Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is Football Racist ? BBC documetry with Clarke Carlisle

Racism has never been higher on the football agenda with with Luis Suarez and John Terry both hitting the headlines this year, along with the well publicised problems with the nations hosting the European Championships.

I do not condone racism or discrimination of any kind, and I think that the more TV discussion shows of this sort that bring these issues into the open the better. Hopefully, these shows and the subsiquent ground swell of opinion against racist chanting and behaviour will give 'normal' fans the moral courage to confront the undesirable elements at football matches and show them up as the small-minded bigots that they are.

As interesting and thought provoking as I thought this show was, I do feel that racism is not entirely football's problem, it is primarily societies problem, and this facet of the racism issue was not really explored at any length. I thought interviewing John Barnes at the 'International Slavery Museum'  was an interesting and slightly unnecessary location choice, although this was followed by a segment speaking to the comedian Ava Vidal where there was some discussion of the wider problem of an  'unconscious racism in society' and that 'football reflects society', but no investigation as to where the root of societies racism comes from.

The christian church condoned slavery, and indeed set about it's missionary work in Africa with barbaric zeal in its efforts to forcibly convert slaves to christianity before setting sail for the New World. It is therefore something of a mystery to me why so many American black activists who are campaigning for equality and against the wrongs of the past, such as slavery, do so while also being extremely religious and supportive of the very organisation which directly caused  the misery and suffering of the past.

But I digress. As somebody who grew up in a part of the country with very little ethnic diversity the first black player I really took an interest in was Mark Walters at Glasgow Rangers.

I didn't support Rangers, but I remember Mark Walters being something special and somebody my Dad would get excited about watching. I also remember that he suffered an astonishing level of racial abuse, but thankfully....well hopefully... most of society has now changed for the better and that would be unthinkable these days.

Mark was unusual in Scottish football at the time, and I have to say today, many years on, for the most part football fans are now generally colour-blind when supporting their teams, and that has to be a healthier situation.

But as Clarke Carlisle points out in the documentary, we are not there yet,  and you have to ask why there are not more black football managers and more British-Asian football players in our game. Highlighting this issue will hopefully lead to change and perhaps as the UK becomes more secular and atheist there will be less religious based discrimination and we will see a more level playing field for black, Asian, homosexual and female footballers.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Triumph of Marketing - Football v. Religion

At first glance it would appear that there is no contest between Football and Religion as regards the use of marketing to further their cause. 

Football is quite obviously big business with marketing being displayed on the team strips, round the pitch, in the actual names of football stadiums and even in the names of the football competitions. Away from the game football stars themselves are used to market everything from hair-gel to video games.
However, this high profile and multi-million pound football marketing bonanza, is probably a fraction of what the combined religious organisations bring in through their seemingly less high profile marketing operations.

However, all may not be as it seems, religion has been the master of marketing for over 2,000 years.

The Art of Religious Marketing

1. Create a Product.

As you can see from many businesses operating today, and indeed from many of the tasks undertaken in the TV show 'The Apprentice', all you need to start your business is a product. It doesn't have to be a good product, in fact it can be complete crap, but if your selling it to the uninitiated and stupid, any old rubbish will do. 

And lets not fool ourselves, religion is simply a business, and a business that has forgotten any moral or ethical foundations that it may once have had. 

Is it there to help the poor, well as many religions are tax avoiding hoarders of wealth and land it would appear not. Is it there to bring people together, they can't even agree amongst themselves and nothing has so divided people as religion.

So to the product........

If we're going to start with some market share already, why not take a bit of this and a bit of that and 'Hey Presto', we have created the Frankenstein religion of Christianity, nothing original but cobble bits of other religions together into a mega-bundle of superstition and nonsense.

 From the excellent Religion Poisons Blog

2. Eliminate Competition

Question: So why is most of the Western/English speaking world Christian ?

Answer: Emperor Constantine decided it would be more efficient and expedient to rule an mono-theist rather than a poly-theist empire, and as his mother had converted to Christianity (there were other mono-theist religions available) that was his choice.

So now that Christianity had a foothold through authority, it set about eliminating the competition of other religions in a fairly literal and lethal manner.

3. Consolidate Market Share

Not only would Christians kill those who believed in other gods, but also those who believed in no gods, and the church has managed to put a cultural stigma on the word 'atheist' which still exists today. American's hate atheists, but accept those who have no religion ..... what can I say, thery are Americans - but it is an example of how the church has poisoned our culture and language.

There were still people being put to death for heresy as late as the 18th century in Europe, and this behaviour is still very much alive and accepted in the Islamic world today.

The Church propped up the Monarchy, and vice-versa. The Church controlled much of the legal process and barbaric practices such as 'trial by fire', trial by water', burning women at the stake,  general nastiness and brutality that ensured that the Churches were full on a Sunday and that people were contributing to their coffers. In fact it was at one time a crime to to go to church. So frightening those who don't beliebve in to pretending they do believe is a pretty effective way to consolodate your market share.

4. Improve Your Product

At the heart of this 'product' is a book, a not very well written book - but that's OK because
believers hardly ever actually read the book. They just accept the sanitised versions of the good bits from their preachers.

But as King James knew, ever book needs a re-write.

So we should really ask ourselves why so many people blindly believe this book considering its checkered editorial past.

  From the excellent Religion Poisons Blog

5. Target The Young

From a marketing perspective this is where the religions clean up.

The ARGUMENT from AUTHORITY. If you tell a baby that they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and then tie their life to religious festivals and customs, it takes a brake and inquiring mind to ask the real questions while still a child and come to the obvious conclusion.

 From the excellent Religion Poisons Blog 

When Islam is still so backward as to condone 'honour killings' for their own children as a consequence of their religion and Christianity can still persecute openly gays any normal person has to ask themselves how this can ne permitted to continue in the name of superstition.

The Future

Hopefully, religion, will as with all other marketing fads - cabbage patch dolls, rah-rah skirts, filofaxes, Tamagotchi, Sony Walkmans etc. will run its course and die out.

It is difficult to imagine why people will believe in the bible a book so full of errors that in any other publication it would be sent back for a re-write.

Why if the bible is the word of god it doesn't know the world is round or that the sun is the center of the universe. It mentions unicorns, but not kangeroos if god did create the earth would he not have known this.

Why is the bible full of unethical and immoral behaviour. Why would a righteous unbeliver be damned to hell, but a child molesting priest be welcomed in to heaven once he has repented his sin.

Why is there no practical wisdom on technological advances, medical advice or simple sanitation.

Why do miracles 'proving' god's existence consist of crying statues or  'visions', if somebody came back from a miracle vision with the cure for cancer I might take them seriously. Some people do claim to hear the word of god, but they are as likely to be serial killers as productive members of society, and there is yet to be an 'miracle' witnessed by an atheist.

So religion is simply a triumph of marketing. It is smoke and mirrors, empty rhetoric and run by people who are putting their own comfort and well being above those they should be helping. It is big business, and like all big business it stinks.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Thought Experiment 1 - Football v. Religion

I think it would be a hugely interesting, although possibly very cruel, experiment to strand say 100 very young and uncorrupted children, of all creeds and colours, on a lush and fruitful tropical island.

To start with there would have to be some outside influence, but absolutely minimum, by leaving food medicine or clothing. Once established and fairly autonomous they should then be left alone for 250 years.

What do you think we would fine when we returned......

There would be a society, possibly very different from what we expect, but there would be games and sport of some kind, maybe even a type of football, I would have thought so all other societies through the ages have played such a game. It wouldn't be 11 a side, the pitch would be different dimensions, but there have been too many examples of sport involving getting a ball over a line for it not to be replicated in this society.

But what of religion. I would wager my house that there would be no tales of talking snakes, men on a  cross, Mosses in the rushes, Mount Sinai and the 10 Commandments, the good Samaritan, etc. and why should there. Although, if the bible is the book of God why would these pure and uncorrupted children not know of these things.

I suspect that this experiment, which unfortunately will never happen, would prove, once and for all,  that the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Moonies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists and the rest of the religions cults are all nonsense.

Also, in the absence of  the influence of religion, there may be some social harmony, women may have equal rights, homosexuals may not be persecuted and there would hopefully be no racism - why would there be.

I guess that if this society felt the need to worship, that they would worship the sun, and why not. It exists, it is reliable and without it you die. If these aspects of Sun worship were actually the prerequisite for all religions, we would have far fewer of them, and any that did exist I would have no problems co-existing with.

Societies only need 'god' if they have questions that can not be answered, it has been said "where knowledge ends, religion begins" -and so this will take me on to Thought Experiment 2 shortly.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Weekend TV - Football v. Religion

What a difference in weekend's TV offerings.......

From Football, excellent matches from Hearts and Chelsea, providing superb entertainment and talking points for most of Saturday, and indeed the rest of the weekend.

From Religion, 'The Big Questions', a TV show on BBC supposedly hosting religious debate, but which actually seemed to go out of its way to avoid questioning some glaringly obvious problems with the statements put forward by some f its contributors. The show should really be re-titled 'Avoiding The Big Answers'.

'The Big Questions' seems to be an hour spent seemingly avoiding rigorous critical debate and allowing religious sophistry of the highest order. On the plus side, it does actually gather members representing the three Abrahamic religions together for once to try and defend their religious delusions.

You can watch it on BBC iPlayer here until 27th May (I think). The questions this week was "is there a difference between a religion and a cult?"

There were few highlights, but these included the common sense of Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Ancient Religions, Exeter Uni and a member of the audience with spiky hair.

05:24 Prof Fran - No difference between religion and cult, it is just about size.

13:30 Nicky Campbell -  Lands a punch for common sense quoting from the Bible, Book of Mathew "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me...." is this not cultist ?  

Christina Odone, Telegraph - says a description of cult is to have a charismatic leader (Jesus, Mohammed) who has a radical teaching,  tells people to leave their family and everything they know, and  that they will find they are alienated - all sounds like a religion to me, she then goes on,  unfortunately unchallenged, to say that religions live by morals & value, cults don't. However, a quick read of the bible would end that line of argument.

Prof Fran - Then pretty much destroys Odone's last point.

24.25 Prof Fran - "The bible is a very contradictory collection of texts... I know what I'm talking about"

28:05 The man from the Moonies gets the hump at people sniggering at him, c'mon he must be used to this by now.

30:52 Atheist Spiky Haired Guy "Budda said, do not believe anything because you see it, because you read it in a religious book, because your religious teacher tells you or even because I say it, always use your own common sense and reason - use the TV Myth busters and prove anything you say is actually true - it should be the same principals with religion"

However there was much that just annoyed me as a viewer,

05:54 Ian Hanworth, Cult Information Cenre, (look at their Council of Reference - basically a 'charity' backed by mainstream religion),
"I will word things carefully because I might have to prove things I could say in a court of law" - does he mean he would have difficulty proving what he may say in a court of law. He is then accused by another guest, rightly, of using manipulative techniques in making allegations and not backing them up.

09:30 Rabbi Yitchak Schochet - and this is pure GOLD
Nicky Campbell asks "Aren't Religions just successful cults"
Rabbi " No, religions in the first instance is predicated on the belief in a deity, and a cult in the first instance is predicated, usually, on a belief in a particular man who concocted something which he then chose to  define as a religion and then looks to prey on the vulnerable...."
UNBELIEVABLE Is this not Jesus, Mohammed & Mosses that you are describing - NickyC c'mon step in here!!!
Prof Fran does try and make this exact point but is simply shouted down by the Rabbi - NickyC does nothing.

12:15 Linda Dubrow-Marshall had nothing sensible to say - and was taken apart by the 'Jews for Jesus guy' @ 13:13, who came across as funand interesting  guy. By the way, Linda is Research Co-Editor of ICSA Today and is a co-founder of RETIRN, a private practice which provides services to individuals and families who have been affected by cultic influence. So this may just have been a free advert for her.... and Rob Dubrow-Marshall (her husband?- what do you think?) was also there although said much and contributed little - and they're both at it, he even touts for work on the show!

21:20 Ian Hanworth "What we're concerned with is that Cults remove free choice" - What -like the baptism of christian children without their consent, or the circumcision of Jewish babies. Can you be this blind? As Rabbie Burns wrote in 'To a Louse' (appropriate) "O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us".

40:49 Ian Hanworth - discusses child abuse in Cults and completely fails to mention that there may be systemic child  abuse in organised religions, such as the catholic church for example.

44:45 John Atack "You are shunned if you leave a cult", well you can be put to death for leaving some religions or even just for heresy, and that's just bad-mouthing a religion - shunning doesn't seem so bad now does it.

Having watched this twice now, if the BBC, or indeed anybody else thinks that this TV show is a well balanced, intellectual and critical debate on religion, then they are deluded.

Having Religion deride Cults for being unethical, controlling, self-obsessed, child-abusing organisations based on an invented philosophy is just hilarious.

Bring on Euro 2012 and some quality TV.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Unacceptable Behaviour - Football v. Religion

Joey Barton...... What can you say about him?

He broke the rules, got caught, went berserk, and will be punished according to the appropriate disciplinary code of the Football Association. Rumours are that he will receive a 10 game ban, and this may be seen as lenient by some. He hasn't really shown remorse, but why should he, he knew what he was doing, and the likely consequences, so I probably have more respect for him for saying nothing, rather than issuing an insincere grovelling apology as Suarez did.

Contrast this with Religion, specifically the Catholic Church.

Apart from the obvious 10 Commandments as rules of life, it seems odd to me that the Church and Christianity is content that the worst amongst us can be saved by repenting our sins. So what exactly is the fucking point of having a moral code if an evil and immoral life can be saved in 'injury time' by 'repenting'. Surely this is a get-out-of-jail-card for the worst in society.

Is this why priests seem to be able to abuse children with impunity in the knowledge that confession and repenting will absolve all sin.


Instead of shielding these disgusting criminals the Catholic Church should expose them rather than use their culture of guilt and position of authority within the community to silence the abused. What sort of benign all seeing god would allow this to happen...... EXACTLY.

Maybe the Catholic Church should look at Football for their moral compass (as they appear to have none), it's not hard, there are rules, if you break the rules there are sanctions, you can say sorry if you want, but as we said before you broke the rules (or law) so there are sanctions.

The Catholic Church has lost it's way, they have gotten too big, it is all about the brand and the message is lost, similar to what happened to Irish rock band U2. The church is now all about the church and only interested in the church.... What about the people ? What about the children ?

I'm glad football is my religion, I can sleep sound and look forward to a cracking day tomorrow, c'mon Hearts, Blackpool and Chelsea.

Update: Via on twitter Ex-priest guilty of conspiring to kill boy who accused him of rape    Unbelievable, how can you possibly explain these actions of a very religious person.