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Saturday, 31 March 2012

And lead us not into meaningless twaddle

Old Beardy – a.k.a. the Archbish of Cant – reckons the Lord’s Prayer should be taught in all schools.

Er, am I missing something? I mean, er, why?

He said: “I’d like to see schools introducing children to the Lord’s Prayer, so that they know that it’s there, they know what it means and know why it matters.

“Then they may make up their minds about whether they use it.”

Well, at least he recommends some choice in the matter of whether they use it, but why waste time on the Lord’s Prayer when there are other, more poetic texts that could be learned?

I used to memorise a few Shakespeare sonnets, for instance (did the same with the opening of Under Milk Wood). As well as the pleasure that comes from occasionally reciting them to oneself (when no one’s listening!), the old Bard contains more truth in his verse than the Lord’s Prayer, which just does the usual of saying, Hi, God, you’re great, now please give me some bread and, hey, don’t beat me up over stuff I’ve done, because, well, the glory’s all yours for ever, dude.

I can recite the Lord’s Prayer – and, for that matter, most of the Ten Commandments. It was drummed into me decades ago at school. It’s a minor achievement, but I don’t know that my ability to recite either has done me any good – and here I’m thinking back to before I began to question religion in the way I do now.

Perhaps kids ought to learn a few protest songs instead. Perhaps they should look at how religion in this country goes hand in hand with the government that’s taking their benefits away; that’s going to deter so many of them from going to university because of the enormous tuition fees; that’s privatising the National Health Service, thus ensuring that the bottom line will be put above health and wellbeing; that’s presiding over rocketing prices in fuel, which will work their way into everything the kids need, because manufacturing, processing and transport costs will all rise as a result.

I’m sure readers of a like mind could come up with a few dozen more things it would be better to have kids learn, or learn about, than the Lord’s Prayer.

But, like so much that kids are fed through TV and the Internet and rampant consumerism, cosy little jingles like the Lord’s Prayer – and all the other religious flimflam they’re stuffed with in school – will keep their minds off the more important things, and they’ll be less likely to make a fuss as they grow older.

Monday, 19 March 2012

PTT welcomes award to Tatchell

The gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) – owner of this blog – has given a warm welcome to the award given by the UK National Secular Society to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

In his speech of acceptance at the award ceremony to an audience that included prominent scientists, journalists and writers, Tatchell said: “Worldwide, organised religion is the single greatest threat to human rights, especially to the rights of women, LGBT people, atheists and minority faiths. Religious-inspired dogmas persecute Christians in Pakistan, Sunni Muslims in Iran, Shia Muslims in Bahrain and Jewish people in much of the Middle East.”

The PTT Secretary George Broadhead commented: “This is precisely what LGBT humanists and secularists, including groups like the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association and the PTT, have been saying for years.

“Warm congratulations on your award and more power to your elbow!”

Saturday, 17 March 2012

No regrets at Old Beardy’s departure, says PTT

So the beardy guy is taking off his frock and disappearing into the background. Rowan Williams has announced he’s retiring from his role as Archbish of Cant.

There have been the usual oleaginous tributes, of course, as you would expect from the sycophantic and those who just feel they have to say something. And the media have been their usual toadying selves, maybe with some exceptions that I can’t, to be honest, be arsed to look for.

However, Old Beardy’s departure has caused no regrets with this blog’s owner, the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT).

Its trusty secretary, George Broadhead, said in a statement: “The appointment of Dr Rowan Williams ten years ago was welcomed by some LGBT activists, notably Christian ones, as they believed him to be on the liberal wing of the Church of England and would take a benign stance on LGBT relationships and rights. However, they were soon disillusioned.

“It is obvious that any sympathy Williams may have had for LGBT people has been sacrificed by the need to keep his Church unified. Thus, although he condemned the murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato, he declined to condemn the Ugandan Anglican Church from backing the hateful and draconian anti-homosexuality bill introduced in the country’s parliament.

“Concerning gay bishops, Williams said: ‘There’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop. It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe.’

“Asked what was wrong with a homosexual bishop having a partner, he said: ‘I think because the scriptural and traditional approach to this doesn’t give much ground for being positive about it’.

“Williams has been at the heart of the debate over gay marriage and in February 2012 he said that the law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage. ‘If it is said that a failure to legalise assisted suicide – or same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law,’ he said.”

Broadhead concluded: “It is obvious that hostility towards LGBT sexual relationships and rights emanates largely from the three main religions – Anglican, Roman Catholic and Islam – and nothing had changed for the better in the Anglican Church under the leadership of Rowan Williams. I understand that the present Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is tipped to replace Williams, and if this happens it will be a clear case of going from the frying pan into the fire.”

Monday, 5 March 2012

PTT slams Kommandant Keith over gay marriage

The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) – owner of this blog – has slammed Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s condemnation of gay (reported yesterday in Pink Triangle) marriage as totally predictable and bizarre.

O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has said the plans for gay marriage are a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”, and that the idea of redefining marriage, which the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports, would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.

George Broadhead, the PTT’s secretary and a veteran gay activist, said: “Given the Roman Catholic Church’s well-known views and policy on gay sexual relationships and rights, including Civil Partnership, not to mention Cardinal O’Brien’s previous homophobic outbursts, his latest are totally predictable.

“His contention that gay marriage would shame the UK in the eyes of the world is also bizarre. Has the cardinal not heard that gay marriage has already been legalised in no fewer than ten countries: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands? I am not aware that any of these countries have suffered shame or any sort of pariah status as a result. This just shows how out of touch with reality the Roman Catholic Church has become.”

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Kommandant Keith pronounces on marriage – again

“Catholic cardinal criticises gay marriages plan”.

Believe it or not, the journos at the B bloody B bloody C decided this morning on at least the seven o’clock Radio 4 news (maybe others for all I know) that this was the top story.

It isn’t news.

I’ll say it again.

It isn’t news.

So why are the B bloody B bloody C claiming that it is? OK, so a senior bod in the Catholic Church (he’s Keith O’Brien, the big man in Scotland) has made a pronouncement, and, according to page 37, Clause 3, Subclause 3.5 of the How to Be a Hack and Just Go Along with What’s Expected Instead of Thinking for Yourself prats guide to journalism, some news editor decided that a story of sorts had to be done.

But why lead the bulletin on the bloody thing?

What on earth do they expect a bloody high-flying Catholic to do but oppose gay marriage? Sorry, but I thought reporting news was the art of reporting the unusual, or at least the new. It’s not a new pronouncement on the part of these monsters.

To top it all, the B bloody B bloody C has simply nicked the thing from the Sunday Telegraph. That’s where the cardinal’s words are to be found.

So a Catholic cardinal has said something against gay marriage (so far, so predictable) in a rabidly right-wing newspaper.

Blimey, I’ve just watched some paint dry. Fascinating.

Sorry, I was distracted there from a story in a right-wing rag about a right-wing prelate who is against gay marriage.

This twat says that, if same-sex unions are allowed in Britain (and it’s the government’s wish to do so that has prompted his predictable response), it will “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.

Why? And how? Which parts of the world? Those parts that agree with Cardinal bloody Keith bloody O’Brien, that’s all. Which parts of those parts? Is there no diversity of opinion? Yes, there is. So such a statement is meaningless.

Gay marriage, says this moron, “would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father”. Your point being? There’s anecdotal evidence we read here and there that kids brought up with two dads or two mums do just as well.

If they suffer at all, it’s because the likes of Cardinal bloody Keith bloody O’Brien help create an atmosphere in which such kids are going to be teased and possibly bullied.

But that’s a fair price to pay, he would say, for his being able to hold up the sanctity of marriage as the preserve of one man and one woman, as thought fit by God botherers whose time is running out (unless they change their ways).

Kommandant Keith says that same-sex marriage “is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists”. Who defined marriage in the first place? You or your ilk have said hitherto that marriage precedes even the Church, so exactly whom are we robbing of the right to define marriage?

Indeed, in the Telegraph piece he says: “As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by governments and should not be changed by them.”

Note, though, how the Church is missed out here, the inference we’re meant to draw being that it’s not a state or government thing, so it must be a church thing – or at the very least bound up with religion.

And why should it not be changed by governments? Governments administer formal marriage; they legitimise it for the purposes of tax and benefits and inheritance; they keep track of formal marriages (and divorces) in their records. Perhaps O’Brien should reconsider government’s place in marriage entirely, and say marriage should simply not be officially recognised at all. Just let people get on with it, using whatever ceremonies they choose.

As for what is right or wrong, at one time and in many places today marriage was and is severely frowned upon (and punishable, sometimes by death) among members of different castes, different religions, different classes, different races. Who is going to say that such a thing is wrong, as many would (that love should be allowed to prevail) and then say that marriage of one man to another, one women to another, is wrong, too (that love should not be allowed to prevail)?

Then we move to semantics. “Can a word whose meaning has been clearly understood in every society throughout history suddenly be changed to mean something else?” asks Kommandant Keith? Yes, it can. Word meanings change all the time. They change with changing habits, changing conventions.

One definition of “marry” is to splice rope ends together (it’s used as a nautical term here, of course). Are the ropes meant to be one male and one female? It’s also used in a nonspecialist sense to bring two things together harmoniously.

“There is no doubt that, as a society, we have become blasé about the importance of marriage as a stabilising influence and less inclined to prize it as a worthwhile institution.” The implication here is that it cannot be a stabilising influence if it is within a same-sex arrangement, and nor can it be worthwhile. Who is he to tell us whether our marriages are worthwhile? Such arrogance.

And back to the child “Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”

Is he happy, then, with failed marriages, provided they’re straight ones? There are many kids being brought up, for better or worse, but often successfully and lovingly, by single mums and dads because of death or divorce or simply because the father of a child is unknown.

Then he uses the slippery-slope argument. If you can have marriage between two of the same sex, why not three? But no one’s saying there will be three. Why, I could add, not a man, a woman and a dog, or just a man and a goat? The fact is, such things haven’t been discussed.

He chooses as a quote from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this: “. . . the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”.

Yes? Well there are families of two dads and a couple of kids? Or one mum and a kid? Combine them how you will, people come together into families and often benefit from the mutual love and support such an arrangement provides. That can only be a good thing.

I wonder if he’ll be so happy to cite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights if it’s revamped to take same-sex unions into account explicitly. It will then magically have become the work of the Devil, no doubt.

(FYI, I don’t actually go along with state-endorsed, formal marriage, anyway, but it’s this chap’s specious argument that’s got me going.)