Let’s Not Make a Joke of Ourselves

February 06, 2014

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

So there's this National Prayer Breakfast going on, perhaps you've heard of it. And there's the president. Likable guy, smart, heart in the right place, but there he is doing this quasi-official ring-kissing of religion. What's do be done? Lots, actually. Here's one idea for a counter-balance: Tell your congresshuman to support Rep. Rush Holt's Darwin Day resolution (and pass it on, too). That'd be a good, heartening thing.

This is super-cool: Come to the Women in Secularism III conference, stay for the secular celebrant training!  

The leader of the LDS Church is being ordered to appear before a judge in England to face fraud charges against all of Mormonism. Wow, can they really do that?

Two summonses direct Thomas S. Monson of Utah, the Church president, to attend a March 14 hearing in the Westminster Magistrates Court of London to answer accusations that key tenets of the LDS faith are untrue and have been used to secure financial contributions. 

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The End is Nye

February 05, 2014

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

Super Bowl? What's that? The real big game happened last night when Bill Nye debated creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. Folks all over had viewing parties (including CFI branches and the CFI mothership), and Twitter was overflowing with reactions. Overall, I think the event was a net win for us, but I'll expound upon that in some other forum.

Hemant Mehta and I liveblogged the debate at Friendly Atheist, and man oh man, are we hilarious. Hemant wrote a longer piece on his overall feelings about the debate:

I think the Creation Museum stills comes out of this ahead just because of all the publicity, but last night was a stark reminder that when you’re in a debate against someone who doesn’t even understand the topic of discussion, exposing his limitations may be the best weapon you possess. If anyone was on the fence, they almost certainly didn’t come down on Ham’s side. 

HuffPo liveblogged as well, and did so from the CFI-NYC viewing party!

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I, For One, Welcome Our New Southern Baptist Robot Overlords

February 04, 2014

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

Tonight is the big Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate at the Creation Museum, which everyone in the skepto-atheist movement is either really excited about or totally livid and disappointed about. But either way, it's happening, so let's enjoy it! CFI branches and campus affiliates all over the country are hosting viewing parties, and Hemant Mehta and I will be liveblogging the debate at Friendly Atheist

Here are the ones I know about: 

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Bhinneka Tunggal ika

February 03, 2014

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

Excellent news on Friday, as CFI was able to independently confirm that Alexander Aan, the persecuted Indonesian atheist, has been released from prison. Michael De Dora has more, including why all is not roses yet for Alex

Over the weekend, CFI's Debbie Goddard and I took part in Google Hangout panel discussions for Freethought Blogs' FTBCon2. Debbie did one on community building and one on trans men and trans masculinity, and I did one on social media at conferences.

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Infinitely Many Infinities

January 31, 2014

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

CFI boss Ron Lindsay announces he's got a new book coming out this year from Pitchstone Press on the need to untangle religion from policy. It was either that idea, or this one

I know, I know... people probably wanted an anthology of my wildly popular blog posts. Maybe next time. 

Ahem. 

CFI's Debbie Goddard weighs in at Religion News Service on the wisdom of the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate:

If we don’t let [creationists'] ideas see the light of day we can’t develop the tools to address them. And we don’t just need the tools of facts and evidence, but also of understanding their views and compassion for them if we want to be effective at changing their minds. 

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Saving Throw vs. Clerical Robe

January 30, 2014

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

RNS's Brian Pellot interviews our own Michael De Dora about our international work defending free expression, and it's stellar. Michael says:

The fact that these [oppressive] governments know we exist and care about someone jailed in their countries and that people are up in arms over in the U.S. is a success, and it’s spreading. ... In the long run, this kind of activism will lead people in positions of power to listen and to address our concerns. Freedom of expression is a right everyone should enjoy, not just atheists and Christians.

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A Toddler’s Conception of Time and Space

January 29, 2014

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

Members of the Reality-Based Community™ were heartened to hear President Obama declare that "climate change is a fact" so strongly at the State of the Union last night. Eugene Robinson wants us to start girding our loins for the inevitable:

President Obama, who understands the science, should use his executive powers as best he can, not just to reduce carbon emissions but also to prepare the country for confronting the environmental, political and military hazards of a warmer world. 

CFI's Triumvirate of Legal Awesomeness™ (Nick Little, Ron Lindsay, and Eddie Tabash) files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on the big Hobby Lobby/contraceptive mandate case, telling the court that allowing a special religious exemptions for employers like Hobby Lobby violate the Constitution and place onerous burdens on workers. My favorite part of our press release:

“The burden on Hobby Lobby and these other companies is nonexistent,” said CFI’s legal director, attorney Nicholas Little. “Health care benefits are part of an employee’s compensation, so employers who object to employees’ use of health care benefits to obtain contraception are no more burdened than a Mormon employer whose workers use their salary to buy coffee.” 

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Unimpressive, Blurry, and Worthless

January 28, 2014

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

This is a must-read: Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier on why we skeptics do what we do:

[W]hat we science-minded skeptics are defending here goes way beyond any of the specific bizarre ideas, trumped-up mysteries, or misperceptions or misrepresentations of the real world we may critique. What we are defending ... are hard-won concepts essential to a free and open society—if that society is to have well-informed citizens capable of making wise decisions in a complex technological world.  

The Justice Department is apparently going to appeal a recent ruling against clergy's exemption from income taxes on their parsonages. Because hey, if they don't stand up for tax-free pastors' mansions, who will?

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A Veritable Museum of Mistakes

January 27, 2014

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

A must-read: Friend-of-the-blog Ali A. Rizvi corresponds with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar on their shared and differing experiences as atheist former-Muslims. One big theme: their belief that Western liberals are "selling out" liberals in the Muslim world. Writes Rizvi:

Western countries like the US barely use a fraction of the force they have the capacity to because whatever their flaws, they are still bound by a code of ethics -- and as democracies, accountability to their people. If the Taliban or Al Qaeda had even a tenth of the weaponry that the US does, you'd already have entire countries razed to the ground. I think many writers confuse neutrality with objectivity.

Tom Flynn is the guest on the Religious Studies Project podcast, unpacking what exactly it means to be a secular humanist. 

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Information Superhighway to Heaven

January 24, 2014

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

Today is a very important day in my religion, it's the 30th birthday of the Macintosh. Relatedly, Pope Fluffy told us that the Internet is a "gift from God," but everyone knows the truth is that God only "took the initiative" in creating the Internet.

Though Virginia's AG is fighting a gay marriage ban, its legislature just passed a student prayer bill. One step forward, one step back. 

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