Atheist Republic News Summary: Grim Reaper Visits Beaches to Protest...

1. A lawyer dressed as the Grim Reaper is haunting Florida beaches to protest their reopening
Location: Florida, United States

2. Clinical Study Considers The Power Of Prayer To Combat COVID-19
Location: Kansas City, Kansas

3. Pope Francis Sends Money to Struggling Trans Sex Workers in Italy
Location: Torvaianica, Italy

4. Lucknow Covid hotspots named after mosques, Yogi govt draws flak for ‘communalising’ illness
Location: Lucknow, India

5. Iran's Rouhani Says Many Mosques To Reopen As Lockdown Eases
Location: Iran

6. NYC breaks up one secret yeshiva operating in violation of coronavirus rules
Location: New York City, New York

7. Catholic Students Protest Firing of Popular Gay Teacher
Location: Kettering, Ohio

8. Mosques Face Backlash for Broadcasting Evening Prayers During Ramadan
Location: Mississauga, Canada

9. Algerian and Tunisian Free Thinkers under threat for ‘ridiculing’ Quran
Location: Tunisia/Algeria

10. Germany passes law banning 'gay conversion therapy' for minors
Location: Germany

Daniel Uhlfelder, a Florida lawyer, is haunting Florida beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper to protest their reopening, which he believes is premature. "We aren't at the point now where we have enough testing, enough data, enough preparation for what's going to be coming to our state from all over the world from this pandemic," the lawyer told CNN. As of May 1st, There are at least 34,728 cases in the state of Florida, with 1,314 recorded deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

A four-month study, launched on May 1, will investigate "the role of remote intercessory multi-denominational prayer on clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients.” Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy is the principal investigator in a clinical trial involving 1000 patients with COVID-19 infections requiring intensive care. Half of the patients, randomly chosen, will receive a "universal" prayer offered in five denominational forms, via Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. The other 500 patients will constitute the control group.

In mid-April, a group of trans sex workers facing dangerous poverty approached the Blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Church in Torvaianica, Italy, asking for help. As the days wore on and no other agencies or organizations helped the workers, Father Andrew Conocchia reached out to the Vatican for aid, and Pope Francis donated money through a “papal almoner,” an official who oversees donations from the Church. Church officials said that many of the women had their passports stolen by the mafia, forcing the women to engage in sex work and taking their money. For the Catholic Church to help them was “normal,” according to officials.

The Uttar Pradesh administration has named eight out of 18 coronavirus hotspots in Lucknow after mosques, an exercise that has raised concern among Muslims. “The positive cases came from those areas and which is why hotspots have been named after them. There is no other motive to it,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be named. However, a resident living in one of the hotspots said “This is nothing but an attempt to create an impression that Muslims are behind the spread of Covid-19. Even today Tablighi Jamaat is shown as the major reason behind the surge in cases. The areas that have been labelled as hotspots include both Muslim and Hindu communities. When areas are not being named after temples or churches, why are they being named after mosques?”

Rouhani, in a televised meeting of the country's virus taskforce on May 3, said 132 counties, around one-third of Iran's administrative divisions, would "reopen their mosques as of tomorrow.""Social distancing is more important than collective prayer," Rouhani added, adding that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only "recommended." As of May 3rd the outbreak has killed more than 6,150 people and infected more than 96,440 in Iran since it announced its first cases in mid-February, although there is great dispute over the veracity of the reported numbers coming out of Iran.

New York City officials have halted an underground yeshiva that was operating in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, despite coronavirus social-distancing restrictions, a spokeswoman from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said. The Forward reported that there were many schools that continued to meet in Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidic community. Later, Brooklyn Haredi residents received a robocall in Yiddish denying that yeshiva administrators had sanctioned the school meetings. A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office said they are closely monitoring the situation, and that city officials believe that “a handful of teachers individually took it upon themselves” to teach the in-person program.

English teacher Jim Zimmerman had taught English at Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, for 23 years. Then someone anonymously mailed a copy of his marriage certificate to the Archdiocese showing he was married to another man, and his teaching skills were no longer wanted. The Archdiocese and school do not disagree about Zimmerman’s ability as an educator, but instead say that he violated his contract by being gay and by marrying another man. In protest, dozens of Alter High School students gathered at a park next to the school, where they displayed messages of support from their car windows, and blasted a playlist of Zimmerman’s favorite songs.

The City of Mississauga passed a motion to temporarily exempt mosques from a noise bylaw so they can broadcast the sunset prayer call over loudspeakers until Ramadan ends on May 24. Multiple cities across Canada, including Toronto, have done the same for their mosques. The intention was to foster a sense of community for Muslims who are barred from going to mosques during Ramadan due to the lockdown. An open letter calling to reverse this decision argues that broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer amounts to a “violation of human rights.” “Those who would like to celebrate religious holidays should be allowed to do so without infringing on the rights of others,” the letter said.

A series of verses mimicking the style of the Quran titled Surah Corona have lit Arab social media on fire. The verses were written by an Algerian atheist Djilou and has resulted in many death threats and calls for arrest. Amna al-Sharqi, a Tunisian girl who shared the verses of Surah Corona is under investigation and has had a warrant issued against her by the Tunisian Public Prosecution. Update: Amna stated on social media that she has been released from police custody following intervention by Professor Enas Trabelsi.

Germany's parliament has passed a law banning so-called "gay conversion therapy" for children nationwide. Under the new law, minors will not be allowed to take part in medical interventions aimed at changing or suppressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Parents and legal guardians can also be punished for making their children take part through deception, coercion or threats. Those breaking the new law can face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 ($32,535; £26,268) fine. Some critics argue the law does not go far enough, calling for the age limit to be raised to as high as 27.

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