Naughty Schoolchildren Told to Lie Face Down on the Floor While Teacher Phones God

When Sheila Jones called the Almighty on her mobile phone, she only pretended to speak to him (she probably knew from experience that God never actually picks up).

The headmistress of a Roman Catholic Primary School in Devizes has been accused of making children lie face down on the floor while she pretends to ring God on her mobile phone to say they have been naughty. Parents say they were outraged that head Sheila Jones humiliated their children, and have written to Ofsted [the government’s Office of Standards in Education] and the school governors.



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A Letter to the Muslim Action Forum Regarding Blasphemy in the U.K.

This is a guest post by Caleb Powell. Caleb blogs for the Karachi based Express Tribune. He co-authored the book/film I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, published by Knopf and premiering this spring at Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival. He also writes at Arguments Worth Having.

The fallout from the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris has led to a debate between free speech and censorship. In the United Kingdom, the Muslim Action Forum, funding “Be careful with Mohammad” billboards (seen above), recently issued a press release asking that an upcoming May, 2015 vote include a measure to make certain types of speech a “culpable offense.”

So I wrote them this letter:

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Comedian Patton Oswalt: I See Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins Like Christians See Fred Phelps

Comedian Patton Oswalt and Salon haven’t had a great relationship over the years, with the website writing several articles critical of his statements, and Oswalt rebutting them for not getting what he was saying, and so on.

Earlier this year, Salon editor-in-chief David Daley sat down with Oswalt to hash out their disagreements, and an edited transcript of that conversation is finally online.

I bring this up here because Oswalt was asked about whether Bill Maher ever gets “a little too aggressive” in his comments about religion, to which he replied:

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China, Keen on More Power in Tibet, Tells the Dalai Lama He Has To Reincarnate, and How

The power of Communist apparatchiks should extend to matters of the afterlife.

At least they think so.

Chinese Communist Party leaders are afraid that the Dalai Lama will not have an afterlife. Worried enough that this week, officials repeatedly warned that he must reincarnate, and on their terms.

The 14th Dalai Lama is pushing 80, and the government in Beijing would like to tighten its hold on Tibet when he dies.

Officials have amplified their argument that the Communist government is the proper guardian of the Dalai Lama’s succession through an intricate process of reincarnation that has involved lamas, or senior monks, visiting a sacred lake and divining dreams.



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“Moderate” Muslim Asim Qureshi Dodges Every Tough Question in British TV Interview: “I Am Not a Theologian”

It’s rare to see a BBC interviewer apply pressure to a seemingly middle-of-the-road Muslim guest. Sure: firebrands like Anjem Choudary are routinely peppered with critical questions, but Muslims who present themselves as moderates are treated much more deferentially and quickly held up as exemplars of peace (sometimes in violation of the BBC’s own guidelines).

Interlocutor Andrew Neil, in the exchange below with Asim Qureshi, breaks that mold.

Qureshi (pictured below) is the research director for CAGE, a purported human-rights organization for U.K. Muslims. He talks most reasonably of young Muslims’ “disenfranchisement” and the “cycles of violence” they get caught up in, to the point where you think you that this is a man with whom you could possibly break bread.

But doubts linger, and when you scratch the surface, those doubts are not unjustified.

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