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A Middle-of-the-Road Kind of Bloke

October 3, 2019

On the latest episode of CFI’s podcast Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown begins a two-parter on the prison system, talking to atheist activist, comedian, politician, former Marine, and former prison security guard Steve Hill. (Hell of a resumé!)

In his Free Inquiry editorial, Tom Flynn hearkens back to when some secular humanists like CFI founder Paul Kurtz advocated for a true world government; a “cosmocracy”:

It is clear that many of the crises humanity faces threaten the world community as a whole utterly without regard for national boundaries. I think it is less clear whether—or not—supranational institutions constitute the best way to tackle them. Consider the interlocking issues of overpopulation, environmental pollution, climate change, conflicts over resources, and rising movements of refugees. Global institutions with the power to challenge nation-states do not yet exist, and if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that they show no signs of forming anytime soon. Meanwhile nation-states sovereign within their borders do exist. For better or worse, they are among the most powerful human institutions. If, say, the climate crisis won’t wait for the rise of a world parliament, perhaps we must act promptly using the tools at hand. You know, nation-states.

I dunno, Google is pretty powerful. Google Uber Alles?

Fox News fires Todd Starnes, but hasn’t said why. It’s not like he’s any crazier or more dishonest than anyone else on that network. This happens after Robert Jeffress said on Starnes’s show that Democrats worship the god Moloch because of child sacrifice (which of course never ever comes up with ol’ Yahweh), to which Starnes replied “I believe that.” I dunno, it’s still the usual crap. Maybe Starnes got caught being sympathetic to a poor person or accidentally treated a female colleague like a human being. Who can say.

Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer who killed Botham Jean in his apartment, gets a Bible and a religious talking-to from the trial judge after sentencing:

“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith,” the judge said. “You start with this.”

Guyger embraced the judge, who hugged her back. Guyger whispered something.

“Ma’am,” the judge said warmly. “It’s not because I’m good. It’s because I believe in Christ.”

As Hemant said: “What the hell was that?”

Focusing on Franklin Graham, Yonat Shimron reports on the evangelical case against impeachment:

Sounding the alarm about a nation in peril is a tried-and-true evangelical strategy, said John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

“I’ve argued this has been a typical part of evangelical political engagement for centuries — fear mongering,” said Fea. “You can’t make an argument to support what the president did on his phone call with the Ukrainian president. So what do you do? You play the traditional game of instilling fear in the electorate so they will see us falling off the cliff as a nation and this apocalyptic language will convince them they have to vote for Trump again in 2020.”

Relatedly, Lifeway Research surveyed evangelicals about what happens when someone on their political team does bad stuff. You will not be encouraged. Christian Post reports:

[L]ess than half, 42 percent, of evangelicals expressed public disapproval of political allies for using what respondents recognized as unacceptable words or actions.

In addition to more than half of evangelicals refusing to publicly rebuke political allies for unacceptable words or actions, 33 percent of them also admitted that when someone with their political beliefs is accused of wrongdoing they would point to examples of wrongdoing by political opponents. … some 16 percent do not have a problem with bending the truth if it helps to promote their political ideology.

There’s another episode in the saga of religious organizations not wanting to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, and there’s now so many suits, injunctions, stays, reversals, and appeals, that I can’t even read a paragraph without getting dizzy. So you go ahead and have at it. I just can’t.

Addressing a Vatican symposium, Chief Missionary Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says, probably without recognizing the thick, viscous irony of his words, says, “We must recognize the roots of religious repression. Authoritarian regimes and autocrats will never accept a power higher than their own.”

A federal court rules that a University of Iowa Christian group can require that its leadership be made up of Christians. No surprise there.

Pardon me, boy, is this the Chattanooga kookoo?

A woman is suing Hamilton County government and two Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies after she says one of them, during the course of her arrest, stripped to his underwear and baptized her in Soddy Lake.


Professional football has a concussion problem, so in come the snake oil salesmen to cash in. Wired reports on the profiteering by the makers of “concussion technologies” that are based on little more than pseudoscience.

You know the maxim that says that any headline written in the form of a question can be answered with “no”? Holds true for this headline from Vice:

Did Canada Just Admit UFOs Are Real With a New Coin?

No! See?

Even though the Cassini spacecraft has been obliterated, the data it collected over the years is still being poured over and yielding discoveries. Yesterday, it was revealed that Saturn’s moon Enceladus, known to have a subsurface ocean and spewing plumes of water, has organic compounds sloshing around. Via CNN:

In Earth’s oceans, vents on the ocean floor create these reactions. The researchers think this same process could be unfolding on Enceldaus. “This work shows that Enceladus’ ocean has reactive building blocks in abundance, and it’s another green light in the investigation of the habitability of Enceladus,” said Frank Postberg, study co-author and head of planetary science and remote sensing at Free University of Berlin’s Institute of Geological Sciences.

Hey, Jupiter? You’ve got something on your face. No, not the red thing. C’mere, lemme see. Ummmm, oh, sorry, it’s just a shadow. Never mind. You’re fine.

Quote of the Day

Retiring BBC host John Humphrys says the network’s “Thought of the Day” segment is “pointless.” On a TV panel with (cough, sputter, blink-blink) Piers Morgan, Humphrys said:

Here we have a situation where Piers would be allowed to do Thought for the Day because he can approach it from a christian perspective. I could not do it. I do not believe in any… [Humphrys is cut off by Morgan, of course] … I would say it’s discriminatory. … Why shouldn’t I as somebody who – I regard myself as being a fair middle of the road kind of bloke but I feel quite strongly about certain things and I would love to express my opinion about certain things – not allowed to because I cannot approach it from a religious perspective.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.