The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I started this day reading Joe Nickell’s reflection on the influence King had on him, and the fervent civil rights activism it inspired in him. It was a good way to start this day. Go read it.
At Religion & Politics, Lerone A. Martin reports on newly revealed documents showing how the FBI used black televangelist Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux to criticize King and help pass along oppo dirt about King to the bureau.
Yesterday 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam, apparently angry about YouTube’s age-restriction policies, began shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, injuring three people and killing herself. The CEO of Google (which owns YouTube), Sundar Pichai, pledged care for his employees and their families in a time of shock. He tweeted:
There are no words to describe the tragedy that occurred today. [YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki] I are focused on supporting our employees & the YouTube community through this difficult time together. Thank you to the police & first responders for their efforts, and to all for msgs of support.
A federal judge agreed to hear the case of Ben Hart of Kentucky, who was barred by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles from having a personalized license plate reading “IM GOD.” Hart says:
There is nothing ‘obscene or vulgar’ about my view that religious beliefs are subject to individual interpretation.
The Air Force has granted the appeal of Col. Leland Bohannon who refused to sign a “certificate of appreciation” for the same-sex spouse of one of the airmen under his command. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said:
The Air Force has a duty to treat people fairly and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation and (Bohannon) met that duty by having a more senior officer sign the certificate. … The Air Force places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religions or to observe no religion at all.
Whatever you think of this case, it’s kind of remarkable to hear the head of the Air Force, notorious for the fundamentalist culture entrenched within it, utter words of support for observing “no religion at all.”
George Washington University (my master’s alma mater, and thus why I will be in crippling debt for the rest of my life) is hosting a seminar on the problem of Christian privilege in America, and the right-wing outlets are all mad about it.
The Center for American Progress releases a report on the Justice Department’s eagerness to give religious individuals and organizations a license to discriminate.
A religious education group, the Expectations Project, criticizes Betsy DeVos for scrapping Obama-era guidance intended to curb the highly disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of minority students in public schools:
Our scripture says we’re all created in the image of God and are, therefore, of equal and immeasurable worth in the eyes of our Creator. So when African-American kids in our schools are treated differently than white kids we should all be able to agree this is wrong.
Mormon Elder Quentin L. Cook shows just how with-it he is by trying to look like he is sympathetic to the #metoo movement, and actually completely blowing it:
It is commendable that nonconsensual immorality has been exposed and denounced. Such nonconsensual immorality is against the laws of God and of society. Those who understand God’s plan should also oppose consensual immorality, which is also a sin.
Adrianne Jeffries at NYT looks at the world of online science communication by profiling teenage skeptic Marco Zozaya, who has backed away from what he now considers an overly inflammatory style of debunking and dismissal.
Pastafarians already knew this because faith, but apparently now pasta will not cause you to gain weight if you eat it three times a week. Sure! Why not.
Meanwhile, Stuart Vyse shows that if you want to eat healthy, the website of the USDA is not going to be much help:
Pro-business lobbyists and industry groups have attempted to blame the obesity crisis on a lack personal responsibility and have advocated for increased consumer freedom. But what if you actually do want to take personal responsibility for avoiding obesity? If you are a consumer who wants to learn about healthy eating, you will find less and less of the information you need at the USDA.
And don’t expect any help on climate science from the National Parks Service. This is pretty sad. Reveal News reports:
National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.
A woman in Phoenix is arrested for using a stun gun on her teenage son in order to get him to wake up for church. Power of Christ compels you!
Quote of the Day
Kavin Senapathy saw it coming: the discovery of a “new organ” in the human body, layers of connective tissue now known as the interstitium, has led to credulous speculation that this discovery will explain how acupuncture “works.” Importantly, she reveals that one of the paper’s co-authors, Neil Theise, is a devotee of Deepak Chopra (not kidding!). What now?
In offering comment on his new paper to the news media, Theise has speculated on how his new findings could relate to acupuncture. [A] Daily Beast story, for example, notes that the discovery “could explain many of modern medicine’s mysteries, often dismissed by the establishment” and quotes Theise saying that the “energetic healing jolt” of acupuncture “may be traced to the interstitium.” … Note that the paper doesn’t once mention acupuncture or complementary medicine. …
Will naturopaths, acupuncturists, supplement sellers, and miracle-diet hucksters add the interstitium to their arsenal of alternative-health parlance and wield knowledge gaps to peddle the latest and greatest way to optimize our newly discovered organ? We’ll have to wait and see, but it certainly seems likely.
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