Bad Luck

May 8, 2014

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

As we reported yesterday, Saudi dissident Raif Badawi has had his sentence for "insulting Islam" heavily increased to 10 years and 1000 lashes. We are working this case very hard, and you can help us tell the world about it through Facebook and Twitter (#IStandwithRaif), and tell the Saudi government what you think. 

And there's more awful news: 

In Pakistan, gunmen disguised as clients murder Rashid Rehman, the lawyer for blasphemy-accused teacher Junaid Hafeez. 

A woman in Indonesia, gang raped, beaten, and covered with sewage as mob punishment for being in the same room as another man who was not her husband, is sentenced to caning by a Shariah court. Not the attackers. The rape victim.

Moving on. 

Kimberly Winston talks to freethought movement leaders about the awful Supreme Court ruling on prayer at public events and how it may or may not lead to cross-ideological alliances. Our boss Ron Lindsay said:

There may still be reluctance among some religious bodies to cooperate openly with atheists, agnostics, and humanists, especially when it comes to lobbying public officials. It’s a question of whether respect for fundamental rights and a shared concern over government’s implicit endorsement of Christianity can trump theological misgivings. 

Anthea Butler at The Guardian says believers should be just as pissed as atheists at the Court:

What [the plaintiffs] got, in addition to hate mail and ridicule, was a supreme court that sided with a government entity's right to not take into account the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) espoused by the people it serves. Given the trend of Americans moving away from religion, that should bother everyone who has strong religious beliefs at least much as those who don't. 

Representatives from several major international bodies pen The Joint Declaration on the Universality of the Right to Freedom of Expression

Scientists add new letters to genetic code, and the "alien" artificial DNA actually works.  

CNN asks a poll question as to whether space aliens might have taken Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, and James Poniewozik of Time offers these two possible reactions:

* Ha ha, some people think aliens might have made Flight 370 disappear! Stupid people!

* Ha ha, CNN asked people if aliens made Flight 370 disappear! Stupid CNN! 

Even Al Qaeda types think Boko Haram is going too far.  

As polio and other diseases begin to run rampant in certain parts of the world, much of the blame lies with Islamic terrorists targeting and killing vaccinators. Or, as Sam Harris tweets:

When brave, knowledgeable people come to save your children from a horrible disease, it's best not to murder them. 

For the sake of science and skepticism, Carrie Poppy becomes a certified Reiki healer, and reports for Skeptical Inquirer:

I didn’t think I had special healing energy in my hands, and I was worried about how others would present it to people who had something serious to treat.  

Oh man, I missed this: the webcast of Washington: A Man of Prayer, with Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee! I know I could watch the recording, but the thrill is in seeing it live.

Enas Hamed reports on the rise of young people announcing their atheism in Egypt and seeking each other online. 

Scott Gavura looks at the facts behind nutritional supplements

Herbalife, meanwhile, decides to retrain in spokespersons to not claim that their products can perform miracles or make you rich. 

Some dude follows the president's daughters' motorcade way, way too closely, which he says was an accident, leading to a White House lockdown. And the dude was an atheist blogger. GREAT. THANKS, GUY. 

Sean Carroll and Steven Novella take part in a debate on the existence of the afterlife with Eben Alexander and some other guy. 

All those folks in the Bible? Probably not white. James C. Lewis has a photographic series of what the characters in the good book might have really looked like. But, you know, way sexier

Now, I can't bear to watch this, but you certainly may: Bill Nye goes on Crossfire to "debate" climate change. 

The Cardinal Newman Society issues a report condemning different universities for their shockingly controversial and scandalous commencement speakers. Like the Secretary of State. And Jill Biden. 

Exorcism in Pakistan involving smoke inhalation kills the man it was supposed to free of demons. The guy performing the exorcism chalks it up to "bad luck." 

American Atheists get set to start a Roku channel

I really liked some of the stuff in this USA Today story about religion in the NBA (which I'm told is a league of sports):

"We're no longer praying," [Orlando Magic coach Doc] Rivers recalled saying to his team. "I want to take a minute. Everybody close their eyes. We all can have different religions, we have different Gods, we can just take a minute to compose. If you guys want to pray individually, you can do it. If you want to meditate, do whatever you want.

"Then after that game,Tariq Abdul-Wahad walks in to me, gives me a hug with his eyes tearing, and said, 'Thank you. That is so important to me. No one has ever respected my (Muslim) religion.' He said, 'I'm going to give you everything I've got.' " 

Alan Henry at Lifehacker on how the diet-food industry confuses people:

Selling health is only half of the job. The other half is undermining public trust in science-based medicine and traditional authorities ... so they can swoop in to the rescue. 

Quote of the Day

Katherine Stewart in the New York Times clarifies what the game plan is for the religious right in cases like Greece v. Galloway:

The goal is to get back to a “soft” establishment of religion in America — that is, a system in which formal guarantees of religious freedom and the official separation of church and state remain in place, but one religion is informally or implicitly acknowledged as the “approved” religion of the majority and a legitimate basis for public policy. 

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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. 

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