Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Mercy Ministries has changed it’s name in New Zealand to A Girl Called Hope but it’s still the same old Mercy.

I can’t see any reason they would do this other than to try and hide from the negative publicity now associated with the name Mercy Ministries in Australia.

As the official A Girl Called Hope website states this ministry still has “strong ties” to Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn. Clearly this is just Mercy Ministries with a different name. Perhaps Mercy thought that simply rebranding their product would be enough to silence it’s critics? The official website goes on to say:

“A Girl Called Hope is based on the work of Mercy Ministries which was founded by Nancy Alcorn in America in 1983. Having worked with troubled youth for eight years; Nancy gained insight into the reasons why social problems exist, particularly in young women.

The first home was opened in Monroe, Louisiana, this then extended to Nashville, St. Louis and Sacremento, California in the United States. Mercy Ministries has expanded internationally with homes in England, Canada and here in New Zealand.”

There is no mention at all of the Australian homes they’ve opened and then closed; no mention of the compensation payout; the lies they told the media; the thousands of women who’s lives were damaged; or the fact they only changed the name after the Australian home closed.

I’m sure any woman turning to A Girl Called Hope for help would like to know these important facts.


Regular readers will have read my views on Mercy Ministries and their abhorrent methods. It is still the case that most of the information out there about Mercy Ministries is their own PR rubbish. All over the world people are not being told about the many, many women who were made WORSE by Mercy instead of better.

So I have created The Truth About Mercy as a place where people can read about some of the harrowing experiences of those who’ve been to Mercy.

This week’s news, that the homophobic couple who refused a gay couple entry to their hotel have lost their court case, is a victory for common sense. In 2011 the law is ruler. Not religion; not an ancient superstition; not the ideas of our ancestors; the law! I am so thankful that our lawmakers have created provisions to protect people like the gay couple in question.

At the heart of this case is a very simple question: should the rights of gay people be more important than those of the religious? In short, my opinion is that YES they should be. Basing your life on an ancient book is clearly a choice whereas sexuality is a natural part of who we are.  I know the religious try and claim that their religion is part of “who they are” but there’s no escaping the fact that they have chosen to follow it. If I choose to follow the ways of witchcraft do I have special rights? Of course not. Religion is extra special apparently.

The fact remains that this Christian couple have chosen to use their home as a hotel and invite the public in. In doing so they surrender their right to pick and choose who they let in and under what circumstances.  Nobody is forcing them to allow things they don’t agree with to occur in their home. They are more than free to stop using their home as a hotel should they not be able to do so without compromising their dark age beliefs.

It’s great this has happened in the UK for in most other countries the church still has an iron grip on the judiciary and the religious would have probably won. Before moaning about how they are nearing financial ruin, perhaps these narrow-minded bigots should consider stopping being homophobes and take a look how stupid their defence is: “Excuse me Mr Judge, but I broke the law because the book told me to!”


This article appeared on The Guardian’s website in their ‘Comment Is Free’ section on belief and was written by Victoria Coren, a columnist who usually writes about poker. Venturing into the realm of the controversial she has decided to pen her thoughts on the growing atheism movement that is rapidly gaining momentum across the world.

Victoria’s point is that religion is seriously short of intelligent people ‘flying the flag’ for belief in God and that these supporters are becoming vastly outnumbered by the prominent intellectuals lending their voices to the atheism side of this never ending debate. She also goes on to say that now the religious are fearful to admit their faith because they “feel silly”.

She blames “new atheism” (which, incidentally, is only new because we’ve only recently managed to loosen religion’s grip on the world) and people like Richard Dawkins for this because, as she puts it, the “Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position.”

As an outspoken atheist I’m sure it’s no surprise that I have some major problems with Victoria’s viewpoint. Not least due to her apparent inability to correctly define atheism and agnosticism.

Consider this quote from the article:

Atheism itself is fine; good luck if that’s what you sincerely (don’t) believe. But the proselytising, fundamentalist new atheist movement sets itself up as more “logical” than faith, which is ridiculous. Given the incomprehensible scale of the creator we’d be talking about, the only “logical” position is agnosticism.

I’ll not say much about Coren’s sarcastic use of the phrase “good luck” here, it’s a cheap shot. To use the word “proselytising” in relation to atheism is quite rich given the colourful history religion has for trying to convert people: I don’t recall any wars as the product of trying to “spread” atheism or seeing any atheism channels amongst the dozens of religious channels found on satellite TV! I also have a big problem when people try and link atheism and fundamentalism together; the two are incompatible and contradictory. Every atheist I’ve ever asked has based their atheism on evidence and so they are always able to change their position should the evidence require it; fundamentalism is defined as an infallible belief in a particular religious doctrine. Atheism and fundamentalism cannot go together.

Aside from these issues of lexical semantics Coren seems to have some basic issues of logic. She states that atheism itself is fine but that “new atheism” and it’s claim it is based on logic and not faith is “ridiculous” because the only logical position is, apparently, agnosticism.

Firstly, faith is generally deemed to be belief or trust in something based on conviction rather than evidence. As atheism is the product of studying the evidence it has nothing to do with faith. Faith only steps in when your position contradicts the evidence. And secondly, agnosticism is simply the belief that it is impossible for the human mind to reach certainty on whether God exists. It is a misconception that you are either a believer, an atheist or an agnostic. The premise that “given the incomprehensible scale of the creator we’d be talking about, the only “logical” position is agnosticism” does not itself stand up to logic.

The author then says:

“In place of the comfort which faith can provide in the face of death, grief or loneliness, [atheists] offer… nothing. They are suspiciously eager to snatch away the consolations of their fellow men.”

Suspiciously eager? She doesn’t explain what she’s suspicious of. Here we see a common tactic: insult the atheist for daring to doubt our precious religion! It may well be a comfort for those in pain to turn their eyes upwards to heaven but it makes it no more likely to be true and is not a good enough reason to believe. It’s also interesting to note here that it is the “faith” that’s given the credit for providing comfort and the atheists that are being slated for not providing an alternative. This is a ridiculous notion given that it is man’s subjective interpretation of a particular religion that provides this comfort in hard times. Comfort can be found in a whole manner of things and it is a pretty weak basis for belief. The language in the above quote is intended to create a negative impression of atheism: spin at it’s best!

I can keep going with laughable quotes from this article:

“Without religion, human life is no longer sacred – nothing is – so it’s not “logical” to believe we’d be gentler if it disappeared. All we’d have to replace it is a trust in altruism, which is certainly no less naive than believing in God.”

Without religion human life is no longer sacred? No shit sherlock: the definition of sacred is “connected to or involving God”. What is it about the obsession humans have with being extra special and sacred? We don’t seem to be able to accept we’re just animals like every other animal on Earth. It’s a pretty arrogant attitude to posses. I’ve also never heard anybody, including the prominent atheists, say that if religion just “disappeared” then all it’s problems would disappear also. The problems are a product of inefficiencies in the human mind not religion per se. Altruism is not a replacement for religion, it is a vital part of how we’ve evolved to where we are today and it is a behaviour which is easily observable in the natural world. To claim it is “no less naive” to trust something as tangible as altruism when compared to trusting an invisible God makes no sense at all.

Lets imagine that Coren’s wish were to come true; that a plethora of “cool, brainy and witty thinkers” spoke up in favour of religion. It wouldn’t make a difference. The message they brought would still be as illogical and undesirable as it currently is however they re-branded it.

One thing that seems to have escaped the author of this article is that perhaps the reason there are so many intelligent intellectuals on the atheist side of the debate and hardly any on the religion side is that atheism makes the most sense based on the evidence? The religious seem quite content with ignoring the fact that science and deep, intense study of the way the world works are all pointing towards there being no God.

Given the growing mountain of evidence science is piling up perhaps the religious should be looking in the mirror at their own beliefs if they want to explain the scorn they’re receiving in the modern world.

The Guardian – As I didn’t say to the archbishop
Atheism seems to get the cool, brainy people: We need witty thinkers to speak up for God – The Believer’s Brain

Thinking-Critically is a great web site written by Jeff Randall amongst others. It tackles the issues of skepticism and religion head on and has provided me with many an interesting read.

Recently they’ve created a new feature The Believer’s Brain where they highlight examples of the often amusing and sometimes downright ridiculous things that seem to come out of the brain of religious believers.

Check it out at the link above.

“Mystic Monk” Dave Vaughan brings his weird religion to the Big Brother house and offends people with his homophobic views.


Big Brother is upon us again as the final series gets under way. There’s plenty of bad press given to Big Brother but I’ll happily admit that I am a fan!

To me Big Brother has always been interesting as a way to look into how people interact with each other and form relationships. I can’t help but be interested by the concept of taking a load of people who are polar opposites of each other and locking them in a house with nowhere to escape for 3 months.

This year Channel 4 have chosen a classic in the form of Dave Vaughan. Dave runs a “church” called the New Ecstatics in Wales and believes that he can get “drunk” on the “holy spirit”. Let’s make this clear, Dave thinks that he can spontaneously become intoxicated on God’s joy. He also, like most Christians, believes that people should burn in hell simply for being attracted to the same sex. This particular view has already gained him some nominations and scorn.

It is an important point to note that Dave spent many years on drugs, taking the likes of acid and speed. It seems clear to me that this has affected his brain and is responsible for his delusions!

Dave Vaughan is part of a fairly new movement within the Christian church. The “head” of the movement is John Crowder, another man who’s done a lot of acid and “met” Jesus whilst tripping. Crowder then when on to start a movement which uses drink and drug references when talking about God. They like to get “jacked up on God”, “toke the holy ghost”, “snort lines of God” , “drink the wine of God” and “smoke the cross pipe”. It’s pretty obvious these former drug users haven’t let go of their desire to be high and have simply substituted it for religion.

Regular readers of this blog will be all to familiar with my opinions on Christianity, the grip it has on the world and the damage it causes. I’d be ecstatic myself if there was no such thing. Ultimately, however, it is up to the individual what he chooses to believe. If Dave is so mentally unstable that he genuinely believes what he says then he probably needs help more than scorn.

However, it’s not just Dave who is affected. His children have been brought up in this strange environment and, not surprisingly, believe just as he does. It is wrong to pass on your mental illness to your children and I have made my opinion on brainwashing children with religion clear here.

The housemates in the BB house seem oblivious to the extent of Dave’s mental illness. Indeed this is not surprising as he’s kept some of his more extreme views quiet, I suspect if they knew just how weird he was they’d be keeping their distance.

There is a positive to Dave being in the house though, as long as he’s there he’s demonstrating to the whole country how screwed up the religious can be!

I recently wrote about the disgusting chants of a group of Muslim Extremists during a home coming parade by our troops. In the post I said how I wished more Muslims would publicly distance themselves from the warped version of Islam being advanced by extremism.

So I was pleased to read about Hadiya Masieh, a Muslim woman who turned her back on the extremist group who’d brainwashed her into supporting the 9/11 attacks and is condemning those who’ve hijacked her faith. Hadiya now works for the Three Faiths Forum, a group whose aim is to bridge the gap between religions. Given my wish for more condemnation of extremism from the Islamic community I feel I should commend Hadiya.

Anyone familiar with me will know my thoughts on religion and there is plenty wrong with Islam, even in it’s most “liberal” form; but I support anything that aims to drown out the nonsensical noise being made by extremists.

You can read about her story here in the Guardian