Francis and the Accidental Exorcism

May 22, 2013

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

The anti-blasphemy machine rolls on: Turkish writer Sevan Nişanyan is sentenced to 58 weeks in prison for “insulting the religious beliefs held by a section of the society.” 

GOP Lt. Governor nominee E.W. Jackson of Virginia (Democrats are a "coalition of the godless") says that anyone who criticizes his hard-right positions "is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live." Chaser: 

I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional.

You're making that hard, dude. 

Indiana Public Media looks at the upcoming Supreme Court case on prayer at government functions, and gets insight from CFI-Indiana's Reba Boyd Wooden. 

Stephen Prothero says that the Court isn't really going to be taking up the question of whether any prayer is okay, but what sort: sectarian or inclusive? 

Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez (a secular humanist! In Arizona!) opens a House session not with a prayer, but with Sagan:

For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. 

Oh, this is going to be good: Carrie Poppy visits an oxygen bar.  

Ross Douthat: Suicide rates are up because religion and marriage are down. Nate Cohn: Nuh-uh.

NJ Priest who violated a court-mandated ban on his interacting with children gets his hearing. Says Bob Hoatson, a former priest, now head of Road to Recovery:

I’m here to see a 10-year attempt to hold [Rev.] Fugee and the archdiocese accountable after they have been coddling him and moving him from place to place, and then arrogantly proclaiming he’s an innocent man. The review board that returned him to ministry should be disbanded, and we need a broom to sweep the archdiocese clean. 

Did Pope Francis once perform an exorcism...by accident? 

Gwynn Guilford at QuartzRhino horns are fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars from rich Vietnamese who consider the horns to have magical "cancer-zapping" properties.  

Jamsheed K. Choksy on the U.S.'s position toward countries with bad religious freedom records:

What needs to happen is that the government of the United States needs to take these reports and make them central aspects of American policy and foreign relations. 

Alasdair at Skepchick on being an atheist teacher at a time of horror or tragedy like that of the Sandy Hook massacre:

An atheist teacher is, I’d argue, even better placed to help young people to deal with events like these than someone with a deeply religious worldview. We see the world the way it is. We know that there’s nothing out there guiding us, that terrible event like these are not part of some grand “plan”. We know that the only comfort we have is each other and that it’s our responsibility alone to look after those more vulnerable than ourselves. The stark and unfeeling picture that some people paint of atheists could not be further from the truth. 

50,000 (!!) children are accused of sorcery in Congo. I don't know what to say about that.

Tornado truthers. Yep. Thanks, Obama

Islamist leader held in Bangladesh allegedly cops to an extremist plot to oust the current government. 

At RNS, Tom Ehrich says Christianity is in the midst of a new "revolution," in which it suffers a "collapse from the inside." 

78-year-old anti-gay rights activist commits suicide at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.  

Sally Steenland at Center for American Progress makes the religious Americans' case for keeping prayer out of public schools. 

PZ showers our own Michael De Dora with love. I'm glad that Michael is no longer seen as a witless wanker. He is NOT witless! 

Quote of the Day 

This one is easy. You've already seen it, probably. Wolf Blitzer asks tornado survivor Rebecca Vitsmun if she "thanks the lord," to which she replies, smilingly:

I’m actually an atheist. 

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