Atheist Group Files Suit To Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From CurrencyOne week ago
The group of 41 plaintiffs is led by Sacramento attorney Michael Newdow, who has previously sued the governmental forces to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, but was unsuccessful.
Because the plaintiffs regularly handle fund as a part of daily life, the suit argues, the phrase “In God We Trust” imposes upon them each time they do so.
One plaintiff “handles U.S. currency almost daily. As a Humanist, she does not believe nor trust in any g-d, ” the complaint reads, substituting “God” for “g-d.”
It continues, “Rather, her beliefs require that she trust in her own abilities and a general responsibility to lead an ethical life. In handling the money, therefore, she is repeatedly unwillingly confronted with the words ‘In G-d We Trust.’ Thus, she is forced against her will to accept and re-distribute to others a message that runs wholly against her belief. Yet it is neither realistic nor reasonable for her to abandon the nation’s currency and use other forms of pay for all of her transactions.”
Unsurprisingly, the campaign has encountered resistance from religious commentators. Aclj.org, which is associated with the nonprofit religious organisation Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc ., framed the suit as an “attempt to eviscerate our National Motto – and with it our religion heritage.”
Newdow didn’t immediately respond to a request for remark from The Huffington Post. However, in a 2015 blog on Patheos, a website focused on religion, spirituality and religion, he argued that the phrase “In God We Trust” not only infringes the First Amendment of the Constitution( “Congress shall attain no statute respecting an established in religion” ), but also infringes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which proscribes the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it furthers a “compelling governmental interest.”
“There is obviously no compelling government interest in having ‘In God We Trust’ on our fund, ” Newdow wrote. “We did penalty for the 75 years before the phrase was ever used at all, and continues to do penalty for the subsequent 102 years before such inscriptions were constructed mandatory on every coin and currency bill. Similarly, the vast majority of nations manage to function without religion verbiage on their money.”
Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com
The beauty of art can counter Islamophobia- but it won’t be easy1 month, 1 day ago
A Qatari-funded Arab and Islamic art museum is opening in New York to challenge delusions but has the US already made up its mind?
What kind of Islamic art has the power to open American hearts and intellects, at a time when Donald Trump has relaunched his attempt to ban entry from several Muslim-majority nations?
In May, a new Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, set up by Qatars Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani, will open in downtown Manhattan. The timing is not accidental. Al-Thani is trying to humanise Islam and broaden perceptions of it in the US. He hopes the institute will not only showcase the breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic worlds, but also challenge certain stereotypes and misconceptions that hinder cross-cultural appreciation, he told the Art Newspaper.
Some hope, you may say. The depth of prejudice flaunted by Trump( and apparently shared by many of his voters) is so aggressive in its refusal to engage with a complex world that it seems unlikely to be healed by a little bit of Islamic art in New York. Surely thats the wrong location, anyway the hearts and intellects that need opening are barely those of Manhattanites who voted Hillary.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Celebrating Eid: ‘As a conflicted Muslim, this day doesn’t gone easily’1 month, 27 days ago
At the end of a Ramadan marred by violence, Fahima Haque reflects on how her relationship with Islam has changed from active rejection to thoughtful resilience
Growing up, whenever a classmate would wail fucking Hindu at me, I was devastated. It felt like no one could see me, that all they could see was yet another brown person. I was lumped into some incorrect category driven by ignorance. Then, September 11 happened and I realise how different it was to be the subject of active hate.
As far as insults went, Hindu was inaccurate and ignorant. But being asked if their own families were terrorists or being told to go back to where I came from cut right through me.
And so as Ramadan ends and Muslims across the world joyously celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with feasting and presents, I am grappling with the faith I was raised with.
My parents are devout, and it became clear to me as a child that straying from Islam was not an option. There was no exploratory period of what Allah meant, what other religions meant, or what not believing in a higher power could mean. It was suffocating and with every surah I memorized, I felt more stifled. Did I really want to be Muslim? Would I be more enamored with another religion? I wanted a chance to find out for myself, but doing so was out of the question.
As I get older, I had more and more reservations about Islam. Things like not being able to wear shorts when my brother could, to knowing women in a Muslim nation like Saudi Arabia still cant go anywhere without a chaperone were very hard to reconcile with my budding sense of my ego as a feminist.
So, as a adolescent, I adopted the age-old liberal trick of disavowing religion; because religion is for the ignorant and narrow-minded. I knew enough to know that the sky is blue because of scattering light and tiny molecules , not merely because Allah said so. In college, I avoided telling people I was raised Muslim. I didnt observe Ramadan, and the prayer carpeting my mother so lovingly packed for me gathered dust in the back of my closet as I eventually wore what I wanted freely for the first time.
While I can now honestly tell I never genuinely stopped believing in God, I definitely tried. I publicly called myself an atheist and smirked at those who needed religion, but secretly I never abandoned simple rites like telling a short prayer before eating or absentmindedly asking a higher power for guidance when lost.
But that all changed because of Isis. Islam requires real allies in in the face of such barbaric acts like those we have seen in Orlando or my familys home country or Turkey or Iraq or Saudi Arabia. So, within the last five years I started to double down on Islam. I am the one now initiating discussions on Islam and its role in politics, race and feminism in my social circles . I am no longer ashamed to say Yes, I am Muslim but No, I probably will never wear a niqab and yes, I too have a lot of questions myself. By having such frank discussions, I had to admit to myself that being a Muslim was ingrained for me and I could never abandon it but I did have to find a way to practice.
Like any other religion, there is a spectrum of notion for Muslims. I never had progressive Muslim role model growing up, but thats changing. People are speaking up, use their experiences to rally on behalf of the members of inclusion, that really helped me see how identifying as a Muslim was not mutually exclusive with me being an American, a liberal or feminist. People like Hasan Minhaj poignantly talking about being different in his one-man prove, London mayor Sadiq Khans delightfully frank essay on fasting, faggot Muslim photographer Samra Habib sharing the stories of other LGBT Muslims, Muslim American teens in New York City coping with identity and books like Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women are freshening and inspiring. The Muslim experience is no longer a monolith.
When youve spend the majority of members of their own lives as a confused Muslim, days like Eid dont arrived easily. I dont have many Muslim friends, despite grown up in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in Queens, and their own families never truly expend it as a cohesive division principally because get the day off from run or school wasnt a guarantee.
So for me celebrating Eid has become a sort of political act. My attitude towards celebrating has changed now that my six nieces and nephews are older. Their version of Islam can be full of merriment and adoption. In fact, this Eid I will be at my brothers home with his white, American wife and their newborn son, and I cant think of a more all-inclusive route to celebrate.
With every scaring terrorist attack that is being wrongfully blamed on Islam, Muslims across the world understand Aziz Ansaris fearing for his familys safety or comedian Dean Obeidallahs feeling of immediate, internal commotion that happens whenever theres a terrorist attack. And I cant do much to stop any of that.
But what I can do, is celebrate Eid with gallantry and indicate by example what it means to be Muslim as varied and complicated as it is to be human.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Here’s What Happens When Your Parents Choose Their Faith Over You2 months, 23 days ago
What people dont understand about leaving a strict religious group is that you have to leave behind.
Your identity is made up of those people around you, those things that you believed for so long because you were a kid and you did what made your mothers happy. Imagine looking back at the first half of your life as if you lived it on an alien planet. When you leave there is a scorched earth in your rearview mirror and you have absolutely no notion where to drive.
You leave your family and friends — your entire social network and support system is gone. You have to make this intensely scary decision of becoming a person who has after growing up in a tight-knit community. Its lonely and disorienting and you maintain wondering if you should have just tried harder to believe so you could have stayed.
I grew up in an extreme, very fundamentalist group that considered itself a sect of Christianity. It can most accurately be described as a cult, though technically its a non-denominational training institution, homeschooling program and series of seminars. I have to put quotes around everything because theres a huge difference between what they call stuff and what it actually is.
People think when they hear Christianity that they understand what Im talking about, but they dont. This was an extreme sect. I was homeschooled, kept away from secular culture, and received information that people outside the community were fallen and sinful influences that would distract me from my walk with God. I was basically altogether ostracized from anyone who didnt believe what their own families believed. Imagine walking out into the world after that?
My father and the other elders in our community would use our religion to justify anything they wanted to do. By utilizing the bible, they had complete power over me and if I complained I wasnt questioning, I was questioning our religion. I was questioning. So plainly, this wasnt permitted. Even though I was one of the most questioning( aka rebellious) people I knew, I internalized what I was taught and I spent a long time believing I was a faulty human being because I couldnt accept on faith what everybody I loved could.
One of the grossest aspects of it all was the emphasis placed on cheerfulness. In order to be a good member, you had to be happy all the time — even when you were doing something like scrubbing lavatories. Cheerfulness was the only acceptable outcome of any situation.
My dad controlled me by telling me what it was dangerous in order to be allowed to do — which was basically anything that would have given me confidence or allowed me to have any kind of relationship with an outsider. He wanted me to be completely cut off and dependent on him. He and my mommy also taught me that my body was inherently sinful. Modesty was drilled home from an inappropriately young age. It was my responsibility to keep men from seeing my body in a way that may trigger sexual thoughts. I didnt even know what immoral guess were when I started having to be concerned about this!
I suppose my mothers religion is suspicious as hell, but I get why people dont leave. I expend a lot of time wishing I wasnt the kind of person who to leave.
I knew when I left we wouldnt have any kind of relationship. They would never accept me outside of the church, and I knew theyd always prefer the church over me.
My parents refuse to speak to me. Full stop .
At first they would have short, rehearsed dialogues where they recurred the same phrases about how they were worried about me and how I could repent and ask God to induce me stronger — but those tapered off. I think they pretend I dont exist now. People from the church are likely polite enough to have stopped asking about me.
As for me, Im doing okay now. I dont guess Ill ever stop feeling weird and left out and like part of me is missing, but Im still happy I left. Most people dont understand why its such a big deal and I just tell them to imagine leaving an entire half of their own lives behind. If you do that you might begin to understand what its like when your mothers choose their religion over you. Theres a reason they call that kind of stuff roots, “youre feeling” unstable without it.
Icelanders flock to religion idolizing Sumerian divinities and tax rebates3 months, 15 days ago
Ancient Zuist movement enjoys revival as thousands join as part of protest against requirement that citizens pay taxes to state church
Icelanders opposed to the state fund of religion have flocked to register as Zuists, a motion that worships ancient Sumerian gods and perhaps more importantly promises its followers a tax rebate.
More than 3,100 people almost 1% of Icelands population have joined the Zuist movement in the past two weeks in protest at paying part of their taxes to the country church and other religion bodies. Followers of Zuism will be refunded the tax part earmarked for religion.
Icelanders are required to register their religion with the state, with virtually three-quarters of the population affiliated to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. There are more than 40 other registered religious bodies that qualify for parish fees paid through the taxation system. The sum set in next years budget is the equivalent of about $80( APS5 3) per taxpayer over a year.
There is no opt-out. Those who are unaffiliated or belong to unregistered religions effectively just pay higher taxes, said Sveinn Thorhallsson, a Zuist spokesperson. An opinion poll published in September demonstrated 55% of respondents want an aim to the system.
Zuism, based on the venerate of Sumerian deities, registered as a religion in Iceland in 2013. But inactivity put it at risk of being de-registered by the authorities earlier this year.
A group of citizens opposed to the country fund of religion mounted a takeover, promising converts that they would be refunded their parish fees.
The English section of the Zuists website says: The religious organisation of Zuism is a platform for its members to practise a religion of the ancient Sumerian people. Zuists fully support freedom of religion, and from religion, for everyone. The organisations primary objective is that the government repeal any law that awards religious organisations privilege, fiscal or otherwise, above two organizations. Furthermore Zuists demand that the governments registry of its citizens religion will be abolished.
Zuism, it adds, will cease to exist when its objectives have been met.
Some politicians have claimed that Zuism should be de-registered because it is not a true religion. But the real question is, what is a true religious organisation and how do you measure belief? said Thorhallsson, who describes himself as agnostic.
Perhaps astonishingly, some newly registered Zuists were also presenting an interest in Sumerian worship, he added. We had a service, with a read of ancient Sumerian poetry. Were scheming another.
According to article 62 of the constitution, the Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.
Thorhallsson said: We want people at the very least to be able to opt out[ of the parish fee ]. He added it was equally important that in a modern society the state should not keep a register of peoples religious beliefs.
StefA! n Bogi Sveinsson of the Progressive party urged the Zuists to de-register as a religious motion. No one has registered in the organisation to practice Zuism itself, he wrote, according to a report in the Reykjavik Grapevine. Their reasons for registering are rather twofold: to get fund in their pockets, or to protest against current legislation about religious organisations.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church had no one available to comment.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
I Don’t Find Religion Fascinating3 months, 22 days ago
How Islam took root in one of South America’s most violent cities4 months, 15 days ago
The Colombian port of Buenaventura is home to a small Muslim community who have successively embraced the Nation of Islam, Sunni and Shia interpretations
Blaring salsa music from a neighbouring bar does not perturb Sheik Munir Valencia as he bows in prayer at a family-home-turned-mosque in the poor, violence-racked Colombian city of Buenaventura.
His prayers finished, Valencia sheds his brown tunic, sits down at a plastic table and describes his role as the spiritual leader of an Islamic community like few others.
The small community of Afro-Colombian Muslims in Colombias main Pacific port city have over the years espoused the teachings of the Nation of Islam, mainstream Sunni Islam, and the Shia denomination.
First attracted to the faith by the promises of black power, Buenaventuras Muslims say that they have found in Islam a refuge from the poverty and violence that racks the city, which has one of the highest slaying rates in Colombia.
Islam first arrived here in the late 1960 s thanks to Esteban Mustafa Melndez, an African American sailor of Panamanian origin, who spread the training courses of the Nation of Islam the US-based group that mixes elements of Islam with black patriotism among port workers.
He talked about the self-esteem of blacks, and that philosophy had a big impact. Those teaches reached the heads and hearts of a lot of people, says Valencia, adding that the message came during a period of profound social change.
Melndezs visits came at a time when many rural Colombians were migrating to cities, losing in the process the social connections of their extended households, said Diego Castellanos, a sociologist who has examined different religions in Colombia, an overwhelmingly Catholic country.
The Nation of Islam offered an alternative identity and it was a way to fight back against the situation of structural racial discrimination in the port, he said. 90 per cent of the population of Buenaventura is Afro-Colombian.
That first wave of converts tended to be more political than spiritual: they said their prayers in English or Spanish, read more political pamphlets than the Quran, and had a shaky understanding of Islams central tenets, said Valencia.
The appeal of the Nation of Islam gradually waned as Melndezs trip-ups came less frequently and the message of black supremacy began to sound hollow to a community that while victim of severe structural discrimination based on their race never suffered the same racial hatred and segregation laws that had existed in the United States.
Following the example of Malcolm X who broke with the Nation of Islam and embraced Sunnism before his death in 1965 the states members of the Buenaventura community travelled to Saudi Arabia to study Islam and came back to convince the group to embrace a more orthodox religion.
Just like that we were Sunni, says Valencia, who was raised Catholic and planned to become a clergyman before turning to Islam. We learned to read Arabic, we read the Quran, we no longer looked toward the United States and started looking toward Saudi Arabia, he says.
Buenaventuras Muslim community turned to other Sunni groups in the country for support, but their two worlds could not have been more different.
The Muslims from Buenaventura, defined between vast expanses of jungle and the Pacific Ocean in Colombias south-west, were black, poor and relatively new to the beliefs and traditions of Islam. The established Colombian Sunni community was of Arab heritage, made up of prosperous traders and based predominantly in Maicao, a bustling commercial township set in the north-eastern desert on the border with Venezuela.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness review- a narrative of disloyalty by the church4 months, 16 days ago
Graham Caveneys defiant, important memoir details how the Catholic establishment fails abuse victims
Pope Francis has taken great strides in challenging all sorts of entrenched attitudes and prejudices in the Vatican that have given the Catholic church such a bad name of late. Progression has been disappointingly slow, however, on the commission he appointed in 2014 to tackle the appalling scandal of clerical sexual abuse. In March of this year Marie Collins, the last remaining is part of the panel who was a survivor of abuse, resigned after a Vatican department failed to comply with the commissions recommendation that it respond to every correspondent who writes in with allegations that they have been a victim. If the curia is resisting such simple steps, how to have faith that they will tackle the bigger underlying issues?
Reluctance to face up to the consequences of clerical abuse remains hard-wired into the structures of the church: an instinct to protect the institution at the cost of the individual who has suffered, and a brick-wall resistance to addressing the profound questions about the nature of vocation posed by such abhorrent behaviour. And so church leaders not all, awarded; surely not Pope Francis tend to speak of historical allegations whenever victims find the gallantry to speak up 20, 30 or even 40 years after events that are not for them in any way historical, but are a psychological and emotional trauma they will live with until their succumbing day.
Individuals like Graham Caveney. The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness recounts with great courage and candour how, in the 1970 s, as the clever, awkward, nerdy, merely child of devoutly Catholic working-class parents in Accrington, Lancashire, he was groomed by a priest at his local grammar school in Blackburn, and then sexually abused by him.
A casual glance might indicate he has managed to set it behind him he has a successful career as a novelist on music( the voices of the 70 s are one thread of this well-structured, rounded memoir) and biographer of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. But as he describes, without self-pity, Caveney fell out of university, struggled to kind adult relationships, turned to beverage and drugs to blot out the trauma, and on occasion attempted suicide.
The abuse leads you to fuck up their own lives, he reflects bleakly but unsparingly, and a fucked-up life means that youre a less believable witness to the abuse that fucked you up in the first place. Its an ironic trick of memory and survival: abuse induces you want to forget the abuse.
John and Kath, his mum and father, had no idea what was wrong. They watched their beloved boy, in whom they had expended so much hope that he would have more life opportunities than them, change first into a sulky, angry adolescent who refused to go to mass, and then into a messed-up wreck, beset by panic attacks.
They died in 1998 and 2002, still none the wiser. They continued to direct their flailing son back towards his old headteacher for wise advise, never suspecting that Father Kevin ONeill had sexually abused him as a 15 -year-old and set off the downward spiral.
The Caveneys had believed that the youthful, relaxed Rev Kev the Catholic equivalent of a trendy vicar was doing their boy a favor by taking him to theaters, cinemas and restaurants, broadening his intellect. What they couldnt know was that on the way home, the priest they looked up to would turn his vehicle into quiet side-road and force himself on their son. Afterwards, where reference is invited young Graham to go on holiday to Greece with him and a group of others, John and Kath enlisted the help of relatives to scrape together the cost, but it was just a pretext for more abuse.
Its them that I cant forgive you for, Caveney writes, addressing his abuser in the pages of a book that must have cost him dear to complete, the route in which you stimulated their hopes and aspirations the tools of your own needs. Its them who expended their lives worrying if it was something they had done wrong to make their son turn out the way he did.
Given how much Catholic grammar schools from the 1950 s through to the 1970 s were the road by which generations of working-class Catholic boys and girls got to get in life the Irish Christian Friend in my own home township of Liverpool boasted that they took the sons of dockers and built them into physicians it is impossible to believe that the disloyalty of Graham Caveney and his mothers is an isolated incident. How widespread it is, however, remains impossible to know because every bit of information has to be dragged out of a compulsively secretive church that recoils from guessing in terms of deep-rooted, complex patterns of abuse.
And what happened when Caveney identified his abuser in the early 1990 s to Father ONeills religious order, the Marists? Id merely slashed up my limbs, he adds, by way of context. The clergyman was challenged, apparently confessed his crimes, but was referred to a US therapy centre rather than the police. In 1993, he retired with full honors as headteacher. Kath even sent her son a cutting about the celebrations from the local paper. You were always one of his favourites, she reminded him. The report told of ex-pupils lining up to sing the clergymen praises, little suspecting how they too had been betrayed.
ONeill died in 2011, the serious charges against him encompassed up to the grave. He still doesnt seem to appear on any register I can find of abusive clergy. What distresses Caveney almost as much as the churchs failure to involve the police and courts is that he now can never confront his abuser, save in this raw, defiant but important memoir. A part of him, he confesses, still thinks in his darkest moments that what happened was somehow his own fault.
What was it about me? he asks. You watch, theres a bit of me that still believes Im unique, that I genuinely was your prime number, indivisible merely by myself. I dont want to think of myself as part of a pattern, merely another victim.
ONeills old school, St Marys, Blackburn, today has a drama block named after him, an honour accorded despite the Marist order having been told about Caveneys accusations virtually 20 years earlier. Is it plausible that there is no one who knew of them who could have spoken up? Or did they consider that whatever good he had done at the school cancelled out sexually abusing a 15 -year-old in his care? It is part of the same impossible-to-fathom and offensive attitude that now apparently stops Vatican officials answering letters from those reporting abuse, in defiance of the pope.
Quite how long it will take for that prejudice to be defeated, I dont know. But after they have read The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness , the school governors might at least like to revisit the naming of their drama block, which scratch salt into open wounds.
Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald
The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney is published by Picador on 7 September( 14.99 ). To order a transcript for 12.74 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over 10, online orders only. Telephone orders min p& p of 1.99
Read more: www.theguardian.com
9 Reasons Why I Unapologetically Believe In The Power Of God4 months, 21 days ago
India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women’s rights5 months, 5 days ago
Controversial practice of triple talaq, which permits humen to dissolve weddings instantly, declared unconstitutional
An Islamic practice permitting humen to instantly divorce their wives has been proclaimed unconstitutional by India’s supreme court after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims.
The” triple talaq” has allowed Muslim men to dissolve weddings by pronouncing the word “divorce” three times.
The supreme court in Delhi took up the issue last year in response to a petition from seven victims and women’s groups. A majority of the bench proclaimed on Wednesday that triple talaq was ” not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality “.
Campaigners hailed the supreme court’s 3-2 decision as a huge victory for India’s 90 million Muslim women.
” It’s a very happy day for us. It’s an historical day ,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan( BMMA ), an activist group that was party to the legal battle.
” We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature .”
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, also welcomed the verdict 😛 TAGEND