Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bashing the Bishops

Following, the recently disgraced, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's suggestion that the church reconsiders its position on celibacy, the BBC has turned its hand to the issue.

Their article discusses the consequences of celibacy for males and links to a report linking celibacy with a higher rate of prostate cancer.

The Beeb couldn't have found a better named spokesman for the church, than Father Wang.  Father Wang (honestly - check the link) explained that the Catholic church believes that being celibate includes refraining from masturbation.  He does not see this as a problem for priests and those of faith.

If Father Wang is correct and priests are practising abstinence, then it is logical that we should expect to see an above average rate of prostrate cancer in Catholic priests.

Not holding much hope of finding statistics on such a niche topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find on Pubmed a paper titled "Prostate cancer mortality among Catholic priests".


Did the paper show a higher rate of prostate cancer amongst priests?  No, it didn't.  In fact, compared to the general population of non-abstaining males, there was a much lower rate - nearly half - amongst "celibate" priests.

"Celibacy is a sacrifice that many priests manage" says Wang. The evidence suggests, as we found with Cardinal O'Brien, what Catholic clergy say publicly, is very different to what they get up to in private. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Charity begins at home



I follow John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, on Twitter.  A couple of months back, (I know I really am bad at updating this blog), he posted a number of tweets about Acts 435 - a charity which he is a patron to and which he promotes on his official website

The charity is named after Verse 35 in Acts 4, which is a tale about sharing resources.
"And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

Acts 4:35 (King James Version)

Acts 435, is promoted and managed by CofE churches and involves people in need requesting financial assistance for specific items (up to a maximum of £100 a time) from others.  Donors then match their donations to the specific requests.  There is a limit on assistance, currently set £300 a year.

In order to obtain associated tax and other benefits, charities need to register with the Charities Commission.   In turn, charities are required to make their accounts publicly available, so we can see the benefit they are providing.  As a result, Acts 435's accounts for 2010 and 2011 are available on the Charity commission’s website

These accounts provide a fascinating (to me at least), insight into who this charity has benefited most... 

In its first year Acts 435 had a healthy income of £59,999, yet only managed to distribute a measly  £6,985 in grants.  The main reason for distributing less than 12% of what it received appears to be the £24,434 cost of generating voluntary income.

Note 5 to the 2010 accounts explains some of this expense when it states:
"One trustee acted as Director of the Charity during the year and received £13,183 for professional services rendered during the year."
Also of interest is Note 13, which provides an explanation of the high debtors figure in the balance sheet:
"Included in Debtors and Prepayments is an amount of £9,534 which has been paid on account to Margaret Sentamu, a trustee, for project consultancy services."
This debt reflects the fact that the charity paid the Archbishop's wife Margaret Sentamu for services she hasn’t performed, effectively providing an interest free loan.  I think it is fair to assume that Margaret Sentamu is also the trustee who provided the professional services.  In other words, over the course of the first year,  the poor and needy received £6,985, capped at £300 per person, whilst she received £22,717.

The accounts for 2011 tell a similar story.  The Charity’s total income was £49,147 of which it paid out £17,592 in grants to the needy.  £30,006 was spent in generating that income.  A huge amount considering the claim in the charity's FAQs
the running costs of the charity .. are kept to an absolute minimum with no fundraising department nor fund-raisers employed.”
Once again Margaret Sentamu was responsible for some of those fund raising costs.  Note 10 to the accounts states:
 "Included in Other Debtors is an amount of £4,505 (2010 -£9,534) which has been paid on account to Margaret Sentamu, a trustee, for project consultancy services. The amount expensed to the Statement of Financial Activities during the year was £5,029 (2010 -£15,466).”
What this means is that she worked off part of her loan during the year.  This note appears to correct the previous accounts suggesting that she was paid £15,466 in 2010 as opposed to the £13,183 originally declared.

So, during Acts 435 first two years of operation,  it  received £109,146 and paid out £24,577 in grants to the poor and needy.  During the same period, it also paid  £25,000 to Margret Sentamu.

It is only fair to point out that Margaret Sentamu is a freelance consultant who specialises in diversity management and recruitment consultancy, and who has an interest in relieving poverty (whose poverty is not specified in her bio).

Mrs Sentamu's expertise in diversity management and recruitment must have been invaluable when it came to employing the Charity's er...ONE part time worker.  


Monday, 17 September 2012

Britain- No longer a Christian nation

The 29th British Social attitudes survey has just been published. The survey covers a number of subjects including immigration, transport, heath and employment. There were three questions concerning religion.  You can find these by scrolling down to pages 78 & 79 of the questions list. All participants were asked;
Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?
and, (along with an amusing capitalised instruction for the interviewers!)
In what religion, if any, were you brought up? PROBE IF NECESSARY: What was your family's religion?
In addition those professing a religion were asked
Apart from such special occasions as weddings, funerals and baptisms, how often nowadays do you attend services or meetings connected with your religion
For the first question the percentages opting for the various categories were
 
No religion 45.7
Christian - no denomination 10.1
Roman Catholic 8.7
Church of England/Anglican 21.1
Baptist 0.6
Methodist 1.3
Presbyterian/Church of Scotland 2.3
Other Christian 0.6
Free Presbyterian 0.2
Brethren 0.3
United Reform Church (URC)/Congregational 0.7
Other Protestant 0.4
Hindu 2.2
Jewish 0.8
Islam/Muslim 3.4
Sikh 0.4
Buddhist 0.2
Other non-Christian 0.4
(Don't know) 0.2
(Refusal) 0.4

According to the survey, the various Christian denominations in total constitute less than half the population. The 46.3% total only just exceeds those without any religious belief. We no longer appear to be a Christian country.

The second question concerning the religion the person questioned was brought up in, is very interesting. It shows how the country's religious make up has changed over a generation. The following percentages show the increase (+) or decrease (-) in belief (or lack of it).
 
No religion 27.4
Christian - no denomination -5.4
Roman Catholic -4.6
Church of England/Anglican -13.3
Baptist -0.2
Methodist -2.4
Presbyterian/Church of Scotland -1.9
Other Christian 0.2
Free Presbyterian -2.2
Brethren -0.6
United Reform Church (URC)/Congregational -2.6
Other Protestant -0.1
Hindu 2
Jewish 0.7
Islam/Muslim 3.4
Sikh 0.3
Buddhist -0.2
Other non-Christian -0.5
(Don't know) 0
(Refusal) 0

In total Christianity has fallen 24.6%. If this trend continues 75% of the population will be non believers after the next generation and 90% the generation after that.  Obviously that future relies on a lot of assumptions but it does illustrate the tremendous rise we are experiencing in people who profess no faith.


The third question asks how often believers attend a church service. The percentages given are
  
Once a week or more 14.3
Less often but at least once in two weeks 1.7
Less often but at least once a month 5.8
Less often but at least twice a year 10
Less often but at least once a year 5.6
Less often than once a year 4.6
Never or practically never 57.5
Varies too much to say 0.4
(Don't know)                -
(Refusal) 0

This shows that over 6/10 'believers' never attend or won't attend in a typical year. Seems that the most of the remaining religious believers don't take it very seriously.



Friday, 20 July 2012

More hypocritical MPs

In this post I listed some MPs who are supporting the Campaign for Marriage's attempts to prevent equal marriage legislation.


Since then some more MPs have nailed their colours to the anti-equality mast. and yet again we find that some of them have personally struggled to live up to C4M's standard which is

"I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

Therese Coffey, Robert Halfon, Alec Shelbrooke & Nicola Blackwood have yet to tie the knot. As they have similar views perhaps they could form two couples?

Geoffrey Clinton Brown and Eleanor Laing failed at 'for life' aspect and are both divorced.

Laurence Roberson hasn't got divorced yet but it hasn't stopped him shacking up with his new partner.

Andrew Turner appears to have formed a voluntary union with his partner but forgot to actually get married, doh.

The undoubted star of this batch is Roger Gale currently on his third wife. [insert your own cheap 'Roger' Joke here]

However I have to give an honourable mention to Jacob Rees Mogg. As far as I am aware he is happily married but his father in law . Wow!




 Once again, I am more than happy to blame Wikipedia and amend any errors.



Thursday, 19 July 2012

God - The Psychopath test

When it comes to God's mental disorders multiple personality disorder (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) is a given. Having been introduced to Robert D. Hare's Psychopathy Check list through Jon Ronson's excellent book, I thought I would try it out to see whether he was a psychopath as well.

The check list consists of 20 personality traits. The subject scores 0, 1 or 2 points on each. A normal person will end up with around 5 points out of the 40 possible. A psychopath 30 or more.

God's personality traits


1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM -- Score 2 - Two billion follows attest to this one.

2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH -- Score 2 - "Thou shalt have none other gods before me."

3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM -- Score 2 - Why else would he create life, the universe and everything?

4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING -- Score 2 - See 2chronicles 18:22  "behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets." He not only lies but made a special lying spirit.

5. CUNNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS- Score 2- See 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth."  

6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT -- Score 2 - Wiped out the whole of civilisation apart from one family. Any sign of an apology?

7. SHALLOW AFFECT -- Score 2 - Happy to have Job's life ruined over a bet with Satan.

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY -- Score 2 - Matthew 12:48 tells is the charming tale where Jesus refuses to see his mother "Who is my mother?" he chides.

9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE -- Score 2 - Jesus went from town to town taking money from the poor.

10. POOR BEHAVIOURAL CONTROLS -- Score 2- You don't kill 2,552,451+ people without some control issue

11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR -- Score 2- Getting another man's wife pregnant, come on.

12. EARLY BEHAVIOUR PROBLEMS -- Score 2 - Jesus ran away from his parents on a trip to Jerusalem at the age of 12

13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS -- Score 2 - 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God'. Sorry it just isn't happening.

14. IMPULSIVITY -- Score 2 - Remember Jesus' meltdown at the temple?

15. IRRESPONSIBILITY -- Score 2 - Fancy giving all those biblical rules on keeping slaves. Of course people would follow them

16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS -- Score 2 - Issiah 27:11 God will show no mercy to those who do not understand him. He clearly needs to realise that communication is a two way process.

17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS -- Score 2 - Given we are told marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life any short term relationship is wrong. For abandoning Asherah, Yahweh picks up full points.

18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY -- Score 2 - Running away and arguing with priests. 

19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE -- Score  2 - Before  he was released from this mortal coil Jesus made a promise to return. Well.....

20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY -- Score 2- Drowning, famine, smiting, burning, plague, buried alive, stoning, hanging, beheading & mutilation by bears. That is just how God killed children. Two is barely a high enough score for this one.



So it 40 out of 40. God is officially a psychopath. If you have read the bible you would probably have suspected as much but it is nice to have it confirmed.