The Trump administration says it’s going to remove Obama-era protections from discrimination for organizations getting federal funding, all in the name of “religious liberty,” and will, in effect, intimidate public schools over whether they are friendly to prayer in school and allowing religious groups to have access to school facilities. It’s a big, stinking, bucket of pandering, theocratic chum. On the removal of Obama-era protections, we said:
True religious freedom includes the right not to believe, not to practice, and not to live according to the strictures of someone else’s religion. The changes announced today are a blatant attack on that freedom by subjecting access to public services to religious litmus tests.
And on the school stuff, we said:
This is a non-solution to a problem that only exists in the fever dreams of Trump’s evangelical base,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Students are now, and have always been, allowed to pray in schools, and the last thing our students and teachers need is a pressure campaign from the White House to encourage it.
Ron Reagan Jr. talks to The Daily Beast about a range of topics, including his atheism and how the Republican Party is wielding religion like a weapon:
The latest move by Trump to “protect” prayer in public schools has left Reagan incredulous. “Tell me anyone who can prevent anyone praying anytime, anywhere. There is no restriction on individuals praying. What this is intended to do is to force others to watch them while they pray—and so those who aren’t praying feel marginalized and then through peer pressure feel they should pray. It’s a cheap, cowardly game.”
For Reagan, this latest policy shows the authoritarian bearing of religion, seeking to exert control over citizens’ lives and bodies, exerting moral judgments all the time. “They’re desperate because they’re losing control. More people are becoming atheist or agnostic. The demographics are not moving in their direction.”
Rick Elia, writing at the Patriot-News of Pennsylvania, has had it with this faux-religious-liberty crap:
Americans deserve the same protections from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity as they do on the old standbys of race, sex, national origin and religion.
So, if you’re in Congress and you believe this, you’ll change the law. If you don’t change the law, you’re simply giving the go-head for some of our citizens to not just hate a particular group but to punish them by ruining their lives anyway they can.
Some call that religious liberty.
I call it garbage.
Matt Dillahunty debated Anglican minister Glen Scrivener (what an awesome last name) about the benefits of religion, and Matt indeed conceded that prayer might keep you alive longer when trapped in a cave.
The Atheists in Kenya Society pays the school fees for a family in need, and the mother goes and thanks God. Then so does the teacher, who said, “It is indeed a miracle because God came through at the moment when the boy’s family had lost hope. God is real.” Just. Can’t. Win.
Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project decries the state bill to allow adoption services providers to discriminate against LGBTQ folks in The Tennessean:
Discrimination is the harm done to a group by design. LGBTQ people were left out of the drafting of the bill. We were classified as not “conventional.” The Legislature insisted that state funds can be used to prop up the selection process of some private adoption agencies. In other words, the process was exclusive, the framing was stigmatizing, and the funding was a systematic stamp of approval.
I wish we were crafting our public policy based on the best interests of children, but it looks like discrimination to me.
Tim Binga, CFI’s libraries overlord, writes about the research he’s doing for the Freethought Trail’s website on women’s suffrage:
Freethought had a huge impact on the suffrage movement. The three leaders of the suffrage movement were located geographically in the Central New York region and were involved in the liberal movements or the “liberal idea” of the abolition of slavery. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage all had homes located in this area during this timeframe. Gage was essentially written out of the histories of the movement because she contended that religion was a cause of the subjugation of women.
Polymath Glenn Fleishman writes at TidBits to explain why 5G and WiFi are not poisoning you:
With no evidence of sensitivity, no increase in cancers, irreproducible studies that have led to dead ends, and no epidemic of conditions among the large, long-term population of cell-phone and Wi-Fi users, we’re led to one conclusion: There is no health risk associated with everyday exposure to common EMFs. That’s the case even if, intuitively, it feels like there must be a link. We may never get over that feeling, but we should base our behavior and policy on solid science, not feelings.
Susan Gerbic dissects a Thomas John psychic reading for Skeptical Inquirer:
Let me be clear: grief vampires prey on loss, loneliness, and pain; their platitudes offer nothing helpful. There is no entertainment value in what these grief vampires do. Remember that most of us are susceptible at some point in our lives if we were to find ourselves in a desperate moment. So, show some kindness toward these people who are the victims of this con.
TVOvermind lists some trivia about TV psychic Matt Fraser, and cites Skeptical Inquirer, but it’s largely too forgiving of what is obviously a huge con. They do say this, though:
He’s not afraid to overshare in front of the whole world. When his girlfriend said they’re the perfect couple, he responded that it wasn’t quite ‘perfect’ because “…I still can’t s–t in front of her.” … If that sounds like something a serial killer would say, it is. Unfortunately, it’s also what the Pope might say, so that’s hardly a definitive indicator of anything. Regardless, Fraser believes his talent is a calling from God.
Beth Mole at Ars Technica says the Goop show is worse than you thought:
[Paltrow’s] ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills are on full display as a parade of questionable “experts” and ridiculous claims about health and science march across the small screen unchallenged. … The series provides a platform for junk science, gibberish, and unproven health claims from snake-oil-salesmen guests. … But, beyond all of that, the show is just, well, boring.
At Fatherly, Ryan Britt says men need to understand how quackery peddlers like Paltrow target women:
Calling out Goop feels like a bad look on progressive men. Dismissing Gwyneth Paltrow’s branded bullshittery feels like insinuating that women can’t or shouldn’t have nice things. Of course, they should. But they should have genuinely nice things, not mid-century modern snakeskin oil. …
… Perhaps there’s real moral hazard in the pushing of New Age-y ideas not because they lead to Marianne Williamson, who wants us to love each other, but because they lead to Paltrow, who wants a routing number.
At Skeptical Inquirer, Stuart Vyse looks at how Chinese superstitions pervade the culture’s real estate market. For example, according to one study:
… houses with addresses ending in four [an unlicky number according to Feng Shui] were 3.1 percent lower in price than average and those ending in an eight were 3.4 percent more expensive. Furthermore, for each additional percentage of Chinese residents in a neighborhood, the superstitious effect of fours increased by 5.5 percent and of eights by 6.4 percent.
Greg Eghigian at Air & Space Magazine declares 2019 the Year of UFOs:
The Navy bears some responsibility for the recent media focus on UFOs, due to its piecemeal and selective approach to revealing details on reported encounters, which only feeds suspicions that the government knows more than it is telling (as 69 percent of Americans believe, according to a Gallup poll taken in September). But UFO incidents in 2019 did not just happen. They were promoted. Enthusiasts, journalists, cable TV networks, academics, bloggers, and To the Stars Academy all helped keep the topic in the public eye, and all benefited from the attention.
Microsoft announces that it intends not only to become carbon-neutral, but to remove all the carbon it has ever released into the atmosphere. Clippy is going carbon-negative, and good lord I hope they can do it.
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.