Dear fellow Humanists, I am indeed very happy that you are able to make the New Year. Congratulations! Even though a lot has happened between January 1st and now, there is no doubt that each and everyone of us has had a portion of the ‘goodies’ that the new year has to offer: both good and bad. At this juncture, I will appreciate it if you can hold your breath for one minute in memory of those innocent victims of circumstances that lost their lives in the Tsunami disaster. Already nations and the entire citizens of the world are doing all they could to assist in the rebuilding and management of what has become of the area. Of course, the Humanist circuit is also not left out. Booth IHEU and I.H.S are leading other national and international Humanist Organisations and individuals in the effort to contribute to the relief management and rebuilding of the Tsunami area. There is no doubt; this is a challenge to you and I to contribute our quota no matter how small. Do something!
In this edition, you shall be enjoying what I tagged the EXECUTIVE WISHES: individual IHEYO EC members’ hopes and wishes for the New Year among other regulars. Happy reading!
It is a common practice for people to shout ‘happy new year’ at the strike of 12:00 midnight of 31st December every year. There are so many ways of doing this. It could be via writing, verbal face-to-face communication, telephone, e-mail etc. Whichever one chooses, it is all in the ‘spirit’ of celebration.
Still in the mood of the celebration, here are fondly greetings and wishes from IHEYO EC members to all young humanists all over the world:
“Happy New Year to you all! I wish you all a sparkling year full of beautiful surprises”
Marita Erikssen, Board Member
“A great 2005 to everyone, hopefully 2005 will be another milestone in the development of the humanist movement around the world!”
Wolfgang Huber, Board Member
"Happy new year to you all! Life can only be meaningful, if men can determine to make it so, and only if he can be aware that the world is all we have. Let us all put all we have into serving Humanity. Live a worthy life not because of heaven but because you must live a worthy life. This is my driving force that will forever remain my life praxis forever."
Asaba Lawrence, Board Member
"The best wishes for the New Year to all those working with humanism all around the world. Together we're making a difference!"
Lars-Petter Helgestad, Board Member
"Happy new year to every young humanist, lets take care about the world and people around it in the middle of the catastrophe in Asia."
Alina Manttari, 1st Vice President
“Today’s young humanists need to widen the path of Humanism and Freethinking. The humanist movement has rightly focused in the past decades on the rational, scientific and bio-ethical dimension of human existence. However there is more, there is a danger lurking for idolization of science. As a young Humanist, I want to contribute to deepen the critique of human faculty of comprehension. As humanists we must try to develop a holistic image of human existence, this effort needs to embrace the rational as well as the irrational. The latter has been too much out of scope for humanist thinking the recent decades. Let's initiate a change in 2005!”
Frederrik Dezutter, Treasurer
“Happy new year to you young humanist friends all over the world. I know it has not been very easy for you at all but this yea, it shall be! Lets keep up the fighting and enlightening spirit; we shall overcome. It is not over until it is over”
Ademowo ‘Yemi Johnson, Secretary General
“Happy new year to you all!”
Ramesh Kumar, 2nd Vice President
“Happy new year friends! IHEYO has enjoyed your tremendous support in year 2004, we shall need same again in 2005. We count powerfully on your support. With your support, the sky will be a beginning not a limit for us this year.”
Gea Meijers, President
Not all atheists (person who do not belief in the existence of any God or gods) are hostile to religion, but many do think that religion is bad. Here are some of their reasons... From the BBC, link below
1) Religion gets people to believe something untrue.
2) Religion makes people base the way they run their lives on a falsehood.
3) Religion stops people thinking in a rational and objective way.
4) Religion forces people to rely on outside authority, rather than becoming self-reliant.
5) Religion imposes irrational rules of good and bad behavior.
6) Religion divides people, and is a cause of conflict and war.
The hierarchical structure of most religions is anti-democratic, and thus offends basic human rights.
Religion doesn't give equal treatment to women and gay people, and thus offends basic human rights.
Religion obstructs scientific research.
Religion wastes time and money.
11) Religion has good bits to it.
[Are these reasons not genuine and valid?]
[In spite of these undeniable (even though debatable allegations,) some] atheists willingly concede to the fact that there are some good things about religion, such as:
-Religious art and music.
-Religious charities and good works.
-Religious wisdom and scripture.
-Human fellowship and togetherness
An openly gay high school student was sent home to change after he wore a shirt that said "Too Gay To Function" during homecoming week. Billy Zepeda, a senior at R.A. Long High School, decorated the lime green shirt with marker-drawn rainbows and wrote the phrase from the teen movie "Mean Girls" on the front. He wore it Thursday during the school's make-your-own-shirt day.
A teacher told him the shirt was inappropriate and offensive to homosexuals, said Zepeda, 17. School officials said students weren't given specific rules for their designs, and shirts were deemed inappropriate on a case-by-case basis. Two other students were sent home to change, one with a cut-off shirt that exposed his stomach, and another that had an inappropriate comment, said Ty Morris, assistant principal.
"If a faculty member feels it offends them or is inappropriate ... then they send them home to change," Morris said. "You can't micromanage it." Zepeda said the shirt wasn't meant to offend. "It's quite aggravating," he said. "I can't wear my shirt because it's discriminating against gays. ... Why would I discriminate against myself?"
Other students wore shirts with gangster themes, made of bubble-wrap or duct-tape. Zepeda said one student had a shirt "talking about his gender area."
Hajj Pilgrim Influx Challenges Saudi's Austere Islam
(From Reuters, see link below)
When two million Muslim pilgrims descend upon Mecca each year, Saudi Arabia finds its strict version of Islam put to the test. The desert kingdom, where the religion of over one billion Muslims originated, applies a strict form of Sunni Islam which most believers consider overzealous and unusual.
The contrast between Islam's different traditions is stark during the haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim of every sect, during which Mecca is transformed into the focal point for Muslims from places as diverse as Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Russia.
Saudi Islam, often termed Wahhabism after its founding father Mohammed bin Abdel Wahhab, imposes strict gender segregation, forces shops to close during prayer times, forbids visiting graves, and shuns women driving or singing. "There are general instructions not to interfere too much with pilgrims during the haj," said Saudi writer Mansour Nogaidan, a critic of Wahhabi Islam.
Religious authorities warn pilgrims in booklets and signs in different languages not to engage in acts which venerate individuals such as the Prophet Mohammed or pilgrimage sites -- considered one step away from the idolatry rejected by Islam.
But pilgrims performing tawaf, or circumambulation of the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, make for the ancient structure, rubbing and kissing it in search of God's favor and in the hope that the Almighty will hear their prayers.
Thursday 20th of January 2005 will remain indelible in the history of global youth Humanism as the day that IHEYO commissioned its office to assist with further networking efforts. The office, which was made possible by the $15000 grants provided by the New York based Institute of Humanist Studies, was opened by the group’s President, Ms Gea Meijers and as since been staffed by an Executive Director.
Working from the office accommodation provided by the Vermeylen Fonundation, the Executive Committee hopes that the Executive Director will help (and complement their efforts) to popularize and develop international youth humanism.
The Executive Director, Mr. Lars-Petter Helgestad, is a versatile and dynamic young Humanist who has been active at different levels of the Norwegian Humanist Association since 2001 and likewise a member of IHEYO Executive Committee since 2003. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Helgestad has worked for a Norwegian youth organisation that informs secondary school students about the state of the world.
A teenage boy obsessed by the occult and the music of the singer Marilyn Manson was convicted on 21st January 2005 of the murder and mutilation of his 14-year-old girlfriend. Luke Mitchell, 16, faces life imprisonment for the "the most gruesome killing of recent years" after he was found guilty of murdering Jodi Jones in June 2003.
A jury of eight women and seven men took just five hours to convict Mitchell, who was 14 at the time of the crime, after a 42-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh - the longest single-accused murder trial in Scottish legal history. The victim, who was described as a "caring" and "thoughtful" schoolgirl, was killed after going to meet her boyfriend, who lived less than a mile from her home in Dalkeith, Midlothian.
Her naked and mutilated body was discovered by her family in circumstances which prosecutors said resembled the notorious "Black Dahlia" murder of a Hollywood starlet in the 1940s - celebrated in song by the musician Marilyn Manson. Just as the teenagers responsible for the Columbine High School massacre in the USA regularly listened to Manson's music, Mitchell - a self-proclaimed Goth with a fascination with horror films and Satanism - was also said to be under the spell of the pop star, and the wounds left on Jodi's naked body were similar to Manson's paintings of the 1947 murder.
Suspicion fell on Mitchell within days of the crime because of inconsistencies in his story, witness accounts of his suspicious behaviour and a sighting of somebody matching his description at the murder scene. Despite there being no scientific evidence linking Mitchell to the murder or even a clear motive, the circumstantial case presented by the prosecution was enough for the jury to reject Mitchell's special defence of alibi - claiming that he was in or around his home at the time of the killing.
Check http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/story.jsp?story=603473 for further reading.
"Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism."
Isaac Asimov, "On Religiosity", Free Inquiry magazine
IHEYO YouthSpeak! … nothing but Rationality, Human and Scientific development.
Editor: Yemi Johnson Assistant Editors: Lars-Petter Helgestad, Asaba Lawrence Webmaster: Wolfgang Huber.
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