Where Spirituality Meets Narcissism

April 20, 2016


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

Holy moly there’s a lot going on today.  

Yesterday we announced a new member of our Board of Directors, Y. Sherry Sheng, a naturalist and organizer with a dizzying array of experiences in helping nonprofits get better at what they do. So she’s a good get, is what I’m saying. 

Eduardo Porter at NYT points a finger at a powerful group of folks who are rejecting science and standing in the way of progress on climate change: liberals:

For starters, they stand against the only technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power. … On the left…people tend to mistrust corporations — especially big ones — as corrupt and destructive. These are the institutions bringing us both nuclear power and genetically modified agriculture.

Oh, and this is fun. Once climate change really starts screwing things up, William B. Gail at NYT says we’re going to lose most of our predictive abilities for agriculture, infrastructure planning, and whatnot, and he calls it a coming “new dark age” of vast ignorance about what the heck our planet is doing. 

Emma Green at The Atlantic explores in depth the sickening laws and bills in states that allow doctors and therapists to opt out of treating LGBT patients because of “choice” and “religious liberty.” 

Derek Beres at Big Think looks at the culture of spirituality in the Instagram age, “where spirituality meets narcissism”:

Freedom isn’t earned. It’s purchased. Clothing isn’t for warmth, it’s for chakra alignment. In a nation of plenty more is never enough. The capitalists have won, selling spirituality as shamelessly as whatever other product they can produce.  

Senators Marco Rubio, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, James Risch, and Ron Johnson ask President Obama to press Saudi Arabia on the Raif Badawi case. (I’ve made fun of Rubio a lot, but I’m very glad to see his name here.)

CFI is a signatory, with three other major human rights groups, to another such request to the president, but for imprisoned poet Ashraf Fayadh:

Your decision to speak out now will be especially consequential in that the death penalty could possibly be reinstated or the sentence of eight years in prison and 800 lashes upheld. If Ashraf Fayadh is executed, and you as President have said nothing, the blame will be shared.

We’re also joined with 55 other organizations opposing the reauthorization of DC’s voucher scheme. Meanwhile, a suit in Colorado challenges the state’s voicher program for excluding religious schools.

Here’s a twofer from religion-beat journalist Brandon Withrow. The first, at The Daily Beast, focuses on what is reported to be the monstrous behavior of one Pastor C.J. Mahaney of the Sovereign Grace Church, who apart from having a reputation of being a first-class jerk and enthusiastic advocate of corporal punishment, is also accused of covering up sex abuse of kids in his church. Nonetheless, he’s given a big platform by the “Together for the Gospel” event, and praised by Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Seminary. 

And at HuffPo, Brandon points to fascinating research that shows that people who go about thinking “well, things could be worse” are more likely to believe in God, because if things could be worse but aren’t, it’s because God intervened. For me, it’s always, “things will be worse.” Because they will.

Religious daycares are often entirely unregulated, and that means bad news. Amy Julia Harris at Reveal profiles Deborah Stokes, who gets taxpayer money and has no license, and has been charged with child endangerment, theft, neglect, and oh, she’s still operating. 

Christina Cauterucci at Slate reacts:

There is no plausible religious argument for exempting day cares from basic safety and health requirements. But if the recent debates over “religious liberty” laws have taught us anything about an increasingly popular brand of conservative logic, especially in the South, we can expect Christian groups to claim persecution anyway. 

Relatedly, check out the latest newsletter from the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which leads with the abuse of kids through enforced “faith-healing.” 

In Kansas, the 10th Circuit Court dismisses a challenge to the state’s school science standards, which claimed that they were “anti-religious.”

Oh man, this is a real peeve of mine, the claim from folks that some nonsense alt-med treatment is actually effective because “it worked for me.” Steven Novella says:

This is the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. We do not know what the subject’s outcome would have been like had they not received the treatment, or if they received a different treatment. 

Richard Dawkins will not be shackled to your conventional standards for
the wearing of socks! See him “fight the tyranny of the matching socks.” 

Quote of the Day:

Valerie Tarico does away with the cliche, “I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion”:

I am pro-abortion like I’m pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery. As the last protection against ill-conceived childbearing when all else fails, abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing. I believe that abortion care is a positive social good. And I suspect that a lot of other people secretly believe the same thing. And I think it’s time we said so.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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