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.

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Oops, Sorry About Your Son’s Genitals: Ritual Circumciser Slices Off Baby’s Penis

When a Jewish circumcision makes the news or stirs discussion, it’s usually a metzitzah b’peh, wherein

mohels, after cutting away the child’s foreskin and tearing the membrane with their fingernailsplace their mouths on the boy’s penis to suck away the blood.

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Research Suggests the Brain Benefits Socially and Cognitively from Prayer

According to new research, the act of prayer can strengthen one’s will and refuel an exhausted brain. This comes to us from a post at Scientific American by Piercarlo Valdesolo, where we learn that Prof. Malt Friese and Michaela Wanke put participants through some emotionally and cognitively draining tasks — suppressing emotion and laughter while watching a funny video followed by identifying the colors of words that spell different colors as they flash by rapidly. Then the participants were told to pray for 5 minutes, and what happened?

Participants who were asked to pray about a topic of their choosing for five minutes showed significantly better performance on the [color identifying task] after emotion suppression, compared to participants who were simply asked to think about a topic of their choosing. And this effect held regardless of whether participants identified as religious (70 percent) or not.

[Read more...]

Pope Francis Encourages Bishop to Condemn Same-Sex Parenting

He may have gathered enough liberal credibility to snag Time’s Person of the Year award, and even a citation from an LGBT magazine, but apparently Pope Francis draws a line in the sand when it comes to supporting some gay couples’ desire to adopt and raise children.

The pontiff reported himself “shocked” that the Civil Unions bill in Malta, which allows for two men or two women to marry, also allows for these couples to adopt children. At the encouragement of a pope widely touted as pro-gay enough to change the direction of the Catholic Church, Bishop Charles Scicluna delivered a heated sermon on the subject that stirred up some controversy within the Maltese congregation and around the world. [Read more...]

Israeli Town, Led By Rabbi, Starts Hate Campaign Against Holocaust Survivor Who Rents Rooms to Arab Students

Residents of Safed, a city of 35,000 in Israel’s Upper Galilee, are unhappy with the presence of Israeli Arabs in their midst. So unhappy, in fact, that they’ve started a campaign, led by Shmuel Eliyahu, the town’s head rabbi, to make it a crime to rent rooms to their Arab fellow countrymen.

That makes Eli Tzavieli a potential lawbreaker. [Read more...]


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