One of the Most Wonderful Soldiers of Rationalism

August 20, 2013

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

I'm sorry to open the Heresy with some grisly news from India. Here's the IHEU:

It is with deep shock and sadness that we report the assassination this morning (Tuesday, 20 August) of one of India's most renowned rationalist and Humanist leaders, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar.

He was reportedly shot four times by two men on a motorbike this morning on Omkarweshwar bridge in Pune, Maharashtra state. He was reportedly taking his daily morning walk when he was assassinated, a route that may have been known to his attackers.

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Double Stuf Conspiracy

August 19, 2013

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

Brian Regal in NJ's Star-Ledger looks at the very non-supernatural roots of the Jersey Devil legend:

The Leeds family does occupy the center of the story, but they were not stereotyped, superstitious rural people. They were politically active religious pioneers, authors and publishers. We have forgotten that the Jersey Devil legend — originally the Leeds Devil — began as a cruel taunt against them, not because of a monstrous birth, but because they had the cultural misfortune of joining the wrong side. 

(I'm from this area, and as a kid, my grandfather delighted in successfully scaring the crap out of me with tales of the Jersey Devil.)

The Baltimore Sun covers pet psychics, and gets badly-needed perspective from our own Joe Nickell.

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Special Stomach Virus Edition

August 16, 2013

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

So yesterday there was no Heresy because I was looking after my sick baby daughter. Well, the Heresy is late today because she was kind enough to lend me her stomach virus. The adventure continues. 

Now how cool is this? CFI On Campus does its first On-Air Session with campus leaders from across the country. Session 1 is on gearing up for the new school year. 

And there's lots more from On Campus. Karyn Spory at the Columbia Tribune highlights CFI On Campus affiliate MU SASHA for its recent Free Expression award from CFI.   

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Get a Pope (Sha Na-Na Na, Sha Na-Na Na-Na)

August 14, 2013

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

NPR's Mile Johnson tells the story of civil rights activist William Lewis Moore, believed to be an atheist, who was killed 50 years ago on a long walk to deliver a letter to Mississippi's governor. 

At Friendly Atheist, I discover a rare example of sound advice for Christian-atheist child-raising.

Wait wait wait. The science textbooks in Texas are...okay?

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Proof of Rat Heaven

August 13, 2013

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

University of Michigan scientists poke around some rat brains for EEG signals, and found a huge burst of activity just at the point of death. Proof of Rat Heaven? The opposite.

USA Today comes out against businesses claiming exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate:

Ultimately, the issue is one of balance. The effect of health insurance on business owners is indirect. Employees may or may not use insurance to pay for birth control, just as they may or may not use their salary to pay for something that would violate the company owners' faith.

The circumstance might be discomforting. But the alternative — granting religious exemptions to private organizations — is more troubling. It would be open to abuse, putting the government in the position of determining which business owners were sufficiently religious. 

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That Near-Death Experience Sounds Awesome

August 12, 2013

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

Michael De Dora calls out the administration's amicus brief to SCOTUS in support of legislative prayers for its "spotty reasoning."

This actually happened: Tennessee judge orders a mother to change her baby's name ("Messiah") because "it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ." 

Charter schools. Held in churches. Discuss

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The Man Who Has Stolen the Straw

August 09, 2013

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

The Obama administration disappoints us beyond all measure, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in favor of prayer at legislative sessions.

41 people in Turkey reportedly charged with "blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction" for posts to a social network. 

There are a heck-ton of great videos from the latest Women in Secularism conference, with two new panels just posted

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Who Are You Calling Porous-Bordered?

August 08, 2013

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

The State Department formally launches its  Office of Faith Based Community Initiatives. John Kerry says something that is true for me as well:

[I]f I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today. 

Former CFIer Austin Dacey has reservations:

Constitutional or not, official interfacing with “faith-based organizations” will constitute a troubling form of government endorsement: the defining of some communities, among various porous-bordered normative and discursive communities, as “religions” and the anointing of some individuals as recognized spokespersons for those communities. 

Domestically, the creaky gears of government are moving in making changes to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Unidentified Flying Spellcheck

August 07, 2013

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

Excellent news: DC's Mayor Vince Gray signs into law a bill that allows for "civil celebrants," aka Secular Celebrants, to officiate and solemnize marriages in the nation's capital. CFI's Michael De Dora and Melody Hensley were on hand for the signing, and Melody got a pen

Martin S. Pribble launches the Not Alone Project for nonbelievers, explaining:

My hope is to create a place where the non-believers stories can be published, in a completely safe environment, which doesn’t judge its participants in any way. This is an internet “safehouse” for those who fear coming out, an a place to share stories, freedoms and inspirations that atheism allows you. Those who publish their work here have the choice of remaining anonymous, or publishing their names in their articles. 

I love this picture: CFI board member Leonard Tramiel talks astronomy with the kids at Camp Inquiry. 

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Florida on High Xindi Alert

August 06, 2013

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

Hey, you hear the big news about The Washington Post? It came out against Virginia's religious exemption for homeschooling! Oh, and I guess there was this other thing where it was bought by Jeff Bezos. Pretty sure those two things aren't related.

Point of Inquiry classic episodes are streaming in as we lay the groundwork for its phoenix-like rebirth. This week, we have a 2006 interview with Susan Jacoby by DJ Grothe on America's freethought heritage. 

The town of Greece, NY gets support for its city council prayers from 31 U.S. Senators (30 GOPs plus Mary Landrieu of course), who filed an amicus brief to their Supreme Court case. 

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