O Captain Janeway! My Captain!

April 09, 2014

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

So that new "documentary" The Principle that promotes [suppresses laughter] geo-freaking-centrism? We know it has Lawrence Krauss in it, and come on, we all knew it was a situation like the one with Dawkins in Expelled: Krauss couldn't have known what they were going to do, and indeed it is so:

I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know. 

But the real worry was that Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager (NCC-74656), Kate Mulgrew, the film's narrator, had gone over the side of crazy, breaking nerds' hearts everywhere (mine included). Well, worry no more...

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Stupider and Wronger

April 08, 2014

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

I clapped like a 2-year-old for Elmo when I heard the first words of the latest Point of Inquirywith super-special guest Ann Druyan, co-creator of Cosmos.

Ezra Klein kicks off his new news outlet, Vox, with a kind of lament that kind of kicks groups like ours, as well as his own operation, in the teeth: On partisan issues, more information makes us stupider and wronger.

Sarah Jones of Americans United says Western atheists going on about how they're considered "terrorists" in Saudi Arabia are missing the point of the real crisis...

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My Spirit Does Not Yearn

April 07, 2014

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

Before you get all heretical with your Monday morning, make sure you catch up with everything CFI with the latest edition of Cause & Effect. It's like a not-for-profit breakfast. 

Our response to the Sheriff's Office of Vero Beach, Florida using public resources to support a prayer event gets coverage in the region's paper, but it's behind a paywall so I have no idea what it says. But it's got quite a cliffhanger before the paywall: 

When the next Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast comes around, one group will be eager to see event's program. If the Sheriff's Office is listed as a sponsor, the group might sue. 

Eek!

Pakistani husband and wife, Shafqat and Shagufta Masih, are sentenced to death for blasphemy for allegedly sending "sending text messages against the Holy Prophet." Shafqat is paralyzed from the waist down, and says:

...when the police came to their house last year to verify the charges, they had brought along a local cable operator who had some enmity against the couple. Shafqat was thrown from his wheelchair, tortured and made to confess he was guilty of sending the offending text messages, Mr. Saif said.  

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The Most Adorable Exorcist

April 04, 2014

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

Alan Greenblatt at NPR reports on the numerous ways lawmakers in states are trying to allow student prayer in public schools. Hedy Weinberg of the Tennessee ACLU said, "What we see — and this is a trend across the country — is that there's an effort to impose one's religious doctrine in school settings."  

The ban on Twitter is lifted in Turkey following a high court ruling (and the end of the elections). YouTube remains blocked. 

Bob Smietana reports that a federal judge has ruled that NYC can now ban churches from using public schools for religious services.

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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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