Please Die More Quietly

February 29, 2016

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

Last week marked one year since the murder of Avijit Roy, and things aren't getting any better in Bangladesh. We're asking you to contact your Member of Congress to back House Resolution 396, demanding that Bangladesh do more to protect the human rights of dissenters and minorities. 

Two weeks is a crazy long time. No way you can remember everything that happened over a whole fortnight. Good thing there's Cause & Effect, CFI's newsletter.

After the last GOP debate, Ron Lindsay takes to Huffington Post to clarify what the candidates and moderators seemed to misunderstand about "religious liberty":

So what's the fuss about? What's robbing Hugh Hewitt of his sleep? It's not a concern that people can't express their own beliefs. No, it seems to be a concern that people will not have the license to impose their beliefs on others. 

Australia's Cardinal George Pell, Vatican treasurer, gives remote testimony to an Australian child sexual abuse inquiry, and insists that while he did nothing wrong, the Church "has mucked things up." 

Apparently I'm the last person to see this, but Tim Minchin is making sure that everyone who didn't know who Pell is sure as hell does now. 

This is really happening: Perhaps feeling like the sentence on Raif Badawi was too lenient, Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man (unnamed) to 10 years in prison and 2000 lashes for expressing his atheism on the Internet. 

This is also for real: a guy in Germany is actually fined €500 for violating the country's blasphemy law, because he had some bumper stickers that mocked Jesus. 

CFI–UK's Stephen Law explains his evil-God challenge at The Forum for European Philosophy: "Theists now face a challenge. If they suppose that belief in an evil god is very unreasonable (and surely it is), why is belief in a good god significantly more reasonable?" 

Julia Belluz at Vox reports that AstraZeneca is paying Dr. Phil to do an "awareness campaign" for diabetes, which is really a marketing campaign for their diabetes drug, trading on the very non-medical "Dr." in front of Phil's name,

Susan Gerbic realizes that a can of worms has been opened with her previous piece on "grief vampire" Tyler Henry, and reports on progress to push the truth about such fake psychics into the Internet zeitgeist

Jonathan Merritt at The Atlantic says that the rise of Trump indicates the end of the religious right's stranglehold over the GOP. Mmmmmmaybe. 

As the Supreme Court gets set to hear the big Texas abortion case, Meaghan Winter at Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the relentless efforts of religious groups to thwart the very existence of abortion service providers:

Anti-abortion organizations closely monitor and publicize local businesses’ dealings with abortion clinics. One such group is Wichita-based Operation Rescue, whose work, according to its website, is “taking direct action to restore legal personhood to the pre-born and stop abortion in obedience to biblical mandates.” Says its president, Troy Newman: “We do everything legal and moral to make sure these abortion clinics aren’t able to open up. We’ll talk to landlords. We’ll talk to neighbors. We’ll send postcards out asking not to rent, lease, or sell to an abortionist.” Conway, of Texas Right to Life, says that when anti-abortion organizations in her state “hear a rumbling” about an abortion clinic coming to town, activists will go to the local permit office “almost on a daily basis” until documents with contractors’ names are available. Then they blast the contractors with phone calls and organize boycotts. 

Meanwhile, doctors in Louisiana are asking the Supreme Court to halt an appeals court ruling that leaves the state with exactly one doctor who is permitted to provide abortions

The Friendly Atheist Podcast interviews religious scholar Stephen Prothero, which I will definitely be checking out. 

New York Times produces a short documentary on witchcraft belief in India

In 2011, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was a security guard for Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, when Qadri killed Taseer over the latter's support for reforming Pakistan's blasphemy law. Earlier today, Qadri was hanged.  

A report by the Humanist Society of Scotland urges a move away from religious schools, given the great secularization of the rest of Scottish life. 

The Economist looks at the unlikely alliance in Britain between Christians and the nonreligious to put the brakes on "anti-extremism" laws that would curb free expression.

David Gorski looks at whether the schedules for childhood vaccinations are evidence-based, and, saved you a click, yes, they are, but, "They are not, however, perfectly so." 

The son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, William Murray, is arguing in favor of prayer in schools in Annapolis. 

Hemant gives some "bless you" alternatives for post-sneeze responses, and promises not to revoke your atheist card. I've been saying gesundheit since before I knew what being an atheist even was, so I say we just go with that one. (Though "please die more quietly" speaks to me.)

Quote of the Day:

Last night, Spotlight, the movie that dramatized the Boston Globe's exposure of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, won the Oscar for Best Picture. Laurie Goodstein of NYT tweeted, "Abuse survivors around the world are crying tonight." Producer Michael Sugar said in his acceptance speech:

This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican. Pope Francis, it's time to protect the children and restore the faith.

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