A Refuge for Privileged Eccentrics

June 5, 2014

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

The Keep Health Care Safe and Secular campaign is underway. Our boss Ron Lindsay explains the reasoning behind the campaign:

Religious interference with the delivery of health care services is a serious matter—in some cases, a deadly serious matter. By all means, getting God off our currency would be a good thing, but frankly, it’s more of a priority to get God out of our physicians’ offices and our hospitals.

Ophelia Benson calls Safe & Secular "much needed." 

Ed Brayton points out the difference between CFI's activism on free expression and many Christian groups':

The Center for Inquiry has been pushing for the release of Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman in Sudan who has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy for refusing to renounce her religion. They’ve started email campaigns and protests over it contacted the Sudanese embassy over it. Can you think of a single instance where Christian groups that claim to fight for religious freedom, like the American Center for Law and Justice, have done anything like that on behalf of atheists like Albert Saber, Ben Baz and many others who have been imprisoned for blasphemy in Muslim countries?  

Stefano Bigliardi in Skeptical Inquirer delves into the strange world of Islamic creationism and its very prolific figurehead, Harun Yahya. 

Bakery in Saudi Arabia could be in trouble with the religious police for a cake that pokes fun at the religious police

This breaks my heart: Elmo is hawking homeopathy

But this is good: Lego celebrates women in science

Big kerfuffles in Boone County, Kentucky as Hemant Mehta's book gets passed out to students.

Sharpen your skepto-skills, folks. The Skeptic's Toolbox is coming in August

Rory Fenton encourages atheist students in the UK stand up for their rights:

There is no significant pressure from religious students to censor atheists and Humanists on campus, rather universities and unions are taking it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of religious students. 

The Murfreesboro mosque gets to stay right where it is after SCOTUS declines to hear the silly case against it. 

Yoga can't treat your asthma. No kidding. 

National Research Council report says NASA is definitely not on track to get humans on Mars

Tim Farley says forget Apple's WWDC (but Tim, third-party keyboards on iOS!!!!) and dig the work being done on the skeptic web:

It might surprise you to learn there is a great deal of peer-reviewed science going on around blogs, social media and other newer online technologies. Curiously, while I see skeptics blogging about studies in alt-med, psychology, biology or physics almost daily, I rarely see skeptic blog posts about studies on Internet technology.  

Tim also explores the various methods skepto-atheist event organizers are using to put on conferences. 

Some Catholic parents in Milwaukee are fuming over Common Core being introduced into Catholic schools, and are turning to home schooling. That seems like an overreaction to me.

The UN's next president (a largely ceremonial role) will be Uganda's Sam Kutesa, who has a bad record of corruption and big defender of the country's anti-gay laws. This seems like a bad pick.

On the other side, to keep parents from getting spooked by the evil Common Core, Cincinnati schools look to offer non-taxpayer-funded religious classes for school credit

Ben Radford's got a new book out: Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment

Llewllyn Hinkes-Jones says there is a crisis of scientists getting paid to sign their names to quackery and fraud in academic literature

Youth pastor in Virginia is charged with soliciting children for sex.

20 TV station owners in Pakistan get hauled before a judge for allegedly broadcasting something blasphemous

Apparently adulterers in the UK are more likely to be Christian than atheist, whatever that's worth. 

Convicted fake-psychic says she's still in prison because of discrimination against her as a disabled person

Steven Novella: Actually, no, don't delay vaccines for kids

Chobani yogurt says, "Nature got us to 100 calories, not scientists." What? 

Quote of the Day

Chris Hall at Salon on how the conversation about atheism has expanded to politics and social justice:

[I]n 2014, Hitchens is dead, and using Dawkins or Harris to make a case for or against atheism is about as relevant as writing about how Nirvana and Public Enemy are going to change pop music forever. ... But despite the organized hatefulness, racism, misogyny, transphobia, or just the malign neglect of old-school atheists, those who are demanding that atheism become more intersectional and diverse are not becoming silent or fading away into the background. It’s becoming more and more obvious that these critiques are essential if organized atheism is to transcend its stereotype as a refuge for privileged eccentrics.

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