August 9, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
You may have heard of the problem where Facebook seems to be targeting posts and pages from secularists and progressive Muslims for takedown when anything having to do with Islam is criticized. On Point of Inquiry this week, Josh Zepps focuses on the issue with guest Faisal Saeed Al Mutar.
So this McMullin guy who apparently deserves mass media attention because he's I guess running for president. Maggie Haberman at NYT notes the one aspect of his candidacy that actually could have an impact: His religion:
Mr. McMullin, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studied in Utah and could take votes from Mr. Trump in the heavily Mormon state. ... If Mr. McMullin is competitive nowhere else but Utah, he still could nonetheless have an effect on the race: Mr. Trump cannot win the presidency without holding the states that Mr. Romney won, his aides have concluded.
Ben Radford convenes another blog-symposium at Free Thinking, with a really tough question. Starting with the example of the writer Sapphire: "Does art--or poetry specifically--have an obligation to truth, and if so what is the extent and nature of that obligation?"
Carrie Poppy tries to get her brainwaves synced, or realize her true energy, or something, with a session of "dream therapy," which is full of pseudoscientific banana-pants stuff, but also with something sinister and cultish underneath.
You will be stunned to know that the Ark Encounter has not been the boon to Boone they'd hoped.
Parth M.N. at the LA Times reports on the radical Hindu sect Sanatan Sanstha, which has been linked to the murders of secularists in India. Now, Sanatan Sanstha is supposed to be nonviolent, seeking a virtuous divine kingdom, but the official texts have a loophole: "Violence against evil is not violence." Free pass!
Speaking of religion justifying murder, Kenan Malik at NYT looks at the vague motivations behind recent terror attacks:
[Jihadists] are waging a righteous war against the West, which they see as an almost mythical, all-encompassing monster. That is why a jihadist act is rarely linked to a political demand but is seen rather as an existential struggle to cut the monster down, in which almost any act becomes acceptable.
Pew does a report on politicking from the pulpit, with two-thirds of churchgoers saying they hear about politics from their clergy, but only about 14% say their clergy support or oppose a candidate. As Laurie Goodstein reports, those pulpits tend be friendlier to Clinton than Trump, which, you know, in most years you would not expect.
Relatedly, a few days ago the Washington Post editorialized against Trump's call to repeal the Johnson Amendment:
The best argument for the law’s constitutionality is that churches (and other nonprofits) themselves willingly accept its constraints in return for a very lucrative benefit: exemption from taxation. Those religious organizations committed to a form of witness that requires political activism are free to pursue it entirely on their own dimes.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation has sponsored the creation of Peter Boghossian's new app Atheos, which helps nonbelievers have discussions with the religious. Godless Mom recommends the app for "offering responses that are socratic, calm and reasoned to common questions and assertions," and calls it something "every atheist needs." Like thneeds! (No truffulas were harmed.)
Roy Moore is going to court on judicial ethics charges. Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center sums it up: "Alabama is a great state and deserves better than a chief justice who thinks he is the law unto himself."
Quote of the Day
A twitterer of great skill, Alexandra Petri:
CPR aka a SUCCOR PUNCH
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#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 2:47pm
“something every atheist needs”
Being replaced by someone else’s software? No thanks. You can take my job. You’re not taking my brain.
#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 2:51pm
“waging a righteous war against the West, which they see as an almost mythical, all-encompassing monster”
Islamic State said as much in a recent issue of Dabiq. They hate us because we aren’t them, because we disgust them and Allah, and because we don’t follow Allah.
Unfortunately, the left in the West refuses to believe them.
#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 2:57pm
“You may have heard of the problem where Facebook seems to be targeting posts and pages from secularists”
It’s not just these folks. Facebook is censoring pretty much anything that anybody else disagrees with. Facebook was already broken when it was a privacy-harvesting tool. Now it’s also a censorship tool. It needs to go. Fortunately, it can be replaced by a decentralized, uncensorable system.
#4 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 3:02pm
“Does art—or poetry specifically—have an obligation to truth”
The obligation is not between concepts “art” and “truth”, but rather between “artist” and “audience”, and also “artist” and “society”.
Much art (e.g. “true story” films) make false claims about real people and real events. They are actively poisoning the public mind, just as surely as religion.
But even when fictional art draws presents stories that are credible, it fails the public when it conforms to public biases, and doesn’t present countering viewpoints.
For example, try to find the gay characters in 1950s films. There are a handful, but mostly they don’t exist. And where they do exist, they aren’t meant to be seen as “us”, but as “them”. Now, the production code had a lot to do with this. But filmmakers should not have gone along with the code. They should have packed up, and moved out.