Stephen Green, leader of Christian Voice, has never been shy of berating gay people for our immorality. It’s now time to take him apart for his hypocrisy:
Caroline Green, who was married to the anti-gay Christian extremist for 26 years, says she has come forward now because “the people who support him financially and morally should know what he is really like”.
She told the Mail on Sunday that he had beaten her and her children, “brainwashed” them and forced them to live in a dilapidated caravan in remote Wales to protect them from the “evil” of urban life.
Mrs Green described the incident which prompted her to leave him, recalling how he made a list of her failings as a wife and then beat her until she bled with a piece of wood.
She said: “He even framed our marriage vows — he always put particular emphasis on my promise to obey him — and hung them over our bed. He believed there was no such thing as marital rape and for years I’d been reluctant to have sex with him, but he said it was my duty and was angry if I refused him.
“But the beating was the last straw. It convinced me I had to divorce him.”
She also said that he had beaten their eldest and middle sons with belts and broomsticks.
She added: “It was almost like living in a cult. We were all subjugated to his will and cowed by him. Over the years he belittled us and made us feel worthless.
So the next time Stephen Green is interviewed by the BBC as a counter-balance to gay-related news, you know just how severely to condemn them too.
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?!
It should come as no surprise to those of us who track the HateMail’s bigotry, but check out the guy on the left’s right arm.
This is in response to the story about Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy succeeding in their case against Peter and Hazel Bull, zealous Christian B & B owners who wouldn’t let them share a room on religious grounds.
Join with me here in condemning the HateMail yet again, and continuing to encourage everyone we know who still buys that rag finally to stop.
The zealous Christian owners of the Bed & Breakfast which refused a double room to a gay couple have been found guilty of discrimination:
Devout Christian hotel owners who refused to allow a gay couple to share a double room acted unlawfully, a judge at Bristol county court ruled today.
Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who are civil partners, won their landmark claim for discrimination in a case funded and supported by theEquality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The ruling, one of the first made under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, is likely to provide those in partnerships with greater protection from discrimination.
The owners of the Chymorvah private hotel in Cornwall, Peter and Hazel Bull, do not allow couples who are not married to share double rooms because they do not believe in sex before marriage.
The Bulls asserted that their refusal to accommodate civil partners in a double room was not to do with sexual orientation but “everything to do with sex”. The restriction, the owners said, applied equally to heterosexual couples who are not married.
In his ruling, Judge Andrew Rutherford said the hotel had directly discriminated against the couple on the grounds of their sexual orientation and awarded them compensation of £1,800 each.
A great result. I’ve heard numerous complaints that the Bulls should be allowed to discriminate against anyone they like, but the Sexual Orientation Regulations of course apply because they are providing a service, which may be conducted within their home, but which constrains their freedom to discriminate there. Ben Summerskill of Stonewall points out:
During passage of the 2006 Equality Act, Stonewall fought hard to secure pioneering “goods and services” protections for lesbian and gay people, protecting them for the first time against discrimination in the delivery of public and commercial services. The preceding legal entitlement to deny gay people a service was every bit as offensive as the notorious signs outside guesthouses that once said: “No blacks. No Irish.” And people certainly took advantage of it, as lesbians denied smear tests and gay men refused holiday bookings were well aware.
The Bulls suggest that it’s their freedom, and not that of a gay couple, that is compromised by the existing law. But no part of the current and carefully calibrated compact in Britain’s equality legislation forces anyone to do anything. However, if a couple choose to turn their home into a commercial enterprise, why should they be any more entitled to exempt themselves from equality legislation than from health and safety laws?
Of course they shouldn’t – common sense says they shouldn’t. But the Christian devout keep protesting their right to discriminate as a necessary component of their religion trumps every right gay people have to be protected from discrimination. We’ve had relationship counsellors, civil registrars and others professing their right not to serve gay people in the same manner as they would others, and they’ve all failed. Judge Andrew Rutherford said:
the right of the defendants to manifest their religion is not absolute and “can be limited to protect the rights and freedoms of the claimants”.
No doubt the devout will continue to insist they’re being persecuted, but I would insist that quote proves conclusively otherwise.
Was it for this that I broke the habit of years and accepted the Guardian’s invitation to listen to Thought for the Day? Was it for this that the BBC, including the director general himself, no less, spent months negotiating with the Vatican? What on earth were they negotiating about,if all that emerged was the damp, faltering squib we have just strained our ears to hear?
We’ve already had what little apology we are going to get (none in most cases) for the raped children, the Aids-sufferers in Africa, the centuries spent attacking Jews, science, women and “heretics”, the indulgences and more modern (and tax-deductible) methods of fleecing the gullible to build the Vatican’s vast fortune. So, no surprise that these weren’t mentioned. But there’s something else for which the pope should go to confession, and it’s arguably the nastiest of all. I refer to the main doctrine of Christian theology itself, which was the centrepiece of what Ratzinger actually did say in his Thought for the Day.
“Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross.”
More shameful than the death itself is the Christian theory that it was necessary. It was necessary because all humans are born in sin. Every tiny baby, too young to have a deed or a thought, is riddled with sin: original sin. Here’s Thomas Aquinas:
“. . . the original sin of all men was in Adam indeed, as in its principal cause, according to the words of the Apostle(Romans 5:12): “In whom all have sinned“: whereas it is in the bodily semen, as in its instrumental cause, since it is by the active power of the semen that original sin together with human nature is transmitted to the child.”
Adam (who never existed) bequeathed his “sin” in his bodily semen (charming notion) to all of humanity. That sin, with which every newborn baby is hideously stained (another charming notion), was so terrible that it could be forgiven only through the blood sacrifice of a scapegoat. But no ordinary scapegoat would do. The sin of humanity was so great that the only adequate sacrificial victim was God himself.
That’s right. The creator of the universe, sublime inventor of mathematics, of relativistic space-time, of quarks and quanta, of life itself, Almighty God, who reads our every thought and hears our every prayer, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us than to have himself tortured and executed. For heaven’s sake, if he wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Who, after all, needed to be impressed by the blood and the agony? Nobody but himself.
Ratzinger has much to confess in his own conduct, as cardinal and pope. But he is also guilty of promoting one of the most repugnant ideas ever to occur to a human mind: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
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.
The Thinking Atheist offers a damning indictment of the way in which we indoctrinate our children with religion. Think about it.
I have to say I increasingly admire and enjoy scientists like Professor Brian Cox, who bring out the wonder of how the world and universe really are – demonstrating that what we know brings with it a deep sense of wonder, which theists imply are missing without belief in their imaginary friend. We know how the world and solar system came into being – we don’t need an organised religion to answer these questions anymore. And Dawkins, for all his militancy, demonstrates the probability that we are genetically constructed to be altruistic – we don’t need a religious tome or evangelists telling us how to behave compassionately either – we just can’t help it.
For centuries, religion was insulated from criticism in Britain. First its opponents were burned, then jailed, then shunned. But once there was a free marketplace of ideas, once people could finally hear both the religious arguments and the rationalist criticisms of them, the religious lost the British people. Their case was too weak, their opposition to divorce and abortion and gay people too cruel, their evidence for their claims non-existent. Once they had to rely on persuasion rather than intimidation, the story of British Christianity came to an end.
Now [that] only six percent of British people regularly attend a religious service
What purpose does religion really serve any more? Hari has more to say:
As their dusty Churches crumble because nobody wants to go there, the few remaining Christians in Britain will only become more angry and uncomprehending. Let them. We can’t stop this hysterical toy-tossing stop us from turning our country into a secular democracy where everyone has the same rights, and nobody is granted special rights just because they claim their ideas come from an invisible supernatural being.
Does this apply to all practising Christians? Of course not, but the increasingly strident minority who would, as in the cartoon above, seek to turn the clock back, deny science, abuse children for being witches and attempt to force legal opt outs to discriminate purely on the grounds they have an imaginary friend, genuinely do need to be dismissed. They won’t be though – in the age where identity politics rules in the absence of ideology, all the major political parties are convinced there’s marginal advantage to be gained by appeasing this lobby. So watch the rise of evangelical Christianity in the UK, don’t expect police raids on African churches any time soon, and watch religious schools grow an grow, ever (needlessly) dividing people who would otherwise learn and grow up in harmony.
Battles about morality are abounding on Twitter at the moment. Are we inherently moral, as Dawkins would have us be, or do we need a rule book? As Hitchens points out in the last post, a rule book of course presumes that we’re inherently immoral, and would rape, pillage and murder without the threat of eternal punishment. Strangely though atheists tend not to mass murder, don’t tend to fly planes into large buildings and don’t tend to hate people for being different to them. Strange that. Comments welcome.
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.
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.”