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Religion

UN calls on Ireland to recognise needs of non-Christian children in the education system

February 5, 2016

Photo credit: Philip Hollis By National Secular Society The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticised Ireland in its periodic review, urging the country to protect the rights of non-religious and non-Christian children and families. Strong criticism was made of the overwhelming religious control of Ireland’s schools, and the Committee said that Ireland must improve access to non-religious schools. 97% of Irish primary schools are denominational schools. It said Ireland must “Expeditiously undertake concrete measures to significantly increase the availability of non-denominational or multidenominational schools and to amend the existing legislative framework to eliminate discrimination in school admissions, including the Equal Status Act”. The report concluded that “Schools continuing to practise discriminatory admissions policies on the basis of the child’s religion” and the Committee said it remained “concerned at the very small number of non-denominational schools.” Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America’

February 5, 2016

Photo credit: Credit Alec Soth/Magnum Photos By Susan Jacoby The population of nonreligious Americans — including atheists, agnostics and those who call themselves “nothing in particular” — stands at an all-time high this election year. Americans who say religion is not important in their lives and who do not belong to a religious group, according to the Pew Research Center, have risen in numbers from an estimated 21 million in 2008 to more than 36 million now. Despite the extraordinary swiftness and magnitude of this shift, our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful. The presumption is that candidates have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their obsequious attitude toward orthodox religion and ignoring the growing population of those who make up a more secular America. Ted Cruz won in Iowa by expanding Republican voter turnout among the evangelical base. Donald J. Trump placed second after promising “to protect Christians” from enemies foreign and domestic. The third-place finisher Marco Rubio’s line “I don’t think you can go to church too often” might well have been the campaign mantra. Mr. Rubio was first christened a Roman Catholic, baptized again at the age of 8 into the Mormon Church, and now attends a Southern Baptist megachurch with his wife on Saturdays and Catholic Mass on Sundays. Democrats are only a trifle more secular in their appeals. Hillary Clinton repeatedly refers to her Methodist upbringing, and even Bernie Sanders — a cultural Jew not known to belong to a synagogue — squirms when asked whether he believes in God. When Jimmy Kimmel posed the question, Mr. Sanders replied in a fog of words at odds with his usual blunt style: “I am who I am. And what I believe in and what my spirituality is about, is that we’re all in this together.” He once referred to a “belief in God” that requires him to follow the Golden Rule — a quote his supporters seem to trot out whenever someone suggests he’s an atheist or agnostic. The question is not why nonreligious Americans vote for these candidates — there is no one on the ballot who full-throatedly endorses nonreligious humanism — but why candidates themselves ignore the growing group of secular voters. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Gallup: New Hampshire the least-religious state

February 5, 2016

Photo credit: AP Photo By Nick Gass New Hampshire is now the least-religious state in the country, according to Gallup’s 2015 state-by-state-analysis released Thursday, five days before voters in both parties make their pick in the presidential primary. Based on the percentage of those describing themselves as very religious, 20 percent in New Hampshire said they were, slightly lower than the 22 percent who described themselves as such in Vermont, the home state of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Both Sanders and Hillary Clinton addressed religion and faith during Wednesday night’s town hall event in Derry, New Hampshire. Sanders, who is Jewish, called religion “a guiding principle” in his life, remarking that “everybody practices religion in a different way.” “To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings,” he explained. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Republicans Prefer Blunt Talk About Islamic Extremism, Democrats Favor Caution

February 5, 2016

Photo credit: Pew Research Center By Pew Research Center Half of Americans say the next president should be careful not to criticize Islam as a whole when speaking about Islamic extremists, while four-in-ten want the next president to speak bluntly about Islamic extremists even if the statements are critical of Islam as a whole. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that blunt talk is preferred by two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (65%), while seven-in-ten Democrats and independents who lean Democratic express the opposite view, saying the next president should speak carefully about Islamic extremism so as not to criticize Islam as a whole. The study also shows that many Americans think a substantial segment of the U.S. Muslim population is anti-American. While four-in-ten adults say “just a few” Muslims in the country are anti-American (or that none are), roughly half of the public believes that at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, including 11% who say “most” or “almost all” U.S. Muslims are anti-American and 14% who think “about half” the U.S. Muslim population is anti-American. The new findings come on the heels of a separate Pew Research Center survey conducted in December 2015, which found that 46% of Americans think Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence and that a similar share (49%) say they are “very concerned” about the rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Unicef Report Finds Female Genital Cutting to Be Common in Indonesia

February 4, 2016

Photo credit: Ed Wray By Pam Belluck and Joe Cochrane Female genital cutting has always been seen as an ancient ritual practiced in Africa and to a lesser extent in the Middle East, but a new global assessment documents for the first time that it is widespread in one of the most populous countries in Asia: Indonesia, where almost half the women are estimated to have undergone it. There has long been anecdotal evidence of the practice there, but the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated Thursday that 60 million women and girls there have been cut based on national survey data collected by the Indonesian government. The addition of Indonesia is largely responsible for raising the global tally of women and girls who have undergone the practice to 200 million from 130 million, and the number of countries where it is concentrated to 30 from 29. “We knew the practice existed but we didn’t have a sense of the scope,” said Claudia Cappa, a statistics specialist for Unicef, which released the report. She said the new data from Indonesia showed that cutting was not just “an African problem.” Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Headteacher mocked on Twitter for claiming evolution is not a fact

February 4, 2016

Photo credit: St Andrew’s C of E primary By Harriet Sherwood A primary school headteacher has been mocked on Twitter after claiming that evolution was “a theory” and there was “more evidence that the Bible is true”. Christina Wilkinson, of St Andrew’s Church of England school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, made the remarks in a tweet responding to London headteacher Tom Sherrington, who urged teachers to stick to science when teaching the origins of life. Wilkinson wrote: “Evolution is not a fact. That’s why it’s called a theory! There’s more evidence that the Bible is true.” Amid criticism and calls for her to resign on Twitter, Wilkinson issued a statement saying: “I’d like to make it clear that we teach the full national curriculum in school and that our pupils receive a fully rounded education.” She also said her tweet was sent from a personal account and “represents my own views”. However, her Twitter handle was @WilkinsonHead, apparently referencing her role as headteacher. The tweet has since been taken down and the account closed. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]
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