Saturday, 17 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: Thousands of women have four abortions

Figures uncovered by the Telegraph show that almost 4,000 women have had at least four abortions. In a "grotesquely bleak" picture of British society, scores of women have had at least eight terminations.

The figures emerged as the row over controversial changes to fertility law erupted into a bitter war of words, with a minister accusing "anti-abortion" MPs of trying to "hijack" legislation.

On the eve of a crucial Commons vote, Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, accused Tory backbenchers of an underhand attempt to remove the right to abortion by tabling amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
Article continues

In an interview with the Telegraph, she also accused MPs who oppose the creation of hybrid embryos of putting forward "extreme and untrue arguments".

Nadine Dorries, the MP leading the campaign to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks, hit back at the criticism, while revealing that she has received hate mail over her stance. Miss Primarolo made her comments as the Government braced itself for a difficult two days of debate on the Bill, which has been denounced by Christian MPs and clerics. Read more
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The Independent: Anti-Semitic violence nears record level

The number of anti-Semitic attacks in Britain has reached its second-highest level ever, MPs have been told. Figures from a charity show 547 such incidents were recorded last year, of which a record 114 were violent assaults.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which works to protect the Jewish community from persecution, collated the figures by counting every recorded anti-Semitic assault, threat, act of abuse, mass-produced literature and damage and desecration of Jewish property across the country.

Just this week, anti-Semitic graffiti was daubed across the pavements and walls of the orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Stamford Hill in north London. CST say similar incidents happen in Britain every day.

Mark Gardner, a spokesman for CST, said: "We have over twice as many incidents being reported to us per annum now than in the 1990s. We're concerned that what we're seeing is not merely because of a difficult time internationally and in the Middle East, but that it's becoming more endemic and we're really, really concerned about that."

Mr Gardner said the usual allies of British Jews fear showing support would further the Zionist cause. "In the 1990s, when Jews faced attacks from the far right there was a lot of sympathy from the liberal left establishments, but today the same voices simply see anti-Semitism as something useful to Zionists.

"Jewish people are feeling increasingly isolated in this struggle as far as traditional allies are concerned. It's disappointing that people who accept fears expressed by other minority groups are so quick to slap down fears expressed by the Jewish community." Read more
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Perth church split over woman bishop

A BREAKAWAY group of Anglicans will snub the historic ordination of Australia's first woman bishop, West Australian Kay Goldsworthy, this week.

They claim the event is the death of traditional religion as stated in the Bible.

Kay Goldsworthy -- who will become assistant bishop to Archbishop Roger Herft -- is being consecrated amid pomp and theatre in a ceremony in St George's Cathedral on Thursday.

As the church loses relevance and the number of worshipping Anglicans dwindles around Australia, the ceremony is being described by those who have waited 30 years for the moment as a big cause for celebration.

For others, it means ``disaster''.

About 120 former members of the Perth diocese, which has 6000 regular worshippers, are treating the event as a funeral wake.

Churches in Albany, Maylands, Brentwood and Lesmurdie will hold services for an increasingly disenchanted group known as the Traditional Anglican Communion _ a worldwide association of orthodox Anglicans opposed to what they call the secularisation of the church.

None of the priests observing the feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the body of Christ, will mention the ordination, saying it cuts adrift the Anglican Church from its roots in the early Christian Catholic Church.

``This, for us, will be a time of grieving, sadness, hurt and frustration because the church in which we have been nurtured will no longer exist,'' said Bishop Harry Entwistle, who left the mainstream Anglican Church in 2006 because of growing dissatisfaction with the liberal agenda. Read more
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Plans and an appeal for the LGBT campaign at Lambeth

(Ed: Note the high level of involvement of Changing Attitude, patrons of which in the UK include the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin. Hmm, is that coffee I can smell?)

[...] Integrity is working with two coalitions to have a unified, effective presence at the Lambeth Conference. Within the Episcopal Church we are working the Chicago Consultation—which is composed of some 50 inclusion activism leaders—gay and straight; bishops, clergy, and laity. Within the Anglican Communion, we are working with the St. Anne's Network—which consists of about a dozen LGBT organizations from around the globe—including Integrity Canada, Integrity Uganda, Changing Attitude UK, and Changing Attitude Nigeria.

As part of these coalitions, Integrity will be…

* Staffing a "Marketplace" exhibit booth
* Attending all press events, networking with journalists, and share our perspective.
* Writing, producing, and distributing a daily newspaper with feature articles, news briefings, and human interest stories.
* Providing information to our members back home via blogs, e-mail lists, and YouTube video clips.
* Operating a "communication centre" with Internet- linked computers, a printer, and a photocopier.
* Communicating with and assisting LGBT-friendly bishops– helping them network with each other, providing them with information as needed, and facilitating strategy meetings.
* Organizing and staffing "fringe" events—movies, plays, and art exhibits—in the evenings.
* Hosting an "Inclusive Communion" mass.

With your help, Integrity will be at the Lambeth Conference and make a real difference there. We will bring the Good News of lives transformed and hearts healed by the power of God's inclusive love. We will witness to the true spirit of traditional Anglicanism and call our Anglican Communion family to claim the power of its history as we move forward in faith together into God's future.
A Request

Integrity needs your financial support if we are to witness on your behalf at Canterbury. Every contribution will make a difference—not just this summer but next summer and for years to come. Read more
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Daily Mail: Now NHS doctors refuse to carry out late abortions on moral grounds

NHS doctors are refusing to carry out late abortions, forcing hospitals to contract them out to private clinics and charities.

Growing moral objections mean three-quarters of the 7,000 terminations performed after 17 weeks of pregnancy each year are outside the Health Service.

The revelation comes as MPs prepare to vote on maintaining the 24-week upper limit for "social" abortions in the biggest Parliamentary battle on the issue for two decades.

Experts say late abortions are still provided by the NHS for foetal abnormalities but most of those approved on "social" grounds are referred outside.

Consultant gynaecologist Vincent Argent said there was "marked reluctance" among NHS staff to carry them out.

He said: "This isn't the result of childish squeamishness, these are healthcare professionals trained in with any sort of medicalsituation. But late abortions conflict with everything doctors and nurses are trained to do - preserve life." Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Sign our Save Our Churches petition

Britain's places of worship provide a vital service to their local communities but are under threat as never before. They need to be saved for the sake of this and future generations.

We are calling for:

(i) The government to increase funding for the conservation of places of worship.

(ii) Government grants to be introduced to enable listed places of worship to become focal points for the community.

(iii) Planning restrictions to be introduced to prevent disused listed places of worship being turned into pubs or nightclubs.

(iv) Listed places of worship to remain exempt from paying VAT on repair work.

(v) The government to make it easier for listed places of worship to be adapted for community use.

"A good church is a focus for the community in the literal sense of the word - a place which keeps the common life warm and alive."
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

"I approve of this campaign - it is important that we all support churches in this country as places of prayer for the benefit of the entire community."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster

Please support our campaign by signing the online petition below or posting a coupon to: Save Our Churches, The Sunday Telegraph, PO Box 608, SW1W 0XL

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The Times: Who’s afraid of a synthetic human?

In the future there will be no more human beings. This is not something we should worry about.

Much of today’s scientific research may enable us eventually to repair the terrible vulnerability to which our present state of evolution has exposed us. It is widely thought inevitable that we will have to face the end of humanity as we know it. We will either have died out altogether, killed off by self-created global warming or disease, or, we may hope, we will have been replaced by our successors.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill would allow for inter-species embryos that will not only enable medical science to overcome the acute shortage of human eggs for research, but would provide models for the understanding of many disease processes, an essential precursor to the development of effective therapies.

Darwinian evolution has taken millions of years to create human beings; the next phase of evolution, a phase I call “enhancement evolution”, could occur before the end of the century. The result may be the emergence of a new species that will initially live alongside us and eventually may entirely replace humankind. Read more
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BBC: Carey appeal for Iraq hostages

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and Canon Andrew White, Anglican chaplain to Iraq, have appealed for the freedom of five British hostages who were abducted in Iraq last year. (Link to video report)
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Anglican Communion News Service: Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Communion

[...] The hope is that over the two weeks we spend together, these groups will build a level of trust that will help us break down the walls we have so often built against each other in the Communion. And in combination with the intensive prayer and fellowship of the smaller Bible study groups, all this will result, by God’s grace, in clearer vision and discernment of what needs to be done.

As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together.

Of course, as baptised Christians and pastors of Christ’s flock, we are not just seeking some low-level consensus, or a simple agreement to disagree politely. We are asking for the fire of the Spirit to come upon us and deepen our sense that we are answerable to and for each other and answerable to God for the faithful proclamation of his grace uniquely offered in Jesus. That deepening may be painful in all kinds of ways. The Spirit does not show us a way to by-pass the Cross. But only in this way shall we truly appear in the world as Christ’s Body as a sign of God's Kingdom which challenges a world scarred by poverty, violence and injustice.

The potential of our Conference is great. The focus of all we do is meant to be strengthening our Communion and equipping all bishops to engage more effectively in mission; only God the Holy Spirit can bind us together in lasting and Christ-centred way, and only God the Holy Spirit can give us the words we need to make Christ truly

known in our world. So we must go on praying hard with our people that the Spirit will bring these possibilities to fruition as only he can. Those who have planned the Conference have felt truly touched by that Spirit as they have worked together, and I know that their only wish is that what they have outlined for us will enable others to experience the same renewal and delight in our fellowship. Read more
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Episcopal Life Online: Uganda archbishop responds to Presiding Bishop's objection to his 'incursion' into Georgia

Archbishop of Uganda Henry Orombi has responded to a May 12 letter to him from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, saying that he is visiting a congregation in Savannah, Georgia, because it is now "part of the Church of Uganda."

Jefferts Schori criticized Orombi's planned May 14 visit to the historic Christ Church because he had not sought the invitation of Episcopal Bishop of Georgia Henry Louttit. These actions, she said in her letter, "violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions."

Orombi met May 14 with clergy and laity who voted in October 2007 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church. The group continues to occupy historic Christ Church, Savannah, while the continuing Episcopal congregation meets at Savannah's Church of St. Michael and All Angels. Christ Church dates from 1733.

"I am not visiting a church in the Diocese of Georgia," Orombi said in a May 14 letter addressed to Jefferts Schori, which her office confirmed had been received. "Were I to visit a congregation within [The Episcopal Church], I would certainly observe the courtesy of contacting the local bishop. Since, however, I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda, I feel very free to visit them and encourage them through the Word of God."

Jefferts Schori told Orombi that "we are more than willing to receive you for conversation, dialogue, and reconciliation, yet you continue to act without speaking with us. I hope and pray that you might respond to our invitation and meet with representatives of this Church."

But noting that Orombi's planned visit comes without Louttit's invitation, "I must protest this unwarranted incursion into The Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter.

Orombi has been one of the Anglican Communion's leading critics of the Episcopal Church and some of its recent actions, and he reiterated that criticism in his letter.

"The reason this congregation separated from TEC and is now part of the Church of Uganda is that the actions of TEC's General Convention and statements of duly elected TEC leaders and representatives indicate that TEC has abandoned the historic Christian faith," he wrote. "Furthermore, as predicted by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003, TEC's actions have, in fact, torn the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level." Read more
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Evening Standard: Canterbury Cathedral is falling down

[...] I can hear the roars of dissent and dis-approval. This is no longer a Christian country. In a multicultural nation all religions should be equal and we wouldn't dream of giving £50 million to Islam, Jewry, Hindus or Roman Catholics. Let the Church look after its own — its commissioners, the most incompetent of landlords and property developers, are reaping what they've sown. Let the Church of England be disestablished (a view with which I agree). And so on. But I must argue that the cathedral is a building embodying our heritage of political development as well as theological dispute: that this nation's history is witnessed in every single stone from the Norman Conquest to the high Victorian confidence of the British Empire at its apogee and that it is thus a great deal more than just a church of the Church of England. I must also argue that in its beauty it is as much the heritage of the wider world as Angkor Wat, the temples of ancient Greece and Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt and the remains of the Aztec and Inca civilisations, against the religious significance of which there has been no argument. Contempt for the Church of England, the congregations of which it is now estimated will number fewer than 100,000 souls by the middle of this century, must be set aside — the conservation of the building is entirely a matter of its inestimable value, to the world as well as England, as a work of art and a monument of history.

In 1974 the V&A mounted an exhibition, The Destruction of the Country House. This clearly demonstrated the extent to which our architectural heritage had been ravaged by the demolition of hundreds of beautiful domestic buildings when the world about them was changed by fiscal depression, the effects of war, taxation and political manipulation. It seemed to me then, the National Gallery just having paid some £1.7 million for Titian's Death of Actaeon, that we had lost our sense of proportion, for that sum then was enough to buy and restore a dozen substantial country houses. I draw the same parallel now — the £50 million required to save Canterbury Cathedral now that the world about it, too, has changed, is the price of Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull, a couple of Bacons, or one signfiicant Picasso. Read more
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Belfast Telegraph: To love, honour ... and convert?

Rev Larry Power (55) was brought up a Catholic and is now a Free Presbyterian minister. Married with four daughters, he says that real conversion is not merely from one denomination to another:

The conversion of Peter Phillips's fiancĂ© is of little or no consequence — both of them need real conversion, which is to Christ and not merely to a denomination.

Protestantism as such cannot save anybody, a denomination cannot save. The greatest need for everyone today, whether Catholic or Protestant, is that they read the Word of God. It has the answer to life today. Christ is the answer.

I grew up in Co Laoise and lived with my grandfather and aunt. My parents lived nearby in Co Kilkenny. I was baptised in the Catholic Church, attended a Catholic school, received first communion and was confirmed.

Well into my teens I believed wholeheartedly in the Catholic faith and it being the one, true Church. When I left school at 14, I went to work for a farmer who was a Christian man with a Church of Ireland background. He was the first person who revealed to me my need of salvation and a personal faith in Christ.

The area was unique because there were a number of evangelical Protestants with a Faith Mission background. The vast majority were converted through the Faith Mission and a prayer meeting took place every Friday night. The farmer explained to me his testimony and how the Lord saved him, which had a great influence on me.

After living for a while in England, I returned and it was through the testimony of a young man in my home village, who'd been an alcoholic and was converted, that I came to a personal faith in Christ. But back then if you didn't go to church or if you left your faith for whatever reason it was really frowned upon. I was in my early 20s when I came as a sinner before the Lord and called upon Him for mercy and forgiveness, and I believe that at that moment I was saved. It was a turning point in my life.

I started to attend the Faith Mission prayer meetings in Lugacurren village and shortly after that I left the Catholic Church. There was a lot of opposition, among neighbours, in my own home, my own family and friends, and eventually I had to leave the district altogether. The people saw it as the Protestant people being to blame.

They held to the teaching that if you left the Church there was no redemption. My grandfather was very concerned and said to me: 'Where are you going when you die? There's no salvation for you, there's no redemption outside the one true faith.'

But I had assurance that the Lord had truly saved me, and I left to study at the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh. I met my wife, who is from Liverpool, at that time and after working for the Faith Mission for some time, and then at independent work, I eventually entered the Free Presbyterian Church. I was minister in Kesh, Co Fermanagh, for 18 years, and recently took up a post at Coragarry Free Presbyterian Church, Co Monaghan. Read more

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Episcopal Life Online: GAFCON announces more than 1,000 to join Jerusalem pilgrimage

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), largely viewed as a rival to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, has announced that more than 1,000 conservative Church leaders from 17 Anglican provinces have registered for the Jerusalem pilgrimage.

While GAFCON reports that participants at the June 22-29 pilgrimage include 280 bishops, "final attendance figures will depend on smooth processing of requested visas, and other factors," a recent news release said. The conference is also expected to draw several former Episcopal priests, some of whom are currently engaged in litigation concerning Episcopal Church property.

"I wish to again stress that the Holy City is always an open city for all pilgrims coming to our diocese to join with us in our servanthood and witness," said Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani in a May 16 statement emailed to ENS. "Pilgrims are always warmly welcomed by our diocesan family when coming in a spirit of mutuality in devotion, reconciliation and goodwill that strengthens both the fabric of unity in the larger Church and the interreligious communal collegiality among the three Abrahamic faiths that make Jerusalem their spiritual home."

The conference has come under fire from local Church leaders including Dawani, who was concerned that GAFCON would "import inter-Anglican conflict" into his diocese and called for the conference to be moved.

After meeting with Dawani and hearing his concerns, GAFCON's organizers moved the consultation portion of the conference to Jordan June 18-22 to be followed by a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jordan is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

GAFCON organizers have said the Jordan consultation "will include the conference leadership, theological resource group, those bishops serving in majority Islamic settings and other key leaders" whereas the Jerusalem pilgrimage "will focus on worship, prayer, discussions and Bible Study, shaped by the context of the Holy Land." Read more
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The Hamilton Spectator: A house divided

It was an awkward Sunday.

Church members divided, sharing the same building.

One service run by a priest from the national church body, the other by the church's pastor.

Kay Mighton attended the first service at St. George's Anglican in Lowville on February 24 and thought it was "beautiful." A priest from the Niagara diocese presided.

But leaving was uncomfortable.

"About 24 sets of eyes were watching every move we made," Mighton, 75, recalls.

Waiting to enter were parishioners who had voted to leave the national Anglican church and join a growing breakaway group, claiming the mother church had grown too liberal.

The shared Sunday was the result of an agreement made by both sides after the split.

But it wouldn't happen again.

They found themselves in court shortly after, seeking an interim ruling about who got the building on Sundays until they could determine ownership.

Last week's ruling requires both sides at St. George's and two other churches to share the buildings. The breakaway factions announced Monday they would appeal the decision. Read more
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New York Times: Zimbabwe’s Rulers Unleash Police on Anglicans

JOHANNESBURG — The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.

A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, “We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!” Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers’ Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.

Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country’s ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe’s social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control — a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition. Read more
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Former Episcopal Church will celebrate 100 years

The Church of St. Clement made history last year when it left the Episcopal church and Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Now the congregation is looking to another historic event - celebrating the 100th anniversary of the sanctuary.

The church was founded in 1870. In 1908, about 200 parishioners purchased five lots and built the sanctuary now used for worship.

The first service took place Feb. 9, 1908, members say.

The church, which is part of the Anglican Communion Network, will have a jubilee service at 10 a.m. Sunday, followed by a community Renaissance-themed picnic for church members on the athletic field across Yandell Drive. Read more
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Nigerian Saturday Tribune: Cleric Flays Political Leaders’ Greed

THE Bishop of Remo Diocese (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. (Dr.) Michael Olusina Fape, has said that the nation has all it takes to provide social infrastructure for its citizenry, if the leaders can do away with greed and selfishness.

The cleric stated this on Friday while delivering the Presidential address at the First Session of the Ninth Synod of the Diocese of Remo, with the theme, “Obedience to the Commandments of God,” held at the Christ Anglican Church, Ode-Remo, Ogun State.

The bishop lamented that despite the huge amount of money expended on the power sector Nigerians were still groaning and suffering, because no noticeable difference had been witnessed. Read more
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Southern Daily Echo: Invite a friend to church

WORSHIPPERS across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be inviting their friends to join them in the pews Eight parishes across Portsmouth's Anglican diocese will be taking part in Back to Church Sunday 2008.

It's a national initiative based on research that shows millions of non-churchgoers would come to services if invited by friends.

Each parish is given packs of personal invitations, posters and helium balloons, and encouraged to provide a warm welcome to newcomers on Back to Church Sunday - which this year is September 28.

The initiative started in the Manchester diocese in 2004.

This year one parish in each of eight areas covered by Portsmouth's Anglican diocese has been invited to get involved as part of a pilot scheme.

If the trial is successful, other parishes will be invited to take part in 2009. Read more
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New Scotsman: David Torrance: Did Thatcher get raw deal over her Sermon on the Mound?

[...] From the moment it became known that the Lord High Commissioner, Sir Iain Tennant, intended to invite her to attend, some ministers whipped themselves up into an indignant fervour. On the day of the speech, five even argued – with Mrs Thatcher looking on – that she should be prevented from speaking and walked out before she had uttered a word, an astonishing display for men who claimed to support free discourse. "There was a form of Christianity in her speech," one of the five sarcastically conceded recently, "but you could also say there was a form of Christianity in apartheid."

But then when it came to criticising Mrs Thatcher, there was a belief that anything, however gratuitous or insulting, was acceptable. There was more than a whiff of Dr Johnson in the reaction. "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs," he quipped. "It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

But not everyone who filled the chamber that day was offended by Mrs Thatcher's preaching. The Kirk, then as now, had its conservative elements, and Andrew McLellan – who became moderator in 2000 – remembers watching a row of ageing former moderators clapping enthusiastically as the prime minister made her way to the lectern. Indeed, she was applauded several times during the speech, although this could have been out of politeness.

And rereading the speech 20 years on, it is striking how courteous and balanced some passages are. "The Tenth Commandment recognises that making money and owning things could become selfish activities," Mrs Thatcher said. "But it is not the creation of wealth that is wrong but love of money for its own sake. The spiritual dimension comes in deciding what one does with the wealth."

What Thatcherism did with the wealth is why the ideology caused such controversy. But although the speech's central assertion caused a row, noted the journalist Hugo Young, "it wasn't greeted with incredulity. It was now fashionable to be rich not poor, to consume rather than to 'care'".

After nearly a decade of Thatcherism, neither the Kirk nor the Church of England any longer resembled the Conservative Party at prayer. "Christians will very often genuinely disagree," Mrs Thatcher observed, "though it is a mark of Christian manners that they will do so with courtesy and mutual respect." Ironic, then, that her lucid – and very personal – exposition of Christianity was greeted by many with neither. Read more
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Friday, 16 May 2008

ABp Williams called to apologise for hanging of Puritan

CHAPEL members yesterday called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise for the Church of England’s role in the execution of a 16th century Puritan.

John Penri was hanged on May 29, 1593, at the instigation of the then archbishop John Whitgift, after criticising the Church for failing to preach the Gospel to the people of Wales.

Members of the Welsh Independent Churches in Carmarthenshire yesterday backed a motion calling on Dr Rowan Williams: “as a just and conscientious Welshman, to express regret, on behalf of his church, for the injustice suffered by John Penri”. Read more

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Gay demonstration planned against the Bishop of Rochester

A public notice of a demonstration against the Bishop of Rochester on May 17th has been circulated.

The Bishop of Rochester has responded.

Read more

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Thursday, 15 May 2008

BBC: Police apologise over mosque show allegations

West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have apologised for accusing the makers of a Channel 4 documentary of distortion.

The apology and the promise of £100,000 were made at the High Court on Thursday.

It follows comments made about a Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, which tackled claims of Islamic extremism in the West Midlands.

The police statement said the force was wrong to make the allegations.

A press release issued by the police and the CPS in August 2007 claimed the Dispatches programme, broadcast in January of that year, misrepresented the views of Muslim preachers and clerics with misleading editing.

[...] One preacher was shown saying a homosexual should be thrown off a mountain, another that women were born deficient.

Footage from the Channel 4 programme

Police also reported Channel 4 to television watchdog Ofcom for "heavily editing" the words of Islamic imams. Read more
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The Times: Women priests write protest letter to Anglican bishops

[...] Instead of legislation that would provide safe havens for traditionalists, the women say they want the Church to proceed straight away with a simple measure to consecrate women to the episcopate.

Senior clergy who have signed the letter include Canon Lucy Winkett, precentor at St Paul’s and Canon Jane Hedges, steward at Westminster Abbey. Both are women likely to be considered for the episcopate once it becomes possible to consecrate them.

More than 700 women priests have signed it, indicating they are backing the stance.

Canon Winkett told The Times: “We are saying that to consecrate women bishops is right, both in principle and in its timing. We believe now is the time to do it. But the way that it happens is important.

“The Church at large misjudges women if it really believes that we would support the consecration of women bishops at any price. We would regret very much a delay, but regretfully we would rather wait than see discriminatory legislation passed.” Read more
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The Times: Churchgoing isn't always religious

[...] Britain is still a Christian landscape, dotted with spires. It is still a place of Christian ritual, where people go to churches to mark marriages and deaths. It still has some heroic pastors who help people cope through terrible times. These things are part of the fabric, but they are strangely absent from much of the debate about national identity.

I had not thought much about all of this until five years ago. My first child was a year old and my mother, who had always been a militant atheist, suggested I should start taking him to church. She thought he should “have the option” of being part of a religious tradition. I was stunned. My parents had reacted with detached amusement when I had flirted with churchgoing at the age of 13, a brief period that ended with my deciding that I could not be confirmed, because God would know that I didn't really believe the words I would have to speak. The vicar, I think, was floored by my pagan levels of superstition. My father, whose own father was a vicar, still sees religion primarily as device by which elites exercise power over the people. And I am inclined to agree.

Nevertheless, my mother had hit on something. I dutifully explored various churches. The first surprise was how much my son enjoyed the ritual, the kindness. The next surprise was how deeply the rhythm and the language resonated with me. The writers and composers of the best religious works can still sharpen the senses and infuse the spirit like nothing else. The hymns that we sang at school, the cadences of Bible stories, are part of my identity. What other identity can I have?

I have not sent my boy to a church school, but to a school that has hymns in assembly, as well as plenty of acknowledgement of other religions. If I don't expose him to that canon, what other can he have? Read more
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Australian bishops agree protocol on women in the episcopate

The Australian bishops have agreed a protocol on women in the episcopate which may be found here.
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Wednesday, 14 May 2008

'Half' Anglican women clergy would rather wait than have women bishops with 'safeguards'

According to a statement from WATCH, "The covering letter, dated 11th May 2008, is signed by Jane Hedges, Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey, Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Secretary of the National Association of Diocesan Advisors in Women’s Ministry and Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor at St Paul’s Cathedral and more than 500 other ordained women. Since then a further 213 women priests have added their names to the statement, representing nearly half of all ordained women in the Church of England."

(Ed: See my Ugley Vicar blog on this letter here.)

Statement to the House of Bishops regarding the Single Clause Measure as outlined in the Manchester Report

From: Women Clergy undersigned

We welcome the work done by the Legislative Drafting Group outlining ways forward for the Church with regard to the consecration of women as bishops. As ordained women, from amongst whom some of the first generation of women bishops may come, we wish to make our own contribution to the current debate.

We believe that it should be possible for women to be consecrated as bishops, but not at any price. The price of legal “safeguards” for those opposed is simply too high, diminishing not just the women concerned, but the catholicity, integrity and mission of the episcopate and of the Church as a whole. We cannot countenance any proposal that would, once again, enshrine and formalise discrimination against women in legislation. With great regret, we would be prepared to wait longer, rather than see further damage done to the Church of England by passing discriminatory laws. In this, we support the recent principled stand taken by the Archbishop and Bishops of the Church in Wales.

After 21 years of ordained ministry and 14 years of priesthood, many of us have much experience of building trustful relationships with those unable to accept the priestly ministry of women. In the Anglican Communion overseas, women take this experience into the episcopate, which leads them to invite other bishops into their Dioceses or Episcopal areas to ordain, confirm and take other services when required. Bishops should be trusted to act wisely and behave with dignity, and all bishops should work within clear expectations and codes of practice. The language of “protection” and “safeguard” is offensive to women, and we believe the existing disciplinary procedures are enough for women or men to be brought to account if they behave inappropriately. We would commend the good practice over the past 20 years of the 15 Anglican Provinces which have already opened the episcopate to women: none of these has passed discriminatory legislation.

Discussion of a single clause measure without including the possible arrangements for those opposed, characterises those who argue for it as somehow “not caring” about those who oppose the ordination/consecration of women. This is far from the truth. Strong relationships have been forged on the anvil of profound disagreement and there is ample testimony to the richness of these encounters, to set alongside those situations which have proved painful. As the broken body of Christ on earth, the Church’s internal relationships should rest on trust, forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation, rather than on protection and an over-anxious reliance on the letter of the law. Work has already been done on a draft proposal of robust and clear arrangements that make the passing of a single clause measure realistic in today’s Church, as well as theologically and ecclesiologically cohesive.

We long to see the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England, and believe it is right both in principle and in timing. But because we love the Church, we are not willing to assent to a further fracture in our communion and threat to our unity. If it is to be episcopacy for women qualified by legal arrangements to “protect” others from our oversight, then our answer, respectfully, is thank you, but no.

May 2008

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Richard Dawkins compares Jewish debater to Hitler

(Ed: Apparently it is not only Ken Livingstone who needs a bit of a diplomacy check. This piece came to me via Google News Alerts.)

Richard Dawkins's explanation begins thus:

Dear Shmuley, I did not say you think like Hitler, or hold the same opinions as Hitler, or do terrible things to people like Hitler. Obviously and most emphatically you don't. I said you shriek like Hitler. That is the only point of resemblance, and it is true. You shriek and yell and rant like Hitler. Read more

So that's alright, then. This is in response to a post by Shmuley Boteach in the Jerusalem Post here.

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Daily Telegraph: Girls now carry knives... and will use them

(Ed: Any bishops out there want to speak up on this one?)

[...] This aim of Sixties feminism has now been achieved on the streets, at great cost to the supposed beneficiaries. Many of the girls I met spoke of the necessity of adopting the same aggressive behaviour as their male counterparts; they are now feeling that they have "to go as hard as the boys".

A Molotov cocktail of low self-esteem and hyper-inflated sense of self respect and shame mean that if a girl is attacked physically or verbally she will lash out. And as she does that, then she should, so the logic goes, be prepared to take "man-licks" herself. The mimicry of male peers even extends to their street fashion: girls are now wearing designer jeans hanging low off their backside, just like the swaggering boys.

Girls are also forming their own gangs or "cliques" - not in the old-fashioned way, but for self-preservation and for material gain. Aggressive acts by female gangs are rapidly rising - police are investigating whether a gang blew up a house in Harrow last week, severely wounding a 17-year-old girl who had called the police to complain about a group of girls who were bullying her. A neighbour was killed in the blast.

Initiation rites are violent and might require a girl to mug an innocent passer-by. And once you are in, there's no getting out: "When you're in that position," one girl told me, "there's nothing you can do because if you stop going hard, you will get yourself into more trouble, or you'll just get beaten up, or it'll just be the end of you." And be under no illusion: these girls are carrying knives and are prepared to use them.

Their deep sense of insecurity also underlies the incidence of widespread casual sex ("linking"). Some seem to be easily persuaded to "give up the goods" as if that were the only way to get a boyfriend; while others have a far more consumerist approach: as soon as you've had one boyfriend, you move on to the next one. Another example, surely, of girls' behaviour mimicking that of the boys.

Meanwhile, technology seems to have added a new dimension to bullying. Videos of boys and girls having sex in the stairwells of housing blocks circulate the school playground via mobile phone.

These are disturbing times. Moral breakdown, social disorder and the emergence of a new female aggression - an aggression seen as necessary for survival - is a natural, if highly repugnant, reaction to far larger forces. Read more
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Tuesday, 13 May 2008

How we're being lied to about AIDS

[...] The Wisdom of Whores, published this week, condemns the global strategy for Aids as an ill-conceived waste of money which is not saving but costing lives.

"HIV is mostly about people doing stupid things in the pursuit of pleasure or money," declares the cover on a proof copy of the book. "We're just not allowed to say so." She suspects she will never work in the Aids industry again for saying so. "But it's true."

Pisani, 43, spent 10 years working in the field of HIV, first for Unaids and then for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Indonesia. As an epidemiologist, she quickly identified the risk of the virus spreading among drug injectors, gay men and the sex trade across Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe - underdeveloped countries with inadequate resources to prevent an epidemic. That placed 100 million at risk in Asia alone - equivalent to a third of the population of the Africa. But the data was clear: "HIV wasn't going to rage through the billions in the 'general population'. And we knew it."

Like most of her colleagues, however, she also quickly realised that "governments don't like spending money on sex workers, gay men and drug addicts". So she put her skills as a former journalist to work, and began producing the sort of reports that persuaded politicians in Washington and the west that it is not "wicked people" but "innocent wives" at risk. "Aids couldn't be about sex and drugs," she explains. "So suddenly it had to be about development, and gender, and blah blah blah."

The strategy was more successful than she could ever have imagined. "All these obsessively politically correct things started getting introduced." HIV publications and conferences began devoting more time and attention to issues such as poverty, gender, development, vulnerability, leadership - what Pisani calls "sacred cows" - than to condoms and clean needles. "I'm just waiting for 'climate change and Aids'," she jokes sarcastically in her book - and sure enough, this week a headline appeared in an Australian newspaper: "Global warming set to fan HIV." Read more

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Chelmsford Diocesan Evangelical Association meeting, 7th June 2008

CDEA meeting, June 7th.

Rediscovering Evangelism in the Local Church
with John Dunnett, General Director of the Church Pastoral Aid Society

Saturday, 7th June 2008, 10am-1pm

St Mary's Church, Great Baddow

(Parking at Baddow Hall Junior School, CM2 7QZ)

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Monday, 12 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: Pagan convicts allowed magic wands in cells

Hundreds of Pagan worshippers locked up in British jails have been given the right to take twigs into their cells to use as magic wands.

The ruling, which also allows hoodless robes and rune stones, was made to ensure the 300 or so Pagans currently serving sentences have the same rights as other religions.

The permission to use the “religious artefacts” was agreed after consultation with the Pagan Federation which advised the prison service on what equipment its members needed. Read more
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