South African court bars schools from promoting any one religion

Last month I wrote about a legal challenge brought by a of South African secularist group OGOD (Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie that translates as Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy) challenging the practice of many public schools that promoted Christianity, thus subverting the neutral official religious instruction policy as outlined in the government’s National Policy on Religion and Education. They took aim at six schools that were accused of promoting Christianity and suppressing the teaching of evolution.
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What is it with the Ten Commandments?

Yesterday, a 6,000 pound monument to the Ten Commandments was installed on the grounds of the Arkansas state capital building. Then that very night, someone drove into the monument and destroyed it. The driver has been arrested and it is not clear what his motives were. Maybe he was trying to emulate Moses who also smashed up the tablets on which the commandments were written (Exodus 32:19). Not many people recall that bit of the story.
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The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

The novelist E. M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote books such as A Passage to India, Howard’s End, and A Room With a View that deal with life in Victorian England and its empire, casting a wry look at the mores of the British bourgeoisie, the kind of material that is ideal fodder for Merchant-Ivory films. He is not known as a science fiction writer and so I was surprised to learn that in 1909 he wrote a futuristic short story with the title The Machine Stops that is available online.
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Germany may allow same-sex marriage within a week

I had assumed that Germany was one of those enlightened countries where same-sex marriages had long been legal and lesbians and gays could adopt children. I was wrong. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been opposed to both those issues being brought up for a vote in the Bundestag, the German parliament. But she now she seems to have had a change of heart. Or at least is bowing to political necessity.
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Comments on the soul

I am not sure how many people read the comments to my posts but quite often the commenters are very knowledge and their comments are more informative than the posts themselves. My post yesterday on questions about the soul is one such case. If anyone is interested in learning about the origins of the various concepts concerning the soul, I strongly urge you to read the comments to that post.

Another attack based on lies?

When there was a ghastly tragedy on April 4th, 2017 in Idlib, Syria that killed a large number of civilians, there were immediate media reports that it was due to a sarin chemical attack by the Syrian government, aided by their ally Russia. The Trump administration was quick to accept this claim and less than two days later, Trump made an emotional speech about the deaths of children to justify the US unleashing a missile attack on a Syrian airfield to supposedly punish Syria for the attack.
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Can the minds of anti-vaxxers be changed?

The frightening and false information that is being propagated by anti-vaxxers has led many people to either not vaccinate their children or decide on changing the rate at which the dosages are given, which is also dangerous. These people claim that they are not anti-vaccine but are merely seeking safer vaccines or methods of delivery. But their actions are harming the population at large.
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The basis for the Conservative-DUP alliance

Robert Mackey writes that Theresa May in order to have a working majority in parliament has bought the allegiance of the reactionary Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland by offering them a bribe of one billion pounds in social welfare spending. This has just added to her image as someone desperately wanting to cling to power. But another factor that is driving this alliance is their mutual fear that if the May government collapses, another election could see Labour being swept into power and (oh, the horror!) Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister
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Where is your soul located?

When I came across this article by Candida Moss and Jessica Baron with the title Where in your body is your soul? I groaned, expecting yet another mushy spiritual mess. (I am sure that many readers of this blog had a similar reaction when seeing the post title.) But it is actually quite an interesting article, tracing the origins of the concept of the soul and how people have addressed the numerous problems associated with it.
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