Prof. Ryan Burge shows how religious groups place the political parties and other figures on an ideological scale. White evangelicals perceive the greatest amount of polarization and place themselves right along with the most conservative wing of the GOP. Atheists were next most likely to perceive massive polarization, and placed themselves as more liberal than Democrats generally. There’s a lot to dig into here.
On Sunday, Jake Tapper at CNN handled Trump’s conspiracy-mongering about the death of Jeffrey Epstein like this:
We begin this morning with a retweet from the president of the United States, not a message about healing or uniting the country one week after two horrifying massacres, not about the victims of those tragedies.
Instead, President Trump using his massive Twitter platform, 63 million followers, to spread a deranged conspiracy theory, tying the death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in prison to the president’s former political rivals the Clintons. …
… President Trump has also given voice to the lie that the migrant and refugee crisis at the southern border of the U.S. is a plot by Jewish billionaire George Soros to fund a — quote — “invasion.”
That is a conspiracy theory that was the motive for mass slaughter in Pittsburgh and El Paso.
This is no longer just irresponsible and indecent. It is dangerous.
The Post reports that the guy who started the “Storm Area 51” Facebook page as a joke, Matthew Roberts, is now making an effort to divert what could be a tragic stampede into a party by organizing “Alien Stock.” But believers are NOT FOOLED, as one Facebook commenter wrote, “Distraction … well played government.”
In Free Inquiry, Steve Cuno looks at the difficulty the LDS Church is having getting people to stop referring to them as Mormons, adding, “I’m sure that with hindsight, Jesus wishes he’d named the one true church sooner.” Well, he was busy.
Guess how many states there are in which a majority of the population wants a total abortion ban. None! It was a trick question. In fact, there is no state in which more than 25 percent support a full ban. Just 16 percent in Alabama, of all places! So…what the hell is going on??
Uganda’s The Observer profiles Kato Mukasa, co-founder of the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability, who describes his journey to nonbelief:
“It began when I was 11. My father, Nobert Eden Mukasa, was always skeptical, and a freethinker,” Mukasa reminisces. “ I grew up reading books on philosophy he would bring home…by 12 I was reading Voltaire, David Hume, Socrates and the like”. …
… He reasons that one of the reasons humans are sometimes good “is not because they wish to be good, but because they fear punishment” from God who promises eternal suffering for one’s unforgiven sins.
“But a humanist like me will say, NO. You don’t need to be good because you expect punishment.” Basically, he argues, you can do without a deity’s power, because there is no such thing as the supernatural in his world.
This sounds nuts. A federal court in Alaska says a faith-based homeless shelter for women isn’t bound by fair housing or public accommodation codes, and are therefore cleared to discriminate against transgender women. Transgender men, however, can come on in, because the shelter says they were “female at birth.” You’ve got to carve very carefully to get a hole in your heart to such a specific shape.
India’s National Science Academy will soon be led by a woman for the first time in its 85-year history. Better yet, Chandrima Shaha says one of her priorities is to combat pseudoscience. The Print reports:
What needs to be inculcated in schools and among public too is the fact that while ancient texts can tell us about cures to various things, in science — where things have to be proven via experiments — we have to provide evidence.
Jimmy Hinton of the Somerset Church of Christ writes at RNS that a year after the explosive revelations about systemic sexual abuse of children by the Pennsylvania Catholic Church, not nearly enough has been done, and too little has changed:
Our neighbors in New York … listened to survivors, and their Child Victims Act goes into effect on the one-year anniversary of the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. But despite the progress being made nationally, Pennsylvania continues to be a safe state for abusers.
Stephen Mansfield at RNS looks at the religious beliefs of Abraham Lincoln:
… the story of Lincoln’s faith was a journey, a progression. He was an atheist, then a seeker. He claimed to be spiritual but not religious, was churched though not converted. … He became a type we are familiar with today. He was a man turned to God but skeptical of churches, eager for spiritual experience but suspicious of religious systems. He once said that if he could find a church that had as its only creed “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,” he would happily join.
He was no longer the village atheist. He had begun to believe, though he was not quite an orthodox Christian. He was a seeker without certainty, a pilgrim not yet fully home.
Louisiana public school principal Shelby Ainsworth says it’s time to really drill Christianity into kids’ brains:
I still feel strongly that America is a Christian nation. I want our high school youngsters exposed to as much as that as possible.
To which Hemant Mehta adds:
How’s that for an introductory message for students? Welcome back to school, kids! Not so fast, Jews…
An advice columnist in the Asheville Citizen Times tells an atheist who can’t seem to leave his fundamentalist church to let it go:
I think you should take a break from your church because I think it’s triggering you. Or stay, and then, the next time everyone else is praying, you contemplate why exactly it is that you’re still there. And if the fullness of that reason comes to you, I want you to cry just as hard as you need to.
I think that last sentence applies to us all.
Quote of the Day
Mike Huckabee and his like say a lack of belief in God is causing all this gun violence, so in the LA Times, Phil Zuckerman (now I really want to make a portmanteau of these names…Zuckerbee! Huckerman! Zuckahuckermanbee!) applies basic math to the notion that godliness will protect us from mass shootings:
The interesting thing about this hypothesis is that it is easy to test. You’ve got an independent variable (faith in God) and a dependent variable (gun violence). The hypothesis put forth by Huckabee and other Christian moralizers comes down to this: When a given society has a higher amount of faith in God, the rate of gun violence should be correspondingly lower. Conversely, the lower the amount of faith in God, the higher the rate of gun violence.
But social science finds the exact opposite correlation.
And here’s the kicker:
People’s relationship with the divine doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with it. Huckabee’s hypothesis needs to be rejected not only because it is statistically incorrect, but because it’s also inhumane: By blaming mass shootings on a lack of God-worship, he is implicitly asserting that the many victims of gun violence, well, deserved it.
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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.