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Camel Biting

September 26, 2019

Reporting a few weeks after the fact (but hey, we’ll take it), UPI reports on CFI’s lawsuit in Texas to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages. The judge rejected our suit and we, naturally, are appealing the decision.

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic takes a close look at the rise of the nones and says of the huge uptick in the nonreligious over the past 20 years or so, “You might even call it exceptional”:

Although belief in god is no panacea for these problems, religion is more than a theism. It is a bundle: a theory of the world, a community, a social identity, a means of finding peace and purpose, and a weekly routine. Those, like me, who have largely rejected this package-deal, often find themselves shopping a la carte for meaning, community, and routine to fill a faith-shaped void. Their politics is a religion. Their work is a religion. Their spin class is a church. And not looking at their phone for several consecutive hours is a Sabbath.

American nones may well build successful secular systems of belief, purpose, and community. But imagine what a devout believer might think: that millions of Americans have abandoned religion only to recreate it everywhere they look.

The IPCC releases a new report, and yes, it’s really bad news. The oceans are, well, boiling. The Post reports:

The warming climate is killing coral reefs, supercharging monster storms, and fueling deadly marine heat waves and record losses of sea ice. And Wednesday’s report on the world’s oceans, glaciers, polar regions and ice sheets finds that such effects foreshadow a more catastrophic future as long as greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.

Given current emissions levels, a number of serious effects are essentially unavoidable … Hundred-year floods will become an annual occurrence by 2050 in some cities and small island nations, according to the IPCC. Several of those cities are in the United States, including its second largest, Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the Trump EPA says California is not doing enough to address water pollution. Wait, what?

Earlier this month in Amsterdam, human rights activists came together for a conference and exhibition called Celebrating Dissent, organized by Maryam Namazie, whose work is supported by CFI. Lots of familiar faces among the speakers.

The latest issue of Free Inquiry features a defiant piece on the unwillingness of women, particularly ex-Muslim women, to put up with the oppression they experience in many parts of the world. Go subscribe.

Jesus and Mo counter-celebrate International Blasphemy Rights Day with their scathing wit.

The FDA wants to ban a list of dangerous substances such as curcumin and cesium chloride in naturopathic “compound drugs,” which of course is entirely unacceptable to the people who make money making this garbage.

Hemant Mehta shakes his head at the group Republican Atheists who recently touted their meeting with the rather anti-atheist Rep. Andy Harris:

The group Republican Atheists is a perfect example of this. They use the atheist label to get attention but all they do is parrot the talking points of MAGA cultists. If their name didn’t include the A-word, you’d never know they were atheists. … I’m just surprised they’re not posting sermons given how much they sound like conservative Christians.

In a guest post at Friendly Atheist, Rachel Camp tells of her struggles as an atheist mom when her baby is diagnosed with cancer, and people keep telling her to “trust in God”:

Being the parent of a child diagnosed with cancer can be lonely. You know most other parents aren’t experiencing what you’re going through and it’s hard to relate. Being an atheist in a world full of believers often feels similar. Being both brings on a whole new level of isolation. But through connections with other parents who had faced a similar path, I was able to get through the hardest time in my life.

A judge rules that the Southern Poverty Law Center is protected by the First Amendment when it labels a far-right Christian group as a “hate group”:

To find actual malice just because SPLC publicized a meaning of “hate group” that conflicted with the common understanding of the term would severely undermine debate and free speech about a matter of public concern. This is because, even if the term had achieved a commonly understood meaning, that meaning would not be fixed forever, but rather could evolve through public debate. To sanction a speaker for promoting a genuinely held dissenting view of the meaning of “hate group” would be akin to punishing a speaker for advocating new conceptions of terms like “terrorist,” “extremist,” “sexist,” “racist,” “radical

Sometimes, Reddit is not a garbage fire. Case in point: the r/Islam subreddit now has a desginated space for users to seek mental health guidance. Aysha Khan reports:

While most have come for help coping with “severe psychological distress,” high school- and college-age patients are also increasingly looking for professional help in dealing with general anxiety, spiritual issues and family conflicts.

So far, most online questioners have focused on traumas that the Reddit users have faced, as well as issues with parents and with losing faith.

I could probably stand to take a page from Webby Awards creator Tiffany Shlain who observes every week with her family a “Technology Shabbat” – 24 ours without our screens and devices. She says:

We’re just so much more with each other on our Tech Shabbat. We always have a big Shabbat meal with family and friends, so there’s that incredible sense of empathy and humor. We’re laughing, we’re cooking, we’re around the table and there’s not a screen in sight. Everyone’s present in a very different way when there’s no screens anywhere.

And then we sleep more deeply on Friday nights than any night of the week. During the day, my husband and I do a lot of journaling and writing. I will pull out articles I really want to think deeply about. We’ll make art, we’ll go biking, we’ll take naps, we’ll laugh a lot more. It just feels so great every week. We always comment on it. You’d think it would get old by now.

When it’s time to counter-protest the Westboro Baptist Church, even Thanos can’t stay away. Wow, he really is inevitable.

Headline of the Day: “Truck stop camel prescribed antibiotics after woman bites it.”

Quote of the Day

Marching band + Star Wars + LGBTQ equality + pissing off anti-gay institutions = awesome. Rice University’s Marching Owl Band capped off its Star Wars themed performance at a football game against Christian and anti-gay college Baylor by spelling out “Pride” and playing “YMCA.” Oh, and the announcer said this:

We believe in supporting all of our outstanding students. Even those who like the Star Wars prequels!

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.