Saving Throw vs. Clerical Robe

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 30, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

RNS's Brian Pellot interviews our own Michael De Dora about our international work defending free expression, and it's stellar. Michael says:

The fact that these [oppressive] governments know we exist and care about someone jailed in their countries and that people are up in arms over in the U.S. is a success, and it’s spreading. ... In the long run, this kind of activism will lead people in positions of power to listen and to address our concerns. Freedom of expression is a right everyone should enjoy, not just atheists and Christians.

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Dr. Bateman’s Pectoral Drops

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 29, 2014

During some research, I was intrigued by an entry in an old general store ledger from West Liberty, Kentucky, in 1830 for “1 Vial Batmans [sic] drops.” Although I suspected this was just a patent medicine of the day, I was surprised to learn of its staying power as a product marketed (and imitated) for some two centuries.

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A Toddler’s Conception of Time and Space

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 29, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Members of the Reality-Based Community™ were heartened to hear President Obama declare that "climate change is a fact" so strongly at the State of the Union last night. Eugene Robinson wants us to start girding our loins for the inevitable:

President Obama, who understands the science, should use his executive powers as best he can, not just to reduce carbon emissions but also to prepare the country for confronting the environmental, political and military hazards of a warmer world. 

CFI's Triumvirate of Legal Awesomeness™ (Nick Little, Ron Lindsay, and Eddie Tabash) files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on the big Hobby Lobby/contraceptive mandate case, telling the court that allowing a special religious exemptions for employers like Hobby Lobby violate the Constitution and place onerous burdens on workers. My favorite part of our press release:

“The burden on Hobby Lobby and these other companies is nonexistent,” said CFI’s legal director, attorney Nicholas Little. “Health care benefits are part of an employee’s compensation, so employers who object to employees’ use of health care benefits to obtain contraception are no more burdened than a Mormon employer whose workers use their salary to buy coffee.” 

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Unimpressive, Blurry, and Worthless

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 28, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

This is a must-read: Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier on why we skeptics do what we do:

[W]hat we science-minded skeptics are defending here goes way beyond any of the specific bizarre ideas, trumped-up mysteries, or misperceptions or misrepresentations of the real world we may critique. What we are defending ... are hard-won concepts essential to a free and open society—if that society is to have well-informed citizens capable of making wise decisions in a complex technological world.  

The Justice Department is apparently going to appeal a recent ruling against clergy's exemption from income taxes on their parsonages. Because hey, if they don't stand up for tax-free pastors' mansions, who will?

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A Veritable Museum of Mistakes

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 27, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

A must-read: Friend-of-the-blog Ali A. Rizvi corresponds with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar on their shared and differing experiences as atheist former-Muslims. One big theme: their belief that Western liberals are "selling out" liberals in the Muslim world. Writes Rizvi:

Western countries like the US barely use a fraction of the force they have the capacity to because whatever their flaws, they are still bound by a code of ethics -- and as democracies, accountability to their people. If the Taliban or Al Qaeda had even a tenth of the weaponry that the US does, you'd already have entire countries razed to the ground. I think many writers confuse neutrality with objectivity.

Tom Flynn is the guest on the Religious Studies Project podcast, unpacking what exactly it means to be a secular humanist. 

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Information Superhighway to Heaven

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 24, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Today is a very important day in my religion, it's the 30th birthday of the Macintosh. Relatedly, Pope Fluffy told us that the Internet is a "gift from God," but everyone knows the truth is that God only "took the initiative" in creating the Internet.

Though Virginia's AG is fighting a gay marriage ban, its legislature just passed a student prayer bill. One step forward, one step back. 

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Glenn Beck and the Steampunk Bunker

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 23, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Kimberly Winston at RNS covers CFI's Freethought Books Project. Here's my favorite bit:

“Christianity has a mandate to convert people, but freethought does not have any such mandate,” said Sarah Kaiser, one of the project’s two new coordinators. “We just want everyone to have the freedom to express doubts and ask questions, and that is what these books represent.”

CFI-Indiana's Reba Wooden catches some trickery in the statehouse over the bill banning same-sex marriage:

The dirty tricks that [Speaker] Bosma and his supporters will use are very disturbing. First, at the beginning of the session they sought to confuse the issue by renaming the amendment from HJR-6 to HJR-3. Then, realizing that the opposition testimony and efforts had swayed enough of the Judiciary committee to oppose it, he made a switch to a committee where he was sure to have to support for its passage. 

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Dirty Tricks in Indiana

Freethought from the Heartland with Reba Boyd Wooden
January 23, 2014

HJR-3 passed out of the Indiana House Election and Apportionment committee last night by a vote of 9-3. 

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The Shiniest Cog in Nature’s Wheel

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 22, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

I can't believe it's not GMO: Wired covers the work of mega-ultra-super-ag corporation Monsanto, which is using regular old cross-breeding for its new, improved crops, not genetic modification.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia believes in witchcraft. So do 69% of Indonesian Muslims, apparently.

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Conspiracy-Minded Response to a Skeptical Crop Circle Explanation

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
January 21, 2014

Earlier this month I wrote a piece about a mysterious 310-foot-diameter crop circle that appeared in a farmer's barley field in California. In response I got an interesting, conspiracy-laden two-page reply from a crop circle believer....

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