Monday, March 31, 2008

Conservative Protestants' Religious Beliefs Contribute to Their Low Wealth, Duke Study Shows

"Duke Sociology Professor Lisa A. Keister examines how religion affects the wealth of believers [...]
The study examines why conservative Protestants are dramatically overrepresented at the bottom of the U.S. wealth distribution and concludes that the cultural understandings that accompany conservative Protestant beliefs influence wealth ownership directly and indirectly.


Religious beliefs affect conservative Protestants’ wealth in a number of ways. They influence wealth ownership directly by shaping the values that people use to make work and financial decisions. In particular, Biblical references to God’s exclusive ownership of worldly goods lead to practices which are likely to reduce saving and asset accumulation.
Using the Economic Values Survey and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, the study found that conservative Protestants tend to hold the following beliefs:
-- Divine advice, advice from clergy and other religious advice about money and work have merit. More conservative Protestants than other people surveyed are likely to pray about financial decisions, for example.
-- Excess accumulation of wealth is undesirable. More conservative Protestants said money prevents one from knowing God than other people surveyed.
Religious belief also can influence net worth indirectly through behavior that impedes the accumulation of wealth. This behavior includes:
-- Low educational attainment. Education is one of the strongest predictors of wealth, and conservative Protestants have significantly less education than members of other faiths.
-- Conservative Protestants tend to have children relatively early and to have large families, both of which make saving difficult. Also, conservative Protestant women tend not to work outside the family, which also reduces the ability to save. Saving and the resulting growth of assets “are perhaps the single biggest predictors of total adult wealth,” the study says.


Keister notes that the results could be influenced by the conservative Protestants’ socioeconomic class, but she found that religion had a significant effect after controlling for class background, adult class and other indicators such as parents’ education and income.
Nor does race appear to be responsible for the effect of conservative Protestantism on wealth. She found that the effect was stronger among black conservative Protestants, but was significant among whites as well."

Dukenews, March 24, 2008
See also the report: “Conservative Protestants and Wealth: How Religion Perpetuates Asset Poverty”

This is very interesting, and I have to say, sad. It just goes to show how religion contributes to their poverty, thereby dragging them further down into ignorance. I'm not one to say that getting rich is the only good thing in the world, but being poor is hardly desirable either. Especially not when you live in a country where ending up in a hospital can be very expensive.
The Conservative Protestant fear of wealth is also an interesting reminder of the old ties between Christianity and Communism.

Also, that Blacks are poorer can therefore in part be explained by their widespread religiosity. As Norm Allen said in a Point of Inquiry Podcast, in the old days, the Church was the only free space they had. Here's two podcasts with him that I highly recommend March 14. 2008 and November 24. 2006.

The things that offend armchair critics

"Fellow bloggers,

The writer at the Armchair Critic blog says that I should be shot for compiling the list of things that offend Muslims, and goes on to compare me to a terrorist.

Here's the Link.

Here's a short sample,
This guy is a real muppet. I couldn't care to dig up his background or where he came from for that matter. Anyone who stirs shit like that deserved to be shot really. This is simply a case of asking for it. Don't even mention terrorists, this chap could be in real trouble even if he bumped into his Muslim neighbour, if he has any.

Please spread the word about this guy.

Kevin, The Amboy Times"
I see that the Armchair Critic has rewritten that post now, and there appears to have been quite a discussion which I haven't followed. But the right honourable Armchair Critic need to realize that merely compiling a list is not the same as contributing to its contents. I'm not one to ask for people to be shot, but if the Armchair Critic wants to point his gun, I mean finger, somewhere, how about pointing it in the right direction? Say, I contributed to that list with the story about this employee at Marks & Spencer who refused to sell the book First Bible Stories to an old grandmother. The real shit stirrer here is not me, Kevin or the Christian grandmother - it's the holier than thou employee. Episodes like this that have made me rethink freedom of religion because I realize that shit stirrers like this will use their religion for anything, so it needs clear limits.

It has to be said though, that there should perhaps have been made a list of "The things that do not offend Muslims", because while there's always a very large majority of Muslims who say nothing, thereby not making a difference(that's the real problem), there will often be a few individuals that champion common sense when faced with silly demands from fundamentalists.
Maybe they should get their own list?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Intolerant Tolerance

The headline refers to a particular Norwegian debate, but it is fairly relevant to the Atheist movement. I wrote a blog post about in Norwegian, but here's one for the international market!
A common criticism levelled at conservative Christians have been that they are intolerant, especially towards gays. This type of criticism generally comes from liberals, and it's not concerned with scripture. It doesn't really care about religion at all, just tolerance.
In 2004, a Norwegian political commentator and editor, Harald Stanghelle, then warned that this tolerance (that the liberals advocated) was getting increasingly intolerant towards believers, and writing a piece about this, he used the phrase "the intolerant tolerance". The case in question was about how politicians wanted to force a Norwegian missionary organisation called Misjonsforbundet to allow gays and unwed couples into their organisation. Stanghelle is by no means a religious conservative, so it was not a right-wing backlash or anything. He was merely preaching tolerance towards the intolerant.
Late in February, this year, a whole shit storm was kicked up because Aftenposten, the paper that Stanghelle works for(and where he's the political editor), awarded a local Islamist, Mohammed Usman Rana, 10 000 NOK for an op-ed called "The secular extremism" where he criticized that Norwegians are intolerant towards religion. (Rana had earlier said this "I disapprove of the death penalty for homosexuality, but I am not a theologian or an Islam scholar and so I will not answer to what they do in other countries.",(English) so you know the type.). And in a comment a few days after Rana's op-ed was published, and all Hell broke loose, Stanghelle wrote a piece to defend the decision. It was called "Triumph of the godless?" and again he wrote about "the intolerant tolerance",– three times.
Stanghelle is, however, missing the point. Not everyone who puts on their shiny armour is out to fight for tolerance, but justice –- for instance. For what is right, not for what is tolerant. I don't think it was tolerance that was on the minds of those politicians who wanted also religious organisations to abide by Norwegian law, I think it was a sense of justice, and a feeling that they were fighting for the rights of a minority.
Justice can mean that you instead of handing out tolerance in all directions, be it towards Nazis or EMOs, you actively support the group that is most deserving.
Justice is not a simple concept. Those who believe they know what is right and wrong can be seriously mistaken, and will occasionally walk straight into fanaticism. The road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions. However, tolerance is also a good intention. It is in fact quite rare to hear people not advocating something with some or another good intention.
The difference between the two types of arguments(justice vs. tolerance), is that the ones who are concerned with justice, and what is right and wrong make an ethical judgement, while the tolerant doesn't have to. This is not to say that tolerant people do not think ethically, but an argument based on tolerance alone does not need to be founded on any other foundation than "Who cares?"
When I tolerate something, it's because I don't care. I tolerate bad music and art, and I tolerate traffic up to a certain point but if I say that I tolerate violent crime and exploitation, then my tolerance looses its charm. Then it's merely laissez faire.
In Stanghelle's comment from 2004, he wrote about Misjonsforbundet denying openly gays and unwed couples to get membership. He wrote that their opinion is hardly original, that it's shared by religious organisations throughout the world. But that "it doesn't fit the Norwegian zeitgeist in 2004".
He may think that his argumentum ad populum works to his advance, but it's quite to the contrary. Yes, Misjonsforbundet does not represent a minority. Strong forces in Russia, USA, the Middle East, Africa and probably lots of other places, are pressuring to force the homos back into the closet once and for all. It means that Misjonsforbundet is merely a part of a larger international tendency, and we have an obligation to do our job here.
So then the question is: do we want justice or tolerance? If we choose tolerance, we will have to expect to be criticized for not being tolerant enough to those we disagree with. It's a sort of Catch 22. You may perfectly well be tolerant if you like, but once you work against intolerance, you're not any better yourself. In the 90s, in Norway, anti-racists made the error that they used "tolerance" as a slogan, even if they were not particularly tolerant when they met a racist on the street. Instead of saying that they somehow promoted tolerance, which they weren't, they should have said that they were against racism because its unfair. That would do it. I'm against racism. It's not because I'm tolerant. I'm against it because it's unscientific, it's unfair, and it's bad for society. I don't need to resort to "tolerance".
And when I defend gays against religion, it's not because I'm tolerant towards the gays, but because I think it's the only right thing to do and the antipathy against gays is hardly scientific. I don't do it unconditionally. I know my bible, and I know that it does not favour homosexuality. And if there are good scientific arguments against, say adoption for gays, I would be listening (so far there's only been religious ad hoc-noise). The point is: gays have the best case. Not necessarily to become members of a religious organisation, but by being a minority that religious people throughout the world are violently picking on.
I only have to chose between defending people who are the way they are because of biology and between defending people who are as bigoted as they are because of theology. I rank biology over religious bigotry any day.
Intolerant tolerance becomes a problem to Stanghelle as well, because he's tolerant to Islamists and he prefer that we are too. So it's another Catch 22: he is intolerant to our intolerance towards their intolerance. Might it not have been be better if he had merely said he was for or against gays in Misjonsforbundet, or if he was for or against what Mohammed Usman Rana wrote?
The problem with tolerance as an ideal is that it does not inform us, because all roads are just as valid. But if one point of view is reasonable and the other is hair-raising, it doesn't mean that a compromise between the two is the best option.
It is also far more interesting to hear religious criticism against Atheism than smartass "Everything is all right stop this arguing right now" from other Atheists or liberal religious people.
One argument is an argument you can answer, and maybe even agree upon. The other one is authoritarian, merely inviting you to shut up.
I'm by no means against tolerance. A liberal society is after all the best kind of society, and intolerance is a negative thing to me too. But tolerance and intolerance are simply very vague terms that don't mean anything. I mean, Stanghelle would never have said that it was unfair that Misjonforbundet could not bar gay and unwed couples from becoming members. It's not unfair at all, that they have to abide by Norwegian law. He just picked the buzz word of all modern democracies, tolerance, and pretended it meant anything at all, but even a liberal society has to be protected by the law.

Tolerance can also be self-exterminating when you're up against forces that are generally more intolerant than average, like Islamists. Tolerance can therefore not be absolute. You can be against violence, even if you retain your right to self defence.

"We have the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should tolerate even them whenever we can do so without running a great risk; but the risk may become so great that we cannot allow ourselves the luxury. Karl Popper, paraphrase by Richard Robinson, An Atheist's Values (page 215)
In Norway, there's a Neo-Nazi/Neo-Pagan group called Vigrid. I tolerate them. It's because there are not one or two billions of these morons in the world. But if Vigrid is awarded 10 000NOK for writing their opinions in Aftenposten, then I will have to protest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Arabs campaign for women to "Take off the Veil"

"A group of Arabic websites and blogs have launched an international campaign against the Muslim headscarf (hijab), arguing the move is a response to what they see as “intellectual terrorism” practiced by strict Islamic groups and individuals.
The campaign is called "Take Off The Veil”, and was launched March 8, 2008 to coincide with International Women's Day.


Manea, a professor of Yemeni descent and who works in Switzerland, said she believes the headscarf was never part of Islam and chose International Women's Day for the campaign as she views the headscarf as a symbol of women's oppression and to warn women deceived by Islamists into putting "this rag on their heads."

Al Arabiya, 10 March 2008
Not bad at all!

Gorbachev Dispels 'Closet Christian' Rumors; Says He is Atheist

"Gorbachev, the last communist leader of the Soviet Union, confronted speculations that he had been a closeted Christian during an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax. "Over the last few days some media have been disseminating fantasies – I can't use any other word – about my secret Catholicism, citing my visit to the Sacro Convento friary, where the remains of St. Francis of Assisi lie," Gorbachev said, according to an Interfax article posted Friday. "To sum up and avoid any misunderstandings, let me say that I have been and remain an atheist,” he stated."

Christian Post/Interfax, Mar. 24 2008
Good for Gorbie!

Don't worry, plenty of other Communists were Christians.
Christian proletars of the world, unite with this shirt today!

Monday, March 24, 2008

EU concerned by growing use of religious defamation laws worldwide

"The European Union wants to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious defamation laws to limit free speech. EU diplomats in Geneva are asking United Nations human rights experts Wednesday to suggest ways to protect freedom of expression better in the face increasing legal threats. Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, says journalists around the world face harsh penalties ranging from indirect censorship to heavy fines. Germany says it is particularly worried about a recently signed Arab charter that limits broadcasters' rights. Islamic countries are pushing for stricter international laws against religious defamation in the wake of Muslim anger over cartoons of their prophet Muhammad."

International Herald Tribune, March 12, 2008

Christian think tank doesn’t know the difference between atheism and secularism

"A new survey by the Christian “think tank” Theos shows that there are more people in Britain who describe themselves as atheists and doubters than there are self-described Christians. Theos manages to interpret this as a failure of secularism.
Theos describes itself as a “public theology think tank”. Well, it had better get its thinking cap on and reconsider the honesty of its approach.
The poll, conducted for Theos by ComRes, questioned 1100 people about what they believed, and although it was presented by Theos as proof of Britain’s continued “spirituality”, it was actually very bad news for the churches.
When asked “How would you describe your beliefs?” A total of 48% of respondents said either “I am a doubter” or “I am an atheist”. Only 38% said they were “a Christian who doesn’t go to Church regularly” and 8% said they were Christians who “regularly attends church”. This rather dramatically contradicts the finding of the 2001 census, which showed 72% of people describing themselves as Christians.
When asked about their opinions on Jesus, a total of 41% of the ComRes respondents said they thought he never existed or they didn’t know whether he existed or not. Only 40% definitely thought he was “the son of God”. 26% thought that the Easter story had no real meaning today. Only 31% disagreed with the statement that “death marks the end of human existence”. Only 9% believed in “physical resurrection”.
These results were launched by Theos with the claim: “The new Theos Easter research makes uncomfortable reading for those who would claim Britain is, in any meaningful sense, secular.”

National Secular Society, 20 March 2008
Read the poll results in full
Read the Theos analysis of the results

Faith in figures

"I enjoy the occasional dose of fire and brimstone from the Reverend David Robertson (Letters, 18 March), but he should be careful of bearing false witness by selectively quoting statistics.
In chapter seven of the 2005 Scottish Household Survey, tables for religious affiliation by age show that 33 per cent of Scots profess no religious belief, not the 19 per cent he quotes, while 46 per cent in the 16-24 age group and 48 per cent in the 25-34 age group profess no belief."

Alistair McBay, National Secular Society, Scotsman (letters) 19 March 2008

See also: Britons losing religious beliefs

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Challenges facing the women’s liberation movement

"But stop, I am told. Saying so ‘just supports Western propaganda’ - something by the way that the Islamic regime of Iran often tells women and men it is hauling off to prison and execution.
How absurd. It is like Iranian women’s rights activists telling one to stop opposing US-led militarism because it supports the ‘Islamic regime of Iran’s propaganda!’
The religious-nationalist anti-imperialist left always ready to act as prefect when women’s rights under Islamic laws are concerned has an affinity towards Islam, which it views as an ‘oppressed religion’ bullied by the USA.
It is an anti-colonial movement whose perspectives coincide with that of the ruling classes in the so-called Third World.
This grouping is on the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there.
And their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and even racist.
In the world according to them, the people in these countries are one and the same with the regimes they are struggling against.
So at Stop the War Coalition demonstrations here in Britain, they carry banners saying ‘We are all Hezbollah;’ at meetings they segregate men and women and urge unveiled women to veil out of ‘solidarity’ and ‘respect’.
But even their anti-imperialism - their badge of honour - is pathetically half-baked; it does not even scratch beneath the surface to see how political Islam is an integral part of the US’ militarism and new world order.
Their historical amnesia of even the past 30-40 years ignores that the political Islamic movement was encouraged and brought to centre stage by Western governments as a green belt against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.


Whilst the anti-imperialist left defends and justifies political Islam on the one hand, the virulently racist and right-wing defends US militarism and the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine on the other.


They are ‘concerned’ about the ‘rights’ of women and apostates so they can ban the Koran and ‘Muslim immigration.’ So they can stop the sub-human teeming hordes destroying the Christian nature of Europe and the West.
They are quite happy to defend Christian religious morality, restrict the benefits due single mothers, demand exemptions from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, bar funds for AIDS- related and contraception-related health services abroad if they provide abortions and consider the women’s rights movement’s fight for equality ‘the destruction of the nuclear family and of the power structures of society in general.’
According to their warped worldview, ‘the West has skyrocketing divorce rates and plummeting birth rates, leading to a cultural and demographic vacuum that makes [it] vulnerable to a take-over.’"

Maryam Namazie, speech at a seminar entitled ‘Sexual apartheid, political Islam and women's rights. ( Tuesday, March 11, 2008)
She takes on two sides that are a problem. The appeasers and the demonizers.
I think it's a good point that as the Islamists got a real boost thanks to American funding, the Left is supporting an old American strategy.
Also, what she says about the Christian Right is right. They aren't against fundamentalism, they just don't want competition. They may be less dangerous for the moment, and so was Stalin during WW2.
And I mean, it's crazy to hear people talk about "plummeting birthrates" when the world is overpopulated. We should make the whole world a place with plummeting birthrates, but no doubt the Catholics have other plans.

Australians to take the emphasis off religion in a new attempt to integrate Muslims

"The new Australian Government, led by Kevin Rudd, has decided that it will try to engage with a wider Muslim community in the country rather than allowing the dialogue to be always mediated through religious leaders.
This is a departure from the approach of the previous Howard government, which had created a Muslim Advisory Board consisting of the usual imams and clerics who were more interested in promoting religion than bringing Muslims into the mainstream.
Now a new attempt will be made to recast the image of Muslims in Australia as overly-religious. The Government wants to recruit sporting figures, academics, business people and others who represent a broader face of the communities.


Mr Ferguson said a broader body would be considered. "We would always seek to have the broadest representation in any national committees established," he said. "There's a belief that, per se, Muslims are always more religious than other groups. But I know a lot of Muslim youth in my electorate that are totally irreligious, or it's marginal to their existence and they don't spend a lot of time thinking about the Koran.""

National Secular Society, 14 March 2008
This should be noted. In Norway a year ago, or something, the Police announced that they wanted more Muslims to join the Police, and their solution was to go recruiting in the mosques. Only.
But as you can see from the chart below, that is hardly a representative part of the immigrant population. (Church/Mosque attendance to the left)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Denmark: Headscarf a woman's choice

"Many Danes think that Muslim women who wear a headscarf do so because their father or husband forces them to, but that is completely wrong, according to a new study by analysis institute Catinét. 391 women and 321 men of non-Danish background were asked about their attitude towards the headscarf.
42% of the women said it was 'important' or 'very important'. Just 29% of the men answered the same. Especially women who didn't feel integrated and didn't have Danish friends thought that the headscarf was important.
The study concludes that wearing a headscarf appears to be a high degree to be a woman's own choice.
Camilla Elg of Aalborg University wrote a PhD on immigrant women and their clothing. She says she didn't hear women say they're doing it because their husband or father told them to. It's a big prejudice that this is the common reason. Then are many other reasons but it's often a personal act.
She says many women choose the headscarf to express resistance. They feel they're worth less in our society. They think: if I'm going to be foreign, I'll choose how. They show they have their own identity. The headscarf can be a way to show that you're standing up for your background and religious orientation."

Translated by, Danish source Nyhedsavisen 10. March 2008
I've tried to find the actual numbers, but that was difficult. The analysis institute Catinét has not yet listed this among their own news. Maybe they will. But if 42% think it's important or very important, we may conclude that 58% don't. However, it's fairly clear that the newest or least integrated women are the ones who stick closest to traditions.
Another interesting thing is the gender gap. Muslim men (it doesn't say that, but I sure hope they didn't ask Swedes and Argentinians) tend to be demonized, while the women are portrayed only as victims. But this is a fairly good example showing that women have a choice, and that women themselves are often upholders of patriarchal cultures.
Although here, another thing is important: Muslim women tend to stay more at home than other women, and get less contact with the rest of society, so they're not going to be as integrated as men.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The seed of Communism was a Christian seed

In the, admittedly, futile discussions on Atheism and Communism it seems a lot of people have problems seeing that Communism is an ideology where Atheism is only a detail. I have earlier written a post called Lenin warns against "bald Atheist propaganda" where I show that Lenin was much more concerned with economic issues, rather than "bourgeois materialism".
However, having just taken a look at Vox Day's flea called "The Irrational Atheist", I see he is propagating the communist strawman as usual. (I was going to go through his points here, but I'll leave that to some other time, because this is already too long and I want to hit the publish button.)

At this point I have to make it clear what is a valid argument against Atheism with respect to Communism. Communism shows that even without religion, shit can happen. So far, I have no problem with this argument.

What is an outright lie is that Communism could not have happened without Atheism, or that Atheism somehow resulted in communism since everything was allowed without Christians morals. And further: to imply that "New Atheism" leads directly back to Communism or something similar.

Vox Day spend some time trying to rebut Sam Harris' point that Communism was in many ways a religion. I think Harris is right, not because he slanders religion by doing so, but because the Communists had a fairly religious and outright puritanical zeal.
But that's besides the point.
We can turn it around and say that Christianity is a spiritual ideology. By this I mean that there's metaphysics (which Communism lacks) and there's explanations of how to live (which Communism has). The common trait between Communism and Christianity is first and foremost that they try to tell us how to do things and they have ideals.

So, how does Christianity fit in with Communism? Can you be a Christian Communist? Sure you can, although if you're a Christian Libertarian writing for a Dominionist paper like World Nut Daily, then this has probably never crossed your mind. In the Lenin post mentioned earlier, Lenin advocated that Atheists should not be a divisive force, by turning away Christians.
But perhaps more interesting is that the origin of Communism as an ideology can be traced right back to the reformation:
"Germany had her Social Reformers as early as the Reformation. Soon after Luther had begun to proclaim church reform and to agitate the people against spiritual authority, the peasantry of Southern and Middle Germany rose in a general insurrection against their temporal lords. Luther always stated his object to be, to return to original Christianity in doctrine and practice; the peasantry took exactly the same standing, and demanded, therefore, not only the ecclesiastical, but also the social practice of primitive Christianity. They conceived a state of villainy and servitude, such as they lived under, to be inconsistent with the doctrines of the Bible; they were oppressed by a set of haughty barons and earls, robbed and treated like their cattle every day, they had no law to protect them, and if they had, they found nobody to enforce it. Such a state contrasted very much with the communities of early Christians and the doctrines of Christ, as laid down in the Bible. Therefore they arose and began a war against their lords, which could only be a war of extermination. Thomas Münzer, a preacher, whom they placed at their head, issued a proclamation, [162] full, of course, of the religious and superstitious nonsense of the age, but containing also among others, principles like these: That according to the Bible, no Christian is entitled to hold any property whatever exclusively for himself; that community of property is the only proper state for a society of Christians; that it is not allowed to any good Christian to have any authority or command over other Christians, nor to hold any office of government or hereditary power, but on the contrary, that, as all men are equal before God, so they ought to be on earth also. These doctrines were nothing but conclusions drawn from the Bible and from Luther’s own writings; but the Reformer [Martin Luther] was not prepared to go as far as the people did; notwithstanding the courage he displayed against the spiritual authorities, he had not freed himself from the political and social prejudices of his age; he believed as firmly in the right divine of princes and landlords to trample upon the people, as he did in the Bible. [...]“Kill them like dogs!” he exclaimed. The whole tract is written with such an animosity, nay, fury and fanaticism against the people, that it will ever form a blot upon Luther’s character; it shows that, if he began his career as a man of the people, he was now entirely in the service of their oppressors. The insurrection, after a most bloody civil war, was suppressed, and the peasants reduced to their former servitude.
If we except some solitary instances, of which no notice was taken by the public, there has been no party of Social Reformers in Germany, since the peasants’ war, up to a very recent date."

Frederick Engels: Progress of Social Reform On the Continent
Martin Luther may not have been amused, but the seed of Communism was sown, and it was a Christian seed.
Engels also write about more recent times:
"It is, however, curious, that whilst the English Socialists are generally opposed to Christianity, and have to suffer all the religious prejudices of a really Christian people, the French Communists, being a part of a nation celebrated for its infidelity, are themselves Christians. One of their favourite axioms is, that Christianity is Communism, “le Christianisme c'est le Communisme”. This they try to prove by the bible, the state of community in which the first Christians are said to have lived, etc. But all this shows only, that these good people are not the best Christians, although they style themselves so; because if they were, they would know the bible better, and find that, if some few passages of the bible may be favourable to Communism, the general spirit of its doctrines is, nevertheless, totally opposed to it, as well as to every rational measure."
Engels, being an Atheist can hardly conceal his scorn for Christian Communists. One is tempted to agree, but in this day and age, where Christianity has become fairly adaptive, when you can be both gay and Christian it's not difficult to realize that Christian Communists were more than capable of using their religion as an argument for social change. What is important here is this: Their theological interpretations were different from those of Vox Day, but nevertheless rooted in religion. (Vox Day is probably no less on the fringes than the Christian Communists were.)

Now, let's introduce a man who was of importance to both Engels and Marx. Wilhelm Wetling:
"One of these men, William Weitling, a native of Magdeburg in Prussia, and a simple journeyman-tailor, resolved to establish communities in his own country. This man, who is to be considered as the founder of German Communism[...]"
The founder of German Communism, no less! Franz Mehring may continue:
[Weitling and Proudhon] were the first members of the modern proletariat to provide historical proof of the intellect and vigour of the proletariat, proof that it could free itself, and they were the first to break down the vicious circle in which the working-class movement and socialism revolved. To this extent therefore they opened up a new epoch, and their work and their activity were exemplary and exercised a fruitful influence on the development of scientific socialism. No one has praised the beginnings of Weitling and Proudhon more generously than Marx. That which the critical analysis of Hegelian philosophy had given him as the result of speculative thought, he now saw confirmed in real life chiefly by Weitling and Proudhon.

Franz Mehring, Karl Marx: The Story of His Life (

Weitling was clearly important, but what kind of character was he?
"Other members of the League of the Just fled to Switzerland, the most influential among them being Wilhelm Weitling (1809-1864). A tailor by trade, one of the first German revolutionists from among the artisan proletariat, Weitling, like many other German artisans of the time, peregrinated from town to town. In 1835 he found himself in Paris, but it was in 1837 that he settled there for long. In Paris he became a member of the League of the Just and familiarized himself with the teachings of Hugues Lamennais, the protagonist of Christian socialism, of Saint-Simon and Fourier. There he also met Blanqui and his followers. Towards the end of 1838 he wrote, at the request of his comrades, a pamphlet called Mankind As It Is and As It Ought To Be, in which he championed the ideas of communism.
In Switzerland Weitling and some friends, after an unsuccessful attempt to propagandise the Swiss, began to organise circles among the German workers and the emigrants. In 1842 he published his chief work, Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom. In this book he developed in greater detail the views he had expressed in 1838.
Influenced by Blanqui, Weitling's ideas differed from those of other contemporary utopians, in that he did not believe in a peaceful transition into communism. The new society, a very detailed plan of which was worked out by him, could only be realised through the use of force. The sooner existing society is abolished, the sooner will the people be freed. The best method is to bring the existing social disorder to the last extreme. The worse, the better! The most trustworthy revolutionary element which could be relied upon to wreck present society was, according to Weitling, the lowest grade proletariat, the lumpenproletariat, including even the robbers.


He was still trumpeting his idea that robbers and bandits were the most reliable elements in the war against the existing order. He did not attach much weight to propaganda. He visualised the future in the form of a communist society directed by a small group of wise men. To attract the masses, he deemed it indispensable to resort to the aid of religion. He made Christ the forerunner of communism, picturing communism as Christianity minus its later accretions.


In 1844 Weitling was one of the most popular and renowned men, not only among German workers but also among the German intelligentsia."

David Riazanov: "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, An Introduction to Their Lives and Work" (
Notice that Wilhelm Weitling's Christian beliefs in no way hindered him in advocating a most brutal revolution, utilizing criminal elements. And despite Weitling later falling out of the good company, it's clear that Marx and Engels had much to learn from the Christian Weitling, or they would not have continued to throw praise on him.

Marx and Engels, were Atheists to the core, however. There's no doubt about that. But you can at the same time see that the inspiration for Communism as ideology was prior to them in many ways driven by religious arguments. Communism never came about because of Atheism. Communism merely assumed Atheism, but Atheism was not a priority.
I must again refer to Lenin:
"At the same time Engels [...] condemned [...] an explicit proclamation of atheism, in the sense of declaring war on religion. [...] Engels called their vociferous proclamation of war on religion a piece of stupidity, and stated that such a declaration of war was the best way to revive interest in religion and to prevent it from really dying out.


Why does religion retain its hold on the backward sections of the town proletariat, on broad sections of the semi-proletariat, and on the mass of the peasantry? Because of the ignorance of the people, replies the bourgeois progressist, the radical or the bourgeois materialist. And so: “Down with religion and long live atheism; the dissemination of atheist views is our chief task!” The Marxist says that this is not true, that it is a superficial view, the view of narrow bourgeois uplifters."

V. I. Lenin, The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion, 1900
Some other writings:
"The term [Communism] spread rapidly, so that Karl Marx could entitle one of his first political articles of 16 October 1842 Der Kommunismus und die Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung. He noted that ‘communism’ was already an international movement, manifesting itself in Britain and Germany besides France, and traced its origin to Plato. He could have mentioned ancient Jewish sects and early Christian monasteries too. [...]The first attempts to arrive at a communist society (leaving aside early, medieval and more modern christian communities)[...]"

Ernest Mandel, Communism (The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics), (1990)

"The history of early Christianity has notable points of resemblance with the modern working-class movement. Like the latter, Christianity was originally a movement of oppressed people: it first appeared as the religion of slaves and emancipated slaves, of poor people deprived of all rights, of peoples subjugated or dispersed by Rome. Both Christianity and the workers' socialism preach forthcoming salvation from bondage and misery; Christianity places this salvation in a life beyond, after death, in heaven; socialism places it in this world, in a transformation of society. Both are persecuted and baited, their adherents are despised and made the objects of exclusive laws, the former as enemies of the human race, the latter as enemies of the state, enemies of religion, the family, social order. And in spite of all persecution, nay, even spurred on by it, they forge victoriously, irresistibly ahead. Three hundred years after its appearance Christianity was the recognized state religion in the Roman World Empire, and in barely sixty years socialism has won itself a position which makes its victory absolutely certain."

On The History Of Early Christianity By Frederick Engels, From Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 1, 1894-95 (PDF)

OK, so now I've shown that Communism as an ideology had its root in Christianity, in the Reformation to be more precise, and that Communists in the 1800s could perfectly well be Christians, that the immediate "forefather" of Marx and Engels was a Christian with a taste for violent revolutions, and that Lenin didn't mind Christian support for a higher goal and that Millitant Atheists were persona non grata in the struggle for world communism.

What I'm not trying to do is to shift all the blame back onto Christianity. It's not what it is about. This is about putting Communism were it belongs: with the workers' rights and all those things that most of us learnt at school. But it's also important to see that the ideals of Communism did indeed have their root in Christianity. However, Atheism became a tenet of Communism as we know it today, and it was a bit more important than mustaches, but as Lenin pointed out, Bourgeois atheism existed long before (modern) Communism and it continued to exist independently from Communism in the West during the Cold War.
And Atheism is still on the rise while Communism is dead.

I for one will continue my narrow Bourgeois Atheist uplifting.

I would have liked to dig more, and throw more evidence on the table(there is more), but to go through all sorts of Communist writings is time consuming. has an excellent archive. Browse it or use Google to search like this " Weitling Christian". There is also an article at Wikipedia called Christian Communism.

Blasphemy is dead! Long live blasphemy!

"England’s dusty, archaic and unpopular blasphemy laws look set to be abolished, but Ofcom and others are keeping their censorious spirit alive.


These recent bizarre events show that censorship is not being eradicated in Britain. Instead it’s having a bit of spit-and-polish applied and being rehabilitated as Brand New, Gleaming, Glistening, PC Censorship! Old forms of punishment and censure for people who ‘cross the line’ are being replaced with new forms of wrist-slapping for those who dare to speak, write or think offensively. Indeed, the blasphemy laws, very rarely used, have been abolished in practice for 20 years or more. Yet as secularists, and even the Lords (not previously known for their commitment to liberty or democracy), ‘bravely’ shadow-box with the ghost of blasphemy, they seem not to have noticed that new censorious protections for easily offended religionists – and non-religionists – are being institutionalised. Maybe it’s all that celebratory champagne they’ve prematurely been quaffing.


The new censorship makes everything into a potential blasphemy – a blasphemy against the sacred self-esteem of fragile individuals. The ASA, Ofcom and others, with their elevation of subjective feelings of offence to the moral highground of public debate, have given rise to an entire nation of little Jesus Christs, all of whom can stake a claim to protection from contumely comments, or scoffing and ridicule against their being and personal providence. They have made tyrannical gods of us all.
Also, as its name suggests, the blasphemy laws were based in law. Any bishop, Bible-basher or blue-permed lady-who-lunches who wanted something banned would have to go through the courts and try to convince a judge and jury of their case. At the very least, this meant that a jury of 12 men and women – who so often are an oasis of reason in irrational times – would have the opportunity to do some scoffing of their own and potentially throw the case into the gutter where it belonged. Not so with the new censorship."

Brendan O'Neill, Spiked Online, 13 March 2008
Read it in its entirety. It's spot on.

Plenty of the neo-censorship happens because people shit their pants over possibly offending someone. And, as O'Neill here says, 3 or 23 people whining is enough for something to be "offensive" . There's a Norwegian organisation called "Familie og Medier" which is a Christian media bitch dog, and they enthusiastically write this:
"10 to 20 inquiries are considered a "viewer storm"! The editorial boards of radio channles and TV channels are not used to a lot of responses on their programmes. You will be heard and have the opportunity influence if you use your voice"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Unoffocial Ibn Warraq site

"Ibn Warraq has no website
That is why I decided to group everything that Ibn Warraq has ever written together. Given his status as the most intelligent critic of Islam in the world, I can certainly understand why he stays anonymous. He has been a bit more visible in public in recent times. He is always extremely thorough on everything. I do not want his works to be ignored, so I collated all his online works here."

The Unofficial Ibn Warraq Site
Go have a look!

Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem: You can't Criticize Christ in the West

"Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem, Moderator: "How come freedom of expression in the West is sacred only when it comes to degrading the Muslims? Are they allowed to talk about the Holocaust? Are they allowed to talk about Christianity? That is the question. Cinemas were burned down in the West when they talked about Christ."
Wafa Sultan: "I live in America, and I never heard of a single cinema that was burned down here. Where do you get your information from? It sounds as if you are living in America, not me."

Moderator: "In France."
Wafa Sultan: "This is completely baseless. You should criticize your own beliefs just as Christians criticize their beliefs."", Al-Jazeera on March 4, 2008., Arab-American Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan Clashes with Egyptian Islamist Tal'at Rmeih and Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem (Moderator) (Transcript)
Wafa Sultan was great as always, and it's worth watching it. Unfortunately, her Islamist opponent, Tal'at Rmeih, is both ignorant and probably lying too because he can't possibly be that ignorant.
I was however surprised to hear this talk from the moderator, Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem, about cinemas in the west having been burnt down because of criticism against Christ or Christianity. He didn't cite any sources so I'm not sure if he's lying, or if he's picked up a rumour or if there really was a fire by Christian fanatics. (Anyone?)

What I am certain of, however, is that criticizing Christ, or blasphemy against Christ, for that matter, is a stroll in the park in Western Europe. How do I know this? Well, because I've been listening to the Anti Christian music style Black Metal for about 20 years. Other music styles have been criticizing Christianity too(Punk, Hardcore, Goth, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal etc. etc.), but Black Metal has been the most explicit Anti Christian music style. Both visually (covers, logos etc.) and lyrically, the bands have been Anti Christian.
And in the early 90s, more extreme things happened: Church burnings. First and foremost in Norway(approximately 50 burnings), but it spread to other countries, so I'm not sure how many churches in the west were burnt thanks to this blasphemous music style. 200 would not be far from the truth.
At the time (92, 93) the amount of people who were into this music style were young, relatively few and extreme and impressionable teens were later a part of the picture.
Today the music style is much more popular and also less extreme. Well, the music itself is still often extreme but the people are more average. Everything has been calmed down. Plenty of the arsonists were imprisoned, churches were rebuilt, and the music style has been commercialized.
And that's just as well.

But my point is, to the European Christians' credit I heard of no attempts to get even. If the Christians had been Muslims, one might have expected attempts to blow up concert halls while Black Metal bands were playing, assassination of the band members or even killing fans displaying inverted crosses and pentagrams on their jackets.

What the Christians did (at least in Norway) was to write letters to the papers, guard their churches, and state emphatically that "Our faith just grows stronger".
Ironically, in 1997 youths in Egypt were arrested for listening to metal:

(From the Swedish fanzine "Pure Passion" #2.)

So in the vain hope that Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem is googling himself, I want to say: Yes, you can criticize Christ in Europe. The church burnings (and other things) were crimes, and were dealt with as crimes. The music style, however, as blasphemous as it was, has been given practically a free ride, even to the extent that many Christians not only can listen to it, but have even made their own Christian variety where they play music that sounds similar, but with Christian lyrics.

I don't think that Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem wishes that Middle Eastern youths try to do the same thing. But I also think that teenage "Black Metal terrorism" was fairly innocent compared to what's been going on in the Middle East between god-fearing men, women and children, for a while now.

Above you see a wide variety of blasphemy against Jesus Christ.
No cinemas were harmed.

It also has to be asked: What is it that separates BM covers (and many other Anti Christian blasphemies) from the infamous Muhammed cartoons? For the most of it, it was blasphemy for blasphemy's sake. This is definitely not true for all bands, because they're all different and some (like Darkthrone) has made very good lyrics, but it's true for many. Some just want to make a kind of horror music, others have a nihilistic attitude, others again were just keeping BM traditions alive while playing music they liked. And plenty of people have been able to compartmentalize between being extreme on stage but being law abiding citizens privately. Must of them have also grown up.

Anyway, the criticism against Christianity has, by and large, consisted of "Christianity is a stupid belief for weak and gullible people"(at a time in Western Europe when Christianity is no longer more than an annoyance) while the criticism, made by cartoonists and others against Islam is that "There is a connection between terror and Islam, and Muslims threaten our freedom of speech.". The blasphemy against Christ, then, serves only to mock a stupid belief. But the Muhammed cartoons had a more important message.
Black Metal was always a teenage riot that came for no apparent reason, while the Muhammed cartoons was a result from Islamic terrorism.

I have to mention that American Christianity is not at all as meek and mild as Western European Christianity, and you can say the same about a couple of Eastern European countries, especially Poland. And then of course, there's the Pope.
Also Western European Christianity is still irrational, and deserving of serious criticism, but I think we can agree that burning down churches was uncalled for and that probably some of the blasphemies were a tad childish.

Black Metal Nerd Alert: This has by no means meant to be a perfect report on the history of Black Metal, merely to show that criticizing Christ in the West is easier than criticizing Muhammed. For those who are interested in this subject, please read a book.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Faith propaganda: "Forgiveness has God on its side"

"People who believe in God or a new-age spiritual force are less likely to hold a grudge, a study of Australians has found.
A survey of almost 500 people has confirmed what many always suspected - faith helps believers forgive where secular people continue to hold onto their blame."


"The results showed that it doesn't matter what you believe in, but if you believe in something, have faith in something, it means you're more likely to forgive," said researcher Adam Fox, who led the study overseen by professor of psychology Trang Thomas.
"That indicates that there's something in the system of thought connected to spirituality that helps people to accept others and their actions."
The researchers were unable to compare individual religions due to "ethical considerations", but said there was only "slight differences" between each."
The Age, Australia, February 12, 2008
Now, this isn't surprising at all when you see what kind of moral dilemmas the participants were presented with. (Scroll down to Transgression Narrative Test of Forgiveness (TNTF))
The five moral dilemmas were "secular" dilemmas, that is, dilemmas were people from all sorts of backgrounds would feel pretty much the same, like being betrayed. And apparently, the religious were able to forgive the transgressions better than their secular counterparts. Bummer.
But if they're going to measure whether or not religious people are more forgiving overall, then why not ask about moral dilemmas with a religious touch too?

Say, dilemmas like this:
6. "Your daughter leaves your family to live with an Atheist with a pierced nose. They do not marry."
7. "You ask your son if he won't marry soon, and he avoids the question. The next day, you see him kissing a male friend in the park."
8. "After countless episodes of violence, a Danish cartoonist decides to measure your tolerance by mocking something you hold very dear. He draws the Prophet Muhammed with a bomb."
9. "Being an Orthodox Jew, you have a servant to take care of things on the Sabbath, since you're too holy to even make yourself dinner. However, on this particular Sabbath, the servant does not show up, so you can't eat until the Sabbath is over."
10. "Are you still mad about the Jews who killed Jesus 2000 years ago?"
11. "You're tricked into drinking alcohol, and get rather tipsy and are tricked into eating pork or non-kosher food as well."
OK, I could go on forever. But the point is: what is being betrayed by someone compared to breaking a religious taboo? A taboo that for an Atheist is not even worth considering? Atheists have preferences as anyone else, and we don't necessarily believe in forgiveness at any cost. But the taboos are few and far between, and that means that there's very little chance that you offend an Atheist . Atheists have less toes that can be stepped on, and if you do step on an Atheist's toes, you don't simultaneously step on God's toes thereby damning you both to Hell.

Now, I could be forgiving, thinking that it's the reporter who didn't get it right(it happens all the time), but notice that they couldn't compare individual religions because of "ethical considerations". But they could use a survey to lie about how forgiving religious people are compared to infidels?
It has to be said, that this survey's goal seems to have been to learn about various religious groups, while the secular group was merely a control group. But I guess once the results were in showing how unforgiving the secular group were, they were too good not to be published, despite not being true.

Whom should I contact if I have any questions?
Please contact Professor Trang Thomas in the first instance on -. If your require support for any issue that may have resulted from your participation, you may approach any one of the following contacts below that can assist you in finding a support service appropriate to addressing your needs:

* Islamic Council of Victoria: Rowan Gould (Chief Executive Officer), -
* Kollel Menachem Lubavitch: Rabbi Groner (Rabbi), -
* Swanston Street Church of Christ: Alan Baker (Associate Pastor), -
* City Life Church: Ask for ‘Pastor on duty', -
* Crossway Baptist Church: Ask for ‘Pastor on duty', -
[* Surprise, no Godless infidel on duty]

Yours sincerely

Adam Fox B. App. Sci. Hon. (Psychology)
Trang Thomas Professor of Psychology

Virtual Museum of Offensive Art

In these times, when blasphemy is all the rage, the Virtual Museum of Offensive Art is a welcome resource website. You'll find a lot of controversial works of art here, that prudes of all types have wanted to ban. Plenty of blasphemy, but also plenty of sex and a little politics.
(Found at the NewHumanist blog.)

Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion

"After almost five years of war, many young Iraqis, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.
In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.
"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara Sami, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."


"In the beginning, they gave their eyes and minds to the clerics, they trusted them," said Abu Mahmoud, a moderate Sunni cleric in Baghdad, who now works deprogramming religious extremists in American detention. "It's painful to admit, but it's changed. People have lost too much. They say to the clerics and the parties: You cost us this."
"When they behead someone, they say 'Allah Akbar,' they read Koranic verse," said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad. "The young people, they think that is Islam. So Islam is a failure, not only in the students' minds, but also in the community."
A professor at Baghdad University's School of Law, who would identify herself only as Bushra, said of her students: "They have changed their views about religion. They started to hate religious men. They make jokes about them because they feel disgusted by them.""

International Herald Tribune, March 3, 2008
Hopefully this leads somewhere.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

IHEU: Petition for defence of individual rights at the UN Human Rights Council

"[…] The [Human Rights Council] has become an ideological war machine against its founding principles[The Universal Declaration of Human Rights]. Ignored by the mainstream media, day after day, session after session, resolution after resolution, a political rhetoric is forged to legitimize tomorrow’s violence. A "triple alliance" of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) represented so far by Pakistan, the Non-Aligned Movement where Cuba, Venezuela and Iran have a central role, and China -- with the cynical complacency of Russia – are working together to establish of a genuine revolution in the guise of "multiculturalism". Thus, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Doudou Diène has said that criticism of the Burqa is a racist aggression, that secularism is rooted in a culture of slavery and colonialism and that the French law against the wearing of religious symbols in schools is part of anti-Muslim racism, renamed "Western Islamophobia ". The confusion of minds is at its peak when any criticism of religion is denounced as a racist attitude. This is a radical threat against freedom of thought which is being condoned by the United Nations. By equating with racism any criticism of the excesses of those who speak in the name of Islam, because supposedly such criticism belongs to neo-colonialist attitudes, the spokespersons of this new alliance tighten a little the noose they have put on the neck of their own peoples and undermine the foundations of a civility hard-won in Europe since the wars of religion."


If by misfortune, the United Nations should sanction the imposition of such criteria, if blasphemy should be equated with racism, the right to criticism of religion outlawed, religious law become the international norm, it would be a regression with disastrous consequences, and a radical perversion of our entire tradition of struggle against racism, which has developed and can only develop in the most absolute freedom of conscience.


To sign this petition, please send an email to"

Please sign.
I've also made a new logo for the Human Rights Council:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fervor and Frustration

"In Egypt, where the people have always been religious and conservative, young people are now far more observant and strict in their interpretation of their faith. A generation ago, for example, few young women covered their heads, and few Egyptian men made it a practice to go to the mosque for the five daily prayers.
In 1986, there was one mosque for every 6,031 Egyptians, according to government statistics. By 2005, there was one mosque for every 745 people - and the population has nearly doubled.
Egypt has historically fought a harsh battle against religious extremism. But at the same time, its leaders have tried to use religion for their own political gains. The government of President Hosni Mubarak - whose wife, Suzanne, remains unveiled - has put more preachers on state television.
"The whole country is taken by an extreme conservative attitude," said Mohamed Sayed Said, deputy director of the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "The government cannot escape it and cannot loosen it.", March 1, 2008

What’s Missing from the Unsurprising Pew Study

"There are a couple of explanations for the Catholic situation that produces a high percentage of the non-religious. For one, their disaffection for the religion of their youth does not lead them to Protestantism, but to “no-religion.” This is in contrast with Methodists or Presbyterians who often blend in with generic Protestantism. Secondly, since the pontificate of John Paul II, Catholicism has been trying to eliminate “cultural Catholicism.” In practical terms, this means that you can’t baptize your child as a Catholic without going to classes and attending services. There is a denial of communion to people remarried outside the church. Politicians who uphold the law that allows birth control or abortion have been punished. And so it goes. You reap what you sow: by arguing that persons whose attachment is only cultural are no longer Catholic, the Church has created a new category of Catholic believers who no longer profess to belong to any religion. They have been told they are no longer Catholic, but they can’t bring themselves to become Protestant."

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, OnFaith, 4. March 2008
Of course, branding everyone as a Catholic, whatever their convictions were, was never a good idea in the first place.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

44% of Americans shop for religion

Thought you might want to know.

Spanking Kids Increases Risk Of Sexual Problems As Adults

"Children who are spanked or victims of other corporal punishment are more likely to have sexual problems as a teen or adult, according to new research presented today by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.


Straus analyzed the results of four studies and found that spanking and other corporal punishment by parents is associated with an increased probability of three sexual problems as a teen or adult:

* Verbally and physically coercing a dating partner to have sex.

* Risky sex such as premarital sex without a condom.

* Masochistic sex
such as being aroused by being spanked when having sex.

These results, together with the results of more than 100 other studies, suggest that spanking is one of the roots of relationship violence and mental health problems. Because there is 93 percent agreement between studies that investigated harmful side effects of spanking, and because over 90 percent of U.S. parents spank toddlers, the potential benefits for prevention of sexual and relationship violence is large,” Straus says."

ScienceDaily, Mar. 2, 2008
And the reason why I post this here is that corporal punishment is favoured among religious conservatives.
The most grave aspect (after they grow up) is verbal and physical coercion. Can you say rape? It has to be said though, that calling sado-masochism a sexual problem is stretching it a bit far if it's consenting, and not of the extreme variety.(No, it's not my thing)

Now, a little bible reading will do:
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
I looked this up earlier, because at least in Norway, there has been discussions among theologians whether or not this just meant teaching your children to behave. To liberal Christians, this is no doubt a preferable interpretation, (and to society too I must admit).
But after looking it up at (hit the Lexicon tab) I think it is safe to say that this is not just about teaching:

As you can see, the word mastigoo is used, meaning to flog, scourge. To put things into perspective, we can have a look at Matthew 20:19: "And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.". And yes, it's the word mastigoo that is used.

You can also see the other places it has been used.

Still, there's another thing that complicates this. Hebrews 12:6 refers to Psalms 94:12: "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;"

"Chasteneth" can be physical, but notice that there's no mention of outright flogging. The reason is that the writer of Hebrews only had access to the Septuagint, the less than perfect Greek translation of the Old Testament. However, from what I can see, mastigoo does not appear in the Septuagint version of Psalms 94:12

Maybe the write of Hebrews was a sadist, but I'll leave it there, because I realize I'm on fairly deep water now. But I think it's safe to say that the verse in Hebrews has caused a lot of grief, and that it's not necessarily the correct reference to Psalms 94:12.
In any case, you don't flog your children like the Romans flogged Jesus.

Reaping the benefits of a good Christian upbringing:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why religion is the cause of religious terrorism

"[According to former CIA officer Marc Sageman. ] the first wave of Al-Qaeda leaders, who joined Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, is now down to a few dozen people on the run in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. The second wave of terrorists, who trained in Al-Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s, has also been devastated, with about 100 hiding out on the Pakistani frontier. These people are genuinely dangerous, says Sageman, and they must be captured or killed. But they do not pose an existential threat to America, much less have the power to provoke a "clash of civilizations."
It's the third wave of terrorism that is growing, but what is it? By Sageman's account, it's a leaderless hodgepodge of thousands of what he calls "terrorist wannabes." Unlike the first two waves, who were well-educated and intensely religious, the new jihadists are a weird species of the Internet culture. Outraged by video images of Americans killing Muslims in Iraq, they gather in password-protected chat rooms and dare each other to take action. Like young people across time and religious boundaries, they are bored and looking for action.
"It's more about hero worship than about religion," Sageman said in a presentation of his research last week at the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank in Washington. Many of this third wave don't speak Arabic or read the Koran. Very few (13 percent of Sageman's samples) have attended radical religious schools. Nearly all join the movement because they know or are related to someone who's already in it. Those detained on terrorism charges are getting younger: In Sageman's 2003 sample, the average age was 26; among those arrested after 2006, it was down to about 20. They are disaffected, homicidal kids - closer to urban gang members than to motivated Muslim fanatics."

David Ignatius, Daily Star (Lebanon), February 28, 2008
Ever since 9. September 2001, there has been people from all sorts of backgrounds who have tried to state again and again and again that religion has nothing to do with terror. For a large part, this is pure revisionism based upon unwillingness to face the truth that religions carry a lot of unhealthy ideas.
With the same logic, WW2 didn't happen because of Nazi ideology, but because of the Versailles treaty. No-one would doubt that the Versailles treaty had an effect, but you would have to be retarded to say that National-Socialism had nothing to do with it. But let's move from WW2 to present day neo-nazism. It is of course a bleak shadow of the heyday of NS-DAP. Hitler is their hero, and that's about it. A lot of the racist attacks on immigrants etc. happen because the racist is an uneducated, unemployed drunkard. But he is also a fan of Hitler, and Nazi ideology offer the framework where attacking immigrants on the street is OK. The SA would have done it like they do, and the SS would have been more thorough.
That's what the afore mentioned revisionists don't see, that while the jihadi theology may be a poor excuse, it is still a theology. They have simply distilled certain values from traditional Islam. (And if Islam was a really peaceful religion, as is often claimed, then this would be impossible.) The fact that the majority of Muslims may have a different view doesn't matter, because the majority of Christians had a different view than Martin Luther when he begun his work too. All religious reformers start off at the fringes.

I think Marc Sageman is onto something when using three categories of terrorists, like above. The London bombings was a copycat crime by fans. No doubt about that. And they're probably not very well edumecated in Islam either. But their faith provided a framework for the act, and Islam provided a framework for jihadi interpretation.