Validated by a Flock of Geese

January 5, 2016

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay, rather quick on the draw I'm happy to say, takes to Huffington Post to confront the latest madness from Antonin Scalia, and the idea that government ought to favor religion over nonreligion:

Neutrality between religion and non-religion is for Scalia not only something that lacks constitutional warrant, but, disturbingly, he also maintains that such neutrality risks incurring the wrath of God or, at best, his indifference. Apparently, the United States cannot expect to prevail in any future conflicts if we show equal respect to theist and atheist alike.

Robyn Blumner of the Dawkins Foundation opines in U.S. News about the religious privilege on display in the 2016 presidential race:

There are plenty of religious Americans who don't like all this God talk and are more comfortable with religion being a private matter. Then there are people like me, atheists, and others who either don't believe in the supernatural or who simply don't subscribe to any religious dogma. For us, the presumption that being religious translates into good, moral character or makes one a better leader or more presidential has an insidious subtext: We are less American. 

My partner in podcasting, one Brian Hogg, he who is also Walt Mosspuppet, releases his brand new book for a measly three bucks: Trumped Up: The Incredible True Story of How I, Donald Trump, am Already Saving the World. Go get it. Oh! And! This week our super-special guest is TWiT podcast impresario Leo Laporte, who is also an atheist if that matters.

Speaking of Trump! Tamar Wilner at the CSI website uses the Trump phenomenon to examine how anger and rage helps spread misinformation

The U.S. Department of Education seeks to curb anti-Muslim sentiment and discrimination in schools.  

So what is going on with those militia-folk in Oregon? John Sepulvado at Oregon Public Broadcasting looks at how the Bundy clan and their followers are fueled by a certain kind of Mormon zeal. One of the militia men referred to himself as "Captain Moroni":

The man identifying as Captain Moroni said he was inspired by the call [to come to Oregon], and that the inspiration was validated by God in the form of a flock of geese he saw flying. “I just knew it was the right thing,” Captain Moroni said. “I’m willing to die here.” 

Hillary Clinton says she'll "get to the bottom" of UFOs and Roswell and all that. Really? 

Ben Radford looks at why most anti-vaxxers are well-to-do and well-educated, focusing on the fact that most of them have no experience with, and thus no fear of, the diseases that vaccines would prevent.

The supreme court of Massachusetts says that foster parenting can be denied if the would-be parents use corporal punishment on kids, regardless if it's part of their religious beliefs. 

Asra Q. Nomani at The Daily Beast explores "the conveyor belt of radicalization" from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that of Salafi Islam.

Al Jazeera America does an episode of Inside Story on the rise of secular Americans and "nones." 

Netflix will debut a documentary on Charlie Hebdo, Je Suis Charlie, on Thursday. 

Michael Scott Wolfe of Florida (of course) is arrested for smashing up a mosque with a machete and leaving bacon at its front door. 

Wow, maybe we need an investigation into the radicalization happening inside bouncy castles. As president, I vow to close all bouncy castles. Or spy on them. Something.

The congressional GOP assault on Planned Parenthood continues, and we want you to tell your representative to cut it out, and stop the attacks on women's health.

Quote of the Day:

Georgia's Department of Driver Services refuses to allow Christopher Alvino, a Pastafarian, to wear a colander on his head for his license photo, saying that Pastafarianism is "not actually a religion," to which Bobby Henderson responds, "I did not realize the legal departments of small government offices were empowered to declare what is and what is not a legitimate religion." But the QOTD is from Alvino himself, in his letter to Driver Services:
 
You may find our beliefs to be strange, but as strange as you may feel they are, they are still our beliefs. Some may find it strange that Christians believe that Jonah spent “3 days in a whale’s belly” according to some texts. Some may find it strange that Muslims believe that Muhammad was carried to the seven heavens on the back of a winged horse. Some may find it strange that Scientologists believe that Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy brought billions of people to earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Maybe you, the reader of this letter, do not personally believe that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, but do you question the validity of Islam as a religion? 
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 at 9:52am

Scalia: ““To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”

Obviously, Scalia is making the point (in his usual carefully diplomatic fashion) that state neutrality regarding faith not need equate to state hostility toward faith, as so many seculars clearly believe.  He is correct.

Personally, I’d rather save my outrage for the man’s anti-woman views and his general arch-conservative leanings.  All he’s done here is correctly point out that the state isn’t required to adopt your view that religion is some kind of pox on society.

#2 Stacey C. on Thursday January 07, 2016 at 12:32pm

Sorry Mario, nice try but the little word you missed is “favor”. He’s suggesting the state can “favor” religion over non-religion-which is nonsense. Neither Paul nor CFI believe that “religion is some kind of pox on society” from anything I’ve ever read on this site. Sheesh.

#3 Mario (Guest) on Thursday January 07, 2016 at 10:17pm

Thanks for speaking on behalf of Paul and CFI.  And you’ve missed the little fact that Scalia is talking about what the “the separation of church and state” requires of the state.  That is the topic.  And, as he notes, the separation of church and state does not require the state to favor religion over non-religion.  He correctly notes that this fallacy is what the secular movement lives to promote.

I process statements in whole and in context.  It’s not as much fun as playing look-for-the-insult, but it’s a lot more honest.

#4 Mario (Guest) on Friday January 08, 2016 at 12:03am

Apologies for reversing Scalia’s claim.  He talked about favoring NON-religion over religion.  My typo.

This is Scalia’s statement: “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”

In other words, separation of church and state does NOT require state neutrality in regard to religion vs. non-religion.  The moment we realize that, the central myth of the secular movement is in serious trouble, so no wonder the response has been hostile.  I’m sorry it takes a conservative justice to point out something this grotesquely obvious, but apparently no one on the left has the guts.  So more power to Scalia.

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