Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz

The lady doth protest too much


from @Danatkinson

Hey, the Pope has landed!

I am off around central London on Saturday with a merry band of people – catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic, humanist, probably muslim, hindu, sikh and just about everything besides – to Protest the Pope. There are many, many reasons to do so…

I’ve had people, frankly, have a go at me about it but I’d have thought it’s obvious why I feel the need to join in. I can understand if people just aren’t that bothered and don’t want to show up but surprised if it’s not clear why people are angry at the man and the fact that the UK is paying for his visit.

Shout, shout, let it all out

On the PtP site is a ‘Rap Sheet‘ for the Pope that concisely summarises the main disagreements with his policies and views but also goes into them in a bit more detail, with supporting quotations.

These can be crudely summarised as child rape, homophobia, misogyny, racism, and the spreading of HIV.

There is a lot of abuse of women in the church, which tends to get less publicity than the young victims. 14 of 22 convicted child abusers remain in the chuch even now. The Murphy Report exposed some of the abuse in the Irish catholic church. Bill Carney’s case is notable, his words here are quite chilling – also see the Newsnight footage.

The Pope does not stand up for the human rights of women, gay people or children, opposing abortion in all cases, and contraception even within marriage. So, no one should have a physical relationship with their lover should they be of the same sex or if one of them is known to be HIV-positive; the church spreads misinformation about STDs and barrier contraception, contributing to the spread of HIV and deaths due to AIDS. Women should carry any child to term, whatever her situation, since the potential lives of embryos and foetuses are apparently more important than hers – yet the church has not condemned capital punishment so the ‘all life is sacred’ thing doesn’t seem to apply universally. These are not the views of most sensible catholics, but are the will and word of the head of their church.

This article in the Independent is a plea to catholics to disassociate themselves from the Pope’s views, as they are also damaging to members of the religion. However, a quick look at #papalvisit on Twitter clearly shows that most people feel the need to stand up for him regardless of what comes out of his mouth.

This New Statesman piece is essential reading, detailing why the recognition of the Vatican City as a state, the Holy See, should not be ignored and the activity it has permitted. No other religion is afforded this ‘honour’, given this power. People underestimate the influence of the Catholic church in Europe because of it. We need separation of church and state, to allow both freedom of and from religion. This is important for religious and non-religious alike. It is vital for the upholding of human rights.

Hilariously, yesterday cardinal Kasper pulled out of the visit because we have ‘aggressive atheism’ and we’re apparently a ‘Third-world country‘ due to our ‘multiculturalism’. The hypocrisy here is fantastic – ‘we want to show our faith publically’ – yet people of all faiths and none should not be free to voice their concerns because they’re at odds with his ideas?

Let’s not forget Ratzinger’s lifting of Richard Williamsexcommunication – a man who denies the gas chambers operated in WW2 and says only about 300,000 Jews were killed, no genocide involved, the attribution of ‘miracle‘ to the results of Jack Sullivan‘s fairly routine back operation or the suspect treatment of the soon-to-be-saint Cardinal Newman.

Why protest?

Well, why is the UK’s money being spent on an official visit for the head of a religion? When he opposes our ‘liberal laws’ and compares the problem of institutionalised child rape to the “grave crime” of allowing women to hold official positions in his organisation.

Protest against  his outdated, offensive views. Protest in support of all the victims, against spending money on an unelected preacher afforded too much power and recognition, against his words and actions.

Tim Minchin’s Pope Song perfectly demonstrates why people should find the pope offensive (moreso than the language in the song btw; not for work/headphones required!)

Also see the PodDelusion live at Skeptics in the Pub London for some BHA commentary (from 3:14).


I’ve heard “well there are paedophiles everywhere, mostly within families”, for example. So what? The pope is the head of a powerful organisation, who can affect law and many, many lives. He commands a lot of respect, people listen to what he says. He has (and uses) the power to protect known paedophiles and did so because he considers the reputation and integrity of his institution more important than the human rights of children – as a result he has caused many thousands of lives to be affected.

The fact that other crimes exist does not absolve others. There is a greater rape culture in many African countries but that does not mean we should ignore our own. If you know of crimes, if you have the power to stop them, you should be using it – people need protecting and turning a blind eye helps no one.

I have not covered everything, I’m sure others have made more eloquent points. But I know I do not believe these kinds of views and actions should be sanctioned by our government, paid for with our money or allowed to pass without comment. Also, the protest itself is going to be fun, and I need some of that.

You know it makes sense.


Shocking bleachgate stuff from @fibularis


Well, within a few hours of landing, the Pope has already practically Godwinned himself. See the transcript of his first speech.

we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many

Um, Pope is clearly unfamiliar with Hitler’s own reasons for his actions. For example, from Mein Kampf:

The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will.

Also we have, of course, the failure of Pius XII to condemn the Nazi regime at the time, as RD comments.

Moving on to more gems from the Pope’s attack on secularism:

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny”

Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms

So apparently atheism and secularism breed intolerance. Former member of the Hitler Youth (sorry to keep bringing it up but it’s probably important in this context) says it was christianity that stood up against Nazism (implying while not plainly stating that atheism caused and tolerates it). The hypocrisy is beyond my words and I expect we’ll see some heavy backlash to this quite swiftly; for example the BHA has already made a statement.

Edit II: see the fantastic Konnolsky‘s commentary on these remarks and Stephen Fry’s response to the Daily Fail’s latest spewings.

Edit III: Brilliant! (I might stop this eventually) By CaptainMandate

I don’t know if hitler was a catholic, atheist, astrologist or wiccan (depends on your source) but I do know he was a german head of a totalitarian state endorsed by mussolini

glass houses


Author: noodlemaz

I prefer to think of myself as a realist rather than a pessimist, but perhaps that's just optimistic. Honest, atheist, scientist, feminist.

7 thoughts on “The lady doth protest too much

  1. I had the same argument with my house mate (who was brought up catholic) and according to him, what we don’t understand as non Catholics is apparently how important the pope is to the religion, and to Catholics in general.
    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you whole heartedly. But it goes some way to explain why ordinary Catholics are backing him. He was also talking about how Catholics themselves feel like they are persecuted in English society and that the arrival of the pope somehow puts the situation at ease in their mind. He was drawing a parallel to the sectarian violence and laws of the early part of the last century using rhetoric such as “No pope here”. I think his main argument was do we want to alienate people for what they believe?
    To draw on another parallel to the Dutch MP “racist Mc Fartface” and how we as a country deported him. I personally believe that to be wrong. I do not agree with him, I think his films are bullshit and I think he is a nasty nasty racist man, BUT, I also believe in a certain amount of civil liberties and it is my choice to either take what he says on board, Protest against him, or say “Bugger off you racist I hope you get you testicles removed by a tetanus soaked blunt spoon”. So on the same lines I would be hypocritical if I was to say I don’t think we should allow the pope to come. Although the situation changes somewhat when I have to pay for him to come! By all means turns up, say your fruitcake style beliefs and bugger off, don’t expect me to pay for it.
    Although, to play devils advocate here, Surely it would be better for our police force to police our own crowds etc than to allow a foreign police force to do it. I’m uneasy about giving power of jurisdiction over a foreign force.
    Ultimately this non-sensicle raving and comment says “I agree with you, but its wrought with problems, most of which could result in sectarian violence.”

    • Indeed. Anyone is free to come and talk whatever rubbish they like, but for the Queen to be happy about it and tax money to pay for it… noplzthnxbai!!1!

      I very much hope sectarian violence will not come into it. To be honest, I highly doubt that it will.

      For all Benny’s atheism-is-the-root-of-all-evil type concern, the reality does not back that up. Plenty of religious types are coming along too, so if it is true that religion is some sort of wrongdoing repellant, that ought to keep things running smoothly.

      Seriously though, I’m getting sick of people’s arguments against standing up for victims of child abuse, oppressed women, people with sexual preferences not endorsed by the church, the impoverished at risk of death from preventable diseases – if it’s ‘aggressive atheism’ to fight for human rights… oh I can’t get my head around it.

      I maintain, I am a cuddly atheist, I respect people, individuals, but not everyone’s crazy ideas and if a person seems to only have crazy ideas, they lose my respect. I am a pacifist, pretty liberal – this guy being here on our ££s rankles, and I’m going to show my disdain on Saturday by stomping around my city singing and shouting and having a good old time with everyone else who’s pissed off about it.

      So there.

      • I whole heartedly agree with you. I have always had a bee in my bonnet about the catholic church, and in fact all organised religion. I have never understood the need for it, and the only things I have ever really observed are the aforementioned atrocities. Ive never bought into the idea that people need the crutch.
        I also love the way he godwinned himself! Athiests 1 Catholics 0

        Also, Im pretty sure the catholic church has apologised for their involvement (Read: knowledge and complete lack of action) when it came to WW2.
        I’ll look it up and back that statement up.

        I’m in the lab on sat so I cant join you 😦

      • I couldn’t disagree with you more. I understand that there is a (very necessary) dialogue to be had – which is what plenty of reasonable people who are holding protests during the Pope’s visit are hoping for – but I don’ think that’s really what you’re advocating? Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but what you seem to be suggesting is excluding a hugely significant international leader from discussions about integrating one of the world’s largest religious communities into modern society. That strikes me as a pretty prejudiced and ignorant stance.

        I was raised a Catholic (though I would probably describe myself as an atheist now – if pressed) and I think part of the problem with this brand of evangelical atheism (Dawkins, Hitchens et al) is that it misunderstands the philosophical terms of the debate – it fundamentally fails to communicate with the people it pretends to be arguing with because it seems unable to grasp the different significance of religious language. You apply your brand of ‘common sense’ to a problem and, rather arrogantly, imagine that everybody must accept/share your assumptions.

        The issues you raise which, to your mind, make the Catholic Church so uniquely reprehensible are, though of course valid in a way, presented in this blog as grossly distorted tabloid caricatures of very serious ethical problems. The spread of AIDS in Africa (to take one example) cannot simply be laid at the door of the Catholic Church – it is an extremely complex sociological issue with multiple cultural factors. The Catholic Church, for example, explicitly states that sex outside marriage is a sin – though I do not personally agree with this position I can see that it is not incompatible with banning the use of condoms. I guess you might be referring to the current Pope’s statement that advocating the use of condoms in Africa might make the situation worse. I interpreted that statement to mean that he felt that the broader issue was promiscuity – which, to him, presumably it is. These simplifications, of which there are many in this blog post that I can’t be bothered to go into, seem a tad hysterical and yes, a little prejudiced.

        • Thanks for putting your name to your comment, was that accidental or not? I allow anonymous comments but find it common courtesy to present some sort of identification.

          Let’s try to go through this methodically.

          1. Preaching is not dialogue or debate. The pope has not come for a discussion, he’s come to wave at his fans and spread his doctrine. Were he to sit down for debates, I’d happily go and observe in a non-protesty manner.

          2. The pope is not seeking to integrate; his comments should make that clear. He has denounced secularism (despite its wish for freedom for all to practice their own religions/observe their own beliefs and ideals as they see fit) already, by default does not consider other faiths valid. His aim is to spread his message, not to work out how his role fits into the modern world – his ideas are amazingly old-fashioned and it should be up to the church to come in line with law and changing culture (when those changes are positive). Sadly by its nature it is highly conservative and again, this shines through in the pope’s speeches.

          3. Please refrain from silly phrases like ‘evangelical atheism’ – you can’t evangelise about atheism, it’s not an entity, it has no set of beliefs, rules or moral stances – these are on an individual basis. A-theism, simple lack of belief in god.

          4. Nowhere did I say that these things are unique to the catholic church. It’s probably unique that all of them together are espoused by one man in such a position of power (hence protesting the *pope*) but I am not saying ONLY priests abuse boys or ONLY catholics preach misogyny. Both things I am equally vehemently against wherever they may exist as they go against my moral fibres.
          I did not state that HIV and AIDS are *solely* down to the messages and works of the catholic church. I studied it at university, I know that is not the case. However, the pope’s teachings are at odds with our best prevention strategies that save lives – have a read of http://www.badscience.net/2010/09/the-pope-and-aids/

          The pope would not even condone a married couple having protected sex if one of them were HIV positive and wished to protect their loved one from the disease; it’s simply a no-no. That is unacceptable.

          The official advice IS partly to abstain and be faithful, in addition to practising safe sex. That is the best way to keep disease-free, especially in poorer communities. The pope may believe promiscuity is a sin and of course it can contribute to the spread of disease but that is not the issue here. You’re conflating them a bit, I feel.

          Of course it’s simplified, it’s a sum-up of why I’m joining the protest, not a dissertation. And that’s why I included so many links. But I hope I’ve answered a couple of your questions at least.

  2. You made some first rate points there. I appeared on the web for the issue and found most individuals will associate with with your website.

  3. Good article and right to the point. I am not sure if this is truly the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thanks 🙂

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