Monthly Archives: April 2008

CarnivUL of The fraudless: exposing the CULT

L. Ron Brown over at The Frame Problem has started a CarnivUL of The fraudless. Similar to the Carnival of the Godless, this CarnivUL is specifically for anti-Scientology postings. This is the first CarnivUL and as L. Ron says:

This first CarnivUL(…T) will be dedicated to tracking major developments that have taken place since January in the international protest against the Cult of Scientology, discussing the why of the protest, the who of Anonymous, and compiling some of the best relevant YouTube video produced over the past 3 months.

L. Ron has been doing a top job informing us about the Church of Scientology (CoS), exposing some of Scientology’s many problems and the evil tactics they employ.

I’ve been kind of busy the last few days and will be the next few (I haven’t forgotten your meme WineyMomma) , so L. Ron’s request for me to spread the word of this new CarnivUL of The fraudless means I can help someone out and don’t have to think too much what to write about.

I urge all my readers to have a read of The Frame Problem’s new CarnivUL of The fraudless, there are lots of videos to watch and quite a bit of information. For anyone not familiar with Scientology and Anonymous this will be a good introduction. Anyone already familiar will still find some useful information and links.

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C-WYD – Letters to the editor

The following is a letter I sent to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today:

I noted in today’s paper (page 10, SMH, 28 April) a letter to the editor that starts:
“Please feel free to write a letter that does not mention World Youth Day”
I would have to agree with letter writer Max, that if the paper is going to continue publishing C-WYD articles the readers are going to continue writing letters. Especially when the articles include poorly researched, myopic, self aggrandising ones like Anthony McCarthy’s – Benedictions on our fair city; which was on the next page! (page 11, SMH, 28 April).

Here are the links to the original letter and Anthony’s article.

The following is a rebuttal to Anthony’s article, this was also sent to the newspaper, but due to its length I doubt it will be published.

A rebuttal to: Benedictions on our fair city, by Anthony McCarthy – The Sydney Morning Herald; Monday 28 April 2008.

I’ve read some poorly researched, myopic, self aggrandising opinion pieces before, but Anthony’s must rank as one of the worst the Sydney Morning Herald SMH) has published?

Apart from the fact that he thinks the Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD) is a good thing, and thinks everyone else should think so as well (trust me there are plenty who don’t), his facts are somewhat exaggerated.

Anthony tries in vain to compare the C-WYD to the Sydney Olympics, both in number of attendees and inclusiveness. Firstly the CATHOLIC World Youth day is mainly of interest to Catholics, and even some Catholics see it as a waste of money. Anthony states “WYD is not the Olympic Games but in some ways it is more participatory…” I don’t know how he comes to that conclusion, some evidence would be nice? He also states the vast majority of Olympic visitors were athletes and media personnel. Seeing as there were only 11,000 athletes, but 6 million tickets to venues were sold, I highly doubt his conclusion. The Olympics had participants from 199 countries, the Paralympics had 122 nationalities. How many countries are visiting for the C-WYD Anthony? Whilst I don’t play any sports I can happily watch most of them and I don’t have to be a member of any particular sect to get something out of it. Anthony says everyone is welcome; does that include all the members of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, the Australian Skeptics Society, the Secular Party of Australia or various other non-religious groups who would be happy to point out to your participants the many inconsistencies in the Catholic traditions? I think not.

Anthony states that more than 400,000 people will attend the mass at Randwick and this will be the “largest gathering of people in Australia’s history”. For a start that’s a big call seeing it’s still 80 days away before this event occurs, so his figures are at best an educated guess. Second, in comparison to the Olympics; 400,345 people attended Sydney Olympic Park on day 8 of the 2000 games. Over 5.5 million attended Sydney Olympic Park across the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There were 47,000 volunteers and their ticker-tape parade attracted 100,000, not bad for just a bunch of volunteers (no disparagement to the volunteers). At last count the C-WYD was even struggling to get anywhere near their required number of volunteers. So which event is really the more popular one?

Whilst we are mentioning numbers: 10,000 people were in the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade, with crowds of over 300,000 in 2008. (largest crowd attending a Mardi Gras was estimated at over 500,000 in 1993) Anthony’s hoped for 400,000 is comparable, but as gays are supposed to account for only 4-10% of the population and Catholics are supposed to represent 26-29%, the ratio is lower for the Catholics. I would also like to make an assumption here; number of non-Catholics at C-WYD less than 10%, number of non-gays in audience at Mardi Gras greater than 50% (I have no figures for this assumption apart from some anecdotal evidence, and am happy to be corrected if someone can find correct figures) so which event is more inclusive? And I wonder which event gets the most money from the government?

Whilst C-WYD might be a big deal for Anthony and his many Catholic Youth mates, rest assured it’s not for the majority of the rest of us Australians.

References:

A. Some Olympic and Paralympic Games Achievements http://www.gamesinfo.com.au/ho/ARNW103002.html

B. Socio-Economic Impact of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games http://olympicstudies.uab.es/pdf/od013_eng.pdf

C. Costs, closures turn masses off big event http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/costs-closures-turn-masses-off-big-event/2008/04/27/1208743316571.html

D. Welcome to God’s mosh pit http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/costs-closures-turn-masses-off-big-event/2008/04/27/1208743316571.html

E. Mardi Gras History http://www.mardigras.org.au/internal.cfm?sub=History&nav=About%20us

F. Massive crowds expected for Mardi Gras http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/01/2177016.htm?section=justin

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Pope – No; Cost – Maybe; Road Closures – Yes

It seems more people are put off by the impending road closures during Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD), than the fact it’s costing us millions of dollars, or that it’s just about glorifying the Pope. It’s good to see Sydneysiders have their priorities right!

The Sun-Herald reports that 64% of Sydneysiders are in favour of the C-WYD, but that number fell to 47% when taking the road closures into account. Of course the original poll was conducted just before the $86 million cost to the government was announced. I bet the percentage in favour would be a lot less now, especially when the cost is now estimated to be closer to $160 million!

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils’ head, Ikebal Patel, said that, for any large-scale event to be held successfully, government funding was needed. He supported the Catholic Church in hosting World Youth Day.

I bet he does. I also bet he’s thinking “I better support the Catholics because when I run Islamic WYD I want the government to pay for that too.”

Alongside the above article, was another article discussing the merchandise available for the Youths.

specially designed WYD … hoodies, … beanies

da Pope will b rappin da streetz wit me home boyz, Yo, Init

A WYD spokeswoman said profits from merchandising would go towards the cost of staging the event by the Catholic Church.

So the Catholic church, which is putting up only a paltry part of the costs, is going to get some/most/all of their costs back anyway. I can guarantee you that the profits wont be going back to the taxpayers.

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Welcome to God’s mosh pit – the full post

Sceptics call (Catholic) World Youth Day just one big party; others insist it strengthens the faith, writes Linda Morris. I call it a big waste of taxpayers money!

The thrust of the article is: do the World Youth Days actually encourage youth to attend mass and become part of the church? Apparently the youth have been drifting away from the church. Go figure.

The article starts with an interview of Mellisa Dwyer who attended the WYD in Rome eight years ago. Following which she became a nun. She had this to say about her time in Rome:

“In Rome there was such an overwhelming sense of community. … In Australia our faith is so hidden but in Rome it was so contagious.

Sounds to me like typical crowd hysteria. That’s what a lot of people don’t get, go to any large gathering of people supporting something and you can be overwhelmed. The emotions can be quite contagious, you only have to go to any football ground to see that in action.

World Youth Days are big business. By all accounts, Sydney’s will cost more than $200 million, sucking up $15 million of the church’s own money in Sydney and more than $160 million in taxpayer money and subsidies. (emphasis mine)

It gets more expensive by the day, last time I checked it was only going to cost us about $100 million. I (and many others) think that it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, but not everyone does:

But as the Vatican commentator John Allen once noted, to the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, it is a small price to pay to challenge, if only for a week, the powerful social currents that press youth towards secular conceptions of identity and satisfaction.

WTF? What is wrong with youth taking on secular conceptions anyway? So the youth are getting educated and going “hey, all this science stuff makes so much sense, and Catholicism and god doesn’t. Maybe I’ll stop being indoctrinated with false ideologies, and ditch the church” Like that’s a bad thing? Well I guess it might be if you make your billions from deluding people. Another thing, it might be a “small price to pay” for the Catholics, they’re only chucking in $15 Million after all. It’s us poor taxpayers, who had no say in the matter, who are putting up the vast bulk of the money.

The article goes on to point out that there are about 5.1 million “Catholics” in Australia, but that most of them never attend Mass. According to their own figures fewer than 14%. So does that mean there are really only 700,000 Catholics in Australia? So why are we pandering to this relative minority? I thought it funny how Pell uses the term “census Catholics”, we all know how skewed the census data is. (see my articles on the Census or Christianity a declining population)

Pell  … sees many areas of Australian life as hostile or indifferent to Christ’s claims.

That’s probably because most of us are smart enough to know:
a) christ doesn’t exist,
b) god doesn’t exist,
c) Catholics are deluded.

… will get the church back to the halcyon days of 1950s when the seminaries and religious congregations were full …

Reminds me of what a recent PM had dreams of, we dumped him too. The bishops haven’t realised the world has moved on, that people have started to realise that institutionalised religion has so many failings.

Paul Collins, author of: Believers: Does Australian Catholicism Have A Future? seems to be of the opinion that C-WYD won’t make much difference.

“Perhaps for a tiny minority it will be a life-changing event but most will revert to their previous patterns of existence …

being, calling themselves Catholics but not actually being practicing Catholics.

Collins says most lay Catholics he speaks to describe it as an expensive folly.

So it’s not just us atheists who think C-WYD is a waste of money.

On the other hand Richard Rymarz, a Catholic academic, says

we should not underestimate World Youth Day’s value just because it is big and flashy and populist.

Rymarz has undertaken studies of people who went to previous C-WYD, and is studying participants at the Australian one. He found that there was some increased involvement in their parish after attending a C-WYD, with

… participants more willing to talk of their faith to friends and family

Oh Great. As if we haven’t heard enough of this before the event we’ll have to listen to ‘born again’ Catholics banging on about it afterwards. Anyway, it’s like any sort of rally, there will always be some who get caught up in the emotion and apply it to their lives for a while. You see the same thing with those motivational speakers, or marketing and management gurus, after going to their seminars some people get all enthused and change their life around (I’ve often wondered for how long though). The majority forget all about it almost straight away.

Rymarz goes on to question the impact of C-WYD and whether it

facilitates supportive communities that met the needs of younger Catholics. For example, at many universities there is no longer a Catholic student group.

Hardly surprising that universities don’t have Catholic student groups. One would hope our university students have enquiring and open minds and the intelligence to question religious dogmas.

The rest of the article talks about Sarah Collins who

was a cradle Catholic, raised in the church, compelled by devout parents to attend Sunday Mass

In other words brainwashed and indoctrinated from birth. Collins ‘left the church’ in her teens but ended up going to the C-WYD in Cologne and was re-energised in her faith. She was amazed that

There was great camaraderie, everyone waking with the same purpose in solidarity.

What did she expect a million people all with the same reason to be there would be like? It’s hardly a reason to devout your life to god. The argument from numbers is a logical fallacy and no reason to believe something is inherently true.

I’ll finish off with the closing comments from Pell

“World Youth Day is not magic and we have never claimed it will be a cure-all.

C-WYD might not be magic but everything else you believe in is.
magic noun: any art that invokes supernatural powers

Even many of the sceptics will be pleasantly surprised and moved by the sight of many tens of thousands of happy, hopeful and faith-filled young adults among us,” he says.

Surprised: Yes, surprised at the number of deluded people.
Moved: Yes, moved to writing about what a waste of time and money the whole C-WYD is.

pleasantly surprised and moved …: NO.

Though I think he was talking about the sceptics in the Catholic church, who as mentioned earlier think C-WYD is a waste of money and won’t change anything. Though how you can be skeptical and a Catholic is way beyond my comprehension.

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Jesus got nailed

Matt had a question on my God and Free Love post, methinks it may have been the other way around:

Deflowersigned

Some might say that was blasphemous, others say ‘blasphemy is a victimless crime’, others:

blasphemy

pictures shamelessly nicked form somewhere or other

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Welcome to God’s mosh pit

Sceptics call (Catholic) World Youth Day just one big party; others insist it strengthens the faith, writes Linda Morris. I call it a waste of taxpayers money!

More on this tomorrow – I spent way too long writing a reply on Matt’s blog I ran out of time to finish my own!

 

 

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The atheist spot

No, this isn’t a follow on from my last post, it’s not some ‘special place’ only atheists have. What it is, is a new atheist blog aggregator / social book marking site; called The Atheist Spot. Like SEB said:

… take Digg and whittle it down to a niche promoting atheism related topics

The Atheist Spot is fairly new (it has Public Beta in the title at the moment) but seems to have a reasonable following already. You can submit your own posts, or someone else’s. You can vote on posts and submit comments. There is even private messaging and some ‘social networking’ functionality.

There are other social book marking sites, but what is good about this one is the sole focus on atheism. As Vjack said: it gives you an idea what is going on in the atheosphere and may provide ideas to post about.

I’ve signed up, feel free to add me as a friend (OzAtheist in case you couldn’t guess), and vote for my stories. Thanks to Poodles Place for first putting me on to the atheist spot.

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