Find Mystery Where None Exists

April 26, 2013

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

As I talked about in the last Heresy, yesterday some groups went ahead with their protest plans, despite the national day of mourning in Bangladesh for the victims of the building collpase outside Dhaka. CFI, CFI-Canada, the British Humanist Association, and the protestors in Dhaka itself are postponing until May 2. Kimberly Winston reports on the situation, quoting me and Dave Silverman on our respective groups' decisions.  

The Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy launches a petition asking Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and White House faith-based initiatives director Melissa Rogers to meet with humanists and nonbelievers to discuss our inclusion (and exclusion) in community memorial and healing events.

Appeal for the publishers of "blasphemous" cartoons jailed in Tunisia is "mysteriously withdrawn." 

Atheist journalist Aleksandr Kharlamov in Kazakhstan arrested for "inciting religious hatred" and to undergo psychiatric examinations, according to Forum 18.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova pleads for parole: "I have spent enough time in the prison camp. I've had enough of studying it. Six months is time enough." 

Fighting in Aleppo results in the destruction of the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque, a Unesco World Heritage site. 

German court rules that a Catholic charity had a right to fire an employee who had quit the church in protest of the sex abuse scandal. 

On Long Island, a bishop haughtily returns a petition to reinstate a former church employee who was fired for marrying his male partner -- but sends them to the wrong place. 

At Yahoo News, Ben Radford digs into the reasoning behind all the conspiracy theories around the Boston bombings:

Conspiracy theorists prefer complex mysteries over simple truths, and so they find mystery where none exists. 

Ben also reviews a book on the local lore of a monster under Lake Champlain.

If you're an atheist, you might be in the 1%, and deserve to be #occupied. I kid. 

American Humanist Association to bring suit to Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi for its mandatory assemblies that include a whole lot of Jesus. 

Yale may soon have a humanist chaplaincy

Imams in Canada would like you to know that they were the ones that tipped off authorities to a terrorist plot in the works.

Space rock hits a house in Connecticut. No really!

Joe Nickell gets cryptographic at Skeptical Inquirer

Matt Recla at Religion Dispatches on how we talk about religion and violence:

The tenuous position of Islam in America, especially when tragedy strikes, is such that religious leaders clamor to decry the claims of the perpetrators and redefine the boundaries of “true” and “false” religion. These actions recreate a gap between “types” of religion, ensuring that no conversation can be had about religion’s clear role on both sides. We need more scholars and religious leaders to step into this gap, recognizing this is where most religion is lived out. 

There's a new campaign to help nonbelievers and humanists who want to homeschool their kids

Remains from an infant sacrifice by Chilean cult found; cultists considered the baby to be the antichrist. 

LaToya says Michael is haunting her house. Eeeeuugh. 

Quote of the Day  

This is a little long, but bear with me, it's kind of fascinating. At NYT's Well blog, Dr. Mikkael A. Sekeres, director of the leukemia program at the Cleveland Clinic, recounts his experience treating a Jehovah's witness who refused a blood transfusion:

“So, you understand that the therapy we recommend has the potential to cure you, but it is unlikely you’ll be able to survive the chemotherapy without receiving blood transfusions?” I summarized.

“I understand,” he said.

“But if we don’t treat your leukemia, you will die from it.” I looked him in the eyes, at the crow’s-feet that told me he had laughed a lot of times in his life, and down to his hands, holding those of his niece, sitting by his side. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“I know.”

“I heard that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness. I come from a different background – I’m Jewish.”

“Well, nobody’s perfect!” his brother piped up. Everyone laughed, easing the tension in the room.

“I have different beliefs from you, so I can’t say I totally understand where you’re coming from, but I respect your faith, and we’ll follow your lead on what you want to do,” I told the patient. “You’re the boss.”

“No, he’s the boss,” he said, pointing toward the ceiling, and beyond. Others in the room nodded in agreement.

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