If You Threw Yourself in Front of a Train

May 20, 2013

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

The conference was great. It had a high bar to meet with last year's huge success, but it was easily cleared. Talk to talk, panel to panel, and the amazing freaking voice of Shelley Segal, it was a real and substantive pleasure to be at Women in Secularism 2. 

We, of course, had our controversies. CFI chief Ron Lindsay has posted the prepared text of his opening remarks that caused an enormous amount of debate and very strong feelings, reactions to which can be found all about the interwebs. 

I know, many, many folks are itching for video of the conference talks. While you wait for us to crank up the movie machine, sate your desire with videos from last year's conference

Amanda Greene at RNS looks at the rise of humanist weddings, noting CFI's own Secular Celebrant program. (And there's another piece on the topic at Rochester, MN's Post Bulletin.)

HuffPo: Persecuted Bangladeshi bloggers, even though two are out on bail, are under constant threat over their atheism. 

The Surpeme Court will hear a case about prayers at city council meetings

Gage Pulliam, the high school student whistleblower over a Ten Commandments display, scores an activist award from FFRF. 

Sharon Hill at HuffPo tries to unobfuscate some lexicographical bewilderment about skeptic terminology with some etymological pedantry. 

Right wing Christian groups cry foul, claiming they were inappropriately targeted by the IRS, because Obama. SCA says the IRS is not doing enough.

Pew looks at the religious makeup of U.S. immigrants, including results that show "nones" holding steady after an uptick in 2004. 

Michelle Boorstein at WaPo: Seminary graduates don't always become priests, but use their education to spread the Good Word in all manner of professions. 

Ben Radford did a quick guest stint on Big Picture Science, talking about those folks who think they can nourish themselves merely by breathing.

At LiveScience, Ben looks at the practice of dowsing and notices --  hey! -- it's not working! 

97% of climate scientists are on board with the truth of global warming! That should settle everything. 

Massachusetts psychic takes advantage of the vulnerable with free readings to parents who have lost a child. Classy way to get folks hooked.

Harvard Humanists Greg Epstein and James Croft will co-author a book on atheist/humanist "churching," The Godless Congregation

Governor of Georgia (the state) lets the Bibles in state park cabins stay because they were "donated," and says anyone cam submit literature. Cue American Atheists.

In Georgia (the country) gay rights activists are set upon by a mob led by priests. 

At rates that are faster than previously thought, Christianity is on the way down in the UK, and Islam is on the way up. 

Religious members of Afghanistan's parliament manage to defeat a law banning violence against women

Alexandria Lakes Area Tea Party aims to convert George Soros

China says: No sex for Buddha, please. 

Sikivu Hutchinson, a speaker at last year's WiS, discusses her new book Godless Americana with Religion Dispatches:

[H]umanism can be culturally relevant to communities of color. Traditional mainstream white-dominated freethought/atheist/humanist models don’t offer an adequate basis for social justice. They don’t address the intersection of women’s rights, civil rights, anti-racism, heterosexism, the racial wealth gap, and educational apartheid. 

On polygamy, fundamentalist Mormon Claud Cawley looks to dispel what he says is the "misconception that men among the [fundamentalist] community look to plural marriage as a means to satisfy their lust and exploit and degrade women." 

Leon Seltzer at Psychology Today distinguishes between what he sees as dogmatic and non-dogmatic atheists:

[I]f scientists in general—and physicists in particular—can’t ever be absolutely certain about Absolutes, how much more difficult must it be for metaphysicists to attain such certitude? To answer my own question: very difficult, indeed! 

Hawker of fake cancer cures Christine Daniel gets 14 years in prison

KCEN in Texas notes with surprise that atheism may not be all that scary. 

Former Microsoftian is scared of WiFi death beams. 

Apparently, famous people love them some Chopra

Okay, best for last: Slate compares the speeds of various sci-fi spacecraft! It's so cool! But I have to say, I'm iffy on his Millennium Falcon boosterism. And where's Enterprise-D???  

Quote of the Day 

Herb Silverman is troubled by the two tracks to Catholic sainthood:

No matter how good a life you led, even by Catholic standards, you would still have to perform two miracles after death if you didn’t die as a martyr. If you threw yourself in front a train to stop it from killing a hundred children, two miracles would still be needed. In other words, you would not be as worthy as one who led a morally corrupt life but died while refusing to convert. 

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