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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Things can only get better . . .

Just when you thought African Church of England Bishops couldn’t possibly get more vituperatively nasty about homosexuality, along comes this story.

“The All African Bishops International Conference kicked off yesterday in Entebbe, Uganda with the clerics promising to strengthen their position on intolerance of homosexuality in the Anglican Church,” says Rwanda’s New Times.

And the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was the lead preacher at this gathering of bigots. That’s not to say he shares their views. In fact, some of them are a bit miffed that he has a more tolerant attitude.

If he were that bloody tolerant, he’d be using his position to speak out for the fairness he would not doubt say his saviour would want. But that might split the Anglican Communion even more.

If it does, then so be it. Do you really want people like this in your church Dr Williams? They are scum.

One of said scum, Nathan Gasatura, Bishop of Butare Anglican Diocese, is among the twelve bishops representing Rwanda at the conference. He said the meeting would reinforce the need for a common voice among African bishops.

“We shall consolidate our position to really stand against homosexuality now with one voice,” he tells the New Times.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Self-loathing, isolation and depression among gays

“Evidence shows that gay men are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide. A research project at London’s University College hospital found ‘significantly higher’ rates of mental illness among gay men than their straight peers.”

So reports the UK’s Observer today, talking about the new issue – called the “Issues Issue” – of the lifestyle mag Attitude. Many homosexuals, says the Observer, suffer self-loathing, isolation and depression.

Well, it’s hardly surprising that there are such problems among sections of the gay community, given that they’re always having to fight the type of bigotry to be found spewing from the mouths of – largely – religionists.

Religionists are still given column inches and airtime (we reported on one such yesterday, who always gets wheeled out by lazy journos looking for a rent-a-gob quote), and it’s mostly (though not exclusively) they who have problems with other people’s bits and pieces and what they do with them in private.

Kids grow up with this shit happening around them all the time, whereas a heterosexual kid gets all the usual support from friends, family and extended family: “When are you getting a girlfriend, then?”; “Got a girlfriend, then? That’s nice. Getting engaged?”; “Oh, got engaged, have you? When’s the happy day?” And there’s nothing wrong with that, provided all this is being spoken to a straight person.

But if you’re gay you usually find matters of the heart uncomfortable to talk about, and it’s unlikely that, if you’re a gay teenager, you’ll take home your boyfriend/girlfriend and introduce them to your parents as such.

There are many understanding parents, but there are also unspoken expectations. When people talk of a young person’s future, it’s “When you have children, you’ll . . .”, and never, or rarely, “If you have children . . .”; it’s “When you get married . . .” (the implication being married to one of the opposite sex) and never, or rarely, “If you get married . . .” or “If you find a partner – of whichever sex . . .”

The world is still largely shaped for the man–woman family with the requisite two or three kids, and it’s hardly surprising if young gay women and men feel they don’t fit. Parents still see their offspring as heterosexual first, even if they later discover they’re homosexual, and are even supportive.

And most criticism of homosexuality, by far, comes from religions. They are making a big contribution to suicides, self-loathing, isolation and dangerous substance use among gay people.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Green is the colour . . . of the lunatic fringe

For the Sun it’s “Gay vicar weds Nigerian toyboy”.

For the Mail it’s “Gay vicar, 65, to ‘marry’ Nigerian male model half his age”.

For the Mirror it’s “Vicar intends to marry toy boy male model, defying church gay sex rule”.

And for the Express it’s “Gay vicar’s marriage is ‘an abomination’ say Christians”.

And the “Christians” in the last one are, of course, just one man. Yes, you’ve guessed it: Stephen “Birdshit” Green of Christian Voice.

Lazy journos again. They just go for the rent-a-gob quote, knowing that Green will say something totally off his head such as, “I fail to recognise him as a Christian because he doesn’t keep the commandments of Lord Jesus, who states ‘marriage is between a man and a woman’, so although this guy claims to be following Christ he actually isn’t.

“This is an abomination before God, not a holy union.”

Yeah, yeah, Steve, we’ve heard it all before. Go back into your cage.

The Sun’s story sees fit to say this: “Mr Coward has also refused to confirm he will stay celibate following the union – which is a Church of England requirement of gay clergy.” And, yes, the emphasis – italics if your browser’s working OK – are the Sun’s, not mine.

The Sun moralising through typography! What’s the world coming to?

Christian concern – unless you’re gay

Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCfON) are, as you would expect, not exactly chuffed that the UK’s Charity Commission has come down in favour of gay adoption and against concessions to Catholics.

We reported on this yesterday after the Charity Commission decided gay parents were OK, thank you very much.

Now the thing about conservative organisations such as CCfON is that they give you a way of complaining to someone, often providing a helpful email address or URL.

They’ve done the same with this one. You can go to this page, for instance, and see details of how to complain to the Charity Commission. I went to the page and wrote a very short letter of support instead.

Of you go, then. What are you waiting for?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Ray Gosling to be charged with wasting police time

Ray Gosling, who, with CHE’s Allan Horsfall, runs the Gay Monitor website, is to be charged with wasting police time after his “confession” earlier this year that he’d killed a lover who was terminally ill and dying in pain.

“The Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Gosling, 71, of Nottingham, should be charged over claims he made to BBC Breakfast's Bill Turnbull in February,” says the BBC website.

Gosling was freed on bail earlier this year after being arrested on suspicion of murder.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Common sense prevails

A religious charity, Catholic Care, has lost its appeal to be allowed to discriminate out of prejudice against gay people.

The Charity Commission has said gay people are suitable parents, and that’s that. Good old Charity Commission! Other, similar, agencies caught in this trap have either closed or, in the case of the more enlightened ones, severed their links with the Catholic Church.

”However, Catholic Care tried to change its constitution so that it would be committed to following Catholic teaching and placing children only with heterosexual parents,” says the BBC story linked to above. Yes, prejudice must prevail, even if it means changing the rules, it seems.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Divine protection

It may surprise you, but it’s not because it claims to offer “divine protection” that I’m glad Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has come down on this here amulet thing that claims to give just that.

It’s just plain dishonest to claim that it does. Mixing its double and single quote marks willy-nilly, as so many are apt to do these days (don’t worry: we’ve corrected its punctuation here), the Telegraph says:

The magazine advert, placed by The Circle of Raphael (CoR), promised that the “seven angels amulet” would bring its owner “angelic blessings, guidance and peace” – and bring them luck at “games of chance” at the casino.

That’s the claim. The paper’s intro says that the “firm behind it could not prove that angels will protect those who wear it”. Well, claims have to be proven.

Religious schools: for and against

You might like to know about a programme on the UK’s Channel 4 this evening. It’s called The Faith Schools Menace and is presented by that arch atheist chappie Richard Dawkins. This is what the Channel 4 website has to say:

The number of faith schools in Britain is rising. Around 7,000 publicly funded schools – one in three – now [have] a religious affiliation.

As the coalition government paves the way for more faith-based education by promoting “free schools”, the renowned atheist and evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins says enough is enough.

In this passionately argued film, Dawkins calls on us to reconsider the consequences of faith education, which, he argues, bamboozles parents and indoctrinates and divides children.

The film features robust exchanges with former Secretary of State for Education Charles Clarke, Head of the Church of England Education Service Reverend Janina Ainsworth, and the Chair of the Association of Muslim Schools, Dr Mohammed Mukadam.

It also features insights from child psychologists and key players in faith education as well as insights from both parents and pupils.

Dawkins also draws on his own personal history as a father, arguing that the government must stop funding new faith schools, and urges society to respect a child’s right to freedom of belief.

It’ll be interesting to see both sides of the argument. I suspect those entrenched on both sides won’t be shifted, though.

So far, the only argument in favour of these institutions is that they seem to get better exam results. But if they fiddle the entrance criteria that’s only to be expected. And there have been many accusations that they do – that they find a way of choosing only from areas where the kids are likely to be high achievers to begin with.

The Great Divide

A talented chap called Chris Jones of the band the Great Divide has sent us this:

I manage a Liverpool-based guitar band who are planning to release a single to coincide with the Pope’s visit to the UK.

The song is a comment on religion in the 21st century and all profits from UK sales will be donated to a secular based charity that works with victims of child abuse (for example NAPAC).

As I’m sure you are aware, the medium of music can be a very powerful influence, especially on young ears, and we feel this is a real opportunity to reach out to a generation and promote the secular message. The young people of today are tomorrow’s decision makers and if we can persuade individuals to start to question the role of religion within society, then perhaps, within the not too distant future, we could see the influence it exerts start to diminish.

The recording has already taken place. You can, however, listen to a rough mix of the song @

Whilst I appreciate the genre may not be to everyone’s taste we feel the song has the ability to cross over in to the mainstream of popular music and is an ideal platform to promote the secular message, stimulate debate and engage young people.

I’ve listened to it. It sounds good. Give it a try.

I can’t say how long it’ll remain on this site, so, if you’re coming to this post some weeks down the line and it’s not there, you’ll know why.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The empty rhetoric of the Christian right

“It [the fight against same-sex marriage] is about a profound love and respect for an institution that the government did not create; an institution that predates churches, governments . . .; an institution that brings together the two great halves of humanity – male and female.”

This is a Christian – wouldn’t you just know it? – talking about what Christians bang on about all the time: homosexuality. He’s Brian Brown, president of America’s National Organization for Marriage (NOM), speaking during a rally on Sunday, and quoted by Christian Today.

NOM is prattling on, of course, about same-sex marriage and says it’s not worried about the seeming progress that the pro-gay-marriage lobby has been making.

So let’s look in detail at that one paragraph quoted above.

The government did not create marriage. Hmm. Your point being?

It predates churches and governments. Well so do the qualities that came to be called the Seven Deadly Sins. So do murder, rape and arson. So do worms and germs, gerbils and giraffes, gofers and goats.

And, of course, so do same-sex relationships. We would not have used the word gay or even homosexual in bygone ages, and the concept of a gay community was just not part of our worldview. But men had sex with men, women with women. And women with men, of course. It’s sexuality. It’s what happens. It’s nature.

The two great halves of humanity? Meaningless rhetoric. Men are great and are one half, and women are great and are the other half? Yes? So? Sometimes two members of one great half get their knickers off together. That’s natural. That’s what God intended, if you want to look at it that way, since, in the Christian mythology, he made the people whose sexual orientation led them to love members of the same gender.

Still, one thing the right-wing lunatics of Christianity do is keep us all amused.

Brown tries to answer comparisons between hypothetical laws banning interracial marriage and ones that (not hypothetically in most places) prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying. He says, “Marriage is not based upon race. It’s based upon the fact that there are men and women and men and women are brought together in marriage.”

Marriage is based on the fact that there are men and women; men and women are therefore brought together in the marriage that is based on the fact that there are men and women.


There are men and men, too, of course. And women and women. Don’t forget that, you prat.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Trust outraged by Igwe attack

The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (this blog’s parent organisation) has expressed its shock and outrage at a report it has received from the Nigerian Humanist and human-rights activist Leo Igwe. The report – which we blogged last Friday – concerns an attack on his home in which his father was brutally attacked and after which he subsequently had to have his right eye removed.

This, says the Trust in a news release, is the most recent in a series of attacks that have followed Igwe’s fearless human-rights campaigns, including those in support of LGBT rights, which the state authorities have done little or nothing to address.

PTT secretary George Broadhead said, “Mr Igwe, who is the executive secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, has demonstrated his staunch support for LGBT rights.

“In 2006 he made an impassioned appeal to members of the Nigerian National Assembly not to pass a Bill that would not only criminalise gay marriage but also impose a five-year jail sentence on anyone who has a gay relationship or anyone who aids or supports a gay marriage or relationship. The Bill had the blessing of the Nigerian Anglican Church and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, as well as the then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who declared that homosexual practice ‘is clearly unbiblical, unnatural and definitely un-African’.

“In May this year Mr Igwe was presented with the Rainbow Humanist Award by Nordic Rainbow Humanists for his ‘courageous defence of LGBT rights and dignity in the face of ferocious attacks from homophobic Nigerian politicians, parliamentarians and religious leaders calling for the imprisonment of those having homosexual relations and those who dare to support such relations, and for reminding fellow countrymen and -women in Nigeria of the need to safeguard the spirit of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the need for reason, common sense, thoughtfulness, knowledge, love, tolerance, solidarity and empathy, instead of hate and homophobia’. The presention took place at an event in London to mark the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

“This latest brutal attack on Mr Igwe’s family and the grave injury to his father is shocking and outrageous and we are very concerned about Mr Igwe’s own safety,” Broadhead added.

The PTT has sent a letter of protest to the Nigerian High Commissioner in the UK, Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, and asked the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights to issue a public condemnation.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The cost of entertaining monsters

The UK’s National Secular Society puts out a weekly newsletter called Newsline, and it’s understandably angry at the cost of entertaining that monster Pope Ratzo. The cost of security and entertainment has been gone over before, of course. Now the NSS turns its wrath on the entourage.

The entourage accompanying the Pope on his September visit to the UK will be accommodated in a luxury hotel in central London – with eleven of them being funded by the taxpayer.

Rooms at the hotel can cost up to £920 per night, and the Government has stumped up for eleven cardinals and other flunkies to stay there. They will also receive a daily allowance of £150 courtesy of the public purse.

The Tablet reports that the entire hotel, which it is not naming “for security reasons”, has been block-booked for 17 and 18 September.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “Isn’t this visit draining enough out of the hard-pressed taxpayers’ pocket without putting people up in quite unnecessary luxury? The pope himself will be staying at the papal nuncio’s house in Wimbledon – surely a few more of his flunkies could have been accommodated there at no cost? The Catholic Church has enormous amounts of property in London that these people could have used. This profligacy is all the more scandalous at a time of austerity when it is likely to lead directly to the sacrifice of people’s livelihoods.”

Hard to add anything to that, really. It’s just obscene. People are having benefits cut, and are expected to live on £40-odd a week in some cases, while these obscenities are handed £150 per day to do as they wish with, and put up in luxury hotels while they’re here. I hope your blood’s boiling. I know mine is.

Whatever happened to the meekness their big man JC preached about? How can anyone possibly believe that these holy layabouts are good for anything at all, and still have self-respect?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Academies of hate

Academy-style schools, now becoming the default means of education for young people in Britain, it seems, are likely to create a less tolerant society, according to a Green MP.

Gay UK News tells the story:

In the Houses of Parliament [it means the House of Commons], Education Secretary Michael Gove recently laid out the plans for the Academies Bill, saying that anyone can bid to run academies and free schools. The South West Green Party spokesperson on LGBT rights Ryan Cleminson said this of the proposals, “The worrying thing about these proposals of free schools and academies is that they are likely to create a less tolerant society and not a fairer society. We all know that many of these academies and free schools are likely to be run by religious organisations, which signals that religious dogma about homosexuality being a sin will be taught.”

The answer is in the hands of parents. If they just put their collective foot down – easier said than done, I know – and said they were not going to allow their kids to be taught such crap, there might be changes. Religious nutcases have been allowed to get away with too much for too long, and they never cease to try to find ways of insinuating themselves into as many people’s lives as they can, by as many back doors as they can find.

More harassment for Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe, contributor to Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine, member of our Gaytheist discussion group (see sidebar for both) and director of the Centre for Inquiry in Nigeria, has just had this piece of disturbing news to report:

Around midnight of Wednesday August 4 2010, two gunmen invaded my family house in Mbaise in Imo state in Southern Nigeria. They shot twice in the air and my other fainted. They later descended on my aging father and started beating him. They blindfolded him with a piece of cloth and hit him several times with stones.

He later fainted and the hoodlums ransacked the whole house and made away with whatever they found valuable. My father bled from the right eye, nose and mouth. He had bruises on his head, hands, legs and chest. After the attack, some neighbours came and rushed him to a nearby hospital. From there, I moved him to an eye hospital in Lagos where the doctor confirmed that he had extensive injuries in the right eye and recommended that it be removed. Yesterday, August 11, 2010, he underwent a surgery and the right eye was removed. He is currently recuperating at the hospital. I called the police to inform them. And they said I should send a formal petition .

This attack is the latest in the vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation of me and my family members by state and non-state actors for our efforts to bring to justice a 50-year-old man, Edward Uwa, who raped a 10-year-old girl, Daberechi, in my community. Since 2007, Edward and his associate, Ethelbert Ugwu, have brought several police and court actions against me, my family members and our witnesses including Daberechi’s father. They have brought many fictitious allegations against us. In January, they brought police officers and soldiers and arrested me and my father for murder. In 2008 Ethelbert Ugwu brought some soldiers, who arrested brutalized and detained my two brother at a local police in Ahiazu.

Unfortunately, the authorities in Nigeria are not helping matters. They have refused taking appropriate actions against Edward and Ethelbert. The police and judicial systems are corrupt, inept and ineffective. Police officers are only interested in making money from petitions, not in fighting or preventing crimes. And the court system is slow and expensive. So in Nigeria police and court actions are used by criminally minded people to harass and intimidate others, and block access to justice particularly for the poor and less privileged.

The local police stations in Ahiazu and Umuahia have refused arraigning Edward and Ethelbert for misinforming the police. The police in Zone 9 have yet to publish the outcome of the investigation of the murder charge brought by Ethelbert Ugwu and Edward Uwa for which they arrested me in January. Right now the prosecution of Edward for indecent assault is stalled because the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Umuahia, Abubakar Ringim has refused releasing the case file to Imo state prosecutor despite several applications to that respect.

The state prosecutor decided to take over the prosecution after Ethelbert Ugwu got a fraudulent fiat through a local lawyer to take over the case. The police prosecutor is no longer coming to the court and the local magistrate has threatened to strike out the case in October. Ethelbert and Edward have filed five civil suits against me, my family members and witnesses. In March, the court ruled against us in one of the suits brought by Edward for police harassment because the police did not appear in court. We are currently appealing the ruling. Since 2007 members of my family and other innocent people in my community have suffered and endured attacks, harassment and intimidation by Edward, Ethelbert and their police, soldiers and thugs.

And the state authorities have done little or nothing to address the situation.


These issues must be raised with the Nigerian authorities at the highest level. They should be kept on the front burner of international relations and human rights advocacy until the Nigerian authorities take appropriate actions. The Nigerian government must be made to understand that the international community is aware of the facts of this case. And that the world is outraged at the way they are handling it. The human rights community should join hands with the IHEU [International Humanist and Ethical Union] in bringing this disturbing trend to the attention of the world.

You can go to this page and copy a URL to paste into anything you might post to other discussion groups, and try to get the word around.
Related links:
PTT speaks out on Igwe Arrest
More concern for Igwe

Better late than never . . .

“A defiant pensioner is rallying Irish women to boycott Sunday Mass for one day because she feels the Catholic hierarchy is treating them like second-class citizens,” reports Yahoo! News.

Has she only just noticed?

Still, better late than never, I suppose.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Justice – Iranian Islamic style

A judge in Iran can just decide a person is guilty if there isn’t enough evidence to convict him.

At least this seems to be the case with 18-year-old Emrahim Hamidi, who is accused of the heinous life-threatening crime of sodomy. This chap faces execution. Well, he deserves it, obviously. Even being suspected of such a disgraceful act of this utter depravity deserves the ultimate punishment. A judge says so. It’s got to be true.

Hamidi was convicted on the strength of something called “judge’s knowledge”, which is some kind of legal loophole that allows for subjective rulings. This is the sort of “justice” you expect in a Kafka story, not a twenty-first-century state. Oh, but it’s an Islamic state. Mustn’t forget that. “Justice” is meted out by nutcases who believe in creationism and sky fairies and all kinds of hogwash and baloney and like to run their state in accordance therewith.

Add to this that the alleged victim of this “crime” has said he was coerced into making the accusation by his parents, and Hamidi is said to have confessed under torture. You know, when you want something to stop badly enough that you’ll say your mother was a monkey and your father was a giraffe. Bound to get the truth out of a person, that kind of thing, innit? Sort of thing Christians used to do to each other with the Inquisition. You know, Christians, love your neighbour and all that.

Anyway, Iain Stewart (pictured), Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South in England, has now called on the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to ask the Iranian authorities to halt the execution.

Openly gay Stewart is also the deputy chairman of Conservative LGBT group, LGBTory, and he’s quoted in the link above as saying, “It is an outrage that this young man faces execution. In the first place it is utterly abhorrent that homosexual acts are illegal and carry draconian penalties in Iran. That, plus the fact that there is considerable doubt as to whether the event actually took place, makes it unthinkable that Ebrahim should lose his life.

“I am calling on the Foreign Office to do whatever it can to exert diplomatic pressure on Iran to show some human compassion and free this young man, or at very least commute the death penalty. In the meantime, my heart goes out to Ebrahim and his family at this dreadful time”.

And Matthew Sephton, chairman of LGBTory, said, ”This is a dreadful state of affairs.  I am horrified that, in this day and age, there are still so many countries were homosexuality is illegal and have penalties including life imprisonment and even execution in some cases . . . I just hope that Mr Hague is able to speak to the Iranian Government and that Ebrahim is saved from such barbaric treatment from his own country.”

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Christianity: the death throes

And now congregation, put your hands together and give thanks, for I come bearing Good News. My country, Britain, is now the most irreligious country on earth. This island has shed superstition faster and more completely than anywhere else. Some 63 percent of us are non-believers, according to an ICM study, while 82 percent say religion is a cause of harmful division. Now, let us stand and sing our new national hymn: Jerusalem was dismantled here/ in England's green and pleasant land.

So writes Johan Hari. No point in reproducing any more here, or else you might not go and read the article yourself, and you should. He’s always worth a read.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Are some more equal than others?

The judgment from the Supreme Court in California last week raises interesting points, the chief of which is, “Should the wishes of the majority take precedence?”

It is Judge Vaugn Walker’s assertion that the ballot-led Proposition 8 in the state, which outlawed gay marriage, “was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples”.

“One of the biggest outcries over Prop 8 was that the fundamental rights of a minority group could be taken away by popular vote – which isn't supposed to happen in America, land of the free,” says an opinion piece by Joel P. Engardio in USA Today.

Engardio says that the Jehovah’s Witnesses helped Walker to form his judgment, and you’ll need to click on the link to see how – but it’s an interesting read, going back to an incident when JW kids were expelled from public (state) schools for not saluting the American flag and how a judge at the time, Robert Jackson, talked of the “tyranny of the masses” – a phrase immortalised by Alex de Tocqueville in his 19th-century book Democracy in America.

A subhead in the USA Today story says “Rights trump elections”, and this is the basis of Walker’s judgment: if the will of the majority could be trumped in the JWs’ case, it can be trumped here. The rights of what was an unpopular religion were protected – minority rights – so they should be protected here.

It’s noteworthy that, while the Mormons helped to swing the Proposition 8 vote against gay marriage, the JWs, although they’re as against same-sex unions as the Mormons are, didn’t vote. They’re apolitical. “Rather than forcing their beliefs through legislation, they prefer to find converts by sharing a message,” says the paper.

Unfortunately, they share the message by knocking on your door at the most inconvenient times and are often hard to get rid of. On one occasion, I just started pointedly eyeing up the younger of two men who called. They soon left.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Marriage for all, say Lib Dems

“There will undoubtedly be some people that will speak against it, especially from the various religious groups. But this is something that the party as a whole has been calling for. It will be a key issue for us in defining ourselves against the Tories.”

Thus speaks a Liberal Democrat on the proposal to be put before their conference next month of allowing proper marriage for gay couples, converting existing civil partnerships into marriage, and allowing the status of marriage to remain even if one partner undergoes a sex change.

I suppose it’s good to see that religion is being singled out by a political party as a potential wrecker of social progress. They can often be so coy about apportioning blame when it comes to cuddly-wuddly “faith”.

Stampede deaths are God’s punishment? Yeah, right!

Enjoying a music festival is sinful, and God punishes participants by killing some of them and injuring hundreds of others. Hmm. Sounds like something right out of the Old Testament – think plagues of boils, deaths of firstborn, that kind of thing.

But it’s hardly surprising, really, because this idea comes from the pen of Bishop Andreas Laun of Salzburg, commenting on a Love Parade held in Duisburg on 24 July, and he’s a Catholic, and Catholics believe in all kinds of . . . But I needn’t go on.

Twenty-one people died in this “sinful event”, which, says this man of questionable sanity, is “a rebellion against creation and against God’s order, [which] are sins and an invitation to sin”.

More than 500 people were injured, too, when a bottleneck formed as revellers tried to get into the festival.

“Writing on the German-language website,” says the story linked to above, “Mr Laun warned against judging the dead. At the same time, he indirectly linked the deaths to God’s right to punish apostates – those who turn their back on the true faith.

“The provocative comments are expected to draw outrage from victims’ families and survivors. The remarks from such a senior member of the clergy are also feared to draw the embattled church hierarchy into further criticism of its rigid attitude to modern society.

“In recent months the church has tried to weather storms over successive child abuse claims, a lack of sympathy to predator priests’ victims and a crisis of legitimacy.

“A memorial service was attended by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, amid assertions that the parade would never be held again.”

Friday, 6 August 2010

How dare this woman criticise Christian bigotry? Disgusting!

The rabidly homophobic Christian Institute seems to think there’s something wrong in the fact that one of the UK Labour leadership contenders, Diane Abbott, has dared to criticise Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar who wouldn’t splice gay couples.

Lillian Ladele
This nutty organisation says that Ladele “was bullied at work and disciplined for her religious stance on homosexual civil partnerships”.

No, no, no. Whether she was bullied or not I don’t know, but she was disciplined not for her religious stance on homosexual civil partnerships, but for her stance on homosexual civil partnerships. The stance itself, not the religious stance. The fact that she saw it as a religious stance is neither here nor there; it’s a matter between her and her religion. It’s not important. It makes her refusal to do people’s nuptials no better – in fact, if anything, worse, because she was allowing belief in fairies to come before people’s dignity and equality.

The disciplining of Lillian Ladele was because she wouldn’t do the job she was being paid to do.

Abbott says, “You cannot use religion as an excuse for discrimination.” Giving Ladele the benefit of the doubt and saying she wasn’t using it as an excuse, but that she genuinely acted from a religious standpoint, I’d say that was still no reason for treating gays differently from straights, whether she believed she was acting against the Bible or not. And that is simply because the Bible should not be used as an arbiter in such matters, it being largely a collection of folk tales.

Anyway, as we saw, she lost her case. Bad for her, and she seemed by all accounts to have given good service as a registrar. But the signal has to be sent: religion has no place in the public square. No, I don’t mean we should ban all sight of its manifestations, because that would mean demolishing churches and not having a few angels around at Christmas. By “public square” we mean where it can influence policy, where it can influence people’s actions against other people against the latter’s wishes.
Related links:
Lillian’s ping-pong pantomime of prejudice

Proposition Hate

Oh, wouldn’t it be just delicious if this biz about Proposition 8 and the ruling that it violates equal-protection clauses actually went federal, and the filthy thing were kicked out for ever? The ruling seems to be saying that moral disapproval is no reason to oppose equality of marriage opportunity.

If the whole the USA found itself a gay-marriage zone, wouldn’t that be one in the eye for the swivel-eyed loons who oppose gay marriage on biblical grounds?

Whatever you may think about marriage per se and about whether gays ought to have any truck with it, you have to agree that, if it’s there for one section of the community, it should be there for others, in the hope that one day we won’t be seeing gays and straights as two sections of the community but just as the community. But, while there’s one law for one lot and one for the other lot, this divide will always be a big ugly one.
Relevant links:

Thursday, 5 August 2010


The head of a charity is calling on the UK government to criminalise the branding of kids as witches. It happens; oh, yes, it happens. And it’s all down to religion. Not just vicarage-tea-party religion, but full-on lunatic-fringe religion of the worst kind.

Voice quotes Debbie Ariyo, of AFRUCA (Africans Unite Against Child Abuse) as saying that a screening last week (mentioned in the first link above) of a Channel 4 Dispatches programme called Britain’s Witch Children was a wake-up call.

“I think most people know that we do have some terrible practices going on in some churches,” says Ariyo, whose organisation dealt with 10 cases of child branding in the past year. “ . . . It is a wake-up call for us to do something and do it very quickly.”

Of course, any assault against the person should be dealt with as a criminal act, but perhaps we should deal more harshly with those who do it having first conned a person into believing that he or she is a witch or possessed by a demon. And they do the conning through the power of others’ misguided belief in their sky fairy.

Churchill and the little green men

You may have read the story now about how Winston Churchill covered up an alleged sighting of an alien craft – well, a UFO, at any rate – because it might cause mass panic.

But get this: it might also have “destroy[ed] one’s belief in the Church”. Ooh! Can’t have that, can we?