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Religious Liberty Rock Opera

September 22, 2020

CFI’s legal director Nick Little expressed better than any of us could just what Justice Ginsburg meant to our secular-skeptic-reality-based movement. “When the majority of the Supreme Court lurched to the right, permitting religious exemptions that would harm innocent parties, the Notorious RBG held firm in her belief that justice demands that a person’s faith cannot be a justification for hurting others.”

Lee Epstein and Eric Posner at NYT: The Roberts Court has favored religion in 90 percent of cases, compared to about 50 in the Rehnquist Court, as conservative Justices have realized “they can both weaken the anti-religion precedents and make progress against the socially liberal rulings.”

Intercessors for America, a pro-Trump religious group associated with Paula White, tells its supporters that the timing of Justice Ginsburg’s death shows that this is what God wanted, and that her vacated seat on the Court is “anointed.”


Jim Underdown at his CFI column “Ask the Atheist” explains why he doesn’t believe in the—or any, really—apocalypse: “Eventually COVID will be controlled, Trump will go back to supervising the polishing of his gold toilets, and Arby’s will offer in-store dining.”

The CDC posts and then retracts guidance about how COVID-19 is (or isn’t???) contracted through airborne transmission. Whee!

A guy who works at the CDC and reports to Anthony Fauci, public affairs specialist William B. Crews, has been dissing the good doctor (calling him a “mask nazi”) pseudonymously from the website RedState.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reports on COVID misinformation’s spread in Africa, which leads to problems like this: “Polling from April found that 28 percent of Nigerians said they were immune to COVID-19, citing reasons such as religion, preventative measures, or myths about the immunity of Black people.”

Eric Hall of the Health Care Chaplaincy Network at NBC: Religious and nonreligious people need “spiritual care” during the pandemic to combat despair.

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.


The Department of Defense issued new guidance on handling religious liberty issues that privileges religion (of course). Mickey Weinstein of the MRFF unloads with a searing response, peppered with alliteration, that should probably be put into a rock opera:

These miserably wretched, instantaneous DoD Instruction 1300.17 mauling actions by Trump’s DoD cannot be allowed to tar and feather the Constitution’s clear and incontrovertible, foundational prohibition of allowing the State to ‘establish’ religion!

MRFF will fight tooth and nail, day and night to stop this new, twisted and perverted version of DoD Instruction 1300.17. Indeed, MRFF will never allow this brand new regulatory provision to illicitly buttress the already repugnant and omnipresent efforts of the fundamentalist Christian religious right from perpetuating its pervasive and pernicious pattern and practice of forcing its weaponized version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon otherwise defenseless military subordinates.

A Center for American Progress report says that while Trump has appealed to a “narrow religious demographic,” he’s not been so good for faith communities as a whole, placing “people of faith and their houses of worship at greater risk for hate crimes, religious persecution, and even disease, along with cutting support for social services.”

Leo Igwe reports on yet another mob-murder of someone accused of witchcraft in Malawi.

Asad Hashim at Al Jazeera on the explosiveness of the blasphemy issue in Pakistan: “When religious identity and authenticity is tied to the authority of the state, ‘blasphemy’ becomes a site for political contestation.”

Al-Monitor looks at the rise of atheism among young people in Iraq, where religion is a “confusing question.”

Lara Joan at HuffPost on leaving fundamentalist Christianity: “I no longer believe I need a saviour. And this truth has set me free.”


The Trump administration has picked meteorologist Ryan Maue to be the new chief scientist at the NOAA. Not a climate denier per se, he’s a, um, contrarian. You know what, just see what actual climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said about him on Twitter. She’s way smarter than me.

HuffPost: Montana’s reporter-assaulting gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte is a stone-cold science denier. We’re talking COVID denial, climate change—ahem—contrarianism, and, yes, creationism.

Harriet Hall reviews Edzard Ernst’s new book, Chiropractic: Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be, but makes no jokes about subluxations in the book’s spine.


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.