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Molecules of Despair

May 30, 2019

No one would accuse former Texas governor and current Energy Secretary Rick “Oops” Perry of being a genius. THOSE GLASSES FOOL NO ONE, RICK. But come on, one must think, he’s not a total idiot. I mean, he was the governor of Texas for criminy’s sake! And then you read this, and reconsider:

Earlier this month in Brussels, Mr. Perry told a group of reporters that “the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent” 75 years after liberating Europe from Nazi occupation. … “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

A reporter for EURACTIV asked whether “freedom gas” would be a fair way of describing the fuel.

“Yes, I think you may be correct in your observation,” Mr. Perry said, according to news reports.

And why do we bring this up now? Oh, lordy:

“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” Mark W. Menezes, the under secretary of energy, said in a news release. … “I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world.”

I quit.

Vicky Baker at BBC News reports on how prosperity gospel preachers prey on poor Americans in desperate times. It’s just awful:

Believers are encouraged to show their faith through payments, which they understand will be repaid – many times over – either in the form of wealth or healing.

For followers, it is a way to make sense of sickness and poverty. It can feel empowering and inspiring amid despair. … And if the seeds never flourish? Some are told their faith is not strong enough, or they have hidden sin.

Political science professor Ryan Burge writes at Religion News Service that white evangelicals and devout Catholics are in some long-term trouble:

White Christians — white Catholics, white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants — have shifted to the right in their partisan affiliation and now primarily identify with the Republican Party.

This rightward drift has placed these churches far away from the two groups that they need to attract the most — young people in general and people of color …

… Devout white Catholics and white evangelicals may be happy to cloister into their religious enclaves during the Trump presidency, but they need to understand that the distance between them and the people they are trying to reach grows larger every election cycle.

Hey, I get it. All I want to do during the Trump presidency is cloister. I’m cloistering like all-get-out.

The separation of church and state makes Illinois State Rep. Darren Bailey sad:

We sit here everyday and open up our day with prayer, yet [a Democratic legislator] has the gall to bring up separation of church and state. … It’s a sad day for Illinois. So I look forward to the days of Illinois rising at their citizens standing up and saying we’ve had enough.

Uh, Illinois “rising at their citizens”? What the actual frack does that even mean?

Steven Waldman has a really eye-opening piece at Religion & Politics showing how the kind of persecution faced by American Muslims today mirrors what was endured by Mormons and Catholics in previous eras. One example:

…in the past when Americans wanted to seriously undermine a minority faith they didn’t merely argue that it was an untrue religion but that it wasn’t a religion at all. Samuel Morse, the inventor of the Morse code and the telegraph, led attacks on Catholics in the nineteenth century by saying that “Popery” was less a religion that “a Political system, despotic in its organization, anti-democratic and anti-republican, cannot therefore coexist with American republicanism.” A few decades later, Mormonism was described in similar ways—“an immoral and quasi criminal conspiracy,” as the Kalamazoo Telegraph put it.

Now listen to how Islam has been described by modern American anti-Islam activists. “Islam is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind being a religion,” said Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security advisor, in 2016. That same year, a poll found that only half of Republicans said Islam should be legal in America.

Sawinder Singh, a Sikh man working as a school bus driver, settles with the school district in Rockville, Maryland after enduring 13 years of unaddressed harassment. Aysha Khan at RNS reports that Montgomery County Public Schools will work on training programs to nip this kind of crap in the bud:

Children and co-workers alike threw words like “terrorist,” “al-Qaida” and “Taliban” at the 45-year-old Sikh man, according to a complaint filed by Singh.

One former colleague asked him, “How did they let you back in the country?

Osama bin Laden was killed,” after the U.S. announced the terrorist’s death. The students he picked up often joked about him kidnapping them, killing them and blowing the bus up, according to a complaint he filed three years ago.

In an excerpt at The Revealer from her new book about the Crusades, Susanna Throop asks a scary question: Have they ended?

On all sides, some deliberately presented and may well have fully believed in the crusading enterprise as a categorical civilizational conflict. Yet given the ways in which Latin Christians used crusading to further their own political, economic, and social causes, including against each other, and given the wide range of people who participated in crusading, it is impossible to claim that the crusades actually were categorical civilizational conflicts, or even that all of those involved believed them to be so.

Joe Nickell pays respects to Isaiah Harris Hughes, who died in 1891 and is buried in Buffalo, a “conjurer” known in his time as “the Fakir of Ava”:

Unlike some conjurers of his era, Isaiah Hughes was always careful to publicly dissociate himself from any occult magic claims. However, he would add, “But he will illustrate to the satisfaction of all who attend that it is a very easy matter to be deceived, and that a man’s hands are quicker than other people’s eyes.”

Here’s an interesting take on UFO skepticism, via Daniel Drezner at the Post:

One of the gutsiest working paper presentations I have witnessed was Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall presenting a draft version of “Sovereignty and the UFO.” In that paper, eventually published in the journal Political Theory, Wendt and Duvall argued that state sovereignty as we understand it is anthropocentric, or “constituted and organized by reference to human beings alone.” They argued that the real reason UFOs have been dismissed is because of the existential challenge that they pose for a worldview in which human beings are the most technologically advanced life-forms.

The Satanic Temple religiously-exempts itself from Indiana’s fetal burial law. Times are strange, folks.

Two white dwarf stars are going to slam into each other and make a neutron star, and I’m thinking they should do it a little closer to us.

Flat-earthers think trees don’t exist. Or that there aren’t any new trees. I don’t know, I’m upset that this article had to be written.

Quote of the Day

In Winnipeg (which is in Canada, everybody), a grocery chain owner is fined $10,000 by the Manitoba government for having his stores open on Good Friday. WHAT?

“How can you have a family day if you can’t even buy a steak to cook on the barbecue?” he said.

[Munther] Zeid doesn’t think it’s fair the government can make money by opening casinos on holidays, but he can’t sell milk or bread.

“So what are we promoting? Let’s have a family day by going to the casino, lose our money. Then we’ll get drunk to forget about it and maybe get high too at the same time.

“I think that’s kind of ridiculous.”

Yes it is.

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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.