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Urgent action – juveniles to be executed in Iran

An urgent message from the IHEU:

Behnoud Shojaee and Akram Mahdavi are scheduled to be executed in Evin prison this Sunday October 11, 2009, which falls one day after the International Day Against Execution.

They were under 18 when they committed the crimes they’ve been sentenced for. Please read the IHEU report and act now.

Theos research class, education and atheism

Andrew Brown of the Guardian made a lot of readers cross when he wrote that atheists are all middle-class, Aga-owning snobs. Now Theos, the public theology think tank, says that

Although atheists have historically been drawn from upper social grades and higher education levels, the research shows that converts to atheism are disproportionately drawn from groups with no educational qualifications whereas converts to theism are disproportionately drawn from higher socio-economic grades and from people with a masters degree or higher.

Roman Polanski is NOT a humanist

Hollywood stars who’ve supported film director Roman Polanski, arrested for a rape he committed in 1977, may be regretting rushing to his defence, as public opinion, led by some outspoken women, has condemned him.

According to The Telegraph,

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein said Polanski was a “humanist” who had been the victim of a “miscarriage of justice”.

Oh no he isn’t.

Polly Toynbee, Iran’s enemy

Polly ToynbeeBHA President Polly Toynbee has been cited in the official Iranian media as “One of the great conspirators who wants to overthrow the Islamic regime,” according to a contributor to the BBC’s Dateline London yesterday.

Polly said this is probably because of her presidency of the BHA, “… and we tend to attack all religions.”

You have 6 days to see the programme using BBC i-Player.

Three Cheers for Us!

Apparently, we’ve won an award from the British Humanist Association for The Best Group Website, with a certificate and everything! Hooray! Denis Johnston, our secretary, collected it at yesterday’s Groups Annual Meeting (GRAM) in London. Thank you Denis.

No acceptance speech from me, but a big thank you to our webmaster, my son Nathan Nelson, who keeps the technical show on the web, as it were.

Today is Blasphemy Day

Today is Blasphemy Day, a day to promote free speech and to stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticise, and satirise religion without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal. Find out more on the New Humanist Blog, then blaspheme away!

Soul music on Radio 4

StraussIn case you didn’t hear it, I was on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Soul Music’ yesterday, talking about a piece of music by Richard Strauss from Four Last Songs. I was introduced to it by a funeral client.

You can listen again on the BBC’s i-player for the next week or so, or it’s repeated on Saturday at 3.30pm. Be warned; several people have said it made them cry, so have a tissue handy.

An Atheist’s Guide to Christmas

Atheists GuideAn Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is in the shops now (and if it isn’t, it jolly well should be). Edited by the lovely Ariane Sherine, of Atheist Bus fame, a whole bunch of atheists, including some very funny ones, have contributed their thoughts about the festive season, including how to avoid it.

The royalties will go to the UK charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, which seems particularly appropriate now that Pope Benedict, that homophobic old goat*, is about to visit the UK with his message that condoms shouldn’t be used in countries where AIDS is rife.

You can buy the book now at Amazon, or take a trip down to your local bookshop and demand that they put it in a window display.

*Actually, I take the goat insult back – I like goats.

More Islamic bigotry at the UN

The Islamic states and their allies at the UN, including China, want to censor and condemn free expression, usually on religious grounds. Read more on the IHEU website:

In a brave attempt at the Human Rights Council to re-establish their credentials as a team player on the world stage, the United States is co-sponsoring a resolution with Egypt on Freedom of Expression. The intent of the resolution is, in the words of the Egyptian delegate, to bring the Human Rights Council “to a point of convergence” on what has become the most divisive and contentious issue in the short history of the Council.

Meanwhile, gay Humanists have issued a press release about the “homophobic public pronouncements of Mr Ali Abdussalam Trekki, the new Libyan President of the UN General Assembly”. Ali Abdussalam Treki opened the Assembly session stating that homosexuality “was not acceptable for most of the world”.