Attention atheists in Argentina! The Congress of Free Thought of the Americas will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina 16-18 November. Enjoy a full weekend of rational thinking, including a talk by Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International. For more information: Congress website (English) / Congress website (Español).
One Law for All's 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival will be held dring 3-10 November 2012 showcasing the work of 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide. The artists will be addressing crucial issues related to freedom and religious laws.
The viewing and festival will be held at UNIT 24 Gallery, 20 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD (Closest Underground station: Southwark).
For more information click here.
Audience at the Congress AAI President Carlos A. Diaz
Last month, with AAI Director Alexandre Shimono, I was very pleased to represent AAI at the First Secular Humanist Congress in Brazil. This was an important event hosted by AAI's Affiliate, LiHS, as it was the first time a group of atheists, humanists and secularists had gathered for this kind of occasion in Brazil. The IHEU and HIVOS supported the Congress and over 200 people attended, including 88 students sponsored by Atheist Alliance International. Attendees enjoyed interesting speeches and were head to say "this is historical!' and 'this is amazing!'. A report from LiHS is below.
I was very pleased to see that the Congress (and AAI's support for it) received coverage in Estado de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's most important newspapers. Congratulations LiHS on a successful event I hope the enthusiasm from the Congress assists your work in Brazil!
LiHS report: The 1st Secular Humanist Conference of Brazil was a remarkable success
More than 200 people from all over the country attended to the conference in Porto Alegre
"Getting together and showing to society that it is possible to live ethically and to find meaning in life, without God." This was only one of the objectives of CHS 2012 – a two day, tour de force towards a more rational, more humanist and more secular Brazil.
This tribute to Sheila Solarin, matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, was published in The Nation, Nigeria.
On Sunday, October 21, the co-founder of Mayflower School, Sheila Solarin passed away. Sheila like the late husband, Tai Solarin, was an educationist. She devoted her entire life to working and campaigning to improve the quality of education in Nigeria. And through her Mayflower Schools, she provided that high quality education to Nigerian children. I encountered Sheila not so much in her capacity as an educationist but more in her role as the matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement(NHM). Very few Nigerians know about Sheila’s humanist credentials especially that she continued the tradition left behind by Tai of supporting secular education and also promoting the humanist outlook.
Read the full tribute here.
Atheist Alliance International is pleased that a friend and supporter of Alex's was able to visit him in prison recently. Thank you everyone who sent in messages of support for Alex - the second set has now been delivered. Here is an update about Alex:
"Alex is in good spirits and is very much his old self. I had a nice long chat with him. His burning ambition remains to work to relieve poverty and injustice. He is very interested in the situation in Iran and wants to fight for the people there. He has heard of a journalist who has been imprisoned and is also deeply shocked by the executions there. He is horrified by the idea of stoning in particular. This was one of the things that made him question the morality of religion. “How can anyone,” he said, “pick up a stone without thinking about their mother or their sister?”. I told him about the case of Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan and he was deeply moved. Once again, his main concern and the thing he wants to talk about most of all is the plight of others.
"He told me again how much the support from around the world inspires him and keeps him going. He sends you all he love and thanks. The scholarship fund has been a strong motivator and he promised that he will always work for humanity and for science.
It should be no secret, even to those outside of the U.S., that the Republican Party is deeply entrenched in religious belief. While its presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has not been strident about his own religious beliefs, his speeches and voiced policies have consistently reflected an adherence to his party’s rather dogmatic Christian point of view. His support of the Hyde Amendment, which would ban abortions funded by tax payers, his views opposing same-sex marriages as well as civil unions, and his support of displaying religious symbols in public areas by governmental agencies and schools are all obvious leanings toward his Christian supporters.
However, the Governor’s own religious view has been a topic that has been avoided by his campaign. Specifically, the differences between Christianity and the Governor’s own Church of Latter-day Saints have not been much of a talking point since his winning of the Republican nomination. Prior to the other Republicans dropping out of the race it was mentioned by a few news stations, but no in-depth details given. It would also seem that the Romney campaign itself wishes to turn a blind eye to these differences and allow their constituency to focus on their opponent’s imagined religious views, that he is a Muslim in disguise, God forbid. More on that later.
Do American Christians of the Republican party, who believe in a talking snake, a divine virgin birth, and body spontaneously turning into a pillar of salt, know that they are backing an individual whose faith believes in magical underwear and that their prophet translated sacred text while planting his face in a hat, but does not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? No wonder the Grand Old Party does not wish anyone to delve too deeply into Mormonism, their beliefs are as crazy as….oh well, never mind.
On 12 November the Prime Minister
of Australia, Julia Gillard, announced that there would be a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses
to Child Sexual Abuse, encompassing public and private organisations and
including state care, residential homes, and religious organisations.
The news was met with elation and
wary hope from victims, many of whom have waited for most of their lifetime to
have their stories heard. Scouts Australia and Australia’s most senior Anglican
Bishop released statements strongly supporting the Commission and condemning
the abuse of children.  
The organisation that was the
major impetus for establishing the Commission was less welcoming about the
announcement. Cardinal George Pell, the head of the Catholic Church in
Australia, claimed the accusations against the Church were ‘exaggerated and
historic’  and part of a broader smear campaign.
Valentin Abottspon, the Swiss teacher who was fired for removing a crucifix from his classroom in 2010, has won his appeal against his dismissal. The cantonal court in Valais ruled that Valentin's dismissal was unlawful, although did not conclude whether or not it is legal to display a crucifix in a public school in Switzerland. 
I was fortunate to meet Valentin last year at the launch of the International Association of Freethought in Oslo and again at the 2012 European Atheist Convention in Cologne, Germany, earlier this year. He comes across as a dedicated teacher who did not ask for this particular fight, but found himself in it because he took a principled stance and refused to back down.