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.

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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.





Great Moments in the History of “Christian Love” (TM): How Religious Fascism Poisoned Little Axe

28 02 2009

A recent episode of Ed Brayton’s Declaring Independence podcast (Feb 5th 2009) featured an interview with Joann Bell, one of the plaintiffs in a 1980s suit against the school district of Little Axe, Oklahoma. In 1981, the town’s elementary school was allowing a “voluntary” teacher-sponsored student prayer group called the Son Shine Club to operate on school grounds before classes began. The school buses used to drop students off in front of the school 30 minutes before classes began, and since school rules dictated that no student was allowed inside the building without permission before the first class, students had to choose between standing outside in the rain or cold, and joining the prayer meeting inside the school. Eventually, peer-pressure forced more students to attend Son Shine Club meetings, which would sometimes run over into the first class.

Bell, who belonged to a different denomination than the Baptist Son Shine Club, brought up the issue with the school board, where she was told to take it up with the ACLU. When she along with other parents brought a lawsuit against the school district (which the plaintiffs won on appeal), that’s when all hell broke loose: including death threats, assaults on herself and her children, and eventually the firebombing of her family home, forcing the family to move away from the town.

More details are available at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, where we also learn the school superintendent’s response to his community’s loving Christian treatment of the plaintiffs: “The only people who have been hurt by this thing are the Bells and McCords. The school goes on. They chose to create their own hell on earth.”





A lie for Jesus repeated often enough . . .

13 02 2009

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)

There it is. The warrant, Christian apologists would have us believe, for their moral injunction against telling lies. Why is it, then, that these same apologists have become so practised in the weaving of falsehoods and misrepresentations? Why are they so unwilling to follow the very set of ethical prescriptions they would have the rest of us observe, for no more compelling reason than a deity (whose existence is asserted but never demonstrated) compels it? Case in point—Ray Comfort, telling lies about what atheists believe:

Atheists think of themselves as being intelligent. But if you are an atheist, you are saying that you have no belief in a God — a Creator. Creation just happened. Everything you see — all the different breeds of dogs (both male and female), all the different breeds of cats (both male and female), all the different fish in the ocean (both male and female), giraffes, elephants, cattle, sheep, horses, birds, flowers, trees, the sun, the moon, the stars, the four seasons, night and day, the marvels of the human body, the eye with its 137 million light-sensitive cells — all these marvels of creation were made by nothing. They all just happened. That’s atheism at its core. What an intellectual embarrassment!

Comfort, you see, is the epitome of the “loving Christian”, given what “loving” and “Christian” have come to signify in the hands of right-wing fundamentalists like him. He “loves” his enemies (i.e. atheists) so much that he will happily distort evolutionary theory beyond all recognition, travesty-ing evolution as the belief that “everything you see” was “made by nothing,” and then attribute this belief to atheists. He “loves” atheists so much that he will happily accuse us, on no evidence whatsoever, of all manner of atrocious and immoral behaviour simply because we don’t “fear” his deity.

A wise man once said something like, “Most I fear God. Next I fear him who fears Him not.” An atheist will lie to you and steal from you without qualms of conscience because he doesn’t fear God. We have a generation who have given themselves to fornication, lying, theft and blasphemy. We have school shootings, violence, pornography, etc. and what’s the common denominator? They lack the fear of God. Atheistic evolution completely removes God and moral accountability. This is a cancer that destroys a nation from the inside.

These are the words of a “loving Christian”, who sees “nothing wrong with debating, as long as we speak in love and in gentleness.” I see little point in debating with the likes of Comfort, for he debates with his fingers wedged firmly in his ears, content to contend with strawmen.  The degree of vitriolic chauvinism he evinces, in whatever form it takes or has taken historically, certainly does have the capacity to destroy a nation from the inside, and more than once in its history has the United States which Comfort calls home been taken to the brink. Fortunately, there have also been voices of reason and enlightenment who have refused to allow the medievalists and tribalists to hold complete sway. Long may their struggle continue.

Update: watch Joseph Farah fellate Comfort at World Net Daily (warning: you may catch a glimpse of Ann Coulter’s homely mug). HT to Personal Failure, who points and laughs.





I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel all that safe . . .

21 01 2009

. . . given the amount of rabid evangelical Christians in positions of authority in the US military, and who seem hell-bent on transforming it into one giant Jesus Camp. It seems the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been receiving many emails from servicemen and women who were pressured into applauding Rick Warren’s invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. Chris Rodda at DailyKos provides one email from a Methodist serviceman who found, watching the invocation with his fellow officers, “who could not muster the courage to resist the pressure of his ‘serious and committed born again Christian’ commanding officer to applaud Rick Warren.”

Today, I watched President Obama’s inauguration on the television set up in our Brigade staff conference room. I attended as a member of (unit level designation withheld) staff along with over 40 other senior officers, senior enlisted an few senior Army civilian staffers. There had been much talk here about Pres. Obama’s selection of the evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the ceremonies.
Our current Commander is a very intolerant and “serious and committed born again Christian” as he always describes himself to all his subordinates. At every military assignment I’ve ever been to it’s always the same thing; if you are not a born again “serious” Christian you are branded as pretty much worthless. Read the rest of this entry »





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.





Either God or the Pastor has some ‘splaining to do

28 11 2007

Grods has blogged on this already, so I thought I’d take a look at the Catch the Fire website to see what Danny Nalliah’s sheeple followers make of the outcome of his prediction–made on the highest of authorities, no less–of a Howard victory.

And . . . wait . . . oh, for fuck’s sake! They’ve gone and erased the comments to this post, of which there were about seven the last time I looked. Fortunately Karen Hetherington’s prophecies are still up, and as she assures her readers, “every dream God has given me regarding political matters in Australia and other nations has come to pass.” Karen (via God) had Howard pegged as “God’s chosen vessel to lead Australia as PM” as early as 1990, she tells us, though one gets the impression reading her that God was more firmly in the Costello camp: “And when on 30.7.07 I was driving past Mt. Beerwah in Queensland (aboriginal legend a mother mountain with womb) the Spirit of God suddenly moved me to cry out in the loud aboriginal like tongue followed by the shouting our several times of ‘The Honorable Peter Costello, Prime Minister elect of Australia’.” (The amount of crazy Hetherington manages to cram into her post is truly astounding. Full marks!)

So how do the sheeple respond to the failure of these prophecies? Some go into denial:

TA Mark: We have failed Him. The Godless have been elected. We did not pray with enough self-sacrifice and fervour. . . . I feel now that this is His will, His challange to us. Over the coming years we must be strong and continue to spread the word of His Love.

Others (some of you will be familiar with this commenter’s website) go into denial:

Dear Pastor Danny, although the election was not won, we will continue to trust God that He knows more than we know. Though we are all extremely disappointed, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. The Bible tells us that we are going to face hard times and that the Antichrist is permitted to ‘overcome the saints’ for a time. Now is the time to hold on and pray that we are able to stand firm.

And others? Well, I guess they just disappear down the memory hole. Seriously, these people are so deluded that, even when they know they’ve been lied to, they happily pull the wool over their own eyes even further.

Enjoy some Colbert: