Opinion

Making babies for Lord Kartik

The Indian province of West Bengal has an absurd Hindu custom that involves the placing of Kartik idols on the doorsteps of households with childless couples on last day of the ‘holy’ month of Kartik. Often a note is left with the idol warning couples of the sin they would be committing by not offering […]

Be merry, god damn it!

Well Baby Jesus’s Pretend Birthday is over for another year, so now that everyone is busy scrubbing gravy stains off the ceiling and wrapping up the leftover spam and chestnut pie for the week’s lunches, let’s refresh ourselves with dispatches from the War on Christmas. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it. It’s headline […]

We have lost the true meaning of Christmas

Which is, of course, the birth of Jesus Christ, or a pagan fire ceremony, or a midwinter festival, or the Roman Saturnalia, or what you will. And who is or was Santa Claus? This piece is taken from John Radford’s Don’t You Believe It! Sixty Things Everyone Knows That Actually AIN’T SO, illustrated by Donald […]

Identity and its discontents

I’ve been thinking about what we mean when we talk about identity and ‘identity politics’. It needs thinking about because it’s a muddled conversation: identity has more than one meaning yet the label ‘identity politics’ is treated as if everyone means the same thing by it. I think generally “identity politics” is a name (sometimes […]

Living in an Age of Anger

Let’s talk about anger. We seem to be living in an Age of Anger, so it seems like a good idea to try to understand it better. It’s central to a lot of literature and stories, including movies and television dramas. The Iliad starts with it. Robert Fagles translates the first few lines like so: […]

Gender segregation is humiliating and damaging

Segregation was humiliating. Just the reality of signs that said you couldn’t use front doors or you couldn’t use this water fountain implied that you were subhuman … Every time I complied with a sign, I felt like I was acquiescing to my own inhumanity. I felt outraged and hated it. – Diane Nash, a […]

Superstition is not the answer to India’s mounting problems

India’s Junior Education Minister Satyapal Singh, above, recently stated that engineering students should be taught about ancient Indian scientific discoveries. He said that the first airplane was invented by an Indian eight years before the Wright brothers. Indian Prime Minister Modi, while addressing a gathering of doctors and medical staff at a Bombay hospital in […]

Don’t get too excited

Big excitement – we’re told that Saudi Arabia has decided to let women drive. Did you ever hear the like? Next we’ll be told they can actually leave the house without a male guardian. Or at least, we’re told that women will be allowed to get driver’s licences, which of course is not quite the […]

Seeking publicity in the name of absurd religious sentiments

Gaurav Tyagi, a new contributor to the Freethinker, reflects on the recent row over an Australian advertisement for meat. India has lodged a diplomatic protest with Australia over the ad. The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) in India also raised objections to it and sought a boycott of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and a ban […]

More – especially the young – discard Christianity in the UK

Britain is fast becoming one of the least religious countries in the world. Although vestiges of the religious establishments that formerly set the pace of British public life still manage to exert power, more and more British people are leaving the faith of their parents behind. A recent study by the National Centre for Social […]