The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
FEMA is not supposed to be used as churches’ collection plate, so that’s what we told the media in our statement last week about the GOP’s legislative pander, which appears in a piece by Emma Green in The Atlantic. She says:
These [religious] groups are actively looking for ways to expand the reach of Trinity Lutheran, especially in spheres like education that are much more contentious than disaster relief. That’s the tactical brilliance of the new FEMA provision, though: Battles over the First Amendment don’t seem so compelling in the context of a torn-up church.
Also taking advantage of disaster relief are proponents of school vouchers, who want to send public funds to private schools, and about which we also had something to say:
Hurricanes and wildfires do not discriminate, and neither should our country’s disaster relief assistance.
Amy Couch at The Humanist interviews Anjan Chakravartty, the incoming head of the atheist studies program at the University of Miami. When she asks him how he became an atheist, Chakravartty says:
You’re assuming that I’m an atheist! Given the position, that may be a natural assumption, and it’s not that I don’t have a view—in fact, I came to a view about this issue at a young age, and have never had occasion to doubt it. For the purposes of this position, however, I don’t think I’ll speak publicly about what that view is, which has everything to do with your earlier question about advocacy versus education. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that, because I have a certain view, those who hold an opposing view are unwelcome, or that they will find their thoughts and arguments given short shrift. Strictly speaking, my own view is irrelevant to the work I will do as the Appignani Chair, because I’m committed to helping students and others pursue the truth, not to convincing them to believe what I believe.
You can see another interview with Chakravartty at the university’s own website.
This, by Brad Dickson at the Omaha Herald, seems like a dubious observation about those who believe in the existence of Bigfoot:
… it’s easy to make fun of this event and the people who attend. In an age where seemingly everything is upside down, I have to ask: What if they’re right? In a world where former reality TV reality hosts run for president and where NBA players gain followers after claiming the Earth is flat, is it not possible that Bigfoot is real?
Former U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein (remember, Sam-freaking-Brownback now has that job) and the Baptist Joint Committee’s Amanda Tyler coauthor an op-ed about Trump’s failure to scrap the Johnson Amendment:
It’s easy to see why politicians think they will win by accumulating additional endorsements and contributions, particularly from religious institutions held in high regard by communities. But houses of worship and those who rely on them know they have too much to lose to throw their good name behind a particular party or candidate and allow their coffers to become political slush funds.
Georgian College nixes its homeopathy diploma program. Joe Schwarcz, talking to CBC, clarifies the issue: “Non-existent molecules do not cure existing diseases. It’s as simple as that.”
Patricia McManus, picked to head the Milwaukee Health Department, says “the science is still out” on whether vaccines cause autism. HOW. WHY. COME ON.
WSJ excerpts Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now, where he claims that things are, as he usually asserts, getting better. However!
Isn’t it good to be pessimistic, many activists ask—to rake the muck, afflict the comfortable, speak truth to power? The answer is no: It’s good to be accurate.
Artsy-fartsy magazine Resource cites the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry to let folks know that “aura” photography doesn’t actually capture your aura.
Susan Gerbic posts part two of her euro-skeptic jaunt.
Valerie Tarico’s criticism of the Bible is taken down from Salon for not meeting some kind of editorial standard that Salon would not identify.
At Religion Dispatches, Eric C. Miller talks to Andrew Lewis, author of a book on how the religious right adopted the “liberal” language of rights.
Utah legislators, after introducing a bill to protect the Mormon church from having its ceremonies recorded: uh, never mind.
“Light pillars” happen when light reflects off of ice crystals in the air. Not from alien spaceships. Although, I guess it’s possible alien spaceships could ALSO make light pillars, so THE DEBATE CONTINUES.
The UK sort of has its own “Roswell,“ Sipho Moor, and fragments of what some thought were UFOs have been brought out of storage in a science museum.
A fake psychic in Maryland pleads guilty to scamming five people out of $340,000.
In a letter to the Post, Bruce Grant calls out the lumping together of atheists and agnostics in a claim about belief in the afterlife. It’s a good catch.
Although I am a Buddhist monk, I am skeptical that prayers alone will achieve world peace. We need instead to be enthusiastic and self-confident in taking action.
Quote of the Day
This whole thing by Matthew Dessem:
I am the very model of a New York Times contrarian,
My intellect is polished but my soul’s authoritarian,
From Allen down to Exxon, bullies’ water I am carrying,
Except for Donald Trump’s, because I find him a vulgarian.
I’m very well acquainted, too, with arguments political,
I love to mount defenses for the vile and hypocritical,
I filigree each sentence till its meaning I am burying,
My job is to distract you from the rising smell of carrion.
My eagerness to stand up for the powerful is frightening,
I’m always showing up when a sepulcher needs some whitening,
In short, with polished intellect and soul authoritarian,
I am the very model of a New York Times contrarian!
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