Get Helen Mirren to a Safe House

January 15, 2016

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

Tomorrow is Religion Freedom Day, marking the 230th anniversary of the  Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. So we have an action alert we want you to sign on to, to tell Congress to honor the spirit of that statute, the wall of separation, and civil rights for all no matter their beliefs.  

Embodying the opposite of those principles, Saudi Arabia hands a death sentence (yes, another) to Ashraf Fayadh, a poet charged with apostasy. Yes, they're going to kill him for "abandoning Islam."

21 scholars in Turkey are either arrested or have warrants for their arrest for signing a joint statement protesting the government's “deliberate massacre” of Kurds. Said the Twitter-eradicating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

Unfortunately, these so-called academics claim that the state is carrying out a massacre. Hey, you so-called intellectuals: You are dark people. You are not intellectuals. 

A court rules that a California Catholic hospital does not have to perform a woman's tubal ligation procedure, with Judge Ernest Goldsmith saying:

Religious-based hospitals have an enshrined place in American history and its communities, and the religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered with by courts at this moment in history.

No, you see, nothing religious is supposed to be "enshrined" as far as the law is concerned. How is this not clear yet?? 

The Anglican Church demotes the Episcopal Church, temporarily suspending its voting rights within the communion, because of the scary scary gays. 

A New York appeals court upholds a fine levied against a wedding venue that refused to host same-sex weddings. 

In Iceland, literally 0% of people under 25 think God created the universe out of nothing (though a few say God caused the Big Bang, which kind of sounds to me like creating it from nothing, but whatever, it's a good result).  

Sam Brownback, the seemingly fictional character you almost can't believe actually governs a whole state (it's like you take Woody from Toy Story, make him a religious zealot, and remove his conscience), orders state officials to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood because it "disrespects life and violates the moral conscience of our people." 

David Gibson explains how Pope Francis is fluffy about the old, shady practice of "indulgences" to ease one's way out of Purgatory, but not in the straight-up bribe-the-church kind of way. 

The father of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old killed at Sandy Hook, is getting death threats from awful people who think the attack was a hoax or conspiracy. 

Scholars at Duke University release a report on how police can better interact with Muslim communities in their efforts to curtail violent extremism. 

Rep. David Brat, the guy who primaried away Eric Cantor, says President Obama has no business citing Christian scripture to make his points, and that "liberal professors" don't accept "natural law," and he doesn't mean physics. 

Daniel Grassam reviews Michael Shermer's The Moral Arc for Skeptical Inquirer

Quote of the Day:

With the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman on the minds of many, the absurd idea of the "death trifecta" comes into conversation. Some I assume believe the trifecta is complete with Lemmy from Motorhead, but excepting him, Glen Weldon quips, "Cancer has decided it's targeting beloved 69-year-old Brits this week. Someone get Helen Mirren to a safehouse right goddamn now." Cute. But for some perspective, we turn to a puppet parody of a tech columnist, as performed by my podcasting cohost Brian Hogg, who in the character of Walt Mosspuppet tweets:
 
Reality check, jerks: about 151,600 people die globally every day. 
 
If you think death comes in 3's, then you should realize it's already done that ~758,000 times this year. 
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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