SCA’s Morning Read for 10/4/13
Dawkins & Pinker in DC
Republicans’ latest antics are repelling women (Salon)
Amid the shutdown and attacks on contraception coverage, a new poll shows women see the GOP moving away from them . A third of all women polled said the party had drifted away from them; only 14 percent said it had moved closer (46 percent said the party hadn’t moved). Obama had won them in 2008 but lost them narrowly last year. Almost half (45 percent) of college-educated white women say the Republican Party has moved away from them, and of that group, two-thirds say it’s because the party has become more conservative. The news is bad among younger women, as well. Among women under 50, 29 percent said the party had moved away from them, to 11 percent who said it had moved closer. Reince Priebus, call your rebranding office.
The Caucus: Obama ‘Hugely Impressed’ by Pope Francis (New York Times)
President Obama said in an interview on Wednesday that he had been “hugely impressed” with Pope Francis, “not because of any particular issue” but because he seemed to be “thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away.”
Senate Chaplain Asks God to ‘Save Us From the Madness’ of Shutdown (Roll Call)
After congressional leaders and the president failed to reach an agreement on the government shutdown last night, Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black used his opening prayer Thursday to hammer members of Congress.
(VA) Jackson calls for “divine intervention” in budget crisis (Times Dispatch)
E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, today resorted to prayer as a way to end the ongoing government shutdown. “It could possibly not get any worse, and we need some sort of divine intervention to bring folks together,” Jackson said during a Q&A session at Patrick Henry College, a private, independent college with a conservative evangelical Christian focus, in Purcellville this afternoon.
(OK) Shadid Using Unorthodox Political Playbook (The Okie)
On September 1st, an Oklahoma atheist leader who describes himself on Twitter as the co-host of the “Oklahoma Atheists Godcast” revealed that Shadid is actively and personally courting the atheist vote. Says one longtime Oklahoma politico of Shadid’s campaign so far, “It’s as if Shadid thinks he’s running for mayor of Berkeley. Promoting himself as the candidate for atheists and advocating property tax increases are things that I would normally consider political suicide. I have never seen a supposedly credible candidate break so many rules of Oklahoma politics.”
(PA) Pa. governor compares gay marriage to marriage between siblings (Washington Post)
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), in an interview with a local news station, compares gay marriage to marriage between siblings. Corbett was responding to state attorneys fighting against gay marriage who likened it to marriage between 12-year olds, which is not allowed by state law because the law says marriage must be between a man and a woman.
(TX) Planned Parenthood Rallies Abortion Advocates to Support Wendy Davis in Texas Governor’s Race (Christian Post)
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is calling on abortion advocates to support Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) in her bid for governor against likely Republican challenger Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Religion & Culture
Communion Burgers at Chicago Burger Joint (Chicago Tribune)
Kuma’s Corner, a heavy metal-themed burger joint on Chicago’s North Side, this month is featuring a 10-ounce burger topped with a red wine reduction and an unconsecrated communion wafer, a menu item that, depending on whom you talk to, is either tasty or in poor taste.
12 “blasphemous” artworks censored or vandalized by angry believers (RNS)
Last week author Matt Stillman woke to find “BLASPHMY” spray painted in red letters across his front step in New York City. Stillman is the author of “Genesis Deflowered,” an erotic rewriting of the King James Bible’s version of Genesis.
Girl Scouts: An Un-Christian Sex Ed Agenda (christian Post)
The steady decline in youth and adult participation in Girl Scouts is at least in part attributed to sex education decisions made by Girl Scout national leaders, according to Christians studying the trend and former Girl Scout local leaders who are Christians. This week, Girl Scouts of the USA launched a campaign aimed at reversing the decline, featuring a video from First Lady Michelle Obama. Christian leaders and former girl scouts explained possible reasons behind it, including increasing ties with abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Religious studies 50 years after the Schempp decision (The Christian Century)
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that if he could do it all over again, he would major in “comparative religion.” Were it not for a Supreme Court decision 50 years ago, this might not have even been possible. We’ve been commemorating events from the anniversaries of the Civil War and the civil rights movement. But this landmark was not about race; it was about religion. In Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), the Court held that Bible reading and the Lord’s Prayer in public schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But while the Court declared that teaching children how to practice religion was unconstitutional, the majority and concurring opinions in Schempp also insisted that the academic study of religion was a valid and essential approach.
Scalia talks religion at UVa (Daily Progress)
Scalia characterized [Thomas] Jefferson as a religious man, quoting from his Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the forerunner to First Amendment protections on religious freedom. The statute begins, “Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it … tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion. …” Scalia quipped, “Put this in your pipe for separation of church and state.”
Corporate Control of Contraception — Coming Soon? (Huffington Post)
The Supreme Court opens on Monday, and the 50 or so cases they’ve agreed to hear so far lack the punch of last year’s docket, which included landmark voting rights and same-sex marriage cases. The Raging Bull copyright case is about as sexy as it gets. But the justices usually hear somewhere between 75 and 80 cases in a season. That leaves a lot of room to add some hot button issues that are making their way up through the lower courts. The hottest of all may be corporate control of contraception.
Atheism, Movement & Related
Humanist group falls short of official recognition (Yale Daily News)
When the newly organized Yale Humanist Community applied for official recognition from Yale’s religious community at the beginning of the school year, the group realized its request was an unusual one.
Ball State reviewing complaint of atheism class (Journal Gazette)
Ball State University’s president told a Seattle group that promotes the anti-evolution theory of “intelligent design” that the school will review its complaint that one of its classes is an endorsement of atheism.
Science, Psychology and Studies
Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? (New York Times)
Last summer, researchers at Yale published a study proving that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman with the same qualifications. Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts.
Religious and Nonreligious Dreamers (Huffington Post)
People who never attended worship services recalled more of every type of dream than people who attended worship services more than once a week. In other words, the most religious people remembered considerably fewer dreams than the least religious people. Dream recall frequency was highest among people at the nonobservant end of the religiosity spectrum.
Survey Finds People Who Believe in God Less Likely to Believe in Extraterrestrials (VIDEO) (Huffington Post)
A new survey shows that atheists and agnostics are 76 percent more likely than Christians to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life. Overall 37 percent of those surveyed were willing to say they believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life, only 21 percent said they did not believe. However, most people (42 percent) were reticent to commit either way, saying they just aren’t sure.
Earth’s Oxygen: A Mystery Easy to Take for Granted (New York Times)
What’s even more astonishing is that Earth started out with an oxygen-free atmosphere. It took billions of years before there was enough of the element to keep animals like us alive. Although scientists have been struggling for decades to reconstruct the rise of oxygen, they’re still making fundamental discoveries. In just the past two weeks, for example, Dr. Canfield and his colleagues have published a pair of studies that provide significant clues about some of the most important chapters in oxygen’s history. They’re finding that our weirdly oxygen-rich atmosphere is the result of a complicated dance of geology and biology.
Discrimination & Equal Rights
College Gay History Celebrations Come Under Attack Despite Institutional Support (Huffington Post)
Roger Hines, a former Georgia state legislator and retired high school teacher, had choice words for the Kennesaw State University community in a Sunday newspaper column, calling the promotion of LGBT History Month “a slap in the face” to local citizens.
Hobby Lobby apologizes for Hanukkah flap (RNS)
The owner of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, under fire because his stores do not carry Hanukkah merchandise, apologized for employee comments “that may have offended anyone, especially our Jewish customers and friends.” Many Jews and others took offense after reading a Sept. 27 blogpost by a Marlboro, N.J. man who wrote that a Hobby Lobby employee told a Jewish woman that “we don’t cater to you people” after she asked if the store carried bar mitzvah cards.
How New Religions Are Made (Religion Dispatches)
Cultural mashup? Syncretism? The Black Israelite Movement serves as a case study.
Christians, Can We Drop This ‘Creationism’ Thing Already? (Huffington Post)
I can say with integrity, my faith is richer for my belief in evolution, not worse. So I’m asking, Christians, can we quit fighting this battle? Can we reevaluate what truly deserves protest and lobbying dollars? Can we abandon picket lines and consider what God looks like within science, not without it?
‘We Are Next’: Greek Jews Fear Rise Of Far-Right Party (NPR)
Now, more than 70 years after Yussuroum and other Greeks fought the German Nazis, Greece confronts the rise of the Golden Dawn Party, which espouses a far-right ideology. Its members use Nazi symbolism and slogans and blame “Jewish bankers” for the country’s debt crisis. They say they’re patriots, not fascists, a claim that makes Yussuroum, a retired dentist who’s now 94, cringe.