Somehow Disintegrated

November 4, 2016


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

Yesterday, the intrepid Justin Scott got Iowa governor Terry Branstad on camera, and asked him about outreach to nonreligious voters. His response was that they need to be “preached” to, and that parents need to get their kids into church. Yep. That’s how he thinks we should get the “nones” involved in politics. We couldn’t let this go, so we got Cody Hashman, our director of the Openly Secular campaign, to comment:

For a sitting governor to assert that church and religious belief are the way into political involvement is deeply disappointing. As an Iowan, I would hope our governor would look to connect with his secular constituents, not convert them. Don’t preach to us, governor. Reach out to us. 

We also hear from Iowa’s Rep. Rod Blum, who when asked pretty much the same question about outreach to nonbelievers, demurs and says it’s “beyond my pay grade” and firmly ignores Scott. He does, however, seem to believe in outreach to Jeep owners and dogs.

Alexandra Lúgaro, candidate for governor of Puerto Rico, declares herself an atheist in a video (translation):

I don’t believe in a particular deity. And I think this is a great moment to clarify that not belonging to a church, not belonging to an organized religion, doesn’t mean I don’t have a philosophy, that I don’t have an ideology, that I don’t have values. … don’t think that goodness comes from believing in a religion, from prayers that we are taught and that we memorize without really believing.

KRQE TV News investigates the activities of the University of New Mexico’s Dr. Christopher Dyer, and finds that he spent over $7000 of taxpayer funds on a Bigfoot hunt. CFI’s Ben Radford appears for comment.

At Seeker, Ben explains the phenomenon of mass hysteria:

Humans are social animals and we often take our cues from other people, both consciously and unconsciously. People can unconsciously mimic the actions and reactions of their peers — that’s one reason yawns are contagious. If one or more people start to faint or feel sick in their presence it can create a domino effect, spreading to others. 

Kavin Senapathy, who I got to hang out with at CSICon as is super-cool, rounds up the problems and critiques of a recent NYT piece on “problems” with genetically modified crops:

Danny Hakim’s piece argues that agricultural genetic engineering is a failure because GE crops haven’t reduced pesticide use and haven’t increased yields. The article’s conclusions are based on erroneous reasoning and misrepresentation of data, and scientists, farmers, writers and social media users are speaking out. 

Shaun Casey is the first U.S. State Department special representative for religion and global affairs, and he explains some of his thinking to Harvard’s Robert O’Neill:

In the end, the success of the office will be measured by its ability to “right-size religion”—to give it the appropriate importance and role in U.S. foreign policy. “We don’t try to puff up religion,” Casey says. “If it doesn’t belong there, we tell them.” 

Charitable giving to religious institutions, while still the top recipient, has halved since 1990

Howard Friedman of the super-valuable Establishment Clause blog is interviewed by Christianity Today:

Perhaps the major legislative trend is that people are beginning to question the wisdom of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). When that Act was passed, it had broad right-to-left support—across the board—but as RFRA and the state RFRAs have been more and more invoked by people who are opposed to LGBT rights, I think you’re seeing many people who were originally strong proponents of RFRA now having second thoughts. 

In Bangladesh, crowds of Muslims attack Hindu neighborhoods and temples, perhaps as a response to a Facebook post somebody didn’t like, because this is apparently how the world goes.

In Indonesia, police are getting ready to steel Jakarta for huge anti-blasphemy protests against the city’s governor and ethnic Chinese Christian, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. 

Apparently Alaska’s Chena River is home to an Ice Monster. Oh wait, it’s just a rope. 

Quote of the Day:

Jim Underdown of CFI–L.A. grapples with the space-time implications of the Cubs winning the World Series while Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins were on sta
ge (if you know Jim, you should imagine his voice reading it):

When word spread during the Dawkins/Harris event that the Cubs could actually win, many feared that the fabric of reality had been torn, and some worried that these two of the three living (atheist) horseman of the apocalypse might be somehow disintegrated – or worse yet – be erased from our minds. … The Cubs winning the World Series greatly pushes the naturalist worldview envelope and will surely lead to some cutting edge scientific research into the existence of other dimensions or alternate universes, but someday we’ll understand what happened. You’ll see.  

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