Making #TwitterTheocracy about Pakistan and Blasphemy Laws

Secular organizations came together last week to support a campaign (going by “#TwitterTheocracy”) that addressed Twitter’s compliance with Pakistan’s request to censor “blasphemous” tweets and Twitter accounts. Or, that’s one way to phrase it. Another might be that secular organizations came together to address the fact that Pakistan was demanding that Twitter censor certain material and block certain users under the aegis of its blasphemy law.

See the difference? One version makes Twitter the campaign’s target. The other makes Pakistan the target. [Read more…]

Center For Inquiry Launches Campaign to “Keep Health Care Safe and Secular”

A new campaign launched by the Center For Inquiry aims to educate the public on the importance of keeping health care “safe and secular“:

I can’t stress how broad this campaign is — and it needs to be. Atheists and skeptics should be concerned with any number of health care-related issues.

[Read more…]

President Obama, at Prayer Breakfast, Defends Rights of Those with ‘No Faith At All’

Let us take it as a given that the President of the United States’ participation in the National Prayer Breakfast his highly problematic to say the least. When we make a tradition of the elected chief executive publicly kissing the ring of sectarian religion, it turns it into a quasi-official event, flying in the face of basic secularism and the Constitution. It’s a bad thing.

All that said (and said with fervency), via RNS’s Brian Pellot, we learn that at said breakfast, President Obama had a positive message that we secularists wholeheartedly embrace: the need for people of all religions and of no religion to believe and express themselves as they will, without threat of retaliation, discrimination, or criminalization.

And, importantly, it was said before a conservative religious audience. The president said:

[Read more…]

Secular Wedding Celebrants May Soon Become a Reality in New Jersey

While Chris Christie attempts to fire and flail his way out of his bridge scandal, something actually pretty encouraging is happening under the radar in New Jersey. The Garden State may soon allow secular civil celebrants to officiate marriages. The New Jersey State Senate voted 32-5 in a favor of that bill today.

In March of 2012, a bill was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula that adds to the list of those already authorized to solemnize marriages in New Jersey this amendment:

[Read more…]

Imprisonment for Blasphemy and Religious Dissent Around the World Detailed in New Report

Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a Brussels-based nonprofit, has released a rather comprehensive report on those who have been imprisoned for religious dissent around the world, and the countries who imprison them. Of particular note to this audience is the report’s acknowledgment of the nonreligious.

This year, a specific section has been created for prisoners whose freedom of expression related to religious issues was violated on the basis of laws against blasphemy, defamation of religion or the Prophet and similar issues: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Turkey.

[Read more…]


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