Atheist Republic News Summary: Study Shows More Churches Closing Than Open…

New Study Shows More Churches Closing Than Opening in America
Location: USA

A new study by Lifeway Research found that 4,500 churches closed in 2019, while about 3,000 new ones opened up. The study is based on analysis of church data from 34 Protestant denominations and groups. The 34 Protestant denominations account for about 60% of U.S.-based Protestant denominations. In 2014, there were 3,700 church closures, compared with 4,500 in 2019. Scott Thumma, a professor of sociology and director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, stated that there are between 320,000 and 350,000 Protestant churches in the U.S. Hence, the closure of 4,500 churches represents a loss of 1.4%. The study, published in April, estimated that in the decade ending in 2020, 3,850 to 7,700 houses of worship closed per year in the United States or 75 to 150 congregations per week. It also predicted those numbers would double or triple in the wake of the pandemic.

Number of mosques in America growing
Location: USA

According to a new report, while the overall number of mosques in the United States continues to grow, increasing numbers of African American mosques are closing. In 2020, the US Mosque Survey numbered 2,769 mosques, a 31% increase from the 2010 count of 2,106 mosques. Congregational prayers held in mosques on Fridays (a practice known as Jumah) averaged 410 attendees before the pandemic in 2020. This was an increase over the 2010 figure of 353. Some 72% of mosques recorded a 10% or more increase in Jumah attendance during the reporting period. The 2010 survey found that 17% of America’s mosques were in urban centers. That number decreased to 6% in the 2020 survey due to the growth of new mosques in suburban and rural areas and the closure of many African American mosques in larger cities. As members of the first wave of African American Muslims are getting older, many African American mosques have struggled to remain open.

Friday Sermon In Jerusalem, "We Shall Shatter The Heads Of America & The Infidels"
Location: Jerusalem

Imam Yousef Makharzah in Jerusalem said that the Muslims would "shatter the heads of the U.S. and the infidels and conquer Rome." The remarks were made during a Friday sermon aired on Hizb ut-Tahrir's Al-Waqiyah TV (Lebanon) on May 17, 2021. Makharzah also said that Allah could revive the dead, and He will revive the people of Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and all the Muslims in the world. He continued to say that the Jews would not be a consideration for the Muslims on that day because they are "too lowly, too ignoble, too base, and too disgraceful."

Pakistan is Cracking Down on Uyghur Muslims Who Fled China
Location: Islamabad

Pakistan’s police are now deporting Uyghurs back to China due to pressure from the Chinese government. Although Pakistan has a strong identity as a Islamic nation, the promise of Chinese money seemingly overpowers the urge to stop what is happening to Uyghur Muslims. An Uyghur refugee in Pakistan named Ghafoor stated that the Pakistani government would do anything China orders them to do. As a result, Pakistan is no longer a safe haven for this Muslim minority group. The founder of the China-Pakistan Institute, Mushahid Hussain, agrees with prime minister Imran Khan and sees the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a series of substantial infrastructure projects, as a substantial economic win for Pakistan. Umer Mohammed Khan, a school teacher turned activist, runs an underground railroad allowing Uyghurs to escape China. Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, Lijian Zhao, considers Khan and other Uyghurs in Pakistan as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group responsible for several violent attacks inside China like the 2005 attack in Urumqi, in Xinjiang region.

Indian Police Raid Twitter For Flagging BJP Post As "Manipulated Media"
Location: Delhi, India

On May 24th, the central government-supervised Delhi Police Special Cell raided Twitter India's Delhi and Gurgaon offices concerning the social media outlet tagging BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's tweet on "congress toolkit" as "manipulated media." In January 2021, the Indian government sent notices to Twitter to take down several posts and footage related to the Farmers' Protest. The IT Ministry flagged these posts for allegedly "spreading misinformation" and having the potential to "lead to imminent violence affecting public order in the country." Following Twitter India's refusal to do so, the IT Ministry threatened to jail every employee in Twitter India's office, forcing them to back down and comply. Activists, politicians, and the general populace have condemned Delhi Police's actions and expressed concerns about the right to freedom of speech being vulnerable in within the country.

Pope changes Catholic law to criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests
Location: Vatican City

Pope Francis has reformed Catholic Church law to specifically criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their power. The law acknowledges that adults, not only children, can be victimized by priests who abuse their authority. The changes also say that lay people holding church positions, such as school principals or parish economists, can be punished for abusing minors and adults. The new rule, which is set to take effect on Dec 8th, also eliminates much of the discretion that long allowed bishops and religious superiors to overlook or hide abuse, making clear those in positions of authority will be held accountable if they fail to properly investigate or sanction predator priests. The Rev. Davide Cito, a lawyer at the Pontifical Holy Cross University, said the broadness of the law “allows it to protect many people” who might not fundamentally fall under the strict definition of “vulnerable” but are nonetheless deserving of protection.

Calls for Catholic Church apology after mass grave of native children found in Canada
Location: Canada

The discovery of the Tk'emlups te Secwépemc First Nation children's remains, on May 24th, has recommenced calls for the Roman Catholic Church to apologize for its part in Canada's policy of the 19th and 20th centuries. During that period, Indigenous children were removed from families to attend state-funded residential schools. Chief Rosanne Casimir said in a statement that more bodies may be found, as all areas had not been searched at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Catholic Church operated the school from 1890 to 1969, prior to the Canadian government taking over its management until the school's closure in 1978. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has pressed the pope to apologize. Executive director Cindy Blackstock of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society  noted that the Catholic Church has yet to accept full responsibility for reparations to families.

Christian fostercare service refuses to sign contract banning anti-LGBT discrimination
Location: Kentucky

In Kentucky, a Baptist-affiliated foster care provider, Sunrise Children's Services, is refusing to sign a clause in a new agreement with the state that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a refusal by Philadelphia Catholic Social Services to work with same-sex couples as foster parents. Sunrise Children's Services' officials are worried that the disputed clause would compel them to violate deeply held religious principles by sponsoring same-sex couples as foster or adoptive parents. Supporters of the clause see it as a critical defense against discrimination. Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay rights advocacy group, stated that if Sunrise doesn't want to abide by the new clause, then they shouldn't have access to state money, state contracts, or children in the state's care.

Millions Leave Southern Baptist Christian Denomination in Massive Decline
Location: USA

In 2020, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) witnessed a downfall in membership, attendance, donations, and the total number of congregations. A new report from Lifeway Research, a renowned evangelical research firm, released on April 23rd, 2021, shows membership declined by nearly 436,000 members since 2019 and 2.3 million from 2006. The executive director of Lifeway Research, Scott McConnell, said the higher death rate due to COVID-19 was one of the main factors that caused an overall decline in membership by three percent, along with fewer congregations and fewer members baptized. SBC leaders meet in Nashville this month for their first annual meeting since the pandemic. They are expected to address the declining trends and the recent debates regarding how they deal with race, women, abuse, and politics.

#ExMuslim BLOCKED by Instagram, activists demand correction

Instagram has recently completely blocked the hashtag #Exmuslim from all search results on the platform! When one tries to search for this hashtag on Instagram, only a message appears that reads “Posts for #exmuslim have been limited because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s Community Guidelines.” Several atheist activists like Seth Andrews, Zara Kay, and ExMuslims of North America reacted to this news, condemned the actions of Instagram, and demanded immediate correction and reinstatement of the hashtag. The Atheist Republic team discussed how Instagram’s action will harm the ExMuslim community, as it will prevent ExMuslims from finding a like-minded community, and how this action validates the erroneous opinion that there is something hateful or harmful about this community of apostates. The team also discussed the importance of making sure this action backfires on Instagram, and advised others to speak out on social media and contact the Oversight Board that advises censorship on Instagram and Facebook. The Oversight Board can be contacted on Twitter, @OversightBoard.

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