Atheist Republic News Summary: Kenyan Woman Marries the Holy Spirit

Kenyan Woman Leaves Husband, "Marries" the Holy Spirit
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Elizabeth Nalem, a 41-year-old Christian Kenyan woman, has supposedly left her spouse after living together for twenty years and claims to have married the Holy Spirit in an act that has shocked Kenyans. The mother of six “wedded” the spirit in a ceremony on May 25th while local officials of the Anglican Church of Kenya in the small town of Makutano were present. The wedding was conducted by Albert Rumaita, the lay secretary of the synod of the Kitale Diocese. Rev. Samson Tuliapus, an assistant bishop in Kapenguria, said the Anglican Church does not accept the wedding. Senior members of the local chapter of the Anglican women’s group, Mothers of Union, were the bridesmaids. Joshua Nalem, a local man, said that Elizabeth Nalem was already his wife according to traditional marriage customs, claiming he paid 22 heads of cattle for her hand in marriage.

Muslim YouTubers Accused of 'Deliberate Incitement' for Confronting Jews
Location: United Kingdom

On May 22nd, two Muslim YouTubers, Mohammed Hijab and Ali Dawah, were accused of causing direct and deliberate act of incitement after questioning Jewish people in Golders Green area of the United Kingdom about Israel and Palestine. Mohammed Hijab and Ali Dawah, who together have a million subscribers on YouTube, shared videos of themselves asking Jewish people to denounce Israel’s operations. In Dawah’s video, he is seen following Jewish people, including children, and asking them if they condemn what Israel does. A member of the Community Security Trust said that they see this confrontation as a deliberate act of incitement that would inevitably alarm the community and stir up tensions.

Texas Firm Petitions Court For Religious Exemption to Fire LGBT People
Location: Texas
Braidwood Management Inc., a management service firm in Texas, is urging a federal court to grant its religious freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The owner of the Christian businesses, Steve Hotze, says he does not employ people who are known to take part in “sexually immoral behavior” or gender non-conforming conduct of any sort. He’s attempting to overturn the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) interpretation of Title VII, which was accepted in 2020 by the Supreme Court in the landmark decision Bostock v. Clayton Co. He claims that it’s possible to discriminate against LGBTQ people without bringing sex into account, and therefore he could do it without breaching Title VII. He listed rules he could use that would be “neutral” when it comes to sex, allowing him to avoid hiring LGBTQ people.

Indian Court Bans Conversion Therapy, Directs Reforms in LGBT Education
Location: Chennai, India

On June 7th, the Madras High Court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu banned any medical attempts to "cure" or change the sexual orientation of a person in a significant upholding of LGBTQIA+ rights in the state. The court has also announced directives to sensitize society and various branches of the state to remove prejudices against them. In addition, the court directed several reforms in educational institutions. Earlier this year, two young women, who fled their homes in Madurai and recently reached Chennai after their families opposed the relationship between them, were brought to court. In March 2021, the Madurai police allegedly harassed an LGBTQ+ activist and trans man for sheltering the lesbian couple. The court ordered counseling to the couple's parents after they sought protection following threats from their parents. Having undergone the "psycho-education" session, Justice Venkatesh said that he strongly feels that the change must occur at a societal level.

Christian Billionaires Fund Push to Kill the Pro-LGBT “Equality Act”
Location: USA

In February 2021, "The Equality Act" bill passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority, and Biden has promised to sign the final bill. If passed through the US Senate, it would ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit, and jury service. However, the bill is falling victim to a scheme that has been described as a "sophisticated dark money" operation. A review of tax filings by allied nonprofits and some accidental public disclosures reveal that the National Christian Foundation (NCF), the sixth-largest charity in America, lies at the center of the operation. The NCF has taken in millions from wealthy people and their organizations on the Christian right and has used its wide influential web to lead an attack to block the Equality Act.

Death Sentence For Blasphemy Against 2 Pakistani Christians Overturned!
Location: Lahore, Pakistan

The Lahore High Court ruled against a Pakistani Christian couple's blasphemy conviction against Islam back in 2014. Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel are finally expected to be freed after fighting a 7-year-long battle against their death sentence when they shouldn't have been convicted at all. Pakistan is known to have wildly overbroad and coercive "Blasphemy" laws. Death sentences are common, and vigilante mob lynching without trial is a more likely scenario. Emmanuel and Kauser were convicted of allegedly sending blasphemous text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad, in 2014, to a local imam from a phone number registered in the former's name. However, the couple are of a low socioeconomic status, and neither of them is literate enough to send the messages in question. Saif-ul-Malook, the couples’ lawyer who also fought for mercy for the famous alleged blasphemy case of Aisha Bibi, said that he is very happy that they were able to get the release of this couple who are one of the most helpless people in Pakistani society.

Anti-Muslim attack in Canada kills 4 family members
Location: Canada

On June 8th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to double down on efforts to confront far-right groups two days after a hate-motivated attack that killed four Muslim family members in the city of London, Ontario. Canadian police said the family was killed on June 6th when a pickup truck jumped the curb and ran them over. The victims were of three generations of a family and ranged in age from 15 to 74. PM Trudeau said that Canada would continue fighting hate and taking more action to dismantle far-right hate groups, like the Proud Boys, by adding them to Canada's terrorist organization list. Police detained a man named Nathaniel Veltman, 20, in a parking lot about three-tenths of a mile from the mosque. Nathaniel was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities are examining potential terrorism charges.

Saudi Arabia restricts volume of mosque loudspeakers
Location: Saudi Arabia

As a part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s extensive “modernization” initiative, Saudi Arabia restricted the use of loudspeakers with the Islamic affairs ministry, saying the speakers can not be louder than one-third of their maximum capacity. Local media reported that mosques could use loudspeakers only for the Azan (muslim call to prayer) and the Iqamat (second call for communal prayer). The Islamic affairs minister defended the decision by saying it had received several complaints about excessive noise. If mosques fail to implement the order, it might lead to the imposition of a penalty. The decision to impose restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in mosques has triggered outrage in the conservative Wahhabi Sunni-dominated Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

US embassy in Vatican flies the Pride flag!
Location: Vatican

In honor of the LGBT+ community, during the month of June, the United States embassy in the Vatican has decided to fly the Pride flag. The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated at the beginning of 2021 that US embassies and consulates would fly the Pride flag on the same flagpole as the American flag during “Pride season.” This authorization under the Biden administration, which was not a mandate, was announced before May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHAT). However, officials have asked for US embassies located in specific places to not fly the flag to avoid potential reaction. The Trump administration reportedly prohibited the Pride flag from being flown on flagpoles outside of federal buildings, but allowed the flag to be hung inside. The declaration has caused some resistance among Americans, specifically Catholics, who inquired if the flag was flying outside embassies in places where homophobia was punishable by death. 

Atheist Republic speech about blasphemy ZOOM-BOMBED!!

This week the team discussed a recent disruptive incident that occurred during Atheist Republic’s CEO Susanna McIntyre’s recent speech at the Center For Inquiry Canada. The event was held virtually that first featured a speech about how blasphemy is a legitimate form and then continued with a Q&A portion. During the Q&A portion, the screenshare of the virtual meeting was hacked and flooded with explicit imagery, a interruptive tactic known as “Zoom-bombing.” The team talked about how this disruption actually proves the importance of engaging in this form of free expression.
You can see the full speech that Susanna gave at CFI Canada here:

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