Left Behind

Manning

A special guest post by the Rev. Dexter B. Wright, pastor of the Church of Holy Eternal Righteousness.

Let me tell you something, good Christian people: it’s unnatural! They say there’s 10% of them in the population but that’s just part of the propaganda and their sordid agenda. It’s a big fat lie. Even if there were that many, why should they have the same rights as the rest of us normal folk? They’d have you believe it happens in nature too but I’ve yet to see it. They flaunt their perversion, brazenly practising their sin in public instead of keeping it behind closed doors where it belongs, if it belongs anywhere. They seek to redefine what is Right, just as the scriptures said would happen in these last days.

Christian brothers and sisters, we must stand up and oppose this unnatural lifestyle. It needs stamping out, punished like it used to be. In the past, when people had more respect for God, these kind of people would be punished and humiliated – beaten even. Sometimes they’d have their hand strapped up to stop them using it for perversion. That cured ’em. Least ways I think it did – made ’em start to be behave right and proper like the rest of us. These days we’re too liberal; we make excuses for them, like ‘they can’t help it’ and ‘they were born that way’. Let me tell you – no-one is born that way! It’s a choice, pure and simple, because God doesn’t make mistakes. And you can be sure he won’t sit idly by while these perverts literally shake their fists at him. A society that accepts – openly accepts – the flagrant practice of sin can expect to suffer the full force of God’s wrath. I tell you, brothers and sisters, the tribulation is upon us.

You mark my words: we tolerate this, it will mark the start of persecution like the church has never known. Are you ready for that? Good Christian folks are already being forced to serve these deviants with wedding cakes and the like – it’s either that or lose their business – and next they’ll be forced to embrace people who want to write with their feet or something. Make no mistake, that’s the ultimate aim here. And you know who’s behind this sinister agenda, don’t you? That’s right, Satan himself, the Father of Lies.

God couldn’t be clearer in his Holy Word; if it ain’t Right, then it’s wrong. Our wondrous savior favors one hand and one hand only – and it sure ain’t the left. Soon as we stamp out this abomination the better.

 

Notes:

People have indeed suffered in the past for ‘choosing’ to be left-handed; ‘cures’ abounded.

The Bible frequently speaks of the right hand as the hand of note. See, for example, Matthew 25.31-34.

Picture: The ‘Honorable’ James Manning, chief pastor of the rabidly anti-gay Atlah church in Harlem, demonstrates how to make effective use of the right hand.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

PissImagine the outcry there would be from Christians if having decided to hold an open-air service, a group of atheists turned up and started shouting through tannoys at them as they attempted to enjoy their celebration. Imagine those atheists shouting ‘Hypocrites!’ and ‘Losers. You need to come to your senses!’ Imagine if they said they were only doing this out of love to break the spell the Christians were under, the spell of religion. Imagine they held up signs the entire time with text inspired by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, like ‘Free yourself from your God Delusion’ and ‘ Religion Poisons Everything’.

Yes, imagine the outcry; the Christians would see themselves as persecuted by ‘militant atheists’ out to spoil their day. And, who knows, perhaps they’d be right, though perhaps persecution is overstating it, though we all know Christians like their martyrdom. So long as it doesn’t entail any actual… erm… martyrdom.

This didn’t happen at the weekend in my home town – I doubt it happens anywhere – but pretty much the opposite did. A bunch of Christians, complete with loud speakers and placards with scripture verses on them, turned up at the Gay Pride celebration in the centre of town and proceeded to tell those out to enjoy their day that they were sinners in need of Christ and his salvation. They kept this up, because, they said, they loved the people whose afternoon they were trying to disrupt, for at least two hours. These were not members of a local church; according to the young man I spoke to they had come from various parts of the UK and from the States specifically to interfere with the event, or ‘preach the gospel’ as he put it.

The LGBT people at the Pride were having none of it, of course, and drowned out the tired old rhetoric with whistles and good natured chanting until the Righteous Ones accepted the futility of their mission and packed up to go home… but not before they transplanted themselves near the stage to show off their signs again.

Now, how is this different from the scenario we started with?

Christians would object if others gate-crashed their events and attempted to disrupt their celebrations; yet they think they have the right to do just that to others, with their message of hell and damnation. They’d cry ‘persecution’ and see the same kind of actions as militant (when they have no idea what the word ‘militant’ actually means) and part of an ‘anti-Christian agenda’, if it was they on the receiving end.

It’s Christians themsleves who have the agenda – to judge, impose on and convert those with different beliefs and philosophies. They think they have special knowledge of The Truth that no-one else has and which has never been heard before when all they really have is a superstition, a belief in a sky god and magical incantation, much like any other superstition. Even if this weren’t the case, even if their beliefs were what the Christians think they are, that does not give them the right to exercise their arrogant, shouty agenda by rudely imposing themselves on others’ special days.

 

Update: Evangelist Dale Mcalpine says it wasn’t his merry little brand of preachers that invaded Pride. Oh no. According to Dale, a bunch of irresponsible LGBT people tried to spoil a bona fide Christian event that just happened to be going on nearby at the same time.

These people’s self-delusion knows no bounds.

 

The View from Higher Ground

PopesLast week, the good people of Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage. Predictably, the Holy Men of the Roman Catholic Church have emerged from wherever it is they secrete themselves when they’re not in their frocks to condemn the outcome. Sour grapes the Holy Spirit prompts Cardinal Raymond Burke to whinge:

I was deeply saddened by the result… I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity… I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage.

Of course, same-sex marriage is not ‘a defiance of God’, because there is no God, and marriage is a wholly human institution that we can arrange and change exactly as we like – but perhaps I’m splitting hairs here.

Also lost on the Cardinal is the irony that he speaks for a church (one of several as it turns out) that systematically abused children for many years, attempted to cover up its crimes, lied to victims and, when finally caught out, denied it had done anything wrong. A church, in other words, that has voided itself of all moral authority and has forfeited the right, if it ever had it, to judge anyone else’s ‘principles’ or ‘behaviours’. Those who voted for equality in the Irish vote were right to ignore and defy an organisation as dissolute and hypocritical as the Roman Catholic Church. That this church now believes itself to be in a position to condemn same-sex marriage demonstrates just how shameless and arrogant it is.

To add insult to injury, this Burke goes on to declare that the church should respond to the growth of equality, not with humility and gracious acceptance, but by intensifying its efforts to convert others to a corrupted, lifeless religion:

The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation.

Because believing in Jesus, Mary and a whole load of other dead people will make the gay go away. Or something.

Talk about a defeat for humanity.

BurkeCardinal Burke can be seen modelling a fetching chiffon two-piece in – what else – Cardinal red, with a dainty lace number to complement. Here he demonstrates the fabulous fullness of both items, which, regrettably, are no longer available in sack-cloth or ash grey.

It only encourages them

HealDear Believer,

Let us be direct. We have to tell you, out of love, that we can never serve you in our restaurants, never teach you in our colleges, never supply you with goods we make, never sell you items from our shops. Why? Because of your fake faith.

Your belief in a mythical figure and in eternal life is a sin against the intellect. More than this, it causes you to act in mean-spirited, unloving ways. We cannot endorse such abhorrent, evil practices.

So if you come into our restaurants, classrooms, shops or offices wearing a cross or talking about your faith or praying, you will be turned away. We do this only because it breaks our hearts to see you lost in your delusion and to witness the damage you do to other people as a result of your beliefs.

It is our fervent wish, dear “Christian” friend, that by doing this we can lead you to abandon the illusory path you have chosen so that you may reclaim both your intelligence and humanity.

We hope you understand that all we say and all we intend to do, we do out of love and in the spirit of truth.

faithlessly,

The Freethinkers

What do you think? Too judgemental? Too much of a generalisation? Tars all Christians with the same brush? Unforgiving? Moralistic?

You’re right…

The original version of this letter is a long-winded, sanctimonious diatribe by right-wing Christian, Matt Barber. You can find the full thing at this link, but here are the highlights:

Dear homosexual,

…Let us be direct. According to the unequivocal moral precepts of biblical Christianity, explicit throughout both the Old and New Testaments, your homosexual behavior is sin. Sin is evil. Homosexual behavior is the central, defining characteristic of your counterfeit “gay marriage.” Therefore, “gay marriage” is evil. Christians are obligated to avoid sin – to “do no evil”…

It really is that simple. This is why, as faithful Christians (apostate “Christians” notwithstanding), we will never have anything whatsoever to do with your pagan, sin-based “same-sex wedding” rituals.

We will not bake your fake wedding cake.
We will not arrange your fake wedding flowers.
We will not take your fake wedding pictures.
We will not host your fake wedding reception.

We will not do these things because to do these things is to disobey God. It is to aid you in your sin, to cause you to stumble, which, in and of itself, is to layer sin upon sin…

We’re telling you no because we love you with the love of Christ. But understand this: As we are so commanded, we must, and do, hate the evil conduct by which you define your identity… what you do is wrong. Period. Full stop….

Dear “gay” friend, you will one day realize, hopefully before it becomes too late, that you are not only on the wrong side of history, you are on the wrong side of eternity.

It breaks our hearts to see you there.

And so we refuse to help send you.

Sincerely,

The Christians

Yes, definitely unforgiving and judgemental. Presumptuous too: Matt Barber speaks for all Christians? He writes and signs his letter in your name. Who appointed him to do that?

Arrogant in deciding we’re all sinners, gay people more than any. The whole sin thing is a specifically Christian mindset which – surprise, surprise – not all of us subscribe to, not least because it has little purchase in the real world.

Hypocritical that he condemns everyone, gay people more than any, but conveniently ignores the parts of his saviour’s teaching that says ‘don’t judge unless you want to be judged’ (Matthew 7.1). What does it feel like, Christians, when the tables are turned? Those of you, like Barber, who sit in judgement of others merit judgement in return. This is a sound Biblical principle, every bit as much as, or even more than, the ‘principles’ you use to condemn your ‘gay friends’ as ‘evil’. JC himself said so.

Ignorant too, of the scriptures that say ‘give to all who ask’ (JC again, in Luke 6.30-36). They don’t say, anywhere, ‘refuse to do anything for a group of people you don’t approve of.’ As Christians you’re not given that option, no matter how much you twist unrelated verses to endorse the position you’ve already chosen to take.

No, Christians like Barber who stand on ‘principles’ like these, who think they know the mind of Jesus while ignoring the very words he said are unchristian, unforgiving, unbiblical, arrogant and, whatever they may claim to the contrary, unloving. How attractive they make their faith seem.

What Jesus should have said…

KnockLists are the thing, aren’t they. It’s time we had some on this here blog thingy.

List 1. 10 things Christians pretend Jesus didn’t say:

1. Treat others as you like to be treated (Matthew 7.12)

2. Forgive so that you’ll be forgiven (Matthew 6.14)

3. Don’t judge unless you want to be judged (Matthew 7.1)

4. Sell all you have and give it to the poor (Mark 10.21)

5. Turn the other cheek (Luke 6.29)

6. Go the extra mile (Matthew 5.41)

7. Give to all who ask and lend without expecting anything back (Luke 6.30 & 35)

8. Love your neighbour as much as yourself (Matthew 22.39)

9. Love your enemies (Luke 6.27)

10. Don’t worry about the future (Matthew 6.34)

If Christians followed these injunctions, what a very different world it would be. Instead, what do we get..?

List 2. 10 things Christians think Jesus should have said, but didn’t (with a few examples):

1. Show love for others by telling them what sinners they are (1, 2)

2. Stand on principle as much as you can (1, 2, 3).

3. Take easy offence (1, 2)

4. See persecution everywhere (1, 2, 3, 4)

5. Sue those who upset you (1, 2)

6. Demonise those who don’t share your world view (1, 2, 3, 4)

7. Hate homosexuals and oppose same-sex marriage (1, 2, 3)

8. Set yourself up as defender of God’s standards (1, 2)

9. Argue endlessly about points of doctrine (1, 2)

10. Obsess about the future and the state of the world (1, 2, 3)

This is the Christianity we’ve got. Well done, o righteous ones, for perverting Jesus’ radical (and yes, ridiculously impossible) message into this unsavoury concoction of mean-spirited self-centredness. It’s what he wouldn’t have wanted.

 

Why_Christians_Don't_Cover_for_KindleMy book Why Christians Don’t do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead looks at how Christians ignore most of what Jesus says in favour of a Christianity of their own making. You can find it here in the UK, here in the US and on Kindle. Go on. You know you want it.

 

The End Times Are Here! Again.

livelyWhat does the future hold? It’s difficult to say, really, when the future isn’t, as Doris Day once so very wisely expressed it, ours to see. That doesn’t stop Christians from claiming they can though. They know exactly what the future holds, they insist, because the Bible tells them so.

There are at least two problems with this claim, the first being that the Bible’s predictions were written by men with as little ability to see the future as anyone alive today. The second is that their prophecies, like all other predictions, are suitably nebulous. It’s easier to see vague, non-specific claims come true when you can add the details yourself at a later date.

So it is for anti-gay pastor Scott Lively, who, incidentally, wishes to make it known that he’d prefer not to be referred to as anti-gay. This, of course, rests entirely in the anti-gay pastor’s own hands, though you’ll not be able to tell him so as he doesn’t allow comments on his blog. Christian leaders must never be contradicted!

The Reverend Lively, as well as being anti-gay, reckons that abortion, multi-culturalism, international discord and gay marriage are, in all likelihood, paving the way for the Anti-Christ and, ultimately, the end of everything. God is going to get so angry with the good ol’ US of A for all these things that he’s going to bring about the end times prophesied in the Bible.

The Reverend is quick to say he doesn’t know this for certain because God hasn’t actually told him so directly (why not, Scott?) so he’s just making an ‘educated’ guess. He does this by cherry-picking verses from all over the Magic Book – from Daniel to the gospels and Revelation – and shows, or thinks he does, how the USA is really the focus of God’s concerns in these last days. This is an impressive feat when the Bible doesn’t say anything of the sort, not least because its writers were completely unaware of the entire American continent.

From there, anti-gay Scott outlines how the world’s woes, but chiefly gay marriage in the USA, are going to allow the Anti-Christ in. That’s the Anti-Christ of which the Bible doesn’t speak. It doesn’t say, anywhere, that there is one almighty Anti-Christ. There are only four uses of the term in the entire Bible, all in the letters written by a John (not the same John credited with John’s gospel) in the New Testament. Letter-writer John whines about those in the early church who, two thousand years ago, were fomenting dissent; these people, he says, are literally anti Christ. And that’s it; you won’t find the all-powerful Anti-Christ that later fantasists like Scott Lively believe in, either here or anywhere else in ‘God’s Word’.

That’s because Lively and fanatics like him confuse these long dead dissenters with a figure from one of the Bible’s nuttiest books, Revelation. Known as ‘The Beast’, this pantomime villain is actually a caricature of barking-mad Emperor Nero, who began the first wave of persecutions against the early church. But that’s not good enough for nutters believers like Scott. The anti-gay pastor insists that the Beast, whom he mistakenly calls the Anti-Christ, is actually a politician of future times – our times in fact. He – that’s the Beast, not cuddly old Scott – is going, pretty soon, to exploit the mess the world is in, put things right and then take over. In so doing he’ll be usurping Christ’s position as ruler of everything. (You didn’t know Christ was ruler of everything? Just think what a mess the world would be in if he wasn’t.) This, the Reverend warns us – with capital letters to show how significant it all is – will be only the Beginning of Sorrows. Oh, and there’ll be Blood Moons too, just to add a splash of colour.

God is going to be so pissed off with this state of affairs that after a while he’s going to destroy everything, just like Jesus predicted he would be doing around about AD30, and Paul said would happen soon after AD55 and Revelation’s John (no relation to the crank who wrote the anti-Christ letters) claimed was still going to happen soon after AD95. Just as thousands of others have predicted in the 2,000 years since; every one of them wrong.

Statistically, rationally and empirically it isn’t remotely likely that current events in the USA mark the beginning of the end either. The Bible’s writers had absolutely no idea of what the future held, as their disastrous track record shows. Their rambling, vague prophecies didn’t come true when they said they would and they’re not going to now, even with an anti-gay pastor’s US-centric gloss on them. Which isn’t to say the world might not end some day. If it does, however, it certainly won’t be because it is following an expired Biblical timetable, open to a multitude of interpretations.

Better to stick to what you do best, Scott, being anti-gay. Though that’s not exactly going your way at the moment either, is it?

Gentle Jesus – meek and mild?

StonedWhen it comes to derogatory and hateful remarks about minorities, Jesus is frequently given a pass. His ‘meek and mild’ persona – not one he actually had, but one he’s acquired over time – is brought into play to absolve him of all unpleasantness.

For example, and as liberal bloggers are fond of saying, here’s what he had to say about gay marriage:

                                                                                                                                            ”

 

Yup, that’s right; he said absolutely nothing about it – not directly anyway. But what Jesus did say, if ‘Matthew’ is to believed, was that he upheld the Jewish Law in its minutest detail:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5.17-19)

That’s the Law that prescribes death for even the smallest infraction that he’s endorsing there. Here’s a brief sample of that Law and the penalty for breaking its petty rules:

Stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35.2 and Numbers 15.32-36)

Kill publicly children who dishonour their father or mother. (Leviticus 20.9)

Stone to death anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24.16)

Execute a married couple who have sexual intercourse during the woman’s period. (Leviticus 18.19)

Put to death those involved in adultery. (Leviticus 20.10)

Execute any man who lies with another man, as with a woman. (Leviticus 20.13)

Stone to death at her father’s door any woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night. (Deuteronomy 22.13-14 and 20-21).

Sound familiar? With its oppressive brutality and liberal use of the death penalty, this sort of behaviour is like IS practices today. They’re both desert ‘moralities’, after all. And this is the law that Jesus advocates and insists remains in place until ‘heaven and earth pass away’. As that hasn’t happened yet, the Law, according to Jesus anyway, remains in effect. Never mind that Paul says it doesn’t – God himself, in the shape of Jesus Christ says it does. How’s that for meek and mild?

(Cue Christians referencing the story of the woman caught in adultery. That, however, is a late addition to the Bible and, in any case, Jesus only saves the woman because his beloved Law hasn’t been properly complied with.)

Thankfully, civilised human beings – and civilised Christians too – ignore Jesus and don’t seek to apply such old barbaric laws (though there are some believers who want to when it comes to LGBT people; see my previous post.) But if you want to know Jesus’ position on moral issues that he doesn’t pontificate on explicitly, just remember he fully supports the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, not being a virgin on your wedding night, having sex at the wrong time of month, dancing, listening to the radio, tweeting and texting… oh wait… now I have got him confused with Islamic extremists. It’s so easy to do.
Next time: Jesus says that the only way to gain eternal life is to follow this vicious Law with all its unreasonable demands.

Predictions for 2015

BrideMy predictions prophecies for the year ahead:

1. There’ll be no Second Coming in 2015.
Jesus won’t be back this year. Just like he wasn’t back in 2014, 2013, 2012… 1985… 1914… 1868… 1497… 1000… 446… 35. Just think of all those years – count ’em, nearly two thousand – when he’s failed to return so far. Actually, he promised he’d be back while his disciples and those daft enough to listen to him were still alive – around AD30 or thereabouts (Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 34; Luke 21:27-28, 33-34). Safe to say he’s not coming back at all now, just like dead people don’t. Not in 2015, not ever.

2. Christians will go on insisting Jesus is going to return any time soon.

3. There’ll be no natural disasters or human calamities as a result of same-sex marriage.

4. Christians will claim natural disasters and human calamities are the result of same-sex marriage. Shaking our fists at God… the wrath of the Almighty… sign of the End Times… blah, blah, blah.

5. More than one prominent Christian will call for the execution of gay people.

6. Christians in the west will claim they’re being persecuted when they’re being expected to treat others fairly and equally, and not to discriminate against them.

7. Christians will respond to criticism with clichés like ‘they wouldn’t dare say that about Muslims’… ‘Christians are the last group who are fair game’… ‘It’s time for Christians to speak out’… ‘Stand up for God’s standards…’ etc.

8. Christians will continue to dismiss and disparage anyone who doesn’t share their views, especially atheists. Look out for ‘atheists have no morality’, ‘the fool hath said in his heart there’s no God’ and ‘atheists want to oppress Christians’ occurring with tedious regularity.

9. There will be more revelations about the abuse of children by church ministers.

10. Church hierarchies will attempt to cover up the abuse of children by their ministers.

11. There will be the usual manufactured ‘war on Christmas’.

12. These predictions have far more chance of coming to pass than any of the so-called prophecies of Bible. I’ll return to them at the end of the year so we can see.

A happy new year to you all!

 

Original picture: Ursula Klawitter / zefa / Corbis

Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 5: Give to everyone who asks

Beggar

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you… Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (Luke 6:30-35)

I’d really like to see this. I’d like to see Christians giving to anyone and everyone who asks them.

Asks them for what? Jesus implies in this ridiculous command that it’s ‘what belongs to you’. He’s talking about physical possessions – give your possessions to whoever asks, he says, and don’t try to get back any item that someone takes from you. There can be no making a metaphor out of this, or symbolising it away. Christians try to of course; see here and here for their lame attempts at explaining why Jesus doesn’t really mean they should give their stuff away. But he does mean it, and just in case Luke might’ve got it wrong, the writers of Mark’s and Matthew’s gospel record him saying much the same thing.

So how about it Christians? How about giving away all you’ve got? Even a little bit of it to everyone who asks of you? Should you own cars, property and businesses when there are charities asking you to give generously to the needy (‘give to all who ask’) and when there are people out there with nothing? Your Lord and saviour proposes you sell all you have and give the proceeds to the poor (Mark 10.21), so how about it? How about conceding (civil) same-sex marriage to gay couples, without making the shameful song and dance about it that you do? How about shouting less about the ‘rights’ you claim are being taken from you when your Lord specifically says not to? Why not try doing instead just what he commands?

Because you don’t really believe him. You prefer the super-hero Jesus, the ‘Christ’ that St Paul invented, who ‘saves’ you, guides you and doesn’t make demands like Jesus did when he was alive. That Jesus you don’t believe in. And who can blame you? He was a fanatic who believed the world was going to end very soon (Matthew 16.28). His idiotic demands, like this one, were for this soon-to-end system of things. You could give everything away when God was about to intervene and set up his own Kingdom in which you would be rewarded for your generosity. It’s this radical Jesus you reject; you don’t do what he says because he’s just too damned demanding.

Give to all who ask? Let others take things from you? Sell all you have?

Don’t be ridiculous.

 

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

PersecuteThe Reverend Andrew White, vicar of the Anglican church in Baghdad, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. Undoubtedly, appalling things are being done to these people – beheadings, torture, theft of their possessions – just because of what they believe. The Sunni Muslim militia doing the persecuting are routinely referred to in the UK media as ‘Islamists’ or ‘extremists’, in a vain PC attempt to distinguish and distance them from other of Mohammed’s followers. Whatever we call them though, men, women and children who follow a different long-dead prophet are suffering at their hands.

It is a sad fact that whichever religious group holds the reins of power, it persecutes those who hold different beliefs. History is replete with examples and because Christianity has, for most of the last 2000 years, held the whip hand, it is Christians – the church – that has invariably meted out the persecution. And still does.

There are Christians today who, in God’s name, think that atheists, women and homosexuals should be supressed, denied their rights, deported and even imprisoned. In the West, God’s gentle people (‘Christianists’? ‘Extremists’?) tend not to get their way, but in countries where Christianity still holds sway, they do. Christians persecute minorities, in Uganda, Nigeria, the Gambia, Cameroon and elsewhere, as they themselves are persecuted in predominantly Muslim countries. It’s all so terribly human, as they eagerly jettison the command to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated in favour of a ‘holiness’ that drives them to deprive their victims of life and liberty. Christians have been and are no better than the fanatics who turn on them when the boot is on the other foot.

Perhaps they don’t go in for beheadings quite so much these days, though there are still Christians who advocate stoning as a preferred method of purging society of sinners. Others take it upon themselves to campaign against the human rights of those they’ve taken a dislike to. Recently, the Family Foundation of Virginia announced a forty day fast that it thinks will impress God enough he’ll destroy same-sex marriage in the States. It’s a fast with a difference though – those taking part can eat during it: ‘We are asking the entire Body of Christ to join us for this fast,’ the group says. ‘Giving up physical food isn’t necessary – but feeding on the spiritual food provided is vital.’

I don’t know about you, but I always understood that fasting meant doing without food. A fast isn’t a fast otherwise.

This laughable nonsense beautifully encapsulates religious belief; take on the outer aspects of a faith, including its language and its rituals, and reinterpret them in whatever way suits you. That way, showing the love the saviour commands means treating others with contempt; fasting to get God to do what you want really means filling your belly; following Jesus means ignoring most of what he said and doing what you like.

It’s all so empty, so human, so meaningless – so very hypocritical. If only it weren’t quite so dangerous for those on the outside.