Humanists International have put out their latest report on the persecution faced by nonbelievers around the world, Humanists At Risk: Action Report 2020. They write:
Humanists and atheists face intimidation, threats, arrest and prosecution, and even death, for sharing their views on social media. For some, while challenging legislation is important in the long-term, their most immediate concern is simply achieving recognition and respect.
This is something we are all too familiar with, trying to help who we can through our Secular Rescue program.
The Guardian reports on the findings, highlighting the case of Nigeria’s Mubarak Bala:
Mubarak Bala, president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was last month arrested after being accused of blasphemy, which carries the death penalty. Bala, the son of a widely regarded Islamic scholar, has been an outspoken religious critic in a staunchly conservative region of the country.
“To speak out and say you’re an atheist or humanist in Nigeria can be dangerous, but Bala is very passionate about creating a space for those who do not subscribe to Islam or religion,” said Leo Igwe, a fellow Nigerian humanist and human rights advocate
Jack Jenkins reports on how Trump is trying to staunch the bleeding in his poll numbers among religious voters by fanning more evangelical flames:
“We don’t back down from left-wing bullies. And the only authority we worship is our God.” …
… experts say the real question is whether his outreach will win over moderate evangelicals who may be second-guessing their support for Trump in light of his administration’s pandemic response, the ongoing economic fallout and recent unrest after the death of George Floyd.
And to that point, Ryan Burge shows that it is indeed Trump’s response to the protests that is really hurting his numbers, as opposed to his handling of the pandemic:
… it’s crucial to note that his response to COVID-19, which relied heavily on insisting on keeping churches open, did not seem to move the needle [with white evangelicals] as much as the recent racial unrest. Trump’s handling of this situation has become a weight around his neck that could sink his chances of being a two-term president.
The Detroit Free Press reports on the Detroit Archdiocese’s firing of Terry Gonda, a church music director who was kicked out for being married to another woman. Just look how cold this is, in the email she got from her employer:
The Archdiocese is choosing to activate its morality clause to terminate your employment.
It’s like they’re using the Infinity Stones to snap her away. Anyway, Gonda calls it “a shot to the head” and that “The dehumanization of this is just not right.”
You may not know this, but the Supreme Court’s ruling that barred LGBTQ discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ACTUALLY ABOLISHED MEN AND WOMEN. I know this because I read it in this Wall Street Journal op-ed that called the ruling “totalitarian.” No really!
The court has … codified a radical new conception of human nature with a dubious ideological history. It has inscribed into law the abolition of man and woman. …
… The war on pronouns, an assault upon the language by which we recognize a world in common, follows of necessity. What we are dealing with is nothing less than a war on reality itself. And everyone has just been pressed into service.
There is no totalitarianism so total as that which claims authority over the meaning of nature. … The court has abolished the fundamental fact on which every civilization depends, indeed on which the human species depends.
WOW. Thanks for ending the species, Gorsuch. (And yes, they actually wrote, without irony, “the war on pronouns.” There’s a Daffy Duck joke in there somewhere.)
Emily McFarlan Miller has an interesting report on the debate over the depiction of Jesus as white, focusing primarily on the famous Head of Christ painting by Warner Sallman:
Matthew Anderson, affiliate professor of theological studies at Concordia University in Montreal … said that it has been common for people to depict Jesus as a member of their culture or their ethnic group.
“If a person thinks that’s [Sallman’s is] the only possible representation of Jesus, then that’s where the problem starts,” he said.
Aryeh Siegel at Religion Dispatches reports on how things apparently got really not-secular with transcendental meditation classes in Chicago public schools:
[One student’s] experience began with a mandatory “initiation into the meditation program” (elsewhere in TM materials referred to as a puja, a ceremony performed by Hindus, as well as many Buddhists and Jains). Students are taken by a QT [quiet time] “facilitator,” two at a time, to a dark, incense-filled room with all the windows covered.
According to Thomas, they were made to hold flowers in their hands while the instructors “chanted in a foreign language, threw rice, seasonings, [and] oranges on a pan in front of a picture of a man,” after which they were to place the flowers on the pan. Following the ritual, they were given their mantras and were told “don’t tell anyone else your word.” (Keeping one’s mantra a secret, it should be noted, is common in some sects of Hinduism.) Thomas also notes that students were told they would be sent to the dean’s office if they declined to participate and that they would be threatened with reduced grades if they talked during the twice-daily QT sessions. She describes feeling uncomfortable about her participation because the ceremony went against the Christian religion she practiced in her home.
Bats in the Belfry
A pro-infection rally in Arizona yesterday attracted all sorts of fun folks, such as QAnon cultists, Confederate flag enthusiasts, and perhaps best of all, Flat-Earthers.
This woman in Florida testifying before a county commission should have been there, having told officials that “every single one of you will be arrested” for enabling the conspiracy of Satan, the deep state, Hillary Clinton, 5G wireless, Bill Gates, pedophiles, and so on.
Anthony Fauci says the NIH cut off funding for a coronavirus research project because Trump told them to. Ars Technica reports:
Fauci made the revelation Tuesday at a Congressional hearing on the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. … Fauci responded to [Rep.] Veasey saying: “It was cancelled because the NIH was told to cancel it.”
“And why were they told to cancel it?” Veasey pressed.
“I don’t know the reason, but we were told to cancel it,” Fauci said.
The reason may have something to do with conspiracy theories about the virus’s origins:
The research is run by EcoHealth Alliance Inc., a nonprofit based in New York, but it collaborates with a virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, who works with bat coronaviruses. The WIV became the center of a conspiracy theory that suggested that the pandemic coronavirus originated in or escaped from a lab at the institute.
Health Canada has put out a warning to Canadians to avoid buying fake COVID-19 treatments. The Ottawa Citizen reports:
The products include some masks, colloidal silver, some disinfectants, plant-based elixirs and formulas, hand sanitizers, Chaga mushroom blends, ultraviolet lamps, and oregano oil.
FiveThirtyEight, meanwhile, has a helpful guide on what to look for in a face mask. So there you go. Something nice.
We’re keeping track of COVID-19 pseudoscience, snake oil, fake cures, and more at CFI’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Separate fact from fiction and inoculate yourself from misinformation at centerforinquiry.org/coronavirus.
Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.