Hungry, Hungry Huitzilopochtli

October 12, 2015

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

Joe Nickell has a fascinating post on the newly-minted Catholic saint, Junipero Serra, showing how miracles are determined from an argument from ignorance, and why Serra's canonization is deeply offensive to many Native Americans. 

Bill Moyers chooses a recent piece from Free Inquiry to republish on his website: Wayne L. Trotta's "The Poetry of the First Amendment." 

Saudi Arabia "summons" the Czech ambassador to give him a talking-to about a coming Czech translation of The Satanic Verses, because apparently nothing ever changes.

Via The Economist, even a "radical leftist" atheist prime minister can't really secularize Greece, so entangled as it is with the Orthodox Church. 

Guns, germs, and steel were sometimes no match for devotion to deities: Archaeologists are able to detail (gruesomely) how Aztecs in 1520 captured over 100 Spanish conquistadors and their companions, sacrificed them, and ate them:

The archaeologists said the townspeople sacrificed people in honor of the serpentine fertility god Quetzalcoatl, the jaguar god Tezcatlipoca and the aquiline warrior god Huitzilopochtli. 

Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Robert George, launches a "Campaign for American Principles" to oppose things like equality and secularism. 

Hillary Clinton says "We are called by Jesus" to help the poor. That's funny, because I didn't need any messiahs to phone me up to tell me that helping the poor is a good idea, but that's just me. 

You may have heard quite a bit about Ben Carson's beliefs about the utility of heavily-armed Jews during the Holocaust, and Matthew Yglesias says, "Ben Carson's Holocaust history is garbage; Absolutely everything Carson has to say about this is wrong." 

Meanwhile, David Gorski digs up Carson's troubling history of shilling for a dubious (at best) cancer treatment:

As great a neurosurgeon as he was, he was so easily persuaded by pseudoscience that he was willing to promote nonsense like Mannatech as a treatment for prostate cancer.  

A Marine base in Hawaii is keeping it's "God bless the military" sign, despite official complaints from 72 of the base's own Marines. 

Lena Dunham apparently believes in astrology and psychics

Michael Schulson at Religion Dispatches has a pretty good lede sentence for his review of Inventing American Religion: Polls, Surveys, and the Tenuous Quest for a Nation’s Faith by Robert Wuthnow:

Robert Wuthnow isn’t going to say it, so I will: a lot of religion polling is bullshit.   

Measles in Fairfax County, Virginia. 

This Zimbabwean prophet has magic floating powers

Headline of the Day: "Pope Francis, Mikhail Gorbachev and forbidden sex" (I'm not going to read the article because no way it's better than the headline.) 

Quote of the Day:

Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker shows why unlike issues such as climate change or vaccines, the arguments over whether Muslim women should be able to wear a face-covering niqab at public ceremonies or when functioning as a public servant is "a true debate":

A principle of tolerance does not mean that we tolerate the right of the powerful in one community to mutilate or bully or oppress the less powerful. We don’t, on the whole, let children go unvaccinated, or allow members of a sect to abuse their kids in the name of faith, and we won’t, if we can, allow female genital mutilation—even though it may belong to the cultural “wholeness” of another group. ... [but] the women who wear the veil are choosing to wear it, and to censor their choice in favor of what are merely our own fashion preferences is itself a form of oppression. 

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#1 Old Rockin' Dave (Guest) on Monday October 12, 2015 at 10:18pm

What the Holocaust/gun confabulators are unaware of is that between 1933 and 1940 a total of 300,000 of Germany’s 500,000 Jews emigrated, with priority given to the young. Rising up with a slapdash handful of firearms would have cut off their escape and doomed all of them to quicker and more comprehensive destruction.

#2 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 at 3:07pm

Congratulations on not needing any messiahs to phone you up to tell you that helping the poor is a good idea.  Hard to imagine a more boorish response to Hillary’s faith statement.

Oh, wait—this is an atheist site.  Ohhhh-kay.  That explains everything.

Senior memory lapse.  Forgot where I was.

#3 Randy on Thursday October 15, 2015 at 9:43pm

What a choice today…

“A principle of tolerance does not mean that we tolerate the right of the powerful ... to mutilate .... to abuse their kids in the name of faith, ... allow female genital mutilation”

What an amazing statement.  We absolutely DO allow genital mutilation of boys, who undeniably are a demonized and oppressed minority in North America.  Indeed, in New York City, the Mayor has seen to it that it doesn’t even matter if the mutilation comes with bonus sex acts and herpes, or even occasionally ends in death!  Sincerely-held beliefs, and the votes that come with them, are supreme over the rights of baby boys.

And at least in Canada, we will bend over backwards to let aboriginal children “choose” their medical treatment, from among medical, and fairytale, options.  So what if a few of them die as a result, right?

“the women who wear the veil are choosing to wear it, and to censor their choice in favor of what are merely our own fashion preferences is itself a form of oppression”

This is not about fashion preferences, and to play games with these words diminishes the issue.

First, it’s doubtful that all women are “choosing” to wear the niqab any more than they “choose” their husband in some cultures.  But aside from that, we censor things all the time.  This is about special accommodation for certain cultures (who, incidentally, oppose our values).  I’m not able to get service at a government office if I am naked, even though that may be my choice in the summer. In fact, I’m not even allowed to BE naked in public (except maybe at one nude beach) at all.  I can’t even be naked in the quasi-private area of my own car (despite the fact that somehow I am allowed to have sex in it).  So, let’s dispense with the idea that this is some unusual censorship.  It’s exactly in line with censorship that we demand in our society all the time.  This is about requiring new arrivals to respect the culture they are asking (indeed, demanding) to join.  It’s nothing more than that, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There IS something unseemly about trashing your own country in another country’s press, in the midst of an election.

“but is not the full-body burka”

The primary difference between the niqab and burka is that the burka ALSO covers the eyes with a sort of mesh.  But the niqab is worn as part of an outfit that covers the entire body, so that only the eyes are visible.  It’s a distinction without a difference.

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