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Saturday, February 04, 2017

News Weakly - 2/4/2017

A New Kind of Old Threat
Apparently "unpredictable" is now the new "radical Islam, war, and terror". That according to European Union President Donald Tusk. This alongside the "ban on Muslims" (which is not a "ban on Muslims", but a ban on travelers from specific countries -- note that not all predominantly Muslim countries have been affected) makes it quite clear that we've left the reality known as "normal world" and shifted to an alternate reality where "marriage" means "whatever you feel like" and "male and female" may no longer mean one of two genders, but any of a large number of possibilities. I mean, look, when Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis stood on religious principle to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she did so on a principle defended by the Bill of Rights and was castigated for it. When State Department workers threaten to refuse to follow the law because "I don't think so" on this temporary ban from seven countries, they do so without the Bill of Rights to support them ... but with the applause of everyone else. If we buy "You can't comment on abortion issues if you're not a woman" and "You don't have to have lady parts to be a woman" in the next breath and you don't have to be a "boy" to be a "Boy Scout" anymore, we are clearly not in Kansas anymore.

Why Is It That ...
Senate Democrats boycotted the vote on two of Trump's nominees. Why? Well, because. So why is it that when Republicans do this kind of thing it's "politics as usual" but when Dems do it it's "the principle of the matter"?

Note: What I've written on these two stories should not cause the reader to conclude that I support the president's blocking of all visitors from seven countries or oppose the refusal of some Democrats on voting on the nominees. I point only to the problems of perception, not the issues themselves. It is false to characterize the president's order as "a ban on Muslims" and it is nonsensical to simply class one action as "politics as usual" and the other as "principle".

Exploded Myth
We all know that Science and Religion are at war, right? Specifically Science and Christianity. You know ... they say "Evolution" and we say, "Creation". That kind of thing. Christians are, in fact, anti-intellectual. We all know that ... right? Turns out it's not true. Turns out it's a myth. Turns out that a few scientists in the 19th century set out to convince the world that Christianity opposed Science and always had. And they lied. Good to know.

More Left-Leaning Irony
Perhaps you've heard of Milo Yiannopoulos. He's gay, he's conservative, and he will never do. He was scheduled to speak at U.C. Berkley, "the home of the free speech movement", but the protests turned violent and it had to be cancelled. "More than 1,500 people had gathered outside. Some hurled metal barricades and others smashed windows at the student union." You'd think that his status as "gay" would make him acceptable to this crowd, but it looks like his conservatism is more hated than his sexual orientation is protected. Again, the party of inclusion and diversity and tolerance shows itself as violently none of those things.

It's About Time
Back in 1954 Lyndon B. Johnson was running for reelection as a senator. He was getting some opposition from conservative groups. So he introduced the Johnson Amendment. We know it now as 501(c)3. It's part of the IRS code that ensures that non-profit groups including churches don't pay taxes. Good, right? Well, except for the fact that there is a cost involved. They don't pay ... but they also don't play. Churches are not allowed to comment on political issues. Any church that agrees to the 501(c)3 agreement is tax free and silent. It's odd, too, because from the beginning churches were never taxed. Based on the First Amendment, the argument was that there was no surer way for government to interfere with the free exercise of religion than by taxing them. So it was never done. Churches, then, were fed a bill of goods ... called the Lyndon Amendment.

Now, I have to say I'm not a big Trump fan. I'm sorry. I'll respect the office and I'll obey the law as long as I'm not ordered to violate God's commands, but I'm not a fan. You can imagine, then, how it might come as a surprise to me to read that the president plans to eliminate the Johnson Amendment. Apparently, "Trump presents this ban on participating in politicking as a restriction on the freedom of faith groups to put their religion in action, if their religion calls on them to campaign for a candidate." And I have to agree. Now, he said it at the National Prayer Breakfast, so I don't know whether he will or can do it, but preventing pastors from speaking on political matters is indeed a limitation of free speech and the free exercise of religion, so I'd be in favor of it. Let's see what happens.

Just an Interesting Piece
David Ernst at The Federalist wrote this interesting article arguing that the election of Donald Trump is the result of postmodernism. Postmodernism is the ultimate "relativism", and in a world where antiheroes are heroes and words mean their opposites and all meaning and reality is whatever you think it is, the natural result is President Trump. I think he makes some good points.


Marshall Art said...

Not that I'm listening really hard, but I haven't heard much in the way of solid arguments against Trump's appointments. Mostly, I've heard partisan talking points, knee-jerk type of responses that one expects to hear from the left on any conservative appointee or elected official. If by "principle" one means, "I hate right-wingers on principle", I guess the explanation works. Saying so makes it so, I guess.

I, too, was especially happy to hear that Trump wants to overturn the unConstitutional "Lyndon Amendment". Hard to believe it every passed in the first place, given how obvious a slam it is on both religious and free speech rights. While I still have reservations about Trump the man, actions like these, his appointments and other actions, including the blocking of travel from some countries while they figure out how to improve vetting, makes it hard NOT to be a fan of Trump the president.

I also agree that what has been happening in the country is the reason that Trump won. How could it be otherwise?

Antichrist said...

Hi Stan - You asked, "We all know that Science and Religion are at war, right? Specifically Science and Christianity."

There is no war against science and religion. Science ignores religion. Specifically, science ignores the Tanakh, the Christian's New Testament, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Book of Mormon, the writings of Ron Hubbard, etc and etc. They do that because all those books are full of demonstrably wrong bs. So they are ignored.

Truth is, science and religion are like oil and vinegar. They just won't mix.

Stan said...

Antichrist, FYI, you should probably do a little more research before offering the claim that science and religion don't mix. Modern science was predicated on religion -- Christianity in particular. Further, there are more than a few Christians who are scientists and would certainly disagree with you on your claim.

Just for definition of terms, a claim without support is called an "unsupported claim".

Antichrist said...

Hi Stan - You wrote, "Modern science was predicated on religion -- Christianity in particular."

Predicate - 1 a: Something that is affirmed or denied of the subject in a proposition in logic

b: A term designating a property or relation

2: The part of a sentence or clause that expresses what is said of the subject and that usually consists of a verb with or without objects, complements, or adverbial modifiers -

I have no idea what you were trying to say.

Stan said...

Antichrist, I apologize. I didn't think that English was a second language to you. To "predicate" (as a verb) means, in the sense that I used it, "to found or derive; to base upon". Modern science has its origins in religion. See, for instance, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science) or William Lane Craig on What is the Relation Between Science and Religion?.