The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
News out of Bangladesh reported that police had arrested one of the men who attacked and killed Avijit Roy and maimed Rafida Bonya Ahmed in Dhaka in 2015. If you’ve followed CFI for a few years, you know that Avijit and Bonya’s case is very close to our hearts, so we released a statement in response to the news, expressing a very cautious optimism for at least some justice:
The Center for Inquiry has no way of confirming the accuracy of these reports. We have some reason to be skeptical of any official news surrounding the murders of secularist activists, as the government of Bangladesh has been overtly hostile toward the victims of these attacks, blaming them for their own deaths and denouncing their writings. We declared the official response to the killings “appalling,” and called upon the authorities to defend free expression rather than foment anger and hate.
For the sake of Avijit’s family and friends, secularist writers in Bangladesh, and for the sake of justice, we truly hope that all of Avijit’s killers will be apprehended and fairly tried.
After the church shooting in Texas, the conversation moves — quickly — to security training for staff and concealed guns in churches. Luckily, Pat Robertson understands that the real culprit for the massacre is antidepressants. (Please don’t go through my medicine cabinet.)
Ainsley Earhardt, part of the Triumvirate of Geniuses on Fox & Friends, says church is the best place to get shot, what with the proximity to God. This reminds me of Christopher Durang’s play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You, in which the titular character shoots one of her now-adult former students who came out to her as gay and yells in delight, “I have sent him STRAIGHT to HEAVEN!” Why yes, this is how I learned about Catholicism as an 11-year-old actor.
Kimberly Winston reports on the day-long worry by the atheist community that the shooter might have been a nonbeliever and somehow a fan of The Friendly Atheist (which on its face doesn’t make sense). “Often when a terrorist strikes in America, many Muslims say, Please don’t let it be a Muslim,” she writes. After 26 people were killed and 20 more wounded at a Texas Baptist church on Sunday, it was atheists hoping the gunman wasn’t one of their own.”
Some looney-toon wingnut by the name of Theodore Shoebat (which sounds like a Pokémon – “Shoebat! Shoebat!”) says “sodomites” and atheists need to be “purged” as a consequence of the shooting:
Sodomites automatically need to be put to death, that’s a no-brainer because they have already committed the crime of homosexuality. Atheists, on the other hand, they need to be inquisited, bottom line. They need to be inquisited and I think that when you have atheist enclaves in society, when you have atheist strongholds in society, atheist establishments that are very influential and when you see how fanatic they are, how much they hate Christianity, how much they hate God, how much they hate the church, you really can’t tolerate people like that and those people need the death penalty.
I actually feel kind of bad even giving any attention to crap like this, but his statement is so damn funny, and his name really DOES sound like a Pokémon.
We have a special report at CSICOP.org from Tamar Wilner, in which she looks at a kind of taxonomy of “fake news,” and examines some of the ways that journalists can wind up becoming amplifiers of misinformation.
Kavin Senapathy writes about the documentary in which she appears, Science Moms, which premiered at CSICon 2017:
Woven throughout the 30-minute film is a common thread—we all want to do the best we can for our children, and we’ve all bought, both literally and figuratively, the fear-based parenting rhetoric.
Al Gore tells Business Insider that investment in sustainable industry is going to continue apace, regardless of the climate-science-denying policies of Trump and Scott “Destroyer of Worlds” Pruitt:
The trends in the marketplace are so powerful and have so much momentum now. You know, the cost curves and renewable energy and batteries and electric vehicles and more important, the thousands of new efficiency improvements that are sweeping through the economy, they’re almost independent of policy.
Based on data from Cassini (#neverforget), scientists think it’s possible that Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have a hot rocky core that would be able to heat the moon’s ocean for billions of years, more than long enough for at least microbial life to emerge. It’s a lot of “ifs,” though.
The Bangkok Post reports on an interesting case in which two men in a small village die mysteriously, and the locals blame it on evil spirits known as phi pob. But the actual cause of their deaths, according to doctors who examined them, was a rat-born bacterial disease called Leptospirosis….
…which ALSO sounds like a Pokémon! Gotta catch ’em all!
Okay okay I’m going to level with you: My kids have recently become maniacally obsessed with Pokémon, and it’s all they talk about. So I have it on my brain.
What is Sam
Harris doing at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles? I don’t know, because I haven’t watched the video. But you can.
Amy Littlefield at Rewire looks at the psychological and emotional damage done by the Indiana law (signed by the zealot Mike Pence) that mandates aborted fetuses get a “proper burial.” You see, it’s not enough to make abortion absurdly difficult, expensive, legally precarious, stigmatizing, and dangerous, but they also have to make it as creepy as possible.
Quote of the Day:
I quote this not for its profundity, but for its absurdity. The USDA delivers truly landmark guidelines on religious expression at meat packing plants. Yeeeeeeeeah:
Employees are permitted to engage in religious expression directed at fellow employees and may attempt to persuade other employees of the correctness of their views. Religious views should be treated the same as any other comparable speech not involving religion. Proselytizing is as entitled to constitutional protection as any other form of speech.
Supervisors are also free to engage in speech about religion. While supervisors may not impose unfair work conditions on employees who do not share their religious beliefs, their personal views concerning religion are still protected by the First Amendment. As a result, supervisors may also express their sincere religious views without fear of sanctions.
I await new government guidelines for electioneering at balloon factories, hate speech at used car dealerships, and exactly what one is permitted to yell in a crowded theater.
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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