SCA’s Morning Read for 11/26/13

The Morning Read will resume Monday, December 2. Have a great holiday!
Morning Read
Tea party unscathed in early GOP civil war (Politico)
Part of the establishment’s problem is it emboldened the movement for years. Republicans rode the tea party wave in 2010 and then cheered the rise of unlimited fundraising that allowed outside groups to flourish and prop up more candidates willing to take on the establishment.Now that the genie’s out of the bottle, the establishment is discovering it’s a lot harder to put it back in.

Virginia: Democrat Certified as Attorney General (New York Times)
Mark R. Herring, a Democrat, was certified by the State Board of Elections as Virginia’s next attorney general on Monday, but he may face a recount in a race he won by just 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast. Both Mr. Herring and his Republican opponent, Mark D. Obenshain, have formed transition committees. Obenshain is known for a bill he introduced that would have required women who had miscarriages to report them to the sheriff’s department.

Charitable Giving
New Study: Three-Quarters of American Giving Goes to Religion: Yes, religion causes people to give more…to religion itself. (Religion Dispatches)
Probably the most notable statistics, though, are those which compare religious and non-religious philanthropy. Religion is supposed to make us better people, which includes, I assume, being more generous. So, is it the case that religious people give more generously than the non-religious?  Well, yes and no. Remember that statistic, that 65% of religious people donate to charity? The non-religious figure is 56%. But according to the study, the entire 9% difference is attributed to religious giving to congregations and religious organizations. So, yes, religion causes people to give more—to religion itself.  What did Richard Dawkins say? The primary function of a meme is to replicate itself. Which is what religions do, brilliantly. As between different religions, the numbers are fairly consistent—except for American Jews, who give more to secular causes than anyone else. Coming in the wake of the recent Pew Survey on American Jewish Life, these findings may shed new light on Jewish secularism.

Atheism, Movement & Related
Do atheists need their own ‘church’? Sunday Assembly prompts controversy (RNS)
Perhaps the Elephant & Castle pub here was a fitting locale for a visiting Brit to meet some mates. But other stereotypes were left at the bar as about 100 people trod down a flight of stairs — pints of beer and wine glasses in hand — and into the pub’s basement to attend Sunday Assembly, a gathering of nonbelievers that both supporters and detractors have dubbed “atheist church.”

President Ronald Reagan’s Son Tapes Radio Ad for Atheist Group: I’m ‘Not Afraid of Burning in Hell’ (Friendly Atheist)
It’s well-known to many, though possibly shocking to some, that President Ronald Reagan‘s son, Ron Reagan, is a vocal atheist. He taped a radio ad currently airing on Randi Rhodes‘ show that proclaims his godlessness and advocates for the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Kickstarter Project: BEN & ARA- an independent film
Religious and cultural tensions escalate when a woman from the Nation of Islam has an affair with an agnostic man.

If You Must Talk Politics at Thanksgiving, Here’s How (The Atlantic)
On Thanksgiving, it’s usually best if you don’t talk politics. The subject tends to aggravate people, and it’s very unlikely that anyone’s mind will be changed. So don’t do it. But if you must talk politics, how should it be done?

‘The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire’ Reminiscent of Early Church Martyrs, Christian Reviewers Say (Christian Post)
“Catching Fire,” the new sequel to “The Hunger Games,” opened this past weekend. It broke the November box office record with a staggering $161.1 million, and Christian reviewers say the sacrifices in the film prove remarkably similar to the deaths of early Christians in the Roman coliseum.

The Changing American Family (New York Times)
Researchers who study the structure and evolution of the American family express unsullied astonishment at how rapidly the family has changed in recent years, the transformations often exceeding or capsizing those same experts’ predictions of just a few journal articles ago.  Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago. In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows.

History and Religion
New Clues May Change Buddha’s Date of Birth (New York Times)
Until now, archaeological evidence favored a date no earlier than the third century B.C., when the Emperor Asoka promoted the spread of Buddhism through South Asia, leaving a scattering of shrines and inscriptions to the man who became “the enlightened one.” A white temple on a gently sloping plateau at Lumbini, 20 miles from the border with India, draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year to read a sandstone pillar documenting Asoka’s homage at the Buddha’s birthplace.

Climate Change
Dot Earth Blog: New Study Finds U.S. Has Greatly Underestimated Methane Emissions (New York times)
A comprehensive new study of atmospheric levels of methane, an important greenhouse gas released by leaky oil and gas operations and livestock, has found much higher levels over the United States than those estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency and an international greenhouse gas monitoring effort. The paper, “Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States,” is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Deals at Climate Meeting Advance Global Effort (New York Times)
Two weeks of United Nations climate talks ended Saturday with a pair of last-minute deals keeping alive the hope that a global effort can ward off a ruinous rise in temperatures.

Fred Kavli, Benefactor of Science Prizes, Dies at 86 (New York Times)
The foundation has given more than $200 million to establish 17 scientific research institutes at universities around the world for work in astrophysics, neuroscience, nanoscience and theoretical physics. “The point is to create visibility for science,” Mr. Kavli said.

Parents’ Misconceptions About The HPV Vaccine Are Keeping Vaccination Rates Low (Think Progress)
Parents’ ongoing misconceptions about the HPV shot and doctors’ reticence to strongly recommend the vaccine are keeping HPV vaccination rates low among Americans boys and girls, according to a comprehensive analysis of 55 studies from 2009.

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