A Transgression Against the Nation Itself

January 10, 2014

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

New Jersey's state senate votes in favor of secular wedding celebrants, 32-5. The bill now goes back to the assembly, which voted in favor of an earlier version two years ago. 

Meanwhile in the Garden State, Mark Silk says Chris Christie's "bridgegate" is an offense against New Jersey's "civil religion":

[T]he George Washington Bridge is not just an important commutation artery for the residents of Fort Lee. It symbolizes the establishment of the nation, its noble span representing the spiritual journey from bitter defeat to joyous victory. Denying access to it for partisan political purposes is no less than a transgression against the nation itself. 

This is unexpected, and kind of cool: The U.S. Dawkins Foundation picks a new Executive Director: Journalist Robyn Blumner. (Fellow Heretics last met Ms. Blumner when she worked with us on her piece about Florida's Amendment 8.)  

Colorado considers making it harder for parents to claim religious exemptions from getting their kids vaccinated. 

Mark Crislip reels over acupuncture "studies":

The mind boggles over the inanities that are pseudo-medicine origins. At least they could try and blame cosmic rays. Or a radioactive spider. 

Newly-freed Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot do a photo shoot with Time Magazine, and refocus their work:

The two women say their first priority is to draw attention to Russia’s Kafkaesque prison system and especially to the fate of their fellow zechki, Russian slang for female convicts. One way to do that is to turn their dark green prison jackets into a fashion statement of protest, just as their brightly colored balaclavas had been before their trial.

Tim Farley reveals that even in private messages in Facebook, sharing links can help the "bad guys":

Simply by passing a link to a web site to another skeptic in a private message, you can increase the “Like” counter for that site by not one but two! These likes show on the site’s count, but not in your personal Facebook profile. 

Tim has a workaround, and is developing an even better one. 

South Carolina prayer-in-school bill is defended by one of its sponsors thusly: “Even the atheists, it gives them the option of praying or not praying without anybody interfering.” Thanks! I get the opportunity to not-pray!

CFI-Canada (which operates independently from CFI in the US) launches a new bus ad campaign

NASA X-ray image reveals THE HAND OF GOD IN SPACE. (Because God would literally have a disembodied hand.) It's actually a "pulsar wind nebula" and yet another example of pareidolia. The last sentence in this article? "Despite its supernatural appearance, the Hand of God was produced by natural astrophysical phenomena." You don't say. 

Professor at York University in Ontario turns down a student's request to be exempted from course work that would require him to interact with women in person, which is against his religion, and the professor is overruled by the dean. Debate ensues.  

Okay, so York University won't make it onto this list: Thinking of law school, but want to make sure it's Jesussy enough? Pre-Law Magazine has you covered

After WaPo sells On Faith to Faith Street, Herb Silverman backs out:

Explaining his decision to leave the website, Silverman says that Faith Street is "not a street on which I live." 

CFI's Campaign for Free Expression may need to start taking a hard look at a potential new suppressor of free speech: Britain, where there is a move to ban "annoyances":

It sounds laughable – and it is. Yesterday’s debate saw peers point out all kinds of behaviour which could be included in this definition, from smoking at a bus stop to handing out flyers to winding up the fan of a struggling football club. Carol-singers, bell-ringers, buskers, canvassers, trick-or-treaters, clay pigeon shooters, nudists: All would be affected because they would all be guilty of behaviour which could “reasonably be expected to cause” annoyance. 

Luckily, as of yesterday, it's been 300 years since the UK hung anyone for blasphemy.  

Boy, the Texas Board of Education really attracts some colorful candidates. Meet Lady Theresa Thombs:

History, she stated, should be written by "experts, not people from socialist higher education." As far as the sciences go, "We know we didn’t come from monkeys!"

"Ladies and gentlemen,” she began in summation. “They’re using your tax dollars to brainwash our children into socialist issues and ideas and it is time for it to stop."  

America's finest news source: "‘It’s Not Too Late To Reverse The Alarming Trend Of Climate Change,’ Scientists Who Know It’s Too Late Announce" 

CFI-Tampa Bay joins with other Florida secular groups for a Darwin Day event, February 8, with Daniel Dennett, Ryan Cragun, and Michael Hoffman.

Quote of the Day

I love this. A barber sets up shop near a psychic's shop. The psychic goes out of business, and the barber gets to keep the psychic's neon sign, and places it with his own sign, so it now reads "psychic barber." The barber, Rick Cook, is of course not a psychic and doesn't claim to be. When asked about it by customers...

I tell them, I retired from that business. I could not see a future in it.

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#1 Tim P. Farley on Friday January 10, 2014 at 9:11am

Thanks for linking to my site, much appreciated!

#2 Veronica Abbass on Saturday January 11, 2014 at 4:49pm

Re: “Professor at York University in Ontario turns down a student’s request”

There is petition in support of the professor: tinyurl.com/qzwvscy

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