In my spare time, when I’m not blogging or practicing guitar, I coach high school debate. This month’s resolution reads: “WikiLeaks is a threat to United States national security.”
Normally, I don’t discuss politics at this blog. But because many secular humanists are passionate about free speech issues, I want to elicit your opinions.
For those who don’t know, WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 that publishes confidential corporate and government materials. Among the biggest leaks were the LDS Church Handbook, reams of documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hundreds of thousands of private diplomatic cables.
The Obama administration has forcefully condemned WikiLeaks as a threat to national security; Vice President Joe Biden even went so far as to call WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a “hi-tech terrorist.” The American public overwhelmingly disapproves of the group, but my friends—if my Facebook newsfeed is any indication—seem to overwhelmingly support it.
Like a ‘good liberal’, I initially toed the ideological line and defended WikiLeaks. In researching this topic with my debate students, however, my position has become more nuanced.
Not convinced? You of course shouldn’t be. But unfortunately, millions of people buy this nonsense. A poll conducted earlier this year found that 24% of Republicans believe that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”
For the record, Obama is hardly the first president to be accused of Satanism by Christian conspiracy theorists. Back in 2004, at a John Kerry meet-up in Salt Lake City, I remember an old man trying to convince me that George W. Bush was the Antichrist. So both parties have their fair share of crazies at the extremes.
Not surprisingly, Mormons give President Obama the lowest approval ratings, and Muslims give him the highest. What I found newsworthy was that Obama’s ratings among atheists/agnostics was only 63%. I’m not sure how to interpret that statistic. Does it mean there is significant political diversity among atheists/agnostics, or are we so overwhelmingly liberal that we are disappointed by how moderate Obama has been?
According to a poll conducted at this site, 48% of our readers are liberal, 23% moderate, 16% libertarian, 12% other, and 1% conservative.
In mining old conference talks for interesting quotes, it quickly became apparent that Ezra Taft Benson was among the most colorful and controversial conference speakers. The Glenn Beck of apostles, he would often rail against perceived communist threats and conspiracies from the conference pulpit. He taught that the civil rights movement was a front for communism and that public schools were established by Marxists for the propagation of atheism. But I recently found my favorite Benson quote:
Have we, as Moroni warned, “polluted the holy church of God?” (Morm. 8:38.) The auxiliaries of the Church are to be a help, not a hindrance, to parents and the priesthood as they strive to lead their families back to God. Do any of us wear or display the broken cross, anti-Christ sign, that is the adversary’s symbol of the so-called “peace movement”? – Ezra Taft Benson, October 1970 General Conference
Glenn Beck is a regular recipient of ridicule (hooray for alliterations!) at this blog. But every now and then I like to highlight something redeeming about an ideological foe. A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to humanize the Westboro Baptists. And today, I’ll attempt to humanize Glenn Beck.
On Fox News last night, Bill O’Reilly asked Beck why he wasn’t more of a “culture warrior”—why he doesn’t discuss issues like gay marriage and abortion. Beck explained that “the country is burning down” and that social issues are basically a distraction. “Honestly, I think we have bigger fish to fry,” he said.
O’Reilly then followed up with this question: “Do you believe gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?”
“A threat to the country? No, I don’t,” Beck responded. “Will the gays come and get us?” he asked mockingly. “I don’t think … the government actually has anything to do with [marriage] … that is a religious rite.”
Happy Fourth, everyone! On this day, more than any other, you’re likely to hear that America was founded upon Judeo-Christian values. Such a view is incredibly pervasive here in Utah.
The Salt Lake Tribune today profiled LDS painter Jon McNaughton who often blends politics and religion in his art. The painting at the right (“One Nation Under God“) got national attention during the 2008 presidential election, because it depicts Christ pointing to the U.S. Constitution. Behind Christ are the founders and dozens of other iconic American figures.
Hardly. I just wanted to make Ezra Taft Benson turn in his grave from the mere suggestion. Ha ha. But Utah does possess at least one trait of a socialist utopia: It has relatively low income inequality—the lowest in the country.
The LDS Church maintains a robust welfare system; that may explain a small part of this phenomenon. The Economistattributed it to the “Mormon work ethic” and the church’s emphasis on education. I think Utah’s lack of racial diversity is also a factor.
What do you think explains Utah’s low income inequality?
Update: A recent Salt Lake Tribune article also discussed Utah’s low income inequality. The article used U.S. Census data from 2011, whereas my post relied on data from 2006. And even in this latest report, Utah remains the state with the lowest income inequality.
No matter what population level is examined — state, metro area, large place, small place or even census tract — a Utah area came up in the report as the most homogenous by income in the nation, or close to it.
Utah was the most homogenous for household incomes among the 50 states. The Salt Lake metropolitan area ranked Continue reading →