Crack Our Souls Open

January 18, 2018

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

The Atlantic has a big feature all about CFI's Secular Rescue program, profiling some of those we have saved, and quoting our boss Robyn Blumner and me in one of my less eloquent moments. Specifically talking about Bangladesh, I told David Robson:

We know there have been, and may still be, hit lists, issued by those who are trying to keep their hands clean, encouraging young radicals to slaughter secularists of their own volition. And one of the worst parts is the callousness of the response from the Bangladeshi government. From the prime minister and other officials, we get several versions of ‘Well, they shouldn’t have been insulting religious beliefs.’ After one student was murdered, officials began to investigate the dead guy to see if he had written anything worth killing him over.

This is in reference to the murder, and calls for investigations, of law student Nazimuddin Samad in 2016. Said Lubna Yaseen, one of the more high-profile secularists that we have helped:

I hope my voice can be heard, so Western communities can open their eyes to what’s going on, and build a safer place for people like me. 

The UK government is missing the point about humanism. Hamza bin Walayat of Pakistan is seeking asylum in the UK, afraid for his life and those of his family, because he has left Islam for humanism. But the Home Office rejected the application. Why? "Your knowledge of humanism is rudimentary at best and not of a level that would be expected of a genuine follower of humanism." So maybe Walayat doesn't know much about the history of humanism, but the Home Office seems to know little about its application. 

The Trump administration plows ahead with turning federal agencies into bizarro versions of themselves, as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights creates a division to "protect" those health workers who feel their religion forbids them from tending to someone's health for situations such as abortions and sex reassignment. It's called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, because of course it is.

Eric Trump says his father isn't a racist because he "sees one color — green." My god, did the White House physician know that??? Does Trump think the White House is a Green House???

We hear a lot about how "identity politics" is some destructive force, but Sean McElwee at The Outline says that's not true:

Historically, identity politics movements have done much to achieve lasting, substantive gains, and these gains have frequently included attendant economic advantages. From the Civil Rights movement to gender equality to gay rights, the idea that civil-rights struggles distract or diminish the fights for economic justice is often overstated. ... There is simply no electoral benefit to be gained from abandoning identity politics because voters are increasingly sorted in such a way that those who support economically progressive policies are also supportive of racial justice and gender equity. 

PRI radio profiles 17-year-old "Ibrahim" of Iraq and how living under the boot of ISIS turned him into an atheist.

The mayor and city council of Longwood, Florida decide to end the practice of prayers before council sessions. Nice.

Baylor University's Paul McClure publishes a study on how religious belief has adapted to the digital age, as people "tinker" with beliefs:

Tinkering means that people feel they’re no longer beholden to institutions or religious dogma. Today, perhaps in part because many of us spend so much time online, we’re more likely to understand our religious participation as free agents who can tinker with a plurality of religious ideas — even different, conflicting religions — before we decide how we want to live. 

Jonathan Jarry of the McGill Office for Science and Society posts a video interview of Kevin Folta at last year's CSICon.

93-year-old Russell M. Nelson is the new prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A federal judge in Boston smacks down a fake psychic with an order to pay $3.5 million in restitution and $725,000 in back taxes, and serve a 26-month prison sentence.

An appeals court in New Jersey ruled that two evangelical ministers did not have their rights violated when they were arrested for preaching without permits at a train station.  

Quote of the Day

Katie Drummond at The Outline has her own conspiracy theory about what happened with that accidental missile warning in Hawaii:

Here’s [an] unprovable theory that I nonetheless believe is true: The warnings were a false flag. The “accident” was faked. The powers that be — call them the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the American Airlines Ten Million Miles Club — have long considered the possibility that the planet is on the way down, and decided to see ahead of time what it would look like. How would the citizens of the world respond if they believed the end was nigh? Would they take to the streets? Would they commit whatever crimes they could? Would they call their senators, their news anchors, their mail man? Think of nuclear panic as a social experiment meant to crack our souls open and reveal the deepest, instinctive fears possible. I mean, really: How weird is it that this happened twice within two days? Very. You think this was an accident? You think a fuck-up this epic wasn’t focus tested ahead of time by the lizard cabal that lives at the center of the Earth? Get fucking real.

In the end, the answer to what we’d do was pretty simple, but no less informative to the masters of the universe: We were all on our phones, waiting to die. Maybe that’s the end we deserve.   

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