Too Ridiculous for Words

June 17, 2013

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

Paul is off on something called a "vacation," but we are starting to suspect he's really "bonding with Sasquatch." He'll return on the 20th. Until then, your Guest Heretics are CFI's Director of Marketing Lauren Becker and Senior Policy Analyst Ed Beck. Now to the news!

If you're like me, a good weekend can sometimes leave you struggling on Monday morning to summon the energy to be concerned about rights and wrongs. Fortunately (?) there is much in the news to wake you up today.

First up, we celebrate a happy 50th anniversary for Ellery Schempp and the landmark case that removed school-sponsored prayers from public schools. Thanks, Ellery!

(Be sure to keep track of the Court this week - we're expecting the Supreme Court to issue more opinions today and Thursday. It's possible we'll have decisions on marriage equality by the end of the week!) 

Second, we bemoan the fact that people are still misunderstanding and challenging the Abington v. Schempp decision. I'm talking to you, South Carolina. Again.

Even still, Christian Science Monitor goes mythbusting and discovers the public schools are still chock full o' Jesus

Speaking of challenging decisions that have already been made, the Springboro, Ohio school board is taking a turn at the "creationism in science class" wheel. (Hey, physics people, how fast do we have to spin this wheel for all these challenges to fly off?)

But don't panic, Christmas is safe in Texas! (Even though nothing else is...) Governor Perry is fighting off the Atheist Invasion!

And lest you think Perry is imagining things, the British are coming! The British are coming! British atheists, that is, to a bikini bar near you.

But hey, at least we're not sending out drones. Drones! Drones for Christ!! 

Progress in Pakistan as a pastor is acquitted of blasphemy.

Some people will see this as progress, too: there's been another blasphemy sentencing in Egypt, only this one was for tearing up and burning a Bible. This is a rare instance of the state seeming to protect a religion other than Islam.

Of course real progress would be to get rid of blasphemy laws entirely - and the European Parliament is working on it. A draft of the guidelines on protecting freedom of religion or belief now mentions the need to protect the rights of nonbelievers.

Though the amendment to allow nontheistic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces didn't pass, the Secular Coalition for America applauds the 150 votes in favor of it and thanks Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) for sponsoring it. 

“He does not want to be forced to say something that he does not want to say.” A Christian in Oklahoma wins the right to challenge the state's "rain god" license plate. (What I want to know is where can I get a plate featuring the Irony God...)

Meanwhile, over at r/atheism, people who spend their lives telling people to give up their most cherished beliefs have a hard time with change

Rather unsurprisingly, a new Pew study reveals a strong link between LGBT adults and nonbelief.

Vaccines have a new ally! Sarah Michelle Gellar is spreading the word about the importance of both childhood and adult vaccinations - in a good way. 

"Too ridiculous for words?" A new BBC documentary claims Uri Geller was recruited to help Western intelligence services as they battled to stay ahead of their Communist enemies in the Seventies and Eighties. 

All the more reason to celebrate skepticism and critical thinking when you find it. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry has announced the winners of its Balles Prize in Critical Thinking: Forbes columnist Steven Salzberg and author-investigator Joe Nickell! The awards will be presented at the CFI Summit conference in Seattle, October 24-27, 2013.


Quote of the Day 

Sean Faircloth, in a talk "Atheism & the Joyful Life" presented to the Humanist Society of Western Australia in Perth on April 2, 2013 - watch the video!

“Us versus them? That’s old tribe. Our tribe, today’s tribe, has Darwin’s evolutionary thread, Dawkins genetic thread. Now we know our thread runs all the way back to cousin bonobos, to fish even, more family to me than some mega minister pounding his bully pulpit with anger and hatred. Our new tribe views from space our globe entire.” 

* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta