A petition urges the UN to come to
the rescue of non-Muslims and non-believers in Pakistan – who are often the
victims of State Religion – and recognise and celebrate 11 August as the
International Day Against State Religion.
As Pakistan makes history and marks
five years of democracy by successfully upholding general elections, conditions
in Pakistan for non-Muslims and non-believers are far from getting any better.
The 2013 election has been termed the most violent election in the history of
Pakistan. The Taliban carried out their threats and attacked
convoys and rallies of secular
and even Islamist
political parties. Here is
a whole timeline of pre-poll violence in Pakistan. Even on Election Day, the violence
Non-Muslim candidates were largely absent
from the elections, but those who ran were voted for because electors felt they
could offer protection. The Christian residents of Joseph
Colony, a Christian community that was
attacked by a Muslim mob earlier this year, voted for the conservative party
Jamaat-i-Islami's non-Muslim candidate because they wanted to vote
Conditions in Pakistan for
non-Muslims are grim.
and again in 2012 the World Council Of Churches stated that minority
religious communities in Pakistan are living in “fear and terror” of
Islamic fundamentalists amid abductions and forced conversions that the
government is helpless to stop.WCC’s
ruling Central Committee declared that Pakistan’s small Hindu
and Christian communities were increasingly subject to “persecution
and discrimination”. Likewise, Ahmaddiya Muslims
outlawed and at the mercy of Islamists. In light of these and other incidents where non-Muslim and non-believer
Pakistanis have been victims of persecution and intolerance, a petition
has been set up calling on the Secretary General of the United Nations to
recognise an International Day Against State Religion on August 11, 2013 “in
solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and
non-believers of Pakistan”. The
petition says "the life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as
good as hell thanks to the State Religion of Pakistan.” There is now a need for
State Religion to be hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the year 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine saw some kind
of a religious vision at some time before a battle in which he defeated his
major rival at the time, Maxentius (1). Just what the nature of the vision was
is unclear, but it did lead to Constantine's conversion to what became Roman
Catholicism. This event functionally ended close to 300 years of an often
underground existence of the early Christian religion, which had previously
suffered major episodes of violent persecution from a succession of Roman
emperors. Now the Church could exist out-in-the-open. Constantine's conversion
led to the calling of a grand Council of Church leaders under the direction of
the Emperor himself. (No separation of church-and-state back then. Rick
Santorum would have fit right in.) It was held in the lake-side town of Nicea
(now Iznik, in Turkey). It produced what came to be known as the First Nicean
Creed, the first coordinated statement of Catholic doctrine.
Nevertheless, the bishops were hardly unchallenged in the
field of competitive religion. There still were a wide variety of both
polytheistic and competing monotheistic religions within both the Eastern and
the Western sectors of the Empire. As well, there were major schisms (sometimes
leading to violent struggles) within their own house over such issues as the
true nature of Jesus: human, divine, or both. Nevertheless, over time those
conflicts were resolved, sometimes through the use of force (yes, even over
such matters as the nature of Jesus.) Then the bishops struggled with what they
could do to enlarge their flock and retain their allegiance. They developed a
variety of approaches to solving this problem. One major initiative was to
focus on sex.
DHAKA — A Bangladesh court on Wednesday ordered authorities to shut down five Facebook pages and a website for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed, the Koran and other religious subjects, a lawyer said.
Judges at the high court in Dhaka ordered the telecommunications regulator, home ministry officials and police to block the offending pages immediately.
"These pages contain disparaging remarks and cartoons about Prophet Mohammed, the Muslim holy book of Koran, Jesus, Lord Buddha and Hindu gods," Nawshad Zamir, a lawyer of the petitioner who brought the case, told AFP.
"They mostly targeted the prophet and the Koran. These pages hurt the sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population and the followers of other religions. Some of the cartoons are very close to pornography."
the US, representatives in state Senates and Houses of Representatives are
attempting to legislate curriculum that would substitute mythology for science in
biology classes by teaching creation instead of evolution. By mandating curriculum in this way,
Christian representatives could circumvent state boards of education, comprised
of experts who set scholastic standards in our public schools. The Christian base, preaching to their
representatives, chant, “Teach the controversy,” demanding our schools be
forced to teach creationism alongside evolution because they believe that their
disagreement with experts is
equivalent to a disagreement among
experts. It isn’t, of course. No more than a high school classroom is the
place to discuss scientific controversies (assuming, for the sake of the
argument, a controversy existed). It
should be obvious—though it isn’t to everyone—that the place for that kind of
discussion is in the field, or a dissertation, or a peer-reviewed journal, where
cases are judged by experts on the quality of the evidence, not by laypeople on
the circuity of the reasoning.
Coming up to the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne in April, I spoke with Kylie Sturgess on the Token Skeptic podcast about AAI activities and current issues in atheism, including the importance of standing up for freedom of expression and addressing sexism.
Written by Clifton Carl Barbara, News Team
12 March 2012
CITY- 23-25 February 2012. The 18thGeneral Assembly of The Pontifical
Academy for Life, a three day conference attended by 200 medical (alleged) professionals
and Church representatives. The theme for this year was the Diagnosis and Treatment of Infertility.
the agenda; NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology), a system proposed
by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, which is supposed to assist women with infertility
issues to achieve pregnancy more successfully than in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF (involving the fertilization of ova
outside the woman’s body and the transfer of the resultant zygote to the
uterus) assists women with blocked, severely damaged or no fallopian tubes,
facilitates the use of a donated ova and can also overcome infertility caused
by endometriosis or issues with sperm.
(alleged) research behind NaPro was done at The Pope Paul VI Institute for the
Study of Human Reproduction, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. This institute, which provides
a service within the “moral framework” of the Catholic Church, was founded in
1985 by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, who is also its Director.
Atheist Alliance International is grateful to Mary Davis for contributing an excellent reading of Centennial Oration by
Robert G. Ingersoll. You can hear a sample of the piece by clicking here. The full version, along with other historical
freethought pieces in podcast format, is available to AAI members.
Written by Ebou, Gambia Secular Assembly
10 March 2012
As it is the concern of many atheist and
free-thought organizations in other parts of the world, Gambia Secular Assembly
concerns itself with the separation of religion from government.
In The Gambia, religion is so juxtaposed
with government that one finds it hard to distinguish one form the other. This
is manifested in the serious promotion and propagation of particularly of Islam,
the dominant religion.
The Gambian State, largely supposed and
believed by the population to be secular, has condoned the involvement of the
State with religion. This is an unchecked involvement that extends to the State’s
investment in the construction of a mosque on the grounds of a State residence
– State House has an Imam (Islamic religious leader) paid from the government
coffers to head prayers and conduct other religious services, such as the
annual celebration of the birth of the 'prophet' of Islam, Muhammad named Maw lud al nabi in Arabic.
This is an interview I did recently with Sue Leigh for the Wednesday Hometime show on 3CR, a community radio station in Melbourne Australia (the interview starts around 3.40). We talked about AAI 's activities, the influence of religion on politics in Australia, the frightening state of US politics, the importance of atheist activism and why well-meaning liberals mistakenly support Sharia law courts in Britain. That's a lot to cover! My chat with Sue is followed by Leigh Raymond talking about the upcoming Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne.
Podras encontrar una version en espanol despues de la version en ingles
Atheist Alliance International strongly condemns violence in Afghanistan after Quran burning
Atheist Alliance International strongly condemns
the violent protests in Afghanistan, which erupted after copies of the
Quran were burnt in error at a US base. It has been reported that more
than 30 people have died, including protesters and US troops.
Tanya Smith, President of Atheist Alliance International said "We oppose the
burning of the Quran. Burning books - regardless of their content - is
an affront to freedom of expression, and a particularly insensitive
action in this case. The mistake was quickly acknowledged and
apologised for, as it should have been. However, the response to the
burning of the Quran has been far worse than the burning itself - real
people have died and Afghanistan has been destabilised further. Those
who protest violently and commit murder deserve far stronger condemnation than those who accidentally burn a book, no matter how sacred some people consider that book to be."
Written by Alexandre F. Shimono, News Team
26 February 2012
Recently Brazil has experienced how organization through social networks
is resulting in protest and events in the real world. The first big event that
comes to mind is the “March for the laic Government” that took place in August
2011. Since then, we have had public events against corruption, for feminism,
and the latest - to gather atheists.
The idea of the event, according to Stiphanie Silva, is to meet each
other and organize. “We need to get out of the closet, show we are good sons
and daughters, parents, that morality is independent of faith” says Silva, who
is a member of Sociedade Racionalista, the association responsible for the event
On February 12th (Charles Darwin’s birthday) several States held
atheist meetings, each one organized by local atheists. The places were usually
public parks, and in most of the cases the activities were decided during the meeting.
Among them, speeches from participants and debates were the most common. Atheist
meetings have happened before, however, this was the first time coordinated
meetings occurred all over the nation on the same date - and it was mentioned
in the press.
Thanks to work by local supporters a lawyer has now been appointed to defend Alex. We do not yet know further details about when his case will be heard but will provide updates as we receive them.
At stake in this case is the simple and fundamental principle of freedom of expression. Everyone is entitled to freedom of expression as a basic human right, but it is oppressed minorities - including atheists - that particularly need this right protected. Often what we say will offend people. That is an inevitable consequence of human discussion - debate and disagreement are how we challenge established ideas and how we, as a society, progress.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to support Alex and the right to freedom of expression so far. If you haven't yet donated any contribution would be appreciated (select "Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan").
Atheist Alliance was established in 1991 as a
democratic network of US-based atheist organizations plus one non-US
organization. Over time Atheist Alliance
expanded to include more non-US members and changed its name to Atheist
Alliance International (AAI) in 2001. In
2010 AAI had 31 US-based affiliates and 18 non-US based affiliates. At this time the board of AAI concluded that
its goals could be achieved more effectively by separating into two
organizations – one focused on US local and national issues and one focused on
providing a supportive global network for atheist and freethought organizations
around the world. In October 2010 the
separation was approved in principle by AAI’s members and in June 2011 AAI effectively
separated into Atheist Alliance International and Atheist Alliance of America.