Cosmic Unicorn Ride to Valhalla

May 9, 2017


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

They actually went and did it. Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka “Ahok,” an ethnic Chinese Christian, is convicted of blasphemy and jailed for two years.

The blasphemy investigation in Ireland against Stephen Fry is closed. Why? The police “were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people.” Yep. 

Before it was closed, Catholic and Conservative Party candidate Benedict Rogers wrote in solidarity:

I absolutely defend his right to think and say [what he said], just as I defend the right of a Christian to express their beliefs, or a person of any other faith to do the same. …from what I have seen Stephen Fry was not inciting anyone to do anything against people of religious belief – he was merely expressing his view of God. And precisely because some of my own friends have been killed or jailed under unjust blasphemy laws, I take very seriously Voltaire’s principle – I disagree with what he said, but I will defend to the death his right to say it. 

Amnesty International releases a report on the attacks on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, which we know a little something about too. 

Facebook is heavily restricting the ability of ex-Muslim pages to reach users as part of an effort to crack down on “anti-Islam” pages. 

This is grotesque: A bill in Texas would allow state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT, single, non-Christian, and atheist would-be parents. 

Because it’s the Oklahoma legislature, and they do this kind of thing, they’ve passed a resolution calling abortion murder, and telling state officials to ignore Roe v. Wade, which of course they can’t. 

The Wallooon region of Belgium bans the slaughter of animals that have not been stunned, effectively banning kosher and halal meat, and it’s not going over well with the affected religious groups.

Bermuda legalizes same-sex marriage by way of trial court decision.  

This past weekend, Emma Watson won the first major gender-neutral acting award with the MTV Movie and TV Awards’ “Best Actor” prize, which I think is pretty cool.

Tania Lombrozo considers the best ways to determine what counts as pseudoscience

Behold ARTEMIS, an alien-seeking submarine being tested in the Antarctic, and really needs to be send to Europa.

An atheist reader asks John Shore of the Asheville Citizen-Times how to deal with their family’s prayer circle ritual. Shore responds:

I say that when your family says, “Join us in prayer?” you say, “Join my husband and I in a cosmic unicorn ride to Valhalla?” This is sure to lead to a lively and fun family discussion. Of course, it might also lead to your having to stay out in the backyard while everyone else is inside enjoying their delicious dinner. So forget what I just said. A person’s gotta eat.

He then has more practical advice:

… holding hands with your family while they stand around and pray isn’t a grave betrayal of your ethics. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite. It makes you a patient, good-hearted member of your family. As long as nobody there asks you to believe what they believe, or to renounce what you believe — as long as they all show your beliefs the same respect you show theirs — then you’re good. 

Quote of the Day:

Amanda Kooser at CNET has some requests for visitors from other planets. My favorite is number 1:

Please hold still.

… Sure, we can photograph a single airplane from the International Space Station, but we can’t seem to capture a clear video of one of your UFOs. I would appreciate it if you could come in low over a well-populated area and hover in good lighting for at least a few minutes. Just long enough for someone to get some solid footage is all I ask.

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