All the Squabbling Skills

March 29, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay wants activist atheists to learn from the LGBT movement in how it has prioritized and appealed to broadly-shared values:

Going after “symbolic” targets—crosses, mottoes, and so forth—may not always be the best strategy. It depends on the situation, of course, because some of these cases are easy wins based on precedent and some situations are just too outrageous too ignore. But I think it is fair to say that having the words “In God We Trust” on our money does not strike many religious people as an intolerable assault on the human dignity of nonbelievers. Don’t get me wrong. I abhor that motto as much as anyone else, but we should be realistic about where we focus our efforts.

Trevor Boeckmann of CFI On Campus affiliate UNIFI argues against the secular movement's use of lawsuits to further its aims (and has the best headline I've seen in a long time, "Suing Ourselves in the Foot").  

Speaking of On Campus, Secular Student Alliance at University of California Irvine is our affiliate of the week. Now, I mention this with a heavy heart, as I wanted very badly to be admitted to UC Irvine's graduate school for acting, and I applied in both 1999 and 2000, and was never admitted, despite it looking pretty good at times. And that stung, guys. It stung. So I may hold that against these young folks for no reason.  

New Statesmen asks thinkers "What can atheists learn from believers?" The Humanist Association's Jim Al-Khalili, among them, says that religious belief is fine by him:

Our society is no longer predominantly religious. Atheists are the mainstream. This is precisely why we should set out our stall to be more tolerant and inclusive.  

Kentucky's governor Steve Beshear does a solid by vetoing a so-called "religious freedom" bill, only to have his veto overturned

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who clearly has no fear, will be the keynote speaker at the Secular Coalition's lobby day. 

Laura H. Kahn at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (yes, I have that in my RSS reader) argues strongly for a mission to put humans on Mars

Ian O'Neil at Discovery News is more interested in a comet slamming into the Red Planet, calling such an event a "scientific smorgasbord." 

Bangladeshi government cracks down on atheist bloggers, ordering their sites shut down, d a swirl of Islamist protests against online "blasphemy." 

So-called "fairy circles" in Africa are found to probably be the work of termites. 

Irina Papkova at The Revealer on the rising tensions between a more activist Russian Orthodox Church and the anti-clerical response.  

Joe Nickell laments renewed, flawed reports of the Shroud of Turin's alleged authenticity.

John Corvino at NYT touts the value of Lent for nonbelievers. Paging Tom Flynn again. 

Andy Kopsa at Al-Jazeera: "President Obama has done precious little to end PEPFAR funding to anti-gay, anti-condom, "abstinence-only" organisations operating in Africa (and indeed other parts of the world)."

Sara Lin Wilde at Friendly Atheist notices that the new pope sure loves him some Satan references

And speaking of Lucifer, it seems that for centuries Christians have preferred their Satan black

The Bible isn't long enough, so these scholars have added 10 new books to the New Testament

CNN Radio covers American Atheists' big five-o

Clay Farris Naff at HuffPo complains the atheist movement is wasting a chance to grow and thrive:

The evidence is in, and it is clear: New Atheists have been a media success and a societal failure. They know how to sell books, how to debate, how to sneer, skewer, and satirize -- in short, how to use all the squabbling skills of the modern academic (cf. the letters section of the New York Review of Books) -- but the New Atheists seemingly have no idea how to build a positive social movement. 

Missouri Catholic parish is raided for an investigation into child pornography.

Quote of the Day 

Ottawa Citizen asks religion experts about the new Canadian office of religious freedom, and includes CFI-Canada's Kevin Smith. (They spell it "Centre" for Inquiry there, which is crazy.) 

There are scores of non-believers who are assaulted, maimed and murdered by religious persecutors. That was last month in Bangladesh alone. The Ambassador of the Office of Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, hinted that the mandate he and his limited staff would follow may not be exclusive to those who believe in the supernatural when he stated the rights of all humans are paramount. If he is sincere, Mr. Bennett should act in good faith immediately. Atheists in exile or being tortured in jail are waiting.

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