“I will not have priests involved in the enterprise”

As I mentioned yesterday, in relation to this post, sometimes stories just collide, and on the redesigned Belfast Telegraph website Eamonn McCann has some fun with one such collision. Taking the transitional assembly debate on Monday as a starting point, he takes issue with the revisionism, by both Adams and Paisley, of the views of those involved in the United Irishmen and, in advance of any proposed visit by Benedict XVI, quotes Theobald Wolfe Tone’s view of “Papal tyranny”.

The notion that the United Irishmen were Protestant ecumenists of a sort, arguing for respect for Catholicism and the creation of a tolerant society in which “both communities” would live in genial amity is attractive, particularly to nationalists, including modern republicans, anxious to suggest a non-sectarian heritage. But it’s far from the facts.

From the Belfast Telegraph article

Indeed, one of the chief reasons Tone and the United Irishmen wanted to end the oppression of Catholics was that they believed that, freed, the Catholics would slough off their religion. In his splendid Argument On Behalf Of The Catholics Of Ireland, written for the Dublin-based Catholic Committee in 1791, Tone put it plain: “Persecution will keep alive the foolish bigotry and superstition of any sect…Persecution bound the Irish Catholic to his priest and the priest to the Pope; the bond of union is drawn tighter by oppression; relaxation will undo it.”

What would the response be today were an MLA publicly to describe Catholic teaching and ritual as “foolish bigotry and superstition?”

Or to characterise the Mass, as Tone did, as “abominable nonsense”?

Tone angrily rejected suggestions from the French Directory that he take two priests with him when he sailed to Ireland to foment revolution. “I will not have priests involved in the enterprise,” he responded.

Compare and contrast the first Sinn Fein ard fheis after 1916, when 10% of the delegates were priests, one of whom was elected by acclamation as vice-president.

Tone and the United Irish leaders believed they were living in the last days of Catholic power in the world. They referred frequently and excitedly to the fact that it had been Catholics, or ex-Catholics, who had accomplished the French Revolution. Why should Irish Catholics, roused to liberate themselves, be any different?

When French forces drove the Pope from Rome in February 1798, Tone exultantly welcomed what he saw as the beginning of the end of Catholic influence in Europe. He regretted that Bonaparte had let the Pope live: ” It was unwise to let slip so favourable an opportunity to destroy forever the Papal tyranny.”

However, he consoled himself, at least the Pope had been deposed, and the Roman people had “declared themselves free and independent…Thus terminated the temporal reign of the Popes after an existence of above 1,000 years.” A bit premature, as things turned out. But there’s no mistaking his attitude, which in all essentials was the attitude of the Templepatrick Six.

Wolfe Tone’s attitude to the Pope was closer to that of Ian Paisley circa 1969 than to the mellow musings of the Rev Ian on Monday.

It bears no resemblance of any kind to the attitude of Mr Adams.

Anybody for a Wolfe Tone Commemoration Committee to give Benedict a proper republican welcome at Aldergrove?

I think Fred Halliday might be interested..

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  • Cavalier

    When he drops the class war cráp, McCann really can come up with pure gold. Genius.

  • Henry94

    We commerate Tone for his contribution to the cause of Irish freedom. He does not get a veto on what we do with it. Otherwise it’s not really freedom.

    We agree that it is for the people to decide. We don’t have to agree on what they should decide.

  • jaffa

    “And he might have mentioned that, whatever about the Synod of Ulster, which was split on the matter, the Presbytery of Antrim, which covered Templepatrick, was on the Unitarian, and the United Irish, side.”

    I had a pleasant “moment of truth” (as the branding guys say) as I was driving down Holywood High Street the other day. On the radio the BBC Irish Language team were discussing the resurgence of shinty in the context of gaelic games and scots gaelic traditions and as I passed the non-subscribing presbyterian church (the pink one that looks like a synagogue) there was a poster inviting people to a talk on the part of presbyterians in the 1798 rising. Modern non-subscribers consider themselves part of the Unitarian family (and apparently Doctor Paisley agrees) although I think most Unitarians would see them as being very much in the conservative christian section of that very broad church’s congregation.

    Neither a big deal but the openness and the assumed audience interest are healthy signs I hope.

  • jaffa

    I don’t think a Unitarian’s or a Republican’s approach to the Pope could be compared sensibly to a free presbyterian’s. The first two apply principles of liberty, reason and personal conscience to questions of faith. The free presbyterians apply something altogether different.

  • Cavalier

    Sure, Jaffa, if you say so, although there’s no denying that Adams tried to be clever here and ended up doing little more than exposing his laughable ignorance.

  • manichaeism

    Re Tone’s views on Catholicism.

    Always amazes me how some people refer to other religions as silly superstition but don’t realise that they’re own religion is just as silly and just as superstitious.

  • CS Parnell

    I’m with the Tonester. Let’s stangle the Pope with the guts of a presbyterian minister.

  • CS Parnell

    manichaeism, I imagine Tone, as a true child of the enlightenment believed in no god.

  • manichaeism

    Maybe, CS, but he should have stopped calling himself a Protestant in that case!

  • bpower

    “Follow the gorde”

    “No,No, the shoe is the true path”

  • manichaeism

    Good one bpower! LOL!

  • manichaeism


    Does the b stand for Brian!

  • Good article. but McCann is guilty of setting up something of a straw man here:

    The notion that the United Irishmen were Protestant ecumenists of a sort, arguing for respect for Catholicism and the creation of a tolerant society in which “both communities” would live in genial amity is attractive, particularly to nationalists, including modern republicans, anxious to suggest a non-sectarian heritage. But it’s far from the facts.

    What is he saying there unless it is that the United Irishmen were guilty of anti-Catholic sectarianism, which is absurd. Many of them may have opposed the Catholic Church, but they were at the forefront of fighting for equality for Catholics. That, surely is the key difference between Tone and Paisley.

    I just don’t buy the idea that Tone’s anti-clericalism is some kind of unspeakable truth for modern nationalists. I can think of a view who would agree with him about the Mass.

    As McCann has observed previously, social trends in the Republic suggest that Tone had the right idea about how to break the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Perhaps that’s something that Dr Paisley should think about.

  • Greenflag

    Tone was ahead of his time -at least in Ireland . His analysis was and remains broadly correct as we can see in an increasingly secular Ireland. It’s debateable at least that had Britain not passed the Act of Union and had Ireland won it’s independence in the early 19th century that the RC Church would never have attained the power it did over Irish minds. The RC Church in Ireland and in the wider world in 2006 is a very different entity from what it was in 18th & 19th centuries . Tone was a pupil of the Enlightenment and thus to compare him with Paisley is a nonsense . The latter is nothing more than a roaring 19th century Cooke dressed up in 20th century clerical collar .

    Regardless of his lack of religion or antipathy to religion Tone will be remembered long after the Paisley’s are but a bad memory.

  • bpower

    yes, it does. Do i know you?

  • Henry Joy

    Cut throat Tone! What pleasant meories mention of this suicidal cult leader bring back. Watching the Occuptation forces parade at Phoenix Park, trying to join the British colonial service to benefit by oppressing the coloured folk, beofre throwing his lot in with the upstart Bonaparte.

    And, as for Bodenstown churchyard, that the young romantic Davis sang about and the drunken cultists of Crossmaglen like to “march” to, don’t tell me, as Pearse did, that it is the holiest place in Ireland. Most who go there have never read his writings. He is but a symbol from a mythologised past.
    Daniel O’Connell, who sired bastards galore in Catholic Irleand, acheived far more. But as he cannot be used as an apologist for violence, his tomb is Glsnevein in not regarded as being quite so holy. No wonder Gemrany allows no “holy” shrine for Hitler.

  • willowfield

    There is a wonderful irony, though, that those who idolise Wolfe Tone today would go apoplectic if his views on the Pope and the RC Church were expressed by anyone in Ireland today.

  • CS Parnell


    Your sad end down at Cornmarket has made you a bitter man, clearly.

    What is your gripe? That the Tonester changed his mind? Sure, haven’t we all.

    Yes, you have a point about the cult of violence in Ireland but your snidey comparison of a revolutionary democrat and a totalitarian murderer tells us more about you than anything else.

    If you want to indulge in historical smear at least have the guts to do it in the open – otherwise the cause you serve (unionism – one assumes – clearly a post-death conversion) is dishonoured

  • CS Parnell


    Plenty here “idolise” Tone and have no time for the Pope.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Plenty here “idolise” Tone and have no time for the Pope.”

    Plenty CS? At the most recent census in the ROI, 92% ticked the box marked Roman Catholic. It’s difficult to do this if you’ve ‘no time for the Pope.’

    Tone’s fanciful notion that ‘free’ Catholics would suddenly become ex-Catholics is plainly exposed as nonsense by the above statistic alone.
    After decades of oppression, myriad clerical abuse scandals and a standard of living and freedom unimaginable a generation ago, we still have just 8% of the population outside the club.

    Tone clearly got it wrong. Why? Because he under-estimated the cradle to grave nature of Catholicism. I personally know plenty of ‘lapsed’ Catholics, but none are able to entirely break free of the strictures of their upbringing.
    In the West, less than 1% of the population convert to another religion. It’s a depressing statistic, and a nonsensical one, indicating that religious faith and presumably ultimate salvation are little more than an accident of birth.

  • George

    Gerry Lvs Castro,
    it was 88%.

    How many ticked they spoke Irish and English and do you believe that statistic too?

    Or would that be ridiculous?

  • George

    By the way, the 2006 figures aren’t available but apparently there were 1.5 million Irish speakers in the Irish Republic in 2002.

    According to the Census that is.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Only 88% George? I won’t quibble over four percentage points, since it makes no difference whatsoever to the point I’m making.

    Your ‘Irish speakers’ comment is intended to suggest that many of the 88% are actually lying.
    Now tell me George, if you were genuinely ‘liberated’ from the RC church, an organisation remember that is dictatorial, chauvinistic, homophobic and arrogant to the point of covering up heinous abuse of children for decades if not centuries, would you still want to say you were a member? Yeah count me in?

    Stretching your threadbare knowledge of the Irish language for the sake of appearances is one thing, claiming to be a member of an organisation that has proved itself entirely contemptuous of it’s own flock is quite another.

  • George

    Gerry Lvs Castro,

    over a third of Ireland’s children are born outside of marriage, for example. 20 years ago girls were dying because they were giving birth in fields because of the “shame”.

    There’s ticking a box and there’s Catholic, all-pervasive control over Irish society. You know there is a difference.

    There are many, many people who despise the dictatorial, chauvinistic, homophobic and arrogant to the point of covering up heinous abuse of children for decades if not centuries, who still ticked that box.

    They associate the Catholic Church in Ireland with all these crimes, but they still believe in a God.

    Maybe their God is Catholic but I’m not so sure. Christian would be a better description.

    All I am saying is that you are living in cloud cuckoo land if you think Ireland (Republic of) 2006 is 88% Catholic, as you understand it.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    George, if you wish to believe in a God, there are plenty of Christian (or otherwise) churches/denominations in Ireland — the RC church is only one.

    What I’m struggling to comprehend is why so many people (who as you rightly say despise the organisation) still continue to identify with it.

    The only possible explanation is the one I gave earlier — the indoctrination from childhood.

    One interesting aspect of the Protestant church (which I’m not personally advocating either) is the relative ease with which it’s adherents move from one denomination to another (often with wildly differing views and practices), whilst the RC church remains a seemingly indivisible edifice.

    Instead, many Irish Roman Catholics adopt a kind of cop-out position where they pick and mix the bits of the faith they agree with, thereby entirely diluting their supposed salvation, but remain too scared to actually leave. Thus they are faced with remaining in an undemocratic organisation which stubbornly refuses to change it’s stance on anything from equality for women to the use of contraception, whilst continuing to treat it’s flock with complete contempt.

    Believing in God does not equal Roman Catholicism and from a purely common sense viewpoint, it’s extremely difficult to see how an organisation with such an appalling track record on earth can possibly have any creedence in the afterlife.

  • BeardyBoy

    I have no gra for Tone and would have more in common with the defenders – a far more noble organisation than the masonic republicans – soonr we can get the nationalists to realise that they were no friends of ours and only wanted to capture power for the emerging middle class of the time the better.

    As for the Church – I am the Church – and as such its views reflect mine – glad to be an annoyance

  • George

    Gerry Lvs Castro,
    I have trouble understanding it too sometimes although I think part of it is the ceremonial stuff like Christening, Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Funeral.

    These are part of the fabric of Irish society and are still in the hands of the Catholic Church.

    But things have and are changing. Children are being reared outside of the Catholic ethos. You don’t endure stigma if you don’t marry or if you have a child outside of marriage. Registry offices are no longer down back alleys. Not attending mass isn’t an issue. Respect for the institution of the Catholic Church is at an all-time low.

    It no longer holds the high ground, be it to preach from or to fire its corrupt missiles of destruction on the people below.

    That said, I feel many Irish people still look on their Catholic religion as a birthright, something that the nation held on to when it would have been easier to bow down, surrender and take the soup. It defined them for centuries.

    In some ways, it is like the Irish language, something they don’t know where to fit into their lives but something they also don’t want to simply jettison.

    That said, if it doesn’t change its ways, it will die in Ireland for the reasons outlined by you.

    Today, Irish Catholics are Irish first, Catholic second. Hell Catholic might even be down in fourth or fifth or tenth place for many.

    But it is still in the top 10 because it played a major part in defining the nation’s (Republic of) past and Irish people, like everyone else on this planet need a past.

    The great thing is that the Irish people are finally coming to terms with their past, and that naturally includes their Catholic one.

    An indication of that is that people have to look to government forms to find examples of Irish Catholic devotion in 2006.

    20 years ago, you would have been spoilt for choice.

  • David

    I suppose the early United Irishmen believed that the separation of church and state made religion a private matter of individual conscience.

    Todays republicans seem to believe that some form of state enforced ecumenism that stops extreme Protestants from criticising Catholicism (though it rarely applies in the other direction).

  • darth rumsfeld

    Gerry might want to emulate the fate of one Dempsey, a defender who accompanied the United irishmen from Roughfort, and who, the night beofre the battle of Antrim fell into conversation with some Randalstown Presbyterian United men. Dempsey remarked that the next day they would overturn the injustices brought on Ireland at the Boyne- he was quickly disabused of this opinion by his comrades, who sadly did not limit their objections to verbal alone.

  • darth rumsfeld

    ..oh, and hats up to beardyboy- the Defenders are indeed the forefathers of the Shinners. Their sectarian deeds at Scullabogue etc would have been a true inspiration for the perpetrators of La Mon, and Bloody Friday

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    For once George, I really can’t argue. Hopefully the steady fall-off in RC deference will continue. Indeed I seem to recall the pontiff recently stating that he would prefer a smaller church of the faithful rather than a large church of the lapsed, or something to that effect.
    By ditching their creed and moving onto pastures new (preferably secularism), they would actually be doing the old guy a favour.
    Comrades, break your chains! You have nothing to lose but your rosary beads.

  • Rory

    I found Gerry Lvs Castro’s description of the Catholic Church as “an undemocratic organisation” interesting and I am trying to get my mind around the concept of a democratic monotheist religion.

    Would the Pope and the Synod, for example, propose,say, that all the faithful adhere to a belief in the resurrection of Christ and transubstantiation and then put it to a vote among the faithful? It might be a bit tricky if the NO’s won.

  • George

    Gerry lvs Castro,
    I fear that once we have achieved the aim of putting the final nail in the Catholic value dictatorship column, like all good revolutionaries we will then part our ways.

    You, I assume, will go on to fight to set up your new secular dictatorship.

    But I don’t want to replace one values dictatorship with another secular one.

    I have found many secular people to be as intolerant of “non-believers” of their creed as your most rabid Catholic.

    Just like people shouldn’t dismiss all socialist values because of the Soviet Union, we shouldn’t dismiss all Christian values and ways because of the actions of the Catholic Church.

    Like most post-revolutionary situations, I might even find that old enemies are now new friends and allies while old allies are my new “oppressors”.

    I suppose that’s half the fun.

  • George

    Oops, coffin not column.

  • Greenflag


    ‘There is a wonderful irony, though, that those who idolise Wolfe Tone today would go apoplectic if his views on the Pope and the RC Church were expressed by anyone in Ireland today. ‘

    Would they ? So far nobody has gone apoplectic over Eamonn McCann’s article . Normally I’m not a fan of McCann and in particular his ‘brand’ of socialism yet I’ll accept his description of Wolfe Tone’s beliefs . The RC Church is a different institution from what it was in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe in the 18th century .

    Catholics are now ‘allowed ‘ to believe in evolution and that the earth moves around the Sun . They are no longer burned at the stake for being heretics . However so called Free Presbyterians are allowed to believe that the world is flat, that God revolves around Paisley and that evolution is a Fenian Darwinian plot to undermine the Orangeman’s belief that God is a Prod .It seems that for all his cant and bluster the ‘enlightenment’ had but a brief dawn in Belfast in the 1780’s and 1790’s . Thereafter it was back to darkness . A brief return of light in the mid 1960’s was followed very quickly by the ranks of Paisleyism in the 1970’s with their demand to switch back on the darkness . And that is what many still want.

    Meanwhile TOne’s Croppies have arisen and thrown off the darkness . The light shining from the new Republic will eventually blind the followers of darkness .

    Anyway who would want to go to heaven . Just imagine millions of dead Orangemen singing for eternity and parading around like demented demons for the same length of time . And then there’s no mention of sex in the christian heaven . I mean it’s one of the most important and gratifying human experiences and we’re not supposed to have any of it for all eternity ?

    And no Guinness either 🙁 The more I think about the more I’m beginning to believe that maybe just maybe the heaven cooked up in the Bible will somehow suit the FP’s . Imagine the joy of listening to Paisley ranting away for eons 🙁 And there’ll be no swings in the heavenly park on Sundays and the weemen will still be expected to make the tay and biscuits for the menfolk after their eternal day’s march 🙁

  • jaffa


    “I am trying to get my mind around the concept of a democratic monotheist religion.”

    Something like this? Back to the good Doctor’s Unitarian baddies again.

    From the Unitarian Universalist (US church) website;

    At a Unitarian Universalist worship service or meeting, you are likely to find members whose positions on faith may be derived from a variety of religious beliefs: Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, naturist, atheist, or agnostic. Members might tell you that they are religious humanists, liberal Christians, or world religionists.

    All these people, and others who label their beliefs still differently, are faithful Unitarian Universalists committed to the practice of free religion. We worship, sing, play, study, teach, and work for social justice together as congregations-all the while remaining strong in our individual convictions.

    another bit

    Our children are taught to think for themselves, while receiving guidance on moral and ethical behavior. They learn Bible stories and talk about them, allowing their individual beliefs to unfold without a dogmatic interpretation. We present them with thought-provoking themes and allow them the space to develop points of view and convictions. Our church schools often have chapel services, where children lead and participate in their own services and find their spirituality. Many churches include the children in part of the main worship service before they go to another part of the church for church school.

    Children learn about the beliefs and practices of the world’s major religions. They are encouraged to respect differences in theology-many even spend a year visiting other churches, mosques and synagogues in their area.

    We have an award-winning, age-appropriate sexuality education program for our youth as well as a Coming of Age process that most churches use. Coming of Age is a program in which a church fosters the transition of its youth into young adulthood.

  • jaffa


    I thought you were crossing over to islam until I got to the guiness bit.

    Do you know of a faith that allows both sex and drink in the afterlife?

    Valhalla perhaps but you’ll need to die a warrior’s and not a straw death.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”You, I assume, will go on to fight to set up your new secular dictatorship.”

    Not at all George — the whole point of secularism is the opportunity to make up your own mind on matters of spirituality.

    Ideally, no child should be indoctrinated into a religious creed any more than they should be indoctrinated into say their father’s profession.
    Since evidence-based proof for any religion is non-existent, all beliefs must therefore be considered equally valid or invalid. As such each individual should be free to study the various belief systems and decide on one, several or none, rather than being taught from birth that their parents religion is the only true faith.

    In practice of course, parental religious indoctrination is beyond the scope of a democratic state and democracy must deal with realities even if such parents don’t.

    Therefore the best secularism can do is strive to keep religious belief in the home and place of worship. That means out of the classroom and out of parliament.

    Far from being a dictatorship, a secular state should allow absolute freedom of religious belief, but prevent the imposition of selective religious ‘rules’ such as homophobia or veiling of women on the general populace.

    I’m aware of secularists who regard the religious as deluded idiots. I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint, but equally I don’t subscribe to religionists (as previously discussed) keeping themselves in a kind of half-in half-out limbo state, where they profoundly disagree with many of their church’s diktats but feel unable to leave due largely to early indoctrination.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro


    ‘I am trying to get my mind around the concept of a democratic monotheist religion.’

    Rory I mentioned earlier one of the crucial differences between the Protestant and RC churches. Again I’m not advocating Protestantism, but adherents to it’s creed tend to move freely among it’s myriad sects according to their personal beliefs and preferences. Roman Catholics, as members of a non-divisible faith, are stuck with a dictatorship.

    As previously mentioned, many, indeed most modern Irish Catholics do not adhere to church diktats on contraception or sex outside marriage and fewer and fewer adhere to rules on co-habitation and abortion. I use the term ‘diktat’ because ordinary members have absolutely no say in the rulings or heirarchy of their church. It is simply a given that the men at the top know best.
    Unfortunately given their track record, they quite obviously don’t know best, unless you consider belief in a flat earth, burning of witches and covering up widespread child abuse a good thing.

    At the end of the day, an organisation increasingly out of touch with it’s membership will crumble. Consider for instance where the British Labour party would be today had they insisted on doggedly sticking to their principles of nuclear disarmament, trade union rule and wholesale nationalisation. They had a choice of becoming a rump party with a few thousand followers or moving with the times and getting back into power.
    If the RC church cannot keep in line with their membership and act with at least some degree of democracy, they will inevitably shrink and become at best a third world church.

    When I used the term ‘undemocratic’, I wasn’t referring to such basic doctrines as the resurrection, rather the complete lack of accountability of the hierarchy over matters such as women’s role in the church and the other issues outlined above.

    Roman Catholics seem to take it for granted that their church can never be anything more than a male-dominated dictatorship. It ain’t necessarily so.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Jaffa, fundamentalist islam is your man for the sex anyway – there’ll be 72 beautiful virgins waiting for you if you do the martyr thing.

    Maybe an Irish Islam will emerge where Irish martyrs will have 72 virgins with creamy pints of stout waiting.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    However, some linguists believe that this ancient koranic text was mistranslated and the 72 virgins were actually 72 raisins.

  • CS Paisley

    feck, 72 raisins? Wtf is the point of that? Not worth anyone’s lief. never mind your own 🙂

  • jaffa

    An eccles cake perhaps or even a well made christmas pud (could sneek some booze in there too) but just loose dried fruit. Makes no sense at all.

  • Doctor Who


    “Catholics are now ‘allowed ‘ to believe in evolution”

    That idiotic comment makes you sound as confused as Father Dougal in “Father Ted”.

  • BeardyBoy

    Scullabogue was a justifiable act – British forces had cruelly murdered prisoners taken at New Ross – this action was to teach them not to do this or the reprisals would be just as vicious – the doctrine of mutual assured destruction 18th Century edition. It was entirely in keeping with the ethos of the time. Incidently the dead included Catholics and the attackers protestant.

  • Secur O’Crat

    What if Tone and his touts had stayed with their fellow Masons and allowed the Boys of Wexford, Waterford, Carlow and Wicklow to get on with it? Perhaps there would have been a massive cleansing as in France and a guillotine to rid us of our sundered brethern once and for all. The 1798 rebellion in the North was just one group of wankers against a bigger group. It is a myth the Shinners like to grasp on to. Most good folk stayed at home or passed on information to the securocrats of the day. Tone’s lawyer, the Denis Donaldson of his day, was a Brussels sprout and he shopped in the 1803 lot as well. Tone was a social climber with a pike.

    Jaffa: Your religion sounds funky. I bet you have plenty of nice cruises and the kids coming of age seem lik a vacuous lot, permanent tourists in the world of belief.

  • BeardyBoy

    Male hierarchy in the Church has been going now for around 4 thousand years so it seems to be quite effective in surviving – rules from above is right – God made them so we would be better keeping them .

    Democracy – new fangled and will crumble – it has only developed and is still trying to get it right

  • jaffa

    “Democracy – new fangled and will crumble – it has only developed and is still trying to get it right”

    Now you’re scaring me BeardyBoy. What d’ya think we’ll get instead?

  • jaffa

    Secur O’Crat

    Not sure it is my religion (if I have one) just trying to show what a democratic monotheistic religion might look like in response to an earlier post.

    “Nice cruises” Eh?

    “a vacuous lot, permanent tourists in the world of belief.”

    Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, quite a few others who’ve made important change to our society and our freedoms have found Unitarianism and non-subscribing presbyterianism a supportive and natural home for their spiritual life.

    I don’t think it is tourism. It’s synthesis. Unitarians generally seem to hold that while there is one truth it is self evident that no religion or science has the monopoly of it and that to cling to Dogma in spite of the still small voice of God / Reason / Conscience could well be a denial of true faith rather than the expression of it.

    Vacuity is a lack of ideas or intelligence. I think that’s probably not the right insult to throw at Unitarians.

    You sound like someone who needs an intellectual security blanket. Time to grow up perhaps?

  • Secur O’Crat

    Jafa: We have to play the man. Newton was a sectarian git, who hated Leibnitz, who came up with the scientific ideas we remember Newton for. (per Hawking) Most of Newton’s writings were spirital crap that is best forgotten. (thge last of the mystics per Keynes). He wrote mainly in Latin so people wouldn’t understand his guff. And throwing Newton in is only a play. Who cares what gang of pseudo secular phonies this insufferable bore chilled with?

    Thomas Jefferson, the Gerry Adams of his day, despised religion. He owned and bonked slaves. Are you advocating we do the same?

    Real people prefer the Pope to some anonymous Free Thinkers (ha ha) whose idea of freedom is kisisng a goat’s ass in a Masonic hall.

    The reality is Tone should have kept his trousers zipped and his brother out of harm’s way. Given the trouble he caused, the people of Longford and the former Republic of Connaught should demand reparations from the self styled Church of Ireland, which sponsored this ne’er do well. Eamonn McCann should be made grow hair and a Muslim beard.

  • jaffa


    I’m impressed by your passion!

    Do these ones

    Frank Lloyd Wright
    Charles Dickens
    Mary Shelley (she’s easy)
    P.T. Barnum (he’s easy too)

    Can’t think of any crazy catholics myself.

  • Rory


    Your advertising copy on the Unitarians was most appealing. A right happy bunch of ‘let-it-all-hang-out’ hippies by all accounts. Do they burn cannabis in place of incense in the thurible? I am almost tempted to sign up myself but I am deterred only insofar as they seem rather more anarchic than democratic and having had my fill of anarchists in the ’70’s I am afraid I will have to pass. Nice church architecture though.

    Tochais Siorai and CS Paisley:

    Perhaps you have missed the point that raisins are a very rare commodity indeed in paradise and that possession of 72 raisins would make a man very wealthy indeed and capable of buying all the virgins and creamy pints of stout he desired for the rest of eternity. It would be like being Hugh Heffner and Brendan Behan all rolled up into one for ever and ever.


    If you are unhappy with the pope and catholicism or with Islam and veiling women or Free Presbyterianism and…er, well everything about it, would it not be a good idea simply not to adhere to any of these groups but let who would do as they please?

    I find myself intensely annoyed by the invasive caterwauling of James Blunt but I haven’t called for his eradication from the face of the earth. Well (gritting my teeth) not yet anyway.

  • Secur O’Crat

    The anti Papist Chuck Dickens is prominently promoted in most Protestant Truth (sic) Society shops. I had to learn that idiot at school, instead of spending more time hearing about what the Pope thought of it all.

    I thought Benedict 1X was a good pope. He sure liked the chicks and orgies. Pope John X11, who used to toast Satan with a well filled glass, was a bit too ecumenical by today’s standards. Still, cometh the hour, cometh the Popehead.

  • Greenflag


    Greenflag’s ‘faith’ is based on a rigorous skepticism applied to all religions and political philosophies . You could call it advanced ‘cynicism’ but that would be too negative . Since our ‘ancestors’ climbed their way down from the trees some 4 million years ago humanity has been engaged in a long search for the meaning of it’s existence .From what the anthropologists tell us it’s only been in the last 40,000 or so years that our ‘consciousnesses’ and languages have evolved to the point where we can discuss ‘abstractions’. Religion has been and continues to be a means of establishing and maintaining the ‘social’ and often the ‘economic’ hierarchy without which societies could not function or at least it would seem so from a read of history .

    I tend to agree with George re the dangers of Godless secular ideologies such as Communism /Nazism . I’m equally unattracted to the benefits of a totalitarian ‘religions ‘ such as medieval Catholicism or some versions of modern day Islam .

    As a ‘skeptic’ I need to see the proof and all the above offer is ‘faith’ . Perhaps it’s a conciousness thing. And no I’m not anti religion . I understand and accept that even many Free P’s and traditional Catholics and Orthodox Jews and Sunni Muslims all receive comfort from their faiths .

    I however get some ‘comfort’ from the simple fact that life just is . Where it comes from and how it got here and whether it exists elsewhere in this or other universes are all interesting questions which to me are more deserving of our limited human attention spans than the eternal bickering of how many angels are on the point of a needle or how many houris beyond heaven’s gate or whether Paisley’s God allows swings in the heavenly playground on Sundays or whether condoms ar allowed to be used by those non traditional catholics who may have ascended into heaven .

    Unitarian ? Well the scientists/biologists and anthropologists tell us on the basis of the latest DNA research that all life is one and that the stuff we are all made of whether plant , mammal or banana is ultimately all derived from the same source .

    I believe in the Sun 🙂 Not the son of God but the one that won’t be around in about 4 billion years from now 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Fr Jack Who.

    ‘That idiotic comment makes you sound as confused as Father Dougal in “Father Ted”. ‘

    If you listen carefully to Father Dougal’s off the wall remarks he often gets close to the uncomfortable truth and not just those of traditional Irish Catholicism .

    So back to your ‘drink , feck , arse , girrrrls
    Fr Who 🙂 This is an ecuminical matter we’re discussing here

  • Greenflag

    Beardy Boy,

    ‘Male hierarchy in the Church has been going now for around 4 thousand years so it seems to be quite effective in surviving’

    Neanderthal man survived for 400,000 years but where is he now ?

    ‘Rules from above is right – God made them so we would be better keeping them . ‘

    Prove it . The ‘rules’ from above are and always have been adaptations to our basic animal /mammalian natures to enable homo sapiens to live in large settled communities with social and economic hierarchies . Religion has complexified in line with man’s intellectual advance from hunter gatherer to nuclear scientist . Man ‘invented’ God to explain the unknown . Now man has advanced to the point where much of the unknown has been ‘explained’ at leasst to those who are listening or interested .

    Perhaps it was that piece of fruit in the Garden Of Eden that sparked man’s ‘curiosity’? Or maybe it was a random mutation in our a part of our DNA which affected ‘brain’ growth some 50,000 years ago . Take your pick .

  • Greenflag

    Secur O Crat,

    ‘Most of Newton’s writings were spirital crap that is best forgotten’

    Have a go at Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica ‘: Without the Newton’s , Leibnitz’s or Jefferson’s the world would have been a poorer place . They contributed much more to human development and progress than the secular genius’es Stalin and Hitler.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Neanderthal man survived for 400,000 years but where is he now ? ‘

    To those who may be tempted to answer the question with the obvious answer ‘

    ‘Alive just about and leading the DUP’ I will insist that as much as I might want to agree that the species is not yet fully extinct , my innate skepticism will allow me to believe until the DNA proof is in . A Dr Paabo is presently reconstructing the Neanderthal ‘genome’ at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig so we’ll have to wait a couple of years .

  • Greenflag

    my innate skepticism will allow me to believe until the DNA proof is in .

    Should read

    my innate skepticism will NOT allow me to believe until the DNA proof is in .

    No offence intended to n
    Neanderthal man 🙂

  • BeardyBoy

    Neanderthals are alive and kicking (the Pope) and can be seen in their native form every year “o’er the twa”, Just look up the research of Erik Trinkaus who has argued that the Neanderthal has been aborbed into modern man – probably mostly European races, this of course explains the gross inferiority of the Germanic tribes and the much nicer more intelligent Celts who came to Ireland before this absorbtion took place.

    Proving God? just read Thomist theology – you prove he is wrong – bet you can’t. Thus prove it ya boo arguement is futile here except it is good fun

  • Greenflag

    Beardy ,

    ‘Just look up the research of Erik Trinkaus who has argued that the Neanderthal has been aborbed into modern man – probably mostly European races.

    This was favourite theory of the American school of anthropologists led by Carletoon Coon and others 40 years ago . New DNA evidence indicates that although Neanderthals covered a vast area from the Ukraine and Middle East to Britain and Gibraltar in the west there is no evidence that any modern humans carry ‘neanderthal genes’ Although Neanderthals were hominids it is now believed that they ‘speciated’ through their long isolation in the cold north and could not ‘interbreed ‘ with the new Homo Sapiens who came out of Africa some 100,000 years ago .

    ‘just read Thomist theology – you prove he is wrong – bet you can’t.’

    So do I . Thomas Aquinas IIRC was not God . I suggest you let God speak for him/her/itself

    ‘this of course explains the gross inferiority of the Germanic tribes and the much nicer more intelligent Celts who came to Ireland before this absorbtion took place. ‘

    Complete and utter toilet paper and whatever said paper absorbs 🙂

    Neanderthal man was extinct by 28,000 BC or 30,000 years ago . The people who later differentiated into the groups that later became Germans /Celts/Slavs etc etc were speaking the same or similar languages of hunter gatherers 30,000 years ago .

    All human beings are descended from the same small group of Hominids -Homo Sapiens that left NE Africa some 100,000 years ago . There were at least two other Hominid species which like Neanderthal man died out as Homo Sapiens advanced around the world .

    Basic Recommended Reading for BB

    ‘Before the Dawn ‘— Nicholas Wade

    ‘Mapping Human History’ – Steve Olson

  • Secur O’Crat

    Darwin;s theories are as threadbare as those of similar churches such as Marx (Marx is God), Scientology (aliens rule ok) and Daviud Icke (alien lizards rule ok).

  • Greenflag

    Secur O’Crap

    Evolution is and the earth is not flat . Darwin may not have got it 100% right but he was and remains a lot closer to the truth of the origin humanity than the gobshite scientology freaks or the purveyors of alien lizardy .

    Marx’s theory of economic determinism in history has some remaining validity . His political ‘solution’ to the inherent contradictions within capitalism omitted to take account of the fundamental drives within human nature . And that’s why Communism failed .

  • BeardyBoy

    Greenflag – humour is obviously your strong point along with keeping up with the latest scientific research, Trinkaus has just released a new paper based on the latest research. It seems highly probable that Neanderthal has been absorbed into the present European genetic mix. The jury is still out until more definitive DNA analysis makes a conclusive finding.

    Back to good old Aquinas – you are indeed correct when you say he is not God – but let God speak for Himself – now you should know that God told us to go out among the nations and preach His word. In the light of that I feel it is okay to do the talking for Him. But there again Aquinas does it better than me. I still feel you should read his arguments for the existence of God.

    But maybe you feel that a Catholic theologian/philosopher is not to your tastes, than read the Jewish writers, they were virulently anti-Catholic yet in the Babylonian Talmud they agree with the Virgin birth, the miracles and the Catholic versions of the life of Christ – they only disagree with the reasons/initiators behind the events. All this by the way is contemporary or near contemporary comment on Christ. Better than hypothesis of marxist writers 2 millenia later