Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

James Bidgood's Trio

"Sex and death lie at the poisoned heart of religion" by Polly Toynbee on the Guardian

Why invite the pope on a state visit – at a cost of millions in a time of cutbacks – when the vast majority are secular?

* Reddit
* Buzz up
* Share on facebook (1528)
* Tweet this (372)
Comments (1228)

* Polly Toynbee
o Polly Toynbee
o The Guardian, Tuesday 14 September 2010
o Article history

A dispute with BBC TV's religious slot, Sunday Morning Live: would I join a debate on the pope? As president of the British Humanist Association, I was glad to – but there was a problem. Discussion was divided into a first debate on whether Catholicism was over-obsessed with sex, but I was to join a second: is the Catholic church a force for good? How could you answer that without saying that sex lies at the poisoned heart of all that is wrong with just about every major faith?

Repression of sex, banning contraception, gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research and IVF treatment cause untold misery. Not to the "liberal" Catholics who proclaim for reform and use contraception themselves – as Cherie Blair so distastefully revealed – yet support a church whose denial of it damages and kills poor mothers with no choice. As Ben Goldacre pointed out in this paper on Saturday, while this pope claims condoms "aggravate the problem" of HIV/Aids, two million die a year. Ann Widdecombe's riposte that the Catholic church runs more Aids clinics than any single nation was like suggesting the Spanish Inquisition ran the best rehab clinics for torture victims.

Women's bodies are the common battleground, symbols of all religions' authority and identity. Cover them up with veil or burqa, keep them from the altar, shave their heads, give them ritual baths, church them, make them walk a step behind, subject them to men's authority, keep priests celibately free of women, unclean and unworthy. Eve is the cause of all temptation in Abrahamic faiths. Only by suppressing women can priests and imams hold down the power of sex, the flesh and the devil. The Church of England is on the point of schism over gay priests, women bishops and African homophobia. The secular world looks on in utter perplexity.

Trying to deny the primal life force has led to centuries of persecution, suffering, secrecy and breathtaking hypocrisy. Wherever male cultural leaders hold absolute and unscrutinised power, women and children will be abused. In western secular life this has at last been recognised: in schools, prisons, care homes and within families, wherever the powerless are unseen and unheard, horrors will happen without checks and transparency. Abusers gravitate towards closed organisations, and absolute power turns people into abusers. But the Vatican still talks of a few bad apples requiring internal discipline, the pope refusing to hand rapists over to secular law. Imams, gurus, priests, all hold sway over the vulnerable. As secretive madrasas and new religious "free" schools multiply while officials nervously respect their cultural independence, expect more abuse as bad as the Belgian Catholic cases now emerging.

The other dominion the religions control is death. Were it not for the faiths with their grip on hospices and palliative care, the law on assisted dying would be reformed. Religious dominance in parliament scuppered the last bill that tried to give the dying the right to depart when they can suffer no more. A survey in the Journal of Medical Ethics found religious doctors far less likely to keep the dying deeply sedated if that risked hastening death, forcing people to linger in the agonising antechambers of death. Add up the millions of hours of human suffering the faiths inflict by their denial of choice over sex and death, and it far outweighs their Mother Teresa work.

The pontiff arrives after heavy lobbying by Gordon Brown, who was desperate to please Catholic voters. Instead the visit has subjected Pope Benedict's conservatism to intensely unfavourable scrutiny. On Friday he meets the Archbishop of Canterbury, who ought to send him off with a flea in his ear for trying to seduce over to Rome Church of England clergy opposed to women bishops. His beatification of Cardinal Newman for converting to Catholicism is an affront, along with his claim that Britain's Equalities Act "violates natural law" for banning discrimination against women and gays.

In a week when, on the wilder fringes, a Florida pastor's threat to burn 200 copies of the Qur'an risked igniting holy war among equally extreme battalions of Islamist fundamentalists, while hate-filled Christians try to stop the building of a Muslim centre in a New York that is remembering the jihadist attack victims, nobody needs reminding of the incendiary dangers of religion. But just when democracies should determinedly separate religion from state, the British state appeases, most alarmingly in new segregated schools. Why invite the pope on a "state" visit costing millions in a time of cutbacks? At most 12% of the population regularly practises any faith in the secular UK.

Where once secularism and humanism were relics of a bygone religious age, its voice is important again. But pointing out the blindingly obvious need to keep faiths in their private sphere has united religious gunfire against secularists. All atheists now tend to be called "militant", yet we seek to silence none, to burn no books, to stop no masses or Friday prayers, impose no laws, asking only free choice over sex and death. Religion deserves its say, but only proportional to its numbers. No privileges, no special protection against feeling offended.

The director of pastoral affairs in the Westminster diocese, Edmund Adamus, says Britain has become a "selfish hedonistic wasteland" of sex and secularism. He echoes the supreme arrogance of all the religious who claim there is no morality without God. Nonsense, but unlike the religious the godless claim no moral superiority. Wise humanists know that good and bad are pretty evenly distributed. Humanity has an innate moral sense, without threats of divine wrath and reward. Good and bad works are done by both the secular and the religious. But wherever the institutions of religion wield real power, they prove a force for cruelty and hypocrisy.

Atheists are good haters, they claim, but feeble compared with the religious sects. Atheists have dried-up souls, without spiritual or visionary transcendentalism. To which we say: the human imagination is all we need to hold in awe. Live in optimism without fear of judgment and death. There is enough purpose and meaning in life, love and leaving a good legacy. Oppose the danger of religious zealotry with the liberating belief that life on earth is precious because this here and now is all there is, and our destiny is in our own hands.

Harsh judgments on the pope and religion


* The Guardian, Wednesday 15 September 2010
* Article history

We, the undersigned, share the view that Pope Ratzinger should not be given the honour of a state visit to this country. We believe that the pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country. However, as well as a religious leader, the pope is a head of state, and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:

Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids.

Promoting segregated education.

Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women.

Opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

The state of which the pope is head has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties ("concordats") with many states which negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states. In any case, we reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican.

Stephen Fry, Professor Richard Dawkins, Professor Susan Blackmore, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Ed Byrne, Baroness Blackstone, Ken Follett, Professor AC Grayling, Stewart Lee, Baroness Massey, Claire Rayner, Adele Anderson, John Austin MP, Lord Avebury, Sian Berry, Professor Simon Blackburn, Sir David Blatherwick, Sir Tom Blundell, Dr Helena Cronin, Dylan Evans, Hermione Eyre, Lord Foulkes, Professor Chris French, Natalie Haynes, Johann Hari, Jon Holmes, Lord Hughes, Robin Ince, Dr Michael Irwin, Professor Steve Jones, Sir Harold Kroto, Professor John Lee, Zoe Margolis, Jonathan Meades, Sir Jonathan Miller, Diane Munday, Maryam Namazie, David Nobbs, Professor Richard Norman, Lord O'Neill, Simon Price, Paul Rose, Martin Rowson, Michael Rubenstein, Joan Smith, Dr Harry Stopes-Roe, Professor Raymond Tallis, Lord Taverne, Peter Tatchell, Baroness Turner, Professor Lord Wedderburn of Charlton QC FBA, Ann Marie Waters, Professor Wolpert, Jane Wynne Willson

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Honor to the victims of fundamentalist hatred

Fundamentalist islamic hatred killed thousands of innocent victims nine years ago.
Fundamentalist hatred and intolerance of the different, be it islamic, christian, or whatever, is something humanity shoul utterly reject and discard if it wants to grow and become really civil and enlighted.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm coming, let me put on something!

Purge the Koran and the Bible, don't burn anything

I'm against all books burnings, even if it's the Quran, a book for which I care very little.I think these two ancient collections of religious lore should be considered simply literary works, however religiously inspired. They should be cherished for what they have of good in keeping with rthe Declaration of Human rights.
Here's the Quran
"There is no compulsion in religion." (But see the next verse which says that disbelievers will burn forever in Hell.) 2:256
Don't argue about things that you know nothing about. 3:66
"O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion."
Other translations render this "O people of the Book, do not be fanatical in your faith." (Amen to that!) 4:171
Whoever kills a human being, it is as if he had killed all mankind. Whoever saves the life of one, it is as if he had saved the life of all.
(But see the next verse which says that the enemies of Allah and Muhammad will be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off, or expelled. And after they die they will face "an awful doom.") 5:32
Let each person believe (or disbelieve) whatever he or she wishes. 109:1, 6

I concur with this last!

I wonder if Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad read those?

As for the Bible, many of Jesus' teachings are ogf high moral value,and not only those. Even when God, in the Prophets, spurns sacrifices and demand justice for the poor and suffering, that's a high point, too.

But, please, leave Leviticus, Joshua and other receptacles of bigotry and carnage in the history's recycle bin.
And please, understand that burning books was a favourite occupation of the Inquisition and the Nazi.
Give to charities in 9/11, instead. It will make much more sense.

Beautiful gay kiss

Les amants qui s'aiment contre les portes de la nuit

Hot bods

Gay is good by Donelan