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)




Quote of the week: Malcolm Turnbull

8 11 2008

Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech to the Australian Christian Lobby, evidently peppered with enough “marriage and families” references to suggest that the post-Howard Libs are still not completely above pandering to the fundagelicals. But he does deserve kudos for maintaining a firm stance on abortion and gay rights. On the latter, this gem:

“If you think about it, if you discriminate … against a gay couple, between two men living together, do you really think that they’re going to say ‘oh well, that’s no good, we’ll go off and get married to a woman’?” he asked the audience. (ABC News Online)

Apparently they do. (See also: “Is it Just Another Lifestyle?“)





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

15 09 2008

The past few weeks in fundie . . .

  1. Minister aids and abetts the breaking of a Commandment. Fundie JoAn Karlos took it upon herself to decide what other members of the public can read by stealing a sex education book from the public library on the grounds that she deemed it “obscene.” A local clergyman decided to pay the $100 fine, to which the fundie responded: “I’m blessed. I’m very blessed. It’s extremely generous because I know they don’t have a lot of money.” Larceny for Jesus . . . what a great moral example to be setting your children. The fundamentalist brain strikes again! (Boston Globe)
  2. “Who are the British creationists?”: according to ths BBC report, the neurological virus known as Biblical creationism has spread across the Atlantic and is now infecting the UK. Think 28 Days Later, only this time with glossolaliating zombies. Much, much scarier.
  3. A senior Saudi official has “qualified” his remarks that it is permissible to kill broadcasters of “immoral” television content. Moderating his views significantly, he believes they should be put to death only “in the due process of law.” (Scotsman)
  4. Eleven people were killed in a Congo soccer stadium riot after a soccer player tried to use “witchcraft” to win a match. I’m not making this up. And don’t laugh: the offering of prayers to magic sky fairies are routine in American football. (Reuters)
  5. In Canada, a 42-year-old man used a “witchcraft club” to groom two teenage boys whom he subsequently molested. (Canada.com)
  6. In Zimbabwe, Dolores Umbridge of the Ministry of Magic sentenced four people to 18 months each in jail under the Suppression of Witchcraft Act. It is not known if any Dementors were involved in the capture of the offenders. (allAfrica.com)
  7. According to the governor of Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State, loving Christian pastors have been lovingly throwing children into the street, suspecting them of witchcraft. Says the governor: “They even attempted to [lovingly] burn some children alive in the state. We’ve rescued children who have been [lovingly] almost burnt to death on the basis that they are into witchcraft.” (The Sun News On-line)
  8. In Papua New Guinea, an elderly woman was beaten by local villagers after they accused of her using witchcraft to cause flash floods. (The Australian)
  9. In that hotbed of liberal pluralist democracy known as Camden, New South Wales, a residents’ group that had only recently rejected an application to build a Muslim school has welcomed a proposal to build a Catholic school. Spokesman Emil Sremchevich explains: “It’s very simple: people like some things but don’t like other things. Some of us like blondes, some of us like brunettes. Some of us like Fords, some of us like Holdens. Why is it xenophobic just because I want to make a choice? If I want to like some people and not like other people, that’s the nature of the beast.” The English, Mr Sremchevich: you’re doing it wrong. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  10. Nice try, dickhead. A US man tried to get out of paying his taxes by declaring himself a citizen of heaven rather than the United States. Wait a minute . . . where have I seen this before? (DesMoines Register, via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  11. Hindu fundamentalists gang-raped one nun and burnt another alive as they stormed an orphanage in the Indian state of Orissa. (AsiaNews.it)
  12. According to fundie news outlet OneNewsNow, there is “shock and sadness in the Christian community over word that famed Christian music singer Ray Boltz has publicly announced he’s living a homosexual lifestyle.” There’s a lump in my throat, too.




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

15 07 2008

Before we begin . . . kudos to the Federal Court for allowing sanity to prevail by striking down New South Wales’ special World Youth Day “anti-annoyance” laws.

Now, onto the week in fundie . . ,

Dillahunty FTW!

  1. Kicking the homeless out of Sydney during the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day: it’s What Jesus Would Do. (ABC News Online)
  2. In the US, a Pakistani man has been charged with murdering his daughter because she wanted to end her arranged marriage. (Thaindian News)
  3. In Jordan, a 16-year-old boy stabbed his older sister 10 times in the heart because she “disappeared from home for a month with her boyfriend.” (The Times of India)
  4. The London Metropolitan University has “expressed regret at any unhappiness” caused to China as a result of its having awarded an honorary PhD to the Dalai Lama. (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  5. Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, a participant in Australian Archbishop Peter Jensen’s anti-gay Global Anglican Future Conference, says he fears being killed by gays when he is “in countries which have supporters of homosexuals.” (via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  6. In Italy, a man has been awarded damages after he was told to retake a driving test because of his homoseuxality. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things.




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

8 06 2008

Let’s creation the heavens and the earth!!

The week in fundie . . .

  1. In the UK, the Church of England is whining that not being shown enough special preferential treatment by the Government, and not having a special Minister for imposing Christian dogma upon UK citizens (whether they are Christian or otherwise) is tantamount to persecution. (The Times)
  2. Jesus said: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room (or closet.) and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret…” (Verse courtesy of Matthew 6: 5-6. Link courtesy of the New York Times)
  3. A Northern Ireland Assembly member and chair of the Stormont health committee has called on gay people to seek “psychiatric counselling” to cure their homosexuality. (Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  4. At a baseball game in Seattle, a lesbian couple were told by an usher to stop kissing on the grounds that they were making another spectator uncomfortable, and that there were children in the crowd whose parents would have to explain why two women were kissing. (Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  5. According to the Daily Times,

    Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the production of an anti-Islam film by a Dutch legislator, sources in the Interior Ministry told Daily Times on Saturday.

    The sources also warned that if the EU did not comply, attacks against EU diplomatic missions could not be ruled out. Read the rest of this entry »





Yet another case of state-sponsored homophobia

13 04 2008

That’s how I think this should be framed:

One of Brisbane’s most prestigious all-boy schools says its willing to debate a ban on gay students taking same-sex partners instead of girls to the senior formal.The Anglican Church Grammar School, or Churchie, was in defence mode after it emerged several Year 12 students wanted to take their gay partners to the college’s end-of year dance on June 19.

Under current policy, the young men may only attend the ball with a female partner.

[. . .]

A spokesman for Queensland’s Catholic Education Commission confirmed it also would not allow gay couples to attend their school formals.

Because under current funding arrangements, every tax dollar that is given to these schools is a tacit endorsement of discrimination against a subset of students based upon their sexual orientation.

As a teacher, I don’t oppose in principle giving public funds to private schools: Read the rest of this entry »





On the appeal of the appeal to tradition

15 01 2008

I join Ninglun in congratulating Jim Belshaw for having a blog post of his republished at On Line Opinion, but I really must take exception to the following:

Take a question that I have not discussed on this blog, my views on gay marriage.I support civil unions for gays. I support legal recognition of the joint rights of gay couples. I do not support gay marriage because the term “marriage” carries very specific connotations linked back to our Christian heritage, so that the application of the term “marriage” creates tensions and problems among much larger groups in society.

This may change. But for the present, my view is that we need to find a solution that gives gays the legal and indeed symbolic things that they need, while recognising the views of the larger group.

I have a profound love of and respect for our core institutions. Perhaps I can be classified as a conservative in this area, although the views I hold are very much minority views even among those classified as “conservative”.

I can’t get my head around this position at all. Unless I am mistaken, by his support for civil unions Jim is advocating for gays all the rights and privileges pertaining to legal marriage. He just doesn’t think gays should be allowed to call their marriages “marriages”–because, in his view (and that needs to be emphasised), the term “marriage” has “very specific connotations linked back to our Christian heritage,” and if we let the gays use it, that will create “tensions and problems among much larger groups in society.”

Sorry, I don’t get it. The people who are going to get their panties in a twist over the breach of Christian copyright on the term “marriage” are just as likely to object to the legal recognition of the joint rights of gay couples–surely the latter runs counter to “our” Christian heritage just as much as gay marriage supposedly does? If pandering to the sensitivities of these people is indeed a legitimate concern in a secular democracy–even if that means denying gay couples equality before the law–it just seems inconsistent to me to simultaneously oppose gay marriage and support civil unions.

Obviously I don’t think that the marriage laws in a secular (and liberal) democracy should pander to the concerns of those who, for religious reasons, think the law should treat gay couples differently. Nor do I see the relevance of our “Christian heritage” in the framing of our laws–at best, this constitutes an appeal to tradition, and perhaps also an appeal to popularity; in the context of a secular democracy, it becomes something far more sinister. So I’ve never understood the social utility of advocating two legal institutions–marriage, and marriage-that-for-PC-reasons-we’re-not-allowed-to-call
-“marriage”–when one would suffice. That’s assuming that civil unions would confer upon couples the same rights and entitlements as marriages do. If not, that’s a different (and worse) kettle of fish.

If our core institutions perpetuate injustice and enshrine prejudice, I don’t see why they ought to be loved and respected. I guess that’s why I’m not a conservative.








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