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The world’s population is becoming less religious

New poll shows atheism on rise, with Jews found to be least religious

A Gallup poll conducted in 57 countries shows 9% decline in people who consider themselves religious, compared to a similar survey conducted in 2005.

By Haaretz

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?” This was the question posed to 51,927 people in 57 different countries, in a recent poll conducted by Gallup.

The results show the world’s population is becoming less religious, with a nine percent decline in believers compared with a similar survey conducted in 2005. The new survey also found a 3 percent increase of people who consider themselves atheists. Altogether, 59 percent of the world’s population defines itself today as religious, 23 percent as non-religious and 13 percent as atheist.

Of the religions surveyed in the poll, Jews were found to be the least religious: Only 38 percent of the Jewish population worldwide considers itself religious, while 54 sees itself as non-religious and 2 percent categorizes itself as atheist. In comparison, 97 percent of Buddhists, 83 percent of Protestant Christians and 74 percent of Muslims consider themselves religious.

The poll, titled “The Global Index of Religion and Atheism – 2012,” was conducted in five continents, and did not include Israel. China leads the list of countries with the highest population of atheists – 47 percent, followed by Japan, the Czech Republic, France, South Korea and Germany. Topping the list of countries with the highest number of believers is Ghana (96 percent), followed by Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania and Iraq.

Read more » Haaretz

Jewish-Taliban fundamentalists

Unorthodox:” A Woman’s Journey from Repression to Freedom

By Sarah B. Weir

Growing up, Deborah Feldman had to wear skirts that covered her ankles and high-necked blouses made of woven fabric so they wouldn’t cling to her body. She wasn’t allowed to read books in English because her grandfather, with whom she lived, said they were written in an “impure language.” When she was twelve, she suffered a sexual assault, which she kept hidden because she had been taught that men’s lust was ungovernable. This was supposedly the reason her world was segregated by gender.

Related: Top Jewish Rabbi: Segregated Buses Not Jewish Law

At 17, Feldman’s grandparents pushed her into an arranged marriage with a virtual stranger, but she had never even heard the word “sex” spoken or learned about the very basics of human reproduction. Once married, she was expected to shave her head and wear a wig—something she rebelled against after a year because she found it so depressing. Seven years later, despite the fact she knew she would be hated as a pariah, she abandoned her community and started life over.

You might be surprised that Feldman didn’t grow up in a far away country with repressive laws against women, but in an ultra-conservative Jewish enclave in New York City. “They’ve passed more laws from out of nowhere, limiting women—there’s a rule that women can’t be on the street after a certain hour,” Feldman told the New York Post describing the Hasidic Satmar community in which she was raised. “We all hear these stories about Muslim extremists; how is this any better? This is just another example of extreme fundamentalism.”

Continue reading Jewish-Taliban fundamentalists

Fanatics kill 8 in attack on UN workers in Afghanistan; two beheaded as mob chants “Islam is religion of peace”

Seven killed in worst-ever attack on UN workers in Afghanistan

Seven United Nations workers have been executed in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, two of them by beheading, by demonstrators protesting the burning of a Koran at a church in Florida.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Farhad Peikar in Kabul

The victims of the worst-ever attack on UN personnel in Afghanistan included five guards from Nepal, and civilian staff from Norway, Sweden and Romania. Four local residents were also killed.

UN officials told The Daily Telegraph the final toll could rise as high as 20, and there were unconfirmed reports that the head of the United Nations Military Assistance Mission (Unama) in Mazar-e-Sharif had also been seriously injured …

Read more : The Telegraph.co.uk