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Christianity dominates United Nations, concludes study

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Christianity dominates the United Nations and a more inclusive system must be introduced at the world peace-making organisation, according to a new study. The report Religious NGOs and The United Nations found that Christian NGOs are overrepresented at the UN in comparison to other religious groups.
The Independent

Muslim village near Gujarat mowtown strikes it rich
The Gujarat government will give Rs 350 crore to a Muslim-dominated village near Sanand in Ahmedabad district where land prices have appreciated 25 times in the past five years.
The Times of India

Just You Wait: Church for atheists, possible trend for 2014
In an online video the creators of The Sunday Assembly posted, they explain what it’s all about. “It’s all the best bits of Church but with no religion and awesome pop songs. It’s a celebration of life. And it’s not a cult.” The video uses lots of humor, it makes sense given that its starts, the creators of The Sunday Assembly movement, are in fact comedians.

 Muslim states should broaden rights of non-Muslims, says Islamic alliance
The outgoing head of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) has said Muslim states ought to broaden rights for religious minorities. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who stepped down on Monday after nine years as secretary general of the 57-country group representing the Islamic world, also said western countries should do more to combat an increase of prejudice against Muslims there.
The Guardian

2013: Atheism’s 10 defining moments
Atheism was in the headlines perhaps more than ever before in 2013. To highlight some of atheism’s defining moments and trends from the last year, I worked with a panel of ten writers, scholars, and activists to come up with ten major moments or currents in American atheism from 2013. Their contributions are below.
Religion News Service

Russia Will Get Tougher On Islamic Religion
The recent series of terrorists attacks which have taken place in Russia, in which tens of people were killed, are events that are only adding to the nation’s already growing tension against Islam, and it as well prefigures a religious inquisition being imposed on Muhammad’s heresy. According to the pro-Russian government newspaper, Izvestiya, Russian security officials are aspiring to impose certain measures to control uncontrolled immigration, and also imposing surveillance on women who have converted to Islam.
Walid Shoebat

10 Reasons Freethinkers Can Look Forward to a Bright 2014
Days may be dark right now — after all, as the memes proclaim, axial tilt is the reason for the season. But things are looking bright for those who would like to see humanity more grounded in science and reason. If you are a nontheist in the mood for a party, here are ten reasons to celebrate.

Results of my qualitative study of attitudes and religious motivations of philosophers of religion
My last blogpost for this year will be a preliminary report on the qualitative survey I launched last month. In this open survey, I asked professional philosophers of religion (including graduate students) about their motivations and personal belief attitudes, and how their work relates to these beliefs. I am very grateful to all who participated (an amazing 151 respondents!), and to the British Academy for funding this research.
The Prosblogion

The biggest religion you’ve never heard of: Havering Bahais celebrate 50 years in the borough
Despite the Bahai faith being one of the fastest growing religions in the world, not many people know much about it. Devotees believe that their prophet, Bahá’u’lláh, predicted the fall of Napoleon, both World Wars and the end of apartheid in South Africa and that its message should be listened to by world leaders.
Romford Recorder

Phanigiri Buddhist Site Excavation to Begin This Month
In what is considered a Buddhist site as great as the Nagarjunakonda and Amaravathi, the State Department of Archaeology and Museums, this month, will go all out for once and all to excavate the untapped areas of Phanigiri Hills of Tirumalagiri mandal in Nalgonda district. The vast hillock that housed a Buddhist monastery about 2000 years ago, derived its name from the shape that resembles a snake-hood.
The New Indian Express

Overcoming Anger And Making Way for a Joy Revolution
They may come from different traditions within Buddhism, but in their new book, Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be a Whole Lot Happier (Hay House, 2013), Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg are essentially saying the same thing. Our anger- and fear-based culture could use an intervention. A peaceful, enlightened intervention. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher and founder of Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, Thurman delves into spiritual philosophy with intellectual rigor. Salzberg—a regular presenter at Menla and at the Garrison Institute—uses her nationally known meditation and mindfulness wisdom to offer practical advice for everyday living. Here, they give a new twist to the idea of anger management, offering teachings not just about Buddhism, but also about ourselves.

It won’t hurt Christians not using the word Allah, says Dr Mahathir
The belief or faith of the Christians in the peninsula in the religion will not be affected even if they do not use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to their God, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The former prime minister said the Arabic term for God was only a common usage among Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.
The Star

Sacred mountain of wonders
Mount Emei, 127 km from Sichuan’s capital of Chengdu, is one of Buddhism’s four sacred mountains in China; the others are Wutai in Shanxiprovince, Jiuhua in Anhui province and Putuo in Zhejiang province. Buddhism reached the mountain about 2,000 years ago, and Mount Emei, with its approximately 30 monasteries, is a pilgrimage for Buddhists today. The 1,612-year-old Wannian Temple, which is 1,020 meters above the sea level, is the oldest temple on the mountain. The mountain’s patron, Bodhisattva Puxian (or Samantabhadra), is worshipped in the most sacred building on Mount Emei, a square brick hall topped with a stupa-like dome. The hall is made totally of bricks and stones, and houses a magnificent bronze statue of Puxian and his mount, a six-tusked elephant with its feet resting on lotuses.

Freedom of Thought Under Siege Around the Globe: When You are Not Free to Not Believe
Much of the world has just celebrated the most sacred Christian holiday, yet persecution of Christians has never been fiercer, especially in the Middle East.  Other faiths also suffer varying degrees of persecution. Nonbelievers also often are mistreated.  The lack of religious belief is less likely to be punished by communist and former communist regimes.  But such systems penalize almost all independent thought.
Cato Institute

Belief in God doesn’t undermine evolution
Both atheists and religionists polarize the debate. Atheists sometimes wield evolution as a hatchet to discredit religion, and religionists sometimes claim that evolution is incompatible with faith because it does not conform to a literal reading of the Bible’s Book of Genesis.
USA Today

The War on Atheists
There’s a recent essay making the rounds in my part of the Facebook world, where the author reveals that atheists are educated elites who can afford to indulge their belief, or, probably its more accurate to say non-belief, and are absolute jerks for saying out loud what a lot of people fear might be true: there is no God. Their unpleasant character is taken as evidence of something. What that something is, appears obvious to me.

A Jewish wish list for 2014
In no special order, here are 10 wishes for our community for the coming year:
Jewish Journal

I Am Not a Statistic
I’m just me. A single human being trying to make sense of the world that I find myself in. I can’t speak for other Hindus or even other Advaitans. I have my understanding that makes sense to me, but all I can know is my own heart.


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