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Clay Farris Naff
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Clay Farris Naff (claynaff.com) is a science writer with a special interest in the rational reconciliation of religions with science. An award-winning journalist and author, he has been a Tokyo correspondent for United Press International, a freelance reporter for National Public Radio, a science-and-religion columnist for the Metanexus Institute, and is the author or editor of numerous books, including most recently Free God Now! He has been a freelance writer for Newsweek, Earth Magazine, The Humanist, and Scientific American, among other publications. You can follow him at Twitter @claynaff, or join his Free God Now! page on Google+.or Facebook. Any opinions expressed are his alone.

Entries by Clay Farris Naff

Claiming Their Place in the Pantheon of Religions: Pastafarians Go Mainstream

(5) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 11:43 AM

Oh, dear. Have I unleashed a monster?

A Flying Spaghetti Monster, that is? Last month in these pages I published a call for government to treat the followers of His Noodliness just as they would believers in any other religion. This month, Pastafarians put the Feds to the test.

To...

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The Vatican's Unfinished Business -- Accepting Gays Is Great, But What About Condoms?

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 8:11 AM

For all those who care more about fairness than doctrine, this is a moment to be savored. It is like the day in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from his South African jail: You just knew that apartheid's days were done.

Of course, South Africa was responding to tremendous...

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Is It Time for Government to Recognize the Rights of Pastafarians?

(16) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 4:39 PM

What a difference a year makes.

Last September, when I attended Apostacon, an Omaha-based freethought conference celebrating the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the mood was all ribaldry, mockery and piracy. (Pirates, of the "arrrr, matey" variety, are considered misunderstood divine beings.)

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Why Is ISIS So Awful? Evolution, Ideology, Culture, and Sex

(10) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 12:11 PM

Tossing prisoners into chasms, executing children, putting severed heads on display: In a region where brutality is common, ISIS certainly has made a name for itself. The militant Islamist group -- born of the carnage in Syria and Iraq, and led by

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Sherlock Holmes Versus God Almighty: Who Is More Real? The Multiverse Says Go With the Gumshoe

(7) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 9:20 AM

All stories are true.

On its face, this is a preposterous statement. By definition fiction is false. The tourists who for decades sought out 221B Baker Street in hopes of glimpsing Sherlock Holmes were barking up an imaginary tree after fictional prey: neither the address nor the sleuth existed. Since...

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Michael Sam and the Last Few Yards: Will We Fumble?

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 4:12 PM

The sight of Michael Sam's eyes welling with tears will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, for the fanatics of Old Time Religion it's the sight of Sam kissing his boyfriend after becoming the first openly gay man drafted into the NFL that will remain indelible.

The religious right is...

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Putin, Religion and the Second Coming of Fascism

(36) Comments | Posted April 5, 2014 | 3:16 PM

Comparison with Nazis is so overdone that there's even a name for it: Godwin's Law. Still, the parallels with Putin's Russia right now are so very tempting: after the collapse of its empire a fumbling, nascent democracy creates an opening for a ruthless strongman who stokes the nation's wounded pride...

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Guns and Jesus (Not to Mention Mohammed)

(2) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 8:49 AM

Grace Baptist Church in upstate New York, following the lead of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, is giving away an AR-15 assault rifle -- you know, the kind that killed kids at Sandy Hook Elementary.
2014-03-14-oGUN570.jpg
...

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Is That the Best You've Got? Alvin Plantinga's Feeble Attack on Atheism

(34) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 6:16 PM

Widely regarded as America's leading Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, emeritus professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, offers what are presumably his best arguments against atheism and in favor of Christian belief in a lengthy New York Times "Opinionator" interview published earlier this week. Its headline: "Is Atheism Irrational?"

...
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Justice on Trial: Another Minister Breaks Church Law to Perform Gay Marriage

(5) Comments | Posted January 26, 2014 | 6:42 AM

"One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Thomas Ogletree performed a marriage ceremony for his own son. For that, he will stand trial in March before an ecclesiastical court of the United Methodist Church. You see, his son is gay. Ogletree officiated...

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Indiana GOP: While Banning Gay Relationships, Why Not Enact White Supremacy, Too?

(628) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 7:24 AM

Indiana already has a law banning gay marriage, complete with criminal penalties for pastors who perform same-sex rites, but that's not good enough for state Republicans. Prodded by right-wing religious groups such as the good Christian folks at the Indiana Family Institute, GOP legislators voted overwhelmingly...

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Let's Move Christmas to February!

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 9:17 AM

2013-12-19-WOC2.jpg

Though "Culture Wars" may rage over Christmas, the holiday brings a rare point of consensus among secular scholars and devout theologians: It ain't the birthday of Jesus, bub.

So little is known about the actual life of Jesus that the starting odds...

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God's Coming Phase Change: Can the Rising Generation Get Religion Right?

(115) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 9:14 AM

Monotheism in the West has undergone two major adaptive changes in the past 2,500 years. A third great leap is nigh. Can it succeed? Whether you are religious or not, you'd better hope so.

Like life itself, religion has repeatedly met the challenge of extinction with a phase change --...

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In Praise of Commonsense Conservatives: A Humane and Rational Way to End the Standoff

(3) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 10:47 AM

Help! I'm a bicoastal liberal "trapped" in a Midwestern state so Republican that its unofficial slogan is "Go Big Red."

Actually, I love living in Nebraska, for many reasons but largely because it gives me the chance to work for progressive change among people I know to be essentially...

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Say What? If Miss America Is Not a Nice White, Christian Gal, She Must Be a Muslim Terrorist? Even My Dog Knows Better!

(30) Comments | Posted September 17, 2013 | 8:12 AM

Never thought I'd find myself commenting on the Miss America Pageant, but the insane eruption of hate that followed the crowning of Nina Davuluri forces my hand.

Ms. Davuluri was born and raised American. That ought to be enough, but since she was born to Indian immigrant parents, has...

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Syria: The Error of Religious Pacifism and the Science of Peace

(8) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 10:52 AM

As someone who works with refugees, I hate war. As someone who lives in America's happiest city, I treasure peace. Yet, for all that, I am distressed to see the groundswell of opposition to punishing the Syrian regime.

We blundered into Iraq buoyed by Neocon delusions that "shock and awe"...

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My Fantasy Summer Bible Camp

(7) Comments | Posted August 18, 2013 | 10:24 AM

Even unto the dog days of summer, kids across North America are trundled off to Bible Camp. Here in Nebraska, school start blessedly early, so Camp Marantha is done stuffing kids full of fundamentalist nightmares ("We believe that the world is fast ripening for the tribulation judgments" its web site...

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Egypt's Hard Lesson: Old Time Religion Cannot Lead a Modern Democracy

(18) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 3:00 PM

"Democracy is not for Muslims."

That's the epitaph for Egypt's only free election, according to deposed President Mohammed Morsi's foreign policy adviser.

The lesson appears to have gone home. Amid cries of "No more elections!" the Muslim Brotherhood has angrily rejected a plan for political transition and called...

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DOMA Decision Spells Doom for Old Time Religion

(248) Comments | Posted June 27, 2013 | 12:06 PM

Defenders of Old Time Religion, take heed. Justice Antonin Scalia gives you fair warning. In a DOMA dissent steeped in wormwood and gall, he makes this prediction:

As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening...
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Jason Collins, Bible Verses and the Truth About God's Word

(112) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 10:56 AM

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Much has been written and said about Jason Collins' historic announcement, but it seems to me we have not yet reached the deepest implications. As a sympathetic outsider to religion, I'd like to try.

Put simply, it's this:...

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