I listened amazed the other day to the Today show, on which someone from the religious nutters’ group Christian Voice admitted having strong-armed a cancer charity to persuade it not to take any money donated by the cast of the Jerry Springer – The Opera.
In how many ways is this screwed up? Let’s count.
1) JSTO depicts the eternal split between Satan and those heavenly bunch in Jerry Springer terms. I watched the show (on TV) – more, I suspect, than many of the CV bunch have. I wasn’t outraged, though then again I don’t have any Christian sensibilities to outrage. The swearing seemed slightly out of line, but then again, in character with the context.
2) I quite like the precepts of Christianity, or at least New Testament Christianity: treat people as equals, forgive, help. They seem like good rules for a society that will rub along OK. Nothing that CV is advocating – hating JSTO, threatening the charity – fits those precepts. It’s Old Testament Christianity, which isn’t Christian, it’s pre-medieval. It’s neolithic.
3) Threatening to cut off funds to a charity is, as David Soul quite rightly said, blackmail of the nastiest sort. “Nice little charity you got here… be a shame if something happened to your funding. Oops, I knocked over your coffee pot. Well, accidents happen, uh?”
Hey, I could even claim some animus against David Soul – this is the guy who serenaded my wife during the 1997 election. (Read John Sweeney’s book on the Knutsford constituency – it’s all in there.). But I don’t; I thought his appearance (is that the right word?) on Today was excellent: reasoned, calm, but making the point. He looked good in the TV showing of JSTO, too.
As for JSTO itself, the (idiotic) grumbles saying “You wouldn’t do this about Islam” are dim. No, you wouldn’t in the UK, because we don’t have the cultural reference points to understand them. You’d have to have arranged marriages, early-teen brides, and the audience would be going “I dunno, have you read the Koran?” Whereas in this country most people have vaguely heard about Lucifer being thrown out of heaven.
I’ve got a side interest in the way that religions infect people; they do seem to me to be something which is evolutionarily almost inevitable as you become more intelligent, like an emergent system of intelligence. I once put the idea to Richard Dawkins. Andrew won’t be surprised to hear he dismissed it.
Oh, and now Christian Voice is hinting at targeting abortion clinics. Interesting that the link there, from Christian Today, calls CV “a widely condemned extreme Christian group”. They really need to go away and re-read the New Testament.