If You Threw Yourself in Front of a Train

May 20, 2013

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

The conference was great. It had a high bar to meet with last year's huge success, but it was easily cleared. Talk to talk, panel to panel, and the amazing freaking voice of Shelley Segal, it was a real and substantive pleasure to be at Women in Secularism 2. 

We, of course, had our controversies. CFI chief Ron Lindsay has posted the prepared text of his opening remarks that caused an enormous amount of debate and very strong feelings, reactions to which can be found all about the interwebs. 

I know, many, many folks are itching for video of the conference talks. While you wait for us to crank up the movie machine, sate your desire with videos from last year's conference

Amanda Greene at RNS looks at the rise of humanist weddings, noting CFI's own Secular Celebrant program. (And there's another piece on the topic at Rochester, MN's Post Bulletin.)

HuffPo: Persecuted Bangladeshi bloggers, even though two are out on bail, are under constant threat over their atheism. 

The Surpeme Court will hear a case about prayers at city council meetings

Gage Pulliam, the high school student whistleblower over a Ten Commandments display, scores an activist award from FFRF. 

Sharon Hill at HuffPo tries to unobfuscate some lexicographical bewilderment about skeptic terminology with some etymological pedantry. 

Right wing Christian groups cry foul, claiming they were inappropriately targeted by the IRS, because Obama. SCA says the IRS is not doing enough.

Pew looks at the religious makeup of U.S. immigrants, including results that show "nones" holding steady after an uptick in 2004. 

Michelle Boorstein at WaPo: Seminary graduates don't always become priests, but use their education to spread the Good Word in all manner of professions. 

Ben Radford did a quick guest stint on Big Picture Science, talking about those folks who think they can nourish themselves merely by breathing.

At LiveScience, Ben looks at the practice of dowsing and notices --  hey! -- it's not working! 

97% of climate scientists are on board with the truth of global warming! That should settle everything. 

Massachusetts psychic takes advantage of the vulnerable with free readings to parents who have lost a child. Classy way to get folks hooked.

Harvard Humanists Greg Epstein and James Croft will co-author a book on atheist/humanist "churching," The Godless Congregation

Governor of Georgia (the state) lets the Bibles in state park cabins stay because they were "donated," and says anyone cam submit literature. Cue American Atheists.

In Georgia (the country) gay rights activists are set upon by a mob led by priests. 

At rates that are faster than previously thought, Christianity is on the way down in the UK, and Islam is on the way up. 

Religious members of Afghanistan's parliament manage to defeat a law banning violence against women

Alexandria Lakes Area Tea Party aims to convert George Soros

China says: No sex for Buddha, please. 

Sikivu Hutchinson, a speaker at last year's WiS, discusses her new book Godless Americana with Religion Dispatches:

[H]umanism can be culturally relevant to communities of color. Traditional mainstream white-dominated freethought/atheist/humanist models don’t offer an adequate basis for social justice. They don’t address the intersection of women’s rights, civil rights, anti-racism, heterosexism, the racial wealth gap, and educational apartheid. 

On polygamy, fundamentalist Mormon Claud Cawley looks to dispel what he says is the "misconception that men among the [fundamentalist] community look to plural marriage as a means to satisfy their lust and exploit and degrade women." 

Leon Seltzer at Psychology Today distinguishes between what he sees as dogmatic and non-dogmatic atheists:

[I]f scientists in general—and physicists in particular—can’t ever be absolutely certain about Absolutes, how much more difficult must it be for metaphysicists to attain such certitude? To answer my own question: very difficult, indeed! 

Hawker of fake cancer cures Christine Daniel gets 14 years in prison

KCEN in Texas notes with surprise that atheism may not be all that scary. 

Former Microsoftian is scared of WiFi death beams. 

Apparently, famous people love them some Chopra

Okay, best for last: Slate compares the speeds of various sci-fi spacecraft! It's so cool! But I have to say, I'm iffy on his Millennium Falcon boosterism. And where's Enterprise-D???  

Quote of the Day 

Herb Silverman is troubled by the two tracks to Catholic sainthood:

No matter how good a life you led, even by Catholic standards, you would still have to perform two miracles after death if you didn’t die as a martyr. If you threw yourself in front a train to stop it from killing a hundred children, two miracles would still be needed. In other words, you would not be as worthy as one who led a morally corrupt life but died while refusing to convert. 

* * *  

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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Comments:

#1 sotonohito (Guest) on Monday May 20, 2013 at 9:33am

I’m not, yet, ready to declare that the CFI is not a group I can support any longer, but I must admit that as Lindsey continues to dig himself deeper I’m leaning that way.

Someone needs to tell him that every post he makes trying to justify his opening remarks at WIS2 is making the problem worse.  Especially when he seems to be focusing more on attacking his critics than anything else. 

Is there someone at CFI who can get Lindsey to stop putting his foot in his mouth?  Anyone?

#2 Ophelia Benson on Monday May 20, 2013 at 10:44am

Your favorite part was when we all shouted “Fidalgo!” really loud in the bar as you came in, right?

#3 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday May 20, 2013 at 10:46am

That never happened.

#4 Justin Vacula (Guest) on Monday May 20, 2013 at 11:04pm

The professionalism from CFI staff was astounding!

...a special shout out to Ron Lindsay for taking time to approach and personally welcome Karla Porter and I during downtime/break.

...Melody Hensley for welcoming me in the registration area and shaking my hand.

...Debbie Goddard for great conversation in the tabling area and a nice picture.

...Michael De Dora for great conversation in the speaker area during breaktime

...Lauren Becker for answering questions and for conversation throughout the conference

...and to those whom I may not have named who helped work at, plan, and organize the event.

I’m proud that I registered to be a member of CFI prior to the conference and can now consider myself a supporter. Karla Porter, too, obtained a membership today because of her satisfaction.

It’s especially great to see—in the closing and opening remarks—a return to discussion of first principles on which the rationalist movement ought to rest - questioning cherished beliefs and the importance of adjusting beliefs based on reason/argument/evidence. Ronald Lindsay is taking a stand in challenging dogma and warning against it. Keep this up.

It is too bad that people are calling for Ron to be removed from his position of leadership or otherwise resign - attacking CFI in the process and, just to name one example, suggesting it is “inexcusable” to donate to CFI until Ron Lindsay is “gone.”

#5 Ichthyic (Guest) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 1:09am

It is too bad that people are calling for Ron to be removed from his position of leadership or otherwise resign.

I wonder if you ever will have the insight to realize your contribution to the problem, instead of trying to play up your idiocy for pats on the head?

I know I’m asking way too much.

#6 B-Lar (Guest) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 2:27am

“...an enormous amount of debate and very strong feelings…”

Just another organisation saying “What can we do to encourage more women?” so much that they cant hear the reply.

#7 Laurence (Guest) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 7:38am

I don’t understand why it is such a big deal for people to not want to support an organizations whose head perform an action that they find objectionable.  It seems perfectly reasonable.  I didn’t hear anyone in the secular community getting upset that people didn’t want to support the Komen foundation after they stopped funding planned parenthood.  People support the organizations that they think are worthy of supporting.

#8 echidna (Guest) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 5:53pm

JV: “Ronald Lindsay is taking a stand in challenging dogma and warning against it.”

Ronald Lindsay had a job to do in opening the conference - and he didn’t do it.  Instead of welcoming the delegates and attendees, he did the opposite - he chastised them.  He really did not speak to his audience.

You do realise that a number of women in that audience will have had the Pauline quote that Ronald Lindsay used to open his speech used against them as a cudgel to keep them silent?  If he was going to use that quote, invoking those memories, he needed to repudiate it firmly, not just use it as a piece of evidence of women’s subordination.

#9 Cangeli on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 10:59pm

Lindsey was attempting a conversation, it is really sad that others in our community cannot understand that.  In fact it has become exhausting.  I want to listen, but now I just don’t care.  I will stand with anyone to make our community equal, to listen to all who speak, I think the argument has been well presented. But this name calling is useless

#10 Cangeli on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 10:59pm

Lindsey was attempting a conversation, it is really sad that others in our community cannot understand that.  In fact it has become exhausting.  I want to listen, but now I just don’t care.  I will stand with anyone to make our community equal, to listen to all who speak, I think the argument has been well presented. But this name calling is useless

#11 Cangeli on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 10:59pm

Lindsey was attempting a conversation, it is really sad that others in our community cannot understand that.  In fact it has become exhausting.  I want to listen, but now I just don’t care.  I will stand with anyone to make our community equal, to listen to all who speak, I think the argument has been well presented. But this name calling is useless

#12 Cam (Guest) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 at 11:39am

I’m giving the board a couple of weeks to respond before I make up my mind about CFI. I know that it takes time to meet and to draft a statement. This would be a very good time, though, for the board to make an announcement that they are considering the Lindsay problem.

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