Dogs’ dinner

A story in the Mirror noted that every dog has its quirks – it’s just some are more alarming than others after a woman has been left questioning her dog’s motives after he started routinely destroying her Bibles.

Taking to Reddit to share the dog’s ‘demonic’ behaviour, her child wrote: “My dog keeps randomly tearing up my mum’s Bible. This is the third Bible she has had to purchase.” Most users couldn’t help but laugh at the dog’s “clear atheism”.

Birmingham and atheism

Atheism has had a bad press, sometimes justifiably, but this dog isn’t helping matters. Birmingham has a significant association with atheism and a Birmingham socialist was the last to be imprisoned in England for his ‘atheism’.

Birmingham-born George Holyoake (1817-1906) was a man of sincere convictions and a brave voice in a time of rigid social values. At a public lecture in Cheltenham in 1842 (at a time of economic hardship) Holyoake said: “If I could have my way, I would place the deity on half pay as the Government of this country did its subaltern officers.” For that remark he did a stretch in jail.

As a young man Holyoake was much influenced by Robert Owen’s socialist writings. He endeavoured to become a teacher but found it difficult to progress due to his socialist views.

He joined the Birmingham Reform League in 1831 and the Chartists in 1832. In 1840 Holyoake decided to become a ‘socialist missionary’ and follower of Robert Owen, moving to Worcester to become a full-time socialist lecturer. 

By 1851 Holyoake began to use the word “secularist” to describe himself and his followers. He defined secularism as “a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human”. To Holyoake the term was more positive than atheism.

From those days to these, atheism, religion and secularism continue to be controversial subjects. Should George Holyoake have been able to read the Reddit thread, he would surely have laughed when one user asked: “Have you asked your vet if they do exorcisms?”

In reply, another user quipped: “Why would the dog need an exorcism? It’s already filled with the word of God.”

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