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Aug 29

Nadine Dorries and the Right to Know

Posted on Monday, August 29, 2011 in ConDemNation, Politics, religion, science

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Jul 27

Is Breivik Not a True Christian?

Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 in Politics, religion

I’ve heard this bleated incessantly over the last few days from the usual zealots. Left Hemispheres offers an interesting insight:

Breivik, while having political targets, is still a religious terrorist. The bomb was placed to target the secular government. The children were horrifically targeted to either send a message to their secular, left-leaning parents or eradicate their “bloodline.” He did this to send a message to those he held responsible for allowing Muslims into his country and Europe at large. He wants to establish a Nationalist Theocracy with Christians supplanting every level. Americans are more familiar with the term “Dominionism.”  Let’s be clear: that worldview/theology is the same thing.

For the Christians that automatically claim “well that is not ‘true’ Christianity” I have some news for you. I know that his is not reflective of (most of) what you believe to be Christ’s teachings (thankfully for the rest of us), but at this point the confluence of the teachings of Christ and the actions of many of his “followers” is irrelevant. Also, whether or not you agree with their theology is irrelevant. They would just as quickly dismiss yours. It is all too easy to dismiss him/them as “not true Christians,” and they you. That is called a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

Read the whole article. Quite unnerving but no less brilliant because of it.

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Jul 12

So What if Equality is Religious Discrimination?

Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 in gay rights, human rights, religion

From the Guardian:

A select committee-style inquiry on Christianity is to be held in order to clarify how the law affects believers, amid increasing claims of religious discrimination and persecution.

The public hearings, scheduled to last for about three months this autumn, will invite peers and politicians to examine legislation on hate crime and equality and evaluate whether changes are needed.

The inquiry is the idea of Gary Streeter MP, a Christian who chairs the cross-party group Christians in Parliament. He said that, while there was religious freedom in Britain, some groups were “whipping up an alternative view and generating fear” where there did not need to be any. He said: “That fear is growing, that voice is growing. There is a particular problem. In the last 12 months, we have had legal cases that provoked concern. These now need to be tackled.”

We have an Equality and Human Rights Commission. We have an Equality Act. We have the courts, who are well aware that in an age of competing rights claims they will have to determine, case-by-case, winners and losers. There is no need whatsoever to look at this again institutionally. What we have is a group of ultra-devout zealots, who believe they should still have the right to discriminate because of their religion, or to proselytise in the world of work.

Christians (as well as theists in general) need to grow up. I don’t care one iota if their freedom (which has never been a ‘right’) to discriminate on religious grounds has trashed by equality under the law for me. Noone has suggested for a minute that they should be prohibited in some Minority Report stylee from thinking less of me because I’m gay; they have the right to believe in pink unicorns for all I care. But they don’t have the right to discriminate against me because of the crazy ideas they have; noone does and noone should. There is nothing more to discuss.

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Jan 24

Worship Really Has No Place in Schools

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 in religion, skepticism

Jacob Huckle is right:

It is unclear to me how expecting pupils to spend time venerating a being in which they might or might not believe develops their sense of identity and self-worth. Wouldn’t the time be spent more effectively giving pupils the space to engage in structured personal reflection. This could mean pupils spending a few minutes silently thinking about or responding to a stimulus chosen specifically for its potential to develop pupils spiritually (and also morally, socially and culturally). The stimulus might be religious or nonreligious, for there is clearly wisdom in both: perhaps a quote from the Bible, Gandhi or even Marx. Pupils could share their insights with each other, discussing and debating their views, making their engagement collective and participatory and building a sense of communal identity. This is surely valuable, it is inclusive to all (religious or not) and, to be frank, it is not worship and it’s not “mainly or broadly Christian”.

We should reject the idea that worship has a place in our schools. We simply cannot expect pupils to engage in activities that venerate a being they might not believe in. Not only does this violate children’s rights, it offers no real opportunity for spiritual development. Rather, let’s open up pupils’ minds by opening up assemblies as opportunities for personal and shared reflection. This is what many schools do already, so let’s not be dishonest and exclude pupils by calling it worship.

I couldn’t agree more. I went to a school which pushed religion very hard in school assemblies and although I wouldn’t say I was damaged by it, would certainly not say that it helped my personal development in any way at all. Quite the contrary – it almost certainly contributed to developing my utter disdain for unquestioning tradition. Perhaps it’s ironic that Christianity made me hate Christmas.

Separately I can’t fathom why schools do nothing whatsoever to teach children and young people about developing their minds. It’s all about knowledge and passing exams but why is there no room for meditation? Surely understanding oneself is more important than almost anything else?!

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Nov 17

Another Christian Zealot Denied Right to Discriminate

Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 in gay rights, human rights, religion

We’ve had marriage registrars, marriage counsellors, and now an anti-gay adoption adviser, who has, following her removal from an adoption panel, after refusing to rule on cases involving same-sex parents, sued for religious discrimination:

She [Dr Sheila Matthews] said: “I understand that legislation permits same sex couples to adopt and they are positively encouraged to apply, but I have professional concerns, based on educational and psychological evidence, of the influences on children growing up in homosexual households and I feel this is not the best possible option for a child.

“I do not consider myself to be homophobic, however I believe that children do best in families with a father and mother playing different roles in a child’s upbringing and committed to each other in a lifelong relationship.”

She added: “My view arose from both a professional one from my reading of the literature, and an historical Christian perspective of relationships, based on the Bible, an authority which our court system still uses today to swear in those giving evidence and juries, based on its authority.”

Of course the homophobia is built in to the second paragraph, but Dr Matthews’ problem, as with the previous instances of Christian soldiers trying to get opt-outs in law to discriminate based entirely on the basis of their crazy belief, is that she was in breach of her contract, as well as of the law. Her view isn’t a medical one (or even a factual one if you want to broaden the argument) which can be substantiated at all, and no doubt she’ll keep insisting it is, but noone has suggested she not be allowed to believe this bigoted garbage – she just can’t act on it in a professional capacity. Although gay and religious rights have clashed here again (and will continue to do so), the reason why her ‘religious rights’ have been placed second is clear:

The employment tribunal, sitting in Leicester, dismissed the claim.

Concluding a two-day hearing, regional employment judge John MacMillan said she had no case against the council.

He said: “The complaints of religious discrimination fail and are dismissed.

“This case fails fairly and squarely on its facts.”

He added: “In our judgment, at least from the time of the pre-hearing review, the continuation of these proceedings was plainly misconceived… they were doomed to fail.

“There is simply no factual basis for the claims.”

Mr MacMillan said there was no evidence that Dr Matthews was treated differently from any other panel member who might request to abstain from voting, or that she was specifically discriminated against on the basis of her Christianity.

He said the issue “transcended the boundaries of all religions” and ruled that Dr Matthews should pay the council’s legal costs.

Message to the legions of Christian soldiers yet to come: your right to practice and believe in your religion do not (in the world of work and service provision) give you the right under the law to discriminate against people for their sexual orientation. So quit it.

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Nov 1

Zealots Claiming Gay Rights Eroding Christianity

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 in freedom of speech, gay rights, human rights, religion

It’s the normal garbage you hear from modern day Christian soldiers (read ‘bigots’), determined to try to retain any legal right to discriminate against gay people. And of course it’s presented by the Daily HateMail:

Gay  rights laws are eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, Church of England bishops warned yesterday.

Senior clerics, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, spoke out ahead of a High Court ‘clash of rights’ hearing over whether Christians are fit to foster or adopt children.

The test case starting today involves a couple who say they have been barred from fostering because they refuse to give up their religious belief that homosexuality is unacceptable.

Unacceptable to bigots maybe, but it’s a spurious argument to suggest that this is about whether or not Christians are fit to foster or adopt children. If they’re Christian bigots of course they shouldn’t; if they are determined to break equalities legislation because ‘God’ told them to do so then of course they shouldn’t, but this isn’t a secular/Christian argument – there are plenty of Christians who don’t oppose gay people or gay rights. That’s not what senior Bishops would have you think though:

The [open] letter is signed by Lord Carey, the Bishop of Winchester Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Chester Rt Rev Peter Forster, and Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester.

They wrote: ‘The High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are “fit people” to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights.

‘Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship.

‘The supporters of homosexual rights cannot be allowed to suppress all disagreement or disapproval, and “coerce silence”.’

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better case for removing these bigoted liars from the House of Lords. Research of course doesn’t prove anything of the sort, and supporters of gay rights aren’t remotely interested in ‘suppressing’ disagreement in this matter. It’s a question of equality before the law – of course they’re right in acknowledging that there will be times (many of which I’ve blogged about before) where rights are in conflict with each other and decisions will have to be made in court which should win out. But this is pretty clear – they are allowed to practice their religion, as are Owen and Eunice Johns, but noone is allowed to discriminate against gay people in areas codified by law, and rightly so.

It’s a real pity that these Men of God, who demand their beliefs be unconditionally respected, can’t even back their own argument up without resorting to lies. Still though, that’s theists for you. A repugnant case, which I hope the High Court will see sense on.

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Oct 21

If Atheists Ruled the World

Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2010 in religion

They allege that every word is taken literally from Christian fundamentalist forums. Having spoken at great length to wingnuts like @JoeCienkowski, I’m more than ready to accept that. Listen, laugh and worry.


(via atheistineden)

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Sep 22

The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in Politics, religion

By Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

Tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, have begun to dismantle the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They are creating a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and shutting out all those they define as the enemy. This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged.

The followers of deviant faiths, from Judaism to Islam, must be converted or repressed. The deviant media, the deviant public schools, the deviant entertainment industry, the deviant secular humanist government and judiciary and the deviant churches will be reformed or closed. There will be a relentless promotion of Christian “values,” already under way on Christian radio and television and in Christian schools, as information and facts are replaced with overt forms of indoctrination. The march toward this terrifying dystopia has begun. It is taking place on the streets of Arizona, on cable news channels, at tea party rallies, in the Texas public schools, among militia members and within a Republican Party that is being hijacked by this lunatic fringe.

Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote “The Red Network” and was a Nazi sympathizer, is touted as required reading by trash-talk television hosts like Glenn Beck. Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored in Christian schools and soon will be ignored in Texas public school textbooks. The Christian right hails the “significant contributions” of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, has been rehabilitated, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is defined as part of the worldwide battle against Islamic terror. Legislation like the new Jim Crow laws of Arizona is being considered by 17 other states.

The rise of this Christian fascism, a rise we ignore at our peril, is being fueled by an ineffectual and bankrupt liberal class that has proved to be unable to roll back surging unemployment, protect us from speculators on Wall Street, or save our dispossessed working class from foreclosures, bankruptcies and misery. The liberal class has proved useless in combating the largest environmental disaster in our history, ending costly and futile imperial wars or stopping the corporate plundering of the nation. And the gutlessness of the liberal class has left it, and the values it represents, reviled and hated.

The Democrats have refused to repeal the gross violations of international and domestic law codified by the Bush administration. This means that Christian fascists who achieve power will have the “legal” tools to spy on, arrest, deny habeas corpus to, and torture or assassinate American citizens—as does the Obama administration.

Those who remain in a reality-based world often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons and simpletons. They do not take seriously those, like Beck, who pander to the primitive yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. Critics of the movement continue to employ the tools of reason, research and fact to challenge the absurdities propagated by creationists who think they will float naked into the heavens when Jesus returns to Earth. The magical thinking, the flagrant distortion in interpreting the Bible, the contradictions that abound within the movement’s belief system and the laughable pseudoscience, however, are impervious to reason. We cannot convince those in the movement to wake up. It is we who are asleep.

Those who embrace this movement see life as an epic battle against forces of evil and Satanism. The world is black and white. They need to feel, even if they are not, that they are victims surrounded by dark and sinister groups bent on their destruction. They need to believe they know the will of God and can fulfill it, especially through violence. They need to sanctify their rage, a rage that lies at the core of the ideology. They seek total cultural and political domination. They are using the space within the open society to destroy it. These movements work within the confining rules of the secular state because they have no choice. The intolerance they promote is muted in the public assurances of their slickest operators. Given enough power, and they are working hard to get it, any such cooperation will vanish. The demand for total control and for a Christian nation and the refusal to permit any dissent are on display within their inner sanctums. These pastors have established within their churches tiny, despotic fiefdoms, and they seek to replicate these little tyrannies on a larger scale.

Many of the tens of millions within the Christian right live on the edge of poverty. The Bible, interpreted for them by pastors whose connection with God means they cannot be questioned, is their handbook for daily life. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and the struggle to keep their lives on track. The reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels and magic did not exist, battered them like driftwood. It took their jobs and destroyed their future. It rotted their communities. It flooded their lives with alcohol, drugs, physical violence, deprivation and despair. And then they discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God intervenes in their lives to promote and protect them. The emotional distance they have traveled from the real world to the world of Christian fantasy is immense. And the rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to pull believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them.

There are wild contradictions within this belief system. Personal independence is celebrated alongside an abject subservience to leaders who claim to speak for God. The movement says it defends the sanctity of life and advocates the death penalty, militarism, war and righteous genocide. It speaks of love and promotes fear of damnation and hate. There is a terrifying cognitive dissonance in every word they utter.

The movement is, for many, an emotional life raft. It is all that holds them together. But the ideology, while it regiments and orders lives, is merciless. Those who deviate from the ideology, including “backsliders” who leave these church organizations, are branded as heretics and subjected to little inquisitions, which are the natural outgrowth of messianic movements. If the Christian right seizes the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, these little inquisitions will become big inquisitions.

The cult of masculinity pervades the movement. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a muscular man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is deeply appealing to those who feel disempowered and humiliated. It vents the rage that drove many people into the arms of the movement. It encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is stoked through bizarre conspiracy theories, many championed in books such as Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order,”a xenophobic rant that includes attacks on liberals and democratic institutions.

The obsession with violence pervades the popular novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their apocalyptic novel, “Glorious Appearing,”based on LaHaye’s interpretation of biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ returns and eviscerates the flesh of millions of nonbelievers with the sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror and blood, of how “the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.” Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The Left Behind series, of which this novel is a part, contains the best-selling adult novels in the country.

Violence must be used to cleanse the world. These Christian fascists are called to a perpetual state of war. “Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ’s] return is heresy…” says televangelist James Robinson.

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as glorious signposts. The war in Iraq is predicted, believers insist, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelations, where four angels “which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men.” The march is inevitable and irreversible and requires everyone to be ready to fight, kill and perhaps die. Global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared, but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms hundreds of millions of apostates to a horrible and gruesome death.

The Christian right, while embracing a form of primitivism, seeks the imprint of law and science to legitimate its absurd mythologies. Its members seek this imprint because, despite their protestations to the contrary, they are a distinctly modern, totalitarian movement. They seek to co-opt the pillars of the Enlightenment in order to abolish the Enlightenment. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like eugenics for the Nazis or “Soviet” science for Stalin, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline—hence the rewriting of textbooks. The Christian right defends itself in the legal and scientific jargon of modernity. Facts and opinions, once they are used “scientifically” to support the irrational, become interchangeable. Reality is no longer based on the gathering of facts and evidence. It is based on ideology. Facts are altered. Lies become true. Hannah Arendtcalled it “nihilistic relativism,” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

The Christian right has, for this reason, its own creationist “scientists” who use the language of science to promote anti-science. It has fought successfully to have creationist books sold in national park bookstores at the Grand Canyon and taught in public schools in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Creationism shapes the worldview of hundreds of thousands of students in Christian schools and colleges. This pseudoscience claims to have proved that all animal species, or at least their progenitors, fit on Noah’s ark. It challenges research in AIDS and pregnancy prevention. It corrupts and discredits the disciplines of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology and physics.

Once creationists can argue on the same platform as geologists, asserting that the Grand Canyon was not created 6 billion years ago but 6,000 years ago by the great flood that lifted up Noah’s ark, we have lost. The acceptance of mythology as a legitimate alternative to reality is a body blow to the rational, secular state. The destruction of rational and empirically based belief systems is fundamental to the creation of all totalitarian ideologies. Certitude, for those who could not cope with the uncertainty of life, is one of the most powerful appeals of the movement. Dispassionate intellectual inquiry, with its constant readjustments and demand for evidence, threatens certitude. For this reason incertitude must be abolished.

“What convinces masses are not facts,” Arendt wrote in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” “and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the masses’ inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time.”

Augustine defined the grace of love as Volo ut sis—I want you to be. There is, he wrote, an affirmation of the mystery of the other in relationships based on love, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. Relationships based on love recognize that others have a right to be. These relationships accept the sacredness of difference. This acceptance means that no one individual or belief system captures or espouses an absolute truth. All struggle, in their own way, some outside of religious systems and some within them, to interpret mystery and transcendence.

The sacredness of the other is anathema for the Christian right, which cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of other ways of being and believing. If other belief systems, including atheism, have moral validity, the infallibility of the movement’s doctrine, which constitutes its chief appeal, is shattered. There can be no alternative ways to think or to be. All alternatives must be crushed.

Ideological, theological and political debates are useless with the Christian right. It does not respond to a dialogue. It is impervious to rational thought and discussion. The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthens its legitimacy and weakness our own. If we do not have a right to be, if our very existence is not legitimate in the eyes of God, there can be no dialogue. At this point it is a fight for survival.

Those gathered into the arms of this Christian fascist movement are desperately struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. We failed them; we owe them more: This is their response. The financial dislocations, the struggles with domestic and sexual abuse, the battle against addictions, the poverty and the despair that many in the movement endure are tragic, painful and real. They have a right to their rage and alienation. But they are also being used and manipulated by forces that seek to dismantle what is left of our democracy and abolish the pluralism that was once the hallmark of our society.

The spark that could set this conflagration ablaze could be lying in the hands of a small Islamic terrorist cell. It could be in the hands of greedy Wall Street speculators who gamble with taxpayer money in the elaborate global system of casino capitalism. The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.

Let us not stand meekly at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching toward Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for our working class. Let us reincorporate these dispossessed into our economy. Let us give them a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, will use this rage to snuff us out.

Chris Hedges, who writes a column every Monday for Truthdig and who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He was a reporter for many years with The New York Times. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”

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Sep 10

Creationists and Intelligent Design

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 in comedy, religion, science

I love Doonesbury so much:

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Oct 9

Does God Exist?

Posted on Friday, October 9, 2009 in News, religion

The National Secular Society reports on serious consequences for a member who ticked the wrong box:

“On Friday 18th September 2009 at 3.45pm I was confronted with a questionnaire which I understand was lawfully pinned to the wall on London Bridge railway station, platforms 1 and 2, inviting members of the public to participate by ticking the appropriate box.

The question, “Does God Exist?”, was very straightforward, and “No” was obviously the correct answer. I was particularly concerned that vulnerable people exposed to the alternative answers of “Yes” and “Probably” were at risk of exploitation by individuals who might attach a set of rules and obligations to those who hope that some super-being will take responsibility for their lives, or intervene in some other way.

god

I felt the offered answer “Probably”, to be particularly sinister. It was for this reason I chose to engage with the questionnaire and ensure that the correct answer was ticked.

As a result of responding to this questionnaire I was arrested by a plain clothes police officer. Two other plain clothes police officers were in attendance. I was informed that I had been seen ticking the correct answer on CCTV.

As I sat caged in the back of the police van I counted 6 police officers who were attending this incident, which was presented to me as being criminal damage. My tick was entirely within the specified “No” box, and the questionnaire was not damaged in any way.

Interestingly the arresting police officer spent much of his time ticking similar multiple choice boxes on a questionnaire of his own. I understand that I am required to pay an £80 penalty notice fine, or attend court. I am left with little choice but to ask that this matter be dealt with by the court. I await police advice about when and where I should attend.”

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Sep 29

International Blasphemy Day 2009

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 in human rights, religion

blasphemynew

Cross-Posted from Center for Inquiry

“Irreverence is the champion of liberty.” –Mark Twain

Free speech is the foundation on which all other liberties rest. Without having the right to express our opinions, however unpopular, those willing to use political clout, violence, and threats will stifle dissent, and we must all suffer the consequences of this. As George Bernard Shaw quipped, “Every great truth begins as a blasphemy.”

The UN, rather than standing up for free speech, has given in to pressure from Islamic nations and has proposed a resolution to essentially ban criticism of religion. In its pursuit of “tolerance” for religion, this resolution wants to strip everyone, everywhere, of their freedom, even their obligation, to criticize what they oppose. Unlike one’s political affiliation or favorite sports team, religion demands – and has been granted – unique and unswerving immunity from criticism since its very inception. Labeling anything deemed critical of it “blasphemy”, religions have effectively defined the boundaries for what can and can’t be said about them. We propose we knock down this barrier and break this spell. Religion is no more undeserving of criticism than anything else, and if people’s insecurities are upheld as a reason to stifle the expression of the equally sincere feelings of others, and indeed, the pursuit of truth itself, we will have forsaken our ideals in favor of one-sided and entirely undeserved sympathy. As Richard Dawkins noted,

“Society bends over backward to be accommodating to religious sensibilities but not to other kinds of sensibilities. If I say something offensive to religious people, I’ll be universally censured, including by many atheists. But if I say something insulting about Democrats or Republicans or the Green Party, one is allowed to get away with that. Hiding behind the smoke screen of untouchability is something religions have been allowed to get away with for too long.”

The primary focus of Blasphemy Day is not to debate the existence of any gods or deities. The objective of International Blasphemy Day is to open up all religious beliefs to the same level of free inquiry, discussion and criticism to which all other areas of academic interest are subjected.

Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, and reprisal. It is the obligation of the world’s nations to safeguard dissent and the dissenters, not to side with the brutal interests of those who demand “respect” for their beliefs (i.e., immunity to being criticized or mocked or they threaten violence).

The purpose of Blasphemy Day is not to promote hate or violence. While many perceive blasphemy as insulting and offensive, this event is not about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others. The event was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist. Without this essential liberty, those in power are those best able to manipulate others will suppress and silence dissent by labeling it “defamation” or “blasphemy” or whatever other bogey words they can use to stifle opposition by turning popular sentiment against it. Please, do not let them do this. Yes, Muslims find images of Muhammad offensive. But which is more offensive to you? Those who would poke fun at a prophet, or those who would murder innocents in his name?

Blasphemy Day will take place every September 30th, to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The purpose of this event is to set a particular day as a day to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. The focus on “blasphemy” is simply because it is such a salient issue, and one for which a lot of consciousness-raising is necessary. Religion has had a free ticket from criticism for too long, and it’s time we make it clear to the world that we have a right to oppose it.

So if you support free speech, and the rights of those who disagree with religious views to voice their opinions peacefully, support Blasphemy Day and join the cause!

If you’re a CFI campus group leader, check out event ideas for Blasphemy Day on the CFI On Campus website.

If you’re looking for a Blasphemy Day event at a Center for Inquiry or a CFI Community in North America, please go to their individual websites.

Blasphemy Day International is adminstered by the Center for Inquiry.

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