I was going to title this post ‘ISIS comes to Cornwall, which might’ve been seen as a slight exaggeration, some might say a massive one but wanting to change or ultimately have removed a statue on the wholly fatuous grounds of it causing religious offence, is something ISIS would do. Granted, they wouldn’t write a letter to the council about it to complain about it, they’d just go right ahead and blow it up, but to me just because they are at the opposite end of a spectrum, doesn’t mean that one is right but the other is wrong.
They both are. And the recent attack on Salman Rushdie proves this. Sure, Rushdie was attacked by a nutter who thought that because Rushdie had written a book that was less than worshipping of his imaginary man in the sky, that he had somehow bought this on himself, but him doing so provided us with a stark reminder of exactly where this lunacy ends. It ends somewhere very dark indeed, but it also starts quite innocently.
The ‘Earth Goddess’ statue in St Austell town centre has garnered publicity for reasons wholly unrelated to its artistic merits because several religious leaders have written to the council to complain about it. The letter, ‘The Guardian’ reports that letter:
“Expressed concern that a statue of an “earth goddess” risked dividing the town and was “offensive to God”. One might imagine that issues such as the the cost of living crisis, which take place in in the real world be a tad more divisive than offending something with less evidential validity than either the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. But hey, that’s only my opinion.
It goes on: “The choice to erect a statue of an ‘earth goddess’ means that as the leaders of the town you are actively, though likely unknowingly, choosing to reject God and instead to bring the town under the spiritual influence of an ‘earth goddess’. Really? Are people suddenly in danger of going full ‘Wicker Man’ under some imagined spiritual influence? Or maybe its the wrong type of spiritual influence, not the fictitious nonsense of the bible where water becomes wine and Jesus not only created a zombie – Lazarus – but becomes one himself?
And there’s more: “However, as Christians we believe there is a spiritual reality to our world and so this is not an insignificant choice and has the potential to impact on the town in negative ways.” Anyone can believe anything they want, but believing in something doesn’t make it true. Delusional, yes. How the idea that having a belief system so utterly bereft of reason, logic, and evidence inexplicably gives people the right to act as moral guardians is both absurdly preposterous and hypocritical in the extreme. Have they read the old testament? God is fine with Adam and Eve populating the world by incest on a truly biblical scale, then wipes it all out, starts again with Noah, his wife, their sons and yet more incest, and eventually visits plagues, famine and bloodshed.
And they call it ‘The Good Book? How is any of that good? They either believe everything in the bible or they don’t. They can’t conveniently forget bits that don’t fit with a newer, more 21st Century interpretation of not just it, but of them. Just because you believe in something that was written thousands of years ago, that relies only on faith to make it true, doesn’t make you right. It makes you a fool and a dangerous fool, who if they sign a letter claiming a statue causes offence really needs to ask themselves some urgent questions about their life.
People are of course free to believe whatever they want to believe and my blog champions the right of people to exercise that freedom, but at the same time they should realise that only a minority share their belief and therefore it doesn’t give them some kind of moral authority.
Because if they do, then they’re no better than ISIS.