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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Stuff and nonsense – oh, and a Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve and here’s wishing a Happy New Year to all readers and contributors to Pink Triangle.

We’ve been a bit quiet over the Christmas holidays, posting the occasional piece linking to articles in the latest issue of our sister publication, the online Gay & Lesbian Humanist.

Today I’m recommending a bit of stuff and nonsense to end the year. One of our occasional contributors, and one we hope to see more of, is Steven Dean, who brings his own cheeky, not to say outrageous, view to matters of the moment with startling naïveté.

He’s talking about television, and what a force for good it is (some of us might disagree).

“Typically,” he writes in a meticulously researched article worthy of an academic journal, “our viewing week will include a cookery show (perhaps Freaky Eaters), political debate (say Naked in Westminster), travel show (Sex Around the World is a must), financial programme (100 Percent Sex is far better than listening to the doom-and-gloom-laden [BBC economics correspondent] Robert Peston) and a relationship series (Snog Marry Avoid or Sex . . . with Mum & Dad are both excellent). We do know how to let our hair down, too, and always try to make time for a good talent show (Viva’s Pants Off, Dance Off is much better than the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing) or an old-fashioned drama (something with a good story to it, like Cock-Hungry Straight Boys).”

Well, that’s quite enough of that, but, if you really insist on reading the full article, you can find it by clicking here.

Click the logo above to get to the magazine’s cover, which has a great image that sums up the “God-damned” theme of this issue.

Hope you’ve had a great Christmas, everyone, and accept our best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

We’ll be getting back to a normal service from 4 January.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Unfinished business

It’s always interesting to look back and compare then with now. All too often, it’s hard to tell the difference. In matters gay, there’s still a lot of “unfinished business”, and that’s reflected in an article of that name in the latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist.

It’s in a regular feature called “Out of Print” – i.e. out of the print edition of the magazine (in this case one that appeared in winter 2002) – and in it Antony Grey looks back to the days of the Homosexual Law Reform Society and the Albany Trust; he was secretary of both of them.

Grey concludes:

Maybe I’m still too trapped in the battles of the past. In these more relaxed days, younger gay folk’s open pursuit of hedonistic pleasure is all very well, but more widespread commitment to passionate campaigning is still required – not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the many adolescents growing up gay who are still faced with homophobia at school, and sometimes at home, too.

Half a century on, there is still much unfinished business for gay rights campaigners.

Read the full article by clicking here. There’s also the usual fascinating mix of news and views.

Things will be a bit quieter on the blog till 4 January, but we’ll post the occasional link to an article in G&LH.

Hope you’ve been enjoying Christmas. And here’s wishing you a Happy New Year!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Kill Bill!

Many would like to see the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill killed off. But will it happen? And why are so many Christians silent on the issue – with the Archbishops of Canterbury (belatedly) and York (very belatedly) speaking out only after worldwide clamour?

In the latest Gay & Lesbian Humanist, the Christian writer and activist Symon Hill looks at the issues in an article written before the two archbishops finally realised they couldn’t not say anything and hope to hold onto their credibility.

“When Ugandan politician David Bahati proposed his Anti-Homosexuality Bill recently, he may have given little thought to the effect it would have on his allies in Britain,” Hill writes. “But, in seeking to respond to the Bill, antigay Christians in the UK have shown themselves to be confused, divided and plainly out of touch with Christian, as well as public, opinion.

Those British Christians who regard all homosexual activity as unethical have long insisted that they are not prejudiced. They say they are criticising a behaviour, not a group of people, and that they do not want gay people to be persecuted.”

However, he says, the sincerity of that stance “is now being put to the test”.

Read the full article by clicking here. There’s also the usual fascinating mix of news and views.

Things will be a bit quieter on the blog till 4 January, but we’ll post the occasional link to an article in G&LH.

Hope you’ve been enjoying Christmas. And here’s wishing you a Happy New Year!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Is it Christmas, Yule, the festive season or just the holidays?

Was Christmas Day good for you? Do you, indeed, call this time of the year “Christmas”, or do you prefer a name that doesn’t connote religion?

American Zack Ford loves Christmas.

“I can’t help the fact that I was raised by a Christian family in a Christian home,” he writes. “What I can help is what I believe (or in my case, what I don’t). And, even though I don’t care at all about virgin births or any other such nonsense, there is a lot of cultur around the holiday season that I can and do appreciate. In fact, I love Xmastime.”

So, although he’s a fervent atheist, he loves all the stuff that surrounds Christmas.

You can read his article here. And you can also read my own article, “Yule be sorry”, from last Christmas, in which I make some similar points, concluding that we should keep the “Christ” in “Christmas” – but only as a syllable.

Click the logo above to get to the magazine’s cover, which has a great image that sums up the “God-damned” theme of this issue.

Hope you’re having a great Christmas (or Yule or holiday time or festive season), everyone, and accept our best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

Friday, 25 December 2009

BBC at the end of (its?) time

If you’re reading this at the time it’s been published (6 p.m. British time on Friday, 25 December 2009) – which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is Christmas Day – then shame on you!

Get thee to a television set and tune to BBC1 (before the Tories dismantle it, more of which below) for the swansong – beginning now, at 6 o’clock – of the man who reinvented Doctor Who and ensured it became regular Christmas Day fare, gay atheist Russell T Davies.

Well, it’s his swansong as far as Doctor Who is concerned. He’s working in America now, and that’s where another for whom this is a swansong – David Tennant – is spending a lot of his time.

Tennant has played the Doctor since 2005. Tonight’s episode, and that of New Year’s Day, The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2, are his last, and the last for Davies, who’s been chief writer and executive producer since 2003.

Stephen Moffat is the new supremo, and the new Doctor is Matt Smith, whose debut as the Time Lord will be in spring 2010.

And it’s rather ironic that, on a day held in awe by Christians, a gay atheist has created what will be the biggest televisual event of the day.

The BBC, though, may become a tiny shadow of its current self if the Tories get their way. This is Davies’s warning reported in the UK’s Daily Mirror this week.

He has a lot of time for the Beeb, but is worried that it will all but disappear.

“It’s going to be appalling. Jeremy Hunt [shadow Culture Secretary] has absolutely attacked the licence fee and then suddenly, a few weeks ago, he backtracked and said, ‘Oh no, we won’t interfere with the charter.’

“They want the votes but once they get in they are going to be absolutely vicious. I think the BBC has got five or six years left.

“They’ll dismantle it slowly. It’ll get smaller and smaller until it just supports Radio 4 and some news.”

Well, we’ve all had our criticisms of the BBC, and it’s certainly had its moments of apparent homophobia (if only, as here, through carelessness), but would any of us really wish to see it go?

The Tories reckon the licence fee is a tax. Actually, no one has to watch television, and, if they choose not to have a set in their home, there’s no compulsion to buy a licence, but that small fact seems to escape so many people.

“They’ll freeze the licence fee,” he tells the Mirror, and persuade [Tory-leaning] Daily Mail readers it’s the right thing to do by saying they’re getting rid of all those digital channels they don’t watch; that’s the language they’ll use.

“I think politicians only experience broadcasting through their own prism, through [speech-based Radio 4’s] Today programme and through the interviews they do. They don’t sit down and watch [the soaps] Coronation Street or EastEnders. They don’t live for television like the rest of us.

“It’ll go slowly, because if someone stood up and said, ‘We’re going to get rid of the BBC tomorrow,’ the heartland of Britain would rise up. But things do disappear – look at the way children’s programmes went from ITV: they just slipped away quietly.

“When the politicians meet their constituents it’s the last thing they’ll talk about. The campaigns will be about hospitals and prisons and schools – not television. That’ll be very low down the list. No one’s going to win or lose an election because of television – but it is a huge part of our culture.”

So enjoy Doctor Who. And enjoy the BBC while you can.

Merry Christmas, folks!

Pink Triangle will be a bit quieter over the next few days, but we’ll be keeping you updated on a few features in our sister publication, Gay & Lesbian Humanist, the latest issue of which went live before Christmas.

The theme is “God-damned”, and the message is clear: we are.

God-damned, that is.

The lead article is by Roy W Brown, who is the immediate past president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and IHEU’s main representative at the UN, Geneva.

His message is that Islam wants to take over the world. He examines how our freedoms are under threat as creeping Islamisation demands more and more, putting our very way of life in jeopardy.

All in the name of God – or in that case Allah – of course. However you look at it, we’re God-damned.

Click the logo above to get to the magazine’s cover, which has a great image that sums up the “God-damned” theme of this issue.

Have a great Christmas, everyone, and accept our best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Arbishop of York speaks out on Bahati Boy’s Bill – but what took him so long?

At last, the Archbishop of York has now condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. What took John Sentamu so damned long?

The world was aghast at the sheer evil of the measure from Ugandan MP David “Bahati Boy” Bahati, which calls for the execution of gays in some circumstances, and the imprisonment of those who know of gay relationships but don’t tell the authorities.

It took the Archbishop of Canterbury a while to get around to criticising, and York’s office said he wouldn’t be commenting. But now, it seems, he has.

“I’m opposed to the death sentence,” said Sentamu on Radio 4’s Today programme today. That’s big of him. “I’m also not happy when you describe people in the kind of language you find in this Private Member’s Bill.”

He added it seemed not only victimising but also “a diminishment of the individuals concerned”.

But, says the BBC, Sentamu, himself Ugandan, also pointed out that the current law in Uganda already had provision for the same measures proposed in the new Bill. So does that make it easier for him to speak out – because similar measures already exist? Or would he like to see an end of all measures against gay people?

Stay in the closet, says PR guru

The British PR guru, Max Clifford, is advising gay soccer players to remain in the closet. His advice follows the coming-out of the most capped Welsh rugby player, Gareth Thomas.

But Clifford says he could not imagine a Premiership footballer doing the same. He says he’s counselled gay soccer players that their careers would be ruined if they came out.

Yet, in Thomas’s case, his player colleagues were OK about the revelation. Who’s to say soccer players wouldn’t be?

But, then, you’re dealing with a more yobbish element among soccer supporters than among rugby supporters, which is probably part of what lies behind Clifford’s thinking.

While I can appreciate that a player wants to keep his career, he would be doing a far more noble thing to come out and encourage others to do the same. If we take Clifford’s advice, no player will ever come out, and being gay will continue to be seen as something intrinsically wrong.

I’m put in mind of Justin Fashanu, the (so far) only prominent soccer player to come out. He ended up committing suicide after being accused in the States of sexual assault against a 17-year-old youth. In his suicide note, Fashanu said the sex was consensual.

As we said a few days ago over Gareth Thomas’s coming-out, it’s a dreadful state of affairs when people have to choose between their careers and being honest with the world around them; being free to be who they are; being able to have a relationship openly without having to hide it. And some, no doubt, simply deny themselves sexual gratification, probably even suppress their sexuality, leading, potentially, to all kinds of psychological problems.

However, while (not exclusively, but chiefly) religionists continue to obsess about the “wrongness” of being gay, what can we expect?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Latest G&LH now online, showing how we live in a God-damned world

The latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist is now online, and I’m posting this on behalf of Mike, the editor. We hope you’ll look in, perhaps send us a letter if there’s anything you like – or even don’t like! Happy Christmas from all of us to all of you.

Here is the news release that went out yesterday:

The latest issue of the gay humanist magazine Gay & Lesbian Humanist ( is now online with the unwavering message that we are all God-damned.

Everywhere we look, the religious bigots are trying to ram what they call the true meaning of Christmas down our throats, while totally ignoring the fact that “Christmas” has existed in many forms since ancient times.

Unfortunately, however, the crushing nature of religion isn’t confined to Christmas. Just as phoney is their talk about peace on earth, while religious ideological wars continue in the name of peace and true gods. We need look no further than the Middle East to see the misery and mayhem being caused in the name of God, Allah or Whatever. In fact, many parts of the world appear God-damned!

Islamic menace
Our feature article this time is by ROY W BROWN, who is the immediate past president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and IHEU main representative at the UN, Geneva. Brown warns about how Islam is taking over the world; how Muslims are making claims for special treatment in British schools, hospitals and the workplace, and want to impose Sharia law for the settlement of family disputes. He rightly warns of the grave threat Islam poses to our very way of life. You only have to look at any country where Islam is in control to see where we are headed. In such places, murder and mutilation are daily occurrences and freedom and human rights are gone.

The Islamic menace is not just confined to Britain, but is widespread throughout Europe and beyond. Neither is it driven by chance, but is part of an international campaign, orchestrated by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which demands the worldwide acceptance and adoption of Islamic norms and values.

If we don’t stamp out this creeping canker very soon, Britain and the rest of Europe will be God-damned, too.

Gay-murder menace
Christianity has been showing its true colours recently in Archbishop Rowan Williams’s reluctance to speak out over the proposed gay murder bill in Uganda. SYMON HILL takes a detailed look at what has been happening there, and asks why the church seems quite happy with state murder of gay people. Given the church’s long and bloody history, some of us are not the least surprised by its acquiescence in a gay-murder bill. More worrying still is that this evangelical menace is spreading, as, in “World Watch”, GEORGE BROADHEAD reports of similar proposals now being aired in Rwanda.

Gospel thugs
Religious fundamentalism holds sway elsewhere in Africa, too. LEO IGWE describes how, in Nigeria, in July of this year, a large group of Christian thugs from the Liberty Gospel Church trashed a public symposium on witchcraft and child rights at the Cultural Centre in Calabar Cross River State. Igwe was himself assaulted by the gospel thugs and had his glasses broken.

Holy bullies
Continuing our theme on the threat of aggressive religionism, “Blogwatch”, this time, is presented by ALVIN McEWEN, whose book Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters has done so much to expose the lies of the American religious right. His blog, of the same name, continues this vital work. McEwen explains that the phoney image of the LGBT community as evil outsiders looking to gain influence via indoctrination and deception is an intentional fabrication of “pro-family” or “traditional morality” groups.

On the cover of this issue of G&LH appear some words from a song called “Goddamned” by JAY BRANNAN. As a little thank you to our readers for their support, we are running a competition to win Jay Brannan’s album of the same name, Goddamned. The whole lyric of the song appears on the competition page, and I think you will agree it is extremely apposite to both this issue’s theme and the perilous state our world is in today.

Atheist Christmas and Santa in Heaven
Can you be an atheist and enjoy Christmas? ZACK FORD tells us why even though he’s an atheist, he loves this holiday period. Meanwhile, NEIL RICHARDSON asks, “Do you believe in Father Christmas?” Richardson says he is struck by the similarity between believing in Father Christmas and believing in God.

Warm your cockles!
As I sit here typing in what is a very chilly office, summer days seem very far away. If you’re feeling the cold and damp where you are, too, you will like MARTIN LEWIS’s cockle-warming look at a few of last summer’s Pride events from around the world. And STEPHEN BLAKE takes a look at TLA’s new bad-boy rites-of-passage film, Shank.

Most of us believe we are freethinkers, but what exactly is freethought, and what qualifies you as a freethinker? WARREN ALLEN SMITH shares a few examples of individuals in Philosopedia who have been described by various “freethinking” labels.

In our “Out of Print” feature, we reproduce an article by ANTONY GREY, first published in the Winter 2002 issue of G&LH, that looks at the history of gay-law reform in the UK.

IAN STEWART tells us something about a presentation to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the publishers Thames and Hudson – held at the London School of Economics (LSE) – discussing recent exciting developments in the function of museums.

It’s been a busy year for the Stockholm-based Nordic Rainbow Humanists (NRH), and BILL SCHILLER reports on what’s been happening.

As usual, ANDY ARMITAGE has been on the blog and gives us his report on what’s been happening over at our sister publication, Pink Triangle.

If you thought quality television is a thing of the past, and that Lord Reith is spinning in his grave, think again! According to STEVEN DEAN, quality viewing on the box has never been better, as can be judged by a typical week’s viewing for he and his gran.

Finally, catch up on what’s been happening in our regular “News Watch” comment on selected recent news stories.

To see the latest free issue of G&LH, go to http//

Happy reading!
Mike Foxwell
Editor, G&LH

And I can add that there’s an excellent short story to chill you at Christmas. It’s by Bram Stoker of Dracula fame, it’s called “The Judge’s House”, and it’s a real chiller. It’s on the first page you’ll come to once you’ve hit the “Enter” button. Just sit back and listen. It’s in two parts, to give you a chance to pause it and go and replenish your glass. You’ll need it! It’s been adapted, read and produced by Andrew John of Celtica Radio. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Shoplifting is OK, says priest

Tim Jones, a Church of England priest at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, has said that shoplifting from large chain stores is OK. He said, “Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are.

“Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt. Providing inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.”

So, is it also OK to steal from wealthy churches like the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church?


Now I’ve heard it all!

Angels, you’ll be interested to know, can’t fly. And how have I come by this startlingly important, world-saving piece of vital information? In the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

And how did the Telegraph come by it? Well, a scientist – a real scientist, being paid – has come up with this after studying flight characteristics of birds and other stuff.

“Angels depicted heralding the birth of Jesus in nativity scenes across the world are anatomically flawed, according to a scientist who claims they would never be able to fly,” we are informed.

“A leading biologist has compared the physiology of flighted species with the representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art and found the angels and fairies that sit atop of Christmas trees did not get there under their own steam.”

This guy who seems to have too much time on his hands is Professor Roger Wotton, of University College, London, who has found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and birdlike feathered wings. Now, if this information is just a by-product of something important, such as designing the next generation of airborne transport, then I apologise, but the fact that the Telegraph has seen fit to print it seems to be a waste of column inches.

And centimetres, too.

“Even a cursory examination of the evidence in representational arts shows that angels and cherubs cannot take off and cannot use powered flight,” says Wotton. “And even if they used gliding flight, they would need to be exposed to very high wind velocities at take off – such high winds that they would be blown away and have no need for wings.”

The paper says that the power of angels to capture the imagination is so strong that a survey last year revealed that most Americans believe in them. Well, knowing the religious persuasions of most Americans, that’s not exactly surprising, is it?

That study came from the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, which found that 68 per cent of the 36,000 adults polled thought that angels and demons were at work in the world.

Oh, Jesus Christ on a stick, leave it out! The world is being torn apart by religious differences (as you can see from a glance at the latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist, which is now online*), and we are truly God-damned.

Why not a study to highlight this, and show up religion for what it is: divisive, controlling and in many cases plain evil. Yes, yes, yes, people do good things in its name, but people do good things without it, too. They’re good people.
* If you find yourself reading this post beyond early February 2010, you'll find yourself directed to what will then be the current issue, but you can navigate your way to the December 2009 one from the archive link.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Tiptoeing around horror

Why do we tiptoe around “cultural” matters as if we were treading on eggshells?

It’s not often I agree with the Daily Mail, but an article by Liz Jones caught my eye, and it concerns just such attitudes, and how authorities in the UK care more for the sensitivities of racial, cultural and religious groups than about the victims of their closed-mindedness.

She cites the murder (saying “I refuse to dignify the crime with the word ‘honour’ ”) of Tulay Gorem by her father, because she was dating the “wrong” boy.

She talks of how the girl’s mother was too afraid to speak out.

The policing of crimes that are “alien” to our culture (there is also the nasty practice of female genital mutilation) needs to be far tougher, if the training video shown to officers who deal with such matters is anything to go by.

I wish, when I was stopped for speeding, that I had been treated with such care for my feelings.

Tulay Goren repeatedly told police in the days before her death that she was being threatened. When she refused to go home, police divulged her whereabouts to her family and allowed them to persuade her to return to them. Later, police travelled to Kurdistan on a lovely jaunt to learn about local “honour codes” as they built their case, a luxury that was far too little, too late.

Social workers, too, are terrified of upsetting people who are clearly monsters, because of their race and religion. This was obviously the case in the murder of Victoria Climbié when so-called professionals failed to interfere, dazzled by respect for something they mistook as “culture” (there’s an overused word if ever there was one) when in fact it was just plain old “cruelty”.

She adds later, “Far too often we are afraid to criticise, to police, to lay blame because we fear we will be branded racist [. . .] Surely there are times when race, nationality and religion must take second place to decency, to what is right. Let’s stop this molly-coddling of ‘culture’. Now.”

Hear, hear!

A light in the darkness

African Christianity is a terrible world for gay people, as we’ve seen with recent stories about Uganda and Rwanda.

But homosexuality was around in those parts before Christian missionaries went in and preached Bible literalism.

It’s Bible literalists who conveniently forget that the Bible condones all kinds of things they might frown on these days, slavery being one of them, cruel and unusual punishments another.

So it’s refreshing to read an African writer in Britain’s Guardian, Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian activist, whose article of a few days ago concludes:

Some conservative Christians are obsessed with reading the Bible literally, trying to reconcile conflicting texts which are against one another. They read Genesis, Leviticus and St Paul and claim that certain verses prove that God judges and condemns everyone who engages in any form of same-sex activity. On the basis of this reading, countries like Uganda propose introducing life imprisonment and the death penalty for gay people. Schism and heresy are nothing in comparison with somebody using the Good Book as such a terrifying weapon against us. That is the greatest blasphemy against God.

He’s a Christian, and a gay one to boot, so you would expect him to take this line. But it often takes someone from outside the closed bigoted mindset of the loopy end of Christianity to shine a light on the subject.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Green out-Greens Green

Stephen “Birdshit” Green has outdone even Stephen “Birdshit” Green this time.

He actually supports the death penalty for gays as laid out in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Green – who heads some potty little outfit called Christian Voice, which gets more than its fair share of publicity when people who don’t get airtime and column inches have more important and interesting things to say – is reported in a story in Wales on Sunday to have said, “As a Christian I agree with the death penalty and I don’t see why infecting someone with HIV should be treated in any other way than if you killed someone with a knife. It is extraordinary to think it is OK to infect someone else with HIV and get away with it.”

How about infecting people with views such as yours, you bloody moron?

Britain’s laws, says this excuse for a human being, “promote perversion” because they do not make homosexuality a criminal offence, and capital punishment is OK because God ordains it in the Bible.

Oh, yeah? Who told you that, then. Well, the Bible did. Inerrant, is it? Yes. How do you know? Because it’s the word of God. How do you know that, then? Well, the Bible says so . . .

One commenter says under that story, “Any individual who can prove that being taught as a youngster the messages this evil man is creating, has caused emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm, should be supported in seeking legal redress.

“Likewise any person who is harmed in any way by another person acting in faith in Mr Green’s teachings should also be encouraged to seek redress from Mr Green.”

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Coming out in sport

What a state we’re in when a person has to go through what this rugby player had to go through just because he’s gay.

The whole sorry saga is reported by the BBC, which tells how the former Wales and Lions rugby captain Gareth Thomas “has broken one of the major taboos that surround sport” by revealing he is gay.

The 35-year-old joins stars like basketball’s John Amaechi and hurling’s Donal Og Cusack who have come out.

“Just because you are gay, it doesn’t mean you fancy every man who walks the planet,” Thomas told the Daily Mail.

And of course he’s right. But to hear antigay bigots speak you’d think that homosexuality was different from heterosexuality in that hetties are discriminating in whom they fancy while homos just fancy anything male that has a pulse. And that just isn’t so, of course.

The story tells of how Thomas approached the coach, the coach approached some players and the players eventually said it was no big deal.

But the fact that Thomas had had to go through all that palaver, all that agonising, speaks volumes for the sort of society we’re living in, in which it’s still taboo to be gay. And that’s largely down to religious bigots of the Right-most tendencies, who seem to think it’s anything to do with them what a guy does with his bits and pieces.

Well done, Gareth Thomas! Pity it had to be an issue at all.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Oral and anal

Another religious type whose absence will be of far more benefit to human dignity and equality than his presence has died.

The televangelist Oral Roberts (whose first name doesn’t reflect his sexual preferences, or so we are led to believe) died aged 91 earlier this week.

He was a homophobe. No doubting that. A story in the Advocate tells us:

His realm included Oral Roberts University, which in 2006 blocked its campus to youths participating in the Soulforce Equality Ride, who were visiting Christian colleges and universities in hopes of spreading a message of acceptance for LGBT people. Six Equality Riders and two other people were arrested in that incident. According to Soulforce, a university police officer said, “We love you all; do not come onto our campus.”

Roberts was very specific about what the male member was for (apart, we assume, for pissing), and that was to create life. We give you a YouTube video below in which he talks about how there’s just one orifice – not ten, not two, but one – that’s meant to take the male wang, and that . . .

But you’re ahead of me.

My mother always said we should speak only good of the dead. Oral Roberts is dead. Good!

Questionable question

Bit of a daft question to ask in a “Have Your Say” debate: “Should homosexuals face execution?”

It was on the BBC website, and is examined in Pink News.

The BBC website carries daily “Have Your Say” pages relating to some of the main stories of the day. If it had asked, “Should Muslims be executed?” . . . well, it would never have got through in the first place.

The questionable question in question relates to the hate Bill that is in prospect in Uganda. The question on the BBC web page was quickly changed to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?” (That is really up to Uganda, and is a pretty fatuous question, and bears all the hallmarks of one that has been hurriedly penned in the hope that not too many people have seen the first one.)

The choice of question – the first question, that is – has caused outrage. Pink News says, “Politicians from all the main parties have expressed revulsion at the BBC’s handling of the debate, while readers were angry [that] the question had been allowed to appear.”

The question as it stood brought expected comment from some fascist in Surrey:

Totally agree. Ought to be imposed in the UK too, asap. Bring back some respectable family values. Why do we have to suffer “gay pride” festivals? Would I be allowed to organise a “straight pride” festival? No, thought as much!! If homosexuality is natural, as we are forced to believe, how can they sustain the species? I suggest all gays are put on a remote island and left for a generation – after which, theoretically there should be none left!”

Actually, you moron, you would be able to organise a “straight pride” festival – or ought to be allowed to, provided you were not inciting violence or hatred against gays. Why not? It wouldn’t go down very well, because it would be seen as criticising gays, whereas gay pride events celebrate the gay lifestyle and call for freedom to love as nature intended (for gays, that is, before you start!), and they don’t set out to criticise the straight lifestyle. But I, for one, see no reason why you shouldn’t organise one. See what support you get.

And, double moron, who says you are “forced to believe” anything?

And, double moron on stilts with brass knobs on, what has sustaining the species got to do with anything? Don’t straights manage that (ignoring the fact gays can reproduce, of course, and that it’s just that most of them simply don’t want to shag members of the opposite sex)?

But you’re entitled to your opinion, such as it is.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Slaughter for “honour”

More evidence of how the Religion of Peace™ likes to kill its own kind (as we saw in that disturbing story from Somalia earlier this week) comes to us from the BBC.

A story today tells us of a Muslim father who has been found guilty of slaughtering his daughter because she was with a man with whom her family had religious differences – even though all were part of the same “faith”.

But she had brought dishonour on the family. So she had to die.

Christians obsessing about gay sex – yet again

The UK’s Christian Institute – a bunch of tossers who seem to obsess about little other than homosexuality – seem upset that Gordon Brown is seeking to get civil partnerships harmonised with other EU countries.

Their press release doesn’t exactly slam the move, but the fact that they’ve put one out at all smacks of criticism. They don’t put out press releases when our government seeks to harmonise other laws.

“These negotiations form part of Gordon Brown’s campaign for ‘gay rights’ recognition across Europe,” says the press release. Note the scare quotes on “gay rights”.

The press release lists one or two things Gordon Brown has done for gay rights, and says that “earlier this year he invited the organisers of a controversial month-long drive to teach schoolchildren about homosexuality to a reception at 10 Downing Street” (emphasis mine).


This morning, children, we’re going to tell you what to do with your . . .

I think you’ll find that the teaching is about relationships, much as the teaching about heterosexual unions will be. It’s probably a recognition that same-sex relationships are a fact of life (God-given, a Christian might argue, since the Christian God is responsible for everything, understands everything, sees everything).

But organisations like this can use Daily Mail scare tactics when it suits them. “Teach” suggests “this is how you do it”. “Schoolchildren” has a more emotive reaction in a reader than “young people”, because one tends to think of six-, seven- and eight-year-olds rather than the whole spectrum, five to eighteen, with different emphases on aspects of the subject for different ages.

It’s strange what people find to obsess about – especially Christians, who claim to care about the world and its woes.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The disease that is homophobia

There’s a rampant disease spreading through Africa, it seems.

It’s homophobia.

We’ve seen what Uganda is capable of; now it’s the turn of Rwanda. Its own brand of homophobia is being debated in its lower legislative house today.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) points out that the article in the penal code that could make homosexuality a crime – Article 217 – is probably illegal:

Article 217 violates Rwandans’ basic human rights and is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution as well as various regional and international conventions. IGLHRC, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda’s Horizon Community Association (HOCA) will shortly issue a call to action to demand that the Rwandan Parliament withdraw this article. We urge the international community to act against this proposed law and support the equality, dignity, and privacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Rwanda.

The proposed code will criminalise “[a]ny person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice”. If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will go before the Rwandan Senate, most likely in early 2010.

Our friends in Christendom

I’m glad to report that we have some Christian allies when it comes to homophobia.

Symon Hill, of the Ekklesia think tank, has been writing in the Guardian about the case of the bigoted homophobe Lillian Ladele, the London registrar who thought that her belief system should somehow trump her employers’ insistence that she do the job they’re paying her to do.

Ladele lost her case against Islington Council after she’d refused to tie the knot for same-sex couples in perfectly legal ceremonies that registrars are expected to carry out as part of their job description.

Symon Hill admits that he was once homophobic himself, but is clearly now someone who hates to see people using their Christianity as an excuse for homophobia.

I understand how many Christians have come to the appallingly mistaken conclusion that homosexuality is wrong. To my shame, I admit that when I became a Christian in my late teens, I was persuaded to adopt such a view myself.

But why, if Ladele could not officiate at ceremonies that went against her conscience, did this affect only one aspect of her faith? Why has she not refused to marry straight couples who are not truly in love with each other? Would she marry a man and a woman if they were planning an open marriage? Or if she discovered that one of them was secretly committing adultery? Her position is absurd.

Well, perhaps she hasn’t yet been faced with knowingly having to marry such couples, but the point is taken. What would happen if such a situation arose in the future? She has to be able to say to her employers that she is willing to perform the ceremony for anyone who legally seeks an official splicing.

Hill makes reference to the rabidly homophobic Christian Institute:

Ladele’s case has been backed all the way by the Christian Institute, a socially conservative pressure group. A senior figure at a major evangelical organisation recently told me that he thought that success for Ladele’s appeal was the most important issue currently facing British Christians.

Some would choose more colourful words instead of “socially conservative” for the Christian Institute, but Hill is obviously a polite man.

We’d say wankers.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The obscenity of Islam

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised by the horrors that are committed in the name of the Religion of Peace™, but new revelations still have the power to shock.

There are some graphic pictures in the UK’s Daily Mail of a man in Somalia being stoned to death by Islamists, buried up to his chest in the ground while villagers were forced to watch the spectacle. The point at which his head is being pounded by rocks is pixelated out.

His “crime”? adultery.

Lillian’s lost cause

Lillian Ladele, the Christian registrar who refused to do her job because she put her superstitions first, has finally lost her case against unfair dismissal after a number of hearings and appeals.

“In July 2008, an employment tribunal found north London’s Islington Council had discriminated against her,” the BBC reports. “This was overturned by an appeal tribunal. The Court of Appeal in London upheld the appeal tribunal’s ruling.”

Ladele had refused to perform the job she was paid out of public funds to do: join people in civil partnerships. But because she’s a religious bigot, she thought that somehow she ought to be exempt from this part of her job.

The Beeb story continues:

At a recent hearing in London, James Dingemans QC, representing her, told a panel of three appeal judges that Ms Ladele had never wanted to undermine the human rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender communities.

But human rights laws must also be there to protect people with committed views about marriage, he said.

By extension, then, human-rights laws should favour any views, no matter how sane or how batty, that anyone, anywhere, might hold on any subject if they claim that they are “committed” views. Is that right, Mr Dingemans? It seems the only logical corollary to this fatuous “defence”.

Let’s form the Holy Church of Tax Evasion, shall we, and really, really, really and sincerely believe, with truly committed views, in its tenets, and see how far that gets us?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Why Catholic “teaching” is vindictive, evil and plain rotten

Prepare for more teenage bullying, unhappiness, misery, suicides.

A school in Newport, Gwent, Wales, is telling kids just how wrong it is and how against God’s laws it is to be gay.

The evil is to be found in revision notes at St Joseph’s Catholic School, the Pink Paper tells us.

Under the title What is the Catholic Church’s attitude to homosexuality? the notes say genital acts between people of the same gender are wrong; homosexual acts are “morally wrong”; and sex is seen in the Bible as a way of a man and a woman to become “one flesh” to be fruitful and multiply.

To be fruitful and multiply recklessly on a planet that’s already groaning under burgeoning populations that all demand dwindling resources? But that’s another argument.

The story says pupils are being taught that sex that doesn’t potentially produce offspring is just selfish.

A sensible-sounding chap called Cain Otley saw red when he became aware of this. He calls it “filth”.

He heads a local gay business group, and says, “The notes claim that AIDS is seen by some people as the ‘gay plague’ and viewed by Protestant groups as God’s punishment on gay people whose lifestyle, they argue, is immoral and against God’s law.

“I was completely shocked and disgusted at what I saw. The information contained in the booklet could incite homophobic bullying and homophobia in general. I can’t imagine what any LGBT pupil thinks having to go through being taught this filth.”

The school says the notes just give the facts. The facts? The facts that gay sex is against the “laws” of a nonexistent entity? Those facts?

A spokesman for St Joseph’s Catholic School in Newport, which distributed the notes to the pupils, said the information was designed to help the youngsters learn what is required by the examination specifications produced by the Welsh Joint Education Committee.

“In a Roman Catholic school the church’s teaching on sexuality has to be presented clearly and in lessons this is done in a sensitive way,” she said.

“The information is purely factual as these are the points that students need to know for the examination.

“In lessons they will have discussed these points and put forward opposing views and these will also be included in their examination answers where they are required to give all sides of the argument.”

With reference to the section about AIDS, it states that whilst AIDS is sometimes described as the “gay plague” it is increasingly common among heterosexuals. It also states quite clearly that the Catholic Church teaches that no illness is God’s punishment.

What Otley said was that the notes say some Protestant groups say it’s God’s punishment. That’s almost as bad as saying it is. It plants the seed in the minds of kids who have already had this pernicious mumbo-jumbo forced into their heads and are receptive to what Otley calls filth.

And the kids will have put forward opposing view? Well, I’d hope they would, but I suspect most will not wish to rock the boat. And in the end it’s going to be the teacher’s will that prevails, isn’t it?

Just why do these bastards have to say these things in the first place? It’s just sheer vindictive, bigoted, hateful rottenness. “Filth” is too mild a word.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

God in our bloodstream? Pull the other one, Rowan!

Oh, so the common people of the UK have God in their bloodstream, do they?

This is what the Archwizard of Cant, Dr Rowan Williams, would like us to believe.

According to a story in the Telegraph, ministers are wrong to think that Christian beliefs are no longer relevant in modern Britain and he has criticised Labour for looking at religious faith as a “problem” rather than valuing the contribution it made to society.

“The Archbishop also suggested that the ‘political class’ was too remote from the concerns of most people, who still had God in their ‘bloodstream’,” says the paper. “In his only interview in the run-up to Christmas, he called on ministers to be more willing to talk about their own beliefs.” The story goes on:

His comments risked reigniting the public row between the Church of England and Labour over the state’s treatment of faith groups. A Cabinet member was recently forced to deny there was a “secular conspiracy” to silence them.

The Archbishop’s claims that religion was seen only as something for minorities echoed those of a Church-backed report, which accused the Government of paying “lip service” to Christianity while “focusing intently” on Muslims.

Asked if he believed political leaders should be more open about their religious beliefs, the Archbishop replied: “I don’t think it would do any harm at all. I think part of establishing their human credentials is saying, ‘This is where my motivation comes from. I’m in politics because this is what I believe.’ And that includes religious conviction.”

Despite the Church of England’s influence and its position as the established religion in the country, there have been repeated claims in recent years that Labour has tried to keep faith out of the public sphere.

Oh, really? How come we have an abundance of “faith schools” at taxpayers’ expense? How come national events are always accompanied by religious mumbo-jumbo, thus alienating huge swathes of the population who would rather celebrate or mourn without it?

How come prayers are said before Commons sessions? How come schools are required by law to have a broadly Christian act of worship? How come kids in schools have to be sixth-formers before they can opt out of religious indoctrination without their parents’ consent?

How come the National Health Service pays for hospital chaplains, rather than letting the churches and others of the Deluded Herd simply provide their own chaplains, which is, after all, a part of churches’ ministry and in principle no different from home visits by preachers?

Come off it, Archbish.

The paper says that Williams’s claim that religion is seen “only as something for minorities echoed those of a Church-backed report, which accused the Government of paying ‘lip service’ to Christianity while ‘focusing intently’ on Muslims”.

It then cites fears over the development of home-grown Islamic terrorism, which has led the UK government to put more than £50 million into projects aimed at preventing radicalisation in mosques.

Yes, it has. Rather than going into mosques and rooting out those who would do harm to the community (and we’ve seen what happens in some mosques, haven’t we?), it pours our money into “initiatives” and “schemes” (see also this and this).

But is this the only reason the archbishop believes Christianity is being marginalised? Perhaps he just perceives that people aren’t that bothered about it any more. They joke about it. They use it in name only at times such as this, Christmas, while patently not believing in all the fairy stories – pretty stories, some of them, but fairy stories nonetheless – that we are urged to believe as true, such as a virgin birth and a wandering star.

And there’s no wonder why MPs are reluctant to talk about their “faith”. We saw it with Tony Blair after his spokesman, Alastair Campbell famously said, “We don’t do God.”

Religion-infested Blair has since admitted that he was reluctant to talk about his “faith” while he was in office lest people should think him a nutter.

My own MP is a religiou nutcase, and, after a response I got from him on the question of cruel religious slaughter of animals – a response in which he defended it for religions, clearly believing the suffering of the animals to be less important than religious maniacs’ wish to inflict cruel deaths on the creatures – I shall not be voting for him next year.

Perhaps other politicians fear the same. Religion has a lot to answer for, and I don’t think I’d be too ready to admit to being a Catholic at the moment, if I were one, after the outrage in that particular section of the Deluded Herd.

You can hear the interview Williams gives to the Telegraph below:

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Bumbling Boris backs the bigots

Good old Boris Johnson is in hot water again. This time it’s for attending a service at a church that does so-called gay exorcisms.

The floppy-haired posh-git Mayor of London – gosh! – was there last night at Jesus House Church in Barnet. This church is led by Pastor Agu Irukwu and is part of some nonsense called the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Peter Tatchell, the gay human-rights campaigner, says Johnson has made a big mistake.

No, Peter. He’s a politician. We suppose he knows what he’s doing. Politicians usually blow with the wind. If they were honest all the time they wouldn’t get votes from important sections of their constituencies.

Johnson wouldn’t want to upset the black Christian vote, now would he?

His press office have said that barmy Boris was attending the bigots’ mumbo-jumbo “to kick off a host of festive celebrations across the capital” and that he will later attend services in Southwark Cathedral and Trafalgar Square.

Er, does that excuse it?

People’s comfort? Nah! Prayer is more important!

A call to prayer cannot be under any “circumstance or instances be equated to a sound or noise that is undesirable or nuisance”.

Oh, really?

Well, that’s the opinion of Muslims – but of course – in Kenya, where they’re being urged to ignore the Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution (Control) Regulations, 2009.

According to this story, the regulations are meant to ensure the comfort of people in residential areas, a town’s central business district and quiet zones.

But the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Alhaj Adan Wachu, says the Islamic call to prayer is usually transmitted through a loud speaker that is “controllable and unharmful to human health and environment”.

Who’s talking about harm? We’re talking about the freedom from having to hear amplified wailing in the streets five times a day.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rowan the betrayer

It’s hardly surprising that a close friend – and a gay friend, to boot – of the Archwizard of Cant, Dr Rowan Williams, has branded his former mentor a betrayer over his silence on the evils that could be visited on gays in Uganda.

According to a a story in The Times, 64-year-old Rev. Colin Coward – who lives with a gay man and preaches often at his church in Salisbury – was tutored by Williams in theological college, who knew Coward was gay and seemed quite relaxed about that.

“He said that about a quarter of the 50-plus students at his Cambridge theological college were gay,” says the paper, “and this was accepted by the Church of that era. Dr Williams was a tutor at Westcott House, a liberal college, from 1977 to 1980.”

In spite of not speaking out about the Uganda situation, Williams saw fit to comment on – although he didn’t condemn outright – the election of Mary Glasspool as a suffragan bishop in Los Angeles within the Episcopal Church.

Coward tells The Times, “What he is saying about the bishop in the US and what he is not saying about Uganda is disastrous. It just affirms the image of the Church of England as a place of prejudice and homophobia. I don’t think this is the end for the Church, but the future is difficult to predict.

“I am sure he is still the man I knew as being inclusive. I think he must be torn about inside.”

Coward was in parish ministry for 15 years before he left to set up a group called Changing Attitude, which lobbies for acceptance of gay men and women in the Anglican Communion.

“Archbishop Rowan is wrong as a Christian, he is wrong for the Church of England and he is wrong for the Anglican Communion,” he’s quoted as saying.

Coward said the bishop who ordained him, the late Mervyn Stockwood of Southwark, also knew he was actively gay.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas paedomouse

Following on from the Ann Summers story that we reported on earlier today, something else Christmas-y has caught our eye.

A “Made in China” novelty toy mouse dressed in a Santa hat has been withdrawn from sale in the UK by the company that distributes it, following claims that the filthy rodent sings the words “paedophile, paedophile”.

The Sun claims in its Mouse toy in “paedo” song ban story that one mother said, “When I squeezed its tummy I couldn’t believe my ears. I recognised the tune, but the words were certainly not traditional. Luckily my children are too young to understand.”

Apparently, the £2.99 toy is meant to sing “Jingle Bells” but, as reported in the Sun, according to a spokesman for the distributors, Humatt, of Ferndown, Dorset, the man providing the voice had been unable to pronounce certain sounds and the recording had become garbled after it was speeded up to make it high-pitched. He said, “We’ve slowed the song down and it definitely says ‘Jingle Bells’. But we have recalled them now just in case anybody might take offence.”

However, a number of the toy mice have been put up for sale as “Rude Singing Christmas Mouse” on the online auction site eBay, by the seller jewishcowboy2.0, who describes the toy as:

Genuine “Not so squeaky clean Mouse” as seen in the Sun Newspaper

This is your chance to be one of the few to own a genuine “paedophi**, paedophi**” singing christmas mouse. This 4inch plush soft toy warbles out the Chrismas classic “Jingle Bells” when squeezed.

However as reported in the Sun newspaper 07/12/09 the cheeky like mite sounds like it is singing something completely different indeed!

The “Not so squeaky clean Mouse” is fast becoming a cult classic toy for Christmas this year and is a perfect and hilarious stocking filler.

This product was recalled by the maker after complaints of a “distasteful nature” were made. I purchased the Mice direct in bulk and can therefore guarantee that I am the only seller of this Item on Ebay.

Thanks to the Guardian, you can decide for yourselves by clicking here to hear!

What’s wrong with a horny Christmas?

Planning to have a horny Christmas this year? At least one person doesn’t like the idea – well, he doesn’t like the idea that such a concept is being incorporated into a display that, horror of horrors, Christians might see and be offended by.

He’s a priest, of course.

He’s Chris Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle, who’s objecting to an Ann Summers window in the city’s Grainger Street.

The City Council received a complaint about the display. But officials there say that, although they have deemed it “inappropriate”, they have no powers to force the shop to take it down.

And why on earth should anyone force the shop to take it down? And on what grounds does the City Council deem it “inappropriate”? Because it’s at Christmas, and mentions Christmas?

So we’re back to claiming midwinter festivities for just one section of the community, are we?

Ah, but, this dog-collared chappie might say, it’s the use of the word “Christmas”. Well it was your lot who foisted that word on the rest of us when Christians imposed their own festival on existing midwinter festivities. You can’t have it both ways. We now call it Christmas. Be happy with that.

If Ann Summers had a shop window saying have a horny midwinter festival, you can bet your bottom the Christians would be bleating about how they’re taking the Christ out of Christmas and calling it something else.

No, for better or worse, and by historical convention, it’s called Christmas. We’re used to it. Most of us – atheists included – are happy with that name. And, as a season, it belongs to us all, not just Christians, so Mr Dalliston has no claim on it other than within the context of his church.

If he wants to object to any perceived misuse of it among his flock, he can take it up with them.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Uganda evil? Silence! Election of a gay bishop? Archbishop of Cant has words to say!

While the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have refused to speak out against the evils that could be visited on gays in Uganda with MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the former, Dr Rowan Williams, has seen fit to comment on the election of an openly gay bishop in the USA.

Mary Glasspool has been elected in Los Angeles; her position has yet to be ratified by Episcopal Church authorities. If it is, she’ll be the second openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion, after Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was elected and consecrated in 2003.

Williams hasn’t attacked the election of Glasspool, but has said that it raises “very serious questions” for the Anglican Communion.

He said that “the bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold”.

This is an agreement that there should be a moratorium on the appointment of gay bishops, but US Anglicans decided to overturn it in July this year.

As for the Uganda situation, you can sign a petition calling on Christian leaders to condemn the proposed Bill.

Heavyweight support

We heartily welcomed a newcomer to the blogosphere on this blog in early November and wished it well, but now a real heavyweight has come out and given Young Freethought his considerable blessing.

Young Freethought is a new blog restricted – with exceptions – mainly to the 16–21 age range, and promises to be a lively and challenging journal of articles and comments from young freethinkers.

One of its founders is Michael Campbell, who made Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and several other seminal works, aware of Young Freethought, and Dawkins has responded with some kind words.

It is all too easy for debates about the role of religion to become inward-looking and academic [writes Dawkins to Campbell], but it really does matter. Every day, all across the world, millions of our fellow humans are diminished by religion: religion that may force them to mutilate their children, cover their hair or faces, stay silent when they have so much more to say than those who suppress them, surrender control over their reproduction, donate money they cannot afford, obey and submit to their inferiors, deny reality, forgo education, close their minds, reject proper medical care, suffer needlessly, be burdened by pointless guilt, and live with the spectre of eternal torment. Every day, religion works to recruit more victims, among the young, the sick, the poor and dispossessed, the old: anyone who is weak and vulnerable is a legitimate target in religion’s eyes.

Of course, in any civilised society people must be free to believe whatever they want, but this doesn’t mean those beliefs should be automatically shielded from challenge just because they are religious, and it certainly doesn’t mean they should be enshrined in law or promulgated by the state. It doesn’t mean that the state should abet churches and mosques and temples in trying to convert young minds in schools. It doesn’t mean that young people should be divided from one another throughout their all-important school lives purely because their parents happen to follow different creeds. It doesn’t mean we should allow our state broadcaster to perpetuate the myth that you need religion to be good. It doesn’t mean that the minority of people who are actively religious should have privileged access to our lawmakers, their opinions sought out by policy makers, their bishops sit, as of right, in the House of Lords, their representatives automatically packing government committees or Royal Commissions with an ethical brief. It doesn’t mean that our hard-pressed NHS should squander money paying chaplains out of its already over-stretched budgets. It doesn’t mean that schools should be obliged to force pupils into daily acts of worship.

Every major battle for the advancement of human rights has been won in the teeth of fierce religious opposition: whether it’s the abolition of slavery, equality for women or gays, freedom of speech, the abolition of the blasphemy law, the right of a woman to control her own fertility, or the right of the terminally ill to choose to end their suffering with dignity and medical assistance.

So, this really matters – in the real world and not just in internet chatrooms. Of course we must leave people in peace to practise religion if they so choose. But the rest of us must be left in peace to live our lives without it. The religious want more and more influence over government policy and, if they succeed, our society will be the poorer: less tolerant, less equal, less just, less educated, less rational. These issues should matter to all of us, but young people are the ones who should care most of all. You will inherit the societies that current governments leave behind. This is your future we are talking about, and the kind of society you want to live in.

If you want – and what decent person wouldn’t? – to live with the best Enlightenment values, live free and tolerant and committed to knowledge and education and reason, then you must speak up and let your voices be heard.

This is why I welcome this blog so wholeheartedly. You will shape our society’s future, and it is exhilarating to see you preparing to do so.

So well done, YF.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Another Gene Robinson

The USA has another Gene Robinson. He, you may recall, was the first and until now only openly gay bishop in the entire Anglican Church.

But now they Episcopal Church has done it again. Await ructions, as Christian is set against Christian, as swords are unsheathed, as battle commences with much wailing, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

Mary Glasspool, who hails from Baltimore, has been elected an assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese, although she needs a majority of national Episcopal Church heads to back her actual consecration.

It’s a simple argument, according to the BBC report linked to above: “Conservatives insist the Bible unequivocally outlaws homosexuality, whereas liberals believe the Bible should be reinterpreted in the light of contemporary wisdom.”

The story continues:

BBC religious affairs correspondent Chris Landau says that for an Anglican Communion already fracturing over the issue of homosexuality, this election is yet more evidence of the church’s divisions.
He says that for many in the US, electing openly homosexual bishops is simply a reflection of the diversity long affirmed by that Church.

[The] Episcopal Church leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has said she will consecrate any bishop whose election follows the rules.

Mary Glasspool is 55 and has been a canon in the Diocese of Maryland for eight years, Associated Press news agency reports.

We’re sure this won’t go away in a hurry. And, if only two out of the entire Anglican Communion are out gays, how many are closeted gays? We suspect thousands. We can only hope that Glasspool will encourage others and the bigots will just have to accept that lots and lots of people are gay – get used to it!

_ _ _ _ _ _ mas

Oh, dear! Poor Christians – well, some bishop geezers, anyway – are worried that the Christ is being taken out of Christmas again.

They conveniently forget, of course, that Christ wasn’t there in the first place. Oh, it wasn’t called Christmas back then, of course, but the midwinter festivities, as we all know (and as Christians know only too well, also), were pushed to one side by the cuckoo in the nest that was Christianity.

It made sense. Get people to drop their traditions in favour of a new set of celebrations? No way! But infiltrate and you’re in. If you can do it fairly seamlessly, well, hey presto, you replace the old with the new.

According to the Daily Telegraph link we’ve provided above, the Bishop of Croydon, Nick Baines, has written somewhere that the language used in some traditional carols risks turning the nativity into “just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.

The story doesn’t make it clear (and it ought), but I assume he’s referring to “inclusive” or “acceptable” words that have been substituted for the old in some traditional carols.

But, whatever, the irony obviously escapes him: “panto and fairy stories”? Er, yes, Bishop, you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ugandan Bill divides Christians in UK

Antigay Christians in the UK “have shown themselves to be confused, divided and plainly out of touch with Christian, as well as public, opinion” over the evil Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

So says Symon Hill, associate director of the religious think tank Ekklesia, in an article that first appeared in The Samosa.

“Those British Christians who regard all homosexual activity as unethical have long insisted that they are not prejudiced. They say they are criticising a behaviour, not a group of people, and that they do not want gay people to be persecuted,” says Hill.

“This assertion is central to the way in which they present themselves. The sincerity of their position is now being put to the test. And different groups and individuals are responding to that test very differently.”

He points out that, in Britain, the proposed legislation has been condemned by many gay-friendly Christian organisations, such as Ekklesia, Inclusive Church and Accepting Evangelicals.

But silence from other quarters worries Hill, who says that most denominations in the UK “have yet to make any formal statement on the issue”, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Hill doesn’t think Williams is in favour of the legislation, just that he’s wary of upsetting the “traditional” wing of the Anglican Church (as far as I’m concerned, for “traditional wing”, read “bigoted dinosaur wing who might better serve what they claim to be the Christian way by obsessing less about what people do with their naughty bits and more about injustice and inequality).

Hill points out that a glance at the websites of many other “traditionalist” Christian organisations will yield not a mention of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He singles out the Christian Institute and Christian Concern for Our Nation, both rabidly bigoted when it comes to matters of people’s natural sexuality – so much so that one doubts their members’ own sexuality (I’m saying that, not Hill).

One does wonder why people who are comfortable in their own bodies and own identities tend not to obsess too much about what others do with theirs. Not a scientific claim on my part, but one gained from observation.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Oi! Pipe down a bit!

You’re having a quiet nap or a drink with friends on the patio and suddenly there comes a great noise of guitars, drums, singing and shouting from a house across the street, disturbing your peace. You reason that a bit of noise is acceptable when people have to live together in towns and cities, but this is just too much.

Naturally, you ask the partygoers to turn down the noise a bit and, if it persists, you may decide to complain to the local authorities.

You’re having a quiet nap or a drink with friends on the patio and suddenly there comes a great noise of wailing, clapping of hands and shouts of “Hallelujah!” from a building across the road. It’s a church.

Somehow, the partygoers – er, worshippers – feel they ought to be let off the hook. It’s religion, you see.

This has happened in a district of Kenya (I’m sure it happens in other places, too, including in city areas here in good old Blighty).

But these wailing idiots are taking a case to court to challenge new rules on noise pollution.

“You cannot force worshippers who want to sing and shout in praise because even the Bible tells us to make a joyful noise to the Lord [. . .] We will sing and make noise in God’s praise even if they jail us or take us to court,” said Bishop Mark Kariuki of the Deliverance Church of Kenya.

Perhaps the best sort of deliverance for these nutcases would be deliverance to a remote part of the desert, where they could shout and wail to their hearts’ content.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

No respect for no belief

I’ve been forced to ponder why a noted atheist who has written and spoken out against religious ideas should have been remembered at a religious event.

You may remember that Ludovic Kennedy, who died in October this year, was a lifelong atheist. He published An End to Belief? in 1984 and All in the Mind: A Farewell to God in 1999, in which he discussed his philosophical objections to religion, and the ills he felt had come from Christianity. He was a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association (BHA), an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society (NSS) and a Distinguished Supporter of the Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS).

In July 2001, he was one of the signatories to a letter published in the Independent, which urged the British government to reconsider its support for the expansion of state-funded “faith schools”, and, in 2003, was a signatory of the BHA petition calling for a public holiday on the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth.

Imagine my amazement, therefore, when I read in the UK’s Daily Telegraph that a memorial service had been held for him in Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, at which the dean, the Very Rev. Christopher Lewis, gave “a Gaelic blessing” and the Very Rev. John Jury, chaplain Christ Church College, led prayers.

Would Kennedy be turning in his grave, if he had one, I wonder? I also wonder who would have been responsible for arranging such a highly inappropriate ceremony. And, in any case, don’t these God-botherers have any respect at all for a person’s nonbelief?

Uganda evil: the pressure builds

Just received the following news release from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights, which may be of interest to Pink Triangle readers. For some background on the vicious antigay Bill in Uganda, see here, here and here.

Africa Caribbean Pacific-EU Assembly: the European Union speaks up against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The infamous Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was vehemently discussed yesterday [Monday] in Luanda, Angola, during the 18th session of the ACP (African-Caribbean-Pacific)/EU (European Union) Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

In his opening speech to the plenary, Louis Michel, former Development Commissioner and Co-President of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, denounced the draft law as attacking human rights, and called for the separation of religion from politics and mutual respect. During the discussion with the European Commission, and despite some ACP delegates insisting that they could do “what they wanted” in their own countries, Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht recalled that they had obligations under the Cotonou Agreement, as well as under International Conventions.

Following a negative response from a Ugandan delegate, this was echoed by other Members present, including Michael Cashman MEP [the gay former actor], Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights and Member of the European Parliament Development Committee.

“It is quite clear that this issue of state-sponsored homophobia has been building up for years, and now it is finally out of the bag. We should have faced this down years ago, but now we can ensure that such homophobia is never endorsed by our silence,” said Michael Cashman.

“Things are changing, it will take some more time, but this clock is never going to be turned back. We are all equal in this world and it is high time LGBT people are granted their full human rights, wherever they live,” he continued.

The proposed legislation includes provisions to punish those alleged to be lesbian, gay or bisexual with life imprisonment and, in some cases, the death penalty; any parent or teacher failing to report their LGBT children or pupils to the authorities with a fine equivalent to $2,650 or three years’ imprisonment; and landowners providing shelter to LGBT people with seven years’ imprisonment. The legislation would apply to Ugandan citizens both inside and outside of the country.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Relationship counsellor loses appeal

The Relate counsellor who didn’t fancy counselling same-sex couples has lost his case against unfair dismissal.

Relate is the former UK Marriage Guidance Council, and Gary McFarlane was sacked for saying he didn’t want to encourage sin.

He said the publicly funded service failed to recognise his faith – seeming to think that it should recognise someone’s eccentricities when paying them to do a job.