We're Not Anti-Religion, But...
Or: Surely The Fellow Doth Protest Too Much?
(This article was first published on my blog in January 2007)
The BCSE is keen to point out that it is religiously neutral. Very keen. In fact, the front page of their website devotes space to pointing this out.
The BCSE's religious neutrality is also something that the BCSE's leadership point out on its forum. Often.
This apparently needs to be done because that same BCSE's leadership keep coming out with statements which, well, seem just a little anti-religious. I would parody the recurring conversation like this:
Committee member #1: All religious people are idiots! Morons! I hate them! Die!
Forum visitor: Hey! That's the kind of rhetoric that really turns people off. I thought the BCSE was a scientific organisation?
Committee member #1: Don't be silly. I'm not speaking for the BCSE. The BCSE is a single-issue organisation. We don't have any opinions on religion.
Committee member #2: That's right. We've got to pull together in this fight. We all have different positions and are working together with people we disagree with. Personally I hate all religions and would like to remove the toe-nails of those who propagate them with a fork, but that's nothing to do with the BCSE.
If you've got time to read that kind of thing, here are a few links:
Well, there was a time back in late summer 2006 when the BCSE was having internal discussions about whether it was going to campaign on an explicitly anti-religious platform or not.
At that time, some parts of the BCSE website looked a bit different. But before I show you those, let's remind ourselves of something Ian Lowe said at around that time:
I don't know if you guys are aware, but large sections of the web get archived, and these older versions of websites can be highly embarrasing when dragged out at just the wrong moment in the future.
(BlackShadow Yahoo Group post 2289, 18th August 2006)
What kind of thing might the BCSE be embarrassed by if it were to be dragged out again? Why was Mr. Lowe so worried? We'll see...
But first, something else. If you, at the time of writing, try to follow this URL: http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RoughGuide
What you'll see is that the page exists, but is password protected:
(If you try to visit a page that doesn't exist, you'll just get something like this:)
So what is the content hiding behind that password? Ah....
Back when the BCSE website sported a different colour scheme, a visit to the same location would have brought you this:
Yes, my good readers - the renowned religious scholars at the BCSE were previously offering the public their very own "Rough Guide to Fundamentalism"!
Before they had fully settled on the "we have no opinions on religious matters" position, the BCSE was offering in no uncertain terms their opinions on several matters religious. Before claiming to be religiously neutral, the BCSE was instead spreading its own take on various religious questions.
That's in October 2006 - a whole 3 months ago as I write! The screenshot above was taken the same day that "BCSE Revealed" launched. We might well wonder: "So, you're religiously neutral. Since when, exactly? Is that a new policy?". And for another "they're making it up as they go along" story, see here.
So, exactly what is written on that page? That's the subject of part 2.