A new survey from Pew Research shows that more Americans continue to move away from specific religions. People who identify as Christians still make up a vast majority of the population at 70%, but that's down from 78%.
What's going on? To try and make sense of the numbers I spoke with Mike Hout, a Professor of Sociology at NYU who's been studying this very trend for over a decade.
"A lot of this increase over the last 20 years in Americans' having no religion is not Americans having no religious views - rather, more and more Americans simply don't have a preference one over another."
So Americans are losing religion only in the sense that they're shying away from any one religion. They still believe in God; they just may not be Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, or whatever.
"More and more people are inclined to do it themselves when it comes to God…there's a question out there in the public about whether or not you need a church in order to find God or find a path to God."
While the number of atheists ticked up a little bit, it looks most of these people still believe in God; they just don't belong to a church or denomination. It's the spiritual over religious debate. To me, this brings up the question: do you need organized religion to be close to God?
Personally? I say no, you don't need it. I grew up Catholic, but I stopped going to church about a year ago. And since then, I have never been happier or felt closer to God. I still pray every day; I just have more of a personal relationship with God.
What about you?
Check out my whole conversation with Mike Hout, and my conversations with y'all:
The report on Deflate-gate is now out, and it says that Tom Brady was probably aware of what was going on. It feels like there's always something with the Patriots. They got in trouble for Spygate back in 2007, but what will happen this time?
The report cleared head coach Bill Belichick…but is that fair? Saints fans are well aware of Roger Goodell's comments that Sean Payton should have known what was going on during Bountygate. If the buck stops here, why shouldn't Belichick get punished, like the NFL punished Payton?
I spoke with Gabe Feldman, a sports law expert at Tulane, about the report and what the Patriots could be facing.
"This is arguably much more integral to the integrity of the game. This is happening to the game itself…it would seem that if Roger Goodell wants to be consistent, that he would have to come down pretty hard…You can make an argument that the Patriots are now repeat offenders."
How does this compare to Bountygate?
"There's a couple differences that the commissioner is going to point to. One is that Bountygate, at least in theory, involved health and safety of players; and here with Deflate-gate, there was a competitive advantage…but no health and safety issue currently. I think the commissioner will also point to the fact that the Saints were told multiple times to correct their behavior, to stop engaging in this, again alleged, bounty scandal."
However, Feldman does think the two are comparable.
"I think there are more similarities than the league is comfortable discussing, and I think the biggest one is the lack of cooperation by the Patriots organization during the investigation. I think you could say that the Saints were actually more cooperative."
So the Pats are repeat offenders, and this scandal affects the integrity of the game. How much do you want to bet that their punishment is lighter than what the Saints received for the bounty scandal?
By now, most everyone has seen the video of a South Carolina police officer shooting a man in the back and killing him as he was fleeing. Now, I respect the heck out of police officers; and it’s a very tough job. However, I can’t see how shooting this man eight times was justified.
To find out what could have been going through the officer’s head and how cops are trained, we spoke with a friend of ours, Chuck Drago, a former police chief and a police practices expert. Drago agrees that the shooting does not appear to be justified.
“I see the man running away from the police officer. He doesn’t appear to be armed, he doesn’t appear to be threatening the officer in anyway. Then the officer fires his weapon at him, and I don’t really see where there was any threat to anyone.”
So what could the officer have done instead of using his firearm?
Drago says there were many options available. “He can call in for help to help set a perimeter, he can call a K-9. There’s a lot of things he can do, and those things are up to the officer… one thing he cannot do is use deadly force against an individual who does not pose a threat of deadly force or serious bodily injury to the officers or others.”
So why did he choose to shoot?
“There’s no way to explain what the officer did. This is such basic police training in terms of when you can shoot someone fleeing from you and when you can’t. To just stand there and fire at this individual, you just can’t explain it.”
Drago went even further, saying “The Mayor of the city said he made a poor decision - to me, that’s an insult to all good police officers in this country. That’s not a poor decision. A poor decision is when you take a second piece of pie and later on you’re sorry you ate too much pie… this is beyond a poor decision… it’s mind-boggling.”
Those are strong words from an expert on this topic. After seeing the video, what do you think?
To hear my interiew with Mr. Drago, click the link below.
More and more people are getting tattoos nowadays, so they’re becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace. As long as they’re appropriate, anyway. A New York man claims he was fired over his tattoo of his ex-girlfriend’s name… whose name is Isis. Yep.
Well, besides unfortunate ones like that, what about the average person with a tattoo? We turned to an expert who has studied tattoos in the workplace. Brian Elzweig is an Associate Professor of Business Law at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
So can you be fired for a tattoo?
“The general rule is that it’s employment at will, and you can be fired for any reason or no reason. So if an employer doesn’t like your tattoo, they can not hire you or fire you because of that.”
Does freedom of speech play any role?
“Freedom of speech would go primarily to a government entity acting on somebody. So there are probably more protections if you’re working for the government, but if you’re working for a private employer…there really are very little protections.”
With more people having tattoos, could businesses be missing out on qualified workers?
“There’s probably a lot of people who are not hiring people based on their having tattoos, and they’re losing a segment of people they could hire because they think there are social mores that tattoos aren’t acceptable.”
“Know your client base…because a lot of the time your customers may not care.”
Do you care? To listen to my full interview with Brian, click the link below.
It seems like we’re constantly seeing new stories of people from Western countries like the US, Canada, and the UK trying to make their way to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The FBI sent out a warning on how effective some of Islamic State’s propaganda is. WHY? Why are some people so drawn to this?
To try and understand what’s going on, we brought in an expert, Arie Kruglanski, a Distinguished University Professor in Psychology and an expert on the psychological aspects of terrorism. What’s going on here? What’s their message?
“What ISIS offers is what a normal, humdrum, an everyday existence cannot offer. A sense of great significance, doing something that will put you in history, that will make you a hero.”
And they actually believe torturing and killing makes them a hero. Do the people trying to join up actually know what’s going on over there?
“They suppress the negative aspects and just portray the positives,” the Professor said. Yep. The young people trying to join ISIS don’t realize they’re not going to be living like kings and what they’ll actually have to do.
Should we worry about these deluded miscreants trying to form together here rather than only going over there?
“It’s a good chance, especially if they already have the experience with explosives and weapons…the kinds of attacks that we see in Paris, in Boston, in Brussels, and other places. These are people that have had some experience, they were instructed through the Internet how to proceed and in many cases they have connections to criminal networks. So the lone wolf problem of people who are local yet inspired and capable of carrying out atrocious attacks is very real. This is a new frontier we have to confront.”
Despite most of us realizing the absurdity of their propaganda, a few are buying into it; and that’s worrisome. Sure, they’re trying to head over there now; but Dr. Kruglanski notes that could quickly become a problem over here.
It’s scary. To hear the rest of the interview, click the link below.
If someone comes up to you and asks for money, do you give them any? It happened to me recently. I was using the ATM, and a man approached me as I was walking away.
He told me that he just needed $40 for gasoline. He seemed earnest and sincere; and he SWORE, over and over, on his kid’s lives, that he was telling the truth. So ya know what? I gave him the $40.
However, despite how sincere he seemed, something was nagging me. So I decided to follow him. And sure enough, he goes into a nearby drug store and grabs two bottles of whiskey. Un-freaking-believable.
Now, what would you do? Tommy being Tommy, I confronted him. I told him he oughta be ashamed of himself, swearing up and down that he was telling the true while he was just lying to my face.
We’ve all been in somewhat similar situations. Is this person asking for money really and truly needy? Or are they just trying to take advantage of the kindness of strangers and make an easy buck?
You never can tell. I was suckered and scammed by his act. It made me angry that somebody would do that. But, in the end, I think I did the right thing.
President Obama is asking Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIS… basically, to authorize an official war against them. It would limit the authorization to three years, with no restriction as to where U.S. forces could pursue the threat. The president's proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations,” whatever that means.
But I’m confused. Are we striking them in Syria? In Iraq? Both? Elsewhere? Not even the experts are entirely sure.
Another thing I don’t quite get… how can we fully defeat ISIS? You normally don’t see “good ole days” and “war” in the same sentence, but that’s almost how I feel. We used to be able to easily identify who we were going after. They were countries that had known boundaries and had uniforms. Now it’s a lot less certain.
It’s almost like a game of whack-a-mole. If we strikes ISIS in Syria, they can pop back up in Iraq. If we hammer down on ISIS, extremists in al Qaeda can pop up in Afghanistan or Yemen or other places.
How far should we go with our soldiers risking life and limb so soon after previous wars ended? Join the conversation on Facebook below.
The Patriots are being investigated for possibly deflating balls during their playoff game against the Colts, which would allow them to grip the ball better (helpful on catches and carrying the football). So if true, this would be cheating, and it would directly impact on the field play. It’s also not the first time New England and Bill Belichick are possibly in trouble with the NFL. They were fined and penalized draft picks for Spygate back in 2007.
I’m just sayin’, this would be a 2nd offense. For Bountygate, the Saints lost draft picks AND Sean Payton for a year.
What’s worse: Bountygate or Deflategate? In my totally and completely unbiased opinion…I gotta go with this one. So if it’s true, shouldn’t Belichick get suspended too?
“You got too many people walking around this city…who don’t need to be out on the streets. And every time there’s a suspect captured, we see a record, and often times pending charges, and some form of state supervision, and even in some cases an ankle monitor. All clear indications that a person has matriculated through the system and rehabilitation has not happened."
So what can be done?
“I think we need stiffer penalties… if you do not empower citizens to defend themselves according to what state law dictates and not anybody’s particular political bent, then the violence rate will continue. People have to be able to defend themselves.”
Harsher punishments for criminals and more people defending themselves. Can this fix come easily?
“Nobody has a magic wand from Washington, D.C., Baton Rouge, or Perdido Street…that is going to magically make people stop killing each other.”
We know solving this issue, and the issue of violent crime in general, ain’t easy. It’s tough, and it’s hard, and it will take time.
But I think if we keep at it, taking steps – including those advocated by Captain Black – something can be done.
Every time I go to the store, it seems like the cost of food – meat, and beef in particular – is going up. In fact, the last time I tried to buy a roast, they wouldn’t let me… my loan application was denied!
But seriously, why are food prices going up? We’re saving money with lower gas prices, but that savings is being canceled out with higher food prices. What gives?
To try and answer that question, we turned to Chris Hurt, a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.
He said that overall, prices are fairly moderate. BUT…“There are certain categories of those foods that are really expensive…the one that really hits us is the whole animal sector. Pork and beef have had record retail prices.” Milk, eggs, and poultry as well.
I know I’ve seen it personally. Every time I go back to the store, the cost has gone up again.
“What we have experienced this year, is still the implications of the very severe droughts…that were going on multiple years that really reduced our cows here. We had a terrible disease in our pork industry…that reduced about up to 8% of our baby pigs. And we didn’t get good crops until the 2013 crop.”
So it was a combination of things. A double whammy of drought and disease will certainly do it. And with everything so connected, something negative in one industry will affect many others.
So what’s on the forecast? Where’s the beef?
“We’re actually going to see beef prices go higher this year, from records in 2014 to new records in 2015.
Great. Hurt did say he expects prices for some foods to go down, fortunately; but we’re stuck with paying an arm and a leg… and the other leg… for beef.