Come and See the Dead Monk

February 4, 2016

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

President Obama visits a mosque, the Islamic Society of Baltimore, and says this, which kind of chokes me up:

Let me say as clearly as I can as president of the United States: you fit right here. You're right where you belong. You're part of America too. You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American. 

Alas, as I type, he is speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, so it's not all happy times here, and he's reportedly just said, "Faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear." We respectfully disagree.

Ashraf Fayadh, the poet sentenced to death by Saudi Arabia for insulting Islam, has his sentenced reduced (sort of) to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes, recalling Raif Badawi's 10 years and 1000 lashes.

Rick Santorum drops out of the presidential race and endorses Marco Rubio. Here's what gets me: Ted Cruz is even too much for Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum, who used to be the exemplar of "whoa that guy is waaaaay out there."  

Peter Beinart says that Bernie Sanders' secularism, as opposed to his Judaism, is what sets him apart, and that whether he wins or not, his candidacy is a harbinger of secular things to come. 

Dr. Sam Chachaou, the guy who claims to be able to cure HIV and cancer, seems to be too crazy even for Charlie Sheen. (Though not Bill Maher, unfortunately.) 

Massimo Polidoro looks at the Ouija-like fad, the Charlie Charlie Challenge, and what effect it might have on the minds of kids. 

Let us all hope that Edith Jones, touted by Cruz, never gets on the Supreme Court. For example, her attitude on race discrimination in the workplace: "Take a better second job instead of bringing suit."

The Kansas legislature gets into a debate over the expansion of a voucher scheme running in Topeka. 

Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard reports on research that shows animosity toward nonbelievers is reduced by "imaginary conversations" with the godless. That is both encouraging and deeply, deeply ironic

In a well-meaning attempt to fight opioid abuse in Ohio, the state's task force throws in recommendations for pseudoscientific treatments.  

Pew has data on Americans' attitudes toward Muslims and Islam, and it will not shock you to know that there is a chasm between Democrats and Republicans on the topic. 

Mustafa Akyol at NYT writes that Islam has been sullied by factional politics for centuries:

Contemporary Muslim academics such as Abdelwahab El-Affendi and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im have articulated powerful Islamic arguments for embracing a liberal secularism that respects religion. They rightly point out that Muslims need secularism to be able to practice their religion as they see fit. I would add that Muslims also need secularism to save religion from serving as handmaiden to unholy wars of domination. 

Harron Moghul (who leads with the eye-catching "The only Trump sympathizers I've met are Muslims) comments on the anti-Muslim sentiment being fomented in the US:

It is hard to know where we are going as a country, and whether things will get much better or much worse, but the best way is to look at the people on the margins, the ones who don’t earn sympathy, who don’t have news networks looking out for them, candidates doubling down and amplifying their grievances, the right to parade around the country brandishing weapons while simultaneously insisting they are oppressed. 

The biggest Christian cross in America is coming soon to Corpus Christi, literally "the body of Christ."  

Jennifer Harrison at Gadgette coins the greatest metaphor ever:

Homeopathy is the air guitar of medicine. 

The group Atheists in Kenya are fighting to have their organization formally recognized by the Kenyan government, which says their group is a threat to "peace" and "good order." (Happily, this was not the fate of CFI–Kenya's Humanist Orphan Project.) 

Elizabeth King struggles with entirely letting go of God:

Despite being a content atheist for a decade, somehow God has found a way to stick around in my mind. Not the God of the Bible who created heaven and Earth — the God that lingers with me is harder to explain. The best way I can think to describe it is a character from a movie that I’ve seen over and over, or like the memory of my first friends. He’s not real, but he’s present. 

Baratunde Thurston cryptically posts a Twitter poll with two options, unexplained: science or faith. (Science is winning right now, if that matters.)

Rush right on over to the Vatican, folks, so you too can gaze upon the preserved corpse of a 50-year-dead monk

Quote of the Day:

Bryan Donaldson:

Mike Huckabee has decided to end his presidential campaign but I think he should be forced to carry it to full term.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Sunday February 07, 2016 at 2:00am

“Chasm”.

Maybe.  But the questions are rather vague.  What does it mean to be “anti-American”?  (By the way, I’m still not letting the USA—the noisy middle part of the top half—own the term “America”). 

I can’t even answer the first question.  Is there a meaningful difference?  A violent person can’t justify violence with a religion unless that religion promotes it.  So it amounts to religion promoting violence versus religion so clearly promoting violence that violent people refer to it as such.

#2 Randy on Sunday February 07, 2016 at 2:08am

“Dr. Sam Chachaou”

It would be worth posting a debunking of that segment.  While Maher asked him why Sheen has returned to his HIV meds, Sam ignored that question, and Bill let it slide.

But the rest of the interview had the trappings of sense, and even a court case from the ‘90s.  Nobody could honestly call it anti-science, although it’s certainly anti-business.

How is a layperson supposed to know this guy is a quack?  I read everywhere that this guy is a quack, but nobody seems interested in demonstrating that.  One anecdotal failure is, of course, not evidence that his treatment is ineffective.

#3 Randy on Sunday February 07, 2016 at 2:13am

“Jesus is a good cure for fear”

Wow.  The guy credited with inventing Hell is the cure for fear.  That’s some pretzel logic there.

There’s a reason believers say they “fear God”.

#4 Randy on Sunday February 07, 2016 at 2:15am

“You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American.”

Wrong.

You have Islam, and have US citizenship.  These are not things people “are”.  They are things people have.

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