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Religion and power: a special report

With religious fervour

The New Atheists thought they stood for truth and reason – but, Giovanni Tiso asks, did they help usher in an age of conspiracist thinking and prejudice?

Now, as we survey what’s left of the movement from its smouldering ruins, we may wonder what the fuss was about, and how these authors managed to build such formidable straw men of religion and human history on their way to selling millions of books. But New Atheism was never about faith nor, indeed, atheism. It was about asserting the supremacy of Western culture in spite of the enduring place of religion in Western institutions and societies, for the purpose of giving renewed justification to Western imperialism.

Steering a new course

Can Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahdha secure the gains of the 2011 uprising and adapt itself to secular democracy? Layli Foroudi reports.

Ennahdha’s political evolution was applauded abroad, with media outlets characterising the move as a separation between “mosque and state”. However, their opponents within Tunisia are not convinced.

The Q&A: Alice Roberts

JP O'Malley talks to the evolutionary biologist and broadcaster about church schools, evolution and the climate.

We are a very diverse, multicultural country, and we need schools that are mixed and secular, in the real sense of the word. Not secular meaning atheist, but secular in the sense that everybody’s views are respected. And that no one religious belief is promoted or prioritised over everything else.

A 21st-century schism

Madeline Roache reports from Ukraine, where the conflict in the east of the country has provoked a split in the Russian Orthodox church. Up to 30 million followers are at stake.

The Kyiv Patriarchate now stands to win back parishes not just in Ukraine but also in Belarus and Lithuania, which it controlled before the Russian empire expanded. Putin ominously warned that the redistribution of church property could lead to a “bloody dispute”.

Caught in the middle

Have religious fundamentalists and western Islamophobes alike eroded vital breathing space for secular feminists in Pakistan? Rahila Gupta explores.

A whole body of scholarship that aims to counter what it sees as an imperialist project to construct a stereotypical Muslim woman – submissive and lacking in agency – has evolved. The irony is that Muslim women like Zia, who use their agency to argue for the importance of secularism, are dismissed as Western stooges or not authentically Muslim.

The summer 2019 issue of New Humanist is on sale now! Subscribe here for just £27 a year.

Wales painting

Also in this issue:

  • Is the populist rage against experts a symptom or the cause of political turmoil? By David Nowell Smith
  • Samira Ahmed on Abram Games's vintage designs and their dreams for a better future
  • How do communities defend themselves when the state is absent? Chitra Nagarajan reports from Nigeria
  • Caroline Crampton on Killing Eve and how women-led action drama is changing what we watch
  • The strange story of a commune in Denmark: Ken Worpole reflects
  • Rhian E. Jones explores how Welsh culture learned to assert itself
  • The Beirut marathon is helping to heal sectarian divides, as Samir Jeraj discovers
  • Niki Seth-Smith on what scientists learned from magic and the art of illusion
  • What Homer can teach us about hospitality, by Gabrielle Rifkind and John Harris
  • Why seeing isn’t believing for much of the universe, as Marcus Chown explains
  • PLUS: Columns from Michael Rosen and Laurie Taylor; book reviews; the latest developments in biology, chemistry and physics; cryptic crossword and Chris Maslanka's quiz

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