Saturday, 8 December 2007

Government bid to reshape childhood

Ed: A headline that 40 years ago would have read "Russian Government ..."

Children as young as two are to be offered free nursery care in a government drive to intervene in the lives of disadvantaged children at the very earliest stages of their development.

The subsidised places, to be targeted at poorer parents, are part of a major overhaul of early-years learning that children's secretary Ed Balls will present to the Commons next Tuesday.

Balls will also announce extra support for disabled children and their families, because the extra expenses they incur often tip households into poverty. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Guns out for battyboy [homosexual men] bashers

[...] It is time to challenge the hierarchy of discrimination that puts the rights of racial minorities and religious groups high above those of women and gay rights. Too often culture or faith are cited as excuses for attitudes that would never be forgiven in, for example, white working-class men. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Dutch government campaign targets "religiously orthodox" on homosexuality

The Netherlands has led the world in the introduction of the homosexual political movement. Now it is going to be leading the way to cracking down on dissent from the officially "tolerant" position on homosexuality, particularly among those Dutch citizens who "follow a more orthodox religious lifestyle".

The coalition government has agreed to earmark 2.5 million euros from 2008 to 2011 to promote homosexuality as normal in social areas. The government said that the money will be spent on programmes specifically targeting young Muslims in schools, sport clubs or neighbourhood associations.

Ronald Plasterk, minister of education admitted that Dutch homosexuals enjoy the same rights as everyone else, "socially the acceptance is not automatic among certain ethnic minorities or people who follow a more orthodox religious lifestyle."

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to institute same-sex "marriage" and allow homosexual partners to adopt children.

The policy will extend, in as-yet undisclosed programmes, to Dutch foreign aid donations. Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders told Parliament, "The Netherlands will promote equal rights for gays as much as possible. We will not avoid awkward discussions about this." Read more or read Revelation 13:17.
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

UK 'lacking nativity knowledge'

Ed: Something to bear in mind at the carol service. Most people won't know who "Royal David" was, much less which was his town, and why it mattered that Jesus was born there. But then it reminds me of the time a speaker said in a talk to us clergy back in the 1980s, "Now to understand the next bit of my talk, you have to understand how the Old Testament holds together. You do understand that, don't you?" We didn't, but he took five minutes to explain it to us.

More than a quarter of adults in Britain do not know where Jesus was born, a survey has suggested.

The poll found that 27% of people were unable to identify Bethlehem as his birthplace, rising to 36% of people aged between 18 and 24.

The poll, for public theology think tank Theos, also found 27% did not know who told Mary she would have a son.

Last week a Sunday Telegraph survey suggested only one in five schools is planning a traditional nativity play.

The majority of the 1,015 adults questioned, 52%, could not name John the Baptist as Jesus's cousin.

When asked where Joseph, Mary and Jesus went to escape from King Herod - which was Egypt - more than three quarters of people, 78%, gave the wrong answer.

The majority, 52%, thought they escaped to Nazareth.

Only 12% of adults could answer all four questions about the Christmas story correctly.

Theos said the findings showed the Christmas story was still "very much" in the "cultural bloodstream" of the nation. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Split in Episcopal Church could come today

Clerical and lay officials from nearly 50 Episcopal churches throughout the Central Valley, including St. John's and St. Anne's in Stockton, might vote today to split from the Episcopal Church USA and align their churches with more-conservative members of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Deacons, priests and several lay people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin - which includes 47 churches from San Joaquin County in the north to Kern County in the south and the Nevada border in the east - will cast ballots in Fresno over whether to disassociate with the ECUSA because of its liberal theological bent, and issues such as blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly homosexual priests and bishops.

"Frankly, we as Christians have to come to some conclusion if the Bible is the inspired word of God or if it's just a bunch of campfire stories," said the Rev. Van McCalister, spokesman for the San Joaquin Diocese. "Most of us believe it to be the word of God." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Hate campaign drives out woman priest

A woman priest who has been the victim of two arson attacks and a series of increasingly threatening letters over the past six months has stepped down from her parish duties over fears for her safety and her family.

The Rev Yvonne Hobson, 56, a curate in the Truro diocese, was advised by police and her bishop, the Right Rev William Ind, to take a break after her mystery persecutor stepped up a hate campaign with attacks that became “increasingly aggressive and threatening to person and property”, a diocesan spokesman said.

Mrs Hobson, who has been advised not to comment publicly, is being persecuted by someone who clearly has local knowledge, according to the spokesman.

She was first sent threatening letters in June expressing anger that she was a female priest. Last month logs in a basket in the porch of her vicarage were set alight, causing a blaze that was extinguished after firefighters were called to the scene.

The latest attack happened on Wednesday when a lit candle was forced through the passenger window of her car. Although it failed to set fire to the car, it caused damage to a passenger seat and persuaded Mrs Hobson to step down from her work. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Bringing life back into the parishes

As a new curate in a Durham mining village, Trevor Beeson was surprised to hear that a complaint had been made to his vicar about him being unfriendly. It transpired that this was because when he knocked on the door of a cottage he waited for someone to open it in instead of stepping straight in.

But 1951 was a different world, when a young clergyman would spend every afternoon visiting the houses of the people in his parish. Someone was in when he called; the community was alive. And there was a community spirit in death, too. The mortally ill would normally die in their own homes, not an anonymous hospital, and the funeral rites would begin at home, with neighbours making a point of calling.

Trevor Beeson's career has matched the span of the Queen's reign, beginning the year before her accession. He has been a Canon of Westminster and the Dean of Winchester, chaplain to the Speaker and adviser on religious programmes to commercial television. In a new book, Round the Church in Fifty Years (SCM, £19.99), he does not chart his (rather influential) life in the Church of England, but sketches the changes in five decades of Christian life in Britain. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Prison works, we need more prisons

[...] We often hear that Britain locks up more people than any other country in Europe, or that our criminal justice is uniquely punitive. A moment's reflection will demonstrate that these claims, heard on the lips of some of our senior judges, is fatuous in the extreme. If we imprisoned people at the same rate per crimes committed as the Spanish, we would have between 350,000 and 400,000 prisoners, not the paltry 80,000 that we do have.

Again, it is often pointed out that the recidivism rate of prisoners serving short-term prison sentences is 70 per cent (actually, this is the reconviction rate: given the low level of detection, the reoffending rate is probably nearer 100 per cent). But this is an argument for drastically lengthened prison sentences, not for leniency: and indeed there is evidence that the recidivism rate is proportional to the length of sentence served.

Moreover, the recidivism rate of non-custodial community sentences is more or less the same as with short term-prison sentences, but with this difference: that while they are in prison, prisoners cannot commit crimes against the general public. It is easy to demonstrate that millions of crimes a year are committed by people already serving community sentences; thus failure to imprison properly is one of the main causes of crime in this now deeply criminalised country. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Breakaway Anglicans Move Forward with Orthodox Initiative

The first annual meeting of a flourishing breakaway Anglican group opened Thursday, marking the "coming of age" for the orthodox Anglican initiative, said one bishop.

Hundreds of clergy and lay delegates representing more than 60 congregations in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) converged in Herndon, Va., for the first council addressing the current state and future growth of the orthodox group.

"This is the first time that we have been able to gather so many CANA clergy and lay leaders together and I would be most remiss if I did not express my personal gratitude to all of you for your remarkable faith," CANA missionary bishop the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns said in his opening address Thursday. "Your willingness to step out of the boat and become part of this community of faithful Anglicans called CANA is a source of continuing encouragement."

Presiding over the council this weekend is Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who set up CANA in the United States as a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria - one of the largest provinces in the global Anglican Communion. CANA is now a body for realignment or what Akinola called a place to provide a spiritual home for those discontent in The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism – and its liberal direction in Scripture and theology. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Dominic Lawson: Could a robust Christian response be the answer to Muslim extremism in Britain?

[...] Dr Nazir-Ali does not simply blame the Saudis, or other foreign governments who might have been funding militant Islam in the mosques of Great Britain, for the rise in Muslim chauvinism in this country. He blames the British people themselves, arguing that there has been a catastrophic collapse in Christian-based morality and spirituality in this country over the past 40 or so years and that this has created a "moral vacuum" in society as a whole, which has been increasingly filled – at least in the minds of impressionable youth – by fundamentalist Islam.

Here, as a leading figure in the Church of England, Dr Nazir-Ali is swimming in dangerous waters. Is it the British people who should be blamed for deserting, in their millions, the once-dominant Church of England? Or should not the Church of England look at its own performance and try to understand why it has lost such a vast proportion of its audience – at least as defined by regular churchgoing, rather than notional affiliation?

An astounding statistic in a recent Policy Exchange pamphlet, The Hijacking of British Islam, shows that while Muslims make up no more than 3 per cent of the British population, there are now more Muslims who attend a mosque regularly than there are regular attenders in the pews of the Established Church. Fundamentalist Islam can hardly take all the blame for that extraordinary reversal.

Dr Nazir-Ali is deeply critical of the way in which New Labour, supposedly packed with devout Christians, has indulged men such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi (a frequent guest of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone), who preaches that apostates from Islam should be executed.

My own suspicion is that the warm embrace of British politicians can only reduce the credibility of Qaradawi among radical Muslim youth; for similar reasons it is hard to imagine that if there is to be a revival of Christianity in this country, that it could ever come from a Church whose leaders sit in Parliament.

Afterwards, I wished I'd asked Hannah what she thought of it all; but she must have slip-ped away. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Imam's daughter in hiding after her conversion to Christianity sparked death threats

The daughter of a British imam is under police protection after she received death threats from her family for converting to Christianity.

Hannah, 32, whose father is a Muslim imam in Lancashire, has moved house 45 times to escape detection by her family since she became a Christian 15 years ago.

Hannah, who uses a pseudonym to hide her identity, told The Times newspaper that she fled her family home aged 16 to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage. She then chose to convert to Christianity.

The threats against her became more serious a month ago, prompting police to offer her protection in case an attempt is made on her life. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Evangelical Alliance shares MP's fears over 'Christianophobia'

An appeal from MPs against the neglect of Christianity’s rich contribution to British culture and society has been backed by the Evangelical Alliance.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard held a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday about “rising Christianophobia” evident in the reluctance of officials, the media and even Royal Mail to mark Christian festivals and traditions.

He said that while the reason given for marginalising Christianity is often to avoid offending people of other faiths, this is a “bogus cover” for the secularist and politically correct agenda. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Diane Louise Jordan opens new Arts & Crafts and Environment Centre

Diane Louise JordanDiane Louise Jordan with the Bishop of Chelmsford

Songs of Praise and ex-Blue Peter presenter, Diane Louise Jordan, accompanied by the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Revd John Gladwin, has officially opened the brand new Arts & Crafts and Environment Centre at St Mark’s College, Audley End, Saffron Walden. Read more.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Anne Atkins: Sex education in schools isn't working

So sex education works, does it? According to Polly Toynbee, it does. The proof of this is that more teenage girls are having abortions. And - this is the stunning bit - this is "good news". I promise you. Verbatim.

Heaven help us. Where do you start, if the indicator for success is more teenage abortions? Forget the shock to the body that any operation is; forget the distress sometimes caused even to adult women by such a difficult decision. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the rallying cry for abortion was a woman's right to choose, not a girl's obligation to make the choice we approve of.

All right, let's start further back. Imagine a brave new world in which no underage teenagers ever got STDs or got pregnant. Success! All targets met, all objectives realised, sex education has worked. (In truth, the last 20 years or so of sex education hasn't had this effect at all: as sex education has increased, so have the pregnancies and infections. But let's imagine, for a moment, this so-called education "working" perfectly. After all, this is the Utopia most politicians and many journalists seem to want: a world in which teenagers suffer none of the unwanted physical effects of sex.)

Now ask a parent whether this is success. Your 13-year-old is bonking away like a rabbit, Mrs Smith, but don't worry: she's not pregnant. She's had more one-night stands than a hamburger chain, but she hasn't got chlamydia. Is this really all we care about? Tell me: what do you think of a doctor who treats you as if you were nothing but a body, with no emotions, no fear, no hope, no dignity? Isn't this one of the most chilling aspects of prostitution, that a woman is reduced to using her body as a thing, as if there were no implications for her self-worth?

And yet isn't this exactly what we're doing to the country's teenagers? Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Questions (and some answers) at Chelmsford November Diocesan Synod

Q.2 Revd. Steven Hanna (Barking & Dagenham) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

"A year ago, Bishop John was asked in this Synod what he thought would be the impact of his decision to become a patron of Changing Attitude on those in the Diocese who object to the campaigning stance of that organization.

That patronage has now resulted in a delay to the ordination of a candidate who has passed through the selection processes of this diocese and of the national Church, who has had three years full-time training and who has been offered a post in this diocese as a curate.

Will the Bishop now agree that his patronage of Changing Attitude has become an impediment to the relationship between himself and some of those in his own diocese?"

Q.7 For written reply - Stuart Kimber (Southend) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

"In the light of :

1. Your Patronage of ‘Changing Attitude' whose declared aim is ‘Working for gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender affirmation within the Anglican Communion';
2. Your unwillingness to step down as a Patron of ‘Changing Attitude' despite numerous requests from members of this Diocese to do so;
3. Your tacit support of your Chaplain in his convening of a ‘secret' meeting (under the Chatham House rule) of homosexual clergy and their partners due to take place on November 29th this year, at which Archbishop Rowan will speak and celebrate Communion; and
4. Your continuing appointment of clergy in same-sex partnerships to posts within the Diocese;

And in view of the Christian teaching, regularly affirmed by statements issuing from Bishops across the Anglican Communion, that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture' :

What pastoral and legal advice can you give clergy in this Diocese who sincerely desire to fulfil their oath of canonical obedience to yourself ‘in all things lawful and honest' (Canon C14), but who feel you are failing in this matter to ‘uphold sound and wholesome doctrine and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions' (Canon C18), and therefore feel driven to explore the possibility of Alternative or Extended Episcopal Oversight?"

Answer from Eddie Carden, the Diocesan Synodical and Pastoral Secretary
“The first piece of pastoral advice is to talk and pray about these concerns with the Bishop, who would be delighted to do so! To prepare the way, you might find it a help to talk with the Archdeacon. Second, always use your spiritual director to ensure your own personal preparation.

On the legal side, there is no such thing as Alternative Episcopal Oversight, and Extended Oversight only applies in relation to the issues surrounding the ordination of women to the priesthood.

In general, as Christians it is important for all of us to be generous to one another and to avoid putting the worst interpretation on events.”

Q.8 For written reply - Peter Nicholson (Southend) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

1. "In their guidelines on civil partnerships, the House of Bishops stated that, 'The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity' (para 20). Nevertheless, it noted that civil partnerships will be 'widely seen as being predominantly between gay and lesbian people in sexually active relationships' (para 21), and therefore advised clergy in such relationships to 'expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.' As a matter of policy in this diocese, are such assurances being sought and given?
2. Where appointments are being made of clergy with same-sex partners how will the bishop to make clear to the majority of people in the area concerned, who are not aware of the subtleties in the House of Bishop's guidelines, that, as paragraph 27 states, 'the Church's teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged'?"

Read the other answers here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Monday, 3 December 2007

CofE, RCs, call for 'safeguards' on UK gay-hate legislation

The Church of England has joined forces with the Roman Catholic Church in calling for safeguards to be included any government plan to change the Public Order Act of 1986 which would create an offence of ‘incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation’.

In a memorandum to the Public Bill Committee on the possible changes to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales expressed reservations on the creation of new offences and the need to balance the protection of vulnerable groups with safeguards for freedom of speech.

The document calls for any new laws to allow Christians to express traditional views on sexuality, and asks for ‘maximum possible clarity’ about what is forbidden and what is permitted. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Membership of Episcopal Church 'continues to decline'

An Interim Report, prepared by the House of Deputies Committee of the Episcopal Church, shows the denomination continuing to decline with a 41 percent attendance drop attributed directly to congregations departing over the sexual innovations in the church.

In assessing facts and trends, the State of the Church report, which worked closely with Dr. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center, indicated the need for a "plan for action" at all levels of the denomination in response to membership drops. In a manner similar to other mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, the statistics for The Episcopal Church indicate declining membership and attendance, declines that have become more severe in the last several years. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

US Anglican warns actual dialogue on sexuality 'nearly impossible'

Ed: This is in a discussion thread on the Fulcrum website. You will have to scroll down the page to find the article.

[...] The fight here is no longer primarily about same-sex attraction. The Gay agenda is a done deal and irreversible in the American Church. The fight here is about whether there is any authority, scriptural, traditional, ecclesial, even scientific that trumps the new idol of experience. It is widely thought here that the scriptures are intriguing cultural artifacts of the religious experience of time bound cultures but certainly nothing more than clues to how contemporary people might work out and recreate their own religion. Increasingly it has become clear that the majority who do indeed embrace a new spirit based and experienced based religion are not able to tolerate traditionalists in their midst. Religion is seen by the majority as primarily about “radical hospitality” and “inclusion” and “liberation.” Traditionalists are seen as contemporary equivalents of slave holders and betrayers of the central tenets of the new religion. I find it very hard to make a case on the basis of the revisionist theology as I understand it for the inclusion of traditionalists. Slave holders can be tolerated for strategic reasons but not for moral or theological reasons. We perhaps can be allowed as long as we do not try to extend our influence. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Bp of Rochester's support for Canadian links with Southern Cone

The Right Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester

I greatly regret the necessity for this step, but I am glad that an agreed way has been found for biblically minded and orthodox Anglicans to receive appropriate primatial oversight from the province of the Southern Cone and episcopal care from Bishop Don Harvey. I pray that this arrangement will be a blessing for many.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali
See here.

Other letters of support here.
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

UK Evangelical leaders send letter of support to Anglican Network in Canada

A group of orthodox Anglican leaders in the United Kingdom on behalf of their organisations

We want to assure you of our prayers and fellowship in our shared Anglican heritage as you take your stand on the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith, contrary to those innovators both here and elsewhere who wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture.

We rejoice in our fellowship as Churches in communion with the Risen Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Linked together by the apostolic ministry, our communion is expressed by the fellowship and mutual commitment of local churches, congregations faithful to the apostolic tradition, led by faithful clergy, and gathered around their bishop, however expressed, for example on a geographic or non-geographic basis.

Signed with pleasure and delight,
+Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes & President of Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC)
Dr Philip Giddings, Convenor, Anglican Mainstream
Paul Boyd-Lee, Chair of the 1990 Group in General Synod
Rev John Coles, Director of New Wine
Canon Andy Lines, General Secretary of Crosslinks
Stephen Parkinson, Director, Forward in Faith
Revd Paul Perkin, Convenor of the Covenant Group for the Church of England
Revd David Phillips, Director of Church Society
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull, Chairman and for the Executive of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Rev Roderick Thomas, Chairman of Reform
Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the