These Are All Lies

January 16, 2014

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

President Obama name-checks "atheists and agnostics" and those of "no faith" in yesterday's declaration for Religious Freedom Day. 

Wow, some folks are really not comfortable with the idea of people in prison being exposed to atheism. After the Christian Post's coverage a couple of days ago of the Freethought Books Project, we saw increasingly angsty articles from Glenn Beck's The Blaze and then The Washington Timeswhose headline declares that CFI "aims to turn inmates against God." JT Eberhard facepalms

Of course, when Christians distribute their books to inmates it’s an act of compassion, a heroic display of god’s good will. When atheists do it?  Well, then we’re “targeting inmates.” 

Examining the data on the reported religious beliefs of prisoners, Steph Bazzle notes that though nonbelievers are a tiny minority in the system, reporting may be sketchy:

[I]t is relevant to be aware that expressing a religious preference can be an advantage in a prison in a number of ways. In some prisons, attending religious services is a convenient way to get out of a cell, and there are some religious rights that cannot be denied to a prisoner, such as possession of certain objects, the right to request certain foods, or the right to refuse to work on the Sabbath. 

You're all going to love this: A few of the articles from the special Free Inquiry issue on journeys from faith to atheism are now available in full online, subscriber or no. We've got Todd Stiefel on turning away from Catholicism, plus really moving pieces on leaving IslamSeventh-day Adventism, and even New Age "magical thinking," or, "Chopraism."

Brian Pellot puts our current tensions over the very concept of religious freedom in global perspective, including a strong nod to secularism.  

Secularist wunderkind Zack Kopplin sounds an alarm in Slate:

When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth. These are all lies. 

A UN committee takes the Vatican to task for failing to curb the crisis of sexual assault by Catholic clergy, and the Vatican offers this lame excuse, per the AP:

The Vatican insisted it had little jurisdiction to sanction pedophile priests around the globe, saying it was for local law enforcement to do so.  

The Child Rights International Network releases a report on "the global scale of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church." 

CFI-UK's Stephen Law does a Tehran selfie. Which I've just decided is the name of a new dance craze.

Nick Wing rounds up 11 things atheists can be barred from doing because of their lack of belief. The first one is of course the most disturbing:

1. Live.

Atheists in 13 countries face execution under the law if they openly express their beliefs or reject the official state religion -- Islam in all of these cases. While this ultimate punishment may be rare, there are a number of other outrageously harsh restrictions on the basic rights of nonbelievers around the world, from revoking citizenship to denying marriage.

Somebody keeps taking down an eBay listing by a South Carolina atheist to "take an atheist leader to church." eBay says it's not them. Suspicious. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson will be on Bill Moyers' show to talk Cosmos, science, and religion.

Americans United will be intervening in a federal lawsuit concerning the University of Notre Dame and the contraceptive mandate of health care reform.  

Nayma Qayum at The Revealer delves deep into the religious strife in Bangladesh

Buffalo News sadly runs a totally credulous interview with a local fake-psychic. DID YOU KNOW that psychic powers are genetic??? Don't bother following up on that. 

Kirsten Powers says that Oklahoma Christians are getting the Satanic monument they have coming to them. Bernard McGuirk on Fox News says the Satanists should be shot.

[Fill in year here] was a busy year for CFI's Joe Nickell in the media! It always is, of course. Here's a look at his 2013.  

Not so surprising: Americans get religious and superstitious about sports

Some are wondering if there need to be special laws against killing Bigfoot. Mike Cox of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says, “You don’t need a hunting license to kill something that doesn’t exist.”

SCOTUS heard oral arguments today on the "buffer zone" around abortion clinics for women's safety. 

Patricia Miller: US Bishops are getting sneakier about what constitutes "federal funding" when it comes to abortion. 

Jonathan Turley shakes his head at a new anti-sodomy bill in Virginia:

Virginia’s current code is a comprehensive criminalization of consensual acts. Clearly, minors present a different issue since they cannot legally consent. However, the danger is the criminalization of consensual sexual acts between teenagers. 

The Russian Orthodox Church is going to love this calendar

Irish Atheist to Christians: Let's swap flocks for a day. 

Roy Speckhardt looks to curb "arrogant atheism." 

Siri keeps her religious views to herself

Quote of the Day

The President:

Today, America embraces people of all faiths and of no faith. We are Christians and Jews, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, atheists and agnostics. Our religious diversity enriches our cultural fabric and reminds us that what binds us as one is not the tenets of our faiths, the colors of our skin, or the origins of our names. What makes us American is our adherence to shared ideals -- freedom, equality, justice, and our right as a people to set our own course.

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Image via Shutterstock

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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