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

21 09 2008

The week in fundie . . .

Hello! Im HPV. Vaccinating your daughter against me makes baby Jesus cry!

Hello! I'm HPV. Vaccinating your daughter against me makes baby Jesus cry!

  1. Religious woo-woo is now being incorporated into the treatment of US military service veterans, the Washington Post reports. Patients are now undergoing routine “spiritual assessments,” and according to Annie-Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation are being evaluated on how many times a day they admit to praying. “If you don’t pass the test,” says Gaylor, “the answer is to give you more religion.” More alarmingly, the Post recounts the tale of an orthodox Jew who in 2005 was denied treatment for his kidney stones after he filed complaints against an Iowa veteran’s hospital. Despite telling hospital staff repeatedly that he did not want a chaplain visit, a Protestant pastor continued to enter his room and preach, warning him that he would go to Hell if he did not accept Jesus Christ as his saviour. This kind of thing has been perfectly kosher, of course, since the US Supreme Court ruled that US taxpayers “lack standing in challenging the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.”
  2. Shorter Pope Benedict: Catholics are a persecuted minority in Europe because European governments are secular and pass laws the Vatican doesn’t like. (New York Times)
  3. In a recent survey in a particular Western country, it has been discovered that more than one quarter of teachers believe creationism should be taught in the classroom. Which country? The US? No. The UK. (Telegraph)
  4. Call me a militant atheist fundamentalist bigot, but it is my view that when parents or schools for dogmatic reasons decide to opt out of medical treatment for the children in their care that could prevent them from contracting a potentially fatal disease later in life, these bullies should be charged with criminal negligence. In the Canadian province of Winnipeg, four private religious schools have opted out of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme aimed at Grade 6 girls across the province. HPV, by the way, is a cause of nearly all forms of cervical cancer. The schools in question named “religious reasons[: . . .] Some parent groups worry the vaccine sends the wrong message and may encourage preteen girls to engage in sexual activity.” And there’s apparently nothing that health authorities in Winnipeg can do about it. Let’s not choke each other’s chickens, here. This is about dirty old men getting positively giddy over the prospect of female genital disfigurement and womens’ suffering, absolving themselves at the same time with a sanctimonious appeal to the notion that they deserve what they get because sluttery makes Sky-Daddy mad. (The “She was asking for it, Your Honour” defence.) It’s also about so-called secular liberal democracies bending over backwards to pander to such rank sociopathy, even when it endangers the lives of those who are not allowed to choose for themselves. Any legal system which does not treat religion-inspired negligence in the same way it would treat any other kind of negligence constitutes the state sponsorship of religious dogma—the particular dogma in question being that it is more important to save souls (the existence of which has never been demonstrated) than to save lives. (Vancouver Sun)
  5. 55% of Americans are insane. Read the rest of this entry »
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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 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 »





The Bill Muehlenberg Trophy: Iftikhar Ahmad

29 05 2008

Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics has (it appears) been spamming blogs and discussion boards with an essay arguing for the state-funding of Islamic schools in the UK as a way of improving the academic lot of British Muslim children. He prophesies that “A day will come when all Muslim children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role model [sic].”

I want to begin by acknowledging the least objectionable, and in some cases semi-reasonable elements of his argument. Islamic schools are not just faith schools, he contends: they are also bilingual schools.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity.

Agreed. And I would add the obvious point that proficiency in English will enable these children to function as productive citizens and workers in Anglophone societies like the UK.

They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the Holy Quran.

Hmmm . . . OK. If a knowledge of Arabic affords one an enriched understanding of Islam and the Koran, and facilitates a critical/heuristic approach to the religion, then by all means should these kids learn Arabic. If the aim is to inculcate a submissive, dogmatic approach, whereby the main objective is for the kids to learn the text by rote, then I can’t see why the UK Government should embrace that as a funding priority.

They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

Again, that seems valid to me, but there seem to be cognitive advantages to multilingualism that are (in my view) even more important than keeping immigrant children in touch with their cultural roots (not that the latter isn’t a valuable objective). Moreover, as Ahmad rightly points out: “A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village.” (Underline the words “global” and “village” here. They will become important later on.) Read the rest of this entry »