The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Wendy Kaminer at The Atlantic on the prospects of atheist would-be Boy Scouts:
Atheists who want to join associations that disdain them have to change the culture, not the law. Like gays and lesbians, they have to challenge popular notions of sin and immorality. And they have to sever the connection between godliness and patriotism, especially if they want to join the Scouts.
Our own Tom Flynn relishes in his predictive triumph: It’s been good for atheists to out themselves over the past decade or so, so says science.
Get you date-savin’ on, folks. CFI is holding TWO Student Leadership Conferences this year, April at CFI-LA, and July at CFI’s Evil Global HQ in Amherst. Dig it all here.
In New York, there emerges a phenomenon of hardliner orthodox Jews forming roaming bands going around objecting to things they find indecent:
“They operate like the Mafia,” said Rabbi Allan Nadler, director of the Jewish studies program at Drew University in Madison, N.J. . . . “They walk into a store and say it would be a shame if your window was broken or you lost your clientele,” he said. “They might tell the father of a girl who wears a skirt that’s too short and he’s, say, a store owner: ‘If you ever want to sell a pair of shoes, speak to your daughter.’ ”
Leo Igwe writes of the horrors that arise from sincere belief in witchcraft:
They are victims of superstitious beliefs which constitute the basis of the local thought and culture. In many parts of northern Ghana, a child whose mother dies after delivery is often perceived to be an ‘evil child’, a curse to the family or community and an agent of the devil. In a region where many deaths are seen as unnatural, many babies are accused of killing their mothers through witchcraft and magic. And to prevent such an ‘evil child’ from wreaking more havoc, the baby is abandoned or dumped at an anthill to die.
‘Tis confirmed: Susan Jacoby will be back for Women in Secularism 2!
Tomorrow is the last day you can register for CFI-Indiana’s really stellar Civic Day activities!
Dan Barker says no to a men-only religious debate.
Catholic and Reformed churches agree: Baptisms are cross-platform.
Pilot films a UFO over Costa Rica with his iPhone. Never mind why he was doing that and not flying the plane. (Okay, I admit, I have no idea whether that’s fine or not.)
George W. Bush’s first head of Faith-Based Initiatives is really happy with Obama’s handling of same.
Ben Kavoussi at Science-Based Medicine on the huge freaking mess surrounding the licensing of acupuncturists in California.
Wichita Eagle: A new bill in the Kansas legislature would “notify city governments that it’s legal to display religious symbols on public grounds if they are a part of local history or heritage.”
You probably know all about this by now, but just in case, here’s the Buzzfeed roundup of events surrounding the Applebee’s customer, a pastor named Alois Bell, who refused to fully tip a server, writing, “I give God 10%, Why do you get 18?” The server got fired, Applebees is getting an earful, the pastor is humiliated, saying, “My heart is really broken. I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”
Sarah Kaiser highlights the work of our latest CFI On Campus Affiliate of the Week, Colorado State University Leaders in Free Thought.
David Gibson: Retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony found to have conspired to protect child-molesting priests after a long-fought-over document dump, and is shunned by the church. David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says:
The lesson here for Catholic staff is clear: if you successfully conceal your wrongdoing, you can keep your job. If, however, you fail, there’s an extraordinarily slim chance you might experience some slight consequences.
Edzard Ernst: This alt-med might not be a joke: avocado-soybean-unsaponifiables may help with arthritis.
Back to alt-med as joke, here’s a “naturopath” being very careful about his practice:
Dr. Grove warns that although herbs may be easier to get than a pharmacy prescription, the key is to know if the herb was picked properly and safely. Also, make sure to take into consideration things like pesticide use or the age of the plant.
Yeah, that’s the thing to worry about.
Michael Shermer takes a stab at defining skepticism:
Skepticism is not “seek and ye shall find,” but “seek and keep an open mind.” But what does it mean to have an open mind? It is to find the essential balance between orthodoxy and heresy, between a total
commitment to the status quo and the blind pursuit of new ideas, between being open-minded enough to accept radical new ideas and so open-minded that your brains fall out. Skepticism is about finding that balance.
Another thing to be skeptical of in the commercial culture: Products promising to “clean your PC” of viruses and whatnot.
Quote of the Day
A tweet about Applebees-Gate from @TJ_Shouse:
Whatever your reasoning, always tip your waitress, otherwise the internet will find you.
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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