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
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
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.
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
From the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, an AAI Affiliate Member:
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.
Originally published in Pakistan Today
Members of Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics trying to make their presence known and reach out to others sharing similar beliefs
KARACHI - They realise that they belong to a country where apostasy
means inviting the risk of death – even if spared by government
authorities and courts, a fanatic mob would certainly not.
But they have still chosen to tread a perilous path in their attempt to
reach out to other Pakistanis sharing similar beliefs and more
importantly, to let the world know they exist. They are a group of
Pakistani atheists called the Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics (PAA).
They first tried to make their presence known two years back by making a
page about their group on Facebook. On August 14 this year, they
launched their website www.e-paa.org that was literally an instant hit.
It received more than 17,000 hits in just 48 hours after its launch from
95 countries, including Saudi Arabia.
How did the idea to bring together Pakistani atheists on a single
platform come up? “When I became an atheist, I honestly thought there
were no others like me in Pakistan. Through discussions on various
social networking groups and forums, I found a few others like me. So we
decided to make this group to find out how many more were out there,”
says Hazrat NaKhuda, one of the founding members of the group. For
obvious reasons, the PAA members go by pseudonyms to protect their
AFP, Oct. 2 - An Israeli writer
has won a historic court victory granting his request to be officially
registered as "without religion" rather than "Jewish," Israeli newspaperHaaretz reported on Sunday.
turned to the courts in May after the interior ministry refused to
alter his official religious status from Jewish to "without religion,"
And last week, a Tel Aviv court
sided with his demand, ruling that Israeli law allows citizens to be
officially registered as having no religion.
"Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom," Haaretz quoted the ruling as saying.
Israel registers its citizens
according to both their religion and their ethnicity, although it does
not include an "Israeli" ethnicity, labelling its Jewish citizens as of
"Jewish" ethnicity. That has raised the ire of secular
groups who have petitioned the interior ministry for years to replace
the Jewish ethnicity label with an Israeli one.