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I Left My Heart in South Dakota

July 10, 2019

Former CFI president and CEO Ron Lindsay returns to the blog to weigh in on Mike Pompeo’s newly announced commission that will look at human rights through the lens of “natural law”:

This is entirely the wrong approach. Before the commission has even met, it has prejudged the basis on which we can argue for human rights. And the theory which will direct its work is deeply flawed. …

… Stripped of its window dressing, an argument on the basis of natural law is just another way of saying “this is my view of what’s good and bad to do” – except that the person making this claim is likely to be dogmatic because, you see, they know THE TRUTH.

Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation says the commission is a sham:

What Pompeo is looking for with his new “human rights panel” is an intellectual sheen that will give the Trump administration every excuse to continue violating human rights for its own benefit, to more easily go to war against those dictators it does not like, and justify or excuse atrocities of those it does.

More cool data on the nonreligious from Prof. Ryan Burge: this time he shows us how various belief groups are increasing or declining on the state level. In every state save for three, Nones are on the rise more than any other group. They have actually declined in South Dakota. So I guess that one guy moved.

According to new Gallup data, 36 percent of Americans say they have confidence in organized religion, which is a new low. Gosh I wonder why. But another 36 percent have “some” confidence. Shrug. The big winner for Americans’ confidence? The military at 73 percent “a great deal” and 18 “some.” The biggest loser? Congress, of course, with 52 percent having no confidence.

Religious studies professor Candy Gunther Brown explores the church-state separation issues surrounding yoga and meditation in public schools, as some religious groups (mostly conservative Christian groups) worry that kids are being trained in someone else’s spiritual practices. Yeah, no one would want that, right guys?

At Skeptical Inquirer, Harriet Hall takes joy in being wrong about some things, particularly in how we tend to think everything is getting worse (which I take as an article of faith and nothing you say will ever convince be otherwise, forever and ever, amen). Inspired by the book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, she writes:

In every country, the majority of people believe the world is getting worse. But this book shows that the world is getting better, and optimism is justified; it provides rules of thumb about how to think about what we hear.

A federal appeals court has ruled that President Trump is not allowed to block his critics on Twitter:

Since he took office, the President has consistently used the Account as an important tool of governance and executive outreach. … Because the President, as we have seen, acts in an official capacity when he tweets, we conclude that he acts in the same capacity when he blocks those who disagree with him.

As France’s health agencies end state reimbursements for homeopathic fake medicine, homeopaths freak out. Politico reports:

“Our association hopes that common sense carries the day, and that the reimbursement is kept,” said Joël Siccardi, president of AHP France, which represents patients using homeopathy, ahead of the decision.

No, you see, this is common sense carrying the day. You’re confused. Maybe from an overdose of nothing.

BBC reports on the efforts of Saudi exile Taleb Al-Abdulmohsen to help ex-Muslims escape desperate situations in their home country, Sounds like Secular Rescue has an ally.

Andreas Kyriacou, our UN Advocate, had some words about Saudi Arabia and its inclusion on the Human Rights Council, which he delivered to said council. Check out the video.

Holy crap. We knew China was rounding up Uighur Muslims into camps and that terrible things were happening to them. The one that even surprises my very high threshold for surprise at human cruelty: organ harvesting. RNS reports:

The tribunal found that it was possible that Uighur Muslims’ organs have been sold against their will to the billion-dollar transplant industry.

Citing a lack of evidence that China has dismantled the infrastructure used for its organ transplantation industry, as well as the country’s inability to explain its organ sourcing, the tribunal said, the massive scale of the “concerted persecution and medical testing” of Uighurs suggests that “evidence of forced organ harvesting of this group may emerge in due course.”

Some of Andrew Yang’s best friends are atheists. But seriously:

And some of [my atheist friends] are also some of the best people I know. And it is ridiculous that people would think you are somehow less moral or less worthy of the full protection and enjoyment of all of our virtues as a society because of your religious beliefs.

Trump spiritual adviser Paula White says she can make the ground she’s standing on into a magic Jesus-zone, and that God told her an IV drip in a hospital was going to feed Satan into her bloodstream. Sounds about right.

Dobby is sorry, sir, but Mister Kenny Biddle told Dobby it wasn’t him who was dancing in the driveways, sir, and if Dobby was, sir, Dobby would have to smash his head against hard surfaces, sir, quite repeatedly. Which Dobby would be glad to do, sir.

Quote of the Day

Also our Headline of the Day, from Business Insider:

Bill Gates says a devastating ‘quirk of nature’ could kill 30 million people in a year. Researchers are fighting that threat by studying bird butts.

Hey, you do you.

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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.