Immortal Pond Scum

September 30, 2014

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

It's International Blasphemy Rights Day, what our own Cody Hashman calls "the only day I hold sacred," and yesterday Ron Lindsay took stock of where blasphemy rights stand in 2014. It's quite a day for IBRD, as Iran executes a man, Mohsen Amir-Aslan, for "heresy." From The Guardian:

Amir-Aslani was hanged last week for making “innovations in the religion” and “spreading corruption on earth”, but human rights activists said he was a prisoner of conscience who was put to death because of his religious beliefs. He had interpreted Jonah’s story in the Qur’an as a symbolic tale.

Brian Pellot at Religion News Service uses the occasion to speak up for Raif Badawi and against the global toleration of Saudi Arabia...

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A Fudged Text

September 29, 2014

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

Tomorrow is International Blasphemy Rights Day, launched five years ago by CFI. Ron Lindsay takes stock of the state of free expression and blasphemy laws around the world:

It’s a profound irony that the prophets who founded the three major monotheistic religions all complained bitterly about the persecution they and their followers  faced, at least if we are to believe the statements attributed to them. It’s an irony because as soon as these religions gained controlled of a territory they immediately undertook to relentlessly persecute those of different faiths. If the Hebrew Bible is to be credited, the ancient Israelites make the fanatics of ISIS look like UN peacekeepers.

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Electric Snowflakes

September 26, 2014

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

Paul Offit, who CFI/CSI recently awarded the Balles Prize for Critical Thinking, pens an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the crisis created by the anti-vax movement. 

Hey Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, Pope Francis is coming for you. The Paraguayan bishop is accused of covering up for a priest alleged to have sexually abused children. I hope this is about a substantial change in the church, and not just about optics. But I do like the visual of Pope Fluffy on some dark movie poster with the tagline "It's time to take out the trash." COMING FALL 2014.

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That’s Basic Magnetic Field Stuff

September 25, 2014

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

Wow! State Farm is pulling ads with Rob Schneider (who, for you young folks, was once vaguely relevant in comedy circles for what was really one endless joke) for his vocal and utterly wrongheaded opposition to vaccinations.

Steven Novella clears up a lot of the fear and misinformation surrounding GMOs at Skeptical Inquirer

Planet HAT-P-11b, a Neptune-sized world orbiting a star in the constellation Cygnus, looks like it has water.

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If There Were a God, Which There Isn’t

September 24, 2014

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

Mark Silk at RNS notes how freethought groups "took over" the Religion Newswriters Conference last weekend, referring particularly to "the venerable Center for Inquiry." And that's our sign! 

Michael De Dora delivered two more statements to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, one on restrictions on women's rights and another on discrimination against religious and nonreligious minorities. We've got a YouTube playlist of all four statements here

Austin Dacey reports on the troubling development of so-called "family rights" initiatives at the UN Human Rights Council, which are a veiled way to push a religious-right agenda...

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$400, 20 Candles, a Tomato, and a T-shirt

September 23, 2014

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

This week on Point of InquiryLindsay Beyerstein interviews Mark Oppenheimer about his hot-button BuzzFeed article on misogyny in the freethought movement. 

Pew survey shows that Americans feel like religion is losing influence over politics, and troublingly, 49% are not happy about it

Agnostic minister, skeptic, professor, right-to-die activist Gerald LaRue dies at age 98. Our own Tom Flynn is quoted in the LA Times' obit...

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Dreadful Dangers and Exuberant Enchantments

September 22, 2014

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

I am still groggy from a weekend of journo-schmoozing at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, GA this weekend (what a cool town!). It was a great chance to connect with reporters on the "God beat," reconnect with those I've been working with, and to reunite with friends within the secular movement who were also represented.

The conference is also where the Openly Secular campaign was formally launched by Todd StiefelRobyn Blumner, and Lyz Liddell (I helped take pictures), with a truly impressive presentation (fun fact: Todd Stiefel and I, despite a height difference of approximately 1000 feet, have the same voice). Check out some of the videos at the website, and don't let Barney Frank's appearance of having just woken up from a bad dream bother you too much. 

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A Cauldron of Simmering Toads

September 19, 2014

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

This has to be a quick Heresy because I'm sitting here at the CFI exhibitor table at the Religion Newswriters Conference in Decatur, GA. Selling secularism. Like you do.

I absolutely love this: Here's CFI's Michael De Dora in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council with Samar Badawi, sister of Raif and wife of jailed activist Waleed abu Alkhair (who is also Raif's lawyer). 

A. Hope Jahren writes at NYT about what she says is a sexual assault crisis in the sciences:

Sexual assault is a pernicious and formidable barrier to women in science, partly because we have consistently gifted to it our silence. I have given it 18 years of my silence and I will not give it one day more. 

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Punch it Manfully in the Face

September 18, 2014

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

Lots of big things happened yesterday! 

In Geneva, Michael De Dora delivered CFI's statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Saudi Arabia's horrific treatment of Raif Badawi, who will be subject to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for "insulting Islam." We have an image we're passing around the social networks to raise the alarm, and you can see video of Michael's presentation -- as well as info on how to help -- here

Also, we were delighted to see Point of Inquiry named as one of the nine podcasts "that will make you smarter" by Business Insider, alongside shows like This American Life and Startalk Radio. It's like "the best philosophy class you could imagine," says Drake Baer, and we agree -- congrats POI team!

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It’s Better Than Prison

September 17, 2014

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

The flame atop the "I" in CFI, like the Eye of Sauron, but much nicer, is shining its light on two church-state separation issues in the news: 

In Indiana, we're asking the governor and the Natural Resources Department to remove the Christian cross at the World War II memorial. Failing that, we'll be looking at potential legal options. The Indy Star and Indiana Public Media cover the story, and our legal director Nick Little can be heard for about a nanosecond in this WIBC radio piece.

We're also asking the Air Force to do the honorable thing, and nix its requirement that enlistees swear an oath to God, which it should be noted they only began requiring again last year. 

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