Selfies of Mass Destruction

February 17, 2014

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

A working group made up of members of the European Parliament releases a major report (PDF) on global freedom of religion and belief, with a major emphasis on blasphemy laws and apostasy:

In many Muslim-majority states, conversion from Islam to another religion or to atheism leads to a severe State response. While incidents of official executions are rare, individuals who leave Islam for another religion face imprisonment, intimidation, loss of property, physical abuse, denial of access to education, jobs and civil rights. 

Now, I can't bear to watch this, but you can tell me how it went. Bill Nye goes in Meet the Press to "debate" climate change with GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Nope, I can't do it. 

Adam Garfinkle at Tablet has the secret to solving the conflict over Jerusalem:

Only two alternatives remain: Split or share sovereignty 50-50 (also an oxymoron), or, much better, agree to leave the question of national sovereignty over Jerusalem permanently in abeyance, and instead acknowledge the sovereignty of God. The Zero Option, in other words; or, if you prefer, the God Option.

At Skeptical Inquirer, Kylie Sturgess interviews Billy Kidd on promoting science through magic

Gov. Bobby Jindal gives a speech on religious liberty, and it's totally in line with smart, secular principles. NO I'M JUST KIDDING. Look how dangerous things like the contraceptive mandate are:

We are facing a threat to the very idea of America. And it is, by definition, an existential threat. 


Andrew Sullivan on the jaw-droppingly awful anti-gay bill in Kansas (which I just found out was killed):

It is premised on the notion that the most pressing injustice in Kansas right now is the persecution some religious people are allegedly experiencing at the hands of homosexuals. ... The remedy for such a terrible threat is, however, state support for more discrimination. ... If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni will sign his country's far-worse anti-gay bill, and President Obama, who calls it "odious," warns him against it.

Remember how the Southern Baptists were going to study ethics with a robot? Here's the most important part:

The robot retails for $16,000, but Southern got an end-of-the-year deal at $9,300. 

One in four Americans doesn't understand that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In related news, the Morning Heretic contemplates flinging himself into the Sun. Sharon Hill is a little skeptical:

I still wonder if it’s not as much a reading comprehension survey as it is a science knowledge survey, or a measure of question fatigue among those surveyed? 

The Moon, meanwhile, is looking more and more like big business. (That actually does go around the Earth, just so we're clear.)

Early audiences of the Russell Crowe Noah movie think the character is too "dark." I'm gonna bet the genocidal "God" character is a little darker. 

Michael Nugent reports that Egyptian atheist Ben Baz has been released from a Kuwaiti prison, where he was held for blasphemy. 

BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, an atheist, gets into a weird discussion with alleged Islamic terrorist "recruiter" Abubakar Shariff Ahmed in Kenya:

He screwed up his face, and waved towards the two bearded students ... "Look at them," he said. "Each from a different Kenyan tribe, and me from yet another. But thanks to Islam, we are brothers. Religion brings us together."

I countered with a story ... a BBC reporter in Bosnia, during the war in the 1990s, had asked an elderly gentleman whether he was a Croat or a Muslim? The man's reproachful response had struck home: "I am a musician," he had said. Music could unite where religion divided. Makaburi was unimpressed.

"Everywhere there is music, there is ungodliness," he said. 

Rev. Jamie Coots of the "reality" show Snake Salvation dies of, yes, a snake bite

Pakistan's Eraj Sajjad, out of the country after being charged with "blasphemy" by a wealthy jilted suitor, has been blacklisted by the Karachi police and will be arrested if she returns to the country. 

North Carolina high school relents, and says it will allow an atheist club to form

Churches in Hawaii agree to a settlement to repay taxpayer funds owed to the public school system for rental of school space for services. 

Kansas City Catholics are petitioning the Pope to take action against Robert W. Finn, a bishop who covered up for a sexually abusive priest. 

The doughnut on Mars is a rock. I know, you're shocked.

Joel Achenbach at WaPo is dismayed by the credulous recent coverage of the idea that an earthquake is responsible for the Shroud of Turin, lamenting, "There’s nothing at stake here except the survival of credible journalism." Oh, and:

Be wary, always, when you see the “scientists say” formulation. They rarely speak in unison like that.

Roger Schlueter gives us the background on why insurance contracts and the like often have waivers for "acts of God." 

In order to send happy birthday greetings to my brother Ben, I present to you Bosch's 500-year-old butt song from Hell. You're welcome, Ben! I'll expect a classical guitar rendition.

Quote of the Day

Secretary of State John Kerry in Indonesia: 

Think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists. The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate change. In a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.

This article also has arguably the best Secretary of State Mass Selfie ever.

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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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