Careening Clown Car

February 21, 2014

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

Yesterday was an ugly day in state legislation.

Arizona passes an anti-gay free pass for discrimination (or, "religious freedom").

Alabama's House Education Committee approves a bill to allow teachers to lead students in prayer, even though most members of the committee voted against it, with the chairman claiming to have "heard" more yeas than nays in a voice vote.

The entire Alabama House passed a measure to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings like schools and courthouses. (Kyle Whitmire at AL.com reports on the boatload of stupid that surrounded the "debate" on this bill.)

And, South Carolina's House budget committee approves a measure that would financially punish public colleges that assign books that acknowledge the existence of homosexuality. 

But! Oregon state officials said they will not defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

And! Virginia governor Terry McAullffe says he'll veto a school prayer bill if it gets to him.  

The Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum (lovingly referred to as the "Ingerhut"), a project of CFI's Council for Secular Humanism, exceeds its fundraising target, and will see a big renovation and an August "mini-conference." 

Carrie Poppy at Skeptical Inquirer sees if some self-proclaimed psychics will put their powers where their mouth is, and promise to cure cancer:

I visited one of the most popular live-psychic sites on the internet, Oranum, and spent five hours speaking to thirteen of their psychics. Knowing I would never again have the patience for such a venture, I picked the boldest claim I could think of: I told each psychic that I had serious, life-threatening cancer. ... How many of the psychics would offer to help me skip medicine in favor of psychic healing? 

Federal lawsuit against the NYPD for spying on Muslims is dismissed

Sean McElwee says creationists cannot be scientists:

[M]odern biology is based on evolution. Modern astronomy requires a scientist to understand that the universe is far more than 6,000 years old. In order to make creationism work, [Answers in Genesis's Ken] Ham has to deny radiometric dating. Paleontology is functionally impossible if you accept the disaster-based explanations that creationists offer. The fields of linguistics and psychology are intimately tied to evolution, as is the field of neuroscience. 

Pope Fluffy busts out a smartphone to record a video calling on Christians to settle their differences and achieve "the miracle of Christian unity." 

Archdiocese of Newark is wobbly over the lavish house being built for the archbishop, as compared to the modest house of the pope. Asked about the comparison, their communications director Jim Goodness says, "I'm not going to answer that question. I'm not taking any side on that at all." (Now come on, his name is Jim Goodness??? Now that's good PR. I'm going to change my name to Paul Sweetie-pie.)

And one more for you with this fun bunch: A Catholic chaplain at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Rev. Brian Coelho, stops in the middle of giving last rites to a dying patient when the patient reveals he's gay, and refuses to continue. God is love, everbody.

Islamic authority in the UAE decrees that Muslims should not go to Mars

CFI On Campus taps American University Rationalists and Atheists (AURA) as its Affiliate of the Week

Brian Resnick at National Journal looks at survey data on acceptance of science and religion and concludes, "Framing the debate between science and religion as binary is not right. It's more of a continuum of belief." Um.

BBC reports on "Pheme," an online system that will analyze the truth of rumors on social media.

David Silverman takes to Facebook to react to the faith-healing parents case to say:

I know this will be an unpopular post, but faith-healing parents who kill their child do not deserve jail time. They are good people who love their kids and did what they thought was right to help save them. These parents are victims of the brainwashing they received, usually as children, and as a result are mentally deficient. They deserve admission to a mental health institution for as long as it takes to rid them of the religious poison that was inflicted on them, and certainly should have all other children taken away until such time as they are deemed sane.

Dan Arel says to atheists: accept it, you lone wolves, we need a movement:

You can get behind the groups you like and ignore the ones you don't. You never have to state that any particular person speaks for you, but you can allow those people to speak and make your world better, and if you disagree, then speak up. Ignoring it and simply saying it is not a movement means you will let others speak for you.  

A woman in Tennessee stabs her mother "because of a satanic curse." 

Louis Farrakhan, yes him, demands that the president open up Area 51 to the scientists of the world.  

Quote of the Day

Point of Inquiry co-host (and self-described "good cop") Lindsay Beyerstein on, I assume, everything:

Some days, it feels like this clown car is careening towards a cliff.

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Image via Shutterstock 

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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Comments:

#1 Mario (Guest) on Friday February 21, 2014 at 2:15pm

I was hoping you’d expand today on your issues with Tocqueville’s take on equality—you know, that the principle originated with Christ’s teachings, a notion you find laughable.  I thought you could explain why Tocqueville was deluded on this point.  What other Tocqueville observations do you consider Tea Party trash?  Do expound.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday February 21, 2014 at 6:02pm

I can’t say I agree with David Silverman, but I admire his willingness to put it out there.

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