The New York Times profiles what they call a “shadow diplomat” for the White House, Trump’s Bible teacher who runs Bible study sessions for the most powerful people in Washington (and around the world), Ralph Drollinger. Dig this:
Drollinger, 65, is around seven feet tall.
HOLY CRAP. Okay, for someone like me who’s 5-foot-5, that’s terrifying. Here’s something more universally scary:
The Drollingers are careful to distinguish between their teachings and their politics, but one often bears on the other, on issues like marriage (men lead, women submit), homosexuality (“an abomination” and “illegitimate in God’s eyes”), abortion (a slippery slope to infanticide), climate change (a radical belief promoted by “secular fad theorists”) and family separation at the Southern border (an appropriate punishment for “illegal immigrants”). To Drollinger, the Bible is more than the literal word of God. It is the only defensible basis for any rational thought. The text, under the doctrine of inerrancy, is factually perfect and not open to multiple interpretations. It has one definite meaning that will offer itself up to diligent students.
Former North Carolina senator Kay Hagan has died. Her significance to American secularism is that she was targeted by then-incumbent senator Elizabeth Dole in 2008 for daring to associate with atheists (Hagan won anyway). This is the thing that was the last straw for me that spurred me into secular activism to begin with.
Some people seem to think that allowing Christian adoption agencies that get federal funds should be allowed to discriminate against would-be parents because JESUS. We disagree, you know, strongly, and that’s why we’re part of an amicus brief for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit headed up by American Atheists:
In May, a district court rejected an attempt by New Hope Family Services, a Christian adoption agency, to receive a religious exemption from New York State’s non-discrimination laws and permit them to discriminate against same-sex couples. The agency’s argument, if accepted by the courts, could be used to justify the exclusion of atheists, humanists, and other members of the non-religious community from the adoption process in many parts of the country.
That’s not gonna fly.
What might fly: An alien spaceship from a secret base under a mountain in Capilla Del Monte, Argentina. Vice reports:
[Our mountain guide] tells me the mystics believe that ERKS, this mysterious subterranean city – or rather, a sort of galactic base – is located hundreds or even thousands of metres under the mountains of Uritorco, Los Terrones and El Pajarillo. There, apparently, reside aliens from another dimension – or even from the future, according to some – on a mission to teach humankind what they know. The mountains above it are said to act as “energy portals”, opening the veil between the two worlds and letting through positive vibrations, supposedly attracting mediums, shamans and healers to the area.
Vice loves them UFOs! Because they also report that the files of the late UFO researcher Stanton T. Friedman are being catalogued, but, um, it’s all a mess:
Archivists caution that it could take up to 10 years to comb through and catalog everything. … Having located numerous previously unknown government documents on UFOs, Friedman was known for being quite a researcher. However, according to Kerr, the most daunting aspect of archiving the records comes from the fact Friedman never organized his files whatsoever.
A Catholic church in South Carolina reportedly denied communion to Joe Biden (because abortion of course), though the Biden campaign hasn’t confirmed that this happened.
Ross Douthat, ever-twisting, says the decline of Christianity in America isn’t really a decline when you look at it from a very uncomfortable and awkward angle: It’s a decline in “lukewarm” Christianity and a “crisis” for Catholicism, not Protestantism.
I was impressed that the Christian Post was doing a series on folks who have left Christianity, and then they go and run a piece titled “The transgender cult stole my daughter,” and it’s like, well, never mind.
The Satanic Temple was going to hold religious services at the U.S. Naval Academy. And then the academy found out. Rewire.News reports:
[W]hile the USNA planned to approve a study group, they did not approve any “Satanic Services.” … [But] on what basis would they deny TST members their right to perform their religion’s rites? After all, the U.S. Navy permitted a Heathen religious service rooted in Norse paganism to be carried out aboard an aircraft carrier. And the U.S. Navy’s Faith and Belief Codes list other religions that are either polytheistic or non-theistic. The website Task & Purpose aptly summarized the issue: “The [USNA] has a message for the burgeoning satanists in its ranks: you can study Satan as a midshipman, but you sure as hell can’t hail him.”
The Phoenix of Sarah Lawrence College tells of reports of campus hauntings:
Perhaps serving as evidence to the Westlands hauntings, lights reportedly flicker, and it is also rumored that one Westlands resident goes insane every year.
Wow, that could never happen under normal circumstances. It can only mean ghosts.
Health-care focused outlet Advisory Board does an explainer on homeopathy and cites CFI’s survey on consumer attitudes toward homeopathy and the retailers that sell it.
A supplement called Lipo-Flavonoid purports to treat tinnitus, and Harriet Hall, ahem, quiets the noise. I can make jokes because I have had rather severe tinnitus for like 25 years and HAHAHAHA it’s so funny.
Dr. Saira Khan tells KDKA in Pittsburgh to be wary of products containing human growth hormone, because there’s been no reliable testing for benefits and there’s a lot that could go wrong.
Humans? Meet your mothers. The BBC reports:
Scientists have pinpointed the homeland of all humans alive today to a region south of the Zambezi River.
The area is now dominated by salt pans, but was once home to an enormous lake, which may have been our ancestral heartland 200,000 years ago. …
… The first migrants ventured north-east, followed by a second wave of migrants who travelled south-west and a third population remained in the homeland until today.
This scenario is based on tracing back the human family tree using hundreds of samples of mitochondrial DNA (the scrap of DNA that passes down the maternal line from mother to child) from living Africans.
Science, however, reports on some skepticism about this claim:
“I’m persuaded that southern Africa was an important area for human evolution,” says population geneticist Aylwyn Scally of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom who was not involved with the work. But, he says, studies of living people’s DNA can’t reveal the precise location of our ancestors. “It would be astonishing if all our genetic ancestry at this time arose in one small homeland.” …
… But mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] alone in living people is a poor tool for tracking ancient population history in Africa, says evolutionary geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania. MtDNA traces only one genetic lineage passed from mothers to their children over time. If the researchers had traced the evolution of Y chromosomes inherited from fathers or of any nuclear genes inherited from both parents, they might have gotten many different answers, Scally adds.
Beth Mole at Ars Technica says it’s not poisoned candy you need to be afraid of on Halloween, it’s your kid being hit by a car. Happy Halloween!
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.