• Religion

    Rev Steven Saxby: an embarrassment to Christians on the Left

    This is a guest post by James Mendelsohn Christians on the Left, formerly known as the Christian Socialist Movement, is an umbrella group for, well, Christians on the left. Like other, comparable organisations, it is a broad church (pun inevitable), which is both good and bad. Good, because it includes a number of decent, non-Corbynist Labour MPs/candidates like Jonathan Reynolds, John Woodcock and Gavin Shuker, plus other activists such as Rachel Burgin. Also good, because its Executive clearly includes people prepared to challenge antisemitism robustly. Bad, because it is also broad enough to include Rev Steven Saxby on its elected management committee. Rev Saxby, the vicar of St Barnabas, Walthamstow,…

  • Islam,  Religion

    Christian Verses Islamic?

    A bit of a fuss is being made in the papers and on social media today about an “experiment” undertaken by some Dutch viral-video generators in which they aim to demonstrate: What happens when you read people the Bible but tell them it’s the Koran? According to The Metro, “With all this in mind, two men in Holland set out to conduct an experiment about how ready people were to generalise Islam without being critical of their own beliefs.” Of course, the experiment (or more accurately, ‘prank’) was a smug attempt to show how bigoted Westerners are, etc, etc. But it made a huge methodological mistake which actually demonstrates the opposite of…

  • France,  Religion

    No joke

    It looks like the setup to a joke, but while I’m sure some will accuse me of incurable naivete, it’s hard to see this as anything but good. An Imam, a rabbi and a priest at Paris' Grand Synagogue prayer service. pic.twitter.com/BgK1zbaMoW — Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) November 16, 2015 And here’s a reminder that the imam of the Grand Mosque in Paris played an honorable role in saving Jewish lives during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

  • Religion

    Phil Robertson’s “atheist family” fantasy

    Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the “reality” TV series “Duck Dynasty,” has become a feature of the conservative, evangelical Christian lecture circuit in the US. Much of what he says is stupid and bigoted, but mostly harmless. This, however, I found slightly sinister. Speaking at a prayer breakfast in Vero Beach, Florida, Roberston said: I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them…

  • Media,  Religion

    Fox News’s questionable statistic

    Because Fox News regularly accuses the Obama administration (with no evidence) of manipulating employment statistics to make the economy look better than it is, it’s only fair to raise doubts about a statistic cited by one of Fox’s resident dingbats Eric Bolling. Responding to Obama’s remarks at a prayer breakfast, where the president cited the Crusades and the Inquisition to show that religious violence historically has not been exclusively Islamic, Bolling said: “Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that would be zero.” Um,…

  • Religion,  Terrorism

    Victim-blaming on the Catholic Right

    It’s not just far-left moonbats and Muslim extremists who are indulging in victim-blaming following the Charlie Hebdo atrocity on Wednesday. It’s also at least one prominent rightwing American Catholic– Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Donohue wrote: Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction. Those who work at this newspaper [Charlie Hebdo] have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their…

  • Class warfare,  Music,  Religion

    Two versions of Jesus

    On the subject of Jesus, there are two contradictory ways that people on the Left have looked at him. One, expressed by the British singer-songwriter Leon Rosselson in “Stand up for Judas,” portrays Jesus as a sell-out to the Romans, dividing the poor into believers and non-believers and preaching quiescence in the face of suffering and hunger. For mysterious reasons, the song turns Judas into the true hero. Another– the one I like– portrays Jesus as a friend of the poor who stood up to the rich and powerful and paid with his life. The lyrics to this song were written by Woody Gurthrie, with a melody borrowed from the…

  • Religion

    Head-covering Christians

    An article in The Roanoke (Virginia) Times about a local woman who turns 111 years old today (she stays in shape by lifting cans of beans) reminded me that Muslim and Jewish women aren’t the only ones who wear head coverings for religious reasons (one of the topics discussed– or beaten to a pulp– in this thread). Rosa Beckner is a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren, which is among the Christian groups that take literally the admonition of 1 Corinthians 11:6. Some Mennonite women also follow the practice, and in western Maryland (where I once lived) and parts of central Pennsylvania, head coverings are a fairly common and…

  • Religion,  Science,  Stateside

    The State of Louisiana versus science: the saga continues

    Remember when Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal mocked the very idea of monitoring volcanic activity? And when Louisiana adopted a law that no public school teacher could be disciplined or fired for teaching an “alternative theory” (for example, creationism) to evolution? And when Jindal’s administration tried to provide state-funded vouchers for students to attend schools that teach only creationism? Now comes the news that a federal court has upheld a complaint of religious discrimination by a Buddhist student at the public Negreet High School in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. The complaint alleged that a science teacher [!] at the school, Rita Roark, told her class, which C.C. [the Buddhist student] attended,…

  • Freedom of Expression,  Religion

    A “fabricated” wall of separation?

    Staying on the topic of freedom of expression, Monday’s Roanoke Times features an article about Erik Estrada (of the 70s-80s TV series CHiPs) appearing at a local church to screen a movie he produced and stars in called “Uncommon.” According to the film’s website: Those who seek to indoctrinate our kids with the message that God is irrelevant and truth is subjective have had a monopoly for too long in our schools because the Supreme Court fabricated the idea that there is a wall of separation between church and state. When the students of Rosewood High School lose their theater, music and dance departments due to budgets cuts, they create…