Significant and growing class of American voters

The voting patterns of religious groups in the U.S. have been scrutinized since the presidential election for evidence of shifting allegiances among the faithful. Many have wondered if a boost in Catholic support was behind Biden’s win or if a dip in support among evangelicals helped doom Trump.

But much less attention has been paid to one of the largest growing demographics among the U.S. electorate, one that has increased from around 5% of Americans to over 23% in the last 50 years: “Nones” – that is, the nonreligious.

I am a scholar of secularism in the U.S., and my focus is on the social and cultural presence of secular people – nonreligious people such as atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and those who simply don’t identify with any religion. They are an increasingly significant presence in American society, one which inevitably spills into the political arena.

The voters characterized as the “religious Right” continue at least as noisy as ever…while their economic and political power diminishes outside of the opportunist brigade in the Republican Party. And Trump has shattered that segment badly enough that it may be reduced to the same sort of historic footnote as George Wallace’s American Independent Party.

Meanwhile, I find Professor Zuckerman’s article encouraging – offering hope for scientific realism, hard facts, playing more of a role in American politics. Finally!

Trumplets attack Dr. Fauci…because of his virtue


USAToday.com

“You have to remember that Dr. Fauci is being attacked not for any vice or mistake, but for his virtue,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Not for any weakness but for his strength, and not for any kind of any kind of incompetence but for his competence. He’s actually a protector of the United States, something that the president has failed to be able to do from the very beginning, so I do think that people need to pay for the incompetence, but it’s actually the president and the vice president who need to answer for it, and these attacks on experts are going to haunt us for years to come.”

“Science is what’s going to get us out of this pandemic and listening to voices like Dr. Fauci, whose hand has guided everything good that’s happened in this pandemic,” Adalja said. “That’s the way to move forward, and I think that this talk of firing Fauci, which I don’t even think the president has the power to do, is really reprehensible.”

Same as it ever was. The greatest noise made – trying to drown out science and reason – comes from the least educated in modern knowledge. If, in fact, they choose to be educated at all in what our society is now capable of achieving.

Trump nutball rallies turn into a great place to risk death

Donald Trump held a rally Tuesday night at Omaha, Nebraska’s Eppley Airfield that attracted somewhere between 6,000 people (the Omaha World-Herald’s estimate) and 29,000 people (Trump’s personal estimate, LOL). When the event ended at 9 p.m., the temperature was just above 30 degrees. Because of traffic and/or a shortage of buses, hundreds of attendees were stranded at the airport, some until 12:40 a.m., waiting to be shuttled back to their cars.

A Twitter account that follows Omaha emergency-services radio traffic conveyed chatter indicating that several people at the airport had to be treated for exposure to the cold; authorities say six or seven attendees were taken to the hospital, though not all those cases were necessarily related to the weather. Regardless of temperature issues, rallygoers were also at risk of contracting the coronavirus: Eastern Nebraska is home to some of the hottest COVID hot spots in the country, and photos from the event show that the crowd, which included many people who were not wearing masks, was packed tightly together.

…An article published last week by USA Today noted that countywide rates of coronavirus infection increased, by varying amounts, after five recent Trump 2020 events in the Midwest…

…The downside for voters is that, like former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain—who attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20; tested positive for COVID-19 nine days later; and permanently ceased making America great on July 30—they could die. Marathon County, Wisconsin, currently has a new daily case rate 17 times as high as New York City’s; on Monday, 11 Marathon County coronavirus patients were hospitalized, and one death was reported. One way or another, these rallies could be the last time Trump fans get to see him.

I could almost feel sorry for some of these True Believers – if it wasn’t for the bigotry that is part of the Trump belief system they embrace.

“Our Father” knows best

[William] Barr’s path into the apparatus of the state is one on which he followed his father’s footsteps. Donald had worked at the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. While William was still a student at Columbia, where his father had also enjoyed a distinguished career as a teacher and administrator, he worked as a summer intern at the CIA and in 1973, took up his first full-time job there as an analyst.

That same year Donald Barr published an atrocious science fiction novel called Space Relations and dedicated it to his wife as a token of “thirty years’ love.” It is a probe launched from conservative, white, male America into the strange inner worlds of its own psyche in the Nixon years. As literature, it is excruciating. But it deals in a usefully unguarded way with themes that bear heavily on William Barr’s present position as Trump’s most formidable enabler: the legacy of slavery, Catholic sexual dogma, the proper response to revolt from below…

…Space Relations is really a thinly disguised plantation novel in which (Planet} Kossar serves as the Old South. Readers are being pointed in the direction of some allegory of American history…”

“The literary sins of the father—especially ones as grave as Space Relations—should not be visited on the son. There is, however, a very strong connection between Donald Barr’s hard-line Catholicism and William Barr’s present position as the main (perhaps the sole) intellectual buttress of Trump’s presidency. That connection lies in the idea of authority.”

And so it goes…

Homeless Jesus in trouble


Bernard Weil/Toronto Star

A “Homeless Jesus” statue depicting Jesus as a homeless person lying on a bench covered in a blanket was recently installed outside of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio. So, naturally, someone called the cops on it within 20 minutes of it being revealed.

As the Cleveland Scene reports, Father Alex Martin, the church’s pastor, received a visit from a Bay Village police officer after someone reported a homeless person sleeping on a park bench. He says he hopes the incident can serve as a lesson for how we can better help those in need.

Americans traveling outside North America say it feels like VietNam War days, once again. Pretend to be Canadians!

Don’t admit you’re an atheist if you’re running for Congress

…In this era of increasing diversity and the breaking of long-rigid political-demographic barriers, there is no self-identifying atheist in national politics. Indeed, throughout history, only one self-identified atheist in the U.S. Congress comes to mind, the late California Democrat Peter Stark…

This puts the country at odds with democracies the world over that have elected openly godless – or at least openly skeptical – leaders who went on to become revered national figures, such as Jawaharlal Nehru in India, Sweden’s Olof Palme, Jose Mujica in Uruguay and Israel’s Golda Meir. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, the global leader who has arguably navigated the coronavirus crisis with the most credit, says she is agnostic…

In a country that changed its original national motto in 1956 from the secular “E pluribus unum” – “out of many, one” – to the faithful “In God We Trust,” it seems people don’t trust someone who doesn’t believe in God.

Most Americans likely don’t even know this happened. Part of the larger propaganda campaign that accompanied the Cold War.

I’ve been an atheist since I knew enough science to make a decision about belief in the real world versus superstition. About 13 years old. A philosophical materialist since I was 18 and truly enjoyed the investigation of systems of reason and decision-making.

After all these years, I never have bumped into any sound argument to reverse those two conclusions. In fact, every step forward in science and knowledge reinforces my understanding.