Decent world

I don’t understand it. I cannot understand it. No matter how many times I have mentioned on Twitter that I want to live in a decent society where far-right extremists are not compatible with a civilised society. Then I am inundated with people with bile and hatred. People trying to justify right-wing policies.

These aren’t people who are in politics as a chosen career but they are repeating the beliefs and words of things that have been said to them by the groups such and EDL, Britain First and the BNP.

I believe in free-thinking and the ability to challenge anything someone says or does. What is their motive? I said in a previous post, take way the establishments and organisations that these people are linked to and what are they like as a person?

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These people are brain-washed. They have had lie after lie drummed into them for such a long time and they do not realise the harm that they are doing. It has now been stated that the accused has links to far-right organisations. They have had people commenting that the person who is accused of the murder is not the person they have seen in TV reports the claim he wouldn’t do that sort of thing. But really how well do we know those people we call friends?

I want to live in a decent world. That means everyone is equal. It shouldn’t mean that a certain group or religion should have first say on things. It doesn’t mean that we chose to feed and house just one race and forget the rest. We treat each other with respect and decency.

So I have decided I won’t comment and argue against these people as it’s futile it’s only when something terrible happens to them as a result of their hate and prejudice does it hit home. I am finding it is causing me to question my own sanity when I keep thinking what have we become as a nation when just being a normal human being in a good country is a struggle.

I really hope one day that they will see how hate and division cause so much pain to so many people.

Take away the Religion

I was watching a clip on YouTube last night of Pat Robinson who, if you aren’t sure who he is, is a transphobic, homophobic and downright ridiculous man who spouts crazy bile in the name of Christianity.

Thoughts then turned to the people who had been killed by the gunman in Orlando and his crazed ideology that killing a group of LGBT people would be pleasing to his god.

As you know I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god, I used to be a church-goer but the belief and faith I had died a long time ago.

I thought if you take away the religion and look at how people act it proves a lot about who the person is in the beginning.  How is the person with their friends and family? What are they doing for the good of everyone?

Someone that causes harm and distress to others under the name of their religion should be ridiculed for what they are. If it’s some old irrelevant man who has no idea what true life is like and doesn’t realise the damage he causes isn’t a true follower of faith.

People assume that those who don’t have a religion to follow are bereft of morality and principles. This couldn’t be further from the case. Humanism is about treating everyone fairly as they are all beings that share the same planet.

EU in or out?

I don’t get normally bogged down with subjects such as politics. I am passionate about getting people out voting though. I know that most people wouldn’t care whether we are or not part of the European Union. As long as our bills are low and it doesn’t affect us directly.

There is a side to this referendum that is ugly and thats the lunatics of a the far right that see it as a ticket to “getting back out borders” unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Switzerland which isn’t part of the EU still has high immigration and it would be part of the deal that Britain would take migrant workers. To say that the borders will be shut would be an economic disaster and bad for the huge amount of trade and relations that Britain has beyond the EU.

If you are basing your vote in any election based on race then you have a serious problem with the rest of the world. You don’t have rights to holiday in Jamaican if you think that people from the West Indies should be sent back home to where their parents are born. I am sure that you won’t mind all the ex-patriots that have set up permanent home in the EU countries being sent back to the UK.

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I despise groups like Britain First who have hijacked this campaign to peddle their own racist agenda. I do agree it is not racist to want to get a control on immigration I don’t have a problem with that at all. That’s sensible politics and good economics to balance the needs of our country with those who say that they want come to here work. I agree that as a country we must get a grip with the migrant crisis and not give an open hand to anyone seeking asylum but seeing a genuine need and tackling that need.

I would never tell anyone how to vote in an election that’s up to you. But I do ask that you do use your vote. We have become a complacent country that takes elections for granted and we a privileged country to have a government that is democratically elected.

Feminist views 

I have a problem with some feminist views. I have been struggling with them for some time and wondering why I have a problem with moral issues associated with feminist belief.

The term “Rape culture” was first used in the USA in the 1970s by feminists who believed a society which normalised rape as a part of the society and sees it as pervasive due to certain values it held about women’s sexual identity and gender.

So what feminists are saying that somehow society doesn’t see it as being a bad thing or even a punishable crime in a society. They believe that making excuses of what a woman was wearing beforehand is part of this “rape culture”. It is prevalent and symptomatic throughout attitudes in the society and endemic to it.

I had some discussion with a female friend and thinking about high profile cases where men had been convicted of rape or had been acquitted. I found it interesting that some on social media platforms held the view that the man was guilty even if he had not be convicted in a court of law. That the woman must be believed and the circumstances of the case were that the jury must have been made to believe that the woman was making the whole thing up something again feminists believe is part of ‘rape culture’ that society sees women as unreliable liars.

Feminists believe in ‘rape society’ is that society is teaching women not to get raped rather than teaching men not to rape. This to me is where I find the stumbling block. Not that any sort of attack on a woman is abhorrent but that despite the calls of feminists to teach people not to rape there are ways that women should protect themselves but again I reiterate that feminist would say is part of rape culture and I am contributing to it by making sure a woman is keeping herself from harm.

I had to look further into this and see how ‘rape culture’ is viewed under various classifications of morality. The feminist view is an example of moral absolutism. The idea there shouldn’t be any way in which someone who has said that they have even raped could have contributed to it. Rape is if someone hasn’t given their consent. To me there are cases where the victim isn’t able to give consent such as age but what do we decide if a woman is so drunk she has sex but afterward saying that she wouldn’t have consented at the time.

Feminists argue that there shouldn’t be grey areas and that it is clear that all sex that hasn’t been consensual is rape. Is it really this clear-cut? We don’t hear of ‘murder culture’ or ‘robbery culture’ we look at the evidence to see if a crime has been committed and that is how the law and the courts deal with each case individually. As much as feminism would like to see perpetrators of rape be punished as they should it isn’t as clear as that. Sex is still sex and if you consent to it then it isn’t a crime. But how do you prove a crime has taken place when the evidence before a jury is that it is the word against another. There are no physical signs of trauma or force but the woman states she did not give consent.

A murder takes place and usually in most cases there is a body. Some cases have been prosecuted when there has been nobody found but this is rare. We have physical evidence in front of a jury if an autopsy has taken place and cause of death can be established. It is up to the prosecution to build the case for murder or if the death was unintentional manslaughter or culpable homicide as it is known in the USA.

A crime has a victim, a perpetrator, and evidence. Some will go to lengths to cover their crime and destroy evidence. A report of the crime of non-consensual sex or rape needs to have more evidence than saying I did not consent. If life wasn’t as clear-cut as this and crimes didn’t have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt then things would be different. That isn’t how things work in the UK. There are some societies where rape has been normalised in countries that are in the middle of civil war and rape has been used as a weapon and as a form of terrorist barbarism.

We know are those men who go out on a weekend with the intention of having sex with women. It happens. Men do that and so do women. On the gay scene, it’s no different. Men and women do go out on the pretence of a hookup.

I don’t believe a woman or a man should ever have to modify their clothes to justify not being attacked but both sexes do dress to feel and look good. We have all go out in the best clothes but it’s never so we feel good we do it so we get others to notice this is what makeup is for.

If you were on a desert island you don’t get dressed up just for yourself intention is their attraction is a part of life and the natural process of humans and animals. There are ways in which everyone should protect themselves that’s why doors have locks and cars have immobilisers. We don’t live in a society of absolute morals.

Leave it

There ‘s a cool breeze blowing throughout my house as I sit at my computer near to the front window. Something I know that would be very welcome to a lot of people who are stuck in offices with windows that open less than a cm due to health and safety rules. The irony is that it’s not okay to fall out of the window but practically a given that you should slowly cook confined in the space behind them.

What we desire, want and permissible are not usually things that we think about when we are content in life. To some it is money. To others, it could be the happiness in seeing your children and grandchildren grow up safely in a world of worry and hazards that are all too familiar once you look at the news each day.

I have had a privileged life in the fact that I have been able to get a decent education and afford to live in my own home. Now that both my parents have gone I feel I should be sensible and grown up in making life choices. After some thought and careful consideration, it is time to move on.

This decision I made was twenty years ago and not today or yesterday. I made it through hindsight and experiences I had in the years before. I gave up religion for good. I wasn’t a backslider anymore. Someone that may go back to church after a few weeks of absenteeism. I hadn’t had the spiritual flu or suffered a minor problem with my faith. It wasn’t there at all.

Each day I am reminded that the decision was the right one. Reading the updates about how a bakery in Northern Ireland has appealed a decision handed down by the courts in the fact that they discriminated against someone on the basis of their sexuality makes me realise I am better away from such organisations. I want nothing of them anymore. I have met my closest friends through church youth groups and I have some fantastic friends who would call themselves Christians. But your religion ends where my non-belief begins.

I have no problem with teaching religion. I did it for years in crappy school. But I taught it knowing that I would be talking about someone else’s religion someone else’s belief. If only there was more teaching of decent religious education would we have a more tolerant society? Less gullible in believing that if a handful of crazed idiots were to represent an entire religion then it would seem that everyone in that religion held the same views. I know and have met many Muslims who don’t think that ISIS is right just in the same way that the Christians in Northern Ireland don’t hold the same views as my Christian friends. I can distinguish between the two.

The faith that once I held has died. This means it cannot be revived by any means. I believe that once something is dead it’s dead. No amount of prayer, drugs or electronic stimulation will it allow it to live again. The story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to me is a story. Others might choose to believe it as a literal story. Others will see it as work of fiction.

I respect others and their faith. I have no problem in the talking about Islam or Taoism. I don’t see any problem in talking about it. I wouldn’t mind writing about or making a living discussing them it doesn’t break any rules. Even when I did have a faith I know that talking about others beliefs didn’t make a bad person.

Thank goodness I have left it behind. The petty arguments the church is having over two people of the same sex getting married is ridiculous. I do like talking and discussing religious and non-religious belief I have always been fascinated with belief systems. But to me they are stories. We will see more and more of these cases that I am sure. Where once the Church of England was a great moral bastion above reproach we will see more fundamentalist groups appear fighting their cause. The Church of England will become nothing more than a meeting group for the lonely. Something to wheel people into once a week and then wheel out again.

The Catholic Church

I have always had a light for the catholic church. Don’t know why. I think it was to do with the fact that my mother didn’t like catholics and therefore anything that my mother hated I would automatically express my love for it. Those days have gone though as I think a tad more maturely at the things that I have come to like and dislike in the world.

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I have spoken before about the debate that took place between Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and members of the Catholic Church including the odious Anne Widdecombe on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. The debate lasts a couple of hours but there are clips on youtube which are of smaller content. The audience at the end is asked to chose their response in light of what they have heard from the speakers at the bench. It’s enlightening and entertaining in some parts but you get an overall sense of the immense damage the catholic church has caused in the past centuries. This still continues (as we all know too well) in today’s modern world.

The Pope issued his new guidance on the way priests treat their followers when is comes to Sex and Marriage in the church. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t see gay unions as being on the same level as those in heterosexual marriages “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”.

The Pope directs his sympathy to the relatives of those who have gay people in their family. Almost as if it is an illness that should bring empathy and love to those who are suffering the consequences of those who chose a ‘sinful lifestyle’. It is in irony that he also states that says the Church must avoid “every sign of unjust discrimination” towards homosexuals. It couldn’t get anymore unjust to describe someones marriage and relationship as second class.

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The way in which the Christian church conducts itself is under the microscope more than ever. I had commented on a youtube video where a ‘christian social media celebrity’ had recently got himself a tattoo on his arm. He had many comments saying that tattooing yourself was a sin. But there were a lot of people saying that it wasn’t. Taking the Levitical laws to condemn with one hand homosexuality then with another saying tattoos were a matter of conscience. Utterly hypocritical and damaging. It’s a pick and choose belief system that causes young people of today to turn away from Christianity. It damages those who are looking for the answers to life’s questions.

My view as a humanist is that all relationships are valid, gay or straight. Everyone is a human being and they should be on the same level and treated with dignity and respect. Women and men are equal they have different qualities and attributes but they are the same and again should be treated that way. I won’t condemn anyone based on their race or culture, on their sexuality or gender. To do so is morally wrong. The Christian church is proving itself to become more and more out of touch with the real world. Basing a belief system that it thousands of years old and has no place in deciding those who can or cannot marry.

Soon we will see the Christian church in the UK become nothing more than a crazy cult that pipes up every now and again with people who belief that blame can be pointed to sin in the world and cause localised flooding and down pours because someone has dared entered into a same sex partnership. It’s time to forget the church and leave it to die quietly.

RE and Humanism

As I qualified secondary RE teacher I find it appalling that the government have taken out the teaching of those with no belief in Religious Education. It’s almost like people without any faith shouldn’t have an opinion about moral values and life choices. I see it as a backwards step in highlighting the importance of the vital role that Religious Education has in our schools in a modern world.

The terrible atrocities that happen each day in our world cause us to pause and ask the question why? It is no longer the case that our children and adults should be left with the answer that some people do bad things. This is a poor excuse for educating people about religious belief.

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I was watching a programme the other night where they were discussing the issue of child exploitation that happens on a regular basis in the UK and thought myself that certain established religions have a lot to blame when it comes to talking about and educating young people about the dangers of online grooming and sexual relationships for someone who us under the legal limit of consent.

The programme highlighted the numerous times that girls were coerced into performed sex acts on their boyfriends and the blatant manipulation coupled with emotional blackmail that they felt under these circumstances. It is no longer a choice to bury your head in the sand and say that my child wouldn’t do these things and they know better.

Education is fundamental. Talking about violence does not make someone violent. In the same way, educating people about the dangers of sex doesn’t allow young people to think they are entitled to go out and experiment on the basis of the facts they have been told.

Think back to the days of your RE and would you really want the next generation to look at the world without the rich knowledge that RE does bring? Or do you want it to be begrudgingly tagged on the lesson at the end of the week on Friday afternoon?

Church and LGBTI

The Dean of Newcastle has signed a letter asking the Church of England to repent for discrimination against gay and lesbian Christians.

The letter that that has been written by the two leading archbishops in the Church of England. It asked for repentance and acknowledgement that the church has for too long seen those in the LGBTI community as second-class sinners.

Having been a member of the Church of England for over a decade I didn’t feel right at all that I could be open with the people who surrounded me. It was bad enough growing up in the eighties with the stigma of HIV and AIDS that still exists to this day. I cannot remember in the early days the subject of human sexuality being discussed at all in the church I attended. It wasn’t something that they were ready to discuss.

It is right for both Archbishops to acknowledge where the church has failed people but it is also up to the church to recognise that there are still within it’s walls those people who outrightly condemn same-sex relationships. The Rev’d David Holloway is a good example of someone still preaching that the scriptures specify that homosexuality is a grave sin. He works with the diocese of Newcastle and I am sure would have something to say about the Dean’s signature on such letter.

It is only when such people acknowledge and apologise for the continuing harm he is directly causing the LGBTI community. Parts of the church of England stretch across many continents and especially those in developing countries that have appalling human rights issues regarding the gay communities that are supposed minister too.

My faith died decades ago. It is replaced by rational thought. This means that I treat all human beings with equality. Regardless of their gender, race, and sexuality. The horrible and trite phrase that is often used that the sinner is somehow separated from the sin and therefore we condemn only the action but not the person themselves is utter crap. I am proud of who I am and I am not going curtail this for anyone. It is an intrinsic part of who I am and I believe made me a better person for realising how easy it is to be judgemental on things of which we may not understand.

There are people who have remained within the CofE whilst still in LGBTI relationships. Many in the clergy are gay and lesbian but in fear of being truthful and losing one’s position within the community.

I have good friends who have no issue with my sexuality and regularly attend church. They have been good examples of what the archbishops have called upon to do and is love those who are in any community whether it be gay or straight.

I acknowledge that some do not hold the same caring attitude but until those people have changed/repented (which also means moving away from their sin to which they are repenting) the church will continue to decline and be replaced by a smaller community of believers.

Holy Week reflection 

Despite being a humanist now I still take time to reflect on things during Holy Week. Habits that formed during my time as a member of the Church of England seem to die hard. It is something I have done for on and off for around 30 years.

What am I doing with my life? Are there anything things that need changing. These are questions I do ask myself but it always seems easier to criticise and point out other failings rather than my own.

It’s easy to look at others an judge. I don’t like the way you talk or what you are saying. I don’t like your lifestyle or the priorities you have in life and not worthy of any time.

Do the things that others do have any consequences that could affect your life? If someone steals or murders then it could. This could end in the person being convicted and having to spend time at our majesty’s pleasure and that costs money in an indirect way.

Are we giving to others that would make their life better? Do we give our time and money to help those who are less fortunate that ourselves? If you are making an excuse while you reading this you probably need to.

Reflecting in rather than on Holy Week is a good thing. It makes me think of spring time and new possibilities and chances that we have been given.

What will I try to do more off to better others lives and less of that makes me more of a selfish person. Surely that has to be a good thing.

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Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!