The Morning Heresy 7/18/12: The Promise of Doughnuts

July 18, 2012

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

Yesterday we began our drive to gather electronic signatures for an online petition to the White House on behalf of Alexander Aan. It's off to a strong start as we near 1400 signatures, but we badly need folks to do more than sign, and actively share the petition and encourage folks to do the same. We have to build momentum.

At Friendly Atheist, I try and erase some of the abstraction from Alexander's plight:

In so many respects, Alexander Aan has a great deal in common with many of the readers of this site and people we know . . . the great chasm that separates us from Alexander is not really physical distance. This very moment, Alexander sits in an Indonesian prison cell, where he is condemned to spend at least two and a half years, saddled with an exorbitant fine, and under constant threat for his life — indeed, he has already been beaten by an angry mob once. What should be galling to us is that Alexander’s “criminal offense” was his very similarity our own community of freethinkers

David Gorski gives a thorough recounting of a big debate between Steve Novella and anti-vaxxer Julian Whitaker. Sharon Hill sums up: "Novella mopped the floor with the guy."

CFI-LA chief Jim Underdown chats with Christopher Brown at TAM in this video.

Black Skeptics has created a scholarship fund for South Los Angeles high school students. 

Robert Wright and Lawrence Krauss blog their heads on all things Higgs-y. 

Yes, another piece about a cross on public land, but this one is really good: Indy Star's Alex Campbell does a great job of showing not just the issue itself, but what happens behind the scenes as decisions are made and carried out. 

Oh, you really need to see this: Via Hemant, a short film by Angela Tucker, Black Folks Don't Do Atheism. I think it's very enlightening for folks who can't quite wrap their brains around the reluctance to doubt.  

George Hrab on CSI's Ben Radford: "He's a handsome man." 

Libyan elections seem to look good for those leaning secularist. 

Debate in a Michigan town over a statue of Mary on City Hall grounds. 

Interesting profile of local paranormal investigators Jessie Desmond and Neelie Ravencast at the Alaska Dispatch. If you're interested in working with them, their Craigslist ad says:

Will train for free over the next two months . . . Must be at least 18, preferably over 21. You will be expected to do research. Be prepared for paperwork.

Christian Post reports on a new program from the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers for summer church-alternatives. Now try and digest the deep, rich, chunky irony stuffed into this contrarian quote from a former Navy chaplain:

I think it's sad how atheists are using a government forum and resources to openly recruit Christian cadets into atheism or secular humanism. What should Christian parents think, when their 18-year-old son or daughter is promised donuts, but gets a lecture about 'letting go of God' and proselytizing into rejecting their parents' faith? 

You can hardly stand it, right? 

Jason Torpy at FA recommends ending all federal support of the discriminatory Boy Scouts, saying we must "recognize that the idea of the 'honorable Boy Scout' is tainted." 

RNS/WaPo picks up the Ernest Perce I'm-gonna-desecrate-a-Quran story. 

Edward Falzon in HuffPo offers his idea of what it is to "believe" within the atheist worldview

Come and sing "Dog Bless America" as the Mr. Paul Ain'ts play ball August 10!

"Hot reading" fake psychic waiting to be charged with a crime, but victims are not helping out.  

Sam Harris's Project Reason opens up voting for its video contest. 

The theme that unwittingly emerges from this latest HuffPo piece on the big UK UFO document dump: They were so sick of getting pummeled with Freedom of Information requests, that they just decided to release everything.  

Scientists find the most complete skeleton yet of Australopithecus (h/t Daniel Florien).

Quote of the Day      

comment on my Aan post at Friendly Atheist from "Smokie": 

I don't even know this man but I remember reading about this injustice last night and lying awake in my bed before I fell asleep wondering how alone and  scared he must feel, just for having rational and sensible ideas about life. It's just wrong, he needs to get out of there.    

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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