The People You Think are Real

April 10, 2013

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

Daniel Loxton writes a thoughtful post on what he sees as the problems of conflating atheism and skepticism, and cautions his fellow atheists against smugness:

To promote the belief that atheists are different than other people does nothing but undermine our humanity. It denies the human complexity of religious nonbelievers. In doing so, it sells out atheists.

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef in trouble for dissing the Egyptian president, also now charged with "insulting Pakistan" and "spreading atheism." 

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Weird Nasty Parts

April 09, 2013

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

CFI submitted formal comments to the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday, urging the administration to stand firm against religious pressure to further weaken the contraceptive mandate. Here's the full letter (PDF).

Ron Lindsay slams the Catholic Church's resistance to contraceptive coverage as "a cruel joke":

HHS isn’t forcing the bishops or their followers to do a damn thing. But they simply can’t abide the thought that their purity might be ruined through some sort of remote contact with a woman who is taking a drug that, you know, affects her weird nasty parts. 

The latest Point of Inquiry has AC Grayling, who refutes religious arguments "with zest and humor."  

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The Snack That Smiles Back

April 08, 2013

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

David Kuo, formerly of the Bush White House's faith-based initiatives office, and later a critic of that effort, is dead at 44. From the NYT obit:

[I]n the prologue to his memoir Mr. Kuo wrote that his experience in government had given him clarity about the limits of politics. “I have seen what happens when well-meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber or the floor of the United States Congress,” he wrote. “They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield.” 

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Curious and Teachable

April 05, 2013

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

North Carolina's House Speaker says the bill that would allow for the establishment of a state religion is dead.

Breaking news, via NYT:

A federal judge has ruled that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. 

Hemant Mehta weighs in on the New-Atheists-as-racists meme. . .

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A Complicated Intellectual Maneuver

April 04, 2013

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

Sarah Posner rebuts the notion that the culture wars are winding down, citing the insanity happening at the state level. 

For example: Tennessee legislators say, sure tax dollars can help fund religious schools. But Muslim schools? No no no no.   

Michael De Dora and the Office of Public Policy offer up their first Advocacy Update to keep you informed as to their crucial work in DC and elsewhere.

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Disagreement over Whether We Must Agree to Disagree about Whether We Must Disagree Agreeably

April 03, 2013

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

The leaders of several major skepto-atheist organizations sign on to a letter calling for civility in the recent disputes between skepto-atheists, and suggesting alternatives to online bomb-throwing.

Most of the big orgs have attached themselves to it, including CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism, though not surprisingly, not everyone is pleased. Secular Woman and American Secular Census have opted to refrain from signing on, not out of a disdain for civility, necessarily. Rebecca Watson calls it "stone tablet communication." On the other hand, Hemant Mehta calls it "a place of common agreement" and commends the signatories.

Many of the articles from Free Inquiry's groundbreaking issue on the US military's atheists are now online. 

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The Sky is What Mattered

April 02, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay joined a HuffPost Live panel, along with Frank Schaeffer, JT Eberhard and others, to talk about bringing up kids with or without religion. It gets heated, as these things usually do.

Hey neat: Here at the Heresy, we've been linking to an ever-growing number of articles about Frans de Waal's The Bonobo and the Atheist and his distaste for "new atheism." Well guess who's on Point of Inquiry this week?? Dennis Rodman!!! No, I'm kidding, it's Frans de Waal. 

Our Office of Public Policy wants you to tell the White House to get a spine on contraceptive coverage in the health care law.

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Even the Aliens are Feeling the Sequester

April 01, 2013

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

Oh hey, vaccines don't cause autism. Who knew? From a big new study in the Journal of Pediatrics

We found no evidence indicating an association between exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides contained in vaccines during the first two years of life and the risk of acquiring autism spectrum disorder, autism disorder or autism spectrum disorder with regression . . . These results indicate that parental concerns that their children are receiving too many vaccines in the first two years of life or too many vaccines at a single doctor visit are not supported in terms of an increased risk of autism.

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All the Squabbling Skills

March 29, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay wants activist atheists to learn from the LGBT movement in how it has prioritized and appealed to broadly-shared values:

Going after “symbolic” targets—crosses, mottoes, and so forth—may not always be the best strategy. It depends on the situation, of course, because some of these cases are easy wins based on precedent and some situations are just too outrageous too ignore. But I think it is fair to say that having the words “In God We Trust” on our money does not strike many religious people as an intolerable assault on the human dignity of nonbelievers. Don’t get me wrong. I abhor that motto as much as anyone else, but we should be realistic about where we focus our efforts.

Trevor Boeckmann of CFI On Campus affiliate UNIFI argues against the secular movement's use of lawsuits to further its aims (and has the best headline I've seen in a long time, "Suing Ourselves in the Foot"). 

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Pastors of the Dead in Comfortable Chairs

March 28, 2013

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

Yesterday, I called CFI-Indiana's chief Reba Boyd Wooden a "media darling" for appearing so frequently on local news and whatnot. And let me tell you, I am thrilled whenever that happens because she does such a great job representing CFI and what we stand for. Well, I have to assume that the press in Indiana agreed with me, because she was unavoidable on Indiana media yesterday. The state is on the cusp of passing an extremely restrictive and punitive anti-abortion bill, and Reba went to the statehouse to offer testimony in opposition, which was covered by Fox 59WISH-TV 8, and The Statehouse File

Right wing pundit Erick Erickson says, I presume with a straight face, that marriage equality and religious freedom are "incompatible." CFI's Michael De Dora blows that idea apart.

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