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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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The question often comes up between Christians and atheists of subjective and objective morality, The standpoint of Christians is that morality is objective; that it is that morality is based upon absolute, “God-given” rules. Under this interpretation many Christians and other theists believe that atheists are inherently devoid of any moral compass.  The standpoint of the atheist that morality is subjective; based upon cultural traditional mores and constraints, and by that measure, morality changes with the times and differing cultures.  In this essay, I shall attempt to illustrate that Christian morality is not merely immoral, it is amoral; that is, devoid of any moral compass.

I once watched a video by YouTube user LordWhorfin in which he put forward the following hypothesis:

In a plane that is going to crash, there is an atheist, a Christian, a child and one parachute. LordWhorfin openly stated that the atheist must use the parachute himself because he is driven only by self-preservation and selfish motives. Earlier in his video however, he had stated that the Christian believes in the afterlife, reward or punishment, whereas the atheist believes there is nothing. He goes on in the video to state that for him giving the child the parachute is twofold; that firstly “you have done the ultimate good deed in the eyes of God – you have lain down your life for another”, and secondly “you can face eternal judgement knowing that by your own will, allowed the child to live.”

Immediately we see here that LordWhorfin’s interpretation of morality is based wholly upon an awards system. It is of course a very poor hypothesis to work upon. The outcome of anyone in that scenario would depend very much upon the individual and what they would do in that situation. I would like to think I would willingly give the child the parachute, for the simple fact it is the right thing to do, not to earn brownie points with some imaginary deity. When a morality system is based upon rewards, it immediately ceases to be moral. It is by its own definition amoral.

The very basis of theistic morality is based upon three premises;

1, that if God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2, that objective moral values and duties do exist.

3, therefore God must exist.

This of course is the same sort of nonsensical circular reasoning we find in “How do I know God wrote the Bible? Because the Bible tells me so.” and is equally full of holes.

If two people perform the same act, one believing it to be “evil” and the other having no conception of what is or isn’t “evil”, then we cannot condemn the person with no conception. We may condemn the act and try to prevent or restrain the person, but that does not mean we believe them to be inherently “evil”. Our very perception of “evil” is relevant only to the observers perception, and from that we can clearly see that morality can only ever be subjective.

Some Christians would counter that such thinking makes us no better than animals. Yet our own sapient ability tells us that we are different from, not better than, animals but we do not judge animals and humans by the same standards. Christians accuse atheists here of being specisist, yet by their very definition of good and evil, they are the ones using the same standards for animals and humans, and that would make the ultimate speciesist the very God they worship.

The claim that morality is objective falls down at another level. When white Europeans started travelling around the world, they began to encounter cultures who had never before encountered anyone of the Judeo/Christian tradition. Yet these peoples had their own moral codes the basis of which was not dissimilar to that of Judeo/Christian belief. Among these were the understanding that murder is wrong. Violence towards those less able to defend themselves, particularly towards women and children, is wrong. Cheating on a partner is wrong. Lying and or bearing false witness against someone is wrong. Right away we see in these basic rules of what we would refer to as a moral compass, echoes of the Biblical ten commandments. And strangely enough, these peoples also had at the head of their own rules to worship no other God than their own. Yet, with no input from Judeo/Christian culture, allegedly given to mankind by Yahweh, were morality objective, then there would have been no possible way they could have developed this moral code.

And yet they did, for the simple reason that their morality, like so many other things in life, came from experiences and trial and error. To explain, if you light a match and let it burn down, it will burn your fingers and that hurts. So we know not to do it a second time. Yet that is not learning through punishment, it is learning through experience. They are two different things. Human beings are empathic creatures, so by equal measure if we hurt someone, we know all too well that that affects not only the individual but all those whom their life touches and ultimately reflects upon the person doing the hurting and they are a poorer human being as a result. Similarly, those of us who have been hurt, be it physically or psychologically, know what it is like and are therefore less likely to impose that upon another human being. Suffering is very important to human development and maturity, and absolutely vital to the development of a moral code. It is a cornerstone, if not the cornerstone of morality that if we do not wish others to hurt us, then we have a moral obligation not to hurt others, and this obligation arises out of experience and biologically influenced preferences.

We protect those weaker than us for the very reason they are weaker than us. Not through any God-given guidance, but because it is in our instinct to do so. This is where the speciesist argument does become important. Most creatures on the face of this planet, particularly the females, will do anything in their power, including putting their own lives at risk, to protect their young. If this part of “morality” is objective, where then does that leave the Judeo/Christian belief that mankind is set apart from animals due to our souls? Elephants are another good example here. In elephant society there is no such thing as an orphan. For even if a cub’s mother dies, the other cows in the herd will take care of that cub as one of their own. Where then do they get that instinct if mankind alone has a soul and a moral compass? Of merely take the many examples of dogs who have given their own lives to protect their human masters. Given those examples, the argument of the Christian giving up the parachute to save the child suddenly falls apart.

In the Judeo/Christian tradition even their own God does not always adhere to his own moral code. Where was the morality in the flood? Where was the morality in killing all the first born children of Egypt? Sodom and Gomorrah? Slavery? Ordering the killing of all “enemies of God”, right down to the first born? The Bible is replete with instances where “Almighty God” carries out atrocities that horror writers would be jealous of. This of course completely flies in the face of the Christian claim that for a moral code there has to be a moral lawgiver. Yet the Old Testament certainly does not show the Judeo/Christian God as being anything other than a great moralist but rather depicts him of having all the morals of anything from a petulant child scattering the board because he cannot win the game, to those of an extremely dangerous psychopath. This is of course because lawgivers are still subjective beings and their presence does not guarantee objectivity.

Christian apologists will glibly tell you that when Jesus came, he brought the “New Covenant” between God and Man. This is disingenious, especially when you consider that many of the selfsame Christians will happily cherry pick bits out of the Old Testament to suit their own particular prejudices. Indeed, were Christians serious about the New Covenant, then not only would they not quote from the Old Testament, it would not be included in the Bible at all. Further than that however, consider that Jesus was allegedly God incarnate, the same God of the Old Testament and he supposedly stated that far from bringing a new law for mankind, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17, KJV). We therefore see that the New Covenant argument simply does not hold water. Indeed consider that Hell is not mentioned in the Old Testament (Jews do not believe in Hell) and that the entire Christian message of salvation is to escape eternal torment through worshipping Jesus Christ. If there is a morality in torturing and burning someone for all eternity, it certainly seems to be escaping me. But then to my mind anyone who tells someone “You had better love me or I’ll torture you mercilessly.” has all the morality of a psychopathic obsessive stalker.

Yet the Christians would maintain that morality comes only from God and that without God atheists are the ones who have no moral compass. Many will go further and state that when someone who at first appears devout later is exposed committing some terrible act, that they are “not a true Christian, because a true Christian would not do that.” This is the “no true Scotsman” fallacy; which takes it’s name from the claim, among other examples, that “No true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.” Aye, weel, I am a true Scotsman and I tak nothin’ but saut oan ma parritch, but that is where any correlation ends.

History is pock-marked with “Good Christians” who have carried out acts, some of which were highly questionable, others which were downright detestable, or could even have been considered “evil”. The vast majority of presbyterian Christians read and study from the King James Version of the Bible. This edition was translated by a group of men hand picked by King James I of Great Britain, and these men, the Christians would have you believe, were divinely inspired, hence their Bible must be the unquestionable word of God. One wonders how many actually know a little of the history of King James. James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. He was born in Edinburgh Castle, right here in my home town, in 1566. Not long after he turned one year old his Roman Catholic mother was forced to abdicate and give up her son to be brought up by the Protestant Lords of Convention, who ruled in his stead until he reached maturity. As James grew, surrounded by the bigotry and superstition of the time, he became increasingly paranoid about witches. To this end hundreds, possibly over a thousand people, mostly women and girls, were tortured throughout Scotland. James’ youngest victim of being accused of being a witch was a four year old toddler in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. More than 500 women and girls were burnt at the stake on the Castlehill in Edinburgh alone (contrary to what Hammer/Hollywood would have you believe, burning at the stake was peculiar to Scotland as the usual punishment for witchcraft). Yet this was a good, moral, Christian man who apparently gave us the definitive version of the Holy Bible.

There are some Christians who make the point that Christopher Columbus was not only a tradesman, he was an extremely devout man, whom when he discovered the Americas, attempted to bring Christianity to the Native Americans. Indeed he, and the other Christians who followed him, did – at the point of the sword, whilst cheating, stealing and plundering from the Native Americans, as well as killing many. That is not an opinion, it is a solid historical fact.

And in the modern era, we have had the last Pope, Benedict XVI, who as pontiff was supposedly the authority on Christian morality for 1.2 billion people, and his 2009 statement upon the distribution of condoms in Africa, “(a tragedy which) cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problem”. In other words Pope Benedict XVI openly stated that condoms, which we know, which he knows prevent HIV infection, that they actually exacerbate infection. That was an outright lie. What a fine paragon of moral virtue he was. But then, given the fact that Pope Benedict XVI carried on the protection of paedophile priests, as the Papacy has always done, and no doubt Pope Francis will continue, and that the Papacy has always amassed wealth in a world worse than half hungry, that they vilify women and the LGBT community, they have no right to preach morality to anyone. And yet we are talking about good Christian gentlemen.

Of course there are those Christians who will continue to blindly state the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, that these are not “true Christians”, which makes me wonder just who is a true Christian? And there is another danger here, and that is those who think that if they are a true Christian, they are “elect of God”. Yet every Christian who has committed a terrible act has always thought themselves “elect of God”.

In 1824 the Scots author and poet James Hogg anonymously published The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, the plot of which surrounded a person so very devout he believed himself so “elect of God” that he could do no wrong. This ultimately led to the destruction of those around him and himself by his own hands. The scary thing is that there are people who have acted exactly like that, and continue to do so to this day. Doubt that? How many “Good Christians” stand up against abortion, yet openly support wars in which children are killed daily? How many support children being killed by Israeli forces, because that is part of their God’s “divine plan”? Indeed, how many oppose abortion on the grounds that life is sacred, yet also hypocritically support the death penalty? How many greedily guard their money, are against paying taxes and strongly oppose social healthcare, despite the man they claim to worship telling them to help the poor, pay their taxes and tend to the sick?

Some Christians may argue that they are against abortion because of the innocence of the unborn child. Yet if they do, then they contradict their own faith. For due to the Fall of Man, from Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden, all of us are damned for all time. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, KJV). Not even foetuses. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5, KJV). It is because of this verse that to this day we have people in many sects of the Christian faith having babies Christened or Baptised, so they will not go to Hell if they die. Which begs the questions, what sort of morality is there in casting babies into eternal torment, and what then becomes of miscarried children?

What of the “Good Christians” who hide behind their faith to promote bigotry? On 24 March 2013 protestors against gay marriage and gay adoption marched through Paris and tried to breach police barriers. When police responded with one round of tear gas, the protestors regrouped and, responding to calls of “Put to the children to the front.” some used their own children as human shields. Where is the morality in that? Where indeed is the morality of those who promote violence against other the LGBT community and other minorities? Where is the morality of those “Good Christians” who celebrate the death of those whom they are opposed to and gloat over them “burning in Hell”. If you doubt that happens, go and see the sickening statements of some good Christians said about the death of the atheist Christopher Hitchens.

And yet the same people will tell you that because they have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, that makes them true Christians and due to that they are the only ones who are moral. Because as long as they drop a few coins in the collection plate every Sunday to salve their consciences, they are doing their bit and will be rewarded for that in Heaven, and for that, they must be better than the evil atheists.

So we come full circle to a morality which is based upon rewards and punishment, upon checks and balances by people who are very quick to judge others (which their own faith tells them not to do incidentally) but very slow to examine their own lives. That is not a morality at all. It is hypocrisy, it is cowardice and it is not just immoral, it is amoral – it actually has no basis in any moral compass.

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O wad some power, the giftie gie us,
tae see oorseels, as ithers see us.
(Robert Burns, To a Louse)

As an atheist living in Scotland, I am often amazed at the United States of America; a nation so full of potential for good and progress. Yet one which is being held back by religious belief.

There is a great irony between our two countries. Scotland has in the past been a presbytarian theocracy and we live with the residues of that to this day. Both this and us being part of the United Kingdom, means that we are officially a Christian country, yet one which is becoming increasingly secular. The USA on the other hand has not only never been a theocracy, it has the First Amendment assuring freedom of religion and a wall between church and state, yet the vast majority of US citizens are Christian and a great many of them would happily see it become a theocracy.

The events of recent years have made it painfully clear that the USA, while de jure a secular country, is de facto a Christian country. Just look at how many people believe and have falsely claimed in recent years that President Barack Obama is in fact a Muslim. Nonsense of course, for if President Obama is a Muslim, then for someone who works hard on a Friday and attends church on a Sunday, he is the strangest Muslim I have ever encountered. But the more important fact here is that even if Obama were a Muslim, in a country where freedom of religion is assured in the constitution, it should not matter one iota. The sad fact is that it should be perfectly possible for a Muslim to attain high office in the USA but it may never happen. Indeed, there is only one scenario where I could see that happening, and that is if a Muslim candidate were to stand against an atheist candidate. The USA is so fanatical about religion that I have no doubt they would sooner have a Muslim president than an atheist one, on the basis that any god is better than no god at all.

I have been told in the past that US politics are none of my business and I should keep out of them. Well, I’m not going to say sorry, because I am not, but I am afraid that, due to US foreign policy and America’s fascination with Christianity, as a citizen of the world, I cannot afford to ignore the USA.

One of the more worrying aspects of Christianity invading politics in the USA is the actual beliefs of those who form the politics or presidential hopefuls, and those in power. A great many of American Christians are firm “end times” believers. They take the Bible as a literal book of prophecy and believe that historical events, such as the founding of Israel in 1948, point to the end times and the return of Jesus coming. The Book of Revelation tells of Satan rising on this Earth culminating in a great battle between good and evil at Armageddon, which has been identified as Megiddo in Israel. So it is that some American politicians are all too ready to pander to these beliefs. One need only look to Mitt Romney’s 2012 election campaign, in which he openly stated his wish to spend vast amounts on arms and threw his support behind Israel to see the truth of that. Consider also that since 1948 there have been 45 United Nations resolutions against Israel due to continual invasion of Palestinian lands, warring with neighbouring states and appalling human rights abuses and the USA has, without exception, vetoed every one of those resolutions.

And should anyone consider this to be a wholly Republican malaise, consider that as recently as 29 November 2012, when the United Nations recognised Palestine as a non-member observer state, thereby giving them debating and voting rights, it was the Democrat Hilary Clinton who condemned the move, describing it as “unfortunate and counterproductive”. Meanwhile as I write this, Democrat President Barack Obama has just completed a visit to Israel, where he further avowed US support. Meanwhile the human rights abuses continue against Palestinian civilians, all too often with US-built military hardware.

It is insane to consider that ten years ago the USA led an invasion of Iraq, based upon the claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, terrorist training camps and for humanitarian reasons after the killing of 200,000 Kurds. Whilst I admit the Ba’ath regime’s terrible human rights record, there were of course never were any WMD nor terrorist training camps. Israel however is known to have nuclear weapons, they used phosphorus bombs upon Palestine, their secret service, Mossad, have carried out covert action around the world which is nothing more than state-sponsored terrorism and continual military strikes have resulted in 1.5 million Palestinian civilian deaths. Yet the USA not only refuses to condemn Israel, they openly support them.

And why? Because there are so many American Christians believe that conflict in the middle east is all leading up to “the big one”, as predicted in the Bible, and some even seem to be anxious for it to happen. The real danger of course is that with Israel and the Islamic state of Pakistan already having nuclear weapons, and many middle eastern countries having Russia and China as allies, that it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would only need one conflict to get out of hand to lead to a global, possibly nuclear conflict. And that is why neither I nor any other person on the face of the planet should ignore US politics or the extent to which religion affects US foreign policy.

It is not only the threat of war where the infestation of US politics with religion threatens us however, there is also the environment to consider. The USA is the second largest polluter in the world, accounting for 18.27% of global carbon emissions and coming second only to China (23.5%). Yet there are many Christians in the USA who completely deny the fact of global warming and mankind’s impact upon climate change. The view of some of them is that if God had not meant us to burn coal and oil he would have told us not to use them in the first place (which makes one wonder just why the creator would have buried them so far underground?) but instead apparently gave mankind enough to last thousands of years. Others, when seeing some of the already evident signs of climate change, such as widespread flooding and droughts, instead point to the Bible to tell us these are signs of, yes, you’ve guessed it, the end times. And of course, just as well as hoping for the ultimate battle between good and evil at Armageddon, the Christians are more than happy to carry on as normal, so long as it is anything which helps to hasten the rapture, including destroying the Earth, the only home which our and other species have.

There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there is creationism. It astounds me that an enormous 60% of US citizens reject the Darwinian Theory of Evolution but instead either believe in creationism or intelligent design. This means that the vast majority of Americans are refuting confirmed, testable, scientific fact, and opting instead for a bunch of baseless and impossible mumbo jumbo.

Of course I fully realise that the school system in the USA has independent schools, many of which are Christian schools, which teach creationism, and there are parents who maintain their right to send their children to these schools. Certainly, that is their right and far be it from me to even suggest that right be taken away from them. What I do object to however, is filling the minds of children with nonsense in the name of science. These children are being brought up as ignoramuses and just as the rest of the developed world laughs at their parents, so they shall at their children. I make no bones about this, I consider teaching creationism and other Biblical myths to children to be a form of child abuse.

Yet as well as creationism being taught in private Christian schools in the USA, I find it disturbing to see it creep it’s way into state schools. Louisiana is one state which has signed up to the Accredited Christian Education (ACE) Programme, which will see Christian-based eduction taught in state schools. I have particular distaste for the ACE Programme due to one of their more outlandish claims of “proof” for creationism; the Loch Ness Monster.

The first recorded sighting of an aquatic monster anywhere near Loch Ness appears in the seventh century Life of Columba by the Celtic Monk Adomnan, who wrote the biography of Saint Columba, an Irish prince who founded a monastery on the tiny island of Iona and brought Christianity to the Picts and Scots. In his work Adomnan recounts a monster attacking a monk in the River Ness and St Columba chasing it off by invoking the help of Jesus and the saints. It is worth noting that Adomnan was writing some 100 years after Columba’s death and many more outlandish claims about him which, if believed, Jesus may well have been jealous of. It is also worth noting that Life of Columba clearly states “River Ness”, and not the loch itself.

After this initial early sighting, Nessie appears to have become somewhat circumspect and does not put in another appearance in Scottish history, folklore or legend, right up the first modern sighting in 1933, which coincidentally was around the same time motor touring of the Scottish highlands was becoming popular. From then on the story of “something queer in the loch” grew into a legend, which attracted people with the hope of seeing the Loch Ness Monster, leading even to expeditions to find the elusive creature. And in 1972 one researcher, Robert Rines, claimed to have captured a photograph of one of Nessie’s fins. A large, green, diamond shape in the peaty water, the image was subsequently claimed, not least by Rines himself, to be the fin of a plesiosaur; a creature which lived 199.6–65 million years ago.

The Rines photograph is the sole evidence upon which the ACE Programme base their entire proof of creationism, stating that it shows man and dinosaurs did – and do – live together. The photo however was taken to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, where it was computer enhanced, and that computer-enhanced image was further artistically retouched by the Academy of Applied Science team, thereby producing the final flipper photo. The original photograph shows nothing more exciting that what appears to be bubbles and sediment in the water.

Of course, living in Scotland, far be it from me to complain about Americans believing in the Loch Ness Monster. For as long as they keep believing it, they will keep coming here and keep pumping their tourist dollars into the Scots economy, which I am more than happy to allow to continue for a great many years to come. What I do have a problem with however is the fact that what the ACE Programme are doing is basing one myth, creationism, upon another, the Loch Ness Monster. And that they are now being allowed to teach something which does not even pass as pseudoscience in public schools, on taxpayers money, bringing kids up to be a laughing stock, I personally find scandalous, just as every right-thinking US citizen should.

The idea of creationism in a state school is completely alien to me. It must be a cultural difference as it could never happen here in Scotland. Here we have two types of state schools, non-denominational and Roman Catholic. In both types evolution is taught as it should be; an accepted scientific fact. Here in Edinburgh we have a major tourist attraction named Our Dynamic Earth. The purpose of this attraction is to inform and educate about the origins of the earth, evolution and earth sciences. School pupils are taken on compulsory visits to Our Dynamic Earth as part of their curriculum, thereby underlining just how seriously we take the matter. Even the path leading up to the entrance of Our Dynamic Earth has large rocks from various times in Earth’s development.

I actually have a humorous story involving Our Dynamic Earth. I used to work as a tour guide on open-top buses in Edinburgh and one customer we had one day was a woman from South Carolina. Having once known a Baptist pastor from SC, I had an idea of what I could expect. She was little pleased as I pointed out that Princes Street Gardens lie in a valley carved out by a glacier 10,000 years ago. She was less pleased still when we came up close to Edinburgh Castle Rock, which I pointed out that it is solid basalt, millions of years old. She was visibly irritated in the Lawnmarket, the oldest part of the city, when I pointed out that it was first settled 8000 years ago. She became angrier, when I pointed out Arthur’s Seat, the 823 foot high volcanic cone at the heart of Edinburgh, and told passengers it last erupted 350 million years ago. She was positively fuming when we came round by Salisbury Crags, next to Arthur’s Seat, which I informed were pushed up by volcanic pressure in the same eruption and then polished by ice 100,000 to 10,000 years ago. She was close to exploding as I told passengers about James Hutton, the Edinburgh-born father of geology, who went walking up Arthur’s Seat one day and came to the conclusion the Earth could not be 6000 years ago but must be extremely ancient, and she was visibly apoplectic as we pulled into Our Dynamic Earth and I told passengers of how it tells of Earth’s origins, 460 billion years ago, up to the present day, and pointed out the rocks from different stages of Earth’s development. For some strange reason, she didn’t tip me at the end of the tour.

Which brings me onto another aspect of religion, and I don’t mince my words here, Christianity in the USA and the fact it is a nuisance, and sometimes a dangerous one at that. The arrogance of many American Christians disgusts me, their overtly defensive attitude bemuses me and the lengths some of them are willing to go in the name of their faith horrifies me. I am a former Christian myself and I would never have stooped to the level of many American Christians, nor would anyone in the Independent Baptist church I was a member of.

I have crossed swords online with American Christians many times and I have been vilified, called a liar, had all sorts of insults and accusations thrown at me and even occasionally threatened with physical violence, generally by people who know they have lost the debate and with no other arguments to fall back upon, instead resort to personal attacks. The arrogance of many of these people is as equally astounding as their ignorance, including their ignorance of the Bible, Jesus and the faith they claim to follow. I have also encountered more outright lies and twisting of Biblical scripture from American Christians than I have from any other source. They are actually the worst advert for Christianity anyone could ever find.

In the documentary Religulous, comedian Bill Maher visited a church to ask the pastor and members of their beliefs. One man stated that he didn’t like where the documentary was going and said that if Maher was going to run down his God, he wanted nothing to do with it, and walked out. I actually have more respect for that man than the vast majority of American Christians. Not only did he do the civil thing in walking away, he was actually following his own faith to the letter; “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:37, KJV). Christians are not supposed to argue with non-believers, they are meant to walk away. Which immediately makes me wonder that when they do become defensive and argumentative, just who are they trying to convince; the non-believer, or themselves?

Worse still are the actions which some Christians will go to in order to “defend their faith”. I have seen and read of American Christians ostracising and shunning atheists and people of other faiths in their communities, threats and even violence against atheists, people of other faiths and members of the LGBT. What particularly disgusts me about this is that these tend to be the same people who point the finger and condemn the hateful Westboro Baptist Church for their picketing of dead soldier’s funeral. As far as I can see the only difference between the WBC and some other American Christians is one of presentation. There was one instance of this recently, which while it does not involve violence, certainly shows up the hypocrisy of some American Christians. I covered a story on a Scottish social networking site about Arkansas voting to allow guns to be carried in churches. This horrifies me. On the odd occasion I do enter a church, I remove my hat out of respect. I would never take a gun into any place of worship on the grounds that it is simply just not done. Of Americans responding, some in the gun lobby said they would – simply because it is their right to do so. I pointed out that the WBC cowardly hide behind the selfsame arrogant claim; that it is their right within law to picket soldiers’ funerals. I used this to make the point that just because you can do something does not necessarily mean you should do it. Needless to say, the gun nuts were not to pleased with this comparison (and being of limited intelligence, thought I was likening them to the WBC).

As I am a former Baptist Christian myself, I am somewhat bemused at American conservative Christianity. The type which is so beloved of the Republican Party and other right wing elements. I have heard Christians use and twist the scriptures to back up their views on capitalism, immigration, abortion, and even social healthcare. I have news for them; a black guy helping the poor and sick? That’s not Obama you’re thinking of – it’s Jesus. Try actually reading the Bible sometime instead of cherry picking the bits which suit your own bigotry. But then, I have always been firmly of the opinion that the vast majority of American Christians would not know Jesus if he bit them on the ass. And if he did come back, I have no doubt the first thing he would do to any American conservative Christian would be bitchslap them and shout in their face “WRONG!”

The United States of a America is an extremely young country, not even yet 250 years old, and yet it has grown to become the most powerful country in the world. Too much too soon at times methinks. I am by no means anti-American but in fact believe that the USA can be and has the potential to be a great force for good in the world. I become so very frustrated at the way religion stifles and holds the USA back in so many ways, and has even been a contributory factor in the sad fact that the US is now a major threat to world peace and the entire survival of the planet.

I come from a country and a people with over 1000 years history and experience behind us. We are by no means perfect and to this day live with the sectarian bigotry which had it’s roots in the Reformation and the hard presbyterian rule which Scotland had thereafter. We have learned the hard way however, evolved because of our experiences, and I like to think are now a better people for that. We have been a theocracy; you honestly do not wish to become one. And if you do, how much different then would you be from the intolerant fundamentalist Islamic states you so easily condemn?