The Brighter Side of Spite

April 03, 2014

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

CFI's Sarah Kaiser considers the wisdom of a New York state bill that would toughen penalties for crimes committed in a place of worship:

[N]ot every citizen of New York is a member of a religious institution, incorporated or not. In fact, many citizens are members of local secular groups (like CFI–NYC and CFI–Western New York), and their communities would be harmed by robbery, property damage, and vandalism just as much as places of worship. 

I can't believe this is a thing: GOP congressional candidate is being attacked for playing live-action role playing games (yes, he LARPs), which I think makes him awesome, but makes fellow GOPers think he's a Satanist. 

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My Gast Was Flabbered

April 02, 2014

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

The two big Skeptical Inquirer pieces on the "cancer quack" Stanislaw Burzynski are now online: David Gorski gives us the full background on Burzynski, and Robert Blaskiewicz writes about skeptics' activism to rein Burzynski in and protect patients.

Investigation by John Burnett at NPR reveals how religious TV networks are getting themselves classified as "churches" by the IRS, which means there's no way for donors to know how their money is spent.

In Pakistan, an Ahmadi man is attacked by a mob and arrested for blasphemy (these things almost go without saying now) for allegedly throwing a child's copy of the Koran. 

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No Desire to Stretch the Truth

April 01, 2014

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

Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but please breathe a sigh of relief that your Morning Heresy isn't playing. No (intentional) hoaxes here.

Have you grown to hate April Fool's Day as much as me? You can thank a pope

Our CEO Ron Lindsay wonders if biblical believers might want to distance themselves from God as portrayed in Noah (also now on HuffPo):

Let’s not mince words: if the story of the Flood is to be believed, God is a moral monster. To say his response to the alleged wickedness of humans is disproportionate is a gross understatement. Moreover, God engages in conduct that we would expect from the worst dictators, namely collective punishment that sweeps in the innocent along with the guilty. Children, presumably, were among those drowned (unless we assume that wicked adults had no offspring) as were most all of the animals, who bore no responsibility whatsoever for the misdeeds of humans. Intentionally drowning a kitten is conduct we’d expect of some psychopathic juvenile, not a loving deity.

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Almost Literally Hungry for Brains

March 31, 2014

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

Barbara Ehrenreich (who will be at Women in Secularism III) wants you to know she's still totally an atheist, despite her new memoir that includes childhood experiences "way out of the reach of science."   

James Hansen, the man who really put the crisis of global warming on the national radar, says civilization itself is screwed if Canada taps into its tar sands for oil.

Massimo Polidoro at Skeptical Inquirer tells how hucksters easily manipulate vulnerable people with belief in the power of the "evil eye." 

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Smiling Joe Has His Own Celestial Body

March 28, 2014

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

Hey, folks, I was rather ill yesterday with something called "influenza," and I'm frankly not feeling much better today, but I couldn't let skepto-atheism writhe in painful, linkless ignorance for another day, so here's a two-day catchup of the Heresy. You are so welcome. 

George Ongere of CFI-Kenya writes at the CFI blog about his own embrace of social justice through humanism, and the fantastic work being done on the ground.

In Pakistan, Sawan Masih is sentenced to death for blasphemy, for allegedly insulting Mohammed. It's all so awful. From the Reuters report by Mubasher Bukhari:

The law does not require evidence to be presented in court and there are no penalties for false allegations. Courts often hesitate to hear evidence, fearful that reproducing it will also be considered blasphemous. Activists who want to reform the law say it is often abused by those seeking to grab money or property from the accused. 

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We Make Gods of Ourselves

March 26, 2014

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

The Hobby Lobby case has now been argued before the justices of the Supreme Court (see our primer on the case here), and our boss Ron Lindsay saw it all go down. His take? A little grim:

[Hobby Lobby] wants the protections granted to religious beliefs while also carrying out for-profit commercial activity with the legal advantages granted to corporations. Sadly, a majority of the Court appears prepared to accept Hobby Lobby’s claim, and with it a radical restructuring of the relationship between religion and government. 

Adam Liptak at the Times agrees that the justices seemed to favor Hobby Lobby's argument.

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Noah, Drunk and Naked

March 25, 2014

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

Happy Hobby Lobby Day! Or not. The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.and we have a handy primer for you to help you cut through the confusion (and to see why we think Hobby Lobby is dead wrong).

The spotlight in now on the Justices. Robert Barnes at WaPo looks at the religious makeup of the Court, while Sahil Kapur at TPM notes that Scalia has taken a pretty firm stance in the past that would seem to contradict Hobby Lobby's case:

In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment "does not require" the government to grant "religious exemptions" from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.

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I’m a Fennel Passionflower Slippery Elm!

March 24, 2014

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

On Friday, we put out the second issue ever of Cause & Effect, our official newsletter, and lemme tell you, it looks way better. Among the top news items in C&E was the release of CFI's new Hobby Lobby resource page, designed to clear up the confusion and double-speak surrounding the big Supreme Court case, which is hearing oral arguments tomorrow. Check it out

Reynolds Holding at Reuters notes that in trying to appease the God of Christianity, Hobby Lobby may be offending the god of the almighty buck

12 ounces of liquid cocaine are intercepted inside 14 condoms...headed for the Vatican

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Erdoğan the Eradicator

March 21, 2014

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

We were pretty aghast at the House's overwhelming passage of HR 1814, the get-out-of-the-healthcare-law-free bill for the religious. Well now it looks like the Senate might actually take it up (which we used to think was never going to happen), so we need you to tell your senators to send it back to the pits of despair from whence it came.

Turkey bans Twitter, and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, weirdly vows to "eradicate" it. Good luck with that, pal. #yolo

Fred Phelps is really most sincerely dead.

His estranged son Nate Phelps of CFI-Calgary posts a statement:

I ask this of everyone — let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities. 

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Moss the Immortal

March 20, 2014

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

I just found this video thanks to Brook Wilensky-Lanford at Religion Dispatches, in what she calls a "Carl Sagan meets Ed McMahon moment," where Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Ku reveals to Dr. Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde that the new findings about the Big Bang support Dr. Linde's predictions. It's a beautiful moment. He can't even believe it:

Let us hope it is not a trick! I always leave with this feeling...What if I am tricked? What if I believe in this just because it is beautiful? 

It happened months ago at a CFI-Michigan event, but thanks to Cosmos, HuffPo and others are rediscovering the amazing exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and a 9-year-old boy about death-by-asteroid. Relive the magic.

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