The Darkness Closes In

December 22, 2017

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

There are a LOT of atheists-at-Christmas stories popping up everywhere, way more than I usually see this time of year. (And I’ve been dong this blog for, what, decades, right?) Here are a few:

Thomas Hooven of Columbia University writes in the Times about being in a science-inclined, nonreligious family during the Christmas season:

While I’m sure my kids will encounter religious ideas and stories of miracles before long, I won’t rush them there. Christmas in our house is a celebration of festive decorations and family reunion. We steer clear of the virgin birth and angelic tidings. And although my kids have heard about Santa, they express doubts that I make no effort to dispel. I don’t want to indicate that the natural laws they’ve painstakingly established are subject to occasional suspension.

When they eventually ask me about God, I’ll say that He’s part of a theory a lot of people believe, but which no one has ever proven. And if they want to go to a church, temple or mosque to learn more, I’ll gladly take them. Above all, I want them to reach their own conclusions, whatever those might be.

Latham Hunter, writing in the Hamilton Spectator, doesn’t want to be hypocritical about celebrating Christmas when she’s an “anti-consumerist atheist,” so she looks to many other celebrations of the season (and of trees), and says of the various myths and legends:

We can’t know how many are rooted in reality, but we can certainly recognize our desire to celebrate those who represent the best of humanity — the kindest and most generous, the ones who recognize the suffering of others and seek to end it. It is, I think, a reflection of our impulse to celebrate light even as — especially as — the darkness closes in. 

And boy is it ever closing in.

Robert Fulford (self-described “unbeliever”) in the National Post says he sees a lot of “expressions of outrage” about Christmas on our Richard Dawkins Foundation website (I dunno maybe he does), and says that atheists are celebrating Christmas because:

…our society has been given its moral principles by Christianity, and those principles shape us, whether we are committed to a religion or not. Christian feelings enter in the moral air we breathe and find a comfortable home within us.

Hold your nose, everybody. 

Anne Grant, a former pastor, explains at Religion Dispatches how she stopped believing, and how she and her husband navigate the world, comparing her former theism to believe in Santa:

We had become secular Christians. Though deeply rooted in Christianity, Phil and I discovered that our growing edge was secular, not bound by old familiar creeds. We still value our kinship with many Christians, but we no longer believe that a self-aware supernatural being sent his only begotten son to die for us. We no longer believe a blood sacrifice will bring us everlasting life. 

W. Mitchell Nance, a judge in Kentucky, refuses to hear adoption cases involving LGBTQ folks. So the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission hit him with a public reprimand, which is all they could do, because he’s retiring.

Police in Manassas Park, VA are looking for a fraud psychic who bilked at least one client out of thousands of dollars.

Oh, I see what’s going on. ‘Oumuamua is ignoring us. Fine!

Not surprisingly, turns out you’re more likely to find atheists among the left…HANDED. (See what I did there.) Where this gets weird is that the study making this claim posits that religious people “have fewer genetic mutations” than atheists and are less likely to have autism or schizophrenia. I feel great now.

Five bloggers in Pakistan were accused of blasphemy, but investigators have told the High Court that there’s no evidence to support the charges.

Kaya Oakes, bemoaning the “popesplaining” done by Francis on the role of women, says that women in the Catholic Church “choose our unhappiness” with the secondary status to which they are relegated:

Until we make the same decision many of our fellow Catholics have, shake the dust off, and depart, we will remain sitting unhappily in those pews in our unhappy parishes listening to unhappy homilies from unhappy priests.  

The Revealer has an excerpt from a new book Haroon Moghul, How to be a Muslim: An American Story. 

FFRF loves those full-page NYT ads, and this one goes after Trump

A fellow writing a letter to the editor in the Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon has REALLY HAD IT with ATHEISTS

I am tired of atheists making their religion the religion of the state. Why do they get to make government follow their religion only?

YEAH! What is UP with that???

Quote of the Day:

As featured at The Root, God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, responds to Ben Carson’s prayer at Trump’s weird cabinet meeting:

I wanted to talk to you about your prayer this morning.

Look, bruh, you know I don’t mess with Donald Trump like that. I don’t even kick it with conservatives that much. There’s like … three whole Republicans up here: Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and guy who invented Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (on the recommendation of the cafeteria staff).

When I gave you those “gifted hands” before you were born, had I known that you would use them to vote for a racist, misogynist pig who was down with Satan, I probably would’ve given them to someone else. … 

… In conclusion, as far as it relates to taxes, legislation or anything having to do with that collection of demonic do-boys for the devil that you call a “Cabinet,” you will be well-served to remember the separation of church and state before I separate your ass from the state of the living.  

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