The news that the pope denounces ordination of women as being as evil as serial rape of children would normally cause a bit of a stir, to the extent that anything that comes out of the Vatican these days could be considered surprising. Of course, there is no change in the cover-up policies and a continued refusal to inform the police of abuse are the other unsurprising details. One wonders if the leaders of the Catholic church have ever read the Sermon on the Mount or, indeed, any of the Christian teachings: their primary focus these days seems to be political ducking and weaving. And keeping women firmly in their place.
Also this week, Anwar al-Aulaqi put out a fatwa on Molly Norris because of her Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. This is the religion that keeps claiming that it's the religion of peace. In response to this ridiculous and wicked act, I challenged the believers in Islam who are among my Facebook friends to criticise al-Aulaqi. Not unexpectedly, there was a loud silence.
Just for the record, last month had 180 attacks in 19 countries with 601 killed and 833 critically injured: religion of peace, my arse!
The bizarre converse of all of this anti-women rhetoric was the reaction to France's decision to ban the burqa, where people all over world claimed this was an infringement of human rights. I'm no fan of Nicolas Sarkozy, but I find no flaw in his argument that this is to protect France's secular values and protecting women’s rights. This latter is key to the ban: the burqa is a tool that is used solely and exclusively to subjugate women. I have had a number of acquaintances claim the usual "I know Muslim women who want to wear it", with no consideration of how religion works. I can only assume that these are the same Muslim women who acquiesce or are forced into arranged marriages, are buried alive if they decide to talk to boys, who are mutilated by circumcision, who are gassed if they go to school, and so on: these are the victims of the primary tool of religion - brainwashing of the children or, to paraphrase the Jesuits, give me the child until she is seven and I will give you the woman (like Mohammad, one might even consummate a pedophile marriage if one waits until she is nine).
So, it's all abuse and brainwashing, and you can't become a leader if you're a Catholic, or you have to go through life with a sack over your head if you're a Muslim. But only if you don't have a penis.
My challenge still stands: are there any men left in Islam, or are they all cowards? Will even one stand up and criticise the loonies that seem to have hijacked their religion, or will they all tacitly support murder and abuse by their inaction and silence?
As for the Pope, it would be a huge leap forward if he was arrested on arrival in the UK, but considering how Pinochet was shielded from extradition while he was there, I don't hold out much hope. Perhaps Maggie Thatcher could give the Pope a silver plate too, just to celebrate his great work with children and women.
I've been racking my brains, but cannot find a single useful thing about religion: it is always, without exception, a force for all that is wrong.