Tag Archives: humanism

Demons Do Not Help Explain Terrorism or Mental Illness 

Theo Hobson latest piece is “Secularism’s view on violence is less humane than Christianity’s.” How the separation of church and state, the liberty for us all to live by our conscience in matters of faith without being subject to any violence by anyone, has anything to do with this misses his purpose. That you need faith to be more humane, being a humanist cannot match it, is the claim.

The use of the word secularism here is to attack the secular minded society as less caring. Hobson does this without obvious irony by using what is one of the most cruelest ideas that exists in the New Testament. The idea that people are possessed by demons. “I think that the old-fashioned language is still largely fit for purpose.” We will come to how it is not in a bit, but he goes on to conclude about those killing for terrorism or because of mental illness:

We should see them as possessed by demonic forces. In fact, this New Testament view of the matter underlies the vague orthodoxy I have just described. And this model can also be applied to terrorists – they are possessed by a demonic idea. The French priest whose throat was slit knew this – he died saying ‘Get away from me, Satan’ – he understood the terrorists not as intrinsically evil but as agents of evil. The old religious view of these things is actually more humane than any newer one: it sees the human agents of these horrors as redeemable, but the acts as utterly evil. A secular view either denies the full scale of the evil or, in tabloid headline fashion, over-identifies it with the perpetrator, who is human like us.

If you remember the New Testament, the people possessed by demons were not inherently evil. They had the hallmarks of epilepsy, learning disabilities and mental illness. Jesus did not bring a secular understanding to these things. He cured a few people, sometimes casting the supposed demons into the nearest pigs, but the science or care these people needed (the modern “secular” approach if  we must) was not part of his plan when saving others. So for hundreds of years, exorcisms and treating them as possessed was very much a Christian perspective. 

I would have to call this evil – exorcism really was not the way forward in caring for one another. We might excuse a primitive people; the Son of God playing to that ignorance (or to be more accurate, the gospel writers) a little less so. 

There is no excusing Theo Hobson on this. In trying to defame humanists and secularists (who are not necessarily the same thing) he reminds us that ideas can be evil in the Good Book. Possession is one of them, an idea in the bible we need to move away from rather than a language to make use of to convey ideas today. If we are going to understand why people take the lives of priests and others while shouting “God Is Great” we are going to have to use an investigative approach.

That might suggest looking at the link between violence and religion as a starting point. We should not need violence to make us give the care and attention the most vunerable  in society need. The risk is more often from society, as the President of The Royal College of Psychiatry said in the wake of the Russell Square knife attack today in London:


No Amen is necessary to take that advice.  

The top photo comes from this blog post with more quotes on casting out demons.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Email: JSargeant78@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under British Society, Religion, Secularism

Humanists Denied Legal Wedding Ceremonies In England


I believe in love, that feeling that life is worth living the more for being loved by someone you adore, who is not the equal to anyone else. One day proving we were beyond measure to each other, as before friends and family we declared our love publicly and legally in a marriage ceremony.

Thousands of couples planning non-religious humanist weddings could have their hopes dashed after a row between the Tories and Liberal Democrats saw Number 10 veto proposals to give such marriages legal status. [Independent On Sunday]

The UK government does not believe in England I should be able to do this as a humanist. Scientologists – who believe we are controlled by thetans which were indoctrinated by images like Christ thus making us partial to false religions – may legally conduct a marriage ceremony. Their founder said that atheists:

“are less capable, less ethical and less valuable to themselves and society….A man without an abiding faith is, by observation alone, more of a thing than a man.” [Scientology]

Observation alone is regrettably not enough to show how dangerous a cult scientology can be in denying the health benefits from modern medicine and care.

Even the Aetherius Society may conduct legally recognised ceremonies. They too were founded in the 1950s, when an extra terrestrial intelligence got in touch. They are now “cooperating with the Gods in space.” Why do we not see UFOs landing with conclusive evidence?

“Because it is not the right time. Our collective karma is such that we do not deserve such a landing.” [Aetherius Society]

The government has belief in belief, no matter how far fetched or imaginary it may be. I have no such supernatural inclinations, I keep my feet on the ground. On this terra firma which will in time consume this body currently thinking and typing. It will be the end of me, no final judgment with a heaven or hell to await. For thinking this is the only life I have, that no Gods, angels, demons or aliens await my spirit in a next life – I may not marry legally in a ceremony that denies these things.

I am a “fringe political concern.” My loves, my hopes and dreams do not deserve legal recognition. The law states a UFO enthusiasts club that worships the earth as a Goddess may conduct a marriage. The British Humanist Society may not.

That burns, and I feel for those that had planned to be married in a humanist ceremony that gave them meaning. A change we were promised and waiting on for months has been denied for political reasons. The Conservative Party has shown it does not regard citizens without faith as having the same entitlements as those that do.

This should outrage us all. Till then, it will have to be an elopement to Scotland. Admittedly I do have to work on being adored by someone first, which might be the only miracle I will believe in happening one day.

More on the story can be read from The British Humanist Association.

Photo from an an outdoor humanist marriage service by Loch Lomond, Scotland from here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

1 Comment

Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion, secular

Happy World Humanist Day

Enjoy the Summer Solstice and Happy World Humanist Day to those celebrating!

Chosen Sting’s “Send Your Love” for a reason to mark today.

There’s no religion but sex and music
There’s no religion but sound and dancing
There’s no religion but line and color
There’s no religion but sacred trance

There’s no religion but the endless ocean
There’s no religion but the moon and stars
There’s no religion but time and motion
There’s no religion, just tribal scars

Throw a pebble in and watch the ocean
See the ripples vanish in the distance
It’s just the same with all the emotions
It’s just the same in every instance

There’s no religion but the joys of rhythm
There’s no religion but the rites of Spring
There’s no religion in the path of hate
No prayer but the one I sing

An article I wrote last year on what it means to me being a humanist can be read here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under atheism, Religion

Video: Me Discussing Birmingham Trojan Horse Schools


I was kindly invited to take part in the late night “Analysis” programme on the Islam Channel – looking at extremism and the running of Birmingham schools at the heart of the so called Trojan Horse letter.

Stressed the importance of comparative religious studies rather than religious instruction – in all schools. That this should not be seen as extremists taking over or Muslims being victimised. Rather this is about good governance, and teachers preparing children with an academic education in an ideologically free and safe learning environment.

[From the 14th minute till advert]

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Leave a comment

Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion, secular

Video: How Do We know What Is True?


Short two minute animated video narrated by Stephen Fry contrasting a humanistic view of the world compared to a supernatural view of existence.


Hat tip Jerry Coyne

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

1 Comment

Filed under atheism, Science, secular