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Monday, 30 June 2008

As you were – almost

The frothing, loathsome, abominable, hateful, despicable and contemptible homophobic bigots of the Anglican Church won't form a breakaway organisation just because some people have a sexuality they claim their deity doesn't believe should exist, but what they will do is form "a new global network to fight against the preaching of 'false gospels' of homosexuality and other 'immoral' sexual behaviour", according to a tale in Pink News today.

False gospel of homosexuality. Hmm. I haven't come across that one before.

They've been meeting in Jerusalem at the Global Anglican Future Conference – GAFCON for short, but not for long, because it's closing down today. But not before this vile nest of hell's spawn have had their say on homosexuality, as if they didn't have other things to think about in a world that's far from perfect.

"The group which was formed primarily in objection to the ordination of gay clergy and the decision of the American Episcopal Church to elect the openly gay Gene Robinson to the post of Bishop of New Hampshire," says Pink News. It continues:

Gafon claims that some in the Church "promote a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right". It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions is against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. "In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship."

And the sky didn't fall in. Fancy that!

Poor Stephen Green, Part II

Nearly bankrupt Stephen "Birdshit" Green of Christian Voice is a born-again optimist.

You'll remember from our previous post on this homophobic bigot that he's really in the shit financially after he lost his case against the BBC for its truly sinful televising of Jerry Springer: The Opera (about time they showed it again, I reckon – it was a rattling good show). He wanted the BBC to waive his huge court costs, saying he was heading for bankruptcy.

Well, now he's launched an online petition to get them to waive their costs. The petition begins:

We the undersigned call upon Mark Thompson of the BBC and Jonathan Thoday of Avalon to waive the £90,000 costs awarded to them against Stephen Green in the Jerry Springer the Opera case.

We note that Mark Thompson's salary is more than £750,000 pa and that Jon Thoday's wealth was estimated at £12 million in 2001.

Yes, and it's very galling when you look at it like that, but there's a principle at work. Anyway, does Green want to take this out of licence payers' money because he embarked on an adventure that left him with with a bloody nose?

You can see the petition here, and click here for the comments people have left, some of which are rather robust.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Gays aren't the problem, says evangelist

Forget queers and women. It's Muslims you have to watch out for. That, anyway, is the message of a member of the Church of England Synod – it's ruling body – featured in Britain's Daily Telegraph.

She's referring to the gathering of bishops at the GAFCON summit in Jerusalem last week, discussing, in the main, gays in the church and how they don't like them. Then we get the Synod meeting in York this week to discuss this and that, including the introduction of women bishops. The paper goes on:

But Alison Ruoff, an evangelical lay member of the Synod and a former magistrate who is at the Gafcon summit in Jerusalem, told the Daily Telegraph that the church needs to get past these divisions and concentrate on fighting the rise of Islam in Britain.

She says that under an Archbishop of Canterbury who said it is inevitable that elements of sharia law will be introduced in the UK – as Rowan Williams did indeed say earlier this year – the church has not done enough to put its message across.

Well, from this point of view, we'd rather no religious view prevailed over humanist ones, but if there has to be a choice give me the comparatively benign Church of England any day.

Mrs Ruoff believes the problem with the growth of Islam in Britain is that some communities do not integrate, and that some immigrant imams do not learn English, leading to segregation.

She fears that if these communities introduce Islamic law, all non-Muslims and women will be treated as second-class citizens by them.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Poor Stephen Green

Poor old Stephen Green! There he is, this upright Christian, director of Christian Voice, fighting the good fight with all his might against the right of people to televise and show such entertainments as Jerry Springer: The Opera, and what does he get? Grief, that's what he gets. The poor dear.

You can read here how upset he is about having to cough up for his own legal actions (it's a press release he's probably written himself). Now he says he's facing bankruptcy because of it. He – or his press release – goes on:

The High Court ruled last December that Stephen Green could not prosecute Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, and Jonathan Thoday of Avalon over the BBC2 broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera and its subsequent theatre tour. The Court ordered costs against him.

In a hearing a fortnight ago, Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday were awarded costs totalling £90,000 against Green, who is the National Director of the prayer and lobby group Christian Voice. The BBC's solicitors were awarded £55,000 and Olswangs Solicitors, who acted for Thoday, got an order for £35,000.

The costs order is better than it could have been; the BBC originally demanded almost £78,000 after instructing David Pannick QC, probably the most expensive barrister they could find, while Thoday wanted over £58,000.

The money is due to be paid today, but Stephen Green doesn't have it.

He has written to both Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday inviting them to waive their costs in the interests of goodwill and justice.

Green, you'll remember, interpreted a splat of bird shit on his shirt as a sign from God that he shouldn't take part in an interview. Somehow, you're just not surprised that loonies like that can be stupid enough to try to prosecute perfectly legitimate theatre and television. Not only did he help to ensure an end to Britain's blasphemy laws by his actions, but he's lost a fortune in the process.

If you want to see the bird-shit incident, click on the video below.

With friends like that . . .

Oh, the embarrassment! Remember those homophobic bishops and other frockists meeting for the GAFCON in Jerusalem, which we mentioned in an entry yesterday? And how they were there, in Jerusalem, talking about the evils of homosexuality in their campery while a successful Gay Pride event was going on in the same city?

Well, they've had an endorsement for their cause, which you'd think they'd be pleased about. But they may not be, because it's come from none other than the esteemed Robert Mugabe (below, probably berating gays), who's made some sort of statement about how degenerate the Church is ahead of his highly contested presidential election tomorrow, which, on account of the fairness of the Zimbabwean system, he expects to win.

With an endorsement like that, you never know: the GAFCON lot might just all turn queer.

Ekklesia, linked to above, says, "In a campaign comment ahead of today's uncontested election in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has condemned Archbishop Rowan Williams as lacking a 'moral compass' and said that gays in the church are a sign of 'moral degeneracy'."

This thoroughly upright and decent president made his comments after two African archbishops turned down opportunities at a press conference earlier this week to condemn violence against lesbian and gay people. They said it was not the churches' business to get involved in arguments with governments.

Mugabe's rabid hatred of gays is not new, though. Indeed, as the Ekklesia site points out, "British gay and human rights activist Peter Tatchell has been badly beaten by the dictator's security staff trying to make a 'citizen's arrest' of Mugabe for his abuse and crimes against sexual minorities.'

But you get the feeling they'd rather he'd just kept his mouth shut. Just this once.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Gay and proud

Oh, the irony! Thousands of Gay Priders march through Jerusalem as, in the same city, those conservative (read "bigoted") bishops who want to give Church liberals a bloody nose fail to get their schism within the Anglican Communion.

It seems the Jerusalem Pride went off without event, even though past marches have been marred by violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews. This time around there were some small protests away from the march route.

Meanwhile, those really frothy bishops who want to break away from the main Church because of the American Episcopals' stance on gay priests will be sadly disappointed.

According to Reuters – reporting on the GAFCON, or Global Anglical Future, conference – "Conservative Anglican leaders meeting at a rebel summit expressed frustration with the church's leadership on Thursday but indicated that an outright schism might be avoided."

This week-long convention of hundreds of conservative bishops and clergy, says the Reuters report, "opened on Sunday amid talk that it was a first step towards a split between conservative and liberal wings in the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion".

But mid-way through the conference, conservative leaders spoke only of making GAFCON a "movement", without indicating how such a process would be handled and if there was enough support among the bishops to initiate a split.

"There is a sense of betrayal and abandonment by the existing leadership and Communion structures," Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya said at a press conference.

But he added that "there is a genuine desire to continue to reach out to other Anglicans around the Communion who share our common faith."

But there's Lambeth to come, and there could be fireworks. Well, there've been some of those before this ten-yearly meeting of the frockist tendency gets going towards the end of next month.

One bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, has already said he won't be attending.

"I would find it difficult to be in Eucharistic fellowship with, and teaching the common faith alongside, those who have ordained a person to be bishop whose style of life is contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Bible and the Church down the ages," the Pakistan-born bigot said in a statement released in Jerusalem during a media conference earlier this week.

He was referring there to Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who, against the wishes of huge chunks of the Anglican Communion, was mumbo-jumboed into bishophood and, as you can imagine, is rather saddened by the whole nasty business.

Catholics moaning after pill goes free

Just when you're about to applaud Scotland for making the morning-after pill freely available, you read this: "Pharmacists will be able to opt out of providing the free emergency contraception service as a matter of conscience."

Well, we know what sort of conscience that is, don't we? It usually comes down to religion, of one sort or another.

I read this thing in the Scotsman about how women in Scotland are going to get easier access to the pill right across the nation.

The emergency contraception is set to be supplied for free in most of Scotland's 1,200 community pharmacies under changes to their contracts.

Last night, the plan was welcomed by sexual health groups and doctors. However, some campaigners expressed fears it could fuel rising rates of sexually transmitted infections.

Shona Robison, the public health minister, announced an expansion of services provided by community pharmacists at a conference in Glasgow.

As well as free emergency contraception, changes to the contract will lead to pharmacies providing smoking cessation services and free chlamydia testing and treatment. Some pharmacies already offer such services, but provision across Scotland is patchy.

Women can get the emergency contraceptive from their family-planning clinic or their GP for nothing, but, if they're unable to do this, at least they can by it, currently for £26.

But then they go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like how pharmacists can refuse to dispense it if they have a conscience thing about it. Why are they being given a licence to be a pharmacist if they then refuse to carry out what is expected of a pharmacist? It's a bit like going to have repairs done on your car, but the mechanic can't fix the hub caps because he doesn't believe in wheels. Or your general practitioner can fix your recurring headaches but has a sort of conscience thing about carbuncles.

You just know the Catholic Church is going to be quoted somewhere, and you're right. The paper says:

And last night, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "This gives the false impression that careless sexual activity is OK because there is always a fix. That message is likely to lead to more, not less, sexually transmitted disease and higher recourse to abortion."

You just know it's not sexually transmitted disease that is the spokesman's first concern, somehow. You just know it's that God thing – you know, how the sex act is not for enjoying but just for creating ever more offspring on a planet that's already creaking under the weight (environmentally speaking) of what it's got walking on its surface at the moment.

Do you ever hear journos – when they go for the obligatory quote from a man in a frock – take that up with Catholics who try to tell a woman how she should manage her own fertility? Like hell do you!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

57 varieties of homophobia

You can bet the bulk of those complaining about a Heinz ad that features a kiss between two men will be religious types. Just a theory. However, the campaign now is not to get the ad off British TV, but to get it back on.

It shows one chap, cooking and called "Mum" by the couple's young children, and then, as the kids leave the kitchen, the "other half" comes in, clearly in a hurry, and "Mum" demands a goodbye kiss from him before he leaves for work. Not amusing, particularly, but kinda nice, and certainly not offensive; and of course it clearly would not have caused one iota of concern had it been a man and a woman.

While the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have received 205 complaints about the ad (at the last count), they haven't ruled on it. But Heinz themselves have decided to pull it, and that's got gays up in arms. Some have organised an online petition, which you can sign here. It's got 1,300 signatures so far, according to this story in Pink News. The ASA have even received 50 calls and emails from people wanting the ad reinstated.

The paper says:

Gay equality organisation Stonewall said the complaints were part of an orchestrated campaign, similar to the one that targeted their "Some People Are Gay: Get Over It" billboard adverts.

Heinz won't talk to Pink News, but have told the UK's Independent, "The advertisement was intended to be humorous, not designed to cause offence to anyone. Clearly it failed in its intent to amuse and that is why we took the decision to withdraw it."

The ASA said that 200 of the complaints related to the gay kiss in the advert, and that it would not make a judgment on whether or not to investigate a potential breach of taste-and-decency rules until the end of next week.

Anyway, take a look for yourself in the video below.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Queen of Diamonds

George Broadhead is 75 today – Happy Diamond Birthday, George!

George has been a campaigner for gay rights and humanist values for forty years, and, with little sign of hanging up his spurs, has recently turned his focus to the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT), Britain’s first and only gay humanist charity.

Together with his partner Roy Saich – a founding trustee of the PTT – George set up one of the first local groups of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, in the early seventies. Then, in 1974, after moving to Kenilworth, he and Roy (who also runs the award-winning Humanists website) set up the South Warwickshire Area Gay Group (SWAGG) and, later, Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists. SWAGG was mainly a social group, organising events at the 18th-century Pump Rooms in Royal Leamington Spa to raise money for groups campaigning for gay rights.

For more than a quarter of a century, George was Secretary of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, which started out life as the Gay Humanist Group), of which he is now a Vice President. For many years, he was the editor of Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine, for which he wrote his "World Watch" column.

But it isn’t all work for George, who enjoys a quiet hour sipping chilled white wine on his patio, surrounded by treasured exotic plants and a most unusual water feature. If our fickle British summer allows, I hope George finds the time to be there today to raise a glass or two in celebration of his three-quarter-century diamond birthday! And I wish that I could be there to join him.

So, George, a very Happy Birthday and long may your ammonite gurgle!

Fear or freedom?

Anglican wrangling about sexuality and authority in the church is missing the big picture about how the relationship between religion and society is changing, says a new book from the think tank Ekklesia to be published next week.

Christians need to be beacons of hope, not signs of decay, it argues, suggesting that the "conservative versus liberal" stereotype disguises a deeper tension between establishment religion and the Christian message of radical transformation.

It's called Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, and has a preface by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (one of the truly likable faces of Christianity).

"The book contains essays by clergy, a peace activist, an equalities adviser and two New Testament professors," says Ekklesia. "It is aimed at substantially challenging the argument that will take place at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in July."

The book's editor, Ekklesia's Simon Barrow, adds, "Many Christians and other onlookers are completely baffled by the nasty arguments within Anglicanism right now. These rows are missing four key ingredients: an understanding that 'top-down' models of the church are dying; that the world needs models of reconciliation and peacemaking, not examples of animosity; that many want to affirm gay Christians on deeply traditional grounds; and that disagreement without courtesy and love is destroying the credibility of the church's message."

Ekklesia says that the attempt by some Anglican leaders to exclude women, gay people and those they disagree with from church life disguises two larger crises. First, the end of the Christendom era, where Christianity could expect a privileged position in society, an idea that has been "exported" around the world; second, a global challenge to the use of religion to sanction oppression – "which leaves many people feeling that Christians behave less morally than others".

Fear or Freedom? will be on sale at the Lambeth Conference, which should be a barrel of laughts this year, with half of Christendom wanting to get its collective hands on Archbishop Rowan Williams's throat for his perceived inability to tell the American church where it can shove its acceptance of gay priests and bishops.

Monday, 23 June 2008

What is Jacqui Smith playing at?

Campaigners are outraged by the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's assertion that gays are safe in Iran, provided they behave discreetly. Like hell they are!

It's thought that as many as 4,000 lesbians and gays have been executed in that country since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Smith has said in a letter to Lord Roberts of Llandudno (which has also appeared in Britain's Independent newspaper), that, while there are "cases where people able to demonstrate a need for international protection", there is not enough evidence to support a moratorium on deportations to Iran, where many gay men have been known to be hanged for their sexuality.

Back in 2005, Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine, published by the Pink Triangle Trust, drew attention to the Iranian situation, with a disturbing picture (above) that has since done the rounds of the Internet, showing two teenagers having the ropes put about their necks by two masked executioners on a scaffold in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran. This happened in July 2005.

Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were hanged for allegedly being rapists. But gay campaigners insist the teenagers were killed under sharia law for the "crime" of homosexuality.

The matter also gets attention in Pink News, Britain's online gay outlet, and the Pink Triangle Trust has expressed its own horror at Smith's stance, with its secretary, George Broadhead, talking of an "outrage".

Damn right, too. Has the woman no shame?

Bacon, egg and hogwash

Goodness knows who's paying for it (the taxpayer, we can only assume), but, according to Inspire magazine, there's a "prayer breakfast" at Westminster tomorrow, with up to a hundred MPs going along to mumble the mumbo-jumbo over their croissants or baked beans.

"The parliamentarians will also spend time with four Christian agencies: Care, Interserve, Tearfund, World Vision and Bible Society to discuss their work," says the magazine in a very short piece.

Are our paid representatives doing this in their own time? You can bet your bottom they're not.

Sunday, 22 June 2008


It’s good to see that another high-profile nonbelieving gay man has been awarded an honour by the establishment. Writer, producer and Doctor Whopremo Russell T Davies was awarded an OBE for his services to drama last week in the UK in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

As well as his success with Doctor Who, starring Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, and its spinoffs Torchwood, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen and Thomas Knight, Davies was responsible for The Second Coming, also starring Eccleston, in 2002 and, before that, the groundbreaking Channel 4 drama Queer As Folk in 1999.

Davies said of his honour:

I'm delighted to accept, and I hope it does the whole industry a bit of good, for the writing of television drama to be recognised.

Meanwhile, the BBC issued a statement saying:

We are delighted for Russell – he is one of this country's greatest writers and it is fantastic that his talent has been recognised in this way.

It seems that being gay and an atheist, not to mention trying to finish off the UK government and the Royal Family via farting aliens, six little words and crashing the Titanic into Buckingham Palace on Christmas Day was not held against him!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Blessed be buggered!

The gay marchers of Brighton are going to get religion whether they want it or not, it seems.

For the second year running, the Rev. Debbie Gaston will "bless the Brighton Pride parade", according to this story on the GaydarNation website.

Not only will atheists and agnostics have to be "blessed", but those of religions other than Christianity, too. The story continues:

The vicar from the Brightwaves Metropolitan Community Church will give the parade her holy best wishes before it goes on its way through the streets of Brighton on Saturday 2 August.

How outrageous. It reminds me of when, some years ago, the Terrence Higgins Trust used to have prayers said at its candlelight vigils in Trafalgar Square (which GALHA managed to put a stop to), the blessing of the banner at Leicester Pride a while ago and the long-running column in Gay News entitled "Our God Too"!

A service is being held for Pride the following day, anyway. Surely, Christians could just go to that, or hold one before the march so those who actually wish to be "blessed" can be "blessed".

It's good that churches such as the MCC are taking part, along with countless other groups, no doubt, but isn't it a bit presumptuous to believe that the entire march will feel better for having a Christian "blessing"?

Well done, whoever you are!

We now know who they are. Well, not exactly who, but the type of person they are. I refer to a loose-knit but seemingly well-organised, Internet-based campaign called Anonymous, whose avowed target is the Church of Scientology.

This crazy cult has drawn a lot of criticism, and on at least two occasions in recent weeks police have blocked free expression.

But have a look at this UK Times article. It makes fascinating reading.

"Their target", says The Times "was the Church of Scientology – and this was an altogether new way of protesting." It continues:

It was all so different from how it used to be. For more than a decade, a small group had gathered opposite the Church's London offices to stage lonely demonstrations. Some were former Scientologists, some just angered by an organisation that they claimed split up families, extorted money and employed its followers as slave labour. Leafleting passers-by, explaining themselves to the police and countering – they claimed – the harassment of the Scientologists, they were happy if a dozen turned out.

Then, earlier this year, something odd happened. Simultaneously and apparently without warning, in London, Toronto, Sydney, New York and other cities worldwide, young men and women began protesting en masse. They wore strange clothes, spoke their own dialect, distributed cake and operated under the name of Anonymous. They returned the next month – and the month after.

The paper asks, "Who were these people?", and answers thus:

To the police, watching last Saturday's London protest, they are a quirky bunch of middle-class kids. “These are the nicest protesters I have ever had the privilege of policing,” one said. “They even bring lunch.” Sure enough, behind the barricades, there is a large table of crisps and soft drinks. Demonstrators offer biscuits to passers-by. One of their placards reads: “We have cake, they have lies.” The police description is broadly accurate - most Anonymous members are indeed middle-class teenagers. They see themselves as guardians of free speech, fighting a malign organisation that bases its ideology on stories about aliens. They cover their faces because they are scared of reprisals. But also because anonymity is, well, what they do.

There's more, for those interested in this debate, and what Anonymous stand for.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Religion trumps education in Wales

Religion has won out over children's education once again. It's in Wales this time, where an Assembly committee has voted to give free transport to religious sectarian schools but deny it to kids who want to go to a Welsh-language schools (this is where lessons are taught through the medium of the Welsh language rather than English).

Given that so much lip service is paid to the language in the principality, it seems surprising that Assembly Members (AMs) should kick it in the teeth, and allow religion to trump it. A story on the WalesOnline website tells us:

A cross-party body voted to close a loophole denying those attending faith schools access to free transport, but refused to back similar proposals to strengthen the right to free travel to Welsh-medium schools.

The faith school vote in a cross-party committee was won with the backing of Labour AM Ann Jones, who said it put her in the “dreadful” position of having to choose between her conscience and party policy.

Her decision was applauded by Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan.

Well, it would be, wouldn't it?

A final vote is expected in the Assembly in autumn.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


What's in a number? Well ...

In numerical terms, 180 (spoken as one hundred eighty in American English, but one hundred and eighty in British English) it is the natural number following 179 and preceding 181. It is the sum of six consecutive primes (19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41) as well as the sum of eight consecutive primes (11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37). The sum of Euler’s quotient function over the first twenty-four integers is 180. 180 is a refractorable number because it is divisible by the total number of its divisors. 180 degrees is called a straight angle, makes a semicircle and, in normal space, is the sum of the interior angles of a triangle. 180 is a Harshad number in base 10, CLXXX in Roman numerals, 10110100 in binary, 130 in duodecimal, B4 in hexidecimal and 90 in vigesimal. On the Fahrenheit scale, 180 degrees is the spread (or difference) between the freezing and boiling points of water.

A ton 80 or "180" (as announced with the "and" in exuberant style by every UK television darts commentator) is the highest score possible when all three of a player’s darts land in the triple 20 on the board. It’s also the highest possible score on the British Law School Application Test (LSAT). The Unicorn 180 Club "is open to all darts players, men and women, who score the magical 180 for a pub, club or representative team in a recognised darts match", but not, one assumes, to law school students who achieve 180 on their LSATs. 180 (note the italics) is a darts video game released in 1986 for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit and MSX computers.

In many extreme sports, 180 is where a rider rotates through half a turn and lands rolling backwards. Whereas, in pounds sterling, it’s currently the amount required to purchase the necessary equipment for the Freesat service offered by the BBC and ITV in the UK, which is intended as a free-to-air alternative to Sky's digital satellite platform.

180 Amsterdam is an international agency based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is the website of Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper (pictured together here), who, in May 2006 at the age of 19, became the youngest Britons ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2007, they went on to break a world record by travelling pole to pole using only human or natural power and, according to Wikipedia, 180 is also the only nonalcoholic energy drink to be produced by a beer company, Anheuser-Busch of Missouri!

In 180 BC, in Greece, Perseus persuaded his father, King Philip V of Macedon, to have his younger brother Demetrius executed. Rome completed its subjugation of all of Italy, deported 40,000 Ligurians to other parts of the Republic and colonised Lucca. In Egypt, aged just six years old, Ptolemy VI became ruler as co-regent with his mother Cleopatra I, and, following the death of Aristophanes of Byzantium, Aristarchus of Samothrace became librarian at Alexandria. Meanwhile, in Bactria, Demetrius I started his invasion of north-western India, and Apollodotus I became king of the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom.

In China, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty ascends to the Chinese throne after quelling the clans of Empress Dowager Lü. The Greek scholar and grammarian Apollodorus of Athens and the Lusitanian chieftan and general Viriathus were both born in 180 BC, while the Roman statesman, consul and censor Lucius Valerius Flaccus, the Greek scholar, critic and grammarian, Aristophanes of Byzantium, the de-facto ruler of the Chinese Han Dynasty (and wife of Emperor Gao), Empress Dowager Lü, and the fourth emporor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, Liu Hong, all died.

In AD 180, the praetorian prefect of the Roman Empire Tarutenius Paternus achieved a decisive victory against the Quadi, while, in Europe, the Goths reached the banks of the Black Sea. In Oceana, Lake Taupo erupted, forming ash clouds as far as China and Europe. In Methodus Medendo, Greek physician Galen describes the connection between paralysis and the severing of the spinal cord, and his popular work on hygiene was published. Elsewhere, twelve Christian inhabitants of Scillium in Numidia (who later became known as the Scillitan Martyrs) were executed in Carthage for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the Emperor. And Commodus created an official cult of the Zoroastrian god Mithra!

Sima Fu, the Chinese strategist, general and politician was born in AD 180, and the "philosopher-king", Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, died. His son, Commodus, became emperor, heralding a period of political instability. During the concluding part of the Hellenistic period and shortly afterwards, Christianity grew rapidly throughout the Roman Empire, culminating in the Emperor’s conversion to Christianity.

The following quote can be found in post 180 in "Is condemning homosexual sex homophobic?", which is being discussed in the Interfaith Issues folder on The Religion Forum:

As one who suffered rejection growing up, I always had a tendency to care for those who were rejected by others. My theological beliefs has nothing to do with how i perceive a person in love. Also Old Testament laws from Leviticus would not apply to New Testament Christians. The law that Jesus proclaimed was one of love your neighbor as yourself. Loving someone and caring for someone deeply, doesn't mean acceptance or approval of specific acyivity necessarily though.

Usual disingenuous bollocks there, then.

In astronomy, when two planets are 180 degrees apart, they are said to be in opposition, an aspect that is considered to be negative in influence in astrology!

"Celebrating 180 years of deafness" was a report published in the Guardian on 31 May 2008. "The Smith family have inherited deafness for eight generations. But many of the difficulties faced by their forebears no longer apply, thanks mainly to technology. They tell Rebecca Atkinson why they are proud of their unusual legacy."

The Web-based currency converter boasts "The 'full' version of the Universal Currency Converter ® contains every known world currency. That’s over 180 currencies in over 250 geographical locations!", the Zune 180 is Microsoft’s attempt to capture the iPod Nano and cellphone market in one go, whereas the Olympus C-180 is a digital camera from . . . er . . . Olympus.

On Page 180 of From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe by Alexander Koyré, we're told that Richard Bentley accepts, without any criticism, Bruno's concept of the universe as "an infinite space with an immense number of star-suns". In Santa Cruz in 1997, the seventeenth annual Dickens Universe was attended by 180 conference-goers. Meanwhile, in the Whoniverse, issue 180 of Doctor Who the Magazine was published on 27 November 1991, while episode 180 of Doctor Who the Series, The Age of Steel by Russell T Davies, was first broadcast on BBC 1 on 20 May 2006.

Which is all just a fun way of saying in exuberant style that, with this post, the Pink Triangle blog has just scored 180!

With this document I thee divorce

Peter Akinola
Well, they've done it, the African bishops. Bugger off, they say. You can keep priestood poofters. We're off. It's schism time.

And it's in an 89-page document called "The Way, the Truth and the Life", drawn up by what Britain's Daily Telegraph here calls "conservative Anglicans", whom we would call frothing bigots. It gets the support of several African churches, including those of Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda.

Peter Akinola of Nigeria has always been a leading gobshite in this antigay bigotry. The Telegraph says:

The traditionalists dealt a serious blow to Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by claiming that he can no longer hold the Church together.

They warned that the Church was gripped by its most serious crisis since the Reformation. It could only be saved by the repentance of the Americans who triggered the row by ordaining a homosexual bishop, the Rt Rev. Gene Robinson [of New Hampshire], five years ago.

Akinola says in the document, "There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified Communion."

Whatever you do, don't mention religion

The headline above says it all. This is the message at the UN at the moment, where Muslim countries have "won a battle to prevent Islam from being criticised during debates by the UN Human Rights Council", according to the Daily Times.

Religions deserve special protection, says the paper, because any debate about faith is bound to be "very complex, very sensitive and very intense", according to the council president, Doru-Romulus Costea.

This ruling will not affect findings by council experts, just its chamber debates. And, while it affects all religions, it's the Muslims who achieved the change, because they can't stand the idea that someone might even talk about their hideous belief system, let alone dare to criticise it.

The Daily Times continues:

On Monday Egypt, Pakistan and Iran angrily protested attempts by a humanist group to link Islam to human rights abuses such as female genital mutilation and so-called honour killing of women. The interventions sparked a heated debate which threatened to sour the mood of the meeting. The council’s resolutions carry no legal weight but are intended to throw a spotlight on governments thatabuse their citizens.

Creeping Islamisation continues.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Bangle wrangle

That question of what one should be allowed to wear in school is being tested again. This time it's the Sikh girl from Cwmbach near Aberdare, Wales, who wants to wear a bangle at school.

It's a simple piece of adornment, and you might ask, What's the problem?

Well, if school policy were to permit all jewellery, not just ear studs and watches, there shouldn't be one, and this girl should be allowed to wear her kara. That is what religious freedom is about: fairness and equality (subject to the usual rules of social order).

But the school does have a studs-and-watches-only policy, so the girl is clearly seeking an exception to school rules only on the grounds of her superstition. And that's not on.

The case is being heard in the High Court, and it continues.

We shall not be moved

We've all said before that Islam is a religion that's stuck in the seventh century, and it refuses to budge. That's why it comes in for such a panning on questioning blogs such as this.

But now a theologian has come out and said it. According to The Times, "Professor Hans Kung, a leading Roman Catholic and theologian from Germany, warned in a lecture of a 'deadly threat to all humankind unless new efforts are made to build bridges with Islam'."

This is a problem, he said in London, because, unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam has never undergone a "serious religious reformation".

"In the face of the deadly threat to all humankind," he tells the paper, "instead of building new dams of hatred, revenge and enmity, we should tear down the walls of prejudice stone by stone and thus build bridges of dialogue, bridges particularly towards Islam."

But how do you do that with a religion that wants to see gays killed in cruel ways, that sees women as way down the scale of importance, that moans and whinges as soon as someone draws an image of its founding mojo man? Do you just do what local authorities and police forces and other agencies have done, and simply kowtow to its increasing demands?

Many of its adherents won't be happy till British and other Western laws change to accommodate Islamic practices, and one sometimes wonders how long it will be before Islam rules the roost and the other Abrahamic religions are told to bugger off.

Just how do you engage in give and take with a religion like that? We'll stone a poof if you let us draw a cartoon? We'll all eat cruelly slaughtered animals if you promise not to wail in the streets on Fridays?

Professor Kung is being overoptimistic.

Then there's the issue of doctrinal differences. As a letter writer in today's Independent points out (he's talking, though, about Tony Blair's Faith Foundation):

[T]he Jewish faith holds that the Messiah has yet to come, the Christians assert that he has already come, in the person of Jesus Christ, and the Muslims accept that Jesus was a prophet, but believe that the Koran is God's last word on the subject, a view denied by both Jews and Christians.

That's a pretty fundamental disagreement.

You can say that again!

What's in a name (apart from a touch of lunacy)?

You're not going to believe this. Well, maybe you will once you know it happened in the good ol' US of A.

A man has changed his name to – wait for it – In God We Trust (the former pair of words as his first name, the latter pair as his surname). According to the Chicago Times, as quoted here by the Religious News Blog, this 57-year-old artist and bus driver was ecstatic when the court ruled he could change his name officially. In fact, the entire process took less than two minutes.

Mr We Trust said, "I feel great."

Well, as long as it's adults who do this kind of thing and don't inflict mad monikers on their kids, who are we to complain? He paid for the name change, after all. His former name was Steve Kreuscher, but he thinks In God We Trust represents more closely his devotion to an invisible being. Well, he said God.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Saying "I do" in the Golden State

There were protests, of course, and religious bigots reaffirmed their skewed ideas that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but the gays and lesbians of California were giving them the finger yesterday as same-sex marriages became legal following the ruling by the state's Supreme Court.

The Chicago Tribune (among many) tells us that, as the first candidates for saying "I do" arrived to exchange vows, Cardinal Roger Mahoney and seven other Southern California Catholic bishops "reaffirmed their opposition to same-sex marriage. In a joint statement, the clerics said marriage 'has a unique place in God's creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended'."

"In San Francisco," says the paper, "protesters arrived early on the front steps of City Hall, as did a throng of more than 100 reporters."

It's in the brain

There are even fewer grounds now for religious bigots to tell homosexuals how evil they are or, when they're being a bit more moderate, how evil the practice is.

According to the news service, brain scans have "provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait".

The story continues:

The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex. The differences are likely to have been forged in the womb or in early infancy, says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

"This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects," she says.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Sikh, and you shall find a £100,000 bill for the taxpayer

West Midlands Police, that bastion of political correctness, have allowed a hundred grand to be spent on trying to source helmets to fit in with the religious demands of Sikh officers.

Sikhs believe they have to wear a turban and have a long beard. Goodness knows why, but there it is. According to the Daily Mail, instead of telling one officer that he couldn't join the counterterrorist Operational Support Group unless he cut his beard to an acceptable length and took off his turban because the usual helmet didn't fit, they told him to try to source suitable head gear.

He'd been refused a place because there wasn't a suitable helmet or respirator that would fit over his turban. The unnamed constable, thought to be in his twenties, claimed he was being discriminated against. But he was "then assigned the task – while on full pay – of sourcing new equipment that would fit", says the paper. He contacted manufacturers across the world, but it was all in vain, and, after 18 months, he was restored to regular duties.

Then he's said to have gone on long-term leave suffering from stress. The Mail's source says it cost £100,000 and was "a shocking waste of taxpayers' cash".

The West Midlands force is quoted as saying, "'No Sikh officer has applied and been 'turned down' from joining the Operational Support Unit because of faith issues. However, it has been identified that for some members of the Sikh faith, the removal of the turban to wear a helmet and the wearing of a respirator could be problematic.

"As an employer committed to equality and diversity, we are working to try [to] find a solution to what is a national issue."

At more public expense, no doubt.

Gay priest in wedding row resigns

It's emerged that one of the priests who held a marriage ceremony at St Bartholomew the Great Church in the City of London last month has now resigned, according to today's Guardian.

"The Rev Dr David Lord, a New Zealander who tied the knot with English clergyman Peter Cowell on May 31, 'felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy licence', according to a statement released through the Anglican Church in New Zealand," the paper says.

As you'll see from our story yesterday (linked to above), there been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the ceremony, coming, as you would expect, from the wailing and gnashing end of the Christian spectrum, especially those who wail and gnash in Africa.

And the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has said that "services of public blessings for civil partnerships were not authorised in the Church of England or the diocese of London and has asked the Archdeacon of London, Peter Delaney, to investigate", according to the paper.

The priest who led the service, the Rev. Martin Dudley, tells the paper, "I am surprised and disappointed by the fuss. It was a joyful, godly occasion. Why turn it into a controversy? It was not a rally or a demonstration. Nor is it the first time there have been prayers, hymns or readings following a civil partnership. It may be that this ceremony had rather more knobs on. It may also be the only one we know about."

The story continues:

Liberals reacted with disappointment to the news of Lord's resignation. The Rev. Dr Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney and president of Inclusive Church, a campaign group working for equal rights for gay Christians, said: "This is disgraceful. It's amazing this church cannot celebrate what little love there is in this world. It was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives and they have been turned into outcasts."

Others said they hoped the event would help the church modernise. The Rev. Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: "I hope it nudges the church into the 21st century. There are so many gay clergy in civil partnerships, whose integrity leads them to wanting to have their relationships affirmed by their faith."

Meanwhile, Ruth Gledhill in The Times tells us that the Anglican Church "has been plunged into fresh turmoil" over the service, and that the paper has learned that up to 500 Anglo-Catholic priests are ready to resign after failing to secure the concessions that they had sought over women bishops. Read the full story here.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

You can't kill your kids, holy Joes are told

The rights of Jehovah's Witnesses not to have blood transfusions don't extend to their kids, says a Canadian judge after a couple wanted to refuse blood for premature sextuplets.

Quite right, too. It's bad enough that people stand to lose their parents when these people selfishly choose to die when they're not in need of euthanasia or assisted suicide. But inflicting grief on others seems to be a skewed form of "loving" Christianity.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, this British Columbia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Donald Brenner, has ruled that child-welfare authorities were right a year ago to seize the couple's four surviving babies, so they could receive doctor-recommended blood transfusions that their parents had refused.

An ABC News story tells us that the judge told them that state intervention was justified when lives were at risk.

"Freedom of religion is not absolute," the judge said, adding, "While it is difficult to conceive of any limitations on religious beliefs, the same cannot be said of religious practices, notably when they impact on the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."

One wedding and a fundamentalist or two

This one's already begun to get them going. The UK's Sunday Telegraph tells us of a service, complete with exchange of vows, held at St Bartholomew the Great Church in London – one of England's oldest churches and one that featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral – and it's really got the traditionalists into a hissy fit of fury and righteous rage.

But this one was held to join together in holy matrimony two blokes: the Rev. Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen's churches, and the Rev. Dr David Lord, who had already registered a civil partnership before the ceremony.

It's nothing new, of course. Well, blessings, at least, over gay priests have been said for as long as there have been gay priests, which is as long as there have been priests. But this one was a rather elaborate affair, using the traditional wording of the marriage service.

Their service was conducted by the Rev. Martin Dudley, the parish rector, who opened the proceedings with, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God's people and between Christ and the Church."

In the vows, Cowell and Lord pledged to "hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".

One of the frothing reactions has come from Uganda. Henry Orombi, the archbishop there, said that the ceremony was "blasphemous." He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action to stop the Anglican Church from disintegrating. Orombi added, "What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us. The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching."

And over here the conservative Rt Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester said that the service represented a wedding "in all but name". "Strictly speaking," he said, "it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion."

Only if you and your bigoted kind let it, mate.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Back to the Dark Ages

Gordon Brown is promising religious leaders he'll incorporate their wish list into his next manifesto.

Acording to the UK's Daily Telegraph, his move comes after a study showed that the government doesn't understand religious groups – or "faith groups", as it calls them.

"Labour says the responses it receives will then be fed into its manifesto ahead of the next general election, which must take place within the next two years, to show how much it values the opinions of the faithful," says the Telegraph. Gawdelpus!

There may be sensible ideas from "the faithful" (as there are from all groups), but how long will it be before we step back into the Dark Ages with religions permitted an unfair influence on what we are allowed to do, and even to think? We've seen already how some bemoan the passing of the blasphemy laws, and wish to see measures to protect religious sensitivities.

The paper goes on:

Mr Brown said at a Downing Street reception to launch the Labour, Faith and Faithworks taskforce: "What we are celebrating is the tremendous contribution that faith groups make to our community.

"There's nothing wrong with Britain which couldn't be solved by what's right about Britain."

Stephen Timms, the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform who is working on the taskforce, said afterwards that the consultation would lead directly to policies in Labour's manifesto, and that religious issues could be key at the next election.

Timms wouldn't say whether New Labour would adopt policies from religious groups to which it has previously been opposed, such as tighter abortion rules and more Islamic law imposed upon British citizens.

Given that politicians will appear to have listened if what is suggested accords with their own wishes, and will not listen if what is suggested doesn't, it may just be a case of as you were. But how much taxpayers' money is being spent on this and that group set up to monitor what the worlds of superstition think?

If these groups wish to input sensible ideas on policy in areas they have concerns about, then by all means let them have the same degree of government ear as everyone else. All groups should have an equal hearing. But why have special initiatives just to cater to the superstitious?

Who, dear? You, dear? Gay, dear? I had no idea, dear!

A tribunal has heard how a woman who runs a religious centre near Brecon in Wales sent a 25-year-old gay man gift of a toilet roll with pink fairies on it, plus a card with Oscar Wilde's face on it. She has denied that she did it because she knew he was gay, because, she says, she didn't know he was gay.

But Stephen Price, a philosophy graduate, is claiming that she did, because she did.

Price, from Clydach near Abergavenny, claims 40-year-old Mair Jones taunted him, effectively bullying him out of his Presbyterian Church job at the Trefeca centre, a 37-bed retreat used by church groups from around the UK.

The gift of a toilet roll with pink fairies on it was innocently chosen, she told an employment tribunal.

According to the BBC website:

He had told the hearing he was forced to quit as the assistant manager because of Ms Jones's non-stop comments about sex, which included calling him a "stupid poof" and telling other staff he "batted for the other side".

But Jones has denied knowing Price was gay, and would not have said "batted for the other side" because that was not the sort of language she would use.

The story becomes rather bizarre and surreal, so we'll let the BBC tell the rest of it:

Philosophy graduate Mr Price told the tribunal that she gave him an "offensive" 24th birthday present of toilet roll with pink fairies on it and a card with a picture of Oscar Wilde.

But Ms Jones said the gift was an innocently chosen birthday present and the card came from an assorted box.

"He had only worked with us for a week when I found out it was his birthday and I wanted to mark the occasion," she said.

"I had a pack of toilet rolls with the Christmas designs and I just happened to pick the one with fairies on.

"When I think of Oscar Wilde I think intellect, good looks and wit – not the fact he was a homosexual.

"I was not aware he found my gift extremely offensive."

An internal church investigation had upheld claims of aggressive behaviour, foul language and bullying, but had failed to take any disciplinary action against Jones, who'd worked there for 10 years.

Price said he was "moved to another office in Cardiff after less than 12 months", but he resigned when he was told to return to the college. He's suing for constructive dismissal, and a decision is expected at a future hearing after submissions have been made.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Shrink crap

This shrink in Northern Ireland who reckons he can magic gay people into straight people has had a go at defending himself.

He is Dr Paul Miller, who has been recommended by Iris Robinson, a Westminster MP, wife of Northern Ireland's First Minister and the chair of the Assembly's Health Committee, as a "lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in".

What they are engaged in? She makes it sound like some kind of drug-fuelled, riotous, incestuous sex at gunpoint in a graveyard at midnight with a corpse under the age of eight.

Anyway, this Pink News story says he's defended himself by saying that, while he doesn't assume that homosexuality is a mental disorder, "we simply treat those who ask for help with unwanted same-sex attraction".

And he can't see that his "Christian background" and attitude towards sexuality are the very things that will cause many gay people – especially religious ones – to feel guilty and then try to be "cured" in a "procedure" far more dangerous and potentially madness-inducing than being gay in the first place. It's a bit like saying the best cure for a headache is to have your head amputated.

Professor Michael King of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists is quoted as saying, "There is a lot of evidence going back 50 years to suggest that attempts to change people's sexuality in either direction are not possible. Such treatments do not work and can actually cause quite a lot of harm. Homosexuality is a state and a sexual orientation and is not a question of behaviour."

Meanwhile, the rabidly homophobic Christian Institue has weighed in, supporting Robinson, against whom two complaints have been made to police, and quoting this wretched woman's words to the BBC to the effect that she is the subject of a "witch hunt".

Witch? Well, if the cap fits, dearie . . .

Why religion says 2 + 2 = 5

There's a study that says people who believe in God are likely to be less intelligent. OK, so a lot of people believe in God who are also highly intelligent, but we're talking averages here. Mind you, this study is a bit controversial, as we shall see.

According to a story in today's UK Daily Telegraph, Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, says that many more members of the "intellectual elite" consider themselves atheists than the national average. The story continues, "A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed. But the conclusions – in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence – have been branded 'simplistic' by critics."

Lynn's caused a bit of a rumpus in the past, apparently, with claims linking intelligence to race and sex. This time around he's saying that most primary-school children believed in God, but, as they entered adolescence and their intelligence increased, many started to have doubts.

The story continues:

He told Times Higher Education magazine: "Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

But Professor Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

"Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which – while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism – is perhaps not the most helpful response," he said.

But the last word goes to Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University. "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief," he says. "Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability – or perhaps willingness – to question and overturn strongly felt institutions."

Which brings us back to what I said above. There are religious people who are highly intelligent (come to that, there are clever people who are barking mad). Why, then, do they believe – with only faith to make them do so – in an ontology predicated on the whims of a deity?

One thinks of the likes of the Rev. Dr John Polkinghorne, a particle physicist and theologian, who has written extensively about both (and one of whose lectures remained on my MP3 player for some time for subsequent listening). At the end of the day, however, even someone who can see the universe at its most basic level (or infer it, at any rate) has to draw a line between his science and his theology. There is no gradation. You do the science and say God meant it to be this way, created it in this form. From there, you just have to leap – a leap of faith, you might say – to the notion of the existence of a god.

But why? That one hasn't yet been answered, except by those nutcases who say God is ineffable in one breath and then claim to know his mind in the next.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Christian love in action

A Catholic bishop in Italy has told a paraplegic that, because he's impotent, he can't be married in church.

"The 26-year-old groom, who took part in a civil marriage ceremony Saturday in Viterbo, has been paraplegic since he was involved in a car accident," says a story captured by the Religion News blog.

Salvatore de Ciuco, spokesman for Bishop Lorenzo Chiarinelli of Viterbo incentral Italy, told SkyTG24 television [. . .]: "No bishop, no priest can celebrate a wedding when he knows of admitted impotence as it is a motive for annulment" of the marriage.

The civil ceremony was attended by the curate of the parish that was banned from marrying the couple.

And on the seventh day God created pillocks

Germans, it seems, have got more sense – even the religious ones. They don't want any of that Genesis rubbish in their backyard, thank you very much.

A Swiss firm wants to construct a "Genesis Land" with a "life-size" Noah's Ark (or "Noah's arch", according to this story at near Heidelberg, because the area has a lot of water. Well, you would need quite a lot to float a boat that has two of every species on the globe, wouldn't you? Yet these nutters believe it once happened.

Anyway, the firm is called Genesis Land Inc., and it's looking for investors to the tune of about €25 million – a third of the dosh needed for a 50-hectare park.

The story tells us:

But religious and political representatives from the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg are less than enthusiastic about a facility inspired by the belief that the earth is around 6,000 years old, and that human beings and dinosaurs co-existed.

"A project like this only gets in the way of our attempts to spread the faith," Hansjörg Hemminger, the Wuerttemberg Protestant Church's Spokesman on World Views told the newspaper Die Welt.

Civic planners, too, are against Genesis Land.

Well, in a free world one can't object to the thing itself, any more than one might to Disneyland, as long as it doesn't try to tell people that all it depicts is or was true. But it will try to do that, because that's what these nutters are all about – as well as making big bucks, of course.

Here at Pink Triangle we've often wondered what God did on that seventh day when he was supposed to be resting. Did he just sleep, read Harry Potter, get pissed or play with his Plasticine and create pillocks. Yes, that sounds about right. And lo, the pillocks did go forth and did create religion.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Just imagine . . .

They don't mess about in Denver, Colorado. This billboard is definitely in your face as it forms part of a national ad campaign by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Read the story here; see the FfRF here.

The Foundation is the USA’s largest association of agnostics, atheists and devout secularists, and has been active in Denver courts for many years. Robert Tiernan, who's a Denver lawyer, and the Foundation once worked to halt city sponsorship of a day of prayer promoted by the mayor’s office.

The billboard, in Fox Street, just six blocks from the state Capitol, is costing about $3,000.

More Muslim calls for censorship – when will they learn?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), reckons there's a growing "campaign of hate and discrimination" against Muslims by a small number of individuals and organisations. Well, it's not surprising, considering how much moaning and whining they do.

This International Herald Tribune story tells us that he wants Western governments to condemn acts that insult poor, hard-done-to Islam. The story says:

In a speech to a conference in Kuala Lumpur on improving ties between Muslims and the West, Ihsanoglu praised Western nations for criticizing acts such as the recent release of an anti-Quran film by a Dutch lawmaker [Geert Wilders], but said more should have been done.

This would-be censor and denier of free expression goes on to say, "Mere condemnation or distancing from the acts of the perpetrators of Islamophobia will not resolve the issue, as long as they remain free to carry on with their campaign of incitement and provocation on the plea of freedom of expression."

The story goes on to talk of the Wilders film: "Earlier this year, the release of the film Fitna by Dutch politician Geert Wilders sparked protests by Muslims for showing images of terror attacks interspersed with text from the Quran."

Correction. It didn't spark protests "for showing": it was made, it was released and Muslims decided to jump up and down about it instead of just entering into dialogue and showing up Wilders's film with argument and logic (they don't find that easy, I know, but they could try). And it wasn't only terror attacks. Click on the video at the end of this story to see part of the film. And just below it is Pat Condell's take on matters Islam (see his link in the sidebar).

Ihsanoglu also urged the media to reject "proponents of hatred and intolerance totally", citing other incidents such as the republishing in Denmark of cartoons considered an insult to the Prophet Muhammad.

Oh, yes, the Jillands-Posten cartoons. The ones Muslims thought it was worth killing for, with some imams even faking cartoons to inflame the situation.

We've published the cartoon they particuarly hate on this blog at least twice, and no doubt it will feature again, as it does on blogs all over the world when these moaners moan. It's not a case of playing silly buggers: it's restating the principle of free expression, as we do by linking again to the Wilders film.

"It requires a strong and determined collective political will to address the challenge," Ihsanoglu said. "It is now high time for concrete actions to stem the rot before it aggravates [the situation] any further."

Ihsanoglu did not suggest what action should be taken. But the threat is always there: you print cartoons we find offensive, make a film, criticise our "holy" book, and there just may be a bit of a misunderstanding between us. And we know what that could lead to, don't we? It could just aggravate the situation further, as the man says.

No wonder there's "hate and discrimination" in some Western minds, you blithering nincompoop. Grow up!

And here is Pat Condell's recent take on the matter:

Monday, 9 June 2008

Godless Gandalf

It amazes me how many people don’t realise that the actor Ian McKellen is an atheist, though I suspect it could have something to do with his having starred in The Da Vinci Code and that, in our soap-opera-informed society, many people can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction!

McKellen said at the time:

The Catholic Church is upset by the suggestion that Jesus Christ was married and that his bloodline survives to this day. As an atheist, I am indifferent. As a reader, I couldn’t stop turning the pages of Dan Brown’s book.

He also said that he didn’t believe the book was true or factual, simply that it was a jolly good read. Whether he thinks the Bible is also a jolly good read is anyone’s guess, but, as was reported by NewsBusters in 2006, he does think it’s fiction:

Well, I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction.

This quote reminds me of when McKellen was on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, and, when told he'd be able to take the Bible and the works of Shakespeare to his fictional desert island, revealed that when he stayed in hotel rooms he would tear out pages of the Gideon Bible he thought offensive – notably those in Leviticus.

McKellen came out as gay in 1988 while being interviewed on BBC Radio 3, in which he made known his objection to Clause 28 of the Local Government Bill, which was then making its way through Parliament. He has been campaigning for gay rights ever since.

Last week (1 June), McKellen was interviewed on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. When asked about the current situation for gays in the UK, he acknowledged that great progress had been made but drew attention to the persistent bullying of gay pupils in schools – especially religious schools – and the inequality of civil partnership compared with marriage! He also cited the persecution of gay people in Islamic countries such as Iran, pointing out that gay men are routinely hanged in this barbaric theocracy. G&LH Autumn 2005 carried a story on one such incident.

Time lapse

Gay-hating bigots will even defy logic to get their sick message out. There's a bit of a rumpus in New York at the moment, because the governor there has said that state agencies must honour same-sex marriages if they've been performed legally in states that legally recognise said same-sex marriages – as California will soon, and will continue to do if the legislation isn't overturned by a constitutional vote in November.

But get this. The River Reporter quotes Richard Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, thus: "The definition of marriage predates recorded history. [Emphasis mine.] No single politician or court or legislature should attempt to redefine the very building block of our society in a way that alters its entire meaning and purpose."

You can read the background to the case in the link above, but this is my point. How can a definition of anything predate recorded history? Go figure. What a prat!

Power and sex in the Catholic Church

Geoffrey Robinson is in defiant mood. He's the Australian bishop who's touring the States promoting his book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, and, afraid of the interest he could revive in the pervy-priests scandal, fellow bishops are telling him to stay away from California.

He's saying up yours, and is going ahead. Robinson's thesis is that it's the nutty Catholic insistence on celibacy that's led to the scandal, which has cost the church millions in compensation as people have come forward and complained that they've been abused by Catholic priests. Robinson openly criticises the papacy for failing to provide guidance.

A story in the Los Angeles Times says,

Following direction from the Vatican, the California religious leaders and eight other prominent bishops around the country have asked former auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney to steer clear of their dioceses because of his "problematic positions" on priestly celibacy and other issues.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles has written a joint letter with nine other American bishops, warning Robinson that his visit could be "a source of disunity and cause of confusion among the faithful of the particular churches we serve".

And we all know why it could be a source of disunity, don't we? They'd all rather the pervy-priests scandal were laid to rest for ever, and don't like it when the whole filthy, disgusting business is raised again.

Mahoney wrote to Robinson last month, "I hereby deny you permission to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles."

But 70-year-old Robinson says he has no intention of cancelling, and will be in California tomorrow.

Please don't ignore us

There's a report due to be published today in which the Church of England has a bitch at the the British government, which it claims isn't paying enough attention to it. Aw! It's favouring secularism instead. And Muslims.

Well, there may on the surface of it be something in that latter claim. Muslims bleat and whine and complain a lot, and of course there are a lot of votes in the places where they predominate. Please the Muslims, get a good concentration of votes. And so, as we've seen far too often, they get their way.

Christians tend to be more scattered, because it is, in name at least, a Christian country.

But should Christians be moaning? After all, don't we have hundreds of Christian schools, paid for by the taxpyer? Don't we have an established church, with 26 bishops in the House of Lords as of right, just because they are high up the heap within the ranks of the superstitious? Is not religion given pride of place every time there's a public commemoration of this or that?

The report is called "Moral, But No Compass", and has been commissioned by the church. In it, Stephen Lowe, the Bishop of Hulme, calls for a change of attitude.

He claims "that the Labour government had discriminated against the Church, favouring private companies to provide welfare, apparently as part of a continuing process of secularisation of public life", the report says.

And what is wrong with secularisation? By all means let us use whichever bodies can come up with the goods, provided they're qualified and are happy to do it without proselytising. But what's all this about secularisation? Isn't it time we had an entirely secular state?

The report wants a new "minister for religion" to improve the relationship between church and state. What? More taxpayers' money to be spent on religion? Let's have a minister for everything, then, improving relations between the state and this, the state and that and the state and the other.

It's time religion saw that its place in society deserves to be no more important than anyone else's.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

What if . . .?

Just had a wicked thought. Some Hindus held a ceremony yesterday to mark their new Hindu school, which the British taxpayer is forking out for so that British children who happen to have Hindu-believing parents can have their brains stuffed with bullshit.

Don't get me wrong. There are wonderful, colourful stories tied up with Hinduism, and, as a mythology, it takes some beating. But let us teach about the Upanishads etc., not teach that what happens in these fascinating stories is actual, factual truth. And (yes, I know, we secularists do bang on about this, but it's true) it's just more segregation.

My wicked thought. Yes. I'll get to that in a minute.

This school is the Krishna-Avanti primary and it's going to be in London and will offer 236 places when it opens, possibly in 2009. It will teach the National Curriculum, it says, but, if it were going to teach only that, there would be no need for a Hindu school, would there? No, the idea is to ensure that the religion pumped into the kids' minds from birth continues to be pumped into their minds by teachers and peers as they grow older, depriving them of the opportunity to mix, in an educational establishment, with kids and teachers of all religions and none.

The British Humanist Association says there will be selection bias. The head teacher says no: the school will "promote community cohesion, inclusion and value inter-cultural and religious diversity".

If these people really believe that, why do they bother with a segregation school? But we know the answer to that: grubby politicians know there are votes in the ever-growing immigrant communities, and, anyway, it just doesn't do to be beastly to good, kind, faultless, cuddly religion, does it?

My wicked thought. Oh, yes. Well, you see, they held this ceremony yesterday called Bhumi Puja, during which they chanted and banged cymbals and all that, and sought permission from Mother Earth for the school to be built there.

And my thought was this: what if she'd said no? Seriously, what if that had happened? Would they go back to the drawing board and find another piece of land?

It will be interesting, assuming these segregation schools continue, to watch the Hindu ones to see if Mother Earth ever says no, piss off, find somewhere else. OK, we know Mother Earth won't actually use words, but these people presumably feel they are interpreting what higher entities say, just as Christians, conveniently, all seem to know what is in the mind of the ineffable God. My bet is that Mother Earth will always say yes – unless there's a Plan B that has also got the permission of those who really count in these matters, the planning authorities.

So Mother Common Sense has whispered in my ear and told me her sister Mother Earth will always say yes. Waste of a planning application otherwise, innit?

Dire straights

Here we go again: straight (possibly) Christians who think they can turn gay people away from their homosexuality.

One such is Dr Paul Miller, a consultant psychiatrist from Carrickfergus and a senior health adviser to the chair of Northern Ireland Assembly's Health Committee.

We don't learn of his Christian credentials in an an atrociously punctuated story in the Belfast News Letter until almost the end. But you could have guessed it all along, of course.

And just who is this committee chair to whom he is a senior health adviser? Well, none other than Iris Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who is on record, loud and clear, as having said homosexuality is an abomination. And where have we heard that sort of language before? In the Bible, of course. So it must be right, then.

Miller is a former member of the executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Well, perhaps his career as a shrink will take a knock after these crazy and dangerous claims that he can turn gays into straights. It's telling that that very Royal College of Psychiatrists has rejected this nutcase's claim. But no one's yet saying he should resign his post as a director of the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health.

The News Letter says Miller had begun his work "trying to help homosexuals become heterosexual" after a patient "struggling with his sexuality" committed suicide.

"One of the things that kept coming up was people who had a conflict between their religious identity and their sexual identity," Miller tells the publication.

Now this bloke is probably quite clever. He's been to university and all that, got a degree, got a doctorate. And yet he can't see what is right in front of his bigoted, religion-soaked face: a conflict between religious identity and sexual identity. Is there any wonder the guy topped himself and others do likewise when pillocks – dangerous pillocks – like this refuse to disabuse them of the notion that there is something wrong with them if their sexuality is not the one recommended in the thousands-year-old scrawlings of nomadic herders, but tell them that they'll be happier trying to turn straight?

It never occurs to these disturbed sickos that sexuality is natural and their adherence to said desert nomads' ramblings is entirely unnatural.

As for Iris bloody Robinson, have a look at this, also in the News Letter. She said, "My Christian beliefs teach me that you love the sinner but hate the sin. But homosexuality is something that is an abomination."

She was on BBC Radio Ulster condemning a violent homophobic attack, but went on to attack homosexuality in tones that will only feed the toxic minds of those who go around queerbashing. This monster had been challenged by the Sinn Féin education minister Caitriona Ruane, who had phoned in to challenge her comments.

Robinson said she would defend her right to express religious beliefs, while also condemning violence against the gay community. Yes, she does have a right to express religious belief, but while she's being paid to mouth about politics and policies, why doesn't she stick to those? What is a politician – on this side of the Atlantic, anyway – doing using her office as a platform for her superstitions? She was elected as a member of the DUP, not her church.

Her comments have already found their way into her entry in Wikipedia.

UPDATE: Since this post was published at 3 a.m. today, British Summer Time, we've learned from the Mail on Sunday that this revolting woman is being investigated by police. The story says,

In an outburst on a live phone-in on BBC Radio Ulster on Friday, Iris Robinson, the 57-year-old wife of First Minister Peter Robinson, referred to gays as "disgusting, loathsome, shamefully wicked and vile". She called homosexuality "an abomination" but said she knew of a cure.

She then went on to talk of that darling trick cyclist we opened this post with.

The paper tells us that Andrew Muir, the 31-year-old coordinator of a pressure group called GLAD (Gays and Lesbians Across (County) Down), has made a formal complaint to police. "They were reluctant to pursue the matter until I told them it was covered by the hate crimes legislation and I would not be leaving until they took a statement from me," he said.

Now I'm not sure she shouldn't be able to say what she wishes, and I'm not at all sure that so-called "hate crime" legislation is a well-thought-through idea (it just gives police more powers and, anyway, how do you prove hate?); but I would take issue with her dumping her hateful and vituperative religious baggage on us while being interviewed as a leading politician, one of whose jobs is to ensure community cohesion and the equality of service for all people in her patch. And she is, let's not forget, the chair of the Assembly's Health Committee.

What I have no compunction in hoping for, however, is that this misguided, hateful woman is hounded with ridicule until she feels the need to leave office.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

What are family values?

Just what are family values? Never a day goes by without a prominent Christian declaring that the essential ingredient in civilised life is something referred to as Christian family values. I don't know what these are? Can someone tell me please?

Luke tells us in his gospel that Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine" (Luke 14:26).

Is this what they mean by family values? The precept we should all follow?

Spaghetti Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi makes as much sense as alphabetti spaghetti. Take a look at this:

We are on the Church's side: we believe in the Christian tradition, in the undeniable value of life, on the role and the value of the family, on the defence of human rights, on solidarity, justice, tolerance. We respect the weaker members of society: the ill, children, the elderly, the marginalised. We are on the same wavelength as that on which the Church is active" affirmed Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, just before his meeting with the Pope, scheduled for 11 a.m. [yesterday].

First, the Church. We know he means the Catholic Church. Then we get "value of the family" quickly followed by "defence of human rights". Now we know what "value of the family" means in Catholic terms, and it doesn't just mean four or five people in close relationships of one sort and another in a household: it specifically means a man and a woman and some children that the man and the woman have made by putting their things together. Anything else is short of the ideal. So a family that might consist of a man and a man is a definite no-no, as is one that consists of a woman and a woman.

Given that, how does he defend human rights, because in most tolerant people's eyes human rights extend to the rights of humans to live together in loving harmony whether they're of the same or opposite genders?

Then we see the words justice and tolerance and he talks of "the marginalised" and how they respect that group. No need for me to go on. Read the piece from AGI News and make up your own mind.