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Till God Do Us Part
Christian marriages are more likely to end in divorce than atheist marriages! That's the latest on the family values front.
Eamonn McCann, 06 Jul 2000
The revelation comes from the Barna Research Group, which has just completed a huge nationwide survey in the US, matching marriage statistics to religious affiliation.
Protestants, it seems, should think twice before getting married at all. A whopping 34 percent of marriage certificates signed in Protestant churches turn out not to be worth the parchment they are scribbled on.
Thirty percent of Jewish marriages end in fighting and distressful break-up. One in four Mormon marriages culminates in bitterness and hate. Catholics fare slightly better, with 22 percent of death-us-do-part promises being tearfully shredded as the couple smash the furniture against the wall.
But families who would laugh in your face if you told them to pray together stay together forever amen - all but a minimal 21 percent, whose relationship problems will doubtless be traced to the early influence of religion when the obvious follow-up research is undertaken.
"These findings confirm what I have been saying these last five years," observes Ron Barrier, happily-married national spokesman for American Atheists.
"Since atheist ethics are of a higher moral calibre then religious morals," he remarks, "it stands to reason that our families would be dedicated more to each other than to some invisible monitor in the sky. With atheism, women and men are equally responsible for a healthy marriage. Atheists reject the primitive patriarchal attitudes so prevalent in religion with respect to marriage."
The Barna research also noted that Christians who go through divorce are much less likely than atheists to receive support and comfort from community, family and friends. Atheists, on the other hand, understand that happiness is to be had in this life or not at all, and respond properly, with cuddles and hugs.
It's a fact, not a theory. The statistics don't lie. Dump religion and save your relationship. You know it makes sense.
A parrot in San Francisco has been positively identified as the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk.
Animal communicator Jane Hollander only realised that her eight-year-old African Grey was a monk from the roof of the world when it began communicating with her telepathically in English, Cantonese and Korean. Not in Tibetan, apparently, which might seem strange to some of us, but then, what would we know? Monks? You couldn't be up to them.
The parrot has offered wise advice to friends and clients of Ms. Hollander and just last month helpfully told a teenager not to grieve for a friend who had committed suicide because the friend hadn't liked her all that much anyway.
The parrot has also told a woman whose dog had died not to worry. The canine's spirit had asked a chaffinch to keep an eye on her sorrowing mistress.
My old pal Barry Duke has launched a campaign to provide Christian clergymen with condoms. The thoughtful initiative arises from recent publicity about the incidence of AIDS among the ordained.
I have referred previously to the survey of Catholic priests in the US which showed that the AIDS rate among RC clerics was running at four times the average for the general population. I mentioned the statistic merely in passing, in the course of mild comment on the latest Vatican pronouncement against "artificial contraception".
My little snippet was seized on and cited as joyous vindication by some of that breed of bigot which imagines that the minute difference between their own brand of superstition and the Catholic variety is of momentous significance. They even quoted me in one of their pidgin-English pamphlets.
Well, have I got news for them?
Yes, I do.
Evidence now comes to hand of yet another survey. (Where would we be without them? Me anyway.) AIDS is now manifesting itself in the ranks of Church of England clergy at ten times the rate for any other section of the population.
So if, as, for example, Ian Paisley insists, AIDS is sent as a punishment from the Almighty for sleazy sinfulness, how does it figure that while God frowns on Catholic priests more sternly than on the average citizen, and contrives a concomitant incidence of AIDS, he puts a face on him like dark thunder and arranges a veritable epidemic when he sets eyes on C of E vicars.
Anyway, Barry wants to start a religious version of Rubberstuffers - the London group which provides free johnnies in gay pubs and clubs - to visit churches and present condoms to clerics at communion.
Volunteers are needed. We'll be starting with the most needy. So, just before eleven outside the Martyrs' Memorial on Sunday, then? I'll be monitoring events from a concealed position.