Atheist Republic News Summary: Sentenced to Prison for Playing Metal

1. A Muslim dad flew into a rage during protests outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. He fumed to journalists: “Don’t teach our children that gay is ok, because in Islam gay is not ok.

“But we have to tolerate it, we have no issues against the person who practices sodomy. Let him do it at home.” The dad’s outburst comes after parents took home 600 kids from school in March following headteacher Andrew Moffatt’s No Outsiders project – an LGBT awareness programme.

The school has refused to axe the programme which has caused outrage in the predominantly Muslim community.

2. A principal's superstition claimed the life of a class 4 student, who was stung by a scorpion in a primary school in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi.

Instead of rushing the student to the nearest hospital, the principal, who was later sacked, first suggested turning to an exorcist to save the unlucky boy. The condition of Arun, a student of Class IV,  in village Veera under Mauranipur area of Jhansi turned grave soon after. He was then rushed to the community health centre in the village.

As the child was found to be critical, he was referred to the Jhansi Medical College where he lost his life during treatment.

3. Avinshu Patel – Avi – wrote two Facebook posts, one in English and one in Hindi. Both were suicide notes, that explained how he was bullied for the way he walks and talks, for the way he presents himself. “I’m gay,” he said in one of the posts. “Everyone knows I’m a boy, but the way I walk, think, feel,’s like a girl. People living in India don’t like this,” he wrote in another.

The next morning, the 20-year-old’s body was found on the Neelankarai beach by the police. Avi’s body has been taken back to his home in Mumbai by his parents. His death has once again brought to the fore issues of bullying and discrimination that queer people face on an everyday basis.

4. Later this month in Canada, one organization will be hosting two-day-long conferences to teach chiropractors how to mess with the spines of babies.

They’ll be practicing on baby dolls. Literally “Any type of baby doll, other than a Barbie (too small) or Cabbage Patch Kid (no neck), is acceptable.” Making matters worse, the group organizing these events is the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, which also spreads the lie that vaccines cause autism.

5. In 2015, two members of Iranian metal band Confess — Nikan “Siyanor” Khosravi and Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani — were arrested by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution for blasphemy and other charges for expressing anti-religious and anti-regime sentiments via their music. While Khosravi and Ilkhani since sought asylum in Norway, they were recently sentenced to a combined 14 years in prison and 74 lashes for playing heavy metal in their home country. The full list of charges include “insulting the sanctity of Islam”, “disturbing public opinion through the production of music containing anti-regime lyrics and insulting content and for participating in interviews with the opposition media” and “insulting the Supreme Leader and the president.”

According to Khosravi, they escaped execution through a loophole in Iran’s practice of Sharia Law. “If you insult the Prophet you will get executed, because he’s dead and he can’t defend himself. But if you blaspheme God and question his existence, he can forgive you. That was why we didn’t get executed,” Khosravi told Loudwire. They now reside in Norway, where they were granted asylum and are able to continue making music.

6. Tristan Morgan was recorded on CCTV splashing fuel through a window before taking the full blast of the explosion in his face.

He then calmly walked away from the scene of the anti-semitic attack, patting his singed head, and driving off in a van.

The footage was played at the Old Bailey in London where Morgan was given an indefinite hospital order. The incident took place more than a year ago, but the footage was made public during his recent trial. He pleaded guilty to arson and charges relating to terrorism.

7. Millennials increasingly identify as “nones” when asked about their religious affiliation, according to a 2017 Pew survey: They are atheist or agnostic, or say they are “spiritual but not religious.” But yes-or-no survey questions don’t tell the whole story, says Diane Winston, the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. Just about every society throughout human history has developed traditions and practices. That's not a coincidence, she said: “People are inherently religious or spiritual.”

One of the big draws for younger people about spiritual practices is the ability to “pick and choose,” said Jim Burklo, a progressive Christian reverend who works with college students as the senior associate dean of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at USC. Spiritual practices appeal to the commitment-wary: You can get a little into crystals or astrology or tarot, or a lot into it.

8. A group of 24 men who claimed to be transporting cattle to an animal fair in Maharashtra were thrashed and forced to chant "gau mata ki jai" by a gang of cow vigilantes yesterday in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. In a disturbing video of the incident, filmed with a mobile phone, 15 of those men can be seen tied together with rope and forced to kneel by the side of the road, in full view of the public, while being made to chant "gau mata ki jai". "Gau mata ki jai" roughly translates to "victory to mother cow". The men were waylaid by a band of vigilantes, who numbered 100 according to a report by news agency PTI, from Savalikeda village. The vigilantes alleged the men were transporting 20-odd cattle for slaughter. They were overpowered, tied up and paraded through the streets on their way to Khalwa police station, which is approximately three kilometres from the village. No action has yet been taken against the vigilantes; police say they are probing allegations of cruelty.

9. White Evangelical Protestants are the least likely to say the U.S. has a responsibility to help refugees.

What percentage of the following religious groupings believe the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees?
Via Pew Research Religion
Religiously unaffiliated 65%
Black Protestant 63%
Catholic 50%
White mainline Protestant 43%
White evangelicals 25%

By more than two-to-one (68% to 25%), white evangelical Protestants say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees. Other religious groups are more likely to say the U.S. does have this responsibility.

10. Three Iranian boats tried to intercept a British oil tanker in the Gulf before being driven off by a Royal Navy warship, the UK said, in a major escalation of tensions in the vital shipping channel off Iran.

The incident took place in the strait of Hormuz through which the commercial vessel British Heritage was attempting to pass on Wednesday.

It is the latest in a series of recent incidents in the area which have sent tensions between Iran and the US soaring. It also comes after the UK seizure last week of an Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar, for which Tehran has threatened retaliation.

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