The Saint-Making Machine

March 14, 2016


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

“I now give the floor to the distinguished representative from the Center for Inquiry,” says the presiding officer of the UN Human Rights Council, as Michael De Dora delivers his second statement of this session, this time on the freedom of expression on social media, and concerns about the rise in government takedown requests. 

Michael is also president of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and they’ll be putting on an event in NYC March 21, cosponsored by CFI and Muslims for Progressive Values on “A Woman’s Right to Believe”:

This side event will focus on the importance and scope of the right of women to change, dissent from, or leave their religion, and the role of the rights to freedom of religion or belief in empowering women, as well as other related issues. 

Egyptian Justice Minister Ahmed el-Zind is fired for saying he would arrest the Prophet Muhammad if he committed a crime (and I’m going to assume he did), because, of course, blasphemy.

Cathy Lynn Grossman reports on research from Duke University on how America is “sliding toward secular Europe” in its religious attitudes. 

Emma Brown at the Washington Post reports on the schemes of the Christian Educators Association International, which seeks to help Christian public school teachers get as Jesus-y as they can without running afoul of the law:

“We’re not talking about proselytizing. That would be illegal,” said [Finn] Laursen, the group’s executive director. “But we’re saying you can do a lot of things. . . . It’s a mission field that you fish in differently.” 

So much is wrong with that quote. 

An Oregon bill would make it so witnesses at House and Senate committee hearings would no longer have to end their oaths with “so help me God.” 

ISIS is aping games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto in its propaganda videos to lure recruits. 

U.S. fencing Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad is asked to remove her hijab to attend SXSW (which later apologized). Dude, don’t mess, she’s got a sword. 

Julia Belluz at Vox reports that vitamin supplements are more or less a bunch of crap

A court in Belgium says the Church of Scientology is not a criminal enterprise, rejecting charges of fraud and extortion against the church. Also, reports that the Church of Scientology has lost its tax-exempt status in the U.S. are a hoax.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is not winning Twitter. There was this one totally wrong tweet about, well, sex and pain (“If there were a species for whom sex hurt, it surely went extinct long ago”), which Emily Willingham corrects, and then he had that weird thing about Trump haters: “People who are anti-Trump are actually anti-Trump supporters — they oppose free citizens voting for the @realDonaldTrump.” And I think many of us are confused by that one.

Glenn Beck explains why you shouldn’t compromise on your idealism when you vote: Hellfire.

If we are the generation that loses those rights, we’re going to pay a heavy price — a very heavy eternal price … I’m not going to face my maker if I drop dead and have Him go, ‘By the way, remember those crazy rights? You were alive then, weren’t you? What did you do? Who did you vote for?’ I can’t in all good conscience say, ‘Well, because I thought Donald Trump would protect them, or, ‘I really thought Hillary Clinton would protect them.’ I know neither of them will and I don’t think the Lord is the kind of guy who says, ‘Well, we’ll go a little evil.’

The European and Russian space agencies launch the ExoMars mission to get a better smell of methane in Mars’s atmosphere

Adam Lee at The Guardian writes about the lessening of religion’s grip on how we think about death.  

Ron Reagan Jr. giving a eulogy for his mother:

In her later years, after my father had gone, she used to ask me whether I thought she would be with him again when she died. I’m not a believer in the supernatural, but I always assured her that wherever dad had gone, she was surely going to go there, too. We should all be so lucky as to end up where we’ve always wanted to be.

Now here’s a cool lede sentence, from the AP: “Pope Francis imposed new financial accountability regulations on the Vatican&rs
quo;s multimillion-dollar saint-making machine
…” Look out, Apple’s going to make a prettier aluminum-and-glass saint-making machine, and put the Vatican out of business. 

Quote of the Day: 

Adrian Pokorny in Australia’s The Age says that physicians need to own up to their responsibility to communicate the stark differences between evidence-based and alternative medicine: 

Patients deserve a better understanding of evidence-based practice. They deserve legitimate confidence in treatments with confirmed benefits. They deserve to be fully aware of the difference between evidence-based practice and alternative medicine in order to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

At a patient level, doctors need to improve explanations regarding the basis for their recommendations. Likely gains should be emphasised. Areas of uncertainty need to be acknowledged.

More broadly, an understanding of evidence and the role of clinical trials needs to be communicated frequently, clearly and without ulterior financial motives. Doctors in the media have an important role, as do professional organisations that would otherwise remain silent.   

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Original image by Shutterstock

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