March 16, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Big day in politics, as Trump and Clinton dominate yesterday's primaries, Kasich ekes out a win in Ohio, and the president is set to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court this morning.
Laura Turner at Politico says John Kasich's devout Christian faith may actually be hurting him in the GOP primary race, because it "appears to drive his politically moderate stances on immigration, climate change and gay marriage," which of course don't play well these days.
Trump, meanwhile, is all palsy-walsy with prosperity gospel types. But Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention says, "Any definition [of evangelical] that includes both a health and wealth prosperity gospel teacher and me is a word that’s so broad it’s meaningless." Interesting.
Michael Schulson looks at how Bernie Sanders appeals to "nones," and represents a kind of fervent nonreligious morality:
[His] values-driven message might be perfectly tailored to an era of religious disaffiliation—one in which more people are uncoupling their moral search from the institutions and authorities that defined American religious publics of eras past. Like a growing number of Americans, Sanders does not define himself within clear religious categories, even as he stays engaged with questions of morality and a just society.
Point of Inquiry has a fascinating interview this week with former white supremacist leader Arno Michaelis. He's now a nonviolence activist and Buddhist, but look at his picture, I'm still scared of him.
Beenish Ahmed at ThinkProgress rounds up a depressing collection of instances of blasphemy charges being leveled for all manner of "offenses" around the world.
Mother Teresa gets the OK for sainthood, and Adam Taylor at WaPo reminds us why not everyone thinks she's earned such universal adulation.
Hey look, according to a new survey, the concerns of American Muslims are the same as pretty much everyone else's! They seem to be interested in "jobs" and "not being violent." CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!?!
Police in Bangladesh say that they're not so sure ISIS killed a Shia cleric, but perhaps a homeopath who may or may not be Shia. Uh, what's going on, guys?
Florida governor Rick Scott (who I think is related to Skeletor) signs the "Pastor Protection Act," which of course clears the way for religious orgs and employees to discriminate.
Tennessee's legislature passes a bill to prevent religious indoctrination in schools, which sounds good, until you realize it's just to prevent Islam from crossing the awareness of young Christian ears.
Ben Emmerson, the UN's expert on counterterrorism, speaks out against the criminalization of extreme views:
Some States have misused these poorly defined concepts to suppress political opposition or ideological dissent from mainstream values. Legislation against extremism has in some instances been used against journalists, religious groups or critics of state policy and this is not acceptable.
Hey, Ceres! [bong-bong!] What's with your crazy bright spots evaporating in sunlight?
Quote of the Day:
Michael Schulson (again) interviews Phil Torres, who has a new book on "secular eschatology," end-times of the nonreligious sort. He says:
Before I started writing this, I had a bunch of friends who had kids. A lot of them are very open to debate. And so we went out on a number of occasions and had two or three drinks and talked about the ethics of having a kid. There are legitimate questions to be asked, just at an existential level, about whether it’s right to bring something into the world that will suffer—and also experience pleasure—but will suffer and eventually perish.
Let’s imagine the best world we can imagine. Is it right to bring a kid in, because they’re going to live for eighty years, or whatever, and perish? Now look at this world. This is a world where Donald Trump is leading in the polls. It’s a world full of nuclear weapons. It’s one where there are at least some people a bit anxious about the future.
All my friends had kids anyway. They were like, Oh you have a good point, but I’m just gonna do it.
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#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday March 16, 2016 at 11:14pm
“Oh you have a good point, but I’m just gonna do it.”
...often words that might be associated with Darwin Award candidates.
There are two questions that parents ought to be asking: (1) Is there any reason this particular offspring should not be brought into the world (e.g. genetic defects), and (2) Is there any generic reason any offspring should not be brought into the world (e.g. over-population).
I don’t think Trump or nukes come into it. Those are terrors that face us all, no matter how many people are born, or not born.
Death also faces us all. I certainly don’t like the idea. Not doing things is bad, but since I won’t be there to not do them, it’s not THAT bad. Really, it’s the dying part I don’t like, and knowing that it’s coming. At least with the arrival of things like assisted suicide, the worst parts of death can be reduced. As for the roughly 80 years prior to death, we can work to improve them. I think, on the scale of millennia, we’ve charted that course.
#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday March 16, 2016 at 11:23pm
“Rick Scott (who I think is related to Skeletor)”
I think if you Google “Bounce by the Ounce” images and videos, you’ll find him.
#3 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 17, 2016 at 12:00am
“CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!?!”
Maybe it’s the all caps that got me, but:
(1) Given that the USA seems prepared to nominate and even elect Trump, I wouldn’t be bragging about how awesome being like everyone else is, in that country. The left and the Democrats are not blameless in this.
(2) The questions tell you about today, not about possible futures. Were Muslims to achieve the same level of political power that Christians currently hold, you know very well that the USA would feel (at best) like Turkey. Hard-won rights (including rights Muslims hold) would be at risk.
(By the way, the survey says “41 percent of Protestants and 37 percent of Muslims favor a role for religion in American law, the two highest percentages among American faith groups”)
(3) How do we go from having “jobs” as your top priority in an election to implying something about a group? Excluding groups that are defined by their income, how far do you have to look, to find any group for whom “jobs” is NOT a top election issue?
(4) “attitudes towards violence” is not the same as “violence”. And “no correlation” is not the same as “inverse correlation”.
(5) The phrase you quoted “not being violent” is neither used in the linked article, nor in the survey. Tsk tsk.
#4 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 17, 2016 at 12:08am
“House passes a resolution calling ISIS’s slaughtering of various groups ‘genocide’”
How brave. Has the House ever called what happened in Indonesia (which was observed mostly with glee from the USA) a genocide?
#5 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 17, 2016 at 12:28am
“Trump and Clinton dominate yesterday’s primaries, Kasich ekes out a win in Ohio”
Well, that’s what the media says. However, Kasich’s win puts him not far behind Cruz, and certainly gives him the momentum.
Trump, despite all his “wins” (which all being below 50% are actually first-losses due to his inability to convince candidates to exit the race) is faltering. He should have done much better, to stay on track to get the delegates he needs. That’s why people are trying to rewrite the rules to say you don’t actually need a majority to win. And it’s why he’s calling for a riot, if they don’t cave to him, the guy who’ll probably continue to be the first loser right up to the convention. He’s so scared, he even quit the next debate, which would have been on substance with only three candidates in it.
Sanders, while not “winning”, did very well and is keeping pace, slightly behind Clinton in pledged delegates (numbers at Five Thirty Eight’s tracker). This should be very concerning to the Clinton team. A large, unchanging segment of the party’s own voters are not buying her message. She has to fix this (alternatively so does Bernie, if he expects to win).