Proof of Rat Heaven

August 13, 2013

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

University of Michigan scientists poke around some rat brains for EEG signals, and found a huge burst of activity just at the point of death. Proof of Rat Heaven? The opposite.

USA Today comes out against businesses claiming exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate:

Ultimately, the issue is one of balance. The effect of health insurance on business owners is indirect. Employees may or may not use insurance to pay for birth control, just as they may or may not use their salary to pay for something that would violate the company owners' faith.

The circumstance might be discomforting. But the alternative — granting religious exemptions to private organizations — is more troubling. It would be open to abuse, putting the government in the position of determining which business owners were sufficiently religious. 

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That Near-Death Experience Sounds Awesome

August 12, 2013

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

Michael De Dora calls out the administration's amicus brief to SCOTUS in support of legislative prayers for its "spotty reasoning."

This actually happened: Tennessee judge orders a mother to change her baby's name ("Messiah") because "it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ." 

Charter schools. Held in churches. Discuss

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The Man Who Has Stolen the Straw

August 09, 2013

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

The Obama administration disappoints us beyond all measure, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in favor of prayer at legislative sessions.

41 people in Turkey reportedly charged with "blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction" for posts to a social network. 

There are a heck-ton of great videos from the latest Women in Secularism conference, with two new panels just posted

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Who Are You Calling Porous-Bordered?

August 08, 2013

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

The State Department formally launches its  Office of Faith Based Community Initiatives. John Kerry says something that is true for me as well:

[I]f I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today. 

Former CFIer Austin Dacey has reservations:

Constitutional or not, official interfacing with “faith-based organizations” will constitute a troubling form of government endorsement: the defining of some communities, among various porous-bordered normative and discursive communities, as “religions” and the anointing of some individuals as recognized spokespersons for those communities. 

Domestically, the creaky gears of government are moving in making changes to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Unidentified Flying Spellcheck

August 07, 2013

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

Excellent news: DC's Mayor Vince Gray signs into law a bill that allows for "civil celebrants," aka Secular Celebrants, to officiate and solemnize marriages in the nation's capital. CFI's Michael De Dora and Melody Hensley were on hand for the signing, and Melody got a pen

Martin S. Pribble launches the Not Alone Project for nonbelievers, explaining:

My hope is to create a place where the non-believers stories can be published, in a completely safe environment, which doesn’t judge its participants in any way. This is an internet “safehouse” for those who fear coming out, an a place to share stories, freedoms and inspirations that atheism allows you. Those who publish their work here have the choice of remaining anonymous, or publishing their names in their articles. 

I love this picture: CFI board member Leonard Tramiel talks astronomy with the kids at Camp Inquiry. 

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Florida on High Xindi Alert

August 06, 2013

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

Hey, you hear the big news about The Washington Post? It came out against Virginia's religious exemption for homeschooling! Oh, and I guess there was this other thing where it was bought by Jeff Bezos. Pretty sure those two things aren't related.

Point of Inquiry classic episodes are streaming in as we lay the groundwork for its phoenix-like rebirth. This week, we have a 2006 interview with Susan Jacoby by DJ Grothe on America's freethought heritage. 

The town of Greece, NY gets support for its city council prayers from 31 U.S. Senators (30 GOPs plus Mary Landrieu of course), who filed an amicus brief to their Supreme Court case. 

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Croppies Lie Down

August 05, 2013

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

So former Rep. Barney Frank is an atheist. Now you tell us, Barney. 

Avery Thompson writes of the "10 best things" from the CFI Student Leadership conference, and somehow omits one particular bespectacled neurotic who will nonetheless find a way to forgive (and who otherwise pretty much agrees with his list). One of the folks on the list, James Croft, is coming to CFI-DC this weekend.

Ian Pollock asks a hum-dinger of a question in a fascinating post: Do the compromises that make up "secularism" mean that the whole enterprise is, though necessary, without principle? (h/t to Robert Long

Four Republican former heads of the EPA take to NYT to call for action on climate change.  

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If the Borg and the Clone Wars Had a Baby

August 02, 2013

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

CFI has been challenging the folks at Google to examine their consciences, and stop giving financial support to climate science deniers. Apparently scientists within Google feel the same way

Daniel Fincke brings together a panel of secular activists to discuss the internal controversy over the FFRF suit to remove the Star of David from the Ohio Statehouse's Holocaust Memorial. CFI's Michael De Dora was among them.

And look how busy Michael is: Here's the Advocacy Update for the Office of Public Policy for July. 

Gary Gutting at the Times makes what appears to be a serious case for the existence of Zeus. Hemant is aghast, and I wonder if he's just trolling us

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I Hope You’re Not Squeezing Their Liver or Pancreas

August 01, 2013

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

CFI's Debbie Goddard joined Sikivu Hutchinson, Jamila Bey (both Women in Secularism alums) and Ronnelle Adams on HuffPost Live to talk about atheism in the African American community.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reminds Saudi Arabia of its obligations under international human rights treaties, as it condemns the persecution (and coming physical abuse) of dissenting activist Raif Badawi, convicted of blasphemy.  

Aasia Bibi, accused of blasphemy in Pakistan and held in a women's prison, is in terrible danger, as security is weak and she is targeted for violence from both within and without the prison. 

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Tactful Phrasing, Polite Omissions, and White Lies

July 31, 2013

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

The AP covers the Raif Badawi story, the Saudi liberal activist convicted for "insulting Islam" and sentenced to a prison term and 600 lashes, noting that the judge spared Badawi the charge of apostasy, which would have meant the death penalty. Muslims for Progressive Values slams Saudi Arabia over this case, and its violation of its duties under international treaties.

David Mizner looks more broadly at the human rights crisis in Saudi Arabia

Given Bawadi's conviction, and yesterday's verdict in the Bradley Manning trial, this effort seems all the sillier: A Kenyan lawyer, Dola Indidis, wants to overturn Pontius Pilate's conviction of Jesus of Nazareth. Little late, dude.

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