Harry Enfield – Ulsterman

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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

Only 15 minutes to take-off!

We’re going back to Mars. I’m so excited I could pee myself!

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Infinite Torture for Questioning Infinite Love?

Shane’s transcript:

Dear Benny, hi, how are ya? Love the hat by the way.

You may not have noticed but I’ve been absent for awhile,
I wanted to tell you why and how i’ve been finding my own style.
A new way of looking at the world beyond the errors of the past.
You see ive read all of your teachings and cant see how theyll last. Where angels feared to tread has now become the beaten track
but for every step that we took forward, the church took two steps back.

It took you four hundred years just to pardon galileo,
while the murderer of hypatia still enjoys his saintly halo.
It was these hypocrisies of the church, that drove me from the flock though I still clung to the ideas and kept some belief in stock
that Jesus really loved me and god was close at hand
and the day was fast approaching when we’d find the promised land.

When people could stand together and colour wouldn’t mean a thing
but i slowly began to realise, thats not the message that god brings. He constantly plays favourites setting nations against each other tearing apart families, pitting brother against brother.
The jew and the gentile, the muslim and infidel,
the terrorist gaining heaven while their victims go to hell.

This god isn’t worth my worship or the thanks that he demands,
and things have gotten so much better now the powers in our own hands. Life expectancy has tripled, smallpox has been made extinct.
Our eyes pierced the veil of heaven and what was hazy is now distinct. A cacophany of symphonies all composed in mathematics,
a ballet of matter and energy performing cosmic acrobatics.

Why didn’t your book tell me I was born of a supernova.
Instead demanding belief in what an ancient madman told ya.
Houses can’t catch leprosy, epilepsy’s not possesion
and when it comes to sex what the fucks with your obsession
with what grown men and women do in the privacy of their own home.
Why do you care where they put it? You’ve got problems of your own.

You let suffer the little children while the paedophiles protected, the people wanted a shepard but its a wolf that was elected.
You spread disease and misery with every denial of tested science
so people remain upon their knees out of terror and compliance
so please excuse my harshness after breaking religions spell,
and if by chance your god is real, i’ll save you a seat in hell.

The West Wing vs. The Bible

Such a good show!