Inflicting Vivacious Whimsy

September 16, 2013

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

CFI-Canada (acting independently from us, the U.S. CFI) comes out against the Charter of Quebec Values which bans the wearing of religious symbols for public employees:

A secularism charter should take the crucifix off the wall at the National Assembly, remove Christian prayer at public city council meetings, and revoke special property tax exemptions for religious buildings. The Charter has precisely the wrong aim, to take religion away from people, while ignoring institutional favouritism which biases the public square away from state neutrality and is therefore the more serious threat to equality of treatment between believer and nonbeliever.

One letter-to-the-editor writer agrees. Atheist Idan Shoham writes to the Montreal Gazette:

To me, religion is something to be tolerated. It’s fine to ridicule (religious) ideas, but it’s not fine to discriminate against (religious) people. What business has the government to regulate the hats religious people wear? 

Look out, Clearwater, Florida. Tomorrow, Eddie Tabash, with CFI-Tampa Bay, is coming to teach you a thing or two about church-state separation. 

Darrell Dawsey busts apart the idea that atheists are trying to "inflict" a belief system upon poor, helpless Americans. 

NCSE wants Texans to come and testify for real science in public school textbooks.  

Australian researchers think they get why the Cambrian Explosion, um, exploded

The Atlantic covers the new initiative for Secular Safe Zones for bullied atheist and doubting kids.  

Dr. Egip Bolsane is apparently the only psychiatrist in all of Chad. Why? Says the doctor:

Public opinion here thinks that it means something is really wrong in your head, it might be because you're possessed. We need to demystify the more or less diabolical image of psychiatry.

Human rights minister of Yemen (they have one of those??) pushes for a minimum age of 18 for marriage, following some horrific things involving a "child bride" which I can't really bear to write about. 

Zack Kopplin sues Louisiana's education superintendent for public records about the state's new pro-creationism education act. (See my interview with Zack here.)

The Atheist Voice video series covers the persecuted Bangladeshi atheist bloggers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, visiting the PA Atheist/Humanist/Skeptic Conference, describes "Nurse" Margaret Downey as "vivacious" as she tries to cure friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Holy moly: All those famous Richard Feynman lectures? Boom, here they are. (Unlikely hat tip to Apple blog The Loop.) 

Welsh branch of the Church of England now allows women bishops, making many folks stare in impatient anticipation at the main church. 

The film Hug an Atheist has debuted, and gets coverage from Kimberly Winston. 

Richard Dawkins talks books with NYT. (And The Age says Dawkins has "whimsy," just like the new Yahoo logo's exclamation point!)

That water may be holy, but it's also full of E. coli

Missouri's Rev. Shawn Ratigan gets 50 years in prison for child pornography. 

George Dvorsky on how Social Darwinism, "one of the worst ideas ever," came to be:

Part of the problem is that Darwin’s theory arrived at a dangerous time — a time when Western cultural and scientific sensibilities were not entirely ready for it; it was an idea ahead of its time, and by consequence, was misappropriated to realms into which it didn’t belong.  

In the UK, an atheist Girl Guide gets to take her vows without any theistic references

Catholics and evangelical law professors join forces to produce a treatise on the purported religious foundations of civil law. Hmm.

CFI Institute announces a new course with David Koepsell, "No Gods, No Masters: Anarchism and Atheism." 

The Guardian reports on the quick expansion of the UK's atheist Sunday Assemblies to the U.S. and Australia. 

Some folks are a wee bit uncomfortable with taking flight 666 on Friday the 13th to HEL. Luckily, Joe Nickell helps National Geographic out with understanding superstitions about numbers

Quote of the Day

Robin Ince on whether we need religion for a peaceful, good society:

Some suggest that we water down religion, remove the ugliness of misogyny, homophobia, overbearing and harsh god or gods, but then why not just wash it away altogether and instead start striving towards a cosmopolitan society united by common goals of health, education, respect for the old and young, founded on principles of empiricism, critical thinking, philosophy, science and literature. . . . I believe we can rise above religion, just as we once rose above sacrificing goats for luck and burning spinsters because our crops have failed.     

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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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