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Comments by Stevehill

Go to: [Updated 15th Jan]- Atheists have no right... - Atheists face Muslim-led censorship from UCL Union

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 101 by Stevehill

No time to read all the comments, but I'd just point out that the people who probably do have every right to complain are the Jesus & Mo copyright holders!

Is it really beyond the wit of the UCL student body to do something original instead?

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 19:19:05 UTC | #907004

Go to: In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 133 by Stevehill

I'm at my office Xmas party tonight. I shall toast Christopher liberally, in the style I think he would have appreciated.

If he comes back after three days though, we may need to revise one or two ideas around here.

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 09:06:06 UTC | #899553

Go to: Texas approves 'One State Under God' license plate

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by Stevehill

It's one of 130 speciality license plate types approved in Texas, for god's sake. So what?

What seems ludicrous to me is that the state has any role in approving of anyone's design. It would be perfectly possible to say that a license plate will have characters of a certain size and colour on a plate so big, on which there's a space to optionally put "your logo here", coupled with some provision against overt hate speech (no swastikas!).

Clearly you can put whatever sticker you like next to the plate. It's a meaningless discussion. Why is Texas employing people at taxpayers' expense even to consider this crap?

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 07:09:36 UTC | #899111

Go to: Biology test omits creation theory, complains Kentucky educator

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Stevehill

Superintendent Ricky should be fired for blatant ignorance. He is a danger to education.

America is a danger to education.

It must be, if half the population can end up young earth creationists as a result of whatever "education" the state provides to them.

For goodness' sake, vote yourselves some higher taxes and fix things. Because that's what it takes.

(Maybe that's why Republicans are always arguing for lower taxes. An educated population would leave them no power base).

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 07:00:51 UTC | #899108

Go to: Having to promise

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Stevehill

From last Friday's NSS Newsline....

Scouting for God

In last week's Newsline we wrote about a young atheist girl's difficulties taking the Brownie Promise – which requires an oath to God. This week, we have heard from a mother whose six year old son has been refused entry to the Beaver Scouts because he too does not want to promise to 'love God'. When the mother spoke to a local Scout trainer about this, she reports that "I was subjected to a lengthy monologue, during which it was made very clear that any person who did not think there was a god would not be allowed to join the Scouts at any level (…) When I tried to seek clarification of a point, I was told in a very forceful tone 'Unless you listen to everything I have to say to you I will put the phone down on you'."

She was asked repeatedly what school her son attended and it was made clear that she was being blamed for his lack of belief. However, when she told her son about the promise he would have to make in order to join, he said "What?! No way!" – clearly a six year old who knows his own mind. Not surprisingly, she felt bullied. She ends her letter to us with "It does not seem right that an organisation as large as the Scouts should fall within the exception set out in the Equality Act 2010. The Scouts holds itself out as being open to all young people aged 6 – 25 of every faith and background."

At present, parents and children have little recourse. Sections 193(5) and (6) of the Equality Act 2010 were originally introduced as late amendments in the Equality Act 2006 Section 60 to allow the Scouts and Guides to keep the promise as a condition of membership. The NSS fought against this at the time but without success. The fact that new charities are not able to have such rules is a tacit admission that the exemption is wrong. Her husband then wrote to the Scout central office asking them to consider providing an alternative wording for the promise. They replied: "I am sorry to hear that your son was not able to partake in the Movement due to his non beliefs in a higher being and not being able or willing to undertake the promise. It is one of the fundamentals of Scouting that a potential member/member will have to state the promise. In this case it might be advisable to speak with your son and to see whether he believes in a higher being at all".

An additional problem is inconsistency; some troop leaders are more understanding and flexible than others. It would appear that the Brownies are more open-minded than the Scouts as girls can attend without making the Promise. This mother's experience shows that the more religious leaders have free rein to be as severe as they like, both in excluding children and in the way they treat parents.

It is important that we keep up the pressure for change. The Chief Executive of Scouts is Derek Twine who can be contacted by email at or the Scout Information Centre, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, E4 7QW. You can write to the Chief Guide: Gill Slocombe, Chief Guide, Girlguiding UK, 17–19 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W OPT or email

The relevant part of the Equality Act 2010 (c. 15) Part 14 — General exceptions, Page 122

(5) It is not a contravention of this Act for a charity to require members, or persons wishing to become members, to make a statement which asserts or implies membership or acceptance of a religion or belief; and for this purpose restricting the access by members to a benefit, facility or service to those who make such a statement is to be treated as imposing such a requirement.

(6) Subsection (5) applies only if— (a) the charity, or an organisation of which it is part, first imposed such a requirement before 18 May 2005, and
(b) the charity or organisation has not ceased since that date to impose such a requirement.

Clearly if they drop the "requirement", under UK law, they can never then go back and reimpose, which ironically may act as a deterrent to change.

So far I've managed to keep my kids away from these charlatans.

Tue, 22 Nov 2011 13:11:07 UTC | #892268

Go to: Girls Beaten and Raped? Or The Catholic Church? Who are the victims?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 179 by Stevehill

Great piece by Sean, and good for Obama for getting off the fence.

But there's nothing new here is there? The RCC abandoned its longstanding support for Amnesty International when Amnesty decided it might be OK to have an abortion if you'd been raped by an enemy soldier as an act of terrorism in a war. Because, you know, you might not want to carry your rapist's child to term.

Doctors in Nicaragua (and many other countries) cannot perform abortions even to save the mother's life. They are threatened with excommunication by the local bishops. And with criminal penalties, because the RCC mafia "owns" the government.

In Nicaragua, in the first five months of 2009 alone, 33 women died in consequence, some of them young girls. (In pretty well all of these cases the baby the RCC claims to be protecting would have died too).

The RCC is a force for evil in the world: it does more harm than good.

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 08:24:36 UTC | #891516

Go to: Anglican newspaper defends 'Gaystapo' article

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by Stevehill

There's only one Nazi in this debate.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 07:31:25 UTC | #890662

Go to: [UPDATE 14-Nov] 100 lashes for buttock squeeze or for not dying laughing?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by Stevehill

Why are they both getting 100 lashes?

As far as I can see from the film, no 13 (he of the assaulted bum) was the "victim" was unaware, looking the other way, and as soon as the assault happened he tried to swat away the offender.

I can understand that under sharia law, were he a woman, this would be more than enough evidence to stone him death for "adultery" (two more in Afghanistan today, for "moral deviation"), but come on - he's a male and therefore self-evidently innocent.

Fri, 11 Nov 2011 22:15:11 UTC | #889540

Go to: High Court rules Catholic Church liable over priests

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Stevehill


So this must mean that the NHS or an associated governing body has been held accountable for Harold Shipman's actions.

Have they/Has one?

As noted above, British general practitioners are self-employed. They may derive much of their income from the NHS but will also be paid from other sources (e.g. privately administering holiday jabs; attending as the doctor on call at a local sporting event....)

A doctor who murdered someone whilst working in an NHS hospital e.g. using NHS equipment or drugs probably would result in the NHS being liable. This is known as vicarious liability.

It does not mean we send the Health Minister to jail for life. It does mean the NHS is liable to pay compensation and, in an extreme case, a criminal charge of corporate manslaughter could be brought if e.g. the action were predictable (the doctor was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic say) and the employer did nothing to manage or eliminate the risk to patients.

The fact that the UK might go down this route does not mean the Vatican would accept such a ruling. In the long haul, the Vatican's (threadbare, IMO) claim to being a state, and therefore sovereign as regards its own laws, could become highly material here.

Thu, 10 Nov 2011 07:05:24 UTC | #889164

Go to: High Court rules Catholic Church liable over priests

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Stevehill

Let's be clear: the Portsmouth Diocese (which may for all I know be worth two pence) has been held liable for the actions of a priest who reported to its bishop.

That's a million miles from saying the RCC and/or the Vatican is liable.

The RCC seems to have successfully salami-sliced its corporate structure, such that every time you cut off the head of the Hydra, two more appear. And victims, globally, go uncompensated while the bishop in the next diocese orders another pair of Gucci loafers and a Prada briefcase.

No wonder they are losing followers. The miracle is there are any left.

Tue, 08 Nov 2011 22:04:53 UTC | #888778

Go to: Fundamentalist Book a Factor in Child Deaths. How Many Child Beatings Don't Make the News? Take action.

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Stevehill

Sweden managed to ignore any "religious freedom" arguments when it criminalised hitting any children, for any reason, whether by parents, teachers or anyone else.

There is still an active (and quite promising) campaign for the UK to go as far as Sweden.

Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:25:16 UTC | #888388

Go to: 'You just don't understand my religion' is not good enough

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by Stevehill

Baggini is usually good value. But anything Eagleton says is usually so risible I have to really force myself to keep reading... he's such a pompous, and wholly ignorant, arsehole. He's a Catholic English teacher. The only qualification he has to pontificate on religion was granted by him, to himself, in his own mind, and every time he opens his ignorant fucking gob on the topic, he shows himself up for the bilious halfwit we are entitled to conclude him to be.

Maybe he's OK on Chaucer.

Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:18:55 UTC | #888381

Go to: Naturally offensive

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Stevehill

I resent sharing space in Accident & Emergency with stinking puking drunks who've got into a fight in a pub. Can't they make them wait outside or something?

Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:13:00 UTC | #888377

Go to: Women & Islam: The rise and rise of the convert

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 85 by Stevehill

Can't add much to the above. The daughter of a very good (devout Catholic!) friend of mine married a Muslim and converted. She's not daft: she was in her mid-20s, with a masters degree. It was probably the lure of the exotic, combined with a flight from the stifling orthodoxy of her parents' faith - to which they had incidentally converted as adults.

She moved into her in-laws' house, as one does.

The marriage was over in 6 months.

She's no longer a Muslim.

Sun, 06 Nov 2011 23:05:40 UTC | #888006

Go to: Jonah and the Whale

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by Stevehill

There must be many children's books that cover topics like forgiveness in a more straightforward way.

My 5 year old daughter quite likes the estimable (and in her case eponymous) Princess Poppy series.

"It's OK to forget to take your ballet shoes to school as long as you own up and say sorry" sort of thing...

I can't see why that needs any supernatural veneer, personally.

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 06:27:15 UTC | #887526

Go to: What's God got to do with it?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Stevehill


My currency mottos - "KEEP IT REAL" and "DON'T SPEND WITHOUT REASON"

Or in the US case, about fourteen trillion borrowed reasons. Since China now holds the title deeds to America and can foreclose at will, any debate over what words appear on banknotes is somewhat redundant.

I can picture some silent film era Dr Fu Manchu type in his mountain eyrie twirling his long mustache with his unfeasibly long manicured fingernails, saying "Let the poor deluded fools wear themselves out with their meaningless debates. It keeps the idiot populace entertained while we get on with the important business of running the world. Mwahahahaha!!!"

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 06:22:21 UTC | #887523

Go to: What's God got to do with it?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by Stevehill

The answer is in the wording of the resolution voted on: "Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured."

Clearly then, Congress is completely thick.

You can't have a marketplace of ideas unless people have a choice of banknotes, both with and without the contentious motto.

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 06:15:09 UTC | #887518

Go to: High ranking chaplain leaves out ‘so help me god’

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Stevehill

This story is both uplifting and depressing. Uplifting for Justin, sure. But depressing because America is the only country on earth where something like this would even be considered remotely newsworthy.

In the UK, say, if you want an non-religious oath (e.g. to attest in court or swear an affidavit or whatever), you can have one. And nobody gives a damn. And we don't even have a Pledge of Allegiance with the Cold War 1950's bowdlerisation of the Founding Fathers' intentions by adding the redundant words "under God".

America is like some vast genetic engineering experiment where the rationalism genes were removed at the embryo stage. There are, thank Darwin, a few mutants like Jerry Coyne left though. We live in hope.

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 06:12:37 UTC | #887516

Go to: Proposals to make worship optional in schools rejected by Peers

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Stevehill

Can I suggest any Britons take the trouble to cut and paste all or part of the letter I have just sent to my own MP:-

Dear Nicola Blackwood,

I have just moved into your constituency, from Barford St Michael. I left there because the only schools for miles around were faith schools, and my daughter started school last month (she's very happy at XXXX School; her brother joins her next year).

My last MP Tony Baldry, who I respect a lot, helped us assert our rights to a non-faith education and told me we were the first people in Oxfordshire to make such a claim.

I would like to draw your attention to the recent report of the National Secular Society on the Lords' debate about removing the compulsory daily act of worship of a broadly Christian character:

May I especially take issue with the quoted words of the government spokesperson, Baroness Trumpington: “it did not matter if pupils were bored, did not like going to chapel or were not interested in religious matters at the age of 15, 16 or perhaps even 17. That daily event gave each pupil a background to which they could return in later life. It was very important to have.”

Did not matter?

It matters to, say, millions of Britons who profess faiths other than Christianity. Muslims, say, should be outraged at the suggestion that some daily Christian worship is character-forming and good for them. Can you imagine in your native South Africa the response to a suggestion that everyone should have a daily Dutch Reformed church service?

It matters to the 51% of Britons who profess "no religion" in the 2010 Social Attitudes Survey: the majority. As compared with the fewer than 2% of us who attend a weekly CofE service, and declining rapidly as ageing congregations turn to dust.

It matters that the Baroness has got her facts wrong. 16- and 17-year olds already enjoy a right to opt out of daily worship. The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee has previously recommended this right be extended to all Gillick-competent children (i.e. children capable of deciding for themselves). Scotland is even about to give the vote to 16 year olds.

It matters that the Baroness is supported by 28 unelected bishops, placing Britain on a par with Iran in granting places in the legislature to theocratic placemen.

It matters that a third of our schools are stage one on a (barely functional) conveyor belt for producing future converts, and that 70% of parents think worship should go.

It matters that thousands of schools break the law. Ofsted has even abandoned checking schools' compliance with the law, because if it did, it would have to downgrade them. There is no point in maintaining a law which is intrinsically disreputable and otiose.

If it "matters" that much, how does almost every other country on earth manage without such a law? Why do such diverse nations as France, India, Turkey and America see the benefits of constitutionally keeping religion out of schools? Because it is divisive. Look how much good sectarian schooling did us in Northern Ireland, and in parts of Scotland.

A recent report said 400 British madrassas abused children:

It is not a harmless piece of character building. This stuff takes no prisoners, it takes lives.

The Deputy Prime Minister has already outlined proposals for reducing the number of Bishops in the Lords (though zero would be a better number than 12), and he and his party are known to favour a more secular education system. They are right to do so.

Yours sincerely,

[Incidentally, my MP is a staunch Christian who usurped Secularist of the Year Evan Harris in the 2010 election after a virulent, and lying, fundamentalist Christian campaign to oust him. So I'm not holding my breath.]

Fri, 28 Oct 2011 06:18:23 UTC | #884798

Go to: Story of a Bible Belt atheist from Kentucky

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Stevehill


Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:51:49 UTC | #884707

Go to: When Comes the Time To Convert People?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Stevehill

So tell me why shouldn't we try and convert as many people as possible?

Because as soon as you start indoctrinating people into a belief system on the grounds that it is self-evidently superior, you've created a new religion. You've sunk to their level.

We should not be in the business of "saving" people. Freedom means people are free to be dumb, as long as they are not harming anyone else.

The harmful bits of religion obviously can and should be resisted, and hey, they don't burn witches and heretics so much these days: we're getting there.

Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:48:17 UTC | #884704

Go to: Alberta: where the word "evolution" and the name "Darwin" does not appear in a "science" textbook

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Stevehill

I spent a few hours of my life in Alberta, on a driving holiday in 1989. After a couple of weeks enjoying the many delights of British Columbia we crossed into Alberta on a Sunday evening, checked into a hotel, and asked where we could get a drink.

Big mistake. Jesus may turn water into wine, but in Alberta on a Sunday Jesus doesn't want you to drink it.

Monday morning we were back in BC and civilization.

Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:42:32 UTC | #884700

Go to: Proposals to make worship optional in schools rejected by Peers

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Stevehill

Baroness Trumpington suggested “it did not matter if pupils were bored, did not like going to chapel or were not interested in religious matters at the age of 15, 16 or perhaps even 17. That daily event gave each pupil a background to which they could return in later life. It was very important to have.”

It did not matter. IT DID NOT MATTER!

Who the fuck do these fucktard bastard faithheads fucking think they fucking are, that they have a moral right to dictate to a sentient 17 year old that it DOES NOT MATTER if they want to fill his or her head with 2,000 year old superstitious bullshit that has no grounding whatsoever in any established fact, whether or not that person wants it.

And by the way, the imbecilic fucktard baroness seems to have forgotten that existing law allows 16 year olds and above to opt out anyway, regardless of parental (or her) wishes.

I'm speechless. And more than a little furious.

[P.S. The legal requirement, set down in 1944, is that the worship must be of a broadly Christian character.]

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 15:13:51 UTC | #884297

Go to: More than 400 claims of physical abuse on children attending British madrassas

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Stevehill


I'm not disputing the numbers. You may be getting hung up on the term "madrassa", but as far as I can tell most Muslim kids, whilst attending a "normal" UK state school, additionally do "Islamic studies" outside school hours...t a degree that often results in them de-selecting themselves from e.g. their schools' sports teams etc because of hte time commitments.

Many of these Islamic Studies sessions are held on weekends, not uncommonly on UK government premises, such as state schools...

It would be quite reasonable for the government to demand some basic standards of behaviour, and an auditable "non extremist" curriculum, before allowing publicly owned premises to be used to perpetuate child abuse.

Tue, 25 Oct 2011 20:41:29 UTC | #884048

Go to: More than 400 claims of physical abuse on children attending British madrassas

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Stevehill

In fairness, on the face of the article it seems to be Muslims who are leading the calls for change here. Which is quite refreshing.

I'd say the ball is in the government's court to justify doing nothing now.

Tue, 25 Oct 2011 13:53:55 UTC | #883955

Go to: Can Our Species Escape Destruction?

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Stevehill

Estimates of how bad the situation is, of course, differ, but various assessments agree that the global economy is consuming resources at a rate equivalent to 1.3 to 1.5 times the earth’s capacity to supply them sustainably.

This is the week when according to the UN we will reach a population of 7 billion.

Fewer people consuming resources equals sustainability. Ever more people aspiring to say US levels of consumption equals misery. As Mr Micawber almost said.


Let's face was only 10,000 years ago that most of Britain was under a mile of ice and the entire country was uninhabitable. That was a pretty bad situation ! Yet it's pretty much the norm and inter-glacials the rarity.

But in those days it was feasible, if a bit of a PITA, to migrate ahead of the ice to tropical regions, because there were only a few hundred thousand people on earth.

Next time, the migrants will be met with nukes wielded by people saying get off my lawn.

Mon, 24 Oct 2011 07:48:11 UTC | #883628

Go to: Recovering from Religion announces the hiring of a new Executive Director Jerry DeWitt

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Stevehill

This sort of organisation is badly needed. We're pretty much OK in northern Europe, where mostly nobody bats an eyelid any more if you say you're an atheist, but in many parts of the world it's extremely difficult to deal with the emotional (and in some cases life threatening) consequences of "coming out".

I wish RR every success and hope in time they get to have a global presence.

Mon, 24 Oct 2011 07:43:02 UTC | #883626

Go to: Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 441 by Stevehill

Paul Vallely in the Indy joins the fray - and not in a good way.

Sun, 23 Oct 2011 15:38:59 UTC | #883377

Go to: Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 429 by Stevehill

I had a post deleted on the Guardian thread - I don't know why, I didn't swear or anything - asking in all seriousness whether if someone like Thomas Hamilton, who killed 17 people in the Dunblane school massacre, were to claim they did it because they sincerely believed God told them to do it, Craig would commend them for speeding the little children on their way to heaven.

I'm not trying to make a sensationalist or bad taste point here. It seems to me to be the logical conclusion of Craig's own argument. Any fundamentalist has a right to commit mass murder.

He's practically inciting it.

Sun, 23 Oct 2011 10:27:34 UTC | #883343

Go to: Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 335 by Stevehill

My apologies. He's a mere lecturer. As you were, then.

Sat, 22 Oct 2011 15:18:44 UTC | #883169