No church-going doctors for me, please

Here I’ve been thinking of getting a nice tattoo (something discreet and subtle, like an octopus someplace you‘ll never see it), and then I learn that for the sake of my health, I better not. After all, some good Christian doctor might refuse to help me when I’m sick. Dr Gary Merrill, who proudly proclaims his Christian faith, turned away a little girl with an ear infection because her mother had a tattoo.

…Dr. Gary Merrill wouldn’t treat her daughter for an ear infection because Tasha, the mother, has tattoos.

The writing is on the wall—literally: “This is a private office. Appearance and behavior standards apply.”

For Dr. Gary Merrill of Christian Medical Services, that means no tattoos, body piercings, and a host of other requirements—all standards Merrill has set based upon his Christian faith.

Way to represent your faith, doc! He ought to read the Gospel of Luke—there’s an obscure story in there about some guy beaten up and left to die by the road, and a priest and a Levite, the people Dr Merrill must model his life after, walk by and leave him there to die. He can stop reading right there, though…there’s some other bit that follows with a fellow from Samaria that isn’t all that important.

Hey, I just had a liberating thought—I think I’d rather die than ask for help from some sanctimonious jerkwad who calls his clinic “Christian Medical Services,” so maybe I can go ahead and get that tat after all! Maybe I can get a little more flamboyant, too—how about keeping most of it under the shirt, but with one tentacle reaching up and wrapping around the neck?

“A new way of learning about history and science”

At least, that’s how Andy Schlafly characterizes Conservapedia in a New Scientist article. I called it “shallow and useless or downright wrong,” if you’re interested in an alternative position on it.

Josh Rosenau wasn’t any more charitable.

They are re-defining their own truth and seem to think facts are malleable.

Strictly speaking, I guess Schlafly was correct: if you’re redefining facts and making up nonsense as you go along, you certainly are presenting a new way of learning.

Mike attended a creationist conference, and he’s still sane (mostly)

This fellow Mike up around Toronto asked me for assistance a while back—he was planning to attend the Bible Skeptics Conference, an event put on by the Institute for Creation Research. I couldn’t say much, but I did suggest he get in touch with Larry Moran at the U Toronto.

Well, he attended and survived. It’s a good summary of the usual combination of drivel and lunacy that comes out of these events. He also attended a second talk by Bruce Malone. Malone, by the way, was the fellow who was speaking in the Twin Cities last week, to whose talk on Mt St Helens as evidence for a young earth I was invited by a creationist. This is the instance where I begged off by saying I wasn’t a geologist…and, amusingly, the creationist admitted that was OK, since the speaker wasn’t, either.

There’s going to be a third write-up soon. I’m pretty sure his sanity survived the harrowing, although I do have one concern. Mike told me in email that Larry Moran was a “nice guy”—I’m suspecting that there might have been some residual impairment of his mental facilities. Everyone knows that Larry is godless curmudgeon.

Blasphemy is too education!

This message came by a roundabout route—a reader sent me a link to an Italian blog (translated) that was discussing a protest petition of a ‘blasphemous’ play that is being put on at…the University of Minnesota! The petition is titled “Blasphemy is not education”:

I understand the University of Minnesota plans to stage an anti-Catholic play, “The Pope and the Witch” by Dario Fo, a communist playwright. … I believe this play is blasphemous and not a legitimate expression of academic freedom. I am deeply offended as a Catholic. Together with thousands of TFP Student Action members, I urge you to respect the Catholic Faith and cancel “The Pope and the Witch.”

I beg to differ. Blasphemy is highly educational, and I hope our university can do more of it. We are not here to reassure you that your ignorance and prejudices are alright, we’re supposed to shake up our students.

I’m also amused that all this indignant young person can say about Dario Fo is that he is a communist <gasp!> — right. Dario Fo, winner of the 1997 Nobel for literature. Religion does seem to make for a fine set of blinders, doesn’t it?

I don’t think the petition has had the slightest effect. I hadn’t heard a single word about it until it was mentioned in my email, and the play opens this week. I’m tempted to go, because it should be entertaining and being able to thumb my nose at religious bigots adds a little extra flavor to it. If only we weren’t expecting several more inches of snow later this week…

The false equation

I’ve rarely seen it so starkly said:

“We are witnessing a social phenomenon that is about fundamentalism,” says Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark. “Atheists like the Richard Dawkins of this world are just as fundamentalist as the people setting off bombs on the tube, the hardline settlers on the West Bank and the anti-gay bigots of the Church of England. Most of them would regard each other as destined to fry in hell.

“You have a triangle with fundamentalist secularists in one corner, fundamentalist faith people in another, and then the intelligent, thinking liberals of Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, baptism, methodism, other faiths – and, indeed, thinking atheists – in the other corner. ” says Slee. Why does he think the other two groups are so vociferous? “When there was a cold war, we knew who the enemy was. Now it could be anybody. From this feeling of vulnerability comes hysteria.”

[Read more…]

But he’s one of those appeasers!

Let this be a lesson to you: being a moderate will not spare you from the reactionary criticisms of the lunatic right. Chris Mooney is an unbeliever, but he’s also one of those softies who thinks atheists ought to be less vigorous in their assault on the public sphere (I recall arguing with him a few times about that). I confess to feeling a little schadenfreude that now the Discovery Institute pillories him for daring to be a secular humanist. The DI doesn’t like theistic evolutionists either, though, so it’s not like it’s a big surprise that they’d have the vapors over a secular humanist.

Also, it’s Casey Luskin, attack mouse, leading the charge. It’s hard to get too worked up over a squeak from that incompetent joke.

Inside scoop from Majikthise

It looks like Lindsay Beyerstein dodged a bullet—she was offered the position with the Edwards campaign that Amanda Marcotte accepted, and she turned it down. It’s a smart article—there are some good lessons to be learned about blogs and politics from it.

The Edwards campaign wants decentralized people-powered politics. Ironically, by hiring well-known bloggers to manage a destination Web site, it was actually centralizing and micromanaging. Every campaign needs a blog, but the most important part of a candidate’s netroots operation is the disciplined political operatives who can quietly build relationships with bloggers outside the campaign. And the bomb-throwing surrogates need to be outside, where they can make full use of their gifts without saddling a campaign with their personal political baggage.

Lindsay knew she’d be targeted, just as Amanda was — she’s a godless pro-choicer, too. That’s actually a disturbing problem; why should favoring secularism and a woman’s right to choose be a detriment to someone working for a Democratic candidate?