Belief, disbelief and beyond belief


A partial lunar eclipse over a church in Damascus, Syria. Photo: Getty
Are Christians really the world’s most persecuted religious group?
By Nelson Jones - 10 April 16:27

David Cameron says Christians around the world suffer the most persecution for their religion. Is he right?

Atheist Afghan receives asylum in the UK – for fear of religious persecution
By Nelson Jones - 14 January 14:56

The Home Office has granted asylum to a man in fear of his life because he no longer believes in God and wishes to live his life without publicly practising Islam. How many others are there who will need protection because of their lack of religious faith

Why is the media so easily taken in by stories about North Korea?
By Nelson Jones - 06 January 15:38

It now appears that the story about Kim Jong-Un's uncle being executed by a pack of 120 ravenous dogs can be traced back to a Weibo post by a Chinese satirist.

Is Scientology a real religion? The UK Supreme Court says so
By Nelson Jones - 11 December 18:13

The controversial group has been recognised as religion and may now conduct wedding ceremonies – what now for organisations such as the British Humanist Association?

A four day old baby in hospital in Germany
On Germany's new intersex law and the dangers of our gender-obsessed culture
By Nelson Jones - 01 November 15:52

Germany has become the first European country to pass a law that lets a birth certificate to be left blank in cases where the child is neither obviously male nor female, but it will take far more than a bureaucratic fix to remove the stigma of "abnormalit

A blow to the New Atheism? Britain is losing its religion - and becoming "spiritual" instead
By Nelson Jones - 19 October 9:33

A study by Theos shows the apparently limited appeal of scientific materialism. But is it evidence that hardline atheism of the Richard Dawkins variety has little popular appeal?

Why do so many Nobel laureates look like Richard Dawkins?
By Nelson Jones - 09 August 9:54

Richard Dawkins' statement that "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge" has attracted a lot of attention. Was he just being a troll? Or is there a wider point to be made about where science happens in the world?

The shocking case of Marte Dalelv shows why we should be boycotting Dubai
By Nelson Jones - 23 July 10:02

The handling of rape cases is just one reason why we should be using our economic leverage to force Dubai to clean up its act.

Does it matter that young people in Britain aren't religious?
By Nelson Jones - 26 June 15:08

A recent poll of young people found that 41 per cent thought that religion was the cause of more harm than good in the world.

Is Pope Francis about to launch an anti-gay witchhunt in the Vatican?
By Nelson Jones - 14 June 10:59

The pontiff's remarks about the existence of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican draws on a number of age-old homophobic tropes.

My brush with Bilderberg
By Nelson Jones - 10 June 16:01

Claims of global conspiracy seem far-fetched but Bilderberg does represent an immense networking and lobbying opportunity, says Nelson Jones. The concerns of rabble-rousing Texan radio host Alex Jones may be risible but those of Labour MP Michael Meacher

Equal marriage could only threaten gender roles if it magically turned everyone gay
By Nelson Jones - 04 June 16:12

The modern basis of marriage is partnership and equality rather than innate difference.

Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson at the Royal Courts for a hearing on legalising do
Assisted dying isn't contested on religious grounds - it's about power, paternalism and control
By Nelson Jones - 14 May 13:39

A recent YouGov poll has shown that a majority of people - from almost all religious denominations - support doctor-assisted dying. It is our secular and spiritual leaders who are refusing to catch up.

Goths at the annual Wave-Gotik-Treffen music festival in Leipzig
Are attacks on goths, heavy metal fans and other "subcultures" hate crimes?
By Nelson Jones - 04 April 15:48

A legal and bureaucratic scheme that privileges some types of hate crime as special while ignoring others is dangerous in itself, says Nelson Jones.

Is Pope Francis I's past enough to damn him?
By Nelson Jones - 14 March 17:52

Pope Francis flourished, occupying a prominent position in the Argentine church, at a time when its leaders worked hand in glove with one of the most brutal dictatorships of the 20th century. Is that enough to damn him?

Gilberto Valle: Can you be tried for having fantasies about eating your wife?
By Nelson Jones - 04 March 10:27

The trial of the "Cannibal Cop" forces us to ask the question: when a fantasy crime become a reality?

Nurses dancing at Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony
We are in danger of loving the NHS to death
By Nelson Jones - 21 February 12:30

Universal healthcare is the least citizens should expect. To make the NHS better for patients, politicians, press and public alike need to cultivate a healthly scepticism towards it, not give it unlimited adulation.

Opponents of gay marriage won't face discrimination, says Equality Commission
By Nelson Jones - 14 February 15:39

The advice, given to MPs today, also refutes suggestions that unwilling clergy might be forced by human rights law to marry same-sex couples.

Pope Benedict XVI at the Colosseum during the Way Of The Cross procession
Pope Benedict XVI: a paradoxical pontiff
By Nelson Jones - 11 February 16:14

History may well be kinder to Joseph Ratzinger than his contemporary critics.

Loren Cowley and Michelle Ricketts after their wedding in Sydney
Why is same sex marriage so controversial?
By Nelson Jones - 05 February 9:58

Its opponents may well have a darker motivation than they admit.

British Airways employee Nadia Eweida holds her crucifix
Strasbourg ruling marks a setback for claims of Christian victimisation
By Nelson Jones - 15 January 14:51

But even a defeat can be said to advance campaign groups' narrative that Christians are being "marginalised" by militant secularism.

Should ginger-bashing be considered a hate crime?
By Nelson Jones - 10 January 16:34

Being ginger-haired, you're not considered fully human.

Are popes being canonised just for doing their job?
By Nelson Jones - 21 December 14:11

Pope Paul VI, who banned Catholics from using contraception, is the latest pontiff to be put forward for sainthood.

No longer the default religion: is being a Christian now a political statement?
By Nelson Jones - 11 December 17:15

The census has shown a big decline in the number of people declaring themselves to be religious, writes Nelson Jones.

The decision to allow same-sex marriages in church will be a headache for Justin Welby
By Nelson Jones - 07 December 16:27

It may end up dominating the new Archbishop of Canterbury's tenure in the way that the women bishops debate has dominated Rowan Williams'.

The attack on Wayne Houchin.
Did a TV show host set a magician on fire because he thought he was a witch-doctor?
By Nelson Jones - 30 November 13:41

Nelson Jones investigates the attack on Wayne Houchin on Dominican television.

A Natural History Museum employee poses as she looks at a taxidermy exhibit
What Germany outlawing bestiality tells us about changing attitudes to sex
By Nelson Jones - 28 November 11:22

The change in law reflects the contemporary view of sex as something that can only properly be enjoyed on a basis of equality.

Ireland's law and Catholic culture allowed Savita Halappanavar to die
By Nelson Jones - 14 November 16:42

The tragic case of a woman who was miscarrying, who died because doctors wouldn't give her a termination, shows the danger of fetishising the life of the unborn child.

Is Tom Watson in danger of fuelling a new paedophile panic?
By Nelson Jones - 09 November 13:50

There is a difference between listening sympathetically to the stories of people who say that they have been abused and uncritically believing every assertion that is made, says Nelson Jones.