Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

“This Lent I will eat no food, to highlight the hunger all around us”

“This Lent I will eat no food, to highlight the hunger all around us” says Keith Hebden, in a “Comment is Free” piece for the Guardian on Monday. As an atheist, I have no automatic respect for religious rituals. I think it’s a good idea to eat fish at least once a week, for example, but I don’t see why it should be a Friday.

So a religious man, doing something that ties in with his religion, but taking it a little further, is just a publicity stunt. One that I applaud.

We can probably all recall at least one Tory politician who has spent a week on as much money as someone on benefits gets, to show how, with a bit of planning, it’s possible to adequately look after yourself. These cynical ploys are undermined, either by abject failure, or by revelations of cheating.

Keith Hebden isn’t trying to prove anything by fasting. He isn’t trying to show either how easy it is, or how difficult. He almost certainly won’t suffer any long term health problems, though I hope he has taken, and will heed, medical advice. He isn’t even evangelising for his faith, as he concludes his article with:

“We can all help: whether you are spiritual, religious, or just that wonderful thing called “human”.”

He’s fasting to raise awareness of a very real problem. The phrase “publicity stunt” is usually taken to mean that there’s an ulterior motive, but it doesn’t have to and, in this case, I don’t think there is.



You can follow Keith’s progress on Twitter by clicking here.


Stupid Fakers

I’ve seen quite a few stories from the USA, a country with religious freedom enshrined in its constitution, featuring people, often children, dying from treatable illnesses because they or their families put their faith, literally, in the power of prayer. It seems this corrupt practice is spreading to the UK, at least partly financed by American evangelists.
And it is corrupt. I can understand desperate people grasping for anything that might help them, however implausible. It isn’t those people who anger me.
It’s the ones who prey (no pun intended) on the vulnerable, sometimes for financial gain (have you ever seen a poor televangelist?), or for status within their religious group.
I know a lot of Christians, and while they believe in the efficacy of prayer, nobody I know would consider it sufficient by itself.
The people behind Believe TV (fined £25k by Ofcom) and HOTS in Bath, whose advertisement was banned by the ASA, do seem to think prayer is sufficient, or at least they claim it is. If desperate, vulnerable people believe them, they may well forgo the conventional medicine that could save their lives.

No doubt when people die, they will be deemed not to have prayed hard enough.


More about the ASA’s adjudication of HOTS here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-16871116


On a visit to the  West African country of Benin the Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, urged his flock to reject “witchcraft and superstition”.

Mr Ratzinger, who worships a zombie known as Jesus, completely failed to see the irony.

As usual.

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.)

Sally Ann loses the plot

I have, for a long time, had a sneaking regard for the Salvation Army. Yes, they’re religious, but they do tend to get off their backsides and really help those in need. They habitually go into pubs and clubs to collect donations, even though they have an antipathy to alcohol consumption, so one would expect them to be equally grateful for the proceeds of a song, no matter that it was written and sung by an atheist. One of Tim Minchin‘s songs has already appeared on this blog, but this time there will be no need to warn anyone that it isn’t safe for work. Minchin doesn’t grovel to religion, but this song is fairly innocuous, and the ingratitude shown by the Salvation Army when they said ‘we do not in any way support the statements made in this song.’ is staggering. Why could they not say they were grateful for the donation whoever gives it? Anyway, Tim has reacted to their disdain by switching the donation elsewhere and you can click here to buy his version in aid of a secular charity.

In the meantime, I can only hope that the stupidity is confined to Australia’s Sally Ann. It would be a shame if their good work elsewhere was contaminated by such intolerance.

Here’s the song in question – as usual, if you like it please click through and tell him so.

Lying for Doctrine

“They haven’t disputed the order of Creation, set down thousands of years ago in Genesis, these very clever scientists. We got it right!”!

Those were the words of arch celibate and Roman Catholic Ann Widdecombe today in an interview on Sky News.

Is she really that dense? The order of creation is disputed in the bible itself! There are two different accounts in the book of Genesis, and they don’t agree. So much for the bible being the word of a perfect god!

Both those scriptural accounts are, of course, utterly wrong, as any real scientist will tell you. The Earth wasn’t around before there was light. It’s just a childish story, told, and believed, by the ignorant. At least the people who came up with the fairy tale had an excuse. They hadn’t benefited from the Enlightenment. What’s Ann’s excuse?

Perhaps she should concentrate on her forthcoming television appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.

Beam me up, Benny

One of the pope’s astronomers, Guy Consolmagno, would really love there to be intelligent life on other planets. So far so rational. However he goes on to insist, without any evidence at all, that such beings would have souls and that he would be prepared to baptise them. He would only do this with their consent though, which is a welcome change, given the Catholic church’s record in such cases as that of Edgardo Mortara, who, in 1858, was baptised without his parents’ knowledge, then forcibly removed from them.