Saturday, 3 May 2008

New Statesman: Is this what a police state looks like?

[...] The FIT-team is a section of the Metropolitan Police, and part of the Public Order Intelligence Unit which first appeared targeting football teams in the early 1990s. Their coverage has since expanded to political meetings, protests and demonstrations, where they are tasked to identify, monitor and isolate potential "street activists" who have shown signs that they may be likely to "provoke disorder."

The FIT-team is set into motion by buzz-words such as "anti-globalisation" and "animal liberation," by the sight of black-and-white patches, dreadlocks, and most passers-by who dare look them in the eye.

Accompanied by civilian photographers employed to assist them, the FIT team has established an atmosphere of constant and targeted surveillance of known activists and "potential trouble-makers". The effect on political protest is often debilitating. "We spend our time speculating what the police might do to us, rather than what we ourselves want to do," said one protestor. Read more
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The Times: Behave, Auntie, you vulgar addled old bat

[...] Public service broadcasting means an effective network that produces a range of well-made programmes, particularly in the less popular genres, which are financed according to their intrinsic needs and not the size of the audience. Who can disagree? Chasing ratings is not what Auntie should be doing. Yet the BBC TV schedules are stuffed with cheap, populist rubbish, which can hardly be said to be needed since the commercial producers make them with even greater enthusiasm and vulgarity. “Intoxicated”, as Attenborough put it, with the popularity of such genres, BBC1 and BBC2 have allowed them to run rampant like some nasty kind of pondlife and crowd out other programmes.

“Do we really require so many gardening programmes, makeover programmes or celebrity chefs? Is it not a scandal . . . that there seems to be no place for a continuing series of programmes about science or serious music?” . . . It was “very, very sad” that the science show Tomorrow’s World no longer had a place in the schedule. “If you want an informed society there has to be a basic understanding of science.” Read more
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Is a picture really ...

... worth a thousand words? (Compare the article from Matthew Parris.)

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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Legal opinion backs case for action against US Presiding Bishop

There is a prima facie case for bringing the US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to trial before a church tribunal for abuse of office, a legal memorandum commissioned by a group of concerned American bishops and church leaders has found. But whether the bishops have the political will to act is unclear, the paper concluded.

Prepared by an international lawyer in response to a request for an independent opinion as to the legality of Bishop Schori’s actions, and their implications for the polity of the Episcopal Church, the April 21 memorandum concludes the Presiding Bishop deliberately and with full knowledge and forethought “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of the Episcopal Church in her takeover of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

The Presiding Bishop had also committed a “wilful violation of the canons, an intention to repeat the violations and a pattern of concealment and lack of candour” in her attempts to depose Bishops Robert Duncan, John-David Schofield and William Cox, the paper said. Read more
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New Statesman: What's driving the BNP?

[...] "The BNP has tended to prosper in segregated poor, white communities in the north, and in parts of the south-east where there have been unexpected infusions of new immigrants," says Tony Travers, an expert in local government at the London School of Economics. The party's vote has grown exponentially at general elections, too. In 1992, it won 7,005 votes; in 1997 it won 35,832; in 2001 it won 47,129; in 2005 it won 192,746. What is behind the growth of the BNP? How has it managed to gain a toehold in local politics?

Many would argue that the party's recent success represents the re-emergence of flick-knife racism, even that "neo-fascism" is on the march. In fact, the expansion of the BNP can be seen as a product of mainstream political failure. The party - a ragbag of ageing skinheads, slick wannabe politicians and ditzy women with chips on their shoulders - thrives on disillusionment with the three main parties.

"There is research evidence that a lot of people who vote for the BNP are not aggressive neo-fascists, but rather are cheesed off with mainstream politics," says Travers. "The rise of the BNP can be seen as a grim indicator of the failure of the Labour and Conservative parties. If the parties functioned properly, then probably the BNP could be contained. Its supporters would be tempted away by old-fashioned Labour values or by the legitimate, centre-right nationalism of the Tories."

But today, Travers says, there is a "clustering in the centre" in mainstream politics, and a "collapse of the ability of the mainstream parties to win new members and supporters". The effect has been to allow the BNP to proliferate.

"If the other parties were doing their job properly, we wouldn't be here having this conversation right now," says Barnbrook. "I know we win votes because people are angry with the other parties." Read more

Also read this article, Protestors Campaign against BNP, and the comments below.

Also this, BNP Alert as voters head for the polls.

From the Ilford Recorder, Church says boycott 'fascist BNP'.

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Anglican Journal: Lambeth meeting shows its Canadian roots

But see also Anglican Church of Canada Loses Prominent Theologian over its "Poisonous Liberalism"!

[...] At the launch of this year’s Lambeth Conference, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged the role that the Canadian church had played in the creation of the assembly. The first Lambeth had been called, he said, “in response to a crisis about the limits of diversity allowed in the Anglican churches around the world.” But he added, it also signalled a time “when non-English, and indeed, non-white influences were for the first time making a real impact in the Communion, and needed to be celebrated and affirmed.” He added: “Not only did the Canadian church contribute strongly to the thinking around the Conference; it was also attended by the first black Anglican bishop, Samuel Crowther from Nigeria, who had been made a bishop just three years earlier.” The gathering “was a moment when there was a real acknowledgement that a worldwide church had to find ways of sharing its challenges and its triumphs – and some aspects of its decision-making,” said Archbishop Williams.

Then as now, the Anglican Church of Canada has been deeply engaged in the life of the Anglican Communion, as shown by its support for the Lambeth Conference and other instruments of unity.

“Our record is that we take Lambeth seriously,” said Archbishop Peers. He cited that in 1988 the Canadian church made the decision that from thenceforth, each diocese would make an annual contribution for the succeeding conferences. Read more
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Daily Mail: Peter Phillips's fiancee renounces her Catholic faith so he can keep his place in the Royal succession

Peter Phillips's fiancee has renounced her Catholic faith and converted to Anglicanism in a move that means he keeps his place in the Royal succession.

Canadian Autumn Kelly, 29, will marry the Queen's eldest grandson on May 17.

But due to the fact that she was baptised a Catholic, their marriage would have meant Mr Phillips, who is 11th in line to the throne, surrendering his place.

In the 1701 Act of Settlement, which enshrined the Protestant ascendancy, British monarchs and their heirs are forbidden to become or even marry Catholics. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Julian Lloyd Webber: 'Bring me my arrows of outrage'

William Blake's call to build Jerusalem in England could be seen as one of the greatest evangelical messages of all time. Which is why the Dean of Southwark's decision to ban the much-loved hymn from all services at Southwark Cathedral on the grounds that "it is not in the glory of God" is baffling.

If the clergy is going to be so pedantic, why stop at Jerusalem when there are plenty of other popular hymns that don't quite pass muster at the high altar of political correctness? How does "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war" square with Jesus telling us to turn the other cheek?

And has the Dean banned all the Old Testament passages which advise us to do the opposite of what Jesus instructed?

Of course not. The likelihood is that Jerusalem uses the word England not once but twice, which is two times too many for the Dean in these days of Anglophobia. At least we now know which part of Church of England the Dean doesn't understand. Read more
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Virtue Online: SAN JOAQUIN: "Bishop" Protests Visit of Southern Cone Primate to Anglican Diocese

The bishop who claims to be the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has written a letter to the orthodox Archbishop of the Southern Cone protesting his visit to the diocese.

In blunt language Episcopal Bishop Jerry A. Lamb asked Archbishop Gregory Venables to stay out the diocese and not preach and celebrate the Eucharist at St. James Cathedral held by the Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. David Schofield.

"I strongly protest your visit to this diocese without my invitation or permission," he wrote to Venables. "Your visit would violate the traditions of the ancient church as understood in the communion. It also violates the Windsor Report and statements of the Primates since the Windsor Report."

"I strongly urge that you cancel your meeting in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin scheduled for April 29, 2008. I also strongly urge you to refrain from interjecting yourself into the internal affirs of the Episcopal Church, the only Anglican Church in the United States."

In Canada, Archbishop Venables told VirtueOnline that he had no intention of canceling his trip and would "preach and celebrate the Eucharist" in what is now a diocese under his ecclesiastical authority.

"The Episcopal Church picks and chooses which bits of Scripture, which parts of 'ancient tradition' and which sections of the Windsor Report and Primates letters they accept and are willing to live by. It may be consistent with post-modern pluralism, but that's not how the Church operates. I am looking forward to being with my brother Bishop John-David who is a defender of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It will be a pleasure to serve alongside him in his diocese." Read more
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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Converts from Islam 'neglected by international law'

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) say that the personal safety and security of those who convert from Islam to Christianity is ‘rarely discussed’ in bilateral or multilateral human rights dialogues. CSW also claim that worldwide many states pay ‘nothing more than lip-service’ to adherence to human rights clauses or in trade or aid agreements.

These were the findings of a CSW report written by Ziya Meral, a convert from Islam himself. The report, entitled No Place to Call Home, was the culmination of a special investigation by CSW into the human rights abuses suffered by those who convert from Islam to Christianity. Although the application for the death penalty for apostasy is rare, apostates face human rights abuses by states, their communities and their families, the report found. Read more
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Elderly sisters lose last ditch legal bid to have death tax parity with gays

Two elderly sisters have lost their legal battle for the same tax privileges as gay couples.

Joyce and Sybil Burden, who have lived together all their lives, are angry that one of them will face an inheritance tax bill of more than £50,000 when the other dies.

They are even more enraged by the fact that same-sex couples can now avoid that tax by entering into a civil partnership, but that no such exemption is available to them.

European judges have dismissed their claim, saying their relationship was "fundamentally different" to that of married or civil partnership couples.

The decision means that to meet the tax bill when the other dies, the surviving sister will have to sell the four-bedroom house in Marlborough, Wiltshire, they have lived in for more than 40 years. Read more
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Hope08 challenges Christians to donate one million hours of kindness to UK

Hope08, the nationwide year of grassroots mission, has set the challenge to Christians to give a million hours of kindness to the UK this May bank holiday.

Christians and churches of all denominations and traditions will come together throughout the day to undertake a practical action that meets a particular need within the local community.

Mike Pilavachi, the Soul Survivor chief who founded Hope08 together with The Message Trust’s Andy Hawthorne and head of Youth for Christ Roy Crowne, encouraged Christians to demonstrate God’s love through their actions.

“The million hours of kindness is a million hours of worship – it’s as much an expression of love for God as it is an expression of his love for others,” he said. Read more
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Judge to decide on mayoral candidate's BBC 'censorship' case

A High Court judge will today decide whether the BBC ‘politically censored’ a London mayoral candidate’s party election broadcast, just one day before polling booths open.

The Christian Choice candidate, Alan Craig, instructed the Christian Legal Centre to file papers for a Judicial Review at the Royal Courts of Justice after the BBC told him to remove parts of his party election broadcast which was aired last Wednesday evening.

Cllr Craig, a long-standing campaigner against the London 'mega-mosque', due to be built in Newham close to the site of the Olympic Games, originally described the organisation behind it, Tablighi Jamaat, as ‘separatist’. However, BBC officials responsible for supervising the broadcast instructed him to moderate his views and change this description of the Islamic organisation if he wanted it aired. Cllr Craig claims not only ‘political interference’ by the broadcaster, but says such action breeches his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of speech. The CLC said that Cllr Craig changed the word to “controversial” only under duress. Read more
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Charity outraged after Government reveals 12-year-olds are having abortions

TWELVE-year-old girls should not be having abortions but enjoying life, said a leading British pro-life charity after the practice was revealed by the Government.
Charity outraged after Government reveals 12-year-olds are having abortions

LIFE blamed sex-educationists for encouraging young people to engage in ‘protected’ sex. Their voice joins a volley of outrage following recent statistics published by the Government that 10-to-15-year-old girls were having abortions.

LIFE spokesperson Joanne Hill says: “It’s a real tragedy to hear that girls aged just 12 years old are having sex, getting pregnant and having abortions at a time in their life when they should be enjoying the carefree times of childhood.”

She continued: “All right-minded parents will be downright shocked to hear the statistics that 10-to-15-year-old children are having abortions each year, statistics the Government revealed only after pressure from The Sunday Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Even more shocking is that parents probably won’t be aware this is happening to their child as school nurses have the power to arrange abortions without their knowledge.” Read more
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It's a Fine Life: The commuter forced to stand near luggage racks in first class when there were no seats left on the train

(Ed: This sort of story is becoming a bit of a feature. Have you been fined by officialdom for some social 'crime' recently?)

Commuter Nichola Myhill couldn't find a seat or anywhere to stand on her train but finally managed to squeeze into a tiny luggage space by the lavatory at the end of a first-class carriage.

However, her 60-minute journey ended with the threat of arrest and a £69 fine because she had strayed out of a second-class compartment.

Now the 27-year-old magazine graphic designer is waiting to hear of her appeal against what she described as "the appalling way she was treated". Read more
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The Guardian: Cries of 'Duce! Duce!' salute Rome's new mayor

Italy's new parliament met for the first time yesterday with applause for Rome's mayor-elect, Gianni Alemanno, a day after followers celebrated his triumph with straight-arm salutes and fascist-era chants.

Alemanno, a former neo-fascist youth leader, took 54% of the vote in a run-off on Sunday and Monday, crushing his rival, Francesco Rutelli, a deputy prime minister in the last, centre-left government.

Silvio Berlusconi, who won a general election earlier this month, welcomed the latest evidence of Italy's leap to the right by declaring: "We are the new Falange." Although he took care to wrap his remark in a classical context, his choice of words appeared to be a nod and a wink to his most extreme supporters.

The original Falange - the word means "phalanx" - was the Spanish fascist party, founded in the 1930s, which supplied Francisco Franco's dictatorship with its ideological underpinning. Read more
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The Guardian: Williams disappoints God in not taking a stand, says gay bishop

The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, USA. Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA

God is "very disappointed" with the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury to confront the Anglican communion's outspoken critics of homosexuality, its first openly gay bishop says today.

Gene Robinson, from New Hampshire, accuses Rowan Williams of failing to stand up to Christian traditionalists who denounce the bishop's life as an abomination of the Bible's teachings, and threaten the communion with schism for not shunning him.

As the first bishop to speak of having a homosexual relationship, following his election in 2003, Robinson has heard Anglicans describe gays as "lower than beasts". His most vociferous opponent has been the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, who likens homosexuality to "bestiality ... a form of slavery".

Asked on the BBC's Hardtalk programme, broadcast today, why Williams had not confronted them, Robinson replies: "You would have to ask him that - and I think he will have to answer to God about that. I believe [Williams's] unwillingness to confront Peter Akinola and others like him who've made statements that I think any reasonable person would find over the edge - I believe God is very disappointed in that." Read more
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The Guardian: Schools may be judged on teenage pregnancy rates and drug problems

Schools will be made to keep records of teenage pregnancy rates, pupils' drug problems, criminal records and obesity levels under government plans to give parents a true picture of children's lives.

The ideas, set out in a discussion document from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, suggest schools would become accountable for 18 new targets, from bullying and neglect, to what happens to pupils after they leave school. Sources said the 10-page document, entitled Indicators of schools' performance in contributing to pupil wellbeing, calls for Ofsted inspectors to judge schools on the wide range of measures in addition to existing criteria such as exam results and exclusion rates. The measures could be implemented by Ofsted from 2009, and suggest that schools would become broadly responsible for children's safety, enjoyment and happiness. Read more
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The Independent: Barbican's tribute to 1948 accused of demonising Israel

As far as the organisers of the exhibition are concerned, these photographs of Arab refugees, displaced from their homes in Israel in 1948, are merely an artistic slice of life from a dramatic point in Middle Eastern history.

But the Barbican Arts Centre's show Homeland Lost, consisting of 16 black and white images taken by the photojournalist Alan Gignoux soon after Israel gained independence, is the unlikely frontier of new hostilities between Britain's Israeli and Arab communities.

Jonathan Hoffman, of the Jewish umbrella group the Zionist Federation, has complained to the London arts venue's director Nicholas Kenyon about captions accompanying the photos, which state that the 800,000 Palestinians who left their homes were "uprooted" and "dispossessed". He accused the Barbican of "falsifying" history.

Mr Hoffman insisted he was not speaking on behalf of the federation, on whose board he sits, but added: "The exhibition contains historical distortions which have the effect of demonising Israel." Read more
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Telegraph: Rowan Williams will not be driven out of office

[...] The General Synod approved the principle of the ordination of women in 1975; the first women priests were ordained in 1994. As with Parliament, new legislative proposals would normally go to the House of Bishops before being aired in public. So it's interesting that the Manchester Report has appeared suddenly and quite precipitately.

I suspect that this relatively rushed exercise in consultation has an ecumenical eye to Rome.

Women's episcopacy is not an issue for the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is a diocesan issue, a provincial matter. It is Church House's hot potato, not Lambeth Palace's.

But, I would guess, there would be a desire, for diplomatic reasons, to have the Manchester Report out of the way well before the Vatican's representative arrives as a guest of the worldwide Anglican Communion's bishops at their 10-yearly Lambeth Conference in July.

As to the hoo-ha surrounding the report's publication, it is driven by those variously described as traditionalists or conservatives, who are intent on Dr Rowan Williams having as difficult a Lambeth Conference as possible, in the hope that he can be traduced and driven from office.

He won't be. Dr Williams considers the See of Canterbury as not just his calling, but his cross to bear. He'll not be driven from it short of illness or an act of God. Read more
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Barking and Dagenham Post: Bishop of Barking's election plea

[...] In his statement Right Rev Hawkins said: 'It is a Christian duty to vote, not least in these elections where as little as five per cent for the BNP could give it a seat on the London Assembly.

'Whoever else we vote for we must stop racist politics making gains in London and elsewhere.

'Each vote for the BNP will put into reverse the patient, strategic work of healthy race relations and social integration that is developing in out London boroughs, Essex, and elsewhere in the country.

'We are members of one human race. We must vote for it in the ballot box.'

Council Opposition Leader, Cllr Richard Barnbrook said: "I think this is really quite crude. I don't see what position the bishop is in to try and determine how the vote should go.

"Searchlight discovered two years ago that it was counter-productive to try and tell the people of Barking and Dagenham how to vote. Read more
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BBC: Williams criticised by gay bishop

The first openly gay Anglican bishop has accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of failing to confront critics of his appointment.

US bishop Gene Robinson, who has received death threats, said Rowan Williams's handling of rhetoric against gay Anglicans could endanger them.

He said God was "very disappointed" in the way Dr Williams had failed to confront Nigeria's Archbishop Akinola.

He also said Dr Williams had criticised the US church but not others. Read more
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Archbishop Jensen opposed to gay marriage

THE Anglican Archbishop of Sydney says he remains concerned about the impact of the "gay lifestyle" on the community and any changes in laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples should be "pro-people" and not just "pro-gay".

Dr Peter Jensen said while he remained opposed to gay marriage, a number of legal "injustices" need to be fixed.

"Personally I remain concerned about the impact of the gay lifestyle on our community, and I don't believe any of us should be forced to accept it," Dr Jensen said on ABC radio.

"But, on the other hand, I think there are various injustices that did need to be attended to.
"There are relationships in which there is some discrimination in our laws."

Federal Attorney-General Robert McLelland today announced that amendments to about 100 commonwealth laws would be introduced during the winter session of parliament to remove discrimination against people in same-sex relationships. Read more
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Australia to cut gay discrimination

[...] The changes — to about 100 different laws — will begin being introduced to Parliament next month, and the process is expected to be completed by mid-2009, McClelland said.

Some examples of the changes include that children being reared by gay couples would be considered dependents of both adults for tax and unemployment benefits, and same-sex couples would be treated as a family unit for pension purposes.

Rights advocates welcomed the changes, though they said the government should go further and recognize gay marriages.

"Gay and lesbian Australians will not be fully equal until we are allowed the right to marry the partner of our choice," Rodney Croome of the Australian Coalition for Equality group told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The Most Rev. Peter Jensen, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney who is a vocal opponent of gay marriage, said people in platonic relationships deserve the same benefits as gay couples under the law reforms.

"I hope this is not just pro-gay, so to speak, but pro-people ... in order to make sure there is justice for all Australians," Jensen told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

He said friends living together in long-standing platonic relationships "support and strengthen each other."

"There'd be many Christian people living like that, and I think that sort of thing could also be recognized," Jensen added. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Church plans 'no women' breakaway dioceses

(Ed: "Misleading Headline Alert" - the Manchester Report is not a 'church plan', new dioceses is one of six options it presents for discussion by General Synod, and the dioceses would not be 'breakaway'. Read my blog on this, here.)

Church leaders fear that any attempt to introduce women bishops could enrage conservative members of the congregation and lead to mass walk-outs.

One compromise option being considered is the formation of divisions within the church, such as new provinces, dioceses and even religious societies without women priests or bishops.

However, some believe the Church is risking total fracture if it continues to try to placate all sides. Read more
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The Independent: David Steel: There is no case for changing the Abortion Act

[...] I have always objected to people who say, "Oh, this is a Christian viewpoint," meaning this is the viewpoint of the Roman Catholic Church and some of the evangelicals in the Protestant churches. That is what they mean, but they attach themselves to the adjective "Christian".

But what helped me at the time was the report that the Church of England had produced in 1965 called Abortion: An Ethical Discussion, which I still maintain to this day is the best argued document from a Christian standpoint in favour of having a positive law on abortion. And it counteracted better than I could the arguments of the Roman Catholic Church. I had no difficulty reconciling my Christianity with abortion law reform. That remains true today.

People sometimes say that there are too many abortions. But the response is not to make the abortion law more restrictive, it is to have much better sex and relationships education, and much better provision of birth control services. One of the ironies is that most of the people who oppose a woman's right to get an abortion also oppose improved sex education and better access to contraception.

The effects of the Act have been wholly beneficial. In the first place the problem of the backstreet abortion and the criminal abortion has disappeared. Women don't attempt to abort themselves nowadays, they know that they can go to get help. When Dr John Marks retired as chair of council at the British Medical Association, he made some very interesting remarks about how he reckoned the Abortion Act was one of the biggest advances of social medicine in his career. I have no doubts about that. Read more
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LA Times: Tony Blair details role of his faith

LONDON -- A cathedral is an odd place for a coming-out party.

But not, as it turns out, if you're a former prime minister of Britain and you're preparing to tell the world that God was one of your senior advisors during your 10 years in power.

Speaking one recent evening under the lofty Byzantine vaults of Westminster Cathedral, Tony Blair ended his self-imposed silence on the subject, declaring that his faith has formed the essential backdrop to much of his political life.

Blair had begun to pick at the subject haltingly over the last year, announcing his conversion to Catholicism (after years of secretly attending Mass as prime minister) in December. But only now is he discussing it fully and openly, and acknowledging the degree to which his religious faith informed his years leading America's closest ally.

"Today, precisely because all the fixed points of reference seem unfixed and constantly in flux, today is more than ever when we need to discover and rediscover our essential humility before God," Blair told an audience of 1,600 invited guests at the chief Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales.

"I can't prove that religious faith offers something more than humanism," he said. "But I believe profoundly that it does." Read more
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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Student under Afghan death sentence, not forgotten

The case of Sayeed Pervez Kambaksh (see numerous earlier faith central posts) has not yet reached a resolution. The journalism student, condemned to death for circulating a paper questioning Islamic attitudes to women, remains in prison. Our Foreign Secretary's blog takes no different a line to his original one, and conveys no sense of urgency in the matter. Reporters without borders Asia editor Vincent Brossel sent Joanna this bulletin: "The lawyers are working on the defense and we guess it [the appeal] will start before the end of May. He is now in a safe cell in Kabul. Its true that several Afghan embassadors told us that he [President Karsai] will never sign the death sentence order." RSF have an interview with his brother,online. Read more

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The Times: BBC ‘censored Christian party broadcast’

The BBC is facing a High Court challenge over its decision to censor a party political broadcast in the run-up to Thursday’s local elections.

A Christian party has begun legal action after the corporation insisted on changes to a short film in which the party voiced opposition to the building of Europe’s biggest mosque next to the site of the 2012 Olympics.

Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic missionary group behind the £75 million Abbey Mills mosque, opposes inter-faith dialogue and preaches that non-Muslims are an evil and corrupting influence. One of its British advocates has said that it aims to rescue Muslims from the culture and civilisation of Jews and Christians by creating “such hatred for their ways as human beings have for urine and excreta”.

The Christian Choice election broadcast would have described Tablighi Jamaat as “a separatist Islamic group” before welcoming that some “moderate Muslims” were opposed to the mosque complex. Read more
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Newham Recorder: 'Duty to vote' says Bishop of Barking

BISHOP of Barking, the Right Reverend David Hawkins, has urged all church members and people of goodwill to vote in tomorrow's London elections as "a Christian duty" not least where as little as 5 per cent for the British National Party (BNP) could give them a seat at City Hall.

"Whoever else we vote for we must stop racist politics making gains in London and elsewhere," he said.

A joint paper between the Bishop and the Churches Racial Justice Network claims to articulate a "strong and informed" response to racist politics, based on the Christian belief that all people are created as ONE race, the human race.

His call is joined by other London clergy including Parish priests in Bethnal Green. Read more
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The Independent: Marriage-split bishop resigns

A bishop who sparked a dispute among colleagues in the clergy after separating from his wife has resigned, it was confirmed today.

The Right Reverend Carl Cooper, the Bishop of St Davids in West Wales, split from his wife Joy in February after announcing they were experiencing "difficulties".

The couple, who have been married for 25 years and have three grown-up children, both stressed at the time that no-one else was involved on either side.

Despite the amicable separation, within weeks senior clergymen launched a petition calling for the setting up of a tribunal to look into his conduct.

It took the form of a letter sent out by two priests to every other priest in the St David's diocese asking them to back calls for a tribunal.

The letter argued that a tribunal would be an opportunity to see whether there was just cause for a perception of conduct giving rise to scandal or offence.

The writers were at pains to stress that they were making no assumption that there was anything to discover.

In concluded with an appeal for a united prayer for the bishop and everyone involved. Read more
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The Telegraph: Gene Robinson: It is a sin to treat me this way

Bishop Gene Robinson, the very devil incarnate to some of his fiercest critics, is sitting before me in a London hotel.

"Look at me," the 61-year-old prelate protests when I repeat the charge that he is single-handedly driving Anglicanism to its death.

"I'm a little guy and I don't have that much power. Now if someone chooses to leave the worldwide [Anglican] communion because I'm a bishop, then that's their doing, not mine." Read more
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The Times: ‘Gender havens’ to avert split in Church

(Ed: Worth reading for this sentence alone, "it risks antagonising liberals who believe that Anglicanism should not offer a compromise". Some may see this as a Gledhill-ism. Others may think it is just the truth!)

The Church of England is proposing to tear up hundreds of years of tradition by establishing spiritual havens for opponents of women priests and bishops.

In a desperate attempt to stave off a schism over female ordination, church leaders have suggested the creation of new dioceses based on gender rather than geography.

The proposal – allowing some parishes to flee from the prospect of women bishops to male bishops hundreds of miles away – is one idea intended to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion amid intense anger among millions of conservative church members.

But it risks antagonising liberals who believe that Anglicanism should not offer a compromise. Read more
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The Times: Abolish postal voting on demand. Now

[...] Postal voting fraud is even worse than roll-stuffing, because real people are denied their voice. Government says postal voting is “more convenient”. You betcha. It is convenient for patriarchs and “community leaders”, bullies who gather up the votes of weaker members of their group and deliver them to the desired candidate. The report carefully points out that cheating is not exclusive to any one party or social group, but admits that in the “biraderi” system among some British Asians the practice of mutual support creates a village politics culture: “Extended family and kinship networks are mobilised to secure the support of up to several hundred electors.”

It is obviously important not to demonise ethnic minorities; nor is this the only problem. Inaccuracies, inefficiencies, inequities are mercilessly skewered in the report. Nonetheless, it is a dismaying reflection that in modern Britain thousands of women, young people and new citizens can have their votes compelled as surely as if they were at gunpoint in Zimbabwe. Only 46 per cent of British Asians regard postal voting as safe. When there was a parallel concern in sectarian Northern Ireland, postal votes were limited to those who could prove genuine inability to get to a polling booth; moreover, to prevent roll-stuffing, each voter registers individually. With a photo and national insurance number. Not just on a list written by the family boss. Read more
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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Evangelism in Western Post-Modern Secular Culture

It is my privilege to be asked to address you on this historic weekend for Anglican Christian witness in Canada. It has long been my conviction and practice that theology is a team game.

I have greatly benefited from immersion in and fellowship with many theologians from the Global South. My preparation for this morning’s session owes a great deal to the meeting last week of the Theological Resource Group for the Global Anglican Future Pilgrimage which is preparing a theological rationale for the Jerusalem Pilgrimage at the end of June, and especially to its co-ordinator and my colleague, Canon Vinay Samuel.

To begin: Have you ever been driven to think, when you are waiting for a call centre, which assures you endlessly that your call is very important to them but keeps you waiting ten minutes, and when finally you express pathetic gratitude at being connected to one of their consultants, that consultant turns out to know less about the issue you have rung about than you do, have you ever been driven to think that this world is run by machines and idiots? Or to put it more kindly, it is run by machines and people who are not allowed to exercise any judgement. This is no accident: it is a function of modern western secularity.

In talking about evangelism today we are not shifting the focus away from our concerns in meeting this weekend. We do not have two separate activities - one an internal church activity to secure our organisation, our borders and our future so that we may continue to reach out to win others for Christ.

We are engaged in something far more integrated: the very process we are engaged in of affirming our commitment to the truth of the scriptures and the reality of the God who transforms human life itself is the most powerful declaration of the good news of the Gospel in the post-modern secular culture in which we are called to bear witness. Contending for the faith once given to the saints now is part of our witness to our societies.

I hope to explain why. Read more
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Dr J. I. Packer speaks at launch of Anglican Network in Canada

May I begin by saying where I come from. If a certain dignitary kept his word and threat, I am here under false pretences. Two days ago I will have been deprived of the ministry to which I was ordained in 1952 and I ought not to be wearing a clerical collar. It is utterly tragic. This led me to resonate deeply with the way AB Venables presented in his talk. I have a joyful heart. One cannot be seeking to live under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit without joy in one's heart.

Joy has been added to my state of mind. Despite the fact that in Acts 27 the ship was wrecked, everyone was saved and got safe to land, and we have got safe to land in the same way through the generous offer of jurisdiction from AB Venables which we have settled for most gratefully. I want to celebrate the goodness and graciousness of AB Venables. This is not two Brits together but two Christians together. AB Venables has lightened my gloom considerably. As he illuminated what has gone wrong, I was saying Amen sir you are right, but oh dear. Read more
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