Middle-Class Rain Dance

February 25, 2015

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

So the ultraconservative American Family Association has this “bigotry map,” which is their version of an enemies list, showing the groups they say are “anti-Christian.” Thing is, CFI wasn’t on their list, and we were all “what’s up with that,” so I had a little fun with it:

“Of course, the Center for Inquiry is by no means anti-Christian, and we work to combat bigotry of all kinds, be it against atheists, Christians, or any other group,” said CFI communications director Paul Fidalgo, nervously, between gulps of overly sweetened coffee. “But come on. The AFA listed Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, and, get this, the AARP! The AARP!”

“Come on!” added Fidalgo, who looked like he needed more sleep. “We ask…no, we demand that the American Family Association recognize that we are just as much a threat to their backward vision of a theocratic, Christianized America as any of these groups – certainly more than the AARP – and add us to their list.” 

A new PPP poll of likely GOP presidential primary voters shows that half of them do not accept evolution (13% not sure), two-thirds do not believe in the reality of global warming (10% not sure), and 57% want Christianity established as the official national religion (13% not sure). So. You know. Heck of an electorate you got there. 

Christian and Jewish groups join Muslim groups in support of a Muslim woman’s case at the Supreme Court, who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch for insisting on wearing her head scarf.

Jacob Lupfer at RNS warns against “theological purity tests” for presidents, though from the perspective that they should be more open about religious devotion:

Even once-innocuous celebrations of faith have become fodder for vicious attacks. The National Prayer Breakfast now exists primarily to boost the careers of whatever speakers will insult and defy the president to his face.  

This is not helping: Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

PRI reports on the efforts of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in Germany to receive official legal recognition. They talk to church leader Rüdiger Weida, aka “Bruder Spaghettus”:

Weida said he doesn’t see himself strictly as an atheist, but rather a humanist. “We are also not a religious group,” Weida explained. “But we adhere to a Weltanshauung,” or a complete worldview. The more I asked for details about that worldview, the more ridiculous the answers got. For example, on the question of heaven, Weida said Pastafarians believe in a heaven-like existence in the afterlife that includes large amounts of beer and great numbers of strippers.  

Ben Radford continues his examination of media misinformation in the case study of the show Nova and its work on anorexia.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio completely folds under pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis who don’t think parents should have to consent to having their baby sons’ foreskins removed by said rabbis’ mouths.  

Voice of America profiles the Ex-Muslims of North America

Ryan Cooper at The Week writes in opposition to the “New Atheists” in a piece I have to assume was written ten years ago and then got lost and was just found again and they thought, oh heck let’s post it. 

Joe Nickell shows off some old-timey “cures” for epilepsy. As one advertised in 1888:

I CURE FITS! … When I say CURE I do not mean merely to stop them for a time, and then have them return again. I MEAN A RADICAL CURE. 

ISIS burns the public libary in Mosul, destroying 8000 rare books and manuscripts. 

One-year-old Yohana Bahati of Tanzania, who had albinism, is kidnapped and dismembered as part of a witchcraft ritual.

Ben Radford reports at Discovery News on using belief in witchcraft to fight sex trafficking, as victims are led to believe their “juju” has been reversed.

Men in Saudi Arabia are arrested for dancing at a birthday party, because dancing can make you gay, which is just science. 

Quote of the Day 

I’ve been reading John Cleese‘s autobiography So, Anyway…, and there’s this lovely bit about what he learned about religion in school:

To look back on these religious practices from the peak of spiritual perfection that I have
now achieved is to wonder, “What the fuck did we think we were doing?” We had all been taught how to behave: to walk more slowly than usual, looking downwards; to sit, fresh-faced and attentive and slightly awed, as we repeated well-known catchphrases of uncertain meaning (“ Lord of hosts,” “Son of God,” “paschal lamb,” “life everlasting”), none of which had ever been explained but which, if spoken with sufficient sincerity, would apparently keep the bogeyman away; then to stand and sing obscure lyrics about the hosts of Gilead creeping around after dark, or rousing military marches like “Onward Christian Soldiers” that were contrary to the idea “Blessed are the peacemakers”; and then to ask God to do us favours, even though the Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus specifically says, “Thy will be done on earth,” which clearly indicates it isn’t.

Yes, I know it’s easy to make fun of the organised churches, but has it occurred to anyone to wonder why it’s so easy? … All the vital questions have been dumped in favour of half-baked, po-faced rituals which are basically a form of middle-class rain dance.

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