Friday, 30 May 2008

Clampdown on anti-Scientology protestors in Birmingham

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A blog reader has kindly alerted me to the latest development in the great British Scientology 'c' word saga. As protesters from the group Anonymous gained significant victories for the right to use the word 'cult' in London and Edinburgh, activists in Birmingham seem to have become the subject of a clampdown by local police.

According to a comment left on my previous post on this matter, and to chat on the Anonymous discussion board Enturbulation, the Birmingham Anonymous Rapid Reaction Force (BARRF) have were warned by police on 28 May that if they display the word 'cult' on banners they can be arrested for inciting religious hatred. As if this wasn't enough, they were also told that they can't use megaphones in the city centre, and four members were fined for handing out flyers without a licence (on littering grounds, by environmental officers from the local authority).

Given the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to the London case – that the use of the word 'cult' "is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression" – the position of the police in Birmingham hopefully won't be able to stand for too long. As for the leafleting problem, members of Anonymous have identified that licences are not required when handing flyers "where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purpose of a religion or belief", which they believe covers their actions in protesting against Scientology.

Let's hope so – we wish them luck.

[Thanks to the commenter who put me on to this story. Also, if you're involved in any of this we'd love to hear from you. Comments on posts are always welcome, but also feel free to contact us]

US marine withdrawn for proselytising in Iraq

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A story on the BBC website gives me a good opportunity to direct readers to an excellent New Humanist article from earlier this year.

A US marine based in Falluja has been withdrawn from the area for allegedly distributing coins engraved with evangelising messages in Arabic. According to reports, one side of the coins read "Where will you spend eternity?" while on the reverse was a well known Bible verse: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

The move follows complaints from residents of Falluja, and officially soldiers are forbidden from "proselytising any religion, faith or practices, and our troops are trained on those guidelines before they deploy".

The strength of evangelical Christians in the US military has been an issue for some time and earlier this year in New Humanist David Belden reported on the efforts of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to expose and force an end to their influence. It's frightening stuff and I strongly urge you to read it...

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Californian Ford dealership tries the bigoted approach to advertising

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I thought I'd round off the day with a bizarre story I came across on PZ Myers' ever-excellent blog Pharyngula.

Kieffe and Sons, a Ford car dealership in Mojave, California has produced a radio ad which, rather than pointing out, say, the quality of their service or the range of cars on offer, instead chooses to play on the stat that "86% of Americans say they believe in God" and suggest that they're not interested in custom from the remaining 14%:

"But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Keiffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don't tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess maybe I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that's tough, this is America folks, it's called free speech. None of us at Keiffe & Sons Ford are afraid to speak out. Keiffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don't see you today, by the grace of God, we'll be here tomorrow."

It's certainly a novel approach to marketing - "come and visit our good old traditional bigoted Christian car dealership. You won't see any filthy atheists/Muslims/Jews/Hindus/others hanging around here while we're giving you the hard sell". Not sure why they feel it's going to make anyone buy but, as PZ points out, you can't rule out the possibility that it might prove successful.

One atheist blogger tried writing directly to Ford to complain about this rogue dealership, but as her post shows this didn't exactly prove successful.

Here's a YouTube clip with the audio from the ad:

Sharon Stone blames Chinese earthquake on bad karma

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Darn celebrities with their bizarre spiritual beliefs. You can't live with them, but reading those free papers they give out in London might become even more boring if we had to live without them. We've featured a few before, most recently Madonna and her belief that parents' souls choose the gender of their children, and now along comes former-Scientologist-turned-Buddhist Sharon Stone with her view that the recent Sichuan earthquake in China might have been caused by "bad karma":

"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. I've been concerned about how should we deal with the Olympics, because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine. And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma – when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

That's right, China as a geographical entity (population 1.3bn) has "bad karma" because of the ongoing situation with Tibet (the Dalai Lama's Sharon's friend you know) so along comes an enormous earthquake that kills over 68,000 innocent people and leaves over 4m homeless in a province in the middle of China which is unlikely to be inhabited by any of the people directly responsible for what's happened in Tibet (which incidentally Sharon is "not happy" about).

Needless to say many people in China are unhappy with these comments and some cinemas have vowed to never show her films again, which will presumably come as no great loss to the Chinese people. Cosmetics stores have also taken down adverts featuring Stone, and citizens have posted videos on YouTube calling on the actor to apologise.

Stone made the comments while she was at Cannes last week. Here's a video:

Christians feels misrepresented by media over Embryology Bill

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I've been off for a couple of weeks and I was pleased to see that while I was away religious attempts to restrict scientific progress and abortion rights failed as the controversial elements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill made it safely through the Commons.

Now a story from a Christian news source tells me that the Christian Broadcasting Council is concerned that the Christian viewpoint was misrepresented in the media during the debate over the matter.

Chairman Olave Snelling feels "Christians and pro-life campaigners are portrayed in the media as people who do not care about the cure of diseases, research and the plight of unwanted pregnancy" and that "the public and MPs were not adequately informed about the issues and the consequences of certain parts of the Bill, despite the best efforts of many Christian and pro-life groups who worked tirelessly with MPs."

Which isn't how I remember this debate. Think back to Easter weekend, when clergy from across the Christian spectrum were given ample (excessive) column inches and airtime when they chose to use their most holy day to "inform" the public on the perceived dangers of the bill. They were using their top guys (bishops, cardinals etc), so presumably this amounted to their "best efforts". Anyone seeking the news had little choice but to hear and read these views, but unfortunately for them their "best efforts" comprised some of the most stunningly ill-informed and ignorant opinions heard in recent public debate. If this sounds strong, let us recap for a moment:

Cardinal Keith O'Brien (Scotland's top Catholic): "This bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life." Other descriptions of the bill included "monstrous", "grotesque", "hideous" and of "Frankenstein proportions".

Dr Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham (Anglican): "Gender-bending was so last century; we now do species bending".

Add to this failed attempts at debate by representatives of anti-abortion groups (see the BHA's Andrew Copson's demolition of Paul Tulley from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children live on BBC News) and it's difficult to argue that Christians weren't given a fair chance to make their points. They even had a free vote in Parliament play with. But ultimately they were wrong, and fortunately reason won the day.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The 'c' word: an update

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Following on from Caspar's earlier post concerning the 15-year-old who was handed a court summons by the City of London police for displaying a banner branding Scientology a cult, it's our pleasure to report that further developments have held up the legal right to use the dreaded 'c' word (see you last Tuesday, maybe?).

It turns out that once the Crown Prosecution Service looked into the matter they decided that use of the word is neither "abusive or insulting" and dropped the case against the boy. He had been taking part in a protest organised by the anti-Scientology group Anonymous outside the church's headquarters near St Paul's on 10 May and was issued with the summons for inciting religious hatred under the Public Order Act after he refused to take down a banner saying "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult".

As reported in the Guardian, a CPS spokesman explained the decision as follows: "In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read 'Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult', was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual."

And the City of London force's reaction is great news for both free speech and the protesters, who can now cult away to the heart's content at future demonstrations: "The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force's policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice."

Meanwhile, Anonymous protesters in Edinburgh deserve a huge pat on the back for the success of their preemptive move to ensure the same thing doesn't happen to them while protesting in the Scottish capital. They contacted the city council to check the 'c' word wouldn't land them in trouble, to which an official replied "I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this."

So, congratulations to Anonymous both north and south of the border and, in support of what seems to be a newly-guaranteed freedom to use the 'c' word in public, I'd just like to declare that Scientologists are all a bunch of cults.

Ex-footballer Gavin Peacock to train for religious career in Canada

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Continuing my fondness for stories where football meets religion, I thought I'd pick up on the news that former Chelsea midfielder Gavin Peacock is to emigrate to Canada to take a three-year Masters course in Divinity with a view to becoming an ordained Christian minister.

Now, this isn't one of those shock sporting conversion stories – Peacock's born-again and has been a Christian since the age of 19 – and in my opinion the real story is the reshuffle his departure will initiate in the BBC's punditry ranks. They've already lost Ian Wright as a result of using him as a "comedy jester" and with Peacock off with God they'll be forced to take on two new names to back up their diminishing football coverage. No doubt certain friends of mine who are as obsessed with punditry as they are with the game (you know who you are) will furiously debate the potential impact of Peacock's departure, but personally I'm a fan and would prefer it was someone else disappearing to the other side of the world to become a minister. Lawro, if you're reading this, have you ever considered the religious life?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Don't mention the 'c' word

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Four letters, begins with 'c' ends with 't', got a 'u' in it, you know the one. That’s right 'Cult'.

Turns out it is a criminal offence to use the word in reference to that august institution dedicated to thetan-themed gobblegook, the church of Scientology. At least it is in the City of London - where the chief superintendent appears to have some worrying links to said completely non-cultish religion, though it’s not in the rest of London. An un-named 15-year old faces prosecution for holding a placard with the 'c' word on it during a demonstration outside Scientology's city of London HQ. He was warned that juxtaposing the words Scientology and cult contravened section 5 of the Public Order Act and he was asked to take down the sign. After refusing he was issued with a summons - story here. The teenager's defence was that he was merely quoting the opinion of Mr Justice Lacey who back in 1994 used the ‘c’ word in reference to the aforementioned completely rational belief outfit founded by a scrupulously honest major novelist. Justice Lacey also concluded that said wholly savoury and unworryingly rich and powerful and totally not-at-all-paranoid collection of always-do-wells and marketing geniuses were "corrupt, sinister and dangerous" (expressing of course the Judge's opinion of these tirelessly self-less, community-minded missionaries from another planet).

If you are the anonymous 15-year-old or you know him, do get in touch - we might be able to help you with your case.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Dutch cartoonist arrested

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The controversial Dutch cartoonist who publishes under the pseudonym Gregorious Nekschot was arrested in a raid on his home by Dutch police last Tuesday. Nekschot is renowned for publishing satirical cartoons about Islam, some of which make the Danish cartoons look like Peanuts (blowjobs and pigs!). The arrest came about because of a complaint against the cartoonist by a convert to Islam Abdul Jabbar Van de Ven, made back in 2005 (why have they only acted on it now?). The Dutch justice ministry has issued a statement saying they found seven cartoons' that are 'illegal'. The cartoonist has been forced to remove these images from his website though they can be seen here. The case continues.

Since I can't read Dutch I can't judge these images on the only basis on which cartoons should be judged in my view- that is whether they are funny- but the whole thing, including a reportedly 30-hour interrogation, seems ridiculously heavy-handed and counter-productive. I thought the Danish cartoons were mostly rubbish (except the 'agent provocateur' one) and the reason given for publishing them disingenuous (is that how you start a debate?); and Geert Wilders Fitna film is just the worst kind of racist propaganda. I also value the freedom to say so. But if it comes down to a battle with the authorities about it we have to stand with Gregorious Nekschot, Jyllands-Posten and Wilders. These debates are nothing to do with the law which should preserve all of our rights to say, write and draw what we think.

Cartooning is not a crime!

God and the US elections

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Two pieces via the ever excellent Revealer add depth to our cover story about the role of the evangelical voters in the race for the White House. First Jeff Sharlet looks at Hilary Clinton's closet fundamentalism, and second Mollie Hemingway analyses the increasingly Christian language of Barack Obama. Cripes!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Gin and Oyster Cards

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One possibly unconsidered consequence of Mayor Bozza's attention-grabbing ban on drinking on the Tube will mean the end of the great Circle Line Party . (For those of you who don't know this involves commandeering a carriage or several on a Circle Line train and holding a party, as the train chunters round and round). There will be a final send off this Saturday, all you need is an oyster card, natty threads and a flask:
Here's the blurb:
"A dapperly dressed, terribly civilised, gin-soaked drinks party on the Circle Line, before BoJo bans us from drinking on public transport. Let's demonstrate how civilised and social drinking really is."
Boo to Boris, say I.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Lott on Lut

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From the most recent issue of Granta Magazine (putting all their new money to good use with a snazzy redesign and new website) Tim Lott writes brilliantly about the murder of a friend - a grim tale about the toxic mix of sadomasochism, shame, religion and loneliness.
[Lot makes a passing reference towards the end to the fact that he gave up being a newspaper columnist. I, for one, am very glad of that as I didn't like him as a columnist, whereas he is a very good writer of these kind of long-form reflections]

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Cult update: Messiah banged up

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Regular readers will remember Wayne Bent - the self-styled messiah of the Strong City cult which Ben Anthony visited for us for the Jan/Feb issue of New Humanist. Wayne's been in a spot of bother; he was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor following a complaint by one of the cult's former members. Three teenagers have also been removed from the cult compound. After three days he has been released on bond. Bent denies all charges - he says he did lie down naked with the children because he was ordered to by god, but no sexual contact took place - and found the time to point out that the three days he spent in jail were exactly the same amount of time Jesus was buried before (according to unconfirmed reports) he rose again. Uncanny. The case continues, we'll try and keep you posted.
Here's Ben and former cult members talking ab out it on the Larry King show.

Brain in Brighton

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Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist, Vice president of the rationalist Association (that's us) and a Baroness no less. She has a new book out called ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century which continues her explorations into the brain and the latest scientific thinking about it. She will be discussing the book at the Brighton Festival this Sunday, in a session chaired by our own Laurie Taylor. More details here. Read Bill Thompson's review of ID from the latest issue of New Humanist.

Religion is childish says genius

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"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." Turns out that Albert Einstein wasn't really all that religious after all, according to a letter which has just be found.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Israel's 60th anniversary: more from our new issue

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Today Israel is celebrating its Independence Day, which this year marks 60 years since its foundation (initially I was confused as independence was declared on 14 May 1948, but a trusty Wikipedia search tells me Israel celebrates its Independence Day on the 5th of the Jewish lunar month Iyar, which is today).

To mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation we asked two Jewish writers – Mike Marqusee and Eliane Glaser – to consider what Israel means for them. Their answers reflect the mixed feelings the issue invokes in those with attachments to Israel (and in those without them) and are sure to attract some strong opinions.

Have a read and then discuss by leaving comments on this post.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Campaign 2008: Nailing the faith vote

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Barack Obama's march to the nomination seems to be back on track following last night's victory in North Carolina (though Hilary's just lent herself $6.4m so she can carry on fighting), so this seemed like an appropriate time to shamelessly plug our May/June cover story, in which James Crabtree discusses how, in the current campaign, both parties are courting the evangelical vote.

Read it, it's very good.

Peanut butter disproves evolution

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Anyone out there who thinks the theory of evolution might be true may as well just forget it, as it's almost certainly disproved by jars of peanut butter which, if the theory stood up, would occasionally contain new life when you opened them:

Thanks to New Humanist reader Alistair Scott for sending this in. He was convinced it was a gag until he Googled the presenter, Chuck Missler, and found out that he's a well-known evangelist and a former "Branch Chief of the Department of Guided Missiles" in the US military...

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Jesus Camp on TV tonight

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Readers in the UK might be interested to hear that the Oscar-nominated documentary Jesus Camp is showing on Channel 4 tonight at 11.05pm.

The film profiles the Kids on Fire School of Ministry, a Pentecostal summer camp in North Dakota where fire and brimstone pastor Becky Fisher trains children to join the "army of God".

I haven't seen it, but it was critically acclaimed when it was released in 2006 and it looks suitably disturbing – see the trailer below:

Robbie Williams obsessed with aliens

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On this blog we're big fans of stories concerning irrational turns taken by major celebrities, be they YouTube videos of Tom Cruise (they're in the public domain, okay) or stories of Madonna telling a Vanity Fair reporter that our souls choose the gender of our children.

So imagine our delight when it turned out that fading pop superstar Robbie Williams has retreated into the world of alien conspiracies. The Sun recently caught up with Robbie at a UFO convention in Nevada, where he confirmed "his belief that UFOs are 'there all the time' but only show themselves on Earth when they make mistakes and their 'protective shields' come off".

Sporting a new look that may disappoint his female fans (think an overweight Fidel Castro) Robbie meets a mother who claims her son is regularly abducted by aliens, and who believes he is "an 'Indigo Child', who has been put on Earth as a psychic sage. She's taken photographs of him being abducted, but they never come out "because she is not a very good photographer and only owns a disposable camera".

It turns out Robbie's always had an interest in the paranormal, telling the Sun that “Mum was a tarot card reader. On the shelf just outside her room there would be the books about the world’s mysteries — elves, demons and witchcraft. She’d have people round to read the tarot cards and read their palms. She’d talk about spirits, ghosts . . . the other side. I was that scared that I never talked to her about it and just lived in fear of this stuff.”

He says he's tried visiting psychics in the past but has always found them to be "charlatans" and now he's hoping the same won't happen with his interest in UFOs. For the moment he's happy to spend "hours holed up in his LA mansion researching UFOs on the net and watching DVDs about alien conspiracies".

Robbie's not the first celebrity to develop an obsession with alien conspiracies (Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters star Dan Ackroyd believes alien/human hybrids might be walking among us) and, as our exclusive graph reveals, there seems to be a correlation between fame and increased irrationality. But then again, they might be the rational ones...

Tune into Radio 4 tonight at 6.30pm, when Robbie Williams will be talking to Jon Ronson about his interest in UFOs.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Royal girlfriend converts from Catholicism to marry a royal

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Yesterday I wrote about the debate at the RSA held to mark the launch of a new group, British Muslims for Secular Democracy. During this debate the journalist Yasmin Alibhai Brown made the point that Britain is not yet a proper, religiously neutral secular state.

And what better way to illustrate the absurd, established state we live in than by turning to our distinguished royal family? You see, according to the Sun (yes I'm linking to the Sun) the girlfriend of someone from the royal family has made, in their words, a "dramatic" 11th hour conversion from Catholicism to the Church of England in order to ensure that her beau doesn't lose his vital position as 11th in line to the throne.

As any self-respecting secularist should know, the 1701 Act of Settlement declared that any royals who married Catholics would have their names stricken from the line of succession, and that piece of legislation still stands to this day.

However, anyone concerned that the girlfriend may have received an unfriendly nudge in the right direction from senior royals shouldn't worry too much – Buckingham Palace insists it was all her own decision and that "She was welcomed into the Church of England some time ago."

[Names withheld from this article due to irrelevance]

Thursday, 1 May 2008

RSA debate agrees – a secular state is best for Islam

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Broad agreement was the order of the day this lunchtime at the Royal Society of Arts, where four leading commentators on the role of Islam in Britain gathered to debate the question: "The Secular State – the best option for British Muslims?" The debate was chaired by the Muslim peer Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

Speaking first was Dr Usama Hasan, director of the City Circle, an organisation that seeks to promote the development of distinct British Muslim identity. Hasan opened by stressing that political secularism is desirable for all, but that many Muslims, himself included, would find it difficult to accept a state of "metaphysical secularism" – one that operates on the assumption that there is no god.

Hasan was followed by Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, who suggested that the question taken on by the debate was something of a red herring. He stated that among the majority of Muslims in Western democracies there was no problem with secularism, and that the real debate concerns the roles of Islam or secularism in the governments of countries with majority Muslim populations. Bunglawala suggested that some Muslim countries have had negative experiences with secularism, for example in Turkey where the hugely popular governing Islamic AK Party has come under attack from a militant secular minority well entrenched in the state apparatus.

Next up was the Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Chair of the organisation British Muslims for Secular Democracy, who began by stressing that secularism should not be seen as a "backdoor way of privileging atheism", and claiming that she finds "the fundamentalism of Richard Dawkins and Islamic fundamentalism" to be "two sides of the same coin". Brown added that she opposes the French style of secularism - which in her view has been used in "racist ways" and has given secularism a bad name. She stated that there is the greatest potential when the state is religiously neutral, pointing out that this is not yet the case in Britain. As an example of how a secular state can succeed in comparison to an Islamic one, Brown asked the audience to consider the relative stability and development in India since independence when compared to neighbouring Pakistan.

Ed Husain, author of The Islamist and founder of the counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation, was last to speak and, along with the others, came down in defence of secularism, stressing that it is the reason Muslims are able to live in the UK today. To highlight this he used the example of Abdullah William Quilliam, the British covert to Islam after whom the Foundation is named, who in the far less secular 1890s was stoned along with his followers for leading Muslim prayers in Liverpool.

Husain advanced three reasons why some Muslims have a "psychological block" against secularism. Firstly, the words for secularism in some languages, such as Urdu, have meanings equivalent to "atheism", which can prove off-putting. Second he blames the rising influence of Islamism, whose proponents have been more effective than others in making themselves heard, and lastly the reluctance of the liberal intelligentsia in the UK to stand up for secularism and liberal democracy. He thinks that the answer may lie in better teaching of the values of secularism and democracy in schools, particularly in history lessons where students need to learn about the conflicts and obstacles we had to overcome to establish the secular, liberal democracy we have today.

The debate was rounded off by Kishwer Falkner, who described her own experiences with religious groups lobbying the House of Lords. She praised groups, such as Muslims and Catholics, for being well-organised and ensuring they have a say in public affairs, but warned that at times the religious demands for exceptions from the law can go beyond belief in democracy and reach very exceptional levels.

So, that's my quick-fire rundown of the debate this lunchtime. It would have been interesting to have someone on the panel who wasn't backing secularism, but it's still fair to say there's plenty to chew on here. It's clear that while the speakers all support a secular state, there was uneasiness among them about the role of atheism (see Usama Hasan's problem with "metaphysical secularism"), and Yasmin Alibhai Brown's suggestion that the likes of Richard Dawkins are "fundamentalists" on a par with Islamic fundamentalists is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Brown also had strong opinions on the merits of French secularism (in her view it's "racist"), an issue covered by Joan W Scott in the March/April New Humanist.

Join this debate by leaving some comments on this post...

Is George Bush about to follow Blair into Catholicism?

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Could converting to Catholicism be set to join hitting the after-dinner speaking circuit on the list of things for world leaders to do after they leave office? According to the Italian weekly Panorama (via Reuters' Faith World blog), George W Bush is poised to follow the Reverend Tony's lead and covert to the Catholic faith once he leaves the White House next January.

Before anyone gets too carried away, let us clarify that this story appears spurious at best. Reuters' blogger Philip Pullella is entirely unconvinced, saying that "the odds of this happening appear as good as those of the proverbial snowball in hell."

Panorama's evidence for this claim amounts to the fact that Methodist Bush prayed with Pope Benedict during his recent visit to the US, that Bush's brother Jeb converted to join his Mexican wife as a Catholic, and that several of the President's close advisers are Catholic.

And that's pretty much it. Catholic blogger Father John Duhlsdorf provides his own English translation and dismisses the story with the introduction "Wanna read an article typical of much of the Italian press?", before concluding that "A lot of this article is pure fantasy. "

So, to sum up, don't expect to see George W confessing in a booth adjacent to Tony's any time soon.