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)

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.

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)

The Bill Muehlenberg Trophy: Joseph Massad

21 10 2007

Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, has published a book in which he argues that

there are no homosexuals in the entire Arab world, except for a few who have been brainwashed into believing they have a homosexual identity by an aggressive Western homosexual missionizing movement he calls “Gay International.” [. . .] According to the author, “It is the very discourse of the Gay International which produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist” (emphasis added).

The claim is advanced in the third chapter of Desiring Arabs, based upon an earlier paper of his (“Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World”).

TEH GAY AGENDA is a familiar Christian Right meme, and
the idea that gays and lesbians do not exist in the Middle East has most recently been put by one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Massad simply presents the homophobic ravings of Christian and Muslim fundies and expresses them in the idiom of postcolonial studies. As former Guardian Middle East correspondent Brian Whitaker observes in a review of Desiring Arabs,

Massad talks of a “missionary” campaign orchestrated by what he calls the “Gay International”. Its inspiration, he says, came partly from “the white western women’s movement, which had sought to universalise its issues through imposing its own colonial feminism on the women’s movements in the non-western world”, but he also links its origins to the Carter administration’s use of human rights to “campaign against the Soviet Union and Third World enemies”.

Like the major US- and European-based human rights organisations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) and following the line taken up by white western women’s organisations and publications, the Gay International was to reserve a special place for the Muslim countries in its discourse as well as its advocacy. The orientalist impulse … continues to guide all branches of the human rights community. (p 161)

Oddly, since this is central to his argument, Massad offers no evidence to substantiate his claim. There are plenty of reasons other than an “orientalist impulse” why gay rights activists might justifiably pay attention to Muslim countries (punishments for same-sex acts, for instance, tend to be heavier there, on paper if not always in practice, and the only countries in the world where the death penalty for sodomy still applies justify it on the basis of Islamic law) but that is not the same as reserving “a special place” for them in the discourse.

Then again, I suppose the demand that extraordinary claims of the kind Massad advances be supported by empirical evidence may be written off as another manifestation of Western imperialism. It gets worse:

State repression against gay people happens on a frequent basis across the Middle East. Massad, however, who claims to be a supporter of sexual freedom per se, is oddly impassive when confronted with the vast catalogue of anti-gay state violence in the Muslim world. Massad, unlike Ahmadinejad, does acknowledge that “gay-identified” people exist in the Middle East, but he views them with derision. Take, for instance, his description of the Queen Boat victims as “westernized, Egyptian, gay-identified men” who consort with European and American tourists. A simple “gay” would have sufficed. He smears efforts to free the men by writing of the “openly gay and anti-Palestinian Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank” and the “anti-Arab and anti-Egyptian [Congressman] Tom Lantos” who circulated a petition amongst their colleagues to cut off U.S. funding to Egypt unless the men were released. He then goes onto belittle not just gay activists (one of whom, a founder of the Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society, referred to the Queen Boat affair as “our own Stonewall,” in reference to the 1969 Stonewall riot when a group of patrons at a New York City gay bar resisted arrest, a moment credited with sparking the American gay rights movement) but the persecuted men themselves. The Queen Boat cannot be Stonewall, Massad insists, because the “drag Queens at the Stonewall bar” embraced their homosexual identity, whereas the Egyptian men “not only” did “not seek publicity for their alleged homosexuality, they resisted the very publicity of the events by the media by covering their faces in order to hide from the cameras and from hysterical public scrutiny.” Massad does not pause to consider that perhaps the reason why these men covered their faces was because of the brutal consequences they would endure if their identities became public, repercussions far worse than anything the rioters at Stonewall experienced. “These are hardly manifestations of gay pride or gay liberation,” Massad sneers.

Joseph Massad: you are a disgrace to academia. Your brand of unscholarly and unsubstantiated rubbish feeds the hysterical paranoiac fantasies of the Horowitz crowd and their puppets in the Republican party–people who seek to restrict academic freedom and stifle the views of those with whom they disagree, and are just salivating for a cause celebre like yourself. Furthermore, it gives a free pass to the persecution of gays and lesbians in the Arab world, by coding any criticism of such persecution as “Western imperialism.” Lift your game.

The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXVII

5 10 2007

The week in fundie . . .

  1. Texas law, with the Orwellian title “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act,” allows evangelical students to proselytise to captive audiences at public school assemblies. (Alternet)
  2. Fundies–of both the Protestant and Catholic varieties–call for the shutting down of a San Francisco gay and lesbian festival and for the boycott of sponsor Miller’s. (As one liberal pastor observes, a conservative Christian boycott of alcohol–isn’t that a little like Hindus boycotting beef?) (The Bay Area Reporter)
  3. Archbishop declares he would refuse communion to Rudy Giuliani. (via
  4. The Red Mass: where Catholic archbishops have the annual opportunity to instruct the members of the US Supreme Court on how to vote on constitutional matters. (via TheocracyWatch)
  5. God-fearing evangelical Christians–default moral exemplars to us all–gay-bash an Indian man to death in Sacramento. Apparently “God has ‘made an injection’ of high numbers of anti-gay Slavic evangelicals into traditionally liberal West Coast cities,” according to the host of a Russian-language anti-gay radio show in Sacramento. “‘In those places where the disease is progressing, God made a divine penicillin,'” he said. The murderers belong to a Latvian Pentecostal church linked to anti-gay activist Scott Lively, who in the 90s wrote a book comparing gay rights activists to Nazis. (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  6. William Dembski: evil atheist materialist scientists unfairly try to rationalise away the existence of angels (which Dembski insists are as real as rocks and plants and animals) with reason and science and whatnot. Evil atheist materialist scientists!

Religion as Child Abuse

Degayifying the Moskva

27 06 2007

Orthodox Christian Russians were working tirelessly last Sunday to cleanse the Moskva River’s sparkling waters of TEH GAY, after a dirty gay cruise vessel full of dirty gays trailed megalitres of santorum in its wake the previous evening.

Participants hired a ship and decorated it with church banners, icons, Russian imperial flags and their motto, “We are Russian, God is with us.”

“Our great Orthodox capital is in spiritual vacuum and experiences ideological aggression from the West. So our aim was to demonstrate that the Russian people’s spiritual and moral ideals are alive and will be so forever,” Yury Ageschev, coordinator of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, told Interfax.

He said one of the action’s aims was “to purge the Moskva River after a large group of gays, who hired a similar ship to have a party going the same route last night.”

On a more serious note, this follows a plan by Christians to conduct anti-homosexual pogroms in a Moscow park popular as a meeting place for gays and lesbians.

YouTube: Christians and homophobia

Bush nominates degayification advocate as US Surgeon-General

14 06 2007

Australia doesn’t really have an equivalent of the US Surgeon-General (technically, the closest equivalent is the Chief Medical Officer). He or she is the unofficial public face of health in the US, and is generally seen as a respected and authoritative advocate of public health education and healthy living. Naturally, the Christian Right would regard getting one of their own into this position as a major coup in its quest to Talibanise America.

As the disastrous experiment with abstinence-only sex education has demonstrated (an experiment destined to continue thanks to a decision by lily-livered Democrats to increase funding for such programmes), the fundagelicals don’t do health science well. But what do they care?–they’re more interested in saving souls than lives, and they’re not about to let reality get in the way of their Bronze Age agenda.

Regarding the office of Surgeon-General, the faith-heads have had previous success: in 1994 they forced the resignation of Jocelyn Elders after she dared to suggest the promotion of so benign an activity as masturbation as an alternative to riskier sexual practices–despite the fact that masturbation carries no harmful side effects–expect possibly chafing. (Indeed, frequent ejaculation has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, but I guess Jesus wants you to get prostate cancer.)

But the big pay-off for the Religious Right would be to manoeuvre a kool-aid-sipping fundagelical into the position of Surgeon-General itself. And now they have a sniff of victory, thanks to the Bush administration’s nomination to the post of James Holsinger, a Paul Cameron-class homophobe:

James Holsinger, President George W. Bush’s nominee for Surgeon General, has a dark view of homosexuals. In a 1991 paper, Holsinger describes homosexual sex in sickeningly lurid language. “Fist fornication,” “sphincter injuries,” “lacerations,” “perforations” and “deaths seen in connection with anal eroticism,” are some of the terms Holsinger concocted to describe acts with which he suggests at least medical familiarity (a case of participant observation, perhaps?). At the same paper, Holsinger puzzlingly issues no warnings about the dangers of heterosexual sex in his paper. To him, only “anal eroticism” is a health peril.

As the Alternet article points out, what is most worrying about this nomination is not so much Holsinger’s bigotry as his support for “ex-gay therapy.” In other words, the individual who the Bush administration believes is best qualified to give the American public advice on healthy living is someone who believes homosexuality is both a “lifestyle choice” and a “disease” that can be “cured.” Moreover, the nomination is a tacit endorsement of a therapy discredited by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and other mainstream medical organizations. The American Psychiatric Association maintains that there is “no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation;” there is evidence, however, that ex-gay therapy can have harmful effects, including “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by a patient.”

Hopefully, US senators will give this snake-oil salesman the short shrift he deserves.

The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XVIII

3 06 2007

The week in fundie:

  1. Homophobic street preacher whines about hypocrisy because he has been refused permission to march in a gay pride parade. (Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Incidentally, the WorldNetDaily article detailing the poor oppressed anti-gay activist’s plight refers to said gay pride parade as a “gay” pride parade. Why the scare quotes? Are the participants not gay? Are they only pretending to be gay? Why do wingnuts do this? Are they stupid or something?)
  2. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews are threatening violence against this year’s gay pride parade, having acted upon similar threats in previous years. (Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
  3. And if you happen to be gay–or even if you’re accused of being gay–in post-Saddam Iraq, it significantly increases your chances of being shot, burned and/or beheaded by Shi’a fundamentalist death squads. (Via uruknet) (Warning: follow the links at your own risk–they contain images that are definitely NSFW.) Isn’t faith a wonderful thing?
  4. Over in Pakistan, a Christian man has been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Mohammed. (Via Richard
  5. Confused by “NOMA?” US Republican Presidential candidate Sam Brownback unpacks it for you in an op-ed for the New York Times. The way to balance science and faith is to cherry-pick those elements of science which are consonant with your religious ideology (or could be interpreted to be so); if it doesn’t agree with your religious presuppositions, you simply write it off as “atheistic theology posing as science.” Simple, no? (Richard (More info. on the science-friendly Brownback campaign in this post)
  6. New Zealand is set to get its own version of Ken Ham’s Creation Museum. (Via Pharyngula)
  7. Why some people resist science (Via Pharyngula)