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





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXXI

5 11 2007

The week in fundie:

(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 1 of 6)

  1. Roman Catholic Archbishop George Pell argues (in an article that is just begging to be fisked) that “Christianity is vital to democracy’s future” (Sydney Morning Herald). Elsewhere, he whines:
    Democracy does not need to be secular. The secularist reading of religious freedom places Christians (at least) in the position of a barely tolerated minority (even when they are the majority) whose rights must always yield to the secular agenda, although I don’t think other religious minorities will be treated the same way.

  2. Ben Jacobsen, candidate for Family First–which is calling for the banning of internet pornography in Australia–has admitted to having downloaded porn in the past. (But he never inhaled.) (The Australian)
  3. Opus Dei: the “other” Exclusive Brethren. A former member has released a book in which she reveals the misogynistic and cultish nature of this Vatican-endorsed Roman Catholic sect, and tells of one conference at which a senior member declared women to be the equals of dogs. (Let’s call said senior member the “other” Sheik Hilaly.) Opus Dei, incidentally, won preselection for the Federal seat of Mitchell earlier this year. (Telegraph)
  4. Another death-knell for secular democracy in the United States: triumphalist fundies rally across the country as Washington Governor Chris Gregoire proclaims it “Christian Heritage Week.”
  5. A Christian military boot camp for troubled teens is being investigated for homicide after the 2004 death of a student who had spent no more than two weeks at the facility. It is alleged that the boy was “punished for being too weak to exercise,” and “forced to wear a 20-pound sandbag around his neck.” When the student “vomited, defecated and urinated on himself” for several days after an oozing bump was discovered on his arm on the second day of his training, he was merely accused of being rebellious. Allowing a boy to die in his own shit, piss and vomit. It’s what Jesus would do. (via Morons.org)
  6. Hollywood continues to persecute that most oppressed and hard-done-by of religious minorities: Christians. Oh, woe. (via Effect Measure)


(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 2 of 6)

(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 3 of 6)

(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 4 of 6)

(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 5 of 6)

(Digitalfreethought’s Atheism 101 Part 6 of 6)





Election ’07: Whither the religious moderates?

30 10 2007

“The centre needs to be reaffirmed,” says Alister McGrath. “I want to make it clear, I have no doubt there are some very weird religious people who might well be dangerous, but those of us who believe in God, know that, and we’re doing all we can to try and minimise their influence.” I seriously doubt it. All I seem to hear from religious moderates nowadays is bitching and moaning about how the mean and nasty atheists–sorry–“new atheists”–don’t understand religion and how wonderful it is. (There are exceptions, of course). Even McGrath is “doing all he can” to minimise the influence of the religious nutjobs: he’s in Australia “helping evangelicals brush up on their arguments against The God Delusion” (emphasis added).

Meanwhile, the loudest and most influential voices in Australian Christendom belong to the Religious Right. You don’t believe me? Back in August the Australian Christian Lobby was able to organise a National Press Club event, broadcast live across the country, in which both John Howard and Kevin Rudd addressed 200 church figures. That’s influence.

Whither the religious moderates when this was taking place?

Want more evidence? Try this one on: it is actually possible, in a secular liberal democracy such as Australia, for someone who advocates the teaching of faith-based pseudoscience in the science classrooms of public schools, and who considers homosexuality to be a “perversion,” to gain preselection as a candidate in a major political party. Instead of laughing and mocking him all the way back to his megachurch, enough party members consider him a suitable representative of their political organisation.

Whither the religious moderates in the Liberal Party, and why aren’t they doing all they can to minimise the influence of this breed of nutjob, not to mention his supporters?

Now the Australian Christian Lobby has set its sights on Labor. Kevin Rudd wears his love for Baby Jesus on his sleeve, so the ACL is seeking to wedge him on the issues that should be closest to the heart of any Christian. No, not poverty. No, not the environment. I mean the really important stuff, like “family values”–which basically translates as gay marriage, abortion, porn on the intertubes and gay marriage. The Religious Right was able to wedge Labor on the gay marriage issue back in 2004, and Labor of course dropped its pants, bent over, stuffed the ball gag into its mouth and willingly submitted. Will it happen again? Probably.

Whither the religious moderates in the Labor Party? Kevin Rudd marked his ascendancy to the leadership of the Labor Party with a Monthly essay that, with its emphasis on the social-gospel element of Christianity, threatened to pull out the rug from beneath the Religious Right. He had the cojones to stick it to the fundies back then; does he still possess them now, or will he be reduced to shameless pandering? The ACL certainly hopes so.

Meanwhile, Australia’s foremost member of the Spanish Inquisition has offered an apologia for the continued legal discrimination against gays. “Same-sex marriage and adoption changes the meaning of marriage, family, parenting and childhood for everyone, not just for homosexual couples,” says Cardinal Pell, without offering any supporting evidence. His comments have the support, naturally, of the ACL’s Jim Wallace, who says:

[Discrimination] is not something that is necessarily a bad concept, [. . .] I think what we’re talking about here is making sure that while we remove unfair discrimination, that we do not allow a very small part of the population to force their model for relationships to be adopted as the community norm, when it isn’t.

OH NOES!!! Ending discrimination against gays = MANDATORY BUGGERY!!!

[Wallace] says the problem is that equal rights for gay families complicate the definition of family.

“It confuses children and it’s suggested that this is a normal and healthy alternative,” he said.

OH NOES!! Ending discrimination against gay familes = LITTLE CHILDREN BEING SEDUCED INTO A LIFETIME OF BUGGERY!!!

Whither the religious moderates on this issue? Why aren’t they doing all they can to minimise the influence of this Bronze-Age model of morality?

No, I guess it’s easier to whine about the mean and nasty atheists not understanding religion and how wonderful it can be. Meanwhile, the Religious Right’s two-pronged (Protestant-fundie, and Catholic-fundie) assault on secular liberal democracy continues unabated. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now: we need people in Australian politics who are willing to speak up for the Enlightenment constituency (and religious moderates, frankly, can’t be trusted to do it). We think, and we vote.

P.S. I wasn’t the only one unimpressed with the recent Religion Report interview with Alister McGrath. It is being roundly panned on the ABC Guestbook.





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXX

27 10 2007

The week in fundie:

  1. There’s been plenty of chatter on Oz blogs regarding the Family First “I can’t believe it’s not a Christian political party” Christian political party:
    About time there was some scrutiny of “Family” First (Mr Lefty)
    Family First home movies (Grods)
    Family First stifles free speech (Grods)
    Absolutely no connection between Family First and the church at all (Grods)
    “Right-Wing” Christian Australia’s War on Liberal Democracy (Thinker’s Podium)

  2. Southern Baptist seminary course teaches women students to “graciously submit to their husbands’ leadership.” Students learn “how to set tables, sew buttons and sustain lively dinnertime conversation.” (via The Atheist Experience)

    More over the fold . . .

  3. Pope Benedict on faith-based schools: “It is incumbent upon governments to afford parents the opportunity to send their children to religious schools by facilitating the establishment and financing of such institutions.”(via Dogma Free America)
  4. In case you missed it, Tuesday October 23 was the Earth’s birthday. 6010 years young. “Why was she born so beautiful, why was she born at all? . . .” (via The Atheist Experience)
  5. From a creationist lesson plan:
    Evaluation: Students will be monitored by teacher observation during the classroom discussion, group work and answering the appropriate questions. Reflection paragraphs will be collected. The teacher will try to determine the students’ new courage and ability to defend their belief in the Creator.

    How’s that for academic freedom? (via Pharyngula)

  6. According to Pravda, Melbourne University biologists have discovered that dolphins descended from the human inhabitants of Atlantis. (via Pharyngula)
  7. Re-closeted gay fundie James Hartline’s explanation for the recent fires in California:
    They shook their fists at God and said, “We don’t care what the Bible says, We want the California school children indoctrinated into homosexuality!” And then Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law the heinous SB777 which bans the use of “mom” and “dad” in the text books and promotes homosexuality to all school children in California.

    And then the wildfires of Southern California engulfed the land like a raging judgment against the radicalized anti-christian California rebels.

    (via Pharyngula)

  8. Security Moms“: there is a new conservative group in the US (actually a front group for a conservative Washington think-tank) that agitprops in favour of the Bush Administration’s national security and foreign policies. Family Security Matters has advocated that Bush make himself President-for-Life (in the tinpot dictator sense), and ranks universities and colleges (all of them) #2 in its list of the “Ten Most Dangerous Organizations in America” (behind Media Matters). (via Kazim’s Korner)
  9. Banning Harry Potter: it’s not just for Protestant fundies anymore. (Boston Globe)
  10. Evangelical Christian UK Army Chief of Staff declares that “Christian leaders and chaplains in the Army [are] needed to equip soldiers for” life after death. (via Dogma Free America)








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