Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Russell Vought – The Atlantic

During a contentious confirmation hearing, the Vermont senator questioned the faith of the nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Source: Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Russell Vought – The Atlantic

 

There are many religious sects which hold strongly that their specific and particular beliefs are the one and only true collection of such belief/knowledge and that all other people are damned for failing to learn, understand, and follow such information and practices as they have.

If any country is to include these people as citizens and strongly support “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech” for all, including government officials and public representatives, then those people must be allowed to accurately state their beliefs, especially/particularly outside the context of acting *as* the government.

The important question is not “What does Vought think defines a good/true/proper Christian?”, nor is it “Does Vought think everyone other than proper Christians is condemned?”. The important question is whether or not Vought can act in the public interest to the benefit and respect of all citizens. Bernie Sander’s narrow line of questioning did not explore this, nor was his conclusion appropriate by this reasoning.

Basically any core religious argument could be seen as fantastically disrespectful to people of all other beliefs. If an atheist writes “Religion is outmoded, magical thinking which ought to be avoided.”, is that respectful to those with deeply held religious beliefs? Is it respectful to Christians when a Muslim argues that Christians are condemned for not following the prophet Mohammed?

And yet I would say that both of the above *and* Vought’s writing can be seen as respectful of other citizens insofar as they are communicating, explaining, clarifying, etc. their own religious beliefs (and potentially the actions and positions of religious institutions).

However…

Every country *totally* has religious litmus tests — limitations on both the speech and actions of public officials and of private citizens. No country on earth permits it citizens to murder each other and claim “My religion demands I do it.” as a legal defense. Religious freedom ends where the collective ethics and values of the body politic begin. Less extreme examples include the restrictions on drugs taken for religious reasons/purposes, restrictions on sacrificing animals, and policies against awarding custody to a parent guilty of child abuse.

What to do…

Trumpism will expand its base of believers and practitioners if it is not strenuously opposed, just like Nazism, Communism, Capitalism, Liberalism, and every other -ism. Trumpism is an idea. Ideas can only be defeated through the greater popularity of a competing, alternative idea.

Ideas have currency because of the moral values which underlie their motive, reasoning, logic, and their intent. Ideas can also sometimes have currency due to the experienced reality of the outcomes of actions based on them, but that comes later (it takes time) and is frequently overlooked through selective perception and/or other cognitive biases.

Still, there are concrete steps which can be taken and are not token echo chamber participation.

Continue reading What to do…

Isn’t it better to invest in clean energy and be wrong about the dangers of climate change than to do nothing and be right?

To be absolutely clear, the climate is changing, humans are the cause (primarily through the mass combustion of fossil fuels), and human civilization is responsible for the eventual outcome.
See: Global CO2 Summary — The Keeling Curve, Seasonal CO2 Cycles, and Global CO2 Distribution

However…

Those who don’t believe that climate change is real (or think it is manageable) think the gamble is in the other direction. Switching the entire planet over to “clean” energy would cost about 20% of global wealth (to emphasize: wealth, not income!) — around £30 trillion. It would cost the United States about $5 trillion just for itself.

Furthermore, the beneficiaries of such infrastructure and investment would not exactly be the same companies which make up the current energy infrastructure. The existing companies (and countries, since many fossil fuel companies are state-owned) would face losses of up to:

  • $85 trillion in proven petroleum reserves
  • $31 trillion in proven coal reserves
  • $468 billion in proven gas reserves
  • > $5.5 trillion in annual industry revenue
  • trillions of dollars in capital, obsolete physical infrastructure, market capitalization, and equity

Yeah, we’ll still need some non-energy petroleum products, and if old-energy companies invested in the clean energy sector then they wouldn’t lose their entire market value. But people have a very hard time agreeing to claims that they (and millions of other people) should lose everything.

 

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