Mayor Pete addressed his approach to invoking religion on the campaign trail at last night’s debate:
The Republican party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. Now, our party doesn’t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason, which was we are committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and people with no religion.
But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.
Hemant Mehta makes an important point:
Buttigieg is just wrong to say Democrats don’t talk about religion. Like President Obama, they constantly talked about faith. They wear it on their sleeves. They just don’t bash everyone over the head with it.
At Ars Technica, Cathleen O’Grady reports on research on how to debunk misinformation without a backfire effect:
Rebutting misinformation reduces the ensuing level of science denialism, but not enough to completely counter the effect of the original exposure to misinformation. … But one thing seems clear: it could be better to turn up and debate a denialist than to stay away, a tactic that is sometimes advocated out of fear of legitimizing the denialism.
Voice of America reports on the ongoing plight of Mauritanian blogger Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mkhaitir, arrested in 2013 for blasphemy (for a piece decrying the use of religion to justify racism). In 2017 a court commuted Mkhaitir’s sentence, making him a free man on paper, yet he remains in detention in, you guessed it, “an undisclosed location.”
At the CFI blog, Julia Verbanic writes about her work in preserving issues of The Truth Seeker for CFI Libraries, and the questions this work has raised about the preservation as an institutional responsibility:
Libraries have become much more than their physical location, and although they still have rows of bookshelves and large writing desks, they also expand out into the community and throughout the world. By preserving, digitizing, and providing access to information held in the collections, librarians are able to aid researchers, promote information literacy, and engage in conversations about the relevance of items and information in their libraries.
Point of Inquiry co-host Kavin Senapathy writes at Undark about how a dust-up with Monsanto gave her some “aerial clarity” about the conflict between GMO realists and the anti-GMO zealots:
It’s impossible to have a constructive conversation about GMOs without acknowledging that underlying the unscientific claims made by many GMO opponents is a legitimate desire for trustworthy behavior from the companies that dominate the agricultural marketplace. … The entities that push unscientific, fear-based narratives about GMOs will never be defeated if the powers that be neglect to sincerely tackle the people’s underlying mistrust.
Kevin Dickinson at Big Think looks at the history of Satanism as a term and a belief system, including the 1960s-born Church of Satan (as well as a mention of a 2007 DJ Grothe-era episode of Point of Inquiry with “High Priest” Peter Gilmore):
Followers believe that all gods are fictitious and that ultimate importance is found in the self and pursuing self-interests. Like other gods, Satan is not a deity to venerate. He is instead a metaphor for the ultimate adversary of irrationality and religious beliefs. (The name “Satan” comes from the Hebrew for “one who opposes.”)
Kelsey Dallas at Deseret News examines how the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has reshaped the debate over civil rights and religious freedom:
Legal experts don’t agree on whether the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of religious objectors was right, but most acknowledge that it harmed religious freedom’s reputation among liberals by allowing it to overrule other important protections. The case helped turn what was once nearly universally considered a human right into something a growing group of Americans want to limit. …
… More broadly, the Hobby Lobby ruling created a fork in the road of religious freedom litigation. It opened the door to more — and some would say bolder — religious freedom claims, while also inspiring some civil rights activists to begin opposing strong religious freedom protections.
Maybe churches shouldn’t run hospitals. As ProPublica reports, a Methodist “nonprofit” hospital in Memphis pays essentially no taxes, but aggressively sues patients for medical bill payments and garnishes their wages. Like Jesus would have done. “Methodist’s aggressive collection practices stand out in a city where nearly 1 in 4 residents live below the poverty line.”
Massachusetts is looking at becoming one of the states with the brains to ditch its religious exemptions to vaccinations. Let us cheer them on.
NASA plans to send a lander to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and maybe where Thanos lives. Ars Technica reports:
It is expected to launch in 2026, aboard an unspecified rocket, before reaching Titan in 2034. … A radioisotope thermoelectric generator will recharge a battery, which in turn will power Dragonfly’s rotorcraft flight system for a couple dozen flights across the surface of Titan during a period of 2.5 years. Over that time, Dragonfly will cover about 180km, a sizable chunk of a moon that is 5,149km in diameter—about 1.5 times the size of Earth’s Moon.
A recommendation from the Palm Beach Post‘s Joe Capozzi on the Bigfoot-adjacent Skunk Ape:
A skeptical attitude only spoils the fun of a mystery that has endured since the creature’s earliest reported sightings by the Miccosukee and Seminole Indians. So, just be a believer, or at least pretend to be, and traipse off into the tall sawgrass beyond the Trail Lakes Campground, one of many skunk ape hot spots in Big Cypress. Don’t forget your lima beans — skunk apes supposedly love lima beans.
Respectfully, no thank you.
Headline of the Day, from Business Insider: “The heat wave in Europe is so intense that a weather map of France looks like a screaming heat skull of death.” That’s goddamned poetry right there.
Quote of the Day
You know it has to be self-help guru and (sigh) presidential candidate Marianne Williamson at last night’s debate, as she, I think, attempted to cast a magic spell on President Trump. Or perform an exorcism. It’s not clear:
I’m sorry we haven’t talked more tonight about how we’re going to beat Donald Trump. I have an idea about Donald Trump: Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just by somebody who has plans. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what the man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes.
So, Mr. President — if you’re listening — I want you to hear me please: You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.
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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.