Authority Over the Airways

December 29, 2015

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

Joshua Hammer covers the crisis for secularists in Bangladesh in depth at the New York Times Magazine.

Science advocacy wunderkind (I should probably stop calling him that) Zack Kopplin, at the Daily Beastgets a look inside the Discovery Institute, with insights from a former employee of the creationism-promoting, faux-science outfit. 

Most disturbing lead paragraph I can recall in some time, via Reuters:

Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group’s Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts.

I am a leaf on the wind. 

Julie Becket at The Atlantic looks back on the multiple disappointments of 1954 UFO believers, who serve as a prime example of how conviction plus frustration can make people dig deeper into false beliefs. 

Unsurprisingly, the president and Hillary Clinton are the most admired man and woman in the world, according to Gallup. What is surprising is that Trump ties the Pope for number 2.

Alissa J. Rubin at NYT looks at the gross lack of justice in the mob-killing of Farkhunda Malikzada, falsely accused of burning a Quran earlier this year in Afghanistan:

The fortuneteller who several investigators believe set the events in motion was found not guilty on appeal. The shrine’s custodian, who concocted the false charge of Quran burning and incited the mob, had his death sentence commuted. Police officers who failed to send help and others who stood by received slaps on the wrist, at most. Some attackers identifiable in the videos avoided capture altogether. Afghan lawyers and human rights advocates agree that most of the accused did not receive fair trials. Farkhunda’s family, fearing reprisals and worried that the killers would not be held accountable, fled the country. 

North Texas reels from the devastation left by tornadoes, and one resident seemed to believe she had divine power over the elements:

We actually went outside and started commanding the winds because God had given us authority over the winds - the airways. And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We - we spoke to the storm and said, go to unpopulated places. It did exactly what we said to do because God gave us the authority to do that. 

Mark Oppenheimer profiles "integral theory" guru Marc Gafni, admired by powerful people, but whose past shows elements of being a predatory cult leader:

One Gafni supporter, Sally Kempton, who is a teacher and writer of meditation and Eastern philosophy and a member of his think tank, said he was “a wonderful teacher for mature students” and not someone “young, susceptible women should take as their teacher.” 

Egyptian TV personality and self-described Islamic researcher Islam al-Beheiry has a blasphemy sentence reduced from 5 years to 1. 

Stephen Belstra will give an "atheist invocation" at Grandville, Michigan's city council meeting:

I don't expect controversy and I'm not going to make any controversy, but non-religious people are the fastest growing 'religious' group in the country. I just want council members to think about everybody because when they've been having pastors giving invocations every meeting for years they don't hear that other side of the coin. 

Peter Montgomery at Right Wing Watch suffers through the recent anti-secular tome written by Rafael Cruz, father of Ted. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains his thoughts on the existence of God to Business Insider

Quote of the Day:

Chaz Stevens means to get "In Satan We Trust" placed in Florida government buildings that also have "In God We Trust." He explains to Hemant:

I’m following [Michael] Newdow’s approach … using the Hobby Lobby ruling … I maintain the government has no right to burden a person’s religious beliefs without a strong reason … who is the “we”, in God We Trust? I trust Satan, not god … and we opine the RFRA should give us a religious exemption, as my beliefs are spurned by the phrase IGWT.  
 
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Comments:

#1 Ed Brayton (Guest) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 at 8:22pm

He’s following Newdow’s approach. Remind me again what Newdow has ever actually achieved with his approach?

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday January 01, 2016 at 6:05pm

(sorry if this appears twice… my initial comment on this seems to have vanished into the bit bucket)

“It did exactly what we said to do”

Now the insurers know who to sue for the damages caused to their customers’ properties. 

I am serious when I say that these people MUST be charged for the property destruction, injury, and death that they caused by moving the storm as they did.  The US courts inexplicably insist they are incompetent to judge religious claims.  So they must accept as fact that these people did move the storm, just as they said.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Friday January 01, 2016 at 6:27pm

I’m not sure why we tolerate the inherent sexism in segregated awards and recognitions like the most admired lists.

The person I most admire right now is Richard Dawkins because of his contributions to biology and to atheism over his life, but also from his willingness to endure the horde of Twitter idiots who live solely to be offended by him.  I would also mention Joshua Oppenheimer for his two films on aftermath of the Indonesian genocide.

Looking at their list, the person I admire is Ellen Degeneres.  Integrity, honesty, bravery.

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