Sunday, 31 January 2010

The horror's not over until the fat lady.....

One of the ways you know you’re getting older is when your family hijack your celebrations for their own purposes. Like yesterday, when my ‘birthday treat’ was to accompany her indoors and the infant prodigy to an amateur operatic thing I’d run a mile from, given a choice.
The thing is, I had to experience Manx amateur operatics professionally in the 1980’s, when I was given a ticket and told to say something nice about it for the newspapers. There was little choice. For reasons rooted deep in the twisted psyche of small town life, many frustrated types spend their days making millions at conservative professions while dreaming of the kind of release only attained by wearing a spangly costume and tunelessly belting out a big show number. The worst thing for a newspaper is that the greatest disparity between the two lifestyles is inevitably found in the biggest advertisers.
So, I know all about this strange and depraved subculture and try to avoid it.
To be honest, the only reason the prodigy wanted to see it either was the title, Beauty and the Beast, and the suggestion that it was ‘based on a Disney film’. It may well have been, if Disney made Friday the Thirteenth.
It was also advertised as a family musical. I thought it closer to a murder mystery, in that the music got murdered and even by the end I hadn’t worked out which of the stars squawking a quarter tone flat was the beauty and which was the beast. I almost solved that one when the beast finally took his mask off to reveal himself as a supposedly handsome prince, the kids at the front screamed and their parents yelled ‘put it back on, put it back on’.
Honestly, we loved it.
Just not for the reasons the cast thought we should have.

Birthday babblings

I was offline yesterday to have one of those ‘significant annual events’. You know, the ones that make you wonder where your youth went and how much longer before senility sets in.
This year’s went well- the first when everyone finally heeded a request I made years back and stopped buying me presents. Not wishing to be ungrateful, but I have enough junk already, I’ve never worked out the correct time to allow before quietly slipping unwanted things into charity shops, and anyway, almost all of the Manx charity shops add to the sum of misery, rather than diminish it, so I even have second thoughts about donating stuff I can’t use to them.
It was also the first when I managed to persuade those who want to give to a charity in my name instead of to me to support a genuine good cause, rather than ‘buy a cow’ for one of the multinationals posing as aid agencies who make up the DEC – or worse! And if you still need evidence as to why I avoid the DEC, try, for example - required signing for all Tearfund voluntary or professional workers to sort out the godbotherers from the damned – or look at the entries for, say, CAFOD or Christian Aid at
If nothing else, the Haiti crisis caused us heathens to look critically at the whole international aid issue, and thankfully people are now wising up. International atheist opinion seems to support my tentative opinion that Red Cross and Medicin sans Frontiers are the safest bets if you’re giving.
I long ago decided to ignore ‘emergency appeals’ anyway. In a chance universe, disasters happen and the innocent victims of centuries of either earthquakes or faith-based fascism need genuine help, not sermons and further interference from the political, theological or just plain old free-market chancers who hog the TV at such times. Rather as I buy insurance for myself and the family, I though the best way to do that was pick a safe cause (in my case Medicin sans Frontiers), put away some loot every month to them, then get on with the other business of life.
The thing that finally clinched it for me and MsF was a look at their website. I noted that while the more responsible governments around the British Isles have contributed, the Manx never have.
Knowing the awful track-record of the Manx Overseas Aid Committee (donating to evangelicals who stir up East European hate and promote homophobia in Africa, ‘family planning’ schemes by other religious bigots who ensure any country where condoms are distributed or abortion is legally available stays off the US AID help-list, etc. etc.) this is a good sign. You need bigots (or at least failed 1970’s marketing gurus) for friends to even make it onto the Manx list. Thankfully, MsF seem to have none of the above, so any money you give to them gets used helping the genuinely needy, regardless of their faith (or lack of it), gender, sexuality, or class.
And MsF don’t pussyfoot around respecting ‘cultural difference’ either. For example, when beardy bampots tried telling MsF not to give medical aid to lesser creatures, such as women or young girls, they were not only ignored on the ground at the time but slated around the world afterwards as dangerous nutjobs by MsF’s press office.
They’re the real thing, which is why my best birthday present this year (always excepting my daughter’s handmade card, of course) is knowing I could help them.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Jesus invests - badly

I just can’t stop smiling at a Guardian story posted today.
In a nutshell, back in 2007 the Church Commissioners (that’s the C of E’s investors) stuck £40 million into a massive Manhattan property investment.
It wasn’t a nice project. In fact it was one of those gentrification schemes based on winkling people out of the last affordable housing in the area then flogging the homes back to far wealthier trendies who could (but never do) choose to live anywhere but the area you and your neighbours have struggled for decades to make decent.
In fact, it’s a far cry from that socially responsible line the church preaches for others. So much for love thy neighbour and all that. See for the gory details.
Never mind. Forty mill down, but at least they learnt a valuable lesson, i.e. that good triumphs over evil, and people who stick together can see off greedy foreign developers who would destroy lives and communities for quick profits.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Mistaking liberties

I’m afraid me and the UK’s best known civil liberties group have had it.
Shami Chakrabarti – charming lass but you’re ‘Liberty-lite’ these days, and after some soul-searching I’ve just torn up my membership. In fact, not content with that I’ve just told the Times readership why I did it.
It was that did the damage. Shami writing to explain why Liberty were taking BA back to the high court to protect the precious liberties of their infamous voodoo bling merchant.
In her piece she reveals that Liberty even paid for an opinion poll, but only bothered to ask Christian opinion. This (gosh what a surprise) revealed that Christians who have only been blasted with one side of the argument from the pulpit agreed with the sanctimonious, self-pitying woman who started the row.
But it’s not just that case. It’s also things like the deal with UK government over detaining terrorist suspects without trial for long periods on the basis of CIA folk-tales and tittle-tattle, or the treatment of the veteran gay rights group CHE, who were summarily kicked out of Liberty in mid-2009 without (this is the best bit) even a chance to answer charges made about them by Liberty’s executive.
CHE say that all the evidence is that most historical abuse cases are brought by chancers looking for big compensation pay-outs, but an accused man being gay can damage his chances of acquittal due to homophobia and confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia. On that basis they were worried by plans to extend the time allowed to bring such cases, plans which Liberty were so supportive of that they booted out CHE for daring to disagree. You can read more on that at July 16 2009.
It’s only my latest parting of ways with groups who used to be some sort of civilised front against barbarism, but now perpetuate misery and cut deals with superstitious or anti-democratic forces to save their sorry index-linked pensionable arses instead.
I cancelled my OXFAM debit because they spent more money on tele-marketing ten-per-centers than I was sending them in the first place. I never support any DEC appeal, partly because of at least five openly superstitious groups with discriminatory policies amongst the 13-strong consortium, partly because, as I understand it, the cash doesn’t go direct to the emergency but is paid into a pot only divvied up later amongst all 13 to recover any outlay individual groups might have (and, logically, most won’t have).
It’s not a bad thing to re-examine your values and your commitments regularly. It’s caused me to look for better ideas, groups and solutions. So I wouldn’t feel guilty even if I was superstitious and accepted such daft concepts .
Oh, and if Liberty win that case I hope the selfish spook-chasing twit gets her crucifix caught in a fast-track luggage conveyor.
Just call it comical karma.

Book rage

We have a new term for a grumpy, unhelpful or anti-social person in this house. That term is ‘librarian’.
Now since childhood I’ve always liked librarians, and have good memories of childhood librarians and library use as well as inspiring teachers.
In fact, when I moved to a class-prejudiced grammar school where the teachers ignored sink-estate brats like me, I relied on the public library, not the school, for my education. This was helped by a ‘junior librarian’ scheme they had which allowed me, aged 12, to assist in the junior library and learn stuff like the subject classification numbers and how to find my own material.
More recently, I love how US public librarians became the unlikely last line of defence against Big Brother, refusing to provide the FBI or CIA with the lending records of all library members as demanded by that country’s Patriot Act.
My change of attitude springs from two astonishing incidents, one witnessed by me, one witnessed by both me and the wife, when our small daughter was reduced to tears by an angry librarian.
Like a good parent, I signed up my daughter as a local library member last year, and generally it is a positive thing. We have a nice little Saturday routine of changing both our books, and I was happy when one matronly librarian started greeting my daughter by her first name and inviting her to ‘help’ by stamping the books out.
Teachers at school remark she’s always been similarly helpful to them, tidying up after class and so on. She loves books, she loves learning, and she respects but is not afraid of the adults who supervise that, which is all good.
But there’s something weird about Manx librarians which I’ve noticed right from the early 1980’s when I moved here. While there are ‘old school’ examples like the one above, generally they behave more like checkout girls. In fact, staff in Tesco or both Ramsey supermarkets are a damn sight more helpful and friendly.
In the first ugly incident, a decidedly short tempered librarian snatched our books and stamped them without a word, as if anxious to just get us out the door. It was half-term, a weekday mid-morning and we were the only punters in the place. It startled my daughter but I put it down to the grump having a bad day – maybe bad news from home or whatever.
Yesterday my daughter’s ‘crime’ was to get six books instead of three, as over Christmas the library allowed lenders more books to compensate for holiday closures and, anyway, she reads a book a day. Instead of calmly explaining the holiday arrangement was over the librarian got snotty. It would have taken about 30 seconds for my girl to put the spare ones back herself, but Attila the Librarian wasn’t having that, and banged them onto a pile left by the previous punters – a confused pair of fossils who’d chosen the wrong books then wandered off.
Fecks sake!
Being a small town librarian is hardly a high pressure job. Remind some pensioners about the names of authors or books they’ve forgotten, order a few reference books on inter-library loan for the town geek……not quite like being screamed at by pushy supervisors and psychotic punters for seven hours solid in a call centre or a high street store in the Christmas rush. Not coal-mining, or Casualty in a city hospital on Saturday night with wall to wall drunks bleeding, effing, blinding and lashing out at everyone in sight and no beds to spare.
Is it worth the parochial repercussions of an official complaint? Not really.
But what kind of world is it when small kids are the victims of rabid book rage incidents in a sleepy small town library?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Of charity, financiers and witch-doctors

Some readers may know an old joke summarising the readership of various UK newspapers. It’s the one which starts off saying the Times is read by those who run the country and the Financial Times by those who own the country, going through Guardian readers (think they should run it) Telegraph (used to run it), Daily Mail (wives of those who used to run it), Morning Star (think it should be run from another country) and ending with Sun readers who don’t care who runs the country as long as she has big knockers.
In the Isle of Man the Times and FT readers would be finance and private sector workers, and the Mail and Telegraph readers would be the voluntary sector. As for those who actually run the place – sadly I’m not sure they can read at all.
I mention this in case it helps explain the huge gap between the way doddering voluntary sector blunderers and finance sector doers understand reality in general, and a specific frustrating experience I had this week.
Without going into detail, a while ago I agreed to stop pointing out on this blog the worst mistakes of over-sensitive civil servants and charity workers if they would start talking to proper civic groups, not just their church buddies. Then this week another Manx charity decided to seek new helpers and committee members exclusively via churches, and to emphasise this by having the Anglican bishop open their new premises.
Unfortunately, the next day I and another atheist were due to meet hard-headed finance sector types who, for the last year, we have been steering away from the usual recipients of corporate charity and towards one which, though badly run (predominantly by evangelical halfwits), is the sole hope for those with one awful Manx problem.
That day, these no-nonsense corporate MDs should have been signing five figure cheques, to be donated anonymously to the charity in question. But they point blank refused.
As a blunt Yorkshireman put it: ‘Why should anyone trust their hard-earned cash to a charity run by bampots who ask a witch-doctor to bless their office?’
Good question. And at some point somebody in a Manx charity really should think about it.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The vanishing ODC conundrum

I bumped into one of the island’s ODC (Ordinary Decent Clergy) yesterday, and the news was not good.
Like too many of his fellows, he had over-worked himself into severe illness. Unlike some he hadn’t taken the management’s kind offer of ‘retirement on health grounds’ and worked part-time (by his usual standards) until nominally well enough to put in 100 hour weeks again. To paraphrase his analogy of current ‘working conditions’, if clergy were butter, most Manx parishioners get dry bread.
But why should this concern any humanist/secularist/atheist, especially a hardcore one like me?
Because what he and other ODC experience is about more than the decline of established churches and organised religion. It’s also about what isn’t filling the gap left by retiring parish priests, who in their turn could never fill the gap left by the dismantling of the Welfare State right at the point when, entering a recession, all government departments are being told to cut back anyway.
Like it or not as atheists, full time clergy helped hold small traditional communities together and were on hand for more than just churchgoers. For example, in the case of this particular ODC I know in winter he almost weekly discovers injured pensioners forgotten by social services or neighbours. By comparison, ‘hobby vicars’ turn up on Sundays, do a service and go back to their other interests.
As I’m blogging regularly about the irritating stitch-up of ‘community laison’ between evangelicals and the Manx government, or the refurbishment of key Anglican churches with public money written off as ‘heritage’ or ‘community and educational facilities’ it is clear money (mostly from the public, not the faithful) is being thrown at the problems and so (in theory) public services exist.
In practice the public services do not exist and we can never, ever, expect that government will provide them. And the much reported ‘third sector’ involvement which was meant to replace them is a bigger myth than the invisible friend of the faith-led spongers reporting it.
What we actually see is the church (especially evangelicals) adopting good free market practice. They calculate which ‘public service’ requires little or no actual physical work and bid for it through government friends who are glad to farm it out. Politicians don’t care about junkies, alkies, unconvicted prisoners or ex-convicts because that doesn’t get votes. They don’t care about the old, disabled or poor either because such losers have no executive directorships to offer lying toe-rags when the public doesn’t re-elect them.
So, it doesn’t matter to either dishonest politicians or dishonest evangelicals that proper services are provided. It only matters that caring noises are made, and that the cost to the public is apparently cut by the contracts going to faith-based amateurs with no overheads (having no qualified professionals to pay and no back-office or infrastructure costs).
Similarly, while full-time clergy acting as hospital chaplains tackle, unpaid, all the incidentals missed by the NHS (tracking down distant relatives, liasing with social services or undertakers, etc.,etc.), the vultures move in instead on the Hospice, where the desperately wealthy and their legacies are easily parted.
The broadcasting of a new film about Quentin Crisp over Christmas caused me to re-read his New York diary, Resident Alien, where I was struck by a comment on a letter Crisp received from an anonymous young gay man who complained that while there was much talk about “gay community”, sadly(in Crisp’s words) ‘this happy confederacy does not exist’.
So, we have many lifestyle models, including Lifestyle Christianity and even Lifestyle Atheism or Humanism. But community (as in that thing where you help your neighbours and those with similar interests or problems get by) is as big a myth as the Imaginary Invisible Friend.
The difference is that we need not only to imagine it, but to make it happen.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

More Romanian nonsense

I had an ironic groan at the latest update on the adventures of our feckless firefighters in Romania (see
While I only groaned, my friends and relatives over there fell about laughing at the very idea that a bunch of Manx village idiots are helping anyone. I’m also as sure as ever that Port St Mary's Living Hell Church and their parent church’s plan for world domination have nothing to do with all this dumping of scrap firefighting equipment (sorry – ‘philanthropy’).
I’ve covered this issue before ( see Chief Minister, international joke and Of spooks and spookchasers) so won’t repeat myself. But do go to for more on Baptist pseudo-education as part of a US faith-led political destabilisation of the area.
The only thing to add is that I’ve now established that the ethnic-Hungarian nazis weren’t part of Hungary's leading fascist nutjobs, Jobbik, who have been getting chummy with the BNP. If you can believe it, they may be even nastier.
An outfit called the Szekler Legion have been swelling their bank account by hiring members out as cut price security guards, with large companies as the eventual clients via intermediaries. You can get the general idea at
Our ‘foreign aid’ merchants do not have a clue what they are helping to stir up. If I thought some of the godbotherers provoking such nonsense had consciences I’d suggest they started searching them, but is it worth it? Manx evangelicals proved long ago they have about as much moral integrity as the East European fascist groups they are helping to bring back from the dead.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Give and ye shall receive

The continuing attempts of anti-democratic, freeloading Manx bigots to mount an exhibition where they intend to preach tolerance and democratic values have me in stitches. The latest instalment is at
First thing to note, by the way, earlier versions of this press release bear signs of drafting by a notorious Freedom to Fester’ hack, who in turn lifted a considerable chunk from a handout issued by CCF as a condition of their funding. Some ‘charitable act’!
My initial reaction to the news was ‘At least racists, parasites on the public purse and opponents of democracy are paying for their own nonsense. Now, if only they leave us alone for a while, visit the exhibition and start learning for themselves the island might start getting better.’
They won’t, of course.
But I couldn’t resist testing the CCF statements against the charity register and other reputable sources to see if that stands up any better than previous twaddle on this exhibition.
Firstly, I discover that they’re not even on the charity register. Then, at , I find that is because:
“The CCF is a charity, excepted from registration under the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996 and 2002”, and that “All CCF grants seek to take the church out into the community, bring the community into the church and strengthen the relationship between the two.”
In other words, firstly you cannot check if this ‘charity’ is a reputable one because the ongoing cosy relationship between C of E and the UK government means they can call themselves one without any of that onerous filing of public details which can be verified by cautious potential donors before throwing their money away. Secondly, it exists solely to delay the decline of Anglicanism as a force which can dictate public policy in the community, and, in passing, avoid tax and mop up public money.
CCF get round the charity problem by being under the trusteeship of the Archbishops' Council (registered charity number 1074857 – look it up at to check this yourselves). This, I quickly discover, has around £73 million to throw around, and, to avoid accusations of taking stuff out of context I quote in full their excuses for existence, which are:


Add the pathetic attempts of Manx Anglicans to get round dwindling punters by turning the cathedral into a ‘public resource’ to be kept open by government cash and I think we know where we are.
The sooner these bigots are put out of business the better. Why should the Manx public continue to underwrite the type of theo-fascist twaddle which caused the 1940’s holocaust and continues to cause newer ones?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Sparing the faithful's blushes

A surreal sight in a Douglas shop window today has me wondering.
There’s a big sale on in Mackay’s, and at first sight the window behind the huge ‘Sale’ notices is bare.
Not quite. Actually the shop dummies are there, but the dummies themselves are bare. Clever little idea – isn’t it?
And it gets funnier. Because as my missis and daughter noticed first, all the dummies have been turned around so that they modestly look inwards towards the shop floor.
Just another part of the joke, or is there something more to it? Because you see, the shop is next door to a church, St Thomas’s.
No, they couldn’t have, could they?
Well actually they could, and they probably did.
Because this is the church whose tiny but well connected congregation raised so much fuss about having to pay to park in the town’s multi-storey car park – whose entrance lies just to the other side of Mackay’s - that Douglas Town Council eventually dropped all charges for Sunday parking.
And this is the church whose clientele got so snotty about being combined into a single parish with the larger, less snooty All Saints that the current bish has upgraded them again. Now a church with a single figure congregation which used to be pretty much tended by a very junior curate on his day off again has it’s own full blown priest who…..
Well, he has a lot of time on his hands in which to take up any minor matter any of his parishioners cares to blow up into a moral mountain actually.

Faith-biased apartheid

Off into town on domestic duties first thing this morning, and the first thing I spot is more evidence that the deluded herd gets preferential treatment by our government, both local and national.
I live two streets from a main road, and most of my neighbours are ordinary decent workers. Yet it took until Wednesday evening for the Department of Transport or Ramsey Commissioners staff to grit anything in the area. Even that was only because the bin lorry couldn’t drive in on Wednesday, and the bin workers wouldn’t push the bins 50 metres to the nearest spot the lorry didn’t slide across.
As a result, none of us made work for two days. This because there are no jobs in Ramsey and as we couldn’t move our cars and the buses didn’t run until Wednesday lunchtime we couldn't get to Douglas. By which point most of us had settled for looking after kids because the schools were also closed and anyway, the pavements also being iced up, we couldn’t safely deliver them to relatives elsewhere in town.
But as we’re not public sector workers and actually have consciences, by the time the bins were being picked up and the bin-workers were grumbling to the DOT about the lack of grit we’d already cleared the pavements, sorted out elderly and vulnerable neighbours and so on. That left the DOT to grit the road, which they did so badly we ended up shovelling up the little grit they’d scattered and redistributing it at points which would actually enable us to drive cars round the corner, slide down the street they completely neglected and on towards the main road on Thursday morning.
At that stage it just looked like business as usual. Except I didn’t know about the other ‘business as usual’ until walking into town down the main road this morning.
By this I mean the point when I discovered that while the pavements are as iced as ever outside housing for young parents, pensioners and low income workers, every church on the way has been gritted. Not just a sprinkling around the entrance, but what looks like a sackful or so of grit scrupulously spread around each one. It must have taken longer for workmen to do any of the faith hovels than they spent on the entire area between here and the nearest one.
So, what… six or so superstitious halfwits who may or may not bother to attend a barn of banality this Sunday are worth more than a few hundred ordinary folk who won’t (but do work and pay taxes)?
How sane is that?

Friday, 1 January 2010

Slavery in the 21st Century

There’s a particularly sad bit of news in today’s Manx Indie – not yet online though I’ll update if it ever is.
As I’ve blogged before, Jurby Prison has run a number of slave labour projects, passed off as charity work. Anyone vaguely aware of what passes for probation and rehabilitation on the island knows the score.
Prisoners are ‘persuaded’ to ‘volunteer’ for ‘charity’ projects in return for positive reports which enable them to be released early. More accurately, the only way they can be released at the correct time, rather than endure petty-minded bureaucratic delays or even have their sentences extended for ‘lack of cooperation’, is to play ball. The ‘charities’ involved include some of the dodgiest evangelical scams on the island, though with free labour on tap local greens aren’t too picky either.
It resembles the situation whereby remand prisoners (i.e. those arrested but as yet unconvicted) can only get bail by agreeing to live at a fundamentalist Christian bail hostel, and when (up to a year later) they eventually go before a court only those who attended the prayer meetings get glowing reports on their behaviour.
It seems the latest slave labour project involved the local pentecostal minister enlisting lags to build a crib for Ramsey’s abhorent municipal ‘Christmas display’. There’s another sick joke here, by the way, because his predecessor was himself jailed for underage sex offences.
When the ‘volunteers’ were released on time Ramsey’s godbotherer lunatic fringe (AKA Faith in Action/Fellowship of Northern Churches) had a problem: who could they get to do their dirty work without having to actually pay anyone?
Schoolkids from Ramsey Grammar School was the answer.
So, to sum up then….
A small and insignificant bunch of faith-biased lunatics cannot be bothered to produce their own Yuletide propaganda. Having first failed to ‘contract’ one source of unpaid labour (enabled by an incompetent and bigoted government department) because for a change the justice system almost worked, they find their labourers from an even weaker group of victims, with help from an only slightly more competent government department.
Doesn’t this just show how Manx Christians (even with powerful friends in government) have lost all relevance to 21st century community life and indeed all respect in the community? Ever desperate to prove their little illusion is significant or wanted they stoop to cheaper and cheaper tricks, abusing weaker and weaker victims.
Sad, sad, sad.

Support the repeal of Irish blasphemy law

Ireland took a step back to the Middle Ages today, when a new blasphemy law became operational. But, as promised, the campaign group Atheism Ireland is fighting back.
Today they published a list of 25 ‘blasphemous’ quotes from diverse (and sometimes suprising) sources, with a request for supporters throughout the blogosphere to republish the statement and/or list of quotes in entirety to support AE’s campaign for repeal and a saner, secular Ireland.
Count me in on that, and good luck to all involved. The original can be found at for all who want to help publicise this admirable effort.

The statement in full is as follows:

From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

Publication of 25 blasphemous quotes
In this context we now publish a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, James Kirkup, Monty Python, Rev Ian Paisley, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Bjork, Amanda Donohoe, George Carlin, Paul Woodfull, Jerry Springer the Opera, Tim Minchin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict XVI, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Ian O’Doherty, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Dermot Ahern.

Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.

Campaign begins to repeal the Irish blasphemy law
We ask Fianna Fail and the Green Party to repeal their anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act that is included within the Act. We ask them to hold a referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.

We also ask all TDs and Senators to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Irish Constitution, including the clauses that prevent atheists from being appointed as President of Ireland or as a Judge without swearing a religious oath asking God to direct them in their work.

If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland
1. Jesus Christ,
when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name - The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy - he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities - how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”

7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”

10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”

11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine - but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good - and cares about any of it - to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”

19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”

20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”

21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”

22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”

23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”

24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

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