Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

The Archbishop of Glasgow is an arrogant fucker isn’t he?

Tartaglia said (fast forward to 1:03:29 for the comments):

If what I have heard is true about the relationship between the physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society is being very quiet about it.

Recently in Scotland, there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so, and nobody said anything, and why should his body just shut down at that age?

Obviously he could have had a disease that would have killed anybody.

But you seem to hear so many stories about anger at ‘hurtful and ignorant’ comments, this kind of thing, but society won’t address it.

They won’t address it for the same reason Jan Moir was lambasted when she blamed Stephen Gately’s death on his homosexuality: it’s bigoted bullshit. What else is there to say? David Cairns died of pancreatitis, and Gately of an undiagnosed heart defect. Dermot Kehoe was Cairns’ partner of nearly 15 years, who’s said:

“This is genuinely very upsetting and painful for David’s family and friends. I can’t believe that someone who claims to be a man of God and is seeking to give moral leadership should speak from such a position of ignorance.

“I don’t care what his views on gay marriage are, but to bring in my dead partner to justify those views is wrong.”

So much for the Church having anything of any value to add about morality. AGAIN. Unlike Kehoe I don’t find Tartaglia’s remarks at all surprising. Religious bigotry is back on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic, and must be confronted.


Hugo Rifkind makes a strong case in The Spectator:

I hail from a religion which rarely seeks to convert, and which looks in, rather than out, and is generally happy leaving everybody else alone. Doctrine aside, I struggle to grasp the justification for any religion behaving in any other way. Last month, Sayeeda Warsi wrote of her fears that religion was being ‘sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere’. It sounds bad, that, but only until you think about what religion is. It does not saturate most lives. It does not occupy most waking thoughts, as most go to work, work, and come home again. It simply doesn’t. When the Archbishop of Canterbury complains that the government treats those with faith as ‘oddities, foreigners and minorities’ he’s ignoring the great truth that stares him in the face — which is that this is exactly what people with faith are.

He’s hitting on a great truth here. The majority of people in this country do not consider themselves as practising theists. About half of us self-identify as ‘Christian’, but it’s only a tiny minority of even them who bother to go to church. Right now religions in this country are doing their utmost to stop gay people from marrying, inflated by a huge sense of self-importance (after all they have Bishops in the House of Lords, with the Head of State leading at least the Anglicans), when most people simply don’t get why two consenting adults who love each other. Most people don’t understand why it’s important to pray during a local government council session. Most people find it absurd that members of an established church say they’re persecuted when there’s not a single case of persecution having been brought to courts and tribunals. Religion doesn’t belong in the political sphere at all, and why would it, after all? Faith and delusion share the identical characteristics – belief without (and most importantly) against evidence and reason. The time is long gone when that mentality had any place in mainstream civil society.

This National Secular Society report builds on the survey referred to by Dawkins in the earlier post, showing how quickly religious practice in the UK is fading:

A survey by The Sunday Times has found that 40% of Church of England ‘faith schools’ are flouting the law that requires all state funded schools to provide a daily act of collective worship.

The survey revealed that in many C of E schools, Bible readings and prayers have been replaced by group discussions about community and society. According to the Sunday Times, even among those schools that abide by the law, many are doing the bare minimum.

Earlier research by the BBC, conducted last year, found that the law requiring daily worship is widely ignored across all schools and not wanted by parents. Almost two-thirds (64%) of parents said that their children did not attend such an activity and over two thirds (67%) of parents do not support enforcing the law.

Good. It should stop. Indoctrination through the education system is morally wrong. Before bleating the normal nonsense about collective worship teaching children moral values, Bishop Nazir-Ali should perhaps have questioned why it seems to have failed so many priests, bankers, newspaper journalists and Members of Parliament. Andy Copson, the Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association argues that moral and religious education in schools should be separate endeavours:

One of the most prominent contributions has been in moral education. Seeing morality not as a set of rules derived from a transcendent deity but as an organised attempt to reinforce human social impulses in the here and now has a clear effect on how you seek to develop morality in children.

Sixty years ago the humanist educational psychologist Margaret Knight caused a national moral panic when she suggested on the BBC that moral education could usefully be uncoupled from religious education. She said moral training should be an independent effort, not just involving the passing on of principles and ways of thinking but having an emotional basis too. “Warm-hearted and generous natures are developed not primarily by training and discipline, important though these are in other ways, but by love,” she said. Today, not least because of humanist educators like Harold Blackham (who founded the still-running Journal of Moral Education) and James Hemming, these ideas are near to mainstream.

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Ann Widdecombe for starters. From Pink News:

She writes: “I have no doubt that as gay marriage is debated we shall see bishops deployed against gay activists but it is simply not true that only the Church is opposed to redefining marriage.

“An opinion poll, independently carried out for the Coalition for Marriage, suggests 86 per cent of the population believes it perfectly possible to promote gay rights without redefining marriage.”

The January ComRes poll referred to by Widdecombe asked participants whether they agreed with the statement: “Since gay and lesbian couples already have the same rights as married couples available to them under civil partnership, they should not be allowed to redefine marriage for everyone else.”

51% of 1002 respondents agreed with the statement. The question was criticised by commentators for its phrasing.

Then Peter Bone, also in Pink News:

AP reports that after fellow MP Tony Baldry said the Church of England would have “detailed submissions” for a consultation on the matter, though the government has only announced a consultation on civil marriage.

Baldry said: “So far as the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and many other faith groups are concerned, marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

“That is the point we are putting forward responsibly and clearly in the consultation paper.”

Bone, who is one of the Commons’ more active contributors, said: “Wouldn’t it just be very simple to write back and say, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts’?”

Of course these two Tories would be arch theists, except their zealotry seems to be entirely out of step with British Christians’ attitudes, as Richard Dawkins explains below:


So maybe, just maybe it’s another case of Tories finding themselves unable not to be nasty? After all Widdecombe’s poll is based on a leading and fraudulent question, but her position is also predicated on an implicit prejudice. Assuming she were right and a small majority were opposed to marriage equality, going with mob rule simply isn’t right. The British public would likely vote around 51% in favour of reintroducing the death penalty, but rescinding people’s human rights in that instance aren’t up for discussion by anyone sensible. So why should they be in this one?

Oh you theists crack me up. No sooner did I put up my last post when one of the usual suspects, under the cover of sounding ‘reasonable’ (sort of like Williams really) argued allowing same-sex marriage was a slippery slope – marrying dogs will come next! I’m sure the Danes, the Spanish, the Dutch, Canadians et all will laugh, curiously unable to point to a sharp rise in the incidence of bestiality, but I thought last night that Bill Maher puts it best:

Brian made this picture while Rowan Williams, ...

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Good old Rowan Williams. Whenever he has an opportunity to show his religion isn’t an antiquated force for oppression, hatred and discrimination he balks at it. He’s now spoken out in Geneva against marriage equality:

Dr Williams said human rights law “falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions”.

He argued that while laws should prevent certain actions, including discrimination against gays, positive “change” must come from cultures themselves.

He also spoke of communities concerns that an “alien cultural standard” was being “imposed” on them regarding, among other issues, equal marriage rights for gays.

In a lengthy speech, he talked of the “anxiety” among religious people that rights law was being “used proactively to change culture”.

Williams may be a nice guy, but this is the same arrogance displayed by his predecessor. This position is predicated on the presumption that a culture which has discrimination at its core has any validity whatsoever. Why should the law uphold the freedom of Christians to discriminate, when the minority in this country who want to (I don’t believe the majority do) justify it on Biblical literalism? We’re governed by civil law, people, not religious law; the Enlightenment happened for a reason. The minority who still want to have a privileged opt out need to accept this.

On whether the law needed to change culture in order to redress an imbalance for under-protected groups, he said: “Not exactly: when the law establishes protection or equality of access to public goods for a previously disadvantaged person or group, it declares that an agreed aspiration to a culture of dignity is damaged or frustrated by unequal protection and access.

“It secures what the very institution of a law-governed society is intended to embody […] Now laws change as societies become more conscious of what they are and claim to be; as I have said, it may take time for a society to realize that its practice is inconsistent – with respect to women and to ethnic, religious or sexual minorities.

“Law may indeed turn out to be ahead of majority opinion in recognizing this, but it has a clear argument to advance – that the failure to guarantee protection and access is simply incompatible with the very idea of a lawful society.

“But this falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions, even in language.”

I’m seeing pseudo-intellectual crap like this now on a daily basis, and I was prepared to argue it out with the usual zealous suspects on Twitter only, but no more. He’s dressing up capitulation to religious zealotry in comforting language, designed no doubt to appeal to the extreme and largely African members of his flock, but the argument doesn’t hold water. The people who want their ‘culture’ held static won’t tolerate any infringement of civil law into their privilege at all – it’s the function of human rights law to ensure that noone gets an opt out for any reason. I don’t think most Christians in the UK agree with him, polls show majority support for same-sex marriage, and he seems wilfully ignorant about historical change of the institution of marriage. He doesn’t after all advocate that women who have been raped should marry their attackers


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I’ve had enough of Christian nutloons most of the time, but this is just the worst. We’re living in an age where religion, for reasons I can’t fathom, has certain forms of legal protection – how is that even possible? Your age, gender and sexual orientation is inherent, but your religion?! Nonetheless there’s an expectation that the rise of mega, overzealous, largely African ‘churches’ should be accepted or even respected. LBC reports on a Sky investigation into why that’s a VERY BAD IDEA INDEED:

There is evidence that evangelical churches in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are claiming to cure HIV through God.

We sent three undercover reporters to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which is based in Southwark, south London.

All of them told the pastors they were HIV positive – all were told they could be healed.

Once a month the church has a prayer line, where people from across Europe come to be cured of all kinds of illness.

At registration they have to hand over a doctor’s letter as evidence of their condition

They are filmed giving before and after testimonies, which are put on SCOAN’s website.

The healing process involves the pastor shouting over the person being healed for the devil to come out of their body, while spraying water in their face.

One of the pastors, Rachel Holmes, told our reporter Shatila, who is a genuine HIV sufferer, they had a 100% success rate.

“We have many people that contract HIV. All are healed.”

Prayer heals nothing and there’s no such thing as ‘God’, the ‘Devil’ or ‘evil spirits’ – these are fraudsters who destroy people’s lives in the name of religion. There shouldn’t be protection by the Charity Commission, nor by the law – this is the 21st century and any organisation which says it can heal ANTHING through prayer should be shut down immediately, and its leadership prosecuted. But guess what this ‘church’ says?

“We are not the Healer; God is the Healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure. Never a burden God cannot bear. Never a problem God cannot solve.

“To His power, nothing is impossible. We have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals.

“We must have a genuine desire if we come to God. We are not in position to question anybody’s genuine desire. Only God knows if one comes with true desire. Only God can determine this.

“That is why, if anybody comes in the name of God, we pray for them. The outcome of the prayer will determine if they come genuinely or not.”

This batshit stupidity needs to be condemned as backward, dangerous and out of step with a single British value. But again and again I find theists 0nline brazenly defending the claim that any illness, including HIV, can be cured by prayer. Catch me any day of the week on Twitter to see how well they fare with me.