Sunday, 13 April 2014

Women's lives in Iran

Our April talk was given by Sahar who discussed the changes affecting women's lives in Iran over the 20th century up until recent times. It was a most enlightening talk that had the audience captivated. On behalf of all attendees, I would like to say a very big thank you.

The May talks will come in two parts:
Part one; "The Russian Orthodox church versus Atheism"
Michael Nadyarnyy will discuss the Orthodox Church in Russia and why seventy years of communism failed to eradicate religiosity in Russia. He will also discuss how religion has been and still is used politically in Russia today. 
Part two; "A heathen in the Kingdom" 
Brad wanted to make this presentation in April, however he had a family emergency. So he will now present his talk in May.
Brad has lived for many years in the Middle East, living in and frequently visiting countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. He has mixed and done business with people from all of these countries. Brad will discuss the many idiosyncrasies and contradictions of life and attitudes in these countries. His talk will be an absolute eye opener. 
For safety reasons, Brad's talk will not be video recorded

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sydney Atheists a terrorist organisation?

From Time magazine comes this quote regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

In February, the kingdom enacted a new counterterrorism law whose definition of terrorist includes any member of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood and anyone embracing “atheism.” Another provision of the new law: someone suspected of planning terrorism can be held for up to a year without charges. Government supporters claim the law was designed to stop Saudis from fighting in Syria. But the language of the law is so sweeping, says Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, that it criminalizes “any sort of critical speech as terrorism.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would potentially classify up to 23% of Australians as terrorists. Then there are all the other atheists around the world who would have to be mindful of visiting this frightening country.

Don't miss the Friday 11th of March talk "A heathen in the Kingdom"

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

God works in mysterious ways!

Man swept out to sea during Sunday morning baptism

During the baptism Sunday morning, one of the participants got swept out to sea. Emergency crews had failed to find him by nightfall, according to news reports.
The pastor, Mauro Cervantes, told KCOY-TV that his cousin, Benito Flores, was helping him baptize a man when a rogue wave pulled him into the ocean. Cervantes said he tried to grab his cousin, but a second wave took him, The Associated Press reported. The cousin was dragged out with two other people just before 10 a.m. Pacific time at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, Cervantes told the Santa Maria Times. The other two returned to shore during the service.
Cervantes said “A  big wave came and took Benito, I  tried to take him out,  he was heavy and then another big wave came,” he told KCOY TV.
The second wave pulled his cousin from the shore.
Santa Barbara County Battalion Chief Diondray Wiley, said  “There were three people  initially, two were able to self  rescue and the one, is the one that’s unaccounted for.”
In addition to Santa Barbara County fire crews and the agency’s water rescue team, others helping in the search were from Guadalupe, Vandenberg and Santa Maria fire departments as well as the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team, the Times reported. Helicopters from the county Air Support Unit and the Coast Guard also aided in the search. The Coast Guard sent a vessel from Morro Bay, Capt. David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department told the Times.
The preserve, near of the town of Guadalupe, has sand dunes more than 550 feet high, the tallest on the West Coast. Officials warn on its website the surf can be “very dangerous.”
This is also the location that was used in 1923 to film “The Ten Commandments” by Cecil B. DeMille, according to the website.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Just in time for one of our April talks: "A heathen in the Kingdom" 
comes this article from the Richard Dawkins Foundation:

Why Are Saudis Tearing Up the Quran?More Sharing Services
Saudi Arabia is not the go-to country when you think of atheism, being one of the world’s most repressive Islamic societies. Turns out we may have them pegged all wrong. A 2012 Gallup poll revealed that there is a similar proportion of atheists in Saudi Arabia as in the United States and parts of Europe, and what’s more, those atheists are being increasingly vocal, despite the threat of violence against them.
Atheists in Saudi Arabia tend to keep a low profile (because beheadings), and because Islamic law is the law of the land, they often maintain a semblance of religious observance in public. Not so online, where they’re skirting danger and expressing their atheism via anonymous accounts. The dual existence makes for some incongruous posting—like the user below, defiantly declaring atheism from Mecca, with the holy Qabaa stone in the background.
To read more:

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Should Priests be above the law?

From the Sydney Morning Herald comes this article: 

Confession must be subject to mandatory reporting

Bryan Keon-Cohen, Joseph Poznanski
The absolute confidentiality of the Catholic Church's 
confessional puts vulnerable children at risk.

Illustration: Andrew Dyson.
Illustration: Andrew Dyson.
While the Catholic Church appears willing to accept the Victorian parliamentary committee's recommendations in its report Betrayal of Trust, the church hierarchy rejects the application of a mandatory reporting regime to the sacrament of Penance, that is, the Confessional.
The report also declined to extend mandatory reporting to compel priests, in appropriate circumstances, to break the Seal of the Confessional. COIN (Commission of Inquiry Now) disagrees.

Read more:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The dunghill origins of morality

Posted 25th March
While vast numbers of people across the world (and Australia) continue to equate godlessness with a lack of morality, unbelievers can feel confident in their virtues, writes Michael Collett.
Is it necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Opposition to Religious Instruction in Victorian Schools Grows

A growing number of principals in Victoria are examining the teaching going on in "Chrisitan Religious Education" classes offered in their schools. In February The Age reported that Joe Kelly, a principal with decades of experience in primary education, chose to investigate the Religious Instruction classes offered by an ACCESS Ministries volunteer. He found that "It has no value whatsoever. It is rubbish - hollow and empty rhetoric … My school teachers are committed to teaching children, not indoctrinating them."

Recently, after parents raised concerns about Religious Instruction (RI) classes in Murrumbeena Primary the school decided to suspend RI for a term to let parents make an informed decision about their child's participation.

Recently it has surfaced that an RI teacher in a Victorian school, Karen Dobby, ran as a candidate for the "Australian Christians" party in last year's federal election. Dobby received 0.86% of the primary vote, with 743 votes, less than the 4375 informal votes. Christian parents in the electorate of Issacs have the right to vote against Karen Dobby at the polls if they believe she doesn't share their values, but have no say over the standards of religious instruction that their children receive in schools. Many parents don't want their children to be told that dinosaur bones don't exist by a zealous volunteer from a Pentecostal megachurch if they go to a small Anglican church.

Dobby describes her reason for running in the election saying "[Australian Christians] will uphold Godly values in this nation." She outlines her political philosophy as a person who is "concerned about what’s happening within this nation":
-  Freedom of speech is under threat;- Pressure to have Extreme discrimination laws put in place is underway;
- Constant pressure to allow Same Sex Marriage which will have a huge negative impact on the family unit as we know it now;
- A constant push for ‘diversity’ actually encourages young people into homosexuality by making it sound ‘normal’ rather than encouraging them to fight against early thoughts of same sex attractions that they might be dealing with in their teenage minds;
- The Christian culture in this nation is under threat – ‘Christmas’ to be known as the ‘holiday season’… no singing Christmas carols because it may offend other nationalities…when entering banks other religions can wear full head/face garments, but we MUST remove bike helmets,…. no crucifix jewellery permitted in schools with strict jewellery policies, but muslim students can still wear their full religious attire.  What’s happening??
- Political madness is rampant;
- Abortion rates are outrageous because women are not given accurate information about the health/emotional risks;  It’s constantly being encouraged as acceptable which makes it available like a contraceptive method.  A MCG full of babies (100,000) were aborted in Australia in 2011.
ONLY in Victoria, abortions can take place up to 40 weeks…yes the day before giving birth!  Over 200 cases in Victoria last year of full term abortions.  I’m sorry, but why are we allowing the killing of innocent little babies?  Like it or not, abortion is another word for killing.  At 4 weeks or 40 weeks it IS a life.
-Muslims aren’t having abortions…they’re multiplying dramatically!
-Employed medical staff (including nurses) can be charged for breaching the law if they refuse to conduct/assist with an abortion;
-Sex education in schools now talks openly and explicitly about the many different ways of having sex with the same or opposite gender….and at any age that suits because ‘they know best!’
‘Australian Christians’ is a political party that is trying to infiltrate the federal government.  It is not affiliated with any religious movement.  We have a variety of candidates and supporters, including ‘muslim born’ people (who are now Catholic/Christians) standing up and fighting against the infiltration of the Islamic culture.  They don’t want it in this great nation…which is why they left countries like Egypt in the first place!
We need to get people into the political realm in this nation that will stand up/speak up for what should be ‘the majority’ but unfortunately the minority are having their say way too loudly.
You don’t have to be a Christian to share the views above.  I know many non-Christians who are alarmed and frustrated about what’s going on.
Get informed….get involved….speak up!
I refuse to believe the lie that you can’t make a difference, because the truth is we CAN!

Dobby has every right to publish her views and run on a platform that represents her values. But she shouldn't be getting access to children without the parents understanding her perspective, or that the organisation sees schools as a “mission field” in which to “make disciples.”

Dobby has resigned from her position on the board of the Foster Care Association of Victoria over her provocative expression of her views. She continues to work for ACCESS ministries in Victoria because unlike many other organisations, it has hardly any oversight of its volunteers.

The Victorian Department of Education tells parents that "Christian Religious Education" classes give students "some understanding of stories, festivals, worship and symbols of the Christian faith in the community." They don't explain honestly how volunteers from megachurches are teaching creationism and how everyone who doesn't go to Christian churches will go to hell.

We encourage parents in NSW to look at how Religious Instruction teachers have been claiming to "cure" homosexuals and teaching racist and sexist ideas, and to let your school's principal know of your concerns.

Parents from Fairness in Religion in Schools