Half of the New Canadian Cabinet Members Chose to Skip “So Help Me God” in Their Oaths of Office

Patheos - Yesterday, as new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sworn in, a lot of attention went to the makeup of his 31-member cabinet. When asked why he felt it was so important to have a gender-balanced cabinet, Trudeau answered very bluntly, "Because it's 2015."
That's a great answer. Also worth noting, though, is that half of his cabinet did not swear in with a religious oath. Instead, they opted to take a Solemn Affirmation thatdidn't include any mention of God. 
In case you're wondering, the affirmers included:

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Rabbi Was Expelled For 'Sexual Misconduct' And Some Leaders Were Left In The Dark

By Paul Berger - Huffington Post 
Rabbi Eric Siroka was quietly expelled from the nation's leading association for Reform rabbis, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, this past spring. At the time, the CCAR said only that Siroka had been expelled for refusing to comply with an ethics investigation.
By then, Siroka, a married father with two children, had moved to Washington state, where he had taken up teaching positions in Jewish adult education and at a Jewish high school.
The CCAR did so little to publicize Siroka's expulsion that many in the Seattle community, including its rabbis, were not alerted to the expulsion nor to the underlying reason for it, which the CCAR now tells the Forward was "sexual misconduct."
Because of the lack of information, Seattle's Jewish leaders spent months in the dark, never questioning whether it was appropriate for Siroka to be teaching at a Jewish high school or to be involved in Jewish adult education.
Nor did they have reason to be concerned when, in May, Siroka set up "Everything Jewish & More!" a freelance rabbinic service for the Jewish community of Seattle.

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Isis shuts down women's clinics in Raqqa to prevent male gynaecologists treating female patients

By Adam Withnall - Independent
Isis is believed to have ordered the closure of all women's clinics supervised by male doctors in its Syrian heartlands in its latest assault on the rights of women.
A culture of rape, forced marriages for child brides, the persecution of doctors and the exclusive use of medicines for militants have resulted in a crisis for women's health under Isis's brutal regime.
According to activists, Isis has drastically restricted the work of male gynaecologists in accordance with its leaders' belief that men and women should be kept apart at all costs.
Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, the rights group which this year won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award, has reported threats and harassment towards doctors in the city on Wednesday night.

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Secular publisher murdered, three wounded in Bangladesh attacks

Dhaka (AFP) - The publisher of an atheist writer killed earlier this year by suspected Islamists was hacked to death in Bangladesh Saturday, only hours after two secular bloggers and another publisher were also attacked.
Faisal Arefin Dipan, 43, the owner of Jagritee publishers, was killed in his third-floor office in central Dhaka, apparently hacked to death.
Both attacks in the capital Dhaka -- the latest in a wave of violence targeting secular activists -- followed the same pattern, with the assailants attacking the men with machetes and cleavers, leaving them in a pool of blood and padlocking their offices from the outside as they left, police said.
Earlier in the day, nknown assailants stabbed the publisher of slain blogger Avijit Roy along with two bloggers in Dhaka's Lalmatia area on 31 October.  Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, 43, publisher of Shuddhwashawr, and bloggers Ranadipam Basu, 50, and Tareque Rahim, 30, were attending treatments at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

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The Church's Role in Keeping White Supremacy Alive

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith - Huffington Post
There are many things which we can get around if we try, but it is hard to escape the religious beliefs with which we grow up. In my home, the mantra was "love and forgive." As I watched on television police officers attack innocent black people with dogs and fire hoses, my mother issued a stern reminder that, regardless of what I was seeing, Jesus would have it that we love our enemies and forgive them.
I was devastated, yet struck by her words. I might have tried to ignore the words had they been just from my mother, but the fact that she put the comments in the context of the requirements of God made it almost impossible for me to ignore her.
Those precepts, to me, represented the centrality of the Christian message, but it seemed that they were not the precepts of many Christians, who hold the belief that God is the author of white supremacy, that God wants it and that God demands that believers keep it in place.

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Saudi actor arrested by religious police for taking selfies with female fans in mall

By Adam Withnall - Independent
A popular actor and TV presenter has been arrested in a mall in Saudi Arabia after his appearance caused a huge commotion among young female fans.
Abdul Aziz al-Kassar, a Saudi national who lives in Kuwait, was on a working visit to Riyadh when he was mobbed by fans trying to take pictures and selfies with him.
Kassar had publicised his visit to the Al Nakheel shopping centre on Friday evening, asking his social media followers for recommendations of "the best mall to visit", Gulf News reported.
But in a TV interview at the weekend, he told the Gulf Rotana network he had not expected the "overwhelming" welcome he received from fans.

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According to NL Times, the Dutch branch of the Church of Scientology has lost its tax status as "public welfare institution", and the tax benefits that go along with it, in a ruling made by the court in The Hague on Wednesday.
The court decided that the sales of the Church's expensive courses and therapy sessions are clearly aimed at making a profit, and thus it does not belong on the tax authorities' charity list.
Scientologists believe that there are two major divisions of the mind – the reactive mind and the analytical mind, according to Wikipedia. The reactive mind stores painful and debilitating images, "engrams", that move people further away from their true identity. The Church promises believers that they can get rid of these engrams with special techniques and eventually achieve a "clear" state – a sort of super human with a clear mind. The Church offers courses and therapy sessions to work towards this "clear" state, and these quickly cost thousands of euros.

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Indonesia's Aceh introduces strict anti-gay law

According to BBC, Strict laws against homosexuality have come into effect in the conservative Indonesian province of Aceh.
Gay sex between Muslim men or women, both locals and foreigners, can now be punished with 100 strokes of the cane.
The law, passed in 2014 but only now being enforced, has faced opposition by rights groups.

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