I doubt there’s a single day passes now without some religious based incident happening in some corner of Africa. It’s taken a couple of weeks for the world to wake up to the recent school girl abductions and forced conversion to Islam in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Other countries such as Uganda are purging homosexuals in their society even going as far as naming and shaming them in the press.
Today we have the shocking headline of a Christian woman being sentenced to hang in Sudan because she won’t recant on being a Christian and become a Muslim.
Everyday I could link stories regarding Africa as I’m pretty diligent with news websites, the one thing becoming clear to me though is that Africa will be the new faith battleground in years to come, with ever increasing tragedy. African outlooks often illustrate religion in some of its baser forms, intolerant, uncompromising and hatred fuelled. If people want to witness the darker side of religion and how it was in some western countries 200 years ago then Africa would be the perfect place.
Africa is said to be the birthplace of mankind. Could it be the death of mankind in years to come?
Time management isn’t really one of my finer points, I often procrastinate or get distracted, so this blog is a catch up one really. I have been meaning to post on a variety of things but unlike some atheist blogs or sites I don’t feel the need to get on my soap box every day.
First up and totally unrelated to religion is the death of British politician Tony Benn who died last month aged 88. For me personally he was an iconic politician who came from a privileged background with a title but dispensed with his title through the courts and just became plain Tony Benn. He was a politician that fought for the rights of the working class man, he hated war and loved technological innovation. Back in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher introduced the widely unpopular ‘Poll Tax’ or (community charge as it was also known) he urged people to refuse paying it. I didn’t as did thousands of others and I ended up in court, a court brimming with other protesters. Nothing happened on that occasion because of the large volume of people to process but just a few weeks later the tax was abolished because of rising protest and resentment – people power won through. Benn was also a prolific writer and diarist admired by many in politics, even George Galloway who I generally disagree strongly with on many things had only positive things to say about him.
So moving on. Gay marriage is now legal in England and Wales from the end of March with many couples getting married as soon as the new law came into effect. Its a positive step forward for society in my view as the previous civil partnerships can now be upgraded to marriage status. Gay people still want church marriages to become common place and personally I find this vexing, ok so they may have faith or want the setting of a church wedding but they have to remember Christianity doesn’t really want to embrace it and never will, this won’t change any time soon either in my view. The only negative thing I have to say about gay people is they like to bang their gay drums quite a bit, seriously I’m happy for gay people but some can’t stop evangelising about the fact they are gay.
Next up is the new Noah movie, and if you don’t like it there will be ‘No-ah refunds!’, pardon the pun! No shocks really that many countries have banned it already, silly really when its a fictional story of erm …. a fictional story! Allegedly there was several re-cuts of the film to appease religious groups but director Darren Aronofsky according to some of the media has made a secular film more likened to Noah being an Eco-warrior than a biblical character. To my amusement I found this article about a cinema in Exeter having to cancel its first screening of the movie because of a flooding incident! It’s fair to say the film hasn’t gone down well with the Abrahamic faith’s but then what do you expect?
My next snippet is the recent story of a preacher being held by police for a long duration without his medication, food or water. Reading the report I suspect he may have been baited to some degree but on the other side of the coin people generally don’t want to hear street preachers ranting gloomy biblical extracts on a busy city or town street. Seemingly the police made mistakes and the preacher received compensation but lets be honest here what would have been the outcome of people professing atheist thoughts a hundred years ago or more? Blasphemy laws are now gone thankfully but the saying of the boot being on the other foot is certainly true here. If you go back even further in history then denouncing god or having atheist views was punishable by death and of course still carries the death sentence in some Muslim countries even today. I’m all for free speech but when it comes to religious agitators, Muslims or evangelicals then they should hire places then advertise events, then people interested could attend.
Lastly and most recently in the news is prime minister David Cameron’s comments that Britain is a largely Christian country. Wrong! Every poll I’ve ever seen in the last couple of years on the subject shows we are moving away from religion in the tens of thousands each year. Understandably Cameron’s comments caused concern for many including famous author Terry Pratchett, humanist journalist Polly Toynbee and many other prominent members of society.
Britain may be viewed as a Christian country as its still the largest faith here and of course because of the monarchy, a minority of religious figures in the House of Lords and other stupid traditions but that’s as far as it really goes these days. Historically of course we’ve been deluded and misguided by Christianity for hundreds of years, its caused wars, witch hunts and mass social divisions, it definitely has a lot of blood on its hands. Cameron I suspect is trying to reach out to the wealthy middle class who go to church on a Sunday every now and again and reassure them, not to mention the elections next year when he’ll need every vote he can muster. The irony here being many charities and religious groups are setting up food banks (which we once never had) in all of the major cities and towns because government cuts and legislation are making some people so poor they are struggling to feed themselves.
Continuing the series. Yet again a large amount of ‘pastors’ in the news. It’s actually the 6th episode but I’ve only been covering them since the second I think, you can follow the channel on their YouTube channel here.
It’s a funny old world isn’t it? People believe almost anything these days including the daily news. The question is how much news do stations actually show and how much input and influence do governments actually have on them?
I try to watch a broad section of news channels including Russia Today and Al-Jazeera, and of course being a British citizen I regularly watch and use the BBC as a news source. Big news stations aside I also use many internet sites for information also.
Take last weeks Islamic orientated killing in Woolwich, London. Many news stations opted to show a condensed clip of the killer talking after murdering a British soldier. David Cameron issued a carefully worded statement condemning the killing but said it had nothing to do with Islam. However the full version of the post killing clip clearly shows it had everything to do with Islam. Prominent British Muslims also distanced themselves from the killing and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg quoted a peaceful extract from the Koran. Radical Muslim spokesman Anjem Choudary courted controversy as usual. The day after the killing the BBC ran an article saying immigration figures released showed a down turn in migration to the UK, however the Migration Watch UK website welcomed the figures but highlighted its own in its ‘Immigration and Visa Statistics’ article dated 23rd May which showed increases in other areas. I’d say personally immigration is still rising and will continue to do so, government figures are merely smoke and mirrors. Having worked with immigrants in the past I know how easy it is for Eastern Europeans to get here unchecked and when Bulgaria and Romania are allowed to come here in 2014 then it will be even more noticeable than the growing amount of foreign accents on the streets of the UK. I’m not racist by any measure and I’m all for a multicultural society but I suspect there may come a time when too much multiculturalism will be detrimental to our own culture and way of life, especially if left unchecked, in fact I’d go as far as saying I no longer think multiculturalism is working here.
It seems the government and indeed the last government are awkward with immigration and even though they are becoming more aware of problems they are still detached from what is happening in towns and cities across the UK. Thus we have continuing lies when it comes to what’s really happening. News stations seem selective of content as with the Woolwich murder when they could have shown more but I’m guessing the powers that be wanted to limit this so as not to encourage further unrest. Whilst I can see some logic in this I don’t particularly like being told half a story or an edited one. When crimes have religious connections we should say so and not be scared of knee jerk reactions from religious groups because at the end of the day we are supposed to be a secular society.
I think the story/video currently being played by the news media and social networking sites about the woman finding her dog after the Oklahoma tornado is touching but….. 24 people are dead including 9 children. Why the excitement about a dog? Human deaths seem suddenly forgot as people gives thanks to god for saving a dog! Incidentally this is the same god that just let an entire suburb get laid to waste.
Islam is a very sensitive religion, not only do we see lots of knee jerk reactions from the Islamic world but we’re seeing a lot of stories lately about people being persecuted, charged for blasphemy, locked up, maybe even the death sentence for some. Recently we’ve had the Bangladeshi bloggers, The Egyptian comedian/chat show host who was questioned on blasphemy charges and today its a Turkish Pianist for anti Islamic tweets on Twitter. Last week I saw a video of two young Pakistani men being beaten possibly to death for some minor infraction of Islamic law, whatever they’d done they didn’t deserve what was happening to them.
To better understand Islam I’ve been reading up on it in some depth. I have mentioned Islam in past blogs even though I tend to write about Christianity, though I feel a need to speak out against any organised controlling religion. I do have a few more informed impressions after reading, indeed I had views beforehand on Islam but I always feel its better to read and research before immersing myself in blogs about something, after all I don’t want to be accused of knee jerk reactions! I’ll get back to Islam more at a later date, when I’ve absorbed some more and mused a little longer. If anyone has any thoughts on Islam I’d welcome comments.
Same story, different day. That’s how I feel about the election of the new pope. Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is now Pope Francis I. What a pope from outside of Italy? Not really, he’s a second generation Italian immigrant, talk about keep it in the family!
What we will get is more of the same prejudice and ignorance by a geriatric that is out of touch. How on earth people can wait outside the Vatican for the news is beyond me, and frankly I feel, quite sad.
When I saw footage from inside the Vatican yesterday and saw all the opulence or… maybe even decadence I thought … if Jesus ever existed is this what he would have wanted or been about?
The Catholic church and everything it stands for sickens me to the core.
I blogged a few days ago about the head of Scottish Church and main catholic representative in Britain cardinal Keith O’Brien and sexual allegations made against him. Back when I wrote the blog he was going to contest the allegations and apart from himself and the accusers nobody knew if he was culpable or not. The news today confirms he is in fact guilty as he’s made an admission that says;
“I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”
All I can say is what a complete and utter shambles the catholic church is.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the biggest head honcho in the catholic church in the UK is resigning amid claims of inappropriate behaviour. Yesterday I read he was going to take legal action over the claims yet today he’s resigning. Ironically this is the same Cardinal O’Brien that has spoken out in the past about same sex marriages.
I’m sure it will be hard to prove or disprove the allegations and they were committed some years ago however I suspect there must be something in them as they would have never surfaced and are by multiple people. This means our most prominent catholic won’t be able to cast a vote for the new pope, oh that’s a real shame.
As well as the above there’s all sorts of rumours surrounding the resignation of the pope such a this report here.
Seemingly everything that happens regarding the catholic church recently is mired in scandal and controversy. Would any rational person want to put their trust the men that run it?
I keep reading articles about how the Chinese are embracing religion now the country is becoming more open and dare I say it… westernised. Being an anti-theist I read such things with concern but having been to China myself part of me isn’t worried either. Some years ago I spent time in Hong Kong, Macau and visited some of the more southern cities in the new territories around Hong Kong, I’ve also visited Thailand several times. Orientals are if nothing a pragmatic people.
It’s fair to say China has changed a great deal over the last decade, my friend Gary has been living there a good few years and often tells me of new changes and trends, a Chinese friend I have has also embraced Christianity. When you look at the big picture of course religion has been largely closed off especially in the past and the Mao and cultural revolution era (though it wasn’t very cultural at all!). Mao of course went one further than Karl Marx’s ‘Opium of the people’ comment and referred to religion as poison, so he had some redeeming things about him then!
Even in more recent times the Chinese government have been known to crack down on religion for instance the spiritual sect of Falun Gong saying they were opposed to communism and science. Now we are seeing a more tolerant China and some religions of course don’t need inviting before they shove their proverbial foot in the door, especially Christian Evangelists.
The Christians doing missionary work in China will be pretty much use the same tactics as they do elsewhere. Tell the people they are sinners, they need to be born again to achieve salvation, submit and then follow a book that has no relevance to the Chinese people culturally and then of course lets see the colour of your money.
They will sell things like the ‘golden rule’ as a nugget of Christian wisdom to win hearts and minds, the irony being Confucius had thought of this a few hundred years before, so had Buddha, so had the Greeks and many other cultures around the world from antiquity. Christianity would have it as their own though because other faith’s simply don’t count because when it comes to other religions Christian fundamentalists and Evangelicals are somewhat atheist about other gods.
Hopefully Christianity is just another new thing to be experienced by the Chinese as western trends and influences become increasingly accessible. The Chinese aren’t stupid though, they’ll look at their history and see that they were far superior culturally and technologically around the time of the alleged Christ and they had Confucius’s wisdom way before. China doesn’t need Christian meddling but I suspect in the coming years it will get it regardless, so to end with and twist a little phrase of mine ‘I hope they wake up and smell the Chinese tea!’.