Pharyngula

Cheap parking in London!

Well now, isn’t this special: if you’re a religious leader on official business, you can get free parking permits in North London.

Mike Freer, leader of the council, said: “The importance of religion to many Barnet residents cannot be underestimated and the council has acknowledged this with a policy that will assist spiritual leaders when engaging with people in times of illness or crisis.”

It may be important to some people, but since it doesn’t actually do anything for them, this logic seems backward to me — clergy should be paying extra for the privilege of peddling superstition, as a kind of idiot tax.

Comments

  1. #1 guthrie
    June 29, 2008

    We already have an idiot tax, the national lottery.

  2. #2 sailor
    June 29, 2008

    I would have thought that if God really wanted them to visit that particular person, he could teleport them there.

  3. #3 Moggie
    June 29, 2008

    “…when engaging with people in times of illness or crisis”.

    Obviously, cheap parking doesn’t really go far enough, in times of crisis. They should have flashing lights and a special woo-woo siren, so that the godless know to get out of the way.

    I wonder who lobbied for this concession?

  4. #4 Matt Heath
    June 29, 2008

    I’m imagining a lot of start-up religions in that area in the next year

  5. #5 Molly, NYC
    June 29, 2008

    “The importance of religion to many Barnet residents cannot be underestimated . . . ”

    Gotta agree with him there. Hell, it’s probably impossible.

  6. #6 sailor
    June 29, 2008

    It might almost be worth the 40 pounds to have a Pastafarian parking permit.

  7. #7 Capital Dan
    June 29, 2008

    Well, that should speed things up at the day care center.

  8. #8 Chupacabras
    June 29, 2008

    Pedophilia acts can be easily construed as “engaging with people in times of illness or crisis”.

  9. #9 Al
    June 29, 2008

    Fecking Tories…

  10. #10 somedude
    June 29, 2008

    So they lost their faith in praying for parking?

  11. #11 John McKay
    June 29, 2008

    Sex is important to people, so it follows that hookers making house calls should get free parking in Barnet.

  12. #12 Doug
    June 29, 2008

    I wish I could get persecuted with free parking like the religious. :(

  13. #13 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Religious belief is a kind of handicap, isn’t it?

  14. #14 CalGeorge
    June 29, 2008

    Doofus No. 1: I visit sick morons and comfort them using this special fantasy book loaded with magic formulae!

    Doofus No. 2: Cool! You get to park for free!

  15. #15 JoJo
    June 29, 2008

    What do you expect now that Boris Johnson’s been elected?

  16. #16 SEF
    June 29, 2008

    The National Lottery is the official UK tax on people who are bad at maths rather than generic idiocy. Despite the fact that people must at some level be aware of the lack of merit involved in winning a lottery, it still causes considerable outrage when known criminals win it.

    I suppose it was too much to hope that Boris would really be beating out the demons of stupidity across London (although I’m aware some people are fans of his to some extent). Merely having a serious haircut for a change simply isn’t enough to get the job done.

  17. #17 amk
    June 29, 2008

    I’m imagining a lot of start-up religions in that area in the next year

    There are hoops that need to be jumped through to be an officially recognised religion in the UK, making it hard for new religions (cults) to be recognised. For example, $cientology isn’t.

  18. #18 t-1000
    June 29, 2008

    I’m a Pastafarian Minister and I’m officially doing business, this means I get a free parking pass right? I also wear official Pastafarian religious garb mind you!

  19. #19 Charlie Foxtrot
    June 29, 2008

    @t-1000:

    Arrrrr!

  20. #20 Cyberguy
    June 29, 2008

    We can all play this game. I suggest that everyone in Barnet (and visitors, of course) become officially ordained ministers – for free. Then everyone can enjoy the fruits of religion!

    For free ordination see:
    http://www.spiritualhumanism.org/
    http://www.theuniversallifechurch.org/

  21. #21 t-1000
    June 29, 2008

    @Charlie Foxtrot:
    Aye matey!

  22. #22 kcrady
    June 29, 2008

    Hasn’t “Jedi” been recognized as a religion on that side of the Pond? “Hi, I’m a Jedi Knight. Can I have my free parking pass now?”

  23. #23 Dennis N
    June 29, 2008

    Hypothetically, this would be out of the question in the U.S., right? Please?

  24. #24 MarkInTexas
    June 30, 2008

    “The importance of religion to many Barnet residents cannot be underestimated and the council has acknowledged this with a policy that will assist spiritual leaders when engaging with people in times of illness or crisis.”

    uhh….sorry, but the theistic idiots can shove that idea to places the sun does not shine.

    The damned voodoo MUST be called into question at every turn.

    No matter how ‘baptized’ stupidity is still stupidity.

    a day!

  25. #25 MarkInTexas
    June 30, 2008

    “The importance of religion to many Barnet residents cannot be underestimated and the council has acknowledged this with a policy that will assist spiritual leaders when engaging with people in times of illness or crisis.”

    uhh….sorry, but the theistic idiots can shove that idea to places the sun does not shine.

    The damned voodoo MUST be called into question at every turn.

    No matter how ‘baptized’ stupidity is still stupidity.

    a day!

  26. #26 amk
    June 30, 2008

    Hasn’t “Jedi” been recognized as a religion on that side of the Pond? “Hi, I’m a Jedi Knight. Can I have my free parking pass now?”

    No. It does however appear as a category on the census reports.

  27. #27 shane
    June 30, 2008

    As a matter of interest is the official pastafarian religious garb a chefs hat and apron? Or is that the heresy?

  28. #28 blf
    June 30, 2008

    We annoys me about this sort of thing is it does not discourage the use of cars. The argument (whinge, really) “that I need a car!” does not apply in this case since the mumble-jumble being delivered by car isn’t needed.

  29. #29 Jose
    June 30, 2008

    When I was last in England, I overheard a conversation where someone was saying that in order to use a handicapped parking space, it used to be required that you drive a special handicapped car (which happened to be a tiny deathtrap). Is this just an urban legend? I can’t find any references to this on the web.

    True or not, a good solution to the current problem might be to apply this solution to the clergy. Initially, It would be just as bad for the normal people of the world, but over the long haul, the situation would gradually improve one fiery explosion as a time.

    Did I just advocate a form of eugenics? That must be a side effect of my rampant case of darwinism.

  30. #30 Samantha Vimes
    June 30, 2008

    I know, from personal experience, it is VERY important for people to be able to get pizza delivered, especially when they are college students in time of great stress, like papers due and exam cramming. Ergo, pizza trucks should be able to park free.
    It’s not like the pizza guy is going to be written into people’s will. They sometimes don’t even tip. Obviously, pizza guys need the break far more than ministers do.

  31. #31 Pole Greaser
    June 30, 2008

    It looks like the people on God’s continent might finally be getting their act together. Those who serve Him deserve special treatment. Unfortunately, the UK’s established Church is run by the Sodomite Rowan Williams; they need to get true Christians running the Church of England who would be worthy of the permits the city is issuing!

    Also, in Ireland, the people refused to give up their national soveriegnty to the buggering bureaucrats in Brussels. Europe truly has potential. A mass movement to serve Jesus could do wonders over there since they don’t have America’s dishonest First Amendment to stop them!

  32. #32 Moggie
    June 30, 2008

    @ #15:

    What do you expect now that Boris Johnson’s been elected?

    I expect stupidity, but this was a decision at the borough level. Borough councils are responsible for issuing such parking permits, not the mayor’s office, and this particular permit will be valid in Barnet only, not London-wide. If one of these “religious leaders” were to park in my street (in the borough of Camden), a pack of traffic wardens would pick their bones clean.

  33. #33 Nick Gotts
    June 30, 2008

    the Sodomite Rowan Williams – Pole Greaser
    the buggering bureaucrats in Brussels – Pole Greaser

    Ach, zee unfortunate patient zhows zee glassic zign of repressed homosexuality – obzession viz ze zupposed homosexual practices of uzzers. Mr. Greazer, you vill feel much better ven you ztop denying your true nature!

  34. #34 Nick Gotts
    June 30, 2008

    Sex is important to people, so it follows that hookers making house calls should get free parking in Barnet.

    Yes, but I think the smack and crack dealers really have a stronger case. What’s more the quality of the “solace” they deliver is scientifically measurable!

  35. #35 Robert Davidson
    June 30, 2008

    You don’t think clergy actually perform many useful roles in community building, counselling, moral support, friendship etc despite the religious thing? They’re not just delivering religion.

    I can see why this policy is supportable – it’s providing some social glue that is pretty hard to separate from the centuries of embeddedness within religious traditions. After all, we don’t expect to hear Bach sung with new secular lyrics. The music is still amazing, just as the social benefits of religious communities are a general good, regardless of the superstition.

  36. #36 Brian K.
    June 30, 2008

    At one of the hospitals here in Gwinnett County, GA, there are spots exclusively for clergy (and marked as such) that are closer than the handicapped spots.

    I guess some priorities are different down here in the red states.

  37. #37 Jack H
    June 30, 2008

    http://firstchurchofatheism.com/ also offer free ordinations so not only can you officiate weddings, funerals and saying hello from the world to little’ns in an entirely atheistic fashion, you also get free parking in Barnet to boot!

    Let us just hope they start bringing it in in places you’d actually want to leave your car unattended…

  38. #38 Muzz
    June 30, 2008

    This probably only made the news because of the scarcity or cost of parking permits in that area. Seeing just how entrenched the Church of England is in British society would horrify (or delight) most Americans. Yet the poms don’t have much trouble with being a secular society or the separation of church and state, even without a fairly rigid constitution that explicitly spells out the division.

  39. #39 Simon
    June 30, 2008

    The whole thing could have been dealt with within the existing system simply by giving them all Disabled Parking badges.

  40. #40 Reginald Selkirk
    June 30, 2008

    the importance of religion to many Barnet residents cannot be underestimated…

    Is it that low? Own goal.

  41. #41 Dutch Delight
    June 30, 2008

    #35
    “After all, we don’t expect to hear Bach sung with new secular lyrics.”

    You might not expect it, but we actually have secular translations of Bach and they are performed here too.

    It reminds me of a remark made by the only non-believer in our cabinet some time ago. While he performed the Matthäus Passion together with a Christian choir, the fundamental christians were discussing their position on porn on public tv the whole day. He actually sent their political leader a text message with this observation. I still have containers filled with all the intense irony produced that day.

  42. #42 Robert Davidson
    June 30, 2008

    Secular translations of Bach? That would tend to rather spoil the work, surely, which is whole-cloth Lutheran (who is behind this activity?).

    That said, your wonderful Louis Andriessen has done some nice cutups of Mozart and others (assuming you’re Dutch).

    But like Christopher Hitchens, I couldn’t be without the artworks produced by Christian superstition, presented without overt interference.

  43. #43 dogmeatib
    June 30, 2008

    They’re kind of like doctors, in that they get free parking. And …

    Nope, that’s all I’ve got.

  44. #44 Donnie B.
    June 30, 2008

    Robert Davidson wrote:

    You don’t think clergy actually perform many useful roles in community building, counselling, moral support, friendship etc despite the religious thing? They’re not just delivering religion.

    Thanks for pointing this out! This is a worthwhile service to the community. Some of the folks who receive pastoral visits are all alone in the world, housebound, and have little or no other human contact.

    Until we atheists find a way of providing this kind of human support, I have no problem with giving what amounts to quite minimal public support to those whose belief system impels them to do so.

    By the way, this is nothing new. Many communities in the US provide the same courtesy to ministers and priests. Sometimes there are special license plates, but more often it’s just a small card that’s left on the dashboard where a parking enforcement person can see it and skip writing the ticket.

    My father was one who received this privilege for years when he was a parish minister. He never abused it (e.g. by getting free parking when on personal business) and I’m sure most don’t.

  45. #45 Tony
    June 30, 2008

    From 2000 to 2002, I was a valet at Emory University Hospital. We parked cars for visitors and for people rushing to the ER. In those two+ years I couldn’t believe how many clergy expected free parking simply because they were clergy.

    Now, if you visited the ER, your parking was comped anyway. All you needed to do was get your ticket validated by an ER attendant. Since most clergy were not visiting the ER, they had to pay up. And they hated that.

  46. #46 Matt Penfold
    June 30, 2008

    It will be intersting to see if the council allows humanists carrying out visiting to make use of these permits, and if the friends and family of someone terminally ill in the borough can obtain a permit to make visiting a bit easier.

  47. #47 Nicole
    June 30, 2008

    Does the TARDIS get free parking, too? I think the Doctor is much more useful than these folks.

    Just saying…

  48. #48 Matt Penfold
    June 30, 2008

    I live in West Wales and there was a furore about a year ago when the local council started checking the car parks on a sunday for people who had not paid. It had always been the case that you had to pay to park on a sunday, but no one had bothered checking before. A local councillor got all upset because a lot of the people who got parking tickets were attending a nearby chapel and he could not see why they should have to pay. I am glad to say the council refused to back down, and a spokesman pointed out that he could not see why someone should have to pay to go shopping but not pay to go to chapel.

  49. #49 Dutch Delight
    June 30, 2008

    Ok, I checked it out since the source for my last posting was a radio broadcast from some time ago. I remember them talking about Jan Rot and a secular translation.

    From what I can find now, it’s basically a retelling of the story with a few twists, no supernatural stuff and JC as a freethinker fighting the established powers to preach love.

    His version is published as ISBN 90 388 6347 0 if you’re interested. Apparently it was 5 years in the making and he had a panel consisting of a philosopher, a Bach expert and a minister on hand to help him along. From what I can gather it seems quite popular.

  50. #50 Nephi
    June 30, 2008

    All churches should NOT get special privileges or tax excerpt status unless they can prove empirically that they contribute to science, medicine and technology.

  51. #51 Matt Heath
    June 30, 2008

    I call “Poe” on Pole Greaser. Check out the time-cubey page (s)he links to.

  52. #52 SEF
    June 30, 2008

    The whole thing could have been dealt with within the existing system simply by giving them all Disabled Parking badges.

    But should the mentally (& educationally & morally & emotionally) disabled be permitted to drive at all …

  53. #53 Matt Penfold
    June 30, 2008

    A good number of conditions will get better if treated or not, and all treatment does is reduce the severity or longevity of the condition.

    However there are also a good number of conditions that are likely to kill you if left untreated. Many cancers come into this category(*) and not many people survive an untreated broken pelvis or femur.

    (*) The exceptions tend to be in the elderly where the cancer is very slow growing.

  54. #54 Matt Penfold
    June 30, 2008

    Sorry, I posted the above in the wrong thread!

  55. #55 Phaedrus
    June 30, 2008

    Unfortunately, I have to report that we here in Australia have surpassed even the British for sheer religious stupidity. Have a look at this:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/thou-shalt-not-annoy/2008/06/30/1214677946009.html

  56. #56 TheMonkeyMan
    June 30, 2008

    As a resident of that very borough may I also add that our beloved council refuses to give recycle boxes to people who live in flats.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with religion but it pisses me right off. I want to recycle, grrrr………..

  57. #57 johannes
    June 30, 2008

    > in order to use a handicapped parking space, it
    > used to be required that you drive a special
    > handicapped car (which happened to be a tiny deathtrap).
    > Is this just an urban legend?

    There was a three-wheeler called the Invacar, built especially for people who were unable to walk. It was build, ironically, by AC, makers of the AC Cobra, and leased to disabled persons as part of their health care benefits. Being a threewheeler, it was, technically, a motorcycle rather than a car under british law. Styling was similar to contemporary british three-wheelers build for the commercial market, like Bonds or Reliants, with a reverse-slanting rear window. In fact, a civilian version was marketed commercialy as the AC Petite during the Suez Crisis. For some reason, all Invacars were painted light blue. It was the butt of a thousand jokes, and several famous british racing drivers lobbied for decades to have the invacar abolished, until it was finally declared illegal for road use in 2003.

    Calling it a “disabled car”, rather than a car for the disabled, actually makes sence for the original version of the vehicle, wich utilised a 147ccm Villiers two-stroke engine. The later versions had a Steyr-Puch engine, and performed frighteningly well.

  58. #58 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    #55 – Holy shite! $5500 fine for wagging your weinie at the pope?!
    So much for the merry ol’ land of Oz. :(

  59. #59 synthesist
    June 30, 2008

    I used to live in Barnet ……..

  60. #60 amk
    June 30, 2008

    Yet the poms don’t have much trouble with being a secular society or the separation of church and state, even without a fairly rigid constitution that explicitly spells out the division.

    The 1948 education act demands a daily act of worship of a broadly christian nature in state run schools. This has been expanded to other faiths, but it’s still not possible to create a truly secular school, even the partly autonomous city academies. Someone tried recently, and was turned down. Law doesn’t allow it, and some ministers would be opposed.

    There was a three-wheeler called the Invacar, built especially for people who were unable to walk. It was build, ironically, by AC, makers of the AC Cobra

    AC (Auto Carriers) primarily made small commercial vans. What is ironic is that Ford chose them as their partner to build a car around their NASCAR engine.

  61. #61 amk
    June 30, 2008

    wiki contradicts my description of AC, with the AC Ace sports car the immediate predecessor of the Cobra. The first AC was a van though.

  62. #62 Phaedrus
    June 30, 2008

    #58: No, not a $5500 fine for wagging your weinie at the poop…. errr.. Pope (on the other hand what’s the difference anyway). Wagging your weinie would only cost you $1100. Simply WEARING A T-SHIRT that MIGHT offend the morons because it had a Darwin fish, rainbow ribbon, or a URL to Lenki’s E Coli results COULD cost you $5500.

    This is the insanity of it all. We’re supposed to be an enlightened country, laughing at the Americans with their fundagelical loons running all over the place, and look at what’s happening right here at home. We can’t even move about in our own city. Remind me again what the difference is between living in Sydney right now and living in the old Soviet Bloc of the 1950s?

    I’m angry, and I want my city back. Fuck the Pope. Oh wait, he probably already has a few priests on tap to oblige.

  63. #63 the great and powerful oz
    June 30, 2008

    Phaedrus:

    They’re also closing 300 roads including the harbour bridge.

    They’re encouraging people to leave their cars at home and catch public transport to work, but also to avoid using any train stations in the Central Business District.

    And they’ve exempted World Paedophile Day from the Freedom Of Information act, so they don’t have to tell you how much it cost.

    The cost of moving it from the Olympic Village to Randwick Racecourse added at least $41 million, on top of the $150 minimum they’ve already admitted to.
    With the cost of housing priests in the public schools (!) estimated at another $20 million, it comes to at least $210 million.

    On the upside, the you can get a plenary indulgence (get-out-of-hell-free card) if you say a prayer in St. Mary’s cathedral. You don’t get THAT kind of offer every day.

  64. #64 Corie Hedglin
    January 1, 2010

    A thghtfl nsght nd ds I wll s n my blg. Y’v bvsly spnt sm tm n ths. Wll dn!

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