Archive for religions

Sheer Thursday in Nature

Posted in Books, Kids, University life with tags , , , , on April 2, 2021 by xi'an

As on this (sheer or maundy) Thursday, it happens from time to time a religious tribune worms its way into the scientific journal Nature. This one calls for a collaboration between scientists and “people of faith” towards stalling climate change. Which is obviously well intentioned, as any initiative towards that goal cannot hurt on principle. But against the scientific method as well: the  tribune calls for convincing religious communities of the need to act by relating scientific facts to “sacred” texts, for focussing on communities of the same faith impacted by climate change, and never argue against anti-science religious arguments… And somewhat irrational even without considering the conservatism of most religious groups, as “people of faith” are about as diverse as the whole society.

“So President Emmanuel Macron of France called me on Thursday afternoon” [really?!]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2020 by xi'an

When I read this first sentence in The New York Times article by Ben Smith, I was a wee bit suprised as it sounded more Trumpian than Macronesque. Esp. when the article continued with the French president “having some bones to pick with the Anglo-American media”… As it transpired, it is factually correct, if giving an impression of the exact opposite of the right causality arrow. The Élysée palace indeed called back the NYT journalist after the latter asked for an interview a few days earlier and that Macron agreed to it. Beyond this misleading launch, the article is much more of an opinion piece (about Ben Smith’s opinions on French politics and secular principles) than an interview. Just like most principles, the rather specific core concept of “laïcité” (secularism) can be both debated ad nauseam and turned into political weapons for all positions on the political spectrum, from extreme-left to extreme-right. It is also almost invariably presented from abroad as an attack on the freedom of religion (and lack thereof), mostly against Muslims, and almost automatically mixed with institutional racism. The article actually goes all over the place, from attributing the uncovering of a pedophile writer to The Times journalists, to seeing Macron’s position as a theatrical posturing helping his own agenda for the next presidential elections. And while I readily concede the many woes of the French society, government, institutions, like police and justice, politics, &tc., I cannot but support an idea of a model that remains universalist and therefore secularist.

Nous continuerons, Professeur.

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2020 by xi'an

“Nous continuerons, Professeur. Avec tous les instituteurs et professeurs de France, nous enseignerons l’histoire, ses gloires comme ses vicissitudes. Nous ferons découvrir la littérature, la musique, toutes les œuvres de l’âme et de l’esprit. Nous aimerons de toutes nos forces le débat, les arguments raisonnables, les persuasions aimables. Nous aimerons la science et ses controverses. Comme vous, nous cultiverons la tolérance. Comme vous, nous chercherons à comprendre, sans relâche, et à comprendre encore davantage cela qu’on voudrait éloigner de nous. Nous apprendrons l’humour, la distance. Nous rappellerons que nos libertés ne tiennent que par la fin de la haine et de la violence, par le respect de l’autre.”

Emmanuel Macron, 21 October 2020

Australian theocracy

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , on December 25, 2019 by xi'an

Examples from The Guardian at which discrimination based on religious arguments should become legal in Australia:

  • A doctor may tell a transgender patient of their religious belief that God made men and women in his image and that gender is therefore binary (EM)

  • A single mother who, when dropping her child off at daycare, may be told by a worker that she is sinful for denying her child a father (Public Interest Advocacy Centre)

  • A woman may be told by a manager that women should submit to their husbands or that women should not be employed outside the home (PIAC)

  • A student with disability may be told by a teacher their disability is a trial imposed by God (PIAC)

  • A person of a minority faith may be told by a retail assistant from another religion that they are a “heathen destined for eternal damnation” (PIAC).

  • A Catholic doctor refusing to provide contraception to all patients (EM) or to prescribe hormone treatment for gender transition (Equality Australia, Just Equal, LGBTI Health Alliance)

  • A Catholic nurse who refused to participate in abortion procedures (EM) or to provide the morning-after pill to a woman admitted to hospital after a sexual assault (Equality Australia)

  • A pharmacist refusing to provide the pill to women for contraceptive use (EM), or hormone treatment (Public Interest Advocacy Centre, LGBTI Health Alliance)

  • A doctor could refuse to prescribe post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) within the required 72-hour window to a patient whose condom broke during a sexual encounter on the basis of religious beliefs that forbid sexual activity outside of marriage (Equality Australia)

  • A psychiatrist could say to a woman with depression that “she should be looking forward to the kingdom of heaven”. (Equality Australia)

  • A Jewish school may require that its staff and students be Jewish and accordingly refuse to hire or admit someone because they were not Jewish (EM)

  • A student attends the same religious school through their primary and secondary education. At 16 they lose faith in the religion of the school and tell a teacher that they are now agnostic. The school would be able to expel, suspend or otherwise punish, for example, give detention to the student (PIAC)

  • A homeowner seeking a tenant for their spare room may require that the tenant be of the same religious belief or activity as the homeowner (EM).

The Long, Cruel History of the Anti-Abortion Crusade [reposted]

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2019 by xi'an

[Excerpts from an editorial in the NYT of John Irving, American author of the Cider House Rules novel we enjoyed reading 30 years ago]

“(…) I respect your personal reasons not to have an abortion — no one is forcing you to have one. I respect your choice. I’m pro-choice — often called pro-abortion by the anti-abortion crusaders, although no one is pro-abortion. What’s unequal about the argument is the choice; the difference between pro-life and pro-choice is the choice. Pro-life proponents have no qualms about forcing women to go through childbirth — they give women no choice (…)

I must remind the Roman Catholic Church of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, we are free to practice the religion of our choice, and we are protected from having someone else’s religion practiced on us. Freedom of religion in the United States also means freedom from religion (…)

The prevailing impetus to oppose abortion is to punish the woman who doesn’t want the child. The sacralizing of the fetus is a ploy. How can “life” be sacred (and begin at six weeks, or at conception), if a child’s life isn’t sacred after it’s born? Clearly, a woman’s life is never sacred; as clearly, a woman has no reproductive rights (…)

Of an unmarried woman or girl who got pregnant, people of my grandparents’ generation used to say: “She is paying the piper.” Meaning, she deserves what she gets — namely, to give birth to a child. That cruelty is the abiding impetus behind the dishonestly named right-to-life movement. Pro-life always was (and remains) a marketing term. Whatever the anti-abortion crusaders call themselves, they don’t care what happens to an unwanted child — not after the child is born — and they’ve never cared about the mother.”