Non Habemus Google Lector

March 14, 2013

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

You of course are aware of the biggest news story that came down yesterday, affecting perhaps a billion people around the world, and impacting every aspect of our culture: Google Reader is shutting down.

Oh, also, there's a new pope. Frank-something.

There's going to be a lot to digest about this guy over the coming days and weeks. Key things for our folks to know is that, yes, shock of shocks, he's a doctrinaire conservative in terms of things like sex and abortion, though he is also said to have a social justice streak in terms of things like poverty. As far as "firsts," he's the first Jesuit pope, and the first not from Europe. This does not mean he is "ethnically" Latin American, as it were, as his parents were Italian, so he's still an old white guy, for what it's worth. He was also apparently the runner-up to Ratzinger last time around. So he's kind of like the Mitt Romney to Ratzinger's John McCain.

The heavier stuff that was immediately talked about as soon as Bergoglio's name came down was his role and whereabouts during Argentina's nasty dictatorship in the 70s. Read this AP piece to get caught up on that. Hugh O'Shaughnessy in 2011 wrote more generally about the Catholic Church's role at the time. 

Also really important non-pope news: The White House's faith-based initiatives office has a new director: Melissa Rogers. Our own Michael De Dora is pleased by the choice:

The previous director of the faith-based office, Joshua DuBois, was a Pentecostal minister and Obama advisor who regularly downplayed or ignored the concerns of church-state advocates. Rogers, on the other hand, is a lawyer who thoroughly understands and respects the principle of separation of church and state (by the way, she is also a practicing Baptist).  

Other likeminded groups are also in favor of the pick

Today is the official International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers. Maryam Namazie posts about several efforts surrounding the day.

Colorado legalizes same-sex civil unions

Ben Radford takes a step back from individual investigations, and explores why he does what he does as a skeptic.  

Guys, the lineup at the CFI symposium on April 27, "Why Tolerate Religion?", is really gangbusters. You're going to want to check it out.

Foundation Beyond Belief announces its Light The Night Walk Team raised $430,000 last year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  

FFRF saddles up once again to get God off the U.S. currency

Pakistan's highest court is not pleased that law enforcement failed to stop the razing of a Christian village by a mob of thousands over allegations of blasphemy. 

Richard Dawkins got into a pig/human fetus thing on Twitter last night over abortion. So if you hear references to this today, this is what they mean. I can't find any roundups of the whole exchange that are neutral about it, so just go scan his Twitter feed to see

More pleasantly, video is posted of a February conversation between Dawkins and CFI-UK's Stephen Law

Issandr El Amrani at NYT on some groups' efforts to bring more secularism to the Arab world

Tim Crookham at North Texas Skeptics finds a lot of woo at a science museum

Make yourself prettier with black space diamonds

NYT blog: New study suggests that acupuncture may have short-term benefits for allergy sufferers. 

Seth Kurtenbach has the lowdown on the battle on Cardinal Biffi versus the Antichrist

Winston-Salem Journal: Americans United goes after Stokes County, NC's school board for promoting Christianity through prayers at school board meetings and graduation ceremonies.

So the Amityville Horror was kind of a real thing, sort of

You, too, can get a free copy of a bestseller that tells you how to wisely invest your money by melding your finances with your synapses or whatever. 

Quote of the Day 

Fake psychic Stephany Fay Cohen on her alien lover:

I don't call him my boyfriend. He's more a good spirit friend who happens to be from the octopus race.

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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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