Dumb Enemies

July 08, 2014

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

Waleed Abulkhair -- Saudi human rights advocate, brother-in-law and attorney to Raif Badawi -- is sentenced to 15 years in prison for "inciting public opinion against the government" and "insulting the country's leaders and judiciary." CFI spoke out against their persecution before the UN Human Rights Council last month, which led to this infamous confrontation with Saudi Arabia's representative. A silver lining is that this has moved the U.S. to express that it is "troubled" and that it intends to address it with the Saudi government.

In 2013, CFI hosted a symposium centered on the question posed by legal scholar Brian Leiter's book Why Tolerate Religion? (Here's video of his presentation.) This week, he comes to Point of Inquiry to talk about the Hobby Lobby case and its long-term implications. 

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New Koch

July 07, 2014

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

It's July 7, 2014, a.k.a. 7/7/14, which is significant because 7 + 7 = 14, therefore, um, it's lucky, like, three times over, or maybe four, because, um...okay I just made that up.

Our boss Ron Lindsay lays out the philosophy behind CFI's pursuit of the Burzynski "cancer quack" case, and why we cover both religious and pseudoscientific incursions into policy and health care:

In some instances, religion and pseudoscience share something else: they are vehicles for exploiting the desperate hopes and fears of the vulnerable. ... Those who exploit these false hopes, especially when the exploitation is done for financial gain, are blameworthy. Indeed, whether they are cloaked in priest’s vestments or a lab coat, they merit our severest condemnation. ... The FDA’s actions represent an abandonment of its responsibilities to the public. 

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Hijack the Utopian Ideal

July 03, 2014

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

I just love this. An NBC affiliate in Los Angeles does a profile of a local dowser who says, hilariously, "I charge $500, and there’s no guarantees, although I’m more than 95-percent successful," and, "Scientists don’t understand this. Therefore, they don’t believe in it." Luckily, the piece also has CFI-LA's Jim Underdown to, erm, throw cold water on it.

CFI is a member of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice, and they have a great short video that explains the problem with the religious right's definition of "religious freedom."  

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Religion 1, Science 0

July 02, 2014

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

CFI challenges the FDA to explain the inexplicable: Its decision to lift restrictions on so-called "cancer-quack" Stanislaw Burzynski's clinical trials:

“We struggle to see why the FDA continues to enable this deceptive, antiscientific, and unethical medical adventurism and profiteering, even for patients who are terminally ill,” writes CFI. “Given the behavior of Dr. Burzynski and the Burzynski Research Institute over the course of nearly three decades of failed research and trials, and in the face of a complete lack of scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy of their expensive and dangerous antineoplaston treatment, we find the FDA’s decision perplexing and profoundly disturbing.” 

The president approves the WWII Memorial prayer plaque over the objections of folks like us. Stars and Stripes' Travis J. Tritten spoke to me, raising the point that the prayer doesn't mention Jesus:

“The level of religiosity within a given prayer is really beside the point,” said Paul Fidalgo, communications director for the Center for Inquiry. “The real issue that it is a prayer, regardless of the degree. It is an invocation within a religious tradition.” 

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Hashtag Conestoga Wood

July 01, 2014

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

The Hobby Lobby case goes bad. We say in our press release:

This is not a decision that advances religious freedom – it is a decision that enshrines religious privilege over and above employee well-being. This decision defies common sense, lacks compassion, and has the potential to harm us all.

Our response get picked up by outlets like Deseret NewsCommon DreamsJoe. My. God., and even in France by Sciences et Avenir

CFI chief Ron Lindsay writes at HuffPo about how the decision's focus on contraception, and being so explicit about excluding things like blood transfusions, raises questions about the implications of a Catholic majority on the court...

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Alien Residue

June 30, 2014

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

Today the Supreme Court is expected to deliver its decision in the big Hobby Lobby case about an employer's ability to impose his or her religion on employees. Catch up on all the issues surrounding it at our Hobby Lobby case resource page, and stay tuned to our Twitter account for news updates and reaction. (By the way, among the groups who think Hobby Lobby is wrong is the people.)

For all the cool stuff that's been going on in the CFI community over the past fortnight, check out issue 9 of Cause & Effect

Saturday was the centennial of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which catalyzed World War I, which of course begat a century or so of violence, upheavals, realignments, and a very different world map.    

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Protest the Urologists

June 27, 2014

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

Saudi Arabia's shouting down of CFI at the UN Human Rights Council is continuing to make waves, and we sent out a message yesterday about why we need your help to keep up the pressure.

Clergy Project co-founder Linda LaScola writes about her "reunion" with project alumnus Jerry DeWitt at CFI-DC. 

The Hobby Lobby decision did NOT come down yesterday (whew!), but the SCOTUS did decide that having a buffer zone at abortion clinics to protect patients from protesters was unconstitutional...

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The Ones with the Deep Voices Who Were Always Hassling Christ

June 26, 2014

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

The episode of Saudi Arabia trying to get CFI "shut up" at the UN Human Rights Council is garnering a lot of attention and interest, so I did a more complete telling of what transpired and the surrounding context over at Friendly Atheist. Additionally, we've assembled a coalition to press the US State Department to intervene.

The FDA inexplicably decides to allow "cancer quack" Stanislaw Burzynski to continue his clinical trials of his baseless treatments. Expect to hear from us on this soon. 

A one-two judicial punch takes down same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Indiana.  

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I Don’t Need Science Because I Saw a Disney Movie about Bears

June 25, 2014

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

News outlet Middle East Eye reports on Saudi Arabia's attempts to keep CFI quiet about the Kingdom's human rights abuses at the UN Human Rights Council, where our main UN rep Michael De Dora says:

It doesn’t look good for Saudi Arabia. By trying to silence us, and looking a bit desperate in doing so, they have actually caused more attention to be given to the statement we were delivering.

I do a writeup at Friendly Atheist, where I note that "the work of CFI and its allies on the world stage are beginning to get under Saudi Arabia’s skin."

IHEU alerts us: Nigerian man Mubarak Bala has been detained and medicated in a psychiatric ward simply for being an atheist.

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A Fresh Dollop of Persecution Complex

June 24, 2014

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

Saudi Arabia tries (and fails) to bully CFI's representative at the UN Human Rights Council, Josephine Macintosh, who was delivering a statement regarding Saudi Arabia's flagrant human rights abuses. Three times the Saudi representative tried to silence her, but she persisted, with support from the representatives from the U.S., Ireland, Canada, and France. Check out the video here. Canada's Ambassador Andrew Bennett tweets, "Proud that Canada defended @center4inquiry right to speak in Human Rights Council on Raif Badawi case today." 

Speaking of which, Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar is now in Canada with their children, and is helping to put pressure on Canada's government to intervene

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