Many Exploitative Schemes

July 3, 2018


Oh great, yesterday was World UFO Day and I didn’t get you anything. Kyle Mizokami at Popular Mechanics marks the occasion with a look at, well, where the hell all the aliens are:

Every single day, hundreds of millions of people are carrying a high quality camera in their pockets but there has been no corresponding explosion in UFO photos or video. The connected nature of the internet and social media allows ordinary people to reach a wide audience, but interest in talking about so-called “alien abductions” has dropped precipitously in the last ten years.

Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service reports on Project Blitz, the campaign to get Christianist dogma wedged into every civic cranny (for example, the “In God We Trust” signs that are suddenly so important), undertaken by the religious right and its various operations like the Congressional Prayer Caucus, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and pretty much every state legislature that isn’t in New England.

I missed this when it posted last week, Jim Underdown’s latest Ask the Atheist column at the CFI website, and answers a question he apparently gets a lot: Is sex with an atheist better than with a believer?

The answer is yes. Much better. Much much better. [. . .] If you come over to our team (yes, I am recruiting), sex can be for recreation, not just procreation. We don’t have to deal with magic underwear (Mormon Temple Garments), a maniacal obsession with virginity (some sects of Islam and many other religions), or a stodgy prohibition of sex between anyone but heterosexual men and women.

Aliza Kelly Faragher, an astrologer (here we go), writes in Allure about how one can tap into one’s own psychic abilities. Hey, this isn’t the fake kind! No, for serious!

While there are definitely many charlatans who either exaggerate their skills or make them up entirely, these individuals are not psychics: They are con-artists who use fear tactics to pray on gullible or vulnerable individuals. In most cases, pretending to be psychic is just one of many exploitative schemes for these imposters.

Oh? Tell me more!

Psychics, on the other hand, are simply individuals who are able to see, hear, feel, sense, taste, or have intuition beyond the boundaries of the physical world.

Never mind.

Bustle, which I suppose is feeling equally irresponsible about reality, advises you about which questions you should ask a psychic about your relationship. How about, “Does the fact that I’m visiting a psychic indicate that perhaps the problem isn’t the relationship?” Just a thought.

At, Rob Palmer interviews Richard Saunders on the occasion of the 500th episode of his podcast The Skeptic Zone.

Religion professor Todd Green says to stop calling the Muslim ban a “travel ban.” Yeah, we agree.

A letter to the editor to the Register-Mail by one Thomas E. Mosher says:

I sympathize with and offer condolences to those who totally reject God because they have sealed their own fate, and they have been judged and condemned to eternal separation from God’s presence.

Aw, thanks, Tommy.

Quote of the Day

Ready to feel ill? Messiah College historian John Fea talks to RNS about the white evangelical devotion to Trump:

I was struck by the fact that Trump created an evangelical advisory council, which he did not do for any other religious group. When religious leaders invest in political power in that way, it becomes very difficult for them to speak with a prophetic voice to the political leader they are hoping is going to champion their views.

So as I watched many of these evangelical ministers visiting the White House for photo ops with the president, then sharing these photos on Twitter and boasting about the “unprecedented access” that they had to the president, all of this reminded me as a historian of the Renaissance-era priests and other courtiers who came to the king’s throne to flatter him and praise his greatness. They did not speak any kind of prophetic critique to the king — they were there for selfish reasons, to get in his good graces. So I worry when evangelical ministers like Paula White, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress praise Trump as the most Christian president we’ve ever had. This has the potential of weakening their credibility among people who may actually need to hear the good news of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

* * *

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.

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)!