Unholy fry ups, puffing priests, Bad Faith and ex-Muslims news
Psychic insight No one likes to lose a pet, so pity poor Joyce and Peter Mearns, who have enlisted a psychic to help find their beloved parrot Georgie. The bird disappeared from his home in Islington, North London, in June, abandoning a life of luxury that included drinking tea while watching his plasma TV in his very own bedroom. Hopefully Georgie will soon be back home watching Big Brother and documentaries about the Nazis, as the psychic has kindly informed his owners that he is currently “dwelling near trees”.
Georgie the parrot yester day: happily “dwelling near tr ees”
Morality’s nemesis: the full English breakfast
Filthy dirty swine
It’s a mystery that has long remained unsolved. For centuries bleary-eyed infidels have tucked into their Saturday morning fry-ups while looking up at their Muslim friends and asking: “But what’s wrong with pork? It tastes so good!” Thanks to Londonbased newspaper The Muslim Weekly, this question can finally be answered. According to physicians and medical experts, “consumption of swine-flesh creates lowliness in character and destroys moral and spiritual faculties in a man.” Apparently, since
food is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, reaching all parts of the body including the brain, “this in no small way affects man’s nature.” Therefore it is clearly scientific fact that, since pigs are “indulgent in sex, dirty, greedy and gluttonous”, enjoying a hearty fry-up will provide you with these same qualities. So next time you murder a bacon sandwich, remember that not only are you assuaging your hunger, you’re also reducing “the feeling of shame and as such the standard of modesty.”
Creative eye Bad Faith Awards
Kentucky’s Creation Museum (see NH March/ April 2007) finally opened its doors in June to the sound of delighted parents who can now reinforce the nonsense they teach their children with a countereducational day out. Chere Mosley from Indiana was delighted with the intellectual deception provided for her ten-year-old daughter Rachel: “She gets mad when she watches the videos at school and they say the world was created ‘millions of years ago.’ She wanted to have more facts.” However, it hasn’t all
been smooth running for the museum, which has had to sack the actor who plays Adam in its videos after it turned out he runs a website called “Bedroom Acrobat”, which needless to say does not promote a strong Christian ethos. Over the border in Canada, creationists have jumped on the museum bandwagon. The Big Valley Creation Science Museum in Alberta is the brainchild of Harry Nibourg, who is happy to debate the matter with scientists: “They don’t have a leg to stand on and they’re hoping to evolve one.”
6 new humanist July August 2007
To mark the death of hatefilled American evangelist Jerry Falwell – who famously stated that “the idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country” – the Bad Faith Awards will recognise those individuals making the most significant contributions to talking nonsense about religion. Early frontrunners include Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who recently likened the
abortion rate in Scotland to “two Dunblane massacres a day” and the “fag-hating” Westboro Baptist Church. Bookies’ favourite Pope Benedict XVI is likely to emerge as a strong contender for reasons too numerous to mention. If you come across a public figure expressing contemptible, irrational or just plain silly views on religious matters, nominate them by email to editor@newhumanist. org.uk preferably with a supporting web reference or quotation.
Holy smokes Clergy in England and Wales are unhappy with new regulations that require them to display “No Smoking” signs in their churches. Under the new smoking ban, all enclosed public places must display the signs by entrances, and the government is allowing no exemptions for God’s numerous houses. Leading Catholics and Anglicans have slammed the new law as needless red tape, adding that the signs could damage the appearance of churches. Responding to the government requirement, Church House said: “We don’t see that there is a problem of smoking in churches. It’s not part of the culture to smoke in them.” That may be true, but surely the government can’t allow loopholes to appear? Can we really tolerate a situation that leaves desperate smokers sitting in the local pub twiddling their thumbs, while Reverend Benson and Father Hedges are off down the church having a crafty drag behind the altar?
Not in the Lord’s House: the
offending No Smoking sign soft porn, sluttish brides and honour killings. Another routine week for a feminist journalistDiARy Natalie Haynes’s
June saw the launch of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, which follows the success of similar groups across Europe. By encouraging people from Muslim backgrounds to come forward and admit they have no faith, the Council aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam. At the launch in Westminster, spokesperson Maryam Namazie emphasised that leaving should be a personal and private decision, “but because of the role of religion in the world today, it is necessary
to do it publicly.” Dismissing accusations of Islamophobia, she added that the movement is not an attack on individual Muslims, but rather on an ideology – Islam in power – which she sees as “committing the holocaust of this century.” The organisers of the Council are confi dent their movement will expand on a global scale. Mina Ahadi, the founder of the original German Council, declared: “This is a movement of universal human rights and I believe we will push political Islam back.”
Challenging political Islam there should be a phrase to describe the sensation of suddenly noticing a bunch of things that seem to be connected over a short space of time, like dééjàà vu. Soudainement noté é, I guess, consulting my computer translation programme, which is never happier than when you ask it to do one word at a time (making it almost completely useless, but not quite). A couple of weeks ago, I was on Radio 5 Live, discussing the story that the Navy has banned topless pictures of women anywhere on its ships, even in lockers. To be honest, it had never occurred to me that anyone might want a picture of a topless woman inside their locker – presumably for those frequent occasions when one requires a masturbatory aid while simultaneously looking for a pencil, and trying to dispel assumptions of homosexuality simply based on one’s job title. The panel (me and GP Taylor) were in agreement: it seemed like a good idea to us. But listeners called in to say it was PC gone mad – what was wrong with looking at pictures of naked women at work? I always want to ask the defenders of wholesome soft porn how they would feel if it was inside the locker of a teacher, or a priest, rather than a sailor, but sadly the opportunity rarely arises. That weekend, I was reviewing Lenny’s Britain, a travelogue-cumsociological dissection of the nature of comedy, starring Lenny Henry. There’s a scene where he’s helping a Best Man out with his wedding speech. The guy’s opening joke is that Gucci (the bride. Yes, really) has moved in with her beau, so could all the other men who had keys to her old fl at please return them. Whereupon twenty men are scheduled to get up and hand over their keys. Henry shrieks in horror, “You can’t say that.” But he goes to the wedding, and watches the guy do the gag almost
POPEWATCH They say that when you’re getting old it’s good to keep busy, and no one could accuse Pope Benedict XVI of failing to heed that advice. During his recent visit to Brazil he wisely declared that the indigenous populations of the Americas were “silently longing” for Christianity prior to the Spanish conquests, adding that Christianisation “did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.” These would be the same indigenous populations that in some cases were virtually annihilated as a result of conquest.
“A culture that slaughters women for kissing is one that should be judged and possibly found wanting”
unchanged. It gets a massive laugh. Henry concedes that he was wrong, but I don’t think he is. I loathe weddings for many reasons (off the top of my head: feathers in people’s hair, insect bites, tepid wine, being expected to wear chick shoes), and near the top of the list is the “My friend’s wife is a total slut” section of the evening. Then a few nights later, the story breaks that Banaz Mahmod, a 20-yearold Kurdish woman, had been murdered by her father and uncle for walking out of an arranged marriage and falling in love with another man. A viewer had anonymously texted in (the way people with the courage of their convictions do) to say that people in the west should not be so quick to judge other cultures. I wanted the newsreader to ask why exactly not. A culture that slaughters women for kissing someone is one that should be judged and possibly even found wanting. Do you know how come I can say that? Because in spite of making it a habit throughout my teens to kiss unsuitable boys, occasionally on the mouth (which I’m sure irritated my father immensely), I’m still here to tell the tale. Then today I had a call asking me if I would do an interview for a women’s magazine about how even successful women were often messy inside: drinking heavily, taking drugs, kissing more unsuitable boys – all those things that used to be considered a good weekend, and are now signs that we are damaged, and need help. I had to point out that my obsessive compulsive disorder means that I am actually very tidy inside. And outside. I wondered why they needed to make even women’s success stories seem like failures. It seems to me that we have enough of those already. Anyway, if you’re not using it, I was wondering if we could have equality back?
July August 2007 new humanist 7
July August 2007 new humanist 7