On Pins and Needles

January 14, 2014

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

A citizen of Afghanistan is granted asylum in the UK because his atheism would mean his persecution or death back home, making this perhaps the first time this kind of religiously-based asylum has been granted for an atheist. Said Sheona York of the University of Kent Law School, "The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position." 

CFI's Sarah Kaiser gives a really encouraging update to the Freethought Books Project, where secular and skeptic books are donated to prisoners. Hemant encourages your participation.

The latest Free Inquiry issue is on newsstands now, and it features a collection of stories from readers as they made their journeys from faith to atheism. It's really great stuff, guys. 

Federal Trade Commission charges four makers of miracle weight-loss products with fraud, extracting customer refunds from Sensa Products, L’Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa for a total of $34 million.

The man who invented the AK-47, the recently-deceased Mikhail Kalashnikov, wrote to the Russian Orthodox Church about the "spiritual pain" his invention caused him:

One question keeps repeating itself; as my assault rifle killed so many people, does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov ... an Orthodox Christian, am responsible for people's deaths, even if they were enemies? 

LDS Church lays down the law on gay marriage: No gay marriage, ever, but that doesn't mean you can be mean to gay people. Hemant calls the new instructions "lipstick on a pig."

When the Sunday Assembly was hosted by CFI-DC, Vice was there to cover it, which includes a little clarification about the nonbelievers who do and don't dig congregations. (And for a lot more on those distinctions, you must see the recent Free Inquiry issue that covers the topic in depth.)

CFI-Northeast Ohio is hosting a secular summit and lobby day in Columbus on January 28.  

Kimberly Winston looks at the contention of Catholic psychologist Paul C. Vitz that atheism is a result of a crummy relationship with one's dad. I have a great relationship with mine (and you should listen to his music), and Vitz seems perplexed by these "exceptions."  

Judge in New Mexico rules that patients may seek a doctor's aid in ending their lives. 

American Atheists sues Oklahoma for its statehouse Ten Commandments monument, and goes a step further to point out how the commandments themselves violate the constitution.  

An almost-literal goldmine is discovered in a woman's knee, who, suffering from pain, was discovered to have hundreds of gold acupuncture needles embedded in her knee.

A black hole and a supermassive gas cloud are about to collide.   

"Top lieutenant" of convicted fake-psychic scam artist Rose Marks gets 4 years in prison and must pay back $2.2 million

CFI's Michael De Dora will be one of the speakers at the Coalition for Liberty & Justice Forum on February 7. 

Jon Hyman at the HR publication Workforce considers the Oregon lawsuit where a Christian employee is suing for harassment because of coworkers' "taking the Lord's name in vain." 

Did you even know there was a CFI-Argentina? Well there is, and here's what they've been up to

Chris Stedman profiles Conor Robinson and the Pathfinders Project

ACLU and others are putting a close eye on a Kansas Corporation Commission employee who used his state email to promote "King Jesus." What if that's just the name of a band he likes?

I can't wait for Dr. Oz to start peddling this so it really takes off: treat all your diseases by drinking cow pee.

Quote of the Day

That silly show Ghost Hunters is about to be distributed worldwide. Sharon Hill reacts:

Dear world: We’re sorry for sending more stupid TV your way. Signed, America.

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