Blog Archives for June 2017

Omnishambles

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 30, 2017

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

While the very fabric of space-time warped and undulated over the Trump-Morning Joe conflict (we'll get to that), Republicans in the House finance subcommittee worked up a scheme to neutralize the Johnson Amendment. The proposed rule would deny the IRS the funds it would need to investigate Johnson Amendment violations...for churches only. That's right, no mention of other nonprofits, no mention of other houses of worship. We joined a big coalition of groups opposing the measure, and I did the equivalent of marching up and down, toddler-Bart-Simpson style, making noise about it.

You May Wear Pants

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 29, 2017

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

Cardinal George Pell is the third-most powerful official in the Catholic Church as head of the Vatican's finances. And he's just been charged multiple sexual assaults in his native Australia. I think it's time to play this song again.

Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky signs into law a bill allowing Bible classes in public schools. I'm sure that not far behind are classes on the Qu'ran, the Bhagvat Gita, Dianetics, and the Books of Bokonon. Any day now.

A Rich, Dense Fossil of the Immediate Present

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 28, 2017

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

Jay Sekulow, the creepy guy from the religious-right group the American Center for Law and Justice, and now a Trump lawyer, has reportedly directed more than $60 million donated to another nonprofit right into his and his family's bank accounts. Jon Swaine at The Guardian reports:

Telemarketers for the nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case), were instructed in contracts signed by Sekulow to urge people who pleaded poverty or said they were out of work to dig deep for a “sacrificial gift”.

Nobody Knows What Happens

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 27, 2017

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

As our legal director Nick Little put it, SCOTUS "detonated a massive breach in the wall of separation between church and state" with its decision in the Trinity Lutheran case, a decision that will have really bad consequences as religious institutions get the green light to go diving for public dollars. Tara Isabella Burton at Vox looks at the implications, including a reference to our lawsuit in Florida over prison ministries looking for taxpayer funding. Betsy DeVos is probably really excited.

Quick, Numerous, Clicky

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 26, 2017

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

We're just now hearing about the SCOTUS decision on Trinity Lutheran. We'll have a response shortly. 

Last week, we responded to the news that Turkey would nix evolution from its school curricula, contrasting the claim of evolution's alleged "complexity" as a subject with our own TIES program...

2 Comments

Didn’t See That Coming

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 23, 2017

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

You know, things are so crazy lately around the world, that everything going off the rails has become the new normal. I mean, look at the Senate's health care bill! It's just one space alien short of To Serve Man! (Except of course women are among its prime victims.) I feel like there must be some newer, more novel catastrophe that needs to occur to really shake us out of our stupor...

...what's that? ... What if an important, populous country, with a rich history that spans the cultures of east and west, decided to stop teaching evolution to all of its students? Well, yes, that'd certainly qualify as a novel and really tragic catastrophe. ... Hmmm? ... oh I see. You're saying this has in fact happened... 

Blame the Peanut Butter Sandwich

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 22, 2017

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

Good morning. Here's some Grade-A crap from the top court of the EU:

The highest court of the European Union ruled Wednesday that courts can consider whether a vaccination led to someone developing an illness even when there is no scientific proof.

Paul Offit says:

Using [the court's] criteria, you could reasonably make the case that someone should be compensated for developing leukemia after eating a peanut butter sandwich. 

Eggs and Lusty Thoughts

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 21, 2017

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

Here is a mild example of what happens when religious service providers, like child care facilities, aren't subject to the same rules as everyone else. A 4-year-old girl at the Zion Lutheran Learning Center was hog-tied by her caretakers. Sarah Fenske at the Riverfront Times in St. Louis reports:

The little girl had been running around when she was supposed to be napping, and so Mr. Josh had bound her legs together with duct tape. She would be untied, another teacher told her, once she behaved. 

This Seething Moment

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 20, 2017

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

The Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting trademarks deemed offensive, finding in favor of a rock band called The Slants, and the decision is assumed to bolster the case of the Washington Redskins who are in a separate legal fight over their trademark. Justice Kennedy:

A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society. 

1 Comment

He Gets Sweaty and Swallows a Lot

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 19, 2017

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

Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Virginia is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen. Torres allegedly confronted Nabra and a group of her friends outside an IHOP, all of whom fled to a mosque except for Nabra whose body was found yesterday afternoon. 

In London, a man plows into a group of Muslims leaving a mosque, killing one and injuring 10 others. When the driver tried to escape on foot, he was tackled by another man who reports that the driver said, "I want to kill more people, I want to kill more Muslims." 

A Pinch, if Not a Dash

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 16, 2017

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

They got him. Lyle Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and brother of incarcerated leader (and child rapist) Warren Jeffs, has been found and arrested in South Dakota. He escaped custody last year as he faced conspiracy charges for money laundering.  

Hähnchen Über Alles

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 15, 2017

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

The Southern Baptist Convention, after being shamed into it, votes to condemn white nationalism and the alt-right. (Before you get too excited, they also voted to condemn Planned Parenthood and to commend "those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse," meaning Pence.) 

1 Comment

Those Who Remained Groaned and Gasped

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 14, 2017

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

Holy freaking crap some guy started shooting at GOP Members of Congress at their baseball practice, wounding House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, and likely others. 

The organizers of the Sandy Hook Promise Champions Gala have dropped Megyn Kelly as the event's host due to her upcoming interview with Alex Jones. 

1 Comment

The Universe is an Echoing Void

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 13, 2017

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

I'm quite proud of this new episode of Point of Inquiry, my second as the new host, where I talk to The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert about how we might honestly come to grips with inevitable climate change. She was super cool and really informative. PLUS, there's a bonus "exit interview" with now-former POI producer Nora Hurley.  

Insufficiently Terrified

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 12, 2017

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

Laurie Goodstein at NYT has a big feature on the religious left: newly galvanized by opposition to Trump, but tied to a party that is largely secular. Sojourners founder Rev. Jim Wallis tells her:

The fact that one party has strategically used and abused religion, while the other has had a habitually allergic and negative response to religion per se, puts our side in a more difficult position in regard to political influence. ... Most progressive religious leaders I talk to, almost all of them, feel dissed by the left. The left is really controlled by a lot of secular fundamentalists.

Bucket of Deplorables

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 09, 2017

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

"Veni, dixi, vici." - Comey, probably. 

"Conati, perdidi, victi." May, probably.

2 Comments

Transferred to the Chicken

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 08, 2017

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

Happy Comey Day, a day when Americans from all filter bubbles gather together to hear things we already know said in front of senators who will then put on amazing performances. It truly is a magical time.

But are you sure you wanna watch? As Julia Belluz reports, no, it's not just you: politics is now making people sick.

Improving Drainage

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 07, 2017

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

12 people are killed in two terrorist attacks in Iran: one at Parliament, the other at mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. ISIS claims responsibility, making it the first major attack by the Islamic State in Iran.

The U.S. threatens to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council over what Ambassador Nikki Haley calls its "chronic anti-Israel bias," but assures us, hey, guys, we don't want to leave...

2 Comments

Chewbacca with a Hangover

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 06, 2017

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

Now it can be told. Yesterday, Michael De Dora announced that he would be leaving CFI this week, taking a new job at the Committee to Protect Journalists. And I'm fine with it. SERIOUSLY. It's fine. He's gotta live his own life. I can't tell him what to do. EVERYONE has to find their own path and just because he's ABANDONING me as though ALL WE'VE WORKED ON TOGETHER means NOTHING, hey, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on, right?!? No, no, YOU'RE handling it badly!!!!

Tolerate It

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 05, 2017

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

Due to the president's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, we kicked off the next generation of Point of Inquiry earlier than we intended, because our first guest is the former head of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, who also has an optimistic new book with Mike Bloomberg on climate change. Oh, and the host is me! Didn't see THAT coming, did you? Maybe you did.

2 Comments

Lord, Here Comes the Flood

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 02, 2017

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

Drink up, dreamers. You're running dry. We knew it was coming, but it's stunning all the same. President Donald Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

5 Comments

Some Sort of Healing Vibrations

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 01, 2017

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

This is how we reacted to the news that Trump is probably going to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement:

“Should he go through with withdrawal from the climate accord, the president will be turning his back on the rest of the world while it almost literally burns,” said [our boss Robyn] Blumner. “Having isolated our country, the president would be transforming America from a global superpower to a rogue state.”