Blackadder Speaks Up

(This updates my entry on Behzti and Mr. Bean from last December, and other entries about religious freedom, freedom of conscience and free speech).
Stories about a Bill before the British Parliament for a Racial and Religious Hatred Act were prominent in the feed from Butterflies and Wheels in my aggregator yesterday. A government Bill, having made it through the Commons, is being debated in the House of Lords where it is facing opposition. Comedian Rowan Atkinson’s speech to a House Committee was reported in the Times on October 21, 2005 – “Hatred Bill Panders to Minorities”. The Times interviewed Atkinson for another story October 23, 2005. One of Atkinson’s points was that the Bill would give fringe groups like Wiccans and Satanists new standing to promote themselves as religions, and give fundamentalists (Sikh, Christian, Muslim) a new tool to oppress their critics. As to the Wiccans et al, they are looking forward to the enactment of the Bill, excited, as the story in the Times puts it. Will it be a crime to say that modern Wicca and Satanism are, like Scientolology, fraudulent inventions promoted by writers, performers and entrepreneurs?
The various stories say that the Bill is opposed by a non-partisan coalition in the House of Lords, including a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. It has been criticized by many religious leaders. The old New Leftist writer Bernard Crick, writing in the Guardian online reports on a public lecture by Atkinson and the activities of the Citizen Organising Foundation, a community education group in East London – This age of fanaticism is no time for non-believers to make enemies – without discussing the Bill. The Bill was the subject of a comment in the Times October 23, an essay by Christopher Hart called God Save the Heretic.
I wonder if the religious groups that favour this legislation have thought about what should happen to religious leaders who use their churches and mosques to denounce feminism, homosexuality and secular values?
Today, the Wikipedia feature entry is about the French law banning conspicuous religious symbols in schools.
The ironies of politics – a conservative French government protects secular values. A self-styled progressive Labour government in England promotes cultural diversity by giving fundamentalists (and the fuzzy fringes of religion) a stick to beat their critics.

1 thought on “Blackadder Speaks Up”

  1. garth danielson

    I have always thought that these splinter religions and movements that people start were just a matter of population expansion and people searching for that proverbial something different. Just as we reinvent or try to improve the same old things for our use we reinvent or try to improve new ways to live. Humanity’s constant dissatisfaction with everything causes it to continuously splinter and regroup into smaller groups of more and more narrowly focused like minded individuals. Just the sheer numbers of people gives any interesting group a chance to grow quickly, splinter, regroup and start the process all over again. The cycles are getting shorter and shorter. I would suspect we have some overnight religions catching on in the not to distant future, maybe tomorrow, maybe yesterday. Perhaps this also ties in to what that Rabbi was talking about the other day on MPR, about the churches loosing some of their mystery, becoming more homogeneous, in the last half century. That could cause more and more tension and the group busts apart. It could all be chemical too. We’ve screwed about with the environment so much and then poured a super-chemical laden food cocktail of doom down our own throats all the while licking our big fat greasy lips in glee.
    Of course, I can’t see any difference between Satanism or Christianity. And I don’t know that I am joking. They have their rituals, texts, icons, you believe in God you have to believe in the Devil. I don’t believe in God or the Devil, but I believe there are good and evil in people and that it comes in many forms, and is found everywhere. Everywhere! Mostly it’s just some fucked up guy gettin’ his vengeance on, and the sad thing is that guy could be a good guy or a bad guy. Seems the Wiccans and the Catholics both have pedophiles, hummm. Maybe they’re not so much different.
    People like to dress up in gangs. I like the gang of me. I even have my own uniform, it’s just not one style. I always try to dress Hong Kong Cop Casual. I have been in groups or movements and didn’t always have that much fun, or even get a good growth thing going. I was in the Church of the Subgenius for a while and like I was supposed to I moved on. It was an interesting experience, inventing your religion from the ground up. You couldn’t put together a better religious study project than organically inventing a religion from scratch. I learned a lot, and it’s made me the bitter man I am today.
    It’s also very time weighted. Depending on where you are in time, the church might help you or they might kill you. They wouldn’t like me too much, in just about any era, I’m sure I would be burned at the steak in some of them. I’d bet the Spanish Inquisition would have a red hot poker, just waiting, glowing, to brand the word heretic on my ass as a gesture of welcome to their little sewing circle of hell. This timeless on going battle between religious groups for the “Best In God” prize has really soured me on the whole church gettin’ together thing. I do think that churches can be a help to some people but not to me. They are just like people, they can be bad and they can be good, same thing with corporations. We, the people, aren’t very good at inventing ways to get along. But, really, people have you seem them, who’d want to get together with most of them. And that one guy doesn’t even wash. And that other guy steals.
    I took the “What Religion Do you fit in With” at some website that Gary had on his blog and I got to be a humanist, 20% spiritual and 60 % reason. The site’s at http://www.quizgalaxy.com/quiz.php?id=47
    I did like that Rowan Atkinson piece, I thought he was pretty spot on. Politicians, don’t get me started. It’s gotten too late,
    See ya
    garth

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