Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category
A conference in Uganda which begins today has been condemned by human rights groups.
The 3-day seminar in Kampala, which opens today, features several American speakers known for their efforts to dehumanise LGBT people and for their belief that homosexuality can be “cured.”
The speakers include Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge—leading voices in the crusade by religious extremists to roll back basic human rights for LGBT people in the United States.
IGLHRC said that Brundidge is affiliated with Extreme Prophetic Ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. Schmierer is on the board of the so-called “ex-gay” organization Exodus International. Lively is well known for his belief that the Nazi Holocaust never happened.
“The American religious right is finally showing its hand and revealing the depth of its support for homophobia in Africa,” said IGLHRC‘s Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson.
The British Humanist Association has dismissed claims from a fundamentalist Christian preacher that a new ad campaign breaks industry codes of practice.
It is the UK’s first ever atheist advertising campaign.
Stephen Green, leader of Christian Voice, is a high-profile opponent of gay rights and has protested at Pride events.
The new adverts appear on 800 buses across Britain.
“There is probably no God,” they read. “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The £140,000 campaign, which will also use ad space on the London Underground and two large LCD screens on Oxford Street, will run for four weeks and has been funded by leading humanists such as scientist Richard Dawkins.
Mr Green has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming that the rules state any ad must be factually correct.
“According to one national newspaper, some atheist supporters of the campaign were disappointed that the wording of the adverts did not declare categorically that God does not exist, although there were fears that this could break advertising guidelines,” he said.
“I believe the ad breaks the Advertising Code anyway, unless the advertisers hold evidence that God probably does not exist.
“The advertisers cannot hide behind the ASA’s ‘matters of opinion’ exclusion, because no person or body is named as the author of the statement. It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules.
“There is plenty of evidence for God, from peoples’ personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.
“But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.”
Mr Green claimed that the Bible would be immune from any questions of substantiation.
“The Bible says ‘the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord'” is entirely factual.
“The Bible does say that.
“The statement “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life – no-one comes to the Father but by me,'” to take another example, is a Biblical quote, from the same Bible which is part of our Christian Constitution and upon which witnesses promise to tell the truth in court.”
British Humanist Association chief executive Hanne Stinson said:
“I’ve sought advice from some of our key people here, but I’m afraid all I’ve got out of them so far is peals of laughter.
“I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in) but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God’s existence.
“However, if they do investigate we will be very happy to respond.”
The ASA said they are considering whether to take any action.
The campaign is a response to a series of evangelical Christian adverts running on buses in June 2008, which featured the URL of a website saying all non-Christians were going to hell.
Comedy writer Ariane Sherine suggested the rational, positive slogan to reassure people who may have been scared by the evangelical adverts.
Christian Voice is itself under investigation by the ASA for an advertorial in the New Statesman that contained a prediction about teenage infertility that could not be substantiated.
Mr Green is one of Britain’s most outspoken homophobes.
In November bookseller Waterstones chose to cancel an event at a Cardiff store featuring a gay Welsh poet when Christian Voice threatened a protest.
Patrick Jones was due to read from his new collection of poems, Darkness is Where the Stars Are, and sign copies.
Some of the poems explore issues of faith, though Christianity is not singled out.
Christian Voice claim the poems are blasphemous.
When it emerged that Mr Green was to protest, the shop decided to cancel the event.
In 2006 he was cleared of public order charges after handing out anti-gay leaflets at Cardiff Mardi Gras.
In 2007 he protested at both London and Brighton Pride.
Mr Green questioned the presence of racist group the National Front at Pride events, on the basis that “homosexuals are not black or Asian as a rule.”
The controversial preacher made his observation as part of his report on the group’s website about his Brighton protest, where he had to be given police protection as he and a handful of his followers displayed homophobic posters at the entrance to Preston Park.
The UK Independent reports that Ahmet Yildiz, an openly gay 26 year old physics student was shot as he left a cafe near the Bosphorus Strait this week. He tried to flee from the attackers in his car, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Yildiz died shortly afterwards in hospital.
Yildiz’ friends and associates believe he was the victim of so-called honor killing.
Turkish sociologist, Mazhar Bagli, has done extensive research involving people who have been convicted for honor killings. Bagli has little doubt that Yildiz’ death could indeed fall into the honor killing category:
“Honour killings cleanse illicit relationships. For women, that is a broad term. Men are allowed more sexual freedom, but homosexuality is still seen by some as beyond the pale.”
In Turkey it is believed that around 1,000 honor killings have been committed over the past five years. In virtually every case, the victims are young women who have transgressed against patriarchal rules governing conduct. In some cases females have been murdered for the ‘crime’ of having premarital sex. They have also been murdered for falling victim to rape and even for the offense of speaking to a stranger.
Ahmet Yildiz was openly gay. This was an affront to members of his family who believed his lifestyle brought shame on the family name.
Prior to the shooting, Yildiz was pressured by relatives who wanted him see a doctor so he could be “cured.” When he was in the company of relatives, there were continual arguments.
Yildiz openly gay lifestyle even made him the target of death threats. Yet despite the enormous pressure to underplay his homosexuality, he had the courage to stand his ground.
The courage of Ahmet Yildiz is the more remarkable since gay rights in Turkey have recently taken a few hits. As the Turkish gay community has become more visible, there has been a reactionary backlash with gays targeted for beatings, insults and threats.
Istanbul’s largest gay rights group, LAMDA, was forced to close in May as a result of a court order. The court proceeding against LAMDA was initiated by the Istanbul governor’s office that claimed the organization was “against law and morality.”
A former neighbor of Ahmet Yildiz said that his refusal to live-a-lie may have been too much for some people:
“He could have hidden who he was, but he wanted to live honestly. When the death threats started, his boyfriend tried to persuade him to get out of Turkey. But he stayed. He was too brave. He was too open.”
Bigoted clerics stir up anti-gay witch-hunts in Africa
London – 2 July 2008
“This breakaway Anglican faction is fundamentalist, homophobic and sexist. It opposes equal rights for women and gay people, and is allied with hardline church leaders whose bigoted teachings are fuelling anti-gay witch-hunts in many countries.”
The condemnation comes from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who yesterday (1 July) picketed a meeting at All Soul’s Church in London of the newly-formed Anglican fundamentalist sect, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA). Mr Tatchell was joined by his OutRage! African colleague Brett Lock and gay Christian and Ugandan gay rights activist, Kizza Musinguzi.
When they tried to enter the church, they were violently ejected. Mr Tatchell was punched in the chest by a church steward.
Photos of the protest are here:
“Archbishop Peter Akinola is backing the state-sponsored persecution of lesbians and gays in Nigeria. He is orchestrating a wicked victimisation campaign against the Nigerian gay Christian leader, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria,” added Mr Tatchell.
“The Archisbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has stirred up prejudice against gay Ugandans in a society where anti-gay hatred and violence is rife. In 2006, he excommunicated a heterosexual bishop, Christopher Senyonjo, because he defended gay people against persecution.
“Jesus Christ is recorded in The Bible as condemning many sins but he never once condemned homosexuality. The anti-gay campaign of the breakaway Anglican leaders is a perversion of Christ’s gospel of love and compassion. These splitters are Old Testament fundamentalists, not true followers of Jesus Christ,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
Kizza Musinguzi is a gay member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. He has witnessed first hand the homophobic campaign by his church leaders. Mr Musinguzi was jailed and tortured in Uganda because of his gay rights activism. He is currently seeking asylum in the UK.
“The church is supposed to be all-loving. It is not acceptable that it has one set of rights for straight Christians and a lesser set of rights for gay Christians,” said Mr Musinguzi.
“When Archbishop Orombi takes a stand against gay people, he signals to the population that it is okay to discriminate against gay people. He supports Uganda’s vicious anti-gay laws, which stipulate life imprisonment for consenting same-sex relationships. Orombi is encouraging prejudice and hatred. His victimisation of Bishop Senyonjo is cruel and vindictive.
“Gay people in Uganda face imprisonment, torture and mob violence. Many are driven out their communities and left destitute. The government excludes gay people from its HIV programmes, leaving them to die without medication. The Church of Uganda is exacerbating this homophobia, neglect and persecution,” said Mr Musinguzi.
The Westboro Baptist Church has declared its intention to protest at the funeral of actor Heath Ledger, who died yesterday. The statement from the church is reproduced below.
28-year-old Ledger was best-known for his Oscar-nominated performance in gay-themed cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain.
The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, has generated publicity by protesting at the funerals of US service personnel killed in action.
They first came to prominence for picketing the funeral of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard in 1998.
In a statement released today Mr Phelps announced his intention to picket Mr Ledger’s funeral and said:
“Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and his plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag Enablers!
“Ergo, God hates the sordid tacky, bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain – and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it.
“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there – beside which, nothingelse about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.”
It is as yet unknown if Mr Ledger will be laid to rest in his native Australia or in America.
While US laws regarding freedom of speech and assembly protects the Phelps’ and the tiny Westboro Baptist Church in their home country, it is unlikely that the Australian authorities would find their tactics acceptable.
Today Australia’s Prime Minister paid tribute to Mr Ledger:
“It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation’s finest actors in the prime of his life,” he said.
“Heath Ledger’s diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor.”
Australian actors Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman also expressed their shock at the loss of such a considerable talent.
I had such great hope for him,” said Gibson, who cast Heath Ledger in The Patriot, said.
“He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
The Westboro Baptist church operates a website called GodHatesFags and have protested at over 100 funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
Their campaign, called “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices” involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as “God Hates Fags,” “America is Doomed” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” at the widows of the servicemen.
“Corpus Christi”, a play that depicts Jesus as gay, is set to open in Australia at Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival in early February. There has been predictable outrage expressed in the media. The Anglican Bishop of Sydney, Robert Forsyth, described the play as “deliberately offensive” and “historical nonsense”.
The play portrays Jesus and the disciples as gay men.
Terence McNally, who wrote the acclaimed play, created a gay Jesus partly as a way of exploring the feelings of rejection and persecution he experienced as a gay youth growing up in Texas. When the play opened in the UK in 1999 in addition to taking harsh criticism from conservative Christians, McNally became the target of a fatwa issued by an Islamic group.
Assuming an historical Jesus existed, why is it considered outrageous by some to speculate that he may not have been heterosexual in orientation? In the Bible mention of homosexuality is rare, in part because it was considered taboo in the context of Jewish customs. Being homosexual in a patriarchal and homophobic culture of that time would tend to push you to the fringes. Jesus was certainly far out on the fringes. He was an outsider – in his own words “despised and rejected”.
Nor was Jesus even remotely respectable. The Pharisees accused him of being a drunkard and partying with “sinners”. So clearly there was an aspect of his behavior that flew in the face of conventional conduct.
There is no record of Jesus engaging in any sexual relations with women. He remained unmarried. However we do know that he spent most of his time in the company of men. There are passages in the New Testament that indicate he had a special love for one particular disciple.
While it is true that the culture of his day tended to be much more demonstrative in terms of gestures of physical affection between males, than exists for example in contemporary American culture – nonetheless the following verse from John 21:20 suggests an unusually intimate connection between the two men :
“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?”
The Greek term used to describe the love Jesus had for this disciple is “agape”.
A Short History of Vatican Vice by Aidan Maconachy
Clement VII had sex with page boys.
Benedict IX was into bestiality and bi-sexual orgies.
Boniface VII was described as a “monster” and a criminal…
Benedict XII was a notorious drunkard.
The reign of Innocent VIII was called “The Golden Age of Bastards”.
Leo I was a sadist and torturer.
Julius III sodomized young boys.
Clement VI frequented prostitutes.
Anacletus was into raping nuns.
Paul II enjoyed watching naked men being racked and tortured.
Then of course there is the child sex abuse scandal in current times.
– “Gay marriage is eeeeevil!”
– “People in glass house…”
– “Shouldn’t throw stones.”
Iranian born artist Sooreh Hera, is decided to expose the hypocrisy regarding homosexuality and Islam. She says it is frequent that married muslim men have sexual relations with other men (she mentions specifically Iran and Saudi Arabia).
If you check out her pictures you’ll see that homosexuality is a major part of her work.
When she invited two Iranian men to pose they asked to wear a mask in order not to be recognized. The masks she chose were the ones you see in the pictures below: Muhammed and his son-in-law Ali.
She was going to be at The Hague Municipal Museum but she was denied because her exposition “could offend certain groups”.
The city museum of The Hague has decided not to include in an exhibition a work of art that may offend Muslims, it was reported on Monday.
The picture, made by Iranian artist Sooreh Hera, is entitled Adam and Ewald and shows two gay men wearing masks of the Muslim prophet Mohammed and his son-in-law Ali.
It is part of a photoseries the Gemeentemuseum has included in the 7up exhibition due to open on December 15.
The Gemeentemuseum’s director Wim van Krimpen told reporters the museum is interested in purchasing Hera’s complete series, which he called “high quality works of art”.
However, he added he will not exhibit Adam and Ewald in the next few years because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive”.
Hera responded she was “disappointed” and added “apparently a Muslim minority decides what will be on display in the museum”.
Liberal-rightist Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, condemned the museum’s decision, adding it was “based on fear”.
Wilders has requested a reaction on the matter from Education and Culture minister Ronald Plasterk.
Meanwhile Siebe Weide, director of the Museum Association, told reporters “all Dutch museums are free to choose what they exhibit and what not”.
© 2007 AAP
See also: “Allah o gay-bar”: censurate le foto