Poker strategists sometimes describe unskilled behavior as “coinciding with correct play.” For example, the way most people play poker badly is by calling every bet. If you bluff such a player, even in a situation where he absolutely should fold, he will call your bet and win. His mistake coincides with correct play. From the perspective of conservative Republicans, the Islamic State coincided with correct play when it banned the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution from schools in Mosul. Also, the Islamic State is establishing public school curricula in northern Iraq now. At least we don’t have to worry about Saddam Hussein anymore, right? Guys?
A federal judge ruled yesterday that Jim Fouts, the mayor of Warren, Michigan, was wrong to deny resident Douglas Marshall’s request to set up a “reason station” in the atrium of City Hall. Marshall submitted his application in response to a prayer station that Fouts authorized for the same atrium, presumably so that people could file property tax assessments without missing their hourly prayers of intercession. You know—basic city services. I mention this story partly because it’s fun to watch municipal governments fail to close the separation between church and state, but mostly because Fouts’s original letter denying Marshall’s application is a masterpiece of bad reasoning. Excerpt after the jump.
I applaud Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s decision to proclaim July 14, 2014 a day of prayer and repentance, solidifying Iowa as a Christian state and renewing God’s protection for another year. To his critics, who argue it is unseemly for the governor to instruct his citizens to pray according to the Bible, I say the governor has to do it or it doesn’t work. You didn’t grow up there, but I remember when the Lieutenant Governor declared a day of fasting and repentance in 1988, and 100,000 schoolchildren died of the flu. Don’t second-guess Iowa. They didn’t become the tall corn state by not managing the guy with the locusts.
President Obama has not yet signed his executive order forbidding government contractors from discriminating against homosexuals, but a group of “major faith organizations” has asked to be exempted from it. Citing Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, representatives of Catholic Charities USA, Saddleback Ministries and the National Association of Evangelicals asked that the president provide a “robust religious exemption” from the federal government’s plan to stop doing business with homophobes. In a letter organized by Michael Wear, the former director of faith outreach during Obama’s 2012 campaign, the groups write, “we are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” That whooshing you hear is the sound of open floodgates.
First of all, Aunt Jemima has gotten a lot less racist over the years, but the basic concept remains extremely problematic. Second, and in no way related to pancakes: the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that family-owned corporations like Hobby Lobby are exempt from federal laws requiring them to provide comprehensive insurance coverage for certain types of contraception. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, the court determined that forcing companies to pay for birth control methods that prevent the implantation of fertilized eggs—which some Christians consider a form of abortion—constituted a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So get ready to see more pregnant girls working at Hobby Lobby, as I presume the company’s founders intended.