Tax My Church and I’ll Blight Your Crops

November 28, 2012

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

Obviously, the biggest news today in the skepto-atheosphere is that amazing piece of artwork you see at the top of this post. That's right, The Morning Heresy now has its own freaking banner and logo. Isn't it awesome? That guy's tablet is on fire with damnable links. Spilled his coffee, even. My thanks to Chris Fix for designing the logo, and for Lauren Becker's creativity for coming up with the concept. Since I know you like it so much, you should buy a coffee mug with the logo emblazoned on it.

This also means that the Heresy is now its own stand-alone blog on CFI's Free Thinking blog network, and so now I don't have to start every single post title with "The Morning Heresy," because, you know, it'll be on The Morning Heresy blog. You get it? 

On to this blog's actual purpose...the news! 

Skepchick begins a series of profiles of speakers at next year's CFI Women in Secularism conference, starting with the amazing Carrie Poppy. Good line from the interview:

Any time we are not focused on making the world a better place (not just through facing religious abuse head-on, but also through service and charity), the religious will have a point when they say religion makes people better. We all know that doesn’t have to be true. 

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 points to science fiction's inspiring wonder as an antidote to "atheistic smugness." Well.

Similarly, Ross Pomeroy at RealClearScience argues in favor of "possibilianism" in regards to belief vs. atheism, citing the line, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." (Since you asked, Evidence of Absence is the name of one of my albums.) 

Matthew Yglesias takes a utilitarian look at the prospect of raising revenue by taxing churches (or, as he calls it, "the temple sector"):

If church donations were subject to income taxes and church land were subject to property taxes, this would presumably lead to smaller and less architecturally splendid churches located in less-pricey areas and perhaps with lower-paid clergy. But would fewer souls be saved? Would an angry God blight our crops? The answers are no and no. The flipside is that churches presumably would respond in part by providing marginally less in the way of social services. 

The guy who made the "trailer" for "Innocence of Muslims" tells NYT:

I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in. 

I find this very confusing. It looks like the Supreme Court is going to take up Liberty University v. Geithner, where the idea is that "Obamacare" allows for federal funding of abortions, and somehow violates the Establishment Clause and religious freedom. Try to piece it together if you can.

Michael McGough at LA Times draws a contrast to worries about church-state separation in the U.S. with that of the institutional, governmental church in England. 

Tony Blair's religious foundation holds a short-film contest, and the winner is the atheist animated film, Deathbed: The Musical

Amanda Marcotte at Raw Story predicts the petering-out of angry sexism within the skepto-atheosphere due to "cognitive dissonance," even guessing that many "rigid anti-feminists" will convert to Christianity. 

Sarah Posner blogs-heads with climate scientist Katherine Kayhoe about the similarity in tactics used by creationists and climate change deniers to get their "controversy" taught in schools.

Hard-right Hungarian politician Marton Gyongyosi wants his country's Jews counted up and identified just in case they pose a national security risk. No reports on whether he intends to overthrow the government from a beer hall.

Fundamentalist Islamic states are urging Ireland to bring its own blasphemy law down on Sanal Edamaruku as he visits. 

AU reports that Florida is allowing grants to be given to students to attend an ultra-fundamentalist Christian university. 

Judge in Australia orders parents to vaccinate their kid with actual vaccines as opposed to homeopathic vaccines. 

John Horgan at SciAm uses the Eben Alexander "I'm-a-neurosurgeon-and-I-went-to-heaven" nonsense as an opportunity to examine what is and is not real about mystical experience. 

A Chinese news outlet thinks an Onion article calling Kim Jong Un "the sexiest man alive" was serious

Headline of the Day: Vancouver fireball UFO reports familiar to telepathic skywatchers. (Vancouver must be one happening place.) 

Quote of the Day         

Steven Novella exposes the contradiction in public statements and private actions of homeopathy's proponents:

The notion of “complementary” or “integrative” medicine is a marketing fiction, a political necessity for proponents of nonsense.  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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