The Morning Heresy 11/23/12: Go Directly to Jail

November 23, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

You know what your loves ones really want to get for [insert winter holiday here], but you're too much in denial to realize it. Admit it to yourself and make their year: Get them the all-new, official Morning Heresy coffee mug! Heck, get them nine! I mean, look at that awesome logo, the brain child of Lauren Becker and Chris Fix (and a little bit me, who decided it had to be an iPad on fire). There's lots more CFI swag newly available right this very second. 

"Pantheon" is probably not the word to use in conjunction with a skeptics' organization, but whatever its secular alternative is (Justice League?), Harriet Hall and Steven Novella have been added to CSI's version of said vaunted group: the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Executive Council.

This is good to see being covered: The Economist reports on the plight of atheists in the Muslim world, including Alexander Aan.  

Ireland's Senator Ivana Bacik welcomes Sanal Edamaruku, persecuted Indian skeptic - via Atheist Ireland. He is currently looking to Europe to rally resistance to blasphemy laws.

Maria Alyokhina of the jailed-for-blasphemy band Pussy Riot is reportedly requesting to be placed in solitary confinement

Though Rimsha Masih has been acquitted, NPR notes the rising number of blasphemy charges in Pakistan. 

Aan, Edamaruku, Alyokhina, and Masih are among those profiled as part of the CFI Campaign for Free Expression.

Pew Forum finds a completely unsurprising link between nations with blasphemy laws and those with other legal religious restrictions.  

Rumors about blasphemy in Nigeria spark a riot. Four are reported dead.  

Slight majority in Turkey want the country to adhere to the principles of secularism. 

Atheists may go directly to jail: Laura Gottesdiener at AlterNet reminds us that, holy crap, Kentucky's homeland security law makes it illegal to not acknowledge the "security" provided by God. American Atheists wants this in the Supreme Court.

Kylie Sturgess interviews skeptic-geek musician Marian Call for Skeptical Inquirer

Ben Radford asks: Can James Bond sell Heineken? (Really, it's a piece about whether product placements in films are effective.) 

Tom Flynn in the latest Free Inquiry, which features a special section on blasphemy laws:

Religious teachings, figures, and beliefs should be accorded the same respect and protection we accord to, say, opinions about politics or economics—but no more.  

Skepchick looks at the signs that a scientific study might be sketchy

Rob Boston on the perennial War on Christmas campaigns: "This is not a parody designed to make fundamentalists look silly." 

The CFI On Campus blog highlights Brazil's Aliança Estundatil Secular

Rebekah Higgit in The Guardian: Be skeptical of claims that irrationality is on the rise

Seminary president seems to think atheists are in an insurmountable conundrum at Thanksgiving, having no beneficent sky-daddy to thank. 

WSJ: No matter where things come down following the fracas over "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" and FFRF's lawsuits against politicking preachers, we may at the very least achieve clarity

Video: Michael Shermer talks to Peter Boghossian's atheism class. 

In Slate, Rebecca Watson looks bemusedly at the technological wonders available through Sky Mall. 

Susan Pinsky in a letter to the Boston Globe on coverage of the controversy over atheists' "holiday" displays:

I would suggest that atheists are not proselytizing non-belief, but rather illustrating, by the notion that turnabout is fair play, that religious displays on public land are, at best, insensitive and inappropriate and, at worst, prejudicial and dangerous. 

More than 1000 folks in China have opted for a spell in the “death experience room.” I think that's where they're forced to watch TLC reality shows.

Atheists of Maine raise money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses. This is wonderful, but less wonderful is the fact that I live in Maine and had no idea there was an "Atheists of Maine" group. I don't leave my laundry room-office much, though. 

io9 reminds us that some Mormons like to baptize dead people into their church, including folks like Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Richard Feynman, George Carlin, and Easy-E. 

Though Joe Nickell finds no ghosts at Bell Witch Cave, he still comes away "bewitched."

The island...that wasn't there!!!  

Hat tip to Kylie: This may be the best photo ever taken in humanity's history. 

(Also: My boy Toby turns 3 on Sunday. Happy birthday, buddy!) 

Quote of the Day         

Saudi atheist "Jabir," talking to Your Middle East:

Isn't it a basic right for humans to believe or not believe freely! I know this is only a dream in Saudi, but it doesn't change the fact that people will have different views and believes [sic], whether society will allow it or not.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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