“So you’re offended. So fucking what?”
- Stephen Fry, on the offence caused when speaking about religion.
When Saint Thomas Moore refused to take the oath of supremacy, that stated the King was the head of the Church in England, and not the Pope; he was executed. Bishop Fisher followed the same fate. As did many other Catholics who refused the oath. It was used as an instrument of propaganda and a power tool. The oath itself went on to inspire the wording of the US oath of citizenship (also nothing more than a power tool and instrument of propaganda, swearing an oath; your life, to an abstract concept of Nationalism), which ends with the line ‘so help me God’. It would appear that with over five hundred years, and countless Christianity inspired murders, Christianity itself still has a debilitating strangle hold over people, especially those who do not wish to indulge in primitive cult worship. We have not learnt a thing, as a species.
It is no secret that I find organised religion to be massively intolerable. It offends my sense of rationale. It’s bloodshed history disturbs me. I also find it particularly funny. Something to be laughed at. I do not like how much power it has over the World.
In 2006 a group called Christian Voice picketed outside the Student Union of St Andrew’s University, where a play called Jerry Springer The Opera was being performed. The musical is written by one of my favourite comedians, Stewart Lee, and is a satirical look at the World and Christianity, based on Jerry Springer Show. Christian Voice threatened members of the audience, and so many extra security guards were brought in to protect the audience. The show inside, got a standing ovation.
In the same year, and for the same reasons, Christian Voice threatened to picket strongly in force outside of the Cancer Care centre Maggie’s Centres, if they accepted a £3000 donation from Jerry Springer The Opera. Christian Voice told Maggie’s Centres that to accept the donation from a show full of ‘filth and blasphemy’ would be a public relations disaster. Maggie’s Centres therefore rejected the donation through fear and intimidation from a bunch of Christian fundamentalists. The donation would have been used to provide a better standard of palliative cancer care for sufferers and their families. But apparently that’s not as important as offending a few nutjobs and their make-believe fantasy World. The Christian Voice website, almost brags incessantly about how they successfully harassed theatres into dropping Jerry Springer The Opera, with threats of private prosecutions for blasphemy under the Incitement To Racial and Religious Hatred Act.
The show failed to gain massive audiences, due to the fact that theatres across the UK pulled out, because of the intimidation from Christian Voice. The group however said that the show’s failings was due to divine intervention rather than their own actions. Clearly divine intervention didn’t reach far enough, because Jerry Springer The Opera won four awards at the 2004 Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best Sound Design, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Acting in a supporting role, and Best New Musical. Best Musical at the Critics’ Circle Awards, Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards, Best Touring Production at the TMA Awards, and Best Musical at the Whatsonstage.com Theatre Goers Choice Awards. This all suggests that a magic man made God had nothing to do with the lack of viewers, and more to do with the threats, intimidation, and outright bullshit of Christian fundamentalists and their rather pathetic cult.
Fundamentalist Christians are just as much of a roadblock to the betterment of humanity, as fundamentalist Muslims who insist on calling for the deaths of anyone who draws a picture of the Prophet Mohammad. The very fact that a historical speculation rather than fact is taken so seriously to the point where threats upon a man’s life are made, is evidence to me that we have allowed organised religion to dictate our way of thinking far too much over the years. I have no doubt that those muslim fundamentalists find a picture of Mohammad offensive and derogatory, and that is our fault as a society for allowing it to get that far. Generation after generation of indoctrination, and teaching our children not to think for themselves has created a bunch of angry mindless robots who think that their imaginary man in the sky is worth dying and killing for. We are teaching our children that a person is a religion or a nationality first, and a human being second. Why should it matter?
Whilst a large number of US citizens spend their time complaining that Obama is some evil Marxist for extending a decent standard of healthcare to a higher number of Americans; they had absolute no problem when President George Bush spent billions of US$ sending thousands of soldiers to their pointless deaths, and the deaths of many many innocent Iraqi’s including Children. They took it as a sign that their thuggish imperialistic temperament was endorsed by their God, when George Bush told the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in 2003 that:
‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me.’
Perhaps when God told George to go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan, he meant that he should personally go, with a sword and shield to fight them, not sit at home in luxury, sending a bunch of kids from low socio-economic backgrounds to their deaths for a few years without actually achieving a thing other than an increased threat from another bunch of crazed fundamentalists other than his own.
I have no doubt that the power that Christianity has, and the illegitimate authority it commands over our lives is a left over from the end of the Renaissance period, and beginning of Enlightenment. John Locke quite famously said that Atheism was:
“not at all to be tolerated because, promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist.”
These people have always believed themselves to be the height of human morality. The problem is that hypocrisy is lurking ever so slightly beneath the surface of the claims of people like John Locke. The Popes of the time (Middle Ages/Reformation/Renaissance/Enlightenment/present day) were almost always corrupt and up until very recently, made sure those ‘promises, coventants and oaths’ were keeping entirely with what the Church’s understanding of the words meant (which were always very loose definitions; usually definitions that made the Church richer) and enforced it upon the pain of death for those who dissented.
During his reign in the 15th and 16th Century, Pope Alexander VI (Patron of Raphael, Michelangelo and Bramante) had a long term mistress whom bore him four children. She was married to someone else at the time. That didn’t stop the Pope. Before he became Pope Alexander, Roderic de Borja amassed huge wealth, and used it to bribe electors into electing him to the Papacy. His daughter Lucrezia is said to have bore him a daughter/niece. A contemporary writer in Rome wrote that Lucrezia was “the pope’s daughter, wife and daughter-in-law“. An Ambassador to the Papacy, Burchard, wrote of Alexander introducing his son to his court, and the celebration that ensued:
“On Sunday evening, 30 October , Don Cesare Borja gave his father a supper in the apostolic palace, with 50 decent prostitutes or courtesans in bright garb in attendance, who after the meal danced with the servants and others there, first fully dressed and then naked.
Following the supper, lampstands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about, which the prostitutes, naked and on their hands and knees, had to pick up with their mouths as they crawled in and out among the lampstands.
The Pope watched and admired their noble parts. The evening ended with an obscene contest of these women, coupled with male servants of the Vatican, for prizes which the Pope presented.
Don Cesare, Donna Lucrezia and the Pope later each took a partner of their liking for further dalliances.”
It was during this period, that the Papacy had a strict control over the lives of its citizens. It was beaten into the brains of its citizens across Europe, that Christianity was not to be questions, or attacked. The penalty for heresy in most parts of the known World, was death. So it is no wonder that we are still living with the remnants of those days; angry self righteous Christians attempting to push their sense of organised communal morality onto the masses through fear and oppressive intolerance. We have seen the death and destruction caused when they have a lot of power. They should have no power.
The power of the Papacy didn’t only exist during the corruption of the Renaissance era. In March 2010, it emerged that the office of the Papacy prevented a 1996 prosecution of Priest Laurence Murphy, who had admitted sexually abusing over 200 young boys. Pope Benedict XVI at the time was in charge of the Catholic Church’s disciplinary offices. A trial was organised, but under orders that it be kept entirely secret. We wouldn’t want to taint the righteous name of the Catholic Church. Murphy then appealed to Benedict (then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) for mercy, and the case was immediately dropped. The Pope therefore, covered up child molestation, to protect the name of the Church.
The mother of one of the victims of Murphy said:
“There should be no institution that is not accountable for what they do, that is able to hide behind the faith. You know the Catholic Church is very powerful and that should not be.”
We should not allow the Papacy, or organised religion in general any kind of say as to how we run our own lives. We shouldn’t feel guilty if our standards are below those put to us by the Church or any other religious institution. I would rather not go to a heaven endorsed by the Catholic Church.
Religion should be individual. A sense of spirituality is not a bad thing in itself. If you find a show offensive to your unproven belief, then don’t watch the show. Do not try to ban it for the rest of us. We have our own minds. Personal faith is not a bad thing. Organised faith are comprised of institutions that should be mocked, laughed at, ignored, and powerless.
So you’re offended, so fucking what?