People ‘felt like it was time for a change’. Congratulations you got it and now the rest of us have to live with it!

How good is that?

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To the ‘ALL DOWN TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU’ commentators…


Let me get this clear (and hopefully through some rather thick skulls).  It’s not due to ‘people like me’, that women’s rape cases are thrown out, its due to the mass hysteria produced by people like you who managed to turn a very minor and badly timed come-on into a serious infringement of personal rights.

I myself refuse to be treated or thought of as a permanently potential victim because I happen to be female.  It’s patronising and very irritating.   I have a right to my body as does everybody else but I have no right to expect others to pussy-foot around me desperate to not ‘make me uncomfortable’ but nor does anyone else.  Don’t make the hysteria my fault when all I an others have done is pointed out how stupidly irrelevant it all really is.  I have never suggested that women ever deserve to be raped or assaulted.  As far as I am concerned ‘No’ means ‘no’ and no qualification or reason is ever needed or should ever be expected and this applies to partners and husbands too. Miss Watson had every right to feel uncomfortable, it’s not for us to say what she or anyone should or should not be feeling but nor are we responsible for the ‘feelings’ of others.  It would in no way have been her fault if she had been assaulted.  So just what happened in the lift?  SHE said NO, he didn’t push it.   He didn’t touch her or harm her in any way.   That should have been the end of it.  Clear? Good.

You have ALL refused to think critically about the whole situation and instead decided to lambaste everyone who doesn’t instantly agree with you and Plait on every point and I’m truly embarrassed for you.

There are certain rules and expectations of common courtesy to be held in account, like offering one’s seat on a train or bus to someone less able to stand than you, holding doors for the next person or just offering to help someone you can see is struggling. This is not because they are male, female (or bug-eyed alien) but because it is an item of decent things to do on a very long and complicated list of little things which help make the world a nicer place to live in.  Adding relative and arbitrary items and terms to that list like ‘don’t be creepy‘ is not in the least bit helpful to the real cases of sexual assault and nor is it fair to apply it only to men. It makes it harder, not easier, to see that justice is done when the slightest word at the wrong time and wrong place by someone with zero grip on appropriate social interaction can blow up into this.

Yes, people are awkward.  That is not a crime (not everyone is the same and it is just wrong-headed to be angry that someone doesn’t instantly just agree with you or see things exactly as you do), and rather than laugh at them or so fiercely condemn them for making what is for us such an obvious error (and tit of themselves, because that’s all EG really did wrong), how about helping them to not make the same mistake again. You do this by having the decency and good manners to state your objection to their face calmly and at the time. What you do not do is increase EGs humiliation in a couched reference on a YouTube video so that everyone knows about it and those at the conference are left speculating about who it might have been because he was possibly already kicking himself over it.

To deliberately embarrass EG like that was just a cruel and nasty thing to do.   If we use your logic, commentators, that ‘mere moment’ in the video has infringed HIS rights ‘not to be made to feel uncomfortable‘ unless that’s a one way gate which it seems to be at the moment.   One might say that they were ‘even‘ in this case but oh NO, its managed to become not only a man-bashing exercise but a mission to ‘condemn all the women who don’t see it automatically our waywithout being allowed to think about it for ourselves let alone openly disagree with you.    (When did the feminist-fundies emerge?)  Can you not see how you all  resemble the same religious fundies we come up against on a daily basis?  The same ones who refuse to acknowledge that any but their personal views are valid and that all the worlds problems are all down to we morally repugnant individuals who dare to disagree openly with them. This is another reason that I’m embarrassed for you as a group.  Last time I checked it was okay for us to disagree with each other but it seems along with the Atheists who condemn other atheists for speaking out to deal with, we now have sceptics who won’t tolerate others being sceptical of them.

That it can cause this amount of hysterical posturing from the PC crowd is also embarrassing (buttock-clenchingly so) because it’s making the whole critical-thinking movement look like a bunch of hypocrites.

Making this as bad as actual assault does nothing to help women.  It hinders us, more importantly it hinders the women who are trying to hold their assailant to account and NOT be thought of as one of those ‘hysterical feminists‘ because what this does is it puts people like you directly in the minds of the people who make those decisions: important decisions.  If there is the smallest scrap of doubt or suspicion that the victim blew anything out of proportion, their assailant will walk free rather than risk sending an innocent man to prison.  That is also one of the joys of living in a free western society: you cannot be thrown in prison without actual and certain proof that you did anything wrong.

As we have seen, what someone considers ‘creepy’ varies vastly from person to person. Define ‘creepy’.   This is one of the costs of  living in a FREE WESTERN SOCIETY.  It means that other people are allowed different views and to express them.  (I shouldn’t have to explain that to you people.)  To attempt to make all terms mean exactly the same to all people regardless of whether it’s a social construct or legislated law would be to put an end  to that freedom.   Would any of the naysayers (who really have not listened to a word have had to say before now) ever be happy to be forced to apply that restriction to their own lives?  I will quote myself here from the last paragraph of my original post and this time I hope people will try to listen and take it in.

“We as women no more have the right ‘not to be made uncomfortable‘ than the followers of the religions we criticise have the right ‘not to be offended’.”

What Happens at an Exorcism and Why It Should Worry Us.


“There were only a small number of priests who had any real expertise, and they were getting calls from all over the country.” So many attended the conference, he said – “They must have requests.” Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki - The organiser of this October's Conference on Exocorism 

In October 2010, a Catholic conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland (preceding yet another) attended by 56 US Bishops and 66 Priests.  That Bishops had bothered to attend was indeed a novelty because the annual conference is normally only attended by Priests. What the focus of this conference is certainly surprising considering that it was held in a (theoretically) civilised country.  None the less, these Priests and Bishops find reason to gather every year to discuss exorcism.

While all Catholic priests are permitted by the Vatican to perform these ceremonies, very few American are trained and able to. Though how much training does it take in order to become ‘proficient’ in bullying, manipulating, and terrifying and further brainwashing an already troubled individual into first believing that their troubles are due to a demonic possession and secondly that their lifestyle had allowed the possession to occur in the first place.  The conference was meant to train priests in the ‘art’ of exorcism and was organised by the Bishop Thomas Paprocki who is also the chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.

Paprocki is of the view that there is an increasing demand for exorcism in the US despite the lack of data on the subject: But when has real evidence had anything to do with what the Catholic church believes or how they decide to act.  Out of the 68 million Catholics in the US, only an estimated 6 to 14 are ‘trained exorcists‘ though the church seems determined to rectify this issue and plunge America further back toward the Dark Ages of Europe and the reign of tyranny and fear exerted by the Inquisition.  One of those exorcists is the Rev Gary Thomas of Saratoga and the subject of The Rite.  (The book by Matt Baglio and forthcoming film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins)

Paprocki’s feeling is seconded by Rev. Thomas.  Exorcism is being requested by parishioners who have family they believe to be in need of this ‘service’ yet there is no mention of any clerical recommendation.  I am sure these family members are well-meaning but the greatest harm is often caused by the best intentions (Thanks to Terry Goodkind for that one.).  The Rev. believes the cause of this demand is an increase in paganism and ‘idolatrous activity’ by Catholics.   This is, of course, garbage and garbage of the sort spouted by the likes of Michael Voris.  The Church feels threatened by its lack (or loss) of privilege in the developed world and is trying to increase their influence by any means necessary.  When you consider that even the president of the National Federation of Priests, Rev. Richard Vega, has not heard of any requests at all.  He speculated that immigrant Catholics, who were probably more familiar with the practice, may be making requests.  He also reported to the Guardian that it is Canon Law requires every diocese have a trained exorcist.  That many do not, he blames on a post Vatican II church.  In 2005 Pope John Paul II wrote to all US Bishops instructing them to train an exorcist.  Rev Thomas was asked when the initial candidate declined and despite his own reservations that it was not what he had ‘signed up for’, he took the course while in Rome on a sabbatical.

“Some demons are very strong,” he said. “So it needs repeated prayer and fasting and penance.” People breaking up relationships don’t always make a clean break. “The relationship didn’t develop overnight and is not broken overnight.”Paprocki

An exorcism requires discernment to determine whether or not the person ‘brought in’ is really in need of one or if their family just thinks they are.  The ritual is not just performed on demand (apparently) but it seems a rather convenient idea that a person may not realise they are possessed and may be subjected to this treatment against their will by the very people with a vested interest in the belief in the practice.  The initial discernment is carried out by team including a physician, a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist who (should all know better) are all practising Catholics.  Rev. Thomas claims that only five out of one hundred requests (again gave no real indication of the number of requests) result in an exorcism and that the exorcist is an ‘ultimate sceptic‘ (doubtful) based only on the idea that they do not just assume that all those who ask for the ritual need one.  This is NOT a sceptical outlook because they STILL believe in demonic possession despite the lack of evidence in favour of it and they STILL practice an outdated, unnecessary and harmful (extreme stress) practice.

“The person who is possessed may not even realise it. It’s more frequent that someone would bring a person in,”Paprocki.

The bishop Paprocki strongly believes in the need for exorcism and tried to explain possession it in terms of a relationship between a human and a demon having turned sour.  He states that it may have gone bad due to the human having realised their error.  This idea is highly speculative and even dubious, when accuracy is brought into question.  It is absurd, obtuse and fatuous to contrast an imagined demonic possession (based entirely on superstition and ill-conceived dogma) to real human relationships.  Paprocki is a fool to believe this rubbish and a dangerous fool to be promoting the practice and spreading his belief.  The Rev. Thomas says that he has performed 40 exorcisms over five years on five people.  Two gave up the ‘project’ due to time constraints.

When asked what was involved after the discernment, Thomas told The Guardian that it consists of a set of prayers meant to break up the relationship between the possessed and the demon (so a fake problem is solved with a fake cure.  It sounds about right for the church)  in order to force the demon out.  Even Thomas won’t call the work rewarding, and is reluctant to even go so far as to call it meaningful, he calls the work arduous and time-consuming with little chance of success.  Never thought that it’s because none of it is real and you have based at least the last 15 years on lies and half-truths, good Reverend?

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The demand for exorcism – as seen in Hollywood films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose – is growing in the US. Photograph: ScreenGem/Everett / Rex Features

Both the Bishop and the priest have found themselves having to reassure people regarding the nature and risks of possession; correcting mythology with more mythology to the people who have already been misled into believing Christianity at all.

“Possession is not an involuntary thing. It’s not contagious. The person themselves has to open the door,” Paprocki said. To those who come to Thomas asking, “‘How do I protect myself from being inhabited by a demon?’ I say if you have a prayer life, if you have a sacrament life, if you have a faith life – you have nothing to fear.”

This is assuming that those brought in (or anyone) believe in either demons or possession.  The bishop believes that demons must be invited but are always looking for a way in.  80% of those brought to the Bishop have been sexually abused by a family member or ‘someone else’  and this abuse, the Bishop says, leaves the victim vulnerable to the possession of demons.  It just emphasises the church’s tendency to externalise blame, hold the victim responsible for the actions of others, and typical of this barbaric and outdated religion of ridiculous superstition.

Exorcisms which have made the news are those that have ended in tragedy but were dismissed by the Bishop as having been carried out by untrained amateurs who resorted to beatings drownings and asphyxiation in order to ‘drive the demon out’.  Forget the need for training and more of these pointless rituals,  there is a need for a worldwide ban on the practice.  We only hear about the handful that are even reported but how many tragedies go unmentioned?  How many of these people are permanently damaged or injured by this practice?  We don’t hear about them for the same reason we didn’t hear of the widespread (and current) practice of protecting paedophiles for so long: the church do not regard themselves as subject to the man-made laws or morals that contradict their own idiotic philosophy.  It is in the interest of public safety that the practice is halted entirely rather than escalated.  When you consider that there are some who regard the ritual to be dangerous to the exorcist but the danger was also dismissed by the Bishop (who has never performed one) who put the deaths down to the ignorance of the untrained.  He added that the ‘unofficial’ exorcism were merely ‘ineffective’ and that “Jesus is more powerful than the Devil”.  Not the first to close their eyes and mind to reality but his influence on this subject makes him dangerous.

The Bishop’s dismissal make little impact on the Reverend who believes that the danger to exorcists is very real.  They can be attacked emotionally, physically and psychological but added that he had never experienced a physical attack (I wonder why? duh) but his celibacy is often attacked.  Often? 8 a year for 5 years is often?  Heaven for bid he ever quit the church and get a real church: the shock would probably induce a stroke.  Paprocki and Thomas both refer to demons and devils in the plural and the singular but the Bishop seems proud (isn’t pride a sin?) to admit this as if he was showing off some expertise on the matter.

“I use those interchangeably,” Paprocki said. “Sometimes a person can be possessed by more than one devil.”

According to these paranoid papists, a demon is a spiritual being who has rejected God and is being punished eternally for that ‘crime’ and the trick to a successful ritual is to learn the demon/devil’s real name while remaining aware that the Devil is the Prince of lies.  That simple huh?  The knowledge of this grants the exorcist power over the demon and the ability to banish it.  They have both noted that this cannot be done in one session so one wonders how much the church charges for their time.  It also begs the question of why the exorcist would believe a word spoken by/through the possessed?  The rarity of exorcism is, claims Paprocki, due to the rarity of real possession (no shit, Sherlock moment?).  The Bishop went on to say that the Devil’s ‘real’ game is temptation (aside from his earlier claim that demons are always looking for a way in) so it is a mistake to assume that the only danger lies in possession.  The devil is no more real than God, Jesus or any other mythology for that matter and it is foolish to fear mere characters in stories.

Polish exorcists gather in Warsaw

The national congress comes as part of a policy by Poland’s Catholic Church to lift the veil on what was once a secretive practice Photo: CORBIS

Clearly these men (and those who follow his promotion of exorcism) are deranged and should be removed from positions where they can influence the ideas and actions of others (and possibly placed in psychiatric institutions?) so they can do no further harm.  Regardless of the improbability of their claims and ideas, people DO listen to these men and change their minds according to what their local clergy tell them to think so these insane and parasitical ideas of demons, devils and possession are being spread and have more than merely the potential to cause very real and lasting (if not permanent) harm.

Sources

 

 






Boycott Amazon Until they Remove this Filth!


Book Cover

Amazon are refusing to remove this title; I am refusing to buy from Amazon until they do.

Why sell it? WHY publish it!? WHY WRITE IT AT ALL!?

Amazon.com Inc. is selling a self-published guide that offers advice to pedophiles, and that has generated outrage on the Internet and threats to boycott the retailer.  The reason?  Because refusal to list the item is ‘censorship’.  Yes, You read that right.  They are protecting the advocacy of pedophilia.

“They’re accusing me of wanting to hurt children. They’re accusing me of encouraging pedophilia and all these other things. But that’s not why I wrote the book,” the 47-year-old from Pueblo, Colo., said.

The book, which went on sale Oct. 28 and costs $4.79 to download, has sparked a wave of criticism online, with customers taking to Twitter and elsewhere to ask Amazon to remove the book from its online store and others calling for a total boycott of the company until it does.

 

Amazon.com Rating

5 star: (29)
4 star: (5)
3 star: (11)
2 star: (2)
1 star: (1,634)

Amazon.Co.uk Rating

72 Reviews
5 star: (0)
4 star: (0)
3 star: (0)
2 star: (0)
1 star: (72)

 

I am seriously considering the permanent closure of my account and a-stores if Amazon fail to do the decent thing and remove this trash from its list.  There is no excuse for the abuse of children sexual or otherwise.  This is WHY we have the age of consent.  No normal adult should ever feel sexual attraction toward a child, and should certainly not act upon it.  With all the scandal we have seen within the catholic church covering for paedophiles, the last thing we should be enabling is anyone profiteering from a crime.  It is bad enough that lawyers have made millions from the suffering of thousands, but this is beyond what any rational individual should tolerate.  I have been busily sending out texts and emails to friends and family, alerting them to Amazon’s disgraceful business conduct, and asking them not to buy from Amazon (especially from any of our wish-lists) until the product has gone for good.  Of course I respect, people’s right of purchasing choice but the point of the boycott is not to stifle our individual choices.  It is to raise awareness and provide people with the facts so that they are ABLE to make ethical purchasing choices.

“Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions,” the company said.

As a mother I am sickened by the profligate way they have shamelessly marketed this manual of child sex abuse.  I, along with all reasonable adults, have a social duty to protect all children from people like the author.  This duty includes the refusal to patronise establishments, or buy from companies which invest in, or sell, material such as this. Amazon issues guidelines banning certain materials, including those deemed offensive. However, the company doesn’t elaborate on what constitutes offensive content, saying simply that it is “probably what you would expect.” Amazon also doesn’t promise to remove or protect any one category of books.

“Christopher Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He said that Amazon has the right under the First Amendment to sell any book that is not child pornography or legally obscene. Finan said Greaves’ book doesn’t amount to either because it does not include illustrations.”

Pardon?  Illustrations, is all it takes to qualify as obscene?  I will, for now, assume that Mr Finan does NOT have children of his own to worry about.  Regardless of whether or not you do have children, it does not take a rocket scientist to read a description.  It is bad enough that there are middle-aged men who find the idea of marrying children under the age of 10, based on the words of 1500 year old hate and misogyny filled drivel (Yes, the Qur’an), perfectly acceptable, but we certainly should not be producing or condoning a western version of our own.

“We actually think this is the right attitude. This book is hardly the only horrifying thing Amazon offers — there are plenty of books written by Holocaust deniers and other hate mongers available on the Kindle or in physical form. We see no reason for Amazon to have an editorial policy.”

So Business Insider support their decision.  Holocaust denial might be disgusting as well as deluded, considering the vast body of evidence and eye-witness accounts, but we know they are wrong and THEY are not supporting the sexual abuse of minors who are not prepared to deal with sexual predators.  Philip R. Greaves II, argues that pedophiles are misunderstood, as the word literally means to love a child. The author insists that it is only a crime to act on sexual impulses toward children, and offers advice that purportedly allows pedophiles to abide by the law.  I love my son, more than life itself, but that does not mean I have inappropriate inclinations toward him.  Pedophilia (or paedophilia) is a psychological disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children (World Health Organization, Section F65.4:).  What Mr Greaves is describing is something else altogether and anyone who has these ‘impulses’ should be avoiding ANY and ALL contact with children and seeking immediate psychiatric help.  There is no excuse to peddle a book, moralising and rationalising this despicable act.

In the days since its launch, he said, he had sold just one copy.

“It hasn’t increased sales; it just has a lot of negative responses coming in,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has sold material that promotes illegal activity. It is currently accepting pre-orders for the hardcover version of “I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons” by Luca Rastello. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling “Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers.” That title is still available through Amazon. In 2009, Amazon stopped selling “RapeLay,” a first-person video game in which the protagonist stalks and then rapes a mother and her daughters, after it was widely condemned in the media and by various interest groups.  When ‘free-speech’ is used to protect people and works such as these, it ceases being free-speech and becomes a joke, especially when those who decry the writer’s and seller’s actions as morally repugnant are merely dismissed as hysterical and reactionary.

 

Sources

Secularism Is the Way Forward.


Over the years the meaning of the word Secularism has become confused and misunderstood. As well as changing its meaning, and being open to interpretation in different ways, the word has also been deliberately misrepresented by some religious interests who fear the influence of secularism on privileges that they have enjoyed for centuries and taken for granted.  Certain religious organisations (and some humanists) have pleaded for something variously called healthy secularism or state neutrality, that appears to be meant to justify all of them getting handouts from the state for the mere merit of existing at all. They reject as ‘radical secularism’ any attempt to get them to pay their own way.

Richard Gilyead, letter to The Guardian:
“Tony Blair and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor deliberately conflate secularism with atheism. Atheism is lack of belief in gods. Secularism is a belief in equality in politics, education and law, regardless of religious belief. So when they refer to militant secularism and aggressive secularism, respectively, then they are implying that such equality of treatment is a bad thing.

Firstly, to clerics who try to conflate secularism with atheism, the two are not the same thing.  Atheism is the lack of belief in god or gods.  Secularism means quite literally the separation of church and state.  It does not mean to forbid or marginalise religious beliefs, only that it protects people who do not share those beliefs from having those ‘moral’ codes and rules forced upon them.  The concern of secularism is to protect the rights of the individual against the imposition of a religious organisation within society so that they are dealt with on an equal basis.

National Secular Society

  • The National Secular Society affirms that this life is the only one of which we have any knowledge and human effort should be directed wholly towards its improvement. It asserts that supernaturalism is based upon ignorance and assails it as the historic enemy of progress.
  • They affirm that progress is possible only on the basis of equal freedom of speech and publication; that the free criticism of institutions and ideas is essential to a civilised state.
  • Affirming that morality is social in origin and application, the National Secular Society aims to promote the happiness and well-being of humanity.
  • They demand the complete separation of Church and State and the abolition of all privileges granted to religious organisations.
  • It seeks to spread education, to promote the friendship of all people as a means of advancing universal peace to further common cultural interests and to develop the freedom and dignity of humanity.

The word secularism was coined by the British writer George Holyoake in 1846.  George Holyoake (1817-1906) was the last person in England to be imprisoned in 1842 for being an atheist (The law against blasphemy was strict in Victorian Britain.). He was jailed for 6 months for a speech which included the line:

“For myself, I flee the Bible as a viper, and revolt at the touch of a Christian.”

The 19th century saw a serious campaign against the Churches by the secularist movement.  A powerful, but rather unexpected attack on Christianity came from a group of people, including the writer George Eliot, who thought that Christianity was immoral. According to the doctrine of original sin, God was prepared to punish people for a wrong that was not their fault, and the evil that He created in them, just because they were human beings. What sort of God was it, they wondered, who then decided to let us off this unfair punishment because he had punished his son instead of us?

“I would sooner perish for ever than stoop down before a Being who may have power to crush me, but whom my heart forbids me to reverence.” – James Froude, 1849

Their particular target was the state church, the Church of England, which was highly privileged (and still is).  The Church was founded in 1534 by King Henry VIII when England separated from Rome.  The Church of England traces its roots back to the early church, but it’s specifically Anglican identity and its links to the State date back to the Reformation.

  • Until 1828 no-one could hold a public office without signing up to the beliefs of the Church.
  • Until 1836 only Church of England ministers could conduct marriages.
  • Until 1871 only members of the Church of England could teach at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. (Both of which have been bogged down by the intrusion of monarchy with Henry VIII, and church interference for centuries.  It was not until Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of Cambridge, that the University began to focus on more practical subjects.)

The Church of England still has a law-making role in Britain. Twenty-six bishops (including the two Archbishops) sit UNELECTED in the House of Lords and are known as the Lords Spiritual. They are thought (but only by believers and those who believe in belief) to bring a religious ethos to the secular process of law. However, in an increasingly multi-cultural society, questions are being asked as to whether that role needs to be specifically fulfilled by Church of England Bishops. Future reform of the House of Lords could see the Lords Spiritual made up of a variety of Christian denominations and other faiths to reflect the religious make-up of Britain.  What about non-believers and Atheists?  Come on people, this is the 21st CE!!!

Most histories of atheism choose the Greek and Roman philosophers Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius as the first atheist writers. While these writers certainly changed the idea of God, they didn’t entirely deny that gods could exist.  In 1877 Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were prosecuted for publishing a book containing birth control information, The Fruits of Philosophy by the American doctor, Charles Knowlton. In the twentieth century the NSS campaigned against the BBC’s excessive use of religion and for disestablishment and the abolition of religious education.

The French Republic has always recognised individuals, rather than groups: a French citizen owes allegiance to the nation, and has no officially sanctioned ethnic or religious identity. This view of citizenship is fundamentally non-discriminatory and inclusive.

“Secularists oppose religion or the religious being afforded privileges, which – put another way – means others are disadvantaged. [Religious secularists] don’t think that belief is a reason for [their own] special treatment.” BBC Online – Secularism


Charles Bradlaugh

Bradlaugh (1833-1891) was one of the most prominent of the Victorian atheists. He edited the National Reformer, which itself was prosecuted for blasphemy, and in 1866 was one of the founders of the National Secular Society.  He championed unpopular causes like birth control, republicanism, atheism, reform, peace and anti-imperialism. His views placed him in conflict with powerful interests, institutions and people, but most of his arguments have since been vindicated.

Bradlaugh was elected to Parliament in 1880, but was not allowed to take his seat because he would not swear a religious oath but wanted to affirm. He was re-elected several times over five years, but did not take his seat until 1886.  Between 1880 and 1886 Bradlaugh fought for the right of non-believers to sit in the House of Commons. His act of 1888 established the legal right to affirm a Parliamentary oath rather than swear on a Bible. When he eventually took his seat he became Britain’s first openly atheist member of Parliament.

 

Cambridge University

to the Institute of Continuing Education

Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities.  The University has always had strong ties with the church; in 1086 the town was an important trading post with substantial residential property and a successful commercial economy.  Since before 1112, cannons in the church of St Giles and the convent of St Radegund was completed in 1135 but the site later became Jesus College.  Two hospitals existed in Cambridge.  One was specifically for the treatment of lepers and the other was for paupers.  The latter was taken over to become St John’s college.

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

In 1209 scholars fleeing Oxford took refuge in Cambridge and eventually settled.  Henry III, in 1213, took those students under his protection from the townsfolk who were known to over charge them for food and board but also decreed that only students under the tuition of a recognised master were permitted to stay in the town due to a spate of public disturbances. By 1226 they were numerous enough to have formed an organisation, represented by a Chancellor, and have devised official courses of study. The medieval University was even more established. Ceremonies and faculties were overseen by Bedells (pronounced bee-dell) while the treasures and books were attended by a Chaplain.  By the 16 CE, a registrar was needed to administer matriculations, admissions and the decisions of the Masters, and an Official Orator wrote ceremonial letters and addresses.  Most of these offices are now purely ceremonial and no longer hold any official authority.

King's College Chapel.  View from the Backs

King's College Chapel, Cambridge. View from the Backs

Most of the places held at Cambridge were held by either clerks or clergymen in some form of holy orders and expecting to enter careers in the Church or Civil service.  In order to obtain the support they needed during their years of study, students were required to look to the church but were first subject to the scrutiny of the local ecclesiastic authority. Before the end of the 15th CE they had managed to free themselves from this and were independent of authority with the exception of the pope.   The Chancellor was then elevated to the position of an ecclesiastical judge with jurisdiction over all cases involving discipline and proving the wills of both students and masters alike.  He also provided a secular court which would convene to hear civil and criminal cases with the exception of major crimes.

Oliver Cromwell

The crown aided the independence of the university by granting it the power to prosecute market profiteers; a move which continued to be a source of contention until the 19th century.  In 1381 there was a series of attacks on the university and it’s residents (in a largely ‘Christian’ society no less). Cambridge was given the right to prosecute those caught falsifying weights and measures, endangering public health by tampering with food and drink, interruption the supply of fresh water and those wilfully introducing infection in times of plague. Even now the University retains rights over licensing and policing.

Buildings, Lives and Legacies. A Celebration of Cambridge University

In the 16th CE Henry VIII founded Trinity College by merging the houses, King’s Hall and Michael House. Goville Hall was enlarged; Emmanuel absorbed the Dominican site; Sidney Sussex of the Franciscans and Magdalene absorbed the Benedictine house known as Buckingham College. All of these were concerned with training new ecclesiastic priests and clerics in the new National Church.   In 1536, the King suppressed the faculty of Canon Law and forbade scholastic philosophy.  This laid the path for Mathematics, Latin studies and Biblical Studies, and an education which was out of the reach to most of the population.    The statutes of 1570 ensured the continuation of the university’s concentration on churning out future leaders (The same people who directly benefited from the power and influence of having THEIR religion be the central authority of everyone’s life so they could both rule the people and live off their efforts.) of the Church of England.  Henry VIII endowed the university with five professorships; Divinity, Hebrew, Greek, Physic (purgative medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels) & civil law. Royal influence and pressure the Privy (private) Council continued into the 18th CE.

A sunset of King's College

The Church controlled university was given a license to print and publish works of which it IT approved in 1534 but it was 50 years until this right became fully exercised.  In the 1690s allowed the University, in conjunction with Oxford, to exploit their monopoly on Bible printing as well as producing the printed works required for its courses.  Despite the provision for natural sciences and arts, from the late 17th century, mathematics came to dominate studies in Cambridge, and eventually ‘the Tripos’ came to mean the examination in mathematics.  The University Library had expanded with the rest of the University during the later seventeenth century, and after the gift by George I of the manuscripts and books of Bishop John Moore, it outgrew its original quarters in the Old Schools.

Trinity College, main gate

Trinity College, main gate

Despite these developments, there was in the first half of the nineteenth century a continued call for change and reform in the University, which in part reflected the political movements of the country as a whole. The election as Chancellor of Prince Albert the Prince Consort in 1847 is an indication of the strength of the movement for reform, and in 1850 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the two ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The Commission’s report resulted in the promulgation of new Statutes for Cambridge in the Cambridge University Act of 1856. These Statutes have been much revised since their first appearance, but the form of government which they embodied has remained as a framework. The ultimate authority in the University was at first the Senate, the whole body of graduates, together with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and doctors.

Sir Isaac Newton

The natural sciences and moral sciences (now philosophical) Triposes were approved as early as 1851, and before 1900 Triposes in law, history, theology, Indian languages, Semitic (later oriental) languages, medieval and modern (European) languages, and mechanical sciences (later engineering) were all established. To develop these new branches of learning a number of new or remodelled professorships were established by the University and by private benefactors, the earliest being the Disney Professorship of archaeology in 1851.

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

‘Extension lectures’ in provincial centres were an important feature of University activities in the late nineteenth century. They were often associated with attempts to provide professional teaching and examinations for girls through the local examinations for schools provided by the University in conjunction with Oxford.  Training courses for male graduate teachers began in Cambridge at much the same time, but perhaps the most far-reaching effect of the movement was the establishment at Cambridge of two Colleges for women students (Girton in 1869 and Newnham in 1872). From the first, these Colleges aimed to prepare their students for the Tripos, and the first women were in fact examined in 1882. Attempts to make women full members of the University were repeatedly defeated until 1947.

St John's College. New library, 1994

St John's College. New library, 1994

In the First World War (1914-19), 13,878 members of the University served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching, and the fees it earned, came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the University first received systematic state support in 1919, conditional upon a further inquiry into its resources and organisation, and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the University (but not the Colleges) should receive an annual grant, and should be reorganised so as to take over responsibility for lectures and practical teaching. The Colleges retained control of individual teaching of their students and this division of responsibility continues today.

 

Oxford University


From its early days, Oxford was a centre for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes.  The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian and against the explicit instructions from Rome, not to.  In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8thThomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.”.  In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could actually understand (but still couldn’t read), that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in!  The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy.  No sympathy for this “illegal activity” (Any translation from Latin) was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X‘s declaration that “the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him” continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.

In the 13th century, rioting between town and gown (townspeople and students) hastened the establishment of primitive halls of residence. These were succeeded by the first of Oxford’s colleges, which began as medieval ‘halls of residence’ or endowed houses under the supervision of a Master. University, Balliol and Merton Colleges, which were established between 1249 and 1264, are the oldest.  Less than a century later, Oxford had achieved eminence above every other seat of learning, and won the praises of popes, kings and sages by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum, doctrine and privileges. In 1355, Edward III paid tribute to the University for its invaluable contribution to learning; he also commented on the services rendered to the state by distinguished Oxford graduates.

In 1530, Henry VIII forced the University to accept his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and during the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford.  The University was Royalist in the Civil War, and Charles I held a counter-Parliament in Convocation House, and in the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country.  The University assumed a leading role in the Victorian era, especially in religious controversy. From 1833 onwards The Oxford Movement sought to revitalise the Catholic aspects of the Anglican Church and in 1860 the new University Museum was the scene of a famous debate between Thomas Huxley, champion of evolution, and Bishop Wilberforce.

From 1878, academic halls were established for women and they were admitted to full membership of the University in 1920. Five all-male colleges first admitted women in 1974 and, since then, all colleges have changed their statutes to admit both women and men. During the 20th and early 21st centuries, Oxford added to its humanistic core a major new (remind me again when Darwin published Origin of Species? Oh yes, 1861 so hardly a ‘new’ science.) research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. In so doing, it has enhanced and strengthened its traditional role as an international focus for learning and a forum for intellectual debate.

Conclusion.

The less influence and authority granted to the church over matters of higher education and laws concerning blasphemy and civil rights, the further forward we have managed to progress both in science and society. No longer are ordinary people socially expected to trot along to Sunday services to nod and agree with every word a speaker bellows at them in a language they cannot understand, let alone read for themselves.  The time that the church has had authority over us is long past expired.  It is not surprising that they are unhappy about it, when you consider the grandeur and prominence which their church given (NOT God-given)and self-assumed authority magically entitled them too.  Due to the heavy mental shackles and religious bullying hampering our progress as a species, it has taken us centuries just to get where we are today and we have had to fight every step of the way against walls of superstitions dogma and greedy power grasping.

As education was made available and eventually free and compulsory to the masses, and unhindered scientific research has provided us with solid and testable answers, religion has had to work harder and harder to not only to explain their nonsensical mythology, but to justify their artificially exalted social positions.  The time has come to look the pushy believers and the church squarely in eye and tell them very firmly that we do NOT recognise their authority over us and will no longer tolerate their bullying and public tantrums over their rightfully waning authority.

 

Sources.