The Issue of Marriage Equality: Christianity’s POV


 

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.

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The Sad Tale of Pakistani Minorities

 WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM

 

       Pakistan is a country that celebrated Minorities Day in Canada - because it was too unsafe in Pakistan. That alone is enough for anyone to get a decent idea of how bad the situation is for Pakistan's minorities. Pakistan's minorities have a long history of persecution, sometimes at the hands of Muslim hardliners and sometimes at the hands of the very State they pay taxes to protect their life and property. Today it seems there is little to no place for Pakistani minorities in the country that they helped create 66 years ago.

 The trouble for Pakistani minorities started way back when Ahmaddiya Muslims were declared heretics and a huge persecution campaign was launched against them in Pakistan, the most memorable being the anti-Ahmaddiya riots of 1953. Jamaat-e-Islami was one of the notable parties that participated in the persecution campaign against Ahmaddiya Muslims and is still aggressively anti-Ahmaddiya today.

 

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Irish Atheists Urge Repeal of Blasphemy Law

Originally published November 4, 2013 by , 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.

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Eid ul Adha: Sacrifice for a Psychotic God

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.  

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AAI & PATAS Coordinate Typhoon Relief Efforts


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.

Primate Pride Day

 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!

 

Top Religious Influence Stores of 2013

Religion continued to wield undue influence in world culture and politics, with a number of seismic shifts felt throughout 2013. Here are the top stories of 2013 noted by Atheist Alliance International:

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Alex Aan Released from Prison

Religious Prisoner Alexander Aan Released From Indonesian Prison

The Jakarta News reported on 31 January that atheist Alexander Aan had been released early from his prison sentence of 2-1/2 years for "inciting religious hostility" for posting on his personal Facebook page that "there is no god."

According to the article,  Aan was released "on license" (probation), which means that he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities for the foreseeable future. He also still remains liable for a Rp 100 million rupiah (US$8,190) fine imposed as part of his sentence.

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Faith Killing: The consequences of rejecting modern medicine and trusting in God for healing

WRITTEN BY JO STEPHANIE, AAI NEWS TEAM

In late November 2013 a woman from Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city, died from pneumonia after allegedly following the advice of her pastor to stop taking her medication. Rather than advise the woman in question to continue taking her medication he recommended that she instead pray and fast. Faith healing was the solution he suggested, not medicine. The woman obliged and four days later she was dead.

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Australians Protesting State Visit from African Pastor

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.

 

Turmoil within the Catholic Church

 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.

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Circumcision and the rights of the child

 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.

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Christian Zealots within the Republican Party

 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.

 

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Saudi Blogger & Activist To be Tried for Apostasy

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.

Raef Badawi was already convicted and sentenced in the ultra-conservative kingdom in July to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a "liberal" network and for allegedly insulting Islam.

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Quebeqois Support Proposed Secular Charter

47% of Quebecers "Completely Support" proposed Charter of Values, 21% Generally Supportive But Would Like Even Stronger Church-State Separation

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.

Ben Baz Released from Prison

Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz, also known as "Ben Baz," has been released from prison in Kuwait where he was held (but never tried) on charges of blasphemy for over a year.

Albaz, a 27-year-old Egyptian atheist blogger, was arrested in early January 2013 by Kuwaiti authorities. While Albaz had been known for posting on his blog stories of the relationship between religion, the State and secularism.  The Constitution of Kuwait makes Islam the state religion, and considers Sharia a primary source of legislation. The Kuwaiti parliament passed a law in 2012 introducing the death penalty for Muslims who blaspheme against Islam, while non-Muslims who blaspheme faced ten years or more in prison. The law provides that any Muslim(!) citizen may file a complaint against an author if the citizen believes that the author has defamed Islam, the ruling family, or public morals.

A hearing on Albaz' case had been scheduled for last February 28, but it's unclear what was decided at the hearing or even whether the hearing actually occurred. After a year, Kuwaiti authorities have apparently let him out on his own recognizance - of course, long after he would have lost his job and probably his residence, and without any due process

Israel & Palestinian Territories Hit 6-Year High in Religious Hostilities

Religious hostilities are very high and rising within both Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to a 2014 Pew Research study, social hostilities involving religion (including mob or sectarian violence, religion-related terrorism or conflict, organized attempts to dominate public life with a particular perspective on religion, harassment over attire for religious reasons, and other religion-related intimidation or abuse) have reached 6-year highs in both areas.

Pew uses a tool called the Social Hostilities Index (SHI) to measure social hostilities by country.  The tool measures the presence and intensity of various measures of social hostility on a scale from 0 (no social hostilities) to 10 (all-out civil anarchy).  According to the report, Israel reached a high of 9.4 out of 10 on the Pew Social Hostilities Index in regards to religious violence in 2012.  The Palestinian Territories reached a high of 9.0 out of 10.  This is in comparison to the Middle East & North Africa, which rated at 5.7 out of 10 in 2012; and in comparison to the world, which rated at 2.9 on the Index.

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