Mandatory bullying in the schools

Sometimes the ugliness is just suffocating, and also hard to believe.

Take a good idea…

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schoolchildren around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone they normally might not speak to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying. [Read more…]


Right right right, I’m an “Islamophobe,” and criticizing Islam is punching down because Muslims are a despised group. (The second part is true, but the first part doesn’t follow. Punching Muslims is punching down, but punching Islam isn’t, because Islam itself is what punches down. Islam has huge, illegitmate power in many many parts of the globe. Punching Islam does not equal punching Muslims. Yes one can be a stalking horse for the other, but that doesn’t make them identical.) So allow me to be a Christianityophobe for a few minutes. Not that I wouldn’t be anyway, but I feel like pointing it out.

Russia. Russia seems to be getting more and more priest-ridden and believer-whipped. This time it’s believers shouting about a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and getting it shut down. [Read more…]

ACLU v theocracy

The ACLU says no your religion does not mean that you get to harm people. It has to say that, because people who run Catholic schools want to harm people because religion.

Emily Herx, a former Language Arts and Literature teacher at St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic School in Indiana, was fired after she requested time off to receive in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.  She is suing the school for sex and disability discrimination in federal court, and today we filed a friend-of-the court brief to support her legal arguments.  A few states over, Jane Doe (a pseudonym), an employee at a Catholic school in Missouri, was fired for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock.  Today the ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri filed a complaint on Jane’s behalf with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for sex discrimination.   [Read more…]

If women have choices

What do you do when women attain not only equality but, in some areas, numerical superiority?

Well if those areas are things like doing most of the domestic work, or low pay, or getting hassled in the street, you do nothing. But when those areas are desirable things like university education?

You slam the door on them, so that they won’t have any numerical superiority any more. You make sure there won’t be more women than men graduating from universities by not letting so god damn many women in in the first place. [Read more…]

The cardinal snubs the government

BBC headline: Cardinal Keith O’Brien snubs gay marriage talks with Scottish government.

Snubs? The cardinal snubs? Talks on same-sex marriage with the government? Is Scotland a theocracy? Why was the Scottish government inviting the cardinal to discuss legislation in the first place?

Scotland’s Roman Catholic leader – Cardinal Keith O’Brien – has suspended direct communication with the Scottish government on gay marriage. [Read more…]

They should follow it without any argument

It’s a small (comparatively) sect in India that insists on mutilating girls’ genitalia.

The Bohra brand of Islam is followed by 1.2 million people worldwide and is a sect of Shia Islam that originated in Yemen.

While the sect bars other Muslims from its mosques, it sees itself as more liberal, treating men and women equally in matters of education and marriage.

But in matters of slicing off major chunks of the genitals with a razor blade, not so much. [Read more…]

Carey gets worse

The Telegraph is again sitting at George Carey’s knee, drinking in his wisdom and insight about the vicious persecution of Christians in the UK.

Carey says worshippers are being “vilified” by the state, treated as “bigots” and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.

The attack is part of a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom. [Read more…]

Leo in Geneva

Leo Igwe has an excellent article about religious laws versus human rights, which I think is a statement he made to the UN Human Rights Council a few days ago. Leo has very concrete, in your face, up close and personal experience of the relationship between religious “laws” and human rights, since he spends much of his time trying to repair the damage done by witch hunts and witch hunters and people who make claims about child “witches” in order to get money from the children’s parents to get rid of the “witches.”

Religious laws are legalised religious doctrines. They are “revelations” turned into rules to govern society. Religious laws are sacred dogma institutionalised. They are sins criminalised. They are religious hatred, intolerance, discrimination and fanaticism turned into state policies. In most parts of Africa, the negative impact of religious laws on democracies and human rights systems is clear and compelling – from the wars, conflicts and anarchy in Somalia, Northern Uganda, and in the Sudan, to the threats posed by Islamism to the Arab Spring in North Africa and the peaceful coexistence of people in Nigeria; from the witch hunts in Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and the Central African Republic, to the wave of homophobia sweeping across different countries with overt and covert support from the OIC, the Vatican and other religious agencies that foster religious laws and its discontents across the globe. How we address this ‘sensitive’ issue of religious law – particularly here at the Human Rights Council – will go a long way in determining the future of democracy and human rights in the world.

I hope the HRC listened very attentively to Leo, and thought hard about what he said.

Also inspired by religious laws are those persecuting alleged witches in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, the Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Angola. Even where there are enabling state laws to address the problem, in many cases the religious laws in the minds of the people overwhelm, and take precedence over state laws. Or the existing law will be twisted and misinterpreted to convict the alleged witch and acquit the accuser.

Hence it should not surprise anyone that theocratic agencies like the Vatican, the Church of England, the OIC and their member states have not come out openly and categorically to condemn accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession sweeping across Africa and Asia and among African and Asian overseas communities.

It’s a good question, isn’t it. The Vatican is terribly terribly concerned about fetuses…why is it so unconcerned about children accused of being witches? The OIC is terribly terribly concerned about “defamation” of religion and “blasphemy” and cartoons and the like – why is it so unconcerned about children accused of being witches? Why do theocratic organizations have such horribly twisted priorities?

Homophobia: And now compare the deafening silence and indifference of African states to combating witchcraft related abuses with their vehement and strident opposition to recognizing the human rights of gay people. The reasons often cited to justify and sanctify homophobic legislations in the region are as follows: That homosexuality is unbiblical, un-Koranic and ungodly! In other words, the African states have these sacred texts, not their constitutions, as their grundnorm.

Recently, many African states and most of the OIC member states walked out of the session convened by the Council to discuss violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With that walk out, they have made their position clear:  they do not want these human rights violations to be discussed or addressed, nor will they be party to addressing them. They should not be held responsible and accountable. In other words, they are saying that the human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity should continue, because that is in accordance with the ‘divine’ law in these countries.

Exactly so. How terrible it is that Leo’s voice is such a singular one.


It’s about time. Sarah Posner reports that – at last! – a judge rules for the ACLU in a challenge to the stinking meddlesome theocratic US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Late yesterday a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case “to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid,” according to a statement.

And the judge ruled against theocracy.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims’ access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, “[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others.”

It does that and it also promotes respect for and freedom of people who follow no religion. It rules, in short, against theocracy.