Friday salmagundi

• Christianity Today praises a new state law in Kansas expanding religious exemptions due to “a sincerely held religious belief.” CT’s Melissa Steffan says the bill is similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

RFRA was passed to protect the freedom of religious minorities. Specifically, it was a response to a state law prohibiting the use of peyote in Native American religious rituals. Will the “religious liberty” laws recently passed by Kansas and Kentucky protect the rights of religious minorities the way RFRA was intended to? Will it protect the right of Native American religions to use peyote? The right of Rasta believers to use cannabis?

I will be very surprised if these new laws wind up protecting the rights of religious minorities and not just the privileges of the Christian majority. But even more surprised will be the religious tribalists who sponsored and voted for those bills.

Is this a form of religious discrimination?

• Kristen Rosser offers 10 categories of statements used to silence others — with an impressive, and uncomfortably familiar, set of examples for each.

• Baby steps. Baby steps.

• You gotta believe. Yogi Berra: still awesome.

• David Barton’s plan for universal health care: “Why didn’t we pass a bill calling on people to be more religious and therefore help health over all?”

Two out of three ain’t bad: Ed Stetzer (who posted the wonderful pic here) earns kudos for debunking two recent urban legends spread by the kinds of privileged Christians who enjoy fantasizing that they’re a persecuted minority. At the end of his Snopes-for-Southern-Baptists post, unfortunately, Stetzer mistakes the Christian Post for a credible source and winds up reinforcing a third such urban legend. (Hemant Mehta debunks that one neatly: “No, Christian Post, Mikey Weinstein Was Not Hired by the Pentagon.”)

• Prooftexters get confused when the question requires more than prooftexting. All questions require more than prooftexting.

• Interview fail: Out of Ur says:

How do Christians display courage and civility? We asked the author of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce.

That would be Eric Metaxas — a guy who makes his living telling white evangelical Christians that they’re Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce and that, therefore, everyone who disagrees with them is a slave-owning Nazi. That’s not courageous or civil. Or true.

Or good, smart, edifying, helpful, or non-dickish.

If Out of Ur is going to interview Eric Metaxas about courage and civility, it should at least show some balance by also interviewing someone who isn’t out to destroy those very things.

•  This is what small-government conservatism looks like. And so is this. And this.

• Here’s Maine Gov. Paul LePage lying about wind energy:

Now, to add insult to injury, The University of Maine, Presque Isle — anybody here been up there to see that damn windmill in the back yard? Guess what, if it’s not blowing wind outside and they have somebody visiting the campus, they have a little electric motor that turns the blades. I’m serious. They have an electric motor so they can show people that wind power works. Unbelievable.

Not true. There is no “little electric motor.” Gov. LePage is just making stuff up.

The remarkable thing about this lie — apart from the absurdity of the claim and how easy it is to disprove — is the way LePage feigns exasperation over such “unbelievable” behavior.

That’s what separates the really skilled liars from the wanna-bes. It’s something I learned last year during the whole “You didn’t build that” extravaganza of dishonesty from the Romney campaign. Romney deliberately and painstakingly twisted Obama’s words into the opposite of what Obama actually said. And then Romney recoiled in horror and dismay that Obama ever said such a thing.

LePage is using the same maneuver. It’s not enough just to bear false witness and accuse others of things that aren’t true. To be a top-tier liar, you have to take the next step and express your disappointment that the neighbor against whom you’re bearing false witness has stooped to such disgraceful behavior.

• Teresa Nielsen Hayden links to this story with the only thing that needs to be said about it: “Lady, that’s the imprint of a Phillips head screw.”

Bonfire list update: Now at 1,409 blogs. Let me know of any I’m missing.

• Do the Math: The Movie

• Homeschoolers Anonymous. Because immersing your child in an alternate reality is unsustainable once that child encounters real reality.

 

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And the blessed molybdenum tools which are frequently stolen by gremlins… </nerd>

  • P J Evans

    That’s how my father ended up with three glass-cutters. (One was in his tools, one was in the shop, still on the card, and one was buried in the shavings under the bench saw out in Arthur.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    XD I was actually referencing a webgame called Kingdom of Loathing. There’s a quest in which you have to retrieve molybdenum tools from gremlins for a mechanic. Subsequent visits to the area offer the NPC text, “Do you want a little chocolate-covered cotton to munch on while you wait? No? Okay, then. See you later.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    WTF? Your folks sound like they swing from one unacceptable extreme to the other, without bothering to stop anywhere along the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Great response. Wasn’t expecting so many words.

    Nah, just saying there’s a bit more to believers not always acting like they really believe to atheists believing in god deep down, as one could provide admittedly weak evidence to the former, while the other is entirely untestable.

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking; I’d expect the divine to be somewhat better at it. This is very much a cognitive bias on my account, as I have a extremely strong mental block against asking for things rather than giving VERY STRONG implications to people that they should ask me what I need.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Great response. Wasn’t expecting so many words.

    Nah, just saying there’s a bit more to believers not always acting like they really believe to atheists believing in god deep down, as one could provide admittedly weak evidence to the former, while the other is entirely untestable.

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking; I’d expect the divine to be somewhat better at it. This is very much a cognitive bias on my account, as I have a extremely strong mental block against asking for things rather than giving VERY STRONG implications to people that they should ask me what I need.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah. There’s a reason I haven’t been keen to visit home since I moved across the country, and my brief visit there last week was… less than pleasant. Lot of uncomfortable moments. The worst one was when they tried to insist that one day I would appreciate white people a lot more after I realized how much everyone else sucks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    http://www.openculture.com/2011/10/sir_ian_mckellen_reads_manual_for_changing_tires_in_dramatic_voice.html

    If we got services like that out of the bargain, it would all be worth it.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Usually when I hear this comparison, it’s someone insisting that atheism is a religion. I used to do it too, so I’m not above criticism, but nowadays I realize how annoying and presumptuous it is. I can see similarities in the attitude and raging tribalism though. A number of atheists treat religious people the exact same way fundamentalists treat “the unsaved” — with a combination of determined proselytization and class condemnation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I thought Obamacare banned some of those practices wrt premiums?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not all of the Obamacare provisions have kicked in yet, and I don’t know the timetable, so it may be legal for the moment.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking;

    Only if you assume the point of prayer is to inform God about what you want Him to do.

  • Lori

    As of next January you can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, but there’s no rule that says that insurance companies can’t charge more for people who are higher risk. I don’t know about the issue of charging people more based on where they live. It seems like that ought to be illegal, which means it’s almost certainly not.

  • P J Evans

    I know people who had a resident gremlin. If they needed to find something that the gremlin was sitting on, they needed two people to look at the same time, because the gremlin could only hide it from one person at a time.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s a well-known fact that the laws of physics will rewrite themselves to produce either disaster or a successful conclusion to an experiment, depending on the number of viewers present and the words leading up to the attempt.

    “This is impossible. Watch!” produces a result that an untrained child can replicate.

    “I’ve done this a million times. Watch!” will be followed by a trip to the emergency room.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Or of course, the ever popular:

    Q: Have you found Jesus?

    A: Did you lose him? (or variants thereof)

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I have to admit I wondered who Lord SMS Tone was.

  • Madhabmatics

    Wouldn’t work, a lot of the neo-druid orgs accept Christians. After a few months they’d figure it out and start asking whether you were an evangelical or a lutheran druid!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    He was behind the sofa the whole time!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Everyone knows wind turbines run on Flower power!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImK9FISwSPY

  • P J Evans

    The insurance companies seem to be going for the maximum they can collect now, so they can claim it’s the going rate next year, when regulation (even if weak) kicks in.

  • P J Evans

    *snerk*
    Murphy has a strange sense of humor.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Thank you, that was beautiful.

    My grandfather sometimes asks me what the “point” of a given video game might be. Sometimes I struggle to explain that to him (which is kind of his goal, he is not being curmudgeonly so much as he is an old English professor who likes to push young people to be descriptive and clear.) In the case of games like Flower, I might liken the “point” of the game as being akin to the “point” of music, it exists as a creative exercise by the author as an experience for the audience.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    “Murphy never sleeps” is what my father likes to say.

  • Kristen Rosser

    I wish I had said one of those, the last time it happened to me.

    I’m very happy that my post was linked here and engendered such an interesting conversation!


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