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Sunny Clouds:
I think with criticising faith, it's a very delicate balance that some people don't get right.

Personally, I don't have a problem with challenging the accuracy of religious beliefs, and I don't have a problem with challenging the acceptability on behaviour of people that they justify by their beliefs.

I contrast that with sneering and prejudice.

One problem in terms of people of faith being criticised unkindly is that some very prominent people of faith, from an array of religions, have, over the centuries done precisely that in relation to people with other faiths or other versions of their faith.

When done simply as academic argument, it can be civilised and even help people of faith to clarify for themselves why they believe what they do.  When not done that way, it can cause great hurt.

The examples I usually use in the context of a Christian culture are firstly, the amount of bloodshed and war even in the UK over the centuries, based around Catholic vs Protestant, mostly, in my opinion, using religion simply as a proxy for political identity.  But that makes it no less real.

The second, rather less bloody, example I choose is unitarianism vs trinitarianism.  Most trinitarians I know, if pushed to debate, struggle to see unitarians/Unitarians as Christians.  But then that gets complicated when you get into the issue of what is or isn't unitarian anyway, and the more so when you get into what I'll call the physics and biochemistry of trinitarianism.  Theologically aargh.  Not in our country a war thing, but still sometimes a friction thing.

And in the midst of that are people who, just as some Christians feel in some way misunderstood, maltreated, disadvantaged etc. by different versions of Christianity, thus there are also, in this country, non-Christians, including atheists, humanitarians etc., who feel that way in relation to Christianity as a whole.  That can trigger response in kind, which may also be re-directed towards others of faith that haven't maltreated them.

And what I say about Christianity applies within and between other religions.

As I say, I don't justify hostility, sneeriness, nastiness etc. in relation to different belief systems, I just say that I can see how easy it is for polite but heartfelt debate and expression of belief/non-belief to tip over.

That being said, I make no claim to know much about the specific expressed views of either Pratchett or Gervais.

Personally, I don't enjoy debate and avoid them and wouldn't want my beliefs challenged. Obviously if my behaviour wasn't great, that could be challenged. I think we should be allowed to believe a faith without justifying it. I'm not into apologetics.

Gervais mocks people who believe in a deity or afterlife and politically is actively campaigning to remove Christianity from the state here in the UK. At first I couldn't see how the state was in any way Christian but we do have bank holidays for Christmas and Easter but not other faiths. As long as employers allowed Christians to not work those days then I wouldn't have a problem with them going. And I have long thought that state schools shouldn't advocate one religion and faith based assemblies should go. Obviously independent schools for people of particular faiths could be financed by families.

I just wouldn't mock people for believing differently than I do and I don't like that he uses his political views and views on faith in his "comedy".

He has chosen not to have children due to the world being over populated but those views aren't a feature in all of his comedies, it's Christianity he focuses on.

Sunny Clouds:
I don't mind humour about religion - I think some comedians, such as Dave Allen, have done it very well, but whether it's done with humour you can enjoy or humour that hurts is for me important and I'd be useless as a comedian because I'd probably get it wrong.

As for state and religion, aargh.  E.g. I don't think it's logically right to have bishops in the House of Lords, but in practical terms, I'd probably rather have them than a lot of the people that bought their way there with party donations etc.  Messy situation.

Declaration of religious bias - I grew up in a mixed-religious household and in a community with a range of religious persuasions.  I continue to find it both absurd and sad that all round the world, billions people subscribe to a whole range of religions whose teachings could be summed up thus "be good and nice to people or you'll regret it when you die" yet so many of them, whatever their brand of belief system, use that belief system as an excuse to be horrid.

That includes those who might or might not describe the rules they live their life by as religion.  If you live in a country where 'religion' usually means belief in a god, then someone who doesn't believe in a god won't usually think of their belief system as a 'religion'.

Therefore it includes those whom I would describe as following 'the religion of non-belief in what is conceptualised as religion in their society/world'.

Humans are through and through tribal, but I wish that we were less tribal about religion.

I also wish that nastiness didn't bring popularity or successful career, in any sphere of activity, including comedy.

But I stress I have no knowledge of the comedy of Gervais, these are general comments.


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