Eduardo Unda-Sanzana (CC BY 2.0)

The Great Foot Has Come Down

January 22, 2020

That bonkers case from Montana, in which religious schools seek to resurrect a dead law so that they can gobble up taxpayer funding, will be argued before the Supreme Court today. Here’s what we said about it when we filed our amicus brief in November:

Religious liberty is imperiled in this case. But this case is not about discrimination; it is about government-compelled support of religion. The right to be free from that compulsion is religious liberty. That right is the progenitor of every other facet of religious freedom. That right is possessed by every Montana citizen and taxpayer, not just a few Christian parents.

We are not filled with optimism about this case, to say the least. Tyler Broker at Above the Law gets to the core of what’s at stake:

The Espinoza case … represents a crossroad for the Court and for the country. On the one hand, we can choose to uphold the state of Montana’s pre-Blaine, First Amendment provision of anti-establishment liberty. Or we can succumb to irrational fear and hatred and choose to distort the law so as to force states to provide mechanisms for the financial support of religious instruction an increasing number of Americans are privately rejecting.

West Virginia’s state senate unanimously passes a bill allowing public school students to take faith-based drug prevention classes. But it’s okay, you see, because it’s an “elective” and classes “are not exclusive to a particular religion.” They’re not??? I can’t wait to see all those Quran-based drug prevention classes in West Virginia schools.

Here’s what kids aren’t getting classes in—elective, faith-based, or otherwise: Climate change. Krista Langlois at Outside reports:

Complicating the matter further, even teachers in states that do include anthropogenic climate change in their standards are often unsure of how to teach the topic. When the NCSE surveyed 1,299 middle and high school science teachers five years ago, 71 percent taught students about our warming climate; but of those, only 54 percent told their students that scientists agree human actions are driving it. That’s in part because teachers “themselves are unaware of the depth and solidity of the scientific consensus,” [Glenn] Branch says.

The fossil-fuel industry is only stoking instructors’ uncertainty. In 2017, the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank funded in part by fossil-fuel interests, sent every science teacher in the United States a misleading book called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. Meanwhile, politicians—often with ties to the Heartland Institute or oil and gas interests—keep introducing legislation that would limit or muddle how climate science is taught in public schools. In 2019 alone, a dozen states from Florida to Connecticut to Arizona fielded such measures.

Sounds like we need a TIES for climate science. TICS anyone?

The AP reports on the challenge Democratic candidates face in trying to woo at least smattering of evangelicals, and whether it’s worth the risk to even try:

… whether Democrats can court evangelicals without moderating their message to a degree that would alienate their core supporters remains unclear.

White evangelicals in particular “are there on an island with the president,” said Bradley Onishi, an associate professor of religion at Skidmore College. “If Democrats try to go across the water and reach that island, they’re going to leave parts of their base that don’t want compromise.”

Texas pastor Jack Graham, a leading evangelical Trump supporter, predicted that the president would get “landslide support from evangelicals” in November. Black and Latino evangelicals could give Trump’s party room to create “a broader tent next time,” Graham added.

Guess who likes Trump’s pressure campaign to get prayer into public schools? The Legion of Doom, of course, aka the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In what is almost certainly an act of futility, but necessary all the same, the ACLU urges Tennessee governor Bill Lee to veto a bill allowing faith-based adoption service providers who receive state funds to discriminate:

“Laws like HB 836 are not only damaging to children; they also unconstitutionally infringe on religious liberty,” write Executive Director Hedy Weinberg. “While their supporters claim they advance religious liberty, they do the opposite by authorizing the use of a religious test to participate in a government program.”

Chris Roberts at The Observer writes about how drones are causing all sorts of confusion and debate, being the most ubiquitous of all unidentified flying objects:

The drone phenomenon is at least partially a psychological exercise. Drones are all around us—in the discourse and in the zeitgeist, if not literally physically present. A drone killed Qasem Soleimani. A weed company can make news simply by announcing it’s going to deliver dime bags via flying robot. If there’s something in the sky you can’t explain, it’s probably a drone—why not, anyone can buy one now—and in an era of mass surveillance and mistrust of technology’s applications, it’s not unreasonable to assume, or at least question, whether mystery robots may be used for sinister purposes.

My kids love the Brains On! podcast, and they’ve been doing a four-part series on myths, concluding with an episode on aliens and UFOs.

While we have presidential candidates make half-hearted promises to tell the electorate “the truth” about what the government “knows” about UFOs and aliens, Singapore’s opposition party leader, Goh Meng Seng, makes no bones about it. The aliens are here. The Independent of Singapore reports:

When there was a backlash against his views, he hit out at the detractors and labelled them “myopic and ignorant”. He added that his belief in UFOs was more credible than the religious beliefs of those who had never seen their gods. …

… [Goh said,] “…when I say I also believe aliens or UFOs exist because I have seen one with my own eyes before, camouflaging itself as a cloud but zipping off with a ultra supersonic speed, people start to say GMS has discredited himself blah blah!”

“Well as far as I am concern, seeing is believing and my belief in the existence of alien UFO is much more credible than any religion which was believed by others who didn’t even see their God, Goddess, Buddha, Angels etc before!”

NASA got kids to submit possible names for the 2020 Mars rover, and I gotta tell ya, it sounds like they’re not trying very hard. “Vision,” “Clarity,” “Courage”? Come on. How about something like Draper, Watney, or even J’onn J’onzz?

Pakistan authorities are urging a delay in the release of a critically-acclaimed film called Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life) due to threats on the director’s life and far-right anger over what is said to be “blasphemous” content. Al Jazeera reports:

The film, made by Sarmad Khoosat, deals with themes centred on class, gender and moral policing in the modern Pakistani society. …

… Senior TLP leader Ijaz Ashrafi told Al Jazeera his party was “satisfied” with the step to refer the film to religious scholars, but reserved the right to protest if the release was to go ahead.

“We will see what happens next after the committee has a look at it. Any anti-Islam narrative or criticism of Islam, if we can raise our voices for that today, we can do so tomorrow,” said Ashrafi.

So maybe they found a way to cure all cancer. That seems like a big deal. And maybe we will reforest the planet to stop climate change. That would be a big deal too.

One Myles Stanley writes to the Baltimore Sun in praise of Trump, for, among other things, showing that he “cares for all Americans’ troubles, including our light bulbs and dishwashers,” which might be the dumbest thing I’ve read in several days. Anyway, he opens with this:

Big tech companies, the media, Hollywood, the permanent bureaucracy (deep state), China, cartels, Russia, European globalist, Arabs, Iranians, atheist [sic], Democrats and other powerful forces are all fighting Trump with great zeal.

So, just one atheist? Which one of you is it?

Terry Jones of Monty Python is dead. That sucks. Stephen Fry tweeted:

Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammeled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind.

More ominously, John Cleese tweeted minutes ago:

Just heard about Terry J

It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away…

Of his many achievements, for me the greatest gift he gave us all was his direction of ‘Life of Brian’. Perfection

Two down, four to go

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.