Newsletter
December 4, 2019

Hello!

One of the many things that sets our community apart from the religious right is our understanding that no one person is capable of delivering all our desires, nor should any one person be given the power to impose their will on everyone else. Certainly, we have our heroes and role models, but we have no messiahs and no saviors. We have to rely on ourselves and, most importantly, each other.

This week, we’ll look at how the religious right has taken Donald Trump, easily one of the least pious men ever to occupy the Oval Office, and turned him into a biblical figure of prophecy, chosen by their God to save Christians (and only a particular set Christians) from the scourge of secularism. We’ll also learn more about one of the religious enforcers behind Trump, the man coordinating attacks on church-state separation, Jay Sekulow.

For many of these Christians, being saved means bringing on the apocalypse, the literal end of the world as we know it. The frightening irony is of course that a very real existential threat is bearing down on all of us, religious and nonreligious alike: the threat of climate change, a threat that their savior Trump exacerbates through his denial. New survey research shows us the partisan divide on Americans’ views of climate change, which at least offers some glimmers of hope that some on the political right are acknowledging the truth.

Then there are those who are in immediate need of saving: outspoken atheists and secularists in religiously oppressive countries. Our Secular Rescue program, which aims to bring these brave writers and activists to safety, has a great new website with stories of the program’s successes and an easy way for others to seek help.

Someone needs to rescue the people of Ohio from their own legislature. Weeks after passing a bill that could place students’ religious beliefs about science on equal footing with, well, actual science, a new bill was introduced by abortion opponents that threatens doctors with criminal charges if they don’t perform a procedure that doesn’t exist and can’t be done.

There may be no saving those who subscribe to the idea that the earth is flat from their convictions. Nonetheless, we’ll take a look at what would happen to us and our environment if we did indeed reside on a cosmic disc. (Hint: It doesn’t work out for us.)

Robyn E. Blumner
President & CEO, Center for Inquiry
Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

The Top Stories


A New Online Home for Secular Rescue

Secular Rescue is a program of the Center for Inquiry that provides vital assistance to activists, writers, and other dissident freethinkers in countries where expressions of nonbelief or criticism of religion can lead to persecution and deadly violence. The mission is to help get these individuals and their families out of harm’s way so they can continue to live, work, and thrive in safety. Founded in 2015 as an emergency response to a crisis, Secular Rescue is today a pillar of CFI’s global efforts, and it finally has an all-new, redesigned website. The new site features a collection of Secular Rescue success stories, with some written by those who we have been able to help, thanks to your help.

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Heckuva Chosen One You Got There

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently told Fox News that President Trump is indeed God’s “chosen one,” saying, “If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet and our government.” This implies that anyone who has been president was also “chosen” by God, but this isn’t really what evangelicals mean when they employ these kinds of biblical concepts for Trump. Historian Thomas Lecaque explains at the Washington Post that references to Trump as a King David figure are about the realization of a prophecy that leads to the apocalypse. “It is, in other words, an ideology built on anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and anti-heretic persecution.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

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The Partisan Lens on Climate Change

It’s well known that Americans’ views on the science of climate change tend to line up with their political partisan leanings, but there is more to people’s attitudes about climate than the binary of denial-versus-acceptance. Pew Research shows, for example, that 39 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents want the government to do more to address climate change (compared to 90 percent of Democrats), including more than half of Millennial and younger Republicans. Plus, nearly all respondents across political lines favored expanding renewable energy resources such as solar (92 percent) and wind (85 percent).

Photo: ink drop – Adobe Stock

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NEWS: Ohio’s Absurd Anti-abortion Measure Demands the Impossible

Last week, Ohio legislators introduced a bill to literally require doctors to do the impossible, all in the name of denying women the right to an abortion. In an ectopic pregnancy, an embryo implants itself in a fallopian tube rather than the uterus, thereby rendering the pregnancy unviable and threatening the life of the woman. But Ohio HB413 would require a doctor to “reimplant” an ectopic pregnancy or else face criminal charges. Aside from the obvious ethical problems here, the type of procedure mandated by the bill is not even medically possible. Add this to the Ohio legislature’s recent moves to compel public schools to consider religiously based answers to be equally valid as fact-based answers in science classes, and you have a state that is truly going off the deep end.

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SCIENCE: You Wouldn’t Want to Live on a Flat Earth (Nor Could You)

You probably don’t need to be convinced that the planet Earth, like all other planets, is in the shape of a sphere. That so many people refuse to accept this fact in 2019 is a bit more than frustrating, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from the misbegotten idea of a flat earth. Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience checks in with the experts (actual scientists) to see what might happen if the planet were in fact shaped like a disc. Perhaps most significantly, a flat earth would mean that there is no such thing as gravity, because that’s what makes planets round in the first place. Then we lose things such as plate tectonics and, you know, the atmosphere. Seems like the round-earth conspiracy is on pretty solid ground.

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VIDEO: Trump’s Religious Enforcer

It’s time to get to know President Trump’s famous lawyer. No, not Rudy Giuliani, but the man who orchestrates the Trump administration’s many assaults on the wall of separation between church and state: Jay Sekulow. The New York Times’ Elizabeth Williams profiles Sekulow, who built his reputation as Pat Robertson’s engine of religious-right litigation at the far-right American Center for Law & Justice.

Photo: Mark Taylor (CC BY 2.0)

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