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Peter Tatchell receives standing ovation at Christian festival

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  1. church unity against persecution? shouldn’t that be for persecution like for LBGT persecution etc

  2. It’s encouraging to see that the next generation of Christians are increasingly seing homophobia as un-Christian.

  3. London debate on Pope’s visit to Britain

    Public meeting

    Wednesday 1st September at 7pm
    Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
    Nearest tube Holborn

    All welcome, free admission

  4. Why would such an intelligent man go preaching to people who believe in fairytales: virgins giving birth, man walking on water, man rising from the dead after three day…? This is insane! It is like going to a mental institution and telling the insane it okay to believe illusions and there is nothing wrong with them. Is Mr. Tatchel desperate for attention or is this the result of his too many assaults to the head (I strictly disapprove of violence)? Why be entertainment for the enemy?

  5. Chester: I’m not sure how well aware you are of the position of Christians who are being persecuted but there are many countries today where Christians are being killed simply because they believe. Every day I receive reports of new atrocities. I am sure you don’t condone that just as I don’t condone LGBT persecution, in particular in some African countries.

    Ray: I think you should be encouraged by Peter Tatchell’s Greenbelt reception (even I didn’t expect it would be so positive given the antipathy of many Christians toward gay relationships). Having dialogue and fostering better understanding between Christians and the LGBT community (some will be in both camps of course) is surely a good thing for a more cohesive society?

  6. But Ray, Tatchell was not saying that it is “okay to believe illusions”. He was saying that it is not OK to injure gays and he was inviting them to see homophobia as unChristian.

    Tatchell is a humanist. Earlier this year, he wrote: “Religion is the world’s single greatest fount of obscurantism, prejudice, superstition and oppression. It has caused misery to billions of people worldwide for millennia, and continues to do so in many parts of the world. As a human rights campaigner motivated by love and compassion for other people, I would be betraying my humanitarian values to embrace religious beliefs.” (Source: http://newhumanist.org.uk/2268/my-pious-past)

  7. whether there are any christians being persecuted is not relevant John plus many claim to be persecuted as they don’t/can’t get away with homophobia like they used to or that their attempts to get immunity to laws fail

  8. @JohnnyH -I agree with you

  9. Chester: apologies – I hadn’t realised it was this that you were getting at. I would hope and expect that you would be against the killing of Christians because of their beliefs as Christians. I suspect though that you would not look too sympathetically on Christians who suffer because of their homophobia, since it would be of their own making.

    My own position is that hatred toward, attacks upon, prejudice against etc. gay folk (dictionary definition of homophobia)is clearly unacceptable but that Christians should be able to act according their conscience and their belief in the rightness of a hetero- (but not homo-) sexual lifestyle – and here I suspect we will have to disagree.

    Having said that, don’t you think that the reaction of the Greenbelt audience, which no doubt included a sizeable number of people who believe like me yet who were so welcoming of Peter Tatchell, is something to be welcomed and encouraged?

  10. when you have something as ‘right’ then there’s always gonna be something ‘wrong’ so why don’t the christians reject that bigoted crap and accept that hetero, homo, gay, lesbian are all equal? it suits many bigots purposes to push a bigoted agenda sadly! it’s sad how it always ends about the damned christians when the story is about lesbians, gays and bisexuals, your beliefs are pathetic tbh

  11. Tatchell’s welcome at this festival is a nice gesture.

    But religion as a whole is still fundamentally vicious in its homopphobia.

    it’s nice that these folk were welcoming and although I accept that they are free to believe whatever they like, in my opinion their belief systems are incredibly stupid, superstitious and moronic, and have no basis in the real world at all.

  12. Many religious groups have become more liberal over the years, and this is very much to be welcomed. The problem is that religion is tamer nowadays only because of the influence of a wider secular society. The religions are no longer moral leaders, but belated followers – except for the fundamentalists of course. Religion is a pale shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time it inspired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel – now (when it is not trying to lead a march back to the Dark Ages) it consists of very nice people with tamborines singing nice songs and being nice to the point of nausea. God just lost the plot at some point. (1859 I reckon – He never quite recovered from The Origin of Species.)

  13. so if i claimed to be a christian and believed that women are inferior or that black folk should be enslaved, i should be allowed to act according to my conscience?

  14. George Broadhead, PTT 31 Aug 2010, 5:42pm

    It seems that Peter Tatchell geared his speech very much to his audience and in doing so put a gloss on the teachings of Jesus. What about Jesus’ puritanical teaching on sexual morality or his horrendous teaching on hell-fire, for instance?

    I wonder what the Greenbelt audience would have made of the statement Tatchell made some years ago in an interview given to the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme and published in Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine: “The Church of England is an oppressive, homophobic institution. I think that any lesbian or gay person who is a part of that Church, unless they are overtly, actively campaigning to change things, they are part of the problem. They are helping to sustain that historic oppression of lesbian and gay people. I think ultimately it’s got to be their choice but I would hope they would make a decision not to be part of an institution which has for two thousand years persecuted lesbian and gay people. And I’ve got to say that the Bible is to lesbian and gay people what Mein Kampf is to Jews.”

  15. PumpkinPie 31 Aug 2010, 6:12pm

    What happened to you, atheism? You used to be cool, man. It used to be about the humanism and the secularism. Now it’s all about crazy NWO conspiracy theories, aggressive anti-theism, intentionally skewed propaganda and a fallacious (ludicrous, even) belief that all religious people are scriptural literalists.

    Back in the day, me and atheism understood other people. That was their bag, this was ours, but we didn’t treat them like strawmen. I don’t know what’s up with atheism these days, maybe the fame got to its head, but it’s getting as obnoxious as the dudes who used to pick on it.

    You guys can keep your Richard Dawkins. Stephen Fry is more my kind of atheist. Humanism first, secularism second, anti-theism dead last (if at all). That’s the atheism I remember. Those were the good old days.

    PS: Nice one to both Tatchell and his Greenbelt audience!

  16. George Broadhead, PTT 31 Aug 2010, 6:30pm

    Re the comments by PumpkinPie, Stephen Fry is quoted on the website of the British Humanist Association, of which he is a vice-president, as saying: “I repudiate the authority of churches, revealed texts and vain unsubstantiated assertions and embrace the shared glories of humanity’s intellectual and spiritual struggle to understand the universe into which we are born with honesty, openness and faith in our own natures.”

    Like me, Stephen is also a vice-president of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Assiciation GALHA).

  17. JohnnyH: thanks for the link re. PT’s explanation as to why he is not a Christian believer – quite telling I felt! I am sad that he sees so many negatives in Christianity. I won’t deny he has some valid points but I also believe that authentic stuff he has missed is out there! Re. your comments about Christians, these are a mixed bag. Although I believe there is much that is of great value in what Christians believe (I would, wouldn’t I?) and frankly despair of most of the alternatives, with sadness I note the negative views you also and others have put forward.

    Chester: I am sorry (but sadly not surprised) you don’t think much of my beliefs (although I doubt in the main you know what these are – don’t you think you should before commenting?) I was tempted to come up with a robust response but feel this is not the time. Pity though, I think trying to understand and respect differences is a good thing (something, in his way, PT has tried to do). But anyway, you take care my friend.

    StevieC: no I don’t think Christians should be allowed to act according to their conscience if it harms others. My own mantra is to respect individual conscience insofar it does not harm others, as well as want to challenge any consensus that puts forward values which are contrary to the will of God and also to acknowledge I/we/they do not always have all the answers.

  18. @John
    Well, the point I was making (perhaps not very clearly) is that the religions are simply playing catch-up with the rest of society, and thus can no longer serve as a moral inspiration in the way that perhaps they once did. So in a sense religion is *useless*. It no longer represents the best ethical teaching, or the noblest ideals of humanity. I don’t know why you ‘despair’ of the alternatives. What about an ethic based on mutual respect and justice, a shared universal humanity? (And would that not be in conformity with what was always best in the ethical teaching of Christianity?)

    I prefer to call myself a ‘humanist’, rather than an ‘atheist’, which these days has distinctly cultish, Dawkinsesque, connotations. I love Mr Stephen Fry – he’s my biggest inspiration.

  19. JohnnyH: thanks for clarifying your points although I actually think you had made these fairly lucidly in your earlier posts. I think I understand your views on religion but don’t share them as you might expect, although I do agree there are many aspects of religion that are “useless”. While it is true that society has moved on and (some) think it can do better without religion, I feel that the best in religion has given society a good ethical basis it would never had otherwise had and that the absence of religion makes society overall worse. However, I do like your “ethic based on mutual respect and justice, a shared universal humanity” and share this aspiration even though we start from different standpoints.

    My ‘despair’ is that if you throw out God you are left with a materialistic universe without any rational basis for ethics even though I respect the notion you put forward of “the best ethical teaching” and “the noblest ideals of humanity”. As a Christian I feel under no compunction to “catch-up with the rest of society”, rather it should be the other way round for (and I humbly submit) I follow the one who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”

  20. Peter is quite right to talk “about the struggle for ‘queer freedom in Africa’, homophobia among church leaders, … African countries such as Uganda, where there are plans to introduce the death penalty for any repeat ‘offence’ of same-sex relations, … and Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who has colluded in the persecution of LGBT Africans“.

    His earlier quote [courtesy of George Broadhead]that “the Bible is to lesbian and gay people what Mein Kampf is to Jews” very much reflects the way that the Bible is still being used by some Christians. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has demonstrated clearly that, whatever private sympathies he may have for LGBT people, he is NOT prepared to help the LGBT community [or even his LGBT friends, such as Jeffery John]. Nevertheless, he is no Hitler.

    However, the current Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, [due to pay us a State Visit, at our expense, mid-September], is a very different kettle of Christian fish. Whatever excuses there may have been for his Nazi involvement during WWII, 65 years later he has now risen to become an arch-homophobe, despite his ruby-red slippers. For him, homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered”: though he and his cardinals and bishops have been actively concealing physical and sexual abuse of children for decades, and continue to do so. Furthermore, he recently decreed that attempting to ordain a woman as a priest is just as serious as raping a child. Who the Holy F*ck does he think he’s calling “intrinsically disordered”?

    His public appearances during his brief visit to the UK will be marked by demonstrations: Thursday 16th in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow; Friday 17th at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham; Saturday 18th in Hyde Park, London; and Sunday 19th in Cofton Park, Birmingham. Details of protests will appear at http://www.protest-the-pope.org.uk/category/events/upcoming/

  21. John thread 5 – wrote
    “I’m not sure how well aware you are of the position of Christians who are being persecuted but there are many countries today where Christians are being killed simply because they believe.”

    John . . .

    Christianity is a life style choice. Christians can choice not to be persecuted if they wish.

    Being Gay – Being a women – Being a person of colour, is not a life style choice. Women, Gays and People of Colour cannot choose to be someone else. In addition, Women Gays and People of Colour face routine persecution and the constant threat of death in some countries for being simply who they are.

    John when you talk of Christian persecution, of course no one should live in fear of their life. However, one would also want to question why people want to choose to practice overtly a religion; or life style which puts their life in danger.

  22. JohnK, exactly the same arguments could be used by homophobes to insist that homosexuals are to blame when they are persecuted – after all, gays could be celibate, or secretive about their homosexuality; not to be celibate or secretive is a choice. In your own words: one has to question why people want to choose to practice overtly a religion or lifestyle which puts them in danger. No, this reasoning is spurious. Everyone has the right to ‘overtly’ practice whatever lifestyle they please without fear of being injured or killed by others – provided they do not persecute others. Our problem with Christianity is surely that so many churches *do* persecute others. They seem terminally incapable of practicing ‘live and let live’.

  23. JohnK: you say “however, one would also want to question why people want to choose to practice overtly a religion; or life style which puts their life in danger” and JohnnyH makes the point, which I agree with, that “everyone has the right to ‘overtly’ practice whatever lifestyle they please without fear of being injured or killed by others – provided they do not persecute others”.

    I am not sure though that there are many churches that do persecute others although with deep regret I acknowledge that Christians have not always loved their neighbours in the way Moses and Jesus taught.

    Every part of me says I must follow Christ whatever the cost. I only hope that should it ever come to it that I would follow Him until death than renounce my Lord.

  24. Well, obviously we’re not going to convert each other to our respective creeds, but on the point of there not being a rational basis for ethics if God is thrown out of the picture… I shall ask what Socrates asked Euthyphro around 399 BC: are actions good because God commands them, or does God command them because they are good? The former seems unpalatable, for then morality is arbitrary: had God commanded torturing infants then this would have been “good”. So we are left with the latter; God commands certain actions *because* they are good. But then the actions are good quite independently of God’s commands, and God is unnecessary to ethics. (The dilemma outlined above is known as the ‘Euthyphro dilemma’, and is taught to first year Philosophy students.)

  25. Ahh Socrates – he is the favorite philosopher of a guy I work with. I found myself recently reading up some of his philosophy and came away well impressed.

    While I would not want to dispute too much with the great man, I should point out that “good” is an intrinsic part of God’s nature so all he is, does, commands etc. is good even if we do not always understand the reasons why.

    I also recognise there are many good people who do not have a religious base for doing / being good. My concern remains though – if there is no moral principle guiding the universe i.e. we are products of blind chance, then who is to say what is good and what isn’t and, pertinently, why should anyone be good?

    Thanks though for pointing these things out to me – much appreciated!

  26. stevie c wrote on the 31st:so if i claimed to be a christian and believed that women are inferior or that black folk should be enslaved, i should be allowed to act according to my conscience?

    The answer would be a resounding yes from many christians

  27. Chester: most of the Christians I know DO NOT believe women are inferior to me or that black folk should be enslaved. It is not taught by God or in the Bible which should be the arbiters of the Christian conscience.

  28. sorry – delete “to me” from the previous post.

  29. George Broadhead, PTT 1 Sep 2010, 9:00am

    John (2&) writes:”I also recognise there are many good people who do not have a religious base for doing / being good.”

    That’s big of you John!

    It is sigificant, don’t you think, that the the non-religious whether atheist, agnostic, humanist etc., who now constitute nearly half of the UK population, are not prone to suicide bombings and other horrors.

    As a humanist (and you can read about humanism by clicking on my name)nothing infuriates me more than religionists who claim you have to belive in a god or gods, or follow the teachings of some ancient holy book, to lead good lives with concern about ethical issues and the welfare of others.

  30. George: I’ve bookmarked your website and will look at it in due course – thanks.

    Don’t you think it is also significant that some of history’s most prolific mass-murderers, e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, had NO religious base? While religious people have done some awful things so have non-religious people. It would be an interesting exercise to find out which is worse!

    As a Christian, my reason for living and doing anything of merit is down to my beliefs. Also, while I recognise that it may be true that nowadays half of the population are “non-religious”, I remain unconvinced they have a rational basis why people should be good (whatever that is!) if they choose not to be. But as I intimated (and you clearly believe), I know many who “lead good lives with concern about ethical issues and the welfare of others” that have no such basis and I quite understand your fury when some “religionists” deny this to be so.

  31. Tom Bradley 1 Sep 2010, 11:08am

    Maybe there is hope for the delusional masses yet. Well done to Tatchell for trying to break into that eclave of oficially sanctioned bigotry

  32. john – many used to bibull to endorse racism and enslave others! homophobia was never in the bibull either until it served people’s agenda – where does God teach precisely since there’s nowhere I know of or anyone else there’s also many mass-murderers who are religious and christains

  33. Au contraire, John, the Bible does indeed teach that women should submit to men and that slaves can be purchased from foreign countries – and it’s only a short step from there to saying that women are inferior and black people can (or indeed should) be enslaved.

  34. I would suggest that Christianity is responsible for far more innocent deaths than any athiest dictator. Hundreds of years of atrocities can be linked to Christianity and Christian beliefs. Just one example is the Inquisition – several hundred years of murdering anyone who didn’t conform to whatever Christian standard was flavour of the month.

  35. Chester: I know a lot of Christians but none who endorse racism and enslaving others although regretably some do exist. I agree the Bible is NOT homophobic and yet, sadly, some Christians are. While contributors to this website have argued (and given good reasons) that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, unlike with heterosexuality the Bible does not commend it either and the only “institution” admitted to is same sex marriage.

    Oscar: the Bible does teach women to submit to their husbands but it never endorses inequality (only difference). While it is true that that the Israelites did own foreign slaves (a common practise in those days) they had a responsibility not to mistreat them. There was never an issue of racism or black oppression – the slaves would have been of similar racial origins.

    Leilah: Christians (or rather those who claim to be Christians) have been responsible for many appalling atrocities throughout history but I don’t believe they were worse than atheist dictators (does anyone out there know of hard evidence either way?)

  36. embarrassed oops :-) – for “same sex” read “mixed sex”

  37. John – don’t you dare try to get away with the lie that communism is equal to atheism, there’s never been any atheist dictators!Leilah – don’t fall for the strawman attacks on atheists that are lies! the bible is a BS book and it’s lack of commendation is unimportant

  38. i love peter tatchell, what a great guy. you cannot fault his commitment, passion, tenacity and sheer bloody hard work.

  39. The arguments and counter-arguments raised are no doubt great. One observes, though, a cyclic irresponsible tendency by most contributors about where they stand. If we could all answer the questions: where do I stand in all this and why? How did I arrive at this position? Was it through influence, frustration, lack of knowledge, or in order to embrace modernity? Truth is truth. It can never be disputed or defended. Contrary to other views, truth is absolute; otherwise it can not be truth. One needs not to believe truth for it to become true. Truth is always true in itself. Now what truth do you embrace, cherish, and if necessary propagate?

    There is need to be apologetic about truth; any truth. The human anatomy speaks for itself. Do we need to fight in order to win others for what is clearly true? Animals are part of what is true about sexuality. Why do people keep re-inventing the wheel? What do they want to prove? Are we all not insane? Generally what people spend their time and resources to defend is defective!! Let truth defend itself as you sit down in your comfortable homes.

    I am happy that Christianity is not religion, even though we have religious Christians. Religion is an attempt by people to reach out to some superior being or God, while Christianity is God the Creator reaching out to people through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christianity and its teachings is the most meaningful life-style because it does not have its origin in man or woman, but God Himself. It is manufactured in Heaven. We may question its teachings to no avail and end up losers.

    Make a choice. Time is now. This is not a threat, but an admonition and a reminder of truth, which never changes inspite of it having the power to change destinies and human philosophies including the one in question.

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