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

If you’re interested in writing an article for ButterfliesandWheels, please click here for our information for contributors page.

Humanism as the Next Step for Nigeria

Oct 2nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

A conference introductory speech delivered by Leo Igwe at the National Humanist Convention at Vines Hotel Durumi, September 23 2011.

Fellow humanists, and dear friends of humanists,

I want to join the Chairman in welcoming you all to this historic meeting. For a long time we at the Nigerian Humanist Movement have longed to bring our convention to Abuja. We have desired before now to get our politicians to understand that there are Nigerians who are openly, proudly and publicly non-religious and non-theistic. We have longed to register our presence here at the Federal capital territory and to get the politicians and people of this country to understand that Nigeria is not just a country of Christians, Muslims and traditional … Read the rest

Stop Amputation Now

Sep 19th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I am writing to urge the governor of Zamfara state, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, not to authorize the amputation of Auwalu Abubaka, 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22. Recently, a sharia court in the state convicted the two for stealing a bull and ordered that their hands be amputated at the wrist in public(1). The amputation is scheduled to take place on October 8. Meanwhile the judge stated that Abubaka and Musa could appeal against the sentence. However, right now there are not indications that they have appealed or can afford to appeal, so the fate of Abubaka and Musa is in the hands of Governor Yari.

In 1999, Zamfara state was the first to introduce sharia law. And in 2000, Zamfara’s … Read the rest

Overland versus the ‘new atheism’

Sep 8th, 2011 | By Bruce Everett

Perhaps you're familiar with Jeff Sparrow's article published by New Matilda in June of this year, 'Where Have All The Progressive Atheists Gone?'[1], wherein with a new Global Atheist Convention announced for Melbourne in 2012, the supposed, inherent, right-wingedness of the 'new atheists' is lamented. If you haven't, my apologies in advance to non-Australian readers.

'The so-called New Atheist movement, in which Hitchens is a key figure, is not progressive in the slightest. On the contrary, it represents a right-wing appropriation of a once-radical tradition - and it’s well past time that so-called left-wingers, both in Australia and elsewhere, stepped up and said so.'[1]

Never mind the insinuation that progressives not on-board with … Read the rest

Being a Skeptic in Africa

Sep 6th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I was not born a skeptic. I grew up to find out that I am one. What makes it most interesting is that I was born in a country and continent where most people are not inclined to skepticism, where doubting, questioning and challenging recieved wisdom is frowned on by most people. Mine is a society where most people are inclined to blind belief, to uncritical acceptance of doctrines and dogmas.

I was born 41 years ago in a remote village, Mbaise, in South Eastern Nigeria. I was born into a religious home and to parents who were born animists but were pressured to embrace Christianity. My father told me that he embraced Christianity in order to get formal education. … Read the rest

My life as a daughter of Christian Patriarchy

Sep 3rd, 2011 | By Libby Anne

Deep within America, beyond your typical evangelicals and run of the mill fundamentalists, nurtured within the homeschool movement and growing by the day, are the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. This is where I grew up.

I learned that women are to be homemakers while men are to be protectors and providers. I was taught that a woman should not have a career, but should rather keep the home and raise the children and submit to her husband, who was her god-given head and authority. I learned that homeschooling is the only godly way to raise children, because to send them to public school is to turn a child over to the government and the secular humanists. I was taught … Read the rest

Witch Hunts and the New Dark Age in Africa

Aug 30th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

As Africa’s foremost scholar once noted, “From time to time, there are witch hunting rituals and cleansing to ensure that witches do not terrorize people and that their powers are kept under control.”

Witches and sorcerers are the most hated people in their community. Even to this day there are places and occasions when they are beaten to death by the rest of the people.

So the witch hunt is not a recent development in Africa. Belief in witchcraft constitutes part of the traditional religion and the witch hunt is a form of traditional religious expression. Witch hunting is as old as the belief in witchcraft in Africa. The persecution of alleged witches has been going on in Africa Read the rest

Bomb Attack in Nigeria: Islamists Continue to Waste Human Lives

Aug 27th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

Yesterday, Islamic terrorists struck again. They reportedly exploded a bomb at the UN House in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The blast which shattered some parts of the building killed at least 18 people and injured many others. A local Islamist group, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Boko Haram is said to have links with al Qaeda and Al Shabab in Somalia. It reportedly recruits militants from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other African countries.

Boko Haram is waging a violent campaign for the strict implementation of sharia. Sharia is already in force in 12 states in Northern Nigeria. In 2000, politicians in Muslim-majority states foisted the Islamic law on citizens in these states in violation of the … Read the rest

The Distortions of Google

Aug 20th, 2011 | By Charles Freeman

Suppose you have heard of my book The Closing of the Western Mind, a study of what happened to Greek philosophy at the end of the Roman empire. (Some of it was absorbed into Christianity, some was not). You want to hear more about it. Perhaps you start with Amazon and when you access the US and UK sites you are pleased to find that there are 86 reviews to read. This will surely give you some idea of how the book has been received. Fifty of these 86 are five star and another 22 four star to make 72 four and five star. In contrast there are only six one or two star reviews. Not everyone agrees with … Read the rest

Belief in Witchcraft in Africa

Aug 19th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

According to Prof Bolaji Idowu, “In Africa, it is idle to begin with the question whether witches exist or not…To Africans of every category, witchcraft is an urgent reality.” Unfortunately, I don’t know how Idowu came about this idea that it is pointless inquiring into the existence and non existence of witches and wizards. For me, it is not idle to begin with trying to establish the existence of witches or to subject the claims of witchcraft to critical evaluation. It is pertinent to do so in order to understand, tackle and eradicate the problems associated with this irrational belief. It is rather cowardly to avoid the question whether witches exist or not when dealing with issues related to witchcraft. … Read the rest

The Nuanced Discussion

Aug 16th, 2011 | By James Sweet, Corwin Sullivan and Ophelia Benson

Here is the promised dialogue. The subject is sexist epithets: how bad are they, are some worse than others, if they are bad then in what way are they bad, does it really matter, is it reasonable to think they are a bad thing, if so why?

James Sweet

I have accepted Ophelia’s challenge. Am I qualified? I am a male, and this is my real name. I do fancy myself a liberal, and would like to think of myself as a feminist, to the extent that men can be. So: how do I feel about sexist epithets?

Well, they’re bad. Usually. But like so many words, the degree to which that applies varies depending on context and … Read the rest

Oh, The Humanities! How the Liberal Arts Can Save Themselves

Aug 14th, 2011 | By Joshua F. Leach

Is it possible to imagine a society without the humanities? Such a society has probably never existed in all of human history. There is little doubt that the human animal is obsessed by its own past, by the meaning of its existence, by narratives and theories which help it make sense of experience. Whatever science and technology help us to achieve, they remain useful tools which offer little insight into the core of our emotional lives and the bulk of what motivates us on a day-to-day basis. They can answer the question of “how” but have little to say as to “why.”

As has been pointed out before, the scientific method has proven itself successful by limiting the questions it … Read the rest

Humanism and Secularism in Benin

Aug 9th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

Being an address delivered by Leo Igwe at a seminar on Secularism in Benin (Laicite au Benin) at Codiam, Cotonou, Republic of Benin on July 26 2011

Thank you friends and the good people of Benin. I bring you all greetings from IHEU, its member groups and individual supporters. I thank you for creating time to be here. I call you friends because I believe we are together in this struggle to realize a secular country and a secular continent and a secular world. A secular Africa is long over due. But as you know we cannot have a secular Africa without a secular Benin. So we need to make secularism happen in our life or at least commence the … Read the rest

Leaving Religion and Living without Religion in Nigeria

Jul 26th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

Nigeria is often described as a deeply religious society where most – if not all – persons profess religious beliefs without qualification. Nigeria is often portrayed as a country where the religious demography is static – everybody is religious, everybody belongs to one faith or the other. Everybody professes religion, nobody renounces religion. Nobody is critical or skeptical about religious dogmas. Non-religious and freethinking Nigerians are purportedly so insignificant. For me this is a misrepresentation of the religious demography and dynamics in the country, and the time has come for us to rectify this misrepresentation.

No doubt, most Nigerians profess belief in God and identify themselves with one of the three main faiths – Traditional Religion, Christianity and Islam. There … Read the rest

Atheist Presses Obama on Faith-Based Policies During Live Town Hall Meeting

Jul 22nd, 2011 | By Mike Meno

CONTACT: Mike Meno, SCA communications manager: 202-299-1091, 443-927-6400 or

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a live-televised town hall meeting in College Park, Maryland, today, President Barack Obama gave the first question opportunity to Amanda Knief of the Secular Coalition for America, who asked the president why he has still not fulfilled the campaign promise he made three years ago to end the Bush-era policies that allow federally funded religious organizations to discriminate in hiring and employment on the basis of belief.

Knief, an atheist and the government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America, pressed the president on a campaign promise he made in Zanesville, Ohio, on July 1, 2008, when he pledged to ensure that federal grant recipients … Read the rest

Spitting, Prayers and the Spread of Diseases

Jul 16th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

Spitting is believed by some people to be a way parents, elders and diviners pray and bless children, relations and followers. So, to some people, spitting is a sacred practice and spittle is revered as a purveyor and conveyor of divine benediction. In some cultures, anyone being prayed for by an elder or a diviner looks forward to being spit upon as a mark of benediction. I don’t know how human beings came about this dirty, unhygenic and medically unhealthy prayer habit, but I guess it must have been one of those faith based exploitative devices invented by diviners centuries ago. I am really shocked to know that this primitive and useless ritual persists among Africans even in this 21st … Read the rest

Living Under an Islamic Inquisition

Jul 15th, 2011 | By Maryam Namazie

Dear friends

I wanted to thank you for your support of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. As you know we were in desperate need of financial help and are grateful for the donations of many generous individuals and groups.

What we do – breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and challenging a movement that sentences apostates to death – is considered ‘controversial’ to say the least and makes it almost impossible to get support from mainstream funders. Also, we haven’t been able to secure charity status.

In its refusal letter the Charity Commission says: “Under English law the advancement of religion is a recognised charitable purpose and charities are afforded certain fiscal privileges by the state. The … Read the rest

Statements and actions in Support of International Day against Stoning

Jul 10th, 2011 | By Maryam Namazie and many others



Statement from Russell Blackford, author and philosopher, Australia: It is unacceptable that the barbaric punishment of death by stoning continue in the twenty-first century. I join with many others throughout the world in calling for an end to the practice of death by stoning, condemnation of any government that uses or condones the practice, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others currently sentenced to death by stoning.


Ann Brusseel of the Flemish parliament: will issue a resolution for 21 July (Belgian National Day) urging the Federal government to take action on violations of human rights and crimes against humanity of the … Read the rest

Canadian Public Schools Must Remain Secular

Jul 10th, 2011 | By Homa Arjomand

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is promoting segregation by adopting a policy that allows religious influence within the school system. TDSB recently permitted students at Valley Park Middle School on Overlea Blvd to have prayer services in the cafeteria. This is another attempt of political Islam to recruit youth. It will not take long before other religious leaders push for their own space in schools.

Homa Arjomand proclaims that“schools will become a battle ground between various religious groups. Segregation does not stop here. Soon under the influence of religious leaders with political agendas, there would be a huge confrontation between students of so called one faith with the children of another faith, undermining the enforcement of the secular school … Read the rest

Media and Religious Censorship in Nigeria

Jun 28th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

A free press is critical to the growth and development of any society and to the survival and vibrancy of any democracy. Nigeria is said to have a free and independent media, and this is often interpreted to mean that, in Nigeria, journalists are going about their work without state interference. For me, this is a narrow understanding of freedom of the press, and this one-sided view has caused many to mischaracterize the situation of the media in the country. The government is just one out of many agents or actors that could undermine or muzzle the press. Religious agencies, drug cartels, multinationals and other business interests can hamper freedom of the press in a country.

Today, many people tend … Read the rest

Not So Clean, Not So Dry

Jun 21st, 2011 | By Josh Slocum and Lisa Carlson

If you’re looking for a diversion from fighting fashionable and religious nonsense, but you don’t want to miss your daily dose of sanctimony, look no further than the American funeral business. You’ll seldom find a culture as steeped in faux tradition, self-regard, mythology and jargon as the Dismal Trade. What the typical American endures—and pays for—when a family member dies would strike most readers from other countries as having a through-the-looking-glass quality. It would strike Americans that way, too, if most of us knew what went on behind the formaldehyde curtain.

Well, here’s a little peek for you. The following extract is from my book, co-written with Lisa Carlson, Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death. —Josh Slocum… Read the rest