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)





Sunday reading: Epiphenom on the link between religion and homophobia

8 03 2009

What’s the connection between religion and homophobia?

You don’t need me to tell you that religious people are more likely to be homophobic. But what you might not have thought too hard about is why that should be. Is it that religion makes people homophobic, or is it simply that religion attracts people who are conservative and/or authoritarian – people who also tend to be homophobic? Then again, ‘religion’ is a pretty broad church. Is all religion linked to homophobia, or is it just specific types?

And what about racism? Are religious people more likely to be rascist? And if not, why not? This is an important question because religion acts to strengthen group cohesion, and it also comes with a lot of moral rules. Either of these could explain the link to homophobia. But most religions tend to be at least overtly anti-racist. So if religious people are more racist, this is probably because the ‘group cohesion’ effect overrides the ‘moral censure’ effect.

Sometimes it seems like you wait years for big studies to come along tackling these issues, and then two come along at once! Putting both of them together starts to put some really interesting meat on the bones of this very fundamental question (with the caveat that, like most research in religion, these studies were done in the USA/Canada)

More here.





Things they would have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXX

14 02 2009

The week in fundie:

  1. For starters, given that it was Darwin Day only a couple of days ago, here’s the idiot quote of the week from Australian Bishop Tom Frame:

    The problem I face is weariness with science-based dialogue partners like Richard Dawkins. It surprises me he is not chided for his innate scientific conservatism and metaphysical complacency. He won’t take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them. (Brisbane Times)

  2. In Irasburg, Vermont, a public school is being sued by two families after it was claimed that a schoolteacher proselytised in class, bought religious (including creationist) literature with school funds for dissemination in the classroom, and punished students who complained. (Times Argus)
  3. OMGTEHHOMOSEXUALAGENDACONTROLSTELEVISION!!!!!!!!!!!! World Net Daily shrieks hysterically about teh radical homosexual agenda to control your TV sets and convert your children to gay homosexuals. “Note” “their” “over-use” “of” “scare-quotes” “around” “the” “word” “gay,” “as” “if” “gays” “don’t” “really” “exist”—“even” “though” “they’ve” “just” “spent” “the” “whole” “article” “whining” “paranoiacally” “about” “them.” “Morons.”
  4. Meanwhile, in Australia, loving Christians are up in arms at the Victorian Police Commissioner’s plans to march in the Pride Festival. Article writer Peter Stokes, of Christian group Salt Shakers, quotes Peter Stokes, of Christian group Salt Shakers: “The normalisation of homosexuality by these people is a disgrace!” (Christianity Today)
  5. There have been more than 50 murders of suspected “witches” in Papua New Guinea over recent months, according to Times Online. One woman was burnt alive on a pyre of rubber tyres. Another woman escaped death when she began to give birth while hanging from a tree.
  6. In the Indian state of Bihar, eight members of a poor family were shot and beheaded after a family member married a wealthy girl. (UPI)
  7. Also in India, Hindu extremists who recently stormed a bar, dragging out women and beating them, have warned that they will attack anyone they catch celebrating Valentine’s Day. (Telegraph)
  8. Journalist Laurie Lebo takes a look at anti-Darwinism as a “peculiar American institution.” (Religion Dispatches)




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.





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 Thnking XXXIII

18 11 2007

The week in fundie . . .

  1. God hearts Howard’s policies: Howard. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  2. Nothing restores my faith in the intersection of faith and politics than another heartwarming story from Saudi Arabia. Last week an appeals court increased the punishment meted out to a gang-rape victim (perfectly understandable, of course: she was in a car with males who were not her relatives) to 200 lashes and six months in prison. (via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  3. And nothing restores my faith in the willingness of certain Christians to follow the example of the central figure of their religion than the openness and tolerance displayed by the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, which last week expelled a congregation for welcoming gays and lesbians. Fundies. If they’re not lying for Jesus, they’re hating for him. (via Morons.org)
  4. Meanwhile in Britain, women are queuing up for a kind of cosmetic surgery known as “virginity repair” to appease their future spouses and in-laws. All in the name of Islamic fundamentalism. All taxpayer-funded. (Daily India)
  5. The response to PBS’ Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is worth the price of admission (so to speak). (via Pharyngula)

Secular Believers:





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





Surprise, fucking surprise

1 11 2007

Family First is demanding that all Federal candidates declare whether they are now, or ever have been TEH GAY:

The Family First candidate in the far north Queensland seat of Leichhardt says voters have a right to know the sexual preference of all candidates contesting the federal election.

A report in today’s Courier-Mail newspaper says Family First’s Ben Jacobsen demanded that the Liberal candidate Charlie McKillop declare if she is gay.

Mr Jacobsen, who is against gay relationships, says he was not targeting Ms McKillop, but speaking generally about every candidate.

“Look I think this is a public office, this is a person that’s going to represent Leichhardt in our House of Representatives,” he said.

“I think the public have a right to know the values that you’re going to pursue in Parliament.” (ABC)

And everybody knows that gay values aren’t Australian values, non? Everybody knows that as soon as you let one of those into Parliament, they’ll immediately proceed to infect our beloved Christian democracy with TEH GAY. Santorum spreading everywhere. Before you know it, your 15-year old son is being sodomised with the rough end of a heroin-laced outcomes-based education, while being forced to watch lesbian witch porn on the Internet.

Fundies First: the gift that keeps on giving.

UPDATE: The backpedalling has begun already.





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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