Laugh or Cry? I Can’t Decide

May 17, 2013

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

Women in Secularism 2 kicks off today! To judge by the tweets of attendees, there is an enthusiasm for this conference that I've not seen for an event at least since the Reason Rally. And not for nothin', but the WiFi in the hotel lobby is great, and the hotel Starbucks employees are really nice, so things are already looking up. For live updates, images, and bad jokes, watch the Twitter hashtag #wiscfi (knowing that it will also have its share of detractors in the stream) and the official CFI Twitter account @center4inquiry...which is me!

Matthew Brown at Deseret News (who does a lot of great church-state coverage) looks at the "softening" of the White House faith-based initiative, as emphasis moves from money to the sharing of information and being generally helpful.

Lawrence Krauss joined CFI's Office of Public Policy in sending a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science Committee, asking him to scrap his ill-advised proposal to hamper NSF funding:

These requirements represent a serious misunderstanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and discovery and, if approved, would not facilitate, but instead obstruct productive scientific research. 

Just posted, particularly for those who are conference-starved, but unable to get to WiS, we have the video of Brian Leiter from his talk at CFI's "Why Tolerate Religion?" symposium last month. 

At Discovery News, Ben Radford on the phenomenon of folks witnessing people getting up from their graves, because:

. . . especially in Third World countries where modern medical treatment is rare, and confirming death may sometimes be little more than guesswork.  

And at Yahoo News, Ben looks at the claim that a British girl in India was killed for her organs. Fun stuff, Ben! 

Ideas Roadshow has video of a conversation with CSI fellow Jill Tarter on her work with SETI.  

WiS speaker Vyckie Garrison is in a BBC report on the Quiverfull phenomenon.

World Council of Churches expresses concern about the situation in Bangladesh:

It is very disheartening to hear about this development of communal hatred in Bangladesh, once known for its tolerance and now grappling with religious intolerance and politicization of religion. The systematic violation of human rights is most unfortunate and needs to end. As you know, the WCC is committed to supporting all persecuted minorities, irrespective of their religions, as the human rights and dignity of every person should be upheld. 

You won't BELIEVE how this Bigfoot shooting in Pennsylvania turned out! Oh wait, yes you will.  

When Harry Potter gets to that ripe old age when thoughts of his mortality come into view, he may want to join the Order of the Good Death:

. . . a collective of death professionals, artists, and academics who promote real talk about death and dying. While its name has an occult quality, the Order’s mission is actually quite public: to encourage people to be “death positive,” or open to exploring their thoughts, feelings, and fears about mortality. 

New study confirms what we can see: Exposure to Christian concepts and images predisposes one to seeing things in black-or-white terms. According to Pacific Standard:

As the researchers write, this attitude no doubt gives people structure in their lives and contributes to their well-being. But it’s also a plausible route to prejudice and general close-mindedness. 

Skepto-atheists are kickstarting all over! Aubrey Adrianson is looking for funders for her next book, A Secular Parent's Guide to Teaching Religion.

Okay, so we have a new social media intern for Point of Inquiry, and he's doing a bang-up job. Check out his handy work in the latest "weekly wrap-up" at the POI blog. 

Ed Buckner finds Bibles in a Georgia state park cabin, and the governor gets them sent back. Huh.  

Georgia atheist activist Mike Smith will run for mayor of LaGrange after a not-so-successful run for the state House. Keep at it, Mike, say I. This is how we do it, one election at a time. 

Anti-Shariah law in Oklahoma gets fuzzier to not accidentally trample on Christianity or business.  

According to the Saudi religious police, if a man uses Twitter or other social network, he "has lost this world and his afterlife." 

At Vice, Adnan Khan posits that atheist prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard still opposes gay marriage because of straight-up electoral math

A new organization looks to do for a broad range of folks what the Clergy Project does for clergy: The Apostasy Project

Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph settles a lawsuit over its employment of Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who took pornographic photos of a 2-year-old.

"I look back on it now and think, ‘How could I have been so stupid?" says the beleaguered victim of a fraud psychic, bilked of over $73,000.

In honor of Women in Secularism, I present the reason many of us are here today, in an attitude voiced by the not-really-all-that-relevant Pat Robertson:

Here’s the secret. Stop talking (about) the cheating. He cheated on you, well, he’s a man. . . . What you want to do is make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander. 

Quote of the Day 

William MacAskill at Quartz calls Homeopaths Without Borders "one of the worst charities in the world":

Besides minor ailments, HWB also treats malaria, typhoid, cholera, dengue fever, advanced diabetes, and educates about the “beneficial effects” of these treatments. Laugh or cry? I can’t decide. There’s something really wrong with a company that deludes the barely educated global poor with the false hope of a malaria treatment–when they could have been seeking assistance that might actually save their life. It’s even more wrong that it can get the tax exemption status known as 501(c)3 in the US. 

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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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