(Updated) Do the religious have a right not to be offended?

1 07 2008

The Australian and international blogosphere is abuzz with news of New South Wales’ antidemocratic laws protecting Catholicism from criticism during the World Youth Day festivities:

EXTRAORDINARY new powers will allow police to arrest and fine people for “causing annoyance” to World Youth Day participants and permit partial strip searches at hundreds of Sydney sites, beginning today.

The laws, which operate until the end of July, have the potential to make a crime of wearing a T-shirt with a message on it, undertaking a Chaser-style stunt, handing out condoms at protests, riding a skateboard or even playing music, critics say.

Police and volunteers from the State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service will be able to direct people to cease engaging in conduct that “causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants in a World Youth Day event”.

People who fail to comply will be subject to a $5500 fine.

The Church itself has denied requesting the regulations. You can read more at Pharyngula, The Thinker’s Podium and An Onymous Lefty.

An organisation by the name of the No To Pope Coalition is prepared to take the $5500 challenge. Which brings to mind recent police crackdowns on anti-Scientology protests in London and Glasgow, as well as the arrest last week of a Gold Coast teenager for wearing a T-shirt deemed “blasphemous.” Having our delicate religious sensibilities offended, it appears, is something we want the police and the government to protect us against.

But what do you think? Do the religious have a right not to be offended? Read the rest of this entry »

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

2 06 2008

The week in fundie . . .

  1. Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion reports on calls from within the evangelical wing of the Church of England to convert British Muslims, on the grounds that “Our nation is rooted in the Christian faith and that is the basis of welcoming people of other faiths,” and despite the fact that in the nineties the Church leadership distanced itself from an organisation established to evangelise Jews (a point on which the evangelicals, Bartholomew notes, remain silent).
  2. The Spanish Inquisition Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decreed that “anyone trying to ordain a woman and any woman who attempts to receive the ordination would incur automatic excommunication” from the Catholic Church. Kiddy-fiddlers are still welcome, however. (Yahoo News)
  3. When it comes to the separation of church and state and the issue of whether there should be a religious test for public office in the US, Democrat member of the Indiana State House of Representatives David “Dave” Cheatham doesn’t beat around the bush. He argues that “Any public official should have as a top priority the goal of serving God and living a life as a witness for Jesus.” The separation of church and state is, for Cheatham, a “one-way street”:

    Religion and faith should be able to affect government policies and practices, but government should not interfere with legitimate religions. Restricting prayer in school and the reading of the Bible and the Ten Commandments was never intended to be the affect of the 1st amendment. Government has over-stepped their authority. Government’s relation to religion should be one of “benevolent neutrality.”

    “Benevolent neutrality,” means neutrality towards the religions Cheatham is prepared to recognise.

    government should not be used to favor a particular religion over another as long as the religion is a legitimate faith with the belief in God. Cults and other pseudo-religions are not really religions in my mind.

    Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things.

  4. Villagers in Orissa, India bound and gagged a woman they accused of being a witch, dragged her from her home to the local crematorium, and burnt her alive. This happened last week. It happens to dozens of Indian women every year. (Reuters)
  5. At an Anonymous rally in Glasgow, police ordered protesters to take down placards labelling Scientology a cult. Similar action was taken against a protester in London last month. (Sunday Herald)
  6. According to Jason Leopold at OpEdNews, some US soldiers are distributing Bibles and other fundamentalist Christian material translated into Arabic to thousands of Iraqi Muslims, in order to convert them to Christianity. Members of the 101st Airborne Division have been provided with a special military edition of Bible Pathway Ministries‘ Daily Devotional bible study book, and are using them, according to an officer in the division, “to minister to the local residents.” Elaborating upon this blatant violation of the Establishment Clause, Chief Warrant Officer Rene Llanos explains that “We need to pray for protection for our soldiers as they patrol and pray that God would continue to open doors. The soldiers are being placed in strategic places with a purpose. They’re continuing to spread the Word.”
  7. In the Filipino province of Leyte, the Catholic Church is considering tithing in order to keep its parishes afloat financially. This is in a country in which 26.9 percent of families were deemed to be living below the poverty line in 2006. (Inquirer.net)
  8. How much irony can you pack into one story? ABC News Online reports that moderate Muslims rallying in Jakarta in favour of religious tolerance have been attacked . . . by baton-wielding radical Muslims. The moderates were protesting against Indonesian government plans to ban the Ahmadiyah sect, considered heretical by many other Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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

15 02 2008

The week in fundie . . .

  1. In that jewel of civilisation known as Saudi Arabia, an illiterate woman who had a fingerprint-signed confession (which she couldn’t read) beaten out of her, has been sentenced to death by beheading. For witchcraft. (via Pharyngula)
  2. In Tonga, an elderly man accused of practising witchcraft has been hacked to death with bush knives. (News24)
  3. In KwaZulu-Natal, a seven-year-old boy was beheaded and his testicles removed, in what police suspect is a “muti killing” (where body parts are extracted for medicinal/witchcraft purposes). (News24)
  4. The Catholic Church in Poland is planning the construction of an “exorcism center,” after priests at the Institute for Studies on the Family “realized they needed an exorcist on staff after they encountered an increase in people suffering from evil.” (Sort of a “theo-epidemiology,” if you will. The article neglects to describe how exactly “evil” is measured.) (Catholic News Agency)
  5. In Rwanda, an 84-year-old Hutu man baptised himself as a Christian after a Hutu pastor refused to lay hands on him, accusing the man of betraying his tribe because of the role he played protecting Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. (via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion) Read the rest of this entry »

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

19 01 2008

The week in fundie (updated) . . .

  1. Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins agrees with Mike Huckabee that the US Constitution should be “updated” to align with “Biblical standards.”

    What’s more troubling, Dan: Huckabee saying that we should have–reflect in our Constitution biblical standards of life and marriage–which, by the way, our nation has held throughout most of its history–or, a candidate who subscribes to Darwin’s theory of evolution and ‘survival of the fittest’ proposing a health care program? (PageOneQ)

  2. On the subject of Huckabee, Salon reports on the amount of Christian reconstructionist pies in which the Republican candidate has inserted his fingers. See also this comprehensive report by Chris Hedges at Truthdig.
  3. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has an enlightened new policy regarding employees and volunteers making anonymous reports of sexual abuse of minors that can be summed in four words: shut the fuck up. (AP)
  4. Evidently Expelled, Ben Stein’s “documentary” promoting intelligent design creationism, is so bad that producers are actually paying people to see it. (via Pharyngula)
  5. Pan MacMillan too scared to release an unauthorised book on Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology to the Australian market. (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  6. It’s “too expensive” to be an atheist. (The Jakarta Post)

Quote. Of. The. Week.

16 01 2008

No one is saying that angel-human hybrids should be rounded up and killed.
— “WayWord

From Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Another fundy saying some very darned things over the fold . . . Read the rest of this entry »