Sunday 30 November 2008

Burnee links for Sunday

"The collective obsession focusing on the loss of a small vaginal membrane still carries on, and it should be stopped"

"And then there's the flat-out creepy association made between a woman's alleged moral worth and her virginity, a stance often accompanied by the father's right to 'give away' his daughters' sexuality when and how he chooses to, as exemplified by the growing popularity of 'purity balls' and communal pledges within the American evangelical community. Here we are, once again, with authoritarian paternal figures using religious and cultural to control their offsprings' bodies no matter that abstinence campaigns have been, time and time again, proved to be inefficient in preventing teenagers from having sex or combating unwanted pregnancies. Not that pro-lifers wish their promiscuous teenagers eternal damnation: when Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter announced her pregnancy, conservatives conveniently ignored the 'making the baby' part to rejoice at Bristol Palin's decision to 'have the child and not sneak off to have an abortion'."

"It doesn't make you a eugenicist to speak up for the right to abort a foetus that may have Down's"

"This week it was shown that there were more children born in the United Kingdom last year with Down's syndrome than there were before the introduction of universal testing, 20 years ago. One of the reasons is more obvious than the other - fertility among women in their 30s outstripped that of those in their 20s for the first time in the UK during 2005. Mothers are getting older and that trend is continuing; with it the incidence of Down's syndrome increases. The more surprising aspect, I find, is that 40% of women who have a Down's syndrome baby having been advised of that strong possibility during pregnancy didn't believe the test results."

More on the incidence of Down's syndrome from Ben Goldacre at Bad Science:

Scientific proof that we live in a warmer and more caring universe

"The internet provides a space for discussion of God outside the narrow margins of the British print media"

"If I may be allowed a quick spurt of self-reference, a few of my pieces for Cif have been a bit off-the-wall (inviting people to join me in a new religious ritual, for example), and polemical (calling atheists cowards), and personal (explaining the basis of my faith), and obscure (cutting-edge analysis of a blasphemy trial of 1656), and downright theological (expressing my belief in Satan). No newspaper would be likely to print such articles. But they found many interested readers (as well as hostile atheists), and sparked some well-informed debates (as well as some rude ranting). Likewise my recent debate with Julian Baggini about literal and metaphorical belief was not the sort of thing a paper would print – it would seem too earnest, too up-itself, too rarified for a print-editor to contemplate. But there are many people interested in such discussions."

"Extremist Hindu groups offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes, according to Christian aid workers in the eastern state of Orissa."

'In recent weeks the violence has subsided but at least 11,000 Christian refugees remain in camps in Kandhamal, the district worst affected. “They are too scared to go home. They know that if they return to their villages they will be forced to convert to Hinduism,” Father Manoj, who is based at the Archbishop’s office in Bhubaneshwar, the state capital, said.'

"A meeting of around 400 evangelicals at one of London's biggest churches went largely unnoticed last week. Hardly surprising really, given that nothing was achieved and nothing agreed. But actually, the fractious, ill-tempered gathering could be scene as a significant tipping point in years to come. Talk of division and schism in the Anglican communion has been discussed for years, but is normally viewed as a battle between the liberals and evangelicals. Now it's the evangelicals who are fighting amongst themselves."

"The simmering tensions spilt over at the recent meeting, held at All Souls Langham Place - the church which was home to the evangelical doyen John Stott for 30 years. Lacking such an inspirational and unifying figure, they have been reduced to bickering and squabbling."

'The Government is about to fund a series of conferences on religious belief - organised, needless to say, by militant atheists. The British Humanist Association will host free public events at which Evan Harris MP (the scary Lib Dem nicknamed "Dr Death" for his pro-abortion views) and atheist philosopher AC Grayling will talk about "religion or belief in equality and human rights groups". The bill will be footed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) - ie, the taxpayer.'

'We shall see how much fuss the General Synod or Eccleston Square make about this ludicrous waste of money as we dip into recession. Probably not much, I guess. They'll just ask that they should also be allowed to stick their hands into the public honeypot so they can spread their Thought for the Day-style message in "seminars" etc.'