April 26, 2015 / published by WSJ
Religion has been waning in influence for several centuries, especially in Europe and North America. There have been a few brief and local revivals, but in recent years the pace of decline has accelerated.
Today one of the largest categories of religious affiliation in the world—with more than a billion people—is no religion at all, the “Nones.” One out of six Americans is already a None; by 2050, the figure will be one out of four, according to a new Pew Research Center study. Churches are being closed by the hundreds, deconsecrated and rehabilitated as housing, offices, restaurants and the like, or just abandoned.
If this trend continues, religion largely will evaporate, at least in the West. Pockets of intense religious activity may continue, made up of people who will be more sharply differentiated from most of society in attitudes and customs, a likely source of growing tension and conflict.
Germany is beginning to grant Muslims the sort of entitlements given to Christians and Jews, including having their religion taught in schools and universities – something that could be key for fighting radical Islam.
According to Yahoo News, a half hour away from the shimmering banks of the Main river, Timur Kumlu has just read 20-odd second-graders a chapter from the Quran, about Abraham looking for Allah, but finding him neither in the sun, the wind, nor the moon.
Who is Abraham? One boy with piercing dark eyes jumps in. “He trusted Allah!”
Among the 26 most populous countries, Brazil has the highest levels of religious freedom, higher, in fact, than the United States, where government restrictions on religious freedom have been rising.
According to The Weekly Number, Brazil - the world's fifth most populous nation - not only out performs other countries of is size, the Brazilian government has the best record on religious freedom worldwide, placing virtually no measurable restrictions on religious freedom, scoring 0.2 out of a maximum of 10.0 on the Government Restrictions on Religion index, recently published by the Pew Research Center.
Among the 26 most populous nations, seven have governments that are very highly restrictive of religious freedom (see chart): China (scoring 9.1 out of 10.0), Indonesia (8.5), Iran (8.3), Egypt (8.2), Burma/Myanmar (7.7), Russia (7.4), Turkey (7.4), according to the Pew index. Six arehighly restrictive: Pakistan (6.4), Vietnam (6.1), Bangladesh (5.2), India (5.0), Ethiopia (4.6), and Germany (4.5). Five are moderately restrictive: Thailand (4.4), France (4.2), Nigeria (4.1), Mexico (3.4), and the United States (3.0). And eight have low government restrictions on religious freedom: South Korea (2.0), Italy (2.0), United Kingdom (1.7), D.R. Congo (1.1), Japan (1.1), Philippines (1.0), South Africa (0.7), Brazil (0.2).
For more details please check The Weekly Numbers
According to Le Monde, by a twist of history and weight of geopolitics, Greek law recognizes the authority of Sharia in settling civil matters for the country's Muslim minority. One widow is fighting to end this European anomaly.
In the privacy of a cosy flat in this city in northeastern Greece, Shatitzeh Molla Sali speaks to us softly, so softly that she is sometimes barely audible. Hers is the voice of a weary 65-year-old who says she always "lowered her head and accepted everything."
But her gaze now shows the steely resolve of a changed woman. Molla Sali has just become the first member of Greece's Muslim minority to lodge an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against a court ruling based on Islamic Sharia law, in her case on charges that she was deprived part of her inheritance.
Atheists, humanists and other nonbelievers are speaking out against the brutal slaying of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh, the second such killing in a month.
According to Huffington Post, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was attacked and killed Monday morning (March 30) in the capital city of Dhaka by three men wielding knives or other sharp weapons. Police say they have two suspects in custody, both students at religious schools.
The attack comes a month after the machete slaying of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger, in the same city. Roy, who was 42, was the founder of the Mukto-Mona, or “Free-Mind,” blog that promoted secularism in the Muslim-majority country.
According to Huffington Post, the Vatican has for weeks failed to accept the appointment of an openly gay diplomat as France's new ambassador, leading to speculation that the Holy See is effectively rejecting him because of his sexual orientation.
The French Council of Ministers nominated Laurent Stéfanini for the position in early January. All the Vatican needs to do is officially confirm the appointment. European media note this would not be the first time the Vatican has refused an openly gay ambassador.
The Huffington Post reached out to the Vatican for comment but did not receive a response.