An appeal to stop witch hunting in Nigeria

By Leo Igwe
I am using this medium to ask you to contact ACP Bunmi Osoko (TEL NO. 08033004406) Officer in-charge State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Cross River State police headquarters (Nigeria) and urge him to investigate and bring to justice those who lynched TWO ALLEGED WITCHES, CHIEF BASSEY EFFIOM NGWE and MR ASUQUO EFFIONG ETIM from Akwa Ikot Effanga in Akpabuyo LGA, Cross River State, Nigeria. (Graphic: See attached the blazing remains of Chief Bassey Effiom Ngwe) The alleged witches were killed by a lynch mob ON SUNDAY JULY 3 2016 after a 'native doctor' declared that they were responsible for several deaths of young people in the village. The native doctor is currently in police custody but according to my local contact person, none of those who killed the alleged witches had been arrested. There are concerns that the matter may eventually die if pressure is not brought on the Nigerian state and police authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice! In addition, the lynch mob had attacked and looted the house of CHIEF BASSEY EFFIOM NGWE after the son reported the case to the police. The son has fled the community and is currently in hiding.We need you to take urgent action NOW
PLEASE call ACP Bunmi Osoko (TEL NO. 08033004406). You can also contact the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Governor of Cross River, Benedict Ayade, Inspector General of Police in Abuja to take action on the matter!
Witch hunting must stop. Witch hunters must be brought to justice!burntbody

Nonreligious Scouts offered badge to protest Boy Scout bigotry

Boyscout BadgetiltMadison, WI - AAI Affiliate Freedom From Religion Foundation is unveiling a freethought badge to reward young nonbelievers and challenge the Boy Scouts of America's discrimination against the nonreligious.
The badge, featuring a red "A" based on a symbol of atheism and agnosticism popularized by distinguished scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins, is being issued in collaboration with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science.  The Boy Scouts of America formally discriminates against nonreligious boys and their families, officially excluding atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers. Currently, the organization maintains "that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God."
"The Freedom From Religion Foundation maintains instead that no one who discriminates against the nonreligious can grow into the best kind of citizen," says FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor, who is co-president of FFRF with her husband Dan Barker.
"It's what you do — not what you believe — that makes you a good person," adds Barker, a former evangelical minister who is also co-founder of The Clergy Project, a support group for ministers who lose their faith.
FFRF, at the urging of its member Richard Kirschman, has produced a badge similar to the Boy Scouts' merit badges, which are typically sewn on uniforms or sashes.
Scouts who wish to earn this badge are asked to help disprove the group's misguided claim that nonbelievers cannot be good citizens. The requirements, paralleling typical merit badge requirements, ask Scouts to learn about secularism and the rich history of dissent from religion.

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In The Beginning...Was Atheism

Socrates was accused of atheism - which he denied
Earliest evidence for atheism predates Jesus by at least 500 years, Cambridge professor argues
A new Cambridge University study argues that atheism is in fact one of the world's oldest religions – long predating Christianity and Islam.
Far from being the result of scientific breakthroughs or modern mass education, the belief that there were no gods was relatively common in the ancient world, research by Prof Tim Whitmarsh, a leading Cambridge classicist, concludes.
But the "ancient atheism" was effectively written out of history after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire after the reign of Constantine in the early 4th Century, heralding a new era of state-imposed belief, Prof Whitmarsh, Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge, argues.

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Gambian President Declares an Islamic State

Map of GambiaThis week, the river nation of The Gambia is celebrating its 51st year of independence. The question is whether it is doing so as Africa's second official Islamic state.
"In line with the country's religious identity and values, I proclaim The Gambia as an Islamic state," President Yahya Jammeh declared in December. "Accepting Allah's religion as your religion and as your way of life is not negotiable."
Pakistan, Iran, and fellow African nation Mauritania also identify themselves as Islamic states.
However, the claim has drawn ire from opposition and pro-democracy groups.
Jammeh said the decision to declare the country an Islamic state was a response to the current reality in Gambia, a British colony until 1965.
"As Muslims are the majority in the country, Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy," he said.
Bounded by the overwhelmingly Muslim Senegal, Christians make up about 5 percent of Gambia's 1.7 million population. More than half of this group is Catholic, while Protestants make up 1.5 percent of the total population, according to 2010 data from the Pew Research Center's Global Religious Futures project.
Gambia's opposition leader objected to the announcement, arguing that Gambia is a secular state, and a change to that must be constitutionally confirmed.
"You cannot make such a declaration without going through a referendum," said National Reconciliation Party leader Hamat Bah.
Jammeh has been in power since his coup in 1994, and has a "deplorable human rights record and rampant corruption" which lost him Western support, said Human Rights Watch's Jeffrey Smith.
"As such, he is desperately attempting to foster a closer and more lucrative relationship with the Arab world," Smith told Al-Jazeera. "By couching his decision in terms of 'fighting colonialism,' we can see that he is trying to cozy up with other parts of the world that harbor anti-West sentiments."

AAI Gender Balance Report

2016-03 AAI Gender Balance ReportAtheist Alliance International has released a report on Gender Imbalance in the atheist community, its sources, and its possible responses and solutions.
Gender imbalance in the atheist / humanist community has been noted for many years, including in AAI's own Atheist Census project. AAI has determined this gender imbalance to be a problem in our community, rooted in centuries-old patriarchal systems and promoted and defended by many of the world's religions.
In today's modernist world with recognized human rights for women as outlined in the UN's Convention on Women's Rights, AAI believes that gender imbalance, both in our own communities as well as in the general populace, is an important issue for atheists to embrace and work to overcome as part of our responsibility to our humanity.
The report has been added to AAI's Position Statements webpage and can be read there.

Vatican Told to Get Tough on Money Laundering

vatican1VATICAN CITY (RNS) A European financial crimes watchdog on Tuesday (Dec. 15) called on the Vatican to prosecute those caught money laundering, stating the Holy See must act to ensure the success of its financial reforms.
"There is a need now for the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing system, to deliver effective results in terms of prosecutions, convictions and confiscation," said the report by the Council of Europe's Moneyval oversight agency.
Although the Holy See has adopted new legislation in recent years to tackle money laundering within the city-state, there have been no indictments or prosecutions as a result of the new rules.
The Vatican had to agree to the vetting procedure after it joined the European Union Monetary Convention in 2009 as part of an effort to clean up its finances and shed the Holy See's reputation for financial scandals.

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