On 25 December 2013, a Saudi judge recommended that a liberal activist and blogger Raef Badawi be tried again in a higher court for apostasy - a charge that could carry the death penalty, rights campaigners say.
PRIMATE PRIDE DAY –
With great pleasure we celebrated the Primate Pride Day, as a latinoamerican initiative proposed by the web Sindioses since 2010. 24th of November was chosen as the date in which we remember the 154th anniversary of the official release of “On the Origin of the Species” and the 39th anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, the Australopithecus: two landmarks that not only changed our view of the world but gave way to a thought revolution that continues to our days, both admired and criticized.
The Asociación de Ateos y Agnósticos del Atlántico (and the Fundación Bacanería Planetaria) decided to organize an event this Saturday 23th with a divulgation conference showing the pride we feel about our evolutive origins, looking to share the facts with the general public and state our disagreement with the creacionist explanations that wish to belittle the scientific view, trying to put themselves at the same level.
Our celebration was a pleasant afternoon in which we reflected about our nature and place in society through the talks of Juan Torres Castellar (The evidence of evolution), Luis Felipe Zapata (Homosexuality: A evolutionist and psychobiologic view) and Jorge Senior (Science, Religion and Democracy), to whom we are grateful for sharing their knowledge with us. We also gave away some prizes and ate some bananas at coffee break!
See you again next year!
Christian Zealots within the Republican Party
WRITTEN BY R. CLEVENGER, AAI NEWS TEAM
The Christian zealots, who gained control of many government seats with the Tea Party push back in 2010, are taking stands and actively impeding progress toward acceptance and tolerance across the U.S. and replacing it with biblical-based intolerance.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, there is a bill that has been brought forth by Rep. Rick Saccone, a republican from Allegheny County, that would force every public school in the state to display “In God We Trust” upon a plaque or through the display of student artwork on school property. This is an obvious attempt to propagate their religious beliefs onto young, developing minds before they reach the age of reason. Just as churches target youth and those who are vulnerable and in need, the Republicans are misusing their offices to further their religious views.
Circumcision and the rights of the child
Circumcision has long been a cultural and health related practice, possibly dating back 15,000 years. Theories as to its origin include identifying slaves, hygiene, a rite of passage to adulthood and a sign of membership within a group. In recent times it has been suggested as an aid to preventing the spread of HIV in adult men, and in Victorian times as a cure for almost any illness, including epilepsy and insanity. The most widespread reason for circumcision now is a child or infant’s rite of passage into a religion.
One person who opposes circumcision for children and infants is Fredrik Malmberg, Sweden’s Ombudsman for Children. According to Malmberg, circumcision violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, and there is no sound basis for it to be carried out on children. His argument is based on the lack of medical justification, the suffering of the child and their inability to consent.
It's that time of the year again when the streets are bloody and meat is eaten like there's no tomorrow. It's Eid ul Adha - the Islamic festival of animal sacrifice.
The ritual has its origin in the Koran when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his most beloved son, Ismael. When Ismael was about 13, God tried to test Abraham's faith. He showed up in Abraham's dream and commanded him to sacrifice Ismael, who was born after many years of prayers.
Originally published November 4, 2013 by Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist
Over the weekend, the Convention on the Constitution held meetings in Ireland to discuss changes to the nation’s Constitution and then make recommendations to the government.
Relevant to us is the need to repeal the blasphemy law, which currently states:
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.
Atheist Ireland has been fighting for the law’s repeal for a while now and the group’s Chairperson Michael Nugent spoke at this weekend’s convention alongside fellow advocates for the law’s repeal, Professor David Nash of Oxford Brookes University and Human Rights Officer of Atheist Ireland Jane Donnelly.
According to the Candian Broadcasting Company (CBC) news report, a proposed "charter of values" for the province of Quebec proposed by the government has been overwhelmingly positive.
Among other things, the proposed charter of values emphasizes the separation between religion and government in Quebec. For instance, public sector workers would not be permitted to wear overt religious symbols while at work under the proposed charter.
According to a report compiled by the government and released today by Bernard Drainville, the architect of the charter, 68 percent of Quebecers are mostly in favour of it (with 47 percent in complete support), while only 18 per cent were mostly against it.
Drainville explained that 47 per cent of Quebecers who participated in the consultation said they completely supported the charter, while 21 per cent said they were in favour of the charter, with modifications.
The most popular modification requested by 21 percent of those who "mostly" supported the proposed charter was to remove the crucifix from the national assembly. The second most popular modification was to revoke the rule of exemption. These modifications would strengthen the value of church-state separation already enunciated in the charter.
Over 25,000 comments were received by the Parti Québécois on the charter via email and telephone.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the largest typhoon on record, barrelling through the Philippines, Atheist Alliance International and our Philippines affiliate, Philippines Atheists and Agnostics Society, have teamed up to provide disaster relief to the typhoon-stricken communities on the islands of Leyta and Cebu.
For more information on the program as well as donating, visit this page.
Turmoil within the Catholic Church
By M.J., AAI NEWS TEAM
Recent activities in and by the Catholic Church indicate significant challenges for and struggles within its leadership, as the Church attempts to define a way forward in the modern world, which is often at odds with many of the traditional messages of the Church. Sexual and financial scandals have eroded confidence in the Church and contributed to the tide of people leaving the faith. These and other issues of concern to the Church will be discussed here in light of recent events.
The Church knows something needs to be done. Recent meetings held by the Catholic Church in Europe highlight issues of high concern to the Church in the region, issues which greatly affect the influence and the future of the Church: Secularization, Youth and Islam.
Europe is largely secular, and as the Church seeks to maintain a strong influence on politics and society it knows that is has to learn to deal with that fact. A meeting was held by the Council of European Bishops (CCEE) in Bratislava, Slovakia to discuss the issue of secularization, the separation of Church and State, how these threaten the church, and how the church should move ahead.
Youth are of course of immense importance to society, for they will be the future leaders, voters, consumers, and in the case of the Church, they will either be followers, or they won’t. The Church knows full well that if the young do not accept religious teachings then the church will fail. The meeting in Bratislava highlighted that evangelizing and winning the youth into the religion is both a high priority and a significant challenge.
PROGRESSIVE ATHEISTS (Australia) PROTESTING STATE VISIT FROM EVANGELICAL AFRICAN PASTOR
Pastor Enoch Adeboye is an evangelical pastor from Nigeria who promotes the existence of witches and wizards, resulting in the torture and death of young children and others in Nigeria, the wider African continent, and has also spread into Europe.
Adeboye is the leader of one of the fastest-growing Pentecostal churches in Africa, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, with over 6,000 affiliates and chapters around the world, including the US, Europe, and Asia. He is planning a 'tour through Australia and other southeast Pacific countries to raise money and plant new churches.
Rev. Adeboye is a controversial pastor who uses the Bible to promote the violent persecution of 'witches' and homosexuals, and who has been linked to a number of riots and assaults where people were attacked by his churchmembers. With the president of Nigeria as one of his congregants, he has been a powerful force to lobby the Nigerian government to ban same-sex marriage and criminalize homosexuality. He is one of the wealthiest pastors in Nigeria due to his ministry, holding a number of homes as well as private jets among his possessions, despite the vast majority of his parishioners living below the poverty level.
Progressive Atheists, an AAI Australian affiliate, is attempting to publicize the controversy of this pastor and petitioning the Australian government to refuse to grant him a visa to travel through Australia. AAI is encouraging all Australians to sign the petition and contact your federal representatives to support the ban. You can also join the Facebook group to publicize this campaign.
WRITTEN BY RICHARD CIUCIU, NEWS TEAM
On June 26th the United States Supreme Court declared a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, thus taking a large step toward full marriage equality in America. Of the nine Supreme Court Judges, five of them found this form of marriage regulation to be an abuse of governmental authority under the Fifth Amendment in the United States Constitution. The close voting margin is directly correlated to the topic at hand: defining and regulating who can be married has been a hotly debated topic in the United States for some time. Various arguments for maintaining marriage as a sacred act between a man and a woman tend to either focus on religious aspects or the repercussions of a child being raised in a same-sex household. However, as more studies suggest that heterosexual households do not produce ‘better’ children than children raised by homosexual couples, the debate has seemingly come down to religious practice and belief. Whether or not religion should be the basis for legal rulings aside, Christians make up around three quarters of the American population. Accordingly, through understanding the ‘Christian viewpoint’ on homosexual marriage, the overall American attitude might become clearer.