East by way of Europe, with home grown refinements. Most still do. When Americans venture off the continent, one of the things many find fascinating is the religious  beliefs they encounter. Some people worship flying monkeys, or magical big breasted dancers, or Prince Phillip.

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‘I don’t believe this anymore’: What it’s like to escape an abusive, right-wing religion

Americans are leaving their religions at a faster rate than ever before, and that means more are looking for help with the transition. People who are casually religious may walk away and not look back. But for others religion is at the very heart of their identity, worldview and community, and having a safe place to process doubts can be a metaphorical godsend.

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Addicted to Christianity? Former Christians say yes and no

A generation ago, most people—even those who were not religious—thought of religion as mostly beneficial or at least harmless. But these days opinions are more mixed—with good reason. On the political stage, conservative Christians quote chapter and verse to justify bigotries that they call religious freedom, while conservative Muslims quote chapter and verse to justify beheadings and rape that they call jihad. Both groups of true believers seem determined to turn back the clock on secularism and modernity.  Meanwhile, at the individual level, conversation has opened up about psychological harms of Christianity—everything from damaged self-esteem or stunted curiosity to sexual hang-ups to depression and anxiety to full-blown religious trauma syndrome.

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Here's 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.

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The not-so-virgin birth of the Christmas Story

Celestial messengers, natural wonders and a virgin birth establish the baby Jesus as someone special. Why does the rest of the New Testament ignore these auspicious beginnings?

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The 'War on Christmas' was started more than 500 years ago -- by Christians

If it feels like the “War on Christmas” is getting really old, it is. Almost 15 years have passed since Bill O’Reilly first opened December with a segment called, “Christmas Under Siege”—ten long years in which his cadences and refrains and echoing chorus have become as familiar to most Americans as Handel’s Messiah. More familiar, in fact.

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Here are 5 reasons to suspect 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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Progressives are trying to win over rural Trump voters in 'the worst possible way'

Devin Poore grew up near the northeast corner of Washington State. Ferry County is one of the poorest in the state, with a median household income of 41,000 (contrasted with a state median of 66,000), and one of the most Republican. Sixty-one percent of those voting in 2016 cast their ballots for Donald Trump, compared to 38 percent statewide.

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Get in the way of a Bible-believing soldier on a mission for Jesus and things can get ugly really fast

Just ask Bonnie and Mikey Weinstein, co-founders of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who regularly receive messages like these:

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: Psychologist reveals how organized religion can lead 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.

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Is it Trump’s god-complex or God’s Trump-complex? Either way Trump and Jehovah have an awful lot in common

People have been scratching their heads about how so many “family values” American voters who claim to love Jesus can follow Donald Trump. What ever happened to love thy neighbor, and if you have two coats give one to the poor, and turn the other cheek, and feed my lambs, and the meek shall inherit the Earth?  Some horrified Christian leaders have gone so far as to say a person can’t be a Christian and a Trump supporter.

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Right-wing evangelicals are driving Americans to atheism using 8 hypocritical and immoral maneuvers

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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How to effectively confront anti-abortion zealots with Bible verses

Imagine if anti-abortion protestors found themselves confronted with the Bible and Christianity’s highest values. At regular intervals throughout the year, the most conception-obsessed members of the Religious Right will be gathering at Evangelical and Catholic churches, loading teenagers into busses and cars, and surrounding Planned Parenthood with protest signs. Some will pray and sing church songs or shout Bible quotes or carry pictures of the Virgin Mary. But most will carry signs that say things like “abortion stops a beating heart” [so does oyster-eating] or “aren’t you glad your mother didn’t have an abortion?” [Yes; glad also that she didn’t have a headache that night] or “it’s a baby” [an acorn is an oak tree?] or “one life ended, one destroyed” [actually, factually not]. Some may carry “fetal squish” pictures—not  images of common early abortions but of the rare fetus that dies or is aborted late in gestation. In other words, they will try to sway the rest of us by speaking our language—the language of science, human rights and secular ethical values; and they will appeal to our moral emotions: compassion, love of life, and disgust.

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Holy Freeloading! Religious groups rob taxpayers in at least 10 different ways

Have you ever thought about starting a new religion or perhaps a hometown franchise of an old one? Perhaps you’re just looking for a career ladder in a religious enterprise that already exists. No? Maybe you should.

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