Strategically Placed Seals

April 18, 2017

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

On climate change, Bill McKibben goes after the real enemy: Justin Trudeau. Wait. What?

Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. ... But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.  

So in a world where Trudeau is the villain, I guess Alex Jones is actually a sweet, caring man? Yes, says his lawyer in his custody battle:

Attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in “Batman.” “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.” 

The Rapidian highlights CFI–Michigan's coming participation in the Lansing March for Science this Saturday. 

Stephanie Russell-Kraft at TNR explains how Gorsuch's stance on the Trinity Lutheran case before SCOTUS could pave the way for a broad legal assault on states' Blaine amendments including the public funding of religious schools.

Steven A. Cook at Foreign Policy says Recep Tayyip Erdogan's narrow referendum win in Turkey spells the official end of the Turkish Republic.

Looks like at least some powerful people in Pakistan are freaked out by the mob-killing of atheist student Marshal Khan, with senators considering legislation to curb false blasphemy accusations and vigilantism.  

Aatish Taseer at NYT looks on in horror at the rise in Hindu violence against Muslims in India as Narendra Modi champions Hindu nationalism. 

Stuart Vyse looks at the tricky problem of avoiding unintended consequences such as, for example, global financial meltdowns and post-invasion quagmires. For one thing, "decision-makers have to want to make better decisions," looking beyond quick fixes and immediate gains.  

The winner of the 2016 election? Racism, apparently

Is Steve Bannon on the outs? Who can say. Hugh Urban tries to explain the theology that drives him:

Bannon describes this Good versus Evil struggle in both religious and economic terms. He clearly identifies the former with a particular brand of capitalism—namely, an “enlightened” form of “Judeo-Christian” capitalism that is both the foundation and the primary driver of Western civilization.  

Gary D. Bouma at The Conversation looks at the muddying of religious categories in Australia, as secular-vs.-religious no longer suffices to describe the nuances of beliefs.

The religious conservative version of religious freedom includes, apparently, the freedom to harass and berate at a same-sex couple to whom you are issuing a marriage license.

The Democrats' candidate to run against ultra-far-right Steve King is Kim Weaver, who used to be an Internet psychic. My first response to this was "OH COME ON (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻" but then I thought, well, if the folks in this district will vote for Steve King, anything's possible.

Nick Hytrek at the Sioux City Journal profiles brothers Barry Webster Sr. and Derek Webster, Bigfoot researchers who are certain the beast exists:

"I've probably seen him over a hundred times. My brother, too," Barry Webster said. "We have unveiled and uncovered the truth."

It should be noted, no evidence is given of this truth-unveiling. But they have seen footprints, so...

Nessie might be dead, y'all. NESSIE MIGHT BE DEAD. (By the way, this article has a great caption for one of its photos: "Convincing photo of Nessie, or strategically placed seals?")

Quote of the Day:

Melissa Rogers, former head of Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, says we shouldn't ask Trump to take part in all the ceremonial religious behavior as his predecessors, as doing so would create an "informal religious test for public office." She also writes:

Some are using the term “secular” as a slur. We should not go down that path. Just as an officeholder is not necessarily a good leader simply because he or she is personally religious, an officeholder is not necessarily a bad leader because he or she is not religious or does not practice his or her faith in conventional ways. Let’s not create tests that would deprive us of the leadership of a future Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln.

Well, there are no Jeffersons or Lincolns in the White House right now, but I take her point. 
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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Sunday April 23, 2017 at 4:00pm

Trudeau IS a villain. As to Alex Jones’ demeanor as a father, neither you nor I are in a position to condemn him at this stage.

If there is harm, it must be proven.  Separating a parent from their children based on politics is a dangerous road.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Sunday April 23, 2017 at 4:05pm

“The winner of the 2016 election? Racism, apparently.”

After what they did to PewDiePie and YouTube, we’re long past the date when WaPo could be trusted to identify racism or any other -ism.

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