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Hello, 

I am a little later than usual in publishing our weekly newsletter. The corona pandemic is unsettling and with working remotely, having asthma, seeing panic-buying at grocery stores, my desire and ability to churn out writing has been compromised. Then again, it's routine that keeps on an even keel during social(ly isolated) upheaval. I have added a bit more depth to the curated articles from this last week. 

A week ago (Sunday), US President Donald Trump declared a "National Day of Prayer" and advertised that he would be viewing a live-streamed service of the Free Chapel Church in Gainesville Georgia. Saying “We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these,” Mr Trump continues to blur the separation of church and state and pander to his religious base. While Mr. Trump is suggesting going onto the virtual sphere in order to receive spiritual communion, the Muslim world is offering a mixed response.

In Saudi, the religious authorities have recommended the closure of the Grand Mosques in Mecca and Medina. The head of religious affairs in Turkey, Ali Erbas came out saying "Islam doesn't permit practices that would put human life in danger. Until the danger for the contagion disappears, prayers in congregations will be suspended. Instead of Friday prayer, [Muslims] can continue the noon prayer at their own homes." In Indonesia however, public prayers are still occurring at the largest Southeast Asian mosque, Istiqlal. 

Our fellow Dr. Marty Klein was cited in an Oakland Press article on "Here's how to kill a relationship in four easy steps." Many of us are now working from home, or are otherwise staying in outside of essential travel. This is giving us increased time with our loved ones and this can reintroduce us to the various quirks of those with whom we live, for better or for worse. 

As you find yourself stuck inside, I have a new book recommendation for you. The author of The Good News Club: The Religious Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children has released a new book. Katherine Stewart brings us a new work on Christian nationalism and American politics, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. An excerpt can be found here, and an interview with Stewart here. Stewart also published and OpEd in the New York Times on the heuristics of "religious liberty" for undermining democratic norms. 

I just downloaded a copy on my kindle and hope that you can too. 

Have a great week and stay safe, 

 
sincerely, 



Jason Frye, CEO
Secular Policy Institute                             
 
 
International Update:

Afghanistan
The nascent peace deal between the US and the Taliban is off to a bit a shaky start. Foreign Policy has a fantastic article detailing the initial progression of the agreement
Read more...

Israel
In an Economist article, there is discussion on the likelihood of Arab Israeli candidates in Israeli elections with counterpoints of hardline right-wingers wanting to exclude Arabs from the ticket and left-wing secular Jews being turned off by Pan-Arab nationalist sentiments. 
Read more...

Myanmar
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a report on the progress of an international response to the persecution of Rohingya people in Rakhine state. The next step may be Argentine intervening through trying a case in their system via the allotment of "universal jurisdiction" to International Court of Justice member states where states where mass atrocities occur are unwilling or unable to attend the situation. 
Read more...

Nicaragua
There is currently a clash between the Ortega administration and the Catholic Church, and the USCIRF issued a report on what is happening. 
Read more...

Sudan
Sudan abolished the church oversight committees that were established under Omar al-Bashir
Read more...
UNITED STATES UPDATE: 

Abortion Rights before the Court.
An article in the Economist discusses the state of abortion rights that are currently before the now conservative leaning US Supreme Court. 
Read More...

Trump Declares Day of Prayer
President Donald Trump declared a "Day of Prayer" over the COVID-19 outbreak.
Read More...

Update on SPI Fellows: Drs. Al-TaMcWhorter, and Klein

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Dr. Al-Tamimi 
Read more....

Marty Klein
Dr. Klein was cited in an essay in the Oakland Press on how relationships fall apart. During "shelter-in-place" orders and quarantines, it is highly appropriate to review ways to manage relationship stressors. 
Read more....

John McWhorter
Dr. McWhorter's latest podcast Lexicon Alley discusses Mandarin Language grammar.
Read more....


 

Science News

Russia Looks to Revive Science: Nature discusses the steps that the Russian Federation is taking to revitalize its research and development sector. 
read more...

Monitoring Memories in Real Time: In an epilepsy study, researchers looked at the behavior of individual neurons in the performance of memory tests.
read more...

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