December 2007 Archives

December 27, 2007

More commentary on the creationist theme park

One of the stated aims of the AH Trust's proposed Creationist theme park is that it will provide an alternative to binge drinking for young people. David Mills ponders this in the Guardian's Comment is Free section:

Although the trust correctly identifies that there is a drinking problem endemic in the culture of young people today, to believe that by providing religion as an alternative so that youngsters will put down the White Lightning and pick up a bible, seems quite naive and out of touch.

What's more, he wonders whether the Bible is really good for young people.

To correct the wrongs of society, perhaps the theme park - using its multimedia to maximum effect - will tell the story of how Lot was prepared to give up his daughters to the Sodomites and eventually slept with them himself? Is it appropriate moral guidance to show how Abraham was going to kill his son because God ordered him to? Will it also tell the story of Cain killing his brother Abel? How will tales of rape, incest, infanticide, fratricide and mass homicide become the antidote to binge drinking and a society that watches too much sex and violence on television? Theologians would say they are not meant to be taken literally but how are they meant to be taken? Are these the kind of family models we want "our youth" to look up to?

Taking children for a rideComment is Free, 23rd December 2007.

December 24, 2007

Creationist trust confused about everything

England: Plans to build a creationist theme park have moved on, with a site near Preston now favourite, although the trust behind it seems to have no firm plans

[Trustee Peter Jones] said: We have a number of sites in mind, which have different restrictions, but we are looking at an area in the North West, in a triangle of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester.

They also seem confused about what it is that they want to build, or perhaps they are simply lying to planning authorities. Some choice quotes:

Trustees of the AH Trust Fund, which is proposing the £3.5m project, have looked at sites around the city with a view to opening the country's first ever multi-faith tourist attraction....

Quickly followed by:

From our research we found there is a great demand for a Christian theme park - a place where you can go and relax and provide a place for people to listen to God

Then back to:

as well as being a meeting place for leaders of all different religions.

And then an utter whopper:

He said the trust ... was non-denominational and covered all religions, including Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Hindu.

So Catholics are apparently not Christian, according to the charity, and the Trust's objects are really completely different from those listed by the Charities Commission's records:


So, presumably multi-faith, inter-denominational and covering all religions simply means that they harangue everyone, regardless.

The AH Trust's most recent annual report notes that they have a grand total of £310 in the bank.

Religious 'theme park' would cost £3.5mLancashire Evening Post, 22nd December 2007 (via The High Weirdness Project). See also At least Disneyland admits it's fantasyPagan Prattle, 16th December 2007 and More on the Creationist theme park planPagan Prattle, 16th December 2007.

December 16, 2007

More on the Creationist theme park plan

United Kingdom: Commenters on Pharyngula have been looking into the AH Trust (The Assembly Hall Trust, according to the record at the Charities Commission), the charity behind the creationist theme park proposal, and it seems to be a little devoid of substance.

One particular comment from "tacitus" sums it all up quite nicely:

First, he examined the testimonials page on the company's website, and found a pile of extracts from rejection letters.

If you take a look at their Testimonials page, there appears to be an impressive list of British companies-Boots, B&Q, BAA, Thomas Cook, BAE, etc.

Wow, not a bad list from a company that appears to have no money. But here's one of those "testimonials":
We wish you every success with your activity and hope that you are successful in securing support from other sources. - Boots Group plc

Calling that a testimonial is a joke. There is no doubt that this is a quote from a rejection letter. They were turned down flat.

The whole page is full of such rejections, with a handful of positive comments from people you've never heard of at the end, including the founder of the trust himself!

Next up for examination was the Annual Report, which reveals that

They have no funding, no backing, no coherent plan, and they're are woefully out of touch with the sentiments of the British public on religion and moral issues. They haven't even been able to replace the three trustees who resigned from their board over a year ago.

The annual report states that they have a grand total of £310 in the bank. That should go a long way. And then something really scary, should you feel like helping them out of their financial predicament:

Their "Make a Donation" page accepts credit card details and then promptly sends them in the clear across the Internet.

Personally, I find the single item under "News" amusing:

The Church in this country is in crisis, and many Church Leaders living in Australia, America and Canada have openly proclaimed that God has left the Church in England. A view which we find amusing and disturbing. Evolution has falsely become the foundation of our society and we need
the television studio to advocate Genesis across this land in order to remove this falsehood which
presently is destroying the church foundation.

One hopes their books are not written with a similar standard of English.

George Galloway proves he's a nutter

England: It seems that fundie nutcases have got at what remains of politician George Galloway's brain.

But this week Galloway took a further step towards full-blown fanaticism, when he came out as a creationist. This is what he said on his TalkSport radio rant, in trying to rebut a caller who defended atheism and science: I was looking at my little six month old baby today beginning to take his first steps crawling across the hall of the Methodist Central Hall today, and it doesn't look like an accident to me. He doesn't look like an accident of evolutionary chance to me. I'm not really prepared to believe that from the bottom-dwelling slugs of the pond came the voice of Pavarotti. I'm not really prepared to believe that Albert Einstein and a spider are really the same thing, that they just took a different evolutionary path.

Galloway comes out as a creationistOpen House, 7th December 2007.

Be careful who you tell

United States: A teenager who wrote to the Church of Satan expressing his desire to kill his grandparents in the name of Satan probably didn't expect the reaction he got—the Satanists reported it to the authorities.

According to police, Culver wrote he had access to an arsenal of weapons and wanted to kill in the name of our unholy lord Satan.

Culver sent the message Wednesday to Peter Gilmore, the high priest of the New York City-based Church of Satan, Sayers said. Gilmore alerted the FBI, which notified local police. Culver was taken out of class Thursday and questioned by police, Sayers said.

Teen Held After Threat Sent to SatanistsAssociated Press, 16th December 2007.

At least Disneyland admits it's fantasy

United Kingdom: Christian businessmen plan to set up their own fantasy theme park in Lancashire.

The latest salvo in creationism's increasingly ferocious battle with evolution is about to be fired in Lancashire. Not in a fiery sermon preached from the pulpit, but in the form of a giant Christian theme park that will champion the book of Genesis and make a multi-media case that God created the world in seven days.

The AH Trust, a charity set up last year by a group of businessmen alarmed by the direction in which they see society heading, has identified a number of potential sites in the north west of England to build the £3.5m Christian theme park.

At least one town has told them to bugger off. This is, of course, evil Christianophobia in action.

The theme park's anti-evolution bias and its emphasis on Genesis has raised eyebrows among planning officials, according to Jones, who originally wanted to build the park at the site of an old B&Q store but was refused permission by the council.

'Wigan council slammed the door in our faces. You mention the C [Christian] word, and people don't want to know,' Jones said.

Creationists plan British theme parkThe Observer, 16th December 2007.

December 12, 2007

Bargain of the Day: Holy water

It seems there are a number of companies taking advantage of people gullible enough to buy tap water packaged in religious bottles:

Inspired, perhaps, by vitamin and energy waters, a number of new companies have begun making more explicit claims: their water doesn't just promote good health, it actually makes you good. Holy Drinking Water, produced by a California-based company called Wayne Enterprises, is blessed in the warehouse by an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest (after a thorough background check). Like a crucifix or a rosary, a bottle of Holy Drinking Water is a daily reminder to be kind to others, says Brian Germann, Wayne's CEO. Another company makes Liquid OM, superpurified bottled water containing vibrations that promote a positive outlook. Invented by Kenny Mazursky, a sound therapist in Chicago, the water purportedly possesses an energy field that Mazursky makes by striking a giant gong and Tibetan bowls in its vicinity. He says the good energy can be felt not just after you drink the water but before, when you're holding the bottle.

The most recent entry in this niche is Spiritual Water. It's purified municipal water, sold with 10 different Christian labels. The Virgin Mary bottle, for example, has the Hail Mary prayer printed on the back in English and Spanish. Spiritual Water helps people to stay focused, believe in yourself and believe in God, says Elicko Taieb, the Florida-based company's founder who was formerly in the pest-control business. All three companies give a portion of their profits to charity.

Bless This Bottled WaterNewsweek, 17th December 2007 (thanks, Novice Nun the Wiser OPI).

December 11, 2007

Religious family suspected of murdering daughter over hijab

Canada: A 16-year-old girl has been murdered, allegedly because she refused to wear the hijab. The main suspect is the girl's father.

Peel Regional Police arrested a 57-year-old man yesterday morning after receiving a 911 call from a suburban home in Mississauga from a man saying he had killed his daughter. When police and paramedics arrived at the house they found a 16-year-old lying on the floor without any vital signs, police said.

Aqsa Parvez had been choked. Male members of her family had threatened her with violence in the past.

Friends of the teenager, a Grade 11 student at nearby Applewood Heights high school, identified her as Aqsa Parvez and said they were shocked by the attack on the outgoing, likeable girl, but said she had been threatened by her strictly religious family before.

She got threatened by her father and her brother, said Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson, who had known Aqsa since they both started high school together. He said that if she leaves, he would kill her.

Teen girl in critical condition after alleged dispute over hijabNational Post, 11th December 2007; Girl has died, Peel police confirmNational Post, 11th December 2007.

Bible-bashing - literally.

United States: Another case of someone who used the Bible to justify their abuse of children being jailed.

Robert "Bobby" Hale, the Scripture-quoting "Papa Pilgrim" who used the Bible to pound subservience into his 15 children, went before a judge in Alaska last month, looking old and frail beyond his 66 years as he learned his punishment -- 14 years behind bars -- for sexually assaulting one of his daughters.

The strange story of 'Papa Pilgrim'Star-Telegram, 9th December 2007.

Council encourages underage drinking

Scotland: Glasgow council has decided that it doesn't want goths cluttering up the city centre, and has started proceeding to ban them. The council claims they are causing trouble - perhaps they recited too much angst-ridden poetry, or dared to look considerably prettier than the Christmas lights, or maybe it's just because their preferred hang-out is opposite a Christian bookshop?

The teenagers have complained that they are being picked on because of their appearance, and denied that they cause trouble.

One teenage girl said: There is absolutely no way we are here to cause trouble.

“We are too young to go to the pub and we hang around here for the simple reason that we have nowhere else to go to chat and meet up with our friends.

Presumably their only alternative is to lie about their age and go to the pub instead. Locals seem to be bemused by the decision too, going by the comments to The Scotsman's coverage of the story:

This is such a shame. I am a middle aged mum and am often in that area but I have never seen anti social behaviour from these young people. For heavens sake they are just trying a wee bit of self expression and although I don't find it particularly attractive it does me no harm and is in no way threatening. It is hard enough being young much for Glasgow as an inclusive vibrant and accepting city.

Meanwhile, I assume the ban means that Glasgow doesn't want older goths spending their disposable income on festive shopping in the city?

Goma goths banned - heaven knows they're miserable nowThe Scotsman, 9th December 2007.

December 5, 2007

New word of the day

England: A debate will take place in the House of Commons today on Christianophobia. The word has been coined by Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, who seems to believe that his imaginary friend is essential to British life.

Mark Pritchard said Christianophobia of the politically correct brigade also ran the risk of Christianity being hijacked by extremist parties.

The Tory MP said he did not want to criticise people of other faiths, but wanted to recognise and protect the Christian tradition of this nation.

He intends to do this by shoving Christianity down the throats of people of other faiths, and the majority who have none. He's particularly upset that few schools bother with the explicitly religious Nativity play any more, and tend to go for something that reflects the secular nature of most festive traditions. He also boasts about the Christian tradition going back to the first century and its contribution to arts, culture and science.

I wasn't aware of Christianity in the British Isles until the 4th century, but since it arrived, we've had the Dark Ages, the little incident at Clifford's Tower in York, the execution of people for imaginary crimes, the execution of people for holding different beliefs about the worship of the same imaginary friend, the Gunpowder Plot, the censorship of literature, the imprisonment of those who do not have imaginary friends, more literary censorship, The Troubles, attempts to teach religion in the place of science, and, of course, more censorship (failed), this time of drama.

With a record like that, is it surprising that people might be a little phobic about Christians? And that's without mentioning the compulsory Christian religious education and worship in schools, and the privileged position of the Church of England.

Jesus is not God, nyah nyah na nya nyaaaaah!

England: A court has ruled that Jerry Springer: the Opera is not blasphemous, a move that has hopefully cost Stephen "Dogshit" Green a small fortune.

Springer opera court fight failsBBC News, 5th December 2007.

December 4, 2007

Bargain of the Day: Chanukah miscelleny 2007

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, so it's too late to buy any of this year's delightful items from JewishSource. Here are the Prattle's favourites, though.

December 3, 2007

Bargain of the Day: also suitable for Eid

Author NancyKay Shapiro spotted an interesting suggestion for Chanukah in her local deli.

December 1, 2007

Dying on the cheap

Today is World AIDS Day and Ben Goldacre has written an AIDS Quackery International Tour. Many of his examples are from developing nations where access to medicine is limited, but one is more embarrassing:

Before you feel smug and superior, the Society of Homeopaths are holding a conference in London today featuring the work of Peter Chappell, who also claims he can make an immediate impact on the Aids epidemic using music encoded with his Aids remedies.

Right now, he says, Aids in Africa could be significantly ameliorated by a simple tune played on the radio. Damningly, contemptibly, not one single person from the homeopathy community has spoken out to criticise this lunacy.

The BBC has more details of some of the original thinking being presented at the conference.

One of the speakers believes that the treatment, involving flower essences, can be used to halt the AIDS epidemic.

Aids quakery in Africa, and nearer homeThe Guardian, 1st December 2007; Concern over HIV homeopathy roleBBC News, 1st December 2007.

A bear called Iolo

Science fiction and fantasy writer Liz Williams has issued a challenge:

If you can lampoon my religion more than its adherents do already, I will decide on a winner on Monday morning and send you a free signed copy of an Inspector Chen novel which you can then flog on E-bay for a few quid. Or whatever.

And the religion in question?

It's Druidry! We wear long white frocks with wellington boots underneath! We made it all up in the 1900s (OK, not all of it. And some of it, in 1950)! We celebrated at Stonehenge in the 1880s with a brass band and a cream tea, and in the 1980s with a pitched battle with the police! We have an official Stupid Hat!

I think she forgot the bit about it being made up in the 1900s from other bits that were forged a couple of hundred years earlier.

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