43% of millennials 'don’t know, don’t care, don’t believe' God exists
The American Worldview Inventory 2021 assessed the perspectives of four generations: Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Builders. They found that Millennials have gone farther in cutting ties with traditional Christian views and normative biblical teachings than previous generations. Just 16% of Millennials and 26% of Gen X believe that they will go to Heaven if they accept Jesus as their savior, compared to approximately half of the generation before them. Moreover, 43% of Millennials stated they either don't know, don't care, or don't believe God exists compared to 28% of Boomers. 44% of Millennials believe Satan is real and influential, compared to 64% of Boomers. 31% of young adults strongly agree that what is considered "morally right and wrong" varies over time and is based on societal standards, compared to just 25% in 2018. Christian press reacted strongly to this study, suggesting that the beliefs and behaviors of younger Americans "threaten to reshape the nation's religious parameters beyond recognition."
Texas passes law that bans abortion as early as 6 weeks
On May 19th, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that outlaws any abortion following six weeks of pregnancy. Many women are unaware that they are pregnant within that period. This bill, which takes effect in September, makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Additionally, the bill includes a rare provision that allows citizens to sue anyone they believe may have helped a pregnant individual violate the ban. That provision cannot be used against pregnant people, but it can be used to target abortion providers and abortion rights activists. Elisabeth Smith, the Center for Reproductive Rights' Chief Counsel of State Policy and Advocacy, stated that Texas is inviting anti-abortion protestors to police abortion clinics and harass providers, even though the state knows that these bans are unconstitutional.
Atheists Condemn Philippines's biased "Magna Carta of Religious Freedom"
On March 24th, House Bill No: 6538, otherwise known as "The Magna Carta of Religious Freedom", was approved by Philippine lawmakers. The bill is supposed to "create enabling laws that will protect the rights of our citizens to religious freedom which, in turn, will further bring peace and stability to our nation," as stated by the Philippine House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights. Yet, instead of protecting the right to practice religion, this bill is dangerously biased in favor of religious groups over humanists and other non-religious people. A coalition of Philippine humanist and secular organizations, including Atheist Republic’s Metro Manila Consulate, has jointly condemned the bill for its favoritism towards the religious entities. According to the coalition, the clause of 'the Right to Profess Religious Belief' can give way to hate speech and discrimination against minorities like the LGBTQIA+ or the atheist community. The coalition also condemned the 'right' for religious corporations to be exempted from taxes.
Extreme Church Program Accused of Abusing Kids With Fight Nights & Shame
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
A handful of ex-interns of a youth training program at Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, attested that the program was abnormally brutal. They describe hellish conditions and alleged abuse at the hands of the Stockstill family, who have always run the organization. Claims regarding the abuse include pastors forcing the teens to participate in “fight nights” and extreme physical exercise until some would vomit or soil themselves. The former interns also said church owners would openly use the “N-word” and belittle the Black interns as “thugs.” NBC News contacted these former interns after April 28th. On the same day, Jonathan Stockstill addressed the accusations and posted a public apology on his own Facebook page. Jonathan Stockstill, the current leader of the church, was fully aware of the abuse yet did nothing to resolve it. Several former students created a community among themselves where they can shed light on the abuses they endured in the program.
Pakistani state proposes making marriage compulsory at 18, fines for unmarried children
Location: Sindh, Pakistan
A draft of "The Sindh Compulsory Marriage Act, 2021" was submitted to the Sindh Assembly Secretariat on May 26th. The draft stated that the parents of an adult who remains unmarried after turning 18 would have to "submit an undertaking with justified reason of delay before the Deputy Commissioner of the District." A failure to do so will result in the parents having to pay 500 rupees. The bill’s defenders claim it is an effort to bring well-being to society. According to the law, the obstacles in marriages, such as unemployment and high costs, are the results of distancing oneself from Islamic teachings. MPA Syed Abdul Rasheed stated that to make the process of marriage easier, the government should ban dowry and add standard procedures regarding weddings to the bill.
Televangelist Says Gay People Need Warning Labels on Their Foreheads
Location: United States
On May 3rd, the right-wing pastor and televangelist Andrew Wommack said, on his podcast, that gay people should wear labels on their foreheads as a warning sign because their sexuality could be "hazardous" to health. Wommack is well-known for his anti-LGBTQ+ rants and is the founder of Andrew Wommack Ministries and Charis Bible College. He compared homosexuality to cigarettes, saying they only take an average of seven years off of someone's life, and homosexuality is three times worse than smoking. Wommack has previously declared support for Uganda's "Kill the Gays" Bill and has also called conversion therapy bans are part of an anti-Christ plot to destroy morality. In March, Wommack has also said that people supporting trans rights activism follow the "doctrine of the devil."
Whites-Only Church Sparked Outrage in Small Minnesota Town
Location: Murdock, Minnesota, USA
The Ásatrú Folk Assembly (AFA) made it clear that their Murdock church is for White people only, and not for people of color. This inspired Victoria Guillemard, a Certified Student Attorney at 8th District Public Defender's Office, to create the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate (MAAAH) to spread awareness of the negative effects that the AFA can have in Murdock. On April 29th, 2021, Kandiyohi County District Judge Stephanie ruled against the harassment charges presented by Jason Plourde, a priest of the Ásatrú Folk Assembly. The denied restraining order was targeted against Victoria. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the AFA is the largest neo-Volkisch hate group in the United States. Allen Turnage, a member and lawyer for the AFA, stated in an interview that the followers of AFA believe that as Northern Europeans, it is not only their birthright, but their obligation to “maintain the ancestral memory and worship their gods and their ancestors.”
New report finds nonreligious people face stigma & discrimination
A new study finds that agnostic and atheist Americans face prejudice and shame, hide their secular identities, and primarily identify themselves as atheists and humanists. The report was produced by American Atheists, a national civil rights organization, by surveying nearly 34,000 nonreligious people residing in the United States. More than three-quarters of participants identify “very much” with the terms nonreligious (79.6%), atheist (79.4%), and secular (75.1%). 57.1% say their primary nonreligious identity is “atheist.” 6.9% say their nonreligious identity is agnostic. The report reflects that participants often go through negative experiences because of their nonreligious identities, in social media (58.3%) and within their families (54.5%). According to the report, the LGBTQ community, African Americans, Latinos, and ex-Muslims report experiencing attached layers of prejudice due to their race or religious upbringing. 17.2% survey participants were likely to be depressed, 25.6% frequently encountered one or more signs of loneliness and social isolation.
English teacher suspended for showing Muhammad cartoon can return to work
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
A school teacher of Batley grammar school in West Yorkshire, UK, was suspended in March for showing students a drawing taken from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a religious studies class. His action provoked parents who protested outside the school’s gates. The teacher has been cleared of causing deliberate offense and told he could have his job back. The Batley multi-academy trust said these included establishing a structured approach to quality assurance of individual teacher planning and more rigorous monitoring of teaching aids. The investigation concluded that the teacher “genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit” to discuss the meaning of blasphemy. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, stated that it is never acceptable to threaten teachers, and dialogues between parents and schools when issues emerge are encouraged.
Upcoming event at Center For Inquiry Canada: Atheist Republic’s Blasphemous Art Project!
This week, the Atheist Republic team announced an exciting upcoming event! The President and CEO of Atheist Republic, Susanna McIntyre, will be giving a presentation at the Center For Inquiry Canada where she will discuss Atheist Republic’s Blasphemous Art Project. The event will be occurring on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at 7pm PDT.
The presentation will feature an argument for the importance of blasphemy and dig into the inspiration and motivation behind the Blasphemous Art campaign, as well as the backlash, censorship, lawsuits, and international legal consequences that ensued. The talk will be followed by a question and answer portion where audience participation is encouraged!
Event admissions are free, but registration is required.
Check out the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1149324672159228
Register for the event here: https://bit.ly/3vFPL7A