Some Witches Use Their Power in a Positive Way

March 26, 2013

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

Happy Let’s-Argue-About-Gay-Marriage-At-The-Supreme-Court Day! Yesterday, CFI sent out a message telling folks about our efforts to support marriage equality in this week’s cases involving Prop 8 and DOMA, along with allies like the American Humanist Association.

Our own Michael De Dora trumpets the defeat of voucher amendments to the Senate’s budget last week. 

CFI-Indiana’s Reba Boyd Wooden posts her acclaimed testimony against vouchers to the state legislature. 

Dawood I. Ahmed writes at the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are not the problem we should all be worrying about, calling advocacy against them “well-meaning, but wrong”:

It is based on questionable assumptions that over-estimate the exogenous influence of legislation in organizing culturally and religious sensitive conduct in Pakistan. It also reflects a West-centric understanding of how effective legislation can be in strengthening respect for human rights in the country. We forget that ‘blasphemy’-related vigilantism far pre-dates Pakistan’s enactment of its current version of the blasphemy law–murders by individuals and mobs on an accusation of blasphemy have been an all too frequent occurrence in the region. 

Well. Then we have just another day in Lahore, Pakistan: Accusations of a person desecrating a Quran, angry mob attacks, victim of the attack is arrested for blasphemy. Practically writes itself.

The latest Point of Inquiry features Indre Visktontas in discussion with Carol Tavris on the science of sex and gender. Tavris was awesome at CSICon, by the way. 

Malala Yousafzai is named Secularist of the Year by the UK’s National Secular Society, and a special achievement award was presented to Leo Igwe.

Tracy Simmons looks at the crisis of spiritual abuse, “when authoritarian religious groups use power and control to instill fear and guilt into worshippers, manipulating them to behave a certain way.” 

Sen. Claire McCaskill comes out for gay marriage

Andrew Romano at Newsweek on Sandy-as-harbinger of climate change as the new normal:

The storm’s ravaging tides may have been the clearest preview to date of what the 21st century has in store for our coastal areas. Experts can’t say for sure whether climate change was to blame for the size of the storm itself. But they are pretty certain that global warming will cause a lot more Sandy-like storm surges in the decades ahead. 

Jeff Kunerth at the Orlando Sentinel on how “black atheists [are] in the no man’s land between the black community they grew up in and the predominantly white world of atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers.” 

Maryan Namazie announces the formation of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco, “the first public atheist and non-religious organisation in a country with Islam as its state religion.” 

A “floodgate of opinion” is opened as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considers the constitutionality of “under God” in the Pledge. 

MAAF highlights the Dawkins Foundation’s efforts to send care packages to military personnel. (And happy birthday to Professor Dawkins.)

Jakarta Globe on how a new law against “witchcraft” is controversial not because it makes targets of people accused of witchcraft, but because it could violate the rights of actual witches:

Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party politician Permadi, who claims to have psychic powers, disagreed with Andi’s argument, saying the article fails to protect the rights of psychics and witches. He said that not all people who could perform magic and cast a spell on someone else use their power wrongly, as some witches use their power in a positive way. 

Cody Hashman writing the On Campus blog’s Music Monday entry: “Few albums have been able to depict the suffocating nature of small town religious culture in America better than Cursive’s Happy Hollow.” 

Sharon Hill is dubious about the therapeutic benefits of “binaural beats.” 

Here’s a spooky trailer for what I guess is an in-production documentary Martyred in the USSR: Militant Atheism in the Former Soviet Union. Looks fishy.

Alleged UFOs in Houston turn out to be, yes, paper lanterns. Can we just start presuming that’s what every fiery UFO is from now on? 

Michael Shermer is interviewed by Canada’s National Post on religion and morality.

Susan Gerbic updates us on her progress on skepto-atheist figures in Wikipedia, and asks for more assistance. 

Tomas Rees at Epiphenom on how education “is clearly the single strongest correlate” with a country’s lack of religiousness. touts Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein’s Citizen Radio as an outlet that resists “the abysmal Islamophobic trend in the politics of atheism.” Hmm. 

Quote of the Day 

Christopher Dickey at Newsweek on Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., who stands accused of blasphemy for criticizing the blasphemy laws:

. . . anyone in Pakistan should know by now that Rehman, 52, is very hard to frighten, and such is her courage that when she is scared—as she admits she has been several times in her life—she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she thinks is right. 

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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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