Rounding up the news from the world of faith and faithlessness
Let them eat… baby? OKLAHOMA: A state senator from Oklahoma wants to ban the use of aborted foetuses in food. Ralph Shortey submitted his bill after reading an article on an antiabortion website which claimed that some food companies have been using embryonic stem cells to test their products, in partnership with a San Diego-based biotech company, a claim flatly denied by the firm.
Shortey said: “As a pro-life advocate, it kind of disturbed me that we would use aborted embryos or aborted human foetuses to extract stem cells and use them for research to basically make things taste better.” The senator had to admit that he had never actually heard of any instances of this happening, but declared that his bill would, at the very least, give any food companies toying with the idea an “ultimatum”.
His proposed bill doesn’t mince its words, stating, “Noperson or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for humanconsumptionwhich contains aborted humanfoetuses.”
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Every little helps LONDON: The recent economic chaos has revealed that not even the experts understand economics. Or has it? When Tesco recently reported a slip in profits, everybody’s favourite evangelical, Christian Voice’s Stephen Green, knew exactly why. Last year, in response to the supermarket chain’s £30,000 support of Gay Pride, Green called down the big guns. “We prayed for confusion in the Tesco boardroom,” he explained. “We prayed for a drop in their share price. With £3bn erased from the value of Tesco, it seems that Almighty God answered our prayers, on what you could describe as a Biblical scale.” Burn your economics textbooks, folks – they are currently being rewritten.
Rooftop relations DALLAS: Sex outside marriage may be an abomination, but sex within marriage is a wonderful thing. So says Texas megachurch pastor Ed Young in his new book Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy With Your Spouse, designed to “bring God back into the bedroom”. In a daring stunt to promote the book pastor Ed set up a bed on the roof of his church to which he repaired with Mrs Lisa Young. The saucy sexperimenter even set up a webcam so the world could see what they got up to. Alas, this being midwinter, the concupiscent couple spent the night wrapped up in hats, scarves and gloves.
In his book Pastor Ed describes sex as the “superglue” that holds a Christian marriage together, recommends seven consecutive nights of passion for the pious, and declares that “The church has been silent about sex for too long.” Not long enough, some might think.
Headless chicken JOHANNESBURG: It’s not only the religious who easily take oﬀence. A church in South Africa has been ordered to remove a billboard following a complaint by an atheist. The billboard depicted a man missing that crucial section of the head that houses the brain alongside a line from the opium-addicted Catholic poet Francis Thompson: “An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident.” The complainant, Eugene Greber, claimed the ad was oﬀensive because it suggested atheists are stupid. When challenged online by those who pointed out that atheists are usually the ones defending free speech, Greber argued that he had in fact complained in order to “raise awareness about the lack of free speech in South Africa”. Go figure. Pious pirates STOCKHOLM: If you have ever downloaded music or video from a file-sharing website, bless you, for you have engaged in a holy act. That’s the message from the high priests of the world’s newest religion, Kopimism, which has just been recognised as an oﬃcial faith by the Swedish government. Dedicated to the principle that “information is holy and that the act of copying is holy”, the Kopimists take as their sacred symbols the computer shortcuts Ctrl+c (copy) and Ctrl+v (paste), and hold that the distribution of information should be free, and that copyright laws are a violation of the sanctity of knowledge.
Once a Catholic NORMANDY: Rene LeBouvier from Fleury, northwest France, is currently engaged in a struggle to extricate himself from the Catholic Church. Having lost his faith in the 1970s he wrote to his diocese to explain. But, disgusted by what he calls the “criminal” child abuse scandals and the Church’s continuing policy against condoms in Africa, he is now determined to have his name expunged from the baptism records altogether, and is taking the matter to court.
However, like a high-street gym or a DVD rental service, the message from the Catholic Church is clear: one you’re in, you can never leave. “One could refuse the grace oﬀered by God, the grace oﬀered by the sacrament, refuse to participate,” explains Rev. Robert Kaslyn of the Catholic University of America. “But we believe the individual has still been marked for God through the sacrament, and that individual at any point could return to the church.” For God’s sake, Catholics, let our people go!
Christ on a pike LONDON: Outrage in North London, as the Camden New Journal reveals that plans have been tabled to erect a giant statue of Jesus Christ, evoking Brazil’s iconic Christ The Redeemer statue, on Primrose Hill to mark the end of the 2012 Olympics and the transferral of host-city status to Rio de Janeiro.
The proposal has not yet been reviewed by the local planning department but a London-based planning consultancy working with the Brazilian Tourist Board recently sent an email to residents informing them of the plan and requesting secrecy in order to retain “a ‘wow’ factor” when it is unveiled. Unsurprisingly, secularists were unimpressed, with the National Secular Society saying the plan “would be a kind of triumphalist statement about Christianity”.
Holy-wood INSTANBUL: Liam Neeson has revealed that he was considering converting to Islam following a recent trip to Istanbul. “The call to prayer happens five times a day, and for the first week, it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit, and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing,” the actor explained. “There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning, and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”
At the front of the queue to welcome Neeson to the faith was an old friend of New Humanist, the Muslim creationist and sex-cult leader Adnan Oktar. “If Liam Neeson becomes aMuslim, it will be a great contribution for the alliance of the Christianity and Islam,” he wrote in a not-at-all sinister message. “We should all pray for Liam Neeson to be guided with Islam.”
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