The Morning Heresy 10/9/12: Nones, Above

October 9, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Big news for us seculars today, as the Pew Forum releases an important new survey showing that the religiously unaffiliated, the "nones," are very much on the rise in the US. Now, this is not to say there's a huge uptick in self-described atheists, but those not bound to a particular religious tradition now make up one-fifth of the population -- 33 million people, with 13 million atheists and agnostics. 

Michelle Boorstein clarifies who we're talking about, writing, "[D]espite their nickname, the 'nones' are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines." So there. 

Peter Smith at the Courier-Journal notes the drop in the US Protestant population to under 50% for the first time. I'm quoted at the veeerrrrrry back of the piece, which is fine.   

HuffPo's Jaweed Kaleem has more on the political implications:

John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron in Ohio, said the rise of the nones could have a significant impact on the political landscape.

The religiously unaffiliated, he said, "may be becoming the single largest faith-based or religious group, larger than African-American Protestants, larger than Catholics ... It may be in the near future that the unaffiliated vote will be as important to the Democratic Party coalition as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party coalition." 

Kimberly Winston talks to sociologist Ryan Cragun (of Free Inquiry fame) about the new numbers. Says Cragun:

The point politicians need to get is that it is time to stop pandering to the religious because there is a growing percentage of the population that does not want to hear that stuff. It is time for them to realize that they are going to be left behind if they do not do that.

Here's the USA Today report on the survey, complete with its trademark infographic. 

Tonight! Eddie Tabash takes on Frank Turek on the question "Atheism or Theism?" at an event by CFI-Michigan! Be there! 

Oh, Newsweek. This week's cover story is by a neurosurgeon who now knows for sure that there is an afterlife, in which he saw:

Higher than the clouds—immeasurably higher—flocks of transparent, shimmering beings arced across the sky, leaving long, streamerlike lines behind them.

Well, neat.

Gawker tests your knowledge and patience by quizzing you on whether a handful of quotes are from the neurosurgeon's article or some drug-induced trip. "Winners get to go to heaven."

The Pope gathers up a gaggle of bishops for "The New Evangelization" to combat "the tsunami of secularism," which, coincidentally, was my nickname in high school.* 

So Pulpit Freedom Sunday happened, and a bunch of preachers breached the wall of separation by rallying for or against particular candidates, daring the IRS to come after them:

  • Tiffany Stanley at Religion & Politics reports on one pastor who insisted "I cannot support Barack Obama for president," while one of his parishioners mutters, "This is ridiculous." 
  • CNN's Dan Merica reports on another that says a vote against Obama is "a no-brainer."
  • Roger Showley has one who endorses Jesus (who is not on the ballot in most of the swing states), says he'll vote for Mitt Romney (who is on the ballot). 

Lawrence Krauss in Slate looks at the presidential candidates' postitions on the space program, disses the International Space Station, wonder why "we keep the stupid thing up there" and calling it a "smelly tin can." 

At Friendly Atheist, I discover a hilarious animated short about thousands of years of religious slaughter. Bring the kids. 

On the latest Point of Inquiry, Chris Mooney talks to Lisa Randall about the Higgs boson and other mysteries of the universe. 

New from Skeptical Inquirer, now posted online, Joe Nickell and James McGaha on "The Roswell Syndrome." 

Ben Radford is a guest on WMNF's Radioactivity

Columbia Journalism Review looks at the reportage about "pink slime," including a nod to Ben's analysis. 

Sharon Hill warns that there may be a little media overexcitement over a study that shows magnets can somehow kill cancer cells. Don't go swallowing the tchotchkes on your refrigerator just yet. 

Sarah Posner: New web film by Citizens United (yes, that Citizens United) implies that Obama is the Antichrist. (Does that make Romney Jesus? Man, that's gonna freak a lot of people out.)

Fate of religious exceptions for the ban on circumcision in Germany's Bundenstag remains unclear. 

Dentist ordered to pay almost $350k to assistant who he threatened to fire for not attending a Scientology brainwashing session. 

New Yorker who last week battled for the right to die against the religious wishes of those around her has the right granted, and then changes her mind.

American Prospect: The US gives way more attention to climate change deniers than any other country. 

The Air Force releases its plans for a flying saucer. Wait, what?  

Quote of the Day        

Op-ed in the Jakarta Post by Debnath Guharoy and Roy Morgan warns against Indonesia's embrace of blasphemy laws:

A conservative society does not mean a fundamentalist mob of bigots.

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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*no it was not