Asking For a Friend

May 4, 2016


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

Yes, yes, May the 4th be with you, and all that, except that your eyes, nor your ears, are deceiving you. Donald Trump really will be the nominee of the Republican Party. And you will be saying “Merry Christmas.” YOU WILL. (However, Hillary Clinton may now be the most religious candidate running for president, if you don’t count Kasich, and I don’t, and really you shouldn’t count Bernie either because math, and whatever, I welcome your hate.)

CFI is leading a big, stellar coalition of academics, activists, and human rights groups taking Bangladesh to task for blaming murdered secularists for their own deaths, and urging them to protect their people and bring the killers to justice. Signatories include Reza Aslan, Sam Harris, Maryam Namazie, Steven Pinker (who was just elected to the National Academy of Sciences), Richard Dawkins, and on and on. Oh, and we have groups like Freedom House and the PEN American Center. It’s a big deal, y’all, and YOU can add your name to the statement. I also want to thank the other freethought orgs who have been helping to get the word out about this statement. You guys are great.

We are also signatories to a separate plea to the the UN Human Rights Council led by PEN to have the Bangladesh murders investigated by the UN. 

One threatened Bangladesh blogger, Ashif Entaz Rabi, got to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, after which he said, “Never mind, I’ll go back to Bangladesh.” KIDDING. He didn’t say that. He did say, “I hope that at least the U.S. State Department they will open a small door for me so that … I can live a little longer.” 

Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi of Bangladesh says, “[Although] the Catholic Church does not approve the way of the LGBT life, it recognizes the rights of all human persons.” And:

God has given us freedom of choice, and nobody is allowed to persecute people for their sexual orientation because of so-called traditional values based on conservative religious norms. A truly democratic society can’t accept abuse in the name of religion. 

Ned Hallowell is the guest on Point of Inquiry this week, discussing ADHD in the context of a super-distracting world where oh look my chronitons have recharged in my Star Trek Timelines game I think I forgot to bring something to my daughter’s daycare my son gets out of kindergarten early today and did anyone retweet my tweet that I tweeted so what’s happening now? 

Carrie Poppy challenges the myth that men are more harassed online than women.  

It’s time we had a national conversation about national conversations. Ben Radford writes:

Is there a “national conversation”? There’s certainly plenty of back-and forth between people of different opinions on social media. On television, Twitter, and elsewhere people with opposing views trade barbs and views. Person A makes some factual claim or statement, Person B rebuts it, and Person A often changes the subject or employs one of dozens of logical fallacies (straw man arguments seem to be especially popular). Anyone with an internet connection sees this so often that it’s routine, and this can hardly be called a “discussion” or “conversation.” 

David Koepsell writes about how we’re all kind of thinking apocalyptically about the future (see first news item), but that we can take responsibility to make it be something else. 

Best lede ever?

Villagers in Indonesia were disappointed to learn that an “angel” that fell from the skies is actually a sex toy.

On my podcast, I should say, Brian and I spend way, way too much time on the ethics of sex with robots. We were asking for a friend. 

I had a bigger hand than usual in the RDF’s newsletter this week, and I point this out only to say yes, it has news about Ted Cruz that is now kind of out of date because he dropped out last night, but I couldn’t have known that at the time yet I still take responsibility. 

This is rich. Alt-med, pseudoscience-hawking online rag Natural News attacks Susan Gerbic for her “sinister” conspiracy to bring facts and reality to Wikipedia. Sinister!!!

Joe Nickell did like over three hours on the radio show Coast to Coast talkin’ paranormal stuff. If that’s your thing, man, dive in. 

A doctor in Washington says her hospital imposed a gag order on her, forbidding her from advocating for abortion rights, out of security concerns. 

Canadian scientists are speaking out now about a gag order of their own, imposed by the Conservative government, and now lifted by the Trudeau liberals. 

Rabbi Daniel Greer, principle of an Orthodox Jewish all-boys boar
ding school, is accused of raping and molesting a then-teenage student “hundreds of times.” 

A Catholic woman in Las Vegas is suing her former employer, an “alkalized” water company, for religious discrimination because she refused to endure Scientology propaganda “betterment” courses. 

Rev. David Gushee worries about differing ideas of being Christian, and how it sometimes brings out the worst, writing, “A faith that stands with the crucified ones of this world is very different from a faith that does the crucifying.”  

Kimberly Winston reports on the ongoing efforts to institute a National Day of Reason

The LA Times gets all mushy about belief in miracles for some reason. 

Quote of the Day:

In an op-ed for USA Today, Robert P. George and Hannah Rosenthal of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom decry the violence and persecution against nonbelievers in Bangladesh, Russia, Indonesia, and elsewhere:

It is no coincidence that USCIRF has monitored all of these countries for perpetrating or tolerating religious freedom violations not just against atheists, but theists as well, including members of religious minorities. Simply stated, societies that fail to protect the right to freedom of conscience of atheists rarely stop there.

It is time to send a message to every nation: Persecution of atheists and theists alike is equally reprehensible and must be condemned. Religious freedom is the precious birthright of humanity and must be honored and upheld for believers and skeptics alike.   

* * *

Original image by Shutterstock, and possibly messed with by Paul

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

News items that mention political​ candidates are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances are to be interpreted as statements of endorsement or opposition to any political candidate. CFI is a nonpartisan nonprofit.  

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta