More Responses to the Pope’s Tour September 18, 2010

More Responses to the Pope’s Tour

There are some peaceful protesters making the Pope feel welcome in the UK.

Protest organizer Mike Williamson, of campaign group “Protest the Pope,” told CNN: “It’s inappropriate to offer a state visit for many reasons. One is the Church pedophile scandal.

“Another is because of the pope’s comments about condoms helping to spread HIV and Aids, even when he visited Africa where many are dying because of this issue.

“The list goes on and on so that’s why we think it’s wrong that the state should be offering a visit to the pope at huge cost to the taxpayer at a time of recession.”

Mike wrote in an email that the coverage isn’t uniform everywhere:

The UK domestic coverage has been abysmal (to the extent that the BBC cut to an aerial shot as the Pope passed us, cutting out the demonstrators entirely), but the foreign media have been quite good…

Meanwhile, there was a bit of a pushback against the Pope’s statements about atheists from an unlikely source. It’s nice to see some non-atheists sticking up for us.

The Pope recently made a ridiculous comparison between atheism and Nazi-ism:

“Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.”

Rajan Zed, the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, lashed out against him:

Hindus have criticized His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for rough handling of atheists in his speech at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (United Kingdom) on September 16, where he appeared to associate atheism with the Nazis.

Rajan Zed stressed that the Pope should get rid of his obsession against atheism and show some maturity and inclusiveness. Frankly, it was the fault of us religious leaders (which included the Pope also) and organizations that atheism was growing in the world. We (including the Pope) need to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God’s fold.

Well, actually, the religious leaders only played a minor role with the recent fallout against faith.

I would argue that the reason people are leaving faith is because they’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that all these religions make shit up and they want nothing to do with it. The books written by atheists only help illuminate that idea.

Still, it’s nice to see a Hindu in a leadership position with the courage to tell the Pope he’s being immature. We don’t need to be afraid to tell him Catholic beliefs are irrational and dangerous, either.

(Thanks to everyone for the link)

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  • Gordon

    Oh my Zod That’s the section of the protest I was at. My sign said “Papal Bull” which none of the reporters seems to get, though it drew a smile from some of the other protestors.

  • ManaCostly

    Frankly, it was the fault of us religious
    leaders (which included the Pope also) and organizations that atheism was growing in the world. We (including the Pope) need to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God’s fold.

    This bit made me think Rajan Zez still sees atheism as a bad think. And wants less atheists in the world. Not very inclucisve I would say..

  • ManaCostly

    Proof reading fail.
    Want option to edit comment.
    Think is suppose to be thing.

  • Erp

    I don’t think Rajan Zez understands atheists. He, like Hemant, is on the On Faith panel and one can see a list of his posts.

    Another religious voice is Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, Scottish Episcopal Church, in his blog

    That comparison is just not on. Its specious and weasly. Atheism does not lead to Nazi tendencies. No more does Christianity make people automatically virtuous. It is an ugly polarity to set up and I’m disappointed to hear a case for it made in public by the Pope.

  • Revyloution

    Hindus and Catholics working together? American president protecting the burning of a Koran? The Pope defending Jews?

    All this circling of the wagons looks like the beginning of the end to me. I’ve read their books, these religions aren’t compatible. They might think that if they present a unified front against atheism, they can withstand secularization, but they are wrong. When the leader begin compromising their faith, the true believers will splinter and separate from the mother churches.

    I’d be willing to bet a box full of jelly doughnuts that historians 400 years from now will point to the first decade of the 3rd millennium CE as the beginning of the end of religion in humanity.

    That is, if were not extinct by then.

  • i gotta admit, i’m cold to the Hindu leader’s calls for civility. sorry, guys, but your stuff is just as silly and wackjobs use it to kill nonbelievers all the time too. the pope should shut up, but mostly, so should you, too. i tend to go light on the religions that are not in a majority in the US, for political purposes. but really, don’t get me started. mythology is mythology, and no matter how brightly hued or well formed as poetry and dance music, it’s still bunk i want out of my government, schools, businesses, and community.

    i’ll be really mean and say that snake oil salesmen always come together when legislation or regulation threatens. they may sell you different species of snakes, but the minute any one of them is applied to the standard of reality, they get all “oh, no. we can fix this. let’s all just get along.” where the hell are they when gays and atheists and women are being slaughtered in the name of their mythology? well, mostly not making any difference in that sad story happening over, and over, and over again, that much i know.

  • Demonhype

    Well, yes, it’s possible he thinks the spread of atheism is “not good”. But he doesn’t seem to have the seething hatred that so many other religious have, and he seems to be of the opinion that it’s not appropriate for a religion to try to gain and retain followers by lashing out at some scapegoat. How often do religious leaders just use us as some kind of convenient whipping-boy every time they want to win some points, get an edge, or just distract people from some inconvenient truth (evolution, for example) or some criminal act (catholic child rape, for example).

    So many religions are like those kinds of people who would rather trample what others have to get ahead, rather than improve themselves. So often they think that’s how to win arguments too–look at the whole evolution/creation thing, where creationists think that to prove creation you need to discredit evolution, as if the truth of their POV depends on the weakness of the opposition. At least Rajan Zed seems to have the opposite angle, one that encourages improvement of oneself rather than the tearing down of the opposition. It’s all the difference between someone who wants to win legitimately of their own merit vs. someone who is perfectly happy to win by default alone or have the win handed to them. Or is willing to cheat or stack the deck to ensure an easy, unmerited win.

    Other religionists: We’re failing, and it’s all the fault of (insert demonized group here to distract the followers and whip up hatred). We need to stop them/crush them/destroy them before the world comes to an end!

    RJ: We’re failing, and it’s probably our own fault. If (insert group here) is winning, it is probably because they are doing (insert method or idea) better. How can we improve ourselves to fix our problem?

    I’d say that Rajan Zed’s perspective on how to go about business is a lot more intelligent and mature than the perspectives that many other religionists advocate. It’s much harder and takes more character and strength to improve yourself, and it’s a lot easier to just smash what your neighbor has. And at least he has some confidence in his beliefs, as opposed to so many other religious leaders who think that any atheistic influence will destroy their Omnimax God, who must be protected as if he were a seven-year-old girl. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of the existence of atheism, as so many others are.

    Plus, I’m not sure he’s pushing an “atheism is not good” angle. Why is it that he says the religious leaders are failing? Because the leaders are not making it “vibrant, attractive and engaging” enough. Which might be suggestive that he thinks atheism is making itself increasingly “vibrant, attractive and engaging”, and that that is what is attracting people. A lot of religions are becoming increasingly irrelevant–the inevitable fate of any organization that shuns change of any kind–and he could be saying that we are doing something positive and relevant for modern people that the religions no longer seem to accomplish, and that rather than crush us and demonize us that perhaps the religions need to look at this phenomenon and figure out what people actually need rather than tell them what they need.

    And again, many other religionists say something similar, but with a decidedly “atheism is evil” tone. How often does some religious leader say something like “We’re failing because the atheists are leading people into selfish sinfulness/evil worldly pleasures and eroding the stigmas and taboos that the Church worked so hard to establish, and that is making them reject God, and if only we could replace our free secular societies with Godly Religious Dictatorships, we could stifle and crush the atheists and bring people back to God”, for example?

    On top of that, isn’t he the one who did the prayer in the Capital that that Christian nut-job group opposed? If it is, then this is also the same guy who defended atheists against the Church before. Can’t remember if it was that last fun atheist-bashing that came directly from the pope or whether it was the “atheists aren’t human” chestnut from that one bishop though. So if this is the same guy, I’m not surprised he’s telling the pope to lay off of atheists.

    He reminds me of the Slacktivist, who has also said a few things that could be taken wrong (such as “good works spring from faith”), but his overall behavior and attitude seem to bely that (such as his statement arguing against “no atheists in foxholes” and his admission that deconversion was understandably more prevalent in the foxholes of WWI).

    I think that even the best religious person is going to whip out one or two of these sorts of comments without realizing what it can easily sound like to others.

    On an unrelated note, my spellchecker doesn’t have “deconversion” on it, but it does have “reconversion”. Go figure.

  • Frankly, it was the fault of us religious leaders (which included the Pope also) and organizations that atheism was growing in the world.

    That or the myths don’t make sense. No making religion more attractive will fix the fundamental flaws in the basic idea of “gods”.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It was nice of a Hindu leader to speak up against the Pope, but his complaint seemed to be all about tone. He made no mention of Pope Indulgence being wrong on the facts.

  • Grimalkin

    To be fair, I doubt that I would have really thought much about my default religion had religious people not been quite so unpleasant.

  • Nitwit Nastik

    Hemant, as an ex-hindu and atheist blogger, I used to follow the “eminent Hindu spokesperson” Rajan Zed for number of years. He is one conceited publicity hog. I have so little respect for him that for me to use any words like clown or loon would be too much respect.

    Please google his name and you will be amazed at his speeches/talks and public statements. I don’t think he is sincere in his support for atheists and I think the only reason he spoke against the pope is to get publicity for himself and to make him look important. He issues self aggrandizing statements at any criticism of Hindus or hinduism and feigns hurt sentiments at any such slight to hindu feelings – whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    In short he is the hindu equivalent of muslim imams who protested the danish cartoons. Please don’t take him seriously.

  • Marcel

    I saw a small report about the Papal Protesters on Euronews this morning. One thing that stood out for me was someone holding a sign “Warning: Friendly Atheist”.
    You’re influential now, Hemant!

  • We (including the Pope) need to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God’s fold.

    Argh. They just don’t get it. We need a new billboard campaign to address this issue. So many theists seem positive that if they just fix what’s “wrong” with their religions, then atheists will be only too eager to join them. They don’t understand what’s wrong. It’s not their image. It’s not their clergy. It’s not their services. It’s not their actions. It’s their theology. Unless they’re changing their theology to get rid of the supernatural, they’ll never attract atheists.

    Why can’t they understand that? I don’t believe in gods because I have never seen a shred of evidence for the supernatural, and nothing their religion can do will change that. Unless they’re suddenly going to provide solid, verifiable evidence of the supernatural, we’re at an impasse. It doesn’t matter how vibrant, attractive, engaging, hip, progressive, and/or relevant their religious groups are. If they’re not based in reality, that’s a dealbreaker.

  • Heidi

    Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny

    and Hitler Youth, and the Vatican

    that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

    Fixed that for you, Ratzi.

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