A World Swarming with Evil Forces

December 30, 2013

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

The UN human rights office condemns Uganda’s anti-gay legislation, and urges its president not to sign it into law. 

Jennifer Michael Hecht and Ron Reagan went on Hardball to talk about atheism as a supposed “poison pill” in politics.  

Tim Farley rounds up the skeptic luminaries we lost in 2013

The brain benefits from prayer, according to new research, because it thinks it’s really interacting socially with another “being.” Me, I’m all, “please stop watching me.”

Apparently many people are still worried about how religious Obama really is. Me, I’m all, give it a rest.

France considers banning a comedian who has allegedly “insulted the memory of Holocaust victims.” 

Hallucinogenic drugs may be at the root of religion, going back millennia. The war on drugs just got a lot more complicated.

In England and Wales, the emergency “999” line gets lots and lots of calls about ghosts and aliens

Pope Fluffy is not so fluffy about same-sex parents adopting kids.  

Get ready for the flood of 2014 psychic predictions! Here’s one. Here’s another.  

Fake psychic Tiffany Ava Mitchell charges $2 million to clear away negativity from your life.  

Suzanne Moore at The Guardian ponders a potential conflict between the desire for meaningful ritual and atheism:

We need to create a space outside of everyday life to do this. We can call it sacred space but the demarcation of special times or spaces is not the prerogative only of the religious. . . . We may not have God. We may find the fuzziness of new age thinking with its emphasis on “nature” and “spirit” impure, but to dismiss the human need to express transcendence and connection with others as stupid is itself stupid. 

Congratulations, you are essentially a big bag of microbes

American Medical College of Homeopathy gets to ring the closing bell on NASDAQ today. I don’t know why.

Google shuts down the account of Geert Wilders for distributing anti-Islam stickers. (Linked article is in Dutch.)

Daughter of a Pakistani bureaucrat is charged with blasphemy, which looks to be a case of revenge for refusing an arranged marriage to a jilted rich guy. 

Meanwhile, two men in Pakistan who claimed to have “seen God” are sentenced to death.  

T. M. Luhrmann, though usually very mushy about religion and its impact, is troubled by African charismatic Christian attitudes:

In these churches, prayer is warfare. The new charismatic Christian churches in Accra imagine a world swarming with evil forces that attack your body, your family and your means of earning a living. . . . African traditional religion envisions a world dense with dark spirits from which people must protect themselves, and these new churches take this evil seriously in a way that many earlier missionizing Christianities did not. Indeed, I have been at a Christian service in Accra with thousands of people shouting: “The witches will die! They will die! Die! Die!” With the pastor roaring, “This is a war zone!”

Jesus Christ in a cheesecake. I dunno what else to tell you. 

Secular Canada is seeing its megachurches thrive. I’m presuming that in Canadian megachurches, they’re like, “Hey Jesus is great! I mean, it’s okay if you don’t think so. And you know, other religions are cool too, I guess. I wouldn’t want to say anything bad about them, you know. So whatever you’re into is cool. Jesus!”

A post at Library Journal lashes out at the Morton Grove Library for refusing a dirty atheist donation:

The next
logical course for the intolerant bigots on the library board who want to discriminate against harmless groups is to enact new rules from the library barring atheists from getting library cards. There could be a statement on the library card application form that potential patrons would have to check: “Do you swear to God that you are not an atheist?” 

From Toothpaste for Dinner, God wants you clean, safe, and perfect. Except for that one part

And hey, Jesus had that part, too! 

Quote of the Day

Vorjack on why making the case for secularism can be so tough:

To people who view modern science with suspicion, teaching evolution is anti-Christian. People who are used to Christian cultural hegemony see the loss of a school yard nativity scene as an attack on the religion of the local community. They see secularism as an intrusive force, and respond accordingly. 

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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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