Archive for Religion

The war on paganism and the true meaning of Easter

Social media is awash with outrage (outrage I tell you!) that Cadbury has banned the word “Easter” in case it offends people from other religions. Easter is a Christian celebration so why, they ask, would people who weren’t Christians want to buy an Easter egg?

The war on Christianity continues apace they would have you believe.

Eostre (to give it it’s sort of proper name) or Ostera (to give it another one of its sort of proper names) is the pagan celebration of the coming of spring celebrated in northern Europe and the pagan goddess associated with the festival. The eggs and the easter bunny (actually a hare) are pagan fertility symbols associated with the goddess Eostre and the spring equinox.

The Roman church started celebrating the resurrection about 130 years after the death of Jesus and fixed the date according to the Jewish lunar calendar. Until the Roman church decided to mark the resurrection with a festival early Christians celebrated Passover as Christianity was still a Jewish sect at that time.

The actual date of the resurrection has been calculated to be 4th April AD33 (6th April in the Gregorian calendar). So this year the western Christian church are marking the resurrection a week early and the Orthodox Christians 4 weeks late.

So bearing all that in mind I’m not inclined to get worked up at Cadbury not putting the name of an ancient germanic spring equinox festival on a pagan fertility symbol that’s used by Christians for a Roman celebration of the death of a Jewish man 1,983 years ago.

I’m even less inclined to get worked up by it because the story isn’t true.

The word easter still appears on most Cadbury easter egg packaging and in abundance in their advertising. The story originated from a rival easter egg company, the Meaningful Chocolate Company which produces the Real Easter Egg. The Meaningful Chocolate Company is a Christian business and their eggs carry Christian messages, indoctrinating children through the medium of chocolate. Cadbury told an Irish newspaper that they don’t have a policy of removing the word Easter from their products but don’t feel the need to put the word Easter prominently on packaging because “it is very obvious through the packaging that it is an Easter egg”.

As an aside, there has been some consequential outrage (they like getting outraged, these Christians) at a bakery selling hot cross buns without crosses in case they offended muslims.

You will notice that the cross on the hot cross bun is an equilateral cross rather than a crucifix. You can see where this is going, can’t you? The equilateral cross is (you guessed it) a pagan symbol signifying that all things are equal. It is a convenient coincidence that Christians revere a cross associated with the death of their Messiah – especially so at Easter where they celebrate his death by crucifixion – and pagans also used a cross, albeit a different type of cross. It’s quite likely that the vaguely compatible symbology as well as the loosely similar dates informed the Roman church’s decision to hijack Eostre for their resurrection festival.

In any case, the story about the bakery selling hot cross buns without crosses so as not to offend muslims was a spoof published on the satirical Southend News Network website which was amusingly taken at face value by the EDL who shared their outrage (there is a never-ending supply of outrage amongst these Christians) on social media.

Why Christians would want to buy a pagan fertility symbol, let alone get upset about the lack of the name of the goddess Eostre on the packaging of chocolate eggs is a mystery. The hijacking of Eostre by Christians to celebrate the death of their Jewish Messiah is just the latest battle in the war against Paganism.

Inter-faith group wants to “reclaim” St George’s Day

I got a call from BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday asking me to go on the radio this morning and talk about St George’s Day – I was more than happy to of course.

Other than being St George’s Day, the motivation behind the debate they were having was a press release put out yesterday by an inter-faith group that wants to “reclaim St George’s Day”.  Here’s their press release:

Time to reclaim St George’s Day for all English

St George should be a figure of national unity and pride. That’s why we, a coalition of English faith groups and campaigners, are reclaiming England’s patron saint and demanding he becomes representative of all English peoples.

We demand him back from those who promote racism and extremism, and from those who say that St George can only represent a single ethnic group.

We want to promote a new, relaxed and confident, English national identity. A place where a hijab is as welcome as bangers and mash, and no-one is attacked for their race, religion (or lack thereof) or any other belief.

That is why this St George’s Day we are reclaiming St George.

As patron saint for England, St George is there for everyone living in England. Too often he has been hijacked and used as a symbol of triumphalism and division by those on the extreme Right. St George needs to take his rightful place as a national symbol of inclusivity rather than a symbol of hatred.

Although the English national flag, bearing the Cross of St George, was carried by the Crusaders, St George actually lived before the birth of Islam and should not be associated with any hatred of Muslims. He is respected by many people in the Middle East because of his origins there.

Therefore on St George’s Day, we call upon all people of goodwill to join us in:
• standing up against the hijacking of a national hero by those who promote Islamophobia, antisemitism and other forms of discrimination
• opposing the modern dragons of hatred and intolerance
• saying: As the diverse people of England, we are comfortable with difference, and each other. St George’s Day is a time for highlighting harmony and peaceful national pride.


Al-Khoei Foundation
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Christian Muslim Forum
City Sikhs Network
Faith Matters
HOPE not hate
Islamic Society of Britain
Joseph Interfaith Foundation
London Baptist Association
London Boroughs Faith Network
Majlis-e-Ulama Europe
Muslim Council of Britain
Radical Middle Way
Religions for Peace UK
St Philip’s Centre
Three Faiths Forum (3FF)
Woman’s Voice

Firstly I have to say I’m pleased this inter-faith group have taken an interest in St George’s Day – it’s a day for all the people of England, not just white, Christian Anglo-Saxon’s (not that there are many of those left here after a thousand years or so).  I’m not much happier for religious groups to try to take ownership of St George’s Day than I am with the likes of the EDL or English Democrats though.  I know saint’s are, by their very nature, a religious thing but unless you’re in one of the more orthodox countries a patron saint’s day is a civic occasion more than a religious one.

I’m also not happy with the way the group tries to claim that St George’s Day is associated with the “far right”, racists and other -ists.  The only undesirable groups that habitually use the English flag are the English Democrats and the English Defence League, neither of which are any more representative of the English people than Abu Hamza or Amjid Choudhary are of the Muslim population.  The traditional peddlers of intolerance and prejudice are the British National Party and the National Front, both of which use the British flag and don’t even claim to be English groups.  They are both active in all four member states of the UK.

At the weekend the Stone Cross St George’s Day parade attracted over 15,000 people and there wasn’t a preacher of hate to be seen, just thousands of English people of all nationalities, colours and religions getting together to celebrate their country’s national day.  Similar events were held all over the country and I’ve seen no reports of trouble at any of them in the news so where are these racists and “far right” groups that have supposedly taken ownership of St George’s Day?  They simply don’t exist.

I wholeheartedly support the objective of this inter-faith group to celebrate St George’s Day properly and to use it as a way of bringing together all the people of England but I wish they wouldn’t resort to such lazy attention seeking phrases like “reclaiming [insert English symbol here] from the far right” because it just devalues their argument.

Schools advised to cancel swimming lessons for Ramadan

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has produced an 11-page Ramadan guide for schools which advises them to cancel swimming lessons and sex education for all pupils during the month.

The council suggests swimming lessons should be cancelled in case muslim children accidentally swallow water when they’re supposed to be fasting rather than the more reasonable suggestion that muslim children should be given the opportunity of taking part in another sport instead.

They suggest cancelling sex education lessons because muslim boys are forbidden to think about sex during Ramadan after they have reached puberty rather than the more reasonable suggestion that muslim children should have the opportunity to catch up on missed lessons after Ramadan.

The Ramadan guide even suggests that schools reschedule exams in case muslim pupils are tired from getting up early to eat before dawn rather than the more reasonable suggestion that muslim children might like to go back to bed after their early breakfast so they’re not tired for their exams.

The council says “The overriding consideration should be that children do not feel disadvantaged in school activities because of their religious observance” whereas most people, I think, would say that a more reasonable “overriding consideration” should be that a child’s religion doesn’t get in the way of their education or the education of every other child in the school.

Making reasonable adjustments to accommodate the religious desires of a child I have no problem with.  Offering Halal or Kosher meals to those that want them is reasonable, only offering meat from animals that have been killed inhumanely to all pupils isn’t.  Offering pupils the ability to defer their participation in activities or even miss them altogether because of their beliefs is reasonable, forcing an entire school to miss out on activities or reschedule them to accommodate the whims of a medieval religion isn’t.

Despite the best efforts of some, the muslim breeding programme hasn’t yet provided a majority muslim population in England and until it does there is no reason why the lives of so many people should be disrupted to accommodate the religious choices of a minority of the population.

But the nice people at Stoke-on-Trent City Council haven’t pulled all of this out of their own arseholes, they’ve had guidance from the Muslim Council of Britain.  The MCB is an unelected taxpayer-subsidised europhile Islamic group which claims to represent 500 muslim groups, membership of which is restricted entirely to those who profess the muslim faith.  Hardly representative of the majority of English people are they?

Stoke-on-Trent City Council really have gone too far with this booklet.  Not only is it a waste of taxpayers money, it’s also insulting to assume that non-muslims will happily have their lives rescheduled around the Islamic calendar.

Pope in hypocrisy shock (not)

The Pope is bitching about Belgian police raiding the home of a retired Catholic archbishop and the graves of two prelates as part of an investigation into child abuse by Catholic clergy.

Well that’s a bit unfortunate your holiness but if the Catholic church dealt with paedophile priests instead of protecting them then the police would probably be happy to rely on the co-operation of the church.  In fact, if the Catholic church told their priests that child abuse is an unforgivable sin there might not be any need for police investigations at all.

Belgium is an overtly Catholic country (with the exception of Brussels which is rapidly turning Islamic) so the decision to raid the home of a retired Catholic archbishop won’t have been taken lightly.  The Pope should get his own house in order before he starts criticising other people.

Destruction of the Jewish faith, my arse

A court has ruled that a school has broken the law by refusing admission to a child that the Chief Rabbi considered  to not be a proper jew.

Interestingly, the judgement is based on the assertion that “Jewish” is a race, not just a religion.  Which is bollocks.  The rules are that anyone with a Jewish mother is Jewish – they may not have any Hebrew blood in them at all as the child of a Jewish convert is considered Jewish in the Jewish faith.

The Chief Rabbi says that God tells him who is and isn’t a Jew and that the court’s ruling implies that his God is a racist.  Some other Jewish person whose name I didn’t catch has been on Newsnight saying that Jewish schools have prevented the destruction of Jews and that forcing them to take people who the Chief Rabbi says aren’t real Jews puts the “Jewish community” at risk.

I know this is a generalisation but Jews are, sadly, so used to using such extreme terms as “destruction” and “racist” that they use them for something as minor as a schools admission policy.  Forcing Jewish schools to adopt a legal admissions policy will not destroy the Jewish faith, nor does it amount to the state calling God a racist.

Presumably the court ruling was based on the same law that bans the BNP from accepting only white members.  If the Jewish school is successful in getting the ruling overturned then that will give the BNP legitimate grounds to appeal the recent ruling that they must change their admission rules to allow ethnic minorities to join their party.  Is that what the Chief Rabbi wants?