Tag Archives: Christian

“The Wheels on the Bus Go…..Straight?”

Occasionally, just occasionally, I find myself in agreement with Boris Johnson. He is, of course, a politician, so I can console myself with the suspicion that he is being opportunistic, and maintain my slightly leftish equilibrium.

For a while now, Stonewall have been running a poster campaign:

Some Christians have said that the first part of that slogan, “some people are gay”, is a claim that gays are born that way, so they should, in turn, be allowed to run their own version of the Stonewall poster on the side of London buses:
The problem with their argument is that no such claim is made. The ad just says that some people are gay.
The problem with the distorted version of the ad, aside from possible copyright issues, is that it implies that being gay is an illness, and claims that it can be cured.

There is no evidence for this, aside from the anecdotes of people with a vested interest. Whether they are promoting their own, bigoted, religious viewpoint, or they are gay and trying to fit in with the people around them, their “evidence” is worthless.

Anyway, BoJo has banned that distortion from appearing on London buses.

Not everyone is as sanguine about the ban as I am. I can comfortably dismiss the complaints of “persecution” from whiny bigots, but others with a track record of opposing unfair discrimination make the very sensible point that such decisions, if made for the wrong reasons, could backfire on everyone else. I hope that the ban can be upheld for rational reasons. No doubt we’ll find out soon, as the decision faces a legal challenge from “Anglican Mainstream” and “Core Issues”, the groups behind the distortion. In the meantime, here’s the very best response (in my opinion) to the religious bigotry that spawned that hateful message (Note the attire of the man in the middle of the picture):


Reverend Cameron

I have stated many times, both here on this blog and elsewhere, that the overwhelming majority of Christians (and other religious people) that I know personally are good, kind and decent people, or at least aspire to be, whatever faults and foibles they might, like everyone else, be burdened with.

I sometimes wonder, when I make vitriolic pictures like the one above, whether I am being a little unfair. David Cameron probably doesn’t regard himself as an ogre, and I’m sure his friends and family think he’s a nice chap too.

Then I note the ongoing privatisation of the NHS, the continuing assault on disabled people and the rewarding of his rich friends for being rich with more riches, and I think to myself, “why should I care about millionaire Dave, he doesn’t give a shit about me?”

His priorities do seem to have shifted slightly of late though; he appears to want to bring religion firmly back into British politics.

For a few years now, some Christians have been complaining, loudly, that they are being sidelined, and prevented from expressing their views in public. The irony that the rest of us have to hear their pathetic whines escapes them, of course. It may be that Cameron is pandering to this group, in the politicians endless pursuit of votes.

Or he may be disconcerted by actual churchmen in the Church of England pouring scorn on his government as it penalises the weak and vulnerable, so he’s decided to invent a moral high ground for he and his cronies to inhabit.

Most worrying of all, he may actually believe the nonsense he spouts, and he’s paving the way for American style evangelism to take root over here.

My God, he’s going to privatise Christianity!

How to Miss the Point Completely

Some Christians believe that prayer can cure all ailments. Their belief is so strong that they’ll advocate prayer instead of, rather than in addition to, medical treatment. The Advertising Standards Authority told a group of such Christians in Bath (with the slightly risqué acronym H.O.T.S.) that they couldn’t make the positive claim in their promotional literature that prayer heals. They weren’t saying that payer doesn’t work, just that there’s no credible evidence that it does. All there is, is personal anecdotes.

Now, three MPs, one from each of the main parties, plus a Liberal Democrat, have written a letter to the ASA, complete with a threat, albeit an empty one. There’s also a rather stupid attempt at “proof” in the mention of Fabrice Muamba who, it is true, was prayed for by a lot of people but who, it is demonstrably true, also received quite intensive, and prompt, medical attention.

So, the burden of proof remains with the Christians, who are making the claim that prayer works, and not with the ASA, who are merely saying “show us some evidence”.

Here is the letter, copied from the Liberal Conspiracy blog, well worth a read in its own right:

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury
Chairman, Advertising Standards Agency

21st March 2012

We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.

We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.

On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?

You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.

It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?

We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Streeter MP (Con)
Chair, Christians in Parliament

Gavin Shuker MP (Labour)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament

Tim Farron (Lib-Dem)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament


EDIT TO ADD: Click here for another excellent post from Liberal Conspiracy.

Breaking News: WBC Still Bastards

I haven’t written until now about the recent massacre in Oslo perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik. There didn’t seem to be much left to say. Most Christians said “he doesn’t represent us”, which is fair enough. Some of the more right-wing Christians, who would have applauded Breivik’s actions if their brand of religion had still been in the ascendant, claimed he must be an atheist, which is not. At least they had the good sense to pretend they didn’t approve of Breivik.

Only one group, so far, has publicly acclaimed  Breivik, the Westboro Baptist Coven.

I’m only surprised it’s taken this long.

(As usual I’m hosting this image myself, so you can click on it to enlarge it without giving the WBC’s site any hits. I cannot, however, take any responsibility for your blood pressure if you do.)

Reverend Jerome

CJ, aka Jerome, has been discussing scepticism on his blog, including a mock sermon he once posted on the old Richard Dawkins forum. The sermon seems to have upset one person (so far), and I can only assume he’s not familiar with cj’s sense of humour, nor indeed his good sense. It’s always a good idea to take an occasional step back to check that one isn’t being dogmatic.

I started posting on (mainly) atheist forums  on January 1st 2007, and straight away I encountered religious nutters who merited the most robust of replies. It wasn’t long, however, before I noticed another kind of theist, the kind I’ve known all my life but had begun to think didn’t exist on “atheist” forums. On the aforementioned Dawkins forum, in addition to cj/jerome, there was a Christian who described himself as an “Intelligent Design sympathiser”. Intelligent Design is just another name for creationism, dreamed up as an attempt to win a court case (it failed), so I expected this person to be just another “chew toy”. I, like many other atheist forum members, was surprised by his manner however, and he managed to avoid getting any warnings, even for preaching, which was the usual way creationists left that forum. I think he was even persuaded that creationism, however it is dressed up, is nonsense, but he wouldn’t have been if he’d come in, all guns blazing, to be met with derision. I try not to attack too soon these days, though of course I’m only human, and sometimes do.

I don’t imagine either cj or I will be easily convinced of the other’s opinion on the existence of gods or ghosts, but at least we can talk to each other, and find other things we can agree about. That’s something some Christians can’t do with other Christians (and you can substitute the name of any religion). Lest I appear smug, some atheists I’ve met on-line have been deeply unpleasant too.

Morality needs religion?

It is often said by theists that religion is necessary, else a person cannot have any morality. Leaving aside, for the moment, the fact that many atheists lead very moral lives, often better than their religious counterparts, what is it about religion that is supposed to provide this morality?
For Christians the guidance apparently comes from the bible. Even when the sheer barbarity of some of the stories therein are pointed out to them, the usual answer is “well, it’s metaphorical, you’re not meant to read that bit literally!” Of course, they can never say definitively how one is supposed to identify which bits to read metaphorically, and which literally!
Let’s allow them one example of a story that, if taken as literal fact, is one that hardly inspires confidence in the goodness of the two main protagonists, God and Abraham. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac’s life; to murder him, in other words. Abraham sets about this task, without any reluctance apparent in the text, and has Isaac on the sacrificial pyre with a knife at his throat, when God sends an angel to stop him.
Now if we are expected to believe that story as literally true, then Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, should be released at once. Who are the police and the courts to say that the voices in his head telling him to kill women weren’t real?
Of course, most Christians aren’t so deluded, and don’t read the story as literal truth, but in that case it must be a metaphor. What is it supposed to mean though? What is the moral of the story? That one should always obey God, no matter what He commands? How is that any different from the literal interpretation? However you read the story, it’s horrible, and as clear a case of child abuse as ever was documented.

No it is, like many other bible stories, a remnant of humanity’s barbaric infancy, and ought to be discarded. Sadly for Christians, the early church fathers chose to include the Old Testament, even having Jesus saying, in the Gospel according to Matthew, (5:18) “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. ”
(5:19) “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Sorry Christians, you’re stuck with the whole bible, even the nasty bits.