Meet the world’s most influential witchdoctor

18 03 2009

From The Guardian:

The Pope today reignited the controversy over the Catholic church’s stance on condom use as he made his first trip to Africa.

The pontiff said condoms were not the answer to the continent’s fight against HIV and Aids and could make the problem worse.

Benedict XVI made his comments as he flew to Cameroon for the first leg of a six-day trip that will also see him travelling to Angola.

The timing of his remarks outraged health agencies trying to halt the spread of HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 22 million people are infected.

The Roman Catholic church encourages sexual abstinence and fidelity to prevent the disease from spreading, but it is a policy that has divided some clergy working with Aids patients.

The pontiff, speaking to journalists on his flight, said the condition was “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.

Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, said that if the Pope was serious about preventing new HIV infections he would focus on promoting wider access to condoms and spreading information about how best to use them.

Hodes, the director of policy, communication and research for the campaign group, added: “Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”

Millions of lives are at stake owing to the sad fact that this man’s ill-informed and anti-scientific utterances are taken seriously. (That, compounded with the—hopefully diminishing—human desire to flush one’s brain down the toilet, ignore reality and prostrate oneself before dogma and self-appointed authority.)





Why does the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference hate freedom?

17 03 2009

I think gambling is a complete and utter waste of time and money. I have never enjoyed visiting the casino with my friends, and when I did, I never placed a bet, considering the practice the equivalent of emptying the contents of my wallet into the toilet.

But hey, that’s me. Many others, for reasons I personally cannot fathom, enjoy gambling. As long as their activities don’t harm others, who am I to stand in their way?

Who am I? I’m not a Catholic bishop, that’s who.

When you’re a Catholic bishop, you believe not only that you are, by virtue of the notion that you are the representative of a deity, able to deliberate authoritatively to the wretched paeons and sinners on how they ought to conduct their lives. You also believe that the law of the state should coerce people to conduct themselves in accordance with your dogmas, regardless of whether they belong to your religion.

You are, in effect, an enemy of liberal democracy. You are an enemy of religious freedom, and the separation of church and state, because for all your bluster about being God’s representatives on earth, about serving a higher power than any that humankind can devise, either the God you claim to represent is utterly weak, or your powers of reason and persuasion are so pathetically handicapped, that you need the earthly powers of the state to force people to do what you want them to do. You have always needed this.

It’s simple, really. Don’t like gambling, drinking or shopping on one of your “sacred” holidays? Then don’t do it. Don’t like others gambling, drinking or shopping on one of your “sacred” holidays? Then make an argument, convince them that they shouldn’t.

Or else prepare to be mocked for your obscene presumptuousness in dictating to the rest of us how we should live our lives. That mockery is a sign that human society is liberating itself from the superstitious and unnecessary fear and awe of old male virgins wearing funny robes. History is pwning you. And that’s a good thing.





Wherein I engage in an ad hominem spray at Fred Nile

30 12 2008

Fred Nile is one of those stereotypical Christian preachers whose arsehole is clenched so tight that he permanently shits diamonds. This, of course, necessitates the disposal of his normal bodily wastes at the other end of the digestive tract. In fact, he’s just had another bowel movement:

The Christian Democrats MLC, the Reverend Fred Nile, had earlier claimed he had the support of both Labor and Coalition MPs for a ban on topless sunbathing.Mr Nile believes people are offended by the practice.

“I think it’s just a matter of having community standards,” he said.

“If we observe those then we can all live together in in harmony.”

This is precisely the same admixture of authoritarianism and abnegation of personal responsibility that we see in the Federal Labor Government’s ISP plan: Society has an obligation to protect me from getting a woody. Fred just throws the Abrahamic faiths’ disgust at the (female) body into the mix. (And it comes as no surprise that the Opus Dei wing of the NSW Liberal Party is supporting him, though other Coalition members have chosen to remain on the sunnier side of the Enlightenment.)

Fred, do us all a favour—find the nearest toilet cubicle, lock the door, and have a good wank. Jesus won’t mind, and you don’t have to worry about anyone else knowing. It will be our little secret. You senile, sociopathic, neurotic, perverted Bible-bashing fuck.





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXXV

5 12 2007

The week in fundie . . .

  1. The Unintentional Irony award goes to the opponents of the International Baccalaureate curriculum at a high school in Upper St Clair, Pennsylvania, who appear to be of the view that it comes straight from Chairman Mao:
    “The IB program is anti-American. It does not teach the basic patriotic values of the United States,” said Judy Brown, 64, a retired merchandising and sales representative who has a daughter that attended Upper St. Clair schools. “It’s almost like brainwashing.”

    A hostile board member was heard to utter:

    “Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie;” and, “Jesus Christ as the redeemer of man is the center and purpose of human history. That is why all authentically religious tradition must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it.”

    Got that? Not forcing Jeebus and flag-waving patriotism down the throats of students constitutes “brainwashing.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  2. A Catholic bishop in Chicago is seeking legal changes that would shield Church institutions from having to pay out “excessive damages” in sex abuse lawsuits, on the grounds that they “jeopardize the mission of the church” and hence “place an excessive burden on the free exercise of religion for American Catholics.” Oh, please. If the Catholic church wishes to minimise the damages resulting from sex abuse lawsuits, the answer is absurdly simple: it needs to stop engaging in or sheltering the perpetrators of sexual abuse. (Chicago Tribune, via the Atheist Experience)
  3. Sherri Shepherd, who is proving herself to be someone you want in your corner should you ever find yourself playing team Trivial Pursuit, opines: “I don’t think anything predated Christians.” The Greeks? The Romans? “Jesus came before them.” Shepherd is quite the polymath: not only is she full-bottle on world history, she’s also formidable on the earth sciences. (The Huffington Post, via Pharyngula)
  4. Florida’s Palm Beach Community College refuses to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. It is more than willing, however, “to offer workers insurance for their pets.” (365Gay.com, via Morons.org)
  5. A Saudi appeals court judge has threatened to sentence a rape victim to death if she appeals against her current sentence of 200 lashes and six months in prison for “illegal mingling” with an unrelated male. (via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)

Just to make it worth your while . . .

Pat Condell on Catholic morality

The videos of this year’s Beyond Belief conference are now available online.





Pope Benedict’s reductio ad Hitlerum

3 12 2007


I understand that there are historical reasons why when the Pope holds forth on a given topic, the world’s media bends over backwards to report it. After all, his predecessors were once upon a time the most powerful leaders in the world. And yet it still bothers me that his banal brand of magical thinking is deemed newsworthy.

His latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, is being represented by many media outlets as a scathing attack on atheism, in response to the success of recent atheism-themed books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. Talk about being hit with a wet newspaper . . .

The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is—in its origins and aims—a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history. A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God. It is for the sake of morality that this God has to be contested.

Do we not hear in these words the echo of a thousand online “concern troll” theists? “I understand: you’re an atheist because you’re angry at God. It can’t possibly be because of the lack of evidence that a God exists. So it must be the anger thing.”

Since there is no God to create justice, it seems man himself is now called to establish justice. If in the face of this world’s suffering, protest against God is understandable, the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.

No, Benedict: a world which has to create its own justice–and is aware of that fact–is a world that has finally weaned itself off the teat of religious dogma, cast aside the security blanket, and grown up. The cruelty and violations of which you speak–namely those caused by totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century–are simply the fruits of one set of dogmas being replaced with another. I’ll say that again so that it might sink in. The cruelty and violations of which you speak are the fruits of dogma, not atheism. Your mistake is in your severe tunnel-vision, which is such that you cannot begin to countenance the thought that we might cast aside dogmatic thought altogether.





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXXIV

27 11 2007

The week in fundie . . .

  1. The Opus Dei wing of the Liberal Party is being blamed by moderates for the fall of the Howard Government. (While they’re at it, they might also throw some blame at Howard himself for backing Silas in Mitchell.) (Sydney Morning Herald)
  2. The Australian Christian bookstore chain Koorong (along with other Christian book retailers) has indicated that it will be unlikely to stock a new Bible study guide challenging the notion that the Bible excludes same-sex relationships. (The Age)
  3. A British primary school teacher in the Sudan faces a maximum of 40 lashes, six months in jail and a fine for the dastardly crime of “allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet by allowing children to call a teddy bear Mohammed.” You have got to be fucking kidding me. (AFP; see also Pharyngula)
  4. I’ll let this grab from a Cutting Edge radio transcript speak for itself:
    The demons of Satan’s army will soon physically manifest themselves as Aliens, arriving in armadas of space ships which we have heretofore called UFO’s. The plan calls for them to suddenly appear at many places on Earth simultaneously. Some will appear at the White House to confer with the President; some will appear at the United Nations; other aliens will appear at key governmental buildings all over the globe. Aliens will appear in some people’s homes or on their front yards. The world’s peoples will literally be shocked out of their minds. This is the Plan. This may occur before the worldwide Rapture of the Church; we must be prepared to deal wisely with this planned phenomenon.

    (Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)

  5. “Nice soul you have here. Awful shame if something were to happen to it.” More standover tactics by Catholic clergy (obviously from the Pell wing) in the US. (The story comes via Fundies Say the Darndest Things. The mobster reference should be credited to Denis Loubet of the Non-Prophets)
  6. I just had a look at the Australian Christian Lobby’s list of what it considers are the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian Greens’ policies. Among the “weaknesses” the Lobby identifies are the Greens’ support for a Bill of Rights, and their support for the extension of anti-discrimination legislation to (partially-taxpayer-funded) private schools as well as public schools–a reminder, if any were required, of how the ACL and the Religious Right in Australia generally are no friends of liberal democracy.

UPDATE: Off-topic, but Phillip Adams really sums up why Labor’s victory is so sweet.

Humor via Atheist Media:





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXXII

11 11 2007

The week in fundie . . .

David Attenborough on God

A US Federal judge has ordered an anti-abortionist to remove Web site postings that “exhorted readers to kill an abortion provider by shooting her in the head” and featured the provider’s name, photo and address. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)

Who would Jesus child-traffick?: A UK-based Christian evangelical preacher, who promised infertile Kenyan couples “miracle babies,” convinced them that they were pregnant when they were not, and led them to believe that they had given birth in backstreet clinics, will be extradited back to Kenya to face five counts of child stealing. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)

The AP has a report on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Maldives, which in late September culminated in a nailbomb attack in a park in the capital of Male popular with tourists.

A school board in California has approved a plan to put posters declaring “In God We Trust” in every classroom. Why? Because “we need to promote patriotism and promote it in our schools. We can’t just assume that the younger generations are going to have that strong love for God and their country the way the older generations do.” The $12,000 that it will cost to purchase the posters will come out of that portion of the school’s budget reserved for the purchase of instructional materials. Why? Because Christian proselytism and flag-waving patriotism are far more important than education. (Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Professional whiners The Catholic League have issued a warning that the film The Golden Compass could “cause unsuspecting parents to get the [His Dark Materials] books for their children. OH NOES!!! (via Pharyngula)

A schoolgirl in Illinois was given detention for hugging two of her friends. Hugging is verboten in her school because, according to school policy, it “is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.” (via Morons.org )

I wonder if this is the kind of collaboration that is being urged by some members of the Right blogosphere. Anti-gay activist Paul Cameron, whose “research” is often cited by fundamentalist groups, recently addressed a front organisation of the British Nationalist Party. (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)

BBC Profile: Richard Dawkins








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