For Gain or Lucre

April 10, 2018

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Let’s begin with a subject about which I have deep expertise. Just kidding, let’s talk about football! It’s a sport! Ray Lewis, who is a former football man (that’s what they call them I think), is mad about Odell Beckham Jr., a current football man, for some reason. Lewis, who you might know possibly killed two guys 18 years ago, says Beckham’s problem is a lack of God:

Where there’s no God, there’s chaos. Odell has removed God from his life. This is a kid that grew up under the covenant of who God really is and everything that he’s doing, he’s crying out for help. We have a lot of people reporting about him, but it’s always been the duty of elders to go back to help them, so that’s why I raised my hand and I told him, ‘I’m here. Whatever you need.’ 

Later in the same conversation on a football program, Lewis (who you’ll remember was charged with stabbing two people to death) says actually it’s not about God at all, which is confusing, because I’m pretty sure he just said it was about God…yeah, I checked, it’s right up there earlier in this very post. Anyway, Misdemeanor Maybe-McStabby says:

I don’t care about religion, I’m talking about a foundation. When your foundation is disturbed, when everything you’re doing is the opposite of what got you to this place, then you’re making your own life hard. 

Indeed.

Catholic church attendance is dropping, not like a rock, but maybe more like a paper airplane on its way down. In 1955, 75% of Catholics regularly attended church, according to Gallup, and today it’s down to 39%, with only 25% of young Catholics showing up. Weirdly, Protestants’ attendance remains more or less the same over the same period of time. 

When I heard this week about the cabinet Bible study group in the White House I thought, yeah? So? Is this a surprise? Well, in this world, I guess everything is a surprise, all the time. Women are not allowed to lead. The usual suspects are part of it, like Pence, Sessions, Perry, and DeVos. Trump does not attend, but he does dance to their tune. Ralph Drollinger, who coordinates the group, told the BBC:

Of all the Bible studies I’ve written on policy, Trump’s enacting everything I’ve written. 

Oh! Great!

A naturopath in Sydney, Australia, Marilyn Bodner, is sentenced to a maximum of 14 months in prison for her role in the death of a baby boy. Bodner insisted that in order to treat the boy’s eczema, he should be given only raw food, and then when the baby became feverish, she instructed the parents to revoke food altogether. It’s not even the first time this woman’s been implicated in a death. 

Also looking to endanger the health of children are anti-vaxxers who are swarming Amazon to give negative reviews to children’s books in which kids get vaccinations. 

A project of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History discovers a fossilized human finger bone in the Saudi Arabian desert said to be almost 90,000 years old, which makes it the earliest known instance of humans outside of Africa and the Levant.

The voters of Anchorage, Alaska decline to bully the transgender community by rejecting a “bathroom bill” ballot measure by an estimated 6 percentage points.

Trump’s HHS apparently thought it was a good idea to hire as their deputy communications director one Ximena Barreto, a sort of fringe pundit who pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, says Islam has “no place” in the U.S., and that African Americans are “way more racist than white people.” Once they were called out on the hire by Media Matters, HHS put her on “administrative lead.” Hey, I could use a deputy communications director…

Let this be a lesson to you: In Pennsylvania, fortunetelling “for gain or lucre” is against the law. Thus was Sophey M. Mills charged with theft by deception and fortunetelling for scamming two people out of more than $3000. 

It remains the case that Buzz Aldrin did not see any aliens when he was on his way to the Moon (which we really need to start calling “Luna” because, look, there are a LOT of moons out there and one day we’re gonna live on them, and imagine how haughty it will seem for the residents of Luna to be all, “I’m from THE Moon, har har har.” [Those living on Luna will develop weird accents, FYI.]).

Quote of the Day

India’s Supreme Court overturns a lower court’s annulment of a marriage in which a woman had converted to Islam in order to marry, and speaks firmly about the absolute right to the freedom of belief:

It is obligatory to state here that expression of choice in accord with law is acceptance of individual identity. Curtailment of that expression … destroy[s] the individualistic entity of a person. The social values and morals have their space, but they are not above the constitutionally guaranteed freedom. The said freedom is both a constitutional and a human right. Deprivation of that freedom which is ingrained in choice on the plea of faith is impermissible.  Faith of a person is intrinsic to his/her meaningful existence. To have the freedom of faith is essential to his/her autonomy. 

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