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Can an Atheist Be in Awe of the Universe?

F90EA66C-599E-4485-89F5C7CBFA4C7D34_article[1]After 64-year-old Diana Nyad completed her 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida in September 2013, she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday show in what was to be a motivational reflection on the triumph of will over age. When Nyad announced, “I’m an atheist,” Oprah responded quizzically: “But you’re in the awe.” Puzzled, Nyad responded: “I don’t understand why anybody would find a contradiction in that. I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist—go on down the line—and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity. [Read more]

Concerns Raised Over Sex Discrimination Against Teachers in Muslim Schools

350x[1]The National Secular Society has warned that the proliferation of religious schools could be opening the door to gender discrimination in the employment of teachers. The warning follows the discovery of a job advertisement for a Male Science Teacher placed by Capita Education Resourcing on behalf of an Islamic boys’ school in Leicester. The advert was passed on to the NSS by a qualified female science teacher looking for work in the Leicester area. [Read more]

Homeowners Angered at Prospect of Having to Pay for Church Repairs

350x[1]An archaic law left over from the reign of Henry VIII has caused anger in a Shropshire village after a number of households found out they could be liable for paying for repairs at their local church. Notices informing residents that claims against their properties had been made by their local parochial church council has left villagers in Stottesdon reeling. [Read more]

Fundamentalist Christians Seek to Use Council of Europe to Entrench Religious Privilege

350x[1]In January, Mr Valeriu Ghiletchi of the Committee on Equality and Non-discrimination of the Council of Europe presented a worrying draft report called “Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christianity”. Although deeply committed to the fight against all kind of discrimination, the European Humanist Federation would like to emphasize that this report does not provide evidence of a specific discrimination toward Christians. Instead, it uses discrimination as an excuse and is a potential threat to democracy and secularism in Europe. [Read more]

Catholic Sexuality Survey Finds Dissension

Bishop-Zubik-1[1]Many Roman Catholics don’t know church teachings on the family and sexuality, they don’t follow some of the ones they do know, and they question the church’s moral standing to tell them what to do, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik acknowledged in a summary of an unprecedented survey that drew more than 3,000 responses. [Read more]

Mormon Church Pushes Back on Planet Misconceptions

460x[1]The Mormon Church is pushing back against the notion that members of the faith are taught they’ll get their own planet in the afterlife, a misconception popularized in pop culture most recently by the Broadway show “The Book of Mormon.” A newly-posted article affirms the faith’s belief that humans can become like God in eternity, but says the “cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets” is not how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints envision it. [Read more]

Purdue Donation Incites First Amendment Fight Over ‘God’ Plaque

herricklabs[1]A Purdue University alumnus alleges his First Amendment rights were violated by his alma mater over a donation to the college. When Michael McCracken and his wife made a $12,500 donation to Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering in 2012, Purdue asked the engineering graduate to provide an inscription for a conference room dedication plaque, which would be installed in the recently renovated Herrick Laboratories. [Read more]

At Weekly Exorcisms, Egypt’s Muslims and Christians Unite Against the Demons

av5a6742[1]The demon that had possessed the elderly Muslim woman was so strong that even an Imam couldn’t get rid of it. So her family opted for a priest. “My mother is possessed by a jinn,” the woman’s daughter said, by way of explaining why she and her Muslim family had decided to attend a recent Thursday night mass last month at Cairo’s St. Sama’an Cathedral. Her mother, who was slumped over a nearby bench, gave no indication of hearing anything. [Read more]

Whatever Happened to Hippy Jesus?

lead[1]Jesus Christ is serious business. The remarkable ratings of The Bible miniseries on the History Channel led to the release of the new film Son of God. Producers played up the fact that it had been 10 years since Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was released and grossed at the box office more than $600 million internationally. [Read more]

Muslim Group to Get Own Caucus on Capitol Hill

A small branch of Islam often persecuted and called heretical by larger Muslim groups has always found friends on Capitol Hill. Now, America’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community is getting official representation through a new House caucus to be officially unveiled Friday. [Read more]