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We Are Not “On Board”

August 14, 2019

Benjamin Radford delves into the Jeffrey Epstein murder conspiracies, pointing out how people often find it difficult to believe that rich, famous people could die in relatively mundane ways. Also important, Ben notes that if Epstein had been killed in order to silence him, there are plenty of people who would also know plenty about whatever terrible things went on:

The idea that he was the only one who could implicate powerful figures with what he knows is silly. He wasn’t some James Bond villain who memorized the codes to deactivate a nuclear bomb and who must be kept alive to save mankind. His death certainly deprives his alleged victims of their chance to seek justice, but it’s not at all certain he’d ever have to testify or give up any names. Many of the investigations and cases into Epstein will proceed, including potential civil lawsuits against his estate.

Did you read Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family? Remember that feeling of utter despair and hopelessness you took away from it? Now you can relive that feeling all over again, but through the magic of television with Netflix’s documentary series based on Sharlet’s book. (It really is an amazing book and a necessary read, as well as being utterly depressing.) Nick Schager at The Daily Beast reviews the series, and looks at our current political situation through its lens:

In this context, evangelicals’ support of President Donald Trump—a lewd urbanite without a pious bone in his body—isn’t hypocritical. On the contrary, they view him as the very sort of alpha strongman needed to expand their dominion, via a mutually beneficial alliance where power is the ultimate objective. In line with their long-standing fondness for authoritarians (including Hitler and Mao), the Family views Trump as a kindred spirit who understands that some are predestined to rule over others; that anyone is a potential business partner; and that ethics are no impediment to achieving one’s ends. Consequently, it’s no surprise that, in return for its support, Trump gifted the Family with the most fundamentalist Christian cabinet in American political history.

Speaking of Trump, Julie Zauzmer at the Washington Post speaks to evangelicals in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to gauge their feelings about the president, and as you might expect, they’re not only behind him, but even more firmly than they were in 2016:

In conversation, evangelical voters paint the portrait of the Trump they see: a president who acts like a bully but is fighting for them. A president who sees America like they do, a menacing place where white Christians feel mocked and threatened for their beliefs. A president who’s against abortion and gay rights and who has the economy humming to boot. …

… While they cheer Trump’s many efforts to chip away at LGBT rights, they are much more concerned with protecting their own right to maintain their opposition.

They want to be able to teach their values without interference — some churchgoers fretted about school textbooks that refer to transgender identities without condemnation and about gay couples showing up in TV commercials every time they try to watch a show with their children.

Those poor babies!

At National Review, Alexandra Desanctis seems to resent Pete Buttigieg’s use of Christianity in his pitch to voters:

Buttigieg is asserting that being a good Christian means you must embrace progressive ideology. This is how he’s spoken about religion for the entirety of his campaign, wielding it like a cudgel against anyone who hesitates to champion his policy prescriptions.

Yeah, and as we all know, only the Christian right is allowed to wield cudgels. Get with the program, Pete.

Kira Ganga Kieffer at Religion & Politics tries to describe the spiritual politics of Marianne Williamson:

Williamson embraces what she calls goddess energy, arguing that it is possible for any woman to channel it, and that if she does, she will birth miracles. Williamson also implies that the world requires “mothering” to reclaim its inherent greatness. This form of feminism, based on differences between the sexes, does not necessarily critique the work of intersectional feminists, nor of female presidential candidates past or present. What it does, though, is flip the script of “Make America Great Again” and its hyper-masculine, hyper-nationalist energy. It allows her to unmask what she views as patriarchy’s unholy injustice, which she deems necessary for spiritual revolution. When Williamson argues that “anybody who says that I’m an amateur at what [politicians] do, I’m sorry…they’re amateur(s) at what I can do,” she refers to a form of radical feminine spiritual leadership that is not only unorthodox politics, but unorthodox period. She is on another plane, and she knows it.

Nick Little, our legal guru, is interviewed by Susan Gerbic at Skeptical Inquirer about our lawsuits over homeopathy against Walmart and CVS. Being Nick, he says, “Homeopathy is just plain stupid. It is worthy of having fun made of it. It is ridiculous, and the more people who know that, lawsuit or no lawsuit, the better.”

Pop star Shura (who I never heard of, but is apparently very famous), an atheist, explains her thinking on religion to The Independent:

…the 28-year-old has been fascinated by religion. She even considered, despite being a “staunch atheist”, studying theology at university, “It’s all being interested in humans and how we f*** things up,” she shrugs. “Oh great, let’s create a perfect image of a woman who also happens to be a virgin and a mother, which is physically impossible, and then for all eternity women will be… s***. I’ve always been fascinated by religion, and then obviously it’s used to f*** women over, historically, and gay people, so me doubly so.”

Australia’s parliament is considering a bill that would require clergy to report information on child sex abuse gotten through confessionals, but Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli says he’d rather go to jail than not “keep the seal.”

New York state’s Child Victims Act goes into effect today, and former Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to take advantage of it to bring the Watchtower church to justice for the sexual abuse they say they’ve suffered.

Mormons aren’t allowed to vape.

Once again, the FDA has to let us know that drinking bleach will not cure us of anything, except maybe our suffering on the prime material plane. NBC reports:

The products — known as Miracle Mineral Solution, MMS and Chlorine Dioxide Protocol among other monikers — have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can have life-threatening side effects, the department said in a news release.

“Ingesting these products is the same as drinking bleach,” said FDA acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless, according to the release. “Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason.”

Bill Nye is in a commercial for Chromebooks, which delights me because it’s Bill Nye + gadgets, but also because he drops some terms that skeptics will be most familiar with.

Quote of the Day

Storm Area 51, which is now Alienstock or something, is not welcome in the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada. Reported by Vice, the town has posted this on its website:

WARNING: A dubious group claiming a connection to chaotic events like Burning Man and the Las Vegas Electric Music Festival has taken over this event. They threaten to ‘take over Rachel’ and claim that the residents are ‘on board.’ The residents were not asked and are not on board and will certainly not allow their town to be taken over. Law enforcement will be overwhelmed and local residents will step up to protect their property. This is not a good time to visit and experience Rachel.

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