Keep National Trail Mix Day Holy

April 25, 2013

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

Yesterday, a building collapsed outside Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, killing well over 100 people, and injuring over 1000. The government declared today, April 25, to be a national day of mourning. As you know, CFI and other groups were to hold protests in cities around the world against Bangladesh's persecution of atheists and dissenters. The tragic events of yesterday have forced us to reconsider.

CFI and its allies still believe firmly in holding these protests, though we had differing ideas about how to proceed. CFI, CFI-Canada, the British Humanist Association, and the activists in Dhaka itself have decided to postpone protests by one week to May 2. That means we will hold protest demonstrations in DC, New York City, London, Ottawa, and hopefully many other cities on that day.

Conversely, American Atheists in New York, Maryam Namazie in London, folks in Columbus, MO, and the Secular Coalition in DC will continue as planned for today. 

All sides had good reasons for the decisions they made, and it was not an easy call for anyone. I can only speak for CFI on this, but I can tell you that a primary factor in the decision to postpone came down to the fact that at the embassies and consulates at which we'd be protesting, there might very well be friends and relatives of those killed or injured in the collapse, all trying to get information, send messages, and the like. With their feelings in mind, and the fact that the officials' attentions would be so firmly on their own country's disaster, we thought it best to move the protest later to when it would have more of its own space. But believe me, this was not an easy call. And we also support the decision of those who opted to go ahead today. We all believe deeply in defending the right freedom of expression. 

(Ironically, we got some RNS/WaPo coverage just before the decision to postpone was made.) 

Rhode Island will be the 10th state to allow gay marriage, as Delaware's House passes its own bill as well.

So dig this: I'm trying to put my baby daughter to sleep, and as she nods off, I check Twitter (like I do), and there's the folks from HuffPost Live asking if I can join them on a panel, like, right now. So I did! I joined a fascinating group of folks to talk about laws banning universally reviled symbols like Nazi swastikas, and managed to tie that kind of thing to our own efforts to combat blasphemy laws, because I'm like that. 

Sharon Hill at CSICOP.org tells the tale of her odd experience at a less-sciencey and more spiritual paranormal convention:

[M]any of the speakers made mistakes that I could easily pick up. Factual errors, and not little ones either, continued to be common. The scholarship at these events is sorely lacking. References are second or third hand. Or nonexistent. Credentials are created. 

Sharon also facepalms over at HuffPo over the Bigfoot severed foot thing. 

Asra Q. Nomani pleads with the Muslim community in the wake of the Boston attacks:

Enough, enough, enough, I say, with the CYA—Cover Your A**—strategy in our Muslim communities. I would like our community to take responsibility for how it is that we—yes, we—have allowed an interpretation of Islam to prevail in this world that turns this boy of innocence into a bomber and murderer. 

Documentary on the misinformation around vaccines, Jabbedis set to premier in Australian TV.

Joe Nickell recounts his experience working with the MSNBC program Mysteries and Monsters.

Abu Dhabi is right now playing host to a Global Vaccine Summit, launched by the Gates Foundation, with the hopes of putting together a "roadmap" to save 20 million lives by 2020. 

Ken Chitwood writes about changing one's perspective of Muslims, making the effort not to see them as outsiders or "insurgents." 

PA state representative Brian Sims rails against a bill prohibiting state-run insurance from covering abortion:

This legislation is about advancing an ideology of oppression and suppression, even if such a plan means ignoring the oath of office that each of us swore. As a reminder, Mr. Speaker, I do believe this has been forgotten entirely by many of my colleagues today: Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible. 

Ben Radford at Discovery News on the second faith-healing death of a couple's child, and how the research about prayer shows it simply doesn't work. 

Razib Khan on the differing attitudes between some conservatives and liberals when it comes to criticism of religion:

An interesting aspect here is that college educated conservatives are even more protective of this freedom [to criticize religion] than non-college liberals (still true if you correct for race). This is a trend when it comes to speech: cultural elites are particularly protective of this liberty. 

NYT's Room for Debate talks about Femen and hijabs, including input from FFRF's Annie Laurie Gaylor.

At Friendly Atheist, I am agog at the congressional wonder that is Louie Gohmert.

I also round up much of the recent writing of Andrew Sullivan as he links arms with folks like Sam Harris on the issue of Islamic extremism.

Speaking of which, Graeme Wood at The Atlantic talks to Sam Harris about his interest in martial arts and violence. Asking Harris who he'd rather fight, a guy with a knife or an unarmed gang, Harris says:

Both situations are invitations to a track meet: You want to run.  

Science & Religion Today wrestles with why near-death experiences are so much more memorable than other dreams and memories. 

Wet archbishops and topless protesters in Belgium. 

Charlotte White on the state of church-state separation in Spain:

The question remains as to how Spain can be truly democratic and independent when the Catholic Church is forever in the background and how can religious freedom be truly attained when the majority of those in power are staunchly Catholic and seem to have no reservation in using their power to enforce Catholic doctrine. 

Quote of the Day  

Preston Peeden of the University of Tennessee's Daily Beacon, is none too pleased about a new state holiday invented by the legislature for August 31, "ido4life Traditional Marriage Day":

I know what many of you are thinking, what kind of gall has possessed the Senate to make them dare schedule a holiday on the same day as National Trail Mix Day? Hippies and former Occupy Wall Streeters from Portland to Vermont will be out in full force with devil sticks, hacky sacks and kokopelli tattoos on their ankles demanding their right to bask in the glow of their organic Chex Mix (and possible doobie smoke). But, in all honesty, this new resolution is another step in our state's continued climb through ignorance to prejudicial views and ultimately to outward discrimination against same-sex couples residing within Tennessee's borders.   

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