The Same Plane as Santa Claus

June 10, 2015

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

The New York Times urges Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi:

His death, or his crippling for life, another real possibility, would be a blot that even Saudi Arabia — known for administering harsh physical punishments that include amputations and beheadings — would find difficult to live down. 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds many of the most onerous restrictions placed on abortion providers in Texas, reducing the number of such providers from 41 to “less than a dozen.” 

The California bill that would nix the personal belief exemption from required vaccinations has passed the Assembly’s health committee, and heads to a full floor vote.

BBC attempts to give an idea of what life is like in the Islamic State, through interviews and secretly-filmed footage. 

Watch your newsstands and mailboxes for the latest Skeptical Inquirer, with a cover feature on the rise of the celebrity scientist

Having voted in favor of marriage equality, many in Ireland now look to change the country’s restrictive abortion laws

Michael Specter at the New Yorker (who’ll be at Reason for Change this weekend) wonders why we’re not more scared of the new bird flu, and the result is that I am now really, really scared of the new bird flu. 

And just as Reason for Change winds up, Egypt’s Council of Churches will hold a conference on “countering atheism.”  

CFI intern Zach Ashton looks at how words lack objective, authoritative definitions (like “atheism” for example), and also wants us to think more about what space aliens might consider sexy.  

With ritual killings on the rise in Zambia, Leo Igwe calls upon the country’s skeptics to “arise.” 

The Southern Baptist Convention and the Alliance Defending Freedom are giving legal guidance to Christian institutions who want to be protected from the Gay Menace™

Also afraid of the gay is Franklin Graham. “Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards,” he posted on Facebook, a company which by the way is “vehemently pro-LGBT.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court says over 500 same-sex marriages performed last month must now be pulled from “legal limbo” and recognized. 

Tobin Grant tries to suss out what exactly is up with the 15% of “Nones” who don’t support marriage equality

Quote of the Day:

Jeet Heer in The New Republic on how bans on depicting Muhammad is a game of “competing abstractions”:

To the cartoonists who drew the images for Jyllands-Posten or Charlie Hebdo, Muhammad already existed as an abstraction before they picked up their pens. To unbelievers in the secular west, Muhammad exists on the same plane as Santa Claus, Don Quixote, or Ronald McDonald: a logo or emblem of an idea. The mockery of the cartoonists was aimed not at Muhammad the Prophet, who was already unreal to them, but rather Muhammad the logo, the emblem of Islam as a religion.


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Original image by Shutterstock.

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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