Monthly Archives: December 2015

Religion’s influence in lives

Pew Research has done a worldwide survey of the influence of religion on people. Their question was whether individuals believed that religion is a very important influence in their lives. The percentage answering yes is given for each country in a report online.There are a lot of countries in the list, so I suggest you take a look.

The range of the results is huge, from 98% for Ethiopia to 3% in China. The US is 53%, almost at the 55% global median. Generally, poorer nations tend to be religious, wealthier nations less so, but with some notable exceptions, like the US, which is unique among wealthy nations.

I think this data is important to any real understanding of US politics.

It’s like shingles.

The xenophobia that currently afflicts so many in the Republican Party – not just the candidates but their admirers in great number – should not surprise us.  Despite the claims of  moderate Republicans, who believe these ideas should be advanced more subtly, this kind of fear and loathing of the “others” is not foreign to our politics.

In our earlier history  the mantle of  xenophobia was carried by the Native American Party – or “no-nothings” who preached the dangers from immigration of Catholics. They reached their peak of popularity in the 1850s during the political turmoil leading to the demise of the Whig Party and then were mostly absorbed into the new Republican Party. I like to think of this as the end of the chickenpox phase of the movement as the virus then went into a dormant mode.

And now, like the virus returning to activity to give us a case of shingles, we have Trump and Cruz to bring it all out of the closet. The so-called Republican establishment is appalled, of course. You’re not supposed to be that explicit.

A What?

All of us are familiar with the remarkable resumes of some of our most talented young people in their progress to the most exclusive schools. I look on their accomplishments with awe and only a bit of reserve, However, in an emailed release that I received form Yale today, I had the feeling that maybe someone was having a bit of fun with us.

The announced story was about three Yale seniors who have won a Rhodes Scholarship this year. Here is the resume included for one of them:

Jared C. Milfred ’16 majors in ethics, politics, and economics. He has combined research in political theory and political science with a passion for social justice advocacy and campaign finance reform. He founded the nonpartisan student advocacy organizations Democracy United, serves as the chief executive of the National Council of City Public Financing Agencies, and chairs the City of New Haven Campaign Finance Board. Milfred worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and is editor-in-chief of Yale’s Journal of Political Thought, as well as the ethics editor of the Yale Philosophy Review. He volunteers as an EMT for Yale Emergency Medical Services and as a reader for blind students at Yale’s Office on Disabilities. At age 17, Milfred became the youngest licensed nuclear reactor operator in the United States. He will pursue an M.Phil. in political theory at Oxford.

I just checked this bio on the Rhodes Trust website and it is identical. Not a joke?