Yet Again, The Pope cannot Resist a chance to Show His Ignorance. (And here I was thinking that bowing to temptation was a sin)


This morning’s Radio Four broadcast (as usual) it’s saccharine soaked insipid section, Thought For The Day, at 7:45 am .  What was unusual was the fact that the 2 minute 46 second slot had been recorded in Rome by the Pope.  The broadcast is the first time any pope has written material specifically for a radio or television audience.  To me, it smacks of extreme desperation on the Vatican’s part to restore trust (undeserved in the first place) in the church.  Aside from the fact that there are rarely ANY humanist, atheist or agnostic speakers for this programme, coupled with their extremely similar program, Prayer For The Day (on at the earlier time of 05:43 am), this is not a post about the BBC’s broadcasting habits or policy.  This post is more about the utter garbage spouted in the news and other media by the religiously inclined on an almost daily basis.

“And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the cross.”

In addition, he also gave comfort and consolation for “families, children, the sick and those going through hardship, especially the elderly and those approaching the end of their days”.

This quote kind of says it all really.  Death was not destroyed: it still happens.  There is no getting away from this exhibition of the childish fear of the unknown.  If the believer is so arrogant to believe that not only is he capable of surviving the death of his brain (not that he uses it) and nervous system, but deserves it, then it is up to them but wishing that belief to be true does not make it true.  The same way that the existence of prayer does not make it efficacious.   If the ancient story about the execution of an outcast brings people comfort (can’t see how that dreadful message could comfort anyone) then it is entirely accidental.  Christianity, Catholicism in particular, has certainly NOT brought political liberation.  Even now, subscribers attempt to impose their chosen set of dogma and doctrines on everybody else.  This insistence for unquestioned ‘respect’ is not exclusive to Christianity by any means but at this time of year the whining reaches new levels of acerbic shrillness.  It’s almost like trying to reason with an over-tired toddler (but at least you can send the tot to bed).

Portrait of Pope Pius XII

Pius XII has long been a controversial figure for his failure publicly to denounce the Holocaust in 1941 or 1942. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

 

The liberation we enjoy in the UK came through conscious change in public opinion about what is considered acceptable behaviour and attitude, not to mention hard-fought for changes in the law with regard to even non-Protestants holding positions in public office, let alone non-believers.  It has come through brave people standing up for what they believe and holding on to their integrity even though it even cost them their liberty.  Christianity has only ever offered fear of punishment in return for not taking vicarious offer of ethereal rewards after a lifetime of willing subservience to the will of the church.  It has enslaved believers and murdered ‘heretics’.  It has spilled unmeasured, needless blood (as it still does) in its quest to ‘save the heathen races’ and please their god.  It has enabled the infliction of needless suffering against thousands.  And it is also no coincidence that what ‘their God wants’ nearly always seems to coincide with whatever act the clergy or bewildered masses wanted to do anyway.  The Christian God seems to have given its stamp of approval on nearly every atrocity or poisonous act ever committed in the name of Christianity.  When confronted with these facts, (I have lost count of the times I have been told this) the stock answer of ‘they weren’t really Christians‘ is trotted out without either hesitation or thought.

“As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas,”

It’s not a great mystery, it DIDN’T HAPPEN, and I certainly do not ‘ponder’ it.  All the story does is weakly advocate the human sacrifice of an entirely unrelated individual in order for us to feel that our mistakes and misdeeds can be undone in an instant and by somebody else.  They can’t be and it is infantile in the extreme to believe that they can.

“I’ve got no problem with the message itself, but I think it’s an extraordinarily bad choice for the BBC and I think it’s actually a slap in the face for these hundreds of thousands of child abuse victims.”

“What we’ve had with the papal visit and with Thought for the Day is the pope pontificating his views and being totally unaccountable for things that the church has been responsible for.”

Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society to The Guardian

I agree.  The BBC is funded by all UK licence payers (A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 per year and is compulsory.) and should therefore be representative of all of the UK population.  Pandering to the vanity of the ever-present and complaining (women’s’ reproductive freedom, the secular freedom for other faiths or those of no faith, equal rights for gay people etc) Catholics without calling the church to account for itself is not constructive.  The Catholic church should consider itself very much in disgrace with the rest of the world.  They have proven they are out of touch with modern morality and the clergy (the higher-ups especially) do not consider themselves subject to ‘earthly’ laws and standards of behaviour or ethics.  The Pope was merely acting upon sufferance when he put his crocodile-tears act on to urge the church to take responsibility for the culture of abuse which has been rampant in the Roman Church (for centuries) but in the same speech he went on to shift the blame on to the ‘permissiveness’ of the 1970s and the ‘normalising’ of child abuse and porn which merely demonstrates my point that they are both backward and dangerously out of touch with reality.  There was no hint of sincerity in the pope’s message, just a cringe-worthy display of adherence to idiotic story telling.

“The pope’s message was anodyne and didn’t engage with any contemporary issues – not really a thought for the day at all, but more a bit of good PR for him courtesy of the licence fee payer.

It is a shame that humanists in Britain continue to be denied the right to reply in such circumstances, with the ban on non-religious contributors to the programme.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association

Those said to have been instrumental in persuading the Vatican to take part are the veteran Rome correspondent David Willey, BBC world news editor Jon Williams and the corporation’s head of radio, religion and ethics, Christine Morgan. Mark Thompson, BBC director general and a devout Roman Catholic, has also been involved in the negotiations

 

Sources

The BBC Must Acknowledge Us…


“A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Radio 2’s Hardeep Singh Kohli journeys to three of the most exciting cities in the UK, Cardiff, Leicester and Glasgow. In doing so he tells the story of faith in Britain today.

Share your experience. What does your religious faith mean to you? How has it influenced your life and continues to do so? We’d like to hear how important your faith is to you. Email, including pictures and audio, to: greatbritishfaith@bbc.co.uk

The BBC have done it again.  They have successfully managed to effectively ignore the fact that not everybody in this country has a religious faith.  If it were not bad enough that we are inundated by media reports of damning comments from religious leaders against atheists and secularism and complaints about being marginalised, we are faced with yet another census which asks biased and leading questions, but now a supposedly non-biased and publicly funded (by way of a compulsory license fee) media organisation, is now refraining to acknowledge the humanist, agnostic, and atheistic members of the population AND their contribution to society.

“While atheism is merely the absence of belief, humanism is a positive attitude to the world, centred on human experience, thought, and hopes.”

In their site, atheism is portrayed as being a wholly negative and individualist outlook, citing an example of why people become atheists is that it’s merely a symptom of damaging culture ‘so someone raised in Communist China is likely to have no belief in God because the education system and culture make being an atheist the natural thing to do.‘  It IS a ‘natural thing to do‘.  We are all born atheists with common sense while religious belief is an entirely learned part of any culture.  If anything is arbitrary, it is the imposition of stifling and oppressive ideas on young minds; there is nothing innate about it.  I have already sent my message to the BBC regarding their map:

“You haven’t included Humanism or atheism in your ‘Faith Map’! Please do so! Please stop pretending we are non-existent and not worth listening to. Please stop assuming that because we lack belief in a god, that we lack an interest in the outside world, compassion or morals. Religion does not own morality or decency. It’s time we were acknowledged, rather than dismissed as an eccentric minority.”

The BBC does have an atheism page (even though atheism is NOT a set religion or belief system) hidden deep within their Religion section.   Humanism and secularism do not feature on its list but are instead ‘relegated’ into being merely types of atheism. If they are to include these ism in their religion site then they should have a place on the map.  If they will not be then the BBC should acknowledge that they are NOT religions, and do so publicly, and then move Atheism from out of its Religion pages and into a non-religious one.  The BBC cannot have things both ways.  This is aside from the fact that while many atheists are also both humanists and secularists, so are people of other faiths. More disturbing is that Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been listed even though they strictly count as dangerous cults.  The BBC list of Religions consists of

According to the BBC ‘most’ atheists will concede there are some good things about religion, such as:

  • Religious art and music (Nothing to do with commissioned work then, no?)
  • Religious charities and good works (do NOT and will never atone for or negate more than a millennia of violence, persecution or bloodshed in its name that continues to this day.)
  • Much religious wisdom and scripture (Um, where?)
  • Human fellowship and togetherness (which is exclusive to those of the same faith and beliefs.  Others are to be converted, avoided or (in the case of Islam) eliminated from the earth)

I am not one of them.  I have also found that those who cite these non-arguments more often than not are going out of their way to be nice as they really have not thought about what religious leaders call upon us to believe without question, to ignore the abundant hypocrisy within those positions of self-assumed authority.  It is in the interest of those men who having achieved positions of meaningless command that the rest of us follow their lead without thought or consideration.  Religious freedom luckily does not get privileges over the civil laws which protect us all.  In a culture of political correctness in the name of equality, we have now found ourselves in the unenviable position of being unable to criticise anything, including the intolerance of religious belief, without facing the severe criticism of equal intolerance.  This is not to say that people should be able to say whatever hateful thing is on their mind at the time, but to emphasise the fact that, at least in the case of certain individuals, the idea of political correctness has been used in order to garner an atmosphere in which those of faith may preach almost whatever they please (no matter how oppressive and unpleasant) in the cause of their religion and come up against almost no opposition from the rest of society for fear of being labelled a bigot.

Mean Atheists?

“You know what? God is an imaginary friend. Religion is a virus. Religion is a hoax. Religion doesbrainwash people (even if Brett seems to think that’s a positive thing).

It’s about damn time we get the courage to say so.

And if your feelings get hurt because some atheists are honest about god’s (lack of) existence, that’s just too bad for you.” – Friendly Atheist

Not only is it about time we had the courage to not hide our disbelief and be open about it, but we should be permitted the same platform as those who have a religious belief.  One Mrs Brett, Regina Brett of The Cleveland Plain Dealer is very unhappy with the recent slate of atheists billboards. This is despite millions of religious billboards across the US, claiming an eternity of torture and punishment for the ‘sin’ of not believing in the truth of Christianity. Harmless and inoffensive and legally paid for boards, with non-religious slogans are being vandalised and pulled down due to the complaints of religious adherents.  I say that if they have a problem with the non-religious boards then they must pull down their own and learn to live by their own rules.

Why believe in a God?  Be good for GOODNESS' sake

One of the mean, mocking and offensive adverts for the American Humanist Association. Yes, Mrs Brett thinks they highlight our smug arrogance. I'm detecting a lot of projection here.

“Atheists don’t have to share religious beliefs, but they also don’t have to share ill will, either” Regina Brett

  1. We don’t have RELIGIOUS beliefs TO share.
  2. We have every right to voice our displeasure and reach out to other atheists. (Quit with the divide and rule tactics; it’s getting very boring)

What Mrs Brett, has clearly misunderstood is that real freedom means that sometimes you just have to put up with things that might bruise some overly sensitive feelings.  She has chosen to ignore the fact that freedom of religion was NOT set up so that Christians and other religious groups could run their mouths (and poster campaigns) at other religions and non-religious people without any opposition. THAT is called bullying, people, and I refuse to become a victim.  The posters and billboards are not mean.  They are not mocking.  They are in no way inflammatory.  It’s time Mrs Brett and others like her (the Chrissy Satterfield twit for instance) stopped acting like a bunch of spoiled babies and woke up to the fact that the world does not work for or around Christians and Christianity.    One of the comments on Mrs Brett’s article reflected a startling attitude which is sadly shared and common within the religious community of both the US and the UK;

edwardiii
edwardiii November 21, 2010 at 4:15PM

The problem with any child raised as an atheist is that they believe they are the center of the universe. They have to. The individual as the centre of their own universe is the cornerstone of atheism. What a sad life. What a terrible thing to do to a child.

More projection there, I see.  WE DO NOT have the arrogance to assume a personal relationship with a supreme being which places us in a favoured position over other people and grants us rights over them and their property.  WE DO NOT assume that our world view is the ‘one true‘ anything.  Most of all, WE DO NOT consider those who, don’t share our lifestyles, or disagree with our beliefs in any way inferior to us or deserving of punishment or persecution of any sort.  The same cannot be said for theists because the tenets of their religions demands that they do.  I would say it was far worse to teach a child that they are naturally bad and scare them out of individual thought by telling them that without the belief in their relationship with a magical and invisible being in the sky that they must have complete unquestioning faith in, love unconditionally (but only loves them if they believe) and fear of regardless of the lack of evidence or they will burn in hell forever.  That really is a terrible and despicable thing to do to a child.  Thankfully Mrs Brett did correct him and this is half the battle: Convincing believers that we are not selfish, amoral, megalomaniacs who view ourselves as centres of the universe is not going to be an easy task but it IS possible.

Sources

Church group says ‘NO’…Well there’s a surprise (sigh)!


A controversial scheme allowing girls as young as 13 to obtain the contraceptive pill from pharmacies is being piloted on the Isle of Wight.  The girls will be able to obtain the morning-after-pill and a single month’s supply of contraceptive pill from one of ten pharmacies from around the island.  After that month is up, the girl must get a prescription from either their GP or family planning nurse, to obtain any further supplies (those of us who take the pill, or have taken it in the past, know that G.P. s must carry out  regular blood pressure checks on patients who take the pill and to make sure that the one they take is not having any undue side-effects). This single month’s supply is accompanied by information on support networks to be used in the future.

 

AGE OF CONSENT AROUND THE WORLD
Argentina – 15
Bahamas – 16
Canada – 14
Colombia – male 14, female 12
India – 18
Indonesia – male 19, female 16
Hungary – 14
Peru – male 14, female 12
Tunisia – 20
UK – 16 (For girls)
US – federal age 16

 

Acknowledging that the age of consent for girls in this country is 16, we must also acknowledge the girls who are active before this time.  Why are they less entitled to a say over their own bodies than the rest of us?  This move will mean that they are protected from at least the life altering event of having a baby too soon.  It is not the ability to obtain reliable contraception that will unalterably affect them.  Surely it is better to prevent the pregnancy of a young girl in the first place, than to end up with her pregnant, and having to chose between adoption, keeping the baby, or abortion? Anybody can think that cure is better than prevention, but I would suggest that they rethink that, before pressing it on the rest of us.

 

However, church and campaign groups have called the move “irresponsible”.

 

What strikes me most is the tiresome repetition of nay-sayers who are making ill-thought knee jerk reactions against a move which could actually make a real difference on the number of unwanted teen pregnancies.  This is not a move that will instantaneously prompt the non-sexually active girls to become active, but instead protect the girls who already are active.  When the pill was first invented, only married women were permitted to use it.  Since then it has become a tool of liberation for women as we now have the legal ability to reliably control our fertility, without reservation on age (after 16) or marital status and this is something western women should celebrate.

Jennifer Smith, from the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust, said: “They are already sexually active, we haven’t encouraged them to be sexually active.”

I am a mother, and though I have a only one and even then a son, (we hope to have a girl next) my husband and I have often discussed how we should be no less strict with our son in these matters than with any girls we have.  Twelve and thirteen is about the age when girls begin their periods and become fertile.  It is no more responsible to deprive them of the options to control that fertility than it is to information or by trying to promote the abstinence-only form of ‘contraception’ preached by many.  This ‘method’ has been proven not only not to work, but to actively exacerbate the problem by making sex something forbidden and dangerous and thus attractive to teenagers.  It also makes them less likely to feel as if they can turn anywhere for reliable advice.  As parents, my husband and I are generally in favour of openly discussing these matters with our child(ren) on the general principal if they are old enough to ask us (mummy, where do babies come from?), then they are old enough to know the facts according to their ability to comprehend them but those facts need to be up dated accordingly.  It’s not a case of having one single ‘talk’ when you feel like your teenager should be showing an interest in the other gender (isn’t that just lazy parenting?) and this is not an encouragement for them to go out and start behaving like horny bunnies, but an aim to equip our child(ren) with the information and legal abilities they will need in order to make safe, and informed, choices.

The Reverend Anthony Glaysher, from the Catholic diocese of Portsmouth, said it “fundamentally attacked the family”.

The the good Reverend, I would say, what attacks ‘the family’ is a rigid and intolerant view against anything, that damn book tells you is ‘bad’.  It is not the ability to obtain contraception, that attacks ‘the family’, it is ridiculous notions that preventing women and girls from deciding whether to have a baby or not protects it, and stopping an unwanted pregnancy before it starts is somehow ‘evil’.

The Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Andrew Turner, asked: “How can adults bring up their children if their children can go into a shop, more or less, and be handed over something which is so significant?

“I will be making my concern clear to the people who run the health service and they’ve got to understand that many people feel the same.”

What is needed is not a case of either ‘parenting’ or ‘pill’, but a combination of the two.  Not all parents are open or willing to discuss sex with their children which risks leaving girls uninformed and that is what makes them vulnerable. My mother was willing to discuss ‘options’ and I was lucky enough to know that I could talk to her about it.  My father was not despite how close I am to him but my parents are very much products of their generation so you cannot just rely on all parents to 1) be as open as me and my husband, and 2) educate their children on this without imposing religious bias on the issues.  Those children have a right to know their all of their options and a right to legally protect themselves. Keeping the pill out of reach of  the girls who are already sexually active is not going to stop them from being sexually active.  The fact that they already are active proves that point.  I would definitely recommend counselling for them but I would not for one moment deprive them of the power of veto over their own bodies.

“Before the legalization of the birth control pill, women and doctors could find themselves in deep trouble with the law if they obtained the hormones for pregnancy prevention. Even discussing ways to prevent pregnancy landed, more than a few in jails…Today, the Catholic Church still prohibits the use of The Pill and other contraceptives, but I have a feeling there are not so many taking the prohibition so seriously.

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11650100

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blthepill.htm

http://womenshealth.about.com/b/2010/05/25/fifty-years-of-the-pill.htm