Newsreel 01/28

  • This week’s South Carolina Primary saw New Gingrich emerge in a landslide victory over Mitt Romney and the rest of the runners in the race-to-race-against-Obama. Pew Forum released an exit report on the religious breakdown of the voters, noting that Gingrich took both the evangelical vote and that of those who consider it important that a candidate shares their religious views (curious, as Gingrich is a former-evangelical now-Catholic).
  • Writing on the South Carolina primary, president of the Secular Coalition for America Dr. Herb Silverman contributed a piece to the HuffPo citizens coverage of the 2012 race on Stephen Colbert’s endorsement of Herman Cain.
  • Mitt released his tax returns this week, revealing that he gives $20 million dollars annually to the Mormon church. WaPo columnist Lisa Miller points to this and a number of (ahem…biased) sources to suggest that religious people are, on the whole, more generous. Barring a simple correlation-causation mistake, I think it’s beyond silly to say, as she does, that someone might be “nicer” simply because they ascribe to specific faith tradition. Do you think she’s onto something?
  • On the topic of the Romulan family, a piece in Gawker looks at the conversion of Mitt’s father-in-law from “staunch atheism” to Mormonism.
  • In the 18,431,235th Republican presidential debate of this election cycle, GOP candidates discussed how their religious beliefs will or should affect their roles as president.
  • Turning our attention briefly away from the fiery-topic GOP race, the Obama administration, in addition to delivering this year’s State of the Union address, upheld a health care mandate requiring almost all employers’ insurance plans– including many Catholic organizations, which met criticism– to provide contraceptive services to women at no cost. Analysts worry that this might pose an obstacle to the Catholic votership as the incumbent president seeks reelection. Small price for women’s reproductive freedom, if you ask me.
  • And finally, a bit off-topic: Seemingly in an effort to garner support for the forthcoming Florida primary, Newt Gingrich, in all his scientific credibility, revived a Bush II promise that, if elected, he’d annex a new state by the end of 2020: on the moon. Without increasing NASA’s budget. In a time of financial austerity. A number of astrophysicists weighed in on the economic near-impossibility of the idea, but here’s everyone’s favorite, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who notes that, if possible, “the world” ought to have a moon base, to “push civilization as a whole forward in a way we never imagined before.”
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