Because, you know, the Pope never makes me cross.
First of all was the story ofÂ Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the Archbishop of Recife’s decision to excommunicate a woman who helped her daughter get an abortion. The daughter was nine. She needed an abortion because her Catholic stepfather raped her. The rapist was not excommunicated. The Vatican supported all of this, so the only way these actions make any sense is if the Vatican considers abortion worse than raping a nine-year-old girl. And that nearly makes sense, except that the girl would probably have died in childbirth, so even if you consider her twin fÅ“tuses ‘people’ you still have to be pretty warped to expect her to die for the crime of being raped. (Warped, or Muslim.)
After that, the Vatican calmed down a little and celebrated International Women’s Day, by — I know, this has to be gold, doesn’t it? — by publishing an article asking the question “What in the 20th century did most to liberate Western women?” and reaching the rather brilliant conclusion that it was probably the invention of the washing machine. Not the right to work. Not women’s suffrage. Definitely a machine that makes cleaning clothes (which clearly is Women’s Work) easier. I mean, even if that’s pragmatically true (which it isn’t) don’t say so right after you’ve okayed raping small girls.
After that piece of light-hearted batshit whimsy, the Pope decided to refocus his efforts on Catholicism’s core competency: ruining innocent people’s lives with arbitrary and idiotic dogma. This time, it’s Africa’s turn. Speaking about the AIDS epidemic there, the Pope himself, not a lackey this time, said “the distribution of condoms… aggravates the problems”. The Telegraph have found themselves a priest to defend him — and let’s mention now that I’m only inferring he’s a priest from his photo. Nowhere do they bother to actually mentionÂ that he works for the Pope, because that might be a bit too much like declaring one’s interests for the mainstream media. Their priest, George Pitcher, rehashes the same old argument I’ve heard over and over again: “that the Church’s historic teaching that chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it would prevent the spread of killer diseases such as Aids”. And this is true, but alas irrelevant, because nobody is criticising that teaching. (At least, I’m not. At the moment.) What we are criticising is the Pope’s claim that distributing condoms will make the AIDS epidemic worse. This claim is demonstrably false. It turns out that if you grow up and go with the facts instead of just making shit up, you can actually make a difference and save some lives.
The problem I have with the Pope’s speech is not that he advocated abstinence: it is that he specifically lied about something that we know works. Even if nobody acts on his advice, if they believe the epidemiological claims that he makes then they will make bad decisions and people will die.
This has been kicking around my drafts folder for ages. Not sure why I never posted it, but here it is now anyway.
Suppose you got a massive bucket of bricks that weighed more than all but the fattest bastard. Clearly it is a bad thing to weigh more than it. Say then that every year you removed a brick, until it weighed the same as someone merely fairly chubby. It is clearly still bad to weigh more than the bucket of bricks. It is still true that those heavier than it die younger than those lighter. Only now, loads more people are heavier than it — primarily because it’s so much lighter than it used to be.
You now understand logic better than The Christian Institute:
A new in-depth study has added to mounting evidence that being born outside of marriage damages children.Â The report, compiled by researchers at the University of Essex, says that 44 per cent of babies are now born to unmarried parents. Cohabitees are estimated to make up three-quarters of those parents.
Well, technically, but hold on…
A new in-depth study has added to mounting evidence that being born outside of marriage damages children.
What? The study does no such thing. It says that co-habiting parents are more likely to split up than married ones (a fact which has many interesting causes, none of which involve Jesus), that children whose parents split up are worse off than those whose parents stay together, and that more children are being born out of wedlock.
Well yes, but unmarried couples are staying together longer than they used to: because the point at which the average couple marry — the number of bricks in the bucket — is changing. It’s not an illusory problem, and I’d hate to imply that it is, but the simplistic spin put on it by the Christian Institute (“The Christian Institute exists for the furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom”, so no agenda there) is just pathetic.Â To support that conclusion, you want a large cohort study, with a group of children of married parents and a matched group of unmarried ones — with similar incomes, social class, inteligence, location, and so forth, as any of those and other factors could affect odds of break-up and children’s welfare. That wasn’t even hinted at in any account of the report I can find. (I don’t think a RCT where the participants are unaware whether they’re legally wed would be particularly useful, but it would certainly be funny.)
And remember: the CI is a charity. Every time someone donates to them, the income tax paid on that is handed to the CI. So you funded this article. And so did I. And I’m cross about that, because it’s like everything I hate most rolled into one.
Guess whatÂ Geraint TudurÂ recently described as
a secular attack on… Christianity; an act of betrayal by the Assembly Government.
Go on. Have a guess.
Whatever you said, I really doubt you got it right. I don’t think any rational person could, even in jest, come up with something as mindlessly imbecilic as the correct answer: Tudur was referring to the decision to allow sixth-formers to opt out of collective worship sessions.
He feels personally betrayed because the state is refusing to force anyone wanting to go to university or get a decent job to sit through his church’s propaganda. I simply cannot fathom how anyone can be so insane without becoming a serial killer. I can see how you might, if you are a total bastard, wantÂ the state to fund and mandate your proselytising. I can see how you might, if you were a bit stupid and terrifyingly right-wing, think that that was even a good thing for the state to be doing. But you surely have to be more than slightly unhinged to actually expect it to happen, don’t you?
The fact that it did happen was a throwback. An anachronism. It has been fixed, but as I’ve said many times before, once someone has something they will very, very quickly assimilate it into what they see as their fundamental human rights, even if it explicitly steps on other people’s.
Geraint Tudur is general secretary ofÂ The Union of Welsh Independent Chapels. I have no particular idea who they are, but it seems like people for some reason listen to them.
I’m going to assume you already know about the “atheist bus” campaign. I for one like it. It will get people talking, and doing so hopefully from a starting point of skepticism, which is the healthy way of doing things. But mostly I like it because the reaction to it has been comical and served to make religious people look foolish (which is pretty easy) and that always makes me smile. The funniest one I’ve put right at the end to force you to read the whole post. (I certainly can’t see how you could possibly read the end without reading the start and middle first.
For example, Theos have responded by pretending that it is in fact the best thing to happen to religious belief since the crucifixion was retconned out of the Bible. First, they donated £50.Â Then they started firing off soundbites almost at random, apparently in the hope that if they said something silly enough a newspaper might print it.
We’ve donated the money because weÂ thinkÂ the campaign isÂ a brilliant way to get people thinking about God.
– Paul Woolley, Director of Theos
Fifty quid? That’ll pay for rather less than one third of one advert. That was entirely worth the bother.
Telling someone “there’s probably no God” is a bit like telling them they’ve probably remembered to lock their door. It creates the doubt that they might not have.
– Paul Woolley
That’s really quite a poor analogy, although it’s quite telling if Theos think that “skeptical but afraid of what might happen if they’re wrong” counts as belief.
The poster is very weak – where does ‘probably’ come from? Richard Dawkins doesn’t ‘probably’ believe there is no God! – and telling peopleÂ to ‘Stop worrying’ is hardly going to comfort for those who are concerned about losing jobs or homes in the recession, butÂ the postersÂ will still prompt people to think about life’s big questions.
– Paul Woolley
That’s right,Â Richard Dawkins doesn’t ‘probably’ believe there is no God.Â Richard Dawkins believes there is probably no God. How can you not understand what adverbs are for?
Let’s leave aside the adverts’ basic proposition, “There’s probably no God”. Where did that “probably” come from? It doesn’t suggest the sales staff is overly confident about its product. If my pilot told me “This flight to Paris probably won’t crash,” I’d think about taking the train.
– Nick Spencer, Director of Studies, Theos
Like (seemingly) almost all religious people, they don’t get the point of this. Atheism isn’t about believing there is no god, it’s about not believing that there is. (Apparently this adverb problem is common in Theos.) It’s about not accepting patent nonsense for which there is not one shred of evidence. It’s about thinking about whether or not there is a god rather than believing just for the sake of it. It just so happens that everyone who does so comes to the conclusion that God is just a made-up person. (That link is what YouTube was like in 1996.) That’s the nature of correct answers.
And let’s leave aside the advice, “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. You would have to go a long way to find a slogan less suited to our New Year, recession-looming, mass-unemployment gloom.
– Nick Spencer
I don’t think “leave aside” means what Nick Spencer thinks it means. He’s right though: what people need in the midst ofÂ recession-looming, mass-unemployment gloom is a book full of contradictory and insane rules which must be followed to the mistranslated letter on pain of unimaginably awful everlasting torture.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “who cares what Theos think? Get to the point! Tell me what eminent British philosopher Bill Oddie thinks!” Okay. But you’re crazy.
What they are doing is dangerous. In doing something like that they’re speaking straight to extremists. I’d like to know how they sleep the night after one of those buses gets blown up.Â I’ve put that point to their head office and you know what she said? That’s why they put the word ‘probably’ in. It’s pathetic.
That is a danger.
The problem is that they’ve aligned themselves with Richard Dawkins. I would happily design dozens of alternative slogans for them. There are so many good things that they could advertise and instead they’ve chosen to go with Dawkins.
Yeah, I hates them ‘militant atheists’ who constantly go on about how there’s probably no god and how they reckon, on balance, that the Bible is more than likely fiction. They’re fundamentalists. Why can’t they advertise something good, like the West Wing box set, or innocent smoothies?
- Atheist buses don’t go anywhere when they die.
- Christian traindrivers have warned that atheist buses might go off the rails.
- Why did the bus turn atheist? Because it had a breakdown.
- English buses let people know there is no god. Then atheists hire advertising space on them.
- The Atheist Bus is a direct response to the Christian Bandwagon.
- Why did the atheist cross the road? Because it was a bus.
- The Atheist Bus was built by a freak tornado in a junkyard.
- Atheist Buses don’t believe in guidance from above, except sat-nav.
- Where did Richard Dawkins install his graphics card? The atheist bus.
- Atheist buses come in threes. Christian buses also come in threes, but they’re all aspects of the same bushead.
Number four is a rephrasing of a Charlie Brooker line. The rest are mine. Any more, if you have them, in the comments.
There is plenty of evidence for God, from peoples’ personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world. But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.
Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large.
I’ve sought advice from some of our key people here, but I’m afraid all I’ve got out of them so far is peals of laughter. I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God’s existence.
Fairly recently I read this article on the Daily Kos, about a Powerpoint presentation being shown to the US Air Force. It’s pushing religion, obviously — it’s written by the chaplain. I still really have no idea what chaplains are for. I think our university has one and I have no idea what, if anything, he does. But the fact that a chaplain wrote a presentation pushing religion is not remarkable or necessarily bad. What is wrong with this one is that it’s pushing religion — in fact, it’s pushing creationism — as a way of fighting suicide. (Because, you know, nobody religious has ever killed themselves and if you think they have then you must have been watching the lying News or something.)
That’s just not on. Apart from the fact that creationism is anti-science enough without trying to trump psychology as well as biology, geology and astrophysics, this kind of thing is displacing real therapy that can actually prevent these deaths. But the hell with that — why bother preventing deaths if they can be used to promote an ideology?
An obvious question that may have entered your brain by now is “what on Earth does creationism have to do with suicide prevention?” and the answer is of course “nothing”, so a better question is “what does Chaplain Biscotti think creationism has to do with suicide prevention?”. Well. Apparently he has identified a Problem:
- In the last two years, completed suicides have escalated throughout the Air Force
- The Air Force did not use spirituality as part of their suicide prevention briefing until 2005
It seems that he read that and thought that the solution was to add more spirituality. I cannot fathom how even the most religiously retarded mind could reach that conclusion from that evidence. So what’s his solution?
Dr. Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life,Â Â provides a powerful model for Suicide Prevention, developing leaders, and making troops combat ready and effective.
No, it provides a pack of bullshit. (I haven’t read it, but I can easily surmise it’s a load of rubbish from the fact that Rick Warren wrote it.) After that are a series of laughably inept slides that are reproduced in the Kos article so I won’t bother here. Suffice to say that atheism (specifically, humanism) is equated with selfishness and then The Dreaded Communism, to the point where Darwin is inexplicably listed as one of the leaders of the USSR. It also uses the story of Pat Tillman, an atheist (as far as we know) who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, to push the idea of faith in general, including faith in oneself. That’s probably basically good advice, were it not displacing real therapy and attached to the rest of this pro-Christianity propaganda.
Chaplain Biscotti is not the Crackpot of the Month. That honour falls to those in secular roles above him, who allow and promote this, who push religion both as a way of reducing suicide and in general. I’m starting with Rod Bishop who seems to have compiled the presentation that contained Biscotti’s slides. Beyond that it seems to be so systemic as to make naming names as pointless as it is impossible.
Luckily the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing the US Military over this. How that lawsuit will go is unclear. I have no idea what the rules are on such things, not that that has anything to do with the result of any lawsuit with religion anywhere near it.
This is what happens when you treat all ideas equally rather that arbitrarily calling some of them ‘religion’ and pretending that makes them better:
Threatening to fire a homophobic registrar who asked to be exempt from registering homosexual civil partnerships was not an act of discrimination by Islington Council, a court has decided.Â The ruling, published today by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, overturns a previous decision that found in favour of Miss Lillian Ladele.Â Miss Ladele intends to appeal today’s ruling to the Court of Appeal.
Lawyers acting for Miss Ladele say she was shunned by colleagues who mounted a witch hunt against her because of her homophobic beliefs on marriage.Â The original tribunal accepted the claims, but today that decision has been reversed by the EAT, chaired by its President, Mr Justice Elias.Â The EAT did accept that Islington had acted in an improper, unreasonable and extraordinary manner (paragraphs 62 and 77 of the judgment) but ruled it did not amount to discrimination.
The ruling states: ‘The council were not taking disciplinary action against Ms Ladele for holding herÂ prejudices; they did so because she was refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies and this involved discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.Â The council were entitled to take the view that they were not willing to connive in that practice by relieving Ms Ladele of these duties, notwithstanding that her refusal was the result of her strong and genuinely held homophobicÂ prejudice. The council were entitled to take the view that this would be inconsistent with their strong commitment to the principles of non-discrimination and would send the wrong message to staff and service users.Â There were clearly some unsatisfactory features about the way the council handled this matter. The claimant’sÂ prejudiceÂ was strong and genuine and not all of management treated it with the sensitivity which they might have done.’
The case was backed financially by The Bigotry Institute. Colin Hart, its Director, said: ‘Gay rights are not the only rights. If this decision is allowed to stand it will help squeeze out homophobes from the public sphere because of theirÂ prejudices.’
Councillor John Gilbert, Executive Member for Human Resources at Islington Council, said: ‘The council is extremely pleased with this decision which it believes to be the right one.’
Look who it is! Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is back, with another little rant. This time, the Independent has inexplicably given him a column to explain his opinions of the invented problems facing the strange and alien version of Britain that exists inside his imagination:
The progressive secularisation of the cultural environment and the accompanying decline in religious practice means that religious belief of any kind tends now to be treated more as a private eccentricity than as the central and formative element in British society that it is.
No, it isn’t. It’s Winter Solstice season, when almost every religion ever invented has a major festival, and stillÂ almost nobody I know cares at all about religion (except for those who are against it). That would probably be because it’s a kind of private eccentricity. On account of the progressive secularisation of the cultural environment and the accompanying decline in religious practice. Religion is so important in public life that more people will shop online than attend church on Christmas DayÂ andÂ the Bible Society reckon that one generation from now there will be less than 90,000 people in church on Christmas. That’s less people than consult life coaches (it says here). You can’t simultaneously claim that people have stopped practicing religion and that religion is a “central element” in society.
‘Private eccentricity’ is a phrase I’ve never heard anyone use about religion until I read this, but I like it and might have to start.
Over the past 40 years, social prejudice against Catholics has largely disappeared, and Catholics have been fully assimilated into the mainstream of British life.
Good for them. Well done. But don’t worry, keep ranting and you can still be a social pariah if you like. And you can live in a make-believe world where God loves you and religion is a central and formative element in British society, and where phrases like ‘central and formative element in British society’ mean something. Won’t that be nice?
Intellectual and cultural acceptance is another matter; and there is a widely perceived conflict between religious belief (and the Catholic Church in particular) on the one hand and the prevailing notion of what it means to be a “liberal” and tolerant society on the other.
Hang on there, Cardinal Fear-Quotes. You’re saying that people saying “infidels will burn in hell” is at odds with liberalism and tolerance? Of course it is. You don’t promote tolerance by dividing people into arbitrary groups, giving them all different rules about how to live, and telling all of them that the only way to save everyone else from eternal torture is to make them follow your rules. That’s how you start a war. Having lots of people with deeply-held convictions all at odds with each other is probably not a good way to make peace, is it?
Leaving aside the polemical views of Professor Richard Dawkins and his fellow atheists on the essential irrationality of all religious belief, …
That’s a bit like saying ‘leaving aside the crazy rantings of Harold Shipman on the idea that two fours are eight’. You can’t just pick the most controversial person you can think of who holds an opinion and pretend that the opinion is as controversial as him. Religious belief isÂ irrational. (I realise my word isn’t helping here as I’d probably be as controversial as Dawkins if I had his publicity.) You believe in an invisible magic man who made the universe, handed out a bunch of cryptic rules, and now spends his time appearing to uneducated people in shrines and not saying anything. You want to tell me that’s rational?
…there is a current dislike of absolutes in any area of human activity, including morality (though this does not apparently preclude an absolute ban on anything that can be interpreted as racial, sexual or gender discrimination).
So, there’s only a dislike of absolutes that you made up or read into a laughably out-of-date book, then. As long as we’re clear. I shall steer clear of stoning people to death for opening their eggs at the wrong end, then.
In part, this dislike stems from an entirely understandable revulsion for totalitarianism; and there is no denying that too absolutist an approach to ethical problems leads to intolerance. But as the ongoing debate about faith schools has demonstrated, the intolerance of liberal sceptics can be as repressive as the intolerance of religious believers.
Yeah, we’re so intolerant of ignorant people forcing unsupported ideas and dangerous ideology on vulnerable children (and you can read the bottom of this post to see what Murphy-O’Connor thinks we should do with vulnerable children) and calling it ‘educating’ them. We’re also intolerant of someone killing their daughter for her choice of boyfriend. Where do you want to draw the line? Let’s hear it: at what point do you think an injustice becomes great enough that we shouldn’t ignore it as ‘their culture’? Is there a line in your head?
Partly I’m just baffled that someone can type “the intolerance of liberal sceptics” without straining their irony glands and having to have a little lie down.
What should be the limits of tolerance in a liberal society is a key question in the wider debate about “multiculturalism”. Because of the Catholic experience of what it means to be a credal minority, British Catholics are likely to sympathise with those ethnic and religious groups who want to retain their cultural and religious distinctiveness in a British environment.
The issue of integration is made more pressing as a result of the migrations from eastern Europe, Africa and South America over the past few years. This has been most vividly demonstrated by the arrival in Britain of more that 500,000 Catholics from Poland, and they alone will change the face of British Catholicism.
Well, there’s them, and the millions of Muslims who’ve turned up and dressed differently than most British people and built mosques everywhere. Although yes, certainly most of the public debate has centred around Polish Catholics. Apparently they’re taking our plumbing jobs.
The growth of ethnic chaplaincies, especially in London, offers a support that is familiar, but, as with previous migrations, integration into existing communities is already taking place through school and work.
…and must be stopped at once! How can you say that and still support faith schools? It’s totally self-cont– oh, forget it, it’s like trying to teach a Lotto machine to count.
For Catholics, the conflict with liberal opinion focuses at the present time on two issues on which the Catholic position is characterised as intolerant and (even worse) “reactionary”: the absolute value of every human life; and the central importance of the family and the institution of marriage as fundamental pillars of a rightly ordered society.
You mean, your arbitrary and unscientific assertion that a cluster of cells none of which are brain counts as a ‘person’, and your even more baseless and frankly rather offensive claims that homosexual sex is wrong? Yeah, those are sticking points.
Many other Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims, broadly share the Catholic Church’s position on these issues, but I think it is fair to say that the Catholic Church bears the brunt of “liberal” hostility on both fronts.
Maybe that’s because you write about it in the Independent. Also, you have a Pope. If Pope Ratzinger (I’ll call him Pope Benedict XVI if he’ll call me Captain Marvellous) just once acted Infallible and said being gay and having abortions were basically okay then the problem would halve overnight. Can’t really do that for Islam. Islam’s an idea with a life of its own and that can’t be reasoned with. Catholicism has a leader and a structure full of people we can pester about it. Just a shame they’re all stubborn, bigoted fools.
One area of specific concern for the Catholic Church is marriage and family life.
You mean, hating the gays. Come on: it’s a spade, say the word ‘spade’.
The British enthusiasm for debate and tolerance of alternative views has led to an acceptance of diversity and pluralism. This is welcome, but if an acceptance of diversity and pluralism becomes an end in itself there is a grave risk that long-accepted cultural norms, such as marriage and family, are undermined to the detriment of society as a whole.
“People like to be accepting, and that’s good, as long as they’re not accepting of any of the things on my List Of People I Hate For No Reason.”
The vocal minority who argue that religion has no role in modern British society portray Catholic teaching on the family as prejudiced and intolerant to those pursuing alternatives.
Because you hate the gays?
Catholic teaching is clear that all unjust discrimination is wrong, but this teaching cannot accept the relativistic acceptance that all approaches are equivalent.
So presumably you’ll be immediately stopping believing a load of made up rubbish and from now on waiting for evidence, yes?
British society champions tolerance and freedom, but that freedom is dependent on responsibility.
You have freedom to do whatever you want, on the condition that you don’t use it to have homosexual sex? I wonder if Murphy-O’Connor has read Catch-22.
With the exception of the US Evangelical movement, I can’t think of even one mainstream religious leader who I have a lower opinion of than Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. He shouldn’t be given a platform to air his views; he should be sidelined for them. In fact, no, he should be in prison for being complicit in the sexual abuse of children. That this man has the nerve to criticise consensual sex between adults of the same gender as ‘immoral’ suggests to me that he is dangerously insane.
Remember, Catholics: the only difference between you and orthodox or Reformist Christians is that you endorse these lunatics. I know Christianity is important to many of you, but it doesn’t have to come packaged with bigotry or child abuse or banning condoms in places with AIDS epidemics or a boycott on Amnesty International. You can be a nice Christian instead.
Theos are happy. They’ve done a load of research and concluded that:
More than a third of Britons believe that the virgin birth really happened, according to new research published today by Theos, the public theology think tank.
In the poll of over a thousand adults, undertaken for Theos by ComRes, 34% of people agreed that the statement “Jesus was born to a virgin called Mary” was historically accurate. Only 32% considered it fictional.
This is from their own website. It’s a bit of a worry then that they feel the need to refer to themselves as “Theos, the public theology think tank”. Presumably they intend for journalists to copy and paste this description into their articles (because apparently that’s what journalists do now) and only by restraint and professional pride managed to resist calling themselves “Theos, those handsome bastards, they”. They link to a PDF of the actual survey data, PDF being the most unhelpful format they could think of in which to store a table of numerical data other than perhaps an MP3.
The survey asked respondants to rate the following statements as historical fact, fiction, or ‘not sure’: “Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary”, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem”, “Angels visited shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus” and “Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so he ordered the death of infant boys”. Then it asked if they agreed with these: “The birth of Jesus is significant to me personally”, “The birth of Jesus remains significant culturally”, “I will be attending a Christmas church service this year” and “I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious festival”. They’ve drawn a couple of odd conclusions, just because they habitually forget that there is a difference between ‘religious’ and ‘Christian’. But basically, they say, a large number of people believe in the whole pack of lies that is the conventional nativity story.
Now, far be it for me to suggest that their survey is in any way not totally reliable, but according to their data, 38% of Jews — more than in the general population — believe in the virgin birth, 49% of Jews believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem, 38% of Jews plan to attend a Christmas church service, and 43% of Jews and 36% of people of no religion disagree with the statement “I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious festival”. I am reminded of the survey that said 21% of American atheists believe in a god. These surveys are nonsense, surely?
Now I should mention that their survey contained only seven Jews, so the margin of error on these numbers is wide open, but sampling noise can’t turn zero into a finite number.
The idea that a third of people in this country believe in the virgin birth sounds pretty reasonable to me, but I’m not sure I can trust it when it came from a survey that said that Jews and atheists celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. At some stage in that survey, something went wrong. Until I know what it is and can account for it when interpreting the results, it’s pretty hard to accept these surveys as evidence of anything.
In order to keep an eye on things, I keep the news feed of the Christian Institute in my Google Reader subscription list. They’re normally surprisingly even-handed, reporting on news events relevant to Christians (assuming that Christians mostly hate the gays) in a relatively impartial way. For example, their coverage of the £35,000 grant given to the British Humanist Association was far less insane than the Telegragh’s. But today I think they must have got bored of that or just snapped or something because this ‘report’ is at best thinly veiled propaganda.
Elderly Christian woman surrounded by gay mob
I’m pretty sure that was a ‘mob’ of liberals of all sexualities, albeit angry shouting ones.
An angry crowd of pro ’˜gay marriage’ protestors surrounded and frightened an elderly Christian woman in Palm Springs, California – live on TV.Â The group was protesting against the democratic result of a state-wide vote which defended the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
I love that last sentence. It’s the poorest attempt I’ve seen in a long time to appear balanced. It opens with an implication that anyone who opposes gay marriage also opposes democracy and then lurches straight into abusing the word ‘defended’ where clearly the right word to use is ‘amended’. And to top it all off, it’s notÂ democratic, because the whole point of the system of democracy used in California is that the people can’tÂ simply enforce any random prejudice they like just by voting for it — that’s why there’s a constitution in the first place, and it’s why there are strict procedures that have to be followed in order to amend it, which in this case were completely ignored.
The incident, which occurred earlier this month, was sparked when a pro ’˜gay marriage’ protestor attacked a styrofoam cross being carried by 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess.Â The cross was yanked from her hands and stamped on, leaving it in tatters on the floor.
Poor styrofoam cross.
Angry protestors surrounded the elderly lady, shouting abuse within inches of her face.
Yes, well, I’m not going to condone that, but if you are going to tell someone they can’t get married for a really stupid reason and then turn up at their protest with a massive foam symbol of that really stupid reason, how do you think they are going to react?
Really, the Christian Institute has no business even reporting this story. It’s about an event that happened 5000 miles away, and it’s not as if it’s representative of a wider problem facing Christians: it’s not really persecution if you deliberately walk into a large group of people who are understandably very, very angry at you for taking away their basic rights and hard-won equality because you think that the made-up opinions of an invisible wizard who lives in the sky are more important. And I notice she escaped entirely unharmed.
Palm Springs Police Department spokesman, Sergeant Mitch Spike, told American news network, FOX News, that no arrests had yet been made.Â ”The investigation is proceeding as it should,” Sgt. Spike said. Asked if the charges could be elevated to include hate crime penalties, he told FOX News: “That’s a possibility. That’s one of the things we’re looking at.”
From this we can conclude that despite having a clearly demonic name, Mitch Spike is a devout Christian. We know this because only a Christian could ever think that shouting at someone for hating gay people could possibly be construed as a ‘hate crime’.
The incident is the latest in a spate of disorderly protests by supporters of ’˜gay marriage’.
Nice inverted commas there. I don’t even know why it’s such a big deal. It doesn’t remotely affect Christians, except for some gay ones who it actively benefits. It’s not as if the churches will be expected to conduct or recognise these marriages: it’s an entirely secular, legal contract. It has nothing to do with the wholly separate religious ceremony also called marriage. The tax status of homosexuals surely can’t be an issue to Christians? Aside from anything else, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the sex that they object to. Hint to crazy Christians: it’s only you that abstains from sex until marriage. Irreligious folk and most of the less crazy religious ones don’t bother with all that stuff.
The protestors are angered at losing a vote on the definition of marriage, known as ’˜proposition 8′.
“Angered at losing”. Nice. Classy. Certainly that’s the only possible reason for them to be upset. It’s not as if they’re being treated like second-class citizens or anything.
American religious liberty legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, has released a YouTube video giving a flavour of the protestors behaviour during the past month.
…which you have uncritically reproduced even though it’s utterly moronic. Seriously, it plays threatening music the whole time and ends in the phrase “whose rights are reallyÂ being violated?” as if that’s an argument for theirÂ side. And for the record, the Alliance Defense Fund are notÂ a “religious liberty legal group”, they’re a bunch of bigoted Christian thugs.
Come on. This isn’t good enough. When you report news like this you become part of the problem.