Dancing Pepper Mill

July 15, 2014

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

Holy moly guys, things are crazy. Dig it: Yesterday morning, I finish that day's Morning Heresy, and I head to the gym. Now, how often do I go to the gym? Not very often I don't mind telling you thank you very much. But there I was, milling on the tread, when I get a call from an Indiana area code. It's Reba Boyd Wooden, the head of CFI-Indiana. You know what she tells me? That CFI has won its case to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages in Indiana! ...

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Found to Contain Toxins

July 14, 2014

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

Tomorrow, atheist Dan Courtney delivers his invocation before a meeting of the Town Board of Greece, NY, and CFI will be there to represent our movement. AL.com previews the event

Michael De Dora explains why CFI is suspending its support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):

We cannot and must not accept broad religious exemptions from prohibitions of discrimination in federal law simply to receive a sliver of equality. Indeed, such broad religious exemptions are a direct threat to true equality and a secular, constitutional government....As the debate on ENDA continues, the Center for Inquiry will settle for nothing less than a strong federal law that protects from employment discrimination all LGBT individuals. 

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Inherit the What?

July 11, 2014

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

Don't forget: This Tuesday, CFI is in Greece, NY for the atheist invocation at the center of the Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court case. There's a press conference right after the invocation by Dan Courtney, and our own Ron Lindsay is speaking there. 

Ron finally angers the folks at right-wing outlet Breitbartwho call out his recent Huffington Post piece on the power of the Catholic justices in the Hobby Lobby decision "chilling." (And they apparently think Ron works at HuffPo, but what can you do, they're not known for their research prowess.)

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An Exorcism for Joe Biden

July 10, 2014

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

It's a full morning, so let's get started with an action alert: Tell your U.S. senators to fix part of what Hobby Lobby broke to guarantee access to birth control. (Then come right back here, okay?)

I was finally able to get ahold of Josephine Macintosh, the CFI representative who confronted Saudi Arabia at the UN Human Rights Council last month and drove them into a tizzy, and I have an interview with her up at Friendly Atheist. Josephine says:

I am deeply convinced that societies should allow for a plurality of voices and opinions to be voiced, whether people or a government agrees or disagrees with these. Badawi and al-Khair represent the minority that undertake the courageous step of speaking up and defending their fundamental rights despite dangerous consequences. We cannot have any kind of development without people like them doing what oppressive systems fear most: on-the-ground dissent. In a sense it is an expression of their dignity. It is important to keep their voices and actions heard within the hallowed halls of the UN. 

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Magnificent Desolation

July 09, 2014

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

CFI's Michael De Dora discusses the Keep Health Care Safe and Secular campaign on the Token Skeptic podcast, as well as his own journey to secular activism.  

Michael also wrote a post giving background and context to the prison sentencing of Saudi Arabian rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair.

Director of CFI-KenyaGeorge Ongeresubmits a report on his organization's outreach activities, including their efforts to assist and educate children, orphaned as a result of witchcraft belief. 

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Dumb Enemies

July 08, 2014

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

Waleed Abulkhair -- Saudi human rights advocate, brother-in-law and attorney to Raif Badawi -- is sentenced to 15 years in prison for "inciting public opinion against the government" and "insulting the country's leaders and judiciary." CFI spoke out against their persecution before the UN Human Rights Council last month, which led to this infamous confrontation with Saudi Arabia's representative. A silver lining is that this has moved the U.S. to express that it is "troubled" and that it intends to address it with the Saudi government.

In 2013, CFI hosted a symposium centered on the question posed by legal scholar Brian Leiter's book Why Tolerate Religion? (Here's video of his presentation.) This week, he comes to Point of Inquiry to talk about the Hobby Lobby case and its long-term implications. 

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New Koch

July 07, 2014

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

It's July 7, 2014, a.k.a. 7/7/14, which is significant because 7 + 7 = 14, therefore, um, it's lucky, like, three times over, or maybe four, because, um...okay I just made that up.

Our boss Ron Lindsay lays out the philosophy behind CFI's pursuit of the Burzynski "cancer quack" case, and why we cover both religious and pseudoscientific incursions into policy and health care:

In some instances, religion and pseudoscience share something else: they are vehicles for exploiting the desperate hopes and fears of the vulnerable. ... Those who exploit these false hopes, especially when the exploitation is done for financial gain, are blameworthy. Indeed, whether they are cloaked in priest’s vestments or a lab coat, they merit our severest condemnation. ... The FDA’s actions represent an abandonment of its responsibilities to the public. 

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Hijack the Utopian Ideal

July 03, 2014

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

I just love this. An NBC affiliate in Los Angeles does a profile of a local dowser who says, hilariously, "I charge $500, and there’s no guarantees, although I’m more than 95-percent successful," and, "Scientists don’t understand this. Therefore, they don’t believe in it." Luckily, the piece also has CFI-LA's Jim Underdown to, erm, throw cold water on it.

CFI is a member of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice, and they have a great short video that explains the problem with the religious right's definition of "religious freedom."  

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Religion 1, Science 0

July 02, 2014

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

CFI challenges the FDA to explain the inexplicable: Its decision to lift restrictions on so-called "cancer-quack" Stanislaw Burzynski's clinical trials:

“We struggle to see why the FDA continues to enable this deceptive, antiscientific, and unethical medical adventurism and profiteering, even for patients who are terminally ill,” writes CFI. “Given the behavior of Dr. Burzynski and the Burzynski Research Institute over the course of nearly three decades of failed research and trials, and in the face of a complete lack of scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy of their expensive and dangerous antineoplaston treatment, we find the FDA’s decision perplexing and profoundly disturbing.” 

The president approves the WWII Memorial prayer plaque over the objections of folks like us. Stars and Stripes' Travis J. Tritten spoke to me, raising the point that the prayer doesn't mention Jesus:

“The level of religiosity within a given prayer is really beside the point,” said Paul Fidalgo, communications director for the Center for Inquiry. “The real issue that it is a prayer, regardless of the degree. It is an invocation within a religious tradition.” 

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Hashtag Conestoga Wood

July 01, 2014

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

The Hobby Lobby case goes bad. We say in our press release:

This is not a decision that advances religious freedom – it is a decision that enshrines religious privilege over and above employee well-being. This decision defies common sense, lacks compassion, and has the potential to harm us all.

Our response get picked up by outlets like Deseret NewsCommon DreamsJoe. My. God., and even in France by Sciences et Avenir

CFI chief Ron Lindsay writes at HuffPo about how the decision's focus on contraception, and being so explicit about excluding things like blood transfusions, raises questions about the implications of a Catholic majority on the court...

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