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Thursday, 31 March 2011

It's child abuse! Children AS YOUNG AS 4 to be 'educated' in atheism! What is the world coming to?

Yes, it's a long headline above, and reflects this blogger's pissed-off-ness with the likes of the Daily Hate (sorry, Mail – old habits die hard).


What is really happening is that humanism will be incorporated into religious education in primary schools in Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire (in the north of England), to accompany the religions that are there: Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. So kids will be told that certain religions exist, and this is what they say, and that there are people who don't do religion, and this is what they say.

Simple and, if you're going to teach religion at all, sensible. Religions can then be put into a context: that there are people who have no religion and there are people who have.

But it's not just the Mail's take: it's also lousy journalism. A Mail hack knows he can get away with the utmost shit if it leads to a screaming headline with some sensationalism in it, manufactured though that sensationalism is in this case.

So he gets brownie points.

However, if you read on you realise it's a story that comes down in favour of humanism and the new bit of the curriculum. There's even a priest quoted:

Reverend Kevin Logan, a local journalist, author and religious community leader, said: "It is quite a change but it is completely right to recognise atheism and humanism.

"They are religions like any others. It is just that people worship man instead of a god.

"I am certainly not worried about Christianity. It can stand against any belief and come out in a good light."

And others quoted in the story come out in favour of a more sensible approach, too. So why do the headline (which is down to the subeditor, usually, not the writer) and the intro make out it's a crime against humanity to teach kids as young as four about atheism?

And nowhere, you'll note, does it venture to suggest that it's perhaps more dangerous to teach kids as young as four about religion, rather than leaving that till later in their school lives, when they are better able to offer critical judgement.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

For your reading pleasure . . .

A little something for the weekend? I was sent a request to help publicise an article that lists a number of top atheist blogs. They’re all Stateside, it seems, but so many good atheist resources are, and there are some good ones mentioned here, so worth exploring for weekend reading.

I’ve reprinted part of Harriet Gordon’s article below, but it’s linked to above and you can find the links to the various blogs there. As far as I can make out, it’s a commercial website advertising and linking to degree courses in something called human services, for so many of which you didn’t use to need a degree, and human service was something you just did and learned about as a vocation, largely on the job, not as a degree subject, at a price, with no guarantee of a job at the end of it.

But there’s money in providing degrees, and these days you can get a degree in being a lavatory attendant here in the UK – or is that called a public-amenities consultant now? I forget – and I may be exaggerating just a tad. But that’s just the UK. Goodness knows what goes on in the US.

But I digress, as usual (and some of the subjects within the courses I looked at are degree-able). The website itself isn’t atheist. I don’t blame her for asking atheist blogs to carry a piece to draw readers, but at least it’s highly relevant to PT readers, so I don’t mind giving a bit of a free puff. And there’s other interesting stuff on there, too. And you may even want to do a degree in human services. Here’s a large part of the article, but it’s worth reading it in full:

If you don’t believe in God and find yourself in little company when it comes to your family or friends, you can look to the online community of atheists to get a handle on philosophies and thoughts on the lack of a higher being through blogs and messageboards. Even if you do believe in a higher power, you may want to explore these top atheist blogs to get an idea of the thought process behind those who lead a non-secular [I think she means secular] lifestyle.

Top atheist blogs

If you’re looking for some concrete direction that depends on science rather than the supernatural, these are the blogs to explore atheism.

1. Atheists: This atheist blog talks about events going on throughout the U.S. and focuses on government agendas that merge church and state.

2. Friendly Atheist: This blog examines the different media stories where God is blamed or mentioned for actions, good and bad.

3. Atheist Media: At this site you’ll find posts on the role religion has in various parts of the world. It’s an interesting and eye opening look at how different we all are, while essentially wanting the same things from life.

4. Atheist Revolution: This is arguably the best atheist blog out there and regularly analyzes how to protect those who are vocal about their belief system (or lack of).

5. Planet Atheism: This blog focuses on religion in America, showing how beliefs vary from region to region and how religion is playing a role in places it shouldn’t, like the military.

6. 40 Year Old Atheist: This is a great blog for learning more about the atheist movement and the comments section is always alive with freethinkers who have something to say.

7. Adult Onset Atheist: This atheist blogger has some original thoughts on religion and the role it plays in modern American society. Make sure you stop by for the well-crafted rants too.

8. Atheist Experience: This blog takes a look at the religious stories making headlines (primary those focuses on Christianity) and how to make your point of view known without offending those who believe in a higher power.

9. Atheist Blogs: This is like the superstore of atheist blogs. It condenses all of the latest stories and blog posts from around the web into one concise place, so you can pick and choose what you want to read without trolling for hours.

10. An Atheist: For interesting commentary on the history of religion, check out this atheist blog. It makes some great points that those who are questioning their faith may be swayed by.

11. Martin S Pribble: This blog covers atheism and talks about the weight people place in their religions beliefs when it comes to making a decision between right and wrong.

12. About Atheism: The About site for learning about atheism is among their best sites and has plenty of content over why you should take the logical and science-driven approach to life.

13. Common Sense Atheism: This blog goes after Christianity and analyzes statements made in the media by political figures and leaders. It’s a smart blog with in-depth posts, so be sure you check it out when you have time to sit and stay awhile.

14. Unreasonable Faith: Believe it or not, this atheist blog is penned by a former evangelical preacher. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to navigating the Bible, so you know he isn’t making judgement calls based on poor reasoning.

15. Stupid Evil Bastard: This blog isn’t all religion (or anti-religion), but it does touch on interesting subjects regarding religion’s place in the government and our public school system.

There’s more in the article. Enjoy.
Update See the comment from New Atheist below. Click on his/her link for more useful resources.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Criticising Catholics for hating gays? It's a blow to their human rights, so it is

Bloody Catholic loonies are at it again. They're complaining that being criticised for hating gays is somehow against their human rights. They feel they have a human right – a human right – to vilify gays and declare all same-sex relationships disordered, no matter what harm it does by the toxic message it sends.

A Reuters report tells us:

People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Roman Catholic Church deeply believed that human sexuality was a gift reserved for married heterosexual couples. But those who express these views are faced with "a disturbing trend," he said.

If it weren't so sad you'd laugh.

See the story here.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Home Sec hints that legal marriage for UK gays is on the way

Home Secretary Theresa May has told a Stonewall gathering that the coalition government will move on legalising marriage for gay people.

I tend not to trust people who change overnight (and May has form on voting against pro-gay legislation), but, for those who really go in for that kind of thing (marriage, I mean), it's a move in the right direction.

Her speech also reiterated government desire to allow religious premises to be used for gay ceremonies, but the story linked to above also quotes a senior Roman Catholic loony who reckons it's a threat to marriage as he sees it. But, then, he would, wouldn't he?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Civil partnerships on the Isle of Man welcomed

The gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the news that the Isle of Man is to introduce a law granting gay couples the right to a civil partnership.

Gay couples on the island will get the right to a civil partnership after a new law was signed in Tynwald, the Manx parliament. As in the rest of the UK, it gives them the same rights as married couples regarding inheritance, pensions and tax allowances. The law comes into effect on 6 April 2011.

The island has its own parliament and own laws, some of which are very different from those in the UK. Abortion laws are still much stricter, the birch used to be commonly used as a punishment, the death penalty was not abolished till 1993, and homosexuality was illegal until 1992. As a result, the island was subject to a boycott by UK trade unions, which had held a lot of conferences there.

Seventy-seven-year-old gay activist George Broadhead, who is the PTT’s secretary, said: “This is great news. As a Manxman myself who was born on the IOM in 1933 and realised I was gay at school in the 1940s, I know only too well what a frightful homophobic place it was – much of it stemming, as elsewhere, from religious bigotry.

“Activists on the island itself and the rest of the UK launched a campaign to get the law changed and I am proud to have played a part in this. I entered into a civil partnership in the UK in 2006 and I am delighted that my fellow Manx gays are now able to do the same.”

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Well, it's a start . . .

A retired bishop in homophobic Uganda has said his fellow Anglicans should get their fingers out and start protesting about attacks on gay people.

Well, he said they shouldn't keep silent, which amounts to the same thing.

His remarks follow the bludgeoning to death of the Christian gay activist David Kato.

Perhaps this guy will be the next, although we sincerely hope not.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Nordic Rainbow Humanist Award goes to Malawi

The 2010 Nordic Rainbow Humanist award has gone to secretary general George Thindwa and his colleagues of the Association for Secular Humanism of Malawi for their "courageous public stand for LGBT identity and rights in this African nation, taking great risks of retaliation from homophobic politicians, religious leaders, and a hostile mass media", said Nordic Rainbow Humanists' international secretary Bill Schiller in Stockholm.

"This is the second time our annual award has gone to Africa and we were very pleased to have this recommendation from an earlier winner and staunch supporter of LGBT rights Leo Igwe of the Nigerian Humanist Movement.

"The Malawi Humanists are being honoured for defending LGBT rights in a continent where tolerance towards the LGBT communities is a rare exception and where even former African freedom fighters and anti-colonialist leaders, now in power, openly call for the imprisonment and punishment of LGBT people," said Schiller.

Earlier winners of the Nordic Rainbow Humanist award include George Broadhead (co-founder and long-serving secretary of the UK Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, who is also secretary of this blog's parent, the Pink Triangle Trust), veteran Norwegian lesbian activist Kim Friele, Carl-Johan Kleberg (former chairman of the Swedish Humanists), veteran Dutch gay activist Rob Tielman (former president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union), Leo Igwe and colleagues of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, and Remyus Cernea and colleagues of the Romanian Humanist Association.

In a message to George Thindwa, George Broadhead said, "Warm congratulations to Malawian Humanists on winning the 2010 Nordic Rainbow Humanist Award. If the situation for LGBT people is anything like as dire as that in Uganda, you richly deserve this for so courageously taking up the cudgels on their behalf. You also deserve great praise for your staunch opposition to the persecution of people in Malawi accused of witchcraft. As a gay Humanist who won this same award in 2002, I salute you."