Saturday, 5 June 2010

Pimping for Jesus in the Cumbrian gun tragedy

I will get on to cheerier subjects, honest, but I can’t let the intrusion of Jesus Pimps on the Cumbrian shooting tragedy go without comment.
We’re well used to the way religious parasites leech onto any misfortune under the pretence of ‘helping the grieving process’, and also the way the media, having counted the dead and suggested (often inaccurately) some culprits, automatically asks a priest to comment and goes looking for a handy church service for the victims, however irrelevant.
My fellow regulars over at Platitude of the Day have quickly commented on the crass, insensitive offerings heard since the tragedy on Thought For The Day. Real sick bucket scrapings from Dr Sacks and Canon Billing so far.
Can it get worse? They’re professional religious pimps, totally lacking shame or compassion, and this grief-fest has economic potential, so we know the answer already.
But over in Cumbria stage two of the religious intrusion is now in full swing.
Last night there was a high profile service to ‘pray for the souls of the victims’ at St Mary & St Michael, Egremont, and Border TV also announced local churchs are leaving their doors open, lighting candles, praying, singing hymns and generally running about in an attempt to look concerned. In fairness, maybe some folk genuinely will get solace from that, but can I point out something?
There’s a profile of all the known victims by BBC Cumbria at . With the exception of one elderly couple, James and Jennifer Jackson, who were involved in their church parish council, not one victim is identified by their families or friends as regular church goers or people to whom religion was important.
Furthermore, the family of at least one, Michael Pike, specifically said on both BBC and Border ITV interviews they intend to celebrate his life, not mourn his death, and have no use for or interest in the faith-based irrelevance now taking place.
In fact, Jude Talbot, his daughter, said to the Beeb: "That's the sort of person he was, he was a humanist, he thoroughly believed that we should celebrate life, not rake over coals. So that's what we are doing, we are focusing on my father and the happy times we've had with him."
She said something similar to Border, but it was cut to something less specific about him still being around, literally, through all the work he’d done on the family house and garden. An ex-shipbuilder who went on to work at Sellafield, trade-union organiser and mature Open Uni graduate, he sounded like a great guy to call friend or relative.
Which is why the misapropriation of his identity and misrepresentation of his beliefs, along with those of all the other victims for the St. Michaels and St Mary service and others, without (and in his specific case against) family wishes is another crime we should add to those chalked up by churches.
Perhaps we should also be asking why the gunman had nobody to talk his troubles through with. Or more accurately, as in the Isle of Man, would that be the case if it wasn’t for government pennypinchers closing the advice and social services which should be available, but hiding the closure by ‘supporting’ new, and useless, faith-based schemes which no-one in a small community ever uses unless forcibly sent there, e.g. by a court order. Because we know only too well the bigotry and general worldly ignorance of village idiots paid to light candles, talk to the sky and otherwise waste public money.

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