Don’t you believe in flying saucers?

Don’t you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don’t you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?
No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out “Don’t you believe in anything?”
“Yes”, I said. “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.”

-Isaac Asimov

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

The analysis is based on a Pew Research Center survey of 742 American adults conducted April 14-21. It did not include analysis of groups other than white evangelicals, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated, because the sample size was too small.

The president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The survey asked: “Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?”

Roughly half of all respondents — 49 percent — said it is often or sometimes justified. A quarter said it never is.

The religious group most likely to say torture is never justified was Protestant denominations — such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians — categorized as “mainline” Protestants, in contrast to evangelicals. Just over three in 10 of them said torture is never justified. A quarter of the religiously unaffiliated said the same, compared with two in 10 white non-Hispanic Catholics and one in eight evangelicals.

Abortion foes in healthcare to get federal protection

Abortion foes in healthcare to get federal protection

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration Thursday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect antiabortion healthcare workers from being required to deliver services against their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities that do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Healthcare workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience.”

The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others, who said the measure was necessary to safeguard workers from being penalized.

Critics including women’s health advocates, family planning advocates and abortion rights activists said that the regulation could create sweeping obstacles to family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research as well as to abortion.
“It’s breathtaking,” said Robyn Shapiro, a bioethicist and lawyer at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “The impact could be enormous.”

The regulation drops a draft version’s most controversial language, which would have explicitly defined an abortion for the first time in a federal law or regulation as anything that interfered with a fertilized egg after conception.

But both supporters and critics said the proposed regulation remained broad enough to protect pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others from having to provide birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception and other forms of contraception. And both groups said the regulation would explicitly allow workers to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere.

Leavitt said he requested the new regulation after becoming alarmed by reports that healthcare workers were being pressured to take actions they considered immoral. He cited moves by two doctor organizations that he said might require antiabortion doctors to refer patients to abortion providers.

An early draft of the regulation that leaked in July triggered criticism from women’s health activists, family planning advocates, members of Congress and others who feared that the definition of abortion could be interpreted to include many common forms of contraception.

“Words in that draft led some to misconstrue the department’s intent,” Leavitt said in a telephone news conference Thursday. “This regulation . . . is consistent with my intent to focus squarely on the issue of conscience rights. This specifically goes to the issue of abortion and conscience.”

When pressed about whether the regulation would protect workers who considered birth control pills, Plan B and other forms of contraception to be abortion, Leavitt said: “This regulation does not seek to resolve any ambiguity in that area. It focuses on abortion and focuses on physicians’ conscience in relation to that.”

David Stevens of the Catholic Medical Assn. said: “I think this provides broad application not just to abortion and sterilization but any other type of morally objectionable procedure and research activity. We think it’s badly needed. Our members are facing discrimination every day, and as we get into human cloning and all sorts of possibilities it’s going to become even more important.”

The regulation, which would cost more than $44 million to implement, is aimed at enforcing several federal laws that have been on the books since the 1970s, aimed primarily at protecting doctors and nurses who did not want to perform abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, Leavitt said.

But critics said they remained alarmed at the scope of the regulation, which could apply to a wide range of healthcare workers — even those who, for example, were responsible for cleaning instruments used in an abortion.

Huckabee questions tenet of Romney’s Mormon faith

All this time I though Mitt Romney and Mike Huackabee were running for president of the United States; how mistake I’ve been all this time, the two are clearly running for pope. Seriosuly, who gives a flying fuck how much they believe in zombie jesus? How will this in ANY WAY make them a better president? These two are bickering over mythology instead of actual issues that have even the slightest bit of consequence in the world today. The US economy is slumping, housing market is bust, the country is swimming in debt, two ongoing wars and the prospects for another one on the horizon and they’re taking shots at each other over faith. BRA-FUCKING-VO.

Huckabee questions tenet of Romney’s Mormon faith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he considers his rival Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a religion, not a cult, but questioned whether Mormons believe “Jesus and the devil are brothers.”

Huckabee raised the question on his own in an interview to appear in The New York Times magazine on Sunday, and ignited a new flap in the up-for-grabs race to be the Republican Party’s nominee in the November 2008 presidential election.

Huckabee was asked if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. “I think it’s a religion,” he said in the interview, published on the newspaper’s Web site on Wednesday. “I really don’t know much about it.”

Then he asked: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

Romney, who has tried to dispel conservative Christians’ worries about the Mormon faith, responded on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday.

“I think attacking someone’s religion is really going too far. It’s just not the American way. and I think people will reject that,” the former Massachusetts governor said.