Blog Archives for December 2013

Widespread Ignorance Bordering on Idiocy

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 31, 2013

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

What better way to close out the year than with a huge blow to the head that is Pew's data showing that fully one-third of Americans don't accept evolution, and that a majority of Republicans (you know, the party that controls the House and the Supreme Court) reject it. And, just to make sure you understand that "unaffiliated" or "nones" does not equal "atheist," 20% of the unaffiliated reject evolution as well.

Human Rights Without Frontiers publishes a comprehensive report on the imprisonment of religion dissenters around the world. I focus on the blasphemy charges and persecuted nonbelievers, and Brian Pellot notes the horrible irony of the offenders sitting on the UN Human Rights Council. 

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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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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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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The Season of Sadness and Despair

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

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

This week, CFI caps off its Living without Religion ad campaign with a Times Square ad expressing our wishes for peace and enlightenment in the New Year. Meanwhile, the New York Times includes CFI's Living without Religion ad campaign in its story on atheists' take on the holidays:

One recent Monday night, Ms. Crespi was one of 10 young men and women from the Center for Inquiry who stood freezing on a Times Square sidewalk for 45 minutes, waiting for 15 seconds of inspiration. When the video billboard sponsored by the Center for Inquiry finally appeared on 42nd Street, pronouncing that millions of Americans are living happily without religion, the chilled audience whooped, clapped and hastily took a picture.

I haven't had a chance to watch this yet, but I have a feeling CFI's marketing director Lauren Becker is going to swoon over it. Aeon posts a short film on Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan "and the love letter they sent to the stars." 

Festering Theological Fruitcake

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

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

Kimberly Winston reports on how atheist do-gooders, trying to infect the helpless and downtrodden with their poisonous blasphemy, are being rebuffed by various charities.

CFI is about to cap off its 2013 Living without Religion campaign with a final electronic ad in Times Square for the new year -- and you get to see it before it goes live

The elf on the shelf is like a gateway drug to theism. Or the NSA. Either way, Ryan Cragun opines on the evils of Santa in the first Free Inquiry web exclusive. 

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Vigorously Not Cooperating

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

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

Persecuted Indian skeptic leader Sanal Edamaruku launches a new international magazineRationalist.

Speaking of launches, European Space Agency launches Gaia, a space telescope fitted with a billion-pixel camera, to construct a three-dimensional map of the galaxy. 

And speaking of incredible images, io9 rounds up the the most awe-inspiring science images of 2013. 

Blind Faith in Miraculous Power

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

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

Americans' trust in clergy has hit a new low, according to Gallup, though they're still way more trusted than Congress.  

SPEAKING OF WHICH. St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt steps down from his public role as he faces child sex abuse allegations. But remember, Satan is behind gay marriage

An opposable thumbs-up as Texas science textbooks with actual science in them are cleared for adoption

CFI's Michael De Dora writes to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to urge them to include protection of the nonreligious in the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2013.  

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Forged in Chaos

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

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

Joe Schwarcz at Skeptical Inquirer takes Dr. Oz down many, many notches

Archdiocese of New York win an injunction against the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act for its nonprofit affiliates. 

Josh Zepps has a very funny and thoughtful conversation with libertarian humorist P.J. O'Rourke on the latest Point of Inquiry

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The Religious Freedom Panic Squad

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

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

This is looking kind of murky, but it looks like Russia's supreme court found problems with the sentences given to members of Pussy Riot, and they might get an earlier release. Meanwhile, member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, transferred to Siberia, will remain in a prison hospital until her term is up. 

Well look at that. Jupiter's moon Europa looks like it might have water-spurting geysers. No mention of pirate twin activity.*

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Heliocentrism is So Second Millennium

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

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

Yet another "student religious-freedom" bill emerges, this time in Michigan. Reports Brian Smith:

Under the proposed language, instructors would not be permitted to grade a student's work differently based on religious content, and schools could not prevent students from participating in religious activities on campus before or after classes. Schools also would not be able to limit access to facilities to religious organizations if the facilities are made available to the general public. 

Holy moly, there's a sneaky-looking "documentary" coming next year that promotes, wait for it, geocentrism. And the trailer is full of scientists who I'm pretty damn sure are down with Copernicus. And, ugh, that's Captain Janeway at the beginning. (hat tip Rob Boston, who I'm kind of upset with for showing this to me) 

The Best Pope of the Year!

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

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

Time names Pope Cuddly as Person of the Year, choosing human interest over the genuine news impact of its runners-up. Oh, there I go again, being grouchy. But I definitely think he's the best pope of the year, hands down. (Meanwhile, the magazine also officially corrects its earlier assertion that Mr. Pope had "rejected church dogma.") 

I cannot wait to read this: Jennifer Michael Hecht, one of my heroes, pens a big piece in Politico's magazine on the plight of the open atheist in American politics. (A topic I cover at some length in my wee little mini-book here.)

Egomania and Cowardice

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

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

IHEU releases its 2013 Freedom of Thought Report on the state of persecution for atheists around the world.  

Lindsay Beyerstein conducts an extremely informative interview with Americans United's Barry Lynn on the latest Point of Inquiry. A great primer on the major church-state cases going on.

The Time magazine entry for Pope Francis's nomination for Person of the Year included the assertion that the pope "reject[s] church dogma and luxury." It has since been changed to omit "church dogma." 

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Less Canyon Than Itty-Bitty Crack

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

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

CFI-LA's Jim Underdown takes exception to the recent Time magazine assertion that there are "no atheists in the Grand Canyon," and what he has to say is quite lovely:

[O]verwhelmingly, there it was. That mighty, magnificent chasm 6 million years in the making is the physical embodiment of the word awesome. From the first glow of dawn until the long evening shadows engulf all but the rim, this colossal labyrinth of carved rock changes personalities hour-to-hour, season-to-season, eon-to-eon. It never shows the same face twice. 

Bill Nye pens (and records on video) an open letter to the president encouraging NASA's funding be held at $1.5 billion.

Satanists want a monument of their own alongside the Ten Commandments outside the Oklahoma statehouse, and the ACLU has their back.

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Angling on Exoplanets

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

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

Apologies for the late posting - The Morning Heretic as All-the-time-Daddy had to go bring his Baby Heretic to the doctor, but all is well and Baby Heretic is blaspheming happily.  

Wow: Humanist Community Day declared by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. I guess he's not running for president. 

(Someone should tell this to Boston University, where the campus humanists were barred from the school's interfaith panel.)

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Tedious, Difficult, Infuriating Work

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

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

CFI has taken over the fantastic Freethought Books Project, which provides skepto-atheist books to prisoners and hooks them up with volunteer pen pals at CFI branches. It's great.  

I'm just wondering, are you guys listening to the relaunched Point of Inquiry yet? Hey, it's me talking here. I'm just getting caught up after holiday travel and whatnot, and I'm telling you. It's great.

Rob Boston has a new book coming out in March: Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do. Sounds right up our alley. 

Erik Estrada Saves Jesus

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

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

Secular Coalition for America hits the Hill today with briefings on its policy guide for both the House and Senate. Our own Michael De Dora, who had a hand in the policy guide, will be speaking. Meanwhile, our Office of Public Policy puts out its advocacy update for October and November

Kylie Sturgess at CSICOP.org interviews Robin Ince and Trent Burton, makers of the love-letter-to-science app, The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome.

Ken Chitwood profiles Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar, a secular humanist and refugee from Iraq. 

ACLU v. Legion of Doom

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

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

This strikes me as a big deal: The ACLU is suing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (or, as I call it here at the Heresy, "The Legion of Doom") over its directives to Catholic hospitals to deny all abortion services, calling it medical negligence. Pass the popcorn.

Reason Rally musical headliners, veteran band Bad Religion, has a new, totally Jesus-y, honest to goodness Christmas album. Sold. 

Josh Zepps talks to Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, the first Hindu Chaplain for Columbia University and New York University, on the latest Point of Inquiry

Prejudice and Bigotry and Error

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 02, 2013

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

LA Times headlines CFI's big holiday Times Square ad in its piece on atheist billboarding. (Here's our announcement from last week.)

Kimberly Winston covers the Thanksgivings of seculars, with insights from CFI's own Sarah Kaiser and Jennifer Beahan.

Our Office of Public Policy weighs in on the announcement that SCOTUS will take up Hobby Lobby's help-help-I'm-being-oppressed challenge to the Affordable Care Act:

The Center for Inquiry has always, and will always, defend the right of individuals to worship or not worship as they choose. However, we will also always fight to ensure that the government does not unfairly prioritize or promote religion, forcing it into people’s lives. 

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