On Freethought Radio, after Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor report on an FFRF state/church victory removing Christian crosses from a Texas county building, they talk with Catherine Dunphy, a Catholic seminarian and chaplain who abandoned her faith and author of the new book, From Apostle to Apostate: The Story of the Clergy Project, tells us about how this new group is helping to “Save a Preacher.” This summer we’re featuring Robert Green Ingersoll and the other freethinking luminaries of the latter half of the 19th Century from these parts, all of whom are themselves featured on the Freethought Trail, a collection of 60 sites in our region Freethought and other radical reform movements of that era. Today we’ll hear some outtakes from actor Richard McNally’s performance in the persona of Robert Ingersoll. A Monsignor from Scranton, PA is trying to get a nation-wide exorcism to happen in the U.S.A. you know, to expell all the demons. Because, apparently, one of these worked really well in Mexico recently, or something. Gordon Bonnet of Skeptophilia will fill us in. Finally, in hour two, why is “The West” i.e. Western Europe and North America, the dominant world power? Stanford Professor of History Ian Morris casts doubt on old explanations and with a data-driven approach attempts to measure “social development” over history and find explanations for it. Julia Galef, host of the Rationally Speaking podcast, delves into Morris’ method and conclusions, and asks: can we make causal inferences about history?
On Freethougtht Radio, FFRF files an amicus brief in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court lawsuit challenging the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the government appeals FFRF’s federal court “Parish Exemption” victory to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dan and Annie Laurie honor the life of folksinger Pete Seeger, and then talk with artist and filmmaker Scott Burdick about his new film, In Reason We Trust about the 2012 Reason Rally in Washington, DC. The rest of Skeptical Sunday is concerned with a subject that should be more appropriate to the 11th Century than to the 21st: demonic possession and exorcism. The Indiana Star reported a story this week about a family from Gary, Indiana who were haunted by demons in a house they rented in 2012. Medical and child services personnel called to the home reportedly witnessed a child walking backwards up a wall onto the ceiling. A priest was called in to perform an exorcism. Two weeks ago, there was a tragic case in Maryland when a mother stabbed two of her own children to death in an attempted exorcism. But it’s not just the movie industry that puts such things in people’s heads, the Catholic Church deserves a lot of the credit (or blame); we’ll hear Rev. Herbert J. Ryan, Professor of Theology at Loyola Marymount University explain the Catholic rite of exorcism. Afterwards we’ll hear a more skeptical take on the practice of exorcism from Karen Stollznow at TAM 2013, author of the book God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States.[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/s/xatcbjjksulh3ab/SkepSun_02_02_2013.mp3]