Unimpressive, Blurry, and Worthless

January 28, 2014

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

This is a must-read: Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier on why we skeptics do what we do:

[W]hat we science-minded skeptics are defending here goes way beyond any of the specific bizarre ideas, trumped-up mysteries, or misperceptions or misrepresentations of the real world we may critique. What we are defending ... are hard-won concepts essential to a free and open society—if that society is to have well-informed citizens capable of making wise decisions in a complex technological world.  

The Justice Department is apparently going to appeal a recent ruling against clergy's exemption from income taxes on their parsonages. Because hey, if they don't stand up for tax-free pastors' mansions, who will? 

Hey, it's apparently "National School Choice Week," and by "choice," we mean, "you have no choice but to fund religious schools." Rob Boston explains. (Or, instead, let the Doge explain.)

Speaking of which, here's a handy and depressing map of schools in the U.S. that teach creationism. Hey Tennessee and Louisiana: You guys are blowing it. 

And speaking of blowing it, Jeffrey Ann Goudie watches the wall of separation collapse in Kansas as she watches Governor Brownback's state of the state address:

He ended by saying: "Our dependence is not on Big Government but on a Big God that loves us and lives within us." 

Aaron Vallely is not impressed with Pope Fluffy when it comes to the church sexual abuse crisis:

The Holy See continues to condone the practice of not reporting abusive priests to law enforcement ... With the authority and power it exercises over all Catholic dioceses and religious orders, the Holy See could protect children in every country from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. It instead continues to prioritize the rights of accused clergy and the image of the church over the rights of children. Pope Francis remains silent, evasive, and as a result, dangerous.  

You know that sound that happens in cartoons, like when Wile E. Coyote falls off a high cliff, that whistle that descends in pitch as the falling object or person approaches the ground? That's the sound religious belief in America has been making since the end of World War II.  

The forces of darkness and death attack the holy messengers of peace and divinity. And by that I mean the Pope's doves were chased by a crow and a seagull. ("Mine! Mine!")

Dan Kahan recommends fighting the anti-vax fad with its own medicine, and use peer pressure to promote vaccinations

Harriet Hall directs her ire toward the state of Washington:

Washington law currently denies the children of Christian Scientists equal protection under the law governing child abuse and neglect, and it grants a special exemption from criminal prosecution for abuse and neglect to that one specific religion and not to any others. Even if you supported religious exemptions in principle, there would be no excuse for the preferential treatment of one single religion.  

David Brooks gets all David-Brooksy on doubt:

There must be something legalistic in the human makeup, because cold, rigid, unambiguous, unparadoxical belief is common, especially considering how fervently the Scriptures oppose it. And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand. 

Is that actually video of a brain making memories? Holy moly.

That satirical play The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) is back on after being cancelled because of hurt feelings

A Christian radio network is putting two folks up to a worldview-swapping stunt: A Christian and an atheist switch their "religious daily commitments" for a month.

North Carolina woman is accusing a fake-psychic of bilking her out of $30,000. The reporter did learn one important thing:

It made Stoogenke [the reporter] wonder if just anyone can open a psychic business in North Carolina. Stoogenke checked city, county, and state laws, and couldn’t find many rules regulating psychics. And, only found one rule regulating psychics. A privilege tax in the city of Charlotte if you work out of your home or shop, but not a festival or performance. 

What do Katy Perry and the state media of Iran have in common? "Improvisational millennialism."

Here's another: What does Sharon Hill call "DECIDEDLY unimpressive, blurry and worthless"? Spoiler: It's got Hitler

So this guy made an Ark. Because what else are you gonna do? 

Why not have Jesus appear on your toast every day

Quote of the Day

Francis Collins (I know, I know, but it's worth it) says rejecting evolution doesn't make sense:

[I]f you are a believer in God, it's hard to imagine that God would somehow put this incontrovertible evidence in front of us about our relationship to other living organisms and expect us to disbelieve it. I mean, that doesn't make sense at all. 

Yes, that'd be crazy.

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Comments:

#1 mblake1224 (Guest) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 at 4:16pm

So does this mean I get a deduction for being a minister in The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

#2 alphonsegaston (Guest) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 at 6:16pm

In this morning’s Heresy I found an interesting word used to describe parsonages and other homes lived in by ministers: “mansions.”  Mansions?  Are you actually generalizing about the places parsons live?  Because if you are, you are seriously overgeneralizing to the point of the ridiculous. Most pastors do not live in mansions, but ordinary, rather dull houses, especially if they are owned by the church and furnished by church ladies.  The Big Money pastors are as rare in the religious community as rich people are among the 99% of us who live in houses, apartments, trailers….  We have all heard the Welfare Cadillac stories before!  Try living on the salary of a village Methodist or Baptist pastor. And don’t use Billy Graham as an example!  Pastors of store-front churches make even less money, if any.  The clergy are among the lowest paid professionals, considering the amount of education often required.

#3 mblake1224 (Guest) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 at 8:53pm

Should this tax deduction only apply to poor ministers? What religious traditions are acceptable? Sounds like a socialist theocracy… maybe.  Please define.

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