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According to Brian Morris in a recent issue of The Skeptic, “Science supports infant circumcision” and “so should skeptics.” It would be more accurate to say that “Brian Morris supports infant circumcision” and that skeptics can think for themselves.
For well over a decade, Professor Morris has been waging a quixotic campaign against the foreskin. Although he has “no involvement in clinical medicine” and “cannot claim any more expertise on the topic of male circumcision than any other scientist,” Morris has sought to demonize the humble prepuce. So dangerous is this particular part of the normal male anatomy, according to Morris, that it must be removed from a child’s body before he can form his own opinion.
At the end of July 2012, I’ll be pitching a tent at Soul Survivor, the leading evangelical festival in the UK aimed at young people. For seven days, I’ll be blogging my experiences on this site.
Why am I doing this? You’d be very entitled to ask, given I’m a flag-waving heathen who divorced God acrimoniously in his teens. The answer is, lots of other people – most of them believers – will be too.
Soul Survivor is, like, big. Tens of thousands attend each year. Along with other festivals like Newday and Ignite, projects like the Alpha Course and the Newfrontiers church network, it forms the backbone of a popular, missionary Christian movement that gained prominence in the 1990s.
Churchgoers, particularly Anglicans, are a thinning herd, but these groups have gained traction. Their attendees may will be the Christian mainstream of 2042, and as such it seems important to get informed.
‘Have you seen Jesus Camp?’ an acquaintance asked, who’d been before. ‘It’s like that, but worse.’ I know current evangelicals, specifically Newfrontiers, forbid women from preaching – my relatives, closely involved, have this book on their shelf – and I’ve heard tell of homophobia at these festivals too. How many campers are celibate teens? How many creationists?
If Soul Survivor fits the descriptions I’ve heard, its popularity is worrying. But I want to be fair – I’m a skeptic, and don’t want to rest on anecdote. When I planned the trip, readers of my blog donated the price of my ticket; they wanted someone to report, factually and non-confrontationally, what really goes on at this event.
So that’s my plan. Later this week, I’m going soul-o.
Follow the #GoingSoulo hashtag on Twitter for Alex's updates
Written by Alan Henness. Published in The Skeptic, Volume 22, Issue 4 and Volume 23, Issue 1 (Double issue). Alan Henness outlines a recent initiative designed to help sceptics challenge unfounded medical claims.
I'm a serial complainer.
There, I’ve said it. But I don’t say that with any embarrassment; just an admission that I’ve been making complaints for years. Not as a fully paid-up member of the green ink brigade you understand, complaining for the sake of complaining, but as someone concerned at misinformation, particularly about healthcare.
I have been doing it for years and one of my early complaints was to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the high street Chinese herb shop, Dr & Herbs. In a leaflet, they were making claims about the efficacy of their products for all sorts of medical conditions and I wasn’t convinced these claims were backed by sound evidence.