British Government Denies Charitable Status for Daring to Criticize Religion

The British Charity Commission denied the Council of ex-Muslims, an AAI affiliate, charity status this week.

In its refusal letter the Charity Commission stated: “Under English law the advancement of religion is a recognised charitable purpose and charities are afforded certain fiscal privileges by the state. The prohibition of any such financial privilege as called for in the demand made in [your] Manifesto would require a change in law. Similarly a separation of religion from the state and legal and education system would appear to require both constitutional reform and change to the law.”

CeMB chair Maryam Namazie responds to this denial here.

SHADES OF SCIENCE: Kenya’s Superstitious Dilemma

Kenya is not a unique country in Africa. We all share in the colonial histories that the European civilization embedded on our orientation, thereby changing reality through industrialization. Kenya, like many other nations in the world, had resisted subjugation by its colonizers, the British. However, the colonialists’ need for emancipating us from the traditional dark past resulted to establishment of protectorates, concentration camps and ultimately, a settler population. They brought the constitution, introduced a social contract and made morality a key debate in any leadership. Even now, Kenya still uses its colonial constitution, which was planned in Lanchester House (Britain) decades before independence.

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AAI condemns Ghanian Government's Attack on Its Gay Citizens

It has been reported that Ghana's Western Regional Minister has ordered all gays to be arrested and called on other Ghanians to "inform" on suspected homosexuals.

This disgusting action is just one more example of the danger and discrimination faced by same-sex oriented people in some countries, with such attitudes commonly perpetuated by religious groups (in this case Christians and Muslims).  Atheist Alliance International supports full equality for same-sex oriented people - there is no rational basis for discriminating against people simply on the basis of their sexual orientation, just as there is no basis for discriminating against people simply on the basis of their gender, race, ethnicity or other physical characteristics.  

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The State of Africa and Uganda

As a lifelong resident of Uganda and Africa as well as president of the Atheist Association of Uganda, I have a good idea of the conditions and challenges that Africans face to live.

Africa

Africa is perhaps the most miserable place the world has ever known. This fact is all but ignored by the media in western countries. Most of the governments here, although calling themselves promoters of democracy, are ruthless dictatorships, ruled by greed and callous disregard for human life and dignity. They are supported by religious institutions that desire a share in the power, and they are supported by the "Western World" because they can still exploit them for profit.

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Selling Human Organs: Ritual Killings for Medicine, and the Quest for Secular Healing!

Arguments revolving around the ethics of critical thought maintain that colonialism, and in this case, the British, were responsible for the invention of superstitious insanity, diluting the traditional practices that African communities had within them during this time of exploration, notably, around the 16th century. Surprisingly enough, England was on top gear towards its preparations of free market ideologue, and industrialization was supposed to be the key linchpin in these celebrations, an endeavour that would initiate the global quest for superiority and capitalistic advancements.

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US Hispanics Abandoning Organized Religion

Crucifixes, Virgin Mary statuettes, ornate Spanish-style churches: so many religious images seem permanently linked with Hispanic Americans. But that’s eroding fast, according to US pollster George Barna.

In the fourth update on his annual survey of American religion, Barna says this once-reverent group has been attending church and Sunday school less, volunteering less at church, and reading the Bible less over the last 20 years.

And their religious life is fading faster than those of whites  and blacks in America, the report adds.

"The ethnic group that reflected the most profound level of religious change over the last 20 years was Hispanics," the report says. It adds that Hispanics have changed more than the other two groups both in the degree of religious belief and behavior and across more categories.

Read more: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-08-03/features/sfl-fv-blog-barna-beliefs-survey-4_1_hispanic-americans-bible-reading-religious-life

Is Ramadan soluble in French society?

(Introduction translated from French)

Not really...

Here's why:

Ramadan forces believers into not eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset, and this goes for 29 or 30 days.

During this period, Muslim countries set up schedules adapted to these particular constraints.

Shops open at night. It is, in fact, during this period that nocturnal activities reach their highest point, the day being, in part, devoted to sleep.

But this is totally impossible in our society, which results in unlikely situations:

Version francais ici.

The First Atheist and Agnostic Convention in the Philippines, hosted by PATAS

The Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society will hold its first convention in Manila. We will be discussing PATAS' future goals and will be talking about Atheism/Agnosticism, Secularism and Humanism. We are selecting speakers for this convention from different personalities from the US and the Philippines.

Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012 · 6:00am - 8:00pm

Place: Bayview Parks and Hotels, United Nations Avenue, Manila Philippines

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The Business of Religion

The link between money and religion is a grey area, fraught with conspiracy and scandal. Some of the wealthiest organisations on the planet are religions or religious movements - some ancient, some modern - yet the followers of religion and the countries in which they are practised are often the poorest.

money.co.uk has examined some of the richest religions (Scientology, Catholicism, Televangelism, Freemasonry, The Church of England) and their wealth as well as noting the world' richest billionaires with faith:  http://www.money.co.uk/misc/the-business-of-religion.htm

Leaving Religion and Living without Religion in Nigeria

Nigeria is often described as a deeply religious society where most, if not all persons, profess religious beliefs without qualification. Nigeria is often portrayed as a country where the religious demography is static- everybody is religious, everybody belongs to one faith or the other. Everybody professes religion, nobody renounces religion. Nobody is critical or skeptical about religious dogmas. Non religious and freethinking Nigerians are purportedly so insignificant. For me this is a misrepresentation of the religious demography and dynamics in the country. And the time has come for us to rectify this misrepresentation.

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Irish PM Describes Vatican as Dysfunctional, Disconnected, Narcissistic

In an unprecedented attack on the Catholic Church by a head of state, the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny today called the Vatican an elitist, dysfunctional, disconnected, and narcissistic institution over the distractions and obfuscations that the Vatican has offered in attempting to explain away the church priest pedophile scandals

Kenny promised that the historic relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish State "would never be the same."

"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'," the taoiseach (Prime Minister) said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-14224199

Catholic Church Admits Wrongdoing in Forced Australian Adoptions

The Catholic Church in Australia has issued a national apology over past adoption practices that have been described as a "national disgrace". The apology was prompted by national media investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle.

It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-25/catholic-church-apologises-over-forced-adoptions/2808672

Atheism Wins Converts as Aussie Census Looms

 http://www.news.com.au/atheism-wins-converts-as-census-looms/story-fn7x8me2-1226100923192

ALMOST 15,000 people have joined an Atheist Foundation of Australia push to mark "no religion" on the coming census.

The foundation has begun unveiling billboards urging people to take the religion out of politics.

Thousands have also vowed to mark "no religion" in a Facebook campaign.

AFA president David Nicholls said many people selected the religion they were born into, despite not being religious.

He said the transfer of taxpayers' money to religious organisations was justified on the basis of the census results.

More than 70,000 people declared themselves Jedi order members in 2001 but Mr Nicholls warned such an answer was now marked as no response.

 

Atheist Clergy in Dutch Christian Church

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 death."

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The Most Ridiculous Lawsuit Yet!

A “Christian” midwife is suing a UK hospital in what may be the most ridiculous and frivolous lawsuit yet. Apparently in the hospital she is required to wear *gasp* surgical scrub trousers. Yes, you read it right she is suing because she believes that wearing trousers is against her religion.

Apparently there is a passage on Deuteronomy (22:5) which forbids women from wearing men’s clothes and vice-versa. Again, yes really, and this is the basis of her lawsuit claiming religious discrimination.

There is only one place for this waste of a tribunal’s time, the surgical waste bin!

Source: http://www.atheismuk.com/2011/08/02/news/the-most-ridiculous-lawsuit-yet/

UN Affirms Right to Blaspheme

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4985/united_nations_affirms_the_human_right_to_blaspheme

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 standards.

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.

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Russian Duma Attempts To Legalize Government-Paid Security for Church Patriarch

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 security protection.