All posts tagged: religious

Religious imagery for a spiritually syncretic era

Religious imagery for a spiritually syncretic era

(RNS) — When pop icon Taylor Swift disclosed her religion in the 2020 Netflix documentary “Miss Americana,” she was unambiguous. “I live in Tennessee. I’m a Christian. That’s not what we stand for,” she said in 2018 in response to Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and LGBTQ rights. But these days, Swift’s faith appears more fluid. Her religious references are as eclectic as a Brooklyn thrift shop — well-worn Christian metaphors sit alongside a more bohemian mishmash of witchcraft, divination and paganism. Her newest release, “The Tortured Poets Department,” is a patchwork of religious allusions, from good Samaritans and Jehovah’s Witnesses to altar sacrifices and prophecies. Whatever her personal beliefs, the syncretism displayed in the sprawling 31-song double album — which racked up 300 million listens in 24 hours, making it Spotify’s most streamed album in one day — is emblematic of the religious mishmash of millennial and Generation Z religion writ large. These days, roughly 28% of U.S. adults identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” and a …

Iowa lawmakers address immigration, religious freedom and taxes in 2024 session

Iowa lawmakers address immigration, religious freedom and taxes in 2024 session

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After a marathon day that stretched into Saturday’s early hours, Iowa lawmakers wrapped up a four-month legislative session that focused on reforming the way special education is managed and speeding up tax cuts. The Republican-led General Assembly also waded into issues like immigration and religious freedom, which have proven core to the party’s 2024 campaign message. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, pushed many priorities through the Legislature after submitting 18 requests for bill drafts, more than any other year of her tenure and any other governor since 2006, publicly available data shows. Here’s a look at the issues that made headlines: REYNOLDS’ PRIORITIES DOMINATE SESSION Education was a key issue for Reynolds this session, including one proposal to revise the state’s education system for students with disabilities that consumed lawmakers’ attention. Reynolds wanted school districts to be able to choose how to use their special education dollars. For decades, those funds have gone directly to cooperatives known as area education agencies, or AEAs, that provide special education services. A compromise …

Teaching assistant loses religious discrimination claim over Christmas Grinch award | UK News

Teaching assistant loses religious discrimination claim over Christmas Grinch award | UK News

A Muslim teaching assistant who claimed that being given the Christmas Grinch prize at a staff award ceremony amounted to religious discrimination has lost his employment tribunal case. Salah Toughfar said he was “upset and distressed” to have been compared to the Dr Seuss character – despite not knowing anything about the mean-tempered creature until a colleague showed him an internet description. The learning support assistant, who still works at The Grove School in north London, later complained about the audience laughing at him as he collected his trophy. His claims of direct discrimination and harassment related to his religion were dismissed by a tribunal, which said the reception he received was no different to the other winners. The Grinch is best known as the main character of the 1957 children’s book How The Grinch Stole Christmas and was also portrayed by Jim Carrey in a 2000 film. Mr Toughfar, a practising Muslim from Morocco, began working at the school in April 2020. The Search Education Trust-run school is a specialist free school for students …

Ofsted report into Religious Education shows long overdue need for reform, says Humanists UK

Ofsted report into Religious Education shows long overdue need for reform, says Humanists UK

The UK Government must carry out long overdue reform of the teaching of Religious Education (RE) to meet the needs of modern society, says Humanists UK in response to another Ofsted review.  In its deep-dive report into RE – Deep and meaningful? – Ofsted found that the current curriculum often lacks ‘sufficient substance to prepare pupils to live in a complex world’. It also found that here was a ‘profound misconception among some leaders and teachers that ‘teaching from a neutral stance’ equates to teaching a non-religious worldview’, On the issue of non-religious worldviews inspectors reported that ‘curriculums typically contained little about both defined non-religious traditions, such as Humanism, and the complexity of contemporary beliefs’. The report also heard from pupils themselves who said the subject ‘did not reflect their experience of living in a complex world’. One pupil told inspectors: ‘We learn what the Pope thinks about something, and that’s fine. But what about other thinkers, such as Humanists?’ In 2015 the High Court ruled that non-religious worldviews like humanism should be given ‘equal …

Religious Litter Fueling Viral Atheist Activist Movement

Religious Litter Fueling Viral Atheist Activist Movement

One person’s trash is another’s treasure. In this case, the trash is illegally-hung signage shouting slogans like “Jesus or Hell” or “Jesus is King! Except it!” The treasure hunters are atheist activists with a mission to rid the world of proselytizing trash hung unconstitutionally on public property. In a short time, they’ve turned a small club for tracking and removing religious litter into a fast-growing activist network closing in on 100 members across the country. Various religious signs on display at Atheist Street Pirates’ 2023 Art Exhibit & Party The Atheist Street Pirates is a program of L.A.-based Atheists United, a regional affiliate of the American Humanist Association. A motley team of volunteer “pirates” first launched the program by building an interactive map to track illegal religious signage in Los Angeles, mostly found on telephone poles and highway overpasses. Eventually, they began cleaning the streets themselves, attracting worldwide media attention. This time last year, they were boasting nearly 500 signs removed since 2021. An Art Exhibit & Party in L.A. highlighting their work drew almost …

Allowing more religious selection in schools would be a big mistake

Allowing more religious selection in schools would be a big mistake

Social cohesion is one of our country’s biggest concerns as our population grows increasingly diverse. You’d therefore think it would be unwise, to say the least, to put forth policy which would increasingly divide England’s children according to religion, race and social grade. But that’s what the Government may well do. Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to allow faith-based academies to select all pupils based on religion. A third of state schools in England are faith schools. They come in different varieties, with different rules. For example, most state funded Catholic faith schools are voluntary aided, which means they can select 100% of their pupils by reference to religion when oversubscribed, usually through proof of baptism or regular church attendance. But these days, faith schools usually open under the academies system. In this system, different rules apply. When the academies system was still new in 2010, a ‘50% cap rule’ was introduced to make sure new state funded academies could no longer select all children by religion. The rule requires all new religious academies to …

New Year celebrations unite religious groups across the South Asian diaspora

New Year celebrations unite religious groups across the South Asian diaspora

(RNS) — For the past week, between April 9 and 15, South Asians celebrated the beginning of a new year with friends and family. Although originating in the Hindu luni-solar calendar — the Vedic auspicious month of Chaitra marks the beginning of a joyous new spring season and harvest — New Year celebrations have been adopted and adapted by religions and cultures across the Indian subcontinent. Indians from all backgrounds celebrate according to their community’s socio-religious customs and unique calendars, from Ugadi for Telegus and Kannadigas in the southern states to the Gudi Padwa festival of western Maharashtra to the northern Assamese New Year celebration of Bohag Bihu, just to name a few. And for those who immigrated to the United States from India, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka, these New Year celebrations emphasize an important aspect of South Asian diasporic identity: the cultural heritage they share, rather than religious differences. “It’s not just about crops,” said Sahej Preet Singh, a Sikh man from the northwestern state of Punjab, who moved to the United States …

Vatican complains after French court rules in favor of nun dismissed from religious order

Vatican complains after French court rules in favor of nun dismissed from religious order

ROME (AP) — The Holy See said Saturday it formally protested to France after a court there ruled that a former high-ranking Vatican official was liable for what the court determined to be the wrongful dismissal of a nun from a religious order. The Lorient tribunal on April 3 ruled in favor of the nun, Sabine de la Valette, known at the time as Mother Marie Ferréol. The court issued a scathing denunciation of the secretive process the Vatican used to kick her out of the order, the Dominicans of the Holy Spirit, after an internal investigation. The case is highly unusual, because it represented a secular civilian court essentially determining that the Vatican’s in-house canonical procedures grossly violated the nun’s fundamental rights. In a statement Saturday, the Vatican said it had formally protested to the French embassy that it had received no notification of any such verdict, but that the ruling nevertheless represented a “grave violation” of the right to religious freedom. The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis had tasked Cardinal Marc Ouellet, at …

The next war will be religious!

The next war will be religious!

Are you religious? Many people are, but the events, in the news, that change the world, are not religious. For example, people argue about climate change, gender orientation, vaccines, money and economics, race, and what did I miss? Religion doesn’t usually get the lead story in the secular news. That was true, but just today, world news started changing. By the time you read this, you will probably know a lot more than I do right now. Apparently, Iran has fired hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, and until now there have been no casualties mentioned. The casualty is world peace. One sovereign nation is starting a war with another one, and both sides have the weapons and the soldiers to make this a huge conflict. This has the potential to be very serious, and to change the history of the world. Apparently, BitCoin has suddenly lost value. Clearly, some investors are following the news. We all know this is very serious. World War 1 started with the assassination of one Austrian prince, and …

Religious leaders, education experts, and public figures call on Education Secretary to keep the faith school admissions cap

Religious leaders, education experts, and public figures call on Education Secretary to keep the faith school admissions cap

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is amongst religious leaders, parliamentarians, education experts, and prominent public figures who are calling on Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to keep restrictions on faith-based admissions criteria in new state-funded faith schools – the so-called ‘50% cap’ – in place. This follows reports in the Sunday Times that the Government is considering allowing 100% religious selection in state-funded faith schools in England.  The letter, which was organised by Humanists UK, states that removing the 50% cap – a safeguard in making sure that faith schools do not exclude all children who live locally whose families do not share the same beliefs – would ‘be a backwards step that risks increasing division and inequality’.  This is the second time the removal of the cap has been floated, with then Prime Minister Theresa May announcing a proposal in her first domestic speech as Prime Minister in 2016 . The policy was later dropped in 2018 following a campaign led by Humanists UK.  Alongside Dr Williams, other signatories include Chief Officer of …