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Con man came to Ireland

I was a bit late to catch this story.  Faith Healer Jeff Garvin was in Belfast last month curing bad knees, ankles, hearing, etc.  No amputees this time, maybe on his next visit he’ll visit some well deserving war heroes who lost limbs fighting for freedom and peace.  I’m sure there is some devout Christian soldier out their missing a leg or an arm.  How about something smaller like an eye.  Surely, s/he deserves to be healed by this God fella they worship.  This doesn’t happen.  The lady who had her hearing aid removed is probably watching her TV as I type this, with the volume up full.  The lady with knee problems will continue to have knee problems.

These well meaning people are being conned.  Worse, they are being conned by a bad man because they were conned by well meaning good people (their parents and their family) when they were children.

I wonder if Jeff ever follows up on anyone he has healed (I use the term “healed” loosely, of course).  I wonder if he ever tells them to check with their GP, just as a casual follow up to make sure he didn’t miss anything.

I want to see Jeff walk into a hospital full of dying children.  If he really has this gift, and wanted to help, I can’t think of a better place for him to be.  If he did that, and his abilities were real, I’d be tempted to convert.  But that is never going to happen.  Not because he doesn’t care, but because he knows that he is a fraud.

Check out: Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?

Why it would be wrong to legalise gay marriage, by the Archbishop of Canterbury

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2107971/Why-wrong-legalise-gay-marriage-Archbishop-Canterbury.html#ixzz1nkuVF3cD

In the Daily Mail the Archbishop of Canterbury has again spoken out in opposition to human rights and human dignity.  He states:

“The law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared yesterday.”

I don’t know where he got that idea from.  It’s equivalent to someone arguing that doughnut makers don’t have the right to make doughnuts.  That’s what they do, it’s why they exist.

“Dr Rowan Williams said a new marriage law for gay couples would amount to forcing unwanted change on the rest of the nation.”

So?  I don’t get his point here.  In what way does this change anything for members of the public who prefer the opposite gender?  There really aren’t any secular reasons to support this bigotry.  And that’s all it is, bigotry.

“…it would go against the beliefs of most people.”

If most people thought it was a good idea to keep slaves, is that justification to allow it to happen?  As soon as I finished typing that I thought I had committed a logical fallacy, that the two were not equivalent, but it turns out to be more true than I first thought.  In both cases, the focus is on denying rights and dignity to men and women.

“Dr Williams’s predecessor in Lambeth Palace, Lord Carey, notably told the Mail last week that same-sex marriage laws would be ‘one of the  greatest political power grabs in history’.”

This statement made me smile because many said the same thing when women were fighting for equal rights.  It filled me with hope.

“The Archbishop said human rights law ‘falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions’.”

Nobody is telling him that CofE has to support or marry same-gender couples in their churches.  That is a completely separate issue.  They can marry, or refuse to marry, anyone they choose.  That has always been the case, and will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

He talks about assisted dying also, as if these two things are equivalent.  I hope I don’t have to tell you that they’re not.  Terry Pratchett did a great documentary about the subject which is well worth watching, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.

Italy plans to tax Vatican on commercial properties

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17072211?

Italy’s Catholic Church faces an annual multi-million euro bill over government plans to strip it of its tax-exempt status.

Prime Minister Mario Monti has announced the Vatican must pay taxes on non-religious property, from which it previously enjoyed an exemption.

The annual cost could be up to 720m euros ($945m; £598m) according to municipal government bodies.

Italy’s Catholic Church has 110,000 properties, worth about 9bn euros.

It includes shopping centres and a range of residential property.

In December, the government reintroduced a tax paid by anyone who owns land or property in Italy – which the Church does not pay.

But a growing wave of Italians are opposed to what they see as special privileges in the face of a tightening economy.

Following their government’s latest austerity measure package, more than 130,000 people signed an online petition calling for the Church’s tax exempt status to be revoked.

Since 2005, church-run groups and organisations have not been classed as official commercial bodies and have been exempt from paying property tax.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, tax authorities will calculate how much of a property is used purely for religious purposes and tax it proportionately.

This means a church would remain exempt but a chapel which operates an hostel would pay tax accordingly.

Earlier this week, new figures showed Italy has entered recession, after two consecutive quarters of growth between July and December 2011.

Message to American Atheists

Source: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/618232-message-to-american-atheists

I just felt like sharing this letter from Christopher Hitchens:

Dear fellow-unbelievers,

Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit…) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson’s wall of separation. And don’t keep the faith.

Sincerely

Christopher Hitchens