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Horrible Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

May 3, 2019

Trump announces new “conscience rules” for health care providers which, as you have probably already guessed, lets health workers and institutions refuse services and patients because of whatever it is they imagine Jesus doesn’t approve of. It’s blatantly awful. We said so:

“When a patient visits a health care facility, the primary concern should be the welfare of that patient,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. ”This rule subordinates that basic right to the religious whims of the hospital staff, from nurses and doctors to receptionists and directors. Patients’ suffering becomes a concern that is secondary to the religious feelings of anyone in the health care system with whom they happen to come in contact. This so-called ‘conscience rule’ is anything but.”

Yeah, I’m about ready to give up. Despite all efforts to muster the forces of reality, the Maine state senate rejects, by one vote, an amendment removing religious exemptions from vaccination requirements. Bangor Daily News reports:

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, said, “I can’t believe we’re here” when discussing the amendment that preserved the religious exemption.

Me either, bro.

The Portland Press Herald reports on what one of the anti-vax Democrats said, Sen. David Miramant:

I’ve had many contacts with people who would leave this state because there are plenty of places you can go that will honor your philosophical or religious exemptions.

Yes? So? Off they go, then. Go infect someone else.

The shine is coming off of Mayor Pete, it seems. First, it seemed like Buttigieg was gently testing the anti-vaxx waters (waters that are totally infested with all manner of microbial infections). Daniel Engber at Slate, however, comes to his defense:

Buttigieg’s main mistake, I guess, was to say (before recanting) that he supports the provision of religious and personal exemptions to statewide vaccination rules for putting kids in school.

Yes, that is, in fact, a big goddamned mistake.

It’s still bizarre that so many framed Buttigieg’s original, uncorrected take on vaccinations—that both religious and personal exemptions might be permitted as a rule, and then revoked in case of an emergency—as outlandish, anti-science, or absurd. On the contrary, it’s not so crazy to suggest that vaccination regulations (whatever they may be) could be tightened, on the fly, in response to sudden, local outbreaks of disease. That’s more or less how the laws are presently administered!

Yes! And that’s not good! That’s why there are measles outbreaks!!! WHY DO WE EVEN BOTHER???

Kate Cohen writes in the Washington Post that Buttigieg needs to stop equating morality with religion:

Here’s the thing: People bring their morality to their religious texts; they don’t get their morality from them. After all, how does Buttigieg decide what’s important in the Bible and what should be ignored, underplayed or dismissed as vestiges from another era? What does he measure each message against? His own innate sense of morality.

The Equality Act passes out of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, but even if it gets through the House and Senate, the bill will of course die on the desk of the president. But hey! It passed that committee. So that’s something.

Also something, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the House intervening in the Detroit case in which a federal judge said you can’t ban female genital mutilation, and the Justice Department decided not to even try to do anything about it.

Tara Isabella Burton at RNS (who is just churning out interesting stuff lately) looks at how millennials’ redefinitions of religion coincide with their reworking of traditional relationships:

These alternative relationship models — including kink and ethical nonmonogamy — offer more than sexual fulfillment. Adherents gain a wider sense of identity, beyond the cultural expectations of “marriage, house, kids,” which they work out through personalized rituals. As it becomes easier and more acceptable to discuss their habits on the internet, kink increasingly offers members a community that at times borders on the utopian. …

… In this, as in other matters, the millennials appear to be actively creating a new ethic of rebuilding every institution from the ground up. Sexual freedom, for many of these participants, is an ideological responsibility, a political stance and a spiritual imperative. Creating bespoke religious traditions as they are, it makes sense that they would create bespoke relationship models.

At the New York Times, Rick Rojas looks at how the Catholic Church keeps attracting new converts despite the fact that, you know, it’s enabled and covered up generations of the sexual abuse of children on a scale that shocks even the most morbid conscience. But whatever.

At the Washington Post, Alex Barasch looks at how the misrepresentations of Olympic runner Caster Semenya‘s sex and gender tell a larger tale of intolerance and ignorance:

Women who don’t conform to gendered expectations are being hounded out of bathrooms and other public spaces, just as athletes like Semenya and Indian sprinter Dutee Chand are being pushed out of arenas in which they have every right to compete — all in the defense of an increasingly narrow conception of womanhood.

Semenya has become a proxy for transphobic animus, but her treatment also reflects a long history of racism and misogyny. Black women from Serena Williams to Michelle Obama have had their gender presentation (and, indeed, their gender) questioned. … And where white male athletes are celebrated for the biological flukes that make them exceptional (Michael Phelps’s preternaturally low lactic acid production and joint hyperextension are treated as assets), Semenya’s hyperandrogenism is seen as something to be corrected at all costs.

At Malta Today, Laura Calleja reports on the new Humanist Chaplaincy founded by the Malta Humanist Society. MHS member Christian Colombo describes it this way:

The Humanist Chaplaincy is set up with that principle in mind, to provide an ear to anyone needing support… State institutions such as hospitals and prisons, outsource their pastoral care and support solely to the Catholic Church. But people have the right when seeking support, to speak to someone who shares their world view.

Pastor Carl Johnson of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania admitted to his flock that he hoped that the Notre Dame fire had been set by Muslims so the French would be provoked into driving Muslims out of their country. He later explained his thinking to Peter Smith:

The intended point of my sermon was that I need Jesus, I need Jesus to forgive me for horrible thoughts, words and deeds. Jesus teaches me to repay evil with good. The world teaches violence against our enemies. My confession was meant to say that only through Christ do I have any chance of getting it right.

Leaders of religious and secular humanist congregations cosign a statement in the Chattanooga Times Free Press condemning violence, fundamentalism, and white supremacy, and affirming “that we as humans are equally created in the image of the Divine, and that supremacy belongs only to the Divine, not to any ideological perspective, racial or ethnic group.”

Say, you know how Victorian-era nonreligious Britons wrestled with questions of morality? Of course you don’t, unless you’re, like, Jennifer Michael Hecht or something. Good thing Patrick John Corbeil has a paper on that very subject in the journal Secularism & Nonreligion.

For the love of crap, people, don’t eat the goddamned placenta. Listen to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada:

“The scientific research shows that there is both potential and documented harm associated with the consumption of human placenta.”

The harm includes the potential for contamination with harmful bacteria, viruses, or fungi due to improper handling and sterilization of the placenta, the SOGC explained.

Headline of the day, from Business Insider: “Cocaine has been found in some European shrimp, and it’s part of a disturbing trend of drug-filled shellfish.” I don’t know that it’s “disturbing” so much as it is “really exciting.”

The super-mega-ultra detectors of LIGO, that which confirmed gravitational waves, may have detected a neutron star merging with a black hole. Unclear if it is more likely to be realized than the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca for as long as many of you have been on this planet, died on April 30 at age 74.

Quote of the Day

This is a fairly amusing letter to the editor of the Duluth News Tribune by one Ray Allard regarding the mindset of the anti-abortion crowd:

In the November-December 2016 issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Richard Saunders, in an article on pages 47 and 48, reported on a documentary about James Randi, who was testing a group of dowsers, people who superstitiously believe they can detect underground water with a dowsing stick. “The end result showed clearly that all the dowsers had failed,” Saunders wrote. When debunker Randi asked the dowsers for a show of hands of those who still believed in dowsing, all hands shot up. Saunders concluded by declaring it “one of the best examples of how humans believe things and keep believing no matter what.”

All this is to say that you should not expect abortion foes to read or research anything contrary to their beliefs. People believe what they want to believe.

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