It’s a Small(pox) World After All

January 21, 2015

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

The Supreme Court unanimously decides that a Muslim prisoner may wear a beard, in violation of prison policy. Howard Friedman says the floodgates are now open:

The Supreme Court has now reaffirmed the conclusion of most courts that an inmate may invoke [the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act] to require accommodation of a totally idiosyncratic belief-- so long as it is sincerely held. Religious visions shared by no one else apparently still qualify. 

Thomas Friedman (no relation I assume) is irritated with the Obama administration's dancing around the "Islamic" part of "Islamic extremism":

I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community.  

Point of Inquiry this week welcomes Karen Abbott, author of a new book profiling four women who served as spies during the Civil War. 

Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is sentenced to six months in prison for a tweet

Facebook announces updates to its News Feed algorithm that it says will better weed out hoaxes and lies.  

Congressional Republicans apparently can't get excited about NASA's asteroid missions, because asteroids are just big rocks or something, which puts pretty much the whole thing in jeopardy. (Maybe if we promise to put a Ten Commandments on an asteroid they'll get enthused.)

UK judge orders a non-Catholic dad to take his kids to Catholic church services as part of a divorce settlement. That seems problematic.  

Paris's mayor threatens to sue Fox News for its now-retracted Muslim "no-go zones" claims. Her name is Hidalgo, by the way, which of course means we're cousins, and I'll bet they'd totally let me crash. 

Kaiser study shows parents opting out of vaccinating their kids in "clusters" all throughout Northern California. Kids aren't the only ones suffering as a result: Disneyland employees are coming down with measles.

Katherine Stewart reports on the deeply troubling trend of churches directly inserting themselves into public schools

Religious freedom advocates are apparently offering themselves to be flogged in Raif Badawi's place. 

Chris Stedman interviews Samar Badawi and Ensaf Haidar about their efforts to free Raif and Waleed Abu al-Khair.  

According to a new study, a majority of men in the UK are atheist or agnostic, while women divide fairly neatly into thirds between believers, nonbelievers, and in-betweeners. 

India'a home minister Rajnath Singh says that observatories are pointless because "pundits" (Hindu scholars) can tell you all you need to know about space.

The Air Force declassifies 130,000 pages of files, and the ones related to UFOs are collected into an online database.

I can't stop rolling my eyes at this: would-be Bigfoot catcher plans an IPO for his hunt.

Quote of the Day

The president, versus "some folks":

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what  — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
 
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Comments:

#1 BJ (Guest) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 at 8:06am

Ten Commandments on an asteroid won’t work to develop Republican interest.
Gotta stick with the classic oldie-but-goodie to get em hoppin:  Thar’s OIL in that thar asteroid!!

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