Top News Stories for the Week of January 28, 2024
Latest news, notable cultural moments, and media commentary for the atheist community: a weekly update from the editors at AFL.
Atheist China Tries to Influence Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation
The Japan Times ran an article this week arguing that the Chinese Communist Party “distorts history” to try to influence the Dalai Lama’s successor. The article emphasizes the fact that the CCP is “avowedly atheist,” and argues that China should therefore stop interfering in Tibet’s religious matters. The article notes that Mao Zedong told the 14th Dalai Lama that “religion is poison.”
A search of “Dalai Lama” brings up a lot of related takes on this topic. For example, another source, Radio Free Asia, ran the headline: “Ahead of Tibetan New Year, China urges monks to ‘expose, denounce’ Dalai Lama.”
United Church of Christ Membership Is Plummeting
A new report found that, between 2012 and 2022, the United Church of Christ membership declined by more than 286,000. During that same time, over 550 UCC churches were closed.
Religion Can Induce a Drug-Like Experience
According to an article published this week in Psychology Today, religious experience can be like getting high—literally. Some neurological studies, the article says, “seem to suggest that at some basic level, spiritual experiences activate the brain’s reward circuits which are linked to feelings of pleasure in other activities, like listening to music, having sex, being in love, and taking certain drugs.
PBS New Hour Asks: What Is Christian Nationalism?
PBS released a video this week on the topic: “What is Christian nationalism and why it raises concerns about threats to democracy.”