23 December 2010

It's that time of the year

It's that time of year again, for most people it's getting together with your families or friends and celebrating, and just being together.

It's a time to reflect on the year that's gone, the things that have gone well, and those that could have gone better.

But never forget "Freedom is in Peril, defend it will all your might"

Love Shockwave.

Each age has deemed the new born year
The fittest time for festal cheer
--Sir Walter Scott

18 December 2010

Dear Australian Christian Lobby

The Australian Christian Lobby aren't happy 

Schools should not be used to recruit kids to ‘gay pride’ march
Posted by ACL Team on December 16th, 2010


The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today responded to a call by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) for schools to bring children along to a gay pride event.

“All schools should be safe schools, but using Government funding to persuade children to attend a ‘gay pride’ march is not how our tax dollars should be spent,” according to ACL’s Victorian Director Rob Ward.

“Teachers taking students along to this kind of event is outside the purposes for which schools exist. Educating students should be the priority not promoting alternative lifestyles.

“There is no place for bullying in our schools, whatever the motivation, however this call by SSCV demonstrates how one group can push an ideological agenda using government funding.”

Mr Ward said so called ‘gay pride’ marches were no place for young children as they were often sexually explicit and contained content inappropriate for children.

Mr Ward also questioned the use of a LaTrobe University letterhead to write to schools seeking to recruit children to the march.

“We call upon the new Baillieu government to rein in funding for groups like SSCV and instead promote programs that address bullying in a wider context, teaching respect and understanding across the whole school system.”

I decided that I must reply

“All schools should be safe schools, but using Government funding to persuade children to attend a ‘gay pride’ march is not how our tax dollars should be spent,” according to ACL’s Victorian Director Rob Ward"

I agree, this is not how our tax dollars should be spent, and we could save Govt money by getting rid of those Chaplains and spent it on real teachers.

But hang on, Religions don't pay tax, not even on your profit making enterprises. So the Australian Government misses out on about $20 Billion a year. Pay that and part of the problem is solved.

"Mr Ward said so called ‘gay pride’ marches were no place for young children as they were often sexually explicit and contained content inappropriate for children. "

I agree with this as well, they should be given into the care of the local Catholic Priest, and learn about 'Gay Pride' in a secret and shameful fashion from an expert.

“We call upon the new Baillieu government to rein in funding for groups like SSCV and instead promote programs that address bullying in a wider context, teaching respect and understanding across the whole school system.”

I agree with this as well, we should stop letting religious children thinking themselves as better than those have no religion. If they where taught Humanist principals, that all people are equal regardless of Race, Sex, or sexual identity, then the world would head towards a much better future.
Your comment is awaiting moderation. 

I wonder if it will stay or be deleted ?

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.  ~Anne Lamott

17 December 2010

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

     Sex workers are people

Daughters, sisters, mothers, Grandmothers, trans people, sons and brothers, they are all someone.
Our problem as usual, comes down to sex, religion and guilt.

Our society has a weird relationship with sex, but this is only partly true, my guess is that almost all societies have sexual issues.
 Our issue is the commercialization of sex, and why is this a problem, because of the rules of the bible.

 It comes down to it, it's still the idea that a woman is someones property, and that people can be owned, woman are meant to be a mans servant, and that someone, somewhere is getting better sex than the people who make the rules.

Now Christian actually have a problem, as the New Testament doesn't really say much about sex. The Old Testament is filled with it, lots of "cleaving", and "coming unto", cutting foreskins off penises, and lots of non consensual sex. 

It's apparently also OK to sell your your daughter into slavery

Exodus 21:7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.  If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her.  If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter.
Or even give your girls to the mob in order to get some quiet 

Genesis 19:6 “Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.  Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you as you please…
Remember this is the guidebook that is used to condemn woman, and those who choose, or in some cases have no alternative to provide sexual services.  So the violence is built right into society.

My belief is that sex work should be legalized and tightly regulated, so those who choose this path can do so in safety, and that those who have been  forced into prostitution can be repatriated back to their families.

Yes, we still do have a slave trade, women who are being sold for sex, and as the law in most places makes no distinction between those who choose and those who are coerced, we fail the victims of sexual slavery. 

 So why December 17 ?
Green River Killer,” Gary Ridgeway said, “I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. … I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught." He confessed to having murdered ninety women. Sadly some Seattle prostitutes, their boyfriends or pimps, knew the Green River Killer was Gary Ridgeway for years, but were afraid to come forward for fear of getting arrested, or the police didn’t believe those that did come forward, or the police didn’t seem to care. Ridgeway’s killing spree went on for over twenty years.

 Toronto Sun Story on prostitution deaths 
 The sad story of  Aileen Wuornos  She needed help, not execution

 Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.  ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

12 December 2010

The battle for a Ethical Australia

Australian Government, Ethics for Children and Religion  (NSW)

There can be no uncertainly that a large proportion on the MPs in the Australian Government in the Federal and State level are definitely pro-christian, this is rather odd in a time when church attendance is all time low, or is it?

You would think that a civil society would be pleased that children are being taught ethics at an early age. It's  it discussing life, how to treat people, and how to live with others.

But no, some people find the idea of children encountering ethical ideas that don't include their idea of god to be an anathema to the purpose of education in Australian schools.

In New South Wales the state has to provide Scripture classes and children...well find them rather boring, I certainly did when I had to take them, I got a note from home pretty quick.

I'm sure I'm not the only one and many parents wanted a alternative, for those children not doing Religion, so it was decided that Ethics classes would be a good idea. I say a "good idea", unless you have a vested interest in having Religion taught in schools.

I'm not one for reading Hansard, but this has a good summnation of the point very well:-

Dr JOHN KAYE [9.10 p.m.]: Since its inception in 1880, special religious education in New South Wales public schools has unfairly and irrationally discriminated against the growing number of children from families that reject the organised religions on offer. Verity Firth is the first Minister for Education in 130 years to take up the challenge. By accepting the offer from the St James Ethics Centre to trial an ethics option, the Minister is taking an important step to addressing the absurd consequences of the monopoly power of organised religions over the hour. Since the passage of Henry Parkes' Public Instruction Act and the infamous compromise that handed over one hour a week to scripture, children from families that do not accept the religious choices on offer have been forced to squander a valuable hour a week. The so-called settlement not only discriminated against children from atheist families, it also excluded those who followed a creed that was not offered in the school as well as the many parents who felt that religious instruction is a private matter.

Section 32 of the Education Act 1990 imposes no requirement on the non-attendees. It is only by practice that the hour is not to be gainfully used other than for religion and that practice is at last being challenged. The practice is discriminatory and wasteful and is founded only in the conviction held by some religions that their beliefs should hold a privileged position. That is not only clearly unacceptable in a multi-cultural and multi-faith free society but also deeply offensive to those who do not share confidence in the infallibility of the religious beliefs.

Professor Philip Cam from the University of New South Wales developed the course materials that invite students to develop responses to challenging ethical dilemmas. Ethics or the science of moral reasoning is a well-developed area of study and has been taught successfully in schools around the world. The developmental consequences for students are well documented and always positive. It is clearly understood that the course does not substitute for the values and ethical reasoning that are already taught across the curriculum in public education. It is surprising and alarming to watch a number of churches and religious organisations seek to stop the trial.

Jim Wallace, the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, vehemently attacked the secular nature of ethics in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 April. Mr Wallace's arrogant contention was that moral reasoning cannot stand without the Judeo-Christian basis on which he contends it is founded. Retired Brigadier Wallace is certainly entitled to his opinions, even if they are out-of-date, insulting, arrogant and ill-informed. However, his allegation that the ethics classes are designed to draw students away from the scripture classes is simply a lie. And even if it were not, does the brigadier have such little faith in the power of the religions he purports to defend that he is worried that offering an ethics alternative will result in an outbreak of atheism and heathenism? The next day, a report in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, had visited the Premier to voice his concerns. Dr Jensen had previously written in the Anglican newspaper Southern Cross:
      Be warned: if the Government allows this course to continue after the trial, it will jeopardise religious education in public schools
This week, Robert Haddad, the director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald that alerting all parents to the existence of the ethics class was "an example of the abuse that will inevitably follow". Dr Jensen, Brigadier Wallace and Mr Haddad all share a lack of confidence in their faith's ability to maintain market share in the face of a secular alternatives. In effect what both of these men are saying is that religion should not have to compete in the world of ideas. They are effectively arguing for the entrapment children in their classes by maintaining a veil of ignorance about the alternatives.

Reverend Fred Nile, the Leader of the Christian Democratic Party, called for the trial to be postponed pending further consultations with all church leaders. He was also upset by the idea that the ethics alternative was not kept secret to the families that did not attend scripture classes. A liberal democracy does not entertain the right of churches to restrict options available to the non-believing public. The Sydney Anglicans, the Catholic Church and even Fred Nile are free to tell their followers what they might or might not believe, and what their children might or might not be exposed to. It is ultimately up to the followers whether they continue to follow and believe.

However, it is completely unacceptable that organised religions seek to restrict the rights of those who do not subscribe their creeds. Ethics classes in public schools are none of their business and they should not be allowed to undermine the options available to children who do not follow their creed. The Greens welcome the trial and congratulate the St James Ethics Society, Prof Philip Cam, the Parents and Citizens Federation and the Minister for Education and Training on the roles they have played in offering students ethics classes as an alternative in special religious education.

A disturbing reaction by the NSW opposition party:-

However, the opposition spokesman for education, Adrian Piccoli, attacked the decision. He pointed out that the Board of Studies had to remove inappropriate draft course material before the trial of ethics classes earlier this year. ''If they want to legislate for a course, which has previously included subjects on terrorism and designer babies to be taught to 11-year-olds, then that's a decision for the Labor Party,'' he said.

A spokeswoman for Ms Firth said: ''First the Coalition failed to listen to parents and now they're trying to scare them. All course material will be vetted by the Board of Studies'

The NSW government is facing and election that they will probably loose, bu they will retain power in the State upper house, so the Ethics classes are now Law, and the opposition can't undo it. (Win for the good guys!)

And the reactions from the Clergy? (apart from those above)

Bishop enters battle against secular ethics classes

Jacqueline Maley
April 14, 2010
THE Bishop of North Sydney has urged Anglican priests to collect information from principals of public schools to stop the spread of the secular ethics classes the Sydney Anglicans believe may threaten religious education.
In an email seen by the Herald, Bishop Glenn Davies urged ministers to contact the principals of public schools in their parishes to ascertain the exact numbers of children enrolled in religious education. This was even though most schools were not involved in the trial, which is being piloted at just 10 schools under the guidance of the St James Ethics Centre.

But chairman of the NSW Anglican Education Commission, Bishop Glen Davis, said the trial was flawed and the premier should reconsider it.
Bishop Davis said allowing a secular organisation to deliver its program at the same time as the current religious teachings set a "dangerous precedent" if other groups wanted access to students.

Sorry Bishop, other groups do have access to students, unfortunately they are your groups.

Bishop Peter Ingham, Bishop of Wollongong, spoke for us all when he expressed the disappointment of the Church at the State Government’s decision to allow ethics classes to be conducted in NSW public schools from next year during the time set aside for Special Religious Education (SRE). 

"Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen said the ethics rollout was "a bad decision ... which will impoverish the education of many NSW public school children

David Hutt certainly doesn't like it, but then as his job  NSW Director for the Australian Christian Lobby, that's  no surprise

 From the Minister for Education and Training Verity Firth:-

"The evidence has been overwhelmingly positive in support of ethics classes in NSW," Ms Keneally said.
"The evaluation report found a high level of support for the course in school communities which participated in the trial and that has also been reflected in the response from the wider community."
Following the release of the evaluation report for public comment in October, 745 community submissions were received with 730 in favour of ethics continuing.
"From next year, schools can opt to offer the course following consultation with their school community," Ms Keneally said.
The classes will initially be offered to Years 5 and 6 and then progressively extended to Years K-6.

So, 730 in favour out of 745, So I wonder how many other Government initiatives have ever had such a high positive feedback?  

So why after all these years did someone finally decide on Ethics classes, and what do they hope to gain? :-

St James Ethics Centre executive director Dr Simon Longstaff says the ethics classes sharpen and improve the children’s critical thinking skills while complementing and extending the work of primary school teachers who, through the school curriculum, already engage the children in activities that look at ethical issues.

“What you end up with as a result, is an opportunity to engage in meaningful activity for all children in NSW, and not just those who go to SRE,” he says. “It teaches them how to think about ethical issues in an environment where they can bring to bear their own cultural, religious and other world views, which they have derived from home or from their life in the community.”

The pilot is the result of a long campaign by parents of the NSW Parents and Citizens’ Federation over several years. Dr Longstaff says he was first approached seven years ago by a group of parents who wanted a program that looked at important questions that arise in the children’s lives. They wanted it without the theological or spiritual dimension that is an integral part of SRE without removing or damaging the existing programs in NSW schools.

“The thing that’s been really striking about this debate in NSW is that it’s been driven by parents of all faiths and no faiths who have this common concern for the welfare of the children who don’t attend SRE,” Dr Longstaff says.

Parents were concerned because in some NSW schools children who had opted out of SRE were made to sit outside the principal’s office “as if they had been naughty”, reports Dr Longstaff, and he adds that this is “unjust and it’s wrong”.

Hang on, what did he say?
                  "the ethics classes sharpen and improve the children’s critical thinking skills"

So is that the reason the Christian Lobby is up in arms? Teaching children critical thinking?

It seems to be very clear what is going on, non elected, non government, vested interest groups, are trying to get their own way, against the best interests of the Parents and Students in their own schools.

I think the French have it right, they teach philosaphy, as part of High School, and have just started it for 13 yr olds.

 A televised debate on the Ethics issue can be viewed here

The classes will be taught from the beginning of the first term in 2011, more information on the classes can be found here

The full report on the Ethics trial can be downloaded here

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.- Albert Einstien

10 December 2010

The dangerous idea of defamation of religon

As the world ever so slowly becomes more secular, those countries who define themselves by religion are trying to fight back.

They (Organisation of Islamic Conference) are trying to get the UN to pass  "defamation of religion" basically The International Humanist and Ethical Union describe the problem :-

Unlike traditional defamation laws, which punish false statements of fact that harm individual persons, measures prohibiting the `defamation of religions’ punish the peaceful criticism of ideas. Additionally, the concept of `defamation of religions’ is fundamentally inconsistent with the universal principles outlined in the United Nations’ founding documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the protection of the rights of individuals, rather than ideas.
Such resolutions provide international support for domestic laws against blasphemy and “injury to religious feelings”, which are often abused by governments to punish the peaceful expression of disfavored political or religious beliefs and ideas. Moreover, existing international legal instruments already address discrimination, personal defamation, and incitement in ways that are more carefully focused to confront those specific problems without unduly threatening the rights of freedom of expression and the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
In 2009 Pakistan said
 “Defamation of religion is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence. Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”

But to put it in a single sentence " Criticize religion and you are guilty of blasphemy and you will die". You can see the danger in this when you realize that in some countries religion is the state, so criticizing those in power is also a crime against their God.

If you ever hear the Iranian Government on the news they you will probably have heard that opposing the Government is a crime against God, so think about it.

Minorities who differ from the majority religion, for example Christians or non-believers in Muslim-majority countries, are at risk. So too are minority co-religionists, such as Ahmadis who do not view Mohamed as the last Prophet and are persecuted as apostates in many Muslim-majority countries.

Just a few weeks ago the  U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, and wanted it passed to the general assembly. 
Today is  International Human Rights Day (December 10), remember people have right, religions don't.

International Humanist and Ethical Union Blasphemy Report

More from the Legal Project

"If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

08 December 2010

Interpol and the Terran Empire

You know this could just be my imagination.

But the symbol for Interpol :-

Reminds me a lot of the Terran Empire symbol from the original Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror"

I'm not saying that the is anything in this, really no, really.......

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end." -- Spock (Star Trek VI)

04 December 2010

Black Collar Crime in Germany

From a Press Conference given by Marion Westphal last Friday, the comments in italics are mine.

Munich - Germany's Catholic church systematically covered up cases of sexual abuse within its own ranks for several decades, according to an expert study of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, presented Friday.

The lawyer commissioned by the Archdiocese to conduct the study, Marion Westphal, said its records revealed huge gaps between 1945 and 2009.
(So what about pre 1945, or are the records distroyed?)

Westphal described a 'systematic system of cover-up,' in which few abuse cases were criminally prosecuted.
'Only 26 priests were convicted for sexual offences,' Westphal added.
'We have to assume there is a large unknown number (of abuse cases),' the lawyer said. 'We are dealing with the extensive destruction of files.'(Maybe eaten by Rats?)
She said the records were also severely lacking during the years of 1977 to 1982, when the diocese was led by Archbishop Josef Ratzinger - who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

During this period, she only found a single document, regarding an abuse case that Ratzinger himself had dealt with, Westphal said. The file contained a letter from Ratzinger, insisting that an abusive priest be removed from his parish.
Westphal said church employees destroyed records of abuse cases because they were more concerned with avoiding a scandal than protecting the victims.
    (So nothing new here)

The study involved more than 13,200 files, of which 365 contained evidence that 'acts of abuse had taken place in an almost commonplace manner,' Westphal said.
These cases implicated 159 priests as well as 15 deacons, 96 religion teachers and six pastoral employees. Rural areas were particularly affected, the lawyer said.

Some of the files were stowed away in private apartments, others were locked away in places that few had authority to access. Criminal verdicts were not included in the files out of principle.
(It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".' -- Douglas Adams.) 

In many cases the victims' suffering could only be guessed at, Westphal said, as the files described reported abuse in evasive language.
She insisted the church had given her free rein in her research.
Munich's Archbishop Reinhard Marx said this year's revelations of sexual abuse by clerics had come as a shock.
'For me, these were surely the worst months of my life. I felt shame, grief and dismay,' Marx said.
(Getting caught does that to everyone )

Thanks to Dw-world.de

The Christian Brothers were fairly mangled fellows in Navan. Some men speak highly of them. Unfortunately I never saw that. I just remember the brutality. The Paddtbats, the straps that would fly out of the soutane like vipers' tongues, the beatings amidst the prayers - whack!
Pierce Brosnan

01 December 2010

Dear Lord Carey

           I'm sorry to hear that your and your friends are feeling persecuted. it must be terrible to live in that sort of fear. Checking the windows to see who is outside, making sure the person across the road is not following you around as you go from house to house, visiting your friends. Listening in the night for the sound of cars outside your house, or footsteps on the gravel of your driveway. Wondering if your phone or house is being bugged, and spending your day wondering about food, water and money

Oh but wait, you say it's Christianity and it adherents that are being persecuted, how very strange. 

You used to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, you have the title "Lord" so you can actually sit in the house of Lords with 23 of your Churches Bishops.  So doesn't that mean your church actually has an important role in the affairs of Government?

Admittedly the Lords isn't that powerful, and even if the Secular Society wants you all kicked out, the UK Gov haven't really bothered to do much about it, so your probably safe for a while. I also believe that the head of state is also the head of the church, so your under the protection of the Queen, and you feel persecuted?

I also don't really think your on the run from the authorities, and the average Christian in the UK is much less persecuted than people with red hair or "Gingers".

Looking at your published financial figures in 2007 you had a £63 million profit. It does look like you really do cut quite close to the bone in those figures, but I'm sure the Anglican church has many unrealized assets if you need to use them, so your not poor, and it's not as if  any of the ministers of the Church will miss their next meal.

So what is going on? Possibly you feel that your privileged status is being eaten away, that we are very very slowly heading towards a society of fairness, that church membership is falling, an churches are closing and that people have found that religion is not necessary in their lives, and they are simply growing up, as is society as a whole.

You might find this maybe hard to believe, and sometimes I find it hard to believe myself when I read the papers. But life in the past thousands of  years used to be much worse.

But you are not persecuted when your the establishment such as you represent Lord Cary, a Christian in Iraq or Pakistan is persecuted, a Baha'i in Iran is persecuted, South Sudanese in Sudan are persecuted, homosexuals are persecuted  everywhere.

When you have a genuine fear of assault or being murdered or raped for who are, that is persecution!

You can't change your race, sex, or sexuality, but you can change your belief's.  

Love Shockwave

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law” - Thomas Paine