Things they would have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXXI

9 04 2009

The week in whackaloonery:

1. A Catholic priest in the UK is shocked SHOCKED at the notion that the primary function of a hospital is the provision of medical care, and claims that if taxpayers don’t continue to foot the bill for “spiritual care” (chaplains, organ players and such), “hospitals could be reduced to mere workshops where you get your biological parts fixed.” Fancy that. (The Freethinker)]

2. The New Zealand Family First organisation is crying foul over a very funny billboard ad depicting a woman who, it is intimated, is privately deriving pleasure from anal beads during a church service. Given that “the church setting simply adds to the offensive nature by offending a sector of our community who would find the ad in particularly bad taste,” and given that said sector of the community has a right not to be offended, and given that nobody is thinking of teh children, NZ Family First has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority. (The Freethinker)

3. In the recently fundy-ised Swat Valley region of Pakistan, a 17-year-old girl was publicly flogged by the Taliban. Swat was once a haven for tourists and was known as the “Switzerland of Pakistan,” until the Taliban took control in late 2008, torching schools and banning female education. (AsiaNews)

4. In Nepal, a woman accused of witchcraft was forced to eat human excreta by a primary school principal. (MYREPUBLICA)

5. Unfortunate article heading of the week from New Vision Online: “Catholic Church probes gay priests.” Homosexuality is teh evil, according to Ugandan Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, because “homosexuality is a sin,” and because “God created a woman for Adam, to be his helper.”

6. In liberated Iraq, in the wake of anti-homosexual sermons by clerics in Sadr city, six gay men have been murdered, their bodies discovered bearing a sign reading “pervert” in Arabic on their chests. (Reuters)





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.





Think of the children

18 01 2009

Three girls in Pennsylvania ranging in age from 14 to 15 took nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves with their mobile phones, and sent them to three of their teenaged friends. All six have been brought up on child pornography charges.

In the Pennsylvania case, a school official seized the phone of one of the boys after he was caught using it during school hours in violation of a school rule, according to local police Capt. George Seranko. The official found the picture on the phone, and after some interrogation, discovered that two other girls had also e-mailed photos of themselves in the nude to friends. That’s when the school called police, who obtained search warrants to seize the phones and examine them. Police showed the images to the local district attorney, who recommended they bring charges.Seranko said the images “weren’t just breasts; they showed [gasp] female anatomy.” Read the rest of this entry »





Another apologist flushes his brains down the toilet wrt to ethical reasoning . . . and counsels the rest of us to do likewise

22 12 2008

Prepare to stifle a yawn as yet another Christian apologist deludes himself that he is saying something insightful about atheism and morality:

. . . while we can certainly agree with Harris that we can know objective moral truths “without reference to scripture,” we are left wondering how human value and dignity could emerge given naturalism’s valueless, mindless, materialist origins. If, on the other hand, humans are made in the divine image and are morally constituted to reflect God in certain ways, then atheists as well as theists can recognize objective right and wrong and human dignity-without the assistance of special revelation (Rom. 2:14-15). But the atheist is still left without a proper metaphysical context for affirming such moral dignity and responsibility. And despite Harris’s claims, naturalism seems to be morally pretentious in claiming the moral high ground, though without any metaphysical basis for doing so. No, biblical theism, with its emphasis on God’s creating humans in his image, is our best hope for grounding objective moral values and human dignity and worth. (Via Richard Dawkins)

What makes biblical theism—which basically boils down to “right and wrong are what God judges to be right and wrong”—a proper metaphysical basis for morality? All the apologist is doing is allowing his holy book to do his thinking for him. Far from accepting responsibility for his views on morality, he simply passes the buck upstairs. “Don’t ask me, man. I’m just following orders.”

You want to be taken seriously when you claim the moral high ground over the unbelievers? You’re going to have to ask, and make more than a half-assed attempt at addressing, some pretty hard questions about your deity’s ethical philosophy. Let’s take, for instance, the injunction against murder. All we can garner from the Bible is that God thinks that murder is wrong. We don’t know why God thinks murder is wrong. We have no means of subjecting his arguments in support of his position to critical scrutiny because, well, he offers none. Murder is wrong, my dear sheeple, because God says it’s wrong. That is all ye know, and all ye need to know.

I am of course highly dubious about the concept of “objective right and wrong.” There is a difference between simply asserting that these exist—which is a very simple exercise which can be performed by anyone, and has been performed by many—and showing that they exist. Demonstrating that theists and atheists alike can have ideas about objective right and wrong does not solve the problem (and certainly does not constitute evidence that humans are made in the image of a deity, as the apologist presumes): all it demonstrates is that we have certain ideas about morality. That the “hardwiring” of such ideas may have given our ancestors a survival advantage is the subject of fruitful research in psychology and neuroscience, and is certainly more parsimonious an explanation (i.e. for why we have such ideas about morality as opposed to why they may or may not be the correct ideas) than the “Goddidit” argument from ignorance the apologist is serving us.





Christian love strikes again in California

21 12 2008

Is there any appellation more Orwellian—nay, oxymoronic—than “loving Christian?” A coalition of loving Christians, clearly of the view that Proposition 8 did not constitute a decisive enough victory over a despised outgroup, now wants the marriages that were performed during the California marriage statute’s brief dalliance with (the manifestly unChristian virtues of) humanity and acceptance to be annulled:

Referendum proponents known as the “Protect Marriage” coalition on Friday took their campaign one step further, petitioning the Supreme Court to annul the gay marriages officiated so far in California.

“Proposition 8’s brevity is matched by its clarity,” the group said in its legal brief. “There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions: ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.'”

Show me the individual who describes himself as a “loving Christian,” and who in the same breath advocates such naked mean-spiritedness as evinced by the self-styled marriage defenders in California, and I’ll show you a liar, a fraud, a phony, a bullshit-artist, a spinmeister, a prevaricator, a con-artist, a deluder, a dissimulator, a false witness. He is “loving” in the same regard as a “loving father” who lovingly beats his kids, or a “loving husband” who lovingly beats his wife.





Memo to my GLBTI readers from a loving Christian . . .

30 11 2008

Many of you, Bill Muehlenberg would have us believe, enjoy having sex with animals:

The Gay Report, a book much praised in gay communities, contains testimonials without adverse comment of homosexual encounters with Labrador retrievers, cows and horses. The 1992 report mentioned above found that 15 per cent of male homosexuals and 19 per cent of male bisexuals had sex with animals, compared with 3 percent of male heterosexuals.

Actually, the report was published in 1981, based on a self-administered 16-page survey with a one-percent response rate. The report receives a thorough debunking at Box Turtle Bulletin.

(HT: commenter Rod)





Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXIX

27 11 2008

The week in fundie:

  1. The UN General Assembly has adopted a draft resolution calling on governments to ban the “defamation of religion.” (EuropeNews)
  2. The retired Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Biffi, revels in the stagnant pool of non-thinking that is conservative Christianity by insisting that Christian teachings do not change with the times. That’s nothing to be proud of, Biffi: it merely serves to demonstrate the irrelevance of your belief system and its wilful disconnection from the real world. (Catholic News Agency)
  3. Islam is the only religion that ensures protection and respectable status to women in society” says an academic in Pakistan. (The News International)
  4. Yoga is banned in Malaysia because “The Islam religion does not find efforts or actions which have no purpose and are done just for the sake of doing something, to be appropriate,” and “A soul returning to the world in another form conflicts with the principles of being punished or rewarded in the afterworld.” Transmigration of the soul? That’s crazy-talk. Post-mortem hellfire and torment for not being a Muslim? Perfectl reasonable. (Sabah)
  5. Morality and ethics, observed an American cleric recently, cannot be divorced from their religious antecedents. Indeed. (ABC News Online)
  6. Morality and ethics, observed an American cleric recently, cannot be divorced from their religious antecedents. Indeed part deux. (Pharyngula)
  7. A loving Catholic blogger lovingly declares: “Was there ever a sub-species of human being as useless as atheists??” (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  8. A loving Baptist pastor lovingly declares that Jews are going to Hell and face—and I quote—“a fate worse than the Holocaust.” (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  9. In India, a teenage boy committed the horrible crime of courting a girl from a lower caste. So of course he justly deserved the punishment of being beaten, paraded through the streets with his head shaved, and then thrown under the wheels of a train. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  10. The anti-vac movement has a following in the Islamic world, too. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan has issued a fatwa against vaccination, declaring it to be a Jewish/Freemason conspiracy to rule the world. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  11. In South Africa, a 52-year-old woman was hacked to death with an axe by four men for being a “witch.” (Sowetan)




Over at OzAtheist, yet another apologist is telling me how in the absence of God-belief I have no basis for morality

13 11 2008

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, two men soaked in God-belief sprayed acid on two schoolgirls.

[UPDATE

And in Somalia, 50 men soaked in God-belief buried a 13-year-old girl up to her neck and threw rocks at her head until she was dead. This occurred in a stadium in front of about 1000 god-soaked spectators. Her crime? She had been gang-raped by three men while traveling on foot to see her grandmother, and attempted to report the incident to the local authorities . . . the local authorities being the Islamist al-Shabab militia. They promptly accused her of adultery, and she was sentenced to death in a Sharia court.]

Link to the OzAtheist post, if you’re interested.





Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXVIII

11 10 2008

Before I proceed, some breaking news. Pfc. Jeremy Hall, the atheist US soldier who suffered discrimination, harrassment and death threats at the hands of his loving Christian superiors and fellow soldiers, is dropping his lawsuit against U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Defense Department, and plans to leave the Army. (According to the American Freethought podcast, Hall was denied permission to attend the recent Atheist Alliance convention, where he was listed as a speaker.)

The week in fundie:

  1. For an example of how it is possible for Catholics to be as demented as the fundiest fundagelicals, look no further than Matt C. Abbott’s column on the RenewAmerica* website, “As the ‘Obama-nation’ nears, priests sound alarm“. There you’ll hear from Father James Farfaglia, who is unhappy with the recent US bishops’ statement, Faithful Citizenship, which counsels “the Church’s leaders [. . .] to avoid endorsing or opposing candidates or telling people how to vote.” Farfaglia wants the Church to tell people to vote against Obama and for McCain, because, among other reasons, “McCain will appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice; Obama will appoint a pro-abortion one.” He also speaks highly of Catholic convert, long-time anti-abortion activist and theocrat Randall Terry, who in 1993 said: “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…. Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”You’ll also hear a goodly dose of Christian persecution mania from Father Richard Perozich. Jumping at the shadows of government spooks waiting around the corner to clap him in irons for being an ultraconservative Catholic (“we may not be in jail (at least at the moment)”), Perozich accuses the state of “encroaching on our religious beliefs, our freedom by passing laws which indoctrinate us, penalize us for non conformity, and take away our liberty.” The chief agents of this anti-Catholic persecution , in his view, are (self-hating?) Catholic politicians who, by not always voting in strict accordance with Catholic dogma, have become “slaves to people with evil ideas” . . . those ideas being “abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and homosexual activity.” TEH EVIL, you see, infects the souls of individuals who then force teh evil onto everyone else. How, you may ask? Perozich reaches under his cassock and pulls the following theory out of his wrinkled arse: “First evil forms people into groups to organize and express itself. [. . .] Evil then beings to take over in 4 ways: infiltration, indoctrination, intimidation, and imposition.” The examples he provides are just priceless:

    When we know persons with same sex attractions who have not learned to master chastity, we feel sorry for them. We want them to feel better. They infiltrate by asking for tolerance. They reinvent themselves saying that this is who they are. They indoctrinate with false ideas that they are genetically created this way, that they cannot change, that their sex is just as good as, or even better than, normal people because they don’t create overpopulation. They intimidate, calling us bigots, hate-filled people, intolerant. Finally they impose laws forcing us to learn about their sinful lifestyle, to accept it, to take away our freedoms if we don’t accept it, to teach this as normal in schools, nursing programs, to celebrate it publicly in parades, schools, and the work place as ‘diversity’ when in fact it is perversity. [Emphasis added]

    Read the full article to learn more about the INFLITRATE–>INDOCTRINATE–>INTIMIDATE–>IMPOSE strategy is deployed against unsuspecting hard-right Catholics by “unrepetant” woman abortionists and “famous people with diseases” calling for embryonic stem cell research funding. Read the rest of this entry »








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