Politics in the Sky

February 19, 2014

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

Denmark bans the religious slaughter of animals (such as for kosher meat), with the agriculture minister declaring, "Animal rights come before religion."

Alaska's legislature looks to nix an important bit of text from the state's constitution:

No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

It never stops, does it?

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The Earth is in Peril, and People Love That

February 18, 2014

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

Our own Debbie Goddard is featured in a HuffPo piece on the variety of beliefs of African Americans. Among her insights:

There are times when I've felt straight-up rejected by the black community because I'm an atheist. When I tried to start a secular club in college, my closest black friends told me that humanism and atheism are harmful Eurocentric ideologies and implied that if I'm an atheist, I'm turning my back on my race.  

Richard N. Landers comes down hard on the recent and heavily-touted survey showing that young people seem to buy into astrology, saying that respondents likely got the terms "astrology" and "astronomy" mixed up. According to his parsing of the data...

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Selfies of Mass Destruction

February 17, 2014

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

A working group made up of members of the European Parliament releases a major report (PDF) on global freedom of religion and belief, with a major emphasis on blasphemy laws and apostasy:

In many Muslim-majority states, conversion from Islam to another religion or to atheism leads to a severe State response. While incidents of official executions are rare, individuals who leave Islam for another religion face imprisonment, intimidation, loss of property, physical abuse, denial of access to education, jobs and civil rights. 

Now, I can't bear to watch this, but you can tell me how it went. Bill Nye goes in Meet the Press to "debate" climate change with GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Nope, I can't do it. 

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Amiable and Low-Voltage

February 14, 2014

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

US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen strikes down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. Happy Valentine's Day. Wrote Wright Allen:

Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. 

David Morrison, director of the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute, shares his thoughts about Sagan in a new biographical memoir of the man

Google keeps showing its progressive cred (which it does not always do), this time with a very auditory Doodle for the big V-day, featuring the stories of couples of various kinds.

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One Giant Foxhole

February 13, 2014

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

CFI's Lauren Becker dusts off a very moving essay of hers for Darwin Day, on the enormous impact Darwin's grand idea has had on humanity's view of itself:

We are not special creations, but part of a vast continuum of life. No longer children of god, we are children of nature. This is our condition. But if this new understanding is a disorder, if it has caused an identity crisis, then science, too, as in so many other cases, offers relief. 

Rep. Rush Holt praises Darwin on the floor of the House. CFI gets its meme on.

At Skeptical Inquirer, Cameron M. Smith has an idea as to why so many of us still have a problem accepting evolution...

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God is a Crude Graffito

February 12, 2014

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

Happy Darwin Day, heretics. We can help you celebrate. We've got posters, a Facebook cover for your profile, and...what's this? A Galápagos cruise???

CFI-Fort Lauderdale is part of a Darwin Day event this Saturday with Donald Prothero and Michele Williams. Kimberly Winston at RNS has more on other D-Day goings-on.

South Carolina is stopped from adopting K-12 science standards because this one guy doesn't like Darwin

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Poisonous and Medieval

February 11, 2014

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

It's a heavy and fascinating Point of Inquiry, as Josh Zepps talks to addiction expert Stanton Peele about some of his contrarian views on recovery, particularly in the context of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

Justin Vollmar, head of the Virtual Deaf Church, comes out to his flock, in ASL of course, as an atheist, and "joins forces" with the Clergy Project, calling the whole thing a "profound wonderful change in my life."  

Meanwhile, Clergy Project director Catherine Dunphy is interviewed at Faith in Feminism...

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The Ire of Some Tedious Nerd

February 10, 2014

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

The Justice Department will now be extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.  

Michael Kirkland at UPI has a good summation of what's at stake in Greece v. Galloway, the prayer-at-government-meetings Supreme Court case. CFI has filed an amicus brief

Prospective NFL-er Michael Sam comes out as gay, and might wind up being the first openly-gay pro football player. 

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Well This Camel Says You’re Wrong

February 07, 2014

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

At the National Prayer Breakfast (barf), the silver lining to that offense-to-all-things-secular was that President Obama did nonbelievers and free expression a good turn with a spirited declaration of the need for global religious liberty:

We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful. Sometimes religion is twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, how they pray, or who they love… We believe in the inherent dignity of every human being, a dignity that no earthly power can take away. Central to that dignity is freedom of religion, the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free of persecution and fear.

At Friendly Atheist, I reservedly take it as a positive sign...

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Let’s Not Make a Joke of Ourselves

February 06, 2014

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

So there's this National Prayer Breakfast going on, perhaps you've heard of it. And there's the president. Likable guy, smart, heart in the right place, but there he is doing this quasi-official ring-kissing of religion. What's do be done? Lots, actually. Here's one idea for a counter-balance: Tell your congresshuman to support Rep. Rush Holt's Darwin Day resolution (and pass it on, too). That'd be a good, heartening thing.

This is super-cool: Come to the Women in Secularism III conference, stay for the secular celebrant training!  

The leader of the LDS Church is being ordered to appear before a judge in England to face fraud charges against all of Mormonism. Wow, can they really do that?

Two summonses direct Thomas S. Monson of Utah, the Church president, to attend a March 14 hearing in the Westminster Magistrates Court of London to answer accusations that key tenets of the LDS faith are untrue and have been used to secure financial contributions. 

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