Do You Have a License for That Rabbit?

July 18, 2013

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

Rev. James Martin attempts to clear up that whole tweet-your-way-out-of-Purgatory thing.  

On June 24, the Apostolic Penitentiary (the Vatican office that deals with matters concerning sin,) issued a document that said the faithful who attend the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil would receive a “plenary indulgence” for their efforts during pilgrimage. . . . At the end of the document, the Vatican noted that it was not just pilgrims to whom this applied, but another, newer, group: those who might participate “with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

You want more videos from Women in Secularism 2? Of course you do. And this pair comes with the announcement that CFI is in the early planning stages for 2014's Women in Secularism 3

Carl Zimmer in SciAm reports on research showing that "[biological] complexity can arise by other means [than Darwinian selection]—as a side effect, for instance—even without natural selection to promote it." 

FFRF opposes the display of a Star of David at the Ohio its Holocaust memorial

A federal judge, meanwhile, nixes the Lake Elsinore military memorial because of its "unmistakably religious message."

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom puts out a factsheet on Pakistan's crisis of religious violence (PDF) 

Council chief Tom Flynn applauds Hemant Mehta's gumshoe work in getting the official numbers of atheists in the federal prison system. 

James "Greatest Hoax" Inhofe is gloating about Google's fundraiser for him. 

Atheists will protest a cross on public land in Evansville, Indiana today at 1pm local time. 

Jayant V. Narlikar at Skeptical Inquirer puts Indian astrology through its paces, and finds it, well, wanting. 

Check this video series of talks and discussions on "scientism" from a CFI-UK/BHA event.  

VentureBeat interviews Nick Pope, tasked by the UK military with investigating UFOs.   

This is gonna be a good one: Kylie talks to Paul Offit on Token Skeptic about bad alt-med, just in time for the ascent of Jenny McCarthy. 

Vouchers are once again on the GOP's House agenda. 

According to an Oxford study, of the 10 topics most prone to "edit wars" on Wikipedia, three are specifically about religion (Muhammad, Jesus, Christianity), one is associated with religion (circumcision) and yet another is warred over as though it were a religion (global warming). 

Cassandra Vinograd at the AP notes the stark difference in reaction to legalized gay marriage between allegedly progressive France (riots!) and stuffy England (let's have tea). Oh, and the Queen approves.

You want a shot at being a Secular Celebrant so you can officiate your hippie-dippie friends' barefoot weddings on the beach?* Reba Wooden will train you into solemnizing shape September 14 in Indianapolis. 

*My parents were wed in a hippie-dippie ceremony, barefoot on a beach. 

July 27th, folks in NYC will celebrate nonbelievers of color at the Blackout Secular Rally

A group of House Democrats ask the president to convene a "religious diversity summit." 

Ben Radford wonders where all the poltergeist videos are:

If ghosts and spirits truly do move objects and cause the unexplained phenomena attributed to them, it is surprising that not a single film or video exists of such amazing incidents. Surveillance cameras and cell phones are everywhere, yet no one has ever captured a clock flying off a shelf on its own or cabinet doors violently banging open and closed in an empty kitchen. 

Controversy in the UK as Channel 4 broadcasts a morning Muslim call to prayer throughout Ramadan. 

Scott Gavura looks at probiotics, and sees potential, but also a lot of question marks. 

Bethany Brookshire on the skeptic backlash against media over-excitement about brain-stuff:

[W]ith all of the neuroskepticism over all of the neurohype, people are starting to become neurojaded (not to mention sick of people putting “neuro-” in front of everything). 

Laurie Penny at The New Statesman equates marriage with any other "fringe sexual practice," and doesn't want it to get preferential treatment from governments:

I only ask that subsidies be distributed fairly. We can chip in for their floral arrangements and bathroom sets, they can pay for our three-person dildos and car-park orgies – and maybe then we can all agree to stump up some proper cash for housing and childcare so no parent finds himself or, more frequently, herself making any sort of sexual bargain in exchange for security. Like any other fringe sexual practice, marriage is best approached with a full and frank understanding of the dangers involved. Because, unlike with such relatively benign perversions as sadomasochism, there are clear risks, particularly for women, and those risks are borne out by some chilling statistics. 

According to a new survey, "one in eleven Australians do not believe in evolution — and three in eleven think that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs."  

Pregnant? Have morning sickness? You know what might help? Heavy metals. (That's a joke. Please don't take those.)

You know how they say you have to shape your own destiny? Well, I don't think cutting new lines into your palm is what they meant. 

Radar reports that the Church of Scientology may be following a pattern with its previous apostates, suspecting that they have purchased a web domain designed to smear recent escapee Leah Remini. 

Who left this enormous dragon skull on the beach???? 

Subreddits for atheism and politics are demoted from the Reddit front page because "they just weren’t up to snuff." 

Sir, do you have a license for that rabbit? Back away from the top hat, sir.   

Quote of the Day

Sharon Hill sees the fad for high-tech ghost-hunting as rather similar to a faith:

I have argued vehemently that these sorts of scripted-to-look-real fake shows are promoting a very skewed view of a scientific process and endeavor. These paranormal investigators do not really want to solve a mystery as much as they seek confirmation for their pre-existing paranormal beliefs. Go that route and you feel important, you feel special, you feel as if you have an experience that you KNOW is real and are compelled to enforce it. That’s not science. It’s religion.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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