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Secularism Police!

June 18, 2019

Roni Caryn Rabin at the New York Times reports on the intense opposition to vaccines that state legislatures are dealing with. An example from Oregon:

“It was pretty bloody,” said state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Democrat representing Portland. “I must have gotten a couple thousand emails and phone calls. We stopped answering the phone, basically.”

Protesters “called us Nazis and wore yellow stars of David to show they were being persecuted by Nazis,” Mr. Greenlick added.

Ultimately, the bill was scuttled when Republicans in the State Senate walked out of the session, and could not be coaxed back until both the vaccine bill and a gun control bill were dropped.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, anti-vaxxer parents are suing to stop the state from releasing state data on vaccination rates within schools. But why? The Connecticut Mirror reports:

The state Department of Public Health, named as a defendant in the case, in May released the first school-by-school assessment of child immunization rates. The data from the 2017-18 year show 102 schools where fewer than 95 percent of kindergarten students were vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella – the threshold recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The release of the data sparked outrage among politicians and an aggressive, last-minute push to repeal the state’s religious exemption to vaccines.

Ah. That’s why.

Quebec has gone an enacted its ban on public employees wearing religious dress or symbols. This seems like a really bad idea. UPI reports:

Critics of the law say it effectively bans Muslims, Sikhs and Jewish people from holding positions of authority in the Quebecois government. Liberal member Marc Tanguay said the amendment to allow enforcement of the ban would result in a “secularism police.”

Question: who would win in a fight between the Secularism Police and the Religious Liberty Task Force? Do they team up to fight the Legion of Doom (aka the US Conference of Catholic Bishops)?

But seriously, this is a bad idea.

Courthouse News reports on the arguments to the Third Circuit court over the barring of atheists from delivering invocations before the Pennsylvania State Legislature:

“This policy [barring atheists] is intended to accommodate the spiritual needs of legislatures,” said Karl Myers, an attorney with the law firm Stradley Ronon.

U.S. Circuit Judge L. Felipe Restrepo seemed skeptical, however, of the argument.

“If someone is not a believer, this is not helping their needs,” Restrepo said.

Hehe. Zing.

A secluded, anti-gay, private Christian school in California accused local law enforcement of carrying out a “Waco-style raid” on the school after refusing to comply with California law that ties anti-discriminatory sensitivity training to private school licensing, along with reports of abusive behavior toward children, especially those identified as gay. Snopes clears it all up:

…both the [Pacific Justice Institute] press release and a state court filing obtained by BuzzFeed indicate that authorities believed firearms were present on campus, and that CHP officers were there to provide security if that were the case. The state’s filing further indicates investigators obtained a warrant because River View staff had refused to let them on to the property.

Puerto Rico was considering one of those awful anti-LGBTQ “religious liberty” bills until one superhero came to save the day: Ricky Martin. NBC News reports:

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló backed down from a “religious liberty bill” after international star Ricky Martin published an open letter Thursday slamming the legislation that would exempt government employees from serving constituents if they believe it clashes with their religious beliefs.

“As a defender of human rights and a member of the LGBTT community, I am vehemently opposed to the proposed measure imposed upon us under the guise of religious freedom,” the Puerto Rican artist wrote, that “projects us to the world as a backwards country.”

Hours after the letter was published, Rosselló asked legislators to shelve the bill, saying in a statement that “instead of reaching a consensus on a basis of mutual respect, it provokes the division of our people.”

Greece is finally nixing its blasphemy law.

Joshua Bote at USA Today introduces us to ten televangelists who “have caught flak for their actions and sermons,” including fan favorites Kenneth “Satan’s Tube” Copeland, Jim “Ozark Apocalypse” Bakker, and Robert the Quisling, né Jeffress.

Leave it to CFI’s own Jim Underdown to point out how Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter isn’t up to spec. No pitch, use of plywood and steel, and not building the thing all by himself. Busted.

In USA Today, former pastor Brian McLaren reflects on the trial of Scott Warren, the man on trial for helping migrants in danger as they come into the U.S., focusing on the parable of the Good Samaritan. He looks at the Christian’s right ugly history of fighting for the wrong things:

At the height of lynching in the early 20th century, for example, most white American Christians were in an uproar — not about lynchings, but about the Scopes Monkey Trials and the teaching of evolution in public schools. When Native Americans were being forced on death marches and herded into death camps in the early 19th century, many white Christians began organizing … to make alcohol illegal. Across generations spanning four centuries, white American Christians have organized on opposite sides of almost every issue of religious liberty and conscience — from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration to Muslim bans to giving a cup of water in Christ’s name.

The Vatican says, okay, I guess old married dudes could also be priests sometimes. NYT:

The proposal would respond to the dearth of priests in the region by ordaining “viri probati,” or men of proven character, as they are known in Latin. It is the kind of exception to the celibacy requirement that church experts say — and church traditionalists worry — could be a step toward the ordination of married men in other areas of the world.

At Scientific American, Gretchen Goldman and Ploy Achakulwisut warn about the fossil fuel and tobacco industries’ attacks on the science of particulate pollution:

This series of attacks aren’t a coincidence. They are part of the same strategy serving the same purpose: weaken the evidence for, and diminish the ways we can respond to, the fact that particles kill. Long on industry’s wish list, the dismantling of the science behind particulate pollution is now high on the Trump administration’s agenda.

According to this woman in North Carolina, Bigfoots…Bigfeet…Sasquatches love candy. Who doesn’t? Also, “they love peanut brittle, chocolate, peanut butter sandwiches.” ME TOO. We are all Bigfeet. Whatever.

A one-minute cure…for everything! I’m sure it’s legit. Oh wait, Harriet Hall thinks otherwise:

When a proposed treatment is untested or inadequately tested, I generally call for controlled studies and promise to follow the evidence. But in this case, I think we already have enough evidence to conclude that it doesn’t work, can’t possibly work, and is likely to cause harm.

Beware the Devil’s Chair. More fun from Kenny Biddle’s investigations into Zak Bagans’s (Not) Haunted Museum.

Researchers are, for real, looking into how press releases about scientific studies can be made less, um, wrong, but still catch attention. I’m pretty good at the first one, the not-wrong part. It’s the second part that’s hard.

Dennis Overbye at NYT looks at the interesting and not-a-little-bit-silly world of naming exoplanets:

So we now have, among other things, a four-planet system named for Cervantes characters — Quixote, Dulcinea, Rocinante and Sancho — in Ara, a southern constellation. And a couple of planets in Ursa Major, Taphao Thong and Taphao Kaew, after characters in a Thai legend of an evil crocodile lord named Chalawan.

Quote of the Day

Trump tries to explain whether he knows anything about UFOs or aliens or whatever:

I think it’s probably, uh… I want them to think whatever they think. They do say, I mean, I’ve seen, and I’ve read, and I’ve heard, and I did have one very brief meeting on it, but people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly. …

And does Trump know if aliens actually exist?

Well I think my, our great pilots would know, and some of them really see things that are a little bit different than in the past. So we’re gonna see. But we’ll watch it and you’re gonna be the first to know.

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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.