The Satanic Temple claims it was discriminated against by the Boston City Council after a member was denied the opportunity to deliver an invocation during an upcoming meeting. The Council says it never denied them that opportunity; rather, councilor Annissa Essaibi George invites people “based on a personal relationship she has with them or if they’re directly related to work that she does.” She doesn’t know the Satanists. She didn’t invite the Satanists. And that, say the Satanists, is precisely the problem. “The idea of an invitation-only policy being non-discriminatory is nonsensical,” said Lucien Greaves, a temple spokesman. “It’s the very definition of discrimination.”For now, the Temple has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. It spells out the problem with the unofficial invocation policy: On October 9, 2018, I received an email response from [Compliance Director and Staff … [Read more...] about Satanists Say the Boston City Council Won’t Allow Them to Deliver an Invocation
This week I learned that anti-blasphemy laws aren’t the only statutes U.S. state governments still have on their books to enforce religion on citizens. Constitutional articles in seven states still specifically prohibit atheists from holding public office, and an eighth, Pennsylvania, also, in effect, disallows atheist public officials but with more round-about language. Those states with a direct constitutional prohibition are Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The statutory language for each is shown here.Regarding Pennsylvania, the New York Times explained in a 2014 report: “Pennsylvania’s Constitution contains no prohibition, but does say that no one can be ‘disqualified’ from serving in office on the basis of religion — as long as they believe in God ‘and a future state of rewards and punishments’ (a reference to heaven and hell).” The Times article noted more direct language … [Read more...] about Anti-atheist statutes still foul 8 state constitutions in U.S.
When s President Trump lies, it’s usually a no-brainer to spot. He generally utters falsehoods so false he almost certainly knows they’re false himself. But when Jennifer Bardi accused the president of lying — twice — in the first paragraph of her “Message From the Editor” column in February’s TheHumanist.com e-zine, I’d wager he probably had no idea he was fibbing. Lie #1 The first lie, wrote Bardi, was at the National Prayer Breakfast in the Capital on Feb. 8, when he said: “America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer.”Yes, America is a nation of majority-Christian believers. But it is also a nation of non-Christian believers, non-faithful nonbelievers and people who aren’t quite sure what they believe, or don’t. And, yes, there are lots of prayers praying but also lots of lack of praying. We are a melting pot of humanity, including “saints” and sinners … [Read more...] about When President Trump Starts Spewing God Talk, It’s Really Not
My last post was a mainly negative review of David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and a while before that I posted a decidedly mixed review of Kartik Athreya's Big Ideas in Macroeconomics. So commenters are justified in pestering me to list my favorite books (other than sci-fi). Here's a short list. If your favorite book isn't on here, it's either because (in order of decreasing likeliness): A) I haven't read it, B) I read it a while back, C) I didn't happen to think of it off the top of my head, or D) I didn't like it that much. Big Theory-of-History Books 1. Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond An obvious choice. The most original and compelling "big arc of history" thesis I've ever read. And contains pages and pages of details about domesticable plants, which I love reading about, because hey - domesticable plants. 2. The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker This reads like the anti-Graeber. So on point, so forceful, so focused. Such clarity and readability. … [Read more...] about Some nonfiction books I really like
A while ago, I wrote a rather acerbic critique of one of David Graeber's magazine articles, in which I mentioned his book, Debt: The First 5000 Years - which, at the time, I hadn't read. This angered a bunch of Graeberites, not to mention Graeber himself. And to be fair, I do have a bad habit of passing judgment on books before I read them. So, in keeping with my new philosophy of fairness and open-mindedness, I read the whole thing. Now, from interacting with David Graeber on Twitter, I have a sneaking suspicion that he is a certain type of Public Intellectual - the type who bristles with anger at the mildest criticism. This type of Intellectual will view any paraphrase of his ideas by a critic to be a total and utter misreading and misrepresentation of what he intended to say, no matter how close the paraphrase is to the original - deviate one word from exact quotation, and you're a Vile, Intellectually Dishonest Boor (V.I.D.B.) who obviously couldn't be bothered to read what the … [Read more...] about Book review: Debt: The First 5000 Years