Archive for June, 2006

Anti-Springer no-show in Nottingham

What do you do when you organise an anti-anti-JS:TO protest, and no Christians turn up? Go down the pub, of course.
no show
“Roger Geowell” reports on a quiet Friday evening in Nottingham:

We arrived an hour early due to the Royal Centre apparently changing the time of the performance but not updating it on their website. No problem – we set up in the pub across the road and had a few pints, looking out of the window and expecting hundreds of Christian Voice protestors to turn up at any minute.

We waited, and waited, and waited, and were just about to call it a night and head out for some more beers, when an elderly couple were spotted handing out the infamous yellow leaflets. We decided it would be rather cruel for a small mob of us armed with placards and a megaphone to take on a couple of pensioners, so we watched them for a few minutes and continued to wait.

Eventually, we decided to set up in the bar right next to the Royal Centre. We found a few tables outside, rested our signs in a prominent position against the railings, and sat there some more. The elderly couple were leaving just as we sat down, so we considered it “job done” and just decided to enjoy a nice evening with some beers.

After a short while, a lone protester turned up and handed out a few leaflets. We felt sorry for him, so invited him to come and sit with us and have a drink. Turns out he wasn’t part of Christian Voice, just a local Christian bloke standing up for his religion.

Despite the offer of a pint, he politely refused and had a coke instead. A vegan among our numbers then got off onto an interesting ethical conversation about how swearing doesn’t really affects anyone, but how factory farming and eating meat are both cruel and environmentally damaging.

An attempted deal was proposed: vegan chap would refrain from swearing for a month (no mean feat) if Christian chap would refrain from eating meat for a month (no meat feast). Unfortunately, we couldn’t persuade our Christian friend that this was a good deal, so our foul-mouthed vegan comrade is still at large.

Despite the lack of any real action, we concluded that Christian Voice were perhaps operating remotely, using the power of prayer. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work, because quite a lot of people went in to see JS:TO, including some who told us that they felt disappointed with the lack of protestors outside, and asked for some of our leaflets anyway.

All in all, the most ridiculous and amusing counter protest ever – we just turned up and sat around drinking beer, with no “ignorant bigots” in sight – 100% success!




RECTUM pictures

Johnnie in the comments points us to photos of the Real Evangelical Christian Truth of Unorthodox Martyrs protest at JS:TO in Nottingham this week:

rectum

More on Flickr.

Thanks, Johnnie!




Xians cross at Rooney

rooney
Offence-seekers have been tripping over each other in their rush to express their dismay at the recent Nike ad, featuring England footballer Wayne Rooney painted up with the cross of St George in his habitual goal-celebration pose.

The Daily Mail quotes Labour MP Stephen Pound:

Wayne’s a good Catholic boy and I think the obvious crucifixion nuance is one part of it, but the aggressive nature of the pose is something we could do without.

And the Rev Rod Thomas of the CofE evangelical group Reform (catchy slogan: “Our overall aim is to win the nation for Christ”):

It’s quite a disturbing image and because the paint is wet, it really looks like blood

It therefore brings to mind the crucifixion to many people, and why Nike would want to do that, I haven’t a clue, unless it is simply as a publicity stunt.

The trivialisation of Christ’s suffering is highly offensive to Christians and to God. This will cause real hurt to people.

But being offensive to Christians isn’t going to get you anywhere, so let’s try to recruit some other offendees:

The other aspect of it is the aggression contained in it, bound up with the flag of St George, which you might see as a throwback to the Crusades, which is hardly going to go down well with Muslim countries. It’s offensive on several different levels.

Also in the Mail is an opinion piece by Stephen Glover in which he hilariously describes the advert as having “confused theology”:

Rooney is part Woden, the Norse god of war, part the suffering but triumphant Christ.

And, of course, prominent Christian think tank Stephen “Dog Shit” Green also has something to say about it. This time it’s the Independent’s Pandora who has the quote:

The cross is so iconic that it sadly being often used in advertising in a tasteless manner.

There are surely other ways for Nike to get their message across. Footballers are exalted celebrities. I’m not blaming the players, but their agents should think a little more carefully about the kind of publicity they get sucked into.

Nike defend their poster:

This shot is not intended to have religious connotations. It’s a celebration of Wayne Rooney’s unique goal celebration style represented with a St George Cross. Wayne celebrates with his arms outstretched.




Free speech protestor helped by NSS

complainer
Reza Moradi, who was arrested during the March for Free Expression rally in Trafalgar Square, reports that the National Secular Society has found him a pro bono lawyer to fight his case.

Although there were several Mo-toons placard bearers at the demo, Reza was the only one to be arrested. A single complainer, pictured here, pointed him out in the crowd, saying that he felt “threatened” by the cartoons. The same complainer was spotted twenty minutes later recording the speakers on his digicam. Not that scared then, obviously.

The summons has not yet been received, but Reza hopes it won’t be long:

We want to make sure this case gets its day in court and that with your support – with the support of all those who seek justice when our civil liberties and freedoms are under attack – we will win and raise the banner of unconditional freedoms higher than ever before.

(From Maryam Namazie’s blog)




Spoof Xians for Springer

An international football match and bad weather meant that the number of demonstrators, both pro- and anti-JS:TO, was down on Monday’s turnout. But the event was livened by the presence of a handful of “Spoof Christians” handing out leaflets condemning the fact that the performers in JS:TO were wearing clothes made of two kinds of material.

The handout, produced by the Real Evangelical Christian Truth of Unorthodox Martyrs, reads:

Do you not know that some of the cast are wearing garments made of polycotton* on a nightly basis as the show tours the UK, insulting our Lord with their mixed fibre filth in venues throughout the UK. Have they not read the Lord’s word!!!?? The Bible is clear:

“..You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.” – Leviticus 19:19

Urging true Christians to boycott the show, it concludes:

Don’t be drawn into the fiery pits of hell by watching these vile sinners. Or, if you do, call on them to repent or something.

You can download a copy of the pamphlet here (Word doc).

Roger, our MWW informer, reports that Stephen “Dog Shit” Green, the prominent Christian think tank, was not present. So he missed the banners intended for him, which read “Christian Voice: Bigotry is so much easier with God on your side” and “Literal bible interpretation is a sure-fire way to hell on earth”.

Pity.




JS:TO: Nottingham counter-demo report

A group of 15 anti-anti-Springer demonstrators turned up last night at The Royal Centre Nottingham to face down around 100 Christian protestors. Included among the fifteen was a guy from the “Church Of The Militant Elvis” and a Maoist with a megaphone.

One participant, Roger Geowell, has posted in the comments below about his encounter with Stephen Green, the prominent Christian think tank:

I can confirm, having met the chump^H^H^H^H^H sorry I mean “chap” today in Nottingham while counter-protesting JS:TO that he indeed does not appear to think very much. He’s quite happy with “god did it” as an answer to almost anything.

Not only that, but he doesn’t listen either! He essentially comes across as a rather crap politician stuck in some kind of religious role, churning out lines like a stuck record.

Once the protest had died down and most of the Christians had gone home, a few of us remaining anti-censorship types ended up talking to him.

His debating tactic involved continually interrupting and talking over us (despite that, we still gave him time to speak), rubbishing plenty of things we said without any shred of evidence to the contrary, using logic along the lines of “evolution can’t explain the coloured feathers on a mallard duck, so therefore evolution is bogus” (despite us saying “we don’t claim to have all the answers, but your view is incredibly simplistic and seeks to stop the need to ask the question”).

In short, talking to him was an incredibly frustrating experience – largely because not only does he barely give you space to put your point of view across, he also doesn’t listen in the brief seconds you do manage to get a word in edgeways.

He makes good use of the “if I don’t acknowledge you have a point and just go lalalalala with my fingers in my ears, you can’t win” tactic, which back in the school playground was a surefire way to a sound beating.

In conclusion, I found him to be a rude and arrogant arsehole – far more arrogant and smug than any atheist I know of, even those with a reputation for smugness.

In contrast, most of the other Christians we spoke to were very polite and receptive to our side of the argument, once they’d realised that actually we random collection of anarchists / humanists / socialists were pretty decent folks, who were there to make a serious point against censorship and did in fact have brains on our shoulders.

I ended up having a friendly debate / chat with a couple of middle-aged Christian guys (Ken and Graham) who essentially wanted to apologise for the arrogant Christian Voice weirdos – kudos to them, we actually ended up seeing eye-to-eye on a fair few issues, and I could happily have gone for a drink down the pub with them (although I got the impression they didn’t drink).

Funniest thing was, while being talked at by Stephen Green, some random Christian passer by (not involved in the protest) came up to our little group and said (to Green) “Look mate, I’m a Christian too, but I agree with the anti-censorship lot. It’s not our place to pass judgement on others, it even says that in the Gospel.”

At which point Green started being a patronising arsehole to him too, pulling the “yes well I know which verse it is and you don’t so nyah” kind of playground superiority tactic, so I offered the passer by the warm hand of friendship on our side of the debate if he felt pushed out by those claiming to represent his views.

All in all, a very strange day. It’s not often you can have a friendly chat with the opposition in a protest, but with the exception of a few more hardline Christians (mostly older women giving us evil looks, it seemed, one of whom came and had a bit of a rant at us about how we wouldn’t be protesting against Muslims) I found the Christian protestors to be a fairly harmless, albeit slightly mislead bunch.

That even some of them seemed quite keen to distance themselves from the Christian Voice bunch is an encouraging thing indeed.

With the exception of Green, who I disengaged from as soon as I realised he wasn’t even going to let me speak, a few of the other Christians bid us a warm goodbye, shook our hands, thanked us for the chat and said “see you tomorrow then”.

See us tomorrow they will indeed – and hopefully the rest of the week too!

Thanks Roger!




Stephen Green, “think tank”

Ekklesia have been causing a bit of a stir with their call to rethink the legal status of marriage. Not exactly within MWW’s remit, except for the fact that Stephen Green of Christian Voice responded with a confused press release in which he referred to CV (ie, himself) as a “a prominent Christian think tank”!

Awww.

(Thanks to Simon)




Zombie trouble in Singapore

turkish pm
The Straits Times reports that a 21-year-old accounting student, known only by his internet moniker “char”, faces possible sedition charges for posting offensive pictures of Jesus on his website.

The story goes back to February, during the Mo-toons furore, when char got into an online argument with a fundamentalist Christian whom he “pretty much publicly humiliated”. The Christian found char’s blog, which contained this drawing by Jared von Hindeman.

It is not known if the cartoon is a metaphor for the corrosive effect of religion upon reason, or just a picture of Jesus munching on some kid’s brain, but the Christian found it sufficiently offensive to demand that char remove it from his blog. Char responded by posting three more Jesus-themed pieces, and that’s when the police got involved.

Char was arrested, his computers confiscated, and he is now on bail waiting to see whether or not he will be prosecuted. He faces a possible fine of up to $5,000 or a prison term of up to 3 years.

Interestingly, the risen Christ is not the first zombie to feature in the bible. Lazarus was also an ex-corpse, and according to Matthew, the whole of Jerusalem was crawling with the living dead shortly after Jesus breathed his last.

UPDATE (8 July): Char reports that he got off with a police warning.




Turkey, dog, and pork

The Times reports that a British satirist living in Turkey faces jail for “insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister” – the Turkish Prime Minister, that is.
turkish pm
The photoshopping* Istanbul resident Michael Dickinson’s Best In Show depicted the head of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan grafted on to the body of a dog. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is the offshoot of a banned Islamist movement which is currently trying to raise the profile of Islam in the strictly secularist state.

Erdogan obviously takes himself very seriously indeed, and has made the same mistake as the Mo-toons protestors by bringing that foible to the attention of the world. Now the offending image is all over the internet. Oops.

Dickinson himself came to MWW’s attention in May last year when his Tripod website was closed down as a result of his posting another world-leader-dissing piece of photoshoppery – that time of President Bush with a cruise missile flying out of his arse-crack. The image was entitled Tyrant’s Pants.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the Turkish government has stepped in to prevent the public television company TRT from showing Winnie the Pooh. Why? Because one of the main characters, Piglet, is a pig.

The stupidity of the last story makes is hard to believe, and it should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. But the Turkish government has got a lot of work to do if it wants to join the EU. It seems, ass Gordon at Harry’s Place points out, “no one has told the Turks that insulting your national leader is a European pastime”.

*CORRECTION: Michael Dickinson uses good -ld-fashioned paper and paste – not Photoshop – to make his collages. (Thanks to Michael Dickinson in the comments)




Christian Institute inflates numbers

The fantasy-prone homophobes of the Christian Instute have more than doubled the previously-estimated turnout for the Cardiff anti-Springer protest, claiming that “about 1,500″ attended the demo. Even the BNP – hardly noted for their honesty – put the number at “almost 700″.

Also, having failed in their aim to get the show cancelled in their Newcastle home, they still managed to spin a victory out of it by pointing out that the Theatre Royal turned in a loss of “£16,700″. However, as this was taxpayers money, and the theatre boss Philip Bernays believes that the Instutute’s “campaign of dis-information” did have the effect of deterring people, it is hard to see what they are so un-Christianly crowing about.