In the image of god

One of the people on Sunday’s The Big Question was an Anglican vicar, Lynda Rose, who erupted in fury when Peter Tatchell answered the question (have human rights laws achieved more for mankind than religion?) by saying that religions are mostly opposed to human rights. Rose said the familiar bullshit about how the very idea of human rights rests entirely on “the Judaeo-Christian” whatever and without that we wouldn’t have shit for human rights. It’s because with the Bible we get humans in the image of god, you see.

I was thinking she was a liberal vicar, I suppose because she’s a woman and we know conservative Anglicans don’t like no stinkin’ women vicars – but also because she comes across as that kind of happy-clappy goddy liberal type. But I looked her up and oh gosh no not at all. Heres Barry Duke, editor of the Freethinker, on the vic in 2012, in an article on ads on London buses for “gay cures.”

Attempts to “treat” or alter sexual orientation have been strongly condemned by leading medical organisations. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that “so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish” and concluded in 2010:

There is no sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.

The dotty Rev Lynda Rose, a spokesperson for the UK branch of Anglican Mainstream, said her group adhered to scripture that all fornication outside marriage is prohibited and believed that homosexuals were:

Not being fully the people God intended us to be.

She said therapies endorsed by Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues were not coercive and were appropriate for people who wanted to change their sexual attractions, for example if they were married and worried about the impact of a “gay lifestyle” on their children.

But if humans are made in the image of god, that includes gay humans, doesn’t it?

Anyway. I wonder how people manage to believe that. Do they have no idea how the church carried on for most of its history?

Steven Pinker starts Chapter 4 of The Better Angels of our Nature, “The Humanitarian Revolution,” with a look at medieval torture. He describes the tools and what they did in frank detail.

Warning: torture.

A description of the Judas Cradle and nine other items:

The Judas Cradle, also known as Judas chair, was a torture device invented in century Spain. During this torture, the criminal was first positioned in the waist harness above the sharp, pyramid-shaped seat. The point was then inserted into anus or vagina of the person, and then the person was slowly lowered by a system of ropes.

The Inquisitions used torture. It wasn’t religion that gradually caused people to stop doing that, it was a secular revolution in ideas.

Early Christianity, Pinker says, loved torture and cruelty – it was how you got martyrs. Martyrs are fabulous, and therefore so is torture.

By sanctifying cruelty, Christianity set a precedent for more than a millennium of systematic torture in Christian Europe.

Lynda Rose hasn’t got a clue.


  1. screechymonkey says

    It’s because with the Bible we get humans in the image of god, you see.

    How come that’s a good thing, but atheists get bashed for supposedly worshipping ourselves?

  2. peterh says

    The phrase “Judaeo-Christian” should be seen as a huge red flag, regardless of context.

  3. Omar Puhleez says

    Making public examples of any and all who cause displeasure to those in authority has a far longer history than Christianity’s. The Christians no doubt learned it from the Romans, who after all provided them a lesson none of them could ignore by publicly crucifying their great Leader and Teacher.
    A visit to that museum in Prague containing what must be the world’s most extensive collection of Medieval torture instruments is a must for anyone in any doubt about the atrocities that people can be persuaded to inflict on others.

  4. says

    But if humans are made in the image of god, that includes gay humans, doesn’t it?

    Their “god” is all powerful. Except when it isn’t.

    Their “god” is loving. Except when it isn’t.

    Anyway. I wonder how people manage to believe that. Do they have no idea how the church carried on for most of its history?

    Of course not. It was their church that told them the secularists were the torturers.

    Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, someone intentionally killed it to stop it from learning, and hung it in public to make an example of it. That’s how religions keep the believers incurious and ignorant (see also: “blanket training”).

  5. Eric MacDonald says

    The really odd thing about this is that women priests in the Anglican Church often take conservative positions — which, if that is what they truly believe, should exclude them from ministry. Additionally to that, churches, like other human institutions, are highly influenced by the surrounding cultures. Much of medieval Christianity was deeply influenced by Roman practices, which, not to put too fine a point on it, were incredibly violent. Early Christianity seemed to have made a name for itself as an island of relative sanity, but once institutionalised, aping the character of Roman imperial institutions, the teaching of Jesus, which, in general, recommended compassion, seemed to have been forgotten. This is still true of the Roman Catholic Church today, which took its departure from theologians like Augustine, who, in some respects, reflected the more benign aspects of Christian teaching, which unfortunately got lost when he involved himself in contention with local forms of belief, particularly Donatism and Manichaeism. This, unfortunately for the Church in North Africa, which eventually spread to other parts of the Church, legitimated acts of violence in the effort to maintain the purity of the faith. Like all fanatics, Augustine, though laying the groundwork for much later Christian thought, was intemperate when it came to opponents of the faith as he understood it. Kindness and compassion are often neglected when the defence of dogmatic beliefs comes into play. The tendency is even evident in the new atheism, I’m afraid, when completely stupid ideas (thought to be definitive) are given precedence over careful thought. The problem is not religion as such, but any kind of orthodoxy (and the resulting fanaticism), which demands careful assessment of what are often finely delineated spectra of belief, and penalties for those who do not come within horizon of what is considered orthodox belief. A good reference here is Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. It is not altogether true that it was only secular thought that gave rise to more benign forms of punishment. The Terror of the French Revolution was clearly secular in foundation and intent, which was also true of other Revolutions (such as the Russian Revolution), in which religion played little part. The problem with “Anglican Mainstream” is that it has narrowed to the focus of belief, and expresses itself in terms of fundamentalist belief systems. The idea that we were created in the image of God is interpreted so differently that its usefulness as a moral guide is virtually nil. But it should exclude any female holders of these narrow beliefs from ordained ministry, since the Christian scriptures, read literally, would exclude them. Lynda Rose is clearly not aware of the cognitive dissonance between her stated beliefs and the narrow-minded fundamentalism of her particular school of belief.

  6. deepak shetty says

    But if humans are made in the image of god, that includes gay humans, doesn’t it?
    But you forget De Debbil.

  7. Eric MacDonald says

    Yes, it does include gay humans, as I have argued for well over thirty years. Insofar as image of God language makes any sense, it must have to do with our rational and moral capacities, our ability to empathise, and other other-regarding feelings and actions towards others. That, in general, is what image of God talk has included. If the Devil has any substance at all it refers to the capacities that we have for evil, and the local instantiation of those capacities. Of course, originally, possession by the devil may have been the way that people understood mental dysfunction and mental illness. Now that we have a better understanding of these things, the idea of exorcism is obviously outdated and superstitious, though people deeply influenced by such superstitious beliefs, may indeed be helped by spiritual rituals designed to free them from such bondage. That people continue to talk in terms of mythologies, giving substance to both God and the Devil, if it is to have any value at all, must refer metaphorically, figuratively or mythically, to real human characteristics and capacities. So, I do not forget De Debbil at all, though its institutionalisation in the Church, and the Church’s actions as a consequence, is often to be deplored as much as some of the beliefs of new atheists in respect of religious beliefs in terms of illnesses for which there is a cure (I can easily imagine how such beliefs could lead to deplorable consequences). We should not forget that the human mind comprises an enormous complex network of feelings, emotions, fantasies, beliefs, half beliefs, simple falsehoods, and self-delusion. Simplistic scientism is as much mythology as many religious mythologies, and has as much capacity for doing harm.

  8. rjw1 says

    Thank God contemporary Western civilization isn’t primarily Judeo-Christian, it’s Greco-Roman-Germanic-Celtic….

    For a description of how, for a thousand years, the brutal, dead hand of Institutionalised Christianity stifled Western civilisation–

    “The Closing of the Western Mind” by Charles freeman, or AC Grayling’s “Towards the Light”.

  9. Saad says

    Marcus, #9

    That’s not “torture” that’s just “enhanced faith”

    Yeah, enhanced conversation techniques. How do we know that guy doesn’t have Greek fire stashed somewhere in town ready to be used in the town square?!

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