The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Oh, for a week of nothing but the uplifting and trivial. A brief respite from calamities and turmoil. Not likely. (But for non-terrible stuff, see the latest issue of CFI’s newsletter, Cause & Effect.)
Over the weekend, factions in the Turkish military fail in their coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the parliament, but not without a lot of bloodshed and destruction. Ostensibly defending the secular state established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the failed coup now worsens what it purported to solve, giving Erdogan far more power. He is already rounding up people by the thousands. As Patrick Cockburn at The Independent puts it, “It may be that Erdogan is using the coup to eliminate the most powerful officials seen as loyal to Turkey as a secular state.” Or, as the New York Times says, “The Islamists, meanwhile, were dancing in the streets.”
Back in the U.S., more police were killed, this time in Baton Rouge, this time by a man attached to the Sovereign Citizens movement, an ideology built on conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory. Speaking on the phone to the rocket scientists on Fox & Friends, Trump implies that President Obama is happy about or in league with the people killing police officers:
I listened to the president and sometimes his words are OK, but you just look at the body language—there’s something going on. … There’s just bad feeling. And a lot of bad feeling about him. I see it too.
And the whole Mike Pence thing became official, even after Trump tried to back out of his choice at the last minute. If you don’t remember, Mike Pence hedges like crazy on evolution, believes in essentially “teaching the controversy” in public schools, doesn’t believe that humans cause climate change, and nor does carbon dioxide, has said that smoking does not kill people, and, well, I could go on. Okay I will. Don’t forget, he’s also the Indiana RFRA guy.
Oh, and apparently Pence’s daughter has no reflection, meaning she is a vampire, because sure.
ISIS eventually claims the Nice attacker as its own, but as NYT notes, “The claim must be greeted with caution, because there was yet no evidence suggesting that the driver was radicalized, or had even been exposed to the Islamic State’s propaganda.”
Arkansas’ legislature approves a measure allowing counselors and therapists to refuse to provide services to LGBTQ folks if they hold “ethical, moral, or religious principles” about it. It’s hard for me to grasp how people can be so vindictive for no reason.
More bad news! New British Prime Minister Theresa May abolishes the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and appoints as Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, who doesn’t think climate change is a big deal, and may eve not be real.
CFI alumnus Simon Davis, who loves to write about death, has a piece at RNS on the “nones” who believe in life after death (remember, “nones” are just unaffiliated, not necessarily nonbelievers), and quotes our own Tom Flynn:
Strictly defined, an ‘atheist’ has no belief in the traditional personal deity imagined by Western religion. Such an atheist could believe in an impersonal supernatural realm or an afterlife, but not presided over by a god. Arguably some Buddhist conceptions of karma and reincarnation are atheistic in this sense.
Hemant profiles three candidates for state legislatures who are openly nonreligious.
A pastor in Colorado starts a “Doubters’ Club” to attract on-the-fence nonbelievers and wavering Christians.
On Al Jazeera’s Reality Check, Karen Armstrong, Lawrence Krauss, and Greg Epstein discuss religion’s role in terrorist attacks.
Noah Feldman at NYT tries to explain to Newt Gingrich, who wants to ban from the U.S. all Muslims who believe in Shariah, what Shariah actually is:
Muslims have a wide range of different beliefs about what Shariah requires in practice. And all agree that humans are imperfect interpreters of God’s will. But to ask a faithful Muslim if he or she “believes in” Shariah is essentially to ask if he or she accepts God’s word. In effect, Mr. Gingrich was proposing to deport all Muslims who consider themselves religious believers.
Kathleen Hale and Mae Ryan at The Guardian visits some of the residents of Snowflake, Arizona, where many of them believe they suffer from “environmental illness.”
David Gorski writes about (and laments) how the V.A. is embracing alt-med like acupuncture.
Game developer Wisdom Tree used to make unlicensed Christian games for the NES, and now they have a Kickstarter to bring them back.
Finally, I am heartbroken to report that Samantha Bannister, aka “Tiny Dancer,” the 12-year-old daughter of active CFI–Michigan member Jeremiah Bannister, has died after a battle with cancer. The CFI community there is doing a lot to support the family, and you can to at this GoFundMe page. When I was looking for material for the most recent CFI Progress Report, Jeremiah wrote a deeply moving testimonial that I decided to publish in full in the final report, which you can see here on page 27. That was my introduction to Jeremiah and Samantha. I’m so glad I got that introduction, and I am so sad that she is gone.
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