You’ve Been Pope’d!

December 18, 2014

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

CFI boss Ron Lindsay joined the panel on HuffPost Live yesterday, hosted by Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps, and including Faisal Saeed Al Mutar and Deina Abdelkader. The topic: the treacherous line between being critical of Islam without attacking Muslims as people.

Gather 'round, children, and abandon all your dreams of sugarplums or whatever else, and let's listen to ol' Tom Flynn tell us the origin story of the Anti-Claus. You see, there was this radioactive spider...wait... 

Speaking of the Trouble with Christmas, the Elf on the Shelf is a good way to learn what it's like to live in a police state. I think we could totally do a sequel to The Lives of Others with a disaffected gnome. 

Only one man could have brought generations-old enemies together to begin to resolve their difference. That's right, the U.S. and Cuba just got Fluffified. You've been Pope'd! 

Well isn't this interesting. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), you know, the agency that deals with fake medicine as though it's real, gives itself a new name: the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). From the press release:

Large population-based surveys have found that the use of alternative medicine—unproven practices used in place of conventional medicine—is rare. Integrative health care, defined as a comprehensive, often interdisciplinary approach to treatment, prevention and health promotion that brings together complementary and conventional therapies, is more common. 

Our Office of Public Policy officially welcomes the confirmation of Rabbi David Saperstein to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom. 

Bill Nye interviews with Boston.com's BDCwire, which cites the CSI statement on climate change deniers vs. skeptics.

Christine A. Scheller at AAAS reports on a workshop designed to discuss the intersection of science and Judaism. Wait, that needed to be a thing?  

“If Judaism doesn’t celebrate what the world is about, it makes us irrelevant to the Jewish community,” a rabbi said. Medical ethics and end-of-life issues offer a rich way to talk about science and religion, some participants said, because each field of knowledge has something to offer in these contexts.  

Saudi Arabia's rulers are reconsidering some of their ties to the most radical hardliner clerics of Wahhabi Islam. Yeah, I think that might be worth thinking about.

Get Religion interviews religion journalist David Gibson, who's an excellent reporter that I cite here a lot, and whose usual beat these days is the Vatican. Talking about how his own faith weighs into his work, he says:

[I]t’s a double-edged sword, always: Your own faith tradition can create a subtle bias, or blind you to important aspects of another tradition. A bigger danger, perhaps, is that you assume you know what you need to know about your own tradition, and you don’t double check your facts or presumptions when writing about your own faith. The can lead to trouble. I often find that I am extra attentive to the details and nuances of a story when writing about a faith different from my own because I want to be respectful and, of course, get it right, but I also know that I don’t know enough about other traditions. So I double and triple check. 

Chris Stedman kicks off a debate on his blog over the use of the words "fundamentalist" or "militant" to describe atheists. 

A professor at Idaho State University will incorporate Bigfoot into his lessons on evolution. And not, like, to be funny:

“It’s not a course about Bigfoot,” Meldrum said. “What I’m trying to do is address a shift in perception that’s been gaining traction in the anthropological community.” 

The Economist reviews Karen Armstrong's new book in which she tries to rescue religion's reputation as being a prime cause of violence, and isn't really buying it. 

Amanda Marcotte points out 10 things religious conservatives have been super-terribly wrong about

Jews, atheists, and Jedi: They're all at Hogwarts. (But not Wiccans probably.) 

Quote of the Day

The New York Times editorial board is not pleased with India's prime minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, and his government's move to name an "official sacred text":

Designating a single Hindu text as the official national sacred book is a divisive affront to the country’s secular democracy. Ancient India’s achievements in mathematics and science are impressive enough without recourse to fictional interpretations of Hindu mythology.
 
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