Do Magic Coconuts Have Hanging Chads?

September 6, 2013

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

Three new faces are added to the lineup of speakers at the CFI Summit: Josh Zepps, Debbie Goddard, and Mark Hatcher. 

This Monday, the outreach crew is running another CFI On Campus On-Air Session, this time on blasphemy rights and the Campaign for Free Expression, with a really great panel of folks.

A magic coconut has disrupted Maldivian elections and now there is an investigation into the magic coconut and OH GOD I WISH I WAS KIDDING:

A vote-rigging row has erupted in the Maldives ahead of Saturday's presidential election amid suspicions that one party is using cursed coconuts imbued with black magic spells to sway voters’ political allegiances. 

In the latest episode of my own little podcast, I talk to The Clergy Project's chief Catherine Dunphy, and she tells her fascinating story of escape from religion, and how she's now working to light a path for others. 

Tony Blair says the UK and the US should support "the majority of people in the Muslim world [who] in fact want religion in a sensible place in politics, not trying to dominate politics." So not so much a wall of separation, but, like, maybe a rickety fence, maybe even a nice path.  

Nathan Kunzler and Arthur Caplan say Canada's health department may be responsible for an uptick in measles due to its approval of a homeopathic "vaccine." 

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett take to The Hill to castigate Saudi Arabia for its blasphemy and apostasy laws.

Roy Speckhardt tackles the tough question of determining where free exercise and religious abuse overlap

CFI-Ottawa and the Humanist Association of Ottawa are looking for help to assist a refugee atheist "living under a theocratic Islamic government" get safely to Canada.

Ross Douthat rejects the premise of Sam Harris's challenge to win his money:

I have no problem, and nor should anyone, with Harris declaring that he favors a particular moral system, defining its terms to the best of his ability, and then explaining why he thinks scientific inquiry can help us maximize the end that system privileges. If you know what moral ends you’re driving at, then clearly science can be of assistance in your quest; the idea that the two spheres of inquiry never overlap is obscurantist and silly. But he would be much more persuasive on that narrower point if gave up on the broader one, and reconciled himself to the fact that his style of utilitarianism is not the self-evident and scientific foundation for all sensible moral inquiry that he believes it to be. 

CFI's John Shook digs deep into the claims made by Harris, opting to "confute" rather than "refute." 

Dan Delzell says "you were created to be a Christian" (congratulations):

It's not like God only wants some people to go to heaven. He wants everyone to go there. 

The Secular Student Alliance at the College of Charleston is our campus affiliate of the week

Negotiations in Tunisia between the Islamist government and the secular opposition fall apart

Qanta Ahmed begs moderate Muslims not to surrender the faith to the radicals:

If anti-Islamist Muslims do not rise to the urgent challenge, it is not only minorities who risk extinction, but Islam itself. Failing to act now invites Islamists ever inward, and one day we will find our mosques have become their barracks, our minarets remade into their bayonets, and our fellow believers, no longer true Muslims, molded into brainwashed Islamist soldiers. 

Animal sacrifices in Venezuela are a boon to the bottled water industry. 

Michael Riley winds up to diss psychics with this declaration:

All I’m saying is that when you start weighing in on subjects such as the existence of ghosts, the efficacy of homeopathic medicine, individuals who claim to be able to communicate with the dead, the reality of the Loch Ness monster and alien abductions, you should realize that from my perspective, them’s fighting words. 

Sri Lankan man dies while botching an exorcism stunt in which he is buried alive. 

A black pastor wants only white people welcoming folks to her church. 

National Post headline says Triceratops never existed. I'm all, um, yes it did

Quote of the Day

Sanal Edamaruku wants the murder of Narendra Dabholkar to serve as a call to action:

This is [the supporters of superstition's] last stand: resorting to threat, torture and murder to turn the tide. After Dabholkar's assassination, we have to ensure that his death does not become a victory for the enemies of reason. That is what we owe him, and that is what we owe India. Rationalism and scientific temper are crucial for the future of our country. There is no going back if we want to see our people coming out of the stranglehold of ignorance, backwardness, exploitation and suffering.

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