The Morning Heresy 7/10/12: The Skull of a Newborn Pup

July 10, 2012

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

Via our public policy guy Michael De Dora, CFI and IHEU deliver a joint statement on freedom of expression to the UN Human Rights Council, emphasizing the crackdown on speech rights in Islamic states.

He's been here a few days now, but yesterday we finally got around to an official welcome to our new development director, he of the unrealistically diverse and intimidating resume, Alan Kinniburgh! Please give him all your money. 

At Friendly Atheist, I make the case for continuing to make noise about Alexander Aan both as a guy who shouldn't be in jail, and as a symbol for what we stand for. 

Our branches are doing some very cool things. On August 11 CFI-Indiana will present "Ingersoll on the Circle," with readings of his speeches in a historic location, featuring our own Tom Flynn, the Ingersoll superfan.

CFI-DC, meanwhile, will host Salman Rushdie on October 8, where he'll talk about his time in hiding at the height of the fatwa against his life. 

AP: Former attendees of Catholic sect's women's academy in Rhode Island lobbies the Vatican to shut it down for alleged of psychological abuse.

The latest Center Stage podcast features Stephen Law, Lionel Tiger, and Sir Harold Kroto from their panel at Moving Secularism Forward. 

Canadian scientists are very dramatic, and will hold a funeral for evidence

Toothpaste for Dinner finds pseudoscience in a glass of water

Dale McGowan (from Foundation Beyond Belief and whatnot) talks to RNS's Kimberly Winston about what "dummies" need to know about atheism.

Also in America's hat (sorry!) a new Canadian science advocacy group, Bad Science Watch, gets started with a spiffy video with pixel-pop music! 

Weeping-Jesus-debunking skeptic Sanal Edamaruku, now in big legal trouble for blasphemy in India, talks to Slate

Skepchick's Elly rounds up some replacements for theistic blurtings. 

Apparently the caste system still discriminates within Indian Christianity. 

Joe Nickell's worried about UFO investigator Nick Pope: "The extraterrestrials may have finally done it: zapped Nick Pope’s brain!" 

Chris Mooney talks to comedian and reporter Tina Dupuy on the latest Point of Inquiry

Gary Whittenberger and Ray Bellamy of CFI-Tallahassee make a moral and data-driven case for health care as an American right. 

A late Pakistani scientist who helped predict the Higgs boson is posthumously shunned by his country for being of the wrong religion. 

Maldivian blogger stabbed in the throat by Islamists, survives. "I was attacked because I advocate secularism." 

Ruslan Pukhov in NYT offers this explanation for Russia's stubborn support of Syria:

Most Russian observers believe that Arab revolutions have completely destabilized the region and cleared the road to power for the Islamists. In Moscow, secular authoritarian governments are seen as the sole realistic alternative to Islamic dominance. 

Right wing blowhard Dennis Prager defends remaining proudly ignorant of physics. 

For the sake of his fellow physicians, Edzard Ernst tries to understand what folks are getting out of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM), since it doesn't actually work:

Several thousand clinical trials have tested the efficacy of various types of CAM but their results fail to identify any CAM therapy which demonstrably cures any disease, and only a few have been shown to generate symptomatic improvements that are sizable enough to be clinically relevant. 

This is actually pretty helpful: Christian Piatt at HuffPo has a bunch of cliches he'd rather Christians avoid. Here's one:

"Jesus died for your sins." I know, this is an all-time Christian favorite. But even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement (the idea that God set Jesus up as a sacrifice to make good for all the bad stuff we've done), this is a abysmal way to introduce your faith to someone.  

Very unsettling: Mysterious unidentified young woman in Tennessee turns up, traumatized, speaking only of "God the father." (h/t Sharon) 

AP: "Episcopal bishops approved an official prayer service for blessing same-sex couples Monday at a national convention that also cleared the way for transgender ordination." 

Even a guy at American Spectator can have too much church-state intermingling. At a Freedom Rally in Washington state, Jeremy Lott sighs:

This was deeply annoying and also, it seemed to me, counterproductive to the purpose of the rally. Like most Americans, I am comfortable with invocations of the Almighty in politics, up to a point. But surely church and state should enjoy some distance. If I went to Mass Sunday morning and got a sermon about tort reform, I would not be a happy camper. Likewise, when I go to a political rally on Saturday night and get a sermon instead, it chafes. 

Cody Hashman, on the Music Monday blog, recommends Streetlight Manifesto and notes, "They also make animated videos of pirates fighting." 

Do not scare Richard Dawkins' birds

Roll your eyes as hard as you can, as Michael Gerson (who has a lizard brain) ties the new German law against circumcision to the Holocaust.  

Anti-quote of the day: Letter to the editor in Florida paper, who assures readers that Jesus is coming to rule for 1000 years of peace:

I adore puppies, but if I crushed the skull of a newborn pup just because I could, I would end up in jail. If I observed someone else do it, I would call 911. 

Good to know. 

Quote of the Day      

Doubtful News, on finding that the Caped Crusader's cape would not be so useful for gliding as the movies make it seem, and would likely cause his sudden demise:   

Nana nana nana nana Splatman

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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