There’s gonna be hell to pay


This week I read about a woman who’s been kicked out of church for not paying her tithes. Now I know what most of you are thinking – that’s pretty mean and un-Christian.

Well, you’re wrong. First African Baptist Church (FABC) of Bainbridge’s Pastor Derrick Mike is perfectly within bounds for turfing Josephine King of Georgia out on her 92-year old ass. Once one buys into the whole religious belief thing, one should sure as hell* expect to pay. Nothing’s free (except the coffee apparently), for anyone of any age.

In the video embedded in this article, you will notice that the FABC is one big-assed Church. It must surely cost a pretty penny to keep that monster suspended like belief afloat. Church management are reasonable to expect payment. It’s all business after all.

* If you’re wondering how an atheist can speak of the surety of hell, wonder no more. Hell does exist – in vast parts of Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world, being ruled by either religious zealots or dictatorial psychopaths, or being torn apart by either or both.

And it came to pass…


It was to be expected when self-proclaimed prophet TB Joshua’s House of Cards came tumbling down, he would use all means possible to evade responsibility. In September last year when a guesthouse under construction on his Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) property collapsed killing over 100 people, he claimed that it was caused by a terror attack.

This week Coroner Oyetade Komolaf found that the church was culpable due to criminal negligence, and should be prosecuted.

TB Joshua off course rejected this finding, still hanging onto the ludicrous assertion that the incident was due to sabotage. But never mind Joshua’s refusal to accept liability. It is well within character for a charlatan to avoid accountability. It was to be expected. And so it came to pass.

But what about his followers and the family of those tragically killed in this titanic abuse of trust? Would they denounce him and call for his head?

Off course not! They are believers. And so it came to pass that they would rationalize this tragedy using every foul excuse in religious doctrine. Here are some of the more absurd:

One woman said the coroner’s ruling was “nonsense” concocted by “earthly experts” who know nothing about spiritual matters. The church could not be blamed for “work of the devil.” She went on to state that she does not believe in “scientific findings for spiritual matters”.

Another said the investigation was “devilish”. Yet another invoked the devil, accusing him/her/it for wanting to destroy his bishop.

The worst has to be the statement from a church spokesman who told AFP that it was “unfortunate” that the coroner ignored submissions that “having building approval is not [a] panacea for building collapse”. WTF? How insane is that?

Now that the coroner has made a finding, will TB Joshua actually be prosecuted?

That to my mind is unlikely. He is well-connected politically in Nigeria. It’s no secret how corrupt their politicians are. And he has been rather busy visiting family of the victims, palming off blood money and currying favor.

And it shall come to pass that justice will not be served.

Aggravation at an intersection

Fixing traffic light10 things that vex me to some degree or the other at traffic intersections, in decreasing order of annoyance.

  1. Traffic lights that don’t fucking work due to power-outs, poor maintenance or, idiots who have ridden them over.
  2. Impatient morons who take off before the traffic lights change, in order to get to the next set of RED traffic lights a few seconds before you.
  3. Traffic cops who lounge in their vehicles when they should clearly be directing traffic.
  4. People handing out flyers and pamphlets, especially when there’s a whole bunch of them queuing up to get to your car window, each with a different bill… and then to be faced with more of them with the same useless pieces of paper at the very next intersection, and the one after.
  5. Do-gooders (or not) collecting money for their churches or temples or other religious organization. Really people, if you’re going to be standing out in the hot sun collecting funds, then at least desist from trying so hard to convince me that prayer works.
  6. Hawkers selling cheap Chinese junk that nobody wants, but some are coaxed to buy in sympathy, and “support” informal trading. What kind of an idiot buys electronic products at an intersection? I really wouldn’t mind so much if they actually sold something useful. Fruit and vegetables aren’t too bad, except when they try to slip in some rotten apples in the carefully made-up packs.
  7. Students who don garish, often absurd outfits (men wearing tutus and dresses are common) and plead for money so that they can attend some sporting event, or go on vacation or some other pretence. Even worse, are the guys (and sometimes gals) who actually collect money to pay for their weddings. Why should I have to pay when I’m not even invited, so that you can impress your friends and family with a formal wedding which you can’t afford? True love means never having to splurge on a wedding… or something like that.
  8. People who insist on crossing the street after the traffic lights have changed, then stare angrily at motorists who now have right of way.
  9. Panhandlers who insist on washing your windscreen, after making it quite clear that you don’t need the “service.”
  10. Adults who beg. I honestly feel for you, but there’s just too many of you at too many intersections, all day, every day, and I really can’t support you indefinitely. I’m however quite happy to hand out loose change occasionally, when I do have some available.

In response to a bigoted Christian politician…

It’s not often that men of the cloth admit to the follies of the Church and religious scripture. But when such a man does speak out against the crass wrongs perpetrated on society by the religious or political establishment, he deserves praise, not condemnation.

So you can imagine my consternation at reading this disgusting letter by one Thamsanqa Enoch Bam in an online publication, in response to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who spoke out against the vile and draconian anti-gay bill being proposed in Uganda. Tutu earned the ire of Bam by likening the hateful legislation to South Africa’s apartheid laws.

Bam, who also proclaims himself as the President of the People’s Party (a recent addition to the absurdly long list of insignificant South African political parties), asserts that the Archbishop was “going against” God’s Laws by condoning homosexuality. His conviction, unsurprisingly comes from the bible and is backed up by the quotation of a few hand-picked scriptures which I won’t repeat, such is my revulsion.

Is there a more revolting blend than a politician and a religionist?

Bam asks how the Archbishop could miss such clear scripture [referring to the revolting quotations I earlier sidestepped like a pile of steaming horeshit]. Off course, we would not be allowed the courtesy of asking how this cretin [Bam, and others of his ilk] misses with unerring conviction, all the other contradictory and hateful biblical scriptures that don’t confirm his/their prejudices.

This letter in the Times Live appears to be an extract from a lengthier blog he wrote, which also condemns gay marriage, and confoundingly professes support for the dreadful ANC [ruling party], if they “made an about turn and ended their duplicity, corruption, mismanagement and disregard of the poor masses.” And to add further insult, he concludes that the ANC’s manifest incompetence would be solved if the “country goes back to God.”

And like all fundamentalists he is off course intimate with God’s will:

As a Christian, I pray that gays and lesbians will eventually see their folly, repent, and turn away from their abominations. That is the will of God.

What a slimeball? The will of this atheist is that you change the name of your political party to Asshole’s Party, because you will never represent the people, just bigoted assholes like yourself.

Church should stay the hell out of government

I read with utter dismay this afternoon that our bumbling President, Jacob Zuma is contemplating allowing the Church and possibly other faith-based organizations to play a role in governing the country.

Apart from Julius Malema being appointed the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, this is the most dreadful calamity that could befall this poor country, already threatened by various religious organizations wanting to trample on our basic freedoms, and a chorus-line of politicians trampling on everything else.

The government is doing a damn fine job of fucking things up; we don’t need the Church or the clergy from any other religious sect joining in too. There is only so much tax-money that can be siphoned off from the treasury, and we don’t need any religious organizations pigging out at the same trough.

When the politicians are done screwing things up, the clerical vultures can have their turn mopping up. But for now, stay the hell out of politics!!!

The end is near, but not quite…

I recently read an essay about the decline in religious belief, but prior to this, I was convinced of it through personal observation, and interaction with many people who have abandoned their faith. Titled Why The Gods Are Not Winning, it was written by Gregory Paul & Phil Zuckerman, and published in 2007.

Here are some extracts:

Religion is in serious trouble. The status of faith is especially dire in the west, where the churches face an unprecedented crisis that threatens the existence of organized faith as a viable entity, and there is surprisingly little that can be done to change the circumstances.

God belief is not dead in these nonreligious democracies, but it is on life support. The ardent hopes of C. S. Lewis and John Paul II to reChristianize Europe have abjectly failed.

In the end what humanity chooses to believe will be more a matter of economics than of debate, deliberately considered choice, or reproduction. The more national societies that provide financial and physical security to the population, the fewer that will be religiously devout. The more that cannot provide their citizens with these high standards the more that will hope that supernatural forces will alleviate their anxieties. It is probable that there is little that can be done by either side to alter this fundamental pattern.

Grab the rest here.

How much honesty is there behind charity?

Last week, a furore broke out among opposition political parties in South Africa over the handing out of food hampers by the ruling ANC party’s youth wing (ANCYL), to destitute communities in Phillipi in the Western Cape. It is alleged that the food hampers were provided by a government ministry.

To those not familiar with South African politics, this apparent act of kindness by the government and one of its agencies not normally known for any sort of decency, would have gone unnoticed and unquestioned. However if you are in opposition politics or familiar with (well publicised) government dishonesty, or even just plain cynical, this act of generosity would have raised a few eyebrows at the least. You see, the Western Cape is the only Province in South Africa which voted overwhelmingly against the ruling ANC in the last general elections, and the selective targeting of poor people in this particular part of the country for charity, could and should be construed (in all fairness) to be clearly politically motivated. The poor in Phillipi are no worse off than the poor elsewhere, and surely those who voted the ANC into power in the other provinces would be equally, if not more appreciative of some assistance? The truth is that when the government’s humanitarian efforts become selective, rather than nationally organized, you can bet that some grubby politicians are thinking about where their next votes are coming from.

However, dishonesty in charitable work is not confined to government or politics. In fact, the motivation to be charitable, from a religious perspective are far more dishonest than any emanating from politics or big business. This scandal-in-the-making in the Western Cape (which will be swept under the carpet as usual) reminded me of an e-mail I received from a church elder a few months ago, about how they had so kindly fed about a hundred or so, sickly and poor people waiting at a public hospital for treatment. And again, for those of you not living in South Africa or are fortunate enough not to have to attend one of these institutions of gross inhumanity; public hospitals are a cesspool of neglect, mismanagement, and fraud perpetrated by both administrators and public officials alike, understaffed and under-equipped. Anyway back to the e-mail, and the now infamous words that still trouble my mind:




Clearly the effort to feed these helpless people was motivated by the desire to proselytize and proliferate a particular insidious religious doctrine with the end-expectation of causing half-empty churches to magically fill up again. For church administrators, full churches equate to a steady job and income, and off course the perpetuation of a belief system. For religious individuals the effort represents a way to solicit favor with a supernatural benefactor and supposedly pave the way for an easy entry into the famous afterlife. However for individuals, an even more crass reason to be charitable is to satisfy a religious or scriptural requirement. It’s as good as saying that if it was not a tenet of their faith, then it would not be required of one to be charitable. Fortunately religion advocates charity and thus earns itself a minor saving grace.

As an afterthought; it’s now December and I wonder if the Miracle Revival Center’s other half  is now full with sick people hoping for a miracle cure. Or, failing that, as is the most probable outcome, would they be happy with a sandwich and a tract instead?

Big business is another contributor in the dishonesty stakes when it comes to charity. You’ve all heard about those social responsibility programmes which every modern company seems to have. It looks good on the balance sheet and is useful for tax purposes. It is also useful as a motivational tool for making your employees think they are doing great humanitarian work, while they enforce your despicable shareholder-enriching policies, poverty-inducing price schemes and couldn’t-give-a-shit service practices, which fucks the poor anyway. Yeah, it’s always nice to make everyone think you’re giving back some of what you stole in the first place.

And back to individuals or even organized groups; there is always dishonesty when the object of your supposed benevolence is limited to a particular ethnic, racial or social group. Only last week, the daughter of a friend told me of a group of cute Indian children that she and her church had assisted. She had meant for me to also single out that particular racial group of children for special attention. While I believe that she did it unthinkingly and innocently, it is still not acceptable behaviour.  Charity is not charity when it is targeted at certain individuals, racial, ethnic or even religious groups. It is nothing short of bigotry; only done to appease your own troubled mind.

The big question is, should it matter to the poor and destitute what the motivations are behind their benefactor’s supposed good deeds? One could argue that they should not be choser’s, and they should not question the intentions of those that contribute to their well-being. Off course they shouldn’t have to! The situation that the poor and destitute find themselves in should not be exploited by those with hidden or dishonest agendas. It’s up to honest people to not allow the religious, the politicians, business and others to take advantage of the poor, and must expose it wherever it happens.

The great sardine run, and a temple that glows in the dark

Now that I’ve recovered somewhat from my week-long sojourn down in Durban, it’s time to turn my attention to writing again with some things that caught my attention.

Kwa-Zulu Natal, on the east coast of South Africa, is famous for the annual sardine (alternatively known as a pilchard) run which usually occurs between June and July, but sometimes as early as May. In recent years however, the shoals which have beached in the past, have slowly dried up. There were huge catches in some odd years, but the general trend is that the “greatest shoal on Earth” is slowly becoming a no-show. This year was no different.

While sitting on a south coast beach, waiting with hundreds of other eager sardine-spotters, I pondered why the great sardine run is turning into the great sardine crawl in recent years. It’s really tempting to blame global warming, although how exactly, I have no idea. I overheard one guy on the shore say that the sardines are getting smarter. They’re learning how not to get caught. Who knows? He may be right. Evolution is supposed to be continuous after all. Well, I certainly hope they’re not getting smarter, because they sure make a tasty snack. And it won’t do, to hope it’s because of global warming either. That’s certainly not very smart.

On a slightly more significant note, well only just; last Friday evening while on my way to visit a cousin in my old hometown near Durban, I noticed some rather colourful, bright neon lights flashing up ahead on a hill. Thinking that it was some new club that had opened, I was rather taken aback to discover that they were in fact adorning a Hindu temple. Having followed the religion, many years ago before returning to Atheism, I’m used to Hinduism being rather conservative and dignified, well lacklustre really. This garish display of brightly flashing lights on top of a building that is revered by Hindus, is more reminiscent of a casino.

I actually burst out laughing at the time and afterwards remembered where I had seen such a phenomenon before: about two years ago I saw almost the same neon lighting display (although not in so many colours) on a modern building in Toronto, Canada, which could easily be identified as a church because of the large cross on the side of the building. Is this the way of the future? Religions trying to attract the noticeably dwindling flocks, with a casino-style lure? Or is it just a modern beacon for worshippers who have become lost? I wonder?

To Turd Majority

I’d like to wind down spleen venting week with a tribute to a special group of South Africans. With the vote count  in the recent general elections almost complete, it is becoming evident that the incumbent ANC-led government will either maintain their two-thirds majority or come pretty close, thanks to this special group of people.

Religion and politics has enjoyed a unique affinity, and it seems that the ANC decision to re-acquaint itself with the Church, just prior to the elections (as part of their election campaign), seems to have paid handsome dividends. The results speak for themselves. This tribute is for all those who demonstrated their undying faith in the ANC, and Jacob Zuma.


Ah yes, be proud of your achievement. Populism, err I mean democracy wins again…

The Times on-line, 24 April 2009

The Times on-line, 24 April 2009

And in closing, let me leave you faithful people with a word of caution: while waiting for your rewards, please try not to bend over

Damn! I’m Living in Religiousville

Azaadville is a small town of a few thousand inhabitants, surrounded by huge mounds of sand which point to the gold mining activity that this neck of the woods is more famous for. It is by no stretch of the imagination, a back-water town; we are not cut off from the world in any manner, and have access to all types of media and amenities. But the fervour with which religion is practised here, is disturbingly out of character for such a locality.

Within a few square kilometers we have three mosques (I cannot really say if the three mosques are divided by the two major Muslim denominations, Sunni and Shi’a, but it is highly likely), two temples (one for North Indians and one for South Indians), a kind of hall above a shop that serves as a Church, an Islamic University and a private Islamic school. With so many religious facilities confined to such a small area, one can be forgiven for thinking that Azaadville is Jerusalem without the Jews; but the Hindus with their temples make up for the missing desert dogma.

Muslim’s in their flowing robes, can be clearly seen clamouring to one of these mosques, five times a day, every day. On Fridays, the businessmen even close their shops at around lunch time to attend prayer services. Hindus, North and South Indian, throng to the temples at least once a day, every week. The Christians, to their credit attend Church services once every Sunday, or at most two or three times a week if there is a special occasion or service. It thus seems pretty obvious, that after the Moslem’s, the Hindus are most in need of their God; or perhaps their God is most in need of them.

I am boarding with a friend, whose wife, a South Indian, spends about as much time at the temple as she does at home. Even when at home, she spends quite a bit of time on the phone, dispensing religious instruction and organizing prayer events, in between the customary doses of gossip. She reminds me of airline passengers who collect frequent flyer miles; only she is clocking up “worship time” in lieu of air-miles, for that one-way ticket to heaven.

Well, at least the Hindu and Christian women are allowed to attend temple services; seems that the role of Muslim women is confined to being the home-maker. However, Hindu women cannot attend temple services when they are menstruating. I’ve heard them say that they are unclean, although why women would consider the natural act of menstruation as unclean, is strange to say the least. Perhaps it’s a belief forced on them by their religion; in which case I’m not at all surprised. I’ve also noticed that Hindu women take the lead when it comes to most religious activity, which leads me to believe that (Hindu) women are either more religious than men, or are more susceptible to the irrational allure of religion.

Having to listen to the incessant chatter about religion and gods and prayer events from my friend’s wife, and the Islamic call to prayer blaring five times a day from loudspeakers mounted on the Mosque minarets, is kinda getting to me.  However, as long as all this religious fervour is carried out peacefully and the adherents don’t bother me too much with their proselytizing, I suppose I could still tolerate it; like when birds crap on my freshly-washed car.