About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.

@markdturner

Humanist Weddings on the Rise in Scotland

Good news from Scotland today: new figures show that Humanist wedding ceremonies are on the rise in Scotland. Not only that but religious wedding ceremonies are in decline. The figures have been published as part of a broader policy of support for gay marriage ahead of the Humanist Society Scotland’s annual general meeting which takes place in Glasgow on Sunday. Scotland has a proud heritage of unbelief and rightly champions David Hume as one of the fathers of modern skeptical philosophy.

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Secular Party Candidate Killed In Pakistan

The people of Pakistan are just weeks away from achieving a historical election — whatever the result. The Pakistani Taliban do not like this, not one bit. If a government is successfully elected in the general election on the 11th of May, it will be first time Pakistan has ever successfully peacefully transitioned between two elected governments. To give you a sense of how momentus this could be, the forthcoming election will be the 11th general election for Pakistan since 1962.

One man who sadly won’t get to see this happen is Fakhrul Islam. A 46-year-old grocer from the southern city of Hyderabad, Kakrul was a candidate for the secular (in this case, meaning “not representing Islam”) Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), part of the outgoing coalition government which has previously been threatened by Pakistan’s Taliban. He is the first candidate to be killed in current election campaign.

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Turkish Muslim Group Finds Latest Foe in Jabba the Hutt Lego Set

This time they’ve gone too far.

A much-loved and large part of my childhood is under attack from crazy theocrats. “They” are Austria’s Turkish Cultural Association. (I know, I know, the very name strikes terror into the hearts of decent folk across the land.)

And the fond childhood memories of which I speak? Lego. I love Lego. I always have and always will. Despite being the grand old age of 27, I still own a few sets and always enjoy seeing younger members of my family play with them, as it provides a welcome opportunity to build something new. I have a certificate I once got for entering a Lego building competition — not winning anything mind you; merely entering. Yet it still hangs proudly on my wall. Okay, so we get it — I love Lego and my bias has been declared.

How has the world of this beloved toymaker collided with Turkish cultural sensibilities?

Because it’s racist, that’s why.

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Archbishop of Canterbury, Forgetting About Jesus, Warns Against Putting Trust in Any One Person

Sometimes you just can’t help but bury your head in your hands when a religious leader says something so basic, yet so beautifully ironic. 

Easter weekend provided just such a platform for the newly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — leader of the Church of England and symbolic head of Anglicans worldwide. He’s only officially been in the job two weeks but he has wasted no time in getting down to business.

He chose this opportunity to warn against “hero leader culture” and “putting our trust in one person as this can lead to false hope.”

(Erm, Jesus anyone…?)

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New Report Recommends Changes to Muslim Religious Schools in Bradford (England)

Last week, a report about the treatment of children in madrassas located in Bradford (a town in England) was released. Entitled Children Do Matter and being issued after a twelve-month period of research and consultation, the report was jointly produced by groups including the Bradford Council for Mosques, Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and West Yorkshire Police.

Bradford and the West Yorkshire area in general has one of the highest Muslim populations in the UK. The 2001 census showed that 16.08% of the population identified as Muslim. To meet this demand, there are a large number of madrassas, some of which operate less reputably than others.

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