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Margaret Nelson will be discussing this with some clerics (don’t know who). If you’re not in the area, you can listen online or listen again – see link below.
As news spreads of the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stevens, by an angry mob reacting to a film about Islam, there’s also news that Channel 4 has cancelled its screening of Tom Holland’s film, Islam: the untold story, in response to threats from Muslim extremists.
The film that prompted the Benghazi assault on the US Embassy, as well as demonstrations in Egypt, was made by an Israeli filmmaker, Sam Bacile (who’s gone into hiding), and was promoted by Morris Sadek, an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner who lives in California. It’s a rubbish film, whatever you think of Islam, with wooden acting, comedy beards, and an inflammatory depiction of Islam. Click here to watch it.
Tom Holland’s film, shown on Channel 4 recently, is not a rubbish film; it’s a documentary that records the research Holland has done into the origins of Islam. Click here to watch it on 4oD. The Telegraph reports, “The investigation into the origins of the religion claimed that there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed”. This reminded me that Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou said more or less the same things about King David in the Old Testament and Jesus and the origins of Christianity in her BBC TV series last year, yet there were no Jewish or Christian mobs baying for her blood – though some American fundamentalists probably would have been rather rude about her, if they’d seen it. Uneducated Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Libya live in social groups where the men and women are segregated, independence is frowned upon, and a mob mentality is easily developed. It’s taken centuries to get this way; simply being rude about them isn’t going to change anything.
The main Abrahamic monotheistic religions‘ stories have been changed as they’ve been passed down through the generations, like Chinese whispers, so now there’s very little truth in any of them. In spite of this, anyone who dares to say so is likely to be threatened by those who prefer to remain in ignorance than to question the nonsense they’ve been conditioned to believe. One of the biggest problems with all of them is their fundamental sexism, but atheists can be just as guilty of that.
Instead of picking fights with theocracies, it would be better if some of the money currently being spent on military hardware was used to provide education. In the long term, it’s the only thing that can make a difference. Most of the men in the Muslim mobs were taught by imams in madrassas, the only form of schooling they ever had.
“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.” – H G Wells
Our September newsletter is ready for you to download.
There are book reviews, a report about the popular new Ipswich Café Scientifique, a complaint to the BBC, and a piece about the imaginary ban on crucifixes at work that some Christians are complaining about.
Print a copy for yourself and pass it on to your friends.
Ten minute topics has always been a popular format. You are invited to suggest a topic for ten minutes of discussion. It can be anything you like. Everyone writes a topic on a scrap of paper and they’re drawn from a hat (or another suitable receptacle). Sometimes this generates ideas that can be followed up at a later date.
A couple of days ago it was reported that Moors murderer Ian Brady had given a sealed envelope to his mental health advocate that may or may not give details of where he’d left the body of his victim Keith Bennett, who was twelve. Today it was announced that Keith’s mother, Mrs Winnie Johnson, had died. Interviewing Mrs Johnson’s solicitor, John Ainley, on BBC News 24, weekend presenter Maxine Mawhinney asked if Brady was religious. Ainley said he wasn’t. Mawhinney said that this meant that Brady wouldn’t have a conscience about his crime or about withholding information about where Keith’s body might be found.
Should we be angry about this sort of thing? It’s the sort of casually judgemental comment that we hear all the time from religious people, but newsreaders ought to know better. A complaint is one its way.
If you receive the National Secular Society‘s weekly email, Newsline, you’ll already have read this message:
Why we need you to commit to your principles
A message from Terry Sanderson, NSS President
We know there are millions of people in this country who would prefer religion not to interfere in their life and to stay where it belongs – in places of worship and in the homes of worshippers.
There is a definite feeling of discomfort abroad about the way that churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are putting out tentacles that reach into all our lives – whether it is into our children’s education (another huge increase in the number of ‘faith schools’ is on the way), our taxes (why do churches get special tax privileges, like reduced VAT, when the rest of us are shown no mercy?), our hospitals (why is the NHS paying the salaries of clergy when hospitals are going into administration?), our legislature (why are Church of England bishops involved in making laws that we all have to live by?), and our media (why is religion given such special consideration by the BBC – especially when religious programmes have so few listeners or viewers?).