The Morning Heresy 10/26/12: Folklore-for-Profit

October 26, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

The conference is now officially in full swing, and tonight is the big CSICon Halloween party. I'm actually missing the first event so I can deliver all this crucial information to you, the Morning Heresy readers. You are so welcome. Also of note: Because I forgot my own razor, I had to use the hotel's cheapie razor to shave, and now my face looks and feels like I just nuzzled up to a cheese grater. Can only get better from here, I hope.

And just in time for our skeptical conference, NBCNews.com profiles Joe Nickell and his quest for truth about the paranormal, calling him, "the world's longest-running full-time professional paranormal investigator." 

Tom Flynn's latest salvo against Florida's religion-funding Amendment 8 addresses the Blaine Amendment's 19th century anti-Catholic baggage.  

Billy Hallowell at Glenn Beck's The Blaze does a pretty detailed treatment on CFI's lawsuit in Indiana to allow secular celebrants to solemnize marriages. 

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The Morning Heresy 10/25/12: A Minute Amount of Intelligence

October 25, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Ladies and gentlenerds, CSICon 2012 kicks off today in Music City. Your Morning Heretic is a little discombobulated from late night travel and time zone changes, plus being in the human presense of people who I have known exclusively as email addresses or Twitter handles. But all signs from the ineffable consciousness of the universal spirit point to a really fantastic event.

FoxNews.com covers the CFI lawsuit in Indiana to allow for secular celebrants to solemnize marriages, and wherein I inartfully try to make the distinction between just getting a government functionary to sign a paper and having an officiant of the secular community do the business of sealing the matrimonial deal.  

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The Morning Heresy 10/24/12: The Seeds of its Own Destruction

October 24, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

CFI founder Paul Kurtz gets full obituaries in both the New York Times and the Washington Post

Prometheus Books, run by Kurtz's son, posts its official obituary. 

Herb Silverman pens his own memorial of Kurtz:

A true visionary, he gave meaning, substance, and a philosophical grounding to the importance of advancing ideas of reason and science over religion. He will be remembered as a significant, and perhaps the most significant, force in the second half of the 20th century in support of secular humanism and living a good life without religion.

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The Morning Heresy 10/23/12: One of “Those” Atheists

October 23, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Reports and remembrances of Paul Kurtz, CFI's founder who died this weekend at the age of 86, continue to stream in throughout the web.

Carolyn Thompson at AP tells the story of Kurtz's life and work.

Robert Evans at Reuters writes that Kurtz "devoted his life to fighting prejudice against people who reject belief in a god and promoting a non-religious stance in life," and notes that CFI has "spawned a movement" that has spread globally. 

Ed Brayton: "You would be hard pressed to find anyone who did more to advance secular humanism, atheism and skepticism over the last century."

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The Morning Heresy 10/22/12: The Tree of Life

October 22, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

CFI is mourning the passing of our founder, Paul Kurtz, who died Saturday at the age of 86. We have a comprehensive obituary here, which gives a lot of detail on his work and incalculable impact on secularism, humanism, and skepticism. I actually have never met the man, being a relatively recent hire for CFI, and working remotely from home, but I still feel the loss, and I am enormously grateful for the movements he helped ignite and philosophical foundations he helped lay down -- from which I and many others benefit today.

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The Morning Heresy 10/19/12: Now Pork-Free!

October 19, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

CFI's Michael De Dora heralds the news that a bloc of Islamic nations is dropping is efforts to lobby the UN to adopt binding blasphemy laws, but cautions:

. . . concerned secularists should not sit back and relax. As evidenced in the Center for Inquiry's new report "Dissent Denied," many countries around the world simply international agreements and have in place blasphemy laws that punish innocent people for victimless crimes. But also, the OIC has signaled that, instead of pushing for a blasphemy ban, it will appeal to member states to apply hate speech laws to criticism of religion. 

Speaking of free expression, Michael joined the panel on HuffPost Live to talk about Twitter's recent censoring of a neo-Nazi group in Germany.

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The Morning Heresy 10/18/12: I Could Fly Like a Blue Heron

October 18, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

This is a big deal: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has declared that it will drop its efforts to pursue a binding blasphemy law at the UN. Kuwait is not satisfied, nor are other members of the coalition.

Also today in blasphemy:

Egyptian atheist Alber Saber is "defiant" as his blasphemy trial resumes. You can sign a Change.org petition on his behalf here

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The Morning Heresy 10/17/12: D’Souza? D’oh!

October 17, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Takeaways from last night's debate? Not a whole lot for our skepto-atheosphere. Most notable, really, is what wasn't said. Not once was there discussion of things near and dear to our hearts like, oh, the global rise in temperatures that may result in the destruction of human habitats and spur a series of environmental catastrophes. But hey, they both like coal!   

Baptist Press trumpets an effort by lawmakers in nine states to form "religious freedom caucuses," which of course means essentially the opposite of what it says. The piece quotes CFI chief Ron Lindsay:

Unfortunately, 'freedom of conscience' and 'religious liberty' are sometimes improperly invoked by those who seek to impose their religious views on others, directly or indirectly. Whether the American Religious Freedom Program will help strengthen the right to freedom of conscience or subvert this right largely depends on the understanding of religious liberty that will guide its activity.  

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The Morning Heresy 10/16/12: He Breaks Things

October 16, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Rebecca Watson one-ups Newsweek:

But last night, after seven hours of rest during which the human part of my brain (i.e., all of it) showed significantly slowed brainwave patterns, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in Narnia. 

CFI's Michael De Dora talks with Jamila Bey on Voice of Russia Radio about blasphemy and incitement laws around the world. 

NBC Nightly News does the first in a series of pieces on alternative medicine -- it's highly uncritical, and even says that insurance companies need to do some "catching up" to cover CAM treatments. 

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The Morning Heresy 10/15/12: Some of Us Were Blushing

October 15, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

As Election Day approaches, it's not the presidential race that has the exclusive attention of the Florida political class. It's "Amendment 8," a proposed change to the state constitution to allow taxpayer funds to flow to religious institutions -- and a reaction to a lawsuit brought by the Council for Secular Humanism concerning a proselytizing prison ministry.   

A piece by Robyn Blumner in the Tampa Bay Times quotes CFI legal guru Steven Fox on the implications of the amendment, and Blumner concludes that its passage would mean:

. . . proselytizing by the likes of the Lamb of God Ministries, the local mosque or Scientology center, and, heck, even the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could become just another government-funded program, with all of us compelled to foot the bill. 

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