Tent Revival Lunacy

June 17, 2020

The great John de Lancie, the only Q on the internet you should ever listen to, made a fantastic commencement address video for the secular graduates of 2020, and we’ve got it right here. Originally presented for the Secular Student Alliance’s Virtual Graduation Ceremony, I think it’s desperately-needed wisdom for everyone, not just graduates. And heck, given how things have been in the world over the last few years, we’re really all graduating from something. So pat yourself on the back, move that tassel over, and listen to Mr. de Lancie.

Homeopathic Poke

Because I’m such a smart and together guy, I totally forgot to mention yesterday that our lawsuit against Walmart over their sale of homeopathic junk was dismissed by the D.C. Superior Court judge on just jaw-droppingly ridiculous and picayune grounds. We are, of course, going to appeal the hell of it. And then, just to twist the knife, there’s this announcement from the FDA about, you guessed it, homeopathy…injectable homeopathy!

The FDA is particularly concerned about unapproved injectable drug products labeled as homeopathic because they are injected directly into the body, often directly into the bloodstream and bypass some of the body’s key natural defenses against toxins, toxic ingredients and dangerous organisms that can cause serious and life-threatening harm. Additionally, unapproved drugs that claim to cure, treat or prevent serious conditions may cause consumers to delay or stop medical treatments that have been found safe and effective through the FDA review process.

Makes you want to just inject bleach, doesn’t it. I’M KIDDING PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. Ars Technica reports on the FDA’s warning:

Many of the products were said to contain toxic substances, including belladonna, mercurius solubilis (mercury), and plumbum aceticum (lead). Some were said to contain nux vomica, which the FDA noted contains strychnine, a potent poison used to kill rodents.

Steven Novella is stuck on the whole “injectable” part. Me too:

When you have an utterly worthless product, why raise the stakes of potential harm in this way? It’s reckless and unethical, and should itself be banned.

The Real Victims

Let’s check on the right-wing snowflake ward of the local hurt-feelings hospital, to see how the patients just brought in on the WAAAAmbulance are doing after the Supreme Court decided that it’s actually not okay to discriminate against LGBTQ folks. Franklin Graham is the real victim here:

As a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ, my rights should be protected. Even if my sincerely held religious beliefs might be the minority, I still have a right to hold them.


Henry Olsen at the Post says right-wingers’ broken hearts spell doom for Trump, writing, “Even a small reduction in the Republican margin among the devout will destroy any hope Trump will be reelected.” Erick Erickson said, “All those evangelicals who sided with Trump in 2016 to protect them from the cultural currents, just found their excuse to stay home in 2020 thank to Trump’s Supreme Court picks.”

Amanda Hollis-Brusky at the Post warns us anti-discrimination folks not to get too complacent, saying Gorsuch left open more avenues for religious-liberty claims:

Addressing the “fear” that the Bostock ruling “may require some employers to violate their religious convictions,” Gorsuch suggests that these newly won Title VII protections for LGBTQ individuals would be “displace[d]” in cases where the conduct in question was religiously motivated.

Poorly Ventilated

Tom Brady, who I understand is a sports figure of some prominence, has his own wellness brand, TB12, and he’s marketing an “immunity supplement” that promises “exactly what you need to stay healthy, strong and resilient for whatever comes your way.” Truth in Advertising sees through it:

Whatever comes your way. On May 18, more than 4,500 people in the United States died from COVID-19. (That same day, the TB12 Instagram account promoted the Protect launch saying, “It’s more important than ever to give your body everything it needs to support your #immune system.”) … In the context of COVID-19, any marketing statement that Protect boosts immunity is an implied disease-treatment claim requiring proper substantiation and FDA approval.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the current consensus on how COVID-19 actually spreads:

It’s not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface, scientists say. And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus.

Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk.

Speaking of how it actually spreads, Kent Sepkowitz at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch marvels at the “remarkable idiocy” of Trump’s upcoming June 20 rally in Tulsa:

… cases are going up sharply in Tulsa County … signaling substantial community transmission. … Furthermore, Tulsa is near the border of several states; Trump’s rally is likely to draw from these areas as well. Over in Arkansas, four counties at the Oklahoma border — Benton, Washington (home of Fayetteville), Crawford, and Sebastian (home of Fort Smith) — have experienced sharply increasing case rates in the last two weeks.

So why does he choose this place? Sepkowitz takes a guess: the area’s amenability to faith-healing:

Not only does [Trump] get a groveling crowd and a chance to cruelly wink at the city’s racist past but because he is guaranteed something he can’t find any place else: an arena full of people raised on the exhilarating lunacy of a giant tent revival.

Once again, Illinois’ restrictions on public gatherings are upheld by a court after a challenge from churches.

Kira Ganga Kieffer at Religion & Politics looks at the religious roots of COVID-19 denial and vaccine denial.

Here’s a religious-liberty defense you have to read to believe. Something called Holy Fight Ministries is claiming its constitutional right to hold cockfights. The actual complaint reads:

Reverend Plumbar, Holy Fight Ministries and its congregation hold the sincere religious belief that cockfighting represents that while they strive for CHRIST, they have a necessary symbolic physical manifestation, an epiphany through the fighting cock, a religious mandate of the struggle between good and evil, a struggle for life or death for the Salvation of the soul, and thus cockfighting is an integral and essential part of their religious faith.

You’d think the first rule of Holy Fight Ministries is you don’t talk about Holy Fight Ministries, but actually I’d say the first rule really oughta be DON’T MAKE CHICKENS KILL EACH OTHER FOR SPORT.

Just a Funky Old Shack

Sensing weakness in the midst of the pandemic, Betsy DeVos is looking for an opportunity to kill her favorite prey: secular public education. The Post reports:

The coronavirus, she has said, offers a “silver lining,” showing Americans that traditional schooling is not the only way. “This really is a moment for transformation,” she told conservative talk show host Glenn Beck in April. …

… Teachers unions and many Democrats oppose school choice plans because they divert money from public schools to private and religious schools, some of which discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

The UN Human Rights Council has found a new country of concern to monitor: The United States. The Post reports:

Now, amid mass police accountability protests across the United States, UNHRC is set to turn its attention to America. The body will hold a rare “urgent debate” Wednesday on human rights in the United States, and African countries are circulating a draft resolution calling for a high-level investigation into U.S. racism and police violence.

The kicker:

The United States, no longer a council member, will not get a vote on the matter.

Pastor Louie Giglio is not helping, trying to replace “white privilege” with the term “white blessing,” because whites “miss the blessing of slavery.” You need to rethink that.

Google blacklists right-wing conspiracy site ZeroHedge from ad monetization for publishing pieces asserting a Black Lives Matter conspiracy with the CIA and (of course) George Soros, a violation of its policy against hateful content. The Federalist is apparently in danger of meeting the same fate.

Did you hear about this kerfuffle over cops allegedly being poisoned at a New York City Shake Shack? Long story short, no, Shake Shack did not try to harm or kill cops by feeding them bleach, though some officers got ill because of what might have been an insufficiently rinsed milkshake machine. Rolling Stone talked to CFI’s Ben Radford about the very momentary freak-out this caused:

While the allegations certainly got traction due to the recent protests against police brutality and the defund the police movement, “there’s a long history of food contamination legends,” folklorist Benjamin Radford tells Rolling Stone, citing the urban legends about poisoned Halloween candy and a conspiracy theory that the Tropical Fantasy fruit drink was the KKK’s attempt to sterilize the black community as examples. “The common thread here is this notion of victimization” by groups of people that feel they are specifically being targeted — and police officers “certainly feel they’re under attack, whether that’s justified or not,” he adds. …

… “Conspiracy is where rumor meets political motivation,” says Radford. “By framing this as an attack on the police, there are obvious political benefits.”

Russia is saving the planet from allowing the Jehovah’s Witnesses from establishing a “world theocratic state”…with two jars filled with the equivalent of about $6. Forum18 reports:

On 9 June, a court in Pskov in northern European Russia handed 61-year-old Gennady Shpakovsky the longest jail sentence given to a Jehovah’s Witness after the 2017 Supreme Court ban on Jehovah’s Witness activity – six and a half years’ imprisonment in a general-regime labour camp (“correctional colony”). This is the second-longest jail term yet handed down on “extremism”-related charges for meeting with others to pray and study beliefs.

Close the toilet lit when you flush. Got it? You don’t want a 3-foot vortex of poop, and you certainly don’t want to inhale it, and you super-certainly don’t want to get COVID-19 that way.

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.

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.