“Mandela”—A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 30, 2013

The death of one of the great people of the twentieth century, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), had mixed consequences to the movie based on his life: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

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The Difference between Religious and Secular Humanism in Its Essence

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
December 30, 2013

In a Guardian blog, New Humanist commentator Suzanne Moore has -- if inadvertently -- defined the key difference between religious humanists and secular humanists in a very few words.

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A World Swarming with Evil Forces

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 30, 2013

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

The UN human rights office condemns Uganda's anti-gay legislation, and urges its president not to sign it into law. 

Jennifer Michael Hecht and Ron Reagan went on Hardball to talk about atheism as a supposed "poison pill" in politics.  

Tim Farley rounds up the skeptic luminaries we lost in 2013

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By the Light of the Fluorescent Pig

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 27, 2013

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

On his day off no less, CFI chief Ron Lindsay considers whether Catholic judges ought to recuse themselves from contraceptive mandate cases:

If simply filling out a form objecting to contraception makes one an accomplice to evil, what about rendering a judicial decision upholding the contraceptive mandate? This would appear to be a much more affirmative and consequential act than the completion of a form. But if that is the case, how can a judge who is a good Catholic by Church standards possibly render a decision upholding the mandate?

Have you heard this crazy story from Oklahoma about the church volunteers who got all weird about a woman's baby, insisting they take hold of the kid when they came for a toy drive, and then atheists totally saved their Christmas??? It's crazy. 

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Should Catholic Judges Recuse Themselves from the Contraceptive Mandate Cases?

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
December 26, 2013

I believe Catholics can be good citizens. I also think Catholic judges and justices can fulfill their obligation to respect and enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States. However, I’m not sure the Catholic Church considers a judge’s oath of office to take precedence over the judge’s obligation to avoid being complicit in evil. This is troubling—because the Church has a very broad understanding of what it means to be complicit in evil.

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The God of Being Gay, Abortion, Computers, Pornography, and Animals

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 26, 2013

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

Raif Badawi, a liberal Saudi blogger, faces new apostasy charges, which could end in a death sentence. Badawi's is one of the cases being tracked by our Campaign for Free Expression. At Friendly AtheistI despair:

Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way? 

The ever-fluffy Pope Francis includes atheists in a call for "homemade peace" on Christmas Day, saying, off-script no less:

I invite even non-believers to desire peace. (Join us) with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.

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Merry Newton-mas

Access Points with Timothy Binga
December 24, 2013

Isaac Newton, probably the most influential of all scientists, inventor (with Leibnitz) of calculus, was born on December 25, 1642. What better way to top off the holiday season than with a tribute to the genius that is Newton?

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Those Celebrating Only a Holiday Other Than Christmas Barely Outnumber Those Celebrating Nothing

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
December 24, 2013

Another interesting factoid from the PRRI-RNS study on holiday preferences. Roughly 9 in 10 respondents reported celebrating Christmas in some form. Interestingly, those who reported celebrating only some holiday other than Christmas (Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Diwali, or whatever) numbered 6 percent, compared to the 5 percent who reported celebrating no December holiday whatever (as I blogged yesterday: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/five_percent_of_americans_celebrate_no_december_holiday/).

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Hyper-commercial, Blindingly Bright, Boomingly Loud

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 24, 2013

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

Six decades after his death, Alan Turing is pardoned by the Queen for the crime of "gross indecency" (being gay). I'm sure he's relieved. James Croft says we're looking at the wrong perp:

[W]e should not forget that the party who committed the true crime in this instance was the British government, for prosecuting and chemically castrating a man for an “offense” which was an offense against no one. That this “pardon” was enacted through the Royal Prerogative of Mercy strikes me wrong, as if clemency is being provided someone who has indeed done something wrong. Mercy is offered to the guilty, after all, not the innocent. 

Tom Flynn finds encouragement in a recent PRRI/RNS survey indicating that 5% of Americans are, like him, celebrating absolutely nothing this season.

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Five Percent of Americans Celebrate No December Holiday

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
December 23, 2013

Yes, I know that quite a few secular humanists and other freethinkers celebrate the Solstice, HumanLight, Newton's Birthday, or even a bowdlerized form of Christmas this time of year. Even so, a new PRRI/RNS survey (click the link beliow full text) indicates that the number of Americans who tell pollsters that they celebrate no holiday in December has reached 5 percent. 5 percent? That's more than double the usual figure for the size of the American Jewish community (2.2 percent). Who knows, this year that figure may include a large number of American Jews, given that Hanukkah unfolded mostly in November. 

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