If you haven’t been enraptured

I guess there’s only you heathens (and Catholics, Protestants etc., basically anyone not a born again whacko) out there now because the godly will have all disappeared bodily to heaven, as today is the day of the RAPTURE!

Well the stunningly ugly site at home.flash.net said it would be today and couldn’t possibly be wrong because it’s got loads of capitals and everything. [Hat tip PZ Myers as always]

But weirdly, now it is today, they seem to have changed the date to a less precise “Fall 2009.” So there could easily be another couple of months left in which we have to share the planet with the as-yet-unraptured fundies.

Dont you just love it when they put the mental back in fundamentalist….

(side note: Will be home soon and will try to return to longer posts)

Creating an absurdity

I see that mouthy atheists are to blame for the spread of creationism. ROTFL. * chortle immoderately * etc

Well, so it says in the Guardian special on the rise of creationism.

They also claim that the aggression of the new atheists is helping them. They paint Dawkins as a “recruiting sergeant” for creationism because he links evolutionary thinking with atheism. “He has been a real help to the ministry, ” says Randall Hardy.
Creationists argue that the new atheists are fuelling the dogmatism; Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford and a theistic evolutionary, last week threw that accusation back at them. “Creationists totally misunderstand the Bible,” he said. “Genesis is in the business of story, myth, poetry, metaphor. They [creationists and atheists] feed off one another. The debate has an unreality about it. Those of us who are not fundamentalists can’t find a place.”

Thus, even the relatively sane Bishop of Oxford puts atheism and creationism in the same conceptual “fundamentalist” box. And the full-blown creationist believes that -people who believe in God think they can’t believe in evolution, just because Dawkins links evolutionary thinking with atheism,

That is giving Dawkins much more influence than he can possibly dream of having. I refuse to believe that most people have even the vaguest ideas about evolution. Nor that more than a tiny minority of the population have ever read the God Delusion or even watched a Dawkins tv programme. (You would think that, almost by definition, people stupid enough to believe in creationism are too stupid to read erudite books or watch demanding tv)

Indeed, even the article undercuts the implications that there are grounds for this “Blame atheists for creationism” viewpoint.

Almost all Christians used to go along with the idea that Genesis was a bit suspect on dates, and that the six days of the Bible were metaphorical, with each day representing a vast geological age. The majority of Anglicans, theistic evolutionists who have no difficulty in believing in a Darwinian God, would still abide by that. But the publication in 1961 of Henry Morris and John Whitcomb’s The Genesis Flood, which set out to give a scientific demonstration of the literal truth of the Bible, emboldened those who refused to accept evolution.

1961? Dawkins was 20 then. I’m pretty certain this predates The God Delusion by a few decades. Well, Wikipedia informs me that the God Delusion was published in 2006.

What on earth was fuelling creationism in the intervening decades, then, if noisy atheists are to blame now?

Or are we to start dating the “New Atheism” in creationist terms, so that we are to accept not only that dinosaurs walked with men but that an undergraduate Dawkins managed to spark the rise in creationism with his strident atheist complaints?

This article does provide creationist “answers” to two questions that have long baffled me.

  • Question: Why didn’t Noah take all the dinosaurs into the ark if humans and dinoasurs were all happily living together?

    Creationists, who argue that the world was created no more than 10,000 years ago, believe dinosaurs and man co-existed in the pre-Flood period (they date the Flood to around 1,600 years after the creation), that there were dinosaurs on the ark, but that they were eventually wiped out by the changes in climate which followed the Flood.

    Ah, it wasn’t that Noah just didn’t like dinosaurs. (Mentally upscale the conceptual size of ark needed, from one the size of France to one the size of Asia) He did his level best to save them but somehow they proved unable to survive in a changed environment. (Oh, you mean, like evolutionary processes?)

  • Question 2:
    What have creationists got against the biological sciences that they don’t have against mathematics or physics or geography?

    It seems that biology is nothing special. They are indeed just as willing to abandon all sciences where they conflict with the Bible.

    …..virtually all existing science has to be rewritten – and the creationists are ready to do the rewriting. The speed of light, Rosevear argues, used to be 300 times faster than it is now – necessary for creationists to explain cosmology and the distance of other solar systems from our own; the great cataclysm of the Flood explains the formation of sedimentary rock and the distribution of fossils; …

The Guardian writer either assumes that almost any reader will see the creationists as self-evident nutters or he lacks the most basic information-processing skills. For example, he uncritically reports “findings” from all those surveys (e.g for Theos :-)) that supposedly show that sizeable minorities of the population are creationists.

And his naivety seems incomprehensible when he says this:

British creationism is surprisingly independent from the far bigger, better funded, more vocal, highly politicised movement in the US, where creationists and intelligent design organisations (often a front for Christian creationists) are fighting perpetual legal battles to get creationist teaching into the classrooms of state schools.

The Portsmouth Genesis Expo may be a saggy old cloth cat to the Cincinnati Creation Museum’s roaring lion. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t manifestations of the same species, seen once in tragedy (Creation Museum) ; the second time in farce (Genesis Expo).

If I had to choose between whether to blame “The New Atheism” or the media (who present the opinions of lunatics as if they have some validity, in a “two sides to every argument” distortion of the concept of balance) for the rise of creationist lunacy, I know where I’d lay most of the blame.


Brainless in Gaza

Odd that the people on rapture-ready discussion boards – who hate supposedly- fellow-Christian Catholicism with a passion – identify themselves almost completely with Israel.

I find it’s amazing in how with all the bombs going into Israel (sp?) only 4 people as of yesterday had been killed. It that doesn’t speak to God’s hand over his people and how he protects and will defend us. I don’t know what does. (from bakerhorsepower on a particularly disturbing typical thread on Rapture Ready)

(Original h/t fstdt)

That thread has a whole editorial about how God is 100% with Israel. Just like the writer above who talks about his/her god protecting and defending “us”, God can’t tell the difference between Israelis and fundies, either, apparently. So he’s protecting Israeli lives, in the mistaken belief they are really American Protestant fundamentalists.

(RR posters don’t see greater firepower and many more armaments and soldiers as having anything to do with the disproportion in numbers of dead people between Israelis and palestinians. It’s all down to god’s smiting choices.)

How ironic then that another post sees this very same God as protecting Palestinian babies by killing them.

Despite some tough competition, this is possibly the most distasteful post I have ever read, even by the abysmal standards of Rapture Ready.*

It’s headed by a picture of a young blonde woman with a bunch of flowers – looking winsomely off to the middle distance, maybe imagining the rapture – with a picture of a couple of innocent-faced young blonde kids in the post’s footer. Which makes the content all the more chilling:

A great thought!!
I have been upset about the innocent children in all of the fighting in Gaza….but this thought came to me….these little children that are dying would have been taught Islam and hate…this way they have a chance to go to heaven!! It’s terrible that they are dying and my heart is sad….but when I was talking to God this thought came to me….the ones that are dying are going to be able to go to heaven….instead of growing up and following Islam…so, something good is coming out of this…. (by someone who calls herself “cbressler1976 ^^Heavenbound^^”)

Two exclamation marks on “A great thought”. Maybe the punctuation mark is evolving to fill the sentience vacancy created by people like cbressler1976. These stray exclamation marks are trying to draw our attention to the criminal misuse of the word “thought” in the only way that they know how.

You’d think that this post must make the hairs on even Rapture Ready posters’ necks stand on end. Far from it. It brings in lots of lurve from her fellow raptards.

That is an excellnt point. It is always good to have an eternal perspective. (says wvborn56)

Really. I am not making these up. (I decide to take that comment as really being massively sarcastic, in the face of the evidence. Because I have to retain some will to live.)

Very good thought, on the other hand their parents think they are with “allah” and enjoying 72 virgins. But we know they rest with Jesus. Too bad their kids can’t tell them they are worshiping a fake god. The kids know more than the “teachers” of islam. (adds rapturecalldan)

Even I can’t fool myself that “very good thought” is sarcasm, given the rest of that comment.

To recap: these people see the deaths of real babies and children as good, because the kids won’t grow up to be Muslims.

No, even more stunning than that, if that were possible. They see the deaths of any non-fundy babies as good.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I remember, at first, feeling soooo sorry for all the little children who had died in the tsunami (sp) in 04, I think???? Then, it just hit me like a ton a of bricks–those little children, had they grown up, may never have come to know the Lord, and now they can be w/ Him. (from Mommytoa3rdgradeboy)

So this woman – who defines herself entirely in relation to her own child, if her sig means anything – feels nothing except delight in the deaths of other “3rdgradeboys” who don’t share her religion and nationality.

This tsunami tale is an opportunity for cute little cbressler1976 to also show her soft and caring feminine side:

It’s good to know that they are in a better place..

On a temporary basis, I am going to pretend that this dangerous insanity constitutes a coherent worldview and address some of their “points”

How many chosen people can god have? If the Bible can’t lie, then it must be the Jews. Hence, there is at least some logic in the bible-bashers thinking god wants Israel to win (although, given history of Jewish persecution, if that’s what comes from being god’s favourite, I’m bloody glad I’m a heathen)

But I am more than confident that there’s nothing in the Bible about raptards being the chosen people. So, why wouldn’t god think he’d also be doing the raptards’ kids a favour by smiting them?

They are saying that God is smiting Asian children and Palestinian children (some of whom are of course from Christian families) FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. So, why is their god being so mean to Jewish children by forcing them to live without letting them become fundies?
And, surely that means that god should be all for abortions, then? He must be doing foetuses a big favour.

Why is their god cruelly forcing the fundies’ children to live, given that heaven is so great and that they would be spared the danger of sin, if he just took them now?

Let me repeat, in true shock and awe. These are people who can rage endlessly and mightily over the foetus’ right to life and they consider the deaths of real human children to be a good thing.
(*I’ve messed about with the links so as not to give RR any link hits. You can access the threads by reverse-messing with the urls. I don’t normally bother but this stuff is so emetic that I can’t bring myself to even leave a link in.)

This blog is bigger than god

In what must be one of the longest waits from confession to absolution on record, the Vatican has forgiven John Lennon for saying the Beatles were bigger than god (or more popular than Jesus, or something) according to the BBC.

This was a mildly jokey casual remark made in the early 1960s, by a man who’s been now dead for decades. Has the Catholic Church been fretting about it ever since?

The BBC has a 1960s clip that shows some of the aftermath of the Beatles’ bizarrely notorious jokes about their huge success in the USA.

In this clip, a reporter with an impeccable old-style “BBC” accent talks about US fundamentalist baptists with the barely disguised distaste of someone who’s spotted another guest eating a fly at a dinner party.

The implication is that the UK saw the extreme US responses to the Beatles’ remarks as symptomatic of a strange and backward American culture. Beatle atheism was more or less taken for granted in the UK. The tolerant attitude of UK religious believers is also taken for granted. The BBC reporter could clearly assume that even UK churchgoers would see US bonfires of Beatles merchandise as exotically bizarre.

This was 40 years ago.

You certainly can’t imagine science teachers thinking that Intelligent Design should have an equal billing with Evolution in the biology curriculum, forty years ago.

The world can’t be a sci-fi novel. If it were, the hero would surely have detected by now that time is running backwards.

The Church’s One Foundation

Conservative Anglicans have carried out a strange coup to form a church within a church. On first consideration, non-believers might welcome the increasing disintegration of a major world religion. But, in fact, the impact seems to be far from good, with fundamentalists seeking to snatch control of the Anglicans’ global organisation and moral authority.

The group said it would stay inside the Anglican Communion, but with its own statement of theology and council of archbishops. ….
The move underlines the alliance’s independence from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and makes clear that it will no longer recognise Dr Williams’ traditional role as the leader of the world’s Anglicans.(from the BBC)

The BBC has a few soundbites about the issues that divide liberal and fundamentalist Anglicans. These basically come down to views on gays and women.

The BBC’s “debate” between Paul Eddy, from the UK Conservative Anglican network, and Californian Bishop Marc Andrus shows the staggering gap in intelligence and goodwill between the two camps. Andrus so outclasses Eddy as to make him look like a simple-minded fool. (OK, I guess that is no great feat.)

Ironically, Paul Eddy said that the Anglican communion must be paramount, with everybody holding to the same doctrine, which seems to conflict with the GAFCON plan to set up its own international power network within the church.

And how about this from Paul Eddy on “THE NEED TO CONVERT PEOPLE OF OTHER FAITHS”?

The Great Commission [Jesus’s instruction to the disciples to spread his teaching] remains as relevant in 2008, whatever the political and religious tensions, as it did 2,000 years ago. The Church in Africa is experiencing huge growth – in Muslim countries among others. It is a Biblical mandate which orthodox churches believe in.

A Biblical mandate to convert? To convert Muslims, even? Argh!

Sunny Hundal had some things to say about Eddy, when he discussed an article, in a new rightwing magazine, Standpoint, by Bishop Nazir-Ali. This bishop is the most senior UK churchman on the conservative side, in the battle for the soul of the Anglican communion.

In fact, the type of society Nazir-Ali wants isn’t far from the utopia that conservative Muslims want to develop, except it’s a different religion.

Hundal said that Nazir-Ali, disappointed that Rowan Williams was chosen as Archbishop rather than himself, is launching a power play, gathering a posse of supporters and gaining media attention through the manipulation of fears of Muslims.

.. for example, he backed a motion by the Church of England’s General Synod member Paul Eddy on evangelising other faiths (but focusing on Muslims to guarantee headlines). Paul Eddy just happens to be a PR consultant who has worked with the purity ring campaign and Christian Concern for our Nation. Remember CCFON from the Channel 4 documentary on Christian fundamentalists?

Well, yes, I certainly do remember it. Here’s the Youtube link to the Channel 4 programmes about the fundy response to the HFEA Bill.

Converting Muslims is a bit of a theme with Paul Eddy. In March, according to Anglican Mainstream

A traditionalist Anglican has said he will continue with a campaign for the Church of England to work explicitly to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Paul Eddy, a lay member of the General Synod, has come under intense pressure from bishops to withdraw his plan.

Apparently this contentious motion is to be put to the Synod on 4-6th July, over the objections of almost all senior church figures..

You might understand the Church of England being unable to successfully face off an aggressive PR consultant, them being so unworldly and all. You can understand the right-wing press being happy to jump on any conservative bandwagon, that’s their social role.

But, I am a bit miffed that the BBC is happy to treat this guy as a handy rent-a-speech chap. The BBC is surely no stranger to the wiles of PR consultants. OK, there’s a dull issue that’s got to be aired on TV or the website in a couple of hours.. They’ve got his phone number…. Lazy.

So I really hope that that Channel 4 documentary becomes required viewing for any members of the General Synod.

Fundamentally flawed

English smugness yet again proves deeply unfounded. This time I’m talking “fundamentalists.” A Channel 4 Dispatches programme (probably a repeat of last week’s) presented by David Modell showed some of these people in action using their disturbing political and social influence over the Human Fertility and Embryology bill. Modell claims there are an estimated 2 million of these people in the UK.

Modell summarised what he found in a Telegraph article. There’s also a Youtube link (It has five sections so I’m not turning this blog into a giant Youtube rip off. You can look at it there if you choose.)

Phew, that means I can throw away the notes I made and rant about to a few highlights. Lowlights may be a more accurate word.

For instance, there are 45 “government-approved” “faith schools ” teaching a US curriculum. Here’s Question 5 on their “science” exam paper at Carmel School*. “How many days did it take god to make the world?” In case you are wondering where that comes up on the Science part of the National Curriculum, these schools are “independent”, so they don’t have to stick to the National Curriculum.

The head teacher has a good stab at refusing to be drawn on how old the earth is- claiming that is not his specialism – when pressed by the presenter. But the text book that they use says the earth is 6 to 10 thousand years old.

The head credits Tony Blair for “opening the door” to their sort of school. (Blimey, we are in agreement on something then, because I also attribute the spread of this nonsense to Tony Blair.) He said this created a time for them to “strike while the iron is hot.”

Another illuminating bit is where a sleekly presented – expensive hair and clothes and make up and nails and all that Stepford Wives crap – lawyer reins in the more extreme supporters at their House of Common demo against the HFE Bill – just because of the effect on their image, rather than the content of their message, with whichs he agrees. (Said visibly extreme supporters include members of the BNP, a woman screaming “baby-killer “at a pro-choice woman and a general ranter.) Here is what she says about herself on her site:

Andrea Minichiello Williams is a Barrister and Public Policy Director for the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, an organisation with a membership of over two thousand lawyers. She was called to the Bar in 1988. Initially she specialised in Criminal and Family Law. Her primary focus is now religious liberties, public law, and life issues.
She’s co-founder of Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFON), which has over 30,000 supporters. CCFON is committed to making Christians aware of the need for a strong Christian voice proclaiming Biblical truth in the public arena.
Andrea has also been closely involved with a number of religious freedom and life cases, many of which were high profile cases where Christians have defended their right to speak biblical truth. She directs the Christian Legal Centre, which refers cases to Christian lawyers who will support individuals throughout each stage of the legal process.

(The sort of “religious freedom” cases they specialise in seem to be ones like the schoolgirl who refused to take off her “promise ring” or the airport worker told not to wear a cross.)

She and her cronies meet Lord Tebbit (of hated Thatcherite memory) and when he shows remotely willing, they pass him a pre-written Motion to present to the House of Lords. Their legal tactics and apparently lobbying skill come direct from the US Alliance of Christian something or other. Oh yes, and their funding. 🙂

(Apologies for not paying attention. I wrote “ACDF” in my scribbled notes. I suspect it might be the Alliance Defence Fund but having read the page about them that I’ve linked here, I sincerely hope not.)

One last gem, a group of middle-aged Stepford wives in Sussex were shown, oddly, praying to satan. 🙂 They start out addressing “god” but the joint prayer turns to satan as they conjure him to back off and give him explicit instructions to keep away.

My head is spinning at the theological implications of this. So they don’t just believe there’s a magic fairy godfather (the abrahamic god) who will grant your wishes when you talk to him sycophantically. They also believe that he has an evil twin goblin godfather (satan) who will will grant your wishes if you talk to him bossily. (Maybe they are confusing how to deal with supernatural entities with the way they address their husbands.)

If these supernatural entities supposedly respond to the demands of their puny human devotees, why do they think satan will obey one of his enemy’s serfs? Shouldn’t he at least demand they accept some faustian deal first?

(Sorry, that is a reference to the myths of medieval believers. Obviously, the medieval mind was a degree of magnitude more sophisticated than the thoughts of these 21st century people.)

* I think that’s the website for the school featured in the programme. I had to trawl through lots of other schools (mainly Catholic ones called Mount Carmel) so I wasn’t sure if it’s the same place but the words “The curriculum is the tried, tested and proven Accelerated Christian Education.” suggest it is…

I downloaded the prospectus 😀 /

Don’t have nightmares

This is a link to a really good, if disturbing, video. It discusses parallels between extreme Islam (in the shape of a Muslim man with a Hitler moustache) and Christian fundamentalism and how this has given our rulers a pretext to build up our fears to achieve their ends.

h/t to paul canning whose blog reminded me about the video Charlie Brooker showed to da yout’ this week, and even provided a link.

Charlie Brooker’s sample of young people found it infinitely more interesting than the youth tv dross he also showed them.

Oddly, given that Charlie Brooker is a tv critic so brilliant that he can make you chortle out loud, (hence giving away the fact you are secretly reading his Guardian column in work) his own tv ventures are not usually crowned with glory. But, even so, it takes a superhuman effort of will to disagree with his conclusions on any programme. And, he’s right on this one.

My bad ..

Sorry. I wrote the Chuck Norris post without realising there was link to a really good rant on Nullifidian’s site.

This leads to the original article on the Institute for Humanist Studies It is really funny. And it has pictures that show the nature of the man better than any words could.

Christian top ten blogs are really tough to find

So impressed was I by the idea of a top ten Christian blog list together with the idea of Christians pulling stunts to make sure atheists wouldn’t be top that I was forced to google for some evidence of the existence of Christian top ten charts.
This is one top ten I didn’t have patience to look past number one but that was indeed quite interesting. It told me that police in Florida handcuffed and arrested a six-year-old and that this is apparently a normal part of their daily activities. It didn’t seem particularly Christian except for having an intro quote that mentioned God. So disappointment there, when I was looking for comedy ranting.

It even has a post that made a point that I’ve been too cowardly to make here that 500 civilians were killed unremarked in Iraq, when the 33 Virginia Tech deaths were dominating the world’s media….

OK, maybe there’s a fundamentalist top ten that I can rant about? Oh bugger. A Google for top ten fundamenatlist blogs produces a page of links that reference “top ten signs you’re a fundamentalist Christian” which can best be described as self-satirising when it’s referenced by Christians. Continue reading

Time and tide

A standard fundamentalist belief puts the birth of the Universe at about 4,000 BC. ( A date worked out by Bishop Usher a couple of centuries ago by adding up generations based on the begats in the Bible)

This is clearly a belief that could only be held by people who have never loooked at rocks. Forget the fossil record, that fundamentalists can present as put there by god deliberately to test us. (That evil superbeing strikes again.)

As soon as you look at any rock apart from volcanic pumice and try to imagine how it was formed, you have to start opening your mind to periods of time that are genuinely unimaginable to us. Not unapproachable by reason but impossible to conceive of intuitively, because they are so many orders of magnitude greater than our human life span.

All the same, the ancient Hindus managed to have a good stab at conceiving the length of time that a universe endures – in Hindu cosmology, the length of a day of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 years. It is followed by a night of equal length. This process is repeated for 311 trillion human years, followed by an equal time of nothingness and the rebirth of the Universe. Ad infinitum, if that’s not infinite enough for you.

This suggests that people living a couple of thousand years after the supposed fundamentalist day zero (who one could assume to have traditions a lot closer to first-hand knowledge than we do today, if there was any truth in the nonsense) had a truly astonishing awareness of the scale of the universe. Which makes the fact that a fair number of people living today, in the most technologically and materially advanced country on earth, believe the universe is about 6,000 years old pretty astonishing.

A wierd contradiction

A blog seems to find the answer to why the Virginia Tech massacre took place in Genesis.

In fact, this blog claims that the answer to life the universe and everything is in Genesis. Well, it has the merit of being longer than the 42 answer.

I admit to first assuming this “everythinhg is in genesis is true blog” was a joke. The blog says things like:

You see, when we accept Genesis as it was meant to be taken—as literal history—then we understand that death, disease, and violence are intrusions into this world, and that they occurred after Adam was created……However, we still have to recognize that we now live in a fallen world where we have just a taste of what we really asked for in Adam, when the head of the human race disobeyed God’s instruction not to eat the fruit of one particular tree.

I admit to being a bit sheltered in my own little world, where most peopel would laugh at this sort of stuff. (I am still gagging from exposure to Debbie Schlussel’s blog and this blog is relatively just silly. It doesn’t bear comparison as a view of the dark side. All the same, these aren’t the sort of people you meet in everyday life. or would want to.) So I can’t help being amazed by this fundamentalist stuff. In fact, I am pretty sure these Bible literalist beliefs would give the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi serious pause.

What is so hard to understand is that these people appear to be able to write in English – in full sentences – with spelling and grammar. In blogs. On the Internet.

Now, anyone who’s tried to publish a blog knows it requires a certain level of skill. The constant technical trials of this blog are more than evidence enough of it not being the simplest thing in the world. And before you can even start you have to have mastered some other complex tasks:Learning to read. Learning to write. Running a PC. Getting an Internet connection. And a host. And so on.

My point here is that lots of people who aren’t stupid can’t do these things.

So how can this level of skill possibly co-exist with the capacity to believe, nay insist, that myths are true? Even toddlers don’t believe Red Riding hood is true. And most of that story has more credibility, at least until the wolf puts on a bonnet, gets into bed and starts pretending to be somebody’s grandmother.

Genesis starts out with a ludicrous story and gets worse. A talking snake, a magic garden, an apple which holds all the knowledge of good and evil, a boat with two of everything, a man who offers up his son as sacrifice, a magic list of rules appearing on a stone table …. (I am flailing a bit here because I’m not sure what goes in Genesis and what’s in Exodus or whatever.)

We would assume a small child was bit slow if they couldn’t recognise this sort of thing was a fairy story.

But ADULTS? Adults who clearly have the brain capacity to master the reading and writing and blogging skills. How did they manage to get these skills without any form of reasoning circuit in their brains? Truly the world is full of marvels.

Self-styled “most-hated family” earning the title

In among the news on disturbing world events, with frightening implications, (captured sailors in Iran, carnage in Iraq, and any number of other things….. ) the BBC has this little gem on its magazine page.

It refers to Louis Theroux’s programme on the Phelps, who he calls the “most extreme people” he’s ever met. Now, this is a man who’s interviewed Eugene Terrblanche, normally considered one of the most extreme people on the face of the planet.

Obviously Theroux just normally interviews people who are extreme only in terms of their uniqueness or silliness or publicity-hungriness, or any combination thereof, like the Hamiltons. He adopts a self-mocking uber-English diffidence but he’s really taking the piss out of most of them, letting them react to his apparent naivety. This can be so funny it chokes the breath out of you or dull and predictable depending on who he’s interviewing.

The Phelps must be in class of their own.

They call themselves the most hated family in the US and they picket funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.

In case you think this means they are just oddly insensitive anti-war activists, think again.

They picket these funerals to draw attention to what they see as God’s punishment on America for tolerating homosexuality.

You may have guessed it, they are the Westboro Baptist Church.

Louis Theroux claims to find them perplexing. He says they are pleasant, normal people outside of their picketing. He says they started out “moderate” – only picketing places where gay people meet, Gya Pride events and so on – and didn’t use words like “fags”.
(I’m not 100% convinced that this constitutes moderate or normal.)

Apparently, they just accumulated extremeness as they went about it.

Louis Theroux says that they are basically a model family (hmm, that not 100% convinced thig is rearing its head again) that really care about each other, just dominated by an evil Gramps. He seems to have ended up seeing the Church as some sort of genetically related cult.

It shows you what strange avenues the religious impulse can take you down. I think another part of the answer is that parts of the Christian Bible are pretty weird. There’s a lot of weird stuff in there and when you take that and you add this angry, domineering kind of a father figure, which is Gramps, and you add that he has sort of separated them off from other people, other families and driven them to achieve a lot, and he was kind of a charismatic guy, and still is up to a point.

I still can’t dissipate the image of being at a funeral that is being picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. In the most frivolous terms, I think it’s partly because it brings to mind the phrase “You wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry”.

More seriously, it’s quite difficult to think of many legal activities that could be more vile than turning up at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq to harry the grief-stricken with bigoted anti-gay propaganda. You’d have to be a hell of a lot more than averagely nice and normal in the rest of your life to balance out that level of wickedness.

Blag blogs

Phew. I can regain the will to live.

The post on atheist humour about a fake right wing blog, plus a comment by Alun about another absolutely brilliant parody site landoverbaptist.org had me wondering how many more of these other extremist blogs were fake.

I somehow ended up browsing an anti-church forum by following links from landoverbaptist. I noticed that some of the sites that people were griping about really had to be blatant spoofs.

I suddenly had a flash of Road to Damascus insight.

There are no right wing fundamentalist blogs or websites. There are no real creationist blogs. Intelligent design is just a joke that got out of hand. They are all just made by just a load of people with wierd senses of humour. This knowledge will restore your faith in the human race.

No wait! The most obvious intuitive argument against ID was the all-too-evident lack of intelligence in so many human beings – as shown ironically by the way that a completely irrational alternative to evolution was allegedly believed by huge swathes of people.

But, now science – in the shape of my empirical investigation of the existence of fundamentalist blogs – has proved that human stupidity is a false premise. Humans are rational intelligent beings after all.

D’oh, so there COULD be an intelligent design behind the universe….. 🙂