Maybe I Am a Sucker After All

July 18, 2017

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

California extends its climate change-combating cap-and-trade program to 2030 in a vote that Gov. Jerry Brown called the "most important" vote of these legislators' lives. No pressure.

Don't worry, Catholics with celiac disease. You don't have to eat Jesus to become one with Jesus. You do have to drink him, though. Mike McGough explains:

At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church justified the practice of having the laity receive only the consecrated bread at Communion. Although in the New Testament Jesus is described as saying, “This is my body,” of the bread at the Last Supper and “This cup is the new testament in my blood” of the wine, the council said that Christ “whole and entire” was present in both the bread and the wine. Therefore, the communicant with celiac disease can receive only consecrated wine and still obtain the full spiritual benefit of the sacrament. 

Now, what if it turns out God has genetically modified the grapes in the wine? 

Well, we knew R. Kelly had, well, issues, but Jim DeRogatis at BuzzFeed reveals that Kelly's entourage of adoring young women is more akin to a cult:

Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the [women's] parents’ worst fears. They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records. ... [Cheryl Mack said,] "You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom. … [Kelly] is a master at mind control. ... He is a puppet master."

Jordan E. Rosenfeld at GOOD looks at how science teachers are using the lessons of new research into belief in "fake news" to foster critical thinking skills in their students:

[T]he team designed a semester-long course called “Frauds and Mysteries in History,” taking on science-adjacent beliefs “for which there is no or can be no empirical evidence” — from psychic powers and alternative medicine to Atlantis or Bigfoot. While beliefs in such phenomena may seem harmless, the authors contended that their harm “is real: unvaccinated children die, savings are spent on psychics and in the first month of 2014 two children died during an ‘exorcism.’” 

In the latest Reasonable Talk video from CSICon 2016, Paul Offit explains the disturbing rise of opioid addiction, and how it's been enabled by the medical establishment.

Russ Dobler reports back from the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism for CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

A star known as Ross 128, 11 light-years away, seems to be emitting some weird radio signals, and scientists can't quite figure out why. Aliens is at the bottom of the list of guesses, but, you know. It's aliens. 

Elon Musk speaks to the National Governors Association (that's a weird match-up I gotta say) and warns that artificial intelligence "is the biggest risk that we face as a civilization," adding, "Once there is awareness people will be extremely afraid, as they should be." Republicans in attendance worry about "regulations."

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issues a report on women's rights and religious freedom, and the conflict is obvious:

[V]iolations to women’s rights are carried out in the name of religion, or at least ... violations to women’s rights are excused or postponed due to the intransigence of religious tradition and culture, whether perpetuated by state or non-state actors or a combination thereof.  

Hey look! Jesus showed up at the Pride Parade in Seoul, at least twice! As for the subject of the parade, JC says, "I'm cool with it."   

Right near CFI HQ in Amherst, a Unitarian church in Niagara Falls (the town not the actual body of cascading water) makes its appeal to atheists. The Buffalo News's Anne Neville reports:

"We can't offer salvation, because most of us don't believe there is life after death," said Betsy Diachun. "What we can offer you, though, and why you should come to this church, is that it would open your mind to consider ethical and moral questions from different points of view, and that it would give you a terrific feeling of companionship of others who are walking the same path in life." 

Prince Charles will use his wealth and influence to open an alt-med center. It's not like the world has any real problems that could use his help.

Lauren Keene of the Milwaukee Record goes for a psychic reading from medium Mary Ellen Pride:

Before the reading, she asked me a few basic questions about where I live and what I go to school for. Right off the bat, I couldn’t help but think: “You’re the psychic…shouldn’t you know these things?" ... I gave her my name, birthday, place of birth, and time of birth. She then pulled up my natal chart, which can be accessed online for free. Did I seriously just spend money on something I can get on the internet for free? Maybe I am a sucker, after all

An alleged psychic in Florida says he is being stalked and having his office vandalized by some jerk who sends emails saying, "I'm going to close your business down. I don't believe in psychics, I don't believe in mediums. You don't belong in this town." Local police and the FBI are investigating.

Danny Faulkner, a young-Earth creationist, hosting an Answers in Genesis radio show, says it's the Flat Earthers who are taking the Bible too literally. ⊙﹏⊙

Some people, they accuse us of believing everything in the Bible is literal. Well, we don’t believe everything in the Bible is literal! ... nobody really believes that the Bible’s completely literal.

Quote of the Day:

Lawrence Ware renounces his ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention in a New York Times op-ed:

As a black scholar of race and a minister who is committed to social justice, I can no longer be part of an organization that is complicit in the disturbing rise of the so-called alt-right, whose members support the abhorrent policies of Donald Trump and whose troubling racial history and current actions reveal a deep commitment to white supremacy. ... [N]ot enough has been done to address the institutional nature of white supremacy in the convention. Many churches are still hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement, and even more were silent during the rise of Mr. Trump and the so-called alt-right. For all of its talk about the love of Jesus Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention’s inaction on the issues of racism and homophobia has drowned out its words.

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