Orthodox Bitziism

June 4, 2018


Oh wow, look at our new digs! Our web team has managed to wrench us out of our website from the neighborhood where Geocities and Alta Vista hang out, and bring us firmly into the 21st Century. Very spacious and modern. Swanky.

Cakeshop. Damn. SCOTUS’s decision just dropped. I’ll have to get to it tomorrow for the purposes of the Heresy. This is late enough as it is.

Jennifer Beahan, director of CFI Michigan, is interviewed on NBC affiliate WOOD-TV for their report on our lawsuit to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages. (She’s so great!) ABC affilliate WZZM also reports on the story with a TV item and longer web article featuring comment from CFI’s legal director Nick Little.

Check out CFI’s director of outreach and of African Americans for Humanism, Debbie Goddard, on FFRF’s Freethought Matters show.

The LA Times publishes a letter by CFI West director Jim Underdown on “nones” and their lack of political organization:

Don’t mistake their lower political profile for absence of influence. We regularly vote our conscience just like religious groups do. Politicians would be wise to note that. Consider the possibility that you don’t see a lot of Ted Cruz- or Mike Pence-type politicians in high office in California and other religiously diverse regions because of the subtle pressure exerted by nones, who are now 26% of the population.

And in yet another letter-to-the-editor, one Dave Murphy of Petaluma writes to the San Francisco Chronicle to remind them, hey, guys, stop calling science-deniers “skeptics,” and cites CFI’s work:

The Associated Press has agreed with the Center for Inquiry in that they will not use the term “skeptic” when referring to those who ignore, deny, or worse, make up fake science to further their agenda.

Religious studies professor (and one-time CFI leadership conference attendee, and holy crap am I getting old) Joseph Blankholm explores what it means to be “secular” in America with a paper in the journal Public Culture, by examining three different lawsuits by secular organizations, including CFI’s fights for Secular Celebrants. UC Santa Barbara’s The Current also reports on the Blankholm’s work.

Philip Ball at Wired and Quanta talks to Michela Massimi about the importance of the philosophy of science. She says:

I think what we have lost is a distinctive way of thinking about science. We have lost the idea, dating back to the Renaissance and the scientific revolution, that science is part of our broader cultural history. … progress accrues via a symbiotic relation through which philosophy and the sciences mutually develop, evolve and feed into each other.

Philosophy professor Stephen T. Asma writes in the Times to defend religion’s place in human life, coming from a religious skeptic’s perspective:

I do not intend to try to rescue religion as reasonable. It isn’t terribly reasonable. But I do want to argue that its irrationality does not render it unacceptable, valueless or cowardly. Its irrationality may even be the source of its power.

History professor Ansley L. Quiros writes at WaPo that the phenomenon of NFL players kneeling has religious roots:

Unlike sit-ins or marches, kneel-ins were distinct in their humble appeal to conscience and their posture of faith. Knees bent and heads bowed, the confrontation these kneelers provoked was certainly not physical — it was moral. By 1967, one journalist described the kneel-ins as “one of the most curious spectacles produced by the most profound domestic moral crisis of our time.”

Last week, Denmark enacted a ban on the burqa and niqab in public places, which is a crap idea. As Hemant Mehta notes, CFI opposed Germany’s proposal to do the same in 2016:

[Said Nick Little:] “This will alienate Muslim women, sending the message that they should be discouraged from participation in public life, including the free expression of dissent. While there is oppressiveness in the burqa, silencing those who choose to wear it is another form of repression.”

Spain’s new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is an atheist.

At The Daily Beast, Brandon Withrow writes about how a road trip that was “ripe for Instagramming” brought him face to face with his former evangelical beliefs and the feelings that came with it, reminding him that America is still not friendly to the nonreligious:

On a road trip across America—when your mind wanders—you get to discover how many of those memories of an evangelical former life are still living rent-free in your head. … For a person like me who was somewhat recently born-again into faithlessness, they are a stark reminder that I’m now part of a minority demographic in the United States.

In Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, folks should be aware that among the candidates for the GOP nomination for the U.S. House is one Katherine “Bitzi” Tate. Moriah Balingit at WaPo reports:

She believes the federal government and the courts have overstepped their bounds in the classroom, with moves such as banning prayer in public schools and mandating racial integration. A Christian, she wants to allow states to reintroduce prayer and Bible instruction to public schools. As a teacher, when she gave lessons on evolution, she encouraged her students to write “theory” in the margins of their textbooks, and she would teach them creationism from the Bible.

The Orlando Sentinel reports on private schools that get public funding are teaching creationist dogma. Or as I will now refer to it, “Bitziism.” Assembling a research team to go over these schools’ materials, they find:

The books denounce evolution as untrue, for example, and one shows a cartoon of men and dinosaurs together, telling students the Biblical Noah likely brought baby dinosaurs onto his ark. The science books, they added, seem to discourage students from doing experiments or even asking questions.

Nicki Gorny at The Toledo Blade profiles the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie.

Quote of the Day

According to Malawi’s Nyasa Times, police have rescued a guy claiming to be Jesus from an angry mob:

Mangochi Police Station Spokesperson, Inspector Rodrick Maida, confirmed that ‘Jesus’ Saidi Pious, 40, preaching near Mangochi Four Ways Robots made claims that he was Son of God and that his second coming as promised was now due.

The preacher, clad in a white rob with red horizontal stripes, made people who were passing by to stop in their tracks when he made the claims and soon, the scattered ‘congregants’ closed in on him and started to quiz him.

But the man, who had mounted a mobile Public Address system comprising two small horn speakers and an amplifier to aid his gospel, insisted that he was Jesus Christ and that it was up to the people to accept it or not.

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