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Death and Humanist Funerals in Nigeria

On February 9, 2013, the former Chair of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Eze Ebisike died after a brief illness. On March 2, he was buried in his hometown Okpokume, Mpam, Ekwerazu Ahiazu Mbiase in Imo State. Ebisike was an ex-catholic priest and an atheist. He was buried after a short humanist funeral ceremony in the compound. The ceremony was a historic event because it was the first time, in that part of the country that someone who was an atheist was given a non-religious funeral.

Funerals constitute a vital part of the local culture and tradition. Most people attach a lot of importance to rites marking the end of life. Some people plan for their own funerals even though they know they won't be there to celebrate it! People devote time, energy and resources to mourning the dead and paying their last respects.

But like most other aspects of culture, funeral ceremonies have been based on religion and supernaturalism. A funeral is a ‘spiritual’ and godly exercise.

Hence people think that a funeral must be conducted in line with the teachings of one of the traditional religions; Islam or Christianity. They cannot imagine a godless funeral service or a non religious or non theistic way of mourning the dead. This is to be expected given the ubiquity of the theistic cosmological outlook. Most people believe in a god that rewards or punishes people after death. There is a strong belief that death is not the end of life, that death is a kind of transition from this life to the ‘next life’, that there is a heaven and a hell. But humanists do not hold to these beliefs. For humanists, death is the end of life. When people die they decompose just like all other living things. Post mortem life in heaven and hell is viewed at best as a comforting illusion. The evidence for a personal god is simply not there. There has also been no evidence produced for the existence of a soul. And the whole idea of the soul leaving the body is just wishful thinking.

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Empowering Women Through Secularism

Atheist Ireland, an Affiliate of AAI, will be hosting Empowering Women through Secularism in Dublin, 29-30 June 2013.  The speaker line up is excellent - Annie Laurie Gaylor, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and Dan Barker, as well as AAI President Carlos Diaz. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity - early bird tickets now on sale for EUR100.  For more information click here.

Secular World podcast 008 - Atheist Census

The end of the world; Atheist Census with Carlos Diaz, AAI President; David Ince, the Carribean Atheist; and so much more! Enjoy! Contact the show by emailing podcast [at] atheistalliance [dot] org.  Click here for the latest podcast.  And yes, we've re-numbered the podcasts, we're just mysterious like that.

AAI's Top 10 Atheist / Religious Discrimination Stories of 2012

1.  The Rise of 'Nones' in the World

A survey released by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in late 2012 identified the Religiously Unaffiliated, or ‘Nones’ as the third largest ‘faith’ group in the world, 16% or 1.1 billion, approximately the same number as Catholics.  900 million of these unaffiliated reside in the Asia-Pacific region, where they make up an average 21.2% of the population. Europe is the next largest region then North America.  Latin America, Africa and the Middle East all lag behind, with 7.7%, 3.2%, and 0.6% of the populations identified as ‘Nones’.

A trending study by WIN-Gallup International in 2012 noted that religiosity is declining worldwide while atheism and non-belief are increasing.  Religiosity has fallen by 9 points just since 2005, while the number of atheists has almost doubled. The U.S., France, UK, Ireland, Canada as well as Vietnam are included in the top-10 list of countries to have experienced a "notable decline in religiosity" since 2005. 'Nones' tend to be younger than the overall population.

References: Pew Forum, Huffington Post, Time, LA Times, UK Census

2.  Islamic Religious Violence and Intimidation Explodes in Response to Offence

2012 was a year with multiple incidents where Islamist leaders reacted to criticism, mocking and attacks on their faith by fomenting and encouraging violence to express their displeasure. At the same time, Islamic nations cracked down on religious dissent in their own countries and again demanded that the UN adopt anti-blasphemy laws as a ‘human right’ (albeit the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has now abandoned this path - refer #9). Atheists were exceptionally vulnerable to these actions but the problem extends far beyond the atheist community, to the level of being an international menace that threatens not just free speech rights, but human lives and livelihoods.

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Carlos Diaz on American Freethought Podcast

AAI President Carlos Diaz talks with hosts David Driscoll and John Snyder about his background and religious education in Argentina, Atheist Census and other AAI activities.  The interview starts at around the 10:15 mark.

Alexander Aan update

A member of Indonesian Atheists recently visited Alexander Aan in prison. The visitor was able to bring food and drink for Alex and spoke with him for around 20 minutes. Alex appears to be well, socialising with other prisoners and communicating with the officers.  Alex and the visitor discussed recent news related to secularism and atheism and Alex provided a copy of some of his recent notes, including (on the second page)  "I always concern in humanity and science and never come back to Islam", "I need to leave Indonesia quickly" and "I need to be myself".  Alex also thanked his supporters: "Thank (you) for all my friend who support(ed) me all the way".

Alex's appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court is in process.  Atheist Alliance International is raising funds to support Alex's legal case and, separately, to assist him to study outside Indonesia after his release if possible.  If you would like to help Alex please donate here.

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