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These Are the Least Free Countries in the World for Religion

n-184111224-large[1]The U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report cites eight nations as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) due to their “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” However, there are at least eight more countries which should also be on that list, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, who urged Secretary of State John Kerry to designate them as CPCs in its 15th annual report, says Religion News Service. The list has not been updated since 2006. The USCIRF report stated that Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Tajikistan should be recognized as countries with severe violations of religious freedom. [Read more]

Toni Braxton Claims Her Son’s Autism Was God’s Punishment for Abortion

AP429572664017-e1400859626105-620x412[1]The singer Toni Braxton stirred up controversy with a claim in her memoir that her son’s autism was a punishment from God — one that she’s recently walked back slightly. Braxton had been on Accutane, an acne medication that can cause serious birth defects, when she got pregnant more than ten years ago; she wrote in her new memoir that she “believed that God’s payback was to give my son autism.” [Read more]

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Is the Lightning Rod for the Major Threat Science Poses to Creationists

ndtmoyers1[1]Public education is a major enemy of creationism and intelligent design. Now the fears of these two camps are culminating around one person, the host of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Intelligent design proponent and conspiracy blogger David Klingshoffer writes on Evolution News, the anti-evolution blog: “Despite its increasingly undisguised axe-grinding, history-befogging, and faith-baiting excesses, there’s no question that the rebooted  Cosmos series with Neil deGrasse Tyson will be turning up in classrooms as a ‘supplement’ to science education.” [Read more]

Anti-Evolution Bills Are Defeated In Missouri

y2bapymxchxji2nb5uro[1]Two proposed pieces of legislation—including one that would have required school districts to allow parents to have their children excused from learning about evolution—were left to die in committee when the Missouri state legislature adjourned. The news comes as a relief to educators who said the legislation would have “eviscerated the teaching of biology” in Missouri. The two bills that never made it to a floor vote were House Bill 1472, sponsored by Rep. Rick Brattin (R, 55th District) and House Bill 1587, sponsored Rep. Andrew Koenig (R, 99th District). [Read more]

Man Killed Wife for Making Vegetarian Dinner: Prosecutors

05_Noorhusseinbklyncourt_RH.JPGA Pakistani immigrant beat his wife to death in their Brooklyn home after she made the mistake of cooking him lentils for dinner instead of the hearty meal of goat meat that he craved, according to court papers. Noor Hussain, 75, was so outraged over the vegetarian fare that he pummeled his wife, Nazar Hussain, 66, with a stick until she was a “bloody mess,” according to prosecutors and court papers. “Defendant asked [his wife] to cook goat and [his wife] said she made something else,” the court papers indicated as Hussain’s murder trial opened on Wednesday. [Read more]

Police Investigate Attleborough Church ‘Hate Incident’ After Sign Suggests Non-Christians Will ‘Burn in Hell’

image[1]The Attleborough Baptist Church sign was looked at as a “hate incident” after Robert Gladwin objected to the slogan “if you think there is no God, you’d better be right” – with flames underneath the message. But police said the pastor of the church had agreed to remove the sign. Mr Gladwin, 20, who spotted the sign on Leys Lane while heading home to Hargham Road, said: “I was just astounded really. We live in the 21st century and they have put that message – that non-Christians will burn in hell – up to try and scare people into joining their mentality.” [Read more]

‘Demon-Possessed’ Child Locked Up, Shocked With Cattle Prod: Cops

n-EVERETTS-large570[1]Two Oklahoma parents are in custody after they allegedly kept their 6-year-old child locked in an empty room where he was tortured, police said. Edward Everett, 28, and 32-year-old Krystal Everett were arrested last Thursday in Canadian County, Oklahoma, after police received a phone call saying the couple’s small boy was being abused and neglected in the home, according to Fox 25. [Read more]

Can You Have A Church Without A Prison Ministry?

A prison cell is pictured inside AlcatraNow that I’m done with school, I’ve found myself flipping through Netflix, Hulu, and every other option I can find on Apple TV to catch up on shows I’ve missed. The other day I came across a PBS special called Prison State. It’s a Frontline feature on what is, by most accounts, the deeply flawed American penal system. As I listened to the countless stories of men and women languishing in prison for what in many cases was far longer than seems reasonable, I found myself asking a question I had never really thought about before. [Read more]

The Year of the Sheep—Bad Luck for Superstitious Parents?

sheep-300x225[1]Chinese culture places high importance on their zodiac calendar. The zodiac includes twelve animals, each representing one year once every twelve years. This year, the Year of the Horse, is one of good fortune, producing kind-hearted and active babies. Unfortunately, next year China will be entering a less desirable year. On February 19, 2015, China will be entering the Year of the Sheep—the wood sheep to be exact. Although it symbolizes caring and compassion, many are afraid those born under the sheep will prove too weak for a cruel, unforgiving world. [Read more]

Will Humanists Embrace Emerging Technology before Others?

driverlesscar-300x241[1]Humans’ ability to create tools that make it easier to survive is one of several characteristics that distinguish us from most other animals that inhabit this planet. Of course, inventors and corporations don’t focus solely on things that ensure survival—they create new tools to make our lives more enjoyable and, in some ways, more complex. And there is hesitancy on some people’s part to embrace the concept of technological innovation, either from a specific fear of new technology or from a more general concern about what technology’s impact will be on human society and the individual. [Read more]

Same-Sex Ruling Has Religious Leaders Thinking

20140520MWHequalityLocal11-6[1]“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.” Well, some chapels anyway. With this week’s landmark federal court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, some houses of worship, including those affiliated with more liberal Protestant and Jewish denominations, will be opening their doors to gay couples — and in fact have been doing so for years before they had benefit of a marriage license. [Read more]

Religious Rights Watchdog Pushes to Add Pakistan, Syria to List of Worst Offenders

RNS-RIGHTS-COMMITTEEOne of the nation’s leading — and official — champions of religious freedom implored the Obama administration to add Pakistan and Syria to the list of nations that most egregiously violate religious rights. Before a congressional subcommittee on Thursday (May 22) Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said it makes little sense that the roster compiled by the U.S. has barely changed in a decade. [Read more]

Campaigners Hope Pope’s Visit to Israel Will See Vatican Holocaust Files Released

Pope Pius XII, as papal diplomat Eugenio Pacelli, in Berlin.The pope’s visit to Jerusalem this weekend has given fresh hope to campaigners – some of whom are close friends of the pontiff – who believe that he might use the occasion to open the Vatican‘s secret Holocaust-era files. Among them is Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and director of its Jerusalem office. Zuroff told the Guardian: “Giving full access to the Vatican archives from the Holocaust would be a very important step in facilitating a truthful evaluation of several subjects, among them what the Vatican knew about the Holocaust and when they received that information.” [Read more]

How Did the Universe Begin?

1_KRfdxZhG3mN4R347G97sJQ[1]“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” -Douglas Adams

It’s only human to ask the most fundamental of all questions: where did all this come from? And we like to think we know the answer; it all came from the beginning. [Read more]

Was the Golden Rule Born in the Mind of a Monkey?

As economic inequality increased in many wealthy nations in recent years, a debate has developed around the question of whether inequality is bad for national economies—and bad for their citizens. A captivating video clip of monkey behavior (see below), taken from a 2011 TED talk by primatologist Frans de Waal, has become a surprising piece of ammunition in this discussion.

[Read more]

Federal Judge Dismisses Atheists’ Challenge to IRS

A federal judge in Kentucky has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an atheist group challenging tax exemptions for churches and religious groups in the federal tax code. U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled Monday that American Atheists Inc. was speculating about being potentially injured by the tax code or treated differently from other organizations. [Read more]

Pope Francis: Causing Climate Change Is a “Sin”

I hope this has an impact on people.  Pope Francis recently spoke about climate change.  Yes, it’s real: “Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!” [Read more]

Islamophobia

When people say Islamophobia doesn’t exist, I must turn you to Pastor James McConnell here. Lets look at the list. 1. Islam being inferior to Christianity, possibly daemonic. [Read more]

What Do You Think of Islam?

Islam is a religion torn by strife and its history. Like all civilisation, we see a cycle of Golden vs. Dark Ages. In the west, our last dark age was WW II. And from that we learned a valuable lesson. We learnt a fear of war that still pervades through much of Europe. And that fear hasn’t left us. [Read more]

Help! My Fundamentalist In-Laws are Driving Me Crazy

In-laws can be an ongoing source of tension in extended families that haven’t established or don’t respect appropriate boundaries. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. With a few adjustments religious differences do not have to be the focal point of your get-togethers. [Read more]

Indonesia Religious Affairs Minister Named Suspect in Graft Case

Indonesia’s powerful anti-corruption agency has named the religious affairs minister a suspect in a graft case involving state funds allocated for the haj pilgrimage. “It is true that the Religious Affairs Minister [has been] named as suspect,” spokesman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Johan Budi told reporters late on Thursday. [Read more]

Indictment Details 3 Kidnappings Linked to Coerced Divorces

When several rabbis and ultra-Orthodox men were accused in October of being a part of a ring that kidnapped and tortured Jewish husbands who refused to grant divorces to their wives, the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey said the number of victims might run into the dozens. [Read more]

U.N. Torture Watchdog Urges Vatican to Pursue Sex Criminals

The United Nations torture watchdog called on the Vatican on Friday to cooperate with civil authorities in prosecuting all cases of suspected sexual abuse by pedophile priests and to set up its own independent complaints mechanism. [Read more]

Egypt’s Brotherhood Struggles to Regroup in Exile

Exiled leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are struggling to regroup, targeted by hostile Arab powers, cut off from senior colleagues imprisoned back home and challenged by angry young followers tempted to seek change by violence. [Read more]

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