The Endeavors of Bold Human Beings

February 27, 2015

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

Yesterday was a bad one. As most people on the Internet were rightfully energized by the passage of net neutrality and less-rightfully-so about llamas and dresses, we at CFI lost a close ally to violence. Dr. Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American writer who has worked closely with us on the fight for free expression, particularly in the case of the persecuted Bangladesh bloggers in 2013, was murdered by machete and/or cleaver-wielding attackers yesterday, as he left a book fair in Dhaka with his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna, who was also badly injured and remains hospitalized. 

Dr. Roy was a frequent target of death threats, with particular Islamic ideologues calling upon their followers to have him killed. He wrote for our magazine Free Inquiry twice, once in 2013 with his daughter Trisha Ahmed (read it here) and once more for the upcoming issue, and we've made his article available here. He also guest-posted at Michael De Dora's blog at our Free Thinking site.

Here is our formal statement on this horrible news, with reaction particularly from Michael, a friend of Dr. Roy's. Our response has been noted in several outlets, including the New York TimesReuters, the Washington PostAgence France-PresseBuzzFeed, and Bloomberg.

Recovering from Religion launches The Hotline Project, "to provide a real-time peer support network for people questioning the role of religion in their lives, dealing with the negative impact of religion in their lives, or anyone who has friends or relatives facing these transitions."

Well, this is unexpected: My good friend Jamila Bey becomes the first open atheist to address the CPAC conference. Kimberly Winston reports

At NBCNews.com, our own Joe Nickell gives the skeptical perspective to a "ghost" caught on an iPhone camera. 

You know how we hear about global warming "slowing" or "pausing"? Yeah, it's not a good thing:

...the odds [are] that the end of the hiatus, whenever it does happen, will be followed by a five-year period of accelerated warming. This could mean that global surface temperatures rise at twice the normal rate of 0.36°F per decade. They put the chances of that warm burst at up to 60% 

Meanwhile, science-denier-in-chief James Inhofe throws a snowball in the Senate chamber because something-something-it's-cold-out hoax

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, chair of a House science and technology subcommittee, says he hasn't vaccinated his kids and that "they're healthy." How nice for them.

The Catholic Church in San Francisco wants to consider Catholic school teachers in the city to be "ministers," thereby exempting them from anti-discrimination laws. Classy! 

Meanwhile, three senior faculty at Notre Dame protest the school's giving marriage benefits to same-sex married couples because something-something-Catholic-understanding-something-something legal coercion

O, Canada, I love you. Ontario conservative Rick Nicholls says he doesn't believe in evolution, and even his own party wigs out on him. 

Former White House policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer goes through those dusty old founding documents to show, no, actually, America was not founded as a Christian nation. Well I'll be. 

India's parliament gets into a heated argument over Mother Teresa of all things, and whether she actively tried to convert people to Christianity.   

Pat Robertson is afraid of the opposite, that dastardly yoga-conversion: "You don’t want your daughter in that. Stretching exercise is cool, praying to a Hindu deity is not too cool."

Expert says that Canada should expect more First Nations children's parents to forego medical science over "traditional healing." 

The UFO lobby wants Congress's attention. (And check out their political action committee's acronym: "X-PPAC" -- shapow!)

FFRF gets monetarily upvoted by Reddit. 

Quote of the Day 

Dr. Avijit Roy with Trisha Ahmed:

Twenty-first-century Americans like to believe that human civilization is forward-moving—that it does not seek to limit thinkers or artists or leaders. But in an age where all ideals are still not open to scrutiny, criticism, or discussion, we realize that we still have far to go before we can achieve a truly progressive society. ...

All over the world, the nonreligious are growing in number faster than ever before. Nonbelievers are not only valuable contributors to society; they also constitute a large fraction of the world’s intellectual and academic community. Whether it is a courageous sixteen-year-old from Rhode Island or a group of individualistic bloggers on the other side of the world, we should never belittle the endeavors of bold human beings to create rational, secular, and freethinking communities. 

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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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Comments:

#1 Abdul Qader (Guest) on Sunday March 01, 2015 at 3:38pm

Please create enormous pressure on the Bangladesh Govt to bring these human look alike beasts to justice. Govt could not yet bring the previous free-thinkers’ killers to justice (3 victims were prominent figures as Avijit Roy) and hence the criminals are getting away with repeated murders. If the Govt fails this time then you can be prepared for more killings soon. Bangladesh as well as the whole world would lose more talented free-thinkers and great humanists like Avijit Roy. Most importantly, if unchallenged, Bangladesh will soon be full of jihadists – one would be surprised if that goes out of control to create a new boko haram/al-Shabaab/IS type organisation in Bangladesh. This danger will always be there because the religious Madrasas are spreading ever-increasingly with Saudi’s/Mid East’s petro dollars’ patronise, which are usually the sympathy base for jihadists. The main teaching of those Madrasas is to memorise religious Arabic texts without understanding any meaning, total hatred against non-Muslims and intolerance of other opinions that encourage violent actions. The other important thing is: Avijit is a naturalised US citizen, so hope US government would take a strong stance on this matter. All free-thinking should come up forward to this cause.

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