Let’s NOT turn into the US.

Demonstrators dressed as zombie bankers participate in a flash mob outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange in London

Demonstrators dressed as zombie bankers participate in a flash mob outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange in London Photo: REUTERS

It’s all very well to try to reunite finance with ethics, but why was the Church the immediate Go-to? Why not the head of The Sikh Coalition, representatives from the numerous Muslim and Jewish councils, or The National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)? Where are the representatives from the British Humanist Association or the National Secular Society? The fact is that if the Church were approached, they ALL should have been. The church are not representative of the majority and they do not hold the monopoly on ethics. The problem is, that the church is, and always has been, arrogant enough to try just that and claim to be representative of all. The uniting of a corrupted industry which pays little tax at its highest levels and an organisation which pays none, to discuss the finances of a nation beggared by the profligacy of its banks, can never end well. Forget any similarity to the 1980s, it bears more resemblance to feudalism (when the clergy and nobility convened to discuss which taxes (taxes they didn’t pay) should be extracted from the commons (the 99%) in order to pay debts accrued from expensive foreign wars)!!!

Twenty-five years ago the Church of England, published a damning report entitled ‘Faith in the City‘ which rightly laid the majority of the blame for economic and ‘spiritual’ crisis at the door of Mrs Thatcher. Set against the backdrop of economic decline due to the loss of our heavy industry which lead to soaring unemployment, the report caused outrage and no doubt immense irritation to a host of guilty consciences. Rather than suffering a mere spiritual decline, I would say it would be more accurate to say her hard-nosed and heartless approach to the leadership of this county, as well as her promotion of the ‘There is no society’ and a dominant ‘Me first’ culture, has had untold negative effects on this country. This effect will be felt for generations: until either the generation which enabled her to economically and socially cripple this country have died off or seen sense and changed their ways. I can see the former happening before the latter. However I digress, the purpose of this post is not to list the individual ways that the Thatcher/Raegan partnership screwed us in the arse and left us to clear up the mess.

How can an organisation who pays no tax have the barefaced nerve to stand up in public and tell the bankers they must pay more? While I agree the bankers should pay their share, – as should those in the top 1% – if the Church really cares about the economic welfare of the United Kingdom, they will stop trying to differ attention away from their own coffers and start paying their share as well. What adds insult to injury is the fact that Mr Ken Costa – the man placed in charge of a committee, the St Paul’s Initiative which was established by the Church and is aimed at re-building ‘links’ between the Church and the financial sector – is a former bank chairman. While arguing against stiffer regulation of banks he went onto say that “a culture of honesty, integrity, truthfulness and responsibility” cannot be regulated into existence and that harsher banking regulations were not the solution to the economic crisis. Tell that to the people who lost job sand homes, pensions and savings after others gambled with the economy and lost. Tell it to those people who were loaned money which the banks knew they couldn’t afford to repay but were issued them anyway because the debts were sold on for a short-term profit. While it is largely the borrower’s responsibility not to borrow what they cannot pay back, lenders also have a duty not to loan to people they know cannot repay them. The banks have already proven they cannot be trusted to act honourably without regulations so we (the 99%) feel justified in our demands that they are not only strongly regulated but the bankers who caused the mess are investigated, prosecuted, and barred from ever working in those senior positions again. It’s the expenses scandal all over again except politicians actually ARE being held accountable.

Mr Cost has apparently warned the Church against publicly attacking the financial sector as it risks a repeat of the row cause by their report twenty-five years ago. I hardly think it is his place to comment because based on his remarks that a flourishing banking sector is “essential to any successful economy”, he has a long way to go because thanks to his ilk, the banks are far from flourishing. ‘Record profits’ (from where?) and bonuses aside, they still owe the tax-payer back for the handouts they so readily accepted nearly three years ago. I’m sure our banks wouldn’t accept “I’m not making that payment this month because I need to give my kids a massive rise on their pocket-money for which they do nothing but clear up their own mess” and a reason for not paying our bills. How many of us have ever been given a bonus at work for rectifying a problem we caused? One other thing, just WHY is he a former bank chairman?

Religion should be kept out of politics FULL STOP. The Church is not qualified and definitely not invited to make any decisions on our behalf and their so-called degrees in theology are worth less than nothing. ‘Dr’ Sentamu (Archbishop of York) has commented that the wage gap between executives and those on the metaphorical shop floor were creating a social gulf and eroding the cohesion of society. Really? How long has it taken him to work that one out? Let me emphasise, a tax-exempt organisation has no business declaring that (or which) private individuals pay more in tax. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems equally free with his uninvited opinions on taxes. The cynic in me is telling me that Mr (I refuse to call him Dr) Williams is merely jumping on the publicity from Occupy LSX in order to boost the public image of the church. Giles Fraser, who quit his post as the canon chancellor of St Paul’s, blames a reliance on technology for dehumanising the values of the City. It’s not technology that dehumanised and devalued the lower paid staff (partly by replacing the adjective ‘personnel’ with the impersonal catch-all of ‘human resources’): people were quite capable of doing that by themselves. The attitude which measures how well a company does based on how much its shareholders make pre-dates the technology being blamed by quite some time. It is not the ‘market’ which is to blame, but the people running it.

The Church has no business getting involved in these protests and making a bloody awful situation worse. We need to stand firm now lest we risk letting our financial sector slip into the hands of tyrants who are answerable only to themselves….AGAIN.


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