It’s official! Building snowmen is un-Islamic. After a snowstorm in the North of Saudi Arabia, people built snow camels. A question asking if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children, led to Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid issuing a fatwa saying that the religion prohibits building a replica of an animal. It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun. How sad.
A group of people in Iran got themselves arrested after making a video to the tune of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and posting it on YouTube. It became a hit, bringing it to the attention of the morality police. The Iranian police chief said that the vulgar clip, showing three unveiled women, had hurt public chastity. Yesterday a political commentator, Kambiz Hosseini, tweeted about it, boosting a #FreeHappyIranians hashtag campaign to demand their freedom. Around 13 people are believed to have been arrested in connection with the video. It is believed that the participants in the video were released this morning, but the director is still being held.
Following an embarrassing interview on Fox News with Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Time of Jesus of Nazareth”, his book has shot to number one in the Amazon Book charts. The book describes Jesus as a zealot Jewish preacher who started a revolutionary movement that was so threatening that he was captured, tortured and executed as a state criminal. Looking beyond the myths and examining historical documents he describes Jesus as a man of conviction rife with contradiction. He preaches peace, but tells his followers to carry swords. He urges his disciples to keep his identity secret and promises to liberate them from Roman rule. The book also examines why the early Christian church portrayed Jesus as a peaceful teacher rather than a revolutionary.
In the interview, Ms Green asks “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
Surprised Mr Aslan answers “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim. It’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus, I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions.”
Buzzfeed posted the interview under the title “Is this the most embarrassing interview for Fox News ever?” and it went viral with about 4.5 million views.
Later a delighted Mr Aslan told the New York Times, “I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview, you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”
A fringe Muslim group in Malaysia has caused some controversy by starting an Obedient Wives Club. The group maintain that wives should be better than a first class prostitute in the bedroom. By sexually satisfying their husbands, they can prevent domestic violence and sexual promiscuity. Doesn’t it sound a bit like the husband saying, “Do what I want in the bedroom or I’ll beat you up and sleep with other women”? I can’t really see why the wives would join, unless of course they don’t want to be beaten up and have their husbands sleep around. The media has asked the minister for women in Malaysia, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, if wives are being turned into slaves by their husbands. She has stated that the club is giving Islam a bad name.
Why do religious zealots need everyone else to believe what they believe? Family Radio spent a fortune on billboards trying to convince us that the world would end on May 21st this year. The leader of this cult is now saying that believers were saved on that day and it is now too late for salvation for the rest, although other broadcasters on the station are giving a different message. The icon on their website (wecanknow.com isn’t that ironic) is still a little calendar date of May 21, but there is no other mention of the date. They still say the world is about to end, but they are not so certain of the exact date anymore. The latest set of religious billboards to upset people are appearing in Sydney, Australia, sponsored by the Islamic group MyPeace. The slogan that seems to be causing most offense among Christians is “Jesus: Prophet of Islam”. They seem to think that would encourage Christians to see the similarities between the faiths, but it actually shows one of the fundamental differences. More details at onislam.net. Last Christmas we had an Atheist group, in New York, putting up billboards about the birth in a manger being a myth, which was counteracted by Christian billboards saying it was real. Before that it was billboards on buses, in the UK, saying there is definitely no God, again counteracted by there definitely is a God. The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Atheist has a meditation on American religious billboards. Although it all provides great amusement for Apathists, who don’t care who is right, it is an awful waste of money that could be used for better purpose. So why do people spend so much trying to convince others to share their beliefs? My guess is that it’s easier to have strong beliefs in things that have no evidence or proof, if lots of other people believe it too. We can’t all be crazy, can we?
If a fourteen year old girl has sex with her forty year old male cousin, who is to blame? If members of the man’s family then beat up the fourteen year old, what should happen next? The reports are confusing, she may have been fifteen and she may have been having an affair or it may have been rape. The girl, named Hena, lived in Bangladesh, so she was handed over to the village court, or Sharia Committee, who locked her up. The following day she was accused of immoral sexuality before marriage and sentenced to 100 lashes. After almost 80 lashes she passed out and was taken to the local hospital where she died days later.
Last July the Bangladesh government outlawed such fatwas, but it didn’t prevent this death or a similar one in December in which a woman died after receiving 40 lashes for sleeping with her stepson.
At least this time the government has taken action and arrested a Muslim cleric who sat on the Sharia Committee and three villagers, including the wife of the man involved in the incident.
Meanwhile, the government in Iran executes on average two people every day to implement Islamic law. Crimes subject to the death penalty include Apostacy, Murder, Armed Robbery, Drug Trafficking, Adultery and Rape. One of the latest people to fall foul of these laws was Abdolreza Gharabat. He claimed to be God and had succeeded in attracting a number of followers in the Khuzestan province. He was convicted of Apostacy and hanged on Wednesday. Surely his mental health must have been in question, to declare himself God in Iran and he should have received medical help instead of a death penalty. On the other hand, if he rises from the dead, he will certainly have a convincing argument.
Let us also remember the 35 people killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians last week in Nigeria and over 100 killed in another stampede at an Indian religious festival just over two weeks ago. Then there are the people of questionable sanity like Muzzammil Hassan and Miriam Smith. Mizzammil, on trial for the murder of his wife in 2009, claims that God gave him extra courage to kill her. Miriam was minding her nephew’s dog, a one year old pit bull, when it chewed her bible. She claims God told her it was a devil dog that had to be killed. She hung it from a tree, doused it in kerosene and set it on fire.
It all goes to show what can happen when people take religion too seriously. Thank God for Religious Apathy.
A mum who bought a toy farm for a child was puzzled when she found it contained a pig sty, but no toy pig. Even though there was a switch to trigger the pig sound when the pig was placed on it, the pig itself was missing. When she complained to the Early Learning Centre about the omission, she was told that it had been removed for religious reasons. She wrote to customer services and received an email reply saying that the pig had been removed for fear of upsetting Muslim and Jewish parents. Muslims, Jews and a number of other religions, ban eating pork. Jews, in fact, also believe camels, some birds, hares, shellfish and some fish are also off limits. Even though most people don’t eat dogs either, the dog was allowed to remain in the farm, along with a horse (also not eaten much outside France), a cow, a sheep, a chicken and two humans (also not eaten very often). Personally, I think that if there was a God who didn’t want us to eat pigs, She wouldn’t have made them taste so good. The good news is, that the Early Learning Centre, have realised the error of their political over-correctness and are reinstating the pig into the Happyland Goosefeather Farm.
As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, they find themselves under attack. Besides the over-hyped threat by a small congregation to burn copies of the Qur’an and the growing opposition to a mosque near ground zero, a Vatican official warns of a Muslim majority in Europe. Father Piero Gheddo in Italy, warns that the declining birth-rate in Europe, combined with mass immigration of Muslims could lead to a Muslim majority in a few generations. He has stated that Islam will “sooner rather than later conquer the majority in Europe.”
“If we consider ourselves a Christian country, we should return to the practice of Christian life, which would also solve the problem of empty cradles”, he added, which presumably refers to the catholic ban on contraception.
This follows a number of warnings from senior church figures on the spread of Islam. Earlier this year, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, of Prague, warned us that Islam was filling a void as Europeans empty the Christian content of their lives. Cardinal Jose Policarpo of Lisbon, last year warned Catholic women against marrying Muslim men.
The thought of living in a country dominated by a single religion is scary. Ireland, for example, is still recovering from the domination of the Catholic Church. It therefore falls on all Apathists to do their duty and procreate with a view to raising some future freethinking Apathists. If you are not ready to start a family just yet, you can have a lot of fun practicing.
A bus advertisement stating, “there definitely is a God” drew the largest number of complaints in 2009, according to the British Advertising Standards Authority. The campaign was organised by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible society (a bible publisher) and the Russian Orthodox Church. The add was a direct response to another bus advertisement placed by the British Humanist Association which stated, “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The Humanist advertisement was the sixth most complained about in 2009. It’s a little disheartening to an Apathist that people are willing to go to such lengths to advertise their beliefs and that so many people care enough to complain about them.
Bus advertisements seem to be the weapon of choice for religious battles. In the US, Pamela Geller, who maintains the blog “Atlas Shrugs”, started a “Leave Islam” campaign, which she claims advertises support for Muslims fearing to leave their religion. Similar adverts were pulled in Miami after Muslims claimed they were a smoke screen for hatred, but they were re-instated following a lawsuit.
Churchs fire-bombed in Kuala Lumpur. You can’t call your God Allah, that’s what we call Him.