Category: Religion

It’s 2018 and Irish parliamentarians still want priests in charge of sex education

Ah yes, I remember it well. I was twelve. A Catholic priest brought me into a private room, on my own, and showed me a photograph of a naked boy.

The boy was standing on some rocks by a river bank. He was trying to spear a fish with a stick, his tiny penis dangling between his legs made up of barely a dozen pixels. But it was there. I could see it. That was the point.

The priest used the tip of his biro to point it out to me, to make sure I knew what he was talking about. Judging by the swarm of blue ink-spots hovering around the boy’s genitalia, the priest had biroed this penis many times before.

I give you sex education, folks, Catholic-school style, in 1980s Ireland.

I don’t quite remember what the priest actually said about this boy’s penis. I just remember the biro, and the boy, and the feeling of intense discomfort at having a priest try to explain the facts of life to me.

He kept things simple. There was no mention of erections, ejaculations, or contraception, and certainly nothing about masturbation or fellatio. He was also quiet on the matter of positions — no doggy style, or missionary, or reverse cowgirls here.


The guy with the hat keeps looking at me.

Nor did he mention Alabama Hot Pockets, flying camels, bukkake, chili cheese dogs, golden showers, butt play, eating at the Y, Eiffel Towers, slurping of the gherkin, threesies, tongue-punching, watersports, Houdinis, happy endings, or furburgers.

And he made no reference at all to finger banging, snarfles, sixty-nines, rusty trombones, salad tossing, clam eating, chocolate cha-chas, barebacking, manwiches, smoke poles, facializing, cabeza, pillow-biting, carpet-munching, bob-knobbing, blumpkins, Hershey highways, punching of the starfish, playing of the skinflute, skiing, scissoring, rainbow kissing, muff-diving, dookie love, butt diddling, snowballing, handjobs, or anything to do with Abe Lincoln.

No, all there was was a general warning not to put my penis inside a lady. Ever. He was hazy on the reasons, but I remember that quite clearly.

Hey, if I kept my penis out of ladies, I could be cool, just like him!

Oh, don’t worry, he covered lady-parts as well. In that he literally covered them. There was no photograph of the female body, no actual vaginas per se, just one of those cross-sectional diagrams of a uterus that you see in anatomy textbooks.

You know, the one that looks like the logo for Dodge Trucks.



I can’t remember where he put his biro this time, but it was clear the priest had only a little knowledge, which of course he used to take him a long way.

And there was nothing about consent. I mean, we were boys. Why would we need to know anything about consent?

Ah the 1980s. Times were different back then. This was all the sex education we needed. What harm did it do? It’s not as though the Irish lack a mature and respectful approach to sex, sexuality, contraception, reproductive rights, or sexual consent, now, is it?



So guess what. Fast forward to 2018 and — drum roll please — nothing much has changed. In fact, the Catholic-school lobby want to take active steps to keep everything this way, with right-wing conservatives actively speaking out against the ‘undermining’ of ethos that might result from modernizing sex education in Catholic schools:

Fianna Fáil [the lead opposition party in the Irish parliament] will oppose legislation which provides for factual objective sex education without regard to the ethos of a school.

The party’s education spokesman Thomas Byrne said he was concerned that the Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill would result in changes to the “characteristic spirit of schools” and had been drafted without consulting education partners.

In other words, the church was not asked first. You know, they might not want ‘factual objective’ education. Did you ever think of that?

Mr Byrne insisted that Fianna Fáil supported the call…“for improvements in sexual health and relationship education in schools, youth clubs and other settings”.

The Meath East TD said “we have a principled objection to this Bill on the basis that Ireland has never legislated in law for a curriculum of any type”.

You see? It’s a free speech thing. Shame on you for thinking it was something to do with religion.

He added: “We have never put in law what should be taught in our classes. We have left it to teachers and other experts to decide, and politicians have not got involved.”

Yes, experts. Like priests. With their biros.

Thankfully, these bozos are in a parliamentary minority and so cannot prevent the new law being passed. Soon our nation’s schools will be mandated to teach facts, for a change. How modern. The next thing you know, we’ll have computers.

We are soooo twenty-first century now.


Ten years on and, quelle surprise, that child-abusing EU dystopia hasn’t happened (yet)

Project Fear has been ongoing for some time now. Here’s a poster urging the plain people of Ireland to vote ‘No’ to the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty back in 2008:


Pic: Michael McCarthy/Flickr

I suppose you don’t really need me to tell you what happened next. The Lisbon Treaty was eventually passed, after which EU paratroopers stormed into Ireland forcibly injecting our crying children with microchips (except not).

Simon McGarr has been tweeting about the way reactionary activists deploy paranoid messaging in referendum propaganda. Here’s his thread:

The idea that the deep state wants to infect your kids and make them cry is a very old trope, and has been popular among Luddites literally for centuries. For example, anti-vaccination scaremongering emerged almost within days of the first mass vaccination programmes, replete with baby-eating vaccination monsters:


In Ireland, social conservatives — well let’s admit it, Catholic conservatives — have long been concerned about foreign influence over our laws. The EU particularly frightened them because European countries tend to have ordinary basic human values. This of course clashes with the more Medieval misogynistic approach to law-making preferred by the Irish church.

The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights — with its protection for gays, women, and secularists — was a definite bugbear. After all, if the EU force you to respect some of the rights of your non-coreligionist fellow citizens, then the next thing you know, they’ll force you to respect all of their rights. And then where would we be? Surrounded by wall-to-wall abortions, euthanasia, and gay marriage, of course.

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Pic: Free Stater/Flickr

Unsurprisingly, the microchipping of children wasn’t in the Lisbon Treaty, and I don’t think it’s mentioned in the Bible (I wouldn’t know).

That was used just to frighten people into voting ‘No’.

You see, when it comes to driving non-Catholic snakes out of Ireland, the religious right will throw everything into the mix.

In 1995 they claimed that legalizing divorce (yes, legalizing it, look it up) would immediately drive fathers out of the family home, making the kids of Ireland cry and go hungry. Their legendary slogan was: Hello Divorce, Bye Bye Daddy! Because, you know, men bad.



And in 2015 they claimed that gay marriage would lead to an increase in surrogacy and adoption, creating a new age of male-parent families. The precise negative consequences of this were left to our imaginations, but the implied child-welfare risk was clear. (Would it be fair to mention that the church probably know a paedophile when they see one? Maybe not. I won’t mention it.)

Anyway, this time their slogan was the snappy: She Needs Her Mother for Life, Not Just For Nine Months. Because, you know, gay men very bad.



So this year, Ireland is gearing up for a referendum on abortion, that pièce de résistance of hot button Catholic-maddening causes. If you consider that something as boring as the EU can give religio-conservative paternalist cranks the heebie-jeebies, well let’s just say that the prospect of legalized abortion has gone down pretty badly with them.

One of their delightful tactics has been to assert that people with Down Syndrome will be prime target number one when those godless abortionists launch their inevitable nationwide purge of the unborn. Down Syndrome Ireland, a charity, called on the campaign to stop using pictures of persons with Down Syndrome on their posters.

Anti-abortion campaigners be like, nope, we good here:


Pic: Irish Times

In some ways, the anti-abortion campaign has been something of a car crash. Many of their campaign initiatives have been debunked and ridiculed. But maybe that doesn’t matter.

Because we live in the new world now. Alternative facts and all that. If anything, making ludicrous claims and tooting incendiary fact-free dog-whistles makes you more likely to attract voters, rather than less…

This isn’t a time to sit idly by, people. Get up off your backsides and do something.

“I just decided to just Google what the Bible says about vaccinations…”

Guess what. Vaccines are not part of the Christian creator’s divine plan for the universe. We know this because they are not mentioned — anywhere — in the Christian Bible. So says this lady, as reported by this website.

To quote:

I just decided to just Google what the Bible says about vaccinations. There’s NOTHING in the Bible that talks about vaccines.

So, I just want you guys to think about that. So, if God knew in the future that he was going to help create these amazing things that were going to just change our health and be the best, you know, scientific advancement, it’s just, oh my gosh they’re so great, like, why isn’t there anything, any inkling of talk about these things called vaccinations coming into being later to save people? If that was really God’s plan and they’re so amazing, then why isn’t it in there at all?

Maybe there’s a chapter where they talk about something like an injection, this ‘health injection’, right? Like, why didn’t God talk about that, if he knew it was going to come and save the world?

Good point well made. (But I have a question: what does your Bible say about Google? Should you really be dabbling is such dark internet-based arts?)

Like many folks who quote the Bible, this person also claims to have insights about psychology and psychiatry. Here’s her grand theory about those of us (the majority, remember) who think that vaccination is, you know, okay:

I really believe that believing in vaccines is a mental disorder.

There. That’s told you. If you are one of the majority who “believe in vaccines”, then according to our correspondent, you have nothing less than a disordered mind. You are insane.

However, if you believe that an invisible-man-in-the-sky-who-hates-gays once wrote a book predicting all the good things that would ever be invented well, then, your mind is just fine. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have a disorder.


So, then, while I have your non-disordered attention, what do you think about guns? Guns are good, aren’t they? Are guns mentioned in the Bible? Where does God stand on the second amendment?

It turns out that, yes, as well as being anti-vaccination, God is also pro-gun!

Earlier this week, this man told us that owning a machine gun is a core tenet of “the Christian faith” and that going gunless makes you a heathen:

…you must have the means of self-defense. And in our society today, that means a firearm in the similitude of an AR-15…That is a biblical requirement…if you are not prepared to defend your family and your neighborhood and your community with the force of arms, you have denied the Christian faith and you are worse than a heathen.

[Correction: it makes you worse than a heathen.]

And just yesterday this man told us that Jesus himself was an advocate for personal gun ownership:

He also turned to Luke 11:21, which reads, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

“Think about that. There’s Jesus advocating for the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, to defend your own house, to keep your possessions, not to mention your wife, your children, to keep them safe,” Barber said.

Good, good. After all, you do need to defend your wife.

By the way, for context, the first of these quotes is from politician Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party’s official candidate in the 2008 US presidential election (he finished fifth, four places behind one B. Obama), while the second is from religious liberty activist Matt BarberCo-Founder and General Counsel of a group called Christian Civil Rights Watch (CCRW) (he also used to run Concerned Women for America, presumably “because the women concerned need a man in charge.”)

This is your periodic reminder of the oft-made assertion that society would be just so much better if we allowed more religion into the public square.



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