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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

The 13 countries where being an atheist is punishable by death

Atheism
Around the world, a number of countries continue to criminalize atheists and humanists, with 13 having laws which enable them to impose the death penalty.

It's often said that the world is becoming an increasingly secular place. 

Just last week David Cameron sparked backlash when he used his Easter message to describe the UK as "a Christian country". 

Critics pointed out that just 30 per cent of people in the UK describe themselves as religious, making Britain one of the least religious countries in the world. 

53 per cent of people say they have no faith, while 13 per cent claim they are committed atheists.

However, despite the prevalance of atheism and humanism in the UK, many may be surprised to know that having no faith can be a life or death matter around the world. 

In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith:

1. Afghanistan.

2. Iran.

3. Malaysia.

4. Maldives.

5. Mauritania.

6. Nigeria.

7. Pakistan.

8. Qatar.

9. Saudi Arabia.

10. Somalia.

11. Sudan

12. United Arab Emirates

13. Yemen

In a number of other countries, the death penalty is not a formal punishment on statute books but atheists and humanists have been murdered by religious extremists on account of their beliefs.

In countries including India and Bangladesh, police have been accused of condoning these murders by failing to investigate them properly. 

At least 3 atheist bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh after penning posts advocating that scientific proof should inform opinion above religious beliefs.

Source: The Times of India, March 31, 2016

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