So the Tories won, if you’re pissed off about this you have a right to be, I am, but if you’re annoyed and have never lifted a finger to improve the world, then perhaps it’s time to start. Believe me you can make a difference! And even if you feel a bit blue (sorry, but I had to) there are some silver linings: Nigel Farage lost, and George Galloway has finally been given the boot!
Remember, we can engage in democracy all year round, and perhaps we should actively do so. Having an idea, meeting people, making new friends and creating a plan is how it all starts. I recently heard a friend when asked “what can we do?” about a particular topic answer: “Get up from your armchair and actually do something.” This was at a conference concerned with Free Thought all over the world, and he was right! Read the rest of this entry
I was once asked by the Stockport Humanists if I could present a wreath at the official Remembrance civic ceremony. I was extremely happy to help and also honoured to be asked to take part in a day that has particular importance to me and all other serving and non-serving military personnel past and present. Imagine my surprise to be contacted a little later and told that I was not allowed to lay a wreath as an official part of the ceremony to pay my respects. Certain individuals and organisations including The Rt Revd Robert Atwell have the opinion that “we remain clear that this is a religious ceremony and wish it to continue as such” (Jan 14th 2013). This is also particularly galling when bolstered in a recent telephone conversation by the words of one local Councillor who exclaims that there was “no stomach” to take on the church.
Continue reading this article at Atheist Republic.
Conspiracy theories and exponents of revolution have many holes in their arguments, even when they’re not as poorly made and detached from reality as when Russell Brand makes them. One of the main problems though, could be the mindset of the individual making all the noise themselves. Putting the word theorist after conspiracy, doesn’t then mean that an opinion becomes a testable hypotheses or is worth being taken seriously. Calling yourself a revolutionary, doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about, have a good heart, have the answers, or indeed, any solution at all. In Brand’s case, I don’t doubt that what he says comes from a good place, and I agree there needs to be a change in the way we live together in the world, but it needs to be actionable, and not just polemic that satisfies the idealistic – which is very difficult in the real world. I don’t discount everything he says, indeed, I’m impressed that he cares at all given his extremely privileged position as he might stand to lose out most. But, I’m skeptical of much of what he says for a few reasons.
One of the main problems if you identify as a conspiracy theorist, an anarchist, or a revolutionary, is that you tend to be against the ‘official’ narrative, whatever it is. It’s also possible that you’d object to many of the official positions and policies even if they’re beneficial, and any verdict surrounding unrelated events, even before there’s anything to object to, because you’ve primed yourself to. Another issue is the notion that you have to be open-minded to any alternative, whatever that option might be, even if it’s nonsense or just not feasible. However, without stretching the imagination, there are some theories that potentially have grains of truth to them: That aggressive financial lobbying for oil may have contributed in part to the Iraq war, or that the government are watching everything we do aren’t too far-fetched. There’s definitely a correlation between resources and war. And the government (and the media) are surely watching some of us, they have the technology, hopefully they’re focusing on terrorists though, but not me, I’m not interesting enough…. but maybe that’s what they want me to think! Read the rest of this entry
The National Union of Students (NUS) won’t condemn Islamic State (IS), because it would be Islamophobic to do so, despite the proposal being tendered by a student of Kurdish descent. This tells us quite a bit about ‘Islamophobia,’ and the associated post-colonial rhetoric that stifles discourse on these issues, ultimately forcing people to be tolerant of the intolerant… lest they be branded intolerant. It also tells us that gross generalisations occur on both sides of an argument even by those claiming to be addressing them. Read the rest of this entry
David Cameron has recently been playing politics with religion, namely by calling Britain a Christian country and elucidating an ambition to “expand the role of faith based organisations,” and I thought it was Chris the King, not Cameron! It cannot be doubted that much of our culture, art and history derives from Christianity, but to call the country Christian is nonsense, perhaps post-Christian would be better. This has led to Cameron’s assertion being challenged by many concerned members of the public.
This country has many faith groups and those who have none; the latter are usually wholly overlooked though. The 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey records 48% of the entire nation’s population identify as non-religious [Edit: YouGov poll 2015, 62% non-religious]. Add all of the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i and other religious communities – and non-religious – to this and it is extremely divisive to claim that somehow Christianity must maintain its prominence in Great Britain. But, I’m not angry about it, honestly, because that would make me one of those ‘angry atheists,’ and we all know that they’re just too angry.
Update, 18/07/2013; Equal Marriage Bill to recieve Royal Assent.
A land mark case for equality and testament to the values of fairness, equality and democracy. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the House of Commons on February the 6th 2013, 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225.
As well as an achievement for society and homosexuals this is especially poignant for those whom like myself, adjusted their views on homosexuality as a youngsters when presented with evidence to the contrary of an erroneous and pernicious opinion.
It was almost impossible when I was at secondary school, not to hear the word gay used as a byword for bad. “That’s a bit gay” was a phrase uttered constantly often in situations having nothing to do with the matter! I once kissed a girlfriend and heard someone behind me say “gaaaay.” Not sure how that works but it happened. And thus a dangerous and devisive connotation is embeded into the mind.
Your opinion, just like mine is not of interest when the facts are weighed, especially if it stems from a religious proclivity seeking to enforce inequality and deem homosexuals to be sinful. The archaic religious attitude to legislate in the name of an imprimatur fiction and a blatant ignorance of data contrary of this most noxious view has done harm for a very long time. It may be tough to accept, but your opinion on such matters or scriptural “authority” is not a reason to keep a group of people from the equal status and rights they deserve.
Think about it, to judge a person based on their sexual orientation, is to judge someone for what they are, not what they choose. And even if they did choose to be gay, it shouldn’t matter to you who they choose to love, it’s about autonomy, and they’re not asking you to join in. We have, most of us, moved away from racism, nobody would dare discriminate on the grounds of race and rightfully so.
To deny homosexuals the right to marry is a prejudice commensurate with racism in this day and age, and those that hold such beliefs should have them vilified and marginalised in a society that strives for equality.
It is of tremendous significance that this bill passed now, as it points to a fairer and more realistic, equal, and practical Britain, casting off antiquated values and preposterous beliefs in favour of reason and parity for all humans. It is my most fervent hope that we never see the recrudescence of such insulting judgements of people who are in the end homo sapiens like the rest of us.
An interesting article; Whitehead, L. R., & Baker, O. J. (2012). Homosexuality, Religion and Science: Moral Authority and the Persistence of Negative Attitudes. Sociological Inquiry, 82(4), 487-509.
“Over the last few days thousands of people have written to their MPs to support the legalisation of humanist marriage, which is due to be voted on tomorrow or on Tuesday. Have you joined them yet?” – British Humanist Association. We are one of the most active organisations promoting marriage equality in the UK and around the world. We hope to one day be the best, and importantly, least prejudice provider of marriage services in the UK upon recognition. Marriage is for all, and no religious organisation should try to have a monopoly on the expression of love on the grounds of their particular tribal values, and sadly more often than not, their prejudices. Read the rest of this entry
For those concerned with recent events in Bangladesh with regards to the suppression of free expression and prosecution of atheist bloggers. Below is a letter I have sent to the High Commission of Bangladesh in order to help raise awareness of these events and others across the world. These individuals need our help to protect their freedom of expression and right not to believe. If you feel moved by, or feel that such a struggle represents your views, I implore you to take action in any way available to you such as sending a letter to their ambassadors or joining a local protest. The International Humanist and Ethical Union can provide resources for such a letter writing campaign. The demands of those that persecute the bloggers as well as Christians in the country (Muslims) can be seen here. Their justifications predictably come from God and their chants are savage including “one point, one demand, atheists must be hanged”. It is only through our action, that the values of a free, democratic, secular society can be protected.
Read the rest of this entry
The Iraq war as a liberal, humanitarian intervention could have been valid, a bold statement I know, and not one I fully support but it’s worth looking at important issues from alternative angles in order to understand them. Some would paint it as a them against us, a west against the east or the ever divisive, them against the faith. It was a strategy mandated under for example the genocide convention to which Great Britain is a signatory, this is how Iraq should have been approached. Take a look at the Universal Declaration of Human rights, we’re all meant to uphold this but some countries don’t even subscribe to it. How does your current government or faith measure up? Utilising certain axiomatic clauses in the UN charter would have been to a great benefit for Blair’s government (and the alliance with the US) in the public arena if they were used in prominence as a measure of legitimacy for invasion. The sad and troubling fact with hindsight is, however, that it was justified under a search for weapons of mass destruction which were never found, and this was to the detriment of all future uses of such a humanitarian interventionist policy and the posture with which it could be delivered. Personally, I am largely anti-war but then you never get a positive answer when you frame something as a war. As an ex-soldier and a communications liaison to places like Pakistan I’ve seen enough conflicts to know what results from them. Although, I also wouldn’t wish to let regimes perpetrate heinous crimes with impunity, especially whilst we might condemn certain things and draw up treaties to prohibit them. So it’s worth looking at military intervention from that perspective too.
Jailed for nothing more than a lack of a ficticious Religious belief. Abdul Aziz Mohamed El Baz, aka BenBaz, is an Egyptian living & working in Kuwait. Born on 1985 in Kuwait, Aziz holds a Bachelor Degree in commerce and has worked as an accountant until his arrest.
Abdel was repoted to the government by his employer because he was an atheist. The original motive for Abdel’s employer reporting him to the authorities was extremely duplicit though. They told the Kuwaiti government that he was an atheist and directed them to his blog on atheist and humanist issues because he simply wanted to leave their company and advance his career. The moral integrity of such a company is unfathomable, how this is enough to incarcerate someone is tragic and doubly so as it was used as a weapon against him in a professional capacity.
Isn’t it also odd how the Religious speak out and claim they are being the victims of prejudice or intolerance when someone doesn’t respect their beliefs or through not practicing it is seen as a heretic. Those who brook the greatest insult to their very freedom are actually apostates and atheists within these communities of totalitarian ideology. It puts it into perspective when the majority bourne over reactions and punishments for insulting a prophet, laughing at a book, and just not having the same opinion in Kuwait merit imprisonment in Kuwaiti society as they truly elucidates the double standards used in favour of faith and against disbelief. This sentence is absurd, and is bourne of an opinion that such supernatural beliefs and legislature based on them is immutable and beyond reproach. Such absolutism is the hallmark of every oppressive society in history and should not be allowed to stand unchallenged. Sign the petition to free Abdel if you agree, as I do that ficticious beliefs are not grounds to discriminate against anyone or suppress their freedom of expression as a fellow human.