Now Burning in Hell

There are “scientific Americans” – those who prefer to rely on facts and evidence and reason – and there are “religious Americans” – those willing to take the word of God on all things in life – and each side really doesn’t understand the other side. But that may be too stark a distinction. Americans who prefer to rely on facts and evidence and reason are often Americans of faith, in some things. Those willing to take the word of God on all things in life really don’t take the word of God on everything – they rely on facts and evidence and reason when necessary, or when God seems to have no opinion on this or that. Still, there is a distinction, and writing in Scientific American (of course) Allen Downey reviews how this is working out:

Since 1990, the fraction of Americans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled, from about 8 percent to 22 percent. Over the next 20 years, this trend will accelerate: by 2020, there will be more of these “Nones” than Catholics, and by 2035, they will outnumber Protestants…

Among people born before 1940, a large majority are Protestant, only 20–25 percent are Catholic, and very few are Nones or Others. But these numbers have changed rapidly in the last few generations: among people born since 1980, there are more Nones than Catholics, and among the youngest adults, there may already be more Nones than Protestants.

The rest is a deep dive into the polling data with lots of charts and graphs – this is Scientific American after all – but the polling data is clear. Americans are turning away from religion, and Downey says that the predictions that this will accelerate are actually conservative:

Survey results like these are subject to social desirability bias, which is the tendency of respondents to shade their answers in the direction they think is more socially acceptable. To the degree that apostasy is stigmatized, we expect these reports to underestimate the number of Nones. As the visibility of nonreligious people increases, they might be more willing to be counted; in that case, the trends would go faster than predicted.

The trends for Protestants and Nones have apparent points of inflection near 1990. Predictions that include earlier data are likely to underestimate future trends. If we use only data since 1990 to generate predictions, we expect the fraction of Nones to exceed 40 percent within 20 years.

And the visibility of nonreligious people is increasing. There’s the son of Ronald Reagan:

For the first time, an ad inviting viewers to join the Freedom from Religion Foundation is airing on multiple cable news networks. The 30 second spot features Ron Reagan proudly proclaiming his atheist views. It originally aired in 2014, but had been refused by CBS, NBC, ABC and Discovery.

They’re airing it now, although the Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn’t have much of a budget, so it doesn’t pop up that often – but when it does pop up it’s a bit startling. America is changing, and that upsets those on the other side of things:

Michael Reagan, the adopted son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is boycotting MSNBC and CNN for airing the commercial featuring his atheist brother. Now a conservative commentator, Michael Reagan took to Twitter to denounce the ad and called for a boycott of media outlets running it. He said his father was “crying in heaven” about Ron’s endorsement of the atheistic organization.

His father is also dead. Things have changed, and the ad is pretty straightforward:

“I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government,” Ron Reagan says in the ad.

“That’s why I’m asking you to support the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended.”

He ends the ad with a wry smile, saying, “Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”

A little humor helps. Irony helps. God knows all those “unscientific” Americans are blissfully unaware of irony – because, after all, God knows everything. These people are tiresome. They may be the ones who burn in hell:

The Department of Homeland Security’s head of outreach to religious and community organizations resigned on Thursday after audio recordings revealed that he had previously made incendiary remarks about African-Americans and Muslims while speaking on radio shows.

In a 2008 clip, the Rev. Jamie Johnson, who was appointed by the Trump administration to lead the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, told radio listeners that the black community had “turned America’s major cities into slums because of laziness, drug use and sexual promiscuity.” He also said black people were anti-Semitic because they were jealous of Jewish people, according to audio posted by CNN.

A Homeland Security official confirmed Mr. Johnson’s resignation after CNN published the audio on Thursday. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, had appointed Mr. Johnson to the department in April during his brief tenure as secretary of Homeland Security.

Oops. God is love. This guy was something else:

In additional audio clips individually recorded between 2011 and 2016, Mr. Johnson attacked Islam, saying on the “Mickelson in the Morning” radio show and other programs that “Muslims want to cut our heads off,” that Islam is “an ideology posing as a religion” and that President George W. Bush made a mistake by calling it a religion of peace.

In another audio clip, Mr. Johnson also said he agreed with the conservative author Dinesh D’Souza that “all that Islam has ever given us is oil and dead bodies over the last millennia and a half.”

That wasn’t in the job description:

As the director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which was created in 2006 after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Mr. Johnson went to disaster areas to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency with faith-based outreach. He also represented the department and FEMA in regular speeches at conferences, churches, schools and civic groups, according to his biography on the department website.

Americans are turning away from religion, for good reason:

“The DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is driven by one simple, enduring, inspirational principle,” Mr. Johnson wrote on his account’s inaugural post eight months ago. “LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.”

Somewhere, Ron Reagan is smiling. But Jamie Johnson is gone now. That was inevitable. He actually hated his “neighbors” and should have just kept him mouth shut, and that seems to be a general problem:

First daughter Ivanka Trump’s harsh statement about Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore drew some backlash from Breitbart this week.

Breitbart editor-in chief Alex Marlow said the first daughter and adviser should stay quiet, especially given the allegations against her father.

On Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, he implied that it wasn’t Ivanka’s place to comment.

“Right, especially when there’s been so many allegations against President Trump,” he said.

During the 2016 campaign, fifteen or twenty women said that Donald Trump had groped them or whatever. They had dates and times. They had witnesses. Donald Trump said each and every one of them was a liar. He said he’d sue them all – but course he didn’t. His attorneys probably explained the process of discovery to him. All of the details would be trotted out – in court, on the record. He’d have to explain away all of that, detail by detail, in court, on the record. That’s would transfix the nation for months. That would keep that whole mess alive, no matter who proved what. That would be a disaster.

Donald Trump’s attorneys seem to have told him to just keep his mouth shut, so he did, but his daughter is another matter:

Ivanka Trump spoke out on the allegations against Moore in an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week.

“There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” Ivanka Trump said. “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”

She has no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts? What about those fifteen or twenty women and her father? Ivanka, shut up! What were you thinking?

It’s also hard to see what these people were thinking:

Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican currently facing calls to end his Senate bid amid allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, was given a hero’s welcome Thursday by religious activists in Birmingham, Alabama, who blamed the news media for their candidate’s troubles.

But even as he was embraced by supporters in Alabama, the White House moved to put Moore at some distance.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked if President Trump’s endorsement of Moore still stood, said, “If the allegations are true,” Moore “should step aside.”

What about him? Should Donald Trump step aside? This gets tricky:

Trump himself has not addressed the latest sexual misconduct allegations against Moore. Asked directly if the president believes Moore should end his campaign, Huckabee Sanders said only, “The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make their decision on who their next senator should be.”

In short, he decided to keep his mouth shut, but facts are facts:

Four women in total have come forward to accuse Moore of pursuing them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One said she was just 14 at the time he brought her to his home and touched her over her underwear and guided her to do the same to him. Another, Beverly Young Nelson, alleged he sexually assaulted her. Moore has repeatedly described these accounts as “politically motivated” and threatened a lawsuit against the accusers and the Washington Post.

Two women, Kayla McLaughlin and Gena Richardson, came forward in a Washington Post story published just Wednesday saying that Moore pursued relationships with Richardson while the two were in high school and working at the Gadsden mall. Richardson said Moore gave her an “unwanted, forceful kiss.”

Perhaps those aren’t really facts, but that’s a lot of something, a mountain of parallel stories from women who don’t know each other, so they are certainly not colluding in some great conspiracy against Roy Moore, not that it matters:

Alan Keyes, chairman of Renew America and a former Senate and presidential candidate, said, “I stand with Judge Roy Moore, because he never leaves God out.”

“Roy Moore stands on the premise that when you come to strip away a man’s rights, you spit in the face of God,” Keyes said to the crowd. “If that’s what they’re doing to him, if when the rights of your representative are stripped away, what is the logical conclusion? That you’re rights are stripped away, that your rights are gone.”

Rabbi Nolson Shmul Leiter, of Help Rescue Our Children and Torah Jews for Decency, said that Roy Moore was working on behalf of religious leaders by standing up to “homosexualist gay terrorists” and “the LGBT transgender mafia.”

This is a bit tiresome, and Roy Moore stood up and said this – “We need moral value back in our country.”

And “love your neighbor” too, perhaps, or at least your neighbor’s teenage daughters. Americans are turning away from religion, for good reason, and Alan Keyes is part of that:

On August 8, 2004 – with 86 days to go before the general election – the Illinois Republican Party drafted Alan Keyes to run against Democratic state senator Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate, after the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, withdrew due to a sex scandal, and other potential draftees (most notably former Illinois governor Jim Edgar and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka) declined to run. The Washington Post called Keyes a “carpetbagger” since he “had never lived in Illinois.” When asked to answer charges of carpetbagging in the context of his earlier criticism of Hillary Clinton, he called her campaign “pure and planned selfish ambition”, but stated that in his case he felt a moral obligation to run after being asked to by the Illinois Republican Party. “You are doing what you believe to be required by your respect for God’s will, and I think that that’s what I’m doing in Illinois”

God’s will prevailed. Obama won easily, but Keyes was a sore loser:

Keyes declined to congratulate Obama, explaining that his refusal to congratulate Obama was “not anything personal”, but was meant to make a statement against “extending false congratulations to the triumph of what we have declared to be across the line” of reasonable propriety. He said that Obama’s position on moral issues regarding life and the family had crossed that line. “I’m supposed to make a call that represents the congratulations toward the triumph of that which I believe ultimately stands for … a culture evil enough to destroy the very soul and heart of my country? I cannot do this. And I will not make a false gesture,” Keyes said.

And then Alan Keyes disappeared, but not really:

On November 14, 2008, Keyes filed a lawsuit – naming as defendants California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen, President-elect Barack Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and California’s 55 Democratic electors – challenging Obama’s eligibility for the U.S. Presidency. The suit requested that Obama provide documentation that he is a natural born citizen of the United States.

Following the inauguration, Keyes alleged that President Obama had not been constitutionally inaugurated, refused to call him president, and called him a “usurper” and a “radical communist”. Keyes also claimed that President Obama’s birth certificate had been forged and he was not qualified to be president.

Alan Keyes is exceptionally tiresome, and now he’s defending Roy Moore, but he really should go after the other guy:

During the time of the 2016 presidential election, Keyes emerged as a strong critic of Donald Trump. He criticized many conservative Christians for supporting “a candidate whose life could be used to illustrate the deceitfully seductive quality of sin summarized in the phrase ‘the glamour of evil.'”

Someone should ask Alan Keyes about that now, but no matter. Things shifted the other way:

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.

The allegations against Franken by Leeann Tweeden, who traveled with him on a USO trip to the Middle East before he was elected to the Senate, comes amid a growing swell of accusations of sexual misconduct by men in powerful positions.

Beloved by liberals for his fierce attacks on President Trump, Franken found few defenders as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) called for the ethics committee to investigate his actions.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Schumer said in a statement.

Maybe so, but Franken isn’t Moore:

On an online essay published Thursday morning, Tweeden wrote that Franken had forced his tongue in her mouth during a rehearsal for a skit and then groped her while she was sleeping during a flight home – a moment that was captured in a photograph.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” she wrote. “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later and be ashamed.”

After initially issuing a brief apology for his behavior, Franken released a lengthier statement expressing contrition.

“I’m sorry,” said the senator, who skipped a series of votes Thursday. “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Unlike Moore, Franken said he did it. He said he shouldn’t have done it. He was sorry. He even suggested that ethics investigation into himself. And that was that:

Tweeden said she accepted Franken’s apology.

“Yes, people make mistakes, and, of course, he knew he made a mistake,” she said at a news conference in Los Angeles, where she works as a radio news anchor for KABC. She said she would leave any disciplinary action up to Senate leaders and was not calling for Franken to step down. “That’s up to them. I’m not demanding that.”

This is what it came down to:

In his statement Thursday, Franken expressed regret for his behavior.

“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse,” he said. “I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.”

Roy Moore would never say something like that, but Ed Kilgore thinks Franken is as good as gone now:

Franken is almost certainly going down, and the only question is whether he can somehow tough it out until the end of his current term in 2020. The odds are very low that he can, particularly since his entire career in politics and comedy is now going to come under fresh scrutiny for misogyny and/or hypocrisy.

Franken is going to burn in hell now, hell on earth in this case, but Kevin Drum says that is wrongheaded:

There are two problems here. The first is that too many liberals feel that they have to respond in a maximal way to every possible incident of sexual harassment, partly to maintain their own “woke” credibility and partly because they want to make sure conservatives can’t accuse them of hypocrisy. The second problem is that we don’t seem to have any good way of talking proportionately about this stuff.

It seems that Drum is one of those who prefer to rely on facts and evidence and reason:

Not all offenses are the same. Shoplifting is not as bad as grand theft. Assault is not as bad as murder. Saying this doesn’t imply approval of either shoplifting or assault; it’s merely a statement of uncontroversial fact. Likewise, not all sexual abuse is equal. Harvey Weinstein’s rap sheet includes dozens of accusations of groping, forced massages, and possibly rape. Louis C. K. masturbated in front of actresses multiple times. Roy Moore routinely chased after high school girls when he was in his 30s and appears to have aggressively assaulted at least two of them.

By contrast, Franken thought he was joking around but went farther than he should have. It’s no whitewash to say that this is a considerably lesser offense. But if the only response we have to any kind of sexual abuse is to insist on resignation from office and expulsion from public life – mostly to protect our own reputations – we are not acting with any sense of proportionality. We need to start. Listen to Leeann Tweeden, folks.

Tweeden said she accepted Franken’s apology. People make mistakes. She forgives him. She may be the true Christian here. It may be that forgiving him could derail the movement to hold sexual predators accountable, but probably not. He’s sorry. But Roy Moore isn’t sorry, and Donald Trump isn’t sorry – and God is on their side. It may be time to join Ron Reagan, the lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell – because there is no hell. There are only guys like Roy Moore and Donald Trump – right here and right now – and that’s hell enough for anyone.


About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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One Response to Now Burning in Hell

  1. Rick says:

    One thing nobody seems to be suggesting as to why Trump might be keeping quiet about Judge Roy right now is the close resemblance between Moore’s practice of chasing teenage girls as young as 14 through 16, and that story of Trump walking through the dressing room to see naked 15 year old beauty queen contestants back in 1997:

    Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.

    “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’ ” said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA.

    Trump, she recalled, said something like, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”

    Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it “shocking” and “creepy.” The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump. … Of the 11 (contestants) who said they don’t remember Trump coming into the changing room, some said it was possible that it happened while they weren’t in the room or that they didn’t notice. But most were dubious or dismissed the possibility out of hand.

    Allison Bowman, former Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, cast doubt on whether it happened. “These were teenage girls,” Bowman said. “If anything inappropriate had gone on, the gossip would have flown.” … Billado said she told Ivanka Trump (Trump’s daughter), about Donald Trump entering the room while the girls were changing their clothes. Billado remembers Ivanka answering, “Yeah, he does that.”

    Polifact dodged grading that story on their Truth-O-Meter, but there seems to be enough to it, and in light of Trump’s own telling Howard Stern about his habit of doing this at other beauty pageants, I tend to believe it.

    Can’t you imagine the public blowback from the judge if Trump keeps tweeting that he needs to drop out of the race because he’s a dirty old man who lusts after 15 year olds? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Moore has already warned Trump of this possibility, on the down-low.


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