Freethought Today · September 2012

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

In the News

Muhammad movie trailer sparks violence 

Religious rage spurred in part by a 14-minute American-made online trailer for a movie that mocks the prophet Muhammad as a buffoon, womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer sparked violence in at least six Muslim nations and is being blamed by many for the murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Killed in the U.S. Consulate on Sept. 11 were Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, and three others.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker characterized his movie, now called “Innocence of Muslims,” as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.” The actual identity of the filmmaker was unclear due to numerous aliases he’s believed to have used. He was identified by some media sources as a Coptic Christian.

CNN reported thousands of rioters and demonstrators in the streets for Friday prayer Sept. 14. A crowd in Sudan set the German embassy on fire. Crowds in Cairo tried to storm the U.S. embassy.

Four people were arrested in connection with the attack that killed the four Americans. But those arrested were not directly tied to the attack, said Monem Elyasser, chief aide to Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur.


‘Legitimate rape” rep sustained by faith

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who was urged to withdraw from his U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill by many in his party after his comments on rape became a national scandal, says his faith won’t let him quit, according to The New York Times on Aug. 22.

He said in a radio interview that recognizing “a creator, God” has been missing from the debate, and “That’s the reason why we’re going to continue.”

In an interview with St. Louis TV station KTVI, Akin, when asked why he opposes abortion in nearly all cases, replied:

“People always want to try and make that as one of those things, well, how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. “

Akin, a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, sponsored legislation to name 2008 “The National Year of the Bible” and to promote greater recognition of the Ten Commandments. Akin has also decried the removal of “God” from government. Akin, with a master’s degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, home-schooled all six of his children. He participates in bible studies and prayer groups.

If sustained by faith, Akin is also informed by faith. His claim that rape victims don’t easily get pregnant dates to a 1985 book by a leading anti-abortionist, Dr. John C. Willke, who is Catholic and former president of the National Right to Life Committee. Willke, 87, insists “way under 1 percent” of rape victims get pregnant.

One of the few peer-reviewed studies, dating to 1996 and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, estimated 5% of rapes result in pregnancy.


Legislators override gov on birth control

Missouri legislators voted Sept. 12 to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill expanding religious exceptions for insurance coverage of birth control. The override in the House got just the number of votes required — 109-45. The override passed the Senate by 26-6.

The law lets individuals, employers and insurers cite religious reasons in order to be exempt from mandatory insurance coverage for abortion, contraception and sterilization.

Critics of the law said a 2001 Missouri statute already requires birth control prescriptions to be covered under policies with drug benefits. That law also lets insurers offer policies without contraception coverage for those who object.


Snake-handling pastor’s resolution fails

The Campbell County Commission in Jacksboro, Tenn., voted 10-2 in July against a resolution calling for the legalization of snake-handling.

The proposal came from Andrew Hamblin, the 21-year-old pastor of Tabernacle Church of God, who told WBIR that the state law restricts how he worships. “My main thing is to see lost people saved. I’d love to do it under the anointment of God with two rattlers in my hand!”

However, Tennessee state law prohibits anyone from owning venomous snakes --— making Hamblin’s practice during services illegal.

After the vote, Hamblin said, “We’ll pray harder, seek the Lord a little longer and we’ll come back and try it again.”


Taliban blamed for 17 party beheadings

Taliban militants in Afghanistan beheaded 15 men and two women for holding a late-night party, Afghan officials told the U.K. Telegraph on Aug. 27.

Nematullah Khan, governor of Musa Qala, said it was unclear if the victims had been shot dead before being beheaded.

An elder from the area, Juma Khan, said, “Unfortunately, the young men do this sometimes. They had a party with music and dancing and they were behaving badly with the women.”


Claims filed in baptismal pool death

The  parents of the 1-year-old boy who died earlier this year after drowning in a baptismal pool at a day-care ministry in Indianapolis are suing a state agency for negligence. Juan Cardenas and Maricela Serna filed a suit earlier against the ministry, Assembly of God, and its umbrella organization, Indiana District Assemblies of God.

Juan Carlos Cardenas drowned Feb. 22, after apparently wandering off during lunch.

The claim alleges the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration “negligently inspected” the facility before and after the drowning. A November 2011 agency inspection showed that Praise Fellowship had violated 18 health, safety and sanitation standards and was issued citations.

“The bottom line is the state of Indiana was sanctioning this unlicensed day care,” said attorney Stephen Wagner. “If they had done a good job of inspecting the day care, they would’ve shut it down sooner.”

Praise Fellowship closed voluntarily after the agency pulled out of a voucher program.

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