These Presidents Go To 11

September 19, 2016

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

Emma Green at The Atlantic has a fascinating interview with Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of Village Atheists, and they cover a lot of territory about atheist combativeness, the religious view of atheist women as "monsters," and more. 

The presidential polls have tightened, for some reason. Perhaps it's cosmic forces preordaining a Trump victory: 

Uri Geller says Trump is going to win the election because he has 11 letters in his name, and a few other presidents also had 11 letters. I mean, lots of them didn't, too. But they don't count. Because you're literally not supposed to count the letters in their names. Because they don't make 11, you see. Gerald R. Ford has 11 letters and he never had to be elected to become president. "Dwight David Eisenhower" has 21 letters, which is WAY luckier than 11.  

Also, God talked to Jim "Credible Source" Bakker and said, "You know, the polls could be wrong." That so sounds like God.

The Des Moines Register editorial board casts a skeptical eye on the seemingly well intentioned, "quasi-therapeutic" PTSD treatments for veterans offered by the faith-based group Operation Zhero.

Iowa law, unfortunately, allows “members of the clergy” to engage in psychology and mental health therapy as long as they don’t claim to be licensed members of the professions. 

And Dave Philipps at NYT explores the broader phenomenon of "alternative" PTSD treatments.  

A recent University of Minnesota study shows atheists and Muslims still doing poorly in terms of favorability among Americans broadly, but Mark Silk cautions that this is not necessarily about "hostility" to those groups:

Isn’t having different visions what pluralism is all about? ... [This study] indicates not so much hostility to others as a growing sense that the country is divided into mutually distinct subcultures. 

Charlotte Harrison is doing research on how humanism can appeal to a broader gender base, and at The Humanist she previews some of her interviews with women who are "living out humanist values every day." She also gives a shout out to this weekend's Women in Secularism conference!

Author Mike McHargue describes himself as a "Christian turned atheist turned follower of Jesus," and says he came back to Jesus because of science and Rob Bell. 

Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay, and Phil Torres coauthor a piece in Time on how the New Atheism can make inroads into the Islamic world by making common cause with moderate Muslims and ex-Muslims. (It's a pretty short piece, so it's not clear to me why it took three guys to write it.) 

Huh. Apparently in the 19th century a rich guy tried to establish an atheist town in Missouri, the town of Liberal. (Really?) Not a lot going on there now. 

Anthony Berteaux at Washington Post finds that progressive "safe spaces" on campuses aren't always so safe for particular groups, like Jews:

...little has been said about how the idea of “intersectionality” — the idea that all struggles are connected and must be combated by allies — has created a dubious bond between the progressive movement and pro-Palestinian activists who often engage in the same racist and discriminatory discourse they claim to fight. As a result of this alliance, progressive Jewish students are often subjected to a double standard not applied to their peers — an Israel litmus test to prove their loyalties to social justice. 

The wild journey of Ernest Perce V: From American Atheists' Pennsylvania state director to Christian to Flat-Earther

Ray Comfort seems to know for sure that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have "nothing to offer" someone on their death bed, as opposed to his faith which offers "everlasting life" through grace, which doesn't have to be earned. I don't know know y'all keep track of the rules. 

The Texas State Board of Education continues to be itself

Quote of the Day

I had the honor of speaking at the CFI–Northeast Ohio conference on Saturday, and for the QOTD I'd like to offer two quotes from two speakers, but entirely out of context, purely for my own amusement.

David Niose of the American Humanist Association:

I am a sexual expert.

And former CIA terrorism expert Stephanie Danes Smith:

If you like Tinder, you'll love ISIS!

No context I say!!! 

* * *

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#1 Richard (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2016 at 11:08am

I’m sure that anti-semitism exists, but the pro-Palestinian movement rightly speaks out against the injustices committed by Israel against the Palestinians, which the full force of the political establishment wants to sweep under the rug. And I believe that Zionism, the belief that a certain group of people have a God-given right to a certain area of land, even if other people are living there, is odious.

#2 Mario (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2016 at 2:01pm

“Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters.”—Leigh Eric Schmidt

Raw meat for Atlantic readers.  Meanwhile, those of us with a three-digit I.Q. and a high school education know not to flagrantly overgeneralize like that.  I believe that tip can be found in the first paragraph of the intro to “Logic for the Learning-Challenged.”

(Wait….  This guy’s a professor??)

#3 Randy (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2016 at 5:28pm

On the left and anti-Semitism, notable Jewish atheists Dave Rubin and Gad Saad discussed this topic (among others) on a recent episode of the Rubin Report, on YouTube.

#4 dmbierlein on Monday September 19, 2016 at 5:38pm

“how the New Atheism can make inroads into the Islamic world by making common cause”
I can’t think of anything more disadvantageous to either group than to delude oneself that they have “common cause”. And, after reading Islamic Exceptionalism”, I’m not sure it is even advisable to ‘support’ moderate and liberal Muslims. Let them argue the insanity of having a particular sectarian belief influence government policy i.e. is there any other Muslim nation that prohibits women from driving besides Saudi Arabia? If it’s just one country, how can it be ‘Islamic’?
Let the “New Atheists” argue the insanity of any religious influence on government legislation. The last thing they need is to let the Christian point at the “common cause” just so they can say it’s a “War against Christians”.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2016 at 5:39pm

“doing poorly in terms of favorability among Americans broadly, but Mark Silk cautions that this is not necessarily about ‘hostility’”

As a gay person, I can tell you that the word “necessarily” is a very important word in that sentence.  When we were doing as badly as atheists and Muslims still are, there was a quite serious and possibly deadly hostility that came with it.

Depersonalization and demonization enables violence.  You can see it with other sexual minorities today.

#6 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday September 20, 2016 at 9:34pm

Apologies to Leigh Eric Schmidt, whose views are grossly misrepresented by the present-tense pull-quotes (Schmidt’s “monsters” statement refers to the past, for ex.), and by your equally misleading intro.

The Atlantic’s journalistic standards are going down the cyber-commode along with everyone else’s.  Lucky are the writers and sites who never had any to start with.

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