Bizarro Vermont

February 9, 2016

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

My neighboring state of New Hampshire (or as one friend once referred to it, "Bizarro Vermont") is holding its sort-of-first-in-the-nation primary today, and you can almost feel the electricity and the excitem--- that's not true, it's just a regular cold day here in Maine. 

Good stuff: Point of Inquiry this week is all about the new chapter for CFI and the merger with the Dawkins Foundation, as Josh Zepps interviews both Ron Lindsay and our new boss Robyn Blumner.  

Less good: This morning we announced that we would not be appealing the terrible decision in our Florida lawsuit to stop the state funding of Christian ministries' sectarian rehab programs for former prisoners. The long and the short of it is that we have one important victory from it that we don't want to lose, and we don't want to create bad precedent by losing the appeal, which we would probably do because the Florida court system is stacked with ultra-conservative Rick Scott appointees. It's a bummer, but it's the right call.

Speaking of our legal work, Michael De Dora and Nick Little give an overview and reminder of the myriad issues CFI tackles at home and abroad:

We recognize that some of these global issues cannot be solved in the short term by a single organization with finite powers and means. But, through our international advocacy, we strive to have the greatest impact possible.

Juan Mendez, the atheist state representative in Arizona, is blocked from giving an invocation on the House floor because his address didn't reference a "higher power." That. Is. Crap. 

James Ryerson at NYT reviews a few recent books on the divisions between, and collisions of, science and religion

New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, announces a ban on coverage for pseudoscientific gay-conversion therapy

Gail Collins, in a text chat with Arthur Brooks at NYT, points out something about the New Hampshire rhetoric:

I have noticed a dramatic drop in references to God since the pack crossed the New Hampshire border. This may have something to do with a Gallup poll finding that New Hampshire is actually the least religious state in the country. 

I noticed that too, at the debate this past weekend. I kept waiting for the down-on-your-knees paean to Jesus, but it never came. 

But look, if you feel like you're not getting the full Christapalooza you feel like you were promised, this piece from the Rachel Maddow Show on the GOP candidates' appearances at the National Religious Liberties Conference (which took place in November) will fill you up with feelings. The MC, Kevin Swanson, goes on unhinged anti-gay rants, talks about carving smiling faces into pus-oozing sores, rails against Harry Potter, and so much more. 

Folks get all upset about a gay-straight alliance group at a Tennessee high school, and one dude compares it to having an ISIS club. As Hemant notes, the rant comes complete with "bigot grammar." 

Jack Jenkins at ThinkProgress dispels the right-wing myth of a "godless left":

The idea that the American Left is uniformly “godless” is a common axiom of the Religious Right, leaders of which often argue that Democrats and progressives are hostile to religion. But while it is true that roughly a quarter of the Democratic party doesn’t claim any particular religious tradition — an important group whose rights should also be protected — they are not inherently opposed to people of faith. 

Katherine Derla at Tech Times takes some UFO-hunting lessons from the recently declassified CIA reports. 

Quote of the Day:

Noah Feldman says James Madison would have backed the Phoenix Satanists in their city council prayer gambit (I want to see THAT musical):

The Phoenix City Council is banning prayer so that self-described Satanists won’t have a chance to give one. The decision isn’t about tolerance but intolerance. In the end, that’s a good thing, a sign of the establishment clause working -- and of James Madison’s First Amendment logic in action. ... The Phoenix Satanists illustrate the continuing relevance of Madison’s analysis. As interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Constitution doesn’t prohibit city council prayer so long as the council is neutral in determining who gives that prayer. But the reality of religious diversity means that the majority itself will choose not to have the prayer -- to avoid giving a voice to the rebellious minority.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 brianbuch on Tuesday February 09, 2016 at 8:37am

Perhaps Rep. Mendez should have invoked the real higher powers.  Campaign contributors.  “In the name of the merciful bountiful contributors….”  or words to that effect.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 at 1:11am

“New Hampshire is actually the least religious [read: Christian] state in the country.”

I suspect this is the key reason why Bernie is not doing as well in South Carolina, in particular.  Bernie has an appealing message of equality, liberty, justice, and opportunity for black people, who the news are saying are not receptive to it.  Well, those who are religious may feel Hillary is a better cosplayer for Christ.  As far as I know, nobody has even tried looking at it this way yet.

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