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High School Atheist Ostracized by Town — Atheist Community Steps Up

High School Atheist Ostracized by Town — Atheist Community Steps Up
When a high school atheist tried to stop prayer at his graduation, he was ostracized, threatened, and kicked out of his house. But the atheist community stepped in.

Whatever you think about atheists — good, bad, mixed, indifferent — this story should seriously trouble you.
By Greta Christina

https://the-orbit.net/greta/2011/06/08/high-school-atheist-ostracized/

Damon Fowler, an atheist student at Bastrop High School in Louisiana, was about to graduate. His public school was planning to have a prayer as part of the graduation ceremony: as they traditionally did, as so many public schools around the country do every year. But Fowler — knowing that government- sponsored prayer in the public schools are unconstitutional and legally forbidden — contacted the school superintendent to let him know that he opposed the prayer, and would be contacting the ACLU if it happened. The school — at first, anyway — agreed, and cancelled the prayer.

Then Fowler’s name, and his role in this incident, was leaked. And, as a direct result:

1) Fowler has been hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community.

2) One of Fowler’s teachers has publicly demeaned him.

3) Fowler has been physically threatened. Students have threatened to “jump him” at graduation practice, and he has received multiple threats of bodily harm, and even death threats.

4) Fowler’s parents have cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and thrown his belongings onto the front porch.

Oh, and by the way? They went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway.

Before we get into the details of all this, let’s be very, very clear about the facts and the law here: Nobody — not Fowler, not the ACLU, nobody — is telling anybody at Bastrop High School that they can’t pray. People can pray at graduations and other school events all they want. The sole issue here is whether a public school can have a prayer at a graduation or other school event as an official, school- sponsored part of the program. Individual prayer? Hunky dory. Off-campus prayers at churches or private events? Knock yourself out. Government promotion of a religious agenda? Not so much. What with the First Amendment and the “establishment of religion” bit and all. And it’s a law and a Constitution that protects everybody — not just atheists. If you wouldn’t want to be subjected to a government- sponsored Buddhist prayer, you ought not to be subjecting others to a government- sponsored Christian prayer.

Okay. I hope that’s clear.

So here’s a little more detail about what exactly happened with Damon Fowler.

1) Fowler has been hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community.. He’s become the center of what he terms a “shitstorm”: he has been harassed, vilified, targeted with insults and name-calling and hateful remarks. He’s been told that he’s the Devil. He’s been told, “Go cry to your mommy… oh, wait. You can’t.” (A reference to him being disowned by his parents.) He’s been told that he’s only doing this to get attention. A student’s public prayer at a pre-graduation “Class Night” event was turned into an opportunity for the school and community to gang up on Fowler and publicly close ranks against him — teachers as well as students. (Here’s video). And people seen defending him have been targeted as well.

As just a taste, here are a few comments on the Bastrop Enterprise news story about the controversy: “I personally see him as a coward.” “I hope they [Christians] put enough pressure on this kid to convert him and save his soul from the fire of hell.” “The kid was likely a recluse and apathetic about most everything until now.” “If he don’t want prayer at graduation he can stay at home and not come to graduation.” “Afterall, that’s what she or he wants isn’t it to be singled out! This just makes me ill.” “I hope that the little athiest is offended.” “What he is really doing is trying to shove his views down people’s throats.” “Why does this student only now decide to get engaged in what is happening at the school? Is it nothing more than our own self-destructive human nature to break down anything of which we may not approve?” “That student should just have to have his/her one man graduation ceremony all alone.” “Satan continues to prowl and is deceiving many in this world.”

2) One of Fowler’s teachers has publicly demeaned him. From the story in the Bastrop Enterprise:

Mitzi Quinn has been on the staff at BHS for almost 25 years, much of that time as a senior advisor. In the past, Quinn said there have been students who were atheist, agnostic and other non-Christian religions who “had no problems” with the prayer.

“They respected the majority of their classmates and didn’t say anything,” Quinn said. “We’ve never had this come up before. Never.”

Throughout her time working with the student, Quinn said they never expressed their personal beliefs or that they had any problems with other students’ Christian faiths.

“And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates,” Quinn said. (emphasis mine)

In other words: Because the majority of students want an unconstitutional prayer at their graduation, therefore they’re in the right. Because nobody’s ever had the courage to speak up about this before, therefore the law was not being broken, and everything was okay. (After all, it’s not like anything bad happened when Fowler spoke up… right?) And because Fowler hasn’t “contributed anything” — other than, you know, a model of risking safety and security to stand up for a principle he believed in — therefore his basic legal right to not be targeted with religious proselytization by his public school is irrelevant… and he deserves to be publicly derided by one of his teachers.

3) Fowler has been physically threatened. Students have threatened to “jump him” at graduation practice, and he has received multiple threats of bodily harm, and even death threats.

Enough said.

4) Fowler’s parents have cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and thrown his belongings onto the porch.

Let’s be very, very clear about this one. At a time when their son was being bullied, threatened, publicly pilloried, and ostracized from his school and his community, his parents joined the party. Their initial response was to hold him in their house against his will, take his cel phone and cut off his contact with the outside world, and even cut him off from contact with his older brother, Jerrett. Their more recent response has been to cut off financial support, kick him out of the house, and throw his belongings onto the porch.

Fortunately, Damon isn’t entirely alone. His brother Jerrett is assisting Damon, and will help put him through college; and as of the last report I’ve seen, Damon is currently living with his sister, also in Texas. And Damon is fortunate enough to have the backing of the atheist community, who are providing encouragement, emotional support, practical assistance, and even a scholarship fund. (UPDATE: The scholarship fund is now closed. Info on where you can make donations is at the end of this piece.)

More on that in a moment.

Since that’s a lot of what this story is really about.

There are a lot of hot-button issues in Damon Fowler’s story. There’s the depressing fact of how common this kind of story is: the fact that, despite the law being unambiguous on the subject, public schools around the country are continuing to sponsor prayers and otherwise promote theocracy, in flagrant violation of the law… apparently in the hopes that nobody will want to make waves and speak out against it. There’s the lack of understanding in the United States about fundamental civics: the all-too-common belief that “majority rules” in every situation, and the all-too-common failure to comprehend the principle that the minority has basic civil rights. There’s the ugly reality of anti-atheist bigotry and discrimination across the country — especially in high schools. According to JT Eberhard, high school specialist for the Secular Student Alliance, “In Alabama, Auburn High School is refusing to allow an SSA affiliate. In Cranston, Rhode Island, a public school is facing an ACLU suit for refusing to take down a sectarian prayer [a banner posted in the school gym]. In Texas we had a student who was told he could have a secular club if he called it a philosophy club and didn’t affiliate with the SSA. The list of similar situations is a mile long and these are only the ones I’ve become aware of in my first four and a half months on the job. The Fowler incident is much closer to being the norm than the exception.”

There are rants about religion to be had here as well. There’s the level of not only hostility, but panicked hostility, when entrenched religion gets its privileged status threatened. There’s the way that religion relies on social consensus to perpetuate itself — and how, when that consensus is threatened, it commonly reacts by smacking down dissent and expelling dissenters. There’s the idea that the unverifiability of religion — the beliefs in invisible, inaudible, intangible gods promising an afterlife nobody can know anything about — means that the harm done in its name has the unique capacity to spin off into the stratosphere… since there’s no reality check. There’s the image of religion as a colossal fortress protecting a house of cards: powerful, massive structures and institutions staunchly buttressed and hotly defended to ensure that nobody ever examines the ideas inside and sees how flimsy they are.

And of course — duh — there’s separation of church and state. There’s the principle that a public school should not be sponsoring prayers at graduations. What with that being a government establishment of religion and all, and thus being — oh, what’s that word? — unconstitutional.

All of that is important.

But there’s something else important going on here.

And that’s the way the atheist community has stepped up to the plate.

Damon Fowler was ostracized by his school, his town, even his parents. But he has been embraced and welcomed by the atheist community. Atheist writers have been all over this story from the moment it broke: it’s been covered on FriendlyAtheist, Pharyngula, BlagHag, the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Atheist Revolution, The Thinking Atheist, Atheist Underworld, WWJTD, Rock Beyond Belief… the list goes on. Several atheist organizations are applauding Fowler for his courage. American Atheists said of Fowler, “This kid deserves mad props for letting his principal know on no uncertain terms that ACLU would be contacted if the prayer wasn’t cancelled. Good job, Damon, you speak for the freedoms of people who are trapped in the bible-belt!” JT Eberhard, high school specialist for the Secular Student Alliance, said, “Despite the vile threats, bullying, and hatred his community has given him, we recognize Damon for what he is: a brave student speaking up for religious liberty and inclusion.” Freedom From Religion Foundation spoke about “his courage in speaking out for his and other students’ rights.”

And it’s not just the atheist thought leaders. It’s the on-the-ground community. Fowler has received an outpouring of support from atheists around the country and around the world. The “Support Damon” group on Facebook has over 10,000 members as of this writing. The Reddit post from Damon and his brother Jerrett discussing these events has been loaded with expressions of empathy and outrage. Atheist forums and blog comment threads about Fowler all over the Internet have been extensive and passionate. And many atheists have written letters to the Bastrop High School administration expressing their support for Fowler’s position and their opposition to the prayer.

This support isn’t only emotional, either. Emotional support is not trivial, of course: it’s hugely important, especially when you’re being ostracized, targeted with a hateful smear campaign, and driven from your home. But a tremendous amount of practical and financial support is coming from the atheist community as well. Many atheists have offered Fowler transportation, legal advice, meetup groups, places to stay, physical protection, connections with others who could provide additional practical help, and more. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has given Fowler a $1,000 college scholarship. And perhaps most dramatically, Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta has established a scholarship fund for Fowler, so he can attend college despite being cut off financially by his parents — and the response has been overwhelming. At the closing of the scholarship fund, the atheist community had donated over $31,000. Essentially filling the role that his parents have abandoned.

Why am I bringing this up?

One of the chunks of mud that’s most commonly slung at atheists is that we’re selfish. Amoral. That without a belief in God and the afterlife, people would have no moral compass, and would just act to please themselves, without any consideration for others. That without a belief in eternal punishment in the afterlife for bad behavior, eternal reward in the afterlife for good behavior, and a supernatural authority figure refereeing it all, people would have no reason to be good people, and no reason to avoid doing terrible things. That without religion, people would have no compassion, no sense of justice, no empathy, no desire to see society running smoothly… and would just do whatever we wanted to do.
But when Damon Fowler was suffering and in need, the atheist community stepped up. It provided compassion. It demanded justice. It offered emotional support. It offered practical support. It opened its wallets. It made it unassailably clear to Damon Fowler that he was not alone: that although his school, his community, even his parents, had all turned their backs on him, atheists would take care of him, as best they could, until he could take care of himself. It made it clear that, even though he no longer had a home in Bastrop, he had a home in this movement. When Damon Fowler was suffering and in need, the atheist community proved itself to be a real community.
If atheism means we just do whatever we want to do… then apparently, what we want to do is take care of each other. Apparently, what we want to do is help people who have been injured. Apparently, what we want to do is speak out against wrongdoing. Apparently, what we want to do is put a stop to injustice. Apparently, what we want to do is make sacrifices for people in need.

A whole lot more than the Christians in Bastrop, Louisiana.

I’m not saying that atheists are morally superior to religious believers. I don’t think that, and I’m not saying it. I’m aware that many religious believers are good, compassionate people with a strong sense of justice. I’m even aware that many religious believers, indeed many Christians, are appalled by what’s happening to Damon Fowler, and oppose it with every breath in their bodies. And I’m aware that many atheists are hostile, self-involved schmucks. (Believe me… I’m aware of that.) That’s not my point.

My point is this: Human beings don’t need God to be good. Human ethics seem to be wired into our brains, through millions of years of evolution as a social species, and every human being who isn’t a sociopath has them. Some of us act on them better than others… but we all have them. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Rastafarian, Wiccan — and atheist.

And my point is this: The next time someone tells you that atheists are selfish and amoral? Remember Damon Fowler. Remember the religious community that bullied him, harassed him, ostracized him, and drove him out.

And remember the atheist community that took him in.

The tragic tale of an atheist blogger seeking asylum in Germany

The tragic tale of an atheist blogger seeking asylum in Germany
By Esther Felden
https://www.dw.com/en/the-tragic-tale-of-an-atheist-blogger-seeking-asylum-in-germany/a-38862855

The single-room apartment in which Goswami and his family, including his wife Juthi and their 16-month-old son Adrij, currently reside is still mostly empty. 

There’s hardly any furniture in the flat; only a few suitcases at a corner, a mattress on the floor, some toys and a laptop can be found in it. The family has been living in this tiny apartment in the western German city of Aachen for the past several months.

They were forced to flee Bangladesh last year as a result of increased threats from Islamists as well as government officials. Goswami found himself in their crosshairs due to his criticism of religious radicalism and advocacy for protection of minority rights.

The 29-year-old has been blogging since 2008, focusing initially on writing short stories and poems on “somewhereinblog.net,” the South Asian country’s largest community blog platform.

Gradually, the topics he wrote about shifted to more sensitive subjects, putting him on the radar of Islamists.

After becoming an atheist a few years ago, he began criticizing religious radicalism on the internet. His blog posts on contentious issues have been read by many Bangladeshis. Even though he used pseudonyms to publish his articles, extremists managed to discover his real identity and even government officials started monitoring his online activities.

“The authorities never summoned me, but I found some of them on my Facebook and Twitter followers’ lists. I was warned several times to think about what I write online.”

Threats on Facebook

It was in 2013 when Goswami started receiving threats on his life from religious extremists.

The enormous power wielded by bloggers in the Muslim-majority country became evident that year as thousands of ordinary citizens poured on to the streets of the capital Dhaka, demanding capital punishment for the Islamist leaders who were involved in war crimes during the country’s War of Liberation against Pakistan in 1971.

Some bloggers organized the protests via a Facebook event. Islamists were alarmed, and countered the protests by leveling blasphemy allegations against some atheist bloggers.

Atheism has long been seen as a crime in Bangladesh’s conservative Islamic society. Self-proclaimed atheist bloggers like Goswami thus became a target of attacks by radicals.

At first, Goswami didn’t take the threats seriously. But when Avijit Roy, a famous Bangladeshi-American blogger, was hacked to death in February 2015, Goswami began to worry. Shortly after Roy’s murder, Goswami noticed a surge in web traffic to his blog posts. Petrified, he pulled down his blog from the internet. Yet, he got a message on Facebook: “You may think that we might have forgotten you just because you took your website off the internet. But no, we will remember you and your time will come.”

The frightened blogger turned to the police for help. “But they told me to leave the country as they couldn’t give me protection,” he told DW.

Despite the growing insecurity, Goswami remained in Dhaka, even though he reduced his regular outdoor activities. By the summer of 2015, three other secular bloggers had been killed, including Niloy Neel, a friend of Goswami.

The murders heightened the anxiety of Goswami, who was spending many sleepless nights. His wife was also worried about their increasingly precarious state. The two were also concerned about the future of their three-year-old son.

In April 2016, the risk to Goswami’s life became so great that he decided to leave his country. With the help of an international organization, he first flew to Nepal, a country where a number of Bangladeshi bloggers sought temporary shelter after the series of ghastly blogger murders.

Goswami thought that his wife and son would be safe without him in Dhaka. But he was wrong.

“When I was in Nepal, I received threatening emails and Facebook posts saying that my family would be attacked as I was not in the country. My family is the most important thing for me,” Goswami said.

The blogger later contacted the German embassy in Dhaka, which issued him a visa at the end of September 2016. He then arrived in Germany on October 9. Three months later, his wife and child followed, and the family reunited in Aachen. 

Goswami is lucky – Three international organizations supported him in bringing his family to Germany.

“Leaving my country was not an easy decision. Everyone loves their country,” he said. “But the influence of extremists and militants has become so high in Bangladesh that ordinary citizens think it’s no longer safe to practice freedom of expression.

Forget everything – at least for a moment

Arnab Goswami showed us his blog and Facebook page while sitting on the mattress in his living room in Aachen. His blog was hacked just a few days ago.

He said he doesn’t know who the culprit was, but suspects that it could be a professional hacker. When his son crawled into the room, Arnab shined. He cuddled with him, made him laugh. At that moment, he seemed to have forgotten all his worries. When his wife took the child to the kitchen, his face once again turned serious.

“My family has been going through a tough time, maybe I’m safe here, but my future is still uncertain. The fact that I have been suffering for my writing hurts me,” he said.

The couple also misses their parents, whom they left behind in Bangladesh.

But Goswami stresses that he does not regret his writing. “It was not possible for me to stop writing in exchange for a secure life in Bangladesh.”

A gloomy situation

“Of course, it’s alarming to see that liberal writers have been killed for writing blogs, but shall we stop expressing our opinion to save our lives?” The answer to this question, he said, is a clear no.  

“Someone has to come forward to write on those issues. Otherwise, our country will enter into a dark age,” he warned.

Goswami criticizes Bangladesh’s government for not doing enough to protect secular voices. “It’s clear that they have been supporting Islamists to stay in power,” he underlined. “If they continue doing so, Islamic Shariah laws will be introduced at some point. We don’t want that. That’s why we have to continue writing, even though there’s a risk of being killed.”

Goswami’s wife Juthi backs her husband. “I support my husband’s scripts. Sometimes he discusses a topic with me before writing on it as a blog. Nothing is perfect in our life. No religion is perfect. No society is perfect. Some problems are there. And It’s important to write about those problems,” she stressed. 

When Goswami is busy updating his blog site, 27-year-old Juthi takes care of their son and does the household activities. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and wants to learn the German language to explore job opportunities in Germany. But their future in the European country remains uncertain.

Aachen – and then?

Arnab Goswami’s immigration lawyer, Volker Simon, has been supporting the family since February. In the meantime, the three family members have received a residence permit that expires at the end of 2017.

Simon wants to submit an application for asylum and he is optimistic regarding the family’s chances – even if Bangladesh is not considered a priority country by the German Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). According to BAMF statistics obtained by DW, there were 2,657 asylum applications from Bangladeshi nationals received in Germany in 2016.

The quota for accepted Bangladeshi asylum seekers during this time was 10.9 percent. This includes the number of accepted asylum applications, protection from deportation and granting of refugee status.

Help from the embassy

Arnab Goswami’s case for asylum is a special circumstance. “I see good chances for a successful asylum application,” said Simon. “The German Embassy in Dhaka has emphasized that as a critic of religion, a free thinker and a blogger, Goswami is in considerable danger in his country of origin. A few of his colleagues have already been murdered.”

A tragic incident involving another Bangladeshi blogger adds to the legitimacy of Goswami’s case.

“This person applied for asylum at the Swedish embassy and in the time it took to process the application he was shot in the streets,” said Simon. At the time, this helped give Goswami a reason to get out of the country quickly. Now, his future in Germany remains uncertain. 

Societies without God are more benevolent

Societies without God are more benevolent
The pope’s visit to Britain has been the perfect excuse for many commentators to traduce secularism

By Nick Cohen
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/12/pope-benedict-atheism-secularism

Writing sometime around the 10th century BC, the furious author of Psalm 14 thundered against those who say there is no God. “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” If the denunciations of wicked atheists coming from today’s apologists for religion are any guide, the spirit of Iron Age Israel is abroad in 21st-century Britain.

In advance of the pope’s visit, clergymen and commentators are deploying every variety of bogus argument against those who advocate the superiority of secularism. Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs for the Catholic diocese of Westminster, led the way when he denounced the “wasteland” secularism produced. If he had been condemning the atheist tyrannies of communism and fascism, I would have no complaint. However, Adamus was not objecting to Cuba, China or North Korea, but to the wasteland of secular, democratic Britain “with its ever-increasing commercialisation of sex, not to mention its permissive laws advancing the ‘gay’ agenda”.

Rightwing columnists and, depressingly but predictably in these appeasing times, leftwing journalists have joined the moaning chorus. The arguments of Geoffrey Robertson QC and Professor Richard Dawkins that the cops had grounds to ask the pope to account for his church’s failure to stop the rape of children in its care drove them wild. “The hysterical and abusive nature of some of the attacks on the pope will do nothing but discredit secularism,” said Andrew Brown in the Guardian. “I accept, of course, that lots of secular humanists are tolerant and reasonable people,” says the more restrained and judicious Stephen Glover of the Mail. “But there is a hard core which embraces and promotes atheism with the blind fervour of religious zealots.”

Not all of those who condemn atheism are pious themselves, as the presence of journalists among their number suggests. Rather, they believe in piety for the masses and fear that without religion the lower orders will lose their moral bearings. “All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician and ridiculous to the philosopher,” said Lucretius. And behind many of the demands of today’s religious apologists that we “respect” Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and even the Scientology cult lies a desire to keep the plebs in their place by protecting their ridiculous but politically useful beliefs. Although I am proud to be on the board of the National Secular Society, Britain’s most urgently needed pressure group, I am not a militant atheist. I have seen too many vicars being moved by their Anglicanism to dedicate their lives to others to agree with Christopher Hitchens’s bald statement that “religion poisons everything”.

But the notion that in free countries atheism promotes intolerance and immorality is demonstrably false. Last year, Californian sociologist Phil Zuckerman responded with facts rather than witless abuse to claims from Christian psychologists and theologians that atheists were “selfish and pusillanimous curmudgeons”, “unnatural” or “just damn angry”.

He pulled together the available evidence and found that the more atheists or agnostics a free society has the more moral it becomes.

Predictably, atheists were far more likely to be tolerant supporters of women’s rights and gay rights than believers. The pope, like militant Islamists, orthodox Jews and the ultras in every faith cannot see that struggles for female and homosexual emancipation are among the most moral causes of our age. But as believers in a sternly misogynist and homophobic god, they must want to be tough on crime.

If so, they should welcome the contribution that atheists make to promoting law and order.

A study in the 1990s found that a meagre 0.2% of the US prison population were atheists. In America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates are among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon.

True, there is some evidence to suggest that atheists and agnostics are more likely to engage in underage drinking and illicit drug use. But the wider conclusion on the links between crime and religious belief holds good: if you want safe streets, move to a godless neighbourhood.

Atheism and secularism, Zuckerman continued, are also correlated with higher levels of education and lower levels of prejudice not only against women and gays, but people from other ethnicities as well. For good measure, atheists were less likely to beat their children and more likely to encourage them to think independently.

In many US courtrooms, judges restrict or deny child custody rights to atheist parents. If they want children to grow up to be law-abiding citizens, and not end up back in court as juvenile delinquents, they should stand that policy on its head.

What applies at city and state level applies internationally. Sweden, the most secular country in the world, gives the highest proportion of its gross domestic product in aid. Of the top 10 aid donors, only the United States is a strongly religious country. Needless to add, the oil-rich and religion-saturated Iran and Saudi Arabia are nowhere near making the premier league of charitable nations, which should not be a surprise because Iran concentrates its overseas efforts on exporting terrorism, while Saudi Arabia uses its petrodollars to promote its brutal Wahhabi theology.

An easy point to make is that secular democrats do not stone women to death for adultery or murder Afghan teachers for the crime of teaching girls to read and write. But it is not entirely irrelevant to the argument about the papal visit. Robertson’s and Dawkins’s enemies can accuse them of being “hysterical” and “abusive” and in the grip of the “blind fervour of religious zealots” while knowing that secularists will not respond by trying to kill them. Ever since the ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie they have not dared use the same language about real abusive and hysterical zealots, who just might.

Not that I agree with Robertson and Dawkins that the police should arrest the pope. The best way for anyone caught up in religious crimes to make amends is to convert to secularism. The odds are that they will be better people for it.

Atheist Law Student Hacked To Death In Bangladesh

Atheist Law Student Hacked To Death In Bangladesh
By Camila Domonoske
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/07/473347159/atheist-law-student-hacked-to-death-in-bangladesh

A 28-year-old atheist law student has been killed in Bangladesh. The attack follows a string of murders last year targeting outspoken advocates of secularism.

Nazimuddin Samad, a student at Jagannath University, was hacked and shot on Wednesday night while he was walking in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, The Associated Press reports. Multiple attackers, who were reportedly riding on a motorcycle, have not been identified. They escaped while praising Allah, according to the news service.

Samad was an outspoken atheist who criticized radical Islam and promoted secularism on his Facebook page, the AP writes. It adds:

“A supporter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular Awami League party, Samad also took part in the movement that successfully pushed for prosecutors to have more scope for going after suspected war criminals.”

The Dhaka Tribune describes him as an activist with that movement, which is called Ganajagaran Mancha.

The perpetrators and the motive haven’t been identified by police, the BBC reports.

Last year, at least four secular bloggers were hacked to death in Bangladesh and a publisher who worked with one of those bloggers was stabbed to death.

After one of those murders, the editor of the Dhaka Tribune, Zafar Sobhan,spoke to NPR’s Robert Siegel about the rising tensions between secularists and Islamists in Bangladesh.

Zafar Sobhan on All Things Considered

“Recently, over the last couple of years, we have had war crimes trials in Bangladesh. This is to do with our War of Independence in 1971,” Sobhan said, referring to the trials that Ganajagaran Mancha had successfully advocated for.

“Most of the people who have been put on trial are Islamists … who were collaborating with the Pakistan occupation army back in 1971. Now, war crimes trials are very important. However, I think the downside is that they have been painted as a movement against religious people, against Islamists.

“So I think as a result, those who are of a religious bent feel targeted. I think they feel as though they are on the defensive. And so they have decided to step up their opposition and step up their campaign of terror and violence.”

The government of Bangladesh — which is officially secular — has been criticized for failing to protect prominent secularists.

Last May, Rafida Ahmed, the widow of one of the bloggers, spoke to NPR’s Rachel Martin about the attack. Ahmed was injured in the attack that killed her husband.

Rafida Ahmed On Weekend Edition Sunday

“You can do very little when your elected government doesn’t give you any support, especially when these kind of brutal murders are happening,” she said. “The government has stayed completely quiet about this. The prime minister called my father-in-law privately and tried their best to keep it a secret so that nobody knows that they have sympathized with us at all.

“The prime minister’s son … gave an interview to [the press]. Pretty much said that they are walking a fine line, and they’re scared. They don’t want to side with the atheists,” Ahmed said.

After the attack on Samad, the director of public policy at the Center for Inquiry, a U.S.-based secular advocacy group, called the murder “heartbreaking and maddening.”

“The government of Bangladesh must do much more to protect its own people from marauding Islamist killers,” CFI’s Michael De Dora said in a statement. “These murders keep happening because they are allowed to happen.”

Why do theists insist atheists are all psychopaths?

Why do theists insist atheists are all psychopaths?
https://world-of-humanism.blog/2020/02/20/why-do-theists-insist-atheists-are-all-psychopaths/

I will provide a few examples from Twitter today, as it’s the same type of sweeping statement that I’ve read time and time again.

Maybe religion but not Christianity. Atheists hold the record for murder. You can call it what you will, but it was due to atheists being atheists. Only an atheist with no morality and no apparent consequences for their actions. No God means no consequences.

— ✞̳ ̳D̳a̳n̳ ̳✞̳ (@introversitive) February 20, 2020

Atheists are a bunch of people who believe they can do anything without any morality. A young lady in China was sentenced to death because she crudely killed many young children, kidnapped and tortured them before took their life. In court, she said she is an atheist.

— Ivan Pak #PPC (@ivanpak8) February 20, 2020

Because god believers are the true psychopaths and they do not like us atheists, because we are the proof that they are living their life of lies.

Atheism is Amoralism —

Over the span of the last few months, I have had a series of conversations with an atheist. This atheist is very close to me and our conversation has been rewarding for me. Both of us have tried to be honest and clear about the reasons we have for our beliefs. One recurring theme of […]

Atheism is Amoralism —

Let’s discuss the truth about Christian morality shall we?

Funny huh? Christian morality said it was perfectly ok for Christians to commit mass murder in at least 9 forced conversion programs against the Pagans called the Crusades into Northern Paganlands. Their morality said it was ok for Christians to make it a death penalty punishment in 356 AD to be a Pagan. Christian Emperor Constantine said it was morally alright for Christians to beat to death on the spot? A Pagan child playing with a Pagan statute as a child plays with a doll. Christian morality said it was ok to brutally put to death Pagan priests and priestesses, to destroy Pagan temples and to even destroy the Great Library system of Alexandria.

Christians morality said it was perfectly ok for Christians to invent brutal torture machines to torture and put to death those they declared as witches, heretics and scientists who disagreed with them.

Christian morality said it was perfectly ok to own a fellow human being as a slave. And even fought a war to keep fellow human beings as slaves.

Christian morality said it was perfectly ok to start wars between each other and slaughter each other, because the Christians from one sect said the Christians from the other sect was demonic. Leading to such things as the Thirty Year war, between Catholic and Protestant Christians which literally wiped out 75% of the Germainic region and took three generations to come back from that one.

Christian morality said it was ok for Christians to slaughter whole towns of Jewish people, and to murder more Jews on their way to the Crusades to Jerusalem and to murder every man, woman and child once they got to Jerusalem.

Christian morality said, it was ok, under their ChristoTaliban Manifest Destiny theology? To commit the worst act of mass genocide against us Native Americans of North, Central and South America, to butcher and slaughter us Natives, to starve us to death, to make us march on 1,000 mile death marches, most of the time in the middle of winter, to what Christians called reservations, but we called Death Camps and also? Christian morality said it was ok to kidnap our children, force them into Christian Industrial Schools, were they were beaten, tortured, starved, raped and destroyed and Christians felt it was their moral duty to wipe out any trace of their Native heritage.

Christian morality of these days? Says it is ok for Christians to demand brutal death penalty punishments for lgbts, atheists, Pagans and others, but no atheist, lgbt, Pagan or other that Christans say should be put to death? Has no moral right to stand up to psycho Christians like this because? Atheists, lgbts and others are then persecuting Christians.

Christian morality these days says it is perfectly ok for Christians to defend and support a proven pathological liar, a proven three time adulterer, a proven bigot and racist and misogynist pig, a proven thief and con artist, and proclaim him chosen of god and anyone who does not agree with them? Are pure evil and hate god and Jeebus and are not true Christians, but hey, Christian morality also said that during President Barack Obama’s two terms? It was ok for Christians to lie about him, insult and denigrate him, call him a Muslim, do the birther bullshit and threaten to even murder him and his family, to post memes and pictures of him and his family faces replaced with apes and monkeys, or to hang Barack Obama in effigy or burn him in effigy.

Christian morality says it is perfectly ok to demand brutal death penalty punishments for lgbts, but when someone demands death penalty punishment for their hundreds of thousands of Christians pastors and priests busted for raping kids? Or their leaders busted for protecting these pedophiles and causing more children to be raped by protecting them? Why that is evil, screams Christians and we should just forgive those pedophile priests and pastors, even if their actions? Caused their victims to commit suicide and their souls are going to hell if they did commit suicide, but their pedophile priest or pastor who raped them? All they gotta do is say a magic prayer and they get to spend eternity in heaven.

Christian morality said? It is perfectly ok to lie about us atheists, to defame and denigrate us atheists, and to even demand all our rights be taken away, our right to even hold public office has been taken from us in Christian red states, our rights to adopt children, etc? Were also taken away from us. But if an atheist stands up to this bullshit from ChristoTalibans? Why then? It is we atheists who are the evil ones persecuting you peaceful, loving, non-judgmental righteous christians.