Special Stomach Virus Edition

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 16, 2013

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

So yesterday there was no Heresy because I was looking after my sick baby daughter. Well, the Heresy is late today because she was kind enough to lend me her stomach virus. The adventure continues. 

Now how cool is this? CFI On Campus does its first On-Air Session with campus leaders from across the country. Session 1 is on gearing up for the new school year. 

And there's lots more from On Campus. Karyn Spory at the Columbia Tribune highlights CFI On Campus affiliate MU SASHA for its recent Free Expression award from CFI.   

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“Human Torch” Baby: SHC or Abuse?

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 15, 2013

According to news reports (e.g., timesofindia.india-times.com, August 13, 2013), a baby boy from a village in Tamil Nadu, India, “caught fire” on four occasions. Since so many incidents were unlikely to be accidents, some persons were suggesting the case might be one of “spontaneous human combustion” (SHC). I received a request to “please help this child” from a young Indian man (who sent me the link to the story) and also a request for an interview by a reporter from MSN.com, Dustin Seibert. I told the latter I was concerned about the child’s safety—though not from SHC. (Interview online at news.msn.com/rumors/rumor-baby-suffer-from-spontaneous-combustion; August 14, 2013.)

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Ban on “Pulpit Politicking” Protects Taxpayers, Religious Believers

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
August 14, 2013

Religious leaders today released a new report that calls for an end to the ban on tax-exempt organizations, such as houses of worship and nonprofit groups, engaging in partisan political activities. But, despite what its opponents claim, the ban is based on sound reasoning.

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Get a Pope (Sha Na-Na Na, Sha Na-Na Na-Na)

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 14, 2013

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

NPR's Mile Johnson tells the story of civil rights activist William Lewis Moore, believed to be an atheist, who was killed 50 years ago on a long walk to deliver a letter to Mississippi's governor. 

At Friendly Atheist, I discover a rare example of sound advice for Christian-atheist child-raising.

Wait wait wait. The science textbooks in Texas are...okay?

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Proof of Rat Heaven

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 13, 2013

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

University of Michigan scientists poke around some rat brains for EEG signals, and found a huge burst of activity just at the point of death. Proof of Rat Heaven? The opposite.

USA Today comes out against businesses claiming exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate:

Ultimately, the issue is one of balance. The effect of health insurance on business owners is indirect. Employees may or may not use insurance to pay for birth control, just as they may or may not use their salary to pay for something that would violate the company owners' faith.

The circumstance might be discomforting. But the alternative — granting religious exemptions to private organizations — is more troubling. It would be open to abuse, putting the government in the position of determining which business owners were sufficiently religious. 

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What I Wrote To Scientific American

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
August 12, 2013

On August 8, I wrote to the relevant editors at Scientific American after Dr. Karen Stollznow posted her blog piece about sexual harassment. I did so because Dr. Stollznow’s piece contained several inaccuracies, which were repeated in blogs and then showed up in letters to me. These inaccuracies are damaging to the reputation of the Center for Inquiry, an organization to which I have a fiduciary obligation. I asked Scientific American to issue an apology and make three specific corrections. I did not ask for the post to be removed. In my view, it would have been preferable if it had remained posted, but with the corrections. Scientific American decided otherwise. My email to Scientific American appears below.

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Dr. Porter and His Healing Oil

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 12, 2013

In doing some research (for my “Historical Sketches” column in my hometown newspaper) I unexpectedly came across a mid-1920s photo showing small tin signs for “Dr. Porter’s Healing Oil” affixed to the front of a store warehouse. I wondered: just who was Dr. Porter, and what was the story behind his medicinal product?

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That Near-Death Experience Sounds Awesome

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 12, 2013

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

Michael De Dora calls out the administration's amicus brief to SCOTUS in support of legislative prayers for its "spotty reasoning."

This actually happened: Tennessee judge orders a mother to change her baby's name ("Messiah") because "it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ." 

Charter schools. Held in churches. Discuss

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Why the Obama Administration is Wrong About Legislative Prayer

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
August 09, 2013

The Obama administration has filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway, claiming that prayers before legislative meetings are and should remain legal.

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The Man Who Has Stolen the Straw

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 09, 2013

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

The Obama administration disappoints us beyond all measure, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in favor of prayer at legislative sessions.

41 people in Turkey reportedly charged with "blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction" for posts to a social network. 

There are a heck-ton of great videos from the latest Women in Secularism conference, with two new panels just posted

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