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September 30, 2020

Hey did you watch the debate last night? Let’s never do that again.

Now, in stark contrast, last night’s CFI Insider event with Bertha Vazquez of TIES was really great. The video will be up soon, but for now, you can enjoy my contemporaneous tweets.

Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day, and with everything else going on, it’d be really easy to let it pass by. The thing is, we really, really can’t. I just put up a piece about why:

The right to criticize and question religion is not a luxury, something to be upheld only when we have extra time and bandwidth. It’s a fundamental component of a free society. Criminalizing blasphemy is about more than saying it’s not okay to make fun of a religious figure or refute the claims in a holy book. It’s about controlling people’s speech, writing, art, behavior, and thoughts in order to conform to one particular, narrow worldview. It’s about putting ideas above people.

CNN reports on the case of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu in Nigeria, sentenced to death over a message in a WhatsApp group.

Marvi Sirmed, whose tweet about Pakistan’s political abductions led to threats of death and an arrest for blasphemy, writes at the Post to call for an international framework that “must include actions to curb anti-blasphemy vigilantism. The lives of civil rights activists and human rights defenders like me depend upon this protection.”

S. Amjad Hussain at the Toledo Blade on the banning of books: “In democratic society, differences of opinions are healthy and should be encouraged and nourished. A society where everyone agrees with each other is a dystopian society as outlined in George Orwell’s book 1984.”

Tyler Broker on Amy Coney Barrett and the politicization of religion:

When the line between church and state is being dismantled, when nonbelievers are regularly being forced to financially support religious views and institutions they personally reject, when high-level government actors demonize nonbelievers collectively as the cause of all the country’s woes, the view of lifetime government appointees toward religion becomes a legitimate concern to a growing nonreligious population.

Oh hey, turns out, according to Philip Hamburger, if you want the separation of church and state, you’re sort of down with the KKK. Wow! I need a new job fast!

Illinois congressional candidate Rick Laib: “I do not believe there is a constitutional separation of church and state.” Well at least he’s not KKK, then!

Abram Van Engen on how Trump is white evangelicals’ “puppet”: “In Trump’s telling, ‘our American ancestors’ are largely Christian and largely white—just like his base.”

The prochoice religious community may be a “sleeping giant,” says Frederick Clarkson, noting that prochoice attitudes among the religious and nonreligious combined are at their highest levels ever.

Here we go again. A wedding photographer and a group of Christian ministries are challenging Virginia’s anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ folks.

Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic: “On the day that a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, a vast logistics operation will need to awaken.” We’re not really nailing it on those lately.

Pew has survey results on global attitudes toward science and scientists, and one quick takeaway is that trust in scientists is really low among those on the political right, particularly in the US, Brazil, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

In Bradford, UK, folks who have lost loved ones in the pandemic are taking part in a campaign to debunk conspiracy theories about COVID-19: “You think it’s a conspiracy theory? Tell that to my family.”

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.

Studying chemical residues in old clay pots might help archaeologists figure out exactly what was cooked in them thousands of years ago. Perhaps I could use this to help with meals and potions in Breath of the Wild.

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.