Your Atheism Has Been Rated “AAA”

July 5, 2013

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

I was horrified this morning, as I clicked on a news item in my Twitter stream about the beheading of a boy in Ghana, whose stepfather allegedly thought he was a wizard or something. That's horrifying enough, but the article also contained, much to my shock, two photographs of the body. (No, I am not providing a link.) I turned away as quickly as I could, but at this moment, and I suspect for some time, that image is seared onto my brain, and my heart beats faster and more nervously every time it crosses my awareness. It reminds me that even while we haggle over tactics and what to emphasize and "mission creep" and freethought taxonomy, the real work is to get people to a) stop believing in the patently nonsensical and b) remove it as a justification for heinous acts for those who may or may not believe it, but do things in the name of the nonsensical. Yes, I want the values of humanism to be ascendent, and I want us to stop being fooled by gurus and prophets and fake alt-med, but I know we have to stop, right now, whatever it is going on in human existence that causes something to happen like this murder in Ghana.

And speaking of these kinds of horrors, Agence France-Presse visits Norway to explore the lingering guilt and shame felt for a frenzy of witch burnings and prosecutions there some 400 years ago, and also notes that since World War II, there have been more murders of people accused of witchcraft globally than in the whole of Europe's medieval period.

Christopher F. Silver at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga completes a major study on nonbelievers, and introduces a new classification system. (I think I'm either an AAA or Anti-Theist.)

I linked to this the other day, but you really need to read this: The Esquire takedown of Eben "Proof of Heaven" Alexander. Let's just say "delusion" is not his only character flaw.

It's official: Two former popes will be turned into saints this year. To the other popes who are as yet un-sainted, it's an honor just to be nominated. 

In the wake of the Egypt coup, Islamists around the world now feel they'll have a tougher time selling democracy as a way to Sharia. 

Monica Harmsen wonders at evangelical abortion opponents' refusal to embrace the notion of "choice" when, she says, it is so crucial to their theology.

As much as the White House loathes the Westboro Baptist Church, it says it has no power to legally classify it as a "hate group." (And come on, that's exactly what they'd want.) 

Julian Baggini: What role, if any, does philosophy have in the face of the death of a loved one

Legislative efficiency at work: North Carolina anti-Sharia law bill gets an abortion ban tacked onto it.

Fred Rich at The Daily Beast warns us to be vigilant in the face of those who would see us become a "Christian nation." (Note the article is headlines "We're Not a Christian Nation," while the URL says it's "We're Not a Goddamn Christian Nation.") 

CFI-Canada's Toronto branch gets a new Acting Director, John Xu.

Sharon Hill has at least some grudging respect for a paranormal "investigation" group, if for no other reason than their thoroughness. However:

It sure would be nice to see some of these groups really document some of their investigations well, consult some actual specialists and cite scientific references so we can get on track with thinking about these cases. It’s time to get serious. No more playing around with gadgets and sciencey stuff. 

Members of Cirque Du Soleil say Michael Jackson is haunting their show

When the title of your article is "Can an atheist church make nonbelievers nicer?" my knee-jerk response is, "No, and bite me." But I'm a better person than that. Ahem. 

Herb Silverman thinks about "religious atheists" and says, "reality works for me." 

SCANDAL: Pastor denied use of a public gazebo for a religious rally in Rehoboth Beach! TYRANNY. 

The Daily Nation profiles atheists' moves to organize in Kenya

Pakistani senate subcommittee is tasked with reviewing the country's blasphemy laws

JoAnne Viviano at the Columbus Dispatch reports on atheist weddings, which seems a popular topic of late, no? 

Oregon does the right thing, as a new law is aimed at making it harder for parents to exempt their kids from vaccinations. 

Mark Edward is unimpressed by National Geographic's excuses for psychics

Our web guy Matt Licata has clearly been influenced by Jony Ive and iOS 7's parallax effectDig the new front page of the Women in Secularism site. 

The late Iain Banks gets an asteroid

Quote of the Day 

Astrophysicist, human rights advocate, and atheist Margherita Hack died Saturday at 91. I wish I could share her POV, expressed in an interview:

I have no fear of death. While we are here, death isn't. 

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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. 

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