Crossed out

Soccer Club Real Madrid are proud of their logo. It contains an image of the royal spanish crown. The crow itself is, well, crowned by a small christian cross. Real now has made the rare decision to remove the cross from the crown. Not to appease hordes of militant atheists that were offended by a religious symbol and demanded that it was removed, centuries of tradition be damned!

No, Real chose to remove the cross because they signed a lucrative deal with Abu Dhabi’s national bank. The streets of Madrid have been strangely calm – no reports of outraged Christians that demand putting Jesus back in Real yet.

There are a number take-aways here: many self-professed devout christians, so it would seem, are only christians as long as it’s financially favorable. Further, it is a fact that the religious intolerance of a muslim organization has led to the removal of the cross – which is rather ironic given Spain’s history with Islam.
Finally, it’s strange that christians have less objections when their holy symbol is removed to appease another religious group than when people demand it removed for humanity.

Then again, that’s exactly how religion works.

Islamsplainin’

Sigh. If the cause weren’t so tragic, it would be high comedy: in the UK, Christian politicians are sniping at each other over the question who is the better Muslim. It’s like men explaining what women really think. So we have a veritable feast of Islamsplainin’ going on.

This particular incident, it seems, began when devout Christian and UK Premier David Cameron officially stated that the grisly murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby by fanatical muslims was a betrayal of Islam and of Britain’s Muslim communities.

Strangely, no-one cared about the fact that Cameron’s statement blatantly missed the point: the murder of anyone is a crass betrayal of human values; anything after that is only small fry; nobody gives a dam if it also betrays the values of the spotted owl society, or, for that matter, those of a religion.

Showing little wisdom (and no taste at all by trying to make political hay out of a murder), Lord Pearson of Rannoch took exception with Cameron’s silly statement – of course for all the wrong reasons. As the Guardian reports, the Lord thundered in feigned reighteousness

My lords, are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby’s murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur’an to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the prime minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam?

Now, Lord Pearson, himself a Christian, deliberately overlooks the fact that his own scripture is overflowing with blood. I hate to quote your own book, Pearson:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

(and when is say hate I mean I really enjoy doing that)

Of course, it only took little time for the discussion to deteriorate into mud-slinging. Hilarity ensued when both sides of the house started calling each other the non-word of the century: Islamophobe. That word’s definition still is

A word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons

as it was so aptly summarized by Andrew Cummins. It’s a sure sign that you have lost the argument if you need to resort to that term.

The absurdity of the discussion is highlighted by the following megaton of stupidity, delivered free of charge by a UKIP spokesman:

Lord Pearson […] is talking about how Islamic scholars are constrained by the comprehension that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God unencumbered by human frailty, unlike the Bible. In contrast the apostles are human and like all human things are prone to error.

Which is of course news to the majority of Christians to whom the bible is the perfect word of God, not to mention believe in the pope’s inerrancy. Yeah, ‘my scripture beats your scripture’ has always been the most convincing argument evah!

The biggest joke: these Bozos run your country.

It’s his nature

After retroactively discovering the Americas for the glory of Islam, Turkey’s number one nutcase has again said something profound. Profoundly stupid, that is.

Never one who runs the risk of being mistaken for a feminist, Erdoğan took the opportunity to prove once and for all that he’s a world-class jerk when it comes to women’s rights. Slapping his international audience for women’s rights and freedom across the face, the premier intoned rather tone-deaf:

“You cannot make women and men equal; this is against nature. […] What women need is to be able to be equivalent, rather than equal.”

Now that is not only jaw-droppingly stupid, it’s also on par for what we expect from a fundamental religionist. His sophistry betrays the immoral thinking many religions are built upon. Bible, Torah and Quran already have woman’s equivalency with men: In the Quran, four women are equivalent to one man, in the Torah and Bible, she is equivalent to 3/5 of a man. Equivalency is not Equality. This is taught in elementary school nowadays. It’s inconceivable that Erdoğan doesn’t know this.

Now, hidden deep down in his speech, the premier does say that women should have the same rights as men. But it’s buried under a veritable landslide of patriarchic unreason, stone-age mentality, and long stretches of void that elaborate the obvious: yes, women and men are physically different. Bravo. It’s good to know that Turkey’s leadership has clued in to this surprising fact.

Instead of saying things that are obvious yet can easily be misrepresented by misogynists to justify their actions, Erdogan should stop being an ass and acknowledge openly, and in a straightforward manner what should be front and center to every ethical being: that even though men and woman are different, they must have the same rights and freedoms.

Then again, Erdoğan can’t help himself. Saying something intelligent, so it would seem, is against his nature.

Pagan Robertson

Scotsman, priest, and designated head of the Free Church of Scotland, Reverend David Robertson, like so many of his profession, ventured out onto the thin ice of reasoning, only to promptly slip and slide.

Worried about the children at school, the good Minister contends that the SSS (Scottish Secular Society, an acronym that can be delightfully enunciated like the hiss of a serpent, no doubt) wants nothing less than

impose an atheistic philosophy on children

Well, perhaps. Others may say that they merely want to remove hate-filled ideology from classrooms, but let’s not quibble over semantics. After breaking through the ice of reason, Robertson is delving deep into the abyss of stupidity:

Could we not have a more tolerant and Christian view of science? And could we not encourage children to think about the issues for themselves, rather than just tell them what to think?

Wow. Don’t let this guy near a school board. There is only one view of science, and religion does not have a say in this. There’s no Hindu Science, nor Buddhistic Science. Facts aren’t subject to religion. Nobody, neither child nor adult, gets to decide what a fact is. Facts aren’t democratic. Didn’t you watch Penn & Teller’s routine [at the 10:25 mark] where they tried to decide the sex of a white rabbit by voting? No matter what they voted, that vote did not change the rodent’s sex. It’s the addled-minded condition that priesthood and too much burned incense induce that makes you believe that you can impose facts. Everyone else knows that facts are not up to vote nor personal decision.

Worse, Robertson – obviously not a man to read much outside the bible – also overlooks the problem of practicability. If we really were to teach creation myth alongside science, the year would not be long enough to teach the 1200 historic creation myths known in Eurasia alone – not to mention those from Australia nor the Americas. So I suspect that Robertson doesn’t really want children to choose from a broad range of myths. He wants their intellect to be drowned in the Abrahamic blood-fest called ‘Old Testament’.

Robertson indignantly continues:

It is desperately disappointing that secularists believe the key danger in 21st-century Scotland is apparently creationism, not the 20% of Scottish children who live in poverty, nor the many thousands who have faced the ravages of sexual abuse and drug addiction.

Perhaps. But why is the Reverend wasting his time on this issue rather than helping the impoverished 20 percent? His ways, it seems, are as mysterious as those of his god. And please note that I refrained from an all too obvious snark involving the church and child abuse… ah, bugger it.

Robertson’s distress and disappointment may also have been heightened by a speech the day before from his Vatican competitor, astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, who went on record likening creationism to ‘a kind of paganism’.

Ouch.

Education Kills God!

From the Department Of Bloody Obvious comes another confirmation of what even Martin Luther knew in 1520: the more you know, the less silly superstitions you have. This was also indicated by a study a few months ago which concluded that better internet access leads to less religiosity (the headlines then screamed ‘The Internet Kills God!!!!!’), and is now (unsurprisingly) confirmed by a study conducted by the Louisiana State University:

The study finds that more education, in the form of more years of formal schooling, has “consistently large negative effects” on an individual’s likelihood of attending religious services, as well as their likelihood of praying frequently. More schooling also makes people less likely to harbor superstitious beliefs, like belief in the protective power of lucky charms (rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers), or a tendency to take horoscopes seriously.

Strange phrasing (really? not attending a superstitious gathering is a large negative effect?) and questionable differentiation (luck charms are superstitious, but belief in gods isn’t?) aside, we see once again what motivates Boko Haram, IS and Taliban, and what Luther wrote about in the middle ages:

Reason is […] the greatest enemy that faith has

It’s only a matter of time until we can openly say what is blatantly obvious: smart, educated people don’t believe in gods, fairies or magic. Stupid people serve their priesthood.

Mini morals

A wave of sexual assaults has hit Kenyan women: they are severely beaten and have their clothes torn off by a mob of men. Why? Because, according to the male mob, their victims are

tempting them by being indecently dressed

Even more alarming, in an interview a 26-years old student commented to the press that

An African woman should be decent. They are provoking us. And I think we should put in place laws to curb that.

Let’s face the truth. These ‘men’ are looking for excuses to humiliate women and will take anything as a pretext to sexually assault them. A miniskirt that was proffered as evidence for indecency is a cynical joke. No mater what a woman wears, no man must ever take that as a pretext to assault her – no excuse will ever do. Moreover, in Kenya many women live in traditional communities that do not have Abrahamic nudity taboos – they don’t, for example, have acquired the compulsion to cover their breasts. So even if we did allow for some ‘cultural’ BS explanation, it would not hold water here. No, these men simply assault women – because they feel they can.

What we see here is unchecked male desire for dominance, coupled with a patriarchal ideology – most probably Christianity – trying to assert itself by openly assaulting women. Mind you – the fault does not lie directly with Christianity; it lies with the perpetrators. It’s just that Christianity provides such a convenient pretext when foaming-at-the-mouth priests tell their congregation that

wearing miniskirts is the devil’s work

Remember this the next time some religious nut tells you that religion helps you to be more moral.

Erdoğan’s America

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – not particularly known for his intelligence – wants to set the record straight. As the Guardian and other outlets report, Erdoğan maintains that muslim sailors reached the Americas more than 300 years before Christopher Columbus did:

Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178

More interesting than the question whether this is true, though, is the question why anyone would want to say something like this. So some people say that Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas. But is this really something to be proud of considering the fact that

  • Columbus’ (re)discovery ultimately led to immense suffering and death – the indigenous population was almost wiped out both intentionally and accidentally. Why would you want to claim responsibility for that? Even US Americans are finally clueing in to the fact that celebrating Columbus Day is like celebrating the Huns’ arrival at the Gates of Rome.
  • Why is the religion of the discoverer relevant? If you do want to put your God in the spotlight this way, you’ll have to explain why so many more discoveries were made outside your religion. 
  • It’s common knowledge that the Vikings made multiple landfalls on the american continent before 1000 AD; the Polynesians very likely reached South America more than 1500 years before the first Northmen set foot on Newfoundland – yet you don’t see either of them running around trumpeting that fact. Why would they?
  • More to the point, the original discoverers of the Americas are the indigenous people that the Johnny Come-Latelys killed: the Americas were originally settled 16’000 – 20’000 years ago, most probably via a land bridge from Asia. They almost certainly were superstitious, but they definitely didn’t adhere to Islam, Christianity or any other religion we know today. 

If there is one thing I wouldn’t obsess about is the question who really discovered the Americas and what deities they believed in.

So what can we learn about this silly claim?

If you feel that your religion has some kind of penis envy versus some other religion and that you must stake a claim for your religion, make sure it’s about something worthwhile.

Selling Islam

Expressing indignation over Sam Harris’ and Bill Maher’s ‘sweeping generalizations’ about Islam, Reza Aslan, in an interview with CNN went on record stating [at the 5:38 mark] that

In [muslim] Indonesia, women are absolutely 100 percent equal to men

Now, taking into account that Aslan is a professional apologist, that statement still is a jaw-droppingly brazen lie. It is impossible for someone like him to not know about the Sharia law-regulated Aceh province of Indonesia. Sharia law, especially in criminal cases, is synonymous with gender inequality, and violates fundamental human rights – especially women’s – something that Aslan, a scholar of religious studies, doubtlessly knows.

Today, Time and other news outlets report that women in Indonesia who want to become policewomen must demonstrate their virginity, and that married women are not eligible to join the police force (in case you wondered: men do not have to prove their virginity, and married men are accepted into the police).

Which makes you wonder what ‘absolutely 100 percent equal’ means in Aslan’s universe. It casts a dim light on his other arguments – especially the one where he calls FGM an ‘African problem’, when it is common knowledge that this vile practice is also prevalent in Indonesia (surprise!), Malaysia, Pakistan and India, none of which can in any way be called African countries. Aslan should know better, and I’m quite sure he does.

What is it that makes intelligent people like Aslan be untruthful on behalf of their God – when they know that sooner rather than later their religious brothers will do their worst to help us catch them in their lies?

When public dishonesty becomes the best approach to selling your religion, it says a lot about the product.

Hijab vs. Bible

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague noticed my discomfort and point-blank asked what bothered me about her Hijab. Regrettably, I had no immediate response other than ‘it doesn’t feel right’. She was gracious enough to accepted this non-reason.

So what is it that I find so offensive about a Hijab, Niqab or Burka? At least the Hijab can be a fashion statement, can’t it?

Yes.

It’s the original purpose, the idea behind a head- or body veil that disturbs me: the sentiment that a woman’s beauty is just for her husband to enjoy. Only her husband (who does not reciprocate) can see her beauty, making it his exclusive property – and by extension, her as well. The hijab is nothing else but a reminder to society that every woman is some man’s property. That is making me uncomfortable: the idea that women wear the very symbol of their subjugation as fashion.

If you are a Christian nodding at these lines, don’t get too comfortable, though. The Ten Commandments list wives (yup, plural) as a man’s possessions. They are listed among other property such as slaves, house and cattle. And yet, Christian women happily recite the 10th Commandment, just like many muslim women willingly wear a Hijab. That’s why I also feel uncomfortable each time an otherwise intelligent Christian woman praises the Ten Commandments.

Also – have you never wondered about the eerie similarities between a Burka and a Christian nun’s Habit?

Do you really think that’s coincidence?

The Bible, I swear!

It happens in every court-room drama. A person places their hand on a book and invokes an incantation like So I swear or So help me God. It also happens in reality in many countries during the swearing-in ceremonies of leaders.

People place their hand on a book, and with a straight face proclaim that they will do good. And they believe that placing their hand on a book documents their sincerity.

A book that condones slavery, misogyny, and genocide.

Am I the only one worried by this? I mean, I understand if followers of IS or Taliban do something like this. They mean business. But I feel that if you swear on the Bible or Quran, you might as well place your right hand on the hilt of the blood-dripping sword that just decapitated the last free woman. Actually, that would be a step up.

So it must be religious thing. Which has me a bit stumped – at least for Christians: swearing on the Bible is ostensibly one of the least Christian things you can do: Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12 pretty much say that you must not swear:

“Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.”

Well I guess it’s another one of those Christian ticks: believing you are doing right by the book you didn’t read.

If you ask me, people shouldn’t be swearing on or by the bible.

They should swear at it.