God, Incorporated: Observations on the Hobby Lobby Argument

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
March 25, 2014

Today, I attended the Supreme Court argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The case is a complex one, with several distinct issues that need to be resolved. In this post, I will briefly address one of those issues, namely whether a for-profit corporation can claim a religious identity and an entitlement to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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Noah, Drunk and Naked

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 25, 2014

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

Happy Hobby Lobby Day! Or not. The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.and we have a handy primer for you to help you cut through the confusion (and to see why we think Hobby Lobby is dead wrong).

The spotlight in now on the Justices. Robert Barnes at WaPo looks at the religious makeup of the Court, while Sahil Kapur at TPM notes that Scalia has taken a pretty firm stance in the past that would seem to contradict Hobby Lobby's case:

In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment "does not require" the government to grant "religious exemptions" from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.

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I’m a Fennel Passionflower Slippery Elm!

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

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

On Friday, we put out the second issue ever of Cause & Effect, our official newsletter, and lemme tell you, it looks way better. Among the top news items in C&E was the release of CFI's new Hobby Lobby resource page, designed to clear up the confusion and double-speak surrounding the big Supreme Court case, which is hearing oral arguments tomorrow. Check it out

Reynolds Holding at Reuters notes that in trying to appease the God of Christianity, Hobby Lobby may be offending the god of the almighty buck

12 ounces of liquid cocaine are intercepted inside 14 condoms...headed for the Vatican

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Erdoğan the Eradicator

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 21, 2014

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

We were pretty aghast at the House's overwhelming passage of HR 1814, the get-out-of-the-healthcare-law-free bill for the religious. Well now it looks like the Senate might actually take it up (which we used to think was never going to happen), so we need you to tell your senators to send it back to the pits of despair from whence it came.

Turkey bans Twitter, and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, weirdly vows to "eradicate" it. Good luck with that, pal. #yolo

Fred Phelps is really most sincerely dead.

His estranged son Nate Phelps of CFI-Calgary posts a statement:

I ask this of everyone — let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities. 

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Moss the Immortal

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 20, 2014

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

I just found this video thanks to Brook Wilensky-Lanford at Religion Dispatches, in what she calls a "Carl Sagan meets Ed McMahon moment," where Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Ku reveals to Dr. Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde that the new findings about the Big Bang support Dr. Linde's predictions. It's a beautiful moment. He can't even believe it:

Let us hope it is not a trick! I always leave with this feeling...What if I am tricked? What if I believe in this just because it is beautiful? 

It happened months ago at a CFI-Michigan event, but thanks to Cosmos, HuffPo and others are rediscovering the amazing exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and a 9-year-old boy about death-by-asteroid. Relive the magic.

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Death Clusters from Space!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 19, 2014

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

We have a lot of work to do: Half of Americans believe in at least one of five proffered medical conspiracy theories. Most depressing, 37% "fully agreed that U.S. regulators are suppressing access to natural cures" and "less than a third were willing to say they actively disagreed with the theory." 20% think vaccines cause autism.

Meanwhile, 42% of Americans think climate change is "generally exaggerated," according to Gallup.  

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Steven Seagal vs. Stephen Fry vs. Steve Jobs

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 18, 2014

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

Even if you don't totally understand it (and I don't), this is huge: Scientists detect gravitational waves ("ripples in the fabric of space-time") from the literal beginning of time, pretty much nailing down the Big Bang. Nature wants to help us understand this big deal.

As promised, I opined at Friendly Atheist on how to respond to Fred Phelps' imminent demise: Do nothing. (Except be nice to each other, but have Phelps have nothing to do with it.)

HuffPost Live had me on later in the day to talk about this, with two guys who are way more important than me: HuffPo's own Paul Raushenbush and Frank Schaeffer. Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps hosted. 

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Warner’s Safe Cures

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 18, 2014

Familiar to collectors of antique bottles, especially those for patent medicines, is the distinctive flask-shaped, amber-colored bottle for Warner’s Safe Kidney & Liver Cure (about 9 3/4’’ tall; see photo). Interestingly, given the word safe in its name, such bottles are embossed with the design of a strongbox, but we are getting ahead of an interesting story about a multiple-quack-medicine empire. Here it is—focusing in turn on each word of the company’s name, Warner’s Safe Cure Company.

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Ingersoll Museum Renovation: Progress Report

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
March 18, 2014

It's been a vicious winter; nonetheless progress continues toward the installation of the all-new T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior. Herewith, some progress photos.

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The Measles of Mankind

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 17, 2014

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

The latest Free Inquiry features a poignant and tough review by Tom Flynn of Jennifer Michael Hecht's anti-suicide book Stay. Calling it “marvelously written,” Tom says it “excludes individuals who make clear-eyed decisions to end their lives in response to calamities whose aftermath they prefer not to experience.”

Editor of The American Rationalist, S.T. Joshi, and his prolific work on atheism, are profiled in the New York Times.

NYT also covers an experimental "God-optional" synagogue.

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