Official Government Clairvoyance

June 29, 2015

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

You were probably too excited about the big same-sex marriage decision to read Cause & Effect when it went out on Friday. I forgive you! You can go check it out now

And how about that decision? Our response, you can guess, was pretty positive:

This decision strengthens American secularism, and finally acknowledges what we have always known to be true: People who love each other should be free to marry, no matter what any church has to say about it.  

Even Andrew Sullivan came out of blog-retirement to write in celebration. Personally, I really liked Jeffrey Toobin's take:

Too often, assertions of divine guidance spoken in state capitols (as well as in the Capitol) have turned out to be little more than bigotry dressed in clerical garb. This is why, at least in theory, we have a Supreme Court. In their best moments, the Justices apply the careful scrutiny demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment—for equal protection of the laws—against any government official’s clairvoyance about God’s intent.  

Two proposals that these writers say follow naturally from the same-sex marriage decision:

Meanwhile in Opposite-Land, the Legion of Doom (aka the U.S. Catholic Bishops) says, "It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage."  

And now, let the marriage-equality exempt-a-thon begin!

God-fearing Mississippi says it will take its marriage licensing and go home. Right-wingers lose their already-addled minds.

We are of course still dealing with the aftermath of the massacre in Charleston. President Obama gave the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, which was, predictably, heavy on the religion, and Hemant Mehta tells atheists to avoid clenching our teeth over it:

It’s the sort of religion-in-politics that’s hard to get mad about. Faith wasn’t used by Obama as a cudgel against people who disagreed with him, but rather as a foundational basis to move forward and become better versions of ourselves. 

I'm clenching my teeth a bit, I have to say. I'm not at all comfy with the president telling us what God's "ideas" are, or telling African Americans that the church is and always has been at the center of their life. 

CFI's joining with 14 other secularist groups urging the passage of the House Resolution against blasphemy laws. 

Cody Hashman's presentation on what young people can learn from Robert Ingersoll is now available for listening on the Center Stage podcast. 

Joe Schwarcz, one of the recipients of the CSI Balles Prize, writes about the "ludicrous" allegations made about ill effects from artificial sweeteners:

No study will ever settle this issue to everyone’s satisfaction. But if we place the expert opinions on one side of a balance, and the critics’ ramblings on the other, we are likely to hear a loud clang as the expert-weighted pan slams down, propelling the anti-aspartame rant into the air. 

(And there is a typo in the article's headline, in which the sweeteners are referred to as "artifical," which sounds yucky.)

Nancy A. Youssef at Daily Beast profiles Ismail Mohammed, a YouTube "atheist preacher" in Cairo, and the blossoming of atheistic media in the region. 

Samuel Freedman at NYT profiles those who get ordained by mail-order with the Universal Life Church. 

Sonia Faleiro takes to task India's prime minister for imposing religiously-based vegetarianism, which keeps the poor from the protein sources they need. 

Parents are bringing their kids to chiropractors. Good thing kids are more rubbery.

The editorial board of something called the Times News in Tennessee disses the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and calls Bill Nye a doofus. Okay.

Ben Radford at Discovery News looks at the evolutionary and psychological reasons why we keep seeing faces where there are none, like in rocks. 

An Iowa judge tells a New York-based "psychic" outfit to stop soliciting on Iowa, and to pay back a lot of money. 

Sarah Fallon at Wired doesn't want you to feel too bummed about some of the fraud that goes on in scientific research, and provides some sources of "good clean science." 

There's no way that curve-shaped blob in Lake Erie is NOT a sea monster

Quote of the Day:

Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit, writing at Slate, expressing his support for the marriage ruling, and disappointment in John Roberts:

I say that gratuitous interference in other people’s lives is bigotry. The fact that it is often religiously motivated does not make it less so. The United States is not a theocracy, and religious disapproval of harmless practices is not a proper basis for prohibiting such practices, especially if the practices are highly valued by their practitioners.

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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Comments:

#1 mharbour on Monday June 29, 2015 at 8:15am

Of course the curve-shaped blob in Lake Erie isn’t a sea monster; it’s a LAKE MONSTER.

#2 Randy on Monday June 29, 2015 at 9:05pm

“Faith ... a foundational basis”

Yes, that always works well.

I don’t know why atheists always give a pass to slightly liberal religious people like Obama or the current Pope.

#3 Randy on Monday June 29, 2015 at 9:18pm

Oppenheimer and DeBoer are correct (if you characterized them correctly).  I would go further regarding polygamy and say not only should it be decriminalized and legalized, but we need to work toward a more flexible system that permits people to form the love, sex, and family relationships that they want to form, and enjoy all the government protection for those relationships that two-person marriages receive.  Perhaps a starting point is making “marry” a one-directional action.  Today, if A marries B, then B has also married A.  But A could marry B, B could marry C, and C could marry A.  The benefits would flow in a circuit.  Of course, this doesn’t reflect the hub-and-spoke model preferred by religious polygamists.

DeBoer writes: “the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy”.  Indeed, the current conservative queer movement has been willing to toss out and/or rewrite much of queer history, to better present itself as “just like the best straight people”.  What is ironic is that they will fume at black bigots like Clarence Thomas, and yet hold themselves in high regard despite their attempt to pull up the ladder after themselves, just as he tries to do to them.

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