Articles

Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.

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Tomb Raiders Ride Again: National Geographic’s Breaking News

Nov 21st, 2016 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. …. He is not here.’  Mark 16.6f.

Whether or not National Geographic has found where they “really” laid the body of Jesus is a hot and controversial topic right now.  But right or wrong, it is certain that he keeps popping up.

First the good news for believers:  Diggers (let’s not call them archaeologists) working within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered what they claim is the tomb of Jesus.  Again.  It seems … Read the rest



Donald Trump faces the Chinese Century

Nov 14th, 2016 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

“All politics is local. Greatness isn’t.”

It doesn’t matter how it happened now. It happened. And now Donald Trump, the least qualified man ever to be nominated for or elected to high office in America, an untested and completely unworthy president-elect, elected by ¼ of the eligible electorate in a year when nearly 50% of Americans preferred to stay home and watch it unfold as a reality TV extravaganza, this same Donald Trump will be President of the United States. Why? Because Americans, we are assured, love change. It doesn’t matter what kind of change. Change with bacon and cheese crumbles is best. But any change will do.

This is an essay about change. I live in China where change … Read the rest



African Woman but Not Religious

Oct 31st, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

She is from Ndola in the self-proclaimed Christian country, Zambia, but currently, Cynthia lives in one of the European countries where she works as a school teacher. Not too long ago, Cynthia came out as a non-theist. She has joined the growing number of African women who openly and publicly identify as non-religious. I spoke to Cynthia some months ago and she narrated to me her tortuous journey from religion to irreligion. It is a journey that took this brave, thoughtful and curious woman across different Christian denominations but also across continents.

Cynthia was born into a ‘religious’ family in her native country Zambia and had a religious upbringing. The mother was a Seventh Day Adventist, and as a child, … Read the rest



Stopping Olukoya and Witch hunting in UK Black Communities

Sep 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe
Stopping Olukoya and Witch hunting in UK Black Communities

Witchcraft related abuse is a very serious problem in African migrant communities in the UK. There is documented evidence that these abuses are linked to activities of African pastors and African initiated churches. Unfortunately efforts to address this problem are bogged down by concerns over racism, minority rights and abuse of religious liberty. We should not allow such concerns to distract us from addressing this problem.

Vulnerable members of the African migrant communities in the UK, particularly children, are at risk of being tortured and murdered by relatives who accuse them of witchcraft. Many of such horrific treatments in the name of witchcraft go unreported because victims are often defenseless infants, and the abuses take place in the name of Read the rest



Hajj Controversy and the Imperative of a Secular Nigeria

Aug 11th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

The reactions that have trailed the decision by the Buhari government to subsidize this year’s Hajj, despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is in recession, underscores the necessity of separating church (mosque) and state. Last year, President Buhari announced the discontinuation of state sponsorship of both Muslim and Christian pilgrimages as a cost cutting measure. He made it clear that stopping state funding of pilgrimages would save some money that could be devoted to development programs.

But Buhari has refused to make good this pledge and his government has continued to subsidize pilgrimages and engage in these wasteful schemes. Now instead of seeing how state subsidization of pilgrimages, whether Christian or Muslim, is impoverishing the country and further destroying … Read the rest



For Our Tomorrow and For Their Tomorrow

Jul 23rd, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

To delegates from the host country Kenya, and attendees from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi; thank you for the honour of inviting me to address this meeting and for giving me the opportunity to contribute to strategizing against witch hunting in the region.

In the past weeks, I have pondered on what title to give this presentation in order to capture the urgency of the situation: In the course of my search and reflection, a popular line by an English poet, John Maxwell Edmonds, caught my attention. It says:

When you go home, tell them of us and say:
For your tomorrow; these gave their today.

On a second thought, I said, look we are not … Read the rest



Death and Dallas

Jul 8th, 2016 | By Bruce Gorton

The Dallas shootings which claimed the lives of five people, and injured at least six others, were a long time coming.

That is not the same as saying that the cops who got shot deserved it, or that the shooter was justified, but rather acknowledging what has long gone on in America.

For years now we have been reading stories about black people getting killed by the police – and stories about the police getting away with it.

Tamir Rice was twelve years old when he was killed by a cop for playing with a toy gun in a park.

The shooting was deemed “reasonable” by outside experts.

Freddie Gray was arrested for having a switch blade, in a Read the rest



Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa

Jul 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence.  Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.

Africans are not exposed to humanist ideals and values very early in life. This is why the meeting of young humanists in Nairobi, from July 22 to July 24, is a welcome development. Young Africans who are atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers will convene … Read the rest



Buhari: Breaking Ramadan Fast at State Expense

Jul 3rd, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

In Nigeria, politics is tied to religion. The State, Church and Mosque operate like conjoined twins. Efforts have been made to separate them with marginal success. Section 10 of the Nigerian constitution which says that ‘No part of the Federation or State should adopt any religion as state religion’ is a paper tiger because it seems to be of no import and has no practical effect or impact on how Nigerian politicians conduct state affairs at least by the incumbent presidents.

Any time that section 10 is invoked it is usually by the aggrieved ‘religious party or politician’, by the ‘marginalized’, ‘oppressed’ or ‘persecuted’ faith organizations that are negotiating for attention and space.

But as soon as some politicians from … Read the rest



Atheism in Ethiopia

Jun 17th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center has revealed that Ethiopia is the world’s most religious nation. According to this survey, nine-eight percent of Ethiopians thinks that religion is the most important part of their life. This development should not surprise anyone because Christianity and Islam are the dominant faiths in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity accounts for most of the Christian population.

Though belief in God is pervasive, atheists, agnostics or freethinkers exist in Ethiopia and they are beginning to organize under different umbrella groups. Some of the atheist groups are visible online and they have Facebook pages, with hundreds and thousands of members, where they express themselves and socialize with people of like minds.

Recently … Read the rest



Selective Outrage: The Silence and Denial about Muslim Homophobia

Jun 13th, 2016 | By Adele Wilde

Fifty people were gunned down in a mass terrorist shooting in Orlando; USA. They were deliberately targeted by a Muslim man, Omar Mateen,29, because they were gay. Outrage and shock followed the shooting which has been described as one of the worst mass shootings in US history. I will leave the issue of the gun ownership laws in the USA to one side, which are definitely a big part of the problem.

However, since the news broke I have noticed yet again those on the Regressive Left; Muslims and Religious Right, stating that ‘we should not ‘exploit’ the crime and talk about Islamic homophobia. As Hassan Raza put it:

If one thing that stays consistent every time there is

Read the rest


Beheading a Woman for Prophet Muhammad in Northern Nigeria

Jun 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Some bloodthirsty Muslim fanatics, who wanted to please Allah by all means and get into the good books of Prophet Muhammad, have been on a rampage in Northern Nigeria. The savage quest by those who are drunk with ‘Allah delusion’ and who are desperate to inherit the phantom paradise that was promised to the Ummah in the afterlife has been on obvious display in the past weeks. The Mujaheddin of northern Nigeria have been on the loose and the horrific consequences of their actions are graphic and glaring.

The criminal silence of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Kano state Governor, Umar Ganduje, and the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11, is deafening and sends worrisome signals about the threat … Read the rest



Blasphemy and Killing in the Name of Islam

Jun 4th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

The recent murder of a Christian trader in Northern Nigeria who was accused of blasphemy underscores the threat of Islamic extremism and the fact that Muslims with a Boko Haram mindset are not only in Sambisa forest. The mob reaction that led to the burning of churches and looting of shops shows that this murderous act enjoyed a wider support amongst the local Muslim population. This is unfortunate.

People may interpret what the Christian trader did in any way they can; there is not justification for this horrific killing and other cases of religious bloodletting in a civilized society. It is difficult to understand why any Muslim could decide to take the life of a fellow human being for making … Read the rest



Witchcraft, Magical Spells and Humanism in 21st Century Malta

May 26th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

After reading Carmel Cassar’s article on Witchcraft Beliefs and Social Control in Seventeenth Century Malta, one could easily conclude that magical beliefs and occult claims are actually a thing of the past in this country. This is because Cassar analyzed witchcraft belief as if it were merely a phenomenon that manifested centuries ago, not a contemporary issue that lurks in some sectors of the society. Some would argue that Cassar’s article which was written over a decade ago focused on a particular period, the 17th century Malta. Now what about this piece in the current (May 2016) edition of the Air Malta magazine. Titled The Inquisitor’s Palace and the Inquisition, this article suggests that witchcraft belief is history, Read the rest



What Missionaries Imported to Africa

May 26th, 2016 | By Kirumira Mpagi

I have lived all my life in Africa, Uganda to be specific, but I must say, on many occasions I travel to other parts of Africa, I travel to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. I find that the citizens of these countries are warm, welcoming and friendly in most scenarios, until the moment when they detect your GLBT rights stand and approval. It becomes even worse when you are atheist. Usually atheists are not targeted in the mainstream yet I have been pushed into the wall and doors shut on me, for no particular reason but being atheist. I approve GLBT rights and am willing to walk an extra mile for them. I envision an African … Read the rest



Scapegoating Homosexuals: Is President Buhari Really Committed to Changing Nigeria?

May 15th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

The recent arrest of six young men in Nigeria for the ‘supposed crime’ of homosexuality has once again demonstrated the misplaced priorities of the Buhari-led government. The arrest casts serious doubt on its supposed commitment to transforming Nigeria.

Going by recent developments, hope is fading very fast and disillusionment is setting in as many people are beginning to realize that the change mantra may end up being a ruse, a strategy that was used to win an election. The proposed change is a farce, at least when it comes to the dignified treatment of gay persons otherwise, how does one explain the current detention of some young men by police in Benin for engaging in homosexuality?

As if the arrest … Read the rest



Bangladesh: Freethinkers vs. Assassins

May 5th, 2016 | By Tasneem Khalil

He reached into his rucksack and said with a smile, “I have something for you.” I extended my hand and took the gift. A small book, 96 pages – a Bengali translation of Am I a Monkey?: Six Big Questions About Evolution by the Spanish-American evolutionary biologist and philosopher Fransico J Ayala. I looked at the illustration on the cover: a sad ape evolving into a human.

One of the translators of the book, Ananta Bijoy Das, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assassins in May 2015, outside his home in Sylhet, north-eastern Bangladesh. The other translator, Siddhartha Dhar, was standing in front of me, somewhere in Stockholm. A few months after the murder of his friend and mentor, Siddhartha … Read the rest



Who is Afraid of Atheism in 21st Century Kenya?

May 4th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Recent reports from both local and international media have highlighted strains between a small atheist group, Atheists in Kenya (AIK) and mainly christian religious organisations in the country. These reports have focused mainly on the controversies surrounding the efforts of the group to gain local recognition and be registered under the Kenyan law. This move has elicited opposition from religious organisations and state officials. In this piece, I argue that these controversies, though understandable, are completely unnecessary and unhelpful to the nation of Kenya. The hostile reactions that the registration of AIK has generated are clear indicators of intolerance, fear and fanaticism. This is highly unexpected of a democratic Kenya that claims to uphold the rights and freedoms of its … Read the rest



Witchcraft Revolution? Witch finding Journalism in Africa

Apr 9th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

If the outcome of the recent investigative journalism project on the topic of witchcraft in Africa is anything to go by, then there is an urgent need to investigate ‘investigative journalism’ in the region. This is because the findings of this team are laughable in one sense and disturbing in another. They are laughable because they have reaffirmed the same old contradictory superstitious fantasies that have made Africans a laughing stock in the global intellectual market. They are disturbing because they are presented as products of investigative journalism! The resolution and manifesto issued at the end of the meeting in Accra are just uncritical rendering of commonplace witchcraft beliefs (I guess of the journalists), not a reflection of the region’s … Read the rest



Why I define myself as a feminist – rather than an ally

Apr 8th, 2016 | By Bruce Gorton

In a lot of liberal parlance there is this idea of being an “ally” which I find just a wee bit less than satisfactory.

The thing about an ally is that they’re not there because they actually believe in your cause, but because they feel they can benefit in some way.

Hence for example during WWII the US and the USSR were allies – even though for most of the rest of the century they were on the brink of ending the world over each other’s continued existence.

Allies are not friends; they’re people who seek mutual benefit in order to achieve strategic goals. That is an important distinction when we talk about social justice.

When we say we’re being … Read the rest