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.

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