Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the …

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… Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd say they will contribute nothing to Magdalene Laundry survivors’compensation.
The four orders of nuns that ran the notorious Magdalene Laundries in Ireland have said they have no intention of contributing anything towards the compensation fund set up by the Irish Government.
The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters told the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that they will leave it to the taxpayer to pick up thebill and will pay nothing towards the compensation fund which could total €58 million.
Butter wouldn't melt ...
Butter wouldn’t melt …
They have said they will continue to look after elderly former residents who have not been able to find anywhere else to live — but that’s all.
The Government announced the scheme last month after Mr Justice Quirke had inquired into the options available to compensate the women who had been incarcerated in the laundries and used as forced labour.
The minimum payment was €11,500 for women who spent three months or less in a laundry and the maximum approved was €100,000 for those who were residents for 10 years or more.
It is estimated that about 600 women will be eligible for compensation and they will not have to prove that they were abused or suffered hardship.Mr Shatter said he had expected the four orders of nuns that had run the laundries on behalf of the state to contribute to the compensation, but didn’t specify what he expected them to pay.The scheme comes after years of campaigning by the survivors of the Magdalene Laundry system.
The Irish Premier Enda Kenny gave an emotional apology to the victims in the parliament earlier this year, saying nobody should have had to endure the cruelty and degradation that the women in these institutions did. The apology and compensation scheme was prompted by an investigation by former senator Martin McAleese into the Laundries, which operated for nearly a hundred years. The report condemned the state’s role in allowing the Magdalene Laundries to continue and the religious orders for their cruelty and oppression of the women who were admitted.
Chief Executive of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, told the Irish Examiner that the Government should call the religious orders to account. “I think these religious orders have to be called in —if necessary, publicly — and they have to be told that the government and the people of Ireland expect them to make a contribution.”
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society commented: “We hope that campaigners will remind the Irish Government that the 18 orders involved in the Magdalene Laundries made €667m in property deals between 1999 and 2009.”

Recent Vatican announcements have been keen to stress the Pope’s solidarity with the poor and marginalised.

Follow me ...on Twitter (you twits)
Follow me …on Twitter (you twits)
Aaah – bless …
Elsewhere business as usual for the god fearing nuns.
Reduce your time in Purgatory by following Popey on Twitter (no, this is not a joke )
Acknowledgements:  Most of the above text lifted from the National Secular Society weekly newsletter.

Disestablish Church of England now! (Women Bishops row)

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Female clergy are tearing thir hair out!

The management of the Church of England, (Archie Bishes, Bishes etc.) has clearly revealed its true nature; that of political animals. They can see all too clearly that yesterday’s Synod decision to disallow the creation of woman bishes is damaging to the “brand” because their focus group management information clearly reveals that “we the people” have moved on. The only other country in the world where clerics form part of the legislature, by right, is Iran – yes Iran.

The last Arch Bishop (Rowan Williams) doesn’t even believe in god anymore; the evidence for this is in his 30 minute discussion with John Harumphrys (In Search of Faith) a couple of years ago. He clearly is closer to the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) (1935 – ) “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

John Humphrys pretends to be “In Search of Faith”

Rowan Williams is an peaceful, intelligent, academic man and was therefore ill fitted to the political role that today’s C of E requires.

The only true believers left are the masses who still have not realised that the “Sacrament” and assorted accoutrements of their weird religion (created on a whim by a petulant Henry VIII) are just designed to make their belief system more impressive.

Bach makes god look good‘ etc. (I think that quote is original to me but I stand to be corrected ..?)

Seneca (4 – 65 BCE)
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)
Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”
“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
“All religions have been made by men.”

Supreme Court of Wisconsin (1890) “There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter into our civil affairs, our government soon would be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed. Those who made our Constitution saw this, and used the most apt and comprehensive language in it to prevent such a catastrophe.” (Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Weiss v. District Board, March 18, 1890. )

Such wisdom is there to be read, absorbed and acted upon but politicians dare not reveal their true selves (no votes in enlightened reason) 🙁
They are not leaders – they are focus group led party politicians whose main motivation is power.

Defender of the faith..?

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Seneca (4 – 65 BCE) “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” ’nuff said!

I know we all love Queen Elizabeth and the wonderful quiet, dignified way she does her job and feel for her when some of her progeny and relations, have, in the past acted as adulterous, spoiled, brats, but ah bless, isn’t she doing a wonderful job?

The Queen defended the role of the Church of England in a speech at Lambeth Palace
The Queen defended the role of the Church of England in a speech at Lambeth Palace

Well actually, in one very important respect, no; I just have to make a contrarian point here about her “Defender of the Faith” role.

When, this morning, we read “Queen ‘should remain Defender of the Faith’ – a BBC poll suggests”, may I remind you why we have a Church of England at all and a monarch who has the title “Defender of the Faith”?

Henry VIII wanted a new bride and couldn’t divorce her because the Pope forbade it. Henry was a bit miffed at the leader of England’s, then main, religion, i.e. Roman Catholicism, and decided to remove Papal power from England there and then.

Henry VIII taking the tube ...
Henry VIII taking the tube …

This is the short version: Henry invented The Church of England, put himself in charge, made the monarchy sole appointer of the Arch Bishops of Cantebury (just to avoid annoying arguments from god’s appointed etc.) and made Roman Catholicism illegal. Now then – that’s what I call an action plan!

Therefore the Queen, as “Defender the Faith”, is supporting a fabricated religion based on the whims of a horny ancestor.

‘Almost 80% of people in England support a religious role for the Queen, a BBC poll suggests’.

Poppycock! A poll of 2,591 people! You might as well take a survey of a crowd in a football stadium and ask people to vote for their favourite pastime!

The BBC’s blatant support of faith is insulting to the intelligence to the point of being wilfully partisan and therefore, I say, in breach of its impartiality brief.

Acknowledgements:- If I knew who made up the Underground poster I would thank them!

A rationalist’s view of “same sex” marriage

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This is prompted by Arch Bishop Sentamu’s statement (27th January 2010) that ‘Marriage’ is not for same sex couples. Why this is news or controversial makes me sigh – but let’s have a bit of common sense shall we?

...for gods sake Sentamu, smile, you will make us look ridiculous if you dont!
...for gods sake Sentamu, smile, you will make us look ridiculous if you dont!

For me, the religious definition matters not except for the simple fact that ‘Marriage’ is culturally defined as being between a man a woman, usually for the creation of the nuclear family and for the production of children.

That is what ‘most’ people expect ‘marriage’ to mean and don’t even question or think about it. Most of us born in this country, over the age of 30ish, are cultural christians whether we like the idea or not – it is reality.

The complication is a legal and a political one where gay couples in a long term relationship wanted the same legal protection and political recognition as do married couples, so, in 2004, we got ‘Civil Partnership’ – ta dum – job done!

In time, I would expect that ‘Civil Partnership’ would quite rationally and reasonably be extended to include opposite sex partnerships and “Marriage” would be retained by the religiously inclined and by those who don’t really care but who do like the churchy marriage ‘thing’.

So then – just what is the problem ..?

Could it be that  …

  • religion is trying to maintain its grip on unreality and social power
  • coalition politics is trying to be “cool” with the gay wing of the liberal democrat party
  • some high profile gays are saying that gay marriage is quite normal and a human right – well it is not ‘normal’ in any sense that the person on the Clapham omnibus would find normal

None of the commentators are being honest about the subject or, it seems, open to rational debate.

The case for aggressive secularism

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... off to help the Pope fight agressive secularism - ROFL
Baroness Warsi off to help the Pope fight agressive secularism ...

Almost daily now, on the BBC, we hear religious leaders droning on about the importance of faith in our lives and the dangers of aggressive secularism. Now ‘we’ are sending Baroness Warsi to the Vatican, accompanied by 7 cabinet ministers, to join forces with the Pope to speak out against so-called ‘aggressive’ secularism which I would simply describe as reason and commonsense! I find this government mission frankly deeply misguided and almost unbelievable – and who on earth sanctioned that level of expense? We are the only country in the world (apart from Iran) to have theocratic ‘believers in the improbable’ as part of out legislature! As for being ‘aggressive’, secularists are simply employing reasoned argument to remove the priviliges these relics of the Dark Ages still enjoy!

Nick Clegg, as our Deputy Prime Minister (and as the atheist he most assuredly is) should be ashamed of himself for not lambasting this criminal waste of tax payers money. The Lib Dems are rapidly losing any credibility they ever had – nobody now ‘agrees with Nick‘ – not even other lib dems!

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore and Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson will also attend, along with International Development Minister Alan Duncan, Energy Minister Greg Barker and Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell of Guildford. Despite Duncan and Barker being openly gay, the forthcoming free vote in the Commons on introducing gay marriage is said to be firmly off the agenda. (With thanks to the Huffington Post).

How can the suspension of reason in favour of divisive policies at the heart of government be considered so important? We waste so much time in this world trying to cope with religious differences and prejudices that we really should have caught on by now – secularism is the safest place for religion to reside. Religion must be a matter of personal choice and NOT EVER part of central government. Here are just two examples:-

1) Just because Henry VIII fancied a new woman he invented the Church of England to rid himself of the Pope’s veto on his divorce. He broke with Rome in 1534, which led to hundreds of years of sectarian violence and death in England and Ireland. The wounds are still open today 400 years later. A religion created on a pompous monarch’s whim.

2) Just because early Muslims couldn’t agree on who should lead them in after Mohammed’s death in 632 AD, we have another religion divided (Sunni Muslim versus Shia Muslim)  at each others throats for the last 1,400 years. The figures here for sectarian violent death are impossible to estimate but ‘100s of thousands’ is probably not too far out.

In the UK, both labour and conservative governments still think that creating more and more faith schools, which are, by definition, inherently divisive, is a good idea! Parents opt, mostly hypocritically, for a faith school, if they can, simply because discipline is managed better in faith schools, religious faith does not play much of a part in the decision for most.

Religion, whilst it remains at the heart of government, will continue to engage us in pointless activity trying to appease all yet pleasing none. Until we remove the shackles of ‘faith’ from our everyday lives we simply cannot make “reasonable” decisions and live in peace. Please note that I am concentrating on versions of the Abrahamic based religions as it is these which have caused most of the worlds strife. Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion and Hinduism with Sikhism both seem not to be bent on world domination!

A few thoughts from just a few well known thinkers might explain my position, a position based on reason:-

  • Hippocrates (c.460-c.377 B.C.E.) “People think that epilepsy is divine simply because they don’t have any idea what causes epilepsy. But I believe that someday we will understand what causes epilepsy, and at that moment, we will cease to believe that it’s divine. And so it is with everything in the universe.”
  • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.”
  • Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) “The most practical and dramatic victory of science over religion occurred in the 17th century, when churches began to put up lightning conductors.”
  • Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) (1935 – ) “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Despite these insights, spanning the last two thousand years, around 70% of the inhabitants of the USA think that world was created in 7 days by a god like man with a white beard who actually cares about them. He cares far more about Republicans of course 😉

The world has gone mad – faith has trumped reason despite the legacy of Socrates and the European Enlightenment philosophers, so where to start? ‘Reason’ and philosophy is the best place to start so here goes:-

  • The Riddle of Epicurus (341-270 BCE)
  • If God is willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
  • If he is able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
  • If he is both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
  • If he is neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

If there is a god, he is no use to us because he / she / it made so many errors in the overall design of the universe, and us, that we have to invest billions in the NHS to save us from the disease pestilence and famine that he (in his own mysterious way) sent, so, even if there is a god, he obviously does not care about us one jot or tittle. The beautiful ‘theory’ of evolution just makes far more sense, and yes it is a theory but it is the best explanation that we have, so far, for the random, beautiful, unfair, chaotic but wonderful world in which we live.

If ‘he’ had a master plan for our ultimate “salvation” he did a very poor job in communicating it! The message should surely be the same for all, so why all these different religions with different back-stories and disagreements?

Its almost as if he / she / it / was some shadowy human Mandelson figure who makes up a different story every few hundred years and tries again  😉 

For example, starting with the Jewish Torah, then on to the New Testament followed on a few hundred years later with a punchier version of the Torah because the New Testament was just a bit too… well, New Age!  All that talk of love and peace PAH, let’s get back to smiting! So finally, to the Quran, the last and biggest Abrahamic story revision. Do take some time to read it – I have read it twice in two different translations and whilst I acknowledge the beauty of the Arabic oral rendition of the Quran – it is sheer poetry, mesmeric – one does not need to understand the words to feel the ‘power’, it is simply spine tingling when recited well.

For me however – the words of the Quran are those of a politically astute desert Arab[1] who demands the suspension of personal reason, the sublimation of free will and demands complete submission to what HE says or else, and, since all he says is the will of Allah, there is no choice but to accept (very handy)! The Quran is a scarily primitive political polemic in which all Muslims seem to be trapped forever; after all, it is “the unalterable word of god”.

Christians have had their reformation but many, albeit in declining numbers, still take enormous comfort from the social structures it provides, but Islam is seemingly forever held frozen in the Arab deserts of AD 650 promoting misogyny and Islamic supremacy; it will take a very brave moderate Muslim scholar to reform all that!

I know I have missed out Rosicrucian’s, 7th day Adventists, Mormons and the ‘Beam me Up’ Scientologists, but they are all just too silly for words aren’t they? 

Well aren’t they? Apparently not, some 40 million of us would disagree. (20 million Mormons claimed worldwide, 100,000 best estimate for the Scientologists (OK +0.5 for Tom Cruise ’cause he’s a bit short), and say another 20 million Christian and other religious factions).

So then, our government thinks it’s a jolly good idea to support a Catholic leader who still supports the protection of pedophile priests by doing nothing? Who on earth thought that an inter-faith dialogue would promote peace when all the evidence is that the slightest disagreement causes schism, death and mayhem as history demonstrates over and over again?

Oh dear me “Beam me up Scotty – take me away please”.

[1] I have a theory that it was his first wife who did most of the political thinking whilst coping with Mohammed’s ‘divine’ fits of epilepsy (see Hippocrates quote above).

‘Would Jesus have ‘cast out’ the demonstrators at St Pauls’ …

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Last night’s Questiontime on BBC1 gave us that question – I have to say thanks to the gentleman who asked it 😉 Juilian Fellowes somewhat missed the point at first, but did recover later on, do watch him getting it wrong hehe!

I have to proclaim that I am an atheist, a latterday convert from the gentle Methodism of my family, but the treatment of Giles Fraser, by the ‘religulous’ committee that ‘run’ St Pauls Theme Park, has shown up today’s Anglican Christianity for the self righteous, pompous ‘Sadducees’* that they are. They have done the humanist and atheist cause a great service so tar very much mates!

Giles Fraser outside St Pauls

As a ‘cultural christian’ I can see that today’s ‘religulous’ authorities have little connection with Jesus’ Gospel teachings which were, on the whole, pretty radical and socialist for their times. 

The Jesus of the gospels would have ‘cast out’, not the protestors, BUT the ruling elite of the Cathedral and then re-instated Giles Fraser as the only one, of that disgraceful committee, who had got the point of his teachings 2000 years ago.

Once he had done that, Jesus would have invited the protestors in for a cup of tea and a biscuit, invited the TV news crews in, and given a sermon on the evils and irrelevance of hedge funds, self-serving bankers, short termist politicians and then told the protestors to occupy Canary Wharf tube station, while he set about disbanding the religions set up in his name, but not his message!
* I quote the “Catholic Encyclopedia on the Sadducees:- ” …during this period and down to the destruction of Jerusalem the Sadducees were naturally unpopular with the masses because of their marked tendency to side closely with the ruling power”. Basically they were the self perpetuating establishment health & safety committee of their day.