Creationist Zoos and ‘Quality’ Badges

A brief story published in the Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury seems to be provoking a fair degree of head-scratching on Twitter at the moment for what I hope should be fairly obvious reasons:

Zoo’s education award NOAH’S Ark Zoo Farm has achieved recognition for the education programme it runs at its Wraxall site. The zoo hosts more than 15,000 school children each year, ranging from infant school pupils to teenagers studying A-levels, and has now been awarded the Quality Badge from the Learning Outside of the Classroom scheme (LOTC). The badge is a nationally-recognised benchmark that demonstrates that those places awarded it have met several stringent indicators for education. Assessments are conducted by the Government-appointed Council for Learning… Read more »

Jesus & Mo and Channel 4 News

So, without wishing to waste time recapping events that are probably already familiar to most of my regular readers, the ongoing shitstorm of the wonderful Jesus and Mo cartoon strip started with this tweet by Maajid Nawaz: To me, it matters that you can see that for yourself. Channel 4 News, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t feel the same way so when it covered this story the image that was shown to the British public was this one: This is perhaps a small improvement on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, where they declined to show any kind of image of this ‘offending cartoon’, but as I’m not aware that the BBC has yet put out any kind of statement that either… Read more »

And all I said to my wife was: “That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah”

By now I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that Maajid Nawaz, a Lib Dem PPC in Hampstead and Kilburn, stands accused of committing the thoroughly heinous crime of causing religiously aggravated butthurt in the first degree, the suggested punishment for which appears to be political career death by change.org petition. At the heart of this is, yet again, a completely innocuous Jesus & Mo cartoon which Maajid clearly considers to be anything but offensive, hence the following tweet: As you might have already guessed, this precipitated the usual tide of feigned outrage and assorted other venomous cockdribble together with the aforementioned petition, which I wouldn’t usually bother with were it not for the fact that it appears to… Read more »

Dear Rationalist Association… fix your petition, please! UPDATED

Update #2 – 15:20pm, 8 June 2012 The Rationalist Association have now updated their petition to reflect the information in this post and the discussion we had this morning, so the comments below are now moot other than serving as a record of the RA’s willingness to respond positively to constructive criticism. So, a good show all around – now sign the petition folks… Unity. …………………………………………………………………………………………………… It’s not that long ago that I wrote about the case of Indian skeptic Sanal Edmaraku who is sadly facing the possibility of a three year prison sentence for debunking a ‘weeping statue miracle’ at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, which is the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Over the… Read more »

Skeptic faces threat of 3 year sentence for exposing weeping statue scam

India prides itself on being the world’s largest secular democracy but when you scratch the surface of that claim just a little that claim starts to look rather shaky as Indian skeptic and rationalist Sanal Edamarku recently discovered after he investigated a ‘weeping statue’ at the Catholic Basillica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni:

Sanal Edamaraku leader of the Indian Rationalist Organisation  set out to investigate a weeping statue in Mumbai at the Our Lady of Velankanni Church and caused a storm when he released his findings in March. Edmaraku claims that the “holy” water comes from a nearby toilet and could be infected with bacteria and he also accused clergy of using the situation to make money… Read more »

ECHR, Same-sex Marriages and The Daily Telegraph

It’s been widely observed that, since it was taken over by Barclay Brothers, The Daily Telegraph has noticeably shifted downmarket and has come to resemble a broadsheet version of the Daily Mail. What perhaps a little less obvious is that The Telegraph’s religious outlook has shifted at the same time. The Telegraph has long had the reputation of being the most conservative, and Conservative, of the broadsheets and back in the days when the Church of England was often referred to as ‘the Tory Party at prayer’ the generally convivial relationship that existed between the Anglican Church and the Conservative Party help to ensure that the Telegraph’s general line on the social issues of the day were not only reliably… Read more »

Christina Odone’s Persecution Complex

What’s the difference between a blogger and newspaper columnist? The answer, more often than not, is that a blogger actually takes the time to investigate a story before committing their thoughts to teh Interwebs, unlike newspaper columnists, many of whom seem to think that the fact that they get paid for airing their opinions gives them an unfettered right to run off at the keyboard without first performing even the most cursory exercise in checking their facts. Yesterday, the Telegraph published a typically formulaic rant on the subject of the alleged persecution of Christians by Cristina Odone, under the headline ‘The attack on FreeFaith.com shows the intolerance of religion’s enemies’ which concludes with the following allegation:

Now, they can’t…. Read more »

Fail of the House of Lusher

Over at the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the great man himself has posted a fascinating and, to say the least, illuminating account of a telephone conversation with a reporter from the Telegraph which speaks volumes for the rather desperate state into which the newspaper has fallen in recent times.

Yesterday evening I was telephoned by a reporter who announced himself as Adam Luscher (I think) from the Sunday Telegraph. At the end of a week of successfully rattling cages, I was ready for yet another smear or diversionary tactic of some kind, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the surreal form this one was to take. I obviously can’t repeat what was said word-for-word (my poor… Read more »

Two Peas in a Totalitarian Pod

I must admit that I’m somewhat surprised to see some people making a meal the sight of Sayeeda Warsi cosying up to the Pope and buying wholesale into the Catholic Church’s absurd rhetorical attacks on so-called ‘militant secularism’. Warsi is, of course a Muslim, and its this – and this alone – which seems to have thoroughly perplexed some people largely, one suspects, because their thinking on the nature of the relationship between Catholicism and Islam runs no further than the Crusades. In focussing solely on historical enmities, what these people are failing to see is that Catholicism and Islam have more in common than just monotheism. In purely political terms Islam is a totalitarian theocratic ideology in which there… Read more »

O.Q. – Original Quacksters*

I think its time for Andrew Brown to move on from The Guardian to a publisher like Elsevier where his regular opinion column can be given a more appropriate title. Something along the lines of ‘The Journal of Not Even Wrong’ would do very nicely, if only because the “Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding‘ is already taken (and used to great skeptical effect). Brown’s latest venture in the realms of not even wrong takes in the news that the Advertising Standards Authority has taken a Bath-based Evangelical Christian group, ‘Healing on the Streets’, to task for making some very dodgy claims about the healing abilities of their invisible friend…

Anglican Mainstream is a thoroughly mean-spirited grouping that deserves this… Read more »