A Natural Mistake
July 10, 2019


“That some persons are free and others slaves by nature … and that for these slavery is both advantageous and just, is evident.” So said Aristotle, one of the first advocates of the “natural law” approach to ethics. (See his Politics, Book I, ch. 5.) The State Department has just established a Commission on Unalienable …

Just War Doctrine and Impeachment
June 4, 2019


I don’t typically refer to Catholic doctrine to support a point I want to make. However, even the Catholic Church can get things right occasionally—and, in this case, its doctrine aligns with common sense and political prudence. First formulated by Augustine, and subsequently reworked by Aquinas and recent Church councils, the Catholic Church’s just war …

Of Monuments, Christian and Confederate
March 11, 2019


At first glance, a 40-foot cross in a traffic circle may not have that much in common with an over 60-foot statue of Robert E. Lee in a traffic circle, but they do—I mean other than their obstructing the free flow of traffic. There are significant similarities between the recent arguments over the removal or …

Being a Burden: Improper Reason for Seeking Assisted Dying?
February 6, 2019


A common argument against legalizing assisted dying for the terminally ill is that most will seek it for the “wrong” reason; specifically, they will hasten their death to avoid becoming a burden to others. For example, a statement issued recently by opponents of a Maryland bill to legalize assisted dying argues that in states where …

Stop Misusing Science To Bolster Religious Fables
December 6, 2018


Christmas season is upon us. (I recognize I’m late in noting this. For retailers it started immediately after Halloween.) This season brings forth many familiar experiences—familiar because they recur every year: festive decorations, foraging for parking spots, Tom Flynn at work on Christmas Day, and an essay in a newspaper/on the internet attempting to explain …

Assisted Dying and Slippery Slopes: Where Do We Place the Guardrails?
May 15, 2018


The recent assisted suicide of David Goodall, the 104-year-old Australian ecologist, has brought into focus some key issues in the continuing debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. One issue is whether we should legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia for those “tired of life.” A related issue is whether legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia for even a restricted class of individuals (such as the terminally ill) places us on a slippery slope to accepting euthanasia in cases that many of us—at least now—consider questionable or objectionable, for example, the nonvoluntary euthanasia of incompetent patients who physicians deem to have an unacceptable quality of life.

The Down Syndrome Gambit
March 9, 2018


In case you haven’t noticed, a few states (North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio) have enacted laws that prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if the physician knows the woman is seeking an abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Utah is considering a similar measure. Indications are this is the beginning of a major effort to curtail a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy. 

Selling The Bible, Hobby Lobby Style
November 28, 2017


The recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is a well-designed, visually appealing, ideally located, state-of-the-art used car lot, using the soft sell approach to peddle old, worn ideas. Its sales pitch, which is subtle, may well be persuasive to some, but it will appeal mostly to those who already have faith in the brand.

Blasphemy and Other “Hate Speech”
September 30, 2017


During my tenure as president and CEO—in 2009, to be precise—CFI established International Blasphemy Rights Day (September 30, in case you forgot). It’s one of the accomplishments I take some pride in.

Biotech and the Poverty of Religious Morality
May 30, 2017


Advances in biotechnology present some critical and challenging ethical issues. How to resolve these issues will and should be a subject of much debate, but there is one thing that is certain: religion will be of no help in addressing these issues.