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Flawed Theos survey claims Catholic values are common in the UK

A new Theos survey about the Pope’s visit is doing the rounds today, and statistics are flying in all directions. The BHA are pointing out that a large majority of Britons are uninterested in (not hostile to) the Pope’s visit, which seems a fair conclusion. Theos says the public generally agreed with the poll’s 12 Catholic statements of values, and ask whether this means Britain is much more Catholic than we think. This, to put it politely, is dubious. The value statements are almost all nothing to do with Catholicism. Some are ambiguous platitudes, but where it’s specific there’s nothing every ... Read More »

The Pope’s festive priorities

Here’s a charming festive message from that glorious leader of mankind, the Pope: Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. What. A. Dickhead. He wraps up his bigotry in transparent nonsense about gender theory, and blurring the lines between male and female leading to the end of the human race, whatever that means. As if. What he really means, of course, is ‘ewww I don’t like it don’t make me think about it gross’. This is the problem with getting your morality from the ... Read More »

God Trumps

I used to play Top Trumps at junior school. I mainly stuck to the deck of superheroes (shocking, I know), in which Captain America won every time, which is clearly ridiculous. Much more sensible are New Humanist’s God Trumps cards: Sounds about right. They’ve a selection representing all the major belief systems. Agnostics are, as ever, a bit crap. And one card trumps all by making everything NOT FUNNY. Read More »

Catholics and cancer

The Catholic Church didn’t want schoolgirls to be given anti-cancer-STI vaccines, because doing so would encourage sexual behaviour. As a compromise, the Church has now agreed to support the vaccines, provided the schoolgirls receive no advice on contraception. Said advice would explain that the vaccine only works against two strains of cancer-causing STI, and others are out there. This policy will apply to all schoolgirls in Scotland. Just so we’re clear, here’s the previous Catholic hierarchy of Things That Are Important: Not using contraception Not using a ‘sex-encouraging’ vaccine Not dying of cancer And here it is now: Not using ... Read More »

RIP Cracker

The cracker is no more. It’s gone to heaven, or it’s still alive, or whatever. The post is only a few hours old, and there are already over 1000 comments. I’ve seen plenty of comments over P.Z.’s cracker controversy, with lots of generally sensible people adopting disapproving tones. I think Rebecca Watson gets it right (as ever): A percentage of the omgrude crowd is upset because they do not think PZ’s words help further the skeptical movement because he won’t convince any of the hardcore group that they are crazy. I agree that he probably won’t convince many true believers, ... Read More »


Last week a student took a cracker from his local church, and the Internet exploded. Some Catholics think the cracker is actually – literally – the body of Jesus, and say it’s a hate crime to hold it hostage. A hate crime! The US Catholic League has gone bananas, hurling fire and brimstone (and bizarrely coming out as anti-evolutionists, despite their church’s ‘official’ position) and suggesting the student should be expelled. Of course, if he’d taken the cracker and chewed it up, that would have been just fine. Their little world is really quite gross. The insanity ensued after science/atheist ... Read More »

The churches and the women

The big non-story of the weekend was the Church of England debating female bishops. They voted to allow the practice in principle, but the final vote won’t happen until 2011/2012. Or something. I don’t care. Really, it’s like freemasonry. Freemasons are funny, with their Right Worshipful Brothers and and all that. They have their clubs with their rules and their games, and I generally see no reason to take any interest. If that’s what people want to do, no worries – I’d play Dungeons and Dragons if I could talk my friends into it. But freemasons aren’t fond of women ... Read More »

Not once Kirk gets there, they won’t

I’ve been itching to know the Vatican’s thoughts on extraterrestrial life. Good news! Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space. They know this from all the astronomy mentioned in the Bible, as well as their extensive questioning of astronomers. Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. …well, no. That’s a bit circular, really. The Times has the exact quote: Father Funes said that just as there existed a “multiplicity of creatures ... Read More »

The new deadly sins

Have you seen the Vatican’s list of modern sins? Is most helpful. If you’re catholic, this is divine guidance on how to avoid going to hell. If you’re not, it might seem like an overgrown cult trying to induce guilt so people will go running to church, but let’s not be so hasty. Maybe we can all learn something – let’s examine the scourges of our time: Environmental pollution Yep, pretty bad. I’d like some quantitative measures, though. I mean, I should clearly go to confession if I leave the heating on while on holiday, but what about putting too much water in the ... Read More »

Papal Indulgence

Exciting news! Pope Benedict XVI has authorised special indulgences to mark the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s reputed appearance at Lourdes. What are indulgences? Have a guess. Go on. Bear in mind it is the 21st century. Give in? Catholics visiting the site within a year of 8 December will be able to receive an indulgence, which the Church teaches can reduce time in purgatory. I am not making this up. The pontiff also said believers who prayed at places of worship dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes from 2-11 February next year – or who were unable to ... Read More »

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