The Snack That Smiles Back

April 8, 2013

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

David Kuo, formerly of the Bush White House's faith-based initiatives office, and later a critic of that effort, is dead at 44. From the NYT obit:

[I]n the prologue to his memoir Mr. Kuo wrote that his experience in government had given him clarity about the limits of politics. “I have seen what happens when well-meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber or the floor of the United States Congress,” he wrote. “They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield.” 

Yes, North Carolina's let's-establish-a-state-religion bill is dead, but don't get too cocky, seculars:

34 percent of Americans would favor making Christianity their official state religion while less than half (47 percent) oppose the concept. Thirty-two percent of those polled indicated that they would also favor a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States with just over half (52 percent) opposing the notion. 

Bangladesh's prime minister says there is no need for new blasphemy laws in his country, despite the violent outcry. The AP reports on violence and injuries following a general strike concerning the demand for such laws.

T. M. Luhrmann at NYT writes about being in the uncomfortable middle ground between belief and nonbelief. Thinking about the "nones," she writes:

We know that most of these people still believe in God or a higher power, whatever they mean by that. It’s just that they are no longer willing to describe themselves as associated with a religion. They’ve seen that line in the sand, and they’re not willing to step over it. 

NASA, to all humans who will exist within the next 40 or 50 years: No Moon for you. (Via NASA, anyway.)  

Fret not, though, because NASA is going to go and get us an asteroid.  

According to one survey, the national ideology of North Korea is the 10th most widely-followed religion in the world. 

Guy with a UFO welcome center in his yard: "Aliens can fly from the north or the south and just land in the parking lot and come and chit chat with me, guys."  

Retired Lt General Jerry "Our God is Bigger Than Their God" Boykin, now at the Family Research Council, confirms his crazy by praising Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, and Ted Franks for their willingness to confront the Muslim Brotherhood in America or something. 

CFI's Sarah Kaiser wants the skepto-atheists' critical gaze to include the forces that perpetuate the wage gap between men and women. 

Obama is feeling "closer to Christ" these days. 

Scott Galupo considers the contradiction that is neurosurgeon extraordinaire and creationist Dr. Ben Carson:

In the event that you found yourself in Baltimore and required emergency brain surgery, would you, proud secular liberal, let a six-day creationist gay-marriage critic cut open your skull? If you admit the answer is yes, then savor the irony—and maybe dial down the self-superiority. 

Another infant gets herpes from the really disgusting version of circumcision that includes "oral suction." 

Bad Science Watch comes out swinging against the sale of "homeopathic vaccines" in Canada. 

On Facebook, new Indiana Democratic senator Joe Donnelly comes out in favor of marriage equality:

With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all. 

Damon Linker posits that the mass adoption of birth control leads directly to the uptick in support for marriage equality:

Gay marriage has come to be widely accepted because our society stopped thinking of marriage as a conjugal union decades ago.

And if you're in France, birth control just got even easier: the costs of contraceptives and abortions are now entirely reimbursed for teenage girls.  

Ron Boston muses on the late Roger Ebert's support of church-state separation

Court rules that an Oregon couple may not keep their eight children from being immunized for religious reasons. 

AU's Church & State magazine looks at the various state laws about who can and cannot solemnize and officiate marriages, and includes the battle being fought by CFI-Indiana for secular celebrants. 

NYC public schools do not teach sex ed in school buildings owned by the Catholic Church.  

Higgs, of boson fame, says stop calling it a "God particle." 

Shock of shocks, "Sharia councils" in Britain are ruining women's lives. 

UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission offers all manner of workplace accomodations for all manner of belief systems. Druids, pagans, vegans, folks really worried about climate change, and yes, even atheists. 

What's with this "biological SETI," the alleged embedding of some kind of message in our DNA? Mark Hixson takes a look

Goldfish cracker with some kind of blemish on it is considered a sign from God by a woman in Florida. I shudder to think of all the signs from God my three-tear-old son has thoughtlessly consumed. 

Headline of the Day, from the Daily Mail: "Romanian lawyer sues his bishop and four priests claiming they failed to properly exorcise flatulent demons in his house" 

Kile Jones interviews Grief Beyond Belief's Rebecca Hensler

Naomi Schaefer Riley, who is herself part of an interfaith union, predicts they will bode somewhat ill:

They are more likely than same-faith unions to be unhappy and, in some circumstances, to end in divorce. They also tend to diminish the strength of religious communities, as the devout are pulled away from bonds of tradition and orthodoxy by their nonmember spouses. 

NEA Today profiles music teacher Debra Kay Robinson Lindsay, "a petite blonde woman in a black suit and heels who somehow has complete command over the army of nearly 40 adrenaline-pumped elementary students." Why is this relevant? Debra is married to CFI chief Ron What's-his-name.

Quote of the Day  

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom comes down against Egypt's blasphemy laws:

Rather than limiting religious freedom and free expression, the Egyptian government should abolish ‘contempt of religion’ laws, and direct this prosecutorial energy towards government-funded clerics, government officials, or individuals who incite violence against individuals from Muslim or non-Muslim minority communities.  

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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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