the secular atheist sees no reason or evidence for belief in a god or gods
The Secular Atheist

Are we creating an atmosphere of exceptionalism for Islam?

Louis Smith is the Olympic poster boy who seems to have gone from hero to zero in a matter of months. A sweet lad and a brilliant athlete, Smith is the only gymnast to have won medals in the last three Olympics (a total of five) as well as taking the Strictly crown in 2012 and thousands of new fans.

This year, though, he has been censured twice by British Gymnastics: once for questioning the judging in Rio, when he was beaten into second place by Max Whitlock; and then for attaching a snotty comment to a photo of a female competitor on social media.

But worse was to come - a few weeks ago, Smith got drunk at a friend's wedding and in the small hours was singing a song from Aladdin with his mate when they picked up a small carpet and made some jokes about Islamic prayers. Stupidly, the images were posted on social media and subsequently Smith has received death threats, culminating in a series of abject apologies, including one during an interview with me on Loose Women.

I must say that Louis Smith is a thoroughly nice (if not terribly bright) person who has spoken sincerely and honestly about the struggle to be a role model. He was diagnosed with ADHD at seven and is extremely close to his mother. Meeting Louis, you realise within a minute that this chap might be dumb, but he's no worse than the average cocky young man after a few beers.

Read More

News and Articles on Religion and Atheism

x Woman beheaded in Afghanistan 'for going out in city without her husband'

Independent | 28 December 2016 | Independent |

A woman has been beheaded for visiting a city without her husband, officials in Afghanistan have said. The Middle East Press claims a government spokesman told them Taliban militants killed her for the "infidelity act" of going shopping without a male guardian.

x Bangladesh sees first female suicide bomber

Dhaka Tribune | 24 December 2016 | Bangladesh |

A female militant has blown herself up during a police raid in a militant hideout at Dhaka's Ashkona, in what appears to be the first suicide attack by a woman in Bangladesh.

x Belief in God plunges after torrid year

The Week | 23 December 2016 | UK |

Forget believing in Santa - the tumultuous events of 2016 appear to have left Britons unable to believe in God. A YouGov poll for the Times has shown a 4-point decline in the percentage of people who believe in a higher power, from 32 per cent in Feb last year to 28 per cent now.

x Anti-gay campaign drives out Russian teacher

BBC News | 22 December 2016 | Russia |

A self-styled Russian campaigner for morality in schools has boasted about the dismissal of a teacher he describes as a "lesbian" and "satanist". He professes to be fighting decadence because he is a pious Muslim.

x Nepal police investigate death of girl banished for menstruating

BBC News | 21 December 2016 | Nepal |

Under an ancient Hindu practice, called chhaupadi, women who have their periods or who have just given birth are seen as impure. Police in Nepal are investigating the death of a 15-year-old girl who was banished to a poorly-ventilated shed because she was menstruating.

x Taliban 'kill woman who divorced husband and remarried'

BBC News | 19 December 2016 | Afghanistan |

Taliban militants in Afghanistan have shot dead a woman who divorced her husband and remarried, officials say. The killing took place in north-western Badghis province. There are some reports that the woman's husband had authorised the separation from abroad.

x Saudi Arabia to 'inoculate' children against Westernisation, atheism and liberalism

Independent | 16 December 2016 | Saudi Arabia |

Saudi Arabia is launching a programme to "inoculate" children against Westernisation, atheism, liberalism and secularism. They were listed as threats to "ideological security", ahead of the danger from extremist groups including Isis and al-Qaeda and sectarianism.

x German-Iraqi boy, 12, 'tried to bomb Christmas market'

BBC News | 16 December 2016 | Germany |

A 12-year-old German-Iraqi boy tried to blow up a Christmas market in the town of Ludwigshafen. He left a rucksack with explosives which failed to detonate in November, and another by the town hall a few days later.

x MP says Government's silence over Louis Smith heralds "unwritten blasphemy law"

National Secular Society | 15 December 2016 | UK |

Conservative MP Charles Walker has sharply criticised the media for "a torrent of venom" against Louis Smith, and said the Government should have been defending free expression.

x German leader 'insults' Saudi Arabia by refusing to wear hijab

New York Post | 14 December 2016 | Saudi |

Germany's defense minister refused to wear a traditional head covering during her visit with a Saudi Arabian prince, arguing that women have as much right as men do to wear whatever they choose.

x Europeans greatly overestimate Muslim population, poll shows

Guardian | 13 December 2016 | Europe |

Germany's defense minister refused to wear a traditional head covering during her visit with a Saudi Arabian prince, arguing that women have as much right as men do to wear whatever they choose.

x Indonesia blasphemy case: Emotional scenes as Ahok trial begins

BBC News | 13 December 2016 | Indonesia |

There were emotional scenes in court on the first day of the blasphemy trial of Jakarta's governor, a Christian of Chinese descent.

x Muslim convert 'broke Asbo by preaching Sharia law in London'

Evening Standard | 13 December 2016 | UK |

A Muslim convert is accused of breaking an Asbo by touring London preaching Sharia Law to members of the public, a court heard.

x Cairo bombing: Cairo Coptic Christian complex hit

BBC News | 11 December 2016 | Egypt |

A bomb explosion in the Coptic Christian cathedral complex in the Egyptian capital Cairo has killed at least 25 people, officials say. Dozens of others were injured in the blast in a chapel adjoining St Mark's cathedral during a Sunday service.

x Religious leaders push for Muslim alternative to Peppa Pig

BBC News | 8 December 2016 | Australia |

Islamic leaders in Australia have backed a campaign to produce an alternative to Peppa Pig set in a "predominantly Muslim town". The ANIC encouraged parents to raise funds for TV that supports Islamic values.

x Five things that Saudi Arabian women still cannot do

Independent | 8 December 2016 | Saudi |

Saudi Women are still not permitted to drive cars, with this being ruled by Wahhibist scholars as "haram", or forbidden, due to the requirement for women to maintain covering, and the threat that they would have to interact with men outside their families.

x A Saudi woman daring not to wear a hijab leads to calls for her beheading

Independent | 2 December 2016 | Saudi Arabia |

Today it was reported that a Saudi woman who posted a picture of herself in public without a hijab faced outrage. One man said, "Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs."

x Bangladeshi society being destroyed by Islamic fundamentalism, says exiled writer

National Secular Society | 24 November 2016 | Bangladesh |

Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who lives under constant protection, has told AFP that Islamic fundamentalism has destroyed Bangladeshi society.

x Britain has "turned a blind eye" to abuse of women by sharia courts

National Secular Society | 23 November 2016 | UK |

Powerful testimony from Muslim women has been published by MPs as part of their investigation into sharia, while activists have warned that its approach so far has favoured those who support sharia councils.

x Kentucky Atheist sues for denied request of 'IM GOD' license plate in Kentucky

The Guardian | 22 November 2016 | US |

An atheist's request for a personalized license plate saying "IM GOD" was denied by the state of Kentucky, which said it might distract other drivers, and would be in bad taste.

x Pope Francis allows priests to forgive abortion

BBC News | 21 November 2016 | Vatican |

Pope Francis has declared that priests have the permanent right from now on to forgive abortions.

x South Africa's 'Prophet of Doom' condemned

The Independent | 21 November 2016 | South Africa |

In a Facebook post, self-proclaimed prophet Lethebo Rabalago claims a pesticide called Doom can heal people.

x UK charity warns tourists in Dubai not to report rape after woman who was 'gang raped' arrested

BBC News | 19 November 2016 | Dubai |

Detained in Dubai, an organisation that assists victims of injustice in the UAE, has warned against reporting rape or other crimes in the country because of the "manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations" and "racist" preconceptions against Western tourists.

x British woman who says she was gang raped arrested on 'extra-marital sex' charges in Dubai as attackers go free

The Independent | 16 November 2016 | Dubai |

A British tourist has been arrested and charged with illegal "extra-marital sex" in Dubai after telling police she had been gang raped.

x Muslim police chaplain says women commit 'major sin' if they refuse to have sex with husbands

Independent | 7 November 2016 | Canada |

A Muslim police chaplain has faced criticism after he reportedly said women commit "a major sin" if they refuse to have sex with their husbands.

x Pope Francis says women will never be Roman Catholic priests

Guardian | 1 November 2016 | Vatican |

Pope Francis has ruled out a woman ever serving as a priest in the Roman Catholic church.

x Woman caned in Indonesia for 'standing too close to her boyfriend'

The Independent | 18 October 2016 | Indonesia |

An Indonesian woman has been caned in front of a jeering crowd on Monday after being accused of "standing too close to her boyfriend".

x Saudi male-guardianship laws treat women as second-class citizens

Guardian | 7 October 2016 | Saudi |

Saudi Arabia,s highest Islamic figure, the grand mufti, denounced the call to abolish guardianship as a crime against Islam. On the other hand, a number of key religious figures supported ending guardianship on the basis that the system does not have a grounding in Islam; a conflicting scenario typical to every public demand to reform women's rights. State officials repeatedly attribute delays in enforcing gender equality to cultural beliefs.

x Islamic communities contain 'tsunamis of atheism' that are being suppressed, says leading ex-Muslim

The Independent | 4 October 2016 | UK |

Thousands of ex-Muslims in Britain are living in fear of violent revenge for abandoning the Islamic faith while others are afraid to admit they no longer believe, a support group for ex-Muslims has said.

x Fireman Sam episode pulled amid Koran row

BBC News | 27 July 2016 | UK |

An episode of Fireman Sam in which one character appears to tread on a page from the Koran has been withdrawn.

x The cartoon that shows how ridiculous Saudi laws are for women

Independent | 18 July 2016 | Saudi |

Thousands of people have circulated a short animation video designed to show the restrictions that Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system places on women. The video, published on Facebook by Human Rights Watch, depicts a Saudi woman being forced to reconcile with her abusive husband. It shows the woman being beaten by her husband before he orders her to leave the home. She then goes to a shelter and is told the best thing she can do is reconcile with her husband.

The Secular Atheist is a site for news and views on atheism, secularism and humanism