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back to article Just trolling: It's OK to poke fun at Christians, says ASA

The fact that trolls can smell Christian blood is well-known, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled, and a reference to it in a fake job advert used to promote a film was unlikely to cause widespread offence, it said today. After receiving two complaints about the advert "Troll Hunters Required" listed in The Guardian …

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Surely the most offensive bit is rubbing the noses of the unemployed in it, as the cinema isn't cheap and a lot of them probably can't afford to go, and would rather see real job adverts in the jobs section....

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Real Jobs?

It was the Granuaids Job section, why would you expect to see REAL JOBS? I suppose thats why they got away with it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Executive Head of Marketing and Development East Hampshire and Havant - £75,000

As one of five Executive Heads working across both councils, this is a key role which will help shape and lead both organisations through a process of transformational change.

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Maybe they should not bother hiring someone to 'Manage the transformational process' & just empty the bins once a week?

I can't imagine what other religions would have done if they had been the butt of this joke I can't quite see the Archbishop of Canterbury burning copies of the Guardian outside the papers office.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, sweet sweet irony.

>"It was the Granuaids Job section"

Muphry's law in full effect here, I see. The name invented (I think) by Private Eye and used for many years to mock the Guardian's propensity for typos is "Grauniad", not "Graunaid"!

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Facepalm

Re: The film

As a Norwegian, I implore you;

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, don't watch the dubbed version. At least not the first time (watch it later, and laugh). The dubbing is so ridiculous it ruins the film entirely. Not only are the voice actors ridiculous and the voices totally mismatched, but it misses out (sometimes key) information.

Some British friends watched this version with me, and I had to ask them to pause it every ten minutes to explain what was meant by the often directly-translated dialogue.

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Pint

Dubbed

Is always rubbish. Should be forbidden. The funniest experience in that field was a John Wayne film in Germany that I went to see not expecting it to be dubbed.

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Pint

Captions can be funny too

There is also the urban legend of the John Wayne file captioned in French where John Wayne walks into a bar and shouts "Bartender, gimme a shot of red-eye" and the caption said "Dubonnet S'il vous plait"

http://www.stuartfernie.com/tales

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Trollface

"...I had to ask them to pause it every ten minutes to explain what was meant..."

You must be great fun to watch movies with.

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FAIL

Ture for *any* dubbed movie. The Spanish dubbed version of "Grown-Ups" ruined the "maize" joke, because the Spanish word for "corn" is "maiz". So all the jokes related to using "maize" instead of "corn" turned into using "maiz" instead of "maiz".

This is the main reason why I really, REALLY hate dubbed movies.

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@Keep

Hah, well I only did it once, then they insisted I keep doing it. Normally I never would, and I hate people who do.

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Here's a simple test

Run the advert with Scientologist, Mulsim, Jew, Hindu or anything else in place of Christian and see if the ASA still consider it light hearted fun.

The only sensible people have been Momentum Pictures with their changed wording.

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You have the right to be offended.

If the ASA were to take that position then they would be wrong to. Having fun poked at you (when that's not even what's happening, it's simply mentioning the theme of several old myths [what exactly is offensive about it? I've heard plenty of arguments about preventing practising homosexuals from working in churches, and that IS offensive]) doesn't mean that you should just get rid of it. Presumably you weren't outraged by Muslims getting mad about the cartoons of Mohammed and thought they were right to try and get it removed from circulation?

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Anonymous Coward

Why Scientologists? That part of the advert was about religion.

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@Shakje

>If the ASA were to take that position then they would be wrong to.

Exactly, but by finding the advert acceptable they are effectively saying it's OK to make fun of one group while others are off limits. As I said, the voice of reaon in all this has been Momentum Pictures.

>Presumably you weren't outraged by Muslims getting mad about the cartoons of Mohammed and thought they were right to try and get it removed from circulation?

No I wasn't outraged and yes I did think it right that they should voice their opinion and try to get them removed from circulation however I don't believe that right should extend to violence and death threats but maybe I'm old fashioned.

>I've heard plenty of arguments about preventing practising homosexuals from working in churches, and that IS offensive.

Offensive yes but not really on a par with stoning them.

My take on religion is rather simple. It should have an age limit below which you are not allowed to be religious. All religions should be taught in school and when the time comes you should be able to choose one or not. There can't be any sane argument against this unless the religious leaders have doubts their religion isn't the best.

AC >Why Scientologists? That part of the advert was about religion.

Even scientologists have the right to believe that what they believe in is a religion.

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Inclusive Offense

Actually, by replacing "Christian" with "Believer", they've now made it offensive to Christians, Jews AND Muslims. They all believe in the same G_d, after all.

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Chris

Any particular reason that you didn't explain what exactly is offensive about it in the first place?

>Exactly, but by finding the advert acceptable they are effectively saying it's OK to make fun of one group while others are off limits. As I said, the voice of reaon in all this has been Momentum Pictures.

Sorry, but are there a series of examples where other groups have successfully had text removed because it mentions the name of their religious group? Of course this doesn't make much sense when put in the context of the Phones4U adverts which were banned for "mocking" Christianity (I'm still not entirely sure why they are seen as offensive either). If you can show exactly how the advert makes fun of Christianity I'll be happy to change my views.

>No I wasn't outraged and yes I did think it right that they should voice their opinion and try to get them removed from circulation however I don't believe that right should extend to violence and death threats but maybe I'm old fashioned.

Were you equally outraged when the company refused to remove the images?

>Offensive yes but not really on a par with stoning them.

Would you say it's on a par with saying "Christians need not apply" in an advert?

>My take on religion is rather simple. It should have an age limit below which you are not allowed to be religious. All religions should be taught in school and when the time comes you should be able to choose one or not. There can't be any sane argument against this unless the religious leaders have doubts their religion isn't the best.

I don't think that's necessarily a bad idea actually, but by all religions what exactly do you mean? I don't think many people would be alive to finish school if *all* religions were taught to them, and that's the thing. Your stance suggests that people should be told about religion. Why? If someone feels particularly religious it's not difficult for them to go to a church or a mosque and ask about it, or to study it themselves. I think religious education *is* important because it encourages critical study of religion and cultural integration, but if you want to do a comparative study in the interests of helping kids to choose a religion, I think that's way outside of the scope of a school.

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Angel

@ Chris W

"There can't be any sane argument against this unless..."

There's your problem. The whole premise of all religions is essentially non-sane. The only reason it's socially acceptable (in general) is because it's been going on a long time. Other people who spend a lot of time talking to invisible friends tend to get "help" from the white coat brigade.

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Shakje

>Any particular reason that you didn't explain what exactly is offensive about it in the first place?

I didn't find it offensive nor can I see why it could be construed as offensive nor can I see how it is poking fun at Christianity. Maybe it is my misconception but I felt that if any other religion had been used the ASA might have reached a different conclusion.

>Were you equally outraged when the company refused to remove the images?

Once a newspaper or magazine has been published it's hard to physically withdraw the images. Did anybody complain to the equivalent of the press complaints commission to get a printed apology? If they did and the PCC found against the newspaper involved then I would expect them to comply, my feelings wouldn't reach as far as outrage if the didn't but neither would I be happy about it. There are ways of getting retractions in the modern world, threats of violence and death are not amongst them

>Would you say it's on a par with saying "Christians need not apply" in an advert?

Discrimination cannot be compared with corporal punishment for what is a non-elected lifestyle. A dent in ones feelings is not the same as a dent in ones skull.

>but by all religions what exactly do you mean?

There's the rub, there are so many to choose from

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Anonymous Coward

"My take on religion is rather simple. It should have an age limit below which you are not allowed to be religious. All religions should be taught in school and when the time comes you should be able to choose one or not."

Should this not also apply to politics and philosophy and anything else which might unduly influence a person's worldview during their formative years?

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Happy

Chris W

Thanks for this, I'm enjoying it.

>I didn't find it offensive nor can I see why it could be construed as offensive nor can I see how it is poking fun at Christianity.

You specifically said that it was "ok to poke fun at Christians". Since we don't have an equal example of them removing something that seems inoffensive, then it's pure conjecture that they would or wouldn't ignore it. Since they've already, very recently, removed adverts deemed insulting to Christians (that I found confusing as well), I don't think it's a fair assessment.

>Discrimination cannot be compared with corporal punishment for what is a non-elected lifestyle. A dent in ones feelings is not the same as a dent in ones skull.

I never mentioned stoning, that was you. The point I was making was that religions get away with all sorts of offensive behaviour, but if something that is even remotely related to their religion is used humorously (even if it's not the target) they are up in arms.

>There's the rub, there are so many to choose from

Indeed.

My real point was that the following:

>Exactly, but by finding the advert acceptable they are effectively saying it's OK to make fun of one group while others are off limits.

Has absolutely no basis in fact, and just doesn't follow from what's actually happened. You admit yourself that you can't see how it could be offensive, so that's all that can be gained from this whole mess. It's not offensive, so there's no reason to remove it. I'm not sure what part of what I said you really disagree with :)

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This post has been deleted by its author

Poking fun at Christians

What Christians believe is so bizarre that they've effectively poked fun at themselves, and certainly are in no position to complain when their sky-fairy worshipping, Earth-is-5000-years-old, kill-people-for-wearing-clothes-of-mixed-fibre message confirms the insanity that operates between their ears.

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Anonymous Coward

@Flugal

I have was brought up Methodist, I have had phases on believeing and maybe/maybe not believing. I know many Christians. I have yet to meet a creationist, I have also yet to meet anyone who thinks that the the portions of the bible such as the two fibres bit are to be taken seriously in the modern day. Even when they were written they were guidelines as to how to live in a desert nomadic tribe and are probably rather poorly translated.

A little off topic: Sadly, I have met many homophobic arseholes, happily they're both Christian as well as Athiest, showing that you don't need religion to be an arse, you just get something to wrongly justify it with.

I do notice that a lot of shouty Atheists like you seem to need to belittle and misrepresent others beliefs in an insulting way. Does that make you feel like a big man? I'm guessing it does, otherwise you'd be a tad more constructive about it.

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WTF?

You are an idiot

Which Christians believe this nonsense?

I know a lot of Christians and none of them believes any of that. Only young children believe that God is a sky fairy. Anyone who has given the issue any thought (a group that clearly does not include you) has a far more sophisticated idea of what God is than that. Only lunatics in the US believe that the earth is 5000 years old. The Pope and the Roman Catholic church certainly don't and I have never met anyone who did (including in the US). Finally, where did you get that mixed fibres bit from?

Christianity is pretty safe if the naysayers have to make up bilge and attribute it to Christians to discredit their opinions.

There are plenty of troublesome aspects of Christianity but you have completely missed the mark and not identified any of them. Perhaps you should try to learn something about what you are attacking first. Otherwise, you just look foolish.

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If one part of an instruction manual said to me "sorry, the last 5 pages were just an analogy so you could understand what we meant, undo everything you just did and start again. The rest is true WE PROMISE"

I would not continue reading or believing.

Just saying.

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Megaphone

I do, actually, try not to be downright rude and offensive

But how can I be a Thad more constructive about something when my personal belief is that it is utter tosh, a form of brain washing worse than TV advertising, brain deadening, and the world would be a better place without it?

Atheism (I am) doesn't come into it. My biggest objection to "Christianity," way ahead of the above, arises from a personal belief that it *utterly* misrepresents a certain guy whose [Anglicised] name was Jesus. In other words, it is a lie. I resent that strongly. In fact I get quite upset about it in a way that is almost religious!

What I leave out of the question altogether is a decent set of ethics, because anyone, religious or not, can have those, and it doesn't take a "saviour" to teach them.

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Pint

well...

See now, with religion, it's all a matter of degrees innit? Only kids believe in the beardy sky fairy, only nutjobs in the US believe in creationis^W Intelligent Design. But whatever your personal fantasy is, you all believe in some crazy fucked up shit.

For instance, pretty much all of you have to believe that the Bible (Koran/Veda/Whatever) is some kind of teaching from the big man, whether you think it's literal, allegorical or whatever. And from those teachings you pretty much take the bits you like and leave the bits you don't, so much so that, like snowflakes, no two of you fairy-story-believing crackpots has quite the same take on it. And yet, without exception, you all think that people who don't believe whatever one true path you happen to believe in are going to spend the afterlife in some excruciating pain. (unless you happen to have chosen to ignore that particular part of your teaching as well). All this stuff with not using condoms (Catholicism), or not turning on a light switch on Fridays (Judaism - Only incandescent though, fluorescent bulbs are, apparently, OK!!), or giving up a perfectly good Sunday to go and prey to a non-existent entity, when you could be doing some charity work or helping an elderly neighbour.

I mean it's all so scattergun and illogical, how can anyone say with a straight face that they lend any kind of credence to this big time major bullshit is beyond me. I mean the books are based on stories handed down by word of mouth during the late Iron age FFS!

And then you go and force feed it to children before they're old enough to think. That's practically child abuse.

There's so many things wrong with religion, and, as an Atheist, I can tell you you certainly don't need religion in your life to be a tolerant, good, well adjusted individual. (Yes, I'm tolerant, you'll never see me snub a Christian, or protest at a Mosque build, I'm just passionate about people not wasting their lives with this rubbish) At least Atheists aren't being good just because we're scared of what "god" might do to us, we're good because we mean it.

David Attenborough has yet another good take on the whole thing:

"My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that's going to make him blind. And [I ask them], 'Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child's eyeball? Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy".

Sorry for the rant but religion is so full of crap, I can't help myself.

A beer for everyone, non-alcoholic if your particular storybook doesn't allow.

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Angel

@fiddley

Have one on me. Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Calling something the gospel but picking which bits are real and which bits are not are simply illogical. Just sounds like a cop out to me.

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@Steve

The old testament and the gospels are separte parts, you know?

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Devil

fiddley: "And yet, without exception, you all think that people who don't believe whatever one true path you happen to believe in are going to spend the afterlife in some excruciating pain. (unless you happen to have chosen to ignore that particular part of your teaching as well)"

Err... it seems to me that "without exception" doesn't really allow for an "unless" clause, but whatever floats your rant...

Meanwhile, you are aware that religious people give more to charity - yes, including secular charities - in both money and time, than non-religious people?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2010/01/02/do-god-fearing-or-godless-people-give-more-to-charity/

Dispute beliefs all you want, but you should at least consider the possiblity that religion does a lot of *good* for a lot of people.

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@Fiddley

Thanks mate, this morning was really boring .... you just had me in tears (of laughter). .... Storybook... hehehe

Reminds me of Simpsons, or was it Futurrama? ... "Like one of those ghost stories, like the bible"

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Joke

>Meanwhile, you are aware that religious people give more to charity - yes, including secular charities - in both money and time, than non-religious people?

Let's call it a compensation tax on brainwashing ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

I'm still an atheist

...But the way that some parasites have evolved to manipulate their hosts to their advantage *is* one of the most bloody amazing things in the natural world, and probably a more intelligent arguments that can be used on the religious side.

Equally, when I hear stuff about animals choosing their mates for the best survival chance of their genes in mind, I wonder what animal, human included, ever gave the next generation any thought at all when all it wanted was to screw.

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Sounds like

Total shite

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Devil

'The ASA said the advert was a "light-hearted play on the fairy-tale theme" that most readers would recognise as a reference to an old myth.'

Which myth, Trolls or Christianity?

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Devil

I know, I know...

...but I bet they wouldn't have said "TROLLS CAN SMELL GOD-FEARING BLOOD – MOSLEMS NEED NOT APPLY", would they?

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SPOILERS AHEAD

If you haven't seen the movie yet, look away now (or skip to the next post.

.

.

/SPOLER

Actually, they poke fun of this in the movie itself, after one of them is eaten because he's a christian (the trolls could smell him so ate him) they get a new cameraperson to join them.. when they ask her if she is a christian she replies that she is in fact a muslim... when they wonder if this would be ok the troll hunter replies that they will just have to wait and see, as he doesn't know.

/SPOLER OVER

It really is a very good movie, you ought to go and see it :)

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Anonymous Coward

I may be over-thinking this

I assume they are smelling a pheremone inadvertantly tied to the strip of DNA on chromosome 6 that seems to pre-dispose people more strongly to 'follow-the-leader' behavioural characteristics (something that can often have species-survival benefits, so that shouldn't be characterised as any kind of slur).

As such, people who follow any assertion-based belief system, be it an overtly-religious one or something more mindlessly-political, would be fair game for the trolls.

Hmmm. Bit like the internet there :-P

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I may be over-thinking this

There's a *gene* for religious nuttery?

Fantastic. That means someone like Monsanto or Pfizer could get started on a genetically-engineered virus with the contagiousness of the common cold and the lethality of Ebola which only affects people with that gene... >:D

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JDX
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I'm a Christian

I'm not offended, but I am confused what the point of it was. Also, poking fun is fine - but are they allowed - even in a joke ad - to say they discriminate against a religious group? Religious organisations have to get special dispensation from the normal law, if they want to require employees share their beliefs.

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Anonymous Coward

The point

The old norse were scared that the rise of Christianity threatened their religious values, as Christians had eliminated so many other religions in their passing and they were scared that their faith would be wiped out next. Thus they added Christians to their folklore as gobliney things.

One could say they had a point.

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Paris Hilton

Are muslims next?

After the recent torching of the French satirical magazine for running a Prophet copy, I wonder if the Guardian will be poking fun at other faiths?

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Anonymous Coward

How would you know anything about anything?

>"I wonder if the Guardian will be poking fun at other faiths"

Since you can't tell the difference between editorial comment and advertisements, the fact that you wonder about anything probably reflects nothing but your own ignorance.

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Headmaster

Did the Inarticulate Coward get the Troll's job?

A publisher isn't just responsible for the editorial comment but the entire publication.

For someone with shaky grammar, poor style and and only occasional sense, you're very quick to criticise others. Inferiority complex perhaps?

I used to know a Spineless Gutless Coward - are you by any chance related?

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If resorting to imperialist/racist provocation = satire

then Charlie Hebdo will not be missed, except perhaps by the Front National and the Israeli Embassy

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Anonymous Coward

Your emotional knee-jerk response appears to have overwhelmed your reading comprehension.

>"A publisher isn't just responsible for the editorial comment but the entire publication."

Up to a point, Lord Copper. The publisher is indeed obliged to show due diligence in trying to avoid publishing falsehoods and libels etc., but that's not the same as saying that they avow everything that they permit advertisers to write. If you were reading more carefully, you would remember that the original commenter said:

>"I wonder if the Guardian will be poking fun at other faiths?"

Just because the Guardian allowed the advert to run does not mean that it was the Guardian who was "poking fun" at anyone; it was the advertiser who was doing so. Claiming that it was the Guardian who did so is as incorrect as claiming that, because they allow Dixon's to run adverts in their paper, therefore the Guardian is selling electrical goods. They are not, and for the exact same reason they were therefore not poking fun at anyone either.

The remainder of your comment is equally misbegotten. I don't know what you were objecting to in my grammar and style; perhaps you just don't like long run-on sentences, but it suggests that you failed to find anything reasonable to object to in the actual substance of my post.

I also don't see how you can validly infer anything about how occasionally or frequently I make sense or how quick or slow I am to criticise others, since you have no idea what other comments I may or may not have written. Is it possible you are so horribly misinformed as to think that there is only one person posting under the "Anonymous Coward" label?

As to your "inferiority complex" and "spineless gutless coward" comments, these are mere ad-hominems, and are exactly why I post anonymously. My arguments should stand or fall on their own strengths, not because of who I am or how you feel about me. I would find it equally unwelcome to have people agree with me just because of who I am, since that would be a fallacy of appeal to authority. So I post without a name. I'm here to present arguments and engage in debate, not to try and earn fame and reputation for myself.

I'll leave it to other people to decide whether or not I am inarticulate, but at least what I say is better reasoned than what you have just posted.

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Wow

Three complaints!!! Seriously, three? What's up, did no-one whinge so Momentum had to send in a couple themselves.

It comes to something when you can't even drum up free advertising from the ASA.

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Anonymous Coward

All the year round or just at Winterval?

The BBC policy is to bait Christians all the time. Changing BC to CE for example.

But not ALL God-botherers. Baiting any other religion is strictly VERBOTEN.

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@AC

>>"The BBC policy is to bait Christians all the time. Changing BC to CE for example."

Leaving aside the CE/BCE error there, why should a non-aligned organisation be expected to continue to use a description that is effectively aligned with one specific faith?

If the biggest 'persecution' some whining believer can come up with is being denied favouritism, then maybe they should count their blessings, since they're clearly better off than people in all kinds of minorities at the monent, and a great many other people in history, not least those people who dared to question one or other aspect of one or other sub-brand of christianity.

Unfortunately, it does seem that a particular little subset of Christians does seem to scrabble around to try and find things they can find some way of taking offence at as if that somehow justifies their existence.

Maybe they never read as far as the bit about turning the other cheek (and doing that to *real* insults, not merely imaginary ones), or they chose to ignore that particular lesson since it doesn't fit with their prejudices.

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Bronze badge

Baiting? Or not privileging?

BC is a very specific time reference, and CE and BCE are thoughtful substitutes to be used in a world that is not 100% Christian. It acknowledges the dominance of the European world on our historical understanding without using a word that not all people use with comfort.

Surely a true Christian would not insist that a non-Christian use his or her faith-words. It would be unloving, prideful. Surely no true Christian can be baited. Their Saviour taught them to be meek, gentle, and to turn the other cheek. Paul urged them to glory in the opportunity to share the bruising He endured for them. But then, true Christians are thin on the ground...

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Anonymous Coward

Turn the other cheek?? I always thought it's 'an-eye-for-an-eye'!

or is it both at the same time, a complete contradiction, like most things in religion?

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