7 @ 9: Asking me to believe too many things

1. Bad exegesis, bad theology, bad politics — bad news for the future:

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2. Iowa investigation proves claim of widespread voter fraud is fraudulent: “Schultz has claimed that there is ‘a lot’ of voter fraud in Iowa, and that his investigative team was sorting through a ‘mountain’ of evidence of it. The five guilty pleas that resulted from the investigation do not constitute evidence of a systemic effort to violate Iowans’ ‘sacred’ voting privilege.”

3. Ken Ham is selling himself short. Appearing this week on Fox News, where the young-Earth creationist entrepreneur and fund-raiser was praised for “standing up to atheists” with, um, billboards, Ham said, “The atheists are only a small part of the population … less than 2 percent of the population.” There are way more atheists and “nones” in America. And if anyone ought to know that, it’s Ken Ham, because he, personally, has done more to create new atheists than any other individual on the planet.

4. If a strategy fails for 10 years, should it be tried for another 10? What if that same strategy fails for 20 years, should it be tried for another 20? And if that same strategy fails for 30 years, should it be tried for another 30? Because it did, and it was, and it did again. Six decades of utter failure. So maybe, then, it’s time to try something else?

Besides, we really, really need the pitching.

5. This is a real thing. Abstinence Skittles:

 

Just remember, kids: Do not eat these Skittles until you’re married. If you taste the rainbow now, you will find only evil, dirty, nasty, filthy Skittles. If you eat these Skittles now you’ll be like a rose with all the petals rubbed off, or a chewed piece of gum, or a glass full of spit. No one will want you or your Skittles then. But later, after you’re married, these Skittles will be transformed into a glorious, sacred, delicious candy.

6. Ari Kohen on the persecution complex of white evangelical Americans:

Freedom of religion isn’t being threatened and Christians aren’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, actually, is a particular form of intolerance that dresses itself in religious rhetoric.

There are millions and millions of Christians in America who aren’t intolerant of gays and lesbians and who don’t oppose the right of women — like men — to make decisions pertaining to reproductive health for themselves. In this sense, Christianity isn’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, instead, is a particular form of belief that centers around not simply the Christian Bible, but around intolerance of others to make life choices for themselves if those life choices don’t line up with a particular interpretation of the Bible.

Are we so intolerant of the intolerant in America? Not usually. And, in fact, we’re not being all that intolerant now. Christian conservatives can still oppose same-sex marriage or birth control or whatever else in their private lives. The government isn’t compelling them to attend these marriages or to use birth control. The government isn’t challenging their beliefs or compelling them to change their minds.

American Christians — and everyone else too — can believe anything they want to believe, but they cannot use their beliefs as a cudgel; belief — even sincerely held belief — isn’t an excuse to discriminate against others or to curtail their rights.

7. James McGrath recommends a neat take on the Christmas song, “Joseph, Who Understood,” from the New Pornographers:

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