In Need of Right-Sizing

February 20, 2020

Did you see the debate last night? Holy moly. It was like some blood-soaked scene out of Penny Dreadful. Anyway.

Jack Jenkins looks at the shift of mainline Protestants to the Republican Party over the years, and in one interesting bit, a lot of it has to do with the Nones, or, at least, how a lot of folks disaffiliated to become Nones:

Penny Edgell, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota, said the growth of the so-called nones — Americans who claim no religious affiliation — also plays a role. That group, which generally espouses deeply liberal views regarding same-sex marriage and abortion, includes a significant number of younger voters who have broken ties with evangelicalism and mainline Christianity, she said.

“The liberal/moderate Protestant ranks have declined as people who were ‘moderately’ religious have left altogether as religion has become more politicized and associated with the political right,” Edgell told RNS in an email.

For would-be Democratic voters who are also anti-abortion, it seems like Amy Klobuchar comes the closest to being acceptable. Elana Schor reports for the AP that Klobuchar’s moderate stances and emphasis on adoption eases the minds of some folks who would otherwise vote for Trump:

Klobuchar’s handling of the issue is “going to make her look much more moderate” and could break through with potentially persuadable Catholic voters, said Robert George, a Princeton University professor and past GOP appointee to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

But that advantage can be “undercut” by Klobuchar’s abortion-rights votes, George added, which Trump’s campaign would seek to do.

Finally, a bare majority of Americans see addressing climate change as a top national priority, according to Pew Research. Environmental protection more generally has also jumped up in importance, at 64 percent. However (you knew there was a “however,” and I bet you know what it is), the partisan gap is more like a vast chasm. 78 percent of Democrats see climate change as a priority, compared to a measly 21 percent of Republicans.

Jeff Bezos, you may have heard, is directing $10 billion of his fortune to fight climate change, which is good, but here’s what he should probably be doing, according to Sigal Samuel at Vox:

The most effective actions Bezos could take to help the climate arguably have nothing to do with charity. He could make Amazon cut its carbon emissions much more quickly and stop working with oil and gas companies that use its technology to locate new fossil fuel deposits. That may not be as eye-catching as announcing a $10 billion gift on social media, but it would be a surefire win for the environment, whereas Bezos’s donations may or may not prove effective.

Have you listened to this week’s latest Point of Inquiry podcast? Or do you just think you have? Hmm? Special guest Elizabeth Loftus delves into humans’ relatively plastic memories.

A federal appeals court says the Pensacola cross does not violate the Constitution, and it seems like they just sort of know what the Supreme Court would say about it anyway:

“Removal of the Bayview Park cross at this point — more than 75 years after its original erection and more than 50 years after its replacement with the current concrete version — could well, in the Supreme Court’s words, ‘strike many as aggressively hostile to religion,’ ” the opinion said.

The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has filed for bankruptcy. Julie Zauzmer at the Post reports:

While Pennsylvania law prevents victims of long-ago abuse from suing the alleged perpetrators, a recent appellate court decision has created a path for victims to sue their dioceses. An attorney for the Harrisburg Diocese said it has been the target of several lawsuits since that opinion, while adding he did not blame abuse victims for the diocese’s financial instability.

“The diocese was in need of right-sizing,” said the attorney, Matthew Haverstick of the Kleinbard law firm.

Right-sizing. Yes. That’s the ticket.

Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention has given the boot to the Ranchland Heights Baptist Church in Midland, Texas for keeping on the payroll a pastor who is also a registered sex offender.

Kennedy Catholic High School in Washington state fired two teachers for being in a same-sex relationship (because religious freedom!), and the kids aren’t having it. They’ve held two protests and raised $33,000 for the teachers.

Parents in Madison, Wisconsin are suing their school district because they feel like a policy that is accepting of transgender students violates their religious freedoms and parental rights. The AP reports:

The parents also argue that the policy violates the state constitution’s religious freedom guarantee.

The parents maintain they believe that God intended humans to be two sexes. The district policy interferes with their right to seek treatment for their children to stop a gender transition and hiding a student’s struggles with gender interferes with their right to guide their children in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Benjamin Radford looks into the equatorial shenanigans of a “team-building” event producer:

I’m not fluent in corporatespeak but Fetterling’s article promoted the tricks as “fun tests for attendees visiting the famous line and its Inti Nan Solar Museum to prove they are standing at the center of the Earth. Here are three that go beyond the typical sun-dial observation (that faces upward instead of horizontal on the equator) for planners to incorporate into a team building program.”

Team building activities are great and all, but should be based on truth and facts, not myths. If anything, these could badly backfire if any of the participants have a background in science or critical thinking, because it would undermine the credibility of those who endorse these myths.

Lenticular clouds gonna lenticulate, and people are going to think they’re UFOs. Check out the disc-shaped clouds by Mount Shasta.

You know the guy in Kentucky who won his court case to have IM GOD on his license plate? I Jim Underdown’s take:

Unfortunately, the case was not about whether Hart was indeed, God. That would have been a lot more fun. How does the state of Kentucky know Bennie Hart isn’t God? How could they deny him (the apostle Peter notwithstanding) the plates if that fact were established? Surely they’d have no problem with me applying for IM JIMU plates, as I am Jim U. I have standing.

Some outlet in Alaska I never heard of called Delta Discovery has a piece on how to know you’re suffering from symptoms of atheism. Oh yes! “Worry” is one. Check. “Swearing and anger.” How could you not? Check. “Stinginess” is the last. Stinginess? Well, times are hard.

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