Freethought Today · May 2014

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Newsnotes

Humanists now Army ‘religious’ option 

Lt. Col. Sunset Belinsky, a U.S. Army spokeswoman, said April 22 that the “preference code for humanist” as a religious preference became effective April 12 for all members of the Army.

According to Religion News Service, that means fewer hurdles for seculars trying to organize. It could also lay the groundwork to add humanist chaplains.

Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, has been pushing for greater recognition of humanists in the armed services; in February, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Pentagon on Bradley’s behalf.

“This is a big victory,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

Reserve Maj. Ray Bradley, Fort Bragg, N.C., who serves in the Medical Service Corps, said it took the Army two years to approve his request. On a section of MAAF’s website titled “Atheists in Foxholes, in Cockpits, and on Ships,” Bradley says this:
“It never bothers me to keep my head up in formation while others are praying. And I’ve noticed over the years that more soldiers do the same. I doubt there are that many more atheists today. Most likely, fewer feel afraid to reveal they are not Christian. And though religion is strong and apparent among many in the military, I believe it is the unbowed heads in the formation that remind the world that we are united by freedom above all else.” 

 

Arizona atheist tosses hat in ring

James Woods, an open atheist who is also blind, announced his candidacy April 27 to run as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., in a heavily Republican district.

If elected, Woods, a member of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, would be the only “out” atheist in Congress. He told Religion News Service, “I believe in human ingenuity. We can solve problems to improve our lives and the lives of people around us. You don’t need religion for that.”

He lost his sight seven years ago at age 26 to a life-threatening staph infection.

Islamist group abducts Nigerian schoolgirls

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on May 14 rejected a swap of jailed Muslim extremists for hundreds of schoolgirls a militant group kidnapped April 14. Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls as they studied for final exams at a boarding school in Chibok. Some have escaped. It’s estimated about 200 girls are still being held captive.

According to Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram rewards recruits by offering them sex slaves. Western education is also seen as sinful.

More than 70 people were killed April 14 in explosions at a bus station in the capital Abuja. The BBC reported Boko Harma is suspected to be behind the attacks, which were similar to previous ones.

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