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We Are Just a Bunch of Suckers

November 19, 2019

Snopes pushes back on secular and progressive groups who are upset about the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act, saying that the bill doesn’t explicitly say that wrong answers get a pass as along as their based on a religious belief, which is what we and many others have been warning:

What HB 164 might ultimately allow or not allow in the intersection of education and religion cannot be definitively determined until it is put into effect and applied to specific cases. As of now the bill still has to be approved by the Ohio Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes law, so any application of it will not take place unless and until those events occur.

I take his point, but I think we know how it would be applied.

Lots of new stuff in the core of the skeptosphere, Skeptical Inquirer:

Ryan Burge has a really interesting piece at RNS analyzing the social media activity of various religious/nonreligious groups. And get this, it’s not the young folks who are most active:

By and large, the people who are clogging up your newsfeed with political stories are some of the oldest Americans, although which older Americans are most active can depend on their religious tradition.

Now get THIS:

Mormons follow a distinct pattern of their own. Social media use is basically flat across the middle of the age spectrum, but the oldest Mormons are extremely active on the internet, engaging in nearly three out of five of the listed activities. The only other group that competes with the oldest Mormons’ social media usage are the oldest atheists, who engage in three of the listed activities; agnostics are not far behind.

That’s right. Old atheists are some of biggest social media noisemakers. Sounds about right to me, a borderline-old atheist. (Is 41 old? I think 41 might be almost-old.)

At Slate, Jed Shugerman evaluates Attorney General Bill Barr’s machinations:

… as a politician in a political struggle, he sought to rally a gathering of his allies around their shared partisan mythology, or victimology. He is a criminal suspect, Trump’s fixer and enforcer, cloaking himself as both savior and martyr. Even though he probably sincerely believes in this Manichean culture war, he seems to have chosen the time, place, and vituperative manner to provoke an attack from “the Resistance” and “secularists” on his religio-political ideas. He is not only trying to distract. He also setting a trap to shift the debate from his alleged criminal involvement to his culture war terms.

Ross Douthat, writing from his Persecution Fantasy Dome built for him at the New York Times‘ offices, sort of defends Barr:

The hostility of elite cultural institutions to traditional Christianity is an enduring fact of American life. Barr’s account of liberal-led legal harassment of conservative religious institutions is accurate. The connection he draws between the weakening of religious practice and the working class’s social crisis is contestable but entirely plausible.

Have a good nap, Ross.

Sarah Stephan at Rewire.News notes the importance of the recent federal court ruling that blocked Trump’s HHS “conscience rule”:

Ultimately, Engelmayer’s opinion sees through what appears to be politically motivated and wholly unnecessary rulemaking. … It then goes on to strike down that rule for several reasons, chief among them the extensive burden it would place on health-care employers to shield their employees from potentially assisting in abortion and sterilization care. …

Exaggerating the need for religious accommodations in a health-care workplace is not simply redundant. It puts patient care at risk; limits employers from simply asking what objections a potential employee may have to allow for adequate hiring and staffing; and excuses employees ancillary to patient care—such as receptionists scheduling appointments—from performing basic duties should they find a religious objection to the patient’s care.

The ACLU is stepping into a Tennessee case where a public school is pushing Christianity on kids. WTVF reports:

The families’ accounts span several school years and include things like school-directed prayer during mandatory assemblies, the distribution and display of Bibles during classes, Bible verses posted in hallways and shared in notes from school staff to students, prayers broadcast through loudspeakers at school sporting events, coaches leading or participating in prayer with student athletes, and a large cross painted on the wall of a school athletic facility.

In Vancouver, a mother is suing her kid’s elementary school when her daughter wanted to leave the classroom during the demonstration of a “smudging ceremony,” an Indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth tradition. Since it didn’t jibe with the kid’s beliefs, she wanted out. CTV reports the family’s lawyer said, “We believe that the government cannot compel citizens to participate in supernatural or religious ceremonies. That’s the law.” The tribal president, however, said there were no prayers, and it was “just a demonstration.”

Quebec’s teachers union is suing the province over the ban on religious headwear and symbols for public employees:

“We want the court to declare that the rights of our members were violated by this government; the right to freedom of religion, of course, but also the right to equality, because the vast majority — if not the totality — of the people who will be impacted are women,” Bourget told The Associated Press. In Quebec, 75 percent of teachers are women, he said.

The Church of Canada, meanwhile, is dying. In 1961 it had 1.3 million members. In 2017 it had about 350,000.

Nicole Wetsman at Popular Science reports on a study looking at the impetus and impact of recent pro-vaccination bills:

Proposals for pro-vaccine legislation aren’t a magic bullet to prevent outbreaks—especially since they’re only happening after people are already sick. “It takes disease for action to occur,” [study author Neal] Goldstein says. In addition, just because legislation is proposed does not mean it will actually make it into law. But reducing vaccine exemptions is an important way to improve vaccination rates, he says, so it’s still best to understand how and why laws around those exemptions are put in place.

A measles outbreak in Samoa has infected over 1100 people and killed at least 16. NYT reports:

The epidemic has come as the immunization rate against measles has plummeted in Samoa in the years since a medical mistake led to the deaths of two infants and spurred widespread mistrust of vaccinations. In those cases, nurses mistakenly administered a vaccine mixed with an anaesthetic. … A number of measles cases in Samoa have been linked to New Zealand, the country’s former colonial power, which has been struggling with its own outbreak.

At RNS, Sumit Ganguly explains why Hindu nationalists in India are so keen for the government to usurp the site of a 16th-century mosque in Uttar Pradesh:

The court case had been lodged after a mob of Hindu zealots attacked and destroyed the Babri Mosque on Dec. 16, 1992. They believed that the mosque had been constructed on the ruins of a Hindu temple during the reign of Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India in the 16th century. Hundreds were killed in a spate of riots that followed the demolition of the mosque.

The court ruled on Nov. 8 that the 2.77-acre site of the mosque should be handed over to the government, which could then form a trust to build a Hindu temple on that site. Simultaneously, it granted five acres of land in another part of the town for the construction of a mosque. …

… This controversial ruling is considered a win for Prime Minister Modi and his party, which has come to be associated with rise in Hindu nationalism. As a political scientist, I believe the question now is whether India will remain committed to secularism, which is enshrined in its Constitution.

Chik-fil-A says, fine, we won’t give charitable donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Mike Huckabee, who for some reason is considered relevant, says this means the fast food chain has “surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups.” I will test this by marching into a Chik-fil-A, emblazoned with CFI logos, and DEMAND they give me FREE NUGGETS or ELSE. (Please? Because they are delicious.)

Pat Robertson has deciphered the Transgender Conspiracy:

The devil has found a new way to keep people from bearing young in the image of God. To think that these people will then be neutered, they will not be able to be married, to have successful families, they won’t have children to look after them in their old age. I mean, they are throwing away their whole future on this nonsense that comes about in this politically correct environment. … God says ‘be fruitful and multiply and subdue the Earth and possess it.’ Be fruitful and multiply. But the devil says, ‘Oh no, you are creating boys and girls, young babies in the image of God and we won’t permit that.’ So we are just a bunch of suckers buying into a lie.

Yes. We are a bunch of suckers.

Pope Francis said this:

With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies, today these actions are typical (and) represent ‘par excellence’ a culture of waste and hate. That is what was done in those days and today it is happening again. … Today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn. Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?

He then went on to continue presiding over his gold-plated theocratic global empire that decrees that all who don’t believe as he does and fail to heed its sexual prohibitions will excrutiatingly suffer in hellfire for all eternity because they deserve it. Just don’t persecute them now, is the thing. Let God do it later. (Which is better than nothing, I guess.)

Irish Central traces the roots of a 30,000-member cult, the Fellowship of Isis, to the basement of a castle in Carlow, Ireland:

Huntington Castle, believed to be haunted, was the perfect headquarters for the fellowship. Built as a military garrison, in 1625, on the site of a 14th-century abbey. It became the seat of the Esmonde family, ancestors of the Robertsons.

The castle … attracted what [high priestess Olivia Durdin] Roberston called “ordinary Irish psychics”. As the castle’s upstairs filled up Robertson and her brother built an underground temple in the dungeons, including 12 shrines (dedicated to the signs of the zodiac), and five chapels (each dedicated to a different goddess).

The siblings performed elaborate rituals. Lawrence would wear blue robes, with a crook and tall blue hat. She wore a pink, glittering golden or multicoloured gowns, with her mane of hair dyed black, topped with a brass coronet. She would also carry a sacred “sistrum” (a rattle made of small cymbals set in a wooden frame).

Carl Feagans at Archaeology Review bemoans a paper by former U.S. Army officer Michael Jaye, published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, that defends the idea of a global flood and Atlantis. “It’s nearly completely based on pseudoscience.” You don’t say.

Prepare to be sad: This is the kind of stuff about 600 people went to hear about at a flat-Earther conference in Dallas, according to CNN:

The event’s schedule resembled any corporate conference, with some fairly noticeable twists. Speakers gave presentations including “Space is Fake” and “Testing The Moon: A Globe Lie Perspective.”

And then there’s this guy, Robbie Davidson, who founded this conference:

For Davidson, a born-again Christian, the most logical explanation for the conspiracy of the millennium goes like this: “Let’s just say there is an adversary, there is a devil, there is a Satan. His whole job would be to try to convince the world that God doesn’t exist. He’s done an incredible job convincing people with the idea that we’re just on a random speck in an infinite universe.”

The reality, says Davidson, is that the flat Earth, sun, moon and stars are contained in a “Truman Show”-like dome. From there, pitfalls can be easily dismissed — like photos of the Earth from space, which flat Earthers believe are photoshopped. “This all goes away if they put a 24/7 camera feed on the moon,” he adds.

I swear I sometimes don’t know why we bother.

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.