The Only Relevant Debate

April 23, 2013

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

AP reports on the Boston bombing suspect:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's [written] answers led [investigators] to believe he and his brother were motivated by a radical brand of Islam without major terror connections... 

Andrew Sullivan balks at the idea that these attacks might not have been religiously motivated:

[T]o dismiss the overwhelming evidence that this was also religiously motivated – a trail that now includes a rant against his own imam for honoring Martin Luther King Jr. because he was not a Muslim – is to be blind to an almost text-book case of Jihadist radicalization. 

Also, Sullivan, of all people, comes to the defense of Sam Harris in his quarrel with Glenn Greenwald. Responding to Harris's assertion that Islamic doctrines are problematic for civil society, says:

How can one seriously deny that? All religions contain elements of this kind of fanaticism. But Islam’s fanatical side – from the Taliban to the Tsarnaevs – is more murderous than most. 

Mark Juergensmeyer at Religion Dispatches says to leave religion out of it, writing that attacks like this are "instances where lonely, alienated individuals have raged against a society that they thought had abandoned them."  

Sam Brownback, let's just call him the Archbishop of Kansas now, scrawls "JESUS and Mary" on his notes at the signing ceremony for a bill that declares life begins at "fertilization" and blocks tax breaks for abortion providers. 

At Friendly Atheist, I expand upon the news of China's attempts to rid the population of superstition, including reaction from CSI chief Barry Karr.

Meanwhile, seven Pentecostal preachers in China are imprisoned for being part of an "illegal cult." 

Joanna Weiss at the Boston Globe says Bobby Jindal is ruining his national branding by backing creationism in schools.  

After the flare-up over his tweet wondering why the New Statesman would employ a journalist who believes that a magical prophet flew to heaven on a winged horse, Richard Dawkins clarifies himself:

I cannot deny that this [sounded] horribly like a call for New Statesman to sack him, and it is not surprising that it was taken in that way and became controversial as a freedom of speech issue. Even worse, some respondents went overboard and thought I was saying that no Muslim should ever be employed as a  journalist, or even that no religious person should ever be employed as a journalist. I certainly never intended any of those meanings. Twitters’s 140-character limit is notoriously inimical to nuance. 

Several religious organizations are reportedly clamoring for the rights to use this photo.

42% of North Carolinians want Christianity to be the state religion. Including 41% of Democrats.

A sociologist in Turkey equates atheism and autism.

The Revealer on Lebanon's struggles between secularism and sectarianism

Kylie talks to three Romanian skeptics, Eddy Petrisor, Stanca Miruna Geanta Chelbea and Ovidiu Covaciu, for the latest Token Skeptic podcast. 

Two Syrian archbishops are kidnapped, and the Syrian government and the rebels are blaming each other. 

Toothpaste for Dinner shows us how to make something sound dirty: Add the Bible

Giant floating Jesus wants to come over. 

Cody Hashman for Music Monday: Whither "Peace Train"

Quote of the Day  

Tunisian journalist Ahmed Benchemsi begins a campaign in support of secularism in the Arab world:

The most relevant, if not the only relevant debate in the Arab world is the debate between secularism and Islamism. It is the one relevant societal line in the Arab world right now. . . . Millions of Arabs are trapped between the reality of their life, the appearances they are supposed to maintain, and the political system meant to enforce those appearances, which is split between plutocracy and theocracy. 

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Comments:

#1 Ophelia Benson on Tuesday April 23, 2013 at 9:04am

Omigod. From that explanatory/corrective piece by Dawkins - “I certainly never intended any of those meanings. Twitters’s 140-character limit is notoriously inimical to nuance.”

No kidding!!! So, Richard, maybe you should stop trying to comment on large complicated issues there!

Yeesh. I’ve been saying this for weeks, as a result of seeing him doing just that over and over again, and getting in a mess as a result.

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