- The Official Wizard of New Zealand Axed From Payroll
Location: New Zealand
Ian Brackenbury Channell, the only known wizard-in-residence, will be officially terminated from Christchurch's payroll in December 2021. Channel, known as the Wizard of New Zealand, carries the title not just as a fancy label, but in all his legal documents. Even in his passport, Channel is labeled as The Wizard. The Wizard is known for his activism and anti-government rants. The state has employed him since 1998. In an interview, Lynn McClelland, the Council Assistant Chief Executive, stated that the council had met with the Wizard and sent him a letter thanking him for his services to Christchurch over the past decades. McClelland explained that the city council is gearing towards new and different promotional programs to reflect diverse communities and showcase a modern city. This decision received mixed feedback on social media.
- Man Mutilated and Murdered for "Sacrilege" Against Sikh Holy Book
On October 15th, Lakhbir Singh, a Dalit Sikh, was found hanging on a police barricade with his left hand and foot cut off. The police immediately brought him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. According to a local news outlet, the incident happened during the ongoing farmers' protests in India. Several Nihang Sikhs, a martial sect with Sikhism, claimed that the victim committed sacrilege. The exact action taken by the victim is still unknown; some witnesses claim that he had torn a page from the Sarbloh Granth, a Sikh religious book, some said he threw the book in a trash can, others claimed he attempted to run away with it, or even burn it. The 35-year old victim is a father of 3 and farm laborer from a village in the Punjab province. His family stated Lakhbir was a devotee of Guru Gobind Singh, and he could never do something so sinful. Several arrests have been made regarding this crime.
- "Disrespected" Quran Leads to Deadly Violence in Bangladesh
On October 13th, the Bangladesh government deployed paramilitary troops for the Durga Puja festival, a significant Hindu festival, due to violent attacks on Hindu minority neighborhoods across the country. At least seven people were confirmed dead and over 100 injured during the violence in the city of Cumilla. The violence started when a picture circulated online showing the Quran was allegedly placed beneath the feet of a Hindu god, Ganesh Murti, inside a Durga Puja temple. The picture went viral, and in response to the alleged “disrespect” of the holy book, violence broke out in Cumilla and spread to other cities like Begumganj, and the nation’s capital, Dhaka. Al Jazeera reports that “government and security agencies have described the recent incident as planned, with the aim of destabilizing the country.” Aside from the human casualties, buildings, temples, and houses were damaged or burned. At least 70 temples were burned during the violence, according to the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council.
- New Federal Lawsuit Over Anti-LGBT Discrimination in Fostercare Program
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
On October 13th, Kelly Easter accused the U.S. federal government of financing organizations that discriminate against LGBT individuals from becoming foster parents. Ms. Easter was declined twice from becoming a foster parent for a migrant child by a foster care program that receives federal funding. Easter had previously applied at the only local organization participating in the national program for migrant children, Bethany Christian Services (BCS). BCS first denied her application because she is a lesbian. Later they changed their policy to allow LGBT parents, and Easter applied again. But this time, Easter was told that she would have to drive to a different town’s BCS chapter to apply because her local chapter’s office was under contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which refuses to certify LGBT people as foster parents. The Conference of Catholic Bishops receives federal funding to provide foster care services. Easter is suing the Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming violations of her First and Fifth Amendment rights.
- Germany's Largest Mosque Allowed To Broadcast the Call to Prayer
The Cologne Central Mosque, Germany's largest mosque, along with 34 other mosques, have been permitted by Cologne to broadcast the call to prayer, known as the “adhan,” every Friday afternoon, from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM. This decision is a part of an agreement with the city to ease restrictions on the Muslim community. The mosques will be required to inform their neighbors before they begin broadcasting the adhan, and have limits to the volume of their speakers. The agreement received mixed reactions. Henriette Reker, Cologne's mayor, posted that the mosque's call to prayer will join the Cologne Cathedral's bells. "Permitting the [Muslim] call is for me a sign of respect," Reker said, adding "It shows that diversity is appreciated and lived in Cologne.” Cologne became the first major city in Germany to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer.
- Christian Couple Sues Over Trans Child Wearing Dress at School
A Christian couple from the Isle of Wight in the British Isles plans to sue the government over the transgender guidelines implemented by the school previously attended by their children. In 2016, the couple stopped sending their older son to the Church of England’s school because one of his classmates came out as a trans girl. The couple said that they’d decided because their son was confused “to the point of being unwell and stressed.”In 2017, they pulled out their second child from the Church of England primary school when after their then six-year-old boy came home from school, “confused as to why a boy was now a girl.” Nigel and Sally Rowe believe that the guidance promoted by the Department of Education should be replaced by directions that protect children from “partisan materials that lead them down a road of irreversible harm.” The couple told The Times that they believe that children should be discouraged from transgenderism.
- Ghanian Anti-LGBT Bill Gains Strong Support from Christians
On August 2nd, the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill of 2021 was passed in the Ghanian parliament. The bill being debated in the Ghanian parliament will impose five-year imprisonment for being LGBTQ+. Additionally, supporting the LGBTQ+ cause will warrant a ten-year sentence.Victor Madrigal-Borloz, U.N.’s expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, said the bill violates the international human rights treaty. Most of those who support the anti-LGBTQ+ bill are members of the major Christian churches in Africa. Graeme Reid, the director of the LGBT Rights program of the Human Rights Watch, claims that the biggest supporters of Ghana’s new bill are doing it for their religious ideology, adding that the bill is “a case study in extreme cruelty.”
- Quran App Removed from Apple’s Chinese App Store
Quran Majeed, one of the most popular Quran apps around the globe, was recently removed by Apple from their App Store in China. Other religion-related apps were also removed. Apple Censorship, a militant-activist website that aims to hold Apple accountable for its App Store transparency, announced that Apple had removed at least nine religion-related apps in the Chinese version of the App Store. The list included apps for Jehovah’s Witnesses, NWT Bibles, and other bible apps. Responding to BBC, Pakistan Data Management Services, the makers of Quran Majeed, said that Apple removed their app from the Chinese market “because it includes content that requires additional documentation from Chinese authorities.” The Chinese embassy in the United States declined to comment on the recent app removals.
- Spanish Archbishop Apologizes for Sexy Music Video Filmed in Cathedral
The Archbishop of Toledo in Spain recently released an apology regarding the “improper use of a sacred place” in a sexy music video that was shot in the 13th-century Toledo Cathedral. The “racy” music video for the song “Ateo” (translation, “Atheist”) features artists C. Tangana and Nathy Peluso dancing sensually and passionately. Argentinian artist Nathy Peluso is seen dancing seductively as Tangana pulls her hair, while a priest and clergyman are seen peeking at her sheepishly from behind a cathedral pillar. Through the archdiocese’s statement, Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves asked for forgiveness and promised to ensure that nothing similar would happen again. However, the cathedral’s dean insisted that the video expresses “the story of a conversion through human love,” not merely sexually inspired content.
- Indian Cyber Police Make Request Against Blasphemous Tweet
Recently, Atheist Republic received an email notification from Twitter detailing that the Cyber Police Station in Pune City, India made a request to Twitter to remove a tweet that violated India’s Information Technology Act. Our leadership was surprised to receive this notice, given that it has been over a year since the controversy surrounding Atheist Republic’s blasphemy against Hindu deities began. The email provided a link to the offending tweet, and it was simply a tweet that promoted Atheist Republic’s tee-shirts and merchandise. However, if you look closely, you can see that some of the tee-shirts featured the “Sexy Kali” image that initially started the Hindu blasphemy controversy! It seems like the Indian government still has it out for Atheist Republic.