The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
NYT’s Laurie Goodstein explores how in the midst of terror attacks and fears over ISIS, “some Muslims are beginning to publicly confront the uncomfortable questions that non-Muslims have about Islam and violence, and trying to provide answers, both through words and through the example of how they live their lives.”
In a feature at WaPo, Greg Jaffe looks at how President Obama’s faith has informed his view of himself as a uniter, and how things haven’t worked out they way he’d hoped.
Maj. Adrianna Vorderbruggen is killed in Afghanistan along with five of her fellow soldiers, making her the U.S.’s first openly gay women to be killed in combat.
Kylie Sturgess interviews Dr. Garth Maker of Murdoch University in Australia about a new study about traditional Chinese medicine’s potential for real harm.
Kyle W. Orton writes at NYT that the extremist Islam that fuels ISIS didn’t come from nowhere, but rather was seeded largely by ostensibly-secular dictator Saddam Hussein:
It’s true that disbanding the Iraqi Army after 2003 put professional soldiers at the service of the Sunni insurgency. It’s also true that Al Qaeda in Iraq — the small, foreign-led nucleus of what became the Islamic State — used poorly run American prisons like Camp Bucca to recruit former regime elements. But the significant fact is that those who assumed leadership roles in the Islamic State’s military council had been radicalized earlier, under Mr. Hussein’s regime.
Kickstarter, please reconsider your review process: These guys are trying to raise funds to sell you a wi-fi/cosmic-ray-proof “signal-blocking” hat. Well, it must be working, because clearly no signals are reaching anyone’s brains here.
This is hilarious. Three guys accused of trying to fix the state lottery system with a friend on the inside are trying to keep one aspect of their lives out of the trial: Their Bigfoot hunting.
Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen, a Young Earth creationist, will head the senate committee in charge of education legislation.
WLOS in Asheville, NC profiles Angelica Jasso, an atheist who opens up her house to strangers in need of friendship for Christmas. That is totally lovely, and I expect Asheville is about the only town in the country where that would be a safe idea.
Texas governor Greg Abbott nixes FFRF’s founding-fathers-themed nativity display in the state capitol, calling it a “juvenile parody.” And away we go!
Rev. Mark H. Creech complains about a mayor who took his oath on the Constitution and not the Bible, because, you know, we’re supposed to have a secular government. Creech says this is “woeful ignorance”:
You can no more separate our nation’s form of government from the Christian religion than you can separate smoke from fire or water from ice.
Well, actually, smoke separates from fire pretty much the moment it comes into existence, and water melts right off of ice…often with the help of the aforementioned fire! So I’m not sure what he’s trying to say here.
Kentucky governor Matt Bevin tries to solve the Kim Davis Problem™ by removing clerks’ names from marriage licenses.
The Satanists have the “nation’s first state-sanctioned Satanic Ceremony” on the steps of the Michigan Capitol. These times we’re living in, I tell ya.
According to PRRI’s data, the U.S. South is full of people waging a War on Christmas with their “happy holidays.”
A fake-psychic in Boulder allegedly scams a woman out of $200,000, “much of which went to the purchase of gold coins.” Instead of swindling people, you can just go to Neverland and solve pirate-problems. Gold doubloons will then hover in mid-air for you to grab-and-go. #lifehack
Quote of the Day:
Kenan Malik at NYT makes a fascinating connection between the backlash against` Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim bluster and the attempts to censor Maryam Namazie for criticizing Islam:
I believe Ms. Namazie is right in much of her criticism of Islam, while I agree that Mr. Trump’s attack on Muslims is bigotry. But both, in my view, should be allowed to say what they wish, and if we disagree, we should challenge them publicly. Yet, as the attempts to bar Mr. Trump from entering Britain and prevent Ms. Namazie from addressing students reveal, many would rather their views were not heard at all. …
Censoring ugly ideas will not make them go away. Mr. Trump’s poll ratings have improved since his comments on Muslim immigration. Many Americans agree with him, and as support for anti-immigration groups show, many Europeans do, too. Keeping Mr. Trump
out of Britain will not erase such views. Attitudes will be changed only by publicly challenging them.
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