Atheist Republic News Summary : Art Covered up After Muslim Complaints

1. Dave Gass, a Missouri megachurch pastor, stepped down from his position after 40 years and renounced his Christian faith, reported the Christian Post. He tweeted, “After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.” He then added that the church was a place of abuse for him, and that church people are “sh*tty” people.

2. Zachary Burdick, a 21-year-old, pleaded guilty to masturbating in and desecrating a baptismal pool inside of a church in Mandan, North Dakota. An employee saw Burdick take off his clothes and jump into the baptismal fountain near the entrance. He then “dipped his rear-end into the Holy Water fountain” before splashing around and walking down the aisle “while still masturbating”… all while 75 people were attending mass.

3. Former Rev. Joseph DeShan, 59 and a veteran New Jersey teacher who once had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl and got her pregnant - all while he was a Catholic priest - can keep his middle-school job, an arbitrator ruled. He began teaching in the Cinnaminson school district in 1996 — six years after he impregnated the teen, who worked in his parish rectory in Bridgeport, Conn., the state ruling said. The parents said their children felt unsafe being taught by a “rapist” and a “pedophile” who had no business being around juveniles, especially those close in age to the girl he impregnated, the document said.

4. An Inside Edition report is getting a lot of attention after it focused on the luxurious lifestyles of prominent Christian televangelists Jesse Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland, who, according to the report, “drive fancy cars and live inside lavish mansions” and “fly in some of the best private jets money can buy.” Inside Edition Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero attempted to question Duplantis about his need for a jet, but she was quickly grabbed and pulled away by security. She was accosted by security officials and whisked away.

5. A leading contemporary art gallery covered up works featuring an Islamic declaration of faith after complaints from Muslim visitors who said the artworks were blasphemous. Paintings by SKU deemed blasphemous for combining Islamic text with nude images. The gallery decided to cover up two paintings that incorporated the text of the shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam, in Arabic script juxtaposed with images of nude women in the style of the US flag. The head of Islamic studies at the think tank Quilliam, Usama Hasan, said the works were ”really dangerous”, adding: “It’s The Satanic Verses all over again.” 

6. A woman has been arrested on suspicion of offending religious sentiment, after posters bearing an image of the Virgin Mary with her halo painted in the colours of the rainbow flag appeared in the city of Płock in central Poland. A Płock police spokeswoman confirmed a 51- year-old woman had been arrested over the alleged offence. Offending religious feeling is a crime under the Polish penal code. If convicted, the woman could face a prison sentence of up to two years.

7. Matt Powell, a Christian preacher, yelled about all the things he hates about atheists in his Youtube video titled, "22 Year Old Preacher Rants Against Atheism". He said, They can’t think for themselves! They sit back and they drink Coke all day, and sit behind the video game system, and then wonder why, “Oh, you’re crazy, Brother Paul, for believing in a Creator! Oh, you’re insane.” No, you’re crazy, and you need to get off the video game system, and somebody needs to preach to him the gospel of Jesus Christ and so that they can be saved!

8. Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who lives in exile, is accused of acquiring $28m (£21m) worth of criminal assets, a claim he denies. Indian authorities have also accused him of spreading hate speech and inciting terrorism. Mr Naik, 53, promotes a radical form of Islam on the channel Peace TV. It is banned in India but has an estimated 200 million viewers worldwide. India's Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates financial crimes, filed the charges against Mr Naik in a court in Mumbai. 

9. According to a report ordered by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near "genocide" levels. The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution. Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found. Mr Hunt said he felt that "political correctness" had played a part in the issue not being confronted. It warned the religion "is at risk of disappearing" in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000. The review is due
to publish its final findings in the summer. 

10. Australia is a country that accepts gay couples, hates the big banks, considers second- generation migrants “Australian”, but the majority feel negatively towards Islam. New wide- ranging data released by YouGov has revealed fascinating insights into the Australian identity, its place in the world, and its many contradictions. 51% of Australians had unfavourable sentiments towards Islam, and only 10% looked upon the religion positively, making Australia more negative than 17 of the other 22 countries surveyed.
In fact, 37% of people said they were “very unfavourable”– the most negative response available. This was far higher than the milder option of “fairly unfavourable” (14%), and made it the single most common response to the religion. 23% of people were neutral.

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