Payot on a Plane

April 12, 2013

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

CFI sent out an action alert yesterday on behalf of the persecuted atheists in Bangladesh. We're formally asking the State Department to weigh in, and start to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government. You can add your voice here. Yesterday we learned that the atheist bloggers already arrested have been "grilled" for seven days, and a hearing for them has been postponed.

Two more young people in Bangladesh are arrested for blasphemy in the mean time, perpetrated on Facebook. 

Interestingly (but unrelated), banks in the US and UK have stopped accepting transactions from Bangladesh's Islami Bank which looks to be "funding religious extremism."

Must-watch: Ron Lindsay joined the HuffPost Live panel with critics of Sam Harris to talk about allegations of "Islamophobia" and bigotry, and as usual, it's pretty intense stuff.

Pakistani secular parliamentary candidate Fakhrul Islam is assassinated by the Taliban

Kuwait's cabinet looks to enact a new bill that would place incredibly harsh penalties on those who commit blasphemy or insult the emir. 

WikiLeaks releases documents from the time of Pinochet showing the Vatican's unwillingness to admit to the horrors going on in Chile, claiming that all reports of killings were leftist propaganda, but even when things became clear...

The cables also showed the Vatican later realised the full extent of the abuses being carried out but refused to criticise Pinochet's regime openly and continued with normal diplomatic relations. 

Meanwhile, Florence Davey-Attlee at CNN thinks there is a chance for the Vatican to make pals with science:

With the new pope being himself a trained scientist -- Francis graduated as a chemical technician before moving on to study philosophy, psychology and theology -- the timing could be right for a new era of cooperation between the Vatican and science 

Cartoonish candidate-for-everything Alan Keyes draws the line between church-state sepatation and eating boogers.  

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile discover an Earth-sized planet orbiting the very nearby Alpha Centauri B. And that's a big deal. 

More WikiLeaks: Concerns over a UFO sighted in Morocco in 1978 turned out to be Soviet space junk. 

BUT WAIT A MINUTE: Can Russian scientists summon UFOs?!?!? 

Rowlett City Council in Texas is roiling with tension over prayer at council meetings, and I get a troubling he-doth-protest-too-much feeling from the mayor who seems like he really wants you to know that atheists need not fear retaliation. You hear that, atheists who disagree with him? Nooooo retaliation. 

Rep. Duncan Hunter introduces (again) a bill to block pesky atheist groups from trying to get crosses off of publicly-funded war memorials

Father of founder Amanda Brown, Roger Gorely, is arrested for refusing to leave the side of his sick partner in the hospital. 

Revisions to Indonesia's criminal code are lambasted by civil liberty groups and religious minorities as placing further restrictions on personal freedoms. 

Texas A&M's student body president vetoes a student council bill that would exempt religious students from paying activity fees that might possibly maybe fund 'the gay.'

Apparently Orthodox Jews on planes were a big thing yesterday. Someone on Reddit found this fellow wrapped in plastic because of possibly flying over a cemetery (I have no idea), and separately, these guys went nuts and rioted on a plane when it looked like they were about to be shown a movie. Again, I dunno.  

Also, a Hasidic sect in Brooklyn wants to buy this fortress

Israeli police arrest five women who attempt to pray at the Western Wall.

Secular Coalition grades the candidates in South Carolina's special congressional election, which features Marl "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert (yes, that Colbert) Busch.  

Michelle Boorstein: Suicide of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew begins a debate about the Christian approach to mental illness:

For Christians who believe in turning to a divine source for emotional help, even defining a prayerful request can be fraught, some leaders and congregants pointed out. For example, is depression the result of sinful behavior for which one should seek forgiveness? And if prayer does not bring relief, what might God be saying? 

Live in Detroit? Catholic? Support gay marriage? Go get your crackers and wine somewhere else

Police in Turkey claim to find evidence that Al Qaeda plans to bomb the U.S. embassy and a synagogue there. 

Olympia Beer will give you a million bucks for proof of Bigfoot. 

Effort is launched in New Hampshire to undo a voucher law

Dan Savage at NYT writes about the struggle many gay kids have with their own faith and the faiths of their families. 

Dover wasn't enough for some, as a new effort begins to "teach the controversy" about evolution in Pennsylvania schools.  

Quote of the Day  

Rev. Dawn Cooley of the Louisville First Unitarian Church, in the wake of the new bill in Kentucky that allows for religious discrimination of all kinds: 

As soon as this bill passes into law, I will officially begin conducting weddings and signing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, as is standard practice in my religion. It will be my right to act in this manner, in accordance to my faith. If a county clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, I will have him/her cited for burdening my freedom of religion, but I am sure I will be able to find at least one who will understand and sympathize and act in accordance with the law.

Read the whole post to see the "snag" in her otherwise heartwarming plan. 

* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta