The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Allison Kaplan Sommer at Haaretz explains the theological basis for the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
The fact the evangelical community’s desire to see Jerusalem being irrevocably in Israeli hands is based on religious beliefs rather than practical political concerns means that a fear of the anticipated violent reaction from Palestinians and the Arab world was easily dismissed as irrelevant by Trump and the decision-makers around him. … [Diana Butler Bass says,] “Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base,” the Jerusalem declaration “is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days. They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this.”
Brandon Withrow at The Daily Beast takes a broader look at Trump’s stoking of religious hostilities for political gain, and why it may fail in the long run.
Alabamians vote in the special election for U.S. Senate tomorrow, where they will almost certainly elect (alleged) pedophile, (alleged) sexual predator, and (confirmed) theocrat Roy Moore. Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for several GOP Members of Congress and even Breitbart, explains in USA Today why the GOP’s support of Moore is the last straw for him, as he switches allegiances to the Democratic Party.
Likewise, Peter Wehner explains why he can no longer refer to himself as an evangelical Republican:
Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist [okay, done – PF], and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore.
At least Moore’s senior-senator-to-be, Richard Shelby, is against Moore’s election, though he will not be supporting the Democrat Doug Jones either.
A Hindu man in India has himself filmed hacking a Muslim man to death, and it turns out he’s done this several times before. We are a terrible species.
Eva Dou at the Wall Street Journal reports on the surveillance of messaging apps in China by the government: One man, Chen Shouli, made a joke on WeChat about a government official, and wound up detained for five days for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Stuart Vyse at CSICOP.org explores whether there are any psychological benefits to partaking in superstitious rituals. “Let us stipulate that there is no magic,” he begins. “Sleight-of-hand, deception, illusion, and conjuring, yes, but no ‘real’ magic.” Whoa there, Stuart! Let’s not get crazy, here. I’m gonna throw some salt over my shoulder. Though I forget which one.
Katherine Hayhoe, the evangelical Christian climatologist, talks to Wired about science denial and the responsibility of scientists to communicate the reality of climate change:
Now, more than ever, we need evidence-based decision making to ensure we safely negotiate the challenges posed by hunger and disease, political instability, social inequality, and many other issues that are being exacerbated by a changing climate.
Jim Reische has a really interesting piece in NYT about how we no longer allow college students the chance to make mistakes and overcome them, which eliminates one of the reasons people go to college in the first place:
In this climate, there is little room for students to experiment and screw up. We seem to expect them to arrive at school fully formed. When they let us down by being just what they are — young humans — we shame them.
Rejecting a push to have climate change no longer considered a “health risk,” Exxon, Chevron, and Honeywell are among the corporations that may cause a fracture in the Koch-funded business coalition known as ALEC, which dozens of companies have already abandoned because of the group’s denialist position on climate change.
Ellen Apprill makes a good case for the Johnson Amendment that goes beyond church-state separation:
It is precisely because of the Johnson amendment’s prohibition on electioneering that charities have been a sanctuary in our increasingly partisan world. Over time, permitting charities to engage directly in electoral politics will reduce the respect they have long been afforded.
Pope Francis says the Lord’s Prayer needs tweaking so that it no longer implies that God leads us into temptation. Look, either he’s responsible for everything or he’s not.
Susan Gerbic picks apart a Tyler Henry psychic reading, but it’s the last time, she promises.
A federal judge okays the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s rejection of a
Catholic church’s Christmas ad, validating its policy against running “issue-oriented” ads.
Melissa McCarthy and some other less famous person show us the truth about gravity. “What goes up stays there forever.”
There’s a big piece in Virginia Quarterly Review about Slender Man. Yeah, that’s going to the top of the Instapaper queue.
Yasmin Tayag at Inverse reports on a large-ish study on acupuncture that suggests it is actually helping to treat pain. Really?
I wonder, after the collapse and the computers have all left us behind to rot, will the Christian Twitter bots still believe in the glory of Jesus Christ?
Next band name: Murder Swan.
Quote of the Day:
Staks Rosch writes about the problem of suicide among atheists, and wisely recommends we stop waiting to be of help:
One thing I have noticed is that after someone commits suicide, there is suddenly an outpouring of support for them. If only that outpouring could have come a little sooner… Well, it kind of can (not for them obviously, but for the next them). That’s right; we can be there for our friends and family right now. We don’t have to wait until someone commits suicide to say nice things to and about them. We don’t have to wait to check in with people we know are struggling. We can be there for people right now. This is one area in which religion has an actual advantage. They have a support system and a community. But atheists can have that too. There is no need to believe in ridiculous superstitions on insufficient evidence to have a community willing to help each other. We got this.
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