Tag Archive | Christianity

Looking for an Ark Encounter?

20045521_1596311390399211_7503626277058911484_oYou have to see this, dears.  Creationist Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Creation Museum in Pittsburg, Kentucky, and Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Virginia, has had the latter lit up in rainbow colours at night.

Ken Ham, maintains that the Biblical record of creation is historically and chronologically accurate, the entire universe being created by God in six days, 6000 years ago.  He completely refutes biological evolution, despite looking so simian himself that he could get a part in a Planet of the Apes movie – without any need for make-up.

Kenny baby has now had his ailing exhibition lit up in an attempt to “reclaim” the rainbow from the LGBT+ community.

The photo on his Facebook page was accompanied with the following statement;

“We now have new permanent rainbow lights at the Ark Encounter so all can see that it is God’s rainbow and He determines its meaning in Genesis 6.

The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood—next time the world will be judged by fire.

The Ark is lit permanently at night with a rainbow to remind the world that God owns it and He decreed it’s a sign of His covenant with man after the Flood—Christians need to take back the rainbow as we do at the Ark Encounter.”

Personally, I think it looks simply FABULOUS!  I simply LOVE it.

Ark Encounter, which was originally meant to be a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark, with displays and anitromic animals – and dinosaurs – opened on 7 July 2016, after a controversial start.  Tax incentives were given to AiG to build the project on the grounds that it would attract tourism into the area.  Public money was used to build roads and other infrastructure to the attraction also on the basis that it would be recouped through tourism.  Both of these measures brought complaints from American secularists and atheists, pointing out that the US Constitution expressly establishes a ‘wall between church and state’.  Nonetheless, the project went ahead.

Then AiG discovered they could not make it as authentic as they liked.  Irksome little things such as health and safety laws, fire escapes, public lavatories, sanitation, electricity ducts, ventilation, light, etc, meant that instead of a full boat with one door and window, Ken Ham had to build half an ark with several windows, resting on concrete pillars, and supported by modern buildings to the rear.

Following complaints of discriminatory employment practices, the US Federal Court ruled in 2016 that AiG could insist in their terms of employment that employees must believe that the Bible is the historically accurate word of God and accept and believe in Young Earth Creation.

Ken ham  boasted that the number of visitors would be over 2 million per year.  In fact, people have failed to appear in such numbers, and Ham himself has kept downplaying the estimate of visitor numbers.  In an interview in Gospel Herald, Ham stated that in the first year Ark Encounter may hit their own lower estimate for the first year of operation of 1.1 million visitors.  The Lexington Herald Leader reported on 2 July 2017 that Ark Encounter co-founder Mike Zorath stated that the Ark would welcome it’s 1 millionth visitor in July.

And what caused this failure in visitor numbers?  Well, first Ken Ham tried to claim it was due to opening in the middle of the holiday season.  That may well be true, but it was Ken Ham himself who chose to open it on 7 July 2016, to reflect Genesis 7:7, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”  So if it failed, due to bad timing, Ham has no-one but himself to blame for that.

But then, he can always blame the atheists.  Which is precisely what Ken Ham did in a June 2017 AiG blog post;

“Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking.”

The latest controversial move is AiG selling the park – to themselves.  AiG applied for an exemption to a new local safety tax in Grant County, Virginia, on the grounds that it was a religious organisation.   On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp rejected their request, stating that it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.  AiG’s reaction was to sell their main parcel of land at the park, which the Ark sits on, to their not-for-profit subsidiary, Crosswater Canyon, for the princely sum of $10, so that it can be reclassified as a religious organisation.

Seems to me that Ken Ham and his associates need to make up their mind.  It is either a visitor attraction, or a religious organisation.  If it is the latter, then it should not be given tax incentives which would breach the secular US Constitution.

Of course, if he is really struggling, he could always turn the largest timber structure in the world into the world’s biggest LGBT+ nightclub.  Whaddya say, Kenny baby?

Fools and Bairns

gay-marriage-child-3Who is fit to parent?

A Christian couple have had their application to adopt two boys they were foster parents to turned down, and are now claiming that they are being persecuted for holding “anti-gay” views.

The couple fostering the children had been told that a couple had been found to adopt the boys. But two days later, when they heard that the couple in question were two gay men, they put forward their own adoption application, stating it would be the “best option for them and their emotional wellbeing.” The couple had made a previous application to adopt the boys, which was turned down on the grounds that their family home was too small, which they accepted at the time.

Describing themselves as “a normal couple”, they wrote to their local council, stating “We are Christians and we expressed the view that a child needs a mother and father. We love everyone (regardless of sexual orientation) and we love the children and believe that they would benefit from the foundation offered by a mother and a father,”.

They continued that they had “not expressed homophobic views, unless Christian beliefs are, by definition, homophobic.”

Their local council then responded to the couple, telling them “having heard that the prospective adopters were a same-sex couple you shared some opinions in relation to this proposed placement which are concerning and which would not enable the service to progress an inquiry to be assessed as prospective adopters, as these views could be detrimental to the long-term needs of the children.”

In steps Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre and Chief Executive of the anti-LGBT group Christian Concern (no show without Punch). Williams, who has a past record of championing heterosexual ‘traditional’ marriage and condemning and fighting same-sex marriage and parenting, stated that she and the Christian Legal Centre were standing by the couple and affirmed “This couple’s viewpoint is lawful and mainstream.”

Interviewed by Maajid Nawaz on LBC Radio, Williams claimed that studies proved that children were best brought up by a mother and father (married of course), but when asked to provide a source for these studies, she failed to give a reference to any UK-based scientific research, instead making reference to a single, obscure, Christian-based source from the USA, and skirted round the question. When Maajid Nawaz further pressed her that her views would also logically preclude single parents, she equally side-stepped that question. Frankly, Maajid (a lovely, very handsome young man, who is a reformed Islamist extermist ~ I would dears, in a New York minute) had her tied in knots and getting extremely flustered. It was a treat to listen to.

Andrea Williams claimed that the couple had not put tried to make an ideological stance on this case. I utterly refute that, but even if they had not, it is pretty obvious that Williams certainly is doing so. But then she has a past track record of jumping in with her twisted bigotry, which pays little or no regard to children she may be harming in the process.

By their own words and actions, as far as I can see from the scarce information available, the couple have condemned themselves. Their very use of the term “normal couple” should be enough to set off alarm bells in anyone’s head, because that strongly infers that same-sex couples are not normal. They only acted to adopt the boys two days after being told adoptive parents had been found, and only then when they were told that the propective parents were two gay men. And they made this application despite previously being told, and accepted, that their family home was too small to adopt the children. Terms like “ we expressed the view that a child needs a mother and father” and “they would benefit from the foundation offered by a mother and a father” certainly suggest that a same-sex couple could not offer the same support and foundation of that of a heterosexual couple.

They can claim “We love everyone (regardless of sexual orientation)” and they had “ not expressed homophobic views” all they want, but that sounds too much to me like the person who says “I’m not a racist, but…”

And no, Christian views are not by definition homophobic. Far from it, if Jesus ever existed, then he never, not once, made any reference to anyone’s sexuality. But what I will say is that there are many ‘Christians’ ~ including this couple, and the odious Andrea Williams ~ who concentrate too much on the Old Testament while paying too little attention to the man whom they claim is their saviour. The same man who allegedly told his people not to judge, accepted all, and turned away none.

As for her part, I am not afraid to call Andrea Williams out as a bare-faced liar right here and now. According to Premier.org.uk, Williams stated “They (the Christian couple) said immediately we want to look after them”. This is not so. Again, the couple did not act until two days later, and again, only when that the children may be placed with a same-sex couple.  So hardly “immediately”.  This is not the first time I have caught a ‘Christian’ blaspeming their own faith by breaking the Ninth Commandment, and “lying for Jesus”. In fact, the more conservative the Christian, the more common it becomes, to the point I have come to expect it.

In the LBC interview, Maajid Nawaz was of the view that just because people hold illiberal opinions, that should not preclude them from fostering or adopting children, and went further to say that as children are naturally prone to rebel, it does not follow that any child will share the views of the parents. I would agree, to an extent. However, we are not talking merely about political or ideological views here, but religious indoctrination and brainwashing. I have seen too much of it to ever be convinced that a strict religious upbringing does not have an effect upon the views of children; I happen to know of a anti-Catholic sectarian street preacher from Kirkcaldy, Fife, whose own two sons are as equally brainwashed and bigoted as he is.

And Maajid Nawaz himself is an interesting case in point. He had an upbringing in a traditionally conservative Muslim home. His own rebellion took the form of throwing himself into Islamist extremism, for which he spent five years in an Egyptian prison. Having worked with Amnesty International, he turned his back on that and turned right around, now holding very liberal views. Yet he remains a devout follower of Islam; a religion which holds some very disturbing, illiberal views on LGBT+ people.

Even from a political / ideological viewpoint, children will often follow in the footsteps of their parents. My grandad was a communist. My dad was a socialist (although became a bigoted old bastard in his latter years). To this day I describe myself as “slightly to the left of Leon Trotsky”. I am a diehard socialist, proud to be one, and I learned much of that from my father. By equal measure, one could hardly ever see Carol Thatcher carrying the banner, left breast bared, leading the revolution, could one?

So certainly, having views which are illiberal or controversial should not be a barrier to fostering or adopting ~ within limits. How many of the thugs running about with the EDL/SDL or Britain First came from parents who hold equally bigoted views? Quite a few I would venture.

As we say in Scotland, “Fools and bairns spik at the cross whit they hear by the ingleside.”, and if a local authority feel that anyone is unfit to parent a child because they fear that child may be indoctrinated with hate speech, which may manifest itself in a dangerous form later in life, then I for one would have to agree with them. In effect, authorities who make such bans are only saving the children from future heartache of perhaps ending up in court, or even in prison.

So who is fit to be a parent? The Christian couple and Andrea Williams openly state that it is only heterosexual same-sex married couples. That got me to thinking; but what if it was two straight men or two straight women who merely shared a house, and brought up a child, would Andrea Williams complain about that? Did she ever have a complaint about the movie “Three Men and a Baby”, it’s sequel “Three Men and a Little Lady”, or the US sitcom “My Two Dads” (apart from how bloody awful all of the above were ~ Charlie Sheen, what were you thinking?)? If she ever did object to these things, I’ve certainly never heard her saying so. Ah, but then, the characters in them were all heterosexual.

And that got me to thinking further; traditionally just who did bring up children? Did all children historically have the upbringing of a mother and father? Guess what? For the most part, no, they did not.

Among the working class of the UK, it was largely mothers who brought up the children. And when I say mothers, I emphasise the plural. It was certainly a truth, even in my lifetime, that mothers rallied together and helped each other out. As kids we were all in and out of each other’s houses, and every mum treated the children of others as their own, and looked after them as needed. Most fathers were the breadwinners, often working long hours, whom the children rarely got to see and had little contact with; another reason why mothers turned to each other, because they had no-one else to turn to.

And even among the middle and moneyed classes, it was not a matter of children ‘benefiting’ form the upbringing of a mother and father. Middle class fathers were in professions which often involved them working long hours, while those further up capitalist ladder would often be away to meetings or even out of the country. As to the children themselves, many were brought up in their formative years by nannies or au pairs, before being shipped off to boarding schools, where they spent most of the year being supervised by all male or all female staff, depending on whether they were at a boys or girls school. I don’t hear many religites shouting blue bloody murder about girls being brought up in all-female convent schools, do you?

So, having seen that side of it, I wondered if there was ever an instance when men brought the kids up. Yes, there was one, and it was right here in bonny Scotland. From the late 19th to the early 20th century, the city of Dundee became famous for it’s three main industries; “Jam, Jute, and Journalism”. Of these three industries, it was only the latter which was an all-male preserve. The jam works and the jute mills which covered Dundee employed women almost exclusively. Because it was women who were the breadwinners ~ and who controlled the purse strings ~ it was the fathers who stayed at home and looked after the children. Dundee women of the time condescendenly referred to their husbands as the “tea bilers” (boilers). Aye, you don’t like it when the boot’s on the other foot, do you fellas? Like working class women, these men had to rely upon each other in their community to help with and look after their children. No-one could ever say that any Dundonian ever suffered from being brought up by an entire community of “dads”.

And that is of course before I get to women (or men) who were widowed by the rampant disease of the past, industrial accidents which were all too common, or indeed war, and who ended up single parents (funny how single mums often get castigated, but if their partners died in war they are ‘heroe’s, isn’t it?) as a result. Again, this was overwhelmingly women, and again it was other women, other mothers, they turned to for help, who were only too happy to offer that help, to welcome the children of others into their homes, and look after them like they were their own. Indeed, even of those servicemen who survived, they were often away for years, while mums were left to bring up the kids by themselves, and with the help of other mothers in the same boat as them.

Despite many more women working today, and some men becoming “househusbands” (hate that term – a homemaker is a homemaker, regardless of gender, and it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world), this community spirit between women survives in many places to this day. Nature teaches us that the majority of species have a nurturing instinct in the female of the species. Why then should it be any different for Homo Sapiens Sapiens? It is still true that women will rally around each other where needed, and above all, they will instinctively protect children, even those of others, and even if that means putting themselves in a place of danger in the process. Women are indeed strong, and they are never stronger (or more vindictive) where the welfare of a child ~ any child ~ is involved.

Yet men can and often do demonstrate similar instincts. The example of Dundee proves this, as do the dad’s who want to (and sometimes do) lay out the referee at a sports match who cards their kid, or the dad of the kid who has just fouled their kid. I’m not for one moment condoning such behaviour, but it does display an instinct to defend and protect. It would also be a sorry excuse for a man who could ever turn away from a child in need or danger. Indeed, do not the traditionally male roles in the armed forces, the police, and the fire service underline this need to nurture and protect?

Therefore, the claim that a child needs the input from both male and female parents is clearly a false one, for the simple reason that it has rarely happened. And Andrea Williams and those of her ilk need not worry about children same-sex parenting, because for generations of countless millions of children, that has always been the norm.  Probably even for you reading this.  Probably even for Andrea Williams.

A Tale of Two Trans Kids

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With the kind permission of Sophie Labelle

One who isn’t, one who is.

There are two stories which have broken in the UK over the issue of gender identity in youth, and both are in their own way heartbreaking and extremely emotive.

The first case involved a 7-year-old little boy who was brought up as a girl by his mother, and whom the Family Court in England awarded custody to his father. The mother maintained that the boy identified as a girl, and to this end dressed him as a girl, was bullied at school for dressing as a girl, was registered as a girl with his GP, and on official forms.

The boy’s father, who is separated from his mother, however doubted the mother’s assertion that the boy identified as transgender. These doubts were shared by some school staff. The father filed for custody, and won his case.

Mister Justice Hayden, presiding judge, stated “This is not a case about gender dysphoria, rather it is about a mother who has developed a belief structure which she has imposed upon her child.

“I am bound to say that had the concerns [of school staff] been given the weight that they plainly should have, it is difficult to resist the conclusion the boy could have been spared a great deal of emotional harm.”

Mr Hayden added, “Transgender equality has received a great deal of attention in recent times. I believe that in this case the profile and sensitivity of the matters raised by the mother blinded a number of professionals from applying their training, skill, and, it has to be said, common sense.

“They failed properly to investigate the mother’s assertions, in part I suspect, because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.”

This ruling has thrown further division between cisgender and transgender people, with the some transphobes seeing it as a victory, whilst I have seen some trans people lambasting Justice Hayden as a transphobe himself. In fact, Mr Justice Hayden is no stranger to transgender issues, having ruled in many such cases, and in most he has come down on the side of the transgender person. Before this case he actually wrote “My experience in the Family Division leaves me with little doubt that some children, as young as 4, 5, 6 years of age may identify strongly with their opposite gender. Such children can experience rejection and abuse arising from ignorance both on a personal and institutional level.” These are hardly the words of a transphobe. Far from it, I would consider those to be the words of a strong and powerful ally of transgender children.

It seems therefore that in this case we have a mother who, for reasons best known to herself, decided her son was transgender and imposed a female gender upon him. That has potentially done untold damage to the child. We in the LGBT+ camp must never condemn Mr Justice Hayden for his ruling. He has all the facts of the case; we do not.  Indeed, I think he should be applauded for his thoughtful handling of a highly emotional case.

Needless to say however, the gutter press was quick to link the above case to that of a 14-year-old trans boy – and whose devoutly Christian parents are now taking their local authority to court.

In this case a 14-year-old assigned female at birth has identified as male, and has laid out his plans to transition as soon as he is old enough, and has expressed his wish to be known by a male forename in school. He has received the support of his local authority’s Social Work department, after he underwent psychiatric evaluation. The parents have been warned that if their child’s wishes are not implemented, then he may present a high suicide risk, and if guidance of social workers is not acted upon, then their child may be taken into care.

The parents have responded by taking their local authority to court. They are being defended by The Christian Legal Centre, who are also funding the case. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre stated “The transgender cultural movement is creating a new ‘conflict of rights’ within the family. This is the emperor’s new clothes. Authorities are forcing an agenda that is not true, and harmful to children. This case demonstrates shocking disregard for parental authority: no one is listening to what the parents want or have to say. They know the child the best, and have the child’s interests at heart.”

So, there you have it readers; according to the Christian Legal Centre, this trans boy and all we who are transgender / genderfluid are not behaving the way we simply are, but are following a ‘culture’ which is “not true”. I wonder if it would be possible to have Andrea Williams arrested for hate speech? No – we don’t want the Christian Taliban screaming persecution, or making a martyr of her.

The mother of the trans boy has stated “The rights of parents in the UK are being eroded, especially those who have traditional Christian values. It is leaving parents to feel fearful, vulnerable and intimidated.”

I would first of all like to know what ‘traditional Christian values’ preclude being transgender? I don’t know if the parents, Andrea Williams, or anyone else in the Christian Legal Centre have noticed, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus, at any point, make any mention of any sort of gender – not once. I can only assume therefore that the parents and their representatives are relying upon the Old Testament; “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5, KJV). Well, that’s equally all right, because a trans boy is just that – a boy. So if God actually existed, then he must have made the boy in question transgender, and intended him to dress and behave as male. Although an atheist myself, I know some lovely transgender and genderfluid people who fully believe that their God made them as intended.

I would also point out that women were wearing ‘harem’ trousers, and both male and female Greek horse riders were wearing trousers, while Moses was writing Deuteronomy – dressed in his robes. Oh, and high heels were originally invented for men to hold stirrups while horse riding (Oh, go on boys, you know you want some).

Then there is the hypocrisy of parents of this ilk, who want their children to grow up with ‘Christian values’ on one hand, yet claim they are too young to know their own gender on the other. Ermm, I would venture that anyone who is old enough to start to fully grasp Christian theology – as a 14-year-old would be – is more than old enough to understand their own body and mind.

Social workers have also stated the boy is in a “heterosexual” relationship with a 13-year-old girl, according to the newspapers. Well, of course he bloody well is, because if their editors and their readership were to actually study the issue, they would know that gender and sexuality are not one and the same thing. Anyone can be straight, gay, bi, pan (like me), or even asexual, completely regardless of being cis, trans, or like me, genderfluid / whateva (I’m not choosy, dears).

Perhaps the saddest fact of this case is that there are no winners either way.

I have no doubt that the Christian Legal Centre and the boy’s parents will be made fully aware of matters surrounding gender dysphoria in court, and they are on a hiding to lose this case.  In which case a teenage boy will be removed from his parents, who are so bloody indoctrinated by Bronze Age goatherders mythology about an invisible sky pixie, that they are willing to put their beliefs before the welfare of their child.

But in the unlikely event that the parents should win their case, and keep custody of their child, what then? Will he thank them for it? When he is forced against his will to dress and act like a girl, excluding the very real danger of suicide, what happens once he turns 16? He’ll be off like a shot, and may well cut off all contact with his parents, that’s what.

Either way, I see nothing but heartache coming from this case, all for the short-sightedness of parents, and the transphobic hatred of a bunch of religious zealots who are backing them.

Transphobic red top rags and their equally transphobic readership, using incorrect pronouns – as to be expected, have been all over both stories, with many trying to claim that the case of the 7-year-old is a victory. In fact it is nothing of the sort, and if anything, both stories actually back up gender diversity. Not only are the parents of the 14-year-old giving their faith priority over their child, but the case of the 7-year-old actually highlights how some parents, far, far from what Andrea Williams and the Christian Legal Centre claim, do not always know their children best and do not always put their best interests at heart.

What both cases does highlight is just who is the real expert on anyone’s gender; none other than the individual concerned. Each and every one of us is first and foremost a unique individual, with our own gender, sexuality, peccadilloes, likes and dislikes. Therefore to try and use one case to back up another is not just a false dichotomy, it is downright dangerous.  We are none of us clones, and each and every person’s gender (and sexuality) being unique to them, can never be used as an example for any other human being.

In the final instance, whatever anyone proclaims their gender to be, we need to take them fully at face value. And that pertains to cisgender people every bit as much as it does to the transgender and genderfluid. And, as Mr Justice Hayden asserts, that can indeed apply to children, even those as young as 4-years-old.



Readers please note that certain references to Christianity in this article are not intended as an attack upon the Christian faith in general, but are merely to highlight what I perceive in this particular case of the degree of religious fundmentalism of those involved. When anyone displays a strong degree of religious fundamentalism, whatever their faith, they need to be shown up for the danger they represent.

Want Your Pension? Annul Your Marriage.

And renounce your faith.

MB is 68 years old, married, and a Christian. Under the law, as a woman she should have received her state pension at the pensionable age for women, 60 years old. It was refused to her by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and this has been upheld by the UK Court of Appeal. Why? Because MB was born with the biological sex of a man, married and fathered a family, and has not had her marriage annulled by a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

MB married in 1975, but did not start living as a woman until 1991, and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995. As a Christian, she prefers to remain married to her wife, with whom she has a family, “under the eyes of God”. Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, transgender people in the UK gained the right to have their gender legally recognised by a GRC. However, a GRC may not be issued to any transgender person who has not had their marriage annulled on the basis of gender change.

When MB applied for a state pension upon reaching the age of 60 in 2008, the DWP refused her application on the grounds that she is still legally a man, as defined by biological sex on her birth certificate. She took her case to the Court of Appeal, who in 2014 upheld the DWP decision. Undeterred, she has taken the case to the Supreme Court, the highest civil court in the UK. The Supreme Court has found itself “divided” on the issue, and has now decided to consult the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), to advise their decision. Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, stated “Since there is no CJEU authority directly in point, it refers the question for their guidance”.

The entire case highlights problems with two things in the UK; the controversial Gender Recognition Certificate, and pensionable age.

GRC’s have long been a point of contention in the UK. When a GRC is issued, it is a form of legal recognition of gender. However, they are only issued under certain criteria. The “Standard Route” for this is;

you’re 18 or over

you’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (discomfort with your birth gender) – this is also called gender identity disorder or transsexualism

you’ve lived in your acquired gender in the UK for at least 2 years

you intend to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life

But it does not end there. Every single application for a GRC goes before a panel, usually made up of cisgender heterosexual men, who can indeed refuse to issue a GRC if they see fit.

The GRC puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage; old enough to have sex or even marry at 16 or over, they cannot in fact be legally recognised as the gender they identify with until 18 or older. This disparity has also led to transgender young offenders being placed in prisons according to gender identified by biological sex as given on their birth certificate, purely because they cannot get a GRC until over 18 and have lived under their acquired gender for 2 years.

Many transgender people are also opposed to GRCs on the grounds that they are unwelcome governmental intrusion into private lives. It should also be noted that birth certificates have no legal basis as means of identification, and placing transgender offenders is thereby technically illegal. In their campaign for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election, the Scottish National Party promised to change the entire process in Scotland and make it much easier for transgender and genderfluid people to officially change their gender status. I have yet to see them make any movement upon this, and it may be time to drop my local Member of the Scottish Parliament an email.

Now the case of MB has proven another flaw with the GRC; that one shall not even be issued unless the transgender person has a marriage under their birth-assigned gender annulled. MB has no wish to annul her family. I have no doubt she loves her wife and family, and as a devout Christian, she sees her marriage as sanctified by God. Now, as an atheist, I obviously say phooey to that. I am not MB however, and as much as I may disagree with her, I have to be the first to stand up to her human right to freedom of religion.

The former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, continually maintained that we lived in a “Christian country” (not Scotland, dear ~ 39% “No Religion” at the last census, and rising). His successor, Theresa May, is equally a devout Christian. Whilst there is no written constitution in the UK, the entire Westminster government is linked to the Church of England, which is the established church of England, Wales and Cornwall (not Scotland or Northern Ireland), with the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as head of that church, and 26 Church of England clerics, the “Lords Spiritual”, sitting in the House of Lords. The English judiciary is likewise closely tied to the established church.

Therefore, England is officially a Christian country, and MB, who is an English citizen and subject of her monarch, is having her rights infringed. She is being denied her rights as a woman, she is being denied her rights as transgender person, and she is being denied her rights as a Christian.

I am therefore very pleased that the Supreme Court is to ask advice on this case from the CJEU. The judges there will have to look at the matter in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is a legally-binding declaration of human rights, which is itself based heavily upon the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 9 of the ECHR states:

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

MB’s identity as a Christian and her marriage do not in any way infringe public safety, public order, health or morals, and do not present any threat to the rights and freedoms of others. However. insisting that MB annuls her marriage and applies for a GRC is an obvious infringement upon her freedom for thought, conscience and religion.

Article 8 states:

Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 12 states:

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right”

Articles 8 and 12 are contentious, but are closely tied. It seems to me, however, that in insisting that MB annul her marriage and obtain a GRC, the DWP and the courts are a, infringing her private life, and b, infringing her right to marry.  Moreover, an officially Christian state is effectively telling a transgender woman to renounce her deeply-held religious faith.

The ECHR is of course not attached to the EU, and there is nothing in law to say that EU member states must abide by it’s articles (likewise, many states contravene the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a daily basis). The CJEU does however carry the weight to enforce judgements based upon the ECHR, and if they decide that MB has indeed had her rights infringed, then as the UK is an EU member (we’ve not left yet dears) the DWP and the Supreme Court shall have no choice but to adhere to their ruling, and give MB her pension, backdated to her 60th birthday.

But the entire case throws into sharp relief the entire question over pensionable age in the UK. Currently the official ages for qualifying for the state pension are 60 for women, and 65 for men. These ages date back to when men traditionally performed heavy labour, whereas women did “less taxing” jobs in offices. Please dears, as one with 20 years of admin jobs behind her, I can attest to the emotional stress of office work. It leaves you completely drained and can lead to nervous breakdowns and early deaths. The entire concept is flawed and deeply sexist. My former female partner has worked in environments, including physically ejecting violent bar customers, and in situations where I would have gone to pieces, or just screamed and simply fainted. I’m much more of a fragile girlie than she is.

The UK pension age also fails to recognise the hard jobs which some women did ~ and do ~ which are traditionally considered women’s work. How many men ruined their eyesight, gave themselves back problems and drove needles through their fingers, as my dear mother did through countless hours of leaning over a sewing machine? How many managed the heavy lifting and sweaty conditions of a laundry? How many have been on their hands and knees as cleaners? And just how many added all the tasks of being a homemaker and bringing up children into that? Yes, heavy labour is exhausting, hazardous to health, dangerous, and life shortening ~ every bit as much as the roles which a great many women have traditionally done, and some still do to this day, and at the end of their working day run a home and bring up a family, purely as a labour of love with no financial reward.

So, what happens if someone is genderfluid? An asshat caller to a radio show firstly stated that men might get gender reassignment surgery purely to get their pension early. Sure, pal, cisgender men are really going to have their meat and two veg cut off, purely to get the paltry state pension. Like that’s ever going to happen. He then did throw in the question that what if a genderfluid person tries to claim their pension as a woman at age 60? That’s actually a very good point, as much as the asshat way he put it; “What if someone says I’ve just turned 60 and I feel like a woman. I want my pension?”

In our more enlightened age, where gender identity is finally becoming much more widely recognised, there is an all-too-obvious answer to this, and that is to have a uniform pensionable age across the board, for all genders. That is indeed coming. From 2020 the pension age for both men and women shall be 66, which is to rise to 67 from 2026 to 2028. That is much fairer, as it shall truly recognise gender equality, for women, for men, for transgender people, and for the genderfluid (but sadly not this genderfluid person ~ I’m a pauper and will have to keep working until I drop).

But from the moment women gained equality in the workplace, it should ever have been so. And had it been thus, then MB would not be fighting for her pension, 8 years after she should have received it.

Prejudiced Pastor’s Pizza Prank ‘Persecution’

Oh, you nasty, nasty American LGBT+ people, persecuting a poor Christian pastor for nothing more than his attempts to spread God’s love.

Aye! Right!

Regular readers of mine shall recall how I reported on the Orlando shootings, including the homophobic comments of Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful World Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, when he stated “The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles,”

No stranger to controversy, Pastor Anderson also stated that the victims of the Paris terrorist shooting deserved to die because they “worshipped death”.

It seems that some have now have had enough of his odious guff, and are now, ahem, persecuting him ~ by advertising free furniture and free airline tickets from his church on Craigslist, having magazine subscriptions posted to him, and having pizza delivered to his church.

Pastor Anderson is upset at people aiming to “harrass” and “persecute” him, and saying how they are all so nasty and uncaring.

Yeah. He’s really persecuted, isn’t he? I challenge Steven Anderson to spend one day identifying as an LGBT+ person, and learn what real persecution is all about. Even outwith the bigotry people like him spread, I somehow think that the very man he claims to worship, if he ever existed, was persecuted. Syrian Christians are truly being persecuted, to the point they are having to flee their homes and even their country. I write this in the wake of an 83-year-old priest being murdered by Islamist fanatics in Normandy. That’s persecution, having pizza sent to your door does not even come close to comparison.

That being said, however, Pastor Anderson does have a point. Doing these things is not hurting him or his church as much as the other people involved. People going out of their way looking for free furniture / airline tickets are the ones being inconvenienced. Pizza joints and their delivery drivers lose money every time anyone phones in a hoax delivery. Magazine publishers lose money with every fake delivery. In the cases of fast food outlets and magazine publishers, when they lose money, that only inevitably pushes up the prices for everyone.

So, if any Americans are reading this, I would urge you to stop doing this and find some other, more inventive, way of harassing this pond life. One idea would be to get a similarly homophobic business to send him deliveries. That way you could kill two birds with one stone.

Story here in LGBTQ Nation:

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/07/stop-sending-americas-homophobic-preacher-unwanted-pizzas/#.V5erzlbtR9Q.facebook


Many apologies for the vomit-inducing alliteration  in the title, dears.  I’m hoping to be spotted by a tabloid.

Pray for Orlando – but make sure you MEAN it.

$$-AA-00001

Moment of silence, Orlando vigil

Beware of hypocrites in sheeps clothing.

I have been trying to write this for over a week, but my mind’s not been in the right place to do so. I’m not sure it’s still in the right place, but I am satisfied that I did the right thing in waiting.  However, if I don’t get this out, I am going to make myself ill.

The shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 LGBT+ people enjoying a night out in what they believed was a safe place, was truly stuff of horror. I have never been so moved to tears, so utterly shaken, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Four nights running I cried myself to sleep. As the days went on, it became clear that the gunman, Omar Mateen, had very complex motives indeed.

The first thing we learned, which the media were very quick to tell us, was that Mateen was a Muslim. As more facts emerged, it was reported that he swore allegiance to the leader of Daesh. Then he was reportedly “angered” by the sight of two men kissing. Then it was reported that he used to beat his ex-wife. It was said he drove miles seeking out a gay nightclub to carry out his massacre. The media gradually built up a picture of an angry, homophobic, misogynistic, radicalised Muslim, with possible links to Islamic State.

Then as time went on, we found out that as well as Daesh, Mateen had also claimed allegiance in the past to Al Queda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, and various other radical Islamist groups, whose ideas and interpretation of Islam all disagree. His ex has stated that he rarely attended mosque but merely paid lip-service to Islam, the FBI stated that while there was evidence he was radicalised, there was no proof of links to any radical Islamic group. It seems then that far from the “soldier” which Daesh were quick to portray him as, Omar Mateen was a lone nutter with a chip on his shoulder, who claimed allegiance to conflicting radical Islamist groups, while really knowing diddly-squat about any of them.

Probably most damning of all revelations were that far from seeking out a gay nightclub, Mateen was in fact a regular customer and well-known at Pulse, Orlando, and that he had profiles on gay dating apps. So now of course, he is being portrayed as a self-loathing, semi-closeted gay man, and that’s why he carried out his crime.

Not one of us knows the inside of Omar Mateen’s mind, so we will never know the true motives behind the killing. It could have been religious based, it could have been self-loathing, he could have been mentally ill; we simply do not know, and that he was killed, we will never know.

Can we then absolve the influence of religion upon his crime? Some seem to be doing so, including those who are maintaining that it was a purely homophobic attack. That was certainly the view of political columnist and author Owen Jones, when he walked out of a Sky News interview about the attack, accusing them of downplaying the homophobic nature of the attack.

Of course, Jones was right. Sky were deliberately trying to push the Islamist nature of the attack and completely ignoring the homophobic element. It cannot be ignored. Even the US media, whilst touting the pulse attack as the worst gun attack in US history (wholly inaccurate; try Wounded Knee), they completely ignore one sobering fact; the Pulse attack was the single largest killing of LGBT+ people in one place since the Nazi holocaust. That little fact is something which must be pressed as much as possible.  Likewise, unlike the media trying to play this massacre down, I will call it what it is; a terrorist attack.

For cishet people, through their cishet media mouthpieces, to try to portray the Pulse shooting as anything else than primarily homophobic in nature is either to pursue an agenda against Islam, or ignore it as “not my problem”. To portray the shooting as a ‘gay-on-gay’ attack, is tantamount to blaming the victim.

But all the rhetoric coming out of the media begs the question, can we equally ignore the religious element in this mass murder? Not for one moment. Whether confused about his sexuality or not, there is one thing for sure; Omar Mateen was a homophobe, and that begs the question, just where did that homophobia stem from?

Bigotry, all bigotry, is a learned behaviour. No person wakes up one morning thinking “I hate all gays.”; it comes from indoctrination. As I said, we’ll never know the inside of Omar Mateen’s mind, but it is already known he had been radicalised and had some knowledge of Islam, which like it’s Judeo-Christian cousins, is a deeply homophobic religion. Some people, particularly apologists for Islam and for other religions, can try to downplay the Islamic religious element all they want, but it cannot be ignored. When Daesh are pushing gay men off the top of buildings, when there are Islamic countries where being gay or any other part LGBT+ can earn one anything from a jail sentence to being lashed in public, or even the death penalty, to ignore the homophobic influence of Islam is to bury one’s head in the sand, while wearing blinkers at the same time – a good trick if you can manage it. Unfortunately, there are so many today who think “Ooh, we can’t upset the Muslims.  How dare you be so Islamophobic.” (I hate that word), that we are all supposed to walk on eggshells.

Well, tough titty dears. Call me an Islamophobe all you want. Indeed, call me anti-relgious – I am – because I am not going to miss Christianity in this article either. And once you’re done calling me all your names, you can go kiss my sweet atheist arse. But I am not for one moment going to refrain from pointing the finger firmly at Islam for the Pulse shooting, when it most certainly was one of the motives.

But Islam as a faith is only part of the indoctrination. We then have to ask where it began, and as is usual with most bigotry, we need look no further than the home environment and parental influence. There is a lot of truth in the old Scots saying “Fools and bairns speak at the cross whit they hear by the ingleside.” Look to a bigot, any bigot, then look to one or both of their parents, and nine times out of ten, you shall find that they are equally bigoted, and have brainwashed their child into the same poisonous mindset. And of course, that is never more true where the family has deeply held religious beliefs.

Omar Mateen’s father, Saddique Mateen, after the killing gave an apology and claimed his son’s terrorist act had nothing to do with religion. Less than 24 hours later, Mr Mateen senior released a video, supposedly an apology, in which he stated “God will punish those involved in homosexuality… …not an issue that humans should deal with.” It later transposed that Saddique Mateen hosts an extremely pro-Taliban TV show on the California-based Durand Jirga Show, and in Facebook videos has often appeared in uniform, declaring himself the leader of the “transitional revolutionary government of Afghanistan”, that he has ties to the US congress and his own intelligence agency, which he says he will use to subvert and overthrow the present Afghan government. If Omar Mateen was a nutball, it seems it must have been hereditary.

But we also see that Saddique Mateen is indeed an Islamic fundamentalist, he is indeed a homophobe, and we then see where Omar Mateen’s Islamist leanings and his religious homophobic bigotry began; at the hands of his own father.

And that of course does not, for one moment, justify the worst ever terrorist attack upon LGBT+ people. It was a truly evil thing for Omar Mateen to do. But while he may have been mentally-ill (and the continued media stigmatisation of the mentally ill is not lost on me either), I sincerely doubt he was a psychopath and / or did not know what he was doing was wrong; that is, he was not of the legal definition of insane. I maintain he deliberately set out to kill as many gay men and women as possible, in full knowledge of what he was doing, and if anything, that makes it all the worse. However, his Islamist brainwashing does go to some extent to explaining the complex motives he held.

Not that I would ever wish to stir up anti-Islamic hatred. This is not the point of this article, but rather it is a reaction to and a criticism of a faith with a Dark Ages view of sexuality. Don’t worry Christians, I’m getting to you and I’m not going to miss you either. Just you take your place in the queue, because know what? You’re next in line.

I certainly would never wish to be seen as buying into the rhetoric of Donald Trump, who was obscenely quick to make the Orlando shooting about him, and try to claim that it supports his plans if elected US President to ban Muslims from entering the USA. Trump claimed on Twitter that he had been right about Islamic terrorism, and then Tweeted “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Were that vile Tweet not enough, the fact that there was an armed police officer outside of the Pulse nightclub was not enough for Trump; he thinks that people in clubs should be armed. On Monday, 13 June, he stated on CNN, “If you had some guns in that club the night that this took place, if you had guns on the other side, you wouldn’t have had the tragedy that you had. If people in that room had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction right at him… … right at his head, you wouldn’t have had the same tragedy that you ended up having.”

Of course, we all know that Donald Trump is electioneering, and we know that his electioneering is based on a ticket which is equally bigoted against Muslims and Latin Americans. Unfortunately for the Donald, there are certain facts where his racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric falls down completely;

  • Omar Mateen was not an immigrant; he was a US citizen, born in the USA. Therefore, a ban on Muslims entering the USA would not have made a blind bit of difference.
  • People carrying guns in nightclubs, in a crowded place, with alcohol mixed in, would indeed have a very different outcome; with bullets flying in all directions, it would be a bloodbath in which many, many more would perish.
  • Of the 49 dead and 53 injured in the Pulse nightclub, the overwhelming majority were Latinx. Would Donald Trump and those in the US gun lobby who support him be so ready to push the “arm everybody” line if they were aware of that fact?

That the majority were in fact Latinx, the irony of the attack was that it was a US citizen attacking people at least from immigrant backgrounds, and some of whom were more than likely immigrants, which of course is the complete mirror of Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric – about immigrants killing US citizens.

So, what about the response from some Christians, and why do I have such a problem with them?

Well, firstly there was the response from some Christian homophobes, which was to be expected. Even as the attack was happening, one particular lowlife crawled out from under his stone long enough to Tweet “Someone is doing God’s work in Orlando. #FeelingBlessed” There have indeed been many bigoted Christian pond scum who were just rubbing their hands with glee at 49 LGBT+ people being wiped out. Of course, some didn’t realise at first that it was a Muslim terrorist, and soon changed their tune when they found out. Others simply did not care who did the shooting, so long as somebody did it. When it comes to LGBT+ people, creationism, subjugation of women, abortion, atheism, wanting a theocratic government, declaring their God is the only true god, and being willing to kill for that belief, you could not get a pubic hair between some Christian fundamentalists and Islamist fundamentalists.

Of course, many of such are keyboard warriors; trolls stuck in their mom’s basement who can only pull their obese arses away from their computer long enough to waddle off for another 2 litre bottle of cola (and it’s always diet cola – WTF?), and another share-size bag of cheetos, sweating profusely at the exertion of doing so, whom we should not worry about too much. But others may be physically fit, heavily armed, and easily influenced by Christian pastors ‘rejoicing’ the killing and continuing to spread their homophobia. One such is Pastor Roger Jiminez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, who stated;

“People say, like: Well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died? Here’s the problem with that. It’s like the equivalent of asking me — what if you asked me: Hey, are you sad that 50 paedophiles were killed today?’ Um, no, I think that’s great. I think that helps society. You know, I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight.” He added: “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job… …I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out,”

Jiminez also posted a video of his sermon, which YouTube promptly removed for violating their hate speech policy.

Not that Jiminez was alone in his twisted rhetoric. He was soon echoed by Pastor Steve Anderson of the Faithful World Baptist Church, of Tempe, Arizona, who came out with a similarly vile rant in another video, also removed by YouTube;

“…we’re supposed to be sad because a bunch of perverts in a gay bar are killed… … we’re supposed to sympathize with that. Well, frankly, I’m not sad about it at all. I don’t condone violence, I never have… but I’m not gonna sit here and cry about it and say it’s a tragedy, because it’s not…”

The video followed earlier comments by Anderson, in which he stated there were “fifty less paedophiles in the world”. Same rhetoric as from Jiminez, except of course it is a fact that children are much safer in the company of LGBT+ people than they ever have been in the company of Christians, particularly Christian clergy. Yes dears, I went there – and I make no apologies for that, because it happens to be a fact. The vast majority of paedophiles, both active and inactive, are cishet men; even men who prey upon little boys tend to be otherwise heterosexual. The LGBT+ community has the lowest incidence of paedophilia -fact. And it’s not gay clubs hiding and protecting kiddy fiddlers – it’s the Vatican doing that. Stick that one RIGHT up your cassock, Frankie Baby.

I only wish it were easy to ignore the insane rantings of the likes of Jiminez and Anderson. Unfortunately, as we in the LGBT+ community know all too well, we cannot. They are every bit as dangerous as fundamentalist Islamists. In fact, given that Christianity is still the largest religion in the world, and there are many, many more people out in western, developed, at least ‘culturally Christian’ nations than there are in Islamic countries, homophobic Christian preachers are probably a greater danger, due to the hate they stir up. Steve Anderson is the natural successor to the leader of the 16th century Scottish Protestant Reformation, John Knox. And if he thinks that’s a compliment, it’s not. Just like Knox, people like Anderson stir up the hate, which inevitably leads to violence. But when that violence happens, he is nowhere to be seen and claims not to condone it. And that dears, is and always has been, the worst kind of cowardice.

But it is not so much the hate preachers who anger me. Not even crazy TV evangelist Pat Robertson who says Christians should just sit back and “let Muslims and gays kill each other”. Because of course, the LGBT+ community are well-known for launching attacks upon Muslims. Look out, Daesh, we’re coming for you – to redecorate your tents with hanging drapes and throw pillows.

No dears, the ones who have really got my backs up have been the hypocrites, with their crocodile tears for the Orlando victims; who all too often have been the same people who have sought to further oppress the LGBT+ community.

If someone hates me, let them hate me, and I’ll fight them with my intellect, my sarcasm, and where it is called for, with kindness and a soft word. What I cannot stomach is the hypocrite who pretends to be my friend, and yet holds a deep-set prejudice against me. Those are the ones you have to watch out for, or you’ll soon find a knife sticking out of your back.

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, there were a number of “good Christians” on social media posting “Pray for Orlando”. Some of the people I noticed posting this had in the past, the recent past, applauded moves to repress LGBT+ legislation. Indeed, in the two weeks prior to the shooting, there were two instances of American politicians calling upon anyone spotting a transgender woman in a ladies restroom to kill them. Some of the people I spotted posting these stories, agreeing with them, were among the same people posting their “Pray for Orlando” memes. Another such was one woman who posted a story about young children being taught to respect gender differences, and who stated “Well, that’s mine being home schooled.”

The hypocrisy is vertigo inducing.

But if keyboard warriors trying to find a salve for their guilty consciences was bad enough, those “in authority” doing exactly the same thing was bloody infuriating and insulting in the extreme. Governor of Florida Rick Scott (Rep), Texas senator Ted Cruz (Rep), Speaker of the House Ted Cruz (Rep), North Carolina senator Richard Burr (Rep), Texas representative Louis Ohmmeter (Rep), and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell, are among just some of the US politicians who offered “thoughts and prayers” for the Orlando victims, but who have not only voiced strident homophobic and transphobic statements, who have not only pushed anti-LGBT+ legislation, but some are actually continuing to do so.

The very state the shooting took place in, Florida, and it’s governor are actually a prime example of this. Governor Scott is known to be against equal marriage, and while he says it is a matter best left to the courts, he made sure that Florida continued to drag it’s heels on the issue, long after other states had given up. More recently, Florida’s Children and Families Department began moves to remove sexual orientation and gender expression from the definition of bullying in care homes. As recently as March 2016, Governor Scott personally signed into power the state’s Pastor Protection Act, which shields churches and their clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. It took until the Thursday after the shooting for Governor Scott to even admit that the attack was targeted at the LGBT+ community.

When such vehemently anti-LGBT+ politicians come out with meaningless platitudes about offering “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, one has to ask if they truthfully mean it, or are they saying these things purely for their own publicity and ratings?

Likewise, on Sunday, 12 June 2016, the Vatican released this statement:

“The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred,

“Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” the statement said. “Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort.

“We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity,”

I would ask all to study that statement carefully. Notice anything? There is not one mention of “gay” or “LGBT” anywhere in it. There is not even a mention of the Pulse nightclub, or even that the shooting took place in a ‘gay’ nightclub, or that the LGBT+ community was specifically targeted.  Little difference to Governor Scott’s initial response, and with spin that any career politician (which the Pope is, really) may be envious of.

This does not surprise me in the least. For a pontiff who has ‘opened a dialogue’ with and claims not to condemn the LGBT+ community, Pope Francis is vastly hypocritical on LGBT+ rights. The Roman Catholic Church, as ever under the mistaken impression that they have full rights over marriage – and families – has continually and consistently stated they will never recognise same-sex marriage, and the present Pope has himself called it “a major threat”. As recently as November 2015, the Vatican lambasted same-sex marriages and called attempts by same-sex couples to adopt children were “a great danger”. HA! And allowing their priests access to children isn’t?  Frankie; beam, mote, brother’s eye, Sweetie.

Of course, there have been other churches have similarly made sanctimonious statements about Orlando, while at the same time condemning LGBT+ people and continuing to oppose equal marriage and same-sex adoption, but as the single largest Christian communion in the world, it is the RC Church which angers me most. Not least because these are statements from a bloke in a dress, who is celibate, trying to make the rules for all humanity. Just a word Frankie dearest, if you’re not going to play the game, do not assume to write the rules.

Some Christians of course may try to claim it’s a matter of “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Another load of sanctimonious, platitudinous crap. I fail to see any difference between that particular Christian soundbite, and the half-assed and hypocritical apology Saddique Mateen offered for his son’s actions. But worse than that, every time a Christian comes out with an anti-LGBT+ statement, every time they speak out against equal marriage, every time they try to prevent a same-sex couple from adopting a child, they provide the fuel for the fires of hatred. They can put their hands on their hearts and say “Oh no, not me.” all they want, but the fact is that is starts with even one individual Christian saying that homosexuality is unnatural (unlike a woman emerging from a man’s rib, which, among other things in the Bible is obviously perfectly natural), and it ends with someone going on the rampage and killing people purely because of the sexuality they happen to have been born as. And in that respect, the homophobic / transphobic Christian churches are absolutely no different from Islam. Bigoted Christians can try to play at Pontius Pilate, attempting to wash their hands of the blood all they want, but the fact is that they are every bit as complicit in the murder of not just those in Orlando, but every LGBT+ murder – and suicide – as if they had carried out the attack themselves.

At this point, I was going to go on a tirade about prayer solving nothing and use it to illustrate how God does not exist. However, I have been humbled by an atheist friend who had a Roman Catholic upbringing, who has shown me that hate is never the way. Were I to go on my tirade, then I would be as guilty of abusing the Orlando terrorist attack as those I mention above, only from the opposite perspective. Also I fully realise that there are many Christian churches and communities who do not judge others, fully following the teachings of their saviour, but rather welcome LGBT+ people, and many others society has rejected, with open arms. The same can be said for Islam, but it has to be admitted, to a much lesser extent. I am equally aware that of the 49 dead, some were indeed believers in God, so for me to carry out a blanket condemnation of all religious faith would serve only to dishonour their memory.

And while I may be a hardened, cynical, atheist bitch who does not believe prayer does any good, I fully realise that those faithful who do indeed offer prayers do so with only the finest of intentions, and to throw them back in their face would be hateful indeed. So, genuine faithful, on behalf of the entire global LGBT+ community, thank you for your compassion and your kindness.

My article is therefore not directed at those faithful who accept all and turn away none. Rather it is directed at the hypocrites who on one hand seek to further, judge, vilify, oppress and persecute LGBT+ people, then on the other hand offer prayers and ask others to do likewise, which as far as I can see is for no other reason than their own self-aggrandisement.  Any of such who may be reading this, your false prayers and crocodile tears are not only not welcome, you actually do those who are genunine a huge disservice.  Shame on  you.

More than anything, it is in memory of the 49 young people, mostly Latinx – let us never forget that – who thought they were in a safe place, only to be gunned down in the worst anti-LGBT+ terrorist incident in history.

Goodnight, my sweet darlings. Nothing and no-one can hurt you any more.

Xandra.

XXX

Salvation Army rejects gays – but accepts a paedophile

salvationarmysymbolAlso ignored sexual abuse of women.

I am utterly incredulous at two stories about the Christian charitable organisation, the Salvation Army.

In the UK the organisation has admitted they will not allow LGBT+ to serve as ‘soldiers’ or ‘officers’ (is it only me who finds the very idea of regimenting Christianity distasteful?), yet in a story from Australia, one SA officer, who did not act on the sexual abuse of two women, has also denied having a paedophile in their ranks, a man who admitted his offence, by claiming that not all child abusers are paedophiles.

In a BBC television show The Sally Army and Me, openly and actively gay comedian, female impersonator and TV / Radio presenter Paul O’Grady, better known to many as his drag queen persona Lily Savage, spent time with the organisation, concentrating on it’s charitable works, but also performing in a Salvation Army band. O’Grady was allowed to wear a Salvation Army uniform for the cameras, but the organisation has confirmed that as an actively gay man he would not be allowed to serve as an SA officer. The Salvation Army’s internal hiring policies ban gay men from serving, unless they remain celibate, which of course would be almost impossible to prove.

In the show, Paul O’Grady openly confronted Commissioner Clive Adams, chief officer of the Salvation Army in the UK, upon their policy concerning LGBT+ people. Adams confirmed “You wouldn’t be allowed to be a member. You could volunteer for us, you could come to our church services but if you want to become a soldier in the Salvation Army, you have to commit to what we believe.”

This is completely at odds with another claim from Commissioner Adams, who also stated that the organisation “abides by all applicable anti-discrimination laws in its hiring”. Indeed, I actually wonder if the Salvation Army is acting within employment law by banning sexually-active LGBT+ people from employment.

“That’s upsetting, really,” Paul O’Grady replied, “because I know so many men and women who are gay and lesbian and they’d be the most wonderful officers.”

The Salvation Army’s policies towards LGBT+ people have long come under criticism. In the USA in 2014 transgender woman Jodielynn Wiley had to flee her home in Paris, Texas, due to death threats and moved to Dallas. The US Salvation Army refused her emergency accommodation because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. She was eventually rehoused by another charity. In 2014 the Australian Salvation Army were forced to apologise after Major Andrew Craibe discussing a Bible passage (Romans 1:18-32) which suggests gay men should be put to death and which appears in the Salvation Army Handbook, confirmed he believed that it should be taken literally.

Also in Australia we have the recent claims of Major Peter Farthing, a man who himself failed to act over the sexual abuse of two women, trying to defend another member by alluding that he was not a paedophile.

Speaking at the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, the former SA Secretary for Personnel, Major Farthing, was speaking on the 1989 sexual abuse upon an 8-year-old little girl by SA officer Colin Haggar in a town in New South Wales. Haggar had admitted the offence, yet Major Farthing denied the man was a paedophile and refuted having a paedophile in their ranks.

“My understanding is that a paedophile is somebody whose primary sexual orientation is towards children or adolescents, and not all offenders are paedophiles,” Farthing told the commission.

“Some people offend in a kind of crime of opportunity – a situational crime.

“Left alone with a child, they might have some brokenness, something going on in their own life which may make them vulnerable to offend and they will abuse a child.”

Farthing concluded that while all such offences were “serious” in his view, “the nature of the offender is not the same. They are not all paedophiles.”

Major Farthing had also failed to act when Colin Haggar sexually assaulted two women in 1990. He told the commission, “it wasn’t a contemporary action”.

“It is not second nature to me. It is not something I’m greatly familiar with, and it is not something the Salvation Army have habitually done,” he said.

“So you know my mind didn’t immediately run I have to investigate this.”

Haggar was dismissed from the Salvation Army in 1992, but was later re-admitted and allowed to remain until his retirement in 2015.

Major Farthing could not of course be more wrong over the nature of paedophilia. Anyone who has a sexual attraction to children, whether they act upon those urges or not, is, by definition, a paedophile, and their urges are not even driven by sexuality.

The overwhelming vast majority of paedophiles are heterosexual men, most of whom are in relationships with women or even married. They often have families of their own and the vast majority of child sexual abuse is carried out by family members of close family friends. Even the majority of paedophile men who abuse little boys are otherwise heterosexual and will show revulsion to any suggestion of sexual relations with other adult men.

This is because paedophilia, like all abuse, is not about sex, it is about power. The paedophile just like any other abuser, whether they use sexual, physical, verbal, or psychological means, is an inadequate individual who seeks to assert power over their victims. Because they are so inadequate and powerless – or see themselves as such – abusers pick out the weakest targets, those least likely to be able to defend themselves. In the case of the paedophile, this just happens to be children, whom they seek to belittle, humiliate and control through sexual means. In reality the abuser, any abuser, is a bully, and in the nature of the bully, a coward at heart.

Should anyone doubt that, just look at Colin Haggar’s track record; having abused a little girl one year, he moved on to abusing two women the following year. If his “primary sexual attraction” was to children, why should he suddenly abuse two adult women? There are volumes of cases of sexual abusers and sexual thrill killers who have equally attacked children, adolescents, and women. Serial Killer Robert Black mainly targeted little girls, but once tried to abduct a teenage girl, thereby making him both a paedophile and a hebephile; one attracted to pubescent teenagers. Fred and Rosemary West abused their own children, the children of others, teenage girls and grown women.

Farthing is not even correct in claiming that child sexual abuse is a crime of “opportunity” or “situational”. Paedophiles are world class manipulators, who can spend weeks, months, years even, building up a trust in their targeted victim. Paedophiles from outwith families will weedle their way into the trust of the child’s family and of the child themselves before they strike. The idea of “stranger danger” and the stereotypical image of the paedophile as the dirty old man in the park in a shabby raincoat are very much myths. While not unknown, the vast majority of paedophiles are very far from being opportunists, and that is one thing which makes them so bloody dangerous.

And while they may indeed have someth “brokenness” within them, that can never excuse the behaviour of the paedophile who acts upon their urges. Contrary to what some claim, paedophilia is not a mental illness – or just another sexuality as some are nowadays trying to claim – but rather any psychologist worth their salt who has dealt with paedophiles will tell you it is a “learned sexual behaviour”, which is usually triggered by some catalyst in the past of the individual. All too often and all too sadly, in the case of paedophiles it is a “cycle of abuse”, where they too were sexually abused in childhood. That however can never excuse their actions. I would also argue that to say a paedophile abusing a child because they are “broken” and in a “situation” where they are left alone, is tantamount to shifting the blame from the abuser onto the child; another favourite tactic of paedophile abusers.

I would never deny that the Salvation Army does an enormous amount of good works, whether that is giving overnight beds to the homeless, supplying food banks to those in desperate poverty, supplying emergency accommodation to those in need of such, or many of the other good works that make a difference to millions worldwide. But for senior officers to hold such views against the LGBT+ community, to turn a blind eye to cases of sexual assault upon women, and to completely blindfold themselves to a paedophile within their ranks is wholly unacceptable and their priorities appear to be completely twisted.

It seems to me the SA would do well to consult sexual psychologists, who would be able to show them that LGBT+ people are normal – and by sheer weight of numbers they must already have LGBT+ members who have not outed themselves – but those who abuse women, children, anybody are far from normal and should not be trusted one iota.

Well, there’s one thing; at least the Salvation Army is being wholly consistent with the Bible, which while it calls gay men an “abomination” and calls for their execution, it seems to have absolutely no problem with sex with little kids, incest, rape, and the subjugation of women.