Dropping for Years

May 16, 2018

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

There was no Heresy yesterday because I was recording an interview for Point of Inquiry, and yes, I know, I know, it’s been a while, but this episode will totally make up for it. And now I’m in a hurry because of other stuff. So this will be a little shorter than I’d like. Onward! 

Our former boss Ron Lindsay, an expert on the ethics of euthanasia and a proponent of the right to die, wrestles with the case of David Goodall, who at 104, had a physician assist his suicide because he was “tired of life”:

Even though it may be morally permissible to commit suicide, assisted dying involves a third-party. Legalizing assisted dying, that is, legalizing the actions of a third-party in bringing about another’s death, presents serious risks. The principal risk is the risk that some who do not really want to die are put to death. … The requirement that there be some objectively verifiable serious medical condition before a person can request assisted dying helps to reduce this risk. [ … ] Respect for autonomy doesn’t mean we should have assisted dying on demand.

And speaking of suicides (whee!) Benjamin Radford examines the motivations of those who decide to end their lives through the rather horrifying method of self-immolation

And still speaking of suicides, the mystery of what brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might finally have been solved, and the truth is ugly: Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah probably crashed the plane as an act of suicide and mass murder.

Trump is thinking about a domestic gag rule, which would prohibit health care providers getting federal funds from even mentioning abortion. 

A few days ago, Mike Pence said a bunch of things that aren’t true, meaning it was like any other day. AH HA! BUT! In this case he was making stuff up about the alleged growth of Bible-belief and church attendance in America (of which there is none) and why Trump is to thank for it. So we corrected him:

“It is mind-boggling that the vice president can claim with a straight face that the presidency of Donald Trump is somehow causing faith to ‘rise again.’ In survey after survey, religious belief continues to decline,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “In one sense, the vice president is correct that church attendance and belief in the Bible have indeed remained remarkably consistent over the decades,” said Lemieux. “They have gone consistently down.” 

Glenn Kessler also rebuts the VP, saying, “He’s … simply wrong to claim that weekly attendance has been consistent; it’s been dropping for years.”

Hey don’t forget why many evangelicals are so keen for Jerusalem to be the recognized capital of Israel: It will bring on the end of the world, which which I am becoming increasingly sympathetic.

Laura Parker at The Atlantic profiles Abigail Allwood, the JPL planetary scientist who is tasked with determining if Mars has, or once had, life.

Meanwhile, NASA finds Europa spitting water from its surface.

Remember when Scott Pruitt wanted to hold “red team/blue team” debates on the science of global warming? Good times. In case you were curious, the EPA would be arguing against the science. Yep. It doesn’t look like it will happen, but BuzzFeed has the memos in which it was planned.

Alex Jones tries to storm a Google Fiber office in Austin, with that Milo guy as a hanger-on or something, because something-something-super-AI-machine. I assume Jones doesn’t know what Google Fiber actually is.

That cross in Pensacola, Alabama is still there, so we’re part of a coalition of groups getting all amicus-curium up in here to argue for its removal.

Sikhs in Alberta, Canada, whose religion requires the wearing of a turban, but, like, not just in Alberta, are now exempt from motorcycle helmet laws. But just in Alberta. I made that more confusing than it needed to be.

And I just learned this: Tony Perkins has been appointed to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, because lol nothing matters. 

Quote of the Day

Melissa Rogers, former head of the White House’s faith-based initiatives office under Obama, explains what’s wrong with Trump’s version:

What the federal government should not do … is remove protections for the religious liberties of countless Americans (in this case, social service beneficiaries) because of the slight possibility that a religious organization might one day have to successfully raise an objection to a referral.

Removing religious liberty protections in the name of religious freedom taints the cause. Honoring freedom for faith-based providers, while taking it away from people receiving services, is wrong. Breaking the long-standing pattern of respect for common-ground consultations is shortsighted. Undermining bipartisan support for effective partnerships that serve people in need is inexcusable. One way or another, those who value religious liberty and social service partnerships must fix these mistakes. 

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