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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Glenn Beck and the Steampunk Bunker

January 23, 2014

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

Kimberly Winston at RNS covers CFI's Freethought Books Project. Here's my favorite bit:

“Christianity has a mandate to convert people, but freethought does not have any such mandate,” said Sarah Kaiser, one of the project’s two new coordinators. “We just want everyone to have the freedom to express doubts and ask questions, and that is what these books represent.”

CFI-Indiana's Reba Wooden catches some trickery in the statehouse over the bill banning same-sex marriage:

The dirty tricks that [Speaker] Bosma and his supporters will use are very disturbing. First, at the beginning of the session they sought to confuse the issue by renaming the amendment from HJR-6 to HJR-3. Then, realizing that the opposition testimony and efforts had swayed enough of the Judiciary committee to oppose it, he made a switch to a committee where he was sure to have to support for its passage. 

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The Shiniest Cog in Nature’s Wheel

January 22, 2014

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

I can't believe it's not GMO: Wired covers the work of mega-ultra-super-ag corporation Monsanto, which is using regular old cross-breeding for its new, improved crops, not genetic modification.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia believes in witchcraft. So do 69% of Indonesian Muslims, apparently.

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