January 31, 2009

What happened in January 2009?

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Jan 20, 2009
A congratulatory ad (see link) placed in the Washington Post from the American Humanist quoting Barack Obama about not being raised in a religious household.

Jan 15, 2009
A prominent fashion designer has sparked outrage in Chile by dressing up models like the Virgin Mary -- in some cases with ample, near-naked breasts.

Jan 8, 2009
A Sikh woman sued the Internal Revenue Service this week, alleging that the IRS violated her religious freedom by prohibiting her from wearing a small ceremonial knife to her job as a revenue agent.

Jan 6, 2009
An atheist bus ad campaign is underway in the UK. "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" is on 800 British buses. Updated with more news.


Jan 5, 2009
Spain, like the rest of Western Europe, is becoming more secular. A judge ruled in November that public schools must remove crucifixes from classroom walls. The Spanish government has also legalized gay marriage and fast-track divorce, and is seeking to loosen laws on abortion and euthanasia.

Jan 4, 2009
At lease 40 people, 16 of them Iranian pilgrims, were killed and 72 were wounded in a suicide bombing in Baghdad at the doorstep of one of Iraq's holiest Shite shrines.

Jan 3, 2009

A federal judge in Brooklyn has rejected a Liberian woman's religious reasons for smuggling endangered monkey meat into the country.

January 3, 2009


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Jan 1, 1814
Hóng Xiùquán
is born in China. Hong studied with an American Southern Baptist missionary and came to believe he was the younger brother of Jesus. He led the Taiping Rebellion, which lead to the death of 36 million people.

Jan 2, 1872
Mormon leader, Brigham Young (right), is arrested on charges of bigamy for having 25 wives.

Jan 3, 2000
Gun battles between Muslims and Coptic Christians at a village in southern Egypt killed at least 20 people and wounded 33. Bahai have also been attacked in Egypt (see our blog).

Jan 4, 2007
The first Muslim elected to Congress says he will take his oath of office using a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson to make the point that "religious differences are nothing to be afraid of."

Jan 5, 2007

A Texas man stages pig races to protest Islamic neighbor's plans to build a mosque.

Jan 6, 2008
A man who thought he was the Messiah drowned after trying to walk on water. Howard Bloomstein's naked body was found floating in the sea off Brighton England on Jan 6.

Jan 7, 2007
Warsaw’s new archbishop resigned amid a scandal about his cooperation with the communist-era secret police, Poland’s Roman Catholic Church said.

Jan 8, 2009
A Sikh woman sued the Internal Revenue Service this week, alleging that the IRS violated her religious freedom by prohibiting her from wearing a small ceremonial knife to her job as a revenue agent.

Jan 9, 2005 (published)
A newly disclosed document outlined the Vatican's refusal to allow Jewish children who had been sheltered by Catholics during WWII to return to their own families and communities, particularly those Jewish children who had been baptized.

Jan 10, 1475
Steven the Great, a Romanian Orthodox Christian, defeats the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vaslui (Moldovia) temporarily halting the Islamic advance. More than 40,000 Ottomans died. All but the most eminent of the Turkish prisoners were impaled and their corpses burned.

Jan 11, 2006
Israel won't do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment. Plans to develop a large Christian tourism center in northern Israel are now in doubt.

Jan 12, 2006

A stampede in Mina on the last day of the Hajj killed at least 346 pilgrims and injured at least 289 more. The Hajj is a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Mina is the starting point.

Jan 13, 2005
The Virginia-based missionary group WorldHelp has dropped its plans to place 300 Indonesian Muslim "tsunami orphans" in a Christian children's home. The plan was dropped after protests from Muslims and the Indonesian government.

Jan 14, 1961
Sergey Torop is born. Torop is a Russian mystic who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus. He has about 10,000 followers worldwide, 4000 in Siberia. Russia has become a hotbed of new religions since the fall of the Soviet Union. Read more on our blog.

Jan 15, 2007 (publication date)
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s early writings show that King was not a conformist Christian. He not only eschewed a literal interpretation of the bible, he was a strident critic of how the Christian church perpetuated injustices such as slavery and segregation.

Jan 16, 2006
As Europe's Muslims become increasingly conservative, growing numbers of women are being killed or mutilated in the name of ''family honor." These cases usually involve an attack by a close relative angered by her refusal to accept a forced marriage or her insistence on leading a Western-style life.

Jan 17, 2006 (publication date)
Two well-preserved human remains (left) found in an Irish bog were probably wealthy, well-connected individuals. Living well over 2,000 years ago, both were tortured and killed while in their early 20s, possibly as ritual sacrifices.

Jan 18, 1976
The Karantina (Quarantina) massacre took place in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. Karantina was controlled by the Palestine Liberation Organization. It was overrun by the Lebanese Christian militias, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,000 people.
Read about the reprisal on our blog.

Jan 19, 1990
Osho, known as the "sex guru" in India, and as the "Rolls-Royce guru" in the United States dies. His followers were responsible for the first bioterrorism attack in the US. In an effort to rig a local election in Dalles, Oregon, they infected ten restaurant salad bars with Salmonella. They infected 751 people.

Jan 20, 2008 (publication date) Article and slide show about circumcision of young girls in Indonesia.

Jan 21, 2007 (publication date)
After more than 1,600 years the ancient Greek god Zeus was honored once again, pagan style, by a tiny group of modern worshipers at an ancient temple in the heart of Athens.

Jan 22, 1536
Three Anabaptist leaders of the Munster Rebellion in Germany were executed after being horribly tortured. Their bodies were raised in three cages above St. Lambert's Church and left to rot. Their bones were removed about 50 years later, but the cages have remained into the 21st century.

Jan 23, 1999
An Australian missionary and his sons, ages 10 and 8, were burned to death in India when the vehicle in which they were sleeping was doused with gasoline and set ablaze by Hindu fundamentalist. The ringleader, Dara Singh, was later sentenced to death. His 12 accomplices received life in prison.

Jan 24, 1986
Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard (left) died at his ranch in California, aged 74, reportedly from a stroke. Forbes magazine estimated at least $200 million had been gathered in Hubbard's name through 1982. Read more about Scientology on our blog.

Jan 25, 2007
For the price of a phone card, a person can pray at a holy site via a Webcam at the site. Speakers inside the camera play the sound of prayers. The service is used by about 1,500 people a day, mostly in the U.S.

Jan 26, 1962
Bishop Joseph Burke of the Buffalo, New York, Catholic Diocese banned singing and dancing of "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. It's not banned here. See Chubby on our blog.

Jan 27, 1945
Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp, is liberated by the Red Army. Well over a million Jews died in the camp. Read more on our blog.

Jan 28, 1794
American patriot and religious critic Thomas Paine publishes Part 1 of The Age of Reason. A quote from the book: "All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Read more on our blog.

Jan 29, 904

Pope Sergius III papacy begins. He was allegedly the only pope known to have ordered the murder of another pope and the only pope known to have fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope.

Jan 30, 1948

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu Nationalist who believed that Gandhi was appeasing Muslims at the cost of Hindus.

Jan 30, 1972
Bloody Sunday - 14 Catholics killed by British soldiers in Derry, Northern Ireland
. Read more about the "troubles" on our blog.

Jan 31, 1969
Japanese officials met and agreed that 1,068 convicted war criminals would be honored with enshrinement at the
Yasukuni Shinto Shrine (below).

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Feb 1, 2004
251 pilgrims were killed and another 244 injured in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Feb 2, 1982
The Hama massacre occurred when the Syrian army bombarded the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. An estimated 7,000 to 25,000 people were killed, including about 1000 soldiers.

Feb 3, 2006
Hemant Mehta, a
n atheist, puts his own soul on the eBay auction block. The DePaul University graduate student promised the winner that for each $10 of the final bid, he would attend an hour of church services.

Feb 4, 2005 (publication date)
The Greek Orthodox Church suspends a senior bishop and several clergymen. They allegedly tried to influence or bribe judges to fix the outcome of trials - some involving drug dealers.

Feb 5, 2008
Pope Benedict has ordered changes to a Latin prayer for Jews at Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to their "blindness" over Christ.

Feb 6, 1481
The first Spanish auto de fe (public penance of condemned heretics and apostates) was celebrated in Seville, Spain: six people were burned alive.

Feb 7, 2007
St Mary's church in northern Greece is at the center of a scandal after it unveiled an image of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of Russia's 1917 Bolshevik revolution. The controversial fresco depicts Lenin trimming a canonized Russian archbishop's beard in a metaphor apparently symbolizing Bolshevik persecution of Christianity and other religious faiths.

Feb 8, 1915
Premier of the KKK-friendly film "The Birth of a Nation" helped revive the Klan. It grew into an anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish organization as well as anti-black. Membership peaked in 1924 at 4 million. The Klan claimed 40,000 members were Protestant ministers.

Feb 9, 2007
Anti-immigrant sentiments is fueling a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. As it did from its founding, the KKK views itself as having a religious dimension. Today, Christian Evangelicals are much more likely than mainstream Protestants or Catholics to believe that "newcomers threaten traditional American customs and values." Cartoon on our blog.

Feb 10, 2008
A human skull found in a woman's luggage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is likely an object used in a voodoo ritual, the Broward County medical examiner said Friday.

Feb 11, 2003
The stoning of the devil ritual claimed 14 lives in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage known as the hajj. Over the years, hundreds of people have been trampled to death during the stoning of the devil ritual.

Feb 12, 2008 (publication date)
Saudi police visited florist and gift shop owners throughout Riyadh with instructions that the color red is banned until the day after St. Valentine's Day. Thi
s included red roses, red candy boxes, red teddy bears, red clothing, and other such articles given as tokens of romantic love.

Feb 13, 2008
Deacons of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth are recommending that an anniversary pictorial directory have no family photos, an effort to defuse a controversy over whether gay couples should be included.

Feb, 14, 1989
fatwa requiring the execution of the author of the Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (left), was proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini (right), the spiritual leader of Iran.

Feb 14 to March 5
Aztec India
ns sacrifice children to Tlaloc (it's good for the crops).

Feb 15, 1
The Rev
erend Jerry Falwell, a former spokesman for America's Moral Majority, denounced the children's show, Teletubbies. He said it does not provide a good role model for children because Tinky Winky is gay.

Feb 16, 2008
(publication date)
A Saudi woman condemned to death for “witchcraft” is still clinging to hope that King Abdullah will spare her life after Human Rights Watch appealed her sentence.

Feb 16, 2008 (publication date)
A backlash is growing among televangelists against an investigation spearheaded by Sen. Charles Grassley that is probing churches' acquisitions of Rolls Royces, mansions and private jets.

Feb 17, 1600
Italian mathematician/philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic by the Roman
Inquisition. The city of Rome erected a statue of Bruno facing the Vatican at the site where he was burned.

Feb 17, 2006
A Pakistani cleric today offered 1.5m rupees (£9,600) and a car as a reward to anyone who killed the cartoonist who drew images of the prophet Muhammad. Updated on our blog.

Feb 18, 2007
As the year of the pig begins in China, the government bans any mention of pigs in TV ads. The ban was imposed to avoid offending China's 20 million Muslims.

Feb 19, 2007 (publication date)
On July 6, Don Larsen applied to become the first Wiccan chaplain in the U.S. armed forces. By year's end, his superiors not only denied his request but also withdrew him from Iraq and removed him from the chaplain corps, despite an unblemished service record.

Feb 20, 2007
A Gallup poll revealed that Americans would prefer a gay presidential candidate rather than an atheist. Forty-three percent would not vote for the gay candidate. Fifty-three percent would not vote for the atheist.

Feb 21, 2008

A retired Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to more than five years in prison for bilking two churches out of hundreds of thousands of dollars while he led a double life as a husband and father.

Feb 22, 2006

Bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in Iraq triggered revenge attacks between Shiite and Sunni militants.

Feb 23, 2005 (publication date)
Gay marriages are part of "a new ideology of evil" that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in his newly published book.

Feb 24, 2005
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshipers confronted Natalie Portman and her co-star, objecting to the couple kissing during the filming of a scene beside Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Feb 25, 2008

According to Pew poll, 28% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another one. The numbers jump to 44% if you include those who switched from one Protestant denomination to another.

Feb 26, 1993
A car bomb was detonated below Tower One of the World Trade Center. Six people died and 1,042 were injured. The plot was carried out by Muslim extremist.

Feb 27, 2002
58 Hindus, including 25 women and 15 children were burnt alive in a railway coach in the town of Godhra following an altercation between local Muslims and Hindus. This lead to several months of rioting. According to an official estimate, 1044 people were killed in the violence - 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire.

Feb 27, 272
The Roman emperor Constantine (right) is born. He was the first Christian emperor, and
issued (with his co-emperor Licinius) the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire.

Feb 28, 2008

Across the country, "revirginization" appears to be gaining steam. Spiritual efforts to reclaim virginity emerged back in the early 1990s and now, prompted by abstinence-only school courses, and by religious teachers, there are reports of more and more young women attempting a sexual do-over.

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March 1, 1562
Catholics attacked a Calvinist service in Wassy-sur-Blaise in Champagne and massacred the worshipers. This triggered the first of eight wars know as the French Wars of Religion. Between 2 million and 4 million people died before it ended.

March 3, 2007
Several conservative Christian groups are urging the National Association of Evangelicals to force its director to stop speaking out on global warming. The conservative leaders say they are not convinced that global warming is human-induced or that human intervention can prevent it. And they accuse the director of diverting the evangelical movement from issues, like abortion and homosexuality.
Updated on our blog.

March 5, 2001
Thirty-five Hajj pilgrims were trampled to death in a stampede during the stoning of the Devil ritual during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

March 6 to March 25

Aztec flaying of captives. Priests wear the victim's skin for 20 days. Update on the skins.

March 6, 1475
Michelangelo is born. Go to our blog to see three of his masterpieces.

March 7, 2008
A recent study by Mental Health America, the
country's oldest independent mental health advocacy organization, ranked Utah the most depressed state in the country. Seventy percent of Utah's residents are Mormon. And they love their porn, too. See our blog.

March 8, 2007

Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

March 9, 2007

Mayan priests in Guatemala will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said.

March 10, 1993
Michael Frederick Griffin (left) murdered Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida. This was the first killing of an OB-GYN for performing abortions. Griffin was sentenced to life in prison.

March 11 2008
Police raided a wedding between a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl in Pakistan's largest city, arresting the Muslim cleric officiating at the ceremony and the children's parents.

March 11, 2004
Madrid train bombings by a Muslim al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists cell. One hundred and ninety one people were killed and 1,755 were wounded.

March 12, 1993

Bombay stock exchange bombed by Muslims.

March 13, 2007

Rep. Pete Stark of California announced he is an atheist. He is the first and only congressman to proclaim to be an atheist. Maybe some of the others are fibbing?

March 14, 2007
Some Muslim cashiers at Target in Minneapolis refuse to handle pork, setting off another debate over the place of religion in society.

March 15, 2002
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress.

March 16, 1190
The Jews in York England are massacred by the Crusaders in Clifford's Tower. Another English massacre and expulsion of Jews on our blog.

March 16, 2003
Good news. Those Internet posting about Barack Obama being the AntiChrist are not true according to Pastor John Hagee. The AntiChrist will be gay and part Jewish, Hagee said.
See a CNN report on our blog.

March 17, 2000
Seven hundred and seventy-eight members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
commit mass suicide in Uganda. Updated on our blog.

March 18, 2008
Negotiations are underway to build the first Catholic church in Saudi Arabia. Currently, no religion other than Islam is allowed to schedule public services, and even the possession of bibles, rosaries, and crucifixes is forbidden. There are around 800,000 Catholics in Saudi Arabia, virtually all of who are foreign workers. Updated on our blog.

March 19, 2007

Scores of students waited outside the Supreme Court for a chance to listen to arguments in a test of student speech rights - a high school senior's display of a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Updated on our blog.

March 20, 1995

Sarin nerve gas released in Tokyo subway by Aum Shinrikyo a Japanese "new religious movement."
Updated on our blog.

March 21 2001

Destruction of Buddhas Statue of Bamiyan (right) in Afghanistan by Muslim extremist.
Video of the destruction.

March 22, 2005 (publication date)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel denounce an ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer because he doesn't believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

March 23, 2006
Bosses at a Stockholm hospital have asked a nurse called Jesus to change his name, after concerns that it might cause confusion among patients. According to Jesus, his superiors were worried that patients told "Jesus will be coming soon," might get the wrong idea.

March 24, 2006 (publication date)
The judge presiding over the prosecution of an Afghan man facing death for converting from Islam to Christianity said that he would resist any interference, despite mounting international condemnation. The case was dismissed two days later. Afghan student receives 20-years for blasphemy (see our blog).

March 25, 2005
(use photo)
A chocolate cross is being sold this Easter by Russell Stover Candies in about 5,000 stores nationwide, over the objections of some religious officials.

March 26, 1997
Thirty-eight members of Heaven's Gate kill themselves in California. They decided to "shed their containers" and get on a companion craft hiding in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet.

March 27, 1991 (publication date)
At regular intervals -- sometimes weekly -- Sheik Jaber of Kuwait was said to marry a young virgin on Thursday night, the eve of the Islamic sabbath, only to divorce on Friday.

March 28, 1984
Seth Ian Glaser, 17 months, died in Culver City, California of bacterial meningitis. His parents used only a Christian Science "practitioner" and obtained no medical care for Seth.

March 29, 2002
Pictures (link) of the yearly crucifixion and flagellation in the Philippines. It ha
ppens every Easter. They don't do bunnies. See our blog for Mexico's Good Friday Passion plays.

March 30, 2005
(day of meeting)
In a rare show of unity, Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders unite to try to stop a gay pride festival in Jerusalem.

March 31, 1685
Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest western composer of religious music is born. See our blog for a cut from Bach's Mass in B minor and samples of religious music from around the world.

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