Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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.


Theists are at it again. Now Christian teachers are withholding a cervical cancer jab from girls on dogmatic grounds:

Schoolgirls are being denied a potentially life-saving cervical cancer jab at their schools on religious grounds.

Some schools in England have opted out of the HPV vaccination programme because their pupils follow strict Christian principles and do not have sex outside marriage. The jab guards against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus – 16 and 18 – which cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. It is offered routinely to girls aged 12 to 13.

But an investigation by GP magazine found 24 schools in 83 of England’s 152 primary care trust (PCT) areas were opting out of the vaccination programme, many of them on religious grounds.

The magazine found the majority of schools opting out did not tell their local GPs, where the girls could be offered the vaccine.

Just two of the 15 PCTs where schools are denying the vaccination course told GPs of their decision.

Only five of the 15 PCTs said they informed pupils or guardians how to obtain the vaccine elsewhere, the figures show.

The reasons schools gave for not giving the jab included “not in keeping with the school ethos”, “pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage” and “the school does not want parents/students to feel pressured by peers or the school setting”.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said GPs needed to be informed about which pupils were being denied vaccines at school to help cut cervical cancer deaths.

Every year, 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer.

‘Right to life’ eh? What a crock.

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.

From the inimitable Cristina Odone in the Telegraph:

Same-Sex Marriage Rally

Same-Sex Marriage Rally (Photo credit: City of West Hollywood)

Marriage may be a force for the good, but for some gay people, it has become a fortress they must storm. They argue that, in its present state, marriage discriminates and excludes. The ancient and much-loved edifice must be broken into – or simply broken.

I’m sorry, theists and bigots, but this is batshit crazy. It’s just plan bonkers. ‘Broken into’? ‘Broken’? There isn’t a single way in which marriage equality damages a single aspect of society – not a single one. My relationship with my male partner is in every way the equal of your marriage, and if equating mine with yours under the law causes antiquated laws you bought into to evolve to cope with it then I’m utterly fine with that. In its present state the institution does discriminate and exclude, and the only reasons I’ve been informed about to justify such run as follows:

  • Gay people have never been able to marry therefore gay people can’t get married now. This unfortunately line essentially victimises the victim of homophobia yet further, and for no reason. Being openly gay has been legal (and indeed socially acceptable) only for the blink of an eye – of course the question of same-sex marriage hasn’t been on the table before – it couldn’t have been!
  • The definition of marriage simply is male/female. This line too ignores the reality that all social constructs evolve alongside social norms – marriage has always done this and indeed always will. The Biblical line of marriage is adhered to only by a very small minority in the West, and indeed it would be a strange thing to compare a Saudi marriage with an average British one. Homophobia is now not a mainstream social norm in the West, and most (by no means all) people don’t comprehend how any two consenting adults who love each other can’t get married.
  • Changing the definition of marriage carries with it all sorts of dangers: what to say to the kids about gay relationships, relationship roles in official documents needing to become gender neutral, the possibility of national leaders and Heads of State being out and gay. As far as I’m concerned these are non-issues, the latter in particular not causing any problems at all in Iceland and Belgium.

Odone however keeps adding ‘reasons’:

The Government claims that its plans to legalise gay marriage will not affect religious institutions, only civil ones. But given that the gay marriage lobby seeks equality in this area, how long would it accept the ban on gays marrying in church or synagogue? It is bound to argue that exclusion from a religious ceremony amounts to discrimination, and will almost certainly campaign to force priests and vicars to celebrate gay marriages even if that goes against their heartfelt beliefs. Freedom of conscience will be sacrificed at the altar of a “right” that the Civil Partnership Act was supposed to have conferred years ago.

We live in a society governed by civil, not religious law. I see no reason why there should be a ban on gay people marrying in churches, synagogues or mosques. Why should a single institution in the country be exempt from equalities legislation? Why shouldn’t gay Muslims be able to marry, gay Jews, gay Christians, in the temples of their choosing? She ends by arguing that theists should have unrestricted ‘freedom of conscience’, but since when did that involve being able to discriminate against gay people for any reason, in a society with laws to protect from such? I don’t believe a majority of Britons feel that equality is culturally dangerous – in presenting such an absurd argument Odone edits out everyone whose views, lives and needs don’t chime with her own, and at the end of the day me marrying my partner would have no impact on anyone else’s life (or marriage, the most ludicrous ‘anti’ reason I’ve yet come across). The Christian (and most recently Muslim) zealot brigade need to reflect on what ‘values’ are fuelling their opposition.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Colby Hess nails it in one:

The ongoing circus act that is the Republican primaries are an excellent case study in personification, for the ringmaster of the moment is the very embodiment of all that atheists despise about religion. Rick Santorum is so ignorant, so bigoted and hypocritical, so authoritarian, theocratic, shortsighted, and so out of touch with facts and with reality in general, that if he did not happen to exist already, it would almost be necessary to invent him in order to serve as the poster child for everything that’s wrong with religion – especially when it gets mixed up with politics.

Rick Santorum hates nearly every societal advance that has been achieved since the Dark Ages – in short, everything that we refer to as “progress.” He hates the growing secularization of society and the implementing of laws based on things like equality, fairness, justice, and reason instead of blind deference to imaginary authority. He hates the empowerment of women and their having control over their own bodies instead of being merely meek and obedient baby-making machines. He even hates the Earth itself, which he looks at as some kind of vassal state to be plundered at will.

It’s such an awesome article I can’t recommend it highly enough. Santorum legitimises religious fundamentalism, with all of the abuses inherent in that, and must be decisively confronted. Having clearly watched history, he picks the usual religious/nationalist talking points which engage those most affected by economic crashes, and in galvanising huge swathes of the south, is proving how little people change. Fortunately however in running on a blatantly bigoted platform, he is also proving the fundamental dangers inherent in religion through example. Day by day, ever more atheists…

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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?