philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Kidnapped For Christ (2014)

It's actually a misleading title since many of these 'kidnappings' are performed by organisations without a religious affiliation. Nevertheless, this American organisation is fundamentalist evangelical Christian (are we surprised? It's either that or Roman Catholic amirite?) and the filmmaker was (prior to uncovering this hypocrisy at least) a strong believer in that faith.

What's a little more irregular however, is that they are taking those kidnapped children to the Dominican Republic. Many of these organisations are quite happy to run within the US itself.

The odd thing about these kidnappings is that they are actually arranged by the children's parents. While that might sound like sending your child to a holiday camp, in those instances the child is normally informed about the trip in advance. Also these 'camps' don't just run over the holidays. The parents pay huge amounts for their care and tuition so they can stay for months or often years.

So perhaps it is like being forced to go to boarding school? And having the decision forced on you? Sometimes in the middle of the night by complete strangers?

Well yet another aspect of this camp which makes it strange (apart from the way it is located in the Dominican Republic and is importing children from the US) is its bizarre discipline procedures. There is a complicated points system for behaviour. Avoiding picking up naughty points basically involves doing whatever you are told to do without question. That includes regular demands that children do sets of press ups, star jumps and the like. It also involves passing spot checks with bizarre requirements (such as that shirts hanging in the closet must have all buttons done up and must be 'evenly spaced'. Any complaint about conditions will lead to being disciplined. Any calls home are monitored. Any attempt to tell parents about the bad conditions results in a punishment for being manipulative.

If someone is on the highest tier of punishment then there will be a period of time (weeks perhaps?) during which they will not be allowed to talk to other children. The worst punishment of all is the sinister sounding 'quiet room'.

Click here to read more... )

The Cracked article to which I refer can be found here
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Giles Fraser is an odd sort of theologian. I've found he's said some quite interesting things in the past and apparently he's quite keen on social justice, but this morning I must say that I was rather disgusted with him.

He was on the BBC's "Thought For The Day" programme. A rather annoying segment which bizarrely has pride of place right in the middle of typical morning commuter listening times and acts as an annoying interruption in the middle of the genuine news that takes up most of the Today programme during that time. Another regular guest includes Anne Atkins, who is given free reign to spout vile homophobic bigotry or to wax lyrical about the joys of traditional marriage. In spite of the controversy she often causes her last "Thought For The Day" broadcast was on the 2nd May (so less than a week ago). On that particular occasion, this woman who is a member of a 'pray away the gay' group known as 'Council of Reference', explained "Judeo-Christianity, like other faiths, is full of respect".

But Giles Fraser is one I'd normally expect to be a little more even-handed, if not generally that inspiring. I don't tend to pay much attention to who is offering the 'sermon' (let's call it what it is). I generally just hope its over quickly so I can hear a bit more about the current news before I get to work. So imagine my annoyance when the speaker filling this slot in the radio timetable seemingly designed to waste my time began by saying: "I probably shouldn’t be doing Thought for the Day this morning."

Why's that then? A chest infection apparently.

He then explained that anti-biotics are ceasing to be so effective. Not a pleasant thought, I'm sure we'd all agree. I was expecting a fairly banal talk about the doom-laden subject, but what I got was a lot worse: Something almost approaching delight.

"Just maybe, we are losing our immunity from those medical conditions we thought we had beaten. In which case the enlightenment dream of continual never-ending progress looks increasingly hubristic. It seems we are no longer mini-gods after all."

Hey, what's so bad about the prospect of an enormous increase in death by disease if it means you get to prove that you are right? It's always seemed weird to me when religious speakers pose their religion as outwardly opposed to progress. Heaven forbid (literally) that we strive for a better and longer life for each other. While Buddhists are wishing each other long life on a regular basis, it seems that modern Christian clergy cannot wait for us to all to die. So for Giles Fraser the demise of anti-biotics is looking like quite a triumph.

As the show went on, I found myself guessing what was coming next:
"For one of the things that the Judeo-Christian tradition has always insisted upon is..."

... fear.

"...Only God is God. And we are mortals, and intrinsically vulnerable."

Hmmm... same thing.

Ancient religions made use of sympathetic magic. Christian tradition demands fear and trembling. Giles Fraser joyfully denies the Enlightenment dream and happily anticipates increasing mortality rates....

... all while complaining that anti-biotics aren't working effectively enough on his chest infection.

Antibiotics are not recommended for many chest infections, because they are only effective if the infection is caused by bacteria rather than a virus. Your GP will usually only prescribe antibiotics if they think you have pneumonia, or you are at risk of complications such as fluid building up around the lungs (pleural effusion).

(A full transcript of Giles Fraser's sermon can be found here.)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
If anyone's been following Pharyngula, they will already know that Bill Nye has decided to debate a creationist. Lots of people think this was a bad idea because its easier for creationists to poke holes in science (not least because scientists are always actively looking for how to poke holes in the research themselves) than it is to defend science. Ignorant criticisms are short and easily stated, but decent explanations can be long and complicated.

It was also suggested that the creationists would just use this to promote themselves, which already seems to be demonstrated in that Ham's own organisation is going to be profiting from the DVD sales of this event.

Bill Nye, "the science guy" (from an American tv show), not to be confused with Bill Nighy, the British actor.

Anyway, some guy on Buzzfeed decided to ask creationists what questions they had for people who weren't creationists. Here's an example:

Oh dear... (and the use of 'their' rather than 'there' is not great either)

More images under the cut... )

(Pharyngula's post)
(More daft creationist questions in posed photos on Buzzfeed)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Some "big news" recently that the woman who worked for British Airways who had already won a ruling to allow her to wear a cross in the workplace, has now taken that same case to the European Court of Human Rights and proven that she has the same right there too.

Cue ridiculously misleading headlines:
The Independent: "Christian woman wins landmark discrimination case."
("Landmark"? Seriously?)

The FT: "BA employee wins right to wear cross."
(She already HAD that right. FFS!)

And of course, the Daily Fail: "'Thank You Jesus' Christian British Airways employee tell of joy as after European court finds she DID face discrimination over silver cross."
(Thanks Jesus! You've allowed a court to re-state the obvious! Well done!)

What most of the coverage is failing to make clear is that there were in fact FOUR court cases being brought before the ECHR and the other three ALL LOST their court cases.

One of those who lost their court case was Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor who refused to counsel gay couples because of his religious views. I previously posted an interview with him here (shocked at the lack of opposing voices provided in the interview, but fairly pleased with the amount of pressure placed by the interviewer himself).

The other two were:
- Lillian Ladele, a chaplain who refused to perform civil partnerships. It has now been decided that her wish to discriminate on religious grounds does not trump gay rights or the requirements of her employers.

- Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who had refused to accept the option of wearing a cross a different way in her workplace, such as in the form of a lapel pin. She lost the case that wearing the cross on a chain, which is against the uniform rules for nurses in UK hospitals, was a necessary part of her freedom of religious expression in the workplace.

Andrew Copson, as always, delivers some proper common sense below:

(video link)

Interestingly, a google image search for "ECHR religion rulings" mostly comes up with images related to a case from 2010 where a woman was unable to get her abortion within Ireland in spite of a risk to her life. There were a lot of protests against the ruling by anti-choicers, but perhaps if Ireland had taken that case a little more seriously (since unlike the above, it actually contradicted their own rulings) Savita might still be alive.

(cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

(video link)

This time Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland decides to come out with the same BS that we've seen in the past. He says that Christians are being persecuted for wearing crosses in public.

0:31 Beginning of relevant report.
2:24 Interview with Andrew Copson on the issue.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association strikes again. Once again he explains very clearly and diplomatically why the latest "Christians are being marginalised" story is BS. (His phrasing: "their claims have very little basis in fact" rather than "they are making s**t up".)

Also liking the new beard. :)

Cardinal O'Brien has previously claimed that when the New Labour government were in power there was "a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". Why's this? The introduction of civil partnerships, allowing adoption by same-sex couples, allowing embryo research and not passing a law to lower the legal time limit in which an abortion may be carried out. He also referred to the Equality Bill as "legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom". And now he has the audacity to push the lie that Christians' rights to wear crosses are under attack. Ugh!

(cross posted to [ profile] atheism )
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Alain De Botton has decided that the current state of atheism is no good and has instead proposed what he decides to call "Atheism 2.0". But is Atheism 2.0 really any different from Atheism 1.0? Who does Alain De Botton think he is arguing against? Why promote this now?

I think we need a bit of background first of all....

Why Have An "Atheism 2.0"?

Read more... )

Religion For Atheists?

Alain De Botton is a popularist philosophy writer. There was a point where his book "The Consolations of Philosophy" was on shelves everywhere, though he wasn't really so interested in exploring the ins and outs of classical philosophy as giving a massively simplified and trivial version. Still, as was noted before, sometimes you can't show the entire depth of the argument if you want to appeal to the wider market.

His latest ideas in his book "Religion For Atheists" are explored in a lecture viewable here:

He also gives an impassioned speech about the ideas of "Religion For Atheists" in the audio form and you can listen to that here.

He says that the most boring question about religion is whether or not it is "true" and says that the issue has become a matter obsession for "fanatical atheists". I think what he ignores here is that while it might be "boring", the matter of truth is actually rather important. There are number of reasons to say this because there are plenty of cases where the unquestionable truth and authority of doctrine and/or scripture is used to justify what are sometimes quite influential political positions. Proposals for limiting access to abortion, limiting rights of certain groups in society, insisting on old traditional stances on gender roles, promoting abstinence education and, yes, even ID Theory are all often (though admittedly not every single time for every single one of these examples) tied to the believed doctrinal truth and authority of particular religions.

Essentially De Botton takes the old line that while you might not believe in religions you should still respect them. The question arises once again: What is it about religions which makes them worthy of respect? I don't think De Botton actually has an answer to this though (or at least not a convincing one).

De Botton claims that religion serves two central needs "which continue to this day and which secular society has not been able to solve with any particular skill":
1) "The need to live together in communities in hamony, despite our deeply rooted, selfish, violent impulses."
2) "The need to cope with terrifying degrees of pain which arise from our vulnerability to professional failure, to troubled relationships, to the death of loved ones and to our own decay and demise."

Or to put it another way:
1) Secularism heralds the breakdown of society.
2) There are no atheists in foxholes.

To be quite frank, the need for secularism would appear to me to arise precisely from the fact that, when people all belong to different faiths, religion doesn't help to promote harmony. Religion is often divisive and sectarian. As such, the idea that setting up non-religious communities must involve learning from the actions of the religious seems like nonsense. Far more often than not, the lessons are more likely to be cautionary tales; examples of what NOT to do when trying to foster a spirit of unity in diversity. Yes, there have already been figures like Martin Luther King and Haille Selassie who have been religious and attacked social injustices in ways that might be inspiring to the non-religious, but these figures can often be seen to be actively subverting the religious ideas they were brought up with. Dr. King, for example, takes the example of "the promised land" but does not imagine it as a contested strip of land or as some kind of post-apocalyptic paradise, but rather as the hope of a united humanity.

On the second point, I'll firstly note that atheists are found in all walks of life and don't appear to see their disbelief in God as a disadvantage. However, I think it's also worth asking, if atheistic modes of tackling these issues are so unskilful, why are there religious groups pretending to offer therapy without the professional background in the subject? Surely if religious methods were superior to secular ones on this front, Churches and places of worship would already be pioneers in the field, with absolutely no need to use fraudulent behaviour like this in order to promote themselves?

Rallying Points For The Failings Of Secularism...

Alain De Botton makes a number of points at this stage on the failings of secularism. But these points about modern society are either patently the result of good common sense or quite clearly false:

Read more... )

Useful and Effective?

Read more... )

Yeah sure we can learn a few things from studying religion, but that doesn't mean religion deserves respect or politeness automatically. Religion used to be a much more central part of society than it is today and inevitably a great deal of what is good in society today will be based on the more religion-centered form that came before. But most often, the better way to tackle these kinds of issues is to cut out the religion. In fact even some religions are retreating from the term "religion", themselves recognising that certain religious ideas are simply no good. Some of these figures will want to retreat to some more primordial and "pure" version of their religion, insisting that their shift away from religion makes their ideas even more traditional, while others will be more progressive noting that old religious ideas have also been tied to old political and cultural ideas (noting, for example, that a morality based on honour and shame is clearly present in the Bible, but is rightly alien to our modern sensibility). Even the religious can tell that religion isn't all great and it would be extremely stupid of us not to share the fruits of this important lesson.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
First Michael Gove tells the striking teachers that there's no money.

Then he announces that the government can afford to provide every school with a copy of King James Bible (where clearly the language is perfectly suited to schoolchildren *facepalm*) specially published with a foreword from Michael Gove himself! (What a treat!)

"It's a thing of beauty, and it's also an incredibly important historical artefact. It has helped shape and define the English language and is one of the keystones of our shared culture. And it is a work that has had international significance."

The King James Bible is of so much significance that they cannot bear for school children to miss out. Meanwhile, teachers' pensions? Who cares about those, eh?

There just isn't enough facepalm for all this s**t. Jesus f---ing Christ...
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Maybe Kirk Cameron can explain these bird deaths!

This week saw two massive bird die offs, first 5,000 in Arkansas, then 500 in Louisiana.  Scientists don’t have an explanation yet, and that’s rough on CNN, because 24 hours of news programming is a lot to fill with, “Damn, homes. That’s messed up.”  What to do?  I know!  We’ll call Fireproof star Kirk Cameron!  He’s bound to have some crazy sh*t to say!  At least, that seemed to be the idea behind having Cameron on Anderson Cooper (either that or they both go to the same bath house). Only when Anderson asked him whether the bird deaths were a sign of the apocalypse, Cameron flipped the script, and actually sounded pretty sane.

Kirk Cameron is not your monkey, Anderson Cooper, he doesn’t even believe in evolution.
[are the birds the end times, Kirk Cameron?]

“Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I’m not the religious conspiracy theorist go-to guy particularly. But I think it’s really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of an end-times theory.”

“That has more to do with pagan mythology [and not the apocalypse] — the directions the birds flew told some of the followers of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them. I think people just have a fascination with the religiously mysterious.”
[via Moviefone]
“Look, Anderson, if you’re looking for someone to spout off some crackpot religious theory, you’ve got the wrong guy.  I don’t go in for a lot of that hocus pocus.  I’m just a hard-working fella who puts his pants on one leg at a time and believes the grooves on a banana are a code from God that disproves evolution, you know? I leave these conspiracy theories to somebody else.”
(Taken straight from the immature and sporadically hilarious movie news website "Filmdrunk")

x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

This guy regularly gets interviewed as if he's a genuine representative of Christians. (Even on the
BBC, even though he sued them for blasphemy!) Want evidence that he's not? Well being disowned
by the Daily Fail has to be a good start, surely?

As much as I hate providing links to the Daily Fail, I've got to give them credit for being seemingly the only paper with an article on this. Stephen Green is the homophobic bigot who formed the fundamentalist group Christian Voice after giving up on the Conservative Family Campaign for being too moderate. The Daily Fail, in a break with tradition, have got an exclusive interview with his ex-wife who claims that Stephen Green hit her as well as her children during her 26 year marriage.

Still, the really stupid thing is the about of time Stephen Green has been used as an example of "Christianity-under-attack" and his "Christian Voice" organisation has been proposed as a genuine representation of real Christians in the UK. As is noted here, the Daily Fail themselves have long been guilty of this.

It's actually quite shocking to see that the Daily Telegraph, who regularly pick up on religion-related stories from the Daily Fail, have not followed suit on this one in spite of using Stephen Green to fuel free speech debate (when Stephen Green is rightly brought up for harassment when publically airing his homophobic bigotry) in the past. Still, they aren't alone with the BBC having recently used Stephen Green as a counter-point when reporting on Elton John's adoption of a baby boy.

You can find the contents of the Daily Fail interview with Caroline Green (which appears to be an exclusive) under the cut, but the link is at the top nonetheless:
Read more... )

But just in case you were unsure whether you were reading the Daily Mail, here is a recent comment on this article:
"mm. sounds like just another bitter moaning whining ex wife to me!" 
- sam, braunton, 29/1/2011 11:49
Ahhhh the world makes sense again....
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Glastonbury abbey apologises after allowing Nicolas Cage to plug film

Ah yes, I can see why they'd be upset about Nicolas Cage being allowed into their sacred space. :P

Ok ok, so it's to plug a movie and so presumably the issue is they didn't want their Church turned into a Hollywood advertising spot, right? Well no....
Hollywood star broadcast live to US chat show from site thought to be King Arthur's grave

The director of Glastonbury abbey today apologised for any offence caused after allowing the Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage to promote his new film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, from the site said to be King Arthur's grave.

Cage and a film crew were allowed into the abbey in the early hours of the morning so they could broadcast live to an American chat show earlier this year.

But some local people were upset that a film featuring magic was promoted in a place important for many Christians. One resident said he was "horrified and disgusted" that the abbey had been used to sell a film "full of sorcery and black magic".
Ok, first of all it was used for this during the early hours when no one was going to be using the Church for anything else. But yeah, I can see how there might be principle involved. Once they've been allowed to advertise their film there, how are you going to say no to the next lot of people who ask?

What I have absolutely no sympathy for is the whole "it involves magic and magic is eeeeevil" nonsense. Firstly, it's a f***ing Disney movie! Seriously, would they spouting this nonsense if someone asked to advertise a local production of Peter Pan on their notice board?

Secondly, your whole blooming religion is full of f***ing magic! How is Christ consumed in the bread and wine? Magic. How does God hear prayers all around the world? Magic. How does Christ's crucifixion have anything to do with human sin? Magic. The whole religion is full of magic.

And y'know what? The people who made that movie aren't promoting magic. It's fantasy, pure and simple. They don't have spells, they have a visual effects team.

Of course all real magicians are actors, whether they are trying to convince their audience that they can cut a person in two and then return put them back togther, or whether they are asking their audience to feel the presence of the holy spirit.

Little side note... )

It seems that the Glastonbury Abbey website actually makes it very clear that the Abbey is a tourist site. It is also a ruin, so it won't have a congregation. As such, the people complaining are actually locals getting upset over what happens in a public venue, not worshippers getting upset over a private place of worship that is occasionally rented out. Any suggestions I gave earlier that these guys might actually have a leg to stand on have been wholly shot in the foot now. Also, I had not been aware that Nicolas Cage actually lives in Glastonbury.

(x - posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
John Milbank was a theology lecturer I came into contact during my degree. His Radical Orthodoxy movement apparently had a major following in academic circles, though there appeared to be very little mainstream knowledge of it. More recently he's been putting forward a number of articles into major news sources. He released a couple of articles in The Guardian's "Comment Is Free" section including one advocating "Red Toryism" (i.e. I want to vote Conservative yet still call myself a lefty) and another (which really infuriated me) advocating a new feminism biased in favour of men *facepalm*

So what's he done now? Well it turns out he's really pleased about certain recent comments by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but he doesn't think she quite kisses Christianity's arse enough. So he's published a new public article. this time on

I don't know if John Milbank mistook extracts from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "Nomad" for an individual article or whether he is simply treating them that way. In any case the extracts on that website are no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of them which you can find in my un-edited post about this along with a copy of John Milbank's reply. Click here for my original un-edited article.

So how does John Milbank's article frustrate me? Let me count the ways....

1. The Enlightenment was Christian...
Read more... )

2. Christianity is the source of feminism...
Read more... )

3. TRADITIONAL Christians are NEVER biblical literalists...
Read more... )

4. Science was nurtured by Christianity and is the direct result of monotheism.

Read more... )

5. Christians have historically been against forced conversions...
Read more... )

6. In various theocracies and dictatorships around the world Islam has an unfair privilege. Why don't we give the same unfair privilege to Christianity in the west? (Also, Christians don't get enough opportunities to proselytise. Blah Blah Fatwa Envy Blah Blah...)
Read more... )

7. Muslims will prefer Christianity if they are properly informed, whereas they tend to choose Islam because they are coerced.
Read more... )

8. Muslims ought to be apolitical mystics. Christians on the other hand...

Read more... )

9. Rowan Williams advocated "parallel legal jurisdictions"...
Read more... )

10. Rowan Williams and Tariq Ramadan are idiots - therefore that whole Christian proselytising scheme...Read more... )

11. "The lamentably premature collapse of the Western colonial empires."

Read more... )

Bits I actually agreed with

Read more... )

Some silly links

Read more... ) (Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
John Milbank of the Radical Orthodoxy movement has written a new public article. After publishing an anti-feminist tirade (requesting that we set up a new feminism biased in favour of men) on The Guardian's "comment is free", John now writes in response to an extract from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book on

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's extract on that website is no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of it, which is copied under the cut. John Milbank quotes a chunk of it, so instead of posting that same chunk twice you will find it bolded in my copy of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book extract below.Read more... )

So, I was surprised to find that, after an introduction which I found deeply dodgy, there are some parts where John Milbank talks a bit of sense. I guess he's less likely to have an article brim-full of fail when he's discussing religion rather than feminism. Below I have bolded parts which I find particularly dodgy and, in places, I have included links which I believe aid refutation of those statements (and I shall explain those links below). Those parts I find myself agreeing with or approving of are underlined as well as bolded, because I don't feel it is fair to only point out the bad points while ignoring the better parts.

Christianity, the Enlightenment and Islam
By John Milbank
ABC Religion and Ethics | 24 Aug 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali doubtless shocked many of her admirers and detractors alike when she concluded her recent article on the ABC's Religion and Ethics website, "Seeking God, but finding Allah," by praising Pope Benedict XVI's stance on Islam and calling for an alliance between atheists and what she calls "enlightened Christians" in their struggle against a common foe.
Read more... )

My Response

Read more... )
Another writer has also noticed the issues with John's article, decrying his article as "a throwback towards the more obscene forms of Orientalism and colonial arrogance".

Also there's another criticism of John Milbank here (on a different issue).

And he's found on a list of University Professors who have supported 9/11 conspiracy theories.

And if this didn't amuse you enough, here's a link to an old post of mine where I typed out a definition given by one of his Radical Orthdoxy contemporaries, Catherine Pickstock, of the concept of "transcendence".

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The video announces that the green party have awful policies such as:
- Oppposing discriminatory hiring policies in schools!
- Favouring more effective counselling services in schools which will cater to people from multiple faiths and cultures!
- Promoting effective abortion provision for women who wish to terminate their pregnancy!
- Encouraging setting up effective euthanasia provision for people who wish to end their lives prematurely!
(In the case of the last two, the video even says "provide effectively".)
- Arranging state recognition of gay marriage!
- Opposing unfair discrimination in the adoption system, ensuring that children are not unfairly prevented from entering a loving family!


Researching further I found this comment. I'm not sure if they were being serious:
If we get an Atheist PM, does that mean we will lose holidays like Easter and Christmas?

(Video via ONTD_P)

(Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Image of Hello Kitty shoulder vibrator to give a completely
misleading impression about the content of this post.

My new piece of news is best summed up by the article on Chattahbox:
The Christian right, including clownish Catholic League President Bill Donahue, is incensed over Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen’s admission that she masturbates with the aid of a trusty vibrator, she calls her “best friend.” Donahue condemned the use of a “dildo” as evidence of “insanity.” And the leader of a biblical parenting group declared that Momsen’s solo performances would doom her to a life of failure. And wonders if Momsen’s “newfound notoriety” will destroy her career. Hmm–by this reasoning, does that mean only non-masturbating Christians are successful and sane? The mind reels.
Ok so yeah, I know it's Bill Donohue, so I really shouldn't be surprised. And I'm not.

However, Bill Donohue here represents the extreme of a more common issue amongst Roman Catholics and other religious traditions too. The idea that children in their late teens shouldn't masterbate. (People who've seen Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" will actually have seen a far more extreme example of this opinion.)

Bill Donohue's comments were made on a discussion on Fox News. Another guest was Shirlee Smith from "Talk About Parenting":
“In my way of raising daughters, she shouldn’t be involved with ‘men’ and any of these men who have driven her to sexual boredom belong locked up because our society says men having sexual encounters with those under the age of consent are criminals.”
Just in case anyone is worried about the choice of the word "men", you'll be glad to hear that in the original conversation she said she was "tired of d**k", so someone on Fox News presumably thought replacing the word "dick" with the word "men" would be less offensive to their audience. *rolls eyes* With that in mind, she's only one year below the age of consent in the US and, within my own country, she's one year above it. The fact that she is no longer a virgin is not the most surprising thing in the world (nor is the fact that she has found early sexual experiences to be less than impressive).

The rather bigger issue I have here is with Donohue's claim that masturbation is somehow indicative of insanity in a 17 year old:
...and now we have Taylor Momsen prancing around with a dildo in hand. Looks like this gal’s got lots of issues. No wonder she voiced her insanity in a magazine called Disorder.”

At that age masturbation is the most natural thing in the world. In the movie I referred to above a child is informed that it can lead to physical illness and I'm not sure that the claim that it indicates mental illness is any more pleasant.

The way they insist on making children ashamed of their bodies is just horrible. However, I happen to have saved the perfect response to this kind of thinking from a certain Jennifer Howze quite early in my blog:
So why do some groups keep condemning efforts to improve and normalise sex education? Why don't they applaud the move to bring education into a safe classroom environment conveyed by teachers or parents rather than leaving it to nuggets whispered by the know-it-all kid in the playground?

It seems obvious to me. What so-called family campaigners' want to teach children about their bodies and sex is shame. Shame explains the thinking that there's something inappropriate and "wrong" for a child to know the correct word to describe a part of their body. That knowing the correct words indoctrinates an attitude of free and easy sexuality. That it sullies their pure souls to know how babies are made and to explain what they can see the cow and the bull doing in the field.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for Seventeen magazine called Vagina 101 that answered the real questions young girls had about their bodies: what should I look like? Should I shave my hair? What's a clitoris and where is it?

It was refreshing to interview highly respected doctors who robustly argued that girls and parents should get over their phobias. "The vagina is no different from an ear or a nostril. It's just a place that's part of us," one said.

The piece won an award, but one chain of grocery stores pulled it from the shelves. Some parents had complained about the "graphic" nature of the medical illustrations and descriptions. They likened it to pornography. One mother of a 17-year-old told a local reporter, "It's dirty. It's dirty."

(Via Right Wing Watch)
(Jennifer Howze Article)

(Cross posted to Atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Let me make very clear why I am posting this.

Rape happens in situations where someone is in a position of power over someone else and feels like they can get away with expressing their power in this way. There are people who want to express their power in this disgusting way all over the place. The difference within some religious groups is that there is a feeling that criticism of prominent members undermines the divine authority behind that group's teachings. If a teacher in a state school was accused of rape, on the other hand, it is more often recognised as necessary to investigate. In this latter situation the concern is more that an unscrupulous figure might remain in the school than that their actions might cast doubt on the organisation as a whole. Also, parents don't feel themselves to be members of the school in the same way they might consider themselves members of a Church or of a religious community, so as outsiders they feel more able to judge.

Within a religious group people can feel that others know better than them and that they are not in a position to judge, especially if they are young. The religion makes claims to be able to change people for the better and the limits of the prison system are readily apparent, so they may find themselves thinking that their religious community is actually the best place for this person to remain. Believing that the rape took place might even be viewed by adults as undermining the claims of the religion, because its a clear sign that the people in the upper eschalons of that group are not significantly more moral people than those outside. There may be a view that getting the police involved will bring shame to the group and prevent others from coming to them to be "saved".

... In many ways, this doesn't sound so different from the mentality involved in domestic abuse cases. But I digress....

Marx noted that religion utilises social control, Freud noted that religion utilises psychological control, Nietzsche noted that religion involves unacknowledged and dodgy power drives, and I think all three of these issues can be found in the following article:

Woman: I was afraid to tell of rape

She was silenced in earlier case, she says


Article Under Cut (Trigger Warning)... )




Other related links
Ex-pastor says police failed in old NH rape case
Woman: Church Covered Up My Rape as Teen
Police: Girl raped, then relocated

(Via ONTD_P)

x-posted to Atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
American Atheists have provided an epic article about the "Leaving Islam" campaign and why atheists shouldn't be too happy about it. The article is posted on the Richard Dawkins website. Unfortunately it's way too long and the comments on the Richard Dawkins website suggest that most people reading it haven't understood how dodgy the FDI really are. Lucky for you, I've done a bit of research. (On top of taking a quick look at Pamela Geller's blog and recoiling in horror from the crazy.)



At first glance, it appears to be a publicity campaign that Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other like-minded people can support --ads on buses asking "Thinking of Leaving Islam?" and promises of help for those fleeing one of the world's most oppressive religions.

The ads have appeared on over two-dozen New York City buses; but a similar effort in Detroit, Michigan failed when the transit company refused to display a message which, it says, promotes ethnic hatred..

The same company, SMART, earlier accepted ads from the Detroit Area Coalition of Reason which carried a slightly different message --"Don't Believe in God? You Are Not Alone."
Well the first thing that's missing is any kind of discription of what is actually on the "Leaving Islam" poster. So here it is for you:

In case you cannot see the image above, the poster features two statements at the top as follows:
"Fatwa on your head?"
"Is your family or community threatening you?"

Both are clearly daft questions since the first port of call in either of those scenarios would be to contact the police.

In the centre of the advert in large letters are the words "Leaving Islam" and at the bottom is a website address If you choose to check that website out, it will automatically direct you to the following address (which is no mistake, since it still says "Refuge From Islam" at the top). More on that website in a moment...

Interestingly the poster also includes the words "Got Questions? Get Answers" down the side of the advert, which exactly mirrors another bus advert aimed at introducing people to the faith:

So what does the article say next?
Now, SMART is being sued by the Freedom Defense Infinitive, which according to its web site has as its goal "to go on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values." This same group which thus far has unsuccessfully sponsored the Detroit bus advertisements also led the recent effort to stop construction of an Islamic mosque just three blocks from Ground Zero (former site of the World Trade Center) in New York City.

All of this raises questions about state-church --make that state-mosque -- separation in America; and how best to combat what conservatives often describe as "Islamo-fascism" or a creeping Islamization of America which, some say, is well underway under the guise of religious freedom. Are separation, Enlightenment and good pubic policy the goals of "Leaving Islam?" and the FDI? The answer is not clear.
Actually the answer is very clear indeed. It's a big fat NO!

Freedom Defence Infinitive appears to be a bit of an embarassing typo, but it seems likely that they meant to write Freedom Defence Initiative. Either way, Freedom Defence is in the address of the website I mentioned above because they are the ones pushing this advert, not simply a separate group who've decided to make a stand.

FDI Provide "Help" For Ex-Muslims

Read more... )

FDI's Big Meeting: The Guest List

Read more... )
Thomas More Center

Read more... )

The Article Continues. Mentions Geert Wilders A Lot. Really Not Important.

Read more... )

The Ending

They end their article as follows:
Finally, there is the perplexing question of how Atheists and kindred nonbelievers should approach the entire issue of Jihadist ideology. Do we encourage "moderate" Muslims to speak out more against terrorism? Research shows that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in America and abroad reject the militant call to religious war broadcast by groups like al Qaeda. Muslim cultures vary, from the Middle East to South Asia. They have different legal and religious strictures concerning women, education, alcohol and practices generally taken for granted in the West. They are in constant flux as they approach and deal with the powerful forces of modernity and Western classical liberalism. Some say that gender equality and empowerment for women is the great ticking time bomb that will revolutionize, or at least substantially change, Islam. Is there an Islamic Reformation in the works?

Questions still remain, and so does the influence of religious ideology. Atheists and other nonbelievers especially must ask if bus ads, drawing Muhammad and cheering on the critics of Islam constitute a viable strategy for both the near and far future.
This is actually quite a promising finish to the article, but as you can see above, some of the most important issues with the FDI are oddly untouched in the article while unecessary details are added in related areas. Perhaps they'd have been better off splitting their article into several more manageable bits.

Setting A Good Example...

Read more... )
Update: Hmmm, it seems that my mention of Anders Gravers Pedersen has got me noticed by someone going by the name Stephen Gash. Those wondering who this guy is might find this link rather helpful.
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Okay, this has seriously puzzled me.

S.E. Cupp is an atheist. She expresses her atheism pretty clearly. However, she's also highly conservative politically. Where it gets bizarre is that she's released a book explaining that where the "evil liberal media" criticises Conservative views, it is actually attacking Christianity.

So far, so bizarre. The way she has sided with the Christian Right reminds me of how Ayaan Hirsi Ali was siding with the Anti-Immigration Right in Holland. The difference is that while Ayaan Hirsi Ali's words seemed to depend on how you read them and the biggest issues tended to be with the sub-text, there seems to be little doubt that S.E. Cupp's arguments involve very unsubtle manipulation of the truth and, in many cases, outright lies.

Here's an interview she had on Fox News. It's all very buddy buddy at the beginning. Sean Hannity introduces her book as follows:

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The mainstream media's hostility towards Christianity is no secret. But a new book explores why the liberal elite is only suspicious when conservatives invoke religion. Now, the book is called "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity."

The author, S.E. Cupp, joins me now.

A bit of rambling... )HANNITY: Alright. And your father and I — this is the strangest thing in the world. You write a book defending Christianity...

CUPP: Yes.

HANNITY: ... and you're an atheist?

CUPP: I am. But doesn't that make me the perfect candidate? I mean, how objective can I be about this when I don't have a dog in this fight?

HANNITY: Yes, but see, I don't believe you're an atheist. I think you're more agnostic. An atheist holds out no possibility that there's a God. Do you hold out a possibility that universes within universes, the majesty of creation, that there's — you don't hold out any possibility there's a god?

CUPP: Sean, today I don't believe in God, but I'm open to being converted. I am. And you know...

HANNITY: You're agnostic, then. You're not an atheist.

CUPP: Alright. Today I don't believe in God. I don't believe that there's a God today.

HANNITY: So how do you — and see, I think to be an atheist, you have to believe that something can come from nothing. I mean, because the majesty of creation is so beyond our comprehension. You know, Steven Hawking, how many universes within universes within universes, the depths of this that you think it just happened randomly?

CUPP: I don't purport to have the answers.

HANNITY: Alright, just checking.

CUPP: I'm not prepared to fill in that gap in my knowledge with God just yet.

So as you can see, this isn't someone who doesn't know what atheism is. She's able to clearly express why she is an atheist rather than an agnostic. Yet while she might be able to identify the difference between those two positions, her understanding of the wider political landscape is rather less subtle.

But anyway, the next thing she does is to highlight a few examples of secular worship within the "evil atheist liberal media". (They're evil atheists, but she's not. She's a nice atheist because she holds to Conservative values):

HANNITY: Yes. Alright. I love the book. You make a great point here, because you say liberal media worships Hollywood. They worship celebrity. They worship politicians.

CUPP: Yes. Environmentalism.

HANNITY: And environmentalism. You say all of this. So they — worship is OK as long as it's secular.

CUPP: Well, yes, as long as it doesn't involve Christ or God. I mean, God is like porn. They want it to be sort of on the bottom shelf in a brown bag. You know, they're really embarrassed by Christianity. And it's the faith of 80 percent of this country. I think we deserve a more responsible press and a more representative press.

She's an atheist who thinks that the media isn't mentioning God enough. And environmentalism is a religion.

There's an essay in Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not A Christian" where he tackles the argument that promoting Christianity is important for a stable society. I wonder whether she's not got the same argument in mind. The idea is that, while I don't need Christianity to be a good person, other people aren't as morally upright as me. What they they really need is a promise of an afterlife to keep them in line. It's actually highly elitist since it relies on the idea that the person making the argument is somehow an ultra-special exception to the general rule amongst the unclean masses that without the firm hand of religion they will all run amok.

More rambling... )CUPP: Because if you're conservative and a Christian, for them it's a double whammy. They can conflate the two, and they can say everyone on the right is a crazy, dangerous, religious fanatic. And that's their — that's their bread and butter, fear mongering.

But I think it comes from a place. You know, liberalism is really threatened by fixed value systems like Christianity that has a list of do's and don'ts.

See, what she thinks society really needs is a fixed-value system. It doesn't matter whether she believes in it. Just that she supports it. And just supporting the conservative values without the Christianity isn't enough. It seems that it's vital to her that Christianity is in place to keep the masses in check and she's just as worried about faith in that system being called into question as any right-wing believer would be.

More rambling, with a few minor points... )

So it's at this point where she decides to lay into Obama. Now, I'm not Obama's greatest fan, but I have been impressed by his focus on ensuring a heightened inclusion for people of all faiths and none. Even Hannity notes that her assessment of the situation is a little odd. Obama has spoken about religion fondly and embraces various religious groups. So how is that anti-Christian? Well, in one sense the answer is fairly obvious. Focussing on other religions is treating them as if they are on the same level as Christianity. The far-right will often claim that other faiths getting a fair shake involves persecuting the Christian majority. However, the other reason Obama's religious position upsets her is that it's too lefty. She doesn't like Obama's liberation theology for the same reason the Vatican doesn't like liberation theology: Liberation Theology is not a conservative movement.
HANNITY: You mentioned Obama and when he made the comment about people clinging to their guns and religion.

CUPP: Yes.

HANNITY: He also said America is not a —

CUPP: Christian nation.

HANNITY: Christian nation. And he made those comments. And you said Obama demotes Christianity, and the liberal media rejoices. That struck me.

CUPP: Right. I mean, it's the first time that they've had a comrade, an ally in the White House to back up their secular agenda. This is a guy who's very uncomfortable with public worship. He's always elevating atheism to the level of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, when they're not the same. They're apples and oranges.

HANNITY: But he spent — it look him a long time to denounce Reverend Wright, which I think — and he embraced black liberation theology.

CUPP: Yes.

HANNITY: When you read his books. He was inspired.

CUPP: Absolutely.

HANNITY: He was fortified. As he was out on road he would listen...

CUPP: The liberal media didn't cover that, though. I mean, I do a comparison in one chapter between Sarah Palin's Pentecostalism and Barack Obama's black liberation theology.

Sarah Palin's Pentecostalism is basically the broad Christianity of the majority of the country. Black liberation theology is radical. It is frightening.


CUPP: And it's not representative. But the liberal media didn't tell us that story.
Finishing off rambling... )

HANNITY: And you know, for example, you point out some of the hypocrisy. Here you have best-selling books by Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, others, and you mention them in the book. They don't get reviewed by The New York Times.

CUPP: Right. It's not just a question of, you know, do we cover Christian issues? Which they don't. Or when we do cover Christian issues, do we do it fairly? They don't.
Yet more rambling... )

CUPP: I want — I want some of these people gone. I want to take names. You're religious. I want this to be like the rapture, and all that's left of them is their shoes.

Final ramble... )

Yes, you did hear what you heard. Ann Coulter is discriminated against by the NY Times and Cupp wants the "evil atheist liberal media" to get 'raptured'.

What do you think about this stuff?


Bill Maher interviews her (video here). He's fairly irritating and he's particularly all over the place on the occasion, but he does at least manage to point out the number of TIME magazine covers with Jesus on the front. Cupp responds that one of those covers is in relation to a story claiming that reading the Bible correctly means supporting gay marriage (which naturally the writer didn't really believe and only wrote just to attack Christians *facepalm*).

Also the amazon page contains a review from Chris Rodda from the MRFF explaining just how badly she's been misrepresented in the book.

Oh, and Cupp doesn't believe in evolution either:
"The debate over the legitimacy of evolution isn't really about a battle between fact and fiction. It's about Christianity, and the liberal media's attempt to eradicate it from all corners of society."

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Hey, they're just trying to be Christ-like and how can they do that without at least giving the impression of being persecuted?

Yes, it seems that the American Christian Anti-Defamation Commission have decided to make an annual 'victim list' of all the things they think are done specifically to undermine Christianity in America. In 2008 apparently Obama was bashing Christians by simply being one. Here's the list for 2009. (They work backwards and so will I.):

Read more... )


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