Gandhi’s murderer getting statue, jail for eating beef in theocratic India?

This video from India says about itself:

Romila Thapar on the Colonial Scholarship Behind Hindu Rastra

Hindu Rastra (or Rashtra) is the idea of a fanatical tendency of some Hindu religious people that India should become a theocratic ultra-orthodox Hindu state, with inequality for Muslims, Christians, atheists, Jews, liberal and/or lower caste and non-caste Hindus and others.

There are some parallels with the ‘Islamic State’ advocated by ISIS terrorists; and with fanatical tendencies within Christianity, Judaism, and other religions.

27 October 2015

Hindu Rastra is Drawn from the Scholarship of Colonial Historians”

Romila Thapar, at the launch of the two websites of the Indian Writers’ Forum Trust, speaks on the recent attempts at the rewriting of history to suit the purposes of a Hindu India. The proponents of this theory claim that history must not only be rewritten, but corrected – a more dangerous proposition than rewriting.

She does not find the approach – in spite of its absurdity -, the working of some fantasy, but a very systematic approach to suit history for the argument of a Hindu state. Most of these claims are based on the work of colonial scholarship such as the historians James Mill, Max Mueller, and [Theosophist US American] Colonel Olcott.

The irony of the fact remains that those who oppose the secular history as Western must fall back on colonial scholarship of Indian history done by – to borrow the vocabulary of the Hindu Right – Westerners. “It is colonial scholarship which is at the foundation of this new so-called indigenous history”, says Thapar. She concludes by saying that there may be various versions of history, but pleads for a space where these versions can be debated and discussed in public or in institutions. What must be opposed is the reduction of all knowledge to a single narrative and the grounding of that knowledge on a single ideology.

Today, Dutch Internet site De Correspondent publishes an article by correspondent Peter Speetjens in India. He interviewed Ms Romila Thapar.

Translation of some of it:

Meanwhile in India: A Muslim who eats a cow can get up to five years in prison

There is a cultural revolution going on in India. Minorities are converted, books banned, intellectuals gagged.

Some people even advocate to have a statue for Nathuram Godse, the man who on January 30, 1948 shot dead Mahatma Gandhi. Godse: the staunch Hindu nationalist who took up arms. Gandhi, the father of secular India, with a firm belief in nonviolence.

Romila Thapar, now professor emeritus, was at the time of the murder a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Godse’s hometown Pune.

Although she has been retired for years, she still regularly writes. Last year, for instance, her twentieth and latest book.

The developments in her country cause her great concern.

“Gandhi’s death was like a knockout punch,” says the 83-year-old historian in her apartment in South Delhi, filled with books, art and antiques. “There was, after India’s independence, so much hope in the country. Until that happened … Suddenly we saw the presence of an intense ugliness, of which we never we were previously aware. ”

She talks about the murder as if it occurred yesterday. “We were scared. Suppose that the killer was a Muslim, it would have led to massive retaliation. But even when it became known that the culprit was a Hindu, the situation remained tense. We could not understand. Gandhi was such a great man. Who could do that? And why? How could Gandhi’s death be a solution for anything?”…

Since a year the Hindu Mahasabha organisation is calling for a statue for Godse. The movement even wants to make a film about his life.

“It is a frightening development,” says the elegantly black-clad Thapar. “We are talking about the rehabilitation of a convicted murderer”. …

And it does not stop with a posthumous tribute to an ancient Hindu nationalist hero. Since last May, the political wing of Godse’s movement has an absolute majority in the Indian parliament. …

Last 28 September, a mob of about a hundred Hindus stormed the house of Mohammed Akhlaq in Bisara village, dragged him outside and clubbed him dead, after a local priest had – wrongly – proclaimed through a loudspeaker that the 50-year-old Muslim had supposedly butchered a calf. His son ended up badly injured in hospital.

Prime Minister Modi did not consider it necessary to condemn the act, even though eight of the eleven arrested suspects have links with his Hindu nationalist BJP party.

The cow is sacred to Hindus and in most Indian states there is a slaughter ban. The western state of Maharashtra did not think that went far enough and in March also banned the slaughter of bulls and oxen. For eating ‘bad meat’ there is now a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. Although not all Hindus are strictly vegetarian, such bans hit especially the 200 million Indian Muslims and Christians.

This 15 October 2015 video from India is called Romila Thapar: In The Wake of the Beef Controversy.

From the (non-theocratic) daily The Hindu:

October 10, 2015 05:49 IST

‘BJP, RSS trying to declare India Hindu rashtra’

“The Constitution has taken care that people of all religions live in the country and so the country has not been accorded the status of Hindu rashtra…if BJP and RSS turn it into a Hindu rashtra, I want to tell Dalits and adivasis that their interests will not be safe,” Ms. Mayawati stressed.

Homophobic pastor prefers killing ‘tens of millions’ children to letting them read Harry Potter

This video from the USA says about itself:

RWW News: Kevin Swanson Says The Bible Requires The Death Penalty For Homosexuality

Right Wing Watch reports on the extreme rhetoric and activities of key right-wing figures and organizations by showing their views in their own words. In this video, Kevin Swanson asserts that both the Old and New Testament require the death penalty for homosexuality.

The ‘Reverend’ Kevin Swanson is a political ally of Republican presidential candidates Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. See also here.

If this would not be so dangerously serious, then I might say that the religious right Tea Party in the USA never looked anything like the 1773 Boston Tea party the name of which they hijacked; but that these teabaggers look more and more like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, described by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

Now, from Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Better to drown children than let them read ‘homosexual’ Harry Potter, says extreme right-wing pastor

Kevin Swanson believes America should repent that Dumbledore ’emerged as a homosexual mentor to Harry Potter’

Jess Denham

Monday 9 November 2015

Parents should drown children before they let them read the Harry Potter books because of gay character Dumbledore, an extreme right-wing pastor has said.

Preacher Kevin Swanson was speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference when he made the staggering suggestion during an impassioned rant against homosexuality.

“Friends, we are on the very cusp of judgement as I see it. We need to call America to repent. Repentance from defying the almighty. Repentance of abortion, the hundreds of millions of dead bodies, I don’t know how many,” he began, before bizarrely targeting JK Rowling’s bestselling wizarding novels.

“America, repent of Harry Potter. Repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter.”

Not content at stopping with Harry Potter, Swanson went on to attack adorable animated movie How to Train Your Dragon. “Children are raised to be stumbled by the Dumbledores and Hiccups on How to Train Your Dragon,” he said. “My friends, America needs to repent.”

Then, came the closing comments that surely even Voldemort himself would not have dreamed up: “For tens of millions of parents it would be better that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be drowned at the bottom of the sea.”

Naturally, those who have watched this video soon began posting mocking comments deriding its ridiculousness. “If God will judge America for Harry Potter, but not Twilight, then He is not worthy of worship,” one YouTube user wrote.

Let us not forget that Swanson is the same man who, in March 2014, declared Disney hit Frozen “very evil” gay propaganda. “You wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here,” he said.

“I wonder if people are thinking: ‘You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way’.”

Swanson went on to attack the studio, claiming that if he were the Devil wanting to do something “really, really, really evil” to young children in US Christian families, he would “buy Disney in 1984”.

He believes Christians will one day be burnt at the stake by homosexuals but ended his speech by saying he wants to give the LGBT community time to repent before using the death penalty against them.

A judge in the US has ruled that a baby be taken away from its lesbian foster parents and placed with a man and a woman because “children do better in heterosexual homes”. April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce said they were “shattered” by the court order handed down this week by a juvenile court in Utah. … But the couple told local media that they believed Johansen had acted on his own religious beliefs and only cited vague “myriad” studies to support his decision: here.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday: here.

Homophobic preacher’s equal marriage boycott fails

This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

Raging Homophobe Checked By Cowboy Hat Wearing Bystander

27 October 2014

“An angry man was caught on video last week attacking a fellow passenger at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, apparently because he thought the man was gay. But then, a group of bystanders, including a man in a cowboy hat, quickly took action to bring the man down, according to the video.

That was homophobia in practice. Now, about the theory of homophobia.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Conservative pastor tries to get Christians to boycott same-sex weddings, fails

Posted an hour ago by Evan Bartlett

A Baptist pastor in the southern states of the US is trying to get Christians to shun same-sex weddings – even of their own children – claiming that attendance justifies the “sinfulness of homosexuality”.

The problem for Rev Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, is that not many people seem to be listening.

The Southern Baptist church was founded in the nineteenth century by pro-slavery Baptists who disagreed with anti-slavery Baptists in the northern states of the USA.

In a new book called We Cannot Be Silent, the right-wing pastor claims that same-sex marriages are sinful and even urges transgender people to consult their church leaders about “reverting“.

According to the Huffington Post, the controversial Mohler has even claimed in the past that the Pope holds an “un-Biblical” office and has stated that Christians shouldn’t practice yoga.

At some point, attendance will involve congratulating the couple for their union. If you can’t congratulate the couple, how can you attend?

Rev Mohler

Despite Mohler’s calls, Think Progress has charted the growing movement of pro-LGBT Christians in the US who are rejecting his hateful message.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and United Church of Christ (UCC) all now marry those in the LGBT community and a recent study showed that the majority of most religious groups in the US support equal marriage.

Perhaps Rev. Mohler is worried that if parents attend such a wedding, all they will see is a sacred and holy commitment being made between two people and an invitation to God to be present in the couple’s relationship — as Christian as any marriage could be.

Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man ordained as an Episcopal bishop, speaking to ThinkProgress

Separately, the Huffington Post quotes Stephen Arterburn, a Christian author and radio host, who said: “I have to extrapolate that Jesus would be all for attending a same-sex marriage ceremony,” based on Jesus’ example of dining with prostitutes and drunkards.

Jesus called us to love one another, not boycott our friends and family. Perhaps Rev Mohler is concerned that if he attends a same-sex wedding, the real miracles won’t be Jesus turning water into wine, but hatred into compassion.

Alex McNeil, head of pro-LGBT advocacy group More Light Presbyterians

This music video is called Leon Redbone- Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now).

Talking about Louisville: according to this music video, there was once a man there called Big Bad Bill. However, he changed his behaviour for the better. So, maybe the ‘Reverend’ Big Bad Al from Louisville will one day see the error of his ways, and become Sweet Albert.

United States religious fundamentalists kill teenager

This video from the USA says about itself:

Couple Accused of Beating Son to Death in Church

14 October 2015

Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard. Four other members of the Word of Life Church are also charged in connection with the man’s death.

Like the far-right fundamentalist Christian ‘Passion for Truth’ church in the USA turned out to be really a ‘Passion for Fraud’ church … now a similar ‘Word of Life Christian Church’ turns out to be a ‘Word of Death church’.

From in New York State in the USA:

Parents of killed New Hartford teen banned Halloween, Mickey Mouse, friends say

By Patrick Lohmann

October 14, 2015 at 7:09 AM

NEW HARTFORD — The couple accused of manslaughter in their son’s beating death — injuries suffered at a church — was always eccentric, neighbors say.

But that eccentricity took a dark turn after Tuesday’s police announcement that Deborah and Bruce Leonard were facing manslaughter charges, and that four other members of the Word of Life Christian Church were also arrested, they said.

Nearby neighbor Roberta Humble said that, at least until Monday night, she adored Deborah and that the two had been friends since the Leonard family moved in more than 25 years ago. She described watching their children grow up, including Lucas, 19, who was pronounced dead Monday after sustaining blunt-force injuries.

“I remember them when they were this high,” Humble said of the Leonard’s four kids. “They were my friends. The kids were always polite and well-mannered.”

Another 17-year-old boy was found with severe injuries at the church, according to police. And police said they removed “several” children and placed them into protective custody.

Police have not yet described the nature of the injuries to both alleged victims or identified the 17-year-old. Four other church members were arrested and charged with assault in connection with either the death or the alleged assault, police said, and more arrests are expected.

Those living near the church, which is a few miles away from the Leonard home, said they regularly heard 3 a.m. chants emanating from the home and rarely saw members outside of the building. Its gates were almost always shut. A police Special Weapons and Tactics team had to “secure the church grounds” and “make a tactical entry” into it Monday.

Humble said Tuesday evening that Bruce Leonard [pastor of the church and father of the killed teenager] was “extremely antisocial” and religious. Neighbors said Deborah and her children were deferential to Bruce Leonard, but those neighbors never saw him raise his voice. …

A neighbor of the teenage brothers says they were not allowed to do “normal” kid things.

Nicole Howard says Christopher and Lucas Leonard weren’t allowed to have sleepovers. The 31-year-old, who says grew up six houses away from the Leonards, says the family was very religious and the children were forced to read the Bible two hours each day. …

Humble said she often gave the kids videotapes of children’s programming, hand-me-downs from her grandkids. They often couldn’t watch them, she said.

“I gave them I don’t know how many boxes of kids’ tapes,” she said. “They would not let them watch Mickey Mouse. They said Mickey Mouse was queer, because he never married Minnie Mouse.”

I knew there were religious transphobes attacking Winnie the Pooh, and religious homophobes hating the Teletubbies for being supposedly pro-gay, but I did not know about homophobes hating Mickey Mouse yet.

From CBS News in the USA:

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. — Brutal beatings that left one teenager dead and his brother seriously injured Monday at a New York church were part of what members considered a “counseling session,” according to police.

New Hartford Police Chief Michael Inserra said Wednesday that both Lucas and Christopher Leonard were subjected to hours of physical punishment at the Word of Life Church “in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness.”

Inserra says investigators are still looking into what the supposed sins were. …

The six church members were arraigned Tuesday and sent to Oneida County Jail. At the arraignment, it was revealed that both teens suffered injuries to their abdomens, genitals, backs and thighs.

More on the ‘Reverend’ Bruce Leonard and his church:

Exclusive: Inside the New Hartford church where brothers were savaged: here.

Police: Son killed at New Hartford church by parents beating genitals, torso: here.

Parents fatally whipped teen who wanted to quit church, New York court hears. Deacon testifies at hearing for parents of Lucas and Christopher Leonard. Boys attacked at ‘spiritual counseling session’ at New Hartford church: here.

Fundamentalist religious censorship of novel in New Zealand

This 12 September 2015 video from New Zealand says about itself:

Ted Dawe, author of banned book Into the River, discusses censorship and the inspiration for his work.

His ruling remains in place until the next full meeting of the Review Board, scheduled for October 2.

Into the River, by Aucklander Ted Dawe, centres on a young East Coast Maori boy who wins a scholarship to a boys’ boarding school in Auckland.

In 2013, after it won Book of the Year at the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, Christian lobby group Family First applied for an R18 classification and shrink-wrap covering.

The group said the book dealt with graphic sexual content, paedophilia, and the misuse of adult power. It glorified the taking of drugs and contained “extensive” use of the “c” and “f” words.

For the next two years, the book bounced between the Classifications Office and the Film and Literature Review Board. It was variously classified as being more suitable for audiences over 16; objectionable to anyone under the age of 14 and, most recently last month, an “unrestricted” read.

That decision, by the Classification Office, prompted Family First to request the interim restriction order – which can, under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classifications Act 1993, be granted solely by the Board of Review president.

Mathieson’s order, granted on September 3, means individuals and organisations (including schools and libraries) who knowingly supply the book, are liable for fines of up to $3000 and $10,000 respectively. Into the River was immediately withdrawn from book stores and by mid-week, was no longer available for purchase in New Zealand in electronic form.

But Mathieson says it’s wrong to refer to his decision as a “ban”.

“It’s an interim restriction. Banning is an emotive word.”

Waikanae-based Mathieson is a QC and active Christian. He said detail about his personal background was “irrelevant”. …

He is the editor of the book Faith at Work, described by Castle Publishing as a “thought provoking symposium discussing the relevance of Christianity in the workplace … Faith goes beyond the church on Sunday. It must impact on every area of life”.


In 2013, censors banned The Everything Marijuana Book. In 1997, Hitchhiking Pizza Boy was outlawed. In 1972, A Sea of Thighs and Big Boobs made it to the forbidden list. Records show that since 1963, some 1289 books have been banned for import, distribution, supply or possession – most because of sex or drug references. These are the most recent:

2013: The Everything Marijuana Book

2013: Here’s Steve

2013: Boys Are Boys

2010: Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture 8th Edition

2009: Pleasant Dripping with Sweat

2000: Holiday Snapshots

2000: Eros XXX Women

1999: Topping from Below

1999: Indoor Marijuana Horticulture

1999: Marijuana Botany

‘Will I be burnt next?’ – Into the River author Ted Dawe on book banning: here.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Outrage over banning of New Zealand novel Into the River

19 September 2015

On September 7 New Zealand’s Film and Literature Board of Review announced a temporary ban on the sale and distribution of the young adult novel Into the River by Ted Dawe. The board will make a final decision on the book’s classification next month. Until then anyone who sells, lends or displays it can be fined between $3,000 and $10,000. It has been withdrawn from book stores and libraries.

Board president Don Mathieson QC imposed the “interim restriction” in response to an appeal by the fundamentalist Christian group Family First against the unrestricted rating given to the book by the government’s Classification Office. The Board of Review is a government-appointed body with the power to change classification decisions.

Family First has campaigned against Into the River since it won the top prize at the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards in 2013. The organisation has called for the book to be restricted to people over 18 years old, a position that Mathieson has said he supports. Family First leader Bob McCoskrie told the New Zealand Herald: “It has sexually explicit material and it’s … got the c-word nine times, the f-word 17 times and s-h-i-t 16 times.” He also objected to the depiction of drug use.

The banning is a blatant attack on artistic freedom. It is the latest indication that the ruling elite is responding to growing social inequality and class tensions with increasingly anti-democratic methods.

Mathieson, a conservative Christian known for his opposition to same-sex marriage, has set a dangerous new precedent and demonstrated that he has the power to remove any book from circulation at the stroke of a pen.

The book ban also illustrates the increasing influence of Family First, which is being politically promoted as a means to foster ignorance and bigotry.

Dawe’s novel is the first to be banned in New Zealand in more than two decades. Previously suppressed books include Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy in 1958 and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, in 1960 (both bans were lifted a few years later). Numerous films have been banned, including recently the horror films I Spit on Your Grave (2010) and Maniac (2013).

The ban has met with shock and outrage from ordinary people. Out of 220 comments on the Herald web site, 185 opposed the ban, with many expressing alarm at the power of the religious right.

One asked: “Have I been transported to 1984? Do we live in a free country or not?”

Another comment declared: “How on earth does a conservative Christian lobby group manage to get books temporarily banned in NZ? Have we gone back into a 1950s time warp and no one has told me?”

A reader on the news web site asked: “Since when does Bob McCoskrie or other religious zealots such as Don Mathieson dictate to the rest of the populace as to what’s good for us based on their own narrow-minded religious views of the world?”

Groups of people protested the ban in Dunedin and Wellington on September 10 by silently reading Into the River in public. Writers have denounced the ban, including Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, New Zealand’s poet laureate C.K. Stead, Elizabeth Knox, Patrick Ness, and John Marsden, to name just a few.

Following the backlash, the National Party government has attempted to distance itself from Mathieson’s decision, despite the fact that it appointed him to the Board of Review in June 2010. Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said at the time that Mathieson was “well qualified for this role.”

In the lead-up to the 2014 election Prime Minister John Key and New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters both appeared at Family First gatherings and gave interviews to Bob McCoskrie.

The corporate media has largely criticised Mathieson’s decision, yet it presents McCoskrie as a legitimate commentator. McCoskrie is a frequent guest on TV and radio, where he rails against gay rights, sex education, abortion rights, books, films and TV shows.

On June 30, 2013, the Herald joined Family First in denouncing the decision to award Best Book to Into the River. “It contains obscenities and shock references that worthwhile literature does not need,” the editorial declared.

Pointing to the authoritarian character of the ban and the influence of Family First, John Boyne, Irish author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, wrote on “In 1933, when Joseph Goebbels listed the books that should not be read by the German people, the fires were built and the works of Hemingway, Freud, Jack London and others went up in smoke. This, the Propaganda Minister declared, would lead to ‘a cleansing of the German spirit…’

“[S]somehow this rag-tag group of angry, ill-informed and frightened conservatives has been allowed to follow in the footsteps of Nazis and the Irish Catholic Church.”

This analogy is entirely appropriate. The world is experiencing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In every country the ruling class is responding with an assault on living standards at home and preparations for war abroad. To impose this agenda the governments are carrying out sweeping attacks on civil liberties.

Dawe’s novel has been suppressed amid a campaign by the entire political establishment to glorify militarism and nationalism. This includes the grotesque celebrations surrounding the centenary of World War I and attempts by the opposition Labour, NZ First and the Mana Parties to promote anti-Chinese xenophobia.

Access to socially critical works of art is incompatible with the reactionary climate the ruling class is seeking to create. Into the River has evidently been targeted because it addresses issues facing working class youth in a realistic way that has struck a chord with thousands of people.

Writer Bernard Beckett, who was on the judging panel that awarded Dawe’s novel, described it on the blog the Spinoff as “an important work on a great many levels. Deeply moral, extremely well-written and respectful of its audience …

“The protagonist is a young Maori boy on the East Coast, sharp as pin and filled to the brim with potential. He wins a scholarship to a boarding school in Auckland, and from the moment he arrives, understands that this is not his place. Despite his learning and his aptitude, the school won’t be able to welcome him. It’s a story of alienation and bullying, and a story of the way those not offered a place to stand will attempt to carve out their own.”

Another judge, novelist Barbara Else, told Fairfax Media: “The novel’s a tragedy of a talented Maori youth ripped from his whanau [family] and subjected to snobbery and racism. It’s bleak. It’s hard-hitting. The sex scenes are realistic and saddening.”

Even though Dawe’s first novel, Thunder Road, won Young Adult Book of the Year, he struggled to find a publisher for Into the River and eventually had to self-publish. After that novel also won an award, Family First lobbied the Board of Review, which imposed an R14 rating in December 2013, the first time a book had received such a rating.

Dawe wrote in the Guardian: “Prior to this judgement, Into the River was the most-borrowed NZ-written YA novel in the country. After the ruling, it was removed from libraries’ shelves and either placed behind the desk or in the basement stacks … Borrowing dropped to virtually nil.”

After receiving several complaints from teachers and librarians, the Classification Office removed the R14 rating last month, making the book unrestricted until the Board of Review withdrew it from circulation this month.

Dawe, who is a high school teacher, explained that he was inspired by British novelists Alan Sillitoe and Keith Waterhouse, whose works “carried the sharp stink of authenticity.” He set out to write books that would appeal to the sort of boys he taught, “from working class backgrounds, immigrant boys in Brixton in 1970s London; ‘new Australian’ migrants in Marrickville, Sydney; and Māori and Pasifika boys in Auckland.”

The attacks on Into the River are motivated by the ruling elite’s fear of these young people, who it wants to prevent from reading books that might encourage a class understanding of the brutality of capitalist society.