Blog Archives for June 2015

It Seems Like I Was Lying

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 30, 2015

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

Happy Asteroid Day. I guess. We're all gonna die. 

Okay but listen. Don't miss this latest Point of Inquiry, recorded at the Reason for Change conference, where Lindsay Beyerstein interviews Asif Mohiuddin, one of my new heroes. Make time for this today, I'm serious. 

Official Government Clairvoyance

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 29, 2015

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

You were probably too excited about the big same-sex marriage decision to read Cause & Effect when it went out on Friday. I forgive you! You can go check it out now

And how about that decision? Our response, you can guess, was pretty positive:

This decision strengthens American secularism, and finally acknowledges what we have always known to be true: People who love each other should be free to marry, no matter what any church has to say about it.  

3 Comments

Amplitude of Primordial Density Fluctuations

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 26, 2015

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

Hey look! CNN asked me to write about new poll numbers showing some positive trends for the electorate's attitude toward atheists. So I did! I said, in part:

As for being the least-electable group in the survey, nonbelievers have finally moved up a rung. Now claiming the space at the bottom of this particular barrel are socialists, with half of all voters ruling them out entirely. Sen. Bernie Sanders will have his work cut out for him. ... 

2 Comments

EOTUS: Exorcist of the United States

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 25, 2015

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

The California Assembly is voting TODAY on nixing belief-exemptions for vaccinations. If you're a resident of that enormous state, contact your representative now.

Our pals at Centre for Inquiry Canada (which operates independently from us) get a seat on Canada's Office of Religious Freedom's advisory committee. Nice.

Bobby Jindal is officially in the 2016 presidential race! Stop laughing.

2 Comments

We’re Above Such Things

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 24, 2015

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

69% of Americans say that in order to be "truly American," you must believe in God. American Christians, especially White Protestants, really think that Christians are being persecuted in the U.S. too, so things must be so confusing.

The Forecast the Facts petition for getting the media to stop calling science-deniers "skeptics" is almost at its 30,000-signature goal. Go help put it over the top

4 Comments

Divine Diapers

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 23, 2015

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

We couldn't wait to get this out to you: Richard Dawkins sat down with Josh Zepps for a live-audience edition of Point of Inquiry at Reason for Change, and we've got the episode up now

Also in podcast news, President Obama goes to Marc Maron's garage for WTF, and the president calls his mom "the last great secular humanist" (hmm), and declares, "I believe in reason. I believe in facts." 

Media Matters talks to New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan about the skeptics vs. deniers discussion, citing the statement by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry which spawned this discussion. 

Caveat Sucker

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 22, 2015

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

I was off on Friday, but Heretical duties were taken up by Stef McGraw and Peter Wood, who did a great job filling in. (Stef made the mistake of telling me that she likes doing the Heresy when I'm off work, hehehe.) Thank you both!

Holy moly, this Michigan state legislator, Todd Courser, is so scared of same-sex marriage that he's introduced a bill that would require clergy to solemnize all marriages, removing any civil authority. His motivations are totally secular, though (ha ha kidding): 

I believe that the traditional marriage is really God’s model for marriage. ... The contract that has been in place for thousands of years is between a man and his wife on one side and God on the other side. 

5 Comments

Leave the Science to the Religious and Political Leaders

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 19, 2015

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

Today's guest Morning Heretic is Stef McGraw, with the help of CFI Outreach intern Peter Wood. I don't remember where Paul is so I'm just going to assume that he's preparing to announce his candidacy in the Republican presidential race.      

I'll follow Paul's lead on this and not go for any jokes, because there really aren't any. The man who killed 9 people in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday is being held, and his anti-black views that motivated this horrific act are pretty clear.

CFI released a statement on the Charleston shooting, making it clear that religious differences do not justify acts of violence and terror, and we stand firmly against those who deny our common humanity.

Prove Those People Wrong, Heroically

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 18, 2015

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

You already know the terrible news, an act of grotesque terrorism: A white man slaughters 9 people in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Post and Courier reports, horrifyingly:

Church members at Emanuel AME were gathered for a prayer meeting when gunfire erupted in the 19th century building. A female survivor told family members that the gunman initially sat down in the church for a bit before standing up and opening fire, according to Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP. The gunman reportedly told the woman he was letting her live so she could tell everyone else what happened, Scott said. 

I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure how to pull off the whole wise-ass news blog thing when things like this happen, and they seem to keep happening. I guess I'll play it by ear. Bear with me. 

Snail Appeal

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 17, 2015

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

Ah, Trump. You're going to make things so much more fun. Anyhoo, Ryan Koronowski at ClimateProgress rounded up all of Trump's crazy it's-cold-so-climate-change-is-fake tweets, such as "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." Wheeeeee!

As the world trembles in anticipation of the pope's climate change encyclical, the contents of which are already known [shrug], Pew looks at the attitudes of Catholics and the public at large toward climate science. 

3 Comments

BTW the Sun Just Exploded

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 16, 2015

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

The secular movement lost one of its pioneers. All of us at CFI send our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Anne Nicol Gaylor, principle founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who died at the age of 88. Here's FFRF's announcement.

Yesterday, CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry announced a big $25,000 challenge to the right-wing, science-denying Heartland Institute, who thinks global warming stopped in 1998 (lol): If the average global temperature goes up, they donate $25k to a science education charity if our choice. Let's see if they bite. 

3 Comments

The One Rock

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 15, 2015

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

The Reason for Change conference this past weekend was a huge success. Now you'd expect me to say that, being the organization's Chief Flack™, but it's simply true. The place was packed (sold out!), the panels and presentations were illuminating, engaging, and some even deeply moving. We had brilliant minds, brave champions of free expression, and a genuine sense of camaraderie and shared mission. I managed not to hurt myself when moderating a panel discussion (though I did have to borrow Matt Cravatta's shoes - long story). Ron Lindsay tweeted that Reason for Change was the "best conference by far during my tenure" as president. Receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award from us, Richard Dawkins said that CFI is "the one rock, the one reliable force" in the freethought movement. If I weren't so intimidated by people, I'd have given him a fist bump for that.

God Kills Hitlers

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 11, 2015

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

Reason for Change kicks off today! Uh oh, I better get on a plane. But first, real quick, some links, then I gotta dash.

The California bill to end belief exemptions for vaccinations is headed for the full Assembly - if you're in California, tell your representative to vote for it!

The Wall Street Journal comes down hard on the UN for failing to give consultative status (which CFI has) to Freedom Now, saying that the obstruction by dictatorships is an example of how the UN "betrays human rights." 

2 Comments

The Same Plane as Santa Claus

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 10, 2015

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

The New York Times urges Saudi Arabia's King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi:

His death, or his crippling for life, another real possibility, would be a blot that even Saudi Arabia — known for administering harsh physical punishments that include amputations and beheadings — would find difficult to live down. 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds many of the most onerous restrictions placed on abortion providers in Texas, reducing the number of such providers from 41 to "less than a dozen." 

1 Comment

This is an Amazing Mistake

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 09, 2015

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

Today on Capitol Hill, CFI is joining allies to host two congressional briefings on the persecution of secularists around the world. Tomorrow, we focus on Bangladesh. 

Point of Inquiry this week takes a sobering look at the phenomenon of anti-abortion terrorism with guest David Cohen.

After Saudi Arabia upholds its sentence against Raif Badawi (no surprise there), our own Michael De Dora offers commentary to pieces at Religion News Service and (cough) The Daily Caller. The U.S. State Department urges the Saudis not to continue Raif's flogging, but frustratingly refuses to specifically ask the king to pardon him...

1 Comment

Don’t Tell Chopra

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 08, 2015

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

This is, sadly, not a surprise: Raif Badawi's sentencing is upheld after a "review" by a Saudi court.

The New York Times calls for the military to let transgender troops to serve openly

In Skeptical Inquirer, Charles S. Reichardt and Ian A. Saari look at why evolution is rejected by highly-educated believers.

1 Comment

Don’t Let the Pigeon Breed in the Caliphate

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 05, 2015

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

Melissa Binder at The Oregonian covers the CFI-backed Secular Celebrant bill in the state that recently passed the Oregon House. 

Okay, granted, the fact of ISIS is scary and dangerous, and it's a very, very serious subject. But ZOMG:

Senior clerics fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have issued an instruction banning pigeon-breeding claiming that “the sight of the birds' genitals as they fly overhead is offensive to Islam.”

I...I just can't even.  

A Metric Thrill-Stravaganza

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 04, 2015

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

We were delighted that Reps. Joe Pitts and Sheila Jackson Lee had introduced a House resolution advocating for the repeal of blasphemy laws around the world. Blasphemy laws and the persecution of nonbelievers and religious minorities will of course be the subject of congressional briefings we're hosting and taking part in next week.

And lo, the heavens did crack open and behold there was lightning and thunder and the maidens did swoon and the menfolk did weep and the children sang songs of a world transformed, for on that day did Lincoln Chafee announce his candidacy for president. Okay I poke fun at the thrill-stravaganza that is Lincoln Chafee (he's for the metric system, guys!), but he is good on our issues.

No Plausible Biological Mechanism

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 03, 2015

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

Free Inquiry has a special new piece by Ryan Shaffer on the perilous situation in Bangladesh for secularists:

The Bangladeshi government caters to the majority in a republic that has extremist groups and Islamist parties as it also must protect the rights of a minority that do not believe in the nation’s official faith. At the same time, the country suffers from poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and a literacy rate that lags behind more developed countries. This makes the task of Bengali rationalists and humanists more difficult as they challenge superstition where many people do not have access to education and religion is legally protected. 

Our efforts for Taslima Nasrin and other secular activists is covered in the Washington Post and by the BBC. You can donate to our emergency fund here.

Avoid Communal Exercises

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 02, 2015

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

CFI has helped bring Taslima Nasrin to safety in the U.S., and there is a lot of interest in this from Indian outlets such as The Times of India, as well as places like Huffington Post, and the International Business Times. Obviously, her colleagues at Freethought Blogs are writing about it and encouraging folks to donate to the Freethought Emergency Fund. Here's Hemant Mehta's take:

As much as I love CFI for doing this, it shouldn’t be their responsibility to offer protection for these writers. The local governments overseas, and even our own, should be doing more to protect people whose are targets of religious extremists. It’s their inaction forcing CFI to throw so many resources at this problem. I’m thrilled CFI is doing it; I just wish they didn’t have to. 

Tom Flynn takes issue with the NYT "theology of atheism" piece, noting that it misrepresents the real distinctions in secular thought...

2 Comments

Snicker-Proof

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 01, 2015

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

CFI is establishing an emergency fund to assist freethought writers and activists under threat in countries such as Bangladesh. Facing death threats from the same monsters who killed other allies, Taslima Nasrin arrived in the U.S. last week under CFI's assistance, and we are taking donations now to help her get safely settled. 

Mondays are weird. Don't even attempt Monday until you're up to speed on the previous fortnight with Cause & Effect

Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier takes a broad look at four decades of skeptic activism, and likes where things are going. 

3 Comments