Posts Tagged ‘church’

The media continues to demand straight-forward, definitive, unchanging yes/no answers about science that’s getting really quite tricky now.

– In Germany, refusing to work as a prostitute apparently means you’re a shiftless sponger who doesn’t deserve benefits. Perhaps most alarming is that the government deemed it “too difficult to distinguish [brothels] from bars”.

Something will have to give on the confusion between religious and legal involvement in marriage and civil partnerships. The penultimate paragraph in particular is something I’ve been urging for some time.

– Today is Bill of Rights Day. Americans, I hope you’re being appropriately grateful for all your rights.

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…K-I-S- …Wait. Um. What letter rhymes with “Vatican”?

Okay, never mind. This is about The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, part of the Vatican, which sent some sort of open letter to all Muslims not long ago.

It’s possibly a bit weird.

The end of the month of Ramadan offers the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue a welcome occasion for sending you our most cordial wishes, hoping that the efforts you have so generously made during this month will bring all the desired spiritual fruits.

Impressively flowery language aside, I actually went so far as to look up Wikipedia’s page on Ramadan to see if I’d missed something here. Yes, this issue has actually driven me to research. Horrors. Anyway, my largely ignorant assumption was basically right: Ramadan is about fasting and abstinence, and maybe more praying than usual. Quite where generosity comes into it I’m not sure.

But still, it seems an odd thing for the head of the Catholic Church to be wishing for followers of Islam: that their efforts “will bring all the desired spiritual fruits”. So, you hope that their devotion to a false god who doesn’t exist, and their denial of the true Lord Jesus, is bringing them spiritual fulfilment? Huh. I thought those were generally advised against by Christian teachings, so I’ve only done the second one. Do I get a positive wish for spiritual fulfilment from the Vatican as well?

No, evidently not. Because one thing Christians and Muslims have in common is the way they are…

faced… with the challenges of materialism and secularisation.

Oh, right. That’ll be me, then.

Of course, it is possible to be a religious secularist. One can hold religious views, but consider them a personal matter which should not influence state policy or be involved in any official legislation. But it seems clear that what the Vatican’s objecting to is the irreverence against faith often exhibited by those without it.

We cannot but denounce all forms of fanaticism and intimidation, the prejudices and the polemics, as well as the discrimination of which, at times, believers are the object both in the social and political life as well as in the mass media.

Yep. Prejudices and discrimination in social and political life. I’m sure the spiritual leader of over a billion Christians knows just as much about that as the Muslims his office is addressing.

There surely can’t be much that they have in common. What do Christians and Muslims both share, which doesn’t also include atheists (or “secularists”)? It’s not the nature of God, or Jesus, or really any of the big important spiritual questions which they both claim to have answers to. Atheists, though, have at least one thing in common with every religion: they’re the only ones who agree that all the other religions are false.

The right to practice their own beliefs in a way that doesn’t inhibit the freedom of others? The right not to have an opposing faith view forced on you? Secularists are right with you on those.

The only significant unifying factor which atheists aren’t on board with seems to be the idea that believing in some all-powerful divine overlord is good in itself, even if it’s the wrong one – even, in fact, if that belief is completely untrue. Christians, by nature of their religion, believe all Muslims to be wrong in finding the prophet Mohammed’s writings to be divinely inspired – but the fact that they believe untrue things about a fictional god is still somehow seen as a virtue.

What they share is belief in belief.

Which in fact they probably do also share with a good many non-religious, who miss the comfort provided by a religion they no longer believe in. They use “church-going” as a synonym for “morally upstanding”, and so on.

It’s a flimsy connection for two opposing faiths to find with each other, and still fails to exclude the godless in the way they really want to.

(h/t Atheist Revolution)

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A couple of churches were vandalised recently.

I’ve got a lot of time for Pastafarians generally, but this wasn’t cool. That’s someone else’s property you’re scrawling slogans over.

The majority of atheists weren’t okay with this rather obnoxious intrusion of ideas either, and this time a good deal of them stepped up and acted on their principles. The Friendly Atheist decided to raise some funds to offer money from atheist coffers for a clean-up effort.

In under a day, people donated over $2,500.

Between this kind of thing and being the most generous Kiva community, everyone really needs to get over the idea that atheists can’t be proactively selfless, or that some kind of religious infrastructure is in any way necessary for people to get involved in charitable work.

In the end, the churches both said that they didn’t need anything like that kind of money to get the graffiti removed, and a few volunteers had offered to help get it done anyway. They appreciated the gesture, and the donations are being sent to the Foundation Beyond Belief, as it was agreed any surplus would be.

Good work, everyone.

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This article from TIME begins with the phrase “The latest sex-abuse case to rock the Catholic Church”.

After checking the date and seeing that it was posted just over a week ago, I still wasn’t sure if this was going to be actual news, or just yet another in a long list of old stories I’ve already heard about.

A headline about a sex-abuse case that rocked, say, Microsoft, would be an eye-catching novelty. The slightly exciting and immoral sex lives of footballers are still making massive news at a time when nobody could possibly be surprised by something as dull as celebrity infidelity.

But the Catholic Church being involved in the institutional molestation of children? Eh, I heard about that already.

Father Riccardo Seppia was allegedly recorded on tape saying the following words to a Moroccan drug dealer:

I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues.

He is also said to have traded cocaine and money for sexual encounters with boys.

This is all particularly embarrassing for the Cardinal of Father Seppia’s archdiocese, who has recently been working with the Pope on “reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests”.


I think for something to invoke outrage, it needs to be somehow shocking. And this just isn’t, these days. Which is sad.

But don’t let’s get sidetracked from the important issues here. There are some monasteries out there were the monks and nuns are said to engage in regular sessions of dancing. Now that’s the kind of ungodly abomination that the Pope needs to put a stop to immediately. It’s a matter of priorities, people.

And remember the advice of Bill Donohue of the Catholic League: what really matters is that it’s not technically pedophilia, because many of these victims were post-pubescent.

Just in case you were forming an unfairly low opinion of the Catholic priests who’ve been using drugs to pay for 14-year-olds to have sex with.

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This still needs a new name. I’ll keep trying until I find one that fits.

Here’s some stuff I saw that was worth a glance.

Americans don’t go to church as often as they say they do. Reported attendance beats actual attendance everywhere, but most sizeably in the US – and, oddly, Canada. (via Check Your Premises)

– If you let gay people into the Church, they might explode in your face!

– Labour camps for prisoners are moving with the times. Being forced to play computer games for hours a day as a punishment? Less of a cushy deal than it may sound. (via Boing Boing)

– Science is finally catching up with Lewis Carroll’s imagination. Maybe they should work on Dali’s next.

Full post tonight.

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Yes, that Barack Obama. The one who’s the President now and whom no-one in their right mind believes is a Muslim.

It wasn’t as deranged of me as it might sound. It’s just this very fuzzy memory I have of when I first heard about this Obama guy who was running for President, and from whatever news source I was half paying attention to I somehow got the impression that he was a Muslim. It wasn’t an agenda being pushed nearly as strongly as it is now, but the notion found its way into my head somehow.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. “Huh, okay. Non-Christian guy running for President. Could be interesting.” That was the extent of it, as far as I can recall.

In retrospect, even that sounds painfully naive. The idea that a non-Christian would have any chance of not being torn to shreds from all sides in a US Presidential race seems ludicrous, especially given how much shit real Christians get for not being Christian.

Like I say, I really didn’t think about it much.

When I did think about it, having heard some more about this increasingly pertinent news story and acquired some actual facts, I realised quickly that I’d got the wrong idea. He says he’s a Christian – which ought to be enough to settle things on its own, really – he goes to church, it all seems quite straight-forward. Simple enough to change my mind. Sorted.

Apparently some people haven’t found it quite so simple.

The thing is, I had absolutely nothing invested in the idea that Barack Obama was a Muslim. I’d made a mistake on a subject I didn’t really care much about. But some people really seem committed to the idea, beyond anything that can be called rational. It’s become really important to their mental well-being to continue seeing him that way; the cognitive dissonance involved in admitting a mistake, and having to accept him as a Christian – just like them – is far too great.

(If there are any significant non-Christian factions convinced that Obama’s lying about his religion, I’m yet to encounter them.)

It just seems like a pernicious, dishonest, and largely self-deluding way of distancing and depersonalising the guy – he’s not one of us, he’s one of them. He’s not saying the things I want him to say, he doesn’t stand up for all of my beliefs against what I perceive as threats, he doesn’t stop the others encroaching on my country who I want stopped. And he looks a bit different from me and the people I know.

So he must be one of “them”, an outsider, a foreigner, an enemy of “real” America, a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a Nazi, a Muslim, a terrorist from Durkadurkastan – or any other such term which seems to get used more or less interchangeably by the kind of people who think like this.

He professes his Christian faith, has been going to a Christian church for decades, and doesn’t actually appear to be a Muslim in any way whatever. But if you start thinking like that, then you might have to acknowledge that you have something in common with him.

I don’t know where I was going with this. I think it’s just another bitter rant.

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A 15-year-old girl had to stand in front of a crowd to apologise for being raped.

And no, not in one of those crazy, backward, foreign countries, where they wear funny clothes and do things differently from us, and have their own primitive religious ideas where women have to cover their whole bodies up and are sentenced to be raped for no crime.

This was in New Hampshire.

She got pregnant, as a result of being raped. And because she was female, she was a much more legitimate source of scandal and shame than the man who raped her. Which is no less primitive a concept than blaming women for stirring men to lustful thoughts because of their bodies.

Her pastor told her to apologise to the church congregation for her guilt, and that she should be glad she wasn’t being stoned to death, as would have happened “in Old Testament Times”.

That’s the Old Testament which forms a substantial part of the basis of the Christian religion, just to be clear.

The man who’d got her pregnant also apologised. For being unfaithful to his wife.

And if all this wasn’t sickening enough, there’s a comments thread with people trying to explain how a fellow Christian could do something like this.

We’re all sinners, after all, someone rationalises:

The only difference is they have accepted the message of Christ and they are placing their hope on the righteousness of Jesus Christ to cover their sins so they no longer have to be accountable for their sins

Yep. Rapists are better than you if they believe in Jesus enough to get them off the hook.

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