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Russian court blocks major LGBT online groups

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A Russian court has ruled that two popular LGBT networking groups be blocked for disseminating “anti-family values”, including a major group that has nearly 200,000 members.

The court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday announced the decision against the groups on VK, a Russian platform similar to Facebook.

“An inspection showed they contain information available to the public, including children, which negates family values, propagates non-traditional sexual relations and promotes disrespectful attitudes towards parents,” the court statement said.

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Russia in 2013 introduced a law against “gay propaganda”, which officially bans the “promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors” but in effect outlaws LGBT activism.

One of the groups mentioned in the court decision is called the Russian LGBT Community, which has more than 187,000 members.

The other group, LGBT Russia, is overseen by the NGO Russian LGBT Network, which told AFP the decision was a complete surprise.

“The court spends about five minutes blocking LGBT internet resources and the decisions have identical wording,” said the organization’s spokeswoman, Svetlana Zakharova.

“We don’t publish anything on our pages that needs to be marked ‘adults only’,” Zakharova said. “We talk about cases of discrimination and human rights violations and help anybody who needs it, including teenagers,” she said.

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Zakharova said the NGO would appeal the ruling.

Homophobia is widespread in Russia where reports of rights violations and attacks on LGBT people are common, though there are gay scenes in major cities.

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‘Empty the Pews’ chronicles the ‘nurtured insanity’ of a fundamentalist upbringing

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There is a great exodus taking place in Christian circles. Can it be called a loss of faith? I don’t think so. It is rather a loss of confidence in everything at once. Christianity has always been about “the Word,” but these days, words don’t seem to matter. They’ve lost their power to describe and convince in the face of horrible deeds, from climate-change denial to the persecution of trans people to the wholesale abandonment of Christ’s teachings in favor of abusive meanness. The hard-right white evangelical voter gave us Trump. The church sat silent as industrial oligarchs ruined the earth.

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‘Impeach him again!’ Assange sets off bombshells with Trump pardon claim

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claims President Donald Trump dangled a pardon through a Republican lawmaker if he agreed to cover up Russia's involvement in 2016 election hacking.

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Religious leaders need ‘Empty the Pews’ — which chronicles the darker side of the ‘Nones’ phenomenon

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Empty the PewsEdited by Lauren O’Neal and Chrissy StroopEpiphany Publishing (November, 2019)

In 2020, the rise of the so-called religious “Nones”—those who claim no religious affiliation—has evolved from a story of interest to a small niche of readers into an entire genre on the religion beat. While the term None has some usefulness as a blanket descriptor, we are beginning to understand that most individual stories about religious disaffiliation are far more complicated than just checking “none of the above” on a survey. Stories about the decline in Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X believers are a regular feature in secular news—Religion News Service even publishes an entire column dedicated to statistical data on Nones, compiled by the sociologist Ryan Burge—and a growing number of books exploring the narrative stories of Nones have appeared in recent years, including a book of my own.

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