#NotAllChristians?

As a queer person I see Christians in the media constantly opposing my right to get married, have a child, and live in peace – or in extreme cases, my right to live at all. I also see them saying women don’t have the right to birth control, abortion or to refuse their husbands sex. The church is dedicated to persecuting queers and women.

There is, however, a bizarre tendency among some non-religious people to become apologists for Christianity. This happens in a few different ways; 1) embrace the handful of Christians who don’t preach hatred of queers and women as if they are somehow amazing for not wanting us all to burn in hell, 2) when a Christian preaches hatred of queers and women saying “that’s not very Christian”, ignoring the fact that it’s what the majority of Christians believe and 3) saying that regardless of the behaviour of Christians Jesus was actually a nice bloke, even though in reality he was a twat.

Christians protesting against computer games, probably because they can't work out how to use the controller.

Christians protesting against computer games, probably because they can’t work out how to use the controller.

Let’s address these one by one. Firstly, how should we regard the few liberal Christians who don’t hate queers?

Ignore them. So what, you don’t think I’m going to hell? Well you’re just like the majority of non-religious people then. Congratulations, do you want a fucking cookie? It’s fucking ridiculous to bend over backwards to embrace religious allies. Your religion is dedicated to ruining my life – just because you claim to ignore the parts of the Bible that say I’m going to hell and should be stoned to death, I’m not going to get down on my knees and fellate you.

Secondly, describing Christians preaching that homosexuality is a sin, or that abortion should be illegal, as “not very Christian” is just bollocks. What do you mean, “not very Christian”? Of course it’s fucking Christian to preach what Christianity says – and Christianity says queers go to hell. Sorry, but it’s true. “Christian” isn’t a euphemism for “nice” – if anything, history has repeatedly demonstrated that it’s the opposite.

I hate to break this to you, but you're actually kneeling down.

I hate to break this to you, but you’re actually kneeling down.

Christianity teaches children lies, it deliberately terrifies them into believing nonsense. It preys on the vulnerable, exploits people’s fears and need to cling to something to make the world more bearable.  At a basic level Christianity teaches people to accept their lot in life, to stay poor, to put up with being shat on by the rich because “there’ll be pie in the sky when you die” – well newsflash, THERE FUCKING WON’T BE. Ever heard that song “All Things Bright and Beautiful”? Harmless right? Bollocks is it. The third verse (usually cut out now, but we sang it at my old church) goes like this; “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate.” See my point?

So when a Christian preaches that queers go to hell, or that women are subservient to men, or that poor people are meant to be poor, don’t pretend that they’re not representing “true” Christianity – they are.

And finally, I’m going to point something out that really pisses people off; Jesus was a prick. Yes, I know, we’re all supposed to pretend that he was lovely, but he fucking wasn’t! He was a delusional maniac with a Messianic-level superiority complex who said that if we don’t believe in him we’re going to hell – if he even existed.

It's a shame there's no hell for this poor kid's parents to go to.

It’s a shame there’s no hell for this poor kid’s parents to go to.

I don’t often quote Christian apologists, but C.S. Lewis addressed this issue; he wrote in Mere Christianity that it makes no sense to say “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God”, because “a man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.” Well, I’ve made mine – he was either a lunatic, or a liar, and I’m not too fussed about which.

Religion is a tool of oppression. There’s a reason religion has always preached hatred of queers and women – it’s the invention of male rulers. It’s used by bosses to keep us down – the feudal system was based on the Christian idea that we’re all put in our place by god, peasants are meant to be peasants and kings are meant to be kings. In America in the early 20th century bosses used to send the Sally Army into workplaces to try and stop the trade unions organising – luckily the Wobblies (IWW) came up with new lyrics to sing over their hymns, which gave me plenty of amusement in church.

Religion is, always has been and always will be a method of oppression. When it finally dies out we’ll all be a lot happier, and we can use those huge fuck-off churches for something useful.

Legalise post-natal abortion for anti-choice protestors

Legalise post-natal abortion for anti-choice protestors

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Why Fierce?

I’m fierce because I have to be.

I’m fierce because sometimes being fabulous isn’t enough.
I’m fierce because I get attacked by strangers for how I look.
I’m fierce because my parents kicked me out for being queer.
I’m fierce because they think I’m going to hell for the same reason.
I’m fierce because I got beaten up at school and a teacher said it was my own fault for painting my nails.
I’m fierce because if I wasn’t I’d be dead.

Being fierce is not giving a fuck what anyone thinks. It’s walking with your head held high and your fists clenched. It’s being proud of who you are and never changing that for anyone.

Being fierce means you don’t stop fighting until you win. It means fighting together,  not alone – an injury to one is an injury to all.

Be proud. Be fabulous. Be FIERCE.

Seven Go Mad On Immigration

After the victory of UKIP in the Euro elections, in which an overwhelming 9% of the electorate voted them into a parliament nobody cares about, Red Ed Miliband and Call-Me-Dave Cameron have been falling over themselves in a mad dash to the right on immigration.

Unsurprisingly, this hasn’t been enough for some of the right-wingers in the Labour Party, who won’t be happy until Miliband publicly flogs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn for their left-deviationist tendencies and leads the party to power with a manifesto promise of replacing fox hunting with immigrant hunting.

Seven Labour MP’s have signed an “open letter” to Ed Miliband demanding that he promise to restrict “the free movement of labour from European countries with much lower incomes”. They are largely “the usual suspects” for right-wing rebellion in the party – Kate Hoey, Frank Field and John Mann to name three – but they represent a large swathe of opinion within Labour, and indeed within the wider labour movement.

We’ve had the predictable rhetoric from Ed that Labour will “listen to the public” on immigration. Good – the political class has been ignoring people for too long, and ordinary people do have concerns about immigration. Of course, Westminster politicos have consistently dismissed them as racist, and refused to engage in a discussion about immigration – remember Gordon Brown’s conversation with “that bigoted woman”?

However, “listening to the public” doesn’t mean you just listen to people moan about immigration (among other concerns) and think “let’s send ‘em back where they came from, problem solved!” “Listening to the public” is New Labour-speak for “moving to the right” – even further than they already have.

Yes, we should listen to people’s views – but we should stand for our own principles as well. Don’t scapegoat foreigners, challenge the narrative that does – it wasn’t Polish plumbers or Indian doctors who caused the financial crisis, it was gambling cokehead bankers and rich tax-dodging bastards.

One million young people are out of work in the UK – not because of immigrants, but because there’s no fucking jobs. Rather than promising to close the borders, why don’t we build some houses and get people back into work and into decent homes?

People see migrant workers working for shit wages and feel like they’ve been undercut by immigrants. That’s understandable, but don’t blame the Polish lad working for peanuts, he’s getting shafted too – blame the boss who’s paying him fuck all, and demand decent wages for everyone!

If Labour keeps tailing the Tories and UKIP on immigration, the political landscape will keep moving to the right. The only way to cut across that narrative is with socialist policies – and they won’t come from Labour. We have to build an alternative ourselves.

Cameron’s Christianity

David Cameron’s Damascus Road conversion to evangelical Christianity initially came as a surprise to me, until I remembered there’s an election next month.

I’m most definitely not a Christian,  and while the slow demise of Anglicanism is a loss to the art of flower arranging, it doesn’t particularly concern me. As my main man Karl said, “religion is the opium of the people”. However, even I find the idea of David Cameron as a plougher for Jesus hilarious.

The rest of the left has reacted in a somewhat predictable manner, trying to distance Jesus’ teachings from Cameron’s politics, even arguing that Christ was somehow a left-winger. This is an inadequate response at best; there’s no textual basis to make any assumptions about his politics, and whatever they were shouldn’t matter anyway.

Cameron’s declaration of Christianity is ludicrous because his Government has pushed through measures that most Christians and almost all churches were actively opposed to, most notably same-sex marriage. Just so I’m being absolutely clear, I support same-sex marriage and I’m glad this Government has finally brought it in (after years of lobbying by the LGBT+ community). However, the Church, and the majority of Cameron’s MPs (particularly the Christian ones) opposed it. If Cameron opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds that would be shit, but at least he’d have some fucking principles.

Clearly, Cameron has no grounds to claim to be “bringing God back into politics”. I’m glad he’s not – but why is he claiming to be? 4 letters – UKIP. They’re taking votes off the Tories, and Call-Me-Dave thinks he can win those voters back with a transparent attempt to “do God”.  It really is that cynical.

The issue of politics and religion goes a lot deeper than Cameron’s scrabbling for votes, though. It’s a toxic relationship that damages both parties. I grew up as a Strict Baptist, so I know my Bible quite well. Jesus didn’t talk politics much, and judging by his statement that “[his] Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) that’s because he didn’t think Christianity had much place in politics.

The early Church didn’t have a lot of luck with politics; most notably, the Roman state didn’t like Jesus very much, hence the whole cross thing. In fact, whenever the Church has had anything radical, interesting or even relevant to say they’ve been persecuted by those in power.

The link between Church and state fucks with our freedom in a number of ways – for example, we’re the only country aside from Iran with unelected religious leaders helping make our laws. It also means the state can interfere in the workings of the Church, rather than it being an independent institution.

There is no Biblical basis for the Church to be part of the state, and we’d all be better off if it wasn’t. Religion is a private matter, so keep it like that.

Sally Army Running Homelessness Support in Coventry

Every time I walk through a certain part of town I make sure I buy a coffee for John. He sits in the same spot in the same subway day after day, huddled under a thin blanket trying to keep warm. He’s been there for at least a year, but there’s no sign of him getting any closer to being housed.

In the last few years more and more people seem to be sleeping rough long term in Coventry. This is obviously a problem, and Coventry Council are rightly attempting to address it. Unfortunately, their solution leaves a lot to be desired.

They’ve given a contract for homelessness support work to the Sally Army. Yes, that’s right, the trumpet-playing, bible-bashing, military uniform-fetishising Sallies are now being used by the council to run, amongst other things, a temporary supported accommodation scheme for homeless people.

Now, my attitude to religion is similar to my attitude to penises – it’s fine that you have one, but don’t shove it down my throat (unless I ask you to). You can have whatever religious beliefs you want, and you have the right to stand on a box in town shouting incomprehensibly about your love of Cheeses. However, when religious groups are being given major contracts by local councils, their beliefs suddenly stop being irrelevant nonsense and start being nonsense that might affect the provision of services.

Let’s be blunt; the Salvation Army’s main purpose is to spread their brand of Christianity through different forms of “evangelism”. One of the main ways they do this is through working with homeless and vulnerable people – so while they’re getting paid by the council to run a supported accommodation scheme, they’ll be taking every chance they get to talk about their beliefs and trying to drag people to church. The council is effectively subsidising an evangelical campaign.

Using homelessness work as a fig-leaf for evangelism is particularly distasteful. The people who need homelessness services are all vulnerable in some way: whether they’re a long-term rough sleeper like John, a kid whose parents have chucked him out and he has nowhere to go, or a family who suddenly haven’t got a home because their landlord kicked them out, they’ve all been dealt a shitty hand by life. Enter the Salvation Army, who are delighted to discover an audience of vulnerable people to evangelise. The idea of “heaven” is very appealing if you’re living in hell on earth, but the promise of pie in the sky when you die doesn’t pay the bills now.

So that’s my first issue – the Sallies will use this contract as a taxpayer-funded opportunity for proselytising, rather than concentrating on solving the actual issues.

It’s not just service users who get exploited by the Salvation Army, though – their staff get a pretty raw deal as well. Just 6 months ago in November 2013 they were strongly criticised by UNISON for planning to drastically cut the pay and conditions of workers in their hostels – some faced pay reductions of thousands of pounds a year. This plan affected workers at hostels in Coventry, so the council should have been aware of it – so why would they deliberately choose to work with a charity that treats its workers like shit?

The SA are also signed up to the “workfare” scheme, which forces people who are on the dole into unpaid work placements. The scheme has had little success in helping people actually find employment, but it’s been great for the businesses that get some unpaid labour out of it. The SA treats them as if they’re volunteers, but they’re not there voluntarily – if you don’t go, your benefits get stopped. Considering how the Sallies treat their staff, perhaps it’s not surprising that they use workfare.

So, they’re shit to work for as well – but there’s more. Unsurprisingly, they aren’t big fans of queers.

Despite the predictable, mealy-mouthed opposition to “homophobia” in their public statements, the organisation has a long history of discrimination against LGBT+ people, both in the UK and internationally. (Incidentally, they don’t define what they mean by homophobia, and I strongly doubt their definition is the same as mine)

It doesn’t take much digging to find that the liberal approach to LGBT+ issues doesn’t last long – they still teach that “sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage”. So basically their position is “we’re not homophobic but queers can’t have sex” – well, thanks but no thanks. “If I can’t fuck, I don’t want your religion”, as Emma Goldman famously didn’t say.

That statement is bad enough in itself, but it gets worse. It was only 14 years ago that the Scottish Sallies wrote to Parliament opposing the repeal of Section 28 – which begs the question, how many people who donated to them were expecting the money to be spent on lobbying?

The counter-argument is that they don’t “discriminate on the basis of sexual identity in the delivery of [their] services” (emphasis mine). On one level, this is correct – the law forbids them from doing so. It’s not that simple though – as a queer person, I don’t feel comfortable around the Sallies, but they have a monopoly on homelessness support in Coventry. If I get made homeless, what am I supposed to do? Go and get help from a group of people who think I’m going to hell? No thanks.

The non-discrimination policy is utterly inadequate in any case, as it doesn’t mention gender identity – it offers trans people no protection from discrimination whatsoever. Which probably explains why they have no official UK policy on trans people in gendered shelters – however, in the USA they insist that trans women are housed with men, with extreme consequences.

Jennifer Gale was a trans woman who died sleeping on the streets, as she was unable to stay in a Salvation Army hostel because of their policy on trans people. The way I see it, they’ve got Jennifer’s blood on their hands.

To be honest, though, outsourcing council services to charities is a bad idea whatever the charity is. Obviously it’s a lot worse if the council chooses the tambourine brigade ahead of a secular or moderate charity, but any system which can lead to the Sallies running council services is fundamentally flawed.

Outsourcing doesn’t save money, and it’s a step towards the privatisation of essential services. It takes control away from the council and gives it to an unaccountable entity – in this case, a group run by grown men who like to dress up as soldiers to make their pitiful lives seem exciting.

Coventry Council should take its homelessness support work back in-house, fund it properly and provide decent services. Groups like the Salvation Army should be left to rot on the fringes where they belong.