The State of Africa and Uganda

As a lifelong resident of Uganda and Africa as well as president of the Atheist Association of Uganda, I have a good idea of the conditions and challenges that Africans face to live.

Africa

Africa is perhaps the most miserable place the world has ever known. This fact is all but ignored by the media in western countries. Most of the governments here, although calling themselves promoters of democracy, are ruthless dictatorships, ruled by greed and callous disregard for human life and dignity. They are supported by religious institutions that desire a share in the power, and they are supported by the "Western World" because they can still exploit them for profit.

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Catholic Church Admits Wrongdoing in Forced Australian Adoptions

The Catholic Church in Australia has issued a national apology over past adoption practices that have been described as a "national disgrace". The apology was prompted by national media investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle.

It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-25/catholic-church-apologises-over-forced-adoptions/2808672

Atheism Wins Converts as Aussie Census Looms

 http://www.news.com.au/atheism-wins-converts-as-census-looms/story-fn7x8me2-1226100923192

ALMOST 15,000 people have joined an Atheist Foundation of Australia push to mark "no religion" on the coming census.

The foundation has begun unveiling billboards urging people to take the religion out of politics.

Thousands have also vowed to mark "no religion" in a Facebook campaign.

AFA president David Nicholls said many people selected the religion they were born into, despite not being religious.

He said the transfer of taxpayers' money to religious organisations was justified on the basis of the census results.

More than 70,000 people declared themselves Jedi order members in 2001 but Mr Nicholls warned such an answer was now marked as no response.

 

Atheist Clergy in Dutch Christian Church

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

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The Most Ridiculous Lawsuit Yet!

A “Christian” midwife is suing a UK hospital in what may be the most ridiculous and frivolous lawsuit yet. Apparently in the hospital she is required to wear *gasp* surgical scrub trousers. Yes, you read it right she is suing because she believes that wearing trousers is against her religion.

Apparently there is a passage on Deuteronomy (22:5) which forbids women from wearing men’s clothes and vice-versa. Again, yes really, and this is the basis of her lawsuit claiming religious discrimination.

There is only one place for this waste of a tribunal’s time, the surgical waste bin!

Source: http://www.atheismuk.com/2011/08/02/news/the-most-ridiculous-lawsuit-yet/

UN Affirms Right to Blaspheme

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4985/united_nations_affirms_the_human_right_to_blaspheme

Late last month, the UN issued a new statement on the extent of freedom of speech under international law. It says that laws restricting blasphemy as such are incompatible with universal human rights standards.

The statement came from the Human Rights Committee, the body of eighteen “independent experts” mandated to monitor compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR, the 1966 human rights treaty that provides for freedom of opinion and expression and other fundamental rights. The Committee’s general comments represent authoritative interpretations of the provisions of the ICCPR. Unlike the highly-publicized resolutions produced by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, the provisions of the ICCPR are legally binding to its more than 165 parties.

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Russian Duma Attempts To Legalize Government-Paid Security for Church Patriarch

Understanding the importance of the protection of the life and safety of all citizens of Russia, including that of the religious leaders in our country, the Good Sense (Zdravomislie) Public Fund has met the news of the upcoming amendments to our secular law with alarm.

The Public Fund Good Sense learned that the government of Russia initiated an amendment in the state Duma of the Russian Federation in the form of bill № 586178­5, containing a clause to expand the list of individuals being protected by government, with taxpayers money, to include an unspecified number of people that do not have any relation to government service or the functioning of the state. Among those listed in the expanded list was the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

This bill was apparently created in order to legalize the state security which has been provided for the church Patriarch for many years now without any legal basis.

In relation to this, the Good Sense Foundation addresses an open letter to the President of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, in which we ask him to answer two questions:

1) Will somebody be held accountable for the violation of legal principles that have been going on for a number of years?

2) How does the government’s initiative to support just one out of many religious organizations registered in Russia correspond with the secular nature of our state, as indicated in our national constitution?

The Fund is also addressing a letter to the head of the dedicated Security Committee in the State Duma, Vasiliev V.A, with a request to act out of a sense for public consent in terms of ethnic and religious cross-relations when discussing the bill. We also ask that the Duma keep the secular basis of our national constitution in mind when determining what private Russian citizens should be eligible to receive government-paid security protection.

A Flying Teapot Taking Off, or, Good News from Brazilian Atheism

From the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, an AAI Affiliate Member:
http://flyingteapot.haaan.com/2011/08/10

One year and a half has passed since the foundation of the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, LiHS, the owner of this debuting blog. So many things have happened since then that I am caught in the vertigo of loads of long term memory yet to be consolidated. (And my routine as a rebel sleeper has most certainly something to do with that.)

I remember vividly my dream of taking Brazil and more of Latin America to the global secularist community, especially reaching IHEU (International Humanist and Ethical Union). Well, we did it! And it happened last week, when our international relations director Daniel Martin traveled from France to Norway (yes, to Oslo, the site of that conservative Christian terrorist attack) to attend the General Assembly in the World Humanist Congress, where we were approved as members of IHEU. Also, before that, LiHS joined the Atheist Alliance International.

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Four Killed in Religious Rioting in Nigerian City

JOS, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities say at least four people were killed in a riot in a central Nigerian city that is beset by religious and ethnic tensions.

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said the fighting began Monday in Jos after Muslims began praying in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in the city. Officials with a local Muslim group said the unidentified attackers used knives, machetes and bows and arrows.

Witnesses say more than 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were set ablaze during the fighting. Army and police moved into the affected neighborhood late Monday.

Jos sits in the Nigeria's "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands and political and economic power. Nigeria is largely divided into a Christian south and Muslim north.

Selling Human Organs: Ritual Killings for Medicine, and the Quest for Secular Healing!

Arguments revolving around the ethics of critical thought maintain that colonialism, and in this case, the British, were responsible for the invention of superstitious insanity, diluting the traditional practices that African communities had within them during this time of exploration, notably, around the 16th century. Surprisingly enough, England was on top gear towards its preparations of free market ideologue, and industrialization was supposed to be the key linchpin in these celebrations, an endeavour that would initiate the global quest for superiority and capitalistic advancements.

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US Hispanics Abandoning Organized Religion

Crucifixes, Virgin Mary statuettes, ornate Spanish-style churches: so many religious images seem permanently linked with Hispanic Americans. But that’s eroding fast, according to US pollster George Barna.

In the fourth update on his annual survey of American religion, Barna says this once-reverent group has been attending church and Sunday school less, volunteering less at church, and reading the Bible less over the last 20 years.

And their religious life is fading faster than those of whites  and blacks in America, the report adds.

"The ethnic group that reflected the most profound level of religious change over the last 20 years was Hispanics," the report says. It adds that Hispanics have changed more than the other two groups both in the degree of religious belief and behavior and across more categories.

Read more: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-08-03/features/sfl-fv-blog-barna-beliefs-survey-4_1_hispanic-americans-bible-reading-religious-life

Is Ramadan soluble in French society?

(Introduction translated from French)

Not really...

Here's why:

Ramadan forces believers into not eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset, and this goes for 29 or 30 days.

During this period, Muslim countries set up schedules adapted to these particular constraints.

Shops open at night. It is, in fact, during this period that nocturnal activities reach their highest point, the day being, in part, devoted to sleep.

But this is totally impossible in our society, which results in unlikely situations:

Version francais ici.

The First Atheist and Agnostic Convention in the Philippines, hosted by PATAS

The Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society will hold its first convention in Manila. We will be discussing PATAS' future goals and will be talking about Atheism/Agnosticism, Secularism and Humanism. We are selecting speakers for this convention from different personalities from the US and the Philippines.

Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012 · 6:00am - 8:00pm

Place: Bayview Parks and Hotels, United Nations Avenue, Manila Philippines

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The Business of Religion

The link between money and religion is a grey area, fraught with conspiracy and scandal. Some of the wealthiest organisations on the planet are religions or religious movements - some ancient, some modern - yet the followers of religion and the countries in which they are practised are often the poorest.

money.co.uk has examined some of the richest religions (Scientology, Catholicism, Televangelism, Freemasonry, The Church of England) and their wealth as well as noting the world' richest billionaires with faith:  http://www.money.co.uk/misc/the-business-of-religion.htm

Nigeria: Where religion is big busines

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14573660

An increasing number of Nigeria's 70 million Christians are followers of the prosperity teachings - the belief that prosperity is a sign of spiritual blessing. Services are held in megachurches that hold thousands, with millionaire pastors preaching the word.

A lady scrolls down the screen of her tablet PC as she reads the Bible along with the rest of the congregation, a huge diamond-encrusted ring shining on her finger.

Hanging from the ceiling of the Household of God Church are several chandeliers, lighting up a plush 5,000-seat auditorium.

A water fountain hisses in the distance, though it is only heard when the dazzling character on stage singing passionately and occasionally speaking in tongues falls into silence.

This is the Reverend Chris Okotie, a former pop star turned pastor, businessman and politician.

A recent Forbes rich list included him among Nigeria's five wealthiest pastors, with assets of anywhere between $3m and $10m. But is he truly this rich?

"Possibly," he replies, with his giant multi-coloured Jacob & Co brand wristwatch shining from the end of his sleeve.

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From Dust to Evolution: Bridging Science in Africa Against Traditions

It is almost a year since the Al Shabab militia penetrated the Kenyan borders and caused havoc to international aid organizations. Aside from planting grenades in Eastliegh, they dropped grenades on to children’s playing fields, and many explosions were witnessed in Kenya around this time in 2010. Incidences pile up on the ‘yet to be investigated’ as the government assures its citizens, whereas nothing much is done on that front.

The Al Shabab incidence in Mogadishu consumed four of my relatives and left a huge gap in my family life. I lost people who contributed to my purpose of living. My wife founded and ran the Abu-Bakr Foundation, an organization that was permitted to distribute medical Aid in Somalia and Sudan, and apparently she was blasted in the name of Allah.

Sad memories. But I just recently met some refugees and some of these were Somalis who had benefited in great length from the hand of the Foundation. They were expecting me to have transformed into joining their religious ideologues, leaving the path of those who are astray, for my son had a Muslim name. Mostly so, they expected the magnitude of loss to have influenced my practice into softer relenting. Either I was destined to become a Rasta or some religious icon. But the JAF Festival disappointed many to a great length, and in my inbox, I started receiving questions related to my atheism. For example, where did mankind originate? And my understanding of the phrase, from dust we came and to dust we shall return. They were bothered by my theorem of no afterlife and no day of judgment, and astonishingly warned me thoroughly of misfortunes that could be planted in my path, for I am a disgrace to the African race.

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Humanists to Meet in Abuja

All is now set for the historic convention of the Nigerian Humanist Movement to be held on September 23 to 24 at Vines Hotel Durumi in Abuja. The event will be the first meeting of the county’s growing community of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers,secularists and skeptics at the Federal Capital of Nigeria. Many friends of humanists and supporters of humanism and freethought including university teachers and students will attend. The theme of the convention is HUMANISM AS THE NEXT STEP.

This convention marks the 15th anniversary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM). 

The event is taking place at a crucial time Nigeria is grappling with the problems of religious extremism, superstition and related human rights abuses.

Some years ago Nigeria was polled as one the most religious nation on earth. It may still remain the case today. The fact is that most Nigerians, at least nominally, profess one religion-mainly Christianity or Islam- or the other. Most Nigerians identify with the faith of their families, communities and tribes. Few Nigerians are openly and expressly non religious. All Nigerians are pressured socially and politically to be religious and to remain religious. So most Nigerians who are non religious and who renounce religion remain in the closet. NHM provides a sense of community to all non religious and non theistic Nigerians and strives to bring a humanist perspective to issues of national importance.

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