The People You Think are Real

April 10, 2013

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

Daniel Loxton writes a thoughtful post on what he sees as the problems of conflating atheism and skepticism, and cautions his fellow atheists against smugness:

To promote the belief that atheists are different than other people does nothing but undermine our humanity. It denies the human complexity of religious nonbelievers. In doing so, it sells out atheists.

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef in trouble for dissing the Egyptian president, also now charged with "insulting Pakistan" and "spreading atheism." 

So remember how Camp Quest was not allowed to do its fundraiser as scheduled after it was nixed by Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue? There's more: CQ asks that people speaking out on their behalf be as polite as possible about it, remind us that the offense is limited to this one restaurant, not the entire chain of Oklahoma Joe's, and that Stiefel Freethought Foundation is swooping in to help out. 

Also in atheist discrimination news, Anthem Beverage & Bistro in Tacoma, Washington was to have atheist singer Shelley Segal perform. Then they changed their mind:

This isn’t something that we feel comfortable promoting or hosting because it doesn’t align with what we believe and stand for. 

Segal will instead perform at Doyle's Public House, and you can also see her at the special Saturday night dinner event of Women in Secularism 2.  

A crowd in Papua New Guinea watches as two elderly women are beheaded after being accused of witchcraft. 1000 people march in protest of the murders.

Though the North Carolina bill that would "allow" the establishment of a state religion is no more, its introduction sends shockwaves of anxiety throughout minority religious communities.

Benjamin Park at Religion & Politics looks at the history of similar moves in the states:

More than just squabbling about who gets to define the state’s religiosity, then, North Carolina legislators wish their government to be an embodiment of their private values and beliefs. They are wrestling with an idealized, even imagined, constitutional past.  

Shanny Luft says atheists should have let the NC bill get passed, even helped it, with this reasoning:

The history of American religion suggests that when government involves itself in religion, religion withers on the vine; whereas when governments neither helps nor hinders, religious life flourishes.  

Oh! Oh! And speaking of North Carolina, another of its pro-public-prayer legislators was asked if she'd be okay with a Muslim prayer, and she said, “No, I do not condone terrorism.” 

Dissident Indian skeptic Sanal Edamaruku dismisses the idea of religion being a moral foundation, calling Hinduism "Machiavellian." 

Kate Blanchard at Religion Dispatches weighs in on the New-Atheists-as-Islamophobes meme, positing that even atheists are not immune to irrational dogma:

[If] dogmatism is a natural tendency among some members of our species, then it is not going away. It will just find some other outlet. Where will it bubble up when traditional religions cease to provide the heat? 

Provo, Utah is the most religious city in America, according to Gallup, with Burlington, Vermont the least. Nice to see, my current stomping ground of the Portland, Maine area is 4th-least-religious.

Richard Carrier and John Shook will teach the CFI Institute online seminar "The Science of Free Will" starting May 1. 

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill calls feminism "dangerous," because, "feminist organizations proclaim a pseudo-freedom of women . . . a woman is always focused inwards towards her children, her home."

Seth Kurtenbach at the CFI On Campus blog has this advice for students working on philosophy papers: "Don't be a hero." 

IHEU rallies support for the threatened atheist bloggers in Bangladesh. Stay tuned for a lot more on this.

Recently-Catholic Leah Libresco endures complaints that she allows "blasphemy" in her comments section, and she responds:

I don’t care if commenters insult people/entities/gods they don’t believe exist.  What matters to me is how you treat the people you think are real . . . This blog isn’t meant to be a safe space for Catholicism.  It’s supposed to be a safe space for argument seeking truth.   

NYT reports on the science education guidelines just officially released, including "a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school." 

The Vatican makes noise about supporting adult stem cell research, but (obviously) not embryonic. 

Warm up your vocal chords and practice your diction. It's almost time for the 2013 Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest in DC. 

GWU's student paper covers the appearance of Nate Phelps with the GW Secular Society. Said Phelps:

My family preaches a message of hate and insists that we abandon hope. Let me challenge you with a new and simple idea: Faith is not a virtue. It allows you to flourish unchecked. It is the justification for too much hatred. 

Today begins World Homeopathy Awareness Week. Oh, don't you guys worry. We're aware. 

The Rev. Emil Kapaun, a prisoner of war in Korea who died in 1951, is up for actual sainthood, and will also be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

A group called Share International, with its leader Maitreya the World Teacher, says NASA has found angels. (FYI, though this is at the Sacramento Bee website, it is just a press release, not a news article.)

Conservative mag American Spectator thinks that the military is waging a war on Catholics and Evangelicals because Obama. 

Cartoonist David Horsey imagines the GOP trying to simmer down its religious base

PsychicLiving.net has three tips for making sure your psychic is not some kind of charlatan. 

Blog Headline of the Day: "Atheists Should Not Be Shot" (whew!)

Quote of the Day  

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the battle for girls' education in the face of violence and oppression: 

[M]any of the rights that girls are fighting for are those that have been taken for granted, at least for a century, in most countries. We have moved from an old world where, if you were a girl, your rights were what others decreed, your status what others ascribed to you, and if your mother was poor, so too would you always be. But today’s movement is not just for emancipation — a 20th-century demand for freedom from injustices — but for empowerment, a 21st-century demand for freedom to make the most of your talents.    

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