Created on Friday, 27 April 2012 08:00
Women celebrate when the results were announced.
“Crime is having no rights!” reads the banner. (Picture: AgBR/ CFêmea)
Anencephaly, according to Wikipedia, is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.
On 12 April Brazil took a true secular action by decriminalizing the abortion of anencephalic fetuses and assuring the rights of pregnant women in such cases. With eight votes for and two against, the result of the judgment may not have been as significant as the signaled Brazilian position regarding religion and State separation: minister Marco Aurélio Mello of the Supreme Court of Brazil (“Superior Tribunal Federal”), the highest judicial court, rapporteur of this process and first to vote pro-decriminalization, included a whole section in his speech to reinforce the fact that the constitution is laic, and no religious belief should interfere in the law.
Some interesting parts are transcripted below (free translation):
“Gods and Caesars have separated places. The State is not religious, nor is atheist. The State is simply neutral.”
Created on Monday, 30 April 2012 17:35
The Association for Secular Humanism in Malawi (an AAI Member) has
released a report on the extent of witchcraft in Malawi - and it is
depressing reading. Belief in witchcraft is widespread, the number of
cases is rising and people suspected of witchcraft are often subject to
violence. The report recommends ten initiatives to combat the violence
against those accused of witchcraft.
Atheist Alliance International congratulates the
Association for Secular Humanism for its work to document the extent of
the problems in Malawi and its ongoing campaign against superstitious
and dangerous practices.
Read the full report
Created on Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:40
The trial of Alexander Aan - the Indonesian man attacked and charged with blasphemy after posting 'God does not exist' on Facebook - is underway. As noted by in an article in the Guardian his prospects may be grim.
Freedom of expression is a critical issue for atheists. We are in the minority and it's all too common for religious people to claim they are offended by the statement of our conclusion that there are no gods. Religious people should not be offended by this simple statement, but even if they are, physical assault and imprisonment is a not a reasonable response.
If you would like to state your support for freedom of expression and help Alexander you can contact the Indonesian authorities to call for his release and register your concern about Indonesia's blasphemy laws.
Atheist Alliance International is collecting donations to help pay for Aan's legal costs and to support the Aan family's living expenses while he is in jail, at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate
(Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).
Created on Friday, 11 May 2012 08:02
(Image: Benjamin Wheelock, Salon.com)
9, 2012, President Obama, who has for years said that his view of marriage
equality is still “evolving,” told ABC
news in an unanticipated move, “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded
that, for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I
think same-sex couples should be able to get married” (video may not stream for
a few days, due to server-overload on their end).
of course, vary.
and the religious right have taken a predictable stance on the issue. Romney’s senior advisor, Ed Gillespie, spoke on MSNBC,
detailing the position of the Romney campaign.
In short, they are still of the opinion that marriage is between “one
man and one woman,” and Romney has gone so far as to threaten a Constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage for all states (which, it should be said, goes
against their stated “states'-rights” agenda, wherein the government is supposed
to not make decisions for individual states…see the short video linked at the
end of this article). Their conservative
base is naturally behind their stance.
Created on Monday, 28 May 2012 10:15
Originally published by Sahara Reporters.
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs, which have over the ages, identified or associated with the so called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony- continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people- theists and atheists- continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas.
The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the rights of gay people are human rights. These proclamations changed the way human rights are perceived around the globe. Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.
In spite of the progress the world has made in terms of upholding human rights and liberties, and getting states to honour their obligations under various instruments and mechanisms, equal rights have yet to be extended to religious non-believers in most parts of the world particularly in Africa.
The full article is available here: http://saharareporters.com/article/atheism-and-human-rights-abuses-africa-leo-igwe.
Created on Thursday, 31 May 2012 05:53
Quick Recap: On 9 May 2012,
President Obama, who had for years said that his view of marriage equality was
still “evolving,” told ABC news, "At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that, for me, personally, it is
important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be
able to get married."
noted in an earlier article that reactions to this announcement varied. Liberal views included skepticism over his
motives, regret over the time it has taken, and outright joy. Knee-jerk condemnation from conservatives was
mostly uniform and unsurprising. Also
unsurprising was the hope from conservatives that Obama’s shift on this
controversial issue would cost him needed votes in November’s Presidential
hope seemed to be supported by statistics.
In the United States, 43%
of our population attends church on a near-weekly basis, 80%
believe in God, and 12% more believe in a universal spirit (shame on Gallup,
though, for not defining “universal spirit” in their poll). Gallup has
also shown that while 84% of non-Christians believe “same-sex marriage
should be legal,” only 39% of Protestants and 51% of Catholics do.
trope conservatives have been bandying about is that these large blocks of
religious people, for whom faith is an important issue in their lives and who
look to that faith when making political decisions, will feel Obama has so
rejected their values that they will be galvanized to vote in large numbers,
and will swing Republican, in the upcoming Presidential election.
Created on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 20:06
Originally pubished at nature.com
Mention creationism, and many scientists think of the United States, where efforts to limit the teaching of evolution have made headway in a couple of states1. But the successes are modest compared with those in South Korea, where the anti-evolution sentiment seems to be winning its battle with mainstream science.
A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. “The ministry just sent the petition out to the publishing companies and let them judge,” says Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University.
The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.
Read the full article here.
Created on Sunday, 10 June 2012 11:36
child’s school years are some of the most important in their development and
their experiences during this time can shape the rest of their lives. Many public
schools suffer from a lack of resources and funding and as a result some
children can fall between the cracks. One supposed solution has been the
National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), which ‘provides funding to schools to
access the services of a school chaplain or secular support worker.’  In practice, a majority of the positions are reserved for
chaplains, and are recruited from Christian chaplaincy organisations such as
ACCESS Ministries, GenR8 Ministries, Schools Ministry Group and Scripture
Union. Since the inception of the NSCP, there have been questions raised
as to the remit of the chaplains, and whether the services they provide are
appropriate for public schools.
Ron Williams, jazz singer and
father of six, has been questioning the NSCP since he found out what his
children were being taught at their local public school in Queensland. The
chaplain at his children’s school, employed by the government-funded NSCP, had
been distributing a magazine that included statements claiming condoms promoted
promiscuity and declaring the sinfulness of same-sex relationships. When Mr
Williams and his wife requested that their children be withdrawn from the
religious classes, the children were bullied by other students and told they
would go to hell.
Created on Sunday, 17 June 2012 17:07
Valdemiro Santiago Sillas Malafaia Edir Macedo
(Investigated for (Politically active (Suspicion of larceny,
improper use of minister) embezzlement and
donated money) money laundering)
"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money!
As funny (or not) as the quote above may be, the point about “needing money” is certainly pertinent in Brazil where many religious institutions enjoy a friendly tax environment and operate profitably. Recently, a scandal involving a large religious institution (Igreja Mundial), suspiciously broadcasted (that is an inference by the writer) by an open TV channel owned by a rival church (Igreja Universal), showed that minister Valdemiro Santiago bought properties in the state of Mato Grosso with a total value of 50 million Reais (c. US$25 million). These properties were registered in the name of the church (and therefore tax exempt). Santiago is now being investigated by the public prosecutor for the improper use of donated money, and because many of his temples have eviction orders for non-payment.
Created on Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:17
There is a new addition to AAI's Freethought Audio Library! Thank you to Richard Ponce for his recording of Bertrand Russell's What is the soul. AAI Members can access this recording by logging into the Members Only section of the AAI website, then finding the Freethought Audio Library under the Resources menu.
Created on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 19:48
Oh, we can think of a few things! AAI Members can now listen to Robert Ingersoll's What Would You Substitute For the Bible as a Moral Guide? through the Freethought Audio Library, thanks to a recording by David Brocker.
AAI Members can access this recording by logging into the Members Only section of the AAI website, then finding the Freethought Audio Library under the Resources menu.
Created on Sunday, 13 May 2012 15:06
(This piece is an amalgamation of information from articles originally published here: http://www.rferl.org/content/iran_rapper_/24578413.html / http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15944274,00.html / http://www.eurasiareview.com/11052012-germany-iranian-rapper-najafi-in-hiding-after-death-threats/ http://www.freemuse.org/sw47478.asp)
After the exiled Iranian rapper and rock
guitarist Shahin Najafi released a controversial song entitled ‘Naghi’,
an Iranian cleric issued a death sentence (fatwa) against him, and a
news site in the country started a campaign calling for his
assassination. The song ‘Naghi’ is believed to be offensive to Imam Naqi, the tenth Imam in Shia Islam.
The news website Asr Iran, which is closely
tied to the regime in Tehran, launched an online campaign calling for
the hanging of 31-year-old Shahin Najafi. The website stated that the
aim of the campaign was to have Najafi condemned for blasphemy, a crime
that carries the death penalty in Iran.
The campaign organisers called on all
Shi’ites and Muslims in general to find and kill Najafi and “send him to
hell,” according to the website. This happened after a Shia cleric based in
the Iranian city of Qom, Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, issued a death
sentence against Shahin Najafi for apostasy, the Persian-language Al
Arabiya website reported on 9 May 2012. Al Arabiya dubbed Najafi as
“Salman Rushdie of music”.
Created on Tuesday, 29 May 2012 08:10
In April Ebou Sohna reported that 17 GLBTI Gambians had been imprisoned for the "crime" of homosexuality. Subsequently the Gambia Secular Assembly (an AAI Member) wrote an open letter to the Gambian government explaining that homosexuality is a natural part of human diversity and calling for the equality of all citizens. The letter was published as a series in The Standard newspaper in Gambia and you can see a scan here.
Atheist Alliance International applauds the Gambia Secular Assembly for taking a stand on behalf of GLBTI people in Gambia.
Created on Thursday, 31 May 2012 13:50
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be 5 years old in June 2012.
To celebrate the work, significance and achievements of this unique organisation, we are holding a fundraising luncheon on Saturday 23 June 2012 in London from 13.00-16:00 hours.
The event will be a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and enjoy a three-course lunch with wine, great entertainment and speakers in an intimate setting whilst supporting the organisation’s work.
Guests will hear from renowned philosopher AC Grayling, campaigner Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, CEMB founder Maryam Namazie and magician Neil Edwards, amongst others. There will also be a dance act, poetry and music.
In the five years since its establishment, the CEMB has been a beacon of hope for thousands of ex-Muslims who have renounced Islam and religion. It has helped to break the taboo and challenge Islamism, which punishes apostasy with the death penalty. The work of the CEMB has included assisting to return a young woman to Britain from North Africa where she had been sent as punishment for her ‘disobedience’ to securing the release from detention and the right to asylum for apostates across Europe. The organisation has also given large numbers of people a new ‘home’ via its forum and meet-up group. Moreover, it has helped to highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, apostates and blasphemers internationally, including Indonesian atheist Alex Aan currently in prison and German-Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi facing a death fatwa from Iran’s ayatollahs. The One Law for All campaign against Sharia law in Britain, which was initiated by the CEMB at its first international conference, has also made waves across the globe as has its unequivocal defence of free expression, equality and citizenship rights.
Ticket(s) for the luncheon are £45.00 per person or £35 for students/unwaged.
To purchase tickets, send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal or Worldpay: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/
indexDonate.html. Please make sure to include an email address and telephone number so that further details can be provided.
Created on Thursday, 07 June 2012 13:58
This article was originally published on ChinaDaily.com.cn.
Lu Liping, a well-known Chinese actress, who is also a Christian, forwarded several micro blog entries of a priest against gays on 26th June and caused a mighty uproar on the Internet. Many stars and netizens expressed their concerns on this issue in the micro blogs.
Forwarded by Lu, the priest's micro blogs described the homosexual groups as "shame" and "sinner", one of which stated: "The New York State Assembly approved the legalization of gay marriage proposal last night. New York will become the sixth and most populous US state to allow gay marriage. May God have mercy on this falling land! Even if one day the law stipulates that opposition against homosexuals would be condemned, I still want to say: homosexuality is a sin. God loves sinners, but God hates SIN! "
Read the full article here.
Created on Thursday, 14 June 2012 09:50
I am no
supporter of Douglas Wilson. His ridiculous ideas on slavery and his
conservative theology are unlikely to find much room on my bookshelves. Until,
Wednesday, saw the chilling spectacle of Indonesia's largest book publisher and
book shop, Gramedia Pustaka Utama, piling up Indonesian translations of his
book, Five Cities that Ruled the World and torching them in public to the
rapturous applause of assorted big hats from the Indonesian Ulema Council. The
cause of this conflagration was a complaint by the Indonesian version of the
Nazi Storm Troopers – the Front Pembela Islam (Islam Defenders Front) about a
paragraph or two on one page of the book which justifiably described Muhammad
as a pirate and murderer who carried out raids on caravans. The threat against
the publisher was real enough – unless they torched the book their own outlets
and staff would be facing a similar fate.
on from the recent violent routing of Irshad Manji from these shores. She told
no such home truths – she merely tried to associate the religion of Islam with
love and freedom. Her book, clearly deviant to the purity of the message of
Islam, was quickly removed from the bookshops. Needless to say, pirate versions
are selling like bakso (the meat balls so loved by Indonesians).
Created on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 19:51
This article was originally published in the Huffington Post.
BERLIN -- A German court has ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure.
Cologne state court said the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights, German news agency dapd reported Tuesday.
The case involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a 4-year-old that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won't appeal.
The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called the ruling "unprecedented and insensitive," urging the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks."
Graumann said the circumcision of newborn Jews has been practiced for thousands of years and "every country in the world respects this religious right."
Muslims also circumcise young boys, while many parents request it on health grounds.
Read the full article here.