Unaffiliate This!

October 10, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Holy moly, did the media get excited about the rise of the so-called “nones” yesterday! Honestly, the new numbers from Pew showing that a fifth of Americans eschew religious affiliation surprised almost everyone. In a press release yesterday, our boss Ron Lindsay talked about how this bodes well for policy and culture in the long run as religion loses ever more of its influence.

CNN’s The Situation Room checked in with Ron to talk about the political implications of this new data. 

ABC News picks up our release, and includes some political implications, including the possible election to the US Congress of Arizona nontheist Krysten Sinema.  

CFI’s Michael De Dora lends some clarity to what it means — and does not mean — to be a “none.” 

Sarah Posner: “. . . there’s evidence here that an opening exists for a new revival: a secularist one.” 

Peter Laarman at Religion Dispatches wonders if, counterintuitively, the decline in mainstream Protestantism is such a good thing for secularism, as “the mainliners comprise a cohort that strongly supports church-state separation.” 

Elizabeth Drescher, also at RD, suspects that many “nones” may be as hungry for community as any church-goer, but not at the expense of their freedom to think and believe differently. 

Here’s a CNN piece with Eric Marrapodi discussing how atheists and seculars could have comparable influence with the Democratic Party as Christians have within the GOP. 

And because reading is hard, PBS is doing us a solid by airing a TV special on the rise of the religiously unaffiliated this Friday. Familiar faces abound. 

Council chief Tom Flynn lands an op-ed (an an enormous photo!) in the Tallahassee Democrat to urge Foridians to reject “Amendment 8,” which would allow state funds to flow into religious institutions:

Channeling public funds to religious charities inevitably coerces taxpayers to support religions not their own. That just can’t be helped. It is especially true when recipient organizations blend the delivery of services with religious proselytizing. That is why my organization sued, to end state funding of charities whose work includes trying to bring people to Christ. 

The Tampa Bay Times comes out against the initiative as well: “Amendment 8 is the polar opposite of religious freedom.” 

As CFI is in the midst of the Campaign for Free Expression, blasphemy remains in the news: 

Several reports saying that persecuted Pakistani Rimsha Masih is taking asylum in Norway, but others saying that the family intends to remain in Pakistan

Meanwhile, plotting a return to Pakistan, former president Pervez Musharraf tells activists in Dallas (?) that he calls upon the UN to enact international blasphemy laws.  

The Taliban executes tries to execute a teenage Pakistani girl who openly defied them by going to school. Malala Yousafzai is now fighting for her life.     

One member of Russian band Pussy Riot is freed from prison, the other two trying to argue in appeals court that their performance was not an attack on religion. 

In other news…. 

I haven’t read this yet, but I can’t wait: An alliance between the Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology??? 

Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus as a ruinous heap, and the Good Book on “poisoning adulterous women,” all in the latest episode of…The Human Bible! <thundercrash!!!> 

Do facts have a half-life of 45 years? I don’t know, but I do know now that DNA has a half-life of 521 years.  

Focusing on the vaccination debate, Phil Plait worries about the “equal footing” granted by the media to those with no qualifications or expertise.  

Diane Arellano at Black Skeptics wants secularists to rethink some priorities, especially in regard to the needs of people of color. 

Plotting a heretic hunt with CFI On Campus. Wait, should I feel threatened?

Hey man, those “ancient aliens” conspiracies are CRAZY. Now let me tell you about this giant boat that had two of every species on the planet on it. 

Bigfoot hates your air conditioner

Curtis Brainar
d at Columbia Journalism Review wants more skepticism from science reporters.

Charlie Fuqua of the Arkansas House on his solution to bratty kids, based on biblical law:

. . . a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents.

One of many instances where fake medicine is an enormous problem: Touting homeopathy as a treatment to stop domestic violence.

Charleston City Paper has some tips on how to spread the “good news” of secularism. 

Quote of the Day         

Hamid Dabashi at Al Jazeera on the mania over religious sensitivity:

Muslims need to sit down for a moment and ask themselves some serious questions before yet another lunatic or career opportunist in Europe or a charlatan loser in the US comes out and says “jump” and Muslims around the world fume “how high?”  

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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Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta