The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
At the National Prayer Breakfast (barf), the silver lining to that offense-to-all-things-secular was that President Obama did nonbelievers and free expression a good turn with a spirited declaration of the need for global religious liberty:
We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful. Sometimes religion is twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, how they pray, or who they love… We believe in the inherent dignity of every human being, a dignity that no earthly power can take away. Central to that dignity is freedom of religion, the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free of persecution and fear.
At Friendly Atheist, I reservedly take it as a positive sign:
It would have been far more powerful if Obama had uttered the dreaded “atheist” word — or at least the less politically fraught “nonbeliever” — to specifically reference the threat faced by that particular group. Even better, he could have mentioned the harrowing cases of particular individuals such as Indonesia’s Alexander Aan, Saudi Arabia’s Raif Badawi, Egypt’s Alber Saber, and the many, many others who suffer imprisonment, persecution, and mortal threats for their lack of religious belief.
And here at CFI, though we’re a little nauseous over the president being 10 feet within the National Prayer Breakfast, we still liked what he said, and we meme’d it.
CFI’s international man of humanism, Bill Cooke, tells us about the great work of the Ugandan group the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability. One key to success? Motorbikes!
Oddly, the Justice Department has relegated to a footnote what may be the strongest single argument against allowing the two companies to deny their workers contraceptive coverage that they would otherwise be entitled to under the health care law. That would be the Constitution’s establishment clause enforcing the separation of church and state and barring government from favoring one religion over another or nonbelievers. But that is exactly what would happen if the restoration act were to be read as a congressional order requiring federal courts to grant private for-profit employers an exemption that would effectively allow them to impose their beliefs on employees to deny them a valuable government benefit.
I really want to browse the Library of Congress’s big Carl Sagan feature, but I would get no work done. It looks awesome.
Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and C Street, does a big report in GQ on being gay in Russia.
Kylie Sturgess interviews he of the squarest of all jaws, Dan Kahan, on the communication of risk and facts about vaccines and medicine.
Being in a rock band is hard, it’s like being in a marriage, except the only thing you have in common is that you all agreed to play the same music. Now imagine how much harder it would be if that band was Pussy Riot. Two of its formerly-imprisoned members are now out of the band.
Pussy Riot is getting one shoutout via snowboard at the Olympics.
This will not surprise you: In 2012 the 19 most religious US states all voted for Romney, the 14 least religious all went for Obama. Chris Cillizza breaks it down:
Simply put: If you are attending religious services every week, you are very likely to vote for the Republican candidate for president in 2016. If you never go to any sort of religious service, you are going to be for the Democrat. It’s a simple — and remarkably accurate — political predictor.
Washington State’s supreme court says that religious nonprofits can’t discriminate in hiring and firing if the job in question is not religious in nature.
ACLU goes after LA County’s seal with the cross on it.
Research by the Council on Contemporary Families has a lot of interesting religious demographic data, including a bit about the nonaffiliated’s “meteoric rise.”
Ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t like being called ultra-Orthodox, and want a different name. How about “Xtreme Jews”? Or “Jews: Maximum Strength”?
Saudi Arabia forms a “task force,” and I’m not kidding, to track down Twitter users who are also sorcerers.
That’s not a Yeti on your roof. It’s a frostquake.
The South Dakota intelligent design bill? Kaput.
It’s been 18 months since a “confirmed sighting” of Nessie, the longest period on record. OMG MAYBE IT’S DEAD.
Bigfoot, the most socially irresponsible of all cryptids, made this kid crash his car.
THIS is the archaeological finding that will ONCE AND FOR ALL end all claims of the Bible’s historical veracity: Camels weren’t domesticated yet when the Bible says they were used as pack animals. CHECKMATE, THEISTS. We in the atheist movement will now start packing up our things and go back to our D&D games.
Quote of the Day
Linker is free to struggle and suffer if he likes. I wish he would stop suggesting that the atheism of the rest of us is somehow inferior because we feel no need to share in his misery.
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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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