Immoral or Scandalous

June 25, 2019

Behold HowdyCon, a conference for opponents of Scientology, which was hosted by our own Center for Inquiry West in Los Angeles. Hollywood Reporter was there to report on the event which included former Scientologists and a guy from Anonymous who goes by the name Failboat. Quite a joint you’re running over there, Underdown.

The Supreme Court says the federal law banning “immoral or scandalous” trademark registrations is unconstitutional, which is a win for the clothing designer Erik Brunetti who sought to trademark his brand “FUCT,” which is pronounced the way you think it is. I await the case in which we test the constitutionality of trademarks that give one the vapors.

The Hill reports on how the Christian right is all set to spend fifty-gazillion dollars (approx.) into efforts to reelect Trump:

The Faith and Freedom Coalition will spend tens of millions of dollars on a voter mobilization effort that aims to register 1 million Christians in key battleground states and reach 30 million people nationwide. [It will] will pump literature into more than 100,000 churches across 18 states, primarily focusing on the presidential battlegrounds but also with an eye on contested House and Senate races.

The Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, an anti-abortion rights group, has a budget of $41 million this campaign cycle to “expose the extremism of Trump’s opponents,” among other initiatives. … And the Family Research Council’s political action arm is activating its network of churches and community impact teams in North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas to turn out the vote.

He of the many T-shirts, the great Herb Silverman, is asked by Canadian Atheist about who he thinks has done the most for the secular community as a writer, and his answer is Richard Dawkins:

Richard Dawkins has been called arrogant because he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and because he criticizes religion, just as people criticize politics or choice of cuisine. In The God Delusion, Dawkins says that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist. He does not make the categorical statement that no gods exist, just that he finds no evidence for existence. You are not likely to hear clergy say that God probably exists. So who is more arrogant?

I’ve always found Richard Dawkins to be a delightful and generous person.

Frederick Clarkson at Rewire.News recounts how members of Minnesota’s Legislative Prayer Caucus (you’re already throwing up in your mouth a little, I bet) used a threat to pull funding for the Minnesota Historical Society if it didn’t nix an event with law professor Steven K. Green, author of Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding. And this all ties back to Project Blitz and Christian nationalism:

The Christian nationalist appeal is to, what historian Frank Lambert calls, a “usable past” that justifies the politics of the present. It suggests a transcendent purpose mandated by God and ordered by the Founding Fathers. As inspiring an idea as this may be for some, it is necessary for the Dominionist argument. After all, if the country weren’t intended by God and the Founding Fathers to be a Christian Nation, then how do they justify a theocratic agenda?

Trump’s Agriculture Department is trying to stop anyone from knowing about the work of its own scientists that show how many thing will go straight to hell because of rising carbon dioxide. Politico POLITICO reports:

The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.

BBC News Arabic and Arab Barometer release the results of a big survey that shows, rather startlingly, a drop in religiosity in the Arab world:

Since 2013, the number of people across the region identifying as “not religious” has risen from 8% to 13%. The rise is greatest in the under 30s, among whom 18% identify as not religious, according to the research. Only Yemen saw a fall in the category.

Don’t get too excited. There’s still a lot of broad opposition to homosexuality and an uncomfortable level of support for honor killings.

Did you know that Istanbul just elected a new mayor, and that he’s a secularist? That’s a big deal. Meet Ekrem İmamoğlu, who Bethan McKernan calls “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s most high profile challenger in years and the unexpected new hope for Turkish democracy.”

Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty writes in hopes that last week’s awful Bladensburg cross decision is cordoned off in terms of precedent—its own little special snowflake of a ruling:

The court … avoided sweeping arguments that the cross lacked religious content and had become a universal symbol of sacrifice. Thankfully, the court rejected this offensive argument by acknowledging the obvious — that the cross is a Christian symbol, albeit one in its view that had taken on additional meaning in this specific instance.

One month after hosting Mike Pence as a commencement speaker, Taylor University President Paul Lowell Haines has resigned. No one has said that the Pence thing is why he resigned, buuuuut…

The anti-vaxxers are coming for your pets. Not kidding:

Daniella Dos Santos, BVA Junior Vice President, said not only does veterinary medicine risk a crisis similar in scale to bogus MMR scare, but increasing numbers of dog owners believe in a link between animal vaccines and canine autism, a condition which has never been proved to exist.

Canine. Autism. We don’t deserve dogs.

Quote of the Day explores the religious beliefs, and lack thereof, of Abraham Lincoln, and how he sort of went through what I would call his Reddit Atheism phase:

“He would actually be aggressive on the subject of unbelief,” [historian Allen] Guelzo says. “More than one observer who knew him from those days said that Lincoln could shock people.” For example, he might say the Bible was just an ordinary book, or that Jesus Christ was an illegitimate child. “By the time he moves into his late 20s, early 30s, he has started to temper that because he realizes that doesn’t get him very far politically.”

Oh, Abe, we’ve all been there.

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