Report confirms Britain is no longer just a Christian country.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

Britain has seen a “general decline” in its Christian affiliation and the time has come for public life to take on a more “pluralist character”, according to an official report.

Major state occasions such as a coronation should be changed to be more inclusive, it said, while the number of bishops in the House of Lords should be cut to make way for leaders of other religions.

The recommendations from a panel chaired by the former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss come in light of major changes in British society.

Only two in five British people now identify as Christian, the two-year inquiry found, while there has been a general move away from mainstream denominations to evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism have overtaken Judaism as the largest non-Christian faiths in Britain.

The Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life (Corab), which compiled the report, includes Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu representatives as well as theological experts.

The proportion of people who do not follow a religion has risen from just under a third in 1983 to almost half in 2014, the report states.

Yet the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester, automatically take seats in the Lords – with an additional 21 seats reserved for other bishops.

“The pluralist character of modern society should be reflected in national forums such as the House of Lords, so that they include a wider range of world views and religious traditions, and of Christian denominations other than the Church of England,” the commission said.

Dr Ed Kessler, vice-chair of Corab, told The Independent: “It’s an anomaly to have 26 Anglican bishops in the House of Lords. There needs to be better representation of the different religions and beliefs in Britain today.”

The report also recommends scrapping the law requiring schools to hold acts of collective worship, reducing the number of children given places at schools based on religion, and including non-religious figures on the BBC’s Thought for the Day.

There also needs to be an overhaul of how religious education is taught, it argues. Many syllabuses tend to “portray religions only in a good light … and they tend to omit the role of religions in reinforcing stereotypes and prejudice around issues such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race.”

The report’s proposals “amount to a ‘new settlement for religion and belief in the UK’, intended to provide space and a role for all within society, regardless of their beliefs or absence of them,” said Lady Butler-Sloss.

But a spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The report is dominated by the old-fashioned view that traditional religion is declining in importance and that non-adherence to a religion is the same as humanism or secularism.” They added: “Most public opinion is strongly opposed to the marginalisation of Christianity.”

Commenting on the suggestion of reducing the number of bishops in the Lords, Dr Omer el-Hamdoon, spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Britain, said: “Introducing other peers based on their religion would only be a token gesture.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “We have enough religious input in Parliament at the moment from those people of faith who are already appointed. To introduce even more would be disproportionate.”

Source: http://ind.pn/1Nhcauv

 

Advertisements

Gay Men Should Be Ashamed of Slut-Shaming.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

Looking creator Andrew Haigh caught some flak from the gay Internet a few months back when he responded to the scrutiny that many gay men had laid upon his show.

In an interview with Attitude magazine, he criticized many for “making a judgment on two seasons of a show after watching just five minutes, and [turning] it off because somebody was being jerked off in a wood and you didn’t like what that said about gay people.”

As a gay filmmaker, I can relate to Haigh’s frustration, and I would add that gay people are often as dismissive of other human beings in real life as they are of characters on television. Every group is guilty of this, but I think that gay people in particular should ask themselves why their desire to judge outweighs their capacity for empathy.

The second season of my series EastSiders centers around a couple experimenting with opening up their relationship sexually. The first episode actually begins the morning after a couple’s first threesome, as they navigate the awkwardness of making coffee while a stranger takes a shower in the other room. Another episode includes a montage of threesomes as the characters explore their sexuality (and encounter a cavalcade of weirdos in the process).

The show isn’t making an argument for or against promiscuity, but I knew that some would assume that it did, probably because they didn’t make it past the fun stuff to the episode in the STD clinic.

I was prepared for some backlash, given the irreverence with which the subject is approached, but I was surprised to find the majority of the vitriol coming from other gay men. I pulled the following gems from the comments on an Out magazine article about the show:

“Why the hell are you in an ‘open relationship’ to begin with if you’re going to hook up with other guys? so trashy!”

“Sluttiness and having multiple sex partner beside your boyfriend, for me it’s disgusting.”

“If you publicly announce you have an open relationship then be prepared for comments. I think an open relationship is bullshit. Ditto bisexuality.”

“You are a slut.”

“Skank!”

Many of the commenters expressed concern about gay men being viewed as promiscuous. If these commenters desire to combat stereotypes, then I’d suggest they start by not contributing to the stereotype that gay men are catty, bitter, backbiting queens. We all share a common struggle, and I believe we have a responsibility to be kinder to each other than society has been to us. Yes, some people are promiscuous — that doesn’t mean their stories are any less worthy of being told.

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson on Eastsiders

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson on EastSiders.

As LGBTQ people who have been told since we were young that our sexuality is an abomination, I believe we have a duty to stand up against the morality police. Who are we to govern the sexual practices of others? Who are we performing for? Why do we need to criticize others to affirm our own decisions? Do we really want the same societal pressure placed upon our relationships that straight people have to contend with? Just because I’m engaged to my partner doesn’t mean that marriage is right for everybody. Some people might actually be happy being single — that doesn’t threaten me. Today, it seems as though any individual’s expression of sexual desire outside of the confines of marriage is seen as a threat to our hard-earned place in society.

We’ve all heard the counterargument. How are we supposed to convince everyone we deserve equal rights when Larry’s on Grindr every night and Sarah, Kim, and Suzy are raising a kid in a triad? Guess what? Larry is getting laid, and three women throupling isn’t any more of a threat to two men getting married than two men getting married is a threat to a straight couple tying the knot.

Sex is also nobody’s business except for the “sluts” in question. This kind of pearl-clutching recalls the respectability politics of Bill Cosby, and we know just how respectable he turned out to be. I’ve overheard an acquaintance at a bar trashing a friend of mine who occasionally performs in adult films, only to find out that they hooked up later that week!

I can certainly understand why promiscuity fell out of fashion in the wake of the AIDS crisis. At 16, I convinced myself that I had contracted HIV from kissing another guy. It’s not an uncommon story. When my mother found out I was gay later that year, she told me she was afraid I had HIV. I was a virgin.

Growing up in Mississippi, I hadn’t actually met another gay man I wanted to have sex with. And if I had, I would’ve definitely been too afraid to act on it. We’re finally at a place where we aren’t immediately equating sex with death, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. But the fear many of us felt growing up has left scars that have twisted into hatred — hatred of other gay men and hatred of ourselves. As a late bloomer, I certainly did my share of slut-shaming, and I think back on both my bitterness and naivety with deep regret.

Seeing upstanding, attractive gay people profess their love and devotion to one another on TV has certainly helped the movement for equal rights for same-sex couples. But the end goal, for me, is not equal rights for gay couples; it’s equal rights for all people. I want to live in a society predicated on mutual respect and civility, where no one feels ownership over anyone else’s sexuality.

I want to live in a society without slut-shaming, because I can see what it’s done to women. Society’s desire to police female bodies has resulted in employers limiting access to contraception, state lawmakers championing transvaginal ultrasounds, and Republican presidential candidates quibbling over who would make the most severe cuts to funding for the largest provider of women’s health services in the country. This attack on women’s reproductive rights is one of the reasons I chose to include an abortion storyline for Constance Wu’s character, Kathy, in the first season of EastSiders.

We are living in an incredible moment in history. We finally have the right to marry, and public opinion has shifted dramatically in our favor regarding other forms of discrimination. One need only look as far as the national ridicule of Kim “Eye of the Tiger” Davis to see how far we have come.

While there are some extremists who have rallied to her side, a few short years ago her refusal to do her job would have been reported in a drastically different manner, with her personal beliefs weighed equally with the civil liberties of LGBT citizens. But we have a responsibility to look past assimilation and continue to act as leaders toward a more loving, egalitarian society.

Source: http://bit.ly/1TLw7Os

The Salvation Army’s History of Anti-LGBT Discrimination.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

In recent years, the Salvation Army has come under fire for its lengthy history of anti-LGBT political maneuvering and other incidents. The church has publicly articulated its belief that homosexuality is unacceptable, stating:

Scripture opposes homosexual practices by direct comment and also by clearly implied disapproval. The Bible treats such practices as self-evidently abnormal. … Attempts to establish or promote such relationships as viable alternatives to heterosexually-based family life do not conform to God’s will for society.

While such statements were recently removed from the Salvation Army’s website, the church has yet to repudiate any of its explicitly anti-gay beliefs. And though these positions may seem to be limited to the group’s internal doctrines, they’ve become a persistent element of the church’s overtly political activities — activities which have negatively impacted the Salvation Army’s ability to provide charitable services, and have aimed to limit the rights and benefits of LGBT citizens in multiple nations.

1986 — The Salvation Army of New Zealand collected signatures against the Homosexual Law Reform Act, which repealed the law criminalizing sex between adult men. The Salvation Army later apologized for campaigning against the Act.

1998 — The Salvation Army of the United States chose to turn down $3.5 million in contracts with the city of San Francisco, resulting in the closure of programs for the homeless and senior citizens. The church backed out of these contracts due to San Francisco’s requirement that city contractors must provide spousal benefits to both same-sex partners and opposite-sex partners of employees. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Love stated:

We simply cannot agree to be in compliance of the ordinance.

In 2004, the Salvation Army in New York City also threatened to close down all of its services for the city’s homeless due to a similar non-discrimination ordinance.

2000 — The Salvation Army of Scotland submitted a letter to Parliament opposing the repeal of Section 28, a law prohibiting “the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. Colonel John Flett, the church’s Scotland Secretary, wrote:

We can easily envisage a situation where, due to active promotion of homosexuality in schools, children will grow up feeling alienated if they fail to conform.

The Salvation Army of Scotland has never retracted or apologized for its suggestion that homosexuality would be promoted in schools or that children would be encouraged to become gay.

2001 — The Salvation Army of the United States attempted to make a deal with the Bush administration ensuring that religious charities receiving federal funding would be exempt from any local ordinances banning anti-gay discrimination. Church spokesman David A. Fuscus explained that the group did not want to extend medical benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

The deal fell through after it was publicized by the Washington Post.

2012 — The Salvation Army of Burlington, Vermont allegedly fired case worker Danielle Morantez immediately after discovering she was bisexual. The church’s employee handbook reads, in part, “The Salvation Army does reserve the right to make employment decisions on the basis of an employee’s conduct or behavior that is incompatible with the principles of The Salvation Army.”

Later that year, Salvation Army spokesperson Major George Hood reaffirmed the church’s anti-gay beliefs, saying:

A relationship between same-sex individuals is a personal choice that people have the right to make. But from a church viewpoint, we see that going against the will of God.

2013 — The Salvation Army continues to remove links from its website to religious ministries providing so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy, such as Harvest USA and Pure Life Ministries. These links were previously provided as resources under the Salvation Army’s section on dealing with “sexual addictions.”

“Without discrimination” — myth or fact? The Salvation Army has recently attempted to counter this perception of the church as homophobic, scrubbing explicitly anti-gay statements from its websites and issuing missives purportedly “debunking” the “myth” of its anti-LGBT stances.

Yet these efforts at cleaning up their image still fail to address the most substantial criticisms of the church’s policies. The Salvation Army states that numerous clients at its soup kitchens and homeless shelters are members of the LGBT community, and that these individuals are served without discrimination. They further add: “The Salvation Army embraces employees of many different faiths and orientations and abides by all applicable anti-discrimination laws in its hiring.”

These statements completely ignore the reality that the Salvation Army continues to maintain anti-gay theological stances, and continues to discriminate against its own employees and their partners. They also neglect to mention that the organization historically “abides” by anti-discrimination laws by way of shutting down services in areas where such laws apply. The Salvation Army has given no indication that it intends to change any of these anti-LGBT policies.

Supporting the Salvation Army this season, whether by tossing your change in their red kettles or donating your used goods to their resale shops, means assisting an aggressively anti-gay church in furthering its goals of discrimination. Would-be donors should consider whether “doing the most good” might mean supporting one of the many other effective and reputable charities that provide for the needy without engaging in anti-gay beliefs, policies, or political activities.

Source: http://huff.to/1jwgNIx

Colorado Springs: a playground for pro-life, pro-gun evangelical Christians.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

Anti-abortion rhetoric is not hard to find in the city where the ‘fortress-like’ Planned Parenthood centre is the subject of regular protests

 People are escorted away from the scene by police after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility on Friday.People are escorted away from the scene by police after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs on Friday. Photograph: Daniel Owen/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Colorado Springs, the location of an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three people dead, is a centre of rightwing Christian culture with a “wild west mentality” when it comes to guns.

The attack, by a lone gunman carrying a rifle or shotgun, took place at a clinic that is the site of regular anti-abortion protests by the city’s pro-life Christian groups.

Planned Parenthood, aware of hostility about their work, recently moved to the new facility, hoping it would provide more security for staff.

The building has been likened to a fortress by anti-abortion campaigners and Friday’s attacks revealed that it is equipped with “safe rooms” for staff to shelter in the event of such an event. It also has an extensive security camera system.

With anti-abortion policies supported by many Republican presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, rhetoric attacking Planned Parenthood and other such organisations is not hard to find in the city.

Last spring, following the gruesome attack on a Colorado woman who had her unborn-baby ripped from her womb with a knife, state representative and Springs resident Gordon Klingenschmitt said the attack was “the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb”.

Colorado’s second largest city, with a population of 445,800, has built itself a reputation as a playground for white, pro-gun, pro-life Evangelical Christians. It is also home to one army base, two air force bases, and an air force.

Colorado Springs featured in the documentary film Jesus Camp, where evangelical Christian children were taught to engage in anti-abortion protests. Two of the film’s lead characters travelled to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where they met church pastor Ted Haggard, a one-time leader of the National Association of Evangelicals who had weekly communications with president George W Bush. Haggard resigned from his position later that same year following revelations that he purchased methamphetamine and the services of a male prostitute.

The city’s pro-gun contingent flexed its muscles in 2014 with an unprecedented recall election, ousting state senator John Morse. The recall was primarily motivated by new gun control laws in Colorado – following the Aurora cinema shootings in Denver – which banned magazines holding more than 15 rounds, and demanded a universal background check for all gun purchases.

As the first state to legalise abortion and the first to implement a regulated marijuana market, Colorado is a state that doesn’t take kindly to government infringements on personal rights.

Three weeks before Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting, a man was seen brandishing a rifle while walking down the streets of Colorado Springs on Halloween morning. A concerned citizen called the 911 Emergency Line to notify the police, but was told by the operator: “Well, it is an open carry state, so he can have a weapon with him or walking around with it,” referencing state laws that allow the brandishing of a firearm in public.

Shortly after the call the man shot and killed three people before being shot dead by police.

Following the Halloween shooting, Colorado Springs resident Jessie Pocock organised a vigil with her fellow citizens, who expressed a mix of grief and outrage at the deaths. She feels that there is a “wild west mentality” when it comes to guns in Colorado Springs.

“It’s important that we can go to the grocery store and not be worried about someone randomly shooting us down on the streets, and right now that is not the case in Colorado Springs, said Pocock, who lives close to the abortion clinic. “You’re not safe on the streets here, and that is a problem.”

Colorado Springs’ year of violence began last January when a bomb detonated outside the local chapter of the NAACP. No one was harmed in the attack, but the incident put many in Colorado Springs on edge.

“I’m a little overwhelmed with the war zone that is my home,” says Pocock.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Igk7Dh

 

Donald Trump Mocks And Ridicules A Man With Disability.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

Speaking at a rally in South Carolina on Tuesday night Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump seems to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis which affects the movement of his arms. Trump imitates Kovaleski while defending comments he has made over the past few weeks, asserting that members of the Muslim communities in New Jersey celebrated following the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers in 2001. The New York Times has slammed Trump’s actions as ‘outrageous’

Watch the video: http://bit.ly/1ThtVhv

Source: http://bit.ly/1ThtVhv

Why Is Dr. Oz Allowed to Give Out Scientifically Unsound Medical Advice?

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

Your mother loves him. The scientific community, on the other hand, hates him. That charismatic doctor-with-a-perfect-smile has been called everything from a quack to “an inspiration.” No matter what you think of him, one thing is for sure: Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of America’s most controversial doctors.

 

The thing is, even if Dr. Oz is a real cardiologist (and for whatever reason, he wears scrubs on his show, lest you forget he’s a doctor), he continually shells out pseudoscientific medical advice.

In fact, according a 2014 study, scientists found that over half of the “medical advice” given on the show was either disproven or flat-out incorrect. What gives? “How is this NOT considered illegal?” asks Reddit user DananotDonna inReddit’s Explain It Like I’m Five Community.

Short answer? It’s complicated. According to Thompson Reuters FindLaw:

“Advice may be the practice of medicine when the advice is specific to a particular person’s illness or injury. Magazines and websites that offer general tips for getting over the common cold, therefore, are not engaging in the practice of medicine.”

And since Dr. Oz technically has no duty to the people he is slinging bad products to—since they are not his patients—medical malpractice is not a threat.

Attorney Jamie Weller sent Upvoted this statement about why she thinks he is not liable for medical malpractice:

“Dr. Oz avoids claims of medical malpractice by evading the duty most doctors owe to patients in the doctor-patient relationship by constructing the relationship as media personality and fan, not doctor-patient. There is no doctor-patient relationship, so no duty is owed.”

And Reddit user TerribleWisdom makes a good point about Dr. Oz’s media tactics:

He’s not really giving out health advice. Instead, he protects himself by merely reporting what others say. He’ll never say “/u/DanaNotDonna’s itchy feet will be cured by eating dryer lint.” Instead, he’ll quote a study like this: “According to a recent study by the Home Appliance Institute, 57% of people who eat dryer lint say their feet do not itch.” So it’s the authors of the study making the claim, except not really. The study authors are going to say something non-committal like “Although a positive correlation was found between dryer lint consumption and non-itchy feet, more study is needed and it will be several years before the production of dryer-lint based medicines.”

Reddit user triplealpha, an alleged physician, expands on that comment:

“This is the correct answer. Dr. Oz does however give out advice from time to time, but it’s always mixed in with enough common sense to where you would need to prove all other suggestions failed before you could call him a fraud. Essentially mixing 3 parts modern medicine with 1 part questionable snake oil salesman.

If you want to lose weight I would hypothetically say:

  • Make sure you’re getting enough high fiber foods in your diet and minimizing high fat, high salt foods
  • Make sure you get plenty of exercise, at least 30-60 minutes daily
  • Reduce your stress level and get plenty of sleep
  • Try this tameral bark tinture, it’s shown in at least 1 study to help participants lose 10 lbs per month

You didn’t lose weight just by buying that fake product at the supermarket? That’s just because you didn’t complete all 4 steps.”

Reddit users also compared Dr. Oz to Jerry Springer, but it seems that The Jerry Springer Show, at least, is remembered fondly by users.

Source: http://bit.ly/1OsEfS0

Ahmed Mohamed demands $15 million in compensation and written apology for homemade clock arrest.

Join us on Facebook: www.fb.com/unitedhumanists

The family of Ahmed Mohamed, the Texan schoolboy who was arrested after taking a homemade clock to school, has demanded $15 million in compensation and written apologies from the local mayor and police chief.

In letters sent on Monday, the lawyers said if the City of Irving and Irving School District did not agree to the apologies and compensation, they would file a civil action.

“Ahmed never threatened anyone, never caused harm to anyone, and never intended to. The only one who was hurt that day was Ahmed, and the damages he suffered were not because of oversight or incompetence,” said the letter to the city authorities.

Ahmed.jpg
Ahmed Mohamed meets Obama at the White House

“The school and city officials involved knew what they needed to do to protect Ahmed’s rights. They just decided not to do it.”

The teenager made international headlines in September after he was detained when he took a homemade clock to school. A teacher contacted police after claiming the clock looked like a bomb.

The teenager and his father claimed he had been a victim of Islamophobia.

After he was arrested, the 14-year was subsequently invited to the White House by Barack Obama who tweeted about his “cool clock”.

The youngster later met Mr Obama when he attended a science evening at the White House, albeit without his clock.

Source: http://ind.pn/1jj3NG0