Tag Archives: Religion

Getting really cross

“Sell everything you own and buy yellow precious metal, fashioned in the form of one vertical long stick crossed with a horizontal shorter stick. And wear it publicly at all times, as a sign of your devotion to me. Blessed are the jewellery wearers for they shall inherit media attention” Book of Ratner ch19.v4

(As Jesus directed his followers in a previously little-known apocryphal bible book covering the Jewellery Company Years)

Determined cross wearers Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida (a former nurse and a former British Airways worker) have taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights

Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida take cross fight to Europe.
Shirley Chaplin said “hiding” her cross was akin to denying her faith
(headlines on the BBC report)

I can’t see that it matters what styles of jewellery people wear. I think that their employers have behaved insanely (although I bet they were a real trial to employ). Although, if you know that a job has a uniform and you refuse to stick to the uniform rules, you shouldn’t really take that job.

The problem is that the cross ladies picked this fight on purpose. To bolster the picture of the UK’s imaginary condition of “discrimination against Christians”.

Christian Concern website (find it yourself, if you want, I’m not keen to post a link) is always willing to place itself at the centre of any case that it can use to promote the fantasy that we live in a parallel universe in which European Christians are beingpersecuted.

Increasing numbers of Christians have been penalised for their faith in the public sphere, often due to equalities legislation and the promotion of homosexual rights. Some Christians have been threatened with disciplinary action, suspended, and even sacked for refusing to act against their consciences. At Christian Concern we vigorously resist any restrictions on freedom of speech and expression for Christians.(from Christian Concern)

What? Equalities legislation and homosexual rights are a threat to Christians?

Passing blithely over the irony that people who feel threatened by human rights legislation are resorting to the European Court of Human Rights for redress, do they claim that they are being compelled to become homosexual in order to get human rights? No, I think I get it, maybe they claim the right to persecute gay people is the human right that they are in danger of losing?

Christians have been sacked for refusing to act against their consciences? I would have much sympathy – nay, admiration – if their consciences were telling them they had to resist the government’s ongoing programme to attack the poor and the NHS or if they were campaigning against wars or using their resources to feed the hungry and house the homeless…

But their Christian consciences aren’t stirred by such insignificant social issues. Their moral sense is roused by rules about wearing jewellery in work.

And their consciences can only be accommodated by following the Book of Ratner and wearing jewellery with malice aforethought.

Oh, and spending vast resources on getting their own way through the courts. What would Jesus Do? Well, the same, obviously. I believe he was working on his latest designer jewellery collection for Argos when he was crucified. He thought the cross shape would be really great for the brand.

Told you so..

Today’s Guardian has a piece looking at the effects of the French burqa ban. In a nutshell:

France’s burqa ban: women are ‘effectively under house arrest’
Since France introduced its burqa ban in April there have been violent attacks on women wearing the niqab and, this week, the first fines could be handed down. But a legal challenge to this hard line may yet expose the French state as a laughing stock.

I have to show off about my predictive skills here, although anyone with at a week’s experience of living on this planet could have predicted the outcome.

But still, in June 2009, I said…

Some members of the public will demand police action against women wearing burqas. At the very least, insulting women as they go about their daily lives will become more, not less, common. Burqa-wearers will be afraid to appear in the street.

…Exactly the consequences that today’s Guardian report talks about…

There’s some shame for atheists in this story

Secular France has a complicated relationship with the veil. In 2004, all religious symbols including the headscarf were banned in schools. Even among Sarkozy’s opponents there are very few feminists or socialist politicians who would defend the right to wear niqab in a country where secularism is one of the few issues that still unites a fragmented left. Barely a handful of people came to Notre Dame cathedral to protest against the law in April. (from the Guardian)

I refuse to see how interfering with women’s chosen modes of dress “for their own good” can be in any way feminist.

It makes me really uncomfortable to see secularism used as a smokescreen for racism.

I thought I was at least in favour of the French banning all religious symbols in schools but I’ve started to even reconsider that, when I look at it logically. I hardly think it’s a battle worth fighting. It’s basically unenforceable without causing religious believers to become even more entrenched in their sense of having a beleaguered cultural identity.

How do you define a religious symbol in order to ban it? What are the boundaries of religion?

What about an innocent wearing a piece of jewelry with a Chinese Buddhist symbol? The English youths tattooed with Maori warrior symbols for gods they’ve never heard of and couldn’t pronounce even for real money?

Does it only count if you know what the symbols mean? In that case, most wearers of religious insignia would be OK.

What if you know what the symbols mean but just don’t believe in them? (I’m looking at you, all you people with silver rings carrying Egyptian ankhs.) You might have bought a tourist T-shirt printed with a scene from the Sistine Chapel. You might be wearing a reversed cross as a fashion item. You might even be wearing a religious item ironically (like the plastic rosaries incomprehensibly fashionable a couple of years ago)

More seriously, what about dreadlocks? They can be read in dozens of different ways. Locks have religious significance for some rastas. They also have several forms of cultural resonance for many people wearing them who wouldn’t subscribe to the religion – from people who see them as symbols of African heritage to eco-warriors. Some people wear them for purely aesthetic and fashion reasons. Are they banned in French schools? Would they be acceptable for people who could prove they didn’t follow the religion?

However you follow through these ideas, they become nonsense.

If secularist are to subscribe to the idea of banning religious artefacts worn on the body, how can we be sure that any given object doesn’t have religious significance?

By the way, this might be the time to mention that I have recently joined a religion which venerates the holy lounge suit. We are a small religion but utterly fanatical. All men in our faith are required to wear a lounge suit, with the tie of the Eternal Cosmos wrapped around the neck in a complicated knot that represents the interconnectedness of all life.

I sincerely trust that this doesn’t cause more than minor inconvenience in the French parliament.

Numbers of the beasts

Quite fascinated to find that every post that I read on on Rapture Forms had 225 recommendations. Strange – nay, almost uncanny – coincidence, maybe? Nothing orchestrated about that, clearly,

More numbers: There are 500 “religious organisations” on Facebook. For the first few pages, these religious organisations don’t even have names, just combinations of dots and dashes. (Must be some esoteric form of morse code that only gods understand).

But blow me down with a celestial feather. They all have lots of Friends.

Even if the group name is a dot-dash combo, the picture is a question mark and their entire content is a spam-for-christ by something called st andrews bookshop* (which is a precise description of a few dozen) they still attract Friends numbered in into double or triple figures. It’s hard to find a named group has less than 150.

For example, a site that announces its name as //, has a description that’s just a cuss word repeated and a couple of posts about mobile phone tariffs being shite has 348 members. (Ok, that one possibly isn’t really a religious organisation.)

I am forced to concede that the one about voting for Motorhead to be Pope isn’t really a religious group either. Though I might have got the “Lemmy for Pope” idea slightly wrong. (Yes, I’ve found out that “popolo” does mean “people”…) A babelfish translation of its intro produced this, which appears to make as much sense as most normal religious announcements:

It tires of the political usual? It tires of politics of moralisti feints and who sermon and marazzola well badly? L’ only alternative is the popo of the Motorhead. you have been always not class? You have always had March or Die? You have always dreammed of aprirti a whorehouse blues?

176 people joined this. Maybe it makes perfect sense in Italian.

Downhearted by the uselessness of babelfish and fearing a door-bursting visit by the security services, I didn’t look at any of the islamic groups. Nor any of the many Indonesian or Eastern European ones. If babelfish makes a worse dog’s breakfast of translating Italian than I could do by guesswork, I don’t want to let it loose on a non-European language.

So I stick mostly to reading the groups written in English, which sort of biases the sample. But it seems that any religious group on Facebook – real or spoof – gets close to 200 friends. I start to feel relatively very unpopular.

I see a group called “All Christians take back America” (You might assume that’s the lead in to “….and demand a refund”) 189 Facefriends. This turns out not to to be full of plans to take over America, so much as requests for prayers for various unfortunates. So it’s depressing rather than funny/frightening.

Momentary diversion in the form of a post link (from the not-at-all-stereotypically-named Lula May something-or-other**) to www.baghdadprayerpatrol.com but that turns out not to exist.

Find this on another post there, made by Cathy J some-surname**:

Satin is really working hard to bring me down. He knows I have God in my heart and he is trying so hard to break me down. …….Please pray that Satin does not win

I am personally praying for Silk to sweep the board. But Cotton is very durable. So, I guess that I also hope that Satin doesn’t win.

It seems that the demonic fabric is making headway in Italy, (but in Italian they misspell it, using an A where the word clearly has an I) so that the 181-member group FACCIAMO CHIUDERE IL GRUPPO “SATANISMO RAZIONALE” has been set up to counter it (Bloody babelfish translation again:)

WE MAKE TO CLOSE THE GROUP ” SATANISMO RAZIONALE”
we make to close this orribile group that idolatra the evil, therefore is against every religion… participated numerous, makes to close it

Satin may be so unpopular that it only attracts a hate group but several other everyday items have their own worship groups, each with nearly 200 members: Alcohol; Kinder eggs; White milk (Yes, there is such a thing and, no, I don’t know how it differs from regular milk, which was indeed white when I last looked.. Well I do know, now, it’s the colour of the cap. And 189 people joined this group.)

I haven’t found any Atheist “religious organisations” yet. Oh yes, contradiction in terms. D’oh. Face palm even.

*Standrewsbookshop seems to have cornered the market in Face-spamming-for-jesus. The only other spams that appear often enough to be noticeable are for an airline that I’ve never heard of.
** See how I am scrupulously half-protecting their identities. Even though they’ve blithely put their full names and photos on Facebook…..

Community cohesion

What exactly is “community cohesion”? I’m way too stupid to understand what “community” means in any thing other than general terms. So, it’s lucky that OFSTED inspectors seem to have a robust enough working definition to allow them to rate schools for it

(Lucky for Oftsed, anyway, as they now seem to be legally obliged to do it).

It also seems to be lucky – for the CofE- that a CofE-funded study – doing some statistical analysis of OFSTED’s application of its community cohesion standard – concluded that faith schools are better at promoting it.

I’m not going down the cynical “Well, you get what you pay for” route, here. I am just wondering what “community cohesion” might mean. If “faith” schools are magically better than bog-standard schools at mixing together the communities they are sited in, then someone should have sent the message to Northern Ireland, where the people trying to end decades of internal war are trying to get kids taught together, whatever their family religion…….

I was under the impression that there was a UK map (on the BBC or somewhere) showing that the poorest and most deprived areas were the most socially “cohesive” – people had lots of contact with relatives, lived close to where they were born, shared values, helped each other out, etc.

Strong community ties can serve as a survival strategy for the poor, but there are many complicated good and bad implications. (I believe the East End community was considered quite cohesive in the Kray era, for instance.)

Hence, I googled “community cohesion map”. I haven’t found the map I was looking for, yet. Most of the top results are policy documents related to education or housing. They are pretty close to unreadable (without getting the urge to rip the language area out of your own skull, anyway) but it’s obviously a big current policy topic. So, you’d assume there must be a useful definition in there somewhere.
Here’s the Experian Community Cohesion Factsheet. Factsheet, see. Doesn’t that mean it has the facts?

Hmm, it certainly has sciencey-looking maps, showing you can plot measures of community cohesiveness on a map.

Well, yes, you can plot anything to a map. A map doesn’t care whether you actually define the things you are mapping.

Cohesive and harmonious communities are the bedrock of a civilised and stable society. Enhancing cohesion is fundamental to reducing disorder, increasing public confidence and improving everyone’s quality of life. It is therefore important to understand the factors that underpin cohesion to consider the best ways to deliver services and engage with residents to accomplish longterm sustainable improvements.

Bedrock of a civilised society… Now why does that sound familiar? How many bedrocks does a civilised society need?

The Experian measures seem to be disturbingly related to ethic origin of respondents. It’s not as if this sort of information could ever be misused, is it? (Rhetorical question.)

Suitable tale for Hallowe’en

According to the BBC

Five women were paraded naked, beaten and forced to eat human excrement by villagers after being branded as witches in India’s Jharkhand state.
Local police said the victims were Muslim widows who had been labelled as witches by a local cleric. (from the BBC)

This poses an interesting question. Does Islam have “witches?” Are they mentioned in the Koran? (I have no idea. I am too idle to googleit even)

The BBC has a video but I’m such a wuss that the warning that it contains disturbing footage was enough to stop me playing it. The video has understandably outraged people in India.

According to more links on that BBC page, witch persecution is not uncommon in India today. For instance, the BBC story “Witch family killed” reported the deaths of four people, who were stoned and buried alive in June 2008.

More than 500 people have been killed in Assam – and half as many in neighbouring West Bengal – in the past few years because their neighbours thought they were witches.
A study on these killings by a Bengal police officer, Asit Baran Choudhury, suggests that most of those accused of practising witchcraft and then killed are “isolated families” with some landed property.
He says most of those killed are widows.
“Powerful people in the community target them to acquire the land,” says the study. (from the BBC, 12 June 2008)

These horrific tales don’t need commenting on. It’s blindingly obvious what’s going on here. I could refer you to the mountains of anthropological literature about persecution of “witches”. The European witch trials were so similar in terms of targetting widows and grabbing property. But any mention of “anthropology” or “history” places this sort of madness in a conceptual realm that’s outside our own experience – in the distant past or in some “superstitious” alien society that is nothing like the modern world (Ha.)

In any case, I tend to assume that most readers are halfway sane so I won’t do this to death. Feel free to work up your own outrage. I’m getting a bit tired at expressing outrage at things so WRONG that they defy any sense of innate human decency. And I choose not to go down that road, as a matter of principle.

How monumentally convenient for someone who is jealous of another’s good fortune to make up insane accusations and convince the gullible that they are true.

In heaven, everything is fine

(Temporarily) taking Pascal’s wager at face value, it would be silly to choose to believe a religion that didn’t offer some serious benefits. I.e. don’t pick a religion that doesn’t offer much in the way of tangible rewards.

So, as a public service to anyone wavering about what religion to choose, I think a cost-benefit analysis is in order. I assume that you want a religion that offers less of a penalty for not being too devoted an adherent more than you want one with a really great heaven, so the quality of hells was the main ranking factor.

Heaven and Hell for a few major religions
Heaven and Hell for a few major religions

I’ve put them in order of their desirability. Obviously, the ones with the least burning/freezing or torturing come up top. Equally obviously, non-belief can’t offer any after-death benefits but it definitely has no after-death costs.

Sorry, Pascal, (Loved the programming language by the way :-)), when it comes down to betting on what’s going to benefit the believer the most, I reckon atheism is still ahead.

Empty Argument

I know letters pages are traditionally fertile grounds for finding crazy opinions and attitudes but its not that often you get in on the Guardian (especially when compared with the Mail or even BBC Online). Today however we see a familiar empty argument trotted out by someone who apparently has taken offence that Atheists have dared to try and teach children – when everyone knows only the Church are allowed to brainwash.

Patrick Smith, from Essex, writes:

It is great that young people are being taught to think (Summer camp offers ‘godless’ alternative for atheists, 30 July). Alas, it seems Camp Quest will be assuming science is the only way to find truth, a view not shared by most of humanity. Experience of love, music, art and (yes) religion are just as important. Atheists can brainwash as shamelessly as any cult!

Now, correct me if I am wrong but this seems completely flawed. Mr Smith is missing the point by such a large amount it seems he must be talking about something else. I have no personal experience of the atheist camp, so I am (like Mr Smith, I suspect) forced to use the article referenced for background reading.

It seems the children are being taught to think:

The idea behind the camp is to give a “godless” alternative to traditional religious summer camps. In the morning the participants discuss philosophical ideas and learn about subjects such as astronomy.

But nothing there makes me think that it assumes “science is the only way to find a truth.” (I am a bit confused as to otherways to find a “truth” though). Children, 12 years old, discussing philosophy fills my heart with joy and renews some of my faith in human nature. (all irony is intentional). But it continues:

Then in the afternoons they take part in more traditional camp activities. They swim, they run, they climb, they row. In the evening – if the rain relents – they sit round the campfire and toast marshmallows.

Ok – this strikes me as all wholesome, childrens activities. It also carries the implication that they are still active in the evenings. Unless we assume they sit silently around the campfire then they are likely to be listening to music, talking about artistic subjects or learning how to interact with others.

This sort of leaves me confused what Mr Smith is objecting to – unless he feels, like lots of Christians seem to do, that without god being invoked at every sentence then the lessons are meaningless and unimportant. The unintentional irony in that viewpoint is there is a religion where god is mentioned in almost every sentence, and Christians seem to hate it.

For those with strong irony meters and in need of some laughs at the unintentional idiocy that “people with faith” can demonstrate, the comments on the Guardian article about the camp are very funny.

By toutatis!

Enticing as this BBC story is – Pagan Police Get Solstice Leave, as so often, the content doesn’t live up to the hype.

Pagan police officers in some areas are being allowed to take as many as eight days leave a year for events such as the summer solstice and Halloween.
It comes after the Pagan Police Association was set up following discussions with Home Office officials.

Just in case you are a police officer reading this and you think can see hitherto-unsuspected benefits resulting from a quick faith change – of the kind that so many people undergo when their children reach school age – there aren’t actually any extra holiday opportunities for pagan police.

You would only get to swap your standard bank holidays for pagan bank holidays.

Which is a pity, because I was wondering if the “extra leave” principle might transfer to other jobs and other belief systems. Or at least, there’s a chance that non-believers could slip in under the pagan wire, given that a dictionary meaning of pagan is probably “non-christian”. I was wondering if even my employers could be persuaded to look sympathetically on my need to stay off work on Darwin days and Russell’s Birthday celebrations.

However, although you don’t get any more holidays, don’t despair yet, pagan police officers, just move to Hertfordshire. The BBC says that it has appointed two – note that, not just one, but two – pagan police chaplains. How unutterably cool is that?

Let there be no light

I am overawed by the predictive power of Leviticus, if I’m right in thinking that that’s the book that set the rules for orthodox jews.

As far as I can make out, from this BBC story, (Light sensors cause religious row) orthodox jews aren’t allowed to see by electric light on holy days.

A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.
Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights.
The couple’s religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays.

I can’t understand the problem, here. If the hallway sensors detect that it’s dark – the outside world will have street lighting, surely.

So the litigious couple can’t go in the street anyway, as far as I can see. Because then they would be in non-kosher electric light anyway….

Unless street-lighting doesn’t count because those lights are already on when the couple leave their home. In which case, I suggest that they trick the sensors and just switch the lights on permanently in advance of any jewish holiday… Lateral thinking, hey?.

Did Leviticus ban all electric light? Or just proscribe electric light switches and motion sensors but say some lights were acceptably kosher?

As I said at the beginning – this rulebook seems so amazingly farsighted. There must have been real prophets at work, if they foresaw electric lighting a few thousand years ago. Is there anything in there about when we get the jetpacks?

Religious Ironies

Excommunication doesn’t seem much of a sanction to non-believers, granted, but it’s a bit rough for Catholics. It seems you can do just about anything and still remain a Catholic, from holocaust denial (you can apparently even be a bishop, in that case) to taking part in mass murder in Rwanda.

However, what you can’t do and remain incommunicated is arrange an abortion for a Brazilian nine-year-old who was pregnant with twins, after being raped by her stepfather.

In fact, having sane social views can also get you suspended as a priest in Brazil, if not completely excommunicated.

It appears that Father Couto landed in trouble with the Church authorities because of an interview that he gave to a local newspaper defending the use of condoms as a matter of public health. (from the BBC)

Unlike the more senior Brazilian Catholic church hierarchy…

…. He has received threats to his life in the past for his opposition to death squads that operate in the north east of Brazil.

So, it appears that being genuinely “pro-life” – in any sense of the word that doesn’t mean “supporting breeding, whatever the human cost” – can get you into trouble in the Catholic Church.

But death squads, AIDS deaths and raped children are just part of god’s unquestionable plan.

The second set of ironies come from yet another church shooting in the US.

A week ago, the Guardian’s Saturday magazine had an seemingly-interminable parade of born-again American christians talking about their firepower. (That “Turn the other cheek” stuff really must be too fragile to survive the rebirthing process.) The piece was clearly just there to make us English people feel smug.

I remembered an old post that I did here about Wingnut daily and its claim that going armed into church would just make worshippers safer.

This referred to a book called “Shooting Back” published by Worldnet Daily itself, the message of which seems to revolve around always having a revolver. Even – or indeed, especially – in church.

What would you do if armed terrorists broke into your church and starting attacking your friends with automatic weapons in the middle of a worship service?

Well. oddly, this seems to be a not-unheard of occurence, now. But, surprise, surprise, they aren’t organised “armed terrorists” but good old traditional yankee “lone gunman” figures. The very people who are claiming that it’s their inalienable human right to bear arms, no less.

It’s been a while since I underwent the reading-wingnut-daily experience. Scanning its ugly intro page, I spotted a link to a piece of nonsense in our old friend, the English Daily Mail.

Which was unsurprising, given that as soon as I looked at the worldnet daily site content, I saw the extreme wing of the Daily Mail’, with its trademark mix of political scare stories and crackpot health stories.

OK, worldnet daily doesn’t have the Mail’s prurient celeb stories with its daily fake concern about starlet x’s love life or singer y’s bulimia problems. But then, the Mail doesn’t have the insane nonsense about Obama’s being a secret muslim or not being a really American. So, on balance, I think this is – for once – a win for the Daily Mail and its acres of celebri-toss. If it didn’t have that, it could easily tip over into worldnettery and then the UK would be in serious trouble.

FSTDT Lives

I’ve been away for a while, so it was with shock, horror and sadness I realised that FSTDT had died, but it was joy when I realised it had been resurrected.

The posts can now be found at FSTDT.net, although it is still very rough and ready. As you can see, the look and feel has remained, but the new system means there are a lot less quotes getting through. IMHO this is both good and bad, in the past some pretty un-fundie quotes were being approved, but at least you were getting a lot of comedy. Now it seems like there is only going to be a quote or two each day. With the restrictions placed on moderation, there is also a good chance that only quotes from known-regular-fundies will make it though – everyone else is scared of approving non-fundie, non-funny stuff. Hopefully none of this will transpire and my pathetic attempts at prediction will remain pathetic.

A few other things I don’t like about the changes are – the lack of any ability to edit your own posts; the difficulty in getting back to the post index/archives after you have viewed a comment and the lack of apparent monthly threading. It is possible that Distind is going to address these points, so time will tell.

For now, however, it remains a fantastic source of idiocy and witty comments. It also remains pretty much the only source of online comedy images I have:

Skepticism

(hat tip: FSTDT Refugee Forum)

Christian variant of classic scam?

Some “get rich quick” internet scams have the decency to target people who are gullible and greedy, as well as having more money than brain cells. (Oh, maybe I’m thinking of hedge funds, rather than email cons, here.)

Apathy Sketchpad has a few posts showing how to deal with some classic Nigerian scams.

There’s a more distasteful type of con that preys upon the mark’s charitable impulses and/or their religious beliefs, rather than their greed.

I found Sam Gipp’s “A Friend to Churches Ministries” site by following a link from fstdt. I was sniggering at posts like this, while thinking how glad I am there’s a whole ocean between me and the ground such people walk on:

Welcome to the U.S.S.A.
Since the “November Revolution” when the Communist Party took over our government and began its conversion to “GODvernment” the old United States of America is gone, replaced by a new entity: the United Socialist States of America. Here are some of the differences between these two countries.

Then I spotted this tale on the about page:

You all know that, in all the years I’ve written these letters I have never asked anyone to send us money…Don’t worry!…I’m not going to start now. But there is an Urgent Need that I am going to tell you about & ask you to help.

Well, I know you aren’t going to do anything so vulgar as to ask for money, Sam. It’s not as if I don’t trust you implicitly.

Carl & Leta Miller have been missionaries to Scotland for 23 years. They have been faithful through extremely difficult times. Their daughter, Libby, has had severe health problems. Carl has had surgery on the retinas in both eyes, needs to have his knees replaced, also his hips and has fought off cancer in his bladder. He cannot walk without leaning on his wife, Leta. Unfortunately, Leta is not much better. She has a severe back problem and uses two canes to walk. The great, government health care program won’t even look at her for surgery until they deem it, “Life threatening.” It takes 18 months just to get a pain shot. (Just wait until we have that here!)

Missionaries to Scotland? Hmm. It’s not as if Scotland isn’t already bursting with various Christian sects. This already stretches credulity.

But the next bit blows any residual credulity right out of the water.

It takes 18 months to get a pain shot.” Eighteen months! Are you insane? Well, OK, the Scots are stereotypically seen as tough, after all. Who knows what is normal in those strange Northern regions?… (Just, never try to take their Freedom.)

Based on an ultra-conservative perspective, he is insulting what he sarcastically calls our “great, government health care program” as if it provides a service that would compare unfavourably with what you’d expect to find in a Somalian war zone.

But, in fact, judging by the long list of health problems suffered by his doughty missionaries, they’ve already benefited from plenty of nationalised health care, including a series of surgeries that would have bankrupted the average American family. What are these people? Health tourists?

We talked to my doctor. He said he would look at her. Get this! The Millers have put every penny into their mission work and couldn’t even afford the plane ticket for Leta to come here for tests. Kathy & I bought her the ticket and paid for the tests. My doctor says he can help here. He said without the surgery she is headed for a wheelchair. Leta is now back in Scotland. The Millers are coming to Louisville in January. A brother has provided airline tickets, a lady at Shawnee Baptist Church is giving them a place to stay and another church is renting them a car. Here’s their problem; they have no health insurance at all. The hospital costs are going to be around $200,000-$250,000.

But, wait. Hooray! He can get these costs discounted! As long as they get the money REALLY REALLY fast.

But! My wonderful wife has talked to the folks at the hospital. They said they will reduce the cost by 60%! They also said, if the bill is paid within 30 days after surgery they will drop it another 20%.

Don’t you just love the idea that a hospital could so drastically reduce a bill of a quarter of a million dollars for a quick sale?

Word For The World Baptist Missions has started a “Leta Miller Medical Fund.” We have given and several churches have also helped. They need around $50,000. Around $15,000 has already come in. Will you help? If they can raise the $50,000 by surgery time, January 26, 2009, they can pay the surgery off and save thousands of dollars.

Wow, how economical is that. Praise the Lord!

But, stop right there, Sam Gyp Gipp. Let me save your donors a few more Yankee dollars. Guess what? We also have private medical care in the UK. Your $15k could buy the unlucky Leta as much UK health care as she can handle. Yes, even in heathen Scotland.