A new phobia – Christianophobia?

Tory MP, Mark Pritchard, will lead a debate today in the House of Commons to discuss what he calls Christianophobia. It follows research revealed almost 80% of primary schools will not hold a UPDATE “traditional” (Hat tip TG) nativity play for fear of offending non-Christians. The Daily Telegraph defines Christianophobia as:

These are the poor souls who break out in hives at the sight of a dog collar and develop a nervous twitch when they hear Tony Blair talking about God (although that is admittedly a normal response to hearing Mr Blair speak in the first place).

One blogger on the Ogra Shinn Fein blog shares the MP’s and Telegraph’s concerns but the Guardian’s Andrew Brown argues whatever the concerns, Christianity is safe enough. Do Christianophobes exist? Are non- Christians offended by such things as nativity plays? Is it an example of over-sensitivity rather than genuine complaint? Is ‘offence’ even a legitimate basis for withdrawal or does the public nature of most schools mean they should take a different approach? UPDATE: In the debate the Community Cohesion minister has called on Christianity’s role to be celebrated.

  • Rory

    I don’t think I’d be very good at rape, TAFKABO, I’m hopeless unless they declare their attraction to me. Does that mean I won’t get into heaven?

    which reminds me:

    Topdeck,

    Q. What do you call the fruit of a damson bush suffering from drought?

    A. A damson in distress.

    Ah well, back to the sloe gin.

  • TAFKABO

    I don’t think I’d be very good at rape, TAFKABO, I’m hopeless unless they declare their attraction to me. Does that mean I won’t get into heaven?

    You’d need to take that matter up with one of the magic man’s followers, I just relayed what was in his book of instructions, the very same book they tell us is where they get their morals from.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Rory

    Yes and to cap it all the recipe calls for the distressed damson to be pricked with a silver fork prior to being immersed in gin (or gin and sherry mix).

    I have often been exposed on Slugger as maybe not the most literate (or cohesive) contributor. Notwithstanding this, now semi retired, I aspire to writing a book.

    I am not claiming to be anybody (special) but I wonder at times whether more can be said by the diary of a nobody (which more matches my profile).

    By the way I got on to Argos and the manufacturer and manged to convert the electric shock game into a solitaire version for my son in law. The game is the last to let go gets a shock but also if you release too soon you get a shock through the other hand.

    This adaptation to the solo version removes the exlusivity from the OR principle of the Team game and happily assures him of a shock every time and in whatever circumstance.

    Otherwise it was another wet day.

  • abucs

    TAFKABO,

    you’re mistake is interpreting the old testament (or the new) as a book of instructions.

    Please do some research on why the Catholic Church included it when they created the bible and what exactly they thought and knew about it at the time.

    The Jewish writings were a running commentary of opinion, history, stories, theories. It is a great literary tradition that they knew was a hotch potch of all of the above (they were doing the hotch potching) and the Catholic Church certainly knew it was too.

    It’s inclusion was much like a reference book. Yes, we do accept that God interceded with the Jews in some way, but much of the language of Jesus’ time when the New Testament is written in couched in Old Testament culture.

    It’s like me saying ‘Beam me up Scottie” or “It’s life Jim but not as we know it”. You need to be familiar with Star Trek to understand what i’m saying.

    So for example if Jesus says “The son of Man must be lifted up like Moses lifting the snake in the desert”. Unless you know something about the Old Testament, you haven’t got a clue of what Son of Man is, or who this Moses guy was and what’s he doing in the desert lifting up a snake. If you include the book of Exodus then you know that ‘Son of Man’ is the prophesised Mesiah Emannuael (God is with us) and Moses was lifting up a carved staff of a snake above his head to lead God’s people to saftety. So knowing that you realise Jesus is saying he’s the Messiah that must be lifted up for everyone to follow.

    20 pages on in Exodus (and perhaps after 3 or 4 different authors) you might have something written like …. the moon is made of cheese….

    we could theorise until the cows came home that maybe the author actually believes that, maybe the moon is unattainable like cheese was at that time, maybe the moon is a giver of contentment like a nice cheese, maybe there was a comedy play on at the time that the author is referring to.

    Of course i’m making the cheese thing up but serious Christians wouldn’t be sitting down scratching their heads saying what is God trying to tell me here. That idea is to not understand what the bible is.

    If some Jewish historian writes, “….and the Hebrews slew the Hittites and God looked down and was pleased” – then that in know way obliges Christians to think that God leaned over the edge of a cloud and said – “yeah, well done fellas, i would have helped you meself but i’ve had a bad back this week…. but congrats and keep up the good work.

    The only people who think of the bible that way are minority Christians and atheists looking for soft targets.

  • TAFKABO

    you’re mistake is interpreting the old testament (or the new) as a book of instructions.

    Of course, I’m getting it wrong, it’s not a book of instructions, uh, er, apart from the ten commandments and all that others stuff.

    Are you serious?

    You tell me it’s not instructions, yet others tell me we need to teach the ten commandments to children as a matter of course, so what is it, instructions or not?

    You may well hold to the view that it’s not instructions, but i can assure you that it is far from a minority who think otherwise.

    Anyway, let’s take you at your word for the sake of the argument.

    So, when God was instructing, sorry not instructing, giving a loose reference point about raping females and committing genocide on the base of ethnicity, what was he really telling us?

    Go on, let’s hear you explain it, I could do with the laugh

  • K man

    Abcus,
    The inquisition was only part of the witch trials which went on between 1450 and 1700 ad. I did not state that the trials, rapes, torture and murder were entirely church driven, however with crap like this quote:

    “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” Exodus 22:18

    …it is hard to see a massive distinction. The church, organised religion, whatever you want to call it, has a lot to answer for.

  • TAFKABO

    No no no K man, you just don’t get it.

    When the Bible says that Noah gathered two of every animal together in one place, then set sail on a boat, that is literal, but when it says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, well that’s just a loose reference point.
    And I’m sure there’ll be dozens of our Christian friends along any minute to explain exactly what that really means.
    I can’t for the life of me think why they’ve suddenly gone all shy on us.
    But whatever you do, don’t dare criticise a book which exhorts you to kill someone who is considered a witch, they might start accusing you of cristianophobia.

  • K man

    Point taken TAFKABO,
    Im sure some kind of response based on;

    “These passages cannot be looked at in isolation…”

    or

    “The actual Hebrew meaning is HUG the witch…”

    Will be in order. Thank goodness for dogma.

  • abucs

    OK TAFKABO, if you want a laugh…..

    there’s a story in Genesis 19 that is often mentioned to say the bible is full of incest.

    Basically it’s a short tale saying that Lot’s daughters couldn’t get husbands so they got their Dad drunk and laid with him and they each bore a son, Moab and Ammon. Moab became the ancestor of the Moabites tribe and Ammon became the leader of the Ammonities.

    Now of course this wasn’t written at the time because you need a tribe of Moabites and a tribe of Ammonites for the story to make any sense.

    Basically the Jewish author of that short tale was trying to ‘stick it up’ the neighbouring Moabites and Ammonites by calling them a bunch of illegitament, inbred bastards.

    The Jews either agreed at the time or thought it was a great laugh and included it in their written traditions. Later the book of genesis is compiled in full from a hotch potch of writings referring to the period.

    This ancient comedy skit is slotted in at the end of the story of Lot and makes the final cut.

    The story doesn’t say incest is bad or good or anything. It’s just saying where the Moabites and the Ammonites come from.

    Picture an early Jerry Seinfield speaking the words with the punch line of where the two tribes come from at the end.

    P.S. Saying the bible is not a set of instructions in not the sane as saying the 10 commandments aren’t.

    K Man, yes, in the name of religion bad things were done, as in the name of any strong philosophy.

    Take democracy. We have duly elected democratic leaders who stand up in parliament and also in front of news crews saying that in the name of Democray it’s OK to go and invade countries, oversee their state apparatus, control their natural resourses and directly and indirectly set off a situation where hundreds of thousands die. Please God this doesn’t spread to Iran.

    Now we all vote for these guys and in their name and following instructions written by democratic state employees and authorised by democratic leaders we get things like Abu Grahib prison and Guantamono Bay with what they called ‘Water Boarding’. This is not happening 400 years ago it’s happening today by Democratically elected governments in the publicly announced name of democracy following state written and authorised interrogation manuals.

    The bit i object to is when it’s isolated to happening when religion is the main philosophy and we pretend that it is religion that causes it …. hence … get rid of religion.

    I think that is a narrow minded view that SOME (perhaps not you) hold.

  • TAFKABO

    P.S. Saying the bible is not a set of instructions in not the sane as saying the 10 commandments aren’t.

    So it’s instructions when it suits you for it to be so?

    The bit i object to is when it’s isolated to happening when religion is the main philosophy and we pretend that it is religion that causes it …. hence … get rid of religion.

    Well studies have been conducted which show people become much more tolerant of human rights abuses when one tacks on a religious excuse.
    Since it is demonstrably provable that religion aids human rights abuses, it’s not unreasonable to suggest we find ways of curbing its influence.

    One need only look at how child abuse was facilitated under the guise of not wanting to damage the church by exposing it, to see what I mean.

  • K man

    Abucs,
    Invading a foreign country because it has lots of oil is not democracy. Democracy is not a fundamentalist philosophy. It isn’t a theology, so why compare it to those deluded enough to believe in an invisible absentee landlord? Bush and Blair, BOTH CHRISTIANS WITH STRONG VIEWS led their countries to war.

    You argue that because something bad happens, religion is the main philosophy, we blame religion? I blame religion because it is a parasitic, corrupt and evil brainwashing technique used to control the masses. As for the war in Iraq having a religious motive, Bush even went far enough to say GOD told him to do it! Told him!!!!!!!!

    Religion flew planes into the world trade centre, religion blew up London on July 7th, religion sees women shot in the head in a packed football stadium for speaking to a man in the middle east. Religion saw people raped by priests and drowned in the middle ages, religion stands on street corners telling me I’m going to burn in hell, religion pushed a booklet through my letterbox today telling me how to change my “sinful” life before its too late. A certain German philosopher wasn’t far wrong when he called it the one immortal blemish upon the human race.

    The world needs to get a massive grip of itself, we need to break the spell and expose the charade of religious belief for what it is.

  • abucs

    TAFKABO,

    yes, we do pick and choose because that is the nature of the book. I would say it is not God’s little pet project, it is a book written by Jews, good and bad over a period of thousands of years.

    I would say, with respect, that i could write a history of law and talk about the Magna Carta and Northern Ireland and the abolition of slavery and the 10 commandments. Or i could write novels about a laywer or a sportman or a soldier and include the 10 commandments in the book.

    I would wish to make the point, that because the 10 commandments is a set of instructions doesn’t necessarily mean that my law history book or novels become instruction books. It’s he nature of the book in my humble opinion.

    I don’t think God is looking at us in our time and space wondering how His book is coming along and having a look for someone with lots of time on his hands to be the next author.

    I don’t think God cares fundamentally about our books, or Governments or interpretations of his science, or sports or riches. He cares about our hearts and who we choose to become in this material world of joy and hardship mixed in together, as it has to be.

    I mention what is being done quite openly above in democracies name. Now i’m a democrat. I would say it’s a prostition of democracy and needs to be cleaned up. Strong philosophies can get away with lots of abuses because we understand that the fullness of those philosophies like elected Government are much more postitive than some poor guy being continually drowned in Cuba.

    If the Popes army was in Iraq, with priests torturing detainees following church instructions ultimately authorised by the Pope and carried out and covered up by his officials then i’d say that is a prostitution of religion, just as i say it’s today a prostitution of democracy.

    K Man, may i suggerst you read the popes encyclicals on Hell. It is defined as the rejection of God. Not the rejection of somebodies form of God (like even the Christians) but God. And God is transcendant love and reason.
    Hell is defined as the willful choice of the rejection of transcendant love and reason and a wilful seperation from God.

    I could belt on about God all i like but it well may be you that is way ahead of me in the acceptance of love and reason. and that’s what counts. In saying that though the Church also says that it is there to facilitate and guide us in seeing reality as a transcendant choice of love and reason.

    The last thing i say is that we all see the world through our own viewpoints. You might claim that Bush and Blair are Christians therefore the war is a Christian thing. I might lament the passing of Christianity so that when the Pope continually speaks out against the war, people do not rally to his side.

    You might view the west on a holy crusade, i might see the Muslims rejecting our largely secular culture including open substance abuse and the commercialisation of sex on the big screen.

    Some other people might blame all the white people, or all the black people, or all the Catholics, or all the British. As i said before, i grew up in a family where if there was a cyclone in Bangladesh, somehow it was England’s fault. I would just make the point that if you want a bogey man (religion or the British or anything else) it is quite easy to convince yourself IMHO.

  • K man

    Abucs,
    Riiiight, thanks for clearing that up, er….
    I have read, read again and read a third time but as yet cannot see your point, or even any structure to your argument. You have glossed over the points made by me and others with your airy fairy cotton wool god notions. Your opinion about the invisible man means nothing in a logical argument. The popes opinion on his god means nothing. I find it hugely insulting and highly ironic that a figure such as the pope has the balls to preach about love and reason, don’t get me started!

  • abucs

    er, i was talking about Hell K man, and complaints about Christians saying that’s where you’ll go. remember
    er, i was talking about seeing the bogeyman (religion) in everything that’s wrong with the world. remember
    er, i was talking about a strong philosophy getting away with bad things such as Democracy today. remember.
    er, i was talking about the bible not being a Christian ‘how to’ book. remember.

    We never got to the point of argueing the logics and illogics of, as you put it, the invisible man in the sky.

    For that we’d have to talk about quantum physics and the scientific invalidation of the materialistic philosophy which has led the leading materialistic scientists of today into believing in :

    String Theory – a 10 dimensional universe for our underlying reality. (To get around the problem materialists have with non cause and effect universe at the quantum level)

    Parallel Universes – a splitting and copying of our entire universe trillions of times a nanosecond. (To get around the problem materialists have with our universe seeming in many ways to be created by the act of observation)

    A Conflagration of Universes – some process that continually creates new universes and decides they have to have laws and slots arbitrary values for the constant variables such as gravity and nucleur foces, weak and strong etc. (To get around the problem materialists have that our set of 20 or so constants of nature are finely balanced to give us a coherant universe and not what you would expect – a mess of hydrogen).

    I’d point out where these modern materialists are and the quantum scientific experiments that have forced them into these positions and then i’d ask if believing all that was more fantastical than beleiving (as i see it scientifically) a created universe for a purpose.

    I’d point out that the materialistic scientists today, the leading brains of the last 50 years have come to the theories above which basically say – they believe in a realm byond our 4 dimensions that interacts and underpins our reality.

    I’d point out that although because they are largely materialists, they’d expect to see a natural mechanical process in this other realms (10 dimensions etc) but they are at a point ironically in theorising about things we cannot prove because these theories are about a realm beyond our 4 dimensions and thus our science.

    I’d contrast where these materialistic scientists are today with the bulk of other materialists who still think that our universe can be explained by Newtonian physics of cause and effect in our 4 dimensions.

    But we didn’t even get into talking about that K Man, and beleive me, you need to do a lot of scientific reading before you go there.

  • abucs

    To go back to the end of Genesis 19, it’s interesting that through all the copying and translationg from Archaic Hebrew to Old Hebrew to Old Greek to Latin Vulgate to Old English and to todays English the structure of the joke has stood up pretty well.

    This joke is probably several thousand years old and historically could be one of the oldest jokes we have. It’s comforting that what we laugh at today isn’t so different from what they thought was funny thousands of years ago.

    I guess today the sons names of Moab and Ammon would be changed to Scott and Engel, and then the punchline would be
    ….. and that’s where the Scottish and the English of today come from. :o)

    It seems very close to Jerry Seinfield’s brand of humour.

    It even seems to have a swipe at political correctness. Seinfeild used to have a joke in his shows to make fun of political correctness with ‘gays’.

    He’d say in an exasperated voice ‘I’m not gay’ !!!’ and then after a suitable pause say
    … ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’.

    And then he’d roll his eyes to the audience as if to say ‘i’m not against gays, please don’t misunderstand me’.

    In the Genesis joke on both occassions after the daughters sleep with their drunk father, the storyteller says something like –

    ‘ …… not that Lot knew what he was doing’.
    You could just see Jerry roll his eyes to say ‘i’m not against our holy men, please don’t misunderstand me’.

    Must be those Jewish memes. :o)

    OK, sorry i can’t respond K Man and TAFKABO, i’m off on holidays for a week. Good luck.