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The Heathen Parts of Britain, and How Andrew Brown Claims Them for Faith

screen-shot-2014-07-03-at-7-19-01-am[1]There are some intriguing new interactive maps of the UK by DataShine that show you which cities of the country, and which parts of those cities, are most and least religious, and where in each place the various faiths are more common. The site is a bit slow today, but you can see places divided up not only by degree of belief in, say, Christianity, but in Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and so on. You can do this for a number of cities (Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, etc.) and also see the cities divided by language, ethnic group, country of birth, and so on. [Read more]

Viking ‘Hammer of Thor’ Unearthed

dnews-files-2014-07-thor-hammer-140702-jpg[1]Danish archaeologists have solved the mystery over the significance of the Mjöllnir amulets worn by the Vikings. Indeed, they represented Thor’s hammer, the researchers said. More than 1,000 intricately carved pendants shaped like hammers have been found across Northern Europe since the first millennium A.D. Although it was widely believed these amulets were hammers, a debate remained over their true meaning. [Read more]

Parents Told Faith School or No School by Local Council

350x[1]Eleven children whose parents refused places at a Hindu faith school in the London borough of Redbridge have been left with no school place for September. Families of children allocated places at Avanti Court Primary School in Essex refused the places, saying the school’s religious ethos is at odds with their own beliefs and values. [Read more]

Scientists in Africa Discover 548-Million-Year Old Structures. Who Built Them?

0627-cloudina-reef-namibia_full_600[1]An ancient reef that once teemed with primitive sea life has been unearthed in Africa. The reef, which dates to 548 million years ago, is the oldest animal-built reef ever found. The coral-like creatures, dubbed Cloudina, may have built the superstructures to protect themselves from predators or to soak up the nutrients from ocean currents, said study co-author Rachel Wood, a geologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. [Read more]

Gateway to the Heavens: The Assyrian Account to the Tower of Babel

tower-of-babel-2[1]The story of the construction of a tower in Babel, which resulted in the confounding of language has also confounded modern scholars. The Book of Genesis tells of a time in which all of the world’s population migrated eastward to the plain of Shinar. Shinar (Hebrew for “[land of the] two rivers”) is considered by most to be what the Akkadians referred to as Shumer or Sumer, in what is today Mesopotamia; that is modern day Iraq. [Read more]

Britain Bans Creationism from Free Schools and Academies

Creationism[1]In what is being considered a secular victory, the British government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all free schools and academies in the country. The government released a new compilation of funding agreements earlier this month, including clauses that specifically prohibit pseudoscience, defining creationism as “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.” [Read more]

France’s Burqa Ban Upheld by Human Rights Court

A woman wearing a burqa in Paris, FranceJudges at the European court of human rights (ECHR) have upheld France’s burqa ban, accepting Paris’s argument that it encouraged citizens to “live together”. The law, introduced in 2010, makes it illegal for anyone to cover their face in a public place. While it also covers balaclavas and hoods, the ban has been criticised as targeting Muslim women. [Read more]

Malaysia Interfaith Body Asks Attorney General to Draw Clear Line Between Civil, Shariah Courts

malay-language-bible[1]Malaysia’a national interfaith council has appealed to the Attorney General of Malaysia to settle a lingering debate over the roles of the civil and Shariah courts, which administer Islamic laws. The request follows two recent events that showed differences between the legal authorities and Islamic religious authorities. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement last week on two contentious issues relating to Sharia. [Read more]

Despite Legal Challenges, Sale of Hopi Religious Artifacts Continues in France

hopi-master675[1]The thought of Americans lecturing the French about cultural sensibilities seems like a hard sell in a country still shielding its language from idiomatic blasphemies like “le weekend” and “hashtag.” But the United States Embassy in Paris spent several days last week educating French officials about the strong emotions that have led Native American tribes like the Hopi and Navajo to sue Parisian auction houses — unsuccessfully, time and again — over the sale of sacred objects. [Read more]

A New Kind of Violent Extremist Hell Is Being Created in the Middle of Iraq

3a475810456c5546018ed299914e81637a42ef00[1]So now a huge Hardcore Sunnistan stretches all the way from the suburbs of Aleppo to Tikrit and from Mosul to the Jordanian/Iraqi border – the same one that dissolved in 2003 when Shock and Awe turned into Mission (Un)Accomplished. In an eerie echo of Dick Cheney’s army’s footprints reverberating in the sands of Anbar province, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and their coalition of the willing (jihadis, Islamists, Ba’athists and tribal sheikhs) now pose as the “liberators” of Iraqi Sunnis from the clutches of an “evil” Shi’ite majority government in Baghdad. [Read more]

Extremists in Iraq Attack Shiite Shrine, Killing 6

the-iraq-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video-1402605847082-master495-v5[1]Sunni extremists fired mortars into a shrine in Samarra that is sacred to Shiites late Monday, killing six people and damaging the shrine, according to a report on Iraqi state television. Attacks on Samarra’s Askariya Shrine by Qaeda-related groups in 2006 set off a wave of sectarian violence throughout Iraq that took years to calm. [Read more]

Photographer Captures Last Traces of the Ancient Tradition of Foot Binding

foot-binding-tradition[1]Throughout history, men and women alike have suffered pain and agony in the name of beauty, from the practices of body modification in indigenous tribes throughout the world, to suffocatingly tight corsets in ancient Europe, and modern practices of piercings, tattoos, and various forms of cosmetic surgery. But few of these practices compare with the ancient Chinese tradition of foot binding in terms of duration and agony. [Read more]

Tunisia’s Islamists Learn to Embrace Political Culture of Compromise

Sahbit Atig (centre)For an Islamist leader, Rachid Ghannouchi seems to take a surprisingly moderate view of Tunisia‘s political landscape. “A political transition is no time to govern with a relative majority of 51%; it’s a time for consensus,” says Ghannouchi, in his office in Tunis. “If Mehdi Jomaa [Tunisia’s caretaker prime minister] can succeed, we won’t veto his action, or that of any other minister, so they can carry on. Never change a winning team.” [Read more]

ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Urges Jihad In Ramadan Message

Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiThe leader of the al Qaeda offshoot now calling itself the Islamic State has called on Muslims worldwide to take up arms and flock to the ‘caliphate’ it has declared on captured Syrian and Iraqi soil. Proclaiming a “new era” in which Muslims will ultimately triumph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued the call to jihad – holy war – in an audio message lasting nearly 20 minutes that was posted online on Tuesday. [Read more]

Ex-con Opens New Fundamentalist School in Dover

2014-06-27-17-12-04[1]There’s more bad news for ACE in the current issue of Private Eye. On page 36, there’s an article about Pieter Van Rooyen, the convicted slave master who opened an ACE school in Dover in January this year. Disappointingly, the phrase “slave wages” doesn’t appear in this story (as it does in most other coverageabout Van Rooyen), but otherwise it’s pretty great. I won’t reproduce it all here for copyright reasons, but here’s a taster. [Read more]

Atheist in Trouble for Renouncing Islam

A couple of weeks ago, we at the Atheist Experience were contacted by several people about a story that many of you are probably familiar with by now, the story of Mubarak Bala. According to news reports, Mubarak is 29 years old, and has been active on Twitter under the handle @MubarakBala for quite a while. [Read more]

China Banned Fasting

I am against banning and censorship. But I supported burqa ban because burqas are dark prisons where women must not be placed for committing no crime. I oppose China when it violates human rights but I don’t oppose when China discourages Muslim children to have religious fasting. [Read more]