Archive for the ‘religion’ Tag

The gays stopped my cream cakes…   4 comments

I don’t think gay couples should be married in church; then I think it is a bad idea for any Chesterfield-20120521-00035couple to get married in such a ridiculous institution!

It doesn’t matter one bit whether a couple is of the same gender when deciding if they can marry.  The Civil Partnership offers most of the equivalent benefits but anything short of full marriage is discrimination.   What makes people happy without hurting others is what counts.

I am pleased that a Conservative administration that just a few years ago passed the draconian legislation under the Local Government Act is now championing equality for gay relationships.  The infamous clause 28 of that 1988 Act stated that no local authority should “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”  Now Cameron seems to be fighting the bigots in his own party to force equality through.

It looked for a while that churches and religious institutions would not be considered in the forthcoming legislation.  However by not legislating specifically it might mean that superstitious groupings who do not want to allow all loving couples to avail themselves of the facilities might find themselves under pressure from Human Rights interventions.

Now if the those with big buildings who believe in sky fairies don’t want to include certain people in their silly games then I suggest that any sensible prospective brides and brides or grooms and grooms keep well clear.  As far as I know all that Yeshua/Jesus  thought on the subject was that a wedding needed wine and he wasn’t going to pay for it!

Some married theists think that allowing gays to marry somehow undermines their own relationships.  I am not sure how such a positive step should change what they get out of their own loving partnerships; they should just not stop others having the same opportunity.

I have even heard some suggest that allowing same-sex marriages in their churches has some effect on them as worshippers.  I have a suggestion- if you don’t like the idea of two men or two women marrying then don’t go to the wedding!  I am sure the happy couple will be even happier not to have you there.

The church my family is associated with have Weight Watchers there on a Monday night.  This has no real consequence for my family or any of the religious attendees.  It does not mean that by osmosis that they cannot eat cream cakes or gorge on bacon.

I hope that gay couples will soon be able to marry.  I don’t care whether this means they can wed in church as for most it is a nice setting rather than a commitment to any superstition.  I also hope they can still eat cream cakes!


Why I am a Spanish speaking Muslim who supports Brazil   Leave a comment

You might know I am a football fan.  The national team I support is England.  My football following siblings also support England as do almost all my friends.  I do have a colleague who looks firstly for the Scotland result and a bare handful of friends with allegiance to other nations.  For example I play football with two who support Italy.

I think it is an amazing coincidence that all of my family and practically all of my friends follow the same team as me.  It must be a statistically anomaly.

Now I wouldn’t claim England are the best team in the world.  They are consistently in the top ten nations and usually make the knock-out stages of the global competitions.  However if I were to make a logical choice I perhaps currently ought to support Spain whose results are better and who certainly play a much more attractive style of play.  If I was looking throughout my lifetime then Brazil with three World Cup wins would be my best choice to follow.

Why then do I support England?  Basically it is an accident of birth, the same reason as everyone I know.  I was born and brought up bang in the middle of England; this means I support England in every sport.  Had I been born in Spain I would support the current World Cup holders.  If my place of birth had been Rio de Janeiro then I would be following the most successful international team.   My friends who follow different teams were either born in those countries or have a family heritage linked to them.

Of course had I been born in Spain my first language would be Spanish and in Brazil, Portuguese.  This would have been another factor determined by my birthplace and culture.  It would have no basis in logic.  I am probably best sticking to English as the international language of commerce and of the internet.  However a case might be made for Spanish or Mandarin as useful additions

All of my family and most of my friends were brought up Christian.  All of those I know that came from that tradition that worship do so in the Christian Church.  I don’t think I know any practising Jews but all those I know who are Muslim or follow the South Asian religions are first or second generation immigrants to the United Kingdom.  They are rather like my “Italian” friends in that respect..

With a true statistical spread a quarter of my family would follow Islam; none of my family is a Muslim.  However had my birth been in Pakistan or parts of the Middle-East there is every chance that every one of my family would be Muslim.  There is no logic to it at all,  While a small number of the religious start to follow a faith other than the one they were born into it is rare.  Almost every religious person follows the faith of the culture they wre born into.  No god selects them as special people, their faith is as much an accident of birth as their language or national football team!

So logically we should all support Spain.  We should speak and write in English with a smattering of Spanish and Mandarin.  And of course if we are being totally rational we should worship no gods at all.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God…   1 comment

Ring, Ring.  Ring, Ring. Ring…

“Is that Father O’Hare?”

“It is about that wedding, I left a message.”

“Yes that’s right.”

“No I am not a member of your Church, I am not a member of any church.”

“No, not a Catholic, I don’t believe in any of that shit.”

“Why in church?  Well it is traditional.  I wouldn’t have her mother there either if it was my decision but Mother of the Bride, church service seem to be the norm.”

“Well there are other churches but we really wanted to get married in yours…”

“Because it is perfect for the photos and very close the country house hotel we are using for the reception.”

“I don’t know about beliefs or faith, we only want to hire the building.  We don’t want any of the mumbo-jumbo!”

“Well you can come as long as you bring the fancy garb, there is usually a bloke in a dress to host it.”

“Look we only want it for an hour, a bit less if we lose those dirgeful songs.  We can bring our own Robbie Williams CDs.”

“Come-on we don’t even want a speech from you!  Just the ‘repeat after me’ and ‘you may now kiss the Bride.’”

“Look it is about the only way you will ever get a full house, someone has to pay your wages, those six people and a dog on Sundays don’t!”

“Just take the money and you can go back to “accepting penitence” from young choirboys…”

“Jesus Christ, how much?”

“That is almost as much as for the centre-pieces at the hotel!”

“Take-it!  August 6th then.”

“Thank you, Father.”

Posted November 11, 2012 by dalekpete in atheism, Scepticism

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Atheist+ gets a D minus from me   Leave a comment

I am an atheist just because I don’t believe in any supernatural beings.  I also believe that organised religion is often inherently evil.  On top of that I abhor bigotry and discrimination in any form.   I think any move towards a campaign termed Atheist+ is stupid.

My political views are more libertarian than liberal and in British political terms I am probably right-wing but see myself as having significant social-democrat leanings in that I think the state safety-net is fundamental.  In US terms I might be considered virtually a communist by the GOP or the Tea Party.

I might term myself atheist, humanist, an advocate for the disabled, a feminist, an anti-racist and a campaigner for LGBT rights.  I also am involved in community participation and empowering those who are missed by conventional means.  I am not part of some “magic” grouping that incorporates all of these issues.

It seems that to be an atheist I just have to realise there are no gods.  To earn the label of Atheist+ I have to take a fifty question survey and write an essay explaining why a white, straight, middle-aged, comfortably-off, male with no disabilities dare to be considered worthy.

Those that are public and campaign about atheism, secularism and humanism tend to the liberal wing.  I expect there are few racist atheists, few sexist humanists and there is no secular agenda for oppressing LGBT people.  There might however be issues with inclusion, not always because there are problems with discrimination but because existing members don’t understand how intimidating any grouping can be.  I am not sure that this feeling of exclusion is necessarily linked to gender, sexuality, race or disability.

In terms of political parties it is those to the left that seem the natural home of the ungodly.  However I am not sure the division is as strong in the UK as over the pond. There are openly atheist GOP activists but they are rare, probably because the natural electorate rules out such views.  In the UK it is rare for a candidate to make their religious views a factor in an election.  Even Prime Minister Tony Blair waited until he stood down until he “came out” as a Catholic wing-nut.

I think in Britain you can comfortably be a Conservative atheist.  This might mean that you are not a social progressive in terms of social policy but you still don’t recognise any mythical being.  In fact it could be claimed that the libertarians can claim to support self-determination away from any bigotry and external influences while rejecting social support from the state.   This is true on both sides of the Atlantic.

I was involved in the organisation of a youth football tournament recently.  The guest of honour pointed out the lack of minority ethnic players among the hundreds competing.  I pointed out the ethnic make-up of our demographic catchment to explain this.  In fact there were a couple of black children  but I realised that number was less than might be expected.  I will not tear my hair out declare I am part of a racist organisation; I will check with partners and practitioners to see whether there is a problem or any factors that adversely influence ethnic participation.

I feel the move towards Atheist+ is  closely linked to the supposed misogyny at atheist events.  I am not sure that this is a real factor but again concede the need for inclusion.  It seems that rather than investigating whether this is an issue within the “atheist community” some have concluded it is and over-reacted.

Whether there is a real community that can be migrated from labelling itself as atheist to “super-dooper, socially progressive, all-inclusive, politically aware with a very big plus-sign ATHEIST” is doubtful.  I am aware that Margaret Thatcher was about as right-wing as British politics gets but I agree with her assertion, “If your only opportunity is to be equal then it is not opportunity.”

But in terms of Atheist+ can I cite Groucho Marx?

“Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

Ahomeopathy is not a religion!   Leave a comment

I find it terrible when just because I don’t believe in homeopathy some think this is akin to a new religion. My ahomeopathy doesn’t define me and cannot be compared to those who believe in unsubstantiated medical miracles, mythical creatures or invented deities.

Basically I don’t believe in any of that non-scientific crap. However as well as a skeptic, I am a rationalist and realise that there is always the possibility that science will find evidence that I might have to consider. That is the raison d’etre of intelligent scientific principle- rational adaptation, thesis and antithesis. Unfortunately for the medical fundamentalists you have to start from a vaguely sensible position.

If your theory depends on a ridiculous medical proposition, an unsupported indication of alien abduction or an unproven bloke in the sky making a mess of running the universe then you start from a more than unsound position. If you define your life on that theory rather than just getting on and living then more fool you.

My life is not defined by the fact that I think all homeopaths are either fools or frauds. I will go on twitter (as @face_of_weevil) and gently take the piss out of the advocates of alternative medicine but exposing that crap is such a small part of who I am. Despite the fact that I will also ridicule other sorcery such as religion that apposition to superstition does not define me. Freedom from unfounded faith, dogma, ignorance and superstition might better indicate who I am.

There are those so set in their irrational ways that they feel it is right to insult me by comparing my opposition to their faith to a position equivalent to that superstition. Yes I know that homeopathy is false so call me an ahomeopathic but don’t ever call it my religion!

Half-hearted and meaningless- religion in schools   4 comments

At school Physical Education was compulsory.  I forged notes from my parents, feigned injury and forgot my games kit to avoid it.  As soon as there was a relaxation, as I reached sixth form (High School senior years) I opted for table-tennis which was unsupervised and so was actually cover for a card school.

Outside of the official games periods I played football (soccer) in the playgrounds and cricket and football away from school.  I still play league cricket as I reach my fiftieth year and social football games twice a week.  I am also a walk leader as part of a community project.

At school I tried to avoid sports because they were official, the PE teachers that led classes as a supplement to their other academic duties also did so without any conviction and so allowed a little latitude.

My view of religion at school was very similar to that of games; the statutory nature destroyed any merit for the subject.  In the main, I feel most schoolmasters felt a similar lack of enthusiasm.  The difference for me was that I didn’t run off and engage in religion away from school.

This is why I find the battles in the American education system and the extent of religious indoctrination so alien.  Religious tradition is so much a part of the English education system but has a marginal effect; over the pond it seems that the malignancy is very deep.

Unlike the US, the church in the United Kingdom is not separated from the state but integral to it.  Our Head of State is the Head of the Church of England.  Our second legislative chamber has protestant church leaders in it as of right.  Our state (public) schools have daily collective worship that “shall be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.  For all this religion is weak in our collective society.

Like in my day I get the impression that religion is essentially ignored in the state school system.  Even some voluntary aided faith schools insist on as few as ten per cent of admissions being regular participants in the established faith.  My local Roman Catholic secondary (High) school gives preference to Catholics who attend church, then any Catholics, then active Christians, then any active participants in any World Faith.  There is a move away from parents pretending to go to church just to guarantee a better school place for their heathen children.

I clearly remember at primary school that the school dinners were preceded by a Christian grace.  All my assemblies included prayer and most were akin to a church service.  For all that there was a feeling that this religious input just diluted the faith message.  All of the religion seemed closer to tradition than any real theism.

There was Religious Education at school but I have no real recollection of the subject I always got the impression that any masters or mistresses involved were a figure of fun.  I don’t remember any other faiths other than the very basic biblical Christianity.  The official government line on the school subject  now is “Religious education provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions, and other world views that offer answers to these challenging questions”  What I found odd over my kids’ school life was that every exploration of “alternative” religions involved Diwali; it was an easy call to go for a festival with lots of lights before Christmas.

As an atheist for my last five years at school I never had an issue with any religious elements.  My later secondary school had been founded in 1594 so had traditions linked to religion going back centuries.  I never remember anyone asking my religion.  Perhaps it was that as multi-culturalism had not really reached middle England then and so we were all “Christians”   However I do not remember any Catholic teachings.  This was in a town where there were a significant number of Roman Catholics although that town claimed a place in Protestant history.  I did note that the “visiting” priest at my daughters’ school was Catholic.

A generation on and at that establishment, another 400 year-old school, my children found their religious studies to be very similar.  Lay teachers going through the motions and specialists who were figures of fun.  Because I took more of an interest I knew who the religious teachers were.  One of the most devout was also one the best teachers I have come across.

The early secondary stages were all about comparative religions with a drift thereafter into general morality.  I got the impression that those who kept the study up into external exam levels were either the properly religious or those looking for easy grades.  My youngest daughter sought exemption from the collective worship as soon as she was of an age to decide and no one made an issue.

I have to say that for me and my children a lack of faith was no issue whatsoever even from those teachers who were devout.  It certainly didn’t stop my eldest representing her school and many events and winning a whole host of prizes.

For as much as religion is enshrined in the compulsory curriculum and levered into daily assemblies by law it seemed meaningless in reality and regarded with the same apathy as compulsory sports.  Like with those sports if you were really interested you got on with it outside of the education system.

My religion is football…   Leave a comment

Being British I am always stunned by the extent of religious influence among our immature cousins over the pond.  (I am also stunned when soccer is used to describe football but needs must.)

I am particularly shocked by the image given of the reach of the church in communities and of the fact that non-believers hide their atheism and have to encouraged to come out of the vestry.  Even in provincial England the churches have only a marginal influence on communities and certainly don’t have a monopoly over charity or community groups.

When it comes to religion in four facets of my life I still don’t see it being significant.  These areas are family, work, leisure and community involvement.

Yes my family is religious, with my mother holding a significant position in the Methodist Church.  Some of my brothers and their families are regulars in church but my wife and children only go, under protest, to weddings, funerals and special events.

Away from my family religion is hardly a topic, except when I am criticising it!  I know the beliefs of none of the dozen people on my team at work only that several have anti-religious views.  I am not sure any attend church  Within my cricket club I know there are some who are religious with one actually running another team in a league for churches.  The ironic thing about this is that he supplements his squad by drawing on the Pakistani strength in the game with a link up with a local mosque!

My community work primarily revolves around the charitable trust linked to my local football club.  There funding for any projects usually demands inclusion and so means any overt religious influence is prohibited.  That doesn’t stop work with churches and other projects with a religious background but faith has never been a factor, except to rule out a leaning to any specific religion.

Rather than me existing in a faithless world it is more probable that it is more a question of religion not being a significant factor in my dealings with people.  However this is a bit of an assumption so I am turning to somewhere that my friends and contacts have stated their religious beliefs- Facebook.

The social media site gives me a sample of 178 friends.  It is worth stating how these were selected.  Unlike twitter where I select the influential for their quality of opinion, I know all of those on Facebook.  I do not request friendship, or respond positively to requests unless I know the person.  I do however usually accept requests from supporters of my football club because I have a public role there and have met them even if I wouldn’t call them personal friends.  That said there is no bias among the selection based on my beliefs or because I have any direct friends based on my beliefs.

This means that about 70% of my Facebook friends live in or around my town with the rest in the UK with the exception of a couple in the States and a handful in continental Europe.  There is a range of ages but the skew towards the young due to the demographics of Facebook and the inclusion of football friends and those linked to my daughters.  There is a large majority of male friends due to a bias among football fans and the fact that most of my cricket friends are fellow players.

Facebook offers the opportunity in your profile to offer information about your personal philosophy- this includes religion.  Only 41% of my friends included such information.  I don’t know whether this percentage is unusual but note that some I consider the most religious to have not expressed a preference.  I know there is an established trend to complete a box and express a positive that usually skews UK census information so I did think almost 60% not completing this a little odd.

This leaves 68 entries for religion that I can consider:

20 non-religious of which 9 named my football team as their “religion”

19 Atheist

8 Christian (excluding Catholics)

8 anti-religious

5 Catholic

3 Jedi

2 Agnostic

2 Humanist

1 spiritualist

For me this gives three-quarters that specify a religion offer a joke or no deity as that religion.  This rises to almost 80% if you also include the Jedis despite this being as equally valid a religion as Christianity.  The Pope will probably be content that those pesky Jedis still rank just below his lot.

I would be interested to know whether this lack of region (only 7% admitted they followed an established religion) is a factor on Facebook.  For my, mostly British selection, it is at odds with responses in the Census.  Particularly I would be interested to know whether there is a UK/USA difference.

Bottom line: in a sample of 178 Facebook users more see their religion to be Chesterfield Football Club than profess to be Christian!