Page 1

thepinkhumanist Issue 4, Volume 3 DECEMBER 2013

Published quarterly by the Pink Triangle Trust – a registered UK charity

The cruelty of Catholics exposed in a new docu-drama. Read about Philomena on page 8 Cover picture ScottGriessel/123RF

Also in this issue: Witch hunters and homophobes: Leo Igwe slams Pentecostal preachers, p2. Gay Hungary viewed through a heterosexual’s eyes, p3. Islamic ‘Peace Conferences’ are hotbeds of intolerance, p6. An examination of Manif Pour Tous, p13.


The Pink Humanist

opening lines Pastor Enoch Adeboye: one of many charlatans who generate hatred of homosexuals and exorcise ‘demons’ in exchange for cash. Adeboye is a very wealthly fraudster. Adeboye is visiting – attracted world-wide outrage and condemnation. The people of Papua New Guinea and other countries in the region would not want to have another spiritual movement that will compound this problem. They do not need an evangelical group that will revive or re-ignite these savage beliefs and practices. The people of the Pacific region would not want any pastor or church to export or extend ‘a Christian African witch hunt’ to the region. The Pacific brand of sorcery is bad enough.” He pointed out that witchcraft predates Christianity in Africa. Early Christian missionaries condemned it and – with some measure of success – coerced Africans to abandon their pagan beliefs. By GEORGE BROADHEAD But in recent years the worst aspects of African superstition have combined with the most deplorable characteristics of Christianity eo Igwe is a well-known name in international secular to create climates of fear and loathing. There has been a resurgence circles for his tireless efforts to bring sanity to his home of accusations of witchcraft against innocent people – a trend country of Nigeria, as well as to other parts of the world stoked by Christian clerics and churches, particularly Pentecostal by exposing the harm done to millions by religion. He charismatic churches. Igwe pointed out that recent cases of witchis especially concerned by hatred stoked by Christian preachers craft related abuse in the United Kingdom have been traced to the against LGBT communities, and this concern led him earlier this activities of African evangelical pastors and churches. year to mount a campaign to stop the notoriously homophobic Igwe insists that pastors like Adeboye have become “modernNigerian pastor Enoch Adeboye from touring of day African witch doctors” who have turned their the Pacific. churches into “witch-hunting spiritual movements. Despite his efforts, strengthened by calls from They have made witch finding and deliverance gay groups and secular organisations, Adeboye’s part of their spiritual business and industry”. “Let the Wind Blow” missionary tour went ahead. He pointed out that Adeboye “is a stakeholder Perhaps this was no bad thing, because the publicin this business”. He is “a witch believing pastor, ity generated by protesters led to Adeboye being and his church – the Redeemed Christian Church exposed not only as a gay-hating fraudster but as of God – is a witch delivering spiritual movement”. a key figure in a dangerous and despicable witch Igwe added: “Adeboye devotes his sermons to dehunting cult. nouncing the ‘witches and wizards’ in families and In an article published by Sahara Reporters in communities. He proclaims God’s ‘superiority over October, Igwe wrote: “We need to end witch all witches, occultic and diabolical agents’.” This hunting around the globe. Witch persecution Leo Igwe: Below his article in evangelical propaganda, he said, is being crafted to ended in Europe and most parts of the Western Sahara Reporters a reader poison family and social relations. world centuries ago. But this violent campaign “Adeboye’s sermons contain gospel narratives that commented: ‘Leo Igwe is no continues in many regions of the world mainly due doubt a devil from the deepest reinforce witchcraft mentality and enchantment in to the activities of some Christian churches, pastors the minds of the people. The activities of Adeboye part of hell’. and other religious actors.” and his Redeemed Christian Church of God instil Igwe believed that opposition to Adeboye’s evangelical tour fears and anxieties. Their evangelism nourishes witchcraft suspicions would not only focus world attention on the hatred being generand spreads frenzy, panic and hysteria. His sermons drive church ated by these preachers against homosexuals, but would also cast members to attribute their problems to evil spirits or to evil magic a harsh light on their promotion of the idea that certain people – and machinations of ‘enemies’ within families and communities. many children among them – are practising witchcraft. Igwe lamented the fact that gullible Nigerians have been fooled Igwe wrote: “Witch hunting is a problem in Africa and among by the antics of Adeboye and pastors of his stripe, and insisted that Africans. Witch hunting is also a cultural scourge that is ravaging “the evangelical charade of the Redeemed Christian Church of many countries and communities in the Pacific region. Recently God should not be taken to other countries. It has no place in an cases of witch hunting in Papua New Guinea – one of the countries enlightened society.”

Leo Igwe’s crusade against Enoch Adeboye: a tale of good v evil

L

• 02 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •


The Pink Humanist

Prejudice is particular – and needs particular answers

Hungary: tolerance grows

STUART HARTILL reports on a visit to Hungary

A

visit to Hungary this summer to see relatives and friends, shortly after Budapest Pride, led to a series of conversations with Hungarians – mostly quite liberal – which were a little worrying. As an “outsider” who is supposed to know how these things work in Britain I was asked some surprising questions, which I couldn’t answer to the satisfaction of my hosts, and after thinking it through since I am left with a question of my own, which I also cannot answer. As a straight man, I might just be covering old ground for gay communities everywhere without knowing it, but I will ask it anyway. Are we guilty of a globalisation – a sort of McDonaldisation if you will – of homosexuality? And wouldn’t it be ironic if a movement that started to protect the right to be “different” (if only from a “normality” that wasn’t “normal| either, so it turns out) was now unwittingly creating a stereotypical international gayness that it was also a “crime” to deviate from? I will try to explain how my questions and worries come about. I am married to a Hungarian, taught British cultural studies at a university there in the late 1990s and go back annually, so I have followed the development of Budapest Pride with interest. The first one was a modest affair, with the inevitable religious protests. When Jobbik (the Hungarian übernationalists with their own private army) joined in the next year, things got uglier, with the paraders outnumbered by protesters, and the whole event possible only because police, in turn, outnumbered both. By last year there was minimal disruption, and this year – at least judging by the press coverage – passed without incident. “So,” my wife asked relatives during our recent visit, “is Hungary now quite relaxed about gay culture?” The response (especially from scientists educated to doctorate level) confused us. In a nutshell, equal treatment before the law, civil partnerships – even two blokes walking hand-in-hand down the street, no problem. But why, oh why (asked our liberal, well-educated relatives and family friends) do gays insist on this showy Gay Pride march? In vain we tried to explain that it was a carnival, not a march, but to no avail. The problem is, the parade processes down a main thoroughfare towards Heroes Square – like a victory parade by an invading army, or those huge military processions of tanks, planes and rocket launchers every May Day in the Communist era. This made it a march, therefore “political”, so all those drag queens kissing and cuddling in public where small kids could see and parents

A scene from a promotional video for Budapest Pride 2009 get embarrassed weren’t acting seriously, and they should stop mucking about. Yes, it is tempting to just laugh, but the more I think about it, the more I realise this is symptomatic of cultural attitudes we are quick to condemn in another country without bothering to analyse. And who knows, if we do, we might even come up with a better strategy for tackling the actual nature of homophobia in a particular place and time, not some “one-size-fits-all” model we may be carelessly applying, and in doing so perpetuating or exasperating the prejudices. The first thing to note is that there can be no “pink forint”, and it is unlikely there ever will be. The buffering of the change in public attitudes to sexuality seen in the UK because “marketing” views gay couples as the ideal DINKs (double income, no kids) cannot happen. Yes, there are now flash Hungarian clubs and restaurants, and shopping centres full of the same name brands as every other European city. But locals are not buying. These places are strictly for the tourists. Now, the current governing party is keen on marketing, and it may be that some party accountant has calculated the comparative gains or losses to the economy in tilting policies towards gay tourists – but somehow I doubt that Additionally, in Hungary only some 5 – 10 percent of the population are university graduates, as opposed to almost 40 percent of UK school-leavers entering higher education. This makes them an elite, comparable to Oxbridge graduates in the UK but without that vast sector of the population just below who, through

(Continued on p4)

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 03 •


The Pink Humanist

Hungary: tolerance grows A smiling participant pictured at a recent Gay Pride celebration in Hungary

higher education, have absorbed liberal attitudes and are party to informed contemporary debates on ethical issues. There is a tiny (and, it must be said, conservative) educated elite, below that a larger, professionally trained and relatively comfortable percentage of the population (whose education does not go beyond the narrow skill set of their job needs) and below that a much larger percentage of the population with minimal education who are unproblematically referred to as “peasants” by those above them. A linked problem – so my former academic colleagues admit – is that Hungarian state education is bankrupt. In recent years, one reason the major Hungarian church denominations have been cut so much slack is that they now own most of the school buildings (even some of the universities), and without church schools the only ones sending pupils on to university would be the English language private schools for kids of diplomats and foreign business executives. Short of a huge bung from George Soros, that is not going to change, and, with major countries withdrawing their educational aid (eg British Council, US Information Service), the only serious foreign contributors to Hungarian education are the Vatican and the other major churches. Think about the effect that will have on, say, the ethical and moral stances seen in high school courses. And again, most of what those outside Hungary think they know

about the country is determined by what they know of Budapest, which is totally unlike the rest of the country. Budapest is currently marketed as “the Paris of Central Europe” and, as in France, there is a great disparity and social tension between the cosmopolitan capital and the largely rural (at best small industrial city) population that makes up the rest of the country. There is no Hungarian equivalent to, say, Manchester or Birmingham as smaller but equally complex urban centres, and certainly no US model of semi-independent states, each with its own capital city Hungarian traditional family life is also far stronger. For example, my students – even the arty bohemians, political activists and those who typically went on to key government and business roles – regularly cut Friday seminars or those close to religious holidays and national events because they were expected back home. Another point is that what’s “progressive” in the UK can be “regressive” in Hungary. The best example might be that Hungary observed International Women’s Day for years, not with feminist conferences but more in the way we observe Mothering Sunday, with the bosses of state or private enterprises presenting flowers to every woman in the office or firm. Inevitably, sexism was entrenched, not challenged, and also inevitably once Communism vanished so did a custom that had no meaning outside of it. It is also important to note that the lingering Hungarian prejudices

Neo-Nazi thugs display anti-gay posters at Budapest Pride in 2011

• 04 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •


fall into two types. One is typified by the anti-gypsy prejudice – originally crude racism but now more like an extreme version of, say, UK anti-chav sentiment. That is, an obstinate belief that some people are just lazier, less intelligent and culturally incapable of rising above their “natural” place in society, so why bother helping them? The other is a more complicated cosmopolitan hate figure – historically typified by anti-Semitism. Stereotypes of Jewish intellectuals and business people and their historical place in the rise of fascism hardly need rehearsing here, but such stereotypes evolve and persist – the sly Jew insinuating his way into the Communist Party, or plotting its downfall with foreign allies, for example. What worries me is that the Gay may be replacing the Jew as that cosmopolitan hate figure in a country that is increasingly obsessed with a Ruritanian dream of what it might have been – Motherhood and Apple Pie, the Fatherland, rosy cheeked maidens, sturdy, honest farmers – the whole caboodle really. Obviously, what is really needed is the abolition of this whole class of stereotype within Hungary (and I suspect surrounding countries), but before that we need to recognise the nature of the stereotype and the way in which it operates, not assume that homophobia elsewhere works (and can therefore be tackled) in exactly the same way as in Britain or the US. In my teaching experience, gay students were rarely out and even if they were felt unable to, say, contrast and compare British and Hungarian experience of a prejudice either verbally within my classes or even within written coursework marked by me but externally invigilated. By comparison, religious zealots – be they from homegrown Catholic or Calvinist churches or converts to the newer US evangelical churches – not only did so belligerently within the classroom but relentlessly complained to university authorities when I insisted that essays towards a master’s degree needed factual references and objective arguments, not a list of Bible verses and

lengthy quotes from TV evangelists. For reasons I explained earlier, from what I know of the growing power of the churches within education I suspect that problem has now intensified. I also believe it highly unlikely that young Hungarian gays will find support outside of tiny university groups if outside Budapest, and may still feel unable to complete higher education or pursue a career outside of the almost negligible opportunities in Budapest. Even the usual casual support groups one would expect seem to be lacking. For example, family friends and relatives who worked within opera and similar media insisted they had no gay colleagues, and that if any were obviously so their careers would be over. This I found distinctly odd. To give an easy comparison, my wife and I were married in Hungary in 1996. When we tried to arrange the ceremony in our home city, the town clerk refused to believe that a black woman who was to be a witness was Hungarian, even though her passport clearly indicated she was born there. The family laughed their heads off at this bureaucratic hick from the sticks, and we got married in Budapest instead. Last year while we were watching one of Hungary’s major TV stations our rejected witness popped up as the weather girl, and is apparently now a much loved national institution. By comparison, a Pulitzer winning gay Hungarian journalist whom we remembered from the same station in the 1990s presenting the nation’s most popular show has now vanished entirely from the public view. This could be sheer coincidence, but I suspect not. I confess I do not know any simple and immediate answers to the questions I raise. Even if I thought I did, as a straight man I am not sure I have either the life experience, or even the right, to offer them to a gay community – even an atheist one. I just feel I should pass on what I do know and observe in case it helps others more capable of doing so.

In 2008 Jobbik, Hungary’s religiously based political party that defines itself as the “movement for a better Hungary”, suffered a major embarrassment when András Király, one of its leading members, took some time to visit Toronto during the city’s Pride Week. The young politician, whose platform is set firmly against gay rights, gypsies and immigrants, was photographed posing flirtatiously with several hot, Torontonian gay men, as well as a topless transgender woman. Additional photos also show him smoking dope, and (apparently) inhaling it second-hand from the mouth of another guy. Király claimed that his participation in Toronto’s Pride week was all part of some “research” he was undertaking. Shortly after the photographs began circulating on the Internet, Király’s page vanished without a trace from the party’s official website.

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 05 •


The Pink Humanist

Homosexuality and Islam

A

Even ‘moderate’, mainstream Muslims support stoning gays

fter overwhelmingly agreeing by a show of hands that they were “normal” Sunni Muslims and not radicals or extremists, delegates to a “peace conference” in Norway earlier this year indicated their full support for the death penalty for adulterers and gays. This vote, said the chairman of the Norway-based Islam Net, Fahad Ullah Qureshi (pictured above) , was indicative of the fact that all Muslims hold the view that the Koran is correct when it prescribes stoning, not just radical preachers. The show of hands was requested during a section of the conference that dealt with the manner in which the media report the words of “Shaykhs who speak openly about the values of Islam”. As soon as these preachers are invited at speak at an Islamic gathering “the Islamophobic Western media starts murdering the character of that organisation and the invited speaker”, said Qureshi, whose organisation posted a video on YouTube showing this segment of the conference (see http://tinyurl.com/qy48un8). Accompanying the video was Qureshi’s commentary: “The question these Islamophobic journalists need to reflect upon is; are these so called ‘radical’ views that they criticize endorsed only by these few individuals being invited around the globe, or does the common Muslims [sic] believe in them? If the common Muslims believe in these values that means that more or less all Muslims are radical and that Islam is a radical religion. “Since this is not the case, as Islam is a peaceful religion and so are the masses of common Muslims, these Shaykhs cannot be radical,” he argued. “Rather it is Islamophobia from the ignorant Western media who is [sic] more concerned about making money by alienating Islam by presenting Muslims in this way.” Islam Net invited nine speakers to “Peace Conference Scandinavia 2013”. Qureshi said: “These speakers would most likely be labelled as ‘extremists’ if the media were to write about the conference. The attendees were common Sunni Muslims. They did not consider themselves as radicals or extremists. They believed that segregation was the right thing to do, both men and women agreed upon this. They even supported stoning or whatever punishment Islam or prophet Mu-

• 06 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •

hammad (peace be upon him) commanded for adultery or any other crime. They even believed that these practises should be implemented around the world. “Now what does that tell us? Either all Muslims and Islam is radical, or the media is Islamophobic and racist in their presentation of Islam. Islam is not radical, nor is Muslims [sic] in general radical. That means that the media is the reason for the hatred against Muslims, which is spreading among the non-Muslims in Western countries.” Well, another Muslim “peace conference” took place in London last month and featured a number of speakers who share Qureshi’s views. “People who have sex outside of marriage, blasphemers and Muslims who leave the faith should be killed, according to some speakers at the Islamic Global Peace & Unity (GPU) conference in London,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who expressed outrage that the event was backed by the Mayor of London, the City of London police commissioner, MPs, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and a senior BBC official. Ahead of the event, Tatchell said: “It is appalling that the Mayor, City of London police and prominent public figures are endorsing an event that promotes at least seven speakers with bigoted, violent views. It’s the equivalent of supporting an event with BNP and EDL hate speakers. “How can the Mayor and police justify giving their approval to a conference that hosts speakers who advocate discrimination and violence? “On the GPU website there are messages of support from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Labour MP Stephen Timms and Labour peer Lord Parekh. Noam Chomsky is also listed and quoted under ‘Supporters’. “Speakers named on the GPU website include the Commissioner of the City of London Police Adrian Leppard and his Assistant Commissioner Wayne Chance, Tory MP Rehman Chishti, BBC commissioning editor Aqil Ahmed and Muslim Council of Britain leader Farooq Murad,” said Tatchell. He added: “I have written letters of protest to the (Continued on p7)


Islamic ‘peace conferences’ are hotbeds of intolerance Mayor of London and the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of the City of London police, urging them to withdraw their support for the conference. Tatchell said that the seven “extremist preachers” have variously expressed opinions such as: • Homophobia is praiseworthy, women should stay in the home and blasphemers and apostates should be killed. • They stir anti-Semitism and say that people who have pre-marital or extra-marital sex deserve flogging and stoning to death. • They oppose social integration and community cohesion; some clerics advocate a form of religious apartheid: Muslims should not associate with non-Muslims and Muslim parents should not send their children to non-Muslim schools. • Freedom of religion is condemned as a blasphemous ideal and Ahmadiyya Muslims are said to deserve persecution. Tatchell named the seven preachers as Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ya’qoubi, Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman, Iman Abdul Wahid Pedersen, Sheikh Said Rageah, Sheikh Muhammad Al Shareef, and Sheikh Yasir Qadhi.. Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has defended Pakistan laws that impose the death penalty for blasphemy and are used to persecute Ahmadiyya Muslims. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ya’qoubi believes that freedom of religion and freedom of expression are blasphemous and “false ideals.” The Grand Mufti of Syria was wrong to oppose violence against Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories. Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman says adulterers should be stoned to death: “Remember that if there is an Islamic state the punishment of zina, the punishment of those who commit zina, if they have never been married before, they will be lashed 100 lashes. If they are married while they committed zina, or previously been married and divorced, and they committed zina, then their punishment is stoning to death.” Iman Abdul Wahid Pedersen admits that the stoning of adulterers is cruel, but he has defended the cruel punishment: “I agree that stoning is a cruel punishment, but it doesn’t change the fact that according to Islam the practice has been ordained by our Creator. We are not in a position to change this. Things that are stated unambiguously in the Koran or by the Prophet Mohammed are not open to debate among Muslims.” Sheikh Said Rageah says Muslims should disassociate themselves from non-Muslims. Blasphemers who don’t repent should be killed. Women should stay at home and never leave the house without necessity: “You will see a lot of them going to the kuffar [non-Muslims], taking them as supporters and helpers and friends and allies . . . If they were true believers in Allah and the messenger [Arabic] they would never take them as allies . . . it could also, y’know, be to the point as far

as killing that person [who commits blasphemy] if he doesn’t repent what he’s saying … Muslims do not tolerate anyone to insult Muhammad, Isa or Jesus, Moses, any of the prophets of God. If you’re in a Muslim country and you insult Muhammad or Jesus, you will receive the same punishment because both of them are the messengers of God.” Sheikh Muhammad Al Shareef believes the social integration of Muslims is wrong. Muslims should not associate with non-Muslims, and Muslims should not send their children to non-Islamic schools: “The horror story begins when the child is entrusted to a non-Muslim ... ”If a parent has chosen public school for his son, in the final year when he looks over the school yearbook and sees a picture of his son standing hand in hand dancing with a kaffir woman, at that time it will be too late to question his upbringing. Now is the time to question it, now, before it’s too late.” He also states that Jews control the media and Muslims should not ally with them, imitate them or marry them: “Who owns the press? Well, you can believe me when I say that it is not the God-fearing beloved of Allah. We should not take them [Jews] as our close allies. Secondly, we should not imitate them. Thirdly: A Muslimah may never marry a Jewish or Christian man that remains in his beliefs.” Sheikh Al Shareef says homophobia is praiseworthy: “Alhamdulillah [praise to God] that you’re homophobic. Alhamdulillah we have a fear of homosexuality. And then they will say it as if it is a derogatory term, but in fact it is a praiseworthy term.” He argues sex outside of marriage deserves 80 lashes. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi claims the toleration of homosexuality is a sign of social regression: “For those who have been around for a little bit longer than those who are 18 or 19, look at how this own society and culture has evolved in the way it looks at homosexuals. In our own time, I remember as a kid in the eighties . . . I remember how homosexuals were looked down upon and the names that were given to these people, and how disgusted the average masses were with that segment of society. Now look, now look at how we have regressed, not progressed.” He says Jews control Islamic studies and want to destroy Muslims: “You go to America, you find that 95 percent of the Islamic Studies professors are Jews, you know that? Ninety-five percent of Islamic Studies [sic] are Jews. And 0 percent of Judaic Studies [sic] are Muslims. I am not advising any Muslim to waste his time studying Judaism but I’m saying, why are Jews studying Islam? There is a reason, not that they want to help us, they want to destroy us ... they want to bring about doubts, look at the doubts that exist, look at the divisions, the discord, look at the disunity, look at all these ideologies that are being spread. Know that the Yahood [Jews] and the Kuffar like this type of thing.”

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 07 •


The Pink Humanist

A nastiness of nuns Movie tells of the anguish they caused to a mum and her gay son

T

he beastliness, greed and sheer inhumanity of Catholic nuns in Ireland in the 1950s recently brought to light an astonishing account of the life and death of an influential US politician called Michael Hess, snatched as a toddler from his mother by the Roman Catholic Church and sold to a couple in the United States. When his mother – Philomena Lee. pictured right– became pregnant as a teenager in 1952, she was sent to the Sean Ross Abbey at Roscrea in County Tipperary to be looked after as “a fallen woman”. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption and she was coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again. Forty-three years after packing the child off to the US, the Church – on learning that Hess was dying of AIDS – agreed to his plea to be buried in Ireland. But they only did so in exchange for a substantial donation. The inscription on his headstone reads: Michael Hess, a man of two nations and many talents. Born July 5, 1952, Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea. Died August 15, 1995, Washington DC. In 2009, British journalist Martin Sixsmith, who exposed the cruelty and the greed of the Catholic nuns in a book entitled The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee, wrote an article in the Daily Mail, in which he revealed that Michael Hess, raised as a Catholic by his adopted parents, became a successful lawyer. He was spotted by the leaders of Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party and brought into the White House.

• 08 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •

“As a rising star of the Republican National Committee, he masterminded the party’s electoral strategy, brokering the redistricting (gerrymandering) reforms that kept them in power for over a decade. When George Bush Senior became President, he made Michael his Chief Legal Counsel. “But Michael Hess was gay, and in a Republican Party that was rabidly homophobic, he was obliged to con-

ceal his sexuality.” Sixsmith added: “He was tormented by the double life he was forced to lead, and by the fact that his work was entrenching in power a party that victimised his friends and lovers. When the President gave in to conservative demands to block funds for Aids research, Mike was plunged into despair. “He was tormented, too, by the absence of his mother and by the orphan’s sense of helplessness. He didn’t know where he came from, didn’t know who he was, or how he should live. He felt unloved by his adoptive father and brothers, living in fear that the stern, critical Doc Hess would discover his sexuality. “As a teenager, Mike had rowed with Doc, and Doc had told him he would no longer support him or pay his university fees. Mike suspected Doc knew he was gay. As a practising Roman Catholic, he also felt guilt over his sexuality. He had a series of stormy relationships and was deeply disturbed when a spurned lover burned himself to death.” Sixsmith continued: “He found some happiness in a long-term relationship with a caring, loving partner – but he could never be at peace. He went back


ful.” She said: “I had just left convent school. I went in to Roscrea, first in 1977 and again in 1993, to plead there when my mother died, when I was six and a half, with the nuns to tell him how to find his mother. They and I left at 18 not knowing a thing about the facts of turned him away.” life. I didn’t know where babies came from. . .” “On his return to the US, he plunged into alcohol, Sixmith continiued: “After her baby, Anthony, was drugs and unbridled sexual indulgence. It was as if born, the Mother Superior threatened Philomena with the void he felt in his life was driving him into dandamnation if ever she breathed a word about her gerous practices that put his reputation and career in ‘guilty secret’. Terrified, she kept it quiet for more than jeopardy. For a gay man in the decade of AIDS, it was half a century. I was intrigued to know why the nuns close to courting a death sentence. had been so insistent on the importance of silence “By the late 1980s, Mike found himself embarking and secrecy. The answer, almost on ever-more-frequent lost certainly, lay in what had hapweekends in the gay bars and pened next. clubs of Washington and other “Philomena was just one of cities. His behaviour brought thousands of women sent to Irish with it the terrible fear of exconvents in the 1950s and ’60s, posure that would destroy him taken away from their homes as a senior Republican official, and families because the Catholic but he could not stop himself. Church said single mothers were “On one of his lost weekmoral degenerates who must not ends, he became infected be allowed to keep their children. with the HIV virus. He and “Philomena told me about the Pete, his long-term partner, hellish labour she was forced to agonised over their future. perform in the convent laundries. Mike kept his illness secret, Other girls were made to work refusing to tell his adoptive in the kitchens or commercial parents and urging Mary to greenhouses. The Church may tell no one. Pete stood by him, have opened its doors to ‘fallen but Michael’s health began to women’ but once they were deteriorate. Fearing the worst, inside, it exploited them mercithey flew to Roscrea in 1993 lessly. The Irish state was paying to make an emotional appeal the nuns £1 a week for every to the nuns. young mother in their care and “But still the nuns refused to two and sixpence for every baby. tell him where he could find And the nuns made sure the his mother, or indeed that women stayed and worked for her sisters and brother – his Michael Hess, born Anthony Lee at least three years: they could aunts and uncle – were living get out only by paying £100, an just a few miles down the road. “In desperation, Michael asked the Mother Superior if impossible amount for the vast majority. “The girls had to care for their babies during their he could at least be buried in the convent if he were to three-year sentence in the convents, only then to be die: he would put enough information on his gravetold that their child was being taken from them. For stone to help his mother find out about his life ‘if ever women who had had so long to bond with their sons she comes looking for me’.” or daughters, the parting was terrible. Ironically Philomena was looking for him, and had “Philomena cried when Anthony (pictured above) been for years, despite signing a pledge not to do was taken from her, at Christmas in 1955. She was so. Sixsmith, writing in The Big Issue at the end of not allowed to say goodbye but she spotted him beOctober 2013, revealed that “early in 2004 I was aping bundled into the back of a black car. When she proached by a stranger who was looking for help with shouted to him, the noise of the engine drowned out a family mystery. The woman’s mother, Philomena her voice but as the car pulled away she is convinced Lee, had revealed a secret she’d kept for 50 years: he stood up in the seat and peered through the rear she had a son who she had never spoken about to windscreen looking for her.” anyone. Now she wanted to find him”. Philomena’s story has now been made into a movie Sixsmith agreed, and said that two decades as a by Stephen Frears and was previewed at the Venice journalist reporting wars and disasters had left him and Toronto film festivals in September, 2013. Judi inured to suffering. But “the depth of inhumanity and Dench plays Philomena, and Steve Coogan portrays cruelty” he witnessed while researching his book – Sixsmith. The screening of Philomena, said Sixsmith, now republished simply as Philomena – “made my “led audiences through tears and laughter to cheers jaw drop”. and a standing ovation”. “I agreed to meet Philomena and she told me she He added: “Putting aside the surreal experience of had given birth in a country convent at Roscrea in County Tipperary on July 5, 1952. She had been 18. (Continued from p11) Having an illegitimate child was considered shame-

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 09 •


seeing myself played by Steve Coogan, I found the film’s reception immensely heartening. It reminded us that quality cinema can tackle serious issues with wit, taste and humour; that love and loss, yearning and joy can transcend Tinseltown sentimentality, and that real emotion is the more powerful for being understated.” But he emphasised: “Behind the onscreen drama is a real-life story of heartlessness and hypocrisy that affected me deeply when I was writing the book on which the film is based.” Alex von Tunzelmann, writing about the movie for the Guardian, said that “the film-makers have resuscitated Sister Hildegarde (who in real life died in 1995, long before Sixsmith’s visit) to act as the principal villain and embodiment of all the Catholic Church’s most vicious tendencies. “This makes for a dynamic and gripping screen story, but it’s harsh on the real Sister Hildegarde. Judging by the book, she may well have been a tough old bird –

but the film goes a good deal further, especially towards the end, and some modern Irish nuns have understandably been upset.” “We do feel that the film, even though it is not a documentary, does not tell the whole truth and in many ways is very misleading,” Sister Julie Rose of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary told the Irish Independent. The order is particularly concerned over the film’s depiction of their nuns as obstructing Philomena Lee’s and her son’s efforts to locate each other and its insinuation that records were burnt. The film also alludes to a fee being paid to the order by the adopting family in the US. Sister Rose rejected the claims: “We did not receive any payment of any nature in respect of any adoption.” She also asserted “the congregation did not destroy any records held by them over the years”. The order’s nuns also denied that they had blocked attempts by adopted children to access records.

A rundown of bad nuns in the movies A number of movies have been made over the years depicting nuns as cruel monsters – sexually frustrated, possessed, even the Satanic. Most, of course are fictional, but the best-known and most disturbing true story is The Magdalene Sisters, a 2002 film, written and directed by Peter Mullan. It centres on four teenage girls who were sent to Magdalene Asylums (also known as ‘Magdalene Laundries’) in the 1950s. One of the earliest fictional portrayals of dysfunctional nuns was Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s classic, The Black Narcissus, which depicts Deborah Kerr leading a group who suffer eroding faith, erotic hysteria, even murderous lust in the Himalayas. La Religeuse (1966) is Jacques Rivette’s unusually straightforward drama which calmly tells of a teenager (Anna Karina) forced into a cruel and punitive 18th-century convent. Though she eventually makes it to a nicer one, it’s not before she’s slowly stripped of her personality by fascistic nuns. A seedy sub-genre of possessed and/or randy nuns known as nunsploitation flourished in Europe and Japan in the 1970s with titles like The Nun and the Devil and School of the Holy Beast. A slightly classier offering cropped up in England via Ken Russell, who – adapting Aldous Huxley’s non-fiction The Devils of Loudon – coerced red-hot stars Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave to play a stylish, 17th-century French priest and the head of a nunnery, respectively, in The Devils (1971). The censors forced Russell to snip the infamous rape of Christ sequence. Dark Habits (1983) was Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s dark comedy about a woman who takes refuge in a convent populated by nuns who are into smack, sadomasochistic lesbianism, erotic novels . . . and raising tigers. The Nun (2005) is a Spanish-American production and the only horror film to depict a nun as the central homicidal baddie. However, there’s also a nunsploitation classic called Killer Nun (1978), with Anita Ekberg as an oversexed, bullying and possibly homicidal “penguin”. Finally, there’s the most typical kind of nun: the one that’s just plain mean. The Village Voice’s Ella Taylor described Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) in Doubt (2008) as “a twitchy termagant swathed in a fearsome bonnet and black taffeta (she looks like something out of Chicken Run).” Curiously, despite having a very creepy poster of a seemingly demonic nun, The Devil Inside (2012) isn’t really about nuns; rather it’s another (yawn) exorcism tale, and a pretty awful one at that, by all accounts. The “Rotten Tomatoes” website dismissed it thus: “The Devil Inside is a cheap, choppy unscary mess, featuring one of the worst endings in recent memory.”

• 10 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •


The Pink Humanist

British colonial rule blamed for anti-gay laws in Commonwealth states

homophobia: a toxic legacy

Photo courtesy The Peter Tatchell Foundation

L

ast month – two days before the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Sri Lanka – a demonstration was held in London to protest the fact that the issue of homophobia would not be discussed by Commonwealth leaders. “Yet again they plan to ignore the criminalisation of LGBTI people in 80 percent of Commonwealth member states,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He urged people to gather at the Commonwealth headquarters in London to support a protest jointly sponsored by the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group. A new Kaleidoscope Trust report on the lives of LGBTI people across the Commonwealth was published last month and shockingly revealed that more than 40 out of 53 Commonwealth nations still criminalise homosexuality. They account for more than half

of the world’s countries where same-sex relations are illegal. Six of these Commonwealth countries stipulate life imprisonment: Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana. Said Tatchell: “This massive scale of anti-LGBTI persecution makes a mockery of the Commonwealth Charter that was agreed earlier this year. It supposedly commits the member states to respect universal human rights, including the human rights of millions of LGBTI Commonwealth citizens. Despite most members having failed to meet this commitment, the Commonwealth says and does nothing. “The Commonwealth Secretariat’s silence over the homophobic witch-hunts in Cameroon and Zambia is shameful. Silence is collusion. The member states should honour the principles of the Commonwealth Charter. This means: 1) Decriminalisation of homo(Continued on p12)

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 11•


Homophobia a hangover from colonialism sexuality; 2) Laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; 3) Enforcement of legislation against threats and violence, to protect LGBTI people from hate crimes; and 4) Government consultation and dialogue with LGBTI organisations.” He also took issue with the location of the gathering. “The Commonwealth should have never agreed to hold its summit in Sri Lanka, given the country’s appalling human rights record. Many thousands of Tamil civilians (around 40,000) were massacred by the government in the closing stages of the civil war in 2009. In addition, the Sri Lankan LGBTI movement has been forced to go underground after threats against it.” Alistair Stewart, Assistant Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said: “The Commonwealth has consistently refused to address the issue of human rights for LGBTI people and the forthcoming Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka will be no different. More than half of all the countries in the world that still make being gay a crime are in the Commonwealth. This is a stain on an organisation supposedly committed to equal rights for all.” Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group, said: “Although the Secretary General of the Commonwealth continues to condemn homophobia, we are calling for action. Countries that persecute LGBTI people – such as Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi and Jamaica –should be suspended from the Commonwealth. Homophobia and transphobia are violations of human rights and should be raised at the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka by the Secretary General, Prime Minister David Cameron and other national leaders. No future Commonwealth meeting should be held in a country that persecutes LGBTI people or violates other human rights.” “If you look at the world as a whole, around about 40 percent of nations have state-sponsored homophobia,” said Kaleidoscope’s spokesman, Douglas Pretsell. “Half of those – about 54 percent – are in the Commonwealth. “ If you look at the rest of the world not inside the Commonwealth, it’s only 24.5 percent – so the Commonwealth has a big problem. Pretsell said anti-gay laws were a hangover from British colonial rule. It exported laws – including those outlawing sodomy – to Commonwealth countries, where they persist backed by the prevalence of strong religious views among the populations. “It’s worth noting that in the vast majority of these countries, the laws sit there and they’re completely unused, so no one is ever prosecuted. But [the laws’ existence are] used as a way to intimidate and harass.” Australia did not completely decriminalise homosexuality until 1997 after a legal case was brought to

• 12 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •

the UN. From 2007-13 all forms of legislated discrimination were removed from Australian law. Pretsell pointed out that, in addition to refusing to discuss homophobia, Sri Lankan authorities had gone out of their way to refuse visas to any lesbian or gay group and to ban activists in their country. The Kaleidoscope report is peppered with stories of violence and discrimination in Commonwealth countries. According to the one testimony, the movement for change in Belize had come at a high cost for the man who started it. “As the only claimant in the current constitutional challenge case, I have lost two teeth, had my family property invaded and car damaged by two masked men in the week of the supreme court hearings in May of this year,” writes Caleb Orozco, executive director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement. “I have had stones thrown at me, experienced simulated gunshots, insults and physical harm on public transportation, threats that speak to, ‘Caleb, you have no right to breathe!’” The Commonwealth charter does not specifically enshrine protection of people based on their sexual orientation. “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds,” it reads. It does, however, enforce a commitment to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pretsell would like to see Australia make bilateral agreements with regional neighbours to remove discriminatory laws. “Before the last election we worked on getting a pledge from each of the political parties that they would support LGBTI rights in their bilateral and multilateral relations in foreign policy. We got the Greens to sign up, we got Labor to sign up and we got individual Liberals to sign up.” Pretsell said Kaleidoscope had sent the report to Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Britain’s shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, singled out the host nation’s stance on gay rights, the Press Association reported. “Today’s report from the Kaleidoscope Trust highlights the ongoing concern about human rights – and in particular the rights of the LGBT community – within Sri Lanka,” Alexander said. “New allegations in this report of abuses and intimidation of LGBT citizens are a further warning that President Rajapaksa’s government has not made the progress ahead of this Commonwealth summit that we all wanted to see. “As David Cameron departs for this week’s Commonwealth summit, the evidence that Sri Lanka is heading in the wrong direction is mounting, which is why Labour has called on the Prime Minister to use what leverage he has in the run up to the summit to pressure the Sri Lankan government to change their approach on human rights.”


The Pink Humanist

Focus on Manif Pour Tous

LGBT rights are ‘a new imperialism’ claims US ‘ex-gay’ Robert Oscar Lopez Report: BARRY DUKE

W

riting in the Huffington Post earlier this year, And just what is this “larger picture”? If Lopez is to be Patrick Cash said that Manif Pour Tous (MPT) believed, a groundswell of opposition to the advancement had denied being homophobic, claiming inof gay rights and the ultimate reversal of the “enormous stead that it had been established in France victories” LGBT communities have achieved with the leto appeal to “the moderate middle – those members of galisation of marriage in the UK and France in 2013. the populace who are neither strictly left nor ring-wing Lopez wrote: “Those who have defended marriage until affiliated; those who are not anti-equal rights but are not now may feel beleaguered. They may be irritated with necessarily supporters of equal rights either. the press’s misconstruing of Pope Francis’s multiple com“In political campaigns this group is often referred to by ments about compassion toward homosexuals.” the term ‘swing voters’, and can form the active focus of Nevertheless, Europe ought not to be cause for pessia candidate’s election plan, for mism, because a strong an “unswing voters bring strength by derground” movement is being virtue of their sheer numbers.” built to defend the family. The organisation, said Cash, He continued: “It no longer specifically does not align itself makes sense to speak of an with known right-wing groups, LGBT ‘community’ or ‘movesuch as Jean-Marie Le Pen’s ment’ but rather a worldNational Front party. But MPT historical lobby, a specific cadre was clearly a source of such conflush with money, positioned cern to the French Government strategically close to the same of François Hollande that it went centers of power that oversaw as far as to ban the display of empires in the 19th and early Manif Pour Tous supporters oppose gay marriage the organisation’s logo – a move 20th centuries: Washington, that triggered a nationwide craze during this summer Paris, and London. for garments bearing it. This, claimed one blogger, was “Supreme Court rulings in the Windsor and Hollingsa victory for the “pro-family pro-heterosexual sanity worth cases arguably opened a pathway for the United campaign”. States to have nationally legalised same-sex marriage So, does Manif Pour Tous pose a threat to gay comwithin a few years. Hence, the lobby has conquered the munities? Possibly, judging by the words of one Robert three nations that speak most often in universal terms Oscar Lopez, who was described by Towleroad.com as regarding human rights. Moreover, the lobby has laid “a rising star in anti-gay circles”. Think Progress had down English, French, and American laws that protect previously described him as “an ‘ex-gay’ bisexual who LGBT citizens from hostile criticism. In these major centblames his adult social dysfunction on having been raised ers of power, home to the Guardian and Libération and by a lesbian mom.” He runs a blog, The English Manif New York Times, the philosophy championed by the and has testified against marriage equality in Minnesota. lobby is poised to play offense without worrying about Last month Lopez wrote an article for The Public Disdefense. course, saying he had been involved with Manif Pour “The natural next step is to expand their influence by Tous since January 2013, and that, in September, he exporting their movement to less-prominent wealthy nahad attended a “Summer University” the movement tions (Australia, Italy, etc), then Eastern Europe, then had staged. There he “saw the larger picture of what finally the vast range of nations known as the ‘third is happening in Europe”. (See http://tinyurl.com/ world’. It is fair to characterize the global ‘ligbitist’ moveq4psqw7). (Continued on p15)

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 13 •


Manif Pour Tous and the paranoia of ‘ex-gay’ Robert Oscar Lopez ment as, in many ways, a new imperialism.” This is a trend Lopez described as “pinkwashing”. “But the world, once conquered, rarely stays complacent for very long. Imperial power rests quite often on ideas having been transformed into state ideologies. Ideologies develop contradictions and blind spots; they become corrupted by arrogant self-interest and an easy target for intellectual counter-insurgencies.” “In his Philosophy of History, G W F Hegel tried to explain the inevitable boomerang effect of ideological power and its backlash through the allegory of a man building a house to keep out the natural elements (wind, water, fire). All houses decay and collapse against the very things that gave them their raison d’être. ‘The substance of the act,’ Hegel writes, ‘recoils upon the perpetrator, reacts upon him with destructive tendency’. “In other words, ideologies rise and fall. The weaker the foundations, and the poorer the reasons for an ideology’s claims to universality, the more quickly the fall will come”. Lopez went on: “In ‘winning’ the United States, England, and France, the ligbitists acquired what riflemen call a ‘silhouette’: a visible shape that makes them a target. Their finances are visible for the entire world to see, as are the deals they make to get their laws passed. Their colluders (presidents, CEOs, etc.) are fair game for criticism and even invective. Put simply, they have become ‘the Man’. And we know what forms in reaction to ‘the Man’: the underground . . . “The point was clear to me that the French see homosexual advocacy and gender theory as a ‘made in USA’ concept forced onto them by powerful, well-funded lobbyists who care more for serving elite interests than for protecting French heritage. Lopez sees the French movement as “a shining example and the envy of Europe”, but “the English opponents of the ligbitist agenda are shadowy resisters, still struggling for their footing”. He continued: “I cannot explain the difference between France and England, but the strong sense of tradition in the United Kingdom simply never sparked the fireworks that went off across the Channel. Anglicans in England are still dumbstruck by the speed with which the samesex marriage law passed earlier this year. Many of them are impatient with the leadership of the Anglican Church, seeing clear signs that their bishops are interested in avoiding controversy. “Traditionalists in England are equally enraged at the mosques in London (I met with two Muslim groups), because Muslim leaders specifically told their rank and file to remain quiet about same-sex marriage in order not to anger the Labor Party leaders who have political ties to prominent imams. One sheik I met in London for tea and crumpets (no joke) had actually been driven out of his mosque for defying those standing orders and circulating pamphlets in a Muslim neighborhood, warning residents to voice their opposition to same-sex marriage based on Islamic teaching. “Britain’s aristocracy caved quickly in the House of

• 14 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •

Lords, scuttling any hopes of an eleventh-hour veto on the same-sex marriage law last summer. Then the House of Windsor failed traditionalists as well, for the Queen signed on without any fuss. One disadvantage faced by the English is owed to Henry VIII: without a large Catholic population, there simply wasn’t the massive edifice upon which activists, even if mostly secular, could rely for manpower and assistance, as there was in France. “The English are already seeing the visible signs of the ligbitist agenda, and there is cause for doom and gloom. A same-sex couple is suing to force the Anglican Church to marry them. Another lesbian couple, I found out from a source I can’t name, has already prepared to sue the Anglican Church in order to force it to baptize the baby they conceived by sperm-banking. Ex-gay counselor Mike Davidson just lost his license after a long battle with medical licensing authorities. “Yet England is not a place to be written off yet, for a few inspiring reasons. “First, it has as its secret weapon the Commonwealth, which includes nations that share the British educational system, in many cases, but remain staunchly dedicated to the role of a father and a mother. India, Malawi, and Barbados do not seem eager to jump on the ligbitist bandwagon; though New Zealand passed same-sex marriage this year, in Australia the tide has turned against it in recent elections. “Many Anglican groups I met are considering an underground movement to shift the central authority of the church away from Canterbury to one of the more conservative nations in Africa, formerly colonized by England. The Church of England may one day have its citadel in Jamaica or Nigeria– who knows? This is truly the postcolonial age. While at first glance England might offer fewer signs of hope than does France, there is nonetheless cause for optimism, for in both London and Paris, the underground is forming that can structure a counterpolemic. In both cities, activists are combining the frustrations of religious believers with the secular language of human rights. In both cities, First-World activists are learning to re-conceptualize their identities as people who have been disenfranchised, demonstrating that they have more in common with their former colonial subjects than they do with the neoliberal elites in London and Paris who have allied with American corporate interests to stifle any opposition to the globalization of LGBT ideology.” Lopez is patently a right-wing fanatic. There’s a streak of paranoia and wishful thinking running though his rant wide enough to propel a high-speed train along it. He is right about one thing, though: homophobia has turned tail and scurried to places where prejudice and hatred are considered virtues. And there it festers. But even in Muslim hell-holes and African countries plagued by Christian fundamentalists, a combination of education and better living conditions may eventually eradicate intolerance. Lopez is not the only one who can engage in a spot of wishful thinking, though mine is rooted in a passionate desire to see a world free from the horrors inflicted on millions by religion.


The Pink Humanist

Book Scene 50 Great Myths About Atheism endorsed by Richard Dawkins

I

n February 2002, four years before The God Delusion was released Professor Richard Dawkins called atheists to arms in a TED talk. TED, for those not familiar with the organisation, is a nonprofit body “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading”. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three spheres: Technology, Entertainment and Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences – the TED Conference and TED Global –TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site. In his TED talk, according to writer John W Loftus, Dawkins made it clear that he wanted a campaign much like the gays used to gain acceptability in American society. His final plea was, “let’s all stop being so damned respectful.” “This strategy,” Loftus wrote on his Debunking Christianity blog last month, “has worked. He’s been pretty consistent about it too, even refusing to debate William Lane Craig, for doing so would gain his creationist views more respectability than they deserve. And even though I have produced works that treat Christianity respectfully in order to effectively critique it, so far he has not recommended them. “I wished he had done so but it would be recommending works that do what he advised against.” Loftus says there is “a small change in the air” because Dawkins has now recommended Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk’s excellent book, 50 Great Myths About Atheism, despite its respectful tone. Dawkins said: “It has been my lot to have encountered all but three of the 50 Great Myths about Atheism listed by Blackford and Schüklenk, most of them many times. It is useful to have them all listed in one book – and so readably and authoritatively refuted. The long final chapter treats theological arguments with more respect than I would have bothered with, but the refutation is all the more convincing for that. The whole book builds inexorably to its conclusion: the Reasonableness of Atheism.” Loftus noted with considerable satisfaction that “in that long final chapter Blackford and Schüklenk end it by recommending just two books, mine.” Loftus is the author of Why I Became an Atheist.

The most recent 2012 edition, replaces Why I Rejected Christianity. He is also the author of The Outsider Test for Faith and the editor of two books, The Christian Delusion and The End of Christianity. Loftus also co-wrote a debate book with Dr Randal Rauser, God or Godless. In his review of 50 Great Myths, Geoff Willmetts, editor at SFCrowsnest, wrote: “There are a lot of interesting facts that I learnt from this book. The reason why atheism is treated like a religion is more to do with law than belief but does explain why the layman thinks it sides with believing in the devil, when really it means not believing in any kind of deity. You’ll have to read the whole book to discover a whole list of famous atheists, although I wish there was an appendix with them all grouped together to give them some context.” He added: “There’s a significant quote from J F Haught on page 115 that the Bible doesn’t have any scientific information whatsoever. One could argue that it was written at a time when things hadn’t been discovered but thinking about that statement, I agree with Haught. Mathematics was certainly in use. Why else have a census or even maths? Being science-free puts the Bible into the same stable as other mythologies which also had a similar lacking. “In case you thought atheism is something new, it even existed amongst the ancient Greeks. Through the Dark Ages, lest they suffer attacks or killed, atheists kept such thoughts to themselves. At least, that aspect has gone now. “After the fifty myths, there is an examination of the rise of atheism. I wish they had explored how pious priests say they are speaking the word of God with no discernible way to show how the communication goes on. I mean, if it’s hearing the answers to prayers, how do they distinguish this from the inner voice that we all have and why should they be picked out as being special?” • 50 Great Myths about Atheism is published by Wiley-Blackwell. 350 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK), $24.95 (US). ISBN: 978-0-470-67405-5.

• thepinkhumanist • december 2013 • 15•


Scene from Across the Pond Photo credit: W WARBY

By Warren Allen Smith

V

eterans Day, an annual holiday on Africa (2006); Norway (2009); Portugal (2010); November 11 that honors those who Iceland (2010); Argentina (2010); Denmark (2012); served in the US Armed Forces, was Brazil (2013); France (2013); Uruguay (2013); and celebrated with parades in towns and New Zealand (2013). Britain (England and Wales) cities throughout the country, the largest of will allow same sex marriage in Spring 2014. which was in New York City. Female as well as (see http://tinyurl.com/opyfwf8) male veterans marched down Fifth Avenue, and politicians, notables, and members of numerous Sixteen states now have legal recognition of bands added to the colorful occasion. same-sex relationships: California, Connecticut, The Villager, in downtown Greenwich Village, Delaware, Hawaii, Illionois, Iowa, Massachusetts, featured an article about a veteran– one of Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, General Dwight D Eisenhower’s adjutant generNew Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Isals’ chief clerks – whose office in the Little Red land and Washington. The District of Columbia, Schoolhouse in Reims was just down the corin which the Capital is located) legalized sameridor from that of Eisenhower. sex marriage in 2010. The reporter interviewed the technical ser(See http://tinyurl.com/q6o55bn). geant on November 14, 2013 and illustrated the If 16 states grow to 26, we’ll be closer to Conarticle with a 1944 photo of a now 92-year-old Tech Sergeant Warren Allen Smith gress making it mandatory in all 50 states. gay atheistic humanist who writes for The Pink on his way to Verdun in 1944 Humanist, and is not a father but is a surrogate An unofficial report card for December 2013. dad for eight Modern Family straight kids who know about his two Gay judge appointed in 2013: Federal circuit court judge Todd M paramours (one who recorded Liza Minnelli’s first demo, the other a Hughes, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Broadway star who was nominated for three Tony Awards). Congress gay members US Representative (out when first elected, That veteran, incidentally, is your columnist – and the article exmale): Jared Polis: US Representative (out when first elected), first plains why he never fired a rifle during World War II. You can access openly bisexual member of Congress: Kyrsten Sinema – elected the report at http://tinyurl.com/ol698xw 2012 US Representative (out when first elected), first to succeed another openly-gay officeholder in office (Tammy Baldwin): Mark Fourteen countries have now legalized same-sex marriage: NethPocan US Representative (out when first elected). First non-white erlands (2001); Belgium (2003); Spain (2005); Canada (2005); South openly gay member of Congress: Mark Takano.

Sweden opens up first LGBT retirement home Sweden is opening its first ever retirement home specifically for the LGBT community in Stockholm. After years of work, the future residents and supporters are meeting this afternoon to celebrate the official opening. The retirement home, Regnbågen, translates as “rainbow”. Lars Mononen, resident and association vice-chair, said: “People have worked hard on this for several years and now it’s finally a reality.” He added: “Regnbågen gives us all a little bit of an extra social safety net and lets us be a part of an active commu-

nity. This is a place where people actually seek out contact with their neighbours, rather than try to avoid it.” The rainbow facility will accommodate mainly for people aged 55 and over. Responding to fears over ghettoization and how the LGBT community could become outcast, chairman Christer Fällman said it will not be seen as a “move back into the closet. Anyone will be allowed to live there. It will be another form of integration.” • Source: Gay Star News, November 22, 2013

PTT contact Details: Pink Triangle Trust Secretary and Editorial Consultant for the Pink Humanist is George Broadhead, who can be contacted on: +44 (0) 1926 858450 (email: humanists@btinternet.com). Proofreading by Andy Armitage. Contact The Pink Humanist magazine by emailing either editor@thepinkhumanist.com or info@ thepinkhumanist.com. Views expressed in The Pink Humanist are not necessarily those of the publishers. • 16 • thepinkhumanist • december 2013 •

Pink humanist december 13  

Quarterly magazine for LGBT humanists, atheists and freethinkers

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you