The Precious Fruit
October 8, 2015
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Wait. I shouldn't...um...
Ahem. Weren't we supposed to be...like...yesterday...
Philip Shenon at Politico reports on the declassification of a CIA report that seems to indicate a lot of shadiness by John McCone, CIA director at the time of the Kennedy assassination:
According to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’—that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” The most important information that McCone withheld from the commission in its 1964 investigation, the report found, was the existence, for years, of CIA plots to assassinate Castro, some of which put the CIA in cahoots with the Mafia. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots.
Speaking of alleged "cover-ups," Stuart Vyse (who has written a lot of great stuff for us lately and I have to think is feeling overworked) ushers in the "season of conspiracy theories," which, I know, you'd think would be "all the time," but there's just something in the air these days. Chemtrails, probably. Or fluoride in the water. I COULD GO ON.
Ben Radford, writing at Discovery News, advises skepticism about the claims that the Oregon shooter was targeting Christians for their faith, simply because early reports of what was or was not said in shooting incidents like this often turn out to be wrong.
Kylie Sturgess interviews Tony Ortega for us, the Scientology-investigating journalist and author of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.
Now this is an odd one for you. Families successfully sue for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the deaths of their high school kids (by accident or suicide) who had been hypnotized by a high school principal. Ben Mathis-Lilley at Slate adds:
There doesn't appear to be any scientific evidence that hypnosis can increase the risk of suicide, nor does any coverage of the story suggest that Kenney had ill intentions or made any identifiable errors while performing hypnosis sessions, which are a relatively common form of therapy. A Tampa Bay Times piece from 2011 suggests that the suicides might have taken place after [Principal] Kenney hypnotized students with pre-existing but unrecognized mental health issues.
Also odd: LifeWay Research (a Christian research organization) releases a survey that shows that over 40% of "nones" say they agree that there is a creator responsible for things like our existence and morality.
Texas Tribune posts a documentary series online, God & Governing, on how Texas legislators' religious beliefs guide their lawmaking.
Jerry Brown does another good turn for science and reality by signing a law to combat climate change in California, with a commitment to use renewable energy for half of the state's electricity in the next 15 years.
A statue of St. Francis that stood on the grounds of a public middle school in Lansing is outta here, and Ed Brayton is quoted in CityPulse representing CFI–Michigan.
A federal court says a white supremacist group might qualify as a religion. Hey why not. Funniest part? The leader of this faith/group/jerkface society calls himself "Pontifex Maximus." Chortle.
Amanda Foreman at WSJ notes with some surprise and regret that mythical creatures such as Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster are being shown to be, well, mythical.
Pakistan's supreme court upholds a death sentence for police officer Mumtaz Qadri, who killed a politician he claimed was guilty of blasphemy. The third paragraph of the WSJ report shows just how screwed up things are:
Mr. Qadri became a hero to many Pakistanis in 2011 after he assassinated Salmaan Taseer, a provincial governor who was a vocal supporter of a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s strict anti-blasphemy laws. The Christian woman remains in jail under the death sentence.
Italian priest Rev. Gino Flaim is out of a job after saying that the sexual assault of children by clergy is sometimes the kids' fault.
FFRF puts up a big, giant "atheists in foxholes" monument. Looks good, guys. (Important question: Did Annie Laurie and Dan coordinate on the purple shirts in advance?)
Lifehack: Go to this gun store in Tennessee, say "I'm a Christian" (don't worry about whether or not you are), and you'll save 5 percent on a new handgun! The owner says, “Christians need to arm up,” so, you know. 5 percent off.
Quote of the Day:
The eBible Fellowship's pamphlet on why the world will end...yesterday:
Hey, we skeptics gloat, but 1600 is also the address of the White House, where the Lizard-man Kenyan Muslim Alien president lives! So!
It is nothing short of incredible that the Bible gives us a number (1600), in Revelation 14, that is in the context of the final harvest at the end of this world; and when we go 1600 days from the beginning of Judgment Day on May 21, 2011 we come to a day (October 7, 2015) that is the last day of harvest in the biblical (Hebrew) calendar. Therefore we dare to say that on that day there is a strong likelihood that God will gather into heaven the precious fruit of all those He has saved and complete the destruction of all of those He did not save.
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