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The God Delusion is a great read; funny and witty in places and deadly serious in others. The author, Richard Dawkins is a professor and a scholar of renown and of course the brilliant writer of several significant books.

The God Delusion is divided into chapters with the several headings within each chapter making the book easy to read.  Dawkins is an atheist who has written, and lectured on, a great deal about the harm religion does to children, by religious indoctrination, which he believes is a form of child abuse. This book was right up my alley, so to speak. Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches  that unquestioned faith is a virtue.

Religion, whether either one or other of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity or Islam, is full of contradictions…no wonder children are confused. And it’s not just Muslims who are inspired to become martyrs. I can remember as a child revering those Christian martyrs whose stories we heard every day from the pulpit or in catechism classes. These three monotheistic religions have engaged in extreme violence against their respective ‘infidels’ and apostates. One only has to read the Qur’an to know that Islam is not a religion of peace.  Dawkins quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson “ …the religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next”…Except, writes Dawkins, ‘we are not allowed to laugh at Islam, under threat of fatwas!’ And anyway, Dawkins comforts his fellow atheists by promising us that monotheism is doomed to subtract one more god and become atheism. It cannot come soon enough for me and the millions of other atheists around the world.

Another thing about monotheistic religions that has no place in 21st century in my view, is that they enjoy tax-free status and as Dawkins states: ‘… far better to abandon tax-free status for religions altogether… because it helps to promote them while allowing them to avoid the rigorous vetting imposed on secular charities.’  Dawkins has researched the huge amounts of money amassed by TV evangelists in USA unscrupulously ‘stolen’ from believers. And believe me, the amounts of tax-free ‘donations’ these religious thieves steal from the true believers are the only ‘awe’ inspiring thing about the capitalist religion of televangelists.

I was especially interested in the chapter in which the author, who is a biologist and supporter of the Darwinian theory of evolution, discusses his views on religion as a ‘by-product’ of something else. Once again evolution of the human species comes into play and indeed does make sense to me. A theory that posits a selective advantage to children’s brains that possess a  ‘rule of thumb’ in order to keep children safe and so preserve human life; e.g. the experience of previous generations. Obey your parents, obey your tribal elders, ‘especially when they adopt a solemn minatory tone.’ This makes perfect sense to me having been indoctrinated since infancy into Catholicism which ensures children do not question anything they are told, and never learn to think for themselves. It has perhaps allowed so many children to be sexually abused by clergy with impunity, for centuries. Believe, and obey without question!

I love Dawkins’ description: ‘The god of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant in all fiction: Jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak. A vindictive, blood thirsty, ethnic cleanser. A misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully!’  What chance do children have when  they are inculcated from infancy, to believe in, and fear, this vile father figure of a god?

Many scholars, including the author, are of the view that it’s the very moderate inculcation of religious teachings that inspire suicide bombers, and Dawkins discusses this at length. He also enlightens the reader on the many arguments that arise between creationists and atheists, and this was intriguing and at times gobsmacking that creationists actually believe such pie in the sky fairy tales in the face of proven and widely accepted scientific research and findings.

Scientists posit that we humans have evolved and so are products of natural selection; so ‘we should ask what pressure or pressures exerted by natural selection originally favoured the impulse to religion’ and Dawkins gives us compelling answers. The roots of morality and why we are good is also a riveting chapter and I urge all those who believe that religion acts as humanity’s ‘moral compass’ to at least read this chapter. Morality was a factor in human existence long before religions came into being. Dawkins asks  if our moral sense has a Darwinian origin, and he suggests that readers will find no surprises in this chapter if they are well read and open minded, which of course those indoctrinated with religious dogma throughout their childhoods very likely won’t be! In any case, writes Dawkins, his purpose in analysing scriptures is to demonstrate  that most religious people who claim to derive their morals from scripture do not really do so in practice. But, he adds, ‘suicide bombers obviously do.’

As Dawkins states, the Bible and Qur’an are ‘plain weird…as you would expect of chaotically cobbled together anthologies of disjointed documents composed, revised, translated, distorted and improved by hundreds of different authors, writers, copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning several centuries.’  He also discusses at length the Old Testament stories taken from much older mythologies, which I found especially interesting.

One of the most ridiculous statements Dawkins elicited from an interview with a well-known televangelist, was that he blamed the disastrous flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, on a lesbian who lived in the city at the time. And he recalls the statement by a certain Anglican bishop, ‘thank god Jesus spoke the Queen’s English.’  Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots, but as Dawkins avows, there isn’t an atheist in the world  who would want to bulldoze Mecca or the Buddhas of Bamiyan,in the mountains of Afghanistan, for example.

And of course we all know that scriptures are blatantly misogynist and the author highlights relevant, horrific passages, full of rapes incest, sodomy, which would have been enough to add to my childhood nightmares if I’d read them at that time. For instance, in one chapter, two male angels (whatever they are) were sent to Sodom to warn Abraham’s nephew, Lot,  to leave that city. Lot invited the angels into his house and when all the men of Sodom gathered around outside and demanded that Lot hand over the angels so they could sodomise them, Lot refused and instead offered his two daughters ‘which have not known men’ to do with whatever they wanted. However, he warned them to do nothing to the two men whom he was protecting under his roof! Eventually Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt and Lot commits incest with his two daughters. Dawkins suggests here that parents do not use the bible to teach their children morality. It’s obvious that zealous protectors of the Bible and Qur’an cherry pick chapters pertaining to peace whenever it suits them, because neither of these books can support their claims  that their religion is a religion of peace and morality. Nothing could be further from the truth. And the latest ludicrous claim by some Muslim women that Islam is not only a religion of peace, but also a ‘feminist’ one, is laughable! And how does it help to engender equality of the sexes, when the men of Jewish faith pray and thank god every day, for not making them a woman?

Dawkins provides the reader with clear and concise reasons why he believes moderation in faith fosters fanaticism,  and I found his reasons for this perfectly feasible. He uses the phrase ‘moral zeitgeist’,  spirit of change, or ‘enlightened consensus’, of which the opposite is the dark side of religious absolutism or extremism. His point is, and this is important in 2017,  that even mild or moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes. It goes without saying of course, that indoctrination begins in early childhood because parents inflict their religious beliefs onto their children.

In his book, Dawkins quotes respected journalist, Muriel Gray, writing in the Glasgow Herald, 24 July 2005, with reference to the London bombings: Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim ‘communities’. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance,  is of course religion itself, and it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.

Religious indoctrination and absolutism  has, in my humble opinion, allowed children of all Abrahamic religions to be sexually abused by their own paedophile clerical minders and others of their own faith. Dawkins writes: ‘More generally, (and  this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned  faith is a virtue primes them, given certain other ingredients that are not too hard to come by, to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Faith can be very dangerous, and  deliberately  to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong. It is purely and simply a violation of childhood by religion.’

Dawkins quotes another scholar, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity: The mantra, ‘Islam is peace’ is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace…For today’s radical Muslims – just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam, it would be truer to say ‘Islam is war’. One of the most radical Islamic groups in Britain, al-Ghurabaa, stated in the wake of the two London bombings, ‘Any Muslim that denies that terror is a part of Islam is kafir.’ A kafir is an unbeliever ( i.e. a non-Muslim), a term of gross insult…Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither  on the fringes of Muslim society in Britain, nor following an eccentric or extremist interpretation of their faith, but rather that they came from the very core of the Muslim community and were motivated by a mainstream interpretation of Islam?

Food for thought: Is the reason Muslims murder and torture those who criticise or make fun of Islam and their prophet, because they know that if Islam endures the same scholarly scrutiny that Christianity and Judaism have in recent decades,  that it will be revealed as the sham that it really is? I urge readers to place their Bible, Qur’an or Torah in their home library on shelves alongside other great classics of  literary fiction.

The other night I watched a news item showing a Muslim child, barely five years old, at a kindergarten, dressed in a black hijab and full length black dress….while the other children around her were dressed in pretty, colourful clothing, their pretty hair tied up in dainty ribbons and bows  …how is this conducive to a small child feeling a part of the community she lives in? And why do Muslim women insist on wearing clothing that makes them stand out from the crowd and attract negative and sometimes abusive reaction from extremists of other religions? Surely religion is a private matter to be celebrated at home or in a church or mosque?

-Anne Frandi-Coory 20 June 2017

Khalil Gibran – Proselytising?

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Updated October 2015

Why is the current LNP government hell bent on forcing religious instruction on children in our secular state schools? And will it stop with Christianity? We have three major religions in Australia, all of them extremely wealthy. Will we soon be sending our children to state schools where Islam, Christianity and Judaism form part of the religious instruction curriculum?

Last week Muslim children walked out of a state school assembly because they said the other children singing the National Anthem was offensive! A group of children singing a beautiful song about tolerance is offensive? Muslim children attend secular state schools free of charge, like other Australian children, and yet they insult us by walking out of assembly! What I would like to know is: Where is this going end? 

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Christopher Hitchens writes in GOD IS NOT GREAT; How Religion Poisons Everything:

When we consider that religion has “done more harm than good” – not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity-we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith. This is almost as hard to determine as the number of spiritual and religious dreams and visions that come “true”, which in order to possess even a minimal claim to value would have to be measured against all the unrecorded and unremembered ones that did not. But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world. [my emphasis].

Sexual innocence, which can be charming in the young if it is not needlessly protracted [as in Islam and Christianity] is positively corrosive and repulsive in the mature adult. Again how shall we reckon the harm done by dirty old men and hysterical spinsters, appointed as clerical guardians to supervise the innocent in orphanages and schools? The Roman Catholic Church in particular is having to answer this question in the most painful of ways [to them], by calculating the monetary value in terms of compensation. Billions of dollars have already been awarded but there is no price to be put on the generations of boys and girls who were introduced to sex in the most alarming and disgusting ways by those whom they and their parents trusted. – Christopher Hitchens

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The Judeo-Christian concept of ‘Original Sin’ allows and often has stated that: “children are imps of Satan” or “limbs of Satan”.  Is that why religious zealots spend so much time and energy indoctrinating children with their man-made ideologies, and why clergy have been able to rape and abuse children unabated for centuries? There is no doubt now that all three major religions are guilty of these heinous crimes, which I might add, are still prevalent throughout the world. 

Fred Nile has been given the job, by Abbott LNP govt, of making sure ACCESS MINISTRIES has access to Every state school, to eliminate the study of Ethics and replace it with Religious Education! It is my belief that ‘religious education’ is an oxymoron; stuffing young children’s minds with outdated hocus pocus, is not educating them, it is confusing them! 

If this isn’t proselytising……

“In Australia we have a God-given open door to children and young people with the Gospel, our federal and state governments allow us to take the Christian faith into our schools and share it. We need to go and make disciples.  I believe that this is the greatest mission field we have in Australia: our children and our students. Our greatest field for disciple making”.

“Two sisters in their early 20s spoke of the impact of CRE on their lives. They came from an unchurched family, but at CRE, Christian religious education, they heard of God’s existence and his love for them. They love the stories and they pester their parents to take them to church! The parents really didn’t want to do this, but eventually they gave in. The children came to faith, and later so did their parents.” 

“My view is that we have every opportunity to create new congregations through our schools ministries, as we do this we have the responsibility to fulfil the great commission of making disciples. What really matters is seizing the God-given opportunity we have to reach kids in schools. Without Jesus, our students are lost”.
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The above words were expounded by a member of Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, at their 2008 conference.  It is irrelevant who that member was, to the issue at hand, and that is, why is the Australian secular government even allowing these people into our schools?     We have no idea what these ministers are filling young children’s minds with.  I am sure if there is a God, he or she loves children whether or not their families go to church.  I remember so well the terror of hell, Satan and whatever else we were threatened with during religious instruction.  Using fear and eternal punishment as inducements to ‘morality’ is psychologically damaging as we now know. I thought those days had long gone and so did many other parents.  Each family is free to follow their own particular culture and religion at home.  Isn’t that what Australia is all about, freedom, and not having someone else’s personal beliefs thrown at you in a public school setting?

EFAC’s  Mantra is:  ‘Growing gospel Ministry Amongst Anglicans In Australia’.  My question is: How can they possibly do anything else but proselytise?

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God is not great 2

GOD IS NOT GREAT

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I urge all parents pondering the harm ‘religious education’ may inflict upon their children to please read GOD IS NOT GREAT; How Religion Poisons Everything  by Christopher Hitchens. I have lived through and written about many of the issues he writes about, but he is a scholar and has studied for years the source documents and religious texts of the three intertwining religions; Judeo-Christian and Islam which itself takes many of its practices and tenets from the former.  Both the Bible and the Qu’ran have violent, misogynist and sacrificial elements that derive from the same sources.

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See   God in the Classroom?

&   Religion vs Ethics in Schools

& Fred Nile & The Ethical Dilemma

The American Pastor Terry Jones, said that the burning of the Koran was a success and ‘a once-in-a-lifetime experience’. One wonders what he meant by ‘a success’.  Pastor  Jones, a fundamentalist Christian,  oversaw the torching of a copy of the Muslim holy book on Sunday, after staging a mock ‘trial’ in which it was found guilty of what he described as ‘crimes against humanity’.  The ‘jury’ in the case had heard arguments from a ‘prosecutor’ and a ‘defender’ of the Koran before sentencing it to ‘death by execution’.   Is he using human terms for the Koran because he is too afraid to ‘try’ the author?

I have never read the Koran, but a muslim acquaintance told me that it is all about interpretation, and unfortunately fundamentalist muslims  interpret verses in the Koran as catalysts for acts of brutality to infidels, ie anyone who is a non-muslim.  The majority of muslims don’t read such senseless violence into what is written in their holy book.  The same can be said of the Christian bible,  both books written hundreds of years ago. Most decent Christians and muslims only want the best for their families; for their children and grandchildren to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment.

How can the pastor’s stance be anything other than an attention-grabbing one?  Or perhaps the man is mentally ill.  It just doesn’t make sense, that an intelligent man could verbalise such rubbish as:  ‘After listening to ‘evidence’ and arguments from both sides, the jury pronounced the Koran ‘guilty’ of five ‘crimes against humanity’ including the promotion of terrorist acts and ‘the death, rape and torture of people worldwide whose only crime is not being of the Islamic faith’.  The Koran’s ‘punishment’ was determined by the results of an online poll. Besides burning, the options had included shredding, drowning and facing a firing squad. Voters had chosen to set fire to the book, according to a video of the proceedings.  Hasn’t this church leader and his small congregation got better things to do, such as helping the sick and the poor?

“It is not that we burn the Koran with some type of vindictive motive,” Mr. Jones said. “We do not even burn it with great pleasure or any pleasure at all. We burn it because we feel a deep obligation to stay with the court system of America. The court system of America does not allow convicted criminals to go free. And that is why we feel obligated to do this.”   Mahatma Gandhi was reputed to have said something along the lines of: “There is nothing wrong with Christianity.  Christians are the problem”.   One could say the same about Islam and muslims.

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All this mindless stupidity on both sides achieved nothing but senseless  killingsNews Item:

Stirred up by a trio of angry mullahs who urged them to avenge the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, thousands of protesters overran the compound of the United Nations in this northern Afghan city, killing at least 12 people, Afghan and United Nations officials said. The dead included at least seven United Nations workers — four Nepalese guards and three Europeans from Romania, Sweden and Norway — according to United Nations officials in New York. One was a woman.  Five Afghans were also killed.

See  Burning  Books Leads to More…

Burning the Koran; English Al Jazeera

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Mad American Christian Pastor, Terry Jones

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Terry Jones has published a guide called Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran; railed against the rights of women to have abortions; and describes homosexuality as ‘a sin’. When Pastor Jones was in Germany, his daughter Emma, one of his three children, described the church, run by Dove World Outreach, as a cult and accused them of financial and workplace abuse.

Dove World Outreach is funded by the pastor’s furniture firm, TS & Company, which buys vintage items from Europe and sells them in the US. The employees are members of the church, who are understood to work for no wages and live rent-free in run-down properties owned by the pastor and his wife.

Perhaps this pastor should heed an old warning: When you point the finger of accusation at someone, be careful what you say, because there are three fingers pointing back at you.

Book burning destroys more than books

Please let’s stop this burning of books now, regardless of who is doing it.  It is not just about paper and papyrus; it can begin a chain of unstoppable events including ethnic cleansing.

There is a long history of  Catholics  and Muslims burning books and indeed whole libraries have been destroyed in the past usually after invasions and by fanatics of opposing religions.  We have lost so much of our seminal cultural heritage and irreplaceable literature.  For instance,  the Library of Baghdad with its famous archives of translations  from Persian classics and Aristotle into Arabic.   The Library of Baghdad held so much of humanity’s early intellectual property such as Islamic science, mathematics, geography, medicine and chemistry, drawing on Pythagoras, Plato,  Hippocrates etc.  How much we  have all lost by acts of violence and sheer stupidity.

The Catholics burned ancient Maya Codices.  The Vatican held  (and still holds)  ‘Lists’ of books that they decided  the populace should not read,  and in the past have burned in bonfires (see… Islam, Christianity & The Vatican Library). In China,  Classics of Poetry and  History were burned by opposing dynasties.  The Nazis loved to burn books while destroying universities and libraries.   Sarajevo  was famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Catholicism, Judaism, Orthodoxy and Islam,  coexisting there for centuries.Due to this long and rich history of religious diversity and coexistence Sarajevo has often been called the “Jerusalem of Europe”.  However, during the Balkans war in the early 1990s,  the National Library of Sarajevo was destroyed.  What followed all of the above destruction is well documented; perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the old saying that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

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See More… Koran or Bible? Pastor Terry Jones

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What was left of the National Sarajevo Library after being targeted by the Serbs

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