Our Visceral Distaste is Not to Be Taken Lightly

November 08, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay looks at the transcript of the oral arguments in the SCOTUS prayer case Greece v. Galloway, and comes away feeling that atheists were "thrown under the bus" by plaintiffs' attorney Douglas Laycock:

Laycock, knowing that he could probably not get a Court majority to eliminate the prayer practice entirely, decided to take the angle that you only have to please the majority of people. Only the majority of people have to be treated equally. Oh, great, so the Establishment Clause was intended not to protect minority rights, but rather the sentiments of the majority. You know, all these years, I had that backward, Doug. Thanks for straightening me out. 

Sarah Posner reports that George W. Bush will keynote a fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that wants to convert Jews in order to bring about the return of Jesus. She notes the reaction of Commentary magazine, which warns, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly." But to all those who are surprised by this, I have to say, were you not paying attention to this guy the past 13 years?  

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Non-Sinister Reptilian Overlords

November 07, 2013

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

Finally, finally, finally, it's here: The first episode of the newly-relaunched Point of Inquiry is up online, with Josh Zepps interviewing Leonard Mlodinow at the CFI Summit! Video too

Yesterday, SCOTUS heard arguments in Greece v. Galloway on prayers at government and legislative meetings. One tidbit, via the AP:

Justice Samuel Alito pointed to the country's religious diversity to voice his skepticism about the call for only nonsectarian prayer. "I just don't see how it is possible to compose anything that you could call a prayer that is acceptable to all of these groups," Alito said. As Douglas Laycock, the University of Virginia law professor representing the residents, tried to craft an answer, Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts jumped in. "You want to pick the groups we're going to exclude?" Scalia said. A few seconds later, Roberts chimed in, "We've already excluded the atheists, right?"   

Ron Lindsay noticed something about Election Day on Tuesday that raised an alarm: He was the youngest one there:

Nothing against old people — like me — but our interests and views should not be overrepresented.  

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If You Go to Google on the Internet It Will Back Up What I Say

November 06, 2013

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

Jeez, there's a lot going on today.

There were elections yesterday, and you don't need me to go on about that, though it's fair to say that secularism may have dodged a bullet or two in the Old Dominion. (I should disclose that I sort of worked under Governor-Elect McAuliffe when he was chair of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. He would have no idea who I am now, but he did sign a copy of his book for me on my first day there, in which he declared me the greatest campaign researcher in the world. I don't know how he knew that so quickly.)

And wouldn't you know it, Illinois' legislature passed marriage equality which the governor promises to sign. 

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Andorian Filibuster

November 05, 2013

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

Thanks to the Kepler spacecraft, astronomers are reporting that there are perhaps 40 billion Earth-size (and maybe Earth-like) planets in our galaxy alone. Federation Council meetings are going to take forever. I can totally see the Andorian delegate filibustering some dilithium mining bill.

Greece v. Galloway will be argued before the Supreme Court tomorrow, on the constitutionality of prayers at legislative and governmental functions. SCOTUSblog previews. Check out CFI's amicus brief on the case, and our own Michael De Dora's thoughts on the case from August. 

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The Serpent of Obscurantism

November 04, 2013

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

CFI's International Program Director Bill Cooke guest-posts at Butterflies & Wheels on the fantastic work being done by George Ongere and CFI-Kenya to help get orphan students the educations they need.

Ireland's Constitutional Convention recommends nixing the 2009 blasphemy law, though replacing it with a measure against "incitement to religious hatred," whatever that means. Members of Atheist Ireland delivered speeches on the subject.

Maine gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud comes out as gay in an op-ed, in order to end whisper campaigns and rumors.

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Shlomo, Herb, and Esther Part the Sea

November 01, 2013

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

Oklahoma atheist group FreeOK is doing a big charity drive for kids affected by natural disasters. 

Pope Francis is looking for ways to let divorced Catholics get communion again. Stop this guy! He's crazy!

I would like to combine these next two links into one gestalt-uber-nonsense story. First, two Nashville pastors proclaim "they can use hyperbaric chambers to treat everything from hair loss to depression." Then, this guy thinks JFK was killed to keep him from spilling the beans about UFOs. Now SOMEBODY GET TO WORK MERGING THESE TWO.

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The Right to Be Confused

October 31, 2013

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

Happy All Hallows' Eve, everyone! Don't get into any mischief tonight, or the Morning Heretic's boy, donning the guise of the Dark Knight, will have to set you straight. (The Heretic's daughter, meanwhile, will be a cute piggie, and likely not crime-fighting, or even aware that she's wearing a costume.)

If Tom Flynn were a vampire or a werewolf (and who can say, really), and there was only one way to kill him, this might be it: "The Humanist Ten Commandments"

Piercarlo Valdesolo looks at the power of belief in things like Satan and the notion of "pure evil."

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What if They Gave a War of the Worlds and Nobody Came?

October 30, 2013

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

Huge: Hamza Kashgari, imprisoned for the past two years by Saudi Arabia for tweeting about the human aspects of Muhammed, has been released. Kashgari is a focus of our Campaign for Free Expression.

Meanwhile, an atheist in Egypt is reportedly under investigation for starting a Facebook atheism group. 

Former CFI intern Monica Harmsen has produced this great promotional video for the Living without Religion campaign with the folks at CFI-Michigan. 

CFI legal director Nick Little is quoted in this Reuters piece on Internet psychic scammers. 

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The Heart and Liver of a Muscovy Duck

October 29, 2013

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

Your Morning Heretic has been soaking up the skepto-atheism at the CFI Summit in Tacoma, which was a truly excellent and enlightening event (if for no other reason getting to witness the rebirth of Point of Inquiry, which is largely responsible for getting me into the movement back in Olden Times™). Yesterday, I was recovering from a time-zone-shifting redeye. Hopefully, nothing all that interesting happened outside the conference.

One theme that came up a couple of times at the Summit was the desire for CFI to make more noise about its international program, headed by Bill Cooke. Ophelia Benson makes this point. No argument here, as a lot of that activity is a little under the radar. If you're interested in international activism, don't forget our Office of Public Policy's Campaign for Free Expression and our UN work. 

Major Newsweek piece covers the loss of tax revenue to churches in the U.S., citing data from the groundbreaking study in our own Free Inquiry.

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Don’t Get Atheism in the Soup!

October 24, 2013

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

What time is it? Is it still morning, technically? Well, it is somewhere -- specifically on the West Coast, an alien land to the Morning Heretic, who awakens to find himself in Tacoma for the start of the CFI Summit! And what do you know, here's an awesome piece on the Summit by Steve Maynard at the News Tribune

That's not all, of course. At Newsday, there's coverage of CFI's opposition to the use of a public library on Long Island for the commercial promotion of a fake psychic. 

And! And! CFI-DC announced that February 1, 2014 is the date for the next African Americans for Humanism regional conference!

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