A petition urges the UN to come to
the rescue of non-Muslims and non-believers in Pakistan – who are often the
victims of State Religion – and recognise and celebrate 11 August as the
International Day Against State Religion.
As Pakistan makes history and marks
five years of democracy by successfully upholding general elections, conditions
in Pakistan for non-Muslims and non-believers are far from getting any better.
The 2013 election has been termed the most violent election in the history of
Pakistan. The Taliban carried out their threats and attacked
convoys and rallies of secular
and even Islamist
political parties. Here is
a whole timeline of pre-poll violence in Pakistan. Even on Election Day, the violence
Non-Muslim candidates were largely absent
from the elections, but those who ran were voted for because electors felt they
could offer protection. The Christian residents of Joseph
Colony, a Christian community that was
attacked by a Muslim mob earlier this year, voted for the conservative party
Jamaat-i-Islami's non-Muslim candidate because they wanted to vote
Conditions in Pakistan for
non-Muslims are grim.
and again in 2012 the World Council Of Churches stated that minority
religious communities in Pakistan are living in “fear and terror” of
Islamic fundamentalists amid abductions and forced conversions that the
government is helpless to stop.WCC’s
ruling Central Committee declared that Pakistan’s small Hindu
and Christian communities were increasingly subject to “persecution
and discrimination”. Likewise, Ahmaddiya Muslims
outlawed and at the mercy of Islamists. In light of these and other incidents where non-Muslim and non-believer
Pakistanis have been victims of persecution and intolerance, a petition
has been set up calling on the Secretary General of the United Nations to
recognise an International Day Against State Religion on August 11, 2013 “in
solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and
non-believers of Pakistan”. The
petition says "the life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as
good as hell thanks to the State Religion of Pakistan.” There is now a need for
State Religion to be hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While in the Sudan, no government-sanctioned stonings have been carried out, the sentence is a fact of life for people in countries that practice Sharia, or Islamic, law. Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, some parts of Nigeria and other a handful of others all have laws allowing stoning for adultery on the books. In the past, human rights groups have used political pressure to get all sentences of stoning in Sudan and some other countries with Sharia law to commute the sentence. However, some cases of stoning without legal backing have been reported in Sudan.
Recently — and somewhat humorously — legislators
in Louisiana walked back their support of an educational voucher program that
allows parents to use public money to send their children to a number of
private institutions, including religious schools. For years, atheists,
agnostics and other non-Christians in the US have decried the voucher system as
a backdoor to institutionalized Christianity; at first blush, what happened in
Louisiana might be thought a small victory for freethinkers.
However, with an apparent blindness for
irony, legislators such as state Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Watson) withdrew their
support of the bill only after learning that religions other than Christianity would be
included in the program.
After withdrawing her support, Hodges told the Livingston Parish News, “We need
to ensure that [the voucher program] does not open the door to fund radical
Islam schools … I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere
here in Louisiana….I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of
America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools
or private schools.”
So as not to confuse an international
audience, allow me to say the idea that “America’s Founding Fathers’ religion”
was Christianity doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Some were inarguably devout and
outspoken Christians, but others were deists, and some were outspokenly agnostic/atheistic.
Moreover, regardless of what their religion may have been, the Constitution
they framed — by way of the First Amendment — clearly bars Congress from making any law
“respecting an establishment of religion” — Christian or otherwise. And that is
the legacy the Founding Fathers gave us to work with — not their beliefs, but
On 20 June the High Court of Australia decided the federal
government’s funding of religious chaplains in public schools was
unconstitutional. Shortly after, a bill was rushed through the House and the
Senate allowing the federal government to fund programs without legislative
The action that prompted these actions was the Williams v
Commonwealth case, which challenged the federal government’s right to fund
religious chaplains in public schools, through The National School Chaplaincy
The NSCP, as described in a previous article ‘Chaplaincy in
Australian Public Schools' has been criticised by the Australian
Psychological Society, the Australian Guidance and Counsellors Association and
parents such as Ron Williams, who brought the case to the High Court. A
majority of the criticisms relate to the inadequate qualifications of the
chaplains and the legality of religious teaching in public schools.
The High Court’s decision was 6-1 in favour of Ron Williams,
based on technical grounds: that the government could not spend money on
programs without supporting legislation. As such, the government’s funding of
the NSCP was found unconstitutional.
While the decision was welcomed by secular activists, the
reasoning behind it disappoints – Williams had also challenged the chaplains
program on the basis that s116 of the Australian constitution prohibits a
“religious test” for public office, a key clause in the fight for separation of
church and state. The High Court
dismissed the claim on that basis and effectively maintained Australia’s non-separation
of church and state, a poor position that has endured since the Defence of
Government Schools case in 1981.
BERLIN -- A German court has ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure.
Cologne state court said the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights, German news agency dapd reported Tuesday.
The case involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a 4-year-old that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won't appeal.
The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called the ruling "unprecedented and insensitive," urging the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks."
Graumann said the circumcision of newborn Jews has been practiced for thousands of years and "every country in the world respects this religious right."
Muslims also circumcise young boys, while many parents request it on health grounds.
Written by Alexandre F. Shimono, News Team
17 June 2012
Valdemiro SantiagoSillas MalafaiaEdir Macedo
(Investigated for (Politically active(Suspicion of larceny,
improper use of minister)embezzlement and donated money)money laundering)
"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money!
As funny (or not) as the quote above may be, the point about “needing money” is certainly pertinent in Brazil where many religious institutions enjoy a friendly tax environment and operate profitably. Recently, a scandal involving a large religious institution (Igreja Mundial), suspiciously broadcasted (that is an inference by the writer) by an open TV channel owned by a rival church (Igreja Universal), showed that minister Valdemiro Santiago bought properties in the state of Mato Grosso with a total value of 50 million Reais (c. US$25 million). These properties were registered in the name of the church (and therefore tax exempt). Santiago is now being investigated by the public prosecutor for the improper use of donated money, and because many of his temples have eviction orders for non-payment.
Written by Rafiq Mahmood, Indonesia
14 June 2012
I am no
supporter of Douglas Wilson. His ridiculous ideas on slavery and his
conservative theology are unlikely to find much room on my bookshelves. Until,
Wednesday, saw the chilling spectacle of Indonesia's largest book publisher and
book shop, Gramedia Pustaka Utama, piling up Indonesian translations of his
book, Five Cities that Ruled the World and torching them in public to the
rapturous applause of assorted big hats from the Indonesian Ulema Council. The
cause of this conflagration was a complaint by the Indonesian version of the
Nazi Storm Troopers – the Front Pembela Islam (Islam Defenders Front) about a
paragraph or two on one page of the book which justifiably described Muhammad
as a pirate and murderer who carried out raids on caravans. The threat against
the publisher was real enough – unless they torched the book their own outlets
and staff would be facing a similar fate.
on from the recent violent routing of Irshad Manji from these shores. She told
no such home truths – she merely tried to associate the religion of Islam with
love and freedom. Her book, clearly deviant to the purity of the message of
Islam, was quickly removed from the bookshops. Needless to say, pirate versions
are selling like bakso (the meat balls so loved by Indonesians).
Podras encontrar una version en espanol despues de la version en ingles
Atheist Alliance International condemns the verdict against Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist who was attacked and arrested after posting 'God does not exist' on Facebook. Alexander Aan was today jailed for two years and six months for blasphemy under Indonesia's criminal code. He was also fined Rp 100 million (c. US$10,600).
Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International, said "Alex simply stated his personal view on the topic of religion, yet he now faces years in jail. This judgement is an affront to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Indonesia's blasphemy laws are archaic, an embarrassment to a country that appears to be striving to join the developed world and should be repealed immediately."
Atheist Alliance International has been running an appeal to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family since he was arrested in January this year. Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).
The Atheist Foundation of Australia is auctioning three posters signed by all presenters from the wildly successful 2012 Global Atheist Convention A Celebration of Reason, held recently in Melbourne, Australia. Only 15 of these posters exist and only three are being auctioned.
child’s school years are some of the most important in their development and
their experiences during this time can shape the rest of their lives. Many public
schools suffer from a lack of resources and funding and as a result some
children can fall between the cracks. One supposed solution has been the
National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), which ‘provides funding to schools to
access the services of a school chaplain or secular support worker.’  In practice, a majority of the positions are reserved for
chaplains, and are recruited from Christian chaplaincy organisations such as
ACCESS Ministries, GenR8 Ministries, Schools Ministry Group and Scripture
Union. Since the inception of the NSCP, there have been questions raised
as to the remit of the chaplains, and whether the services they provide are
appropriate for public schools.
Ron Williams, jazz singer and
father of six, has been questioning the NSCP since he found out what his
children were being taught at their local public school in Queensland. The
chaplain at his children’s school, employed by the government-funded NSCP, had
been distributing a magazine that included statements claiming condoms promoted
promiscuity and declaring the sinfulness of same-sex relationships. When Mr
Williams and his wife requested that their children be withdrawn from the
religious classes, the children were bullied by other students and told they
would go to hell.
Lu Liping, a well-known Chinese actress, who is also a Christian, forwarded several micro blog entries of a priest against gays on 26th June and caused a mighty uproar on the Internet. Many stars and netizens expressed their concerns on this issue in the micro blogs.
Forwarded by Lu, the priest's micro blogs described the homosexual groups as "shame" and "sinner", one of which stated: "The New York State Assembly approved the legalization of gay marriage proposal last night. New York will become the sixth and most populous US state to allow gay marriage. May God have mercy on this falling land! Even if one day the law stipulates that opposition against homosexuals would be condemned, I still want to say: homosexuality is a sin. God loves sinners, but God hates SIN! "
Mention creationism, and many scientists think of the United States, where efforts to limit the teaching of evolution have made headway in a couple of states1. But the successes are modest compared with those in South Korea, where the anti-evolution sentiment seems to be winning its battle with mainstream science.
A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. “The ministry just sent the petition out to the publishing companies and let them judge,” says Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University.
The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.
Written by Maryam Namazie, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
31 May 2012
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be 5 years old in June 2012.
To celebrate the work, significance and achievements of this unique organisation, we are holding a fundraising luncheon on Saturday 23 June 2012 in London from 13.00-16:00 hours.
The event will be a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and enjoy a three-course lunch with wine, great entertainment and speakers in an intimate setting whilst supporting the organisation’s work.
Guests will hear from renowned philosopher AC Grayling, campaigner Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, CEMB founder Maryam Namazie and magician Neil Edwards, amongst others. There will also be a dance act, poetry and music.
In the five years since its establishment, the CEMB has been a beacon of hope for thousands of ex-Muslims who have renounced Islam and religion. It has helped to break the taboo and challenge Islamism, which punishes apostasy with the death penalty. The work of the CEMB has included assisting to return a young woman to Britain from North Africa where she had been sent as punishment for her ‘disobedience’ to securing the release from detention and the right to asylum for apostates across Europe. The organisation has also given large numbers of people a new ‘home’ via its forum and meet-up group. Moreover, it has helped to highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, apostates and blasphemers internationally, including Indonesian atheist Alex Aan currently in prison and German-Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi facing a death fatwa from Iran’s ayatollahs. The One Law for All campaign against Sharia law in Britain, which was initiated by the CEMB at its first international conference, has also made waves across the globe as has its unequivocal defence of free expression, equality and citizenship rights.
Ticket(s) for the luncheon are £45.00 per person or £35 for students/unwaged.
To purchase tickets, send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal or Worldpay: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/
indexDonate.html. Please make sure to include an email address and telephone number so that further details can be provided.
Atheist Alliance was established in 1991 as a
democratic network of US-based atheist organizations plus one non-US
organization. Over time Atheist Alliance
expanded to include more non-US members and changed its name to Atheist
Alliance International (AAI) in 2001. In
2010 AAI had 31 US-based affiliates and 18 non-US based affiliates. At this time the board of AAI concluded that
its goals could be achieved more effectively by separating into two
organizations – one focused on US local and national issues and one focused on
providing a supportive global network for atheist and freethought organizations
around the world. In October 2010 the
separation was approved in principle by AAI’s members and in June 2011 AAI effectively
separated into Atheist Alliance International and Atheist Alliance of America.