Author: Trav Mamone

Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated at G.O.P. Caution on Kavanaugh Allegation

By Jeremy W. Peters and Elizabeth Dias

Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart.

Several of these leaders, including ones with close ties to the White House and Senate Republicans, are urging Republicans to move forward with a confirmation vote imminently unless the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, agrees to share her story with the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next few days.

The pleas are, in part, an attempt to apply political pressure: Some evangelical leaders are warning that religious conservatives may feel little motivation to vote in the midterm elections unless Senate Republicans move the nomination out of committee soon and do more to defend Judge Kavanaugh from what they say is a desperate Democratic ploy to prevent President Trump from filling future court vacancies.

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Mike Pence To Address Event Hosted By Anti-LGBT Hate Group

By Jared Holt

Vice President Mike Pence will address this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, an event put on annually by Religious Right group Family Research Council.

Last year, President Donald Trump was the first sitting president to address the group. Trump was invited to speak at the conference again this year, but at the time of publication, his attendance was unconfirmed.

The Values Voters Summit is hosted annually by the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed in its index of hate groups. FRC president Tony Perkins and his employees have actively lobbied against marriage equality and transgender rights for decades—an agenda that Perkins told radio listeners he once discussed with former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Last year, Bannon and other White House officials recruited FRC in their war against the Republican establishment that they believe to be too moderate.

As made abundantly clear last year, Perkins and his ilk have retooled their “family values” message from years past to include unwavering support of the Trump administration and its allies. Since last year’s conference, FRC has provided cover for failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after he was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, announced that evangelicals were giving Trump a “mulligan” for his alleged affair with Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford as long as he continues to fulfill their agenda, and called for prayers to protect Trump from “left-wing news media.” Coincidentally, Perkins has also received an appointment to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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Why Do We Portray Atheists As Broken Believers?

By Mickey Desruisseaux

September means the return of school, football and twangy Green Day singles. It’s also the month when television networks dish out new shows hoping to make a connection with audiences for the long run. One of the fall’s newcomers is CBS’s dramedy “God Friended Me,” the premise of which is exactly what the title suggests. An aggressively atheistic podcaster named Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall) accepts a friend request on Facebook from the big guy upstairs.

‘God’ starts suggesting more friends for doubtful Miles to add, whom he starts running into almost immediately afterward in real life. Each of them has problems that Miles seems uniquely attuned to solving, and each, in turn, seems to possess a quality that can teach Miles something about the world around him. But while the schmaltzy premise is surprisingly well-executed, the pilot episode ends up reinforcing a paradigm in which belief is viewed as the norm, disbelief as an aberration and atheists as errant members of the flock waiting for a shepherd to guide them home.

It turns out that, as the son of a pastor, Miles was a devout child until his mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. He prayed endlessly for God to cure her, only for her to die in a car accident after making a miraculous full recovery. The tragedy shattered Miles’ faith and his relationship with his father, pushing him into becoming the oh-so-sour atheist he is today. I nearly chucked my laptop across the room, before remembering that in the real world, exaggerated displays of exasperation are pretty expensive.

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Louisiana Rep. Johnson Claims California Atheists Are Trying to Spy on Students

By Griffin Connolly

Rep. Mike Johnson, who represents a vast swath of Louisiana’s northwestern corner, accused California atheist groups of trying to spy on students at a school in his district by taking covert video.

“WARNING TO OUR FRIENDS IN BOSSIER SCHOOLS (Please share),” Johnson wrote on Facebook Tuesday, referring to Louisiana’s Bossier Parish (the state’s equivalent of a county) that includes parts of Shreveport.

“Last night we received very credible information that atheist litigation groups in CA have contacted private investigators in our area to try to hire them to obtain hidden video of Christian student groups and activities at Benton High School and potentially other Bossier Parish schools,” Johnson wrote.

The Louisiana Republican’s post was first reported by the Shreveport Times. Johnson’s spokeswoman, Ainsley Holyfield, declined the Times’ requests for information about the California litigation groups and the congressman’s sources.

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GOP Senate Candidate Claims 99% Of Rape Allegations ‘Are Just Absolutely Fabricated’

By Michael Stone

Conservative Christian and U.S. Senate candidate for Mississippi Chris McDaniel claims 99 percent of rape allegations “are just absolutely fabricated.”

McDaniel, in an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, discussed the recent allegations of sexual assault being made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Speaking on the conservative Christian program Focal Point, hosted by Bryan Fischer, McDaniel was asked about the alarming allegations being made against Kavanaugh. McDaniel replied:

I’m tired of all these made up scandals frankly. We have a system where Judge Kavanaugh is obviously well suited for, and they’re going to drag something up even theoretically, allegedly from all those years ago that all of a sudden disqualifies this man. All of a sudden, he’s a terrible human being. No not a chance. I don’t fall for it anymore. I hope the American people aren’t falling for it. These allegations 99 percent of the time are just absolutely fabricated.

Note: McDaniel is not only claiming that Kavanaugh’s accuser is a liar, he is also suggesting that 99 percent of all women coming forward to report crimes involving sexual assault and rape are also liars.

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Brooklyn diocese reaches record $27.5M settlement with four victims of abuse by lay educator

By Alex Johnson

The New York Diocese of Brooklyn and a co-defendant have reached a $27.5 million settlement with four men who were sexually abused as boys by a lay church education director, the diocese said Tuesday night.

Each of the young men will receive $6.875 million from the diocese and an affiliated after-school program under terms of the settlement, said Ben Rubinowitz and Peter Saghir, the attorneys for the young men, who have remained anonymous.

In terms of individual payouts, it is the largest settlement on record involving abuse of minors by Roman Catholic Church figures, almost double the amount received by two victims in Rockville Centre, New York, in 2008, according to records maintained by Bishop Accountability, a nonprofit that monitors abuse allegations against Catholic priests and officials.

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Alabama’s Dinosaur Adventure Land teaches that evolution is ‘dumbest religion in the history of the world’

By Anna Claire Vollers

Thunder rumbled overhead, immediately drowned out by the growl of a four-wheeler crashing through the Alabama backwoods. Kent Hovind roared into view atop an ATV, taking the rutted dirt path down the hill and cruising to a stop in front of the welcome center.

He grinned and hopped off.

“We have constant chaos here,” he announced. “I’ll tell you the whole story.”

His yellow safari shirt bore a Dinosaur Adventure Land patch (motto: “Where God gets glory for His creation”) similar to the logo on the welcome center behind him. His life’s work is to prove the Bible is true and scientifically accurate, and that evolution is “the dumbest religion in the history of the world.”

The 65-year-old Baptist preacher and YouTube star is new to Alabama.

He’ll tell you, more than once, that he spent 15 years teaching high school math and science. He doesn’t mind admitting he spent nine years in federal prison, though he disputes the charges, which included structuring bank withdrawals and failing to file tax returns.

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Survey Finds Pope Francis’ Popularity Plunging After Most Recent Abuse Scandals

By Hemant Mehta

Here’s some good news: Even Pope Francis, the recipient of all kinds of undeserved positive press, has seen his popularity plummet in the wake of the latest round of Catholic Church child sex abuse revelations.

Gallup notes that only 53% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the pope, down from 76% at his peak in early 2014, and in a virtual tie with the 52% rating he had when first elected to the position and no one knew much about him.

Among Catholics, however, his reputation hasn’t really wavered. It’s at 79% which represents something of a midpoint for him as far as his followers go. (The number has wavered between 71% and 89% over the years.)

Among non-Catholics, his favorability is at an all-time low of 45%.

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Christian Pol, Attacked for Opposing ‘In God We Trust’ in School, Talks Church and State

By Frederick Clarkson

In his first State of the Union address, Donald Trump wagged his finger and declared, “the motto is In God We Trust.” He was, of course, talking about the national motto, designated by Congress in the 1950s as part of the post-war culture of anti-communism. It replaced the original motto E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) which spoke to the spirit of unifying the diverse nation of the founding era.) Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) told CBN News that he “was moved by the president’s commitment to God.”

The disingenuousness of these and allied pols has set the tone for much that has happened since. And there are indications that this may become more the rule than the exception. If so, the experience and example of State Senator John Marty (D-MN) may be instructive.

Marty was smeared on Fox News after he opposed a legislative amendment that would allow for the display of In God We Trust in the public schools. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Dan Hall, described Marty as part of an “anti-faith movement” that seeks to “suppress” religion and “wipe it out of government.” Hall went on to say it was a matter of “religious freedom” to post In God We Trust in the schools.

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A Mysterious Pulsar Is Sending Strange Emissions Really Far Into Space

By Michelle Starr

Most stars are just out there in space, doing their star thing, but not the pulsar called RX J0806.4-4123. It’s been caught doing something that’s never been seen before. It’s emitting infrared radiation – and only infrared radiation – at a huge distance.

Long-distance emission from neutron stars is nothing new. But the fact RX J0806.4-4123 is the first star which has such an emission only in infrared light could mean that it could have new features seen in no other pulsar.

“This particular neutron star belongs to a group of seven nearby X-ray pulsars – nicknamed ‘the Magnificent Seven’ – that are hotter than they ought to be considering their ages and available energy reservoir provided by the loss of rotation energy,” said astrophysicist Bettina Posselt of Penn State.

“We observed an extended area of infrared emissions around this neutron star … the total size of which translates into about 200 astronomical units (or 2.5 times the orbit of Pluto around the Sun) at the assumed distance of the pulsar.”

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