Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Religion'

An atheist reflects on God, religious belief and Isis [Updated]


I was 18 or 19 when I told the local Church of Ireland minister in Dunmurry, Canon Robert C Ellis, that I was an atheist and could no longer sing in the church choir or superintend the Sunday School classes on the council housing estate in nearby Seymour Hill where I lived with my aging mother. [Note the background similarity with John Key, though it stops there!)

Canon Ellis, whose initials ‘RC’ were a cross he had to bear, was  a liberal on most things, including sex, but his liberalism did not extend to the Roman Catholic faith which he could not stomach. He was a gentler man than Ian Paisley, though cut from the same cloth in matters sectarian.

My declaration that I no longer believed in God did not faze the Canon one bit. His brilliant son Stuart had, like me, found and then lost religion. The university did that to impressionable young minds.

“You can,” RC said, “continue to attend church, sing in the choir and teach Sunday School. Just don’t say The Lord’s Prayer or take communion and confine your teaching to the historical account of Jesus’ life.”

I spent a day or two considering this solution before deciding that it really wasn’t feasible for the person of conscience I considered myself to be.   Read the rest of this entry »


The Speaker’s Prayer – Time to get rid of this archaic and offensive mumbo jumbo.


Almighty God, humbly acknowledging our need for Thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech Thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen, and the public welfare, peace and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

It seems to me that there are numerous reasons to get rid of this piece of archaic and offensive mumbo jumbo, the Speaker’s prayer that is read at the beginning of each sitting day in the New Zealand Parliament.

Our Parliament is an institution which must, by its very nature, recognise and be inclusive of the culture, customs and beliefs of all law-abiding New Zealand citizens.

But the Speaker’s prayer does precisely the opposite. It excludes not only every New Zealander who does not believe in a god, but through its reference to ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’, every New Zealander who does not subscribe to Christian dogma.   Read the rest of this entry »


My Hero


If you’re interested, Part Two of this selection, from the period shortly before Hitchens’ death from cancer of the throat, can be found at .


Christopher Hitchens’ New Ten Commandments

My good friend Max Cryer drew this to my attention. I thought you might like it too. And, by the way, if you want to spend an interesting, entertaining and infuriating hour or so, check out Hitchens’ confrontations with that bullying moron from Fox News, Sean Hannity.


Sexy knickers in the City.

New Zealand’s Next Top Model is my trash-telly fix of the week. I’m addicted. Will Danielle get to scare model agencies in New York? Will someone punch out Dakota’s lights? Will spending so much time with the twins give everyone diabetes?

Last night the leggy ingénues got to model a new line of underwear  – in St. Matthew’s in the City.

Although the Church and I parted company decades ago, it made me distinctly uncomfortable. And if I was uncomfortable I can only imagine what religious viewers were feeling. A couple of the girls, who are professed Christians, must have seen their wee souls heading straight for purgatory.

It’s not the first time St. Matthew’s has set out to shock. A few months ago a couple of tongue-in-cheek billboards created a nation-wide fuss and upset someone so much they were defaced. So I can’t help thinking that hiring out the church for a bevy of teenagers to strut their stuff up and down the aisle in nothing but a few wisps of lace might have been pushing the envelope a tad too far.

 Am I being a prude, or was this completely inappropriate?


The Sweetest Carrots and the Biggest Stick















 Regular visitors to this site will know that I am a huge fan of Herald columnist Tapu Misa. Misa combines fierce intelligence with a profoundly compassionate view of her fellow man and woman and provides a welcome antidote to the mindless bigotry of the broadsheet’s other god-bothering columnists. (She would not approve of those last ten words.)

Some time ago Misa found God. These are my words, not hers, but they convey the general idea that she went from being a non-believer – atheist, agnostic, secularist, whatever  –  to being a committed Christian.  

Her columns have not suffered as a result. I rarely find much to disagree with in them. On moral issues atheist and believer often find common ground. But her Easter Monday column, appropriately  headlined Religion Undergoing Startling Resurrection, leaves me scratching my head. In it she takes a poll-driven approach to defend her thesis that ‘Globally, religion is winning and secularism is losing’. It’s a competition apparently and, other than in the West, a lot more people are coming to support our team than support your team. Ya boo sucks!  Read the rest of this entry »


Last Word/s on Bishop Tamaki



Mine: He just doesn’t get it.

The ever-brilliant Tapu Misa’s column in this morning’s Herald.


Keep Satan (and God) off the Buses




NZ Bus has bowed to blackmail and changed its mind about allowing the slogan there’s probably no god – now stop worrying and enjoy your life to appear on the sides of its buses.

As a commercial operator, the company is entitled to make that decision. It no doubt reasoned that disgruntled theists would stop travelling on its buses and might well start a campaign to encourage others to do the same.

The god-botherers must believe that their creed is pretty weak if they see something as innocuous and understated as this particular slogan as representing a threat. Most atheists would say there is almost certainly no God, conceding only that it isn’t possible to prove the case one way or the other. The non-existence of God comes as near as possible to being a fact, since there is absolutely no empirical evidence to support a claim to the contrary.  Read the rest of this entry »


‘Bishop’ Brian Tamaki – Mad, Bad, Neither or Both?



The most charitable interpretation of Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual  Father & His Spiritual Sons, Brian Tamaki’s latest encyclical to his followers in Destiny Church, would be that he is insane. Certainly there are a number of manias that would seem to describe his mental state, egomania and megalomania being the most obvious. To those one might add the delusion of being God’s chosen emissary in Aotearoa and an incipient, if not yet full-blown messianic complex which seems to be leading Mr Tamaki to the inevitable conclusion that he is not merely an emissary of the divine, but divine himself.

The interpretation is ‘charitable’  because the insane cannot be held responsible for their beliefs or actions.

 The less charitable interpretation would be that Mr Tamaki is a charlatan, in the tradition of many such religious charlatans, particularly in the United States. His opulent  lifestyle, when compared to the relative poverty of most of his followers,  provides the most compelling argument in favour of this explanation. Read the rest of this entry »


The Powerlessness of Prayer


Watch almost any television news bulletin and you’ll  hear someone praying for something to happen, or not happen. The background to their prayers is normally a real or potential  tragedy of some sort.

Individuals pray for themselves or those close to them to be cured of life-threatening illnesses. The relatives of people who have gone missing pray for them to be found and returned home safely. Families pray that the names of loved ones will not appear on the lists of those killed in plane crashes. Churchgoers pray for the victims of natural disasters.  World leaders pray for peace. Read the rest of this entry »