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).
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