February 21, 2018
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Our friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State have got a new boss, taking over from Rev. Barry Lynn. In an announcement and in a Washington Post profile, we are introduced to Rachel Laser (BEST NAME EVER), formerly of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
There is no bottom to this abyss: Right-wing conspiracy theories are being propagated at major outlets saying that the outspoken teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are actually actors who go to the sites of shootings and pretend to be upset. This was even posited by a former U.S. Representative, Jack Kingston, on CNN.
Meanwhile, a Trump-appointed official at the HHS is found to have been rolling around in all sorts of conspiracy theories, including the lies about Khizr Khan being a "Muslim Brotherhood agent" and that Ted Cruz's dad had a role in the JFK assassination.
There's more coverage of this bananapants bill in South Carolina that would define same-sex marriages as "parody marriages" and actually religious in nature. Why? Because they're part of the secular humanism religion, you see. Except secular humanism is obviously not a religion because that would be ridiculous. But this is South Carolina! Where the ridiculous pass laws! Here's how ABC News 4 describes one sponsor, Rep. Bill Chumley:
Chumley in the past has sponsored bills that would've outlawed Obamacare in South Carolina, blocked pornography on all computers in South Carolina, and created a monument for South Carolina blacks who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War despite historians saying none ever did.
NYT talks to six Americans who used to dismiss the fact of human-caused global warming, but have since changed their minds.
As the opioid epidemic gets worse, acupuncturists smell an opportunity.
On Monday, protesters placed 183 tiny coffins on the steps of the Idaho Capitol, representing the the kids who have died as a result of Idaho's hands-off approach to faith-healing.
A woman in California is suing the state to make them acknowledge the existence of the Bigfoot species, which she says comes to her house and is totally not bears. "They're on our property. They knock on our walls. They look through our windows. It's more and more."
Stopped-clock alert: Pat Robertson backs a ban on assault weapons.
Billy Graham is dead at 99.
Quote of the Day
Shashi Tharoor at Project Syndicate laments the assault on science perpetrated by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party:
When ministers question Darwinism or assert the miraculous powers of the cow, they are not merely offering a choice between a scientific theory and a faith-based explanation. Rather, they are reminding the public that the worldview to which faith is allied is comprehensive, and that it demands adherence to a larger political project that prescribes beliefs and behaviors that actually have little to do with religion.
Science and rationality threaten such conformism, because they encourage skepticism, free inquiry, and testing of the traditional perspectives that the BJP is so eager to entrench. That is why, as the BJP attempts to transform secular India into a Hindu state, it must weaken the role of science.
It is difficult to overstate the tragedy that this trend represents. The obscurantist and atavistic state that the BJP wants to create would look nothing like the one that made India the scientific superpower of the ancient age.
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