Amiable and Low-Voltage

February 14, 2014

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

US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen strikes down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. Happy Valentine's Day. Wrote Wright Allen:

Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. 

David Morrison, director of the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute, shares his thoughts about Sagan in a new biographical memoir of the man

Google keeps showing its progressive cred (which it does not always do), this time with a very auditory Doodle for the big V-day, featuring the stories of couples of various kinds.

A proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Indiana (where it's already banned by law) has been effectively shelved by the state senate.  

Publishing company Penguin pulls copies of the book The Hindus: An Alternative History as conservatives in India wage a campaign against it. This is in stark contrast to how Penguin handled the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989. 

CFI's International Man of Secularism, Bill Cooke, blogs about the mortal threat apparently posed by a skeptical children's book piggie

Maia Szalavitz at Pacific Standard takes a hard look at the likely-undeserved dominance of Alcoholics Anonymous in treating addiction (an excellent companion piece to this week's Point of Inquiry on addiction with Stanton Peele).

Catholic bishops around the world are having trouble deciding just how much they want to hate gays

Faculty at a North Carolina high school allegedly tell a student looking to start an atheist club that it would “not [be] a good fit.” 

Justin Vollmar, the former online preacher-for-the-deaf turned atheist, faces blowback

Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth is being sued over sexual assault allegations "for the third time in eight months."

Joseph Laycock says the kerfuffles between atheists and Christians over monuments and Bibles in statehouses "appear to be a 'last gasp' of hegemony before engaging in a more serious and thoughtful conversation about free speech."

Ben Radford on the People vs. Subway's Bread -- activism for no good reason? 

Hayley Stevens spends Darwin Day at a creationist zoo:

I was disappointed with how uninterested most of the animals seemed to be with their surroundings – Zebra huddled in a lean-to, monkeys all clinging to the cages of their enclosures, the roof of the bird enclosure almost smashing into me, the roof of the farm sheds flapping around and allowing the rain inside, tigers and lions pacing… as a zoo it was underwhelming. As an educational facility it was alarming. 

What the what? A pediatrician who "researches" near-death experiences is convicted of waterboarding a kid

Kansas public school with a big cross on its building is literally waiting to get sued

W. Hunter Roberts, a "spiritual entrepreneur and coach," doesn't like "fundamentalist" atheists, calling them (us?):

...closed-minded, entrenched, and bellicose, shouting and proselytizing their disbelief in the God of their fathers as determinedly and humorlessly as their forebears proselytized with such certainty for a definite, iron-clad system of punishments and rewards in a pie-in-the-sky afterlife. 

So apparently it's illegal to pretend to practice witchcraft in Canada. If you're not pretending, and you can actually do it, they leave you alone.

Clarence Thomas doesn't get how you dirty atheists can even take yourselves seriously:

I quite frankly don’t know how you do these hard jobs without some faith. I don’t know. Other people can come to you and explain it to you. I have no idea. I don’t know how an oath becomes meaningful unless you have faith. Because at the end you say, ‘So help me God.’ And a promise to God is different from a promise to anyone else. 

In Jerusalem, you rent an apartment, you pay your security deposit, and you agree to vacate if the messiah shows up

George Will labels himself an "amiable, low-voltage atheist." Atheist I believe. Low-voltage, check. Amiable

Damon Linker says secular liberals are "compromis[ing] their principles for the sake of what they hope will be total victory in the culture war." 

CFI-Portland is bringing on the books for the Freethought Books Project! 

Jesus Christ, superstar

Quote of the Day

More from Judge Wright Allen

Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote. “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

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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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