The Morning Heresy 7/23/12: Pray Away the Guns

July 23, 2012

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

CFI's chief Ron Lindsay released a statement on Friday on the Aurora shooting:

A tragedy like this reminds us of how fragile and precious this one life of ours really is. What we do every day is significant; we must make use of every opportunity we have to extend love, sympathy, and support to others, and we should never fail and to live up to our highest ethical ideals. We extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and our sincere wishes for full recoveries for those who were injured.

CSI's Ben Radford picks apart the notion that the Batman movie was somehow responsible for the violence. 

Usually-risible Texas congressman Louis Gohmert says the shooting happened because the country doesn't place enough value in God. Hemant asks: "Who votes for someone like that?"  

Susan Brooks Thistlewaite to believers: "Pray away the guns." 

Also: I was going to do some links about Rick Warren's tweet "When students are taught they are no different than animals, they act like it," and rage about how vile it was, but as dumb as a sentiment as it is, there is a dispute as to whether it was in response to the Aurora shootings or not. So I guess we'll see.  

Tom Flynn, in the latest Free Inquiryposits that LGBT marriage equality may have unexpectedly bolstered marriage itself (which may or may not be a good thing), and Russell Blackford expresses sympathy for having doubts about its long-term viability, saying, "Marriage is not an institution that needs to be preserved for its own sake."

CFI's Julia Lavarnway recaps gives her take on May's Women in Secularism conference for Free Inquiry, calling it "an inspiring experience."

The signature count for our Alexander Aan petition is over 4200, and we must get to 25k by August 16. Please take your sharing of this petition to the next level. Ophelia reminds us for those who are sometimes met with a buggy White House website, "If you get a hassle just swallow your irritation and jump through the hoops." Correct.

Tech in Asia covers some of the various initiatives in support of Alexander. 

CFI's John Shook on the muddiness of the term "agnostic." 

He helped bring about the Higgs discovery, but the late Abdus Salam was rejected by his home country. Austin Dacey explains

The Verge's chief Josh Topolsky, I think, just outed himself as an atheist on Twitter, but I really can't tell for sure if it's a snark thing or if it was already common knowledge or what. 

Leo Igwe, through Sharon Hill, warns us of the phenomenon of popularized witch-hunting (not McCarthyeqsue but literal) by churches in Nigeria.

Scientologist drug rehab has another death on its hands, local officials are clueless. (h/t Sharon)

No, it's not a parody: People are thronging to a tree in New Jersey because it has a knot that looks like the Virgin Mary. Sigh. 

CFI-Canada's Justin Trottier gives an interview to the National Post

Zimmerman: It wasn't me, it was God

The head of the Orthodox Church in America is forced out for failing to help bring a priest accused of rape to justice. The now-former leader's name? "Metropolitan Jonah." I'm not kidding.

Polio vaccine doctor killed by militants in Karachi, Pakistan, where the Taliban bans the practice. 

This treatment may not cure cancer, but it'll sure burn a searing hole through your skin. So there's that.

NYT: "Purity balls" and their ilk may be creepy in every way you can imagine, but they also may not be as common as the media would have us think. 

A gaggle of celebrity skepto-atheo-bloggers do a video chat on God-free parenting, which I haven't seen, because I'm too busy being a God-free parent.

Is it Neo? Muad'Dib? Harry Potter? Jesus? No. But Serge Benhayon is "The One," he's the second coming of Leonardo da Vinci, and he can cure anything by rubbing your breasts. Yes, of course he has followers. (h/t Sharon)

Atheists in South Carolina look to adopt a highway, local church threatens to bring them doughnuts and talk about Jesus. 

Marc Fisher in WaPo makes what I think is a dubious equivalency between the Obama "birther" conspiracy theories and inquiries into Mitt Romney's tax records. 

Brian Regal at the Star-Ledger worries about the growing culture of trust in pseudoscience "experts" and the rejection of science and intellect. 

Taxpayer-funded agency to focus on "integrative" medicine, HuffPo columnist laments its lack of emphasis on alt-med. 

Dan Antoszyk at SCA says allowing for secular celebrants in DC should be the next step for marriage equality.  

Joanna Brooks sees a lot of bones thrown to constituencies, but little Mormon influence, in Romney's foreign policy. 

AU reminds Missourians to reject Amendment 2, the so-called "Right to Pray" amendment. 

Is the Cape May-Lewes Ferry haunted? No. I was just there. 

Depressingly ironic headline of the day: "Atheists are living in an absurd dreamland" 

Quote of the Day      

Alix Jules, in Free Inquiry:

The human experience for the secular activist is not defined by how many debates are won but rather by how many lives we’ve touched and changed. 

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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