Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Takeaways from last night’s debate? Not a whole lot for our skepto-atheosphere. Most notable, really, is what wasn’t said. Not once was there discussion of things near and dear to our hearts like, oh, the global rise in temperatures that may result in the destruction of human habitats and spur a series of environmental catastrophes. But hey, they both like coal!
Baptist Press trumpets an effort by lawmakers in nine states to form “religious freedom caucuses,” which of course means essentially the opposite of what it says. The piece quotes CFI chief Ron Lindsay:
Unfortunately, ‘freedom of conscience’ and ‘religious liberty’ are sometimes improperly invoked by those who seek to impose their religious views on others, directly or indirectly. Whether the American Religious Freedom Program will help strengthen the right to freedom of conscience or subvert this right largely depends on the understanding of religious liberty that will guide its activity.
Meanwhile, Ron finds himself on Mitt Romney’s mailing list, who assures Ron that a Romney administration will protect his religious freedom. Whew.
CFI made its own noise about the great work being done by freethought groups in the Light the Night walks for the fight against cancer.
Our Office of Public Policy drops a new position paper on school vouchers, and Michael De Dora declares that the activity surrounding voucher programs are becoming a “major national crisis.”
CSI’s Benjamin Radford tries valiantly to impart some skepticism about the paranormal to the University of South Florida, at least one kid seems not to have gotten the message:
I believe in personal experience. If I see a ghost, I’m going to believe in ghosts.
Dinesh D’Souza causes the d’vout some d’scomfort and d’stress over his d’ssembling about his d’vorce. Seems like a real d’saster.
Kyle Hill at SciAm thinks that the “science vs. religion” paradigm is doing science advocates no favors.
Daily Beast‘s NewsBeast video series discusses whether secularism will “doom” the GOP.
Secular Coalition grades the presidential candidates on atheist issues (though I don’t see a grade for “blog comment etiquette”), and Libertarian Gary Johnson fares best.
Meanwhile, SCA picks a new Pennsylvania co-chair.
Razib Khan: Ahem, yes, there are plenty of conservative atheists.
UK hacker who tried to break into the Pentagon’s systems to expose UFO secrets will not be extradited to the US due to suicide concerns.
David Gibson on the clash of the titans: Tea Partiers vs. Nuns on the Bus.
Billy Graham gives Romney his blessing, and references to Mormonism as a cult on his website magically disappear. It’s a miracle!
Ariel Meadow Stallings at Offbeat Empire worries over the effect of “sensitivity trolls,” well-meaning progressives and liberals who engage in “privilege-checking as a form of internet sport.”
Texas court throws out a suit to get prayer and other God-invocations taken out of local government meetings and buildings.
Pope Paul VI may be on his way to sainthood.
Classmates of Malala Yousafzai are, of course, now scared for their lives, despite their courage.
In Timbuktu, a 15-year-old girl is assaulted with 60 lashes for talking to a man on the street.
There is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, and that’s a bid deal. As expressed by Phil Plait: “Holy crap! A planet for Alpha Cen. Wow.”
David Cole at NYRB on the problem of regulating “hate speech“:
Such laws empower the government, or a jury, to draw lines between legitimate criticism, satire, and public comment on the one hand, and “insulting,” “abusive,” or “hateful” speech on the other. Is there any reason to be confident that government officials or juries will do a good job of this?
And a hum-dinger of a happy sesquarcentennial for the Book of Common Prayer.
Who needs to bother with voting when the psychics can just tell us who will win the election right now?
Christian physicist is scared of the New Atheists because they are too optimistic. Oh yes.
Buddhist monk wants to build a “peace center” at Loch Ness.
James Randi stands up for Big Bird, and shows off a little of his own participation in the Sesame Street origin story.
20-foot monster fish washes up on shore in Mexico.
CFI-Ottawa is set to stand in defiance in the face of the Mayan end-times scenario as it puts on its conference Eschaton 2012 at the end of November.
Quote of the Day
Dan Amira of New York Mag on a judge’s prohibiting a couple from changing their last name to “ChristIsKing” and their son’s to “JesusIsLord” on church-state separation grounds:
Who gives a shit? Let the weird people have their weird names.
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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