Blog Archives for September 2013

You Bunch of Perverts

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

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

This is a huge day at CFI!

Today we're launching a national outreach campaign declaring that, yes indeed, millions of Americans live happy, meaningful lives without religion. We have ads going up in NYC, DC, Michigan, and Indiana. We have an amazing new website with a fantastic video, testimonials from real people about the benefits of secular humanism, stats, resources, and other great content. In fact, we want you to join in and tell us how you live happily #withoutreligion on Twitter. Here's our official announcement and our press release

But wait! There's more! 

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Help Us Spread the Message: We Are Living Happily #WithoutReligion

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 29, 2013

Today, CFI is launching a national outreach campaign declaring that millions of Americans do, in fact, live happily without religion – and we want you to help us spread that message. We seculars are the fastest-growing "belief" group in the country, and we want everyone to know that we don’t need God, dogma, or a sacred text to find fulfillment, meaning, and joy. We want to reach out to those who have doubts about religion, but may not be ready to leave it behind, to let them know that life is full of wonder and purpose that we create ourselves, and that leaving religion does not mean going without community and support.

Out the Window

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

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

Bob Smietana at USA Today covers the big ARIS-CFI survey on the worldviews of American college students, gets commentary from former CFI intern Stef McGraw, and talks to Mark Forrester, a chaplain at Vanderbilt University:

"[When I started in 1991, students] were either Protestant or Catholic," he said. "The biggest question was, what kind of Protestant are you? "

Now Jewish, Muslim, and other non Christian students are common as are those with no faith.

"All of our assumptions are out the window," he said. 

Don't forget: Michael De Dora is doing an online video chat with persecuted atheists Alber Saber and Kacem El-Ghazzali on Monday! 

Fake psychic Rose Marks is found guilty on 14 counts of fraud, may get 20 years. 

#FirstCause

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

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

In conjunction with CFI, Trinity College's American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) releases a new report on the religious identification of college-age Americans, and the results are rather surprising. Not only do these folks divide pretty much evenly between three groups (Religious, Spiritual, and Secular), but the those claiming "no religion" are not just fuzzy "searchers," but mostly straight-up nontheists. Here's the press release with highlights and the full report (PDF)

On Monday, CFI's Michael De Dora will do a video chat with persecuted atheists Alber Saber and Kacem El-Ghazzali for International Blasphemy Rights Day. This is an amazing opportunity, and it's not to be missed. 

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi says, I assume with a straight face, that Jesus invented Twitter. Sort of:

[Jesus] used tweets before everyone else, with elementary phrases made up of fewer than 45 characters like "Love one another." 

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Smaller

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 25, 2013

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

The Morning Heretic is traveling this morning to be amongst the journalists at the Religion Newswriters Conference in Austin, so this is going to be a very short roundup.

CFI has filed an amicus brief (PDF) with the Supreme Court it Town of Greece v. Galloway, the case about prayer at government and legislative functions. We summarize our reasoning here

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova says she is going on hunger strike to protest the "slavery-like" conditions at her penal colony. 

Hoax und Überhoax

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

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

NPR's On the Media tells the outrage-inducing tale of producer Sarah Abdurrahman's detention, along with her family, at the U.S.-Canadian border. Her husband recounts the following exchange with a border agent, hours into their detention:

He asks me if I’m Muslim, but he kind of does it in this weird way, like – he like, can I ask you, are you – what, um, eh, um, are you Mus – are – what, what religion are you, like that, you know. Like he kind of like dances around it. And I was like, “Yes, I’m Muslim.” 

Robert Blaskiewicz shakes his head at a reviving 9/11 Trutherism, one which seems to be focusing on the allegedly "controlled" collapse of Building 7.

The Human Bible episode 28 is up, where we learn that loving your enemy as yourself may just be a way to ""make your enemy feel like a jerk."

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Your Brain is Not Sending Out Waves to the Universe

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 23, 2013

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

James Croft and Greg Epstein talk up "godless congregations" in a piece for the latest issue of Free Inquiry:

[T]hese emerging humanist communities represent an entrepreneurial social project, born of creative individuals willing to take risks and rethink old ideas. 

Tom Flynn, in the same issue, sticks up for a stricter secular humanism without all the togetherness:

[T]here is something tragic in the rising popularity of congregational humanism among the young. . . . [W]e are seeing the human cost of Christian literalism’s late-twentieth-century ghost dance.  

According to a survey by LifeWay Research, about one third of Americans think prayer and Bible study are sufficient to "cure" mental illness.  

GOP Rep. Raul Labrador puts forth legislation to keep the government from discriminating againt businesses who want to discriminate against gay people. Guess who likes this idea.

Bringing a Halberd to a Game of Laser Tag

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 20, 2013

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

Pope Francis makes everyone lose their minds with a long interview granted to Jesuit publications, the English version being published in the magazine America (by the way, is that something we can do? Have an atheist magazine and just call it, like, United States?) In it, His Cuddliness says that the Church has been too "obsessed" with the hot-button issues of abortion, birth control, and homosexuality. 

You Smell Papal

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 19, 2013

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

CFI's UN representatives raise the alarm on the human rights crisis of servile marriage. Said CFI's Dr. Elizabeth O'Casey to the UN Human Rights Council:

Culture and religion . . . must never legitimise anachronistic practices that violate the core principles of equality, autonomy and dignity upon which human rights are based. 

Carrie Poppy gets very drunk, and ingests a hangover remedy called "Blowfish," all for science.

Clerics in Pakistan recommend amending the country's harsh blasphemy laws to prevent their abuse. Their solution? The death penalty for false blasphemy accusations. Um, guys? 

Embrace the Eight, Not the Hate

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 18, 2013

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

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals puts the kibosh on for-profit corporations trying to exempt themselves from the Obamacare contraceptive mandate on religious grounds. 

CFI Summit keynote speaker Bill Nye wiggles his hips on Dancing with the Stars (I think the judges were way too harsh, for which I suspect anti-nerd bias), and then does a turn on Bill Maher's show. (I wouldn't expect that video to be up for long.) 

CFI Chair Eddie Tabash has two more Florida cities to conquer on his speaking tour: Daytona Beach tonight, Tallahassee tomorrow. 

David Niose explores the problem of atheists gettng into elected office, saying, "it’s not as if atheists are an embarrassing segment of society." I dunno, David. Have you been in the blogosphere lately?  

Science, Reason, and Secular Bargains!!!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 17, 2013

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

Let there be an expanding brane! Existence as we know it may be the result of a 4-dimensional black hole. Okay!

Why do people keep looking for Atlantis? Our own Joe Nickell lends a hand to Slate's Emily Tamkin to answer the question. 

Eugenie Scott once again graciously demeans herself by generously granting pathetic little me another pre-conference interview for the CFI Summit, and I once again manage not to swoon. In this one, Dr. Scott looks at the state of pro-science struggles, and differentiates between the skeptic and humanist movements. (Here's her interview from last year before CSICon 2)

Inflicting Vivacious Whimsy

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

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

CFI-Canada (acting independently from us, the U.S. CFI) comes out against the Charter of Quebec Values which bans the wearing of religious symbols for public employees:

A secularism charter should take the crucifix off the wall at the National Assembly, remove Christian prayer at public city council meetings, and revoke special property tax exemptions for religious buildings. The Charter has precisely the wrong aim, to take religion away from people, while ignoring institutional favouritism which biases the public square away from state neutrality and is therefore the more serious threat to equality of treatment between believer and nonbeliever.

One letter-to-the-editor writer agrees. Atheist Idan Shoham writes to the Montreal Gazette:

To me, religion is something to be tolerated. It’s fine to ridicule (religious) ideas, but it’s not fine to discriminate against (religious) people. What business has the government to regulate the hats religious people wear? 

Look Out for That Oort Cloud, It’s a Doozy

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

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

Happy Friday the 13th! To celebrate, watch this enormous rock as it barely misses the planet. Universe Today reports:

About 230 kilometers in size, 324 Bamberga reaches 0.81 astronomical units from the Earth this week. No other asteroid so large gets so close.

Meanwhile, Voyager 1, for real this time, or so they tell us, has actually, like, for sure, left the Solar System. Definitely. OR NOT. I dunno anymore.  

Suit challenging the "In God We Trust" motto on U.S. money is dismissed by a federal court. 

Pastor Jones, the Police Mustache You a Question

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

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

Tim Farley busts out a big box of tools for monitoring legislation relevant to skeptics, including CFI's new bill tracker

Kentucky governor Steven Beshear saves the state's adoption of new science standards, despite a rejection by the state legislature. 

Chris Chambers is very skeptical of the proposed Mars One manned mission to the Red Planet, as there has been insufficient consideration of how crazy everyone on board will inevitably go. 

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An Ounce of Adulteration

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 11, 2013

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

Quebec seeks to enact rules for public servants, prohibiting them from wearing all manner of religious symbols and accessories, in a purported effort to "help create a distinct identity" for the province. 

After Ball State University insists it will not hawk "intelligent design" in science courses, the Discovery Institute (referred to as a "think tank" in what I assume is a very loose definition of the term) lashes out at the school for "promoting atheism and bashing intelligent design." 

The Dawkins foundation and MAAF are working together on care packages for U.S. military personnel

Children of the (Anti-Clerical) Revolution

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 10, 2013

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

Happy twentiethBill Nye the Science Guy! In honor of the show turning 20 today, we're posting a classic Point of Inquiry with Bill Nye, a headliner of the CFI Summit.

Speaking of the Summit, I interviewed secular wunderkind, Summit speaker Zack Kopplin about what motivates his tireless activism, which includes a totally unexpected James Carville shout-out. 

Hindu authority in India sends notice that atheists are forbidden from marrying in temples

AFP: France moves to enforce its Charter for Secularity in School, feared by many Muslims, which is explained by the government as in keeping with the French Revolution... 

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Tired of Trying to Be Moved

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

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

Former W. press secretary Dana Perino, now at Fox (of course), discussing the Massachusetts Pledge case, is sick, sick, sick of atheist pests:

I’m tired of [atheists]. I remember working at the Justice Department years ago when I first started right after 9/11 and a lawsuit like this came through, and before the day had finished, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives had both passed resolutions saying that they were for keeping ‘under God’ in the pledge. If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here.

Action alert, y'all: Tell Congress to tell the Family Research Council to back off our laws. 

This is a boatload of awesome: Slate posts a big map of "here be dragons"-type creatures from Renaissance cartography. 

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Do Magic Coconuts Have Hanging Chads?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 06, 2013

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

Three new faces are added to the lineup of speakers at the CFI Summit: Josh Zepps, Debbie Goddard, and Mark Hatcher. 

This Monday, the outreach crew is running another CFI On Campus On-Air Session, this time on blasphemy rights and the Campaign for Free Expression, with a really great panel of folks.

A magic coconut has disrupted Maldivian elections and now there is an investigation into the magic coconut and OH GOD I WISH I WAS KIDDING:

A vote-rigging row has erupted in the Maldives ahead of Saturday's presidential election amid suspicions that one party is using cursed coconuts imbued with black magic spells to sway voters’ political allegiances. 

Only God Can Judge Carlos Danger

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 05, 2013

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

So you all know about how Bill Nye will be at the CFI Summit next month. Oh, I guess he's doing this TV show too where he dances or something. 

Massachusetts' supreme court heard arguments yesterday in a case concerning the Pledge of Allegiance's bit about being beneath Yahweh. SCA president David Niose argued for the plaintiffs, and CFI contributed an amicus brief

To help you get more involved with our work at the Office of Public Policy, CFI has just launched a bill tracking page, keeping an eye on legislation in the House and Senate relating to issues such as science, religion, and freedom of expression.

Pop Star Seeks Person to Stare at Sky for Aliens

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 04, 2013

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

Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Court hears arguments in its big Pledge of Allegiance case, which will be streamed live. CFI has submitted an amicus brief, and you can read Ron Lindsay's explanation of our position here

IHEU gathers thoughts from various prominent seculars on the unbearable question what to do, if anything, about Syria, which includes a contribution from our own Michael De Dora. 

Southern Baptists are advising chaplains not to perform services with anyone who "practices or affirms a homosexual lifestyle."

Psychic Fraud to the Nines

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 03, 2013

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

Whew! This weekend, Hemant Mehta done got himself "Hitched." (Cute photo!) The Morning Heretic of course offers its sincere congratulations. But while he was being nuptial'd, Hemant tasked me with the stewardship ofFriendly Atheist. Despite this being an obvious mistake, I did my best not to crash his Ferrari of a blog.

What did I blog about? GLAD YOU ASKED. Well, an Indian novelist was charged with blasphemy, the South Jersey prayer-at-council-meetings fiasco got weirder, I found a great example of apologetics leading to nonbelief, E.W. Jackson nailed himself to a proverbial cross, EWTN explained how Hell actually works (and how Karl Marx is probably there), looked at the universality of messiah-wishes, and a teacher in India is fighting for his right to NOT pray in school. Like I said, whew!

It's always all about them: Build-up to a US attack on Syria seen by some Christians as a harbinger of the End Times. But what isn't, really? 

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