June 5, 2008

AS someone who has frequently complained to hotel managers about Gideons Bibles in the rooms I have occupied – “remove it now, or I will clog up the bog with the thing” usually did the trick – I was delighted to learn today that the American Civil Liberties Union has warned a school district in Ohio that it will take legal action if administrators don’t stop Christian busybodies from handing the Bibles to students during class time. Fifth grade students… Read more

June 4, 2008

THE Catholic Church appears to be getting itself all of a-lather over a silly figurine known as Santa Muerte, or Saint Death. In Mexico, the Church has spoken against the tequila-guzzling, cigar-smoking Santa Muerte, saying she is linked to Satanism and is being used to mislead desperate people. Misleading desperate people is, of course, the prerogative the Catholic Church itself, and one can understand its annoyance at having an intruder on its turf. Rev Esequiel Sanchez, pastor of Mary, Queen… Read more

June 3, 2008

ONCE again criticism of religion has been wrongly equated with racism – which is, of course, a different kettle of fish altogether, and should rightly be condemned. Nevertheless, it was reported today that legendary sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, 73, has been fined £12,000 for “inciting racial hatred” against Muslims for speaking out against unspeakable acts of cruelty. Her bizarre conviction by a court in Paris – her fifth – arose as a result of the animal rights campaigner arguing that… Read more

June 3, 2008

A BLIND seven-year-old student at an Islamic school in eastern Pakistan has died after his teacher punished him for not learning the Koran, police reported last Friday. The incident serves to highlight once again the widespread abuse of children in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan and other parts of the world. The police said that Muhammad Atif was hung upside down from a ceiling fan and severely beaten by his teacher, Qari Ziauddin, at the seminary or madrassa in Vihari,… Read more

June 2, 2008

NEW consumer protection laws that came into force last week covering stuff like clairvoyancy and fortune-telling has set the internet buzzing with speculation as to whether religions ought to be covered by the new regulations. According to a Times report: Fortune-tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double-glazing salesman under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. Fortune-tellers will have to tell customers that what they offer is ‘for entertainment only’ and not ‘experimentally proven’. This means that a fortune-teller who sets… Read more

June 2, 2008

DAYS after the homophobic Earl of Devon announced his decision to ban civil partnerships at his stately home, Powderham Castle, the LA Times reported that the lifting of a ban on gay marriages in California could give the state a much-needed financial up-lift. M V Lee Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law, estimates that gay weddings could provide a $370-million boost to the state economy, the… Read more

June 1, 2008

EVER since witnessing – as a 12-year-old – the sickening slaughter of calf by a rabbi who slit the animal’s throat and impassively watched it in its death throes, I have sworn off religiously-slaughtered meat, and have gone to great lengths to avoid all kosher and halal produce. So you can imagine my disgust when – a couple of weeks back – the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme, You and Yours, reported – in an overall tone of approval… Read more

June 1, 2008

WE at the Freethinker carry no torch for religious zealots, but we strongly defend the right of evangelising barmpots to make twats of themselves in public – and even get shat on by gulls (yoo-hoo Stephen “Birdshit” Green, are you listening?) So it was worrying to learn today of another setback for free speech in PC-plagued Britain. According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, a police community support officer, PCSO Naguthney (30825), ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing… Read more

May 30, 2008

FIRST it was the Koran shoot-up. Now, just over a week later, the US military in Iraq are writhing with embarrassment over the idiotic behaviour of a proselytising Christian marine who handed out novelty coins quoting the Gospel in Arabic to Sunni Muslims. The incident has enraged Iraqis who view it as the latest example of Americans dissing Islam. According to Worldwide Religious News, the marine, stationed in the western city of Fallujah, this week handed out silver-coloured coins that… Read more

May 30, 2008

A MEMBER of Australia’s Muslim community has warned that hostility towards Islamic schools could force religious education underground, where children are more likely to be targeted by extremists. Ikebal Patel, the president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said blocking Islamic schools could lead to: Muslim children being given their religious education in backyards and garages by teachers whose credentials no one could vet. You may have some very extreme imams or religious teachers getting through to the children…. Read more

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