Always Looking For That Other Cheek

December 18, 2015


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

Let’s just put it this way: Michael De Dora kicked some serious butt for pluralism at the White House yesterday. The Know Your Neighbor campaign, designed to foster better understanding and dialogue between those of differing beliefs, was launched yesterday, and even just from the live stream I could tell that people were heartened by Michael’s sincere expressions of his and our commitment to freedom of religion, expression, and thought. I’m a little surprised not to have seen more coverage of the event itself (I mean there were more powerful PR folks than myself pimping the event), but I’m hoping to see more today. At any rate, the Catholic News Agency highlighted Michael’s remarks. You can watch the event here, and Michael appears on the second panel.

Simon Davis reports for RNS (!) on funeral rituals for the growing number of secular Americans (including the personal story of CFI–LA’s Jim Underdown), and the corresponding uptick in cremations over more traditional funerals.

Lyz Liddell, who’s running the show for the 2016 Reason Rally, talks to Phil Ferguson about the event on his podcast.

A college professor from Florida (of course) will likely be fired for his harassment of the parents of one of the Sandy Hook victims — the professor, James Tracy of Florida Atlantic University, insists the shooting was staged and has demanded “proof” that the murdered child actually existed in the first place.

A history teacher in New Jersey who is Muslim alleges that she was fired for mentioning Islam and showing a video of Malala Yousafzai in her lessons.

NASA is about to enjoy its largest budget in a few years, and Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic gives an idea of what the money will be spent on.

Stephen Law, who really likes ruling out God theories, posts a draft of a script for an animated short to do just that, and seeks comments.

A 12-year-old Sikh boy in Texas is arrested and detained for three days over what is fuzzily being described as a joke or prank about a bomb in his backpack.

Pope Fluffy vouches for a second miracle allegedly performed by Mother Teresa, which clears the way for her to sainthood. Oh, Hitch.

Catholic girls’ school in Massachusetts says “we can fire the lesbian teacher for being in a gay marriage” because religious freedom. The state court says, “No you can’t.”

Ed Simon considers what the implications would be for religion if we confirmed the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. (My cohost and I also considered this question on a recent episode of our podcast Thinkery with our guest Dr. Kiki.)

Freddie deBoer warns liberals not to take free speech for granted, and certainly to stop being hostile to it:

The left can’t afford to reject free speech when it feels like it and seek its protections when it needs to, because the left is weak. We have no comparable control of political institutions in comparison to conservatism’s iron grip on the state legislatures that control our public universities.

Bill Nye will help you escape religion.

Mohammed Hanif, a Muslim who has had a friend murdered “probably for not being a good enough Muslim,” writes at NYT on the impossibility of explaining what Islam is, and the problematic “Islam is peace” shorthand:

Saying that Islam is a religion of peace is like saying that Hinduism is about respecting cows and Buddhism is about the lotus position. Is Judaism basically a property dispute? And are Christians always looking for that other cheek?

Whenever I hear someone say Islam is a religion of peace I want to yell at them and say, “Hey, look behind you.”

Quote of the Day:

Heather McManamy died this week at age 36 from cancer, but before she went, she wrote a Facebook post to be published after her death. This portion deals with her lack of religion and what to tell her young daughter:

Whatever religion brings you comfort, I am happy that you have that. However, respect that we are not religious. Please, please, please do not tell Brianna that I am in heaven. In her mind, that means that I chose to be somewhere else and left her. In reality, I did everything I could to be here with her, as there is nowhere, NOWHERE, I would rather be than with her and Jeff. Please don’t confuse her and let her think for one second that is not true. Because, I am not in heaven. I’m here. But no longer in the crappy body that turned against me. My energy, my love, my laughter, those incredible memories, it’s all here with you.

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ginal image by Shutterstock

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