Some may remember that, in February last year, the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, banned the egregious Fred Phelps and his equally repugnant daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, from entering the United Kingdom. (For those that don’t already know, Fred is the “pastor” of Westboro Baptist Church, about 90 strong and largely members of his own family. He preaches that all the world’s ills stem directly from toleration of homosexuality. He is a man with deeply unsavoury views and a very murky and violent history.) As far as I am aware that ban remains in place.
On 16 September this year the United Kingdom will host a full state visit to another religious leader. This one heads an organisation that:
- opposes the distribution of condoms, thereby increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
- promotes segregated education
- denies abortion rights to even the most vulnerable women
- opposes equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
- fails to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
- rehabilitated the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
That organisation has an even murkier and more violent history. (Fred might have beaten seven bells out of his wife and kids, but I’m not aware that he has yet launched a tide of torture, inquisition, crusade and “holy” war onto the world.)
Fred’s nasty views can stay at home, but Joe’s can come to the (taxpayer-funded) party.
I do not aplogise if this is beginning to look like catholic bashing, but there is so much of this stuff about at the moment that it’s difficult to ignore the temptation. Were the catholic church not being disingenuous I would leave them be. But they preach honesty and deal in obfuscation and downright lies.
The Pope missed a wonderful opportunity today in his Urbi et Orbi. He could have sat on that balcony and roundly condemned the abuse of children. He could have made it clear that the church would not tolerate it, that the perpetrators would be publicly defrocked, expelled and handed over to the civil authorities for punishment. He could have promised that the church would be transparent in its dealings. He could have apologised.
He did none of these things. Continue reading They Just Don’t Get it
Looks like it can’t. For all the gloss that the Boy David puts on his new Conservative party, lurking underneath is still the old dinosaur. Every now and then the veil slips and you catch a glimpse of the offal.
Chris Grayling has just given us such a peak. (Read the story here.) In essence, he is saying that it’s OK to discriminate against gay people if you hold a religious belief. Quite apart from the argument that this is the thin end of the wedge that takes us back to the disgraceful Section 28, I wonder if he’s actually bothered to think through what he is, in effect, saying.
“You cannot have your cake and eat it.”
Continue reading Can a leopard change its spots?
You may or may not have read the story or heard about the gay couple turned away from a B&B. If you haven’t – it’s here.
Susanne Wilkinson, owner of the Swiss B&B, Terry’s Lane, in Cookham, turned away Michael Black and John Morgan because it was “against her convictions” to have two men share the same bed.
In their defence Mr Wilkinson said “We are Christians and we believe our rights don’t have to be subordinated.”
And who, exactly, is interfering with your “rights”? Continue reading I believe, therefore I can discriminate …
I read the Pope’s letter to the Irish yesterday. As an exercise in damage limitation for the church it was fairly masterful. As an example of a genuine effort to root out and punish offenders it was an abject failure.
I will admit up front that I’m no fan of the Roman Catholic church. Quite apart from being an agnostic (almost to the point of atheism), history shows us that the church has a very nasty past and it remains to this day a deeply flawed organisation. Take just a couple of examples – Christ’s parable of the rich man and the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19) and his action in casting the money changers from the temple (Matthew 21). And yet the catholic church remains a vastly rich entity that owns its own bank. Continue reading The Papa – Too Little and WAY Too Late!