Tactful Phrasing, Polite Omissions, and White Lies

July 31, 2013

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

The AP covers the Raif Badawi story, the Saudi liberal activist convicted for "insulting Islam" and sentenced to a prison term and 600 lashes, noting that the judge spared Badawi the charge of apostasy, which would have meant the death penalty. Muslims for Progressive Values slams Saudi Arabia over this case, and its violation of its duties under international treaties.

David Mizner looks more broadly at the human rights crisis in Saudi Arabia

Given Bawadi's conviction, and yesterday's verdict in the Bradley Manning trial, this effort seems all the sillier: A Kenyan lawyer, Dola Indidis, wants to overturn Pontius Pilate's conviction of Jesus of Nazareth. Little late, dude.

The Immanent Frame rounds up the reactions and hopes from a number of experts on the State Department's new "religious engagement" office.

Ben Radford explodes the myths behind a lot of misunderstood and misreported statistics at Discovery News, which I used about 10 percent of my brain to read. 

I knew that supposedly the "close" buttons on elevators usually don't do anything, but I had no idea how rife our society is with a whole slew of placebo buttons.  

Here's a study I didn't expect: In the journal Cognition, "The minds of gods: A comparative study of supernatural agency." 

The nonreligious are just behind "liberals" generally in support of marriage equality, and Hemant is peeved we couldn't easily squeak out to number 1. 

And oh look, Hemant's got a post up at CNN.com on the exodus of young folks from Christianity to damnable godlessness:

While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion. 

Americans United welcomes a new communications associate, Sarah Jones, who describes her evolution from a fundamentalist background:

I’m...here because I believe that the wall of separation creates a space where necessary conversations about belief – or the lack thereof – can occur. Fundamentalism thrives on division and ignorance; a country dominated by the Religious Right is a country that forbids conversation. 

Cows are found dead, so of course aliens must be responsible. They HATE cows.

Of course, that's ridiculous. What aliens really do is deliver cakes. When it's made its rounds, then it can join the drone hunt for Bigfoot.

AHA may bust out a lawsuit over a humanist wedding was barred from using a Navy chapel. 

Ultra-orthodox men in Israel lose it when a female passenger refuses to ride in the back of a bus

Billy Hallowell at The Blaze is watching the Humanist Service Corps' Pathfinders project ("the atheist Peace Corps") with a touch of skepticism:

It will be interesting to see if a secular form of proselytizing unfolds on these trips or if the effort in launching the Humanist Service Corps has a more existential and internal rooting (i.e. simply showing that atheists are good people too). 

RNS looks at Camp Quest. Wait wait! Also Camp Inquiry! In the middle of the article! Heck yes.

Camp Inquiry, a Center for Inquiry initiative that targets a similar audience, opened in 2006. Located in Holland, N.Y., it hosts about 50 kids for its weeklong residential session, which includes visitors such as physicist Leonard Tramiel.

Karen Strachan, camp director, said the No. 1 rule the humanist camp espouses is respect — for ideas, people and places. 

Dan Gainor at FoxNews.com, writing about the infamous Reza Aslan interview, knows what the real scandal is:

The reason so many are after [Lauren Green] is that she raised the uncomfortable question about why a Muslim was writing to deny the existence of the Christian faith. 

Wow! Magic helicopters in Afghanistan!  

Quote of the Day

This is not so much about skepto-atheism, and more about just being on the Internet a lot, which, you know, we are. Tim Kreider:

I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sector but simply to simultaneously make every e-mail and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe; the fabric of society would instantly evaporate, every marriage, friendship and business partnership dissolved. Civilization, which is held together by a fragile web of tactful phrasing, polite omissions and white lies, would collapse in an apocalypse of bitter recriminations and weeping, breakups and fistfights, divorces and bankruptcies, scandals and resignations, blood feuds, litigation, wholesale slaughter in the streets and lingering ill will.

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