Anything That’s Stinky and Horrible

May 11, 2018

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

Don’t freak out, but Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, tasked with leading the federal government’s responses to deadly pandemics, has just up and quit. The Post:

Ziemer’s last day was Tuesday, the same day a new Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo. He is not being replaced. 

THIS IS FINE. 

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Protestantism on the decline, Catholicism holding steady, and “no religion” leaping upward.

Thanks in large part to that rotten Trinity Lutheran decision by SCOTUS, Betsy DeVos is looking to get more federal funds to religious schools without those schools having to adhere to anti-discrimination rules.

In Indonesia, a man who claims to be a Christian cleric is sentenced to four years in prison and a big fine for “defamation of religion” under the Electronic and Information Transactions Law.

Paige Patterson, the Dirty-Old-Man-in-Chief of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, sort-of apologizes somewhat for “being Biblical” about the sexual desirability of 16-year-olds.

Robert Hahn of Oxford University and the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking says the “transparency” proposal made by Scott Pruitt (Destroyer of Worlds) is actually not the disaster we think it is:

Here’s what the EPA’s rule wouldn’t do: nullify existing environmental regulations, disregard existing research, violate confidentiality protections, jeopardize privacy or undermine the peer-review process. … It’s still hard to tell how this rule will affect EPA decisions, but one thing is clear: The rule will make the evidence by which we make policy decisions more transparent. 

Protestant churchgoers in the U.S. overwhelmingly believe that tithing is a requirement that applies to modern life; 83% according to a LifeWay survey. This is compared to Protestant pastors, of which only 72% agree. The catch is that churchgoers have rather different ideas about what precisely counts as tithing.

Martin Levine writing at NPQ says of Trump’s version of faith-based initiatives, “Trying to include faith-based organizations and their community-based strengths in the government’s efforts to attack important societal problems and access government funding may not be new, but emphasizing that the government will bow to their ‘deeply held beliefs’ is very different.”

Jack Greene at High Country News tells how a determined group of high school students convinced the Utah State Legislature, which is of course super-Republican, to adopt a resolution acknowledging the seriousness of the threat of climate change:

A surprising 75 percent of Republican legislators voted in favor of the bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, signed on March 20. 

Trump’s UN delegation did not vote in favor of the execution of gay people, but did vote against a resolution opposing the death penalty in general.

Rep. John Culberson, a Republican of Texas, secures $545 million in funding for the Europa Clipper mission, planned to launch in 2022 and explore Jupiter’s moon.

Relatedly, a new House bill might give $10 million to searching for extraterrestrial intelligence

A video purports to show a UFO “sucking up energy” from a lightning bolt in the Czech Republic. Looks like the ship from Asteroids if you ask me. 

A skepto-humanist activist and writer, Sarah Braasch, is found to have called the police on a black Yale graduate student who was napping in a residence hall, which has led to the unearthing and parsing of many of Braasch’s writings for The Humanist and Daylight Atheism. They include support for burqa bans, fervent opposition to hate crime laws, and boasts about coming up with great arguments in favor of slavery. So it’s a mess.

Rabbi Marc Gellman, in the “God Squad” column of the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh, NY, says belief in astrology and psychics is a no-no, but not because they’re not true:

The Earth may well have people on it who have psychic powers, including the power to communicate with the dead. The problem is that God does not want us looking over or through or around that fence that separates life and death. 

Quote of the Day

Here are the words “whale snot” used several times in Popular Science:

“I was sitting there fuming, and this cloud of snot enveloped me,” [biologist Iaian] Kerr says. The whale snot “was stinky and horrible”, he says, “but as a biologist, anything that’s stinky and horrible is probably productive. I wondered if we could collect and study snot.” …  Whale snot, it turns out, is packed with DNA, viruses, hormones, and microbes … The only hurdle was figuring out how to get a bucket full of whale snot. 

Thus, they come up with SnotBot.  

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