The Morning Heresy 7/13/12: A Lot of Them are Goth and Hot

July 13, 2012

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

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Look out for ladders and mirrors and cats and...oh, never mind. 

The heated debate in the atheo-skeptosphere on harassment at events hits the mainstream: Kimberly Winston of RNS chronicles the fracas (here in WaPo), and talks to CFI chief Ron Lindsay and several others within the movement. 

(And a small side note: The article says the Women in Secularism conference was "for" women, when it's more accurate to say it was "about" women and their concerns and perspectives -- it was for everybody. Not a huge deal, but one I think worth clarifying.) 

I totally didn't catch this when I first linked to this story a few days ago (Get ready to be disappointed: I don't read everything I link to its entirety. I know, you're crushed.) -- but the giant cover piece in Businessweek about Mormon capitalism cites Free Inquiry's landmark article on the tax revenue lost to religion:

A study co-written by [Ryan] Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.

Cool, right? 

Speaking of which, Andrew Sullivan delivers this scathing assessment of Mormonism:

If you were to construct a religion as a business, it would be hard to beat the LDS Church. From its mandatory tithing for access to sacred Temples to its spiritual blessing on business and wealth accumulation and its tax-friendly admixture of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, it is the Prosperity Gospel with better accountants. And that makes it the quintessential religion for America - giving the New World a place in the Gospels, bringing the Garden of Eden to Missouri, and providing a divine blessing for American free enterprise. All it needs is a president of the United States to broaden its appeal in a fusion of faith and country. It's been trying since Joseph Smith ran for the highest office in the land - not a typical path for a "spiritual" leader. Now, as the unofficial religion of American capitalism in its least regulated and most rapacious form, it has its chance.

Think of running Bain Capital as spiritual enlightenment, and you begin to get the idea. 

D.T. Bell and Ryan Bell in WaPo argue for more care in how we talk about Mormonism:

Ultimately, calling a religion a cult is a cowardly act, because the vagueness of the word provides plausible deniability to any who use it.   

We nonbelievers like the idea that we are growing among the young, but a new study suggests, to paraphrase Richard III, we shall not keep them long

Michelle Boorstein in WaPo: Sunday school teachers are rejecting "fidelity oathes" that require them to submit their "will and intellect" to all tenets of Catholic orthodoxy. 

PZ Myers is coming back to the nation's capital on August 18 to visit with CFI-DC and talk about the material explanations for life itself. Before that, he's going to have lunch with folks to raise funds for the DC branch. He's excited about it!

Kim Kelly in The Atlantic looks at anti-religious "black metal" music in Iraq and elsewhere in the Islamic world. 

Tickets are now available for the Atheist Film Festival in San Francisco, and Council for Secular Humanism is among the sponsors

Right wing radio host Scott Voorhees on why Christian student groups may have worked with an atheist group for a debate at the University of Nebraska:

Because atheist chicks are easy. And a lot of them are goth and hot.

Not that he's staring. 

I just thought of something. It's Friday the 13th. This guy's name is Voorhees, as in Jason! And he's talking about goths!!! Whoa. 

I can't believe Apple approved this, but I love it: A new iOS app for inserting cloudy religious and supernatural images into your photos so you, too can have Jesus on your toast! 

The feds don't want you to believe in mermaids, but the Oregon state government would like you to come and look for Bigfoot.

Hemant calls on atheists to chip in to cover the damage done by maybe-atheist church vandals. 

Agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman talks to the LDS-owned Deseret News about his new work arguing for existence of the historical Jesus.

The UK's Catholic Herald reports that its church sure doesn't look like it's too serious about dealing with abuse:

Most of the bishops’ conferences around the world have missed a Vatican deadline on drawing up anti-abuse guidelines, it emerged yesterday. 

Jim Wilson of Freethought Arizona reports from his visit to a homeless shelter:

I cannot help but see the irony of someone who has led such a lack-luster existence being so thankful to God. The same God that he believes put him in that situation. 

Liberals in Libya want liberalism (I wonder if there were any libations and the library...I'm sorry, I'll stop.): Non-Islamic parties push for a secular government:

''Talking about religion is avoiding the discussion of programs. This is not the moment to talk about Muslims, apostates or secularists. We need to re-establish security and draft a constitution. 

Also via Hemant: Google knows what parents are really afraid of. Us! 

And! Let's root, root, root for the heeeeeeathennnnnnns.... 

Eileen Yu at ZDNet on the wisdom of Google's choice to push for marriage equality in the face of likely religious blowback. 

Here's a whole column full of herp-derp from a homeopath in the Grand Junction Free Press about how to battle the "morphing" of various flus and whatnot:

The best way to find your constitutional remedy is to have a thorough intake visit to see which remedy most resembles your body, emotions and mental picture. 

Relatedly, a fitness columnist takes readers on a credulous tour through alt-med options. Gem:

Believe it or not the more diluted the substance is, the more potent it is thought to be.

I'm going to go with the latter. "Not."

On a web page that looks like it was ripped out of Highlights magazine, BBC shows off newly-released UFO sketches and photos from old "X-files." 

Sean Young is still batty

Ken Ham on the use of the Loch Ness Monster (not real) to prove creationism (also not real): Hey! Nobody's perfect! (A paraphrase.)

Quote of the Day

Today's quote is actually a headline, from Gawker

Restaurant Ordered to Stop Selling Pizzas Topped with Venom

Image via Steven Humor

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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