Church and State: April 2005 Archives

April 21, 2005

As if you needed any more excuses to buy a Mac

United States: Microsoft has withdrawn support for a Washington State bill which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, banking, insurance, and other matters by adding sexual orientation to a state law which already bars discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, and mental or physical handicap after a single loony fundie threatened the company. Microsoft has previously supported equal rights legislation. As John Aravosis of AMERICAblog notes:

The radical right activist reportedly told Microsoft it had better pull its support for the gays or anti-gay bigots would launch a nationwide boycott of Microsoft, and guess what - Microsoft caved. A single anti-gay jerk, and Microsoft chose to reverse over ten years of policy and bash gays.

This is outrageous. It's also incredibly dangerous. For over a decade Microsoft, along with hundreds of other corporate leaders, has endorsed gay rights legislation in the states and nationally. And now, suddenly, because ONE ANTI-GAY ACTIVIST COMPLAINED, they've suddenly changed their minds ON A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE. A rather big oops after ten years of being in favor of civil rights, don't you think?

Microsoft clearly isn't proud of caving into threats from lunatics, and seems to have tried to keep it a secret.

Meanwhile, it has been drawn to my attention that the reason many Prattle commenters are unable to tell the difference between copy written by Prattle contributors and quoted material from elsewhere is because Microsoft Internet Explorer does not support current web standards. There is no evidence that this lack of functionality will ever be fixed, and affected readers are advised to get a proper standards-compliant browser (preferably running on a computer and OS which not only works, but comes from a company with a much better record on equality).

TAKE ACTION: Microsoft abandons gays - AMERICAblog, 20th April 2005.

Update: 22nd April 2005: The original article referred to in AMERICAblog is MICROSOFT CAVES ON GAY RIGHTS - Sandeep Kaushik in The Stranger, 21st - 27th April 2005.

April 11, 2005

Teachers told to lie to children

England: New guidelines for religious education in Norfolk schools urge teachers to avoid telling the truth about religious belief and practice, or using the terms those religions use.

The education authority thinks that the traditional phrase 'Holy Ghost' implies a trivial and spooky concept of the third person in the Trinity. Instead it urges teachers to refer to the 'Holy Spirit'. The guidelines also say that the first 39 books of the Bible should not be called 'the Old Testament' because it makes them sound old-fashioned or out of date.

Dismissing centuries of Catholic belief, the guidelines go on to state that Communion bread and wine should not be referred to as 'the body of Jesus' or 'the blood of Jesus' because it suggests a cannibalistic consumption of human flesh.

As Cheryl Morgan said in e-mail earlier today, I rather liked the bit about them rejecting transubstantiation because it was cannibalistic. Finally, after 2000 years, someone has noticed? But what of non-Christian faiths? It seems teachers have to pretend that there is no such thing as a religious extremists, regardless of what children see on the news most days. Or that religion is anything other than fluffy-bunny sweetness and light.

The list of dos and don'ts in the Norfolk agreed syllabus for religious education urges teachers to avoid equating Islam with terrorism and violence by showing children photographs of Muslims holding swords or kalashnikovs.

They should not refer to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall in lessons because it implies that Jewish prayer is negative and moaning. Care is also being urged in the use of photographs of Hindu holy men who may be emaciated and caked in mud in case it gives the impression that Hinduism is for weirdos or masochists.

And Pagans don't dance around in their bare scuddies, either. Presumably the real reason for not telling children the truth about religion is that they'd quickly realise how stupid it is.

Norfolk schools told Holy Ghost 'too spooky' - The Guardian, 11th April 2005.

April 7, 2005

Temperance is a Pagan thing

United States: A photograph of a short-lived statue caused a stushie in Roseburg, Oregon. The picture is included in an exhibition celebrating the acheivements of local women, but it seems that some local fundies were upset because it used the image of an ancient Greek goddess to promote temperance.

The inclusion of another figure in the exhibit, though, has caused some controversy in recent months. Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, was included because she is a part of Roseburg's history.

A drinking fountain bearing her image was constructed in the early 1900s and installed on the corner of Cass Avenue and Main Street in Roseburg. The fountain was destroyed in 1912 by a runaway wagon.

McLaughlin said Hebe's original purpose was to encourage people to drink water over alcohol. However, some people are against her because she is perceived as a pagan symbol. Because of the public outcry, the Douglas County Commissioners originally vetoed her inclusion in the exhibit. They later reversed their decision.

Hebe has always been cloaked in controversy, McLaughlin said. She has always made people think. How exciting is that, to get people to talk to one another and think?

The article does not mention whether the driver of the wagon was drunk.

Women, Hebe in spotlight at museum -The News-Review, 7th April 2005.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Church and State category from April 2005.

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