Atheist Group Files Suit To Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From Currency

One week ago

A group of atheists seeking to drop the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency filed a federal suit this week in Akron, Ohio, arguing the expres contravenes the separation of church and state.

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.”

Manuel Balce Ceneta/ Associated Press
Michael Newdow, an atheist lawyer from California who challenged the Pledge of Allegiance, leavesthe Supreme Court after a hearing in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, the campaign has encountered resistance from religious commentators., 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.”

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The beauty of art can counter Islamophobia- but it won’t be easy

1 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.

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Photo: Rolf Hicker/ Getty Images/ All Canada Photos

Yet thats too pessimistic. If there is one thing that can communicate across every border and cultural gap it is art. Where terms define and definitions divide us, visual art is open, ambiguous and allows imaginations to stray in time and space. Appearing at Islamic art allows non-Muslims to feel the inner beauty of faiths and traditions we do not share, to appear with another heart/ And other heartbeats.

Islamic art beckons me with its beauty. The Alhambra in Granada is the most enrapturing place in the world, a palace of dreamings where ethereal intricacy of design, and craftsmanship of quiet genius, turn brightly lighted rooms into caves of pleasure. Crystalline ceilings and harmonious tiles glitter everywhere you looking, illuminated by windows filled with the Andalusian sky. It is truly like being on a cloud halfway between heaven and Earth.

Of course, it is not feasible to to set this medieval building in an art gallery. It is very difficult to capture the wonder of any Islamic art in a gallery. The rich, subtle weave of decorative patterns and textures that builds the Alhambra so seductive is, in fact, typical of many of the greatest Islamic artistic accomplishments. All-embracing abstract design, rather than the iconic masterpiece tradition of western art, is what devotes Islamic marvels from Isfahan to Cordoba their magic. The best advice is to go to these places. A couple of days in Marrakech would do wonders for any Islamophobe visit the gorgeous Ben Youssef madrasa and feel the warmth and gentleness of the city that surrounds it.

Paradisiacal, 2014, by Waqas Khan. Photograph: Juan Cruz Ibaez/ courtest of Sabrina Amrani Gallery

So the task of an Islamic art gallery is not so much to display masterpieces as to find a way to connect them in a living flow of colouring and pattern that gets across the multidisciplinary rapture of these places. One place that does this very well is the V& A in London, which use low lighting and aesthetically harmonious arrangements to unify ceramics, carpetings, architectural fragments and calligraphy in a serene, entrancing installation. Islamic art is emotional; it changes your relationship with space and time. To open American minds, the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art needs to replicate that sublime psychological effect. It should be like wandering into the old part of an Arab city: less a museum than a medina.

Some Islamic art is more effective than others. If I was creating a dreaming collect, I would concentrate on the medieval caliphate of north Africa and Spain, where art reached the sumptuous yet reserved heights of delicate beauty that can still be savoured in Morocco and Andalusia. For instance, the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech is identical to the former minaret that is Sevilles cathedral bell tower. They were both built by the 12 th-century Almohads. The abstract glory of north African and Andalusian art can still be savoured in portable works, though. A wooden minbar or pulpit carved in the medieval Moorish style would be the most enchanting object this new gallery could show.

Art being made today shares the liberating effects of medieval Islamic creations. The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art apparently intends to show work by Mona Hatoum that dramatises global tensions. But is her run likely to change how Americans watch Islam? I would recommend it display the much more utopian, visionary art of Waqas Khan. His huge and intricate abstract drawings share the ethereal freedom of the greatest Islamic art. Here is an artist to change your mind, your soul.

Then again, America has never lacked culture curiosity. In the 19 th century, Washington Irving wrote Tales of the Alhambra and Edgar Allan Poe raved about the poisoning of arabesques. Khans work not only elicits medieval Islam but American minimalism, too for there are close affinities between the American feel for abstract art, from Jackson Pollock to Donald Judd, and the Islamic world, where art always has been largely abstract.

So we come back to the basic problem. The US already has great museums full of liberal good intentions. The problem is that Trump has appealed to the worse angels of our nature, and they have howled acclaim. How can beauty assist when voters have shown they favor the animal?

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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.

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Here’s What Happens When Your Parents Choose Their Faith Over You

2 months, 23 days ago
When we talk about religion and family, its usually in a jokey conservative uncle at the dinner table various kinds of style. We dont take seriously how severely religion can change someone, or how it can color every aspect of your relationships. In anticipation of the second season of Hulu’s Original Series The Path( now streaming on Hulu ), I’m opening up about my experience growing up in a fundamentalist cult with Christian notions .

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.

Season 2 of The Path is Now Streaming on Hulu. New Episodes Wednesdays .

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Icelanders flock to religion idolizing Sumerian divinities and tax rebates

3 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.

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I Don’t Find Religion Fascinating

3 months, 22 days ago

I grew up with a Jewish parent, a mom inspired by Wicca,
and agnostic teachings.

Essentially, parents who told me I could choose what I wanted to be.

It was up to me to question what needed to be questioned.

, they’d say.

I try to study religion documents but bore easily.

I can’t relate to ancient text and consider the man on the corner hollering scriptures at the sinners walking by far more terrifying than the choice to live with uncertainty.

I don’t have a concrete decide of beliefs. I am amenable.
An ear to the ground, I am willing to listen and admit when I’ve been wrong.
I have no interest in idols. Worship has never been in my vocabulary.

If there is a God, I believe she would be less interested in the specifics.
There would be no tally system of how often you prayed to her or who you successfully converted.

If there is a God, I believe she would be amenable, too.

An ear to the ground, hands outstretched.

She would ask you to question,
To never let faith be the only force driving you.

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How Islam took root in one of South America’s most violent cities

4 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.

colombia map

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.

A barge loaded with renders heads out to ocean in Buenaventura, Colombias largest Pacific port and home to a small Muslim community. Photo: Bloomberg/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aside from a few food donations from the Arab community, relations were distant.

The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran inhaled new life into the Buenaventura community. Shia missions contacted the group and offered scholarships and financing support. Valencia won a scholarship to study at the At-Tauhid mosque in Buenos Aires and then continued his surveys at the University of Qom in Iran.

As Valencia tells his narrative, his mobile phone lights up, his ringtone a chant in Arabic. He answers: Salaam alekum , then launches into a conversation in the rapid-fire Spanish of Colombias Pacific coast.

Today, portraits of Malcolm X and the Ayatollah Khamenei adorn the walls of a back room in the home that serves as community center and mosque for the approximately 300 current members of the community. A colourful mural covers another wall, depicting a leafy family tree titled Islamic genealogy of the oracles. On any given Friday, between 40 and 50 show up for prayers.

Valencia says his links with Iran have been the target of secret and not-so-secret investigations by both Colombian and US intelligence services. I have nothing to hide, he says.[ The Iranians] supporting us. But we are not jihadists.

Valencia also operates two private charter schools where 180 children of some of the most severe neighborhoods of the city not only learn their ABCs but their alif ba ta s as well. Housed on the ground floor of an ill-maintained three-storey building, the Silvia Zaynab school is set in one of Buenaventuras most violent neighbourhoods, where criminal gangs fight over territory control and residents often get caught in the crossfire.

The school offers a small haven from that reality. Students greet guests with anthems in Arabic about the greatness of Allah. In Spanish, they sing about the five prophets of creation: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. One second-grader rushes to the chalkboard to proudly write out a random three-digit number in Arabic.

Only five of the children who attend the schools are members of the Muslim community. We are not trying to convert anyone, says Valencia. Were only proving the children to respect different religions and other traditions.

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The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness review- a narrative of disloyalty by the church

4 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 or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over 10, online orders only. Telephone orders min p& p of 1.99

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9 Reasons Why I Unapologetically Believe In The Power Of God

4 months, 21 days ago
I usually don’t talk about my beliefs because the comments segment of any well-thought-out article can be pretty brutal and I’m just now mastering the capacities not to reply to folly. On top of that, it annoys me that people don’t realize that only because I believe in God doesn’t mean you have to, but at the same time-don’t disrespect Him in my face. Honestly, for me, it will cause the same reaction you get when you instantaneously defend your mom if someone tried to hurl shade at her. To put things frankly, I’m not having it. So, proceed with caution. This isn’t intended to offend, but instead to defend those of us who know God’s love and power . Here are 9 reasons why I unapologetically believe in the power of God.

1. I devoted birth.

There isn’t a single spirit on Earth that can persuade me that we can endure such a challenge as giving birth on our own. Speaking from( very recent) experience, there is no way I could have given birth to such a beautiful, innocent vessel as my baby daughter without the help of God, himself . From the pain to the pleasure-nobody but God. Don’t try to convince me otherwise because it won’t work. If you haven’t had a newborn on your own, do you not get the same feeling when you define your eyes on such an innocent, perfect creation as a newborn child?

2. I have survived more than one near-death experience.

I am a firm disciple that merely God could have delivered me from what was once a very sweet savour of all my favorite drugs-that’s right. I’m not gonna tell you about how much I love God and then deny how I’ve experienced His power firsthand. He’s delivered me from many things-depression, craving, envy-and the listing goes on . I’ve had my life spared on numerous occasions and with all the commotion going on in the world right now that constructs me feel even more thankful for the times God has saved me. Those weren’t things that I could mentally beat, it was literally the grace of God.

3. It’s easier to trust God than to worry about things I can’t control.

My mama always said if you’re going to pray, don’t worry. If you’re going to worry, don’t pray. As a child, it was simply easy to repeat. As an adult, I wholly understand what she entailed now. It is so exhausting to sit and stress about things we have no control over. It’s silly. The God I serve will carry those onus for you . He won’t construct you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Don’t believe me? Try Him for yourself.

4. God sees me in brand new light every day.

Unlike friends, household, and adherents, God considers us new every day. Every hour he blesses us to open our eyes to a new day He gives us a fresh start to get things right. He is a forgiving God. He doesn’t say,” Oh there’s Isis, the former drug abuser .” On top of that, He insures us all the same. God loves all His children . I don’t know about you, but I feel honored merely typing that. We are so lucky to be loved by such a merciful God. Lord knows, if it weren’t for His grace and mercy, I would have already been burning in hell.

5. God is better to me than I am to myself.

When I compare how I treat myself and how God treats me, all I can say is” thank God that He is in control and not me .” I’ve tried to end my life on many occasions, but none of the endeavors ever worked. Not even taking it as far as suicide, there are days where I’ve just let negative energy defeat me and God doesn’t want that for me. God doesn’t merely love me on my good days. He loves me unconditionally with every breath that I take . Now that I’m smarter and stronger in Him, I thank Him for always loving me more than I love me. I know it seems like hub-bub I genuinely do, but I know that anybody who has ever felt totally alone, down-and-out and still pulled through knows exactly what kind of love I’m talking about. Feeling God’s love is truly an experience.

6. I have never been in a more promising relationship than the one I’m in with God.

He’s my father. My best friend. My lawyer. My physician. My teacher. In other words, there is NOTHING too big for my God. He is everything I require Him to be, anytime I need Him to be it. When I’m lonely, He is my comfort. When I’m hurting, He is my healer. When I’m scared( or stupid ), He is my defender . He has induced promises to His disciples that I have yet to experience because I’m still growing in Christ, but there are also many promises that I am witnessing in my life firsthand.

7. I started paying my tithes and now I induce more money than I ever imagined-no lie.

Y’all. I kid you not. I started devoting God my 10% and when I tell you He blew my intellect Each week thereafter. I. AM. NOT. LYING. This is a personal journey that I foster you to learn more about . All I can say is that within a 3-month period of paying my tithes willingly and selflessly I ran from making a few dollars here and there to five figures! God( and my best friends) as my witness.

8. I have identified, recognise, and accepted its main purpose in life.

I’ll admit that when I started writing I merely identified it as something I loved to do. I didn’t really seem much further than that. Sure, I told myself that I was a good novelist, but I didn’t expect to be getting thousands of shares on my work. I didn’t expect to touch the lives of individuals all over the world that I’ll never have the pleasure of fulfilling . And I certainly cannot fathom what God still has in store for me! Since getting closer to God I have been able to work in my passion, better yet my calling in life and this is only the beginning.

9. Nothing feelings better than glorifying God.

At the end of the day , nothing feelings better than knowing I’ve tried to honor God. Whether through ballad, worship, writing, pray, or praise all the glory and honor goes to Him. I have never experienced a more fruitful and meaningful life than this one I’ve spent unapologetically chasing God . I’m not afraid to say that falling in love with His son was the best decision I have ever made.

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India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women’s rights

5 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

Narendra Modi (@ narendramodi)

Judgment of the Hon’ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It awards equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.

August 22, 2017

A national survey conducted in 2015 by the BMMA saw roughly 1 in 11 Muslim females were survivors of triple talaq, the vast majority receiving no alimony or compensation.

Clerics had also started recognising instant divorces where the word “talaq” had been texted or emailed.

Arshiya Ismail did not even hear her husband utter the words. She told the Guardian last year:” One day, suddenly, he told me he had given me talaq. He said:’ I gave it to you four days earlier .'”

She has spent the past six years trying to have the Islamic divorce overturned so that she can leave her husband under India’s more progressive secular statutes, which entitles her to one-third of his salary to subsistence herself and their child.

” It’s wonderful news, I’m so emotional about it ,” Ismail said on Tuesday.” Basically my wedding still stands as per the supreme court. I was hoping for it but I still had my doubts .”

Triple talaq has been criticised even among hardline Muslim schools and was already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across much of the Islamic world.

It persisted in India because the country’s Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities are permitted to follow religion law in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

Progressive Muslim women’s groups say Islamic religious authorities- uniformly male- have been resistant to give up men’s power to instantly leave their wives.

India’s Muslim community is also generally poorer and less educated than others, which activists say has built it harder for women to mount legal and social campaigns against the practice.

Islamic leaders have also warned that meddling with Muslim personal statutes may watch them one day dismantled altogether, in favour of a uniform civil code they are afraid would be Hindu-inflected and ride roughshod over their beliefs.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, whose party have all along pushed for a uniform civil code, had backed the petitioners in the case.

Each of the five supreme court judges belonged to one of India’s main faiths- Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. The majority opinion said it was ” manifestly arbitrary” to allow a spouse to” break down[ a] wedding whimsically and capriciously “.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a peak body of Islamic organisations, had said it considered triple talaq but argued against the supreme court interfering in religious law.

Nonetheless, Kamal Faruqui, a member of the board, said he considered the decision as a victory.

” It upholds the rights of Muslims and other minorities to follow their own personal laws ,” he said.

” There are just a few voices in the country that wanted to bring in a uniform civil code for all religious faiths, but the supreme court magistrates said a few weeks ago that they would look only at triple talaq , not at other customs. So Muslim personal statute has been protected by the ruling .”

Noor Jehan, another member of the BMMA, said she had celebrated the verdict in her office with sweets and soft drinks, but would begin lobbying for a more progressive Islamic divorce law.

” It is a historic victory for Muslim women, something we have been working for for 10 years ,” she said.” It is going to give immense relief to females but we need to pass a law soon. Our organisation has already prepared a draft law which we will send to the government .”

Additional reporting by Amrit Dhillon

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