Friday, June 27, 2008

Right on the money

Another cracking article by AC Grayling for the Guardian (here), this one about how the Government is handing over control of our schools to various religious organisations by relaxing the existing rules about paying for the privilege of "indoctrinating" children.

The article is good IMO, slightly tongue in cheek sure, but with a serious point behind it; interestingly most of the "religious" commentators seem to resort to ad-hominem attacks rather than making any interesting counter-points (no change there then), and where points are made they are invariably along the lines of "why shouldn't Christians teach their mythology, because Muslims do etc." At one point in the comment trail some sensible soul points out the argument is not about dogma (A) verses dogma (B), which is completely missing the point, it's about dogma verses NO DOGMA; it's about education, not indoctrination.

Its truly abhorrent to an Atheist like me that the government should be using MY MONEY to promote the indoctrination of children by religious proselytisers, where was the debate?, I must have been out that day. It is also sickening to me to see all of the apologists running around spouting their hypocritical, "don't rock the boat" mantra, "Oh yes but faith schools have much better records than secular ones" I hear them say. Just how short sighted is that view, sign the kids up for a lifetime of delusional servitude no problem, so long as they get a "B" in maths.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bigotry vs "opinion" where is the line?

Is it OK to hate gay people if that happens to correspond to your religious indoctrination?

This may seem like a rather "personal" matter but a news story cropped up this week that made me think about this question in the broader sense; The story was regarding a Northern Irish MP (Iris Robinson) who made a comment on a BBC radio show recently that homosexuality is an "abomination" and urged gay people to seek counselling. Having broadcast this, various people subsequently complained about her comments to which her response was that this viewpoint represented her "religious belief" and so tough luck she was exercising her freedom of speech. The original story is here, apparently this isn't the first time her "opinions" have caused offence.

Clearly Ms. Robinson is a Christian, although I don't know what flavour she is, clearly she has an opinion regarding homosexuality that is informed by her Christian indoctrination, all to be expected I suppose, in fact all the Abrahamic religions have similar sexual hang-ups it seems. It would also seem that like most of the things they "believe" there is no evidence or rational for those beliefs, they just believe it because they are told to believe it, unsurprisingly Ms. Robinson offered no evidential perspective on her "belief".

In terms of a tolerant, modern, secular society these views are clearly deluded, obsolete drivel, transparently derived from certain verses in her particular "magic book", the bible. Being the mixed up contradictory mess that this book is (particularly the old testament) it is hard to fathom why these particular verses seem to be "true" and applicable to Ms. Robinson, when other proclamations of "abominations", like educating Women for example, seem to be overlooked (Ms. Robinson went to college); perhaps she has some special (secret) interpretation of these texts that the rest of us aren't party to, who knows, indeed who cares?

Given that any of us are perfectly entitled to hold whatever personal views we like about any subject in our society, is she free to spout those views when and where ever she likes? My question is, does being an MP mean that you forfeit the right to air your more "wacky" opinions or is it a reason to be even clearer about what you really believe, where is the line?

In many ways I think this story and similar "superstitiously" motivated outpourings are generally a good thing; my initial reaction when I first saw this story was to smart at the obvious bigotry of this individual and the clear hypocrisy of her point of view, however I would rather this information be out in the open than hidden. Now the good people of Newtonards, who's views are represented by Ms. Robinson, can make a clearer choice at the next election, i.e. do they want to be represented by someone who prioritises ancient literature over human beings and who picks and chooses which Iron age dogma to "believe" and which to discard based on her own hypocritical self-interest,

or someone else..?