Saturday, 31 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: 'Poor quality' of vicars alarms Church leaders

Church of England bishops believe that thousands of vicars are not up to the job, according to a confidential report which found that there are "serious concerns" over the quality of the clergy.

The internal report suggests that the standard of new clergy has dropped, because of the need to fill vacant posts, while many vicars who have been in the job for years have lost their energy and enthusiasm.

The Church is to vet applicants for ordination more vigorously and is considering changing its selection criteria and a pay review.

This week the Church introduces new guidelines for clergy in an attempt to improve their preaching. New suggestions include encouraging worshippers to provide feedback on sermons, as well as tips on improving delivery.

The internal report, which was produced by the Ministry Division, the Church body responsible for staff issues, found that a third of bishops believe that more than half of current clergy – as many as 6,000 – are unable to cope.

In addition, 90 per cent of the bishops believe that a third of the new intake of clergy do not have the necessary gifts.

One bishop, who is unnamed, offers a damning verdict. He says: "Truthfully, it is deeply depressing. ­Egotism rules. Contemporary worship is feeble, 'sweet', and leads no one to the Majesty ­of God." Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Christian preachers face arrest in Birmingham

A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham.

The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that "no-go areas" for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities, as the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, claimed in The Sunday Telegraph this year.

Arthur Cunningham, 48, and Joseph Abraham, 65, both full-time evangelical ministers, have launched legal action against West Midlands Police, claiming the officer infringed their right to profess their religion.

Mr Abraham said: "I couldn't believe this was happening in Britain. The Bishop of Rochester was criticised by the Church of England recently when he said there were no-go areas in Britain but he was right; there are certainly no-go areas for Christians who want to share the gospel."
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Last night, Christian campaigners described the officer's behaviour as "deeply alarming".

The preachers, both ministers in Birmingham, were handing out leaflets on Alum Rock Road in February when they started talking to four Asian youths.

A police community support officer (PCSO) interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs. Read more
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Row over church call to target Muslims in evangelism

A LAY member of the Church of England's General Synod has caused controversy within the Church for voicing the need to actively convert Muslims.

Paul Eddy, who is training for ministry, has registered a private member’s motion which already has the support of 124 synod members, but has attracted criticism and discouragement from other Church leaders.

Mr Eddy is pressing resolutely ahead. He said: “If it’s not successful as it stands, then basically it will say that the House of Bishops no longer believes in the uniqueness of Christ.

“If the House of Bishops in any way shape or form try to wreck the motion or amend the motion or did not come out clearly for it, it would be the most incredibly damaging thing for the Church of England.” Read more
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Friday, 30 May 2008

CEN: MPs give a major boost to women bishops campaign

FRIDAY, MAY 30 2008 – Church of England Newspaper

MPs give a major boost to women bishops campaign
By Matt Cresswell

THE APPOINTMENT of women bishops go ahead according to key members of parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee. Speaking to The Church of England Newspaper members said that ‘most’ of the committee were in favour. One member said it had taken an ‘indecent’ amount of time for women to be included as bishops.

Their comments follow last week’s meeting of the House of Bishops where the majority of bishops agreed to proceed with women bishops under the simplest statutory arrangements, it has been revealed. This July’s Synod will discuss the House of Bishop’s conclusion and also whether details in the legislation should be confirmed now or at a later time.

Speaking to the CEN the Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, who sits on the Ecclesiastical Committee, said he welcomed the bishops’ verdict.

“Essentially everyone knew that when you had the ordination of women as priests that this would lead to the consecration of women bishops after a decent length of pause.”

He added: “Some would say it has now been an indecent length of pause.”

As to whether the committee would endorse legislation for women bishops, Mr Bottomley said: “My guess is, on balance, we will. Some with enthusiasm and some without.”

Regarding those who would flee the Church of England as a result, he said: “If they do, it’s happened before. I hope people realise that they are changing denomination rather than religion.”

He continued: “Surely people should be considered on merit. Sex is not merit. Sex is not a qualification or a disqualification.”

The Liberal Democrat MP SteveWebb, who also sits on the committee, said: “I don’t speak for the whole committee because it’s a very diverse bunch but I would be very much on the ‘get on with it’ end of the scale.”

He added: “I think I’m a bit nervous about setting up parallel structures.”

But some members of the Church of England feel let down by the Ecclesiastical Committee which in 1992 endorsed legislation that insisted on provisions for those opposed to women priests. Father Geoffrey Kirk of the Anglo-Catholic movement Forward in Faith said that if provisions are not provided then disillusioned members of the Church of England could take legal action. “It would not be unreasonable for a clergyman ordained on 1993, when the assurances were effective, to do this,” he said.

“It would be shameful for the House of Bishops which promulgated the Manchester Statement to go back on those promises.”

He added “It would be fraudulent.”

Margaret Brown, who represents the Third Province Movement said: “The Ecclesiastical Committee of parliament only agreed to women in the priesthood if proper provision was made to look after those opposed to it.”

The consequences of having no provision would be “very serious” she said and added that “there is even the possibility of cutting off the money supply” and that this could even “be the break-up of the Church of England.”

However, Christina Rees, director of the pro-women group WATCH, said she was ‘delighted’ with the result. “I am delighted the bishops want to go ahead along the lines of the first approach which is the simplest statuary arrangement.”
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Daily Telegraph: 'Rude' police punishing middle classes to hit Home Office targets

Police are targeting the law-abiding middle classes over minor misdemeanours so they can meet government targets, a report claims.

Officers are having to put Home Office targets before serving the public and are becoming increasingly alienated from ordinary people as a result.

Members of the public find officers to be "rude" and accuse them of neglecting their duties and failing to respond to reports of crime.

The report, by the think-tank Civitas, said political interference meant incidents that might previously have been regarded as innocuous were now treated as crimes.

Police performance is measured in "sanction detections" which means officers have detected or cleared a case by charging someone, issuing a penalty notice or giving a caution. Many officers are expected to complete a certain number each month.

Arresting or fining a normally law-abiding person for a trivial offence is a good way of achieving the target and pleasing the Home Office.

"The police seem intent on criminalising those whose offences, if they can be regarded as offences at all, are trivial," the report said.

"They are accused of concentrating on easy-to-deal with offending like speeding, while the real criminals seem to be getting away with it."

One case was highlighted in which a 19-year-old foreign student was arrested, detained for five hours and cautioned for holding open the door of a lift in a London Underground station.

The report said: "In a city where knife crime is exploding and the public are crying out for more police on the streets three officers are tied up for half the night arresting a young man for holding a lift door open with his foot."

Harriet Sergeant, the journalist who wrote the report, said the target culture meant police were less likely to concentrate on complex crimes.

It also meant officers exercised less discretion when dealing with a member of the public.

Performance-related pay bonuses of between £10,000 and £15,000 a year for commanders who manage frontline officers partly depend on reaching targets for sanction detections.

The report said: "In order to meet targets police are now classifying incidents as crimes that would previously have been dealt with informally, classified differently or ignored."

One officer interviewed for the study said he warned his own teenage son to take extra care at the end of the month when police are looking to fill their detection quota. Read more
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British Columbia court refuses to grant injunction to Anglicans who voted to split

The B.C. Supreme Court has rebuked a group of dissident Anglicans who sought to take control of a church building after voting to leave Canada's Anglican Church.

Four months ago a group of parishioners at the Anglican Church of St. Mary in Mechosin, B.C., near Victoria, voted to realign themselves with the more conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

They're among 28 parishes that have chosen to leave the Anglican Church of Canada in the last year, out of frustration with what they perceive as a gradual departure from core values.

The controversy over blessing same-sex unions - in practise at eight Anglican churches in the Diocese of New Westminster in B.C. - is cited as the linchpin issue, though church officials say it's part of a broader disagreement over the authority and interpretation of the Bible.

Following the departure, the Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia had the locks changed and an alarm installed at the church, prompting the group to go to court and ask for an injunction preventing the diocese from interfering in their worship.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marion Allan refused to grant the injunction, ruling that to give control of a church to a group that voted to leave would accelerate the schism in the Anglican church by adding a layer of legal complexity to the theological debate. Read more
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Dr Michael Nazir-Ali: A Christian Britain in a Plural World?

The rapid fragmentation of society, the emergence of isolated communities with only tenuous links to their wider context and the impact of home-gown terrorism have all led even hard-bitten, pragmatist politicians to ask questions about ‘Britishness’: what is at the core of British identity; how can it be reclaimed, passed on and owned by more and more people?

The answer to these questions cannot be only in terms of the ‘thin’ values, such as respect, tolerance, good behaviour, etc, which are usually served up by those scratching around for something to say. In fact, the answer can only be given after rigorous investigation into the history of nationhood and of the institutions, laws, customs and values which have arisen to sustain and to enhance it. In this connection, as with the rest of Europe, it cannot be gainsaid, that the very idea of a unified people under God living in a ‘golden chain’ of social harmony has everything to do with the arrival and flourishing of Christianity in these parts. It is impossible to imagine how else a rabble of mutually hostile tribes, fiefdoms and kingdoms could have become a nation conscious of its identity and able to make an impact on the world. In England, particularly, this consciousness goes back a long way and is reflected, for example, in a national network of care for the poor which was yet locally based in the parishes and was already in place in the sixteenth century.

In some ways, I am the least qualified to write about such matters. There have been, and are today, many eminent people in public and academic life who have a far greater claim to reflect on these issues than I have. Perhaps my only justification, for even venturing into this field, is to be found in Kipling when he said, ‘What should they know of England who only England know?’ It may be then that to understand the precise relation of the Christian faith to the public life of this nation, a perspective is helpful which is both rooted in the life of this country and able to look at it from the outside. Read more
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Church Times: 'Chaos’ warning as rumours fly after Bishops’ meeting

CAMPAIGNERS who are opposed to women bishops warned of financial chaos and a mass walk-out, if rumours prove to be true that the Church of England House of Bishops voted last week to consecrate women bishops without making acceptable provision for those who object.

[...]

On Tuesday, however, a Church of England spokesman refused to confirm whether the Bishops wanted a simple “code of conduct” for objectors, in order to keep the legislation to a minimum, and had rejected the idea of a third province. He also declined to comment on whether they wanted to end the right of parishes to opt out of the ministry of women priests.

“The House of Bishops had a full discussion of the Manchester report [News, 2 May], and agreed that the options in the report should be debated by the Synod in July. The House agreed a motion to act as a starting point for the Synod debate. The wording of this will be issued with the other Synod papers next month,” the spokesman said.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York would set out in a covering note “the considerations [the House of Bishops] believes that the Synod will need to weigh in coming to a decision”.

Two online petitions, one for male clergy (including retired bishops), and the other for laity, have been set up by Thinking Anglicans to support legislation for women bishops that does not give legal protection to objectors. They had collected 361 and 302 signatures respectively by Wednesday. Read more
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CofE a declining voice?

Although the recent votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill were lost in the House of Commons by the pro-life lobby, the nature of the debate has highlighted a much more worrying trend in modern society. That trend has been highlighted this week by the Christian Broadcasting Council, which highlighted media prejudice against a Christian argument. There is no doubt that throughout the entire process of this piece of legislation there has been a bias against any moral or ethical consideration.

This was evident even in the select committee that refused to take evidence that was not what it deemed ‘scientific’. On that premise, any voices that were thought to be ‘un-scientific’, ie religious, were barred. In the House of Lords, despite the eloquent contributions of a number of bishops, the three key votes — on admixed embryos, the need for a father in the provision of fertilisation treatment and saviour siblings — were all lost. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that in a previous generation their Lordships would have listened carefully to the contributions of the Lords Spiritual. No longer, it seems. And so it went on when the Bill passed to the Commons.

But the prejudice of which the Christian broadcasters complain is not restricted to the media, or even to legislators. The impact of the new atheists, led by Richard Dawkins, has led to a situation where any faith claim is treated by the wider society with distrust, if not contempt.
But all is not lost. Read more

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Lay Women urged to write to Archbishops requesting transferred episcopal oversight or new dioceses

(Ed: Forward in Faith are circulating the letter below, to be sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. If you wish to use the letter I suggest you cut and paste it. They have asked for a maximum of ten signatures per copy. They should be returned, when completed, to Mrs Vivienne Goddard, Dean House, 449 Padiham Road, Burnley, BB12 6TE. Don't forget the various petitions available for all points of view, here)

Lay Women within the Church of England

Dear Archbishop Rowan and Archbishop John,

It was with some considerable concern that we read the report, in the press, of the discussions on the “Manchester Report” at the recent House of Bishops meeting, with the apparent conclusion that there would be no provision within the legislation leading to the admission of women to the Episcopate in the Church of England, for those of us who, in conscience, could not accept such ministry.

We had assumed that the House of Bishops consideration of the very fair and frank “Manchester Report” would have been a confidential matter, resulting in some guidance to the General Synod debate at the July Sessions, and as such not available for media coverage at this time. However, it now seems that a Petition from some 700 women clergy may well have influenced your deliberations.

We write to redress the balance and to assure you that there are thousands of lay women throughout the Church of England, for whom the provisions of the Act of Synod has been fundamental. If women were to be admitted to the historic episcopate within the Church of England with no appropriate provision, such as transferred episcopal oversight and responsibility from the Diocesan Bishop to a complimentary Bishop, or the special diocese option, we would feel totally ignored and rejected.

Such proposals would allow us to be recognised as a valued part of the church, now and in the future. How can we say that we are “Working as One Body” if one of the limbs is to be severed?

May we assure you of our continued prayers, as you seek to lead the House of Bishops and the whole Church of England to a position in which all members, clergy and lay, can continue to serve God in the way they perceive Him to be calling them.

Yours in Christ,

Name Address Diocese

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The Guardian: Williams must challenge Nazir-Ali

The editors of the new rightwing political magazine Standpoint knew they were on to a winner when they commissioned the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, to write for their first edition. As they drained their celebratory glasses of champagne at their launch party on Wednesday night, they would not have been disappointed. Mr Nazir-Ali's article neatly underlines the journal's own expressed intent "to defend and celebrate" western civilisation. The bishop, who was born in Pakistan, believes radical Islam poses a serious threat to western values; he regards multiculturalism as a fatal error into which British society has fallen through his own Anglican church's lack of moral leadership. He last grabbed headlines with an assertion that parts of some towns were no-go areas for non-Muslims. His latest article is partly a piece of internal Anglican positioning. The Lambeth conference is now just over six weeks away and is threatening to turn into the final showdown between conservative and liberal factions of the global Anglican communion. The bishop is a prominent supporter of the anti-gay African bishops.

But his article is also potentially much more dangerous: it reads like an attempt to frame the church's contribution to the debate on Britishness in the language of religious confrontation. The bishop's starting point is firm ground for most Christians (and plenty of atheists), what the Archbishop of Canterbury recently called the "inner deadness" of a greedy society. But he has a particular purpose in condemning the "moral vacuum" he detects in family breakdown and binge drinking. Read more
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Thursday, 29 May 2008

Mail comment: A churchman dares to speak out for Britain

A moral and spiritual vacuum . . . endless self-indulgence.. . the destruction of the family. . . the failure of multiculturalism. . . British identity is worth fighting for.

The Daily Mail agrees with virtually everything that the Bishop of Rochester says, but we have one question to ask.

When was the last time we heard a Church of England bishop daring to contradict so trenchantly the liberal consensus?

But Michael Nazir-Ali is an unusual churchman. Not only does he have the courage of his Christian convictions, but like another impressive and outspoken prelate, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, he was born overseas.

Why is it that it takes churchmen born outside our country to see that we have a society and a religion worth defending? Read more
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Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: Radical Islam is filling void left by collapse of Christianity in UK

The decline of Christian values is destroying Britishness and has created a "moral vacuum" which radical Islam is filling, one of the Church of England's leading bishops has warned.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, claimed the "social and sexual" revolution of the 1960s had led to a steep decline in the influence of Christianity over society which church leaders had failed to resist.

He said that in its place, Britain had become gripped by the doctrine of "endless self-indulgence" which had led to the destruction of family life, rising levels of drug abuse and drunkenness and mindless violence on the streets.

The bishop warns that the modern politicians' catchphrases of respect and tolerance will not be strong enough to prevent this collapse of traditional virtues, and said radical Islam is now moving in to fill the void created by the decline of Christianity. Read more
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Urgent: Prayer for Release of UK hostages in Iraq

FOUNDATION FOR RELIEF AND RECONCILIATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

FRRME, London House, 100 New Kings Road, London, SW6 4LX

office@frrme.org - www.frrme.org - +44 (0) 1428 722 744

As followers of Jesus we believe in signs, wonders and miracles.

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the capture of the five British men taken hostage from Baghdad, Iraq. Andrew has been working tirelessly on this case for one year. We would ask you to join us in a moment of prayer at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday 29th May) asking God to supernaturally allow the release of these hostages within the next 3 weeks. We would also ask you to pray for strength and peace for their families back in the UK.

We need a miracle and we depend on the Almighty in complete faith.

The FRRME Office Team


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Californian Episcopal Church OKs gay marriage

A liberal Episcopal church says it will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry after the California Supreme Court opened civil marriage to same-sex couples.

The move by All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena is likely to fan tensions within the U.S. church and the wider Anglican Communion as Anglican bishops head to England this summer for a once-a-decade summit.

The vestry, or elected leadership, of All Saints voted unanimously Thursday to "treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.” Read more
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Petitions on Women Bishops

A number of petitions are available online for those taking varying positions on women bishops, following the production of a letter by WATCH and others, apparently signed by over 700 serving women clergy, urging the bishops to take a minimalist 'Single Clause, Code of Practice' approach.

One for male clergy sharing that view and wishing to express support is here.

A similar one for laity is here.

An alternative petition for everyone, endorsing the view adopted at the National Evangelical Anglican Congress in 1977 and rejecting the Single Clause approach in favour of one of the other options in the Manchester Report is here.

A petition for all those who support the consecration of women as bishops but who reject the Single Clause approach in favour of one of the other options in the Manchester Report is here.

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New Canadian Anglican diocese backs gay blessings

A fourth diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada voted this week in favor of blessing same-sex unions, the liberal denomination announced on Tuesday.

The church's Anglican Journal said the diocese of Huron voted on Monday to ask the bishop to allow clergy to bless homosexual marriages.

Bishop Bruce Howe said he concurred with the motion but -- as in the case of three other Canadian dioceses -- he would consult with other bishops before acting on the vote. Read more
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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Independent: Dominic Lawson: We're hiding from the truth: eugenics lives on

[...] The original Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, under Margaret Thatcher's government in 1990, passed into law the notion that if there was a substantial risk that an unborn child could be "seriously handicapped", then there was no limit on the period during which its life, in utero, could be terminated. And there you have it: such rights as are imputed to all "viable" unborn children are absolutely withdrawn if the child is not ... normal.

There was in fact one amendment to this aspect of the law, which was put to the vote last week. It merely stipulated that when such a diagnosis is made, the mother-to-be should be provided with an-up-to-date analysis of the prospects and treatments available for such a child, and details of help-lines run by organisations such as the Down's Syndrome Association (which represents far and away the most common – and most feared – form of congenital disability).

This amendment was conclusively rejected by MPs, by 309 votes to 173. Not only did the great majority support the notion that a disabled unborn child could be terminated right up until 40 weeks' gestation, they didn't even want there to be a legal requirement that such a decision is based on more than an understandable spasm of panic, or even horror.

Those who opposed this amendment doubtless believed that the disabled associations who might provide such information would be putting pressure on the pregnant woman not to terminate. Yet there is at the moment a tremendous pressure in the opposite direction: because of the significant risks of miscarriage inherent in amniocentesis (the process by which blood for chromosomal tests is taken from the unborn child) doctors almost invariably tell the pregnant woman that they will not perform the test unless she agrees in advance to terminate the pregnancy, if Down's Syndrome is indicated.

This pressure to terminate is psychologically understandable – not least from the doctors' point of view: for every 100 instances of Down's Syndrome detected, about 400 "normal" pregnancies miscarry as a result of the amniocentesis. So if the mother refuses to be swayed by the social and medical pressure to abort her "abnormal" baby, she is making the system look even crazier and more wasteful than it already is.

Not the least crazy aspect of it is that there is actually a waiting list of people who want to adopt a child with Down's Syndrome. The idea that institutionalisation is the only alternative to abortion for such a child, if it is not wanted by his or her biological parents, is hopelessly outdated.

Some years ago, when I wrote about the birth of our own daughter Domenica, who has Down's Syndrome, Claire Rayner commented that we had behaved selfishly, because of the "misery" and cost to society of such children: "People who are not yet parents should ask if they have the right to inflict such burdens on others". There you have the classic eugenic argument, from a very well-known ex-nurse who was frank enough to blurt out what is normally covered up.

While I was discussing this article yesterday morning at home, Domenica, who will be 13 this Sunday – must have overheard. She suddenly said, at lunch, "I'm so glad I'm human." Perhaps I am being an over-proud father, but I think she put her finger on the most important argument of all. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Two boys aged 12 and 13 arrested over Amar Aslam death

Two schoolboys aged 12 and 13 have been arrested over the death of Amar Aslam, the teenager killed in a brutal attack in the walled garden of a park.

The battered body of 17-year-old Mr Aslam was discovered by two passers-by in Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on Sunday evening.

Officers originally arrested two boys aged 15 and a 20-year-old man in connection with the death, West Yorkshire Police said today. They remain in custody.

Today two boys aged 12 and 13 are also being questioned about the assault which is thought to have taken place amid running battles between gangs of youths. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Britain’s first interfaith game show launched by Islam Channel

An interfaith game show which sees different religious groups competing against each other for cash prizes is to be launched in Britain, it was reported on Tuesday.

Faith Off has been commissioned by the digital TV station the Islam Channel in a bid to foster good relations and better understanding between different faiths.

The show is expected to feature all of the flashing lights, buzzers, puns and cheesy smiles common to ordinary game shows.

But instead of questions about celebrities and soaps, contestants will be expected to demonstrate their religious knowledge.

Two teams of four people will compete in each episode of the eight-part series, which will be hosted by Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza.

As well as being challenged to identify key figures such as the Dalai Lama and the Pope from grainy images, there will be multiple choice questions where contestants answer questions about their own, or another contestant’s religion.

Those taking part will be picked in part from respondents to online advertisements on Muslim websites, and in part via the Islam Channel’s networks. Read more
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BBC: Peacekeepers 'abusing children'

Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.

Save the Children said it had sacked three workers for breaching its codes, and called on others to do the same.

The three men were all dismissed in the past year for having had sex with girls aged 17 - which the charity said was a sackable offence even though not illegal.

The UN has said it welcomes the charity's report, which it will study closely.

Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out. Read more
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Damian Thompson: Bishops battle it out over Muslims

(Ed: I couldn't help noticing that the reading from which I preached at a baptism service on Sunday was from Acts 16, where the Apostles are banged up in jail for disrupting the peace of Philippi: “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” Not much community cohesion or bowing to the law there.)

The row between the Bishop of Rochester (who wants to convert Muslims) and the C of E’s “Bishop of Urban Life and Faith” (who doesn’t) goes to the very heart of Christianity.

The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, who holds the Church’s urban life portfolio – since when was the bench of bishops a shadow cabinet? – says “the demand for the evangelisation of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities”. I’d like to hear him argue that point to St Paul, or to any of the martyrs who were put to death for preaching the Gospel to non-Christians without regard to “community cohesion”.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester started the row by condemning multi-faith “fudge” in a Sunday newspaper. As an ambitious anti-gay evangelical, he isn’t my idea of a fun person to sit next to at a dinner party – but on this occasion he is right on both theological and practical grounds. Read more
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The City Journal: Why Britain struggles to assimilate immigrants

[...] Problems with interpreting the law are not the only, or even the most important, ones that arise in an ever more diverse society. A feeling of unease is widespread, even among the longer-resident immigrants themselves, that Britain has lost its distinctive character: or rather, that the loss of a distinctive character is now its most distinctive character. The country that those immigrants came to, or thought they were coming to, no longer exists. It has changed beyond all recognition—far beyond and more radically than the inevitable change that has accompanied human existence since the dawn of civilization. A sense of continuity has been lost, disconcerting in a country with an unwritten constitution founded upon continuity.

London is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world—more so, according to United Nations reports, even than New York. And this is not just a matter of a sprinkling of a few people of every race and nation, or of the fructifying cultural effect of foreigners (a culture closed to outsiders is dead, though perhaps that is not the only way for a culture to die). Walk down certain streets in London and one encounters a Babel of languages. If a blind person had only the speech of passersby to help him get his bearings, he would be lost; though perhaps the very lack of a predominant language might give him a clue. (This promiscuity is not to say that monocultural ghettos of foreigners do not also exist in today’s Britain.)

A third of London’s residents were born outside Britain, a higher percentage of newcomers than in any other city in the world except Miami, and the percentage continues to rise. Likewise, migration figures for the country as a whole—emigration and immigration—suggest that its population is undergoing swift replacement. Many of the newcomers are from Pakistan, India, and Africa; others are from Eastern Europe and China. If present trends continue, experts predict, in 20 years’ time, between a quarter and a third of the British population will have been born outside it, and at least a fifth of the native population will have emigrated. Britain has always had immigrants—from the French Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Germans fleeing Prussian repression, from Jews escaping czarist oppression to Italian prisoners of war who stayed on after World War II—and absorbed them. But never so many, or so quickly.

To the anxiety about these unprecedented demographic changes—a substantial majority of the public, when asked, says that it wants a dramatic reduction in immigration—one can add a reticence in openly expressing it. Inducing this hesitancy are intellectuals of the self-hating variety, who welcome the destruction of the national identity and who argue—in part, correctly—that every person’s identity is multiple; that identity can and ought to change over time; and that too strong an emphasis on national identity has in the past led to barbarism. By reiteration, they have insinuated a sense of guilt into everyone’s mind, so that even to doubt the wisdom or viability of a society consisting of myriad ethnic and religious groups with no mutual sympathy (and often with mutual antagonisms) is to suspect oneself of sliding toward extreme nationalism or fascism; so that even to doubt the wisdom or viability of a society in which everyone feels himself part of an oppressed minority puts one in the same category as Jean-Marie Le Pen, or worse. This anxiety inhibits discussion of the cultural question. In view of Europe’s twentieth century, the inhibition is understandable. One consequence, however, is that little attempt has been made to question what attachment Britain’s immigrants have to the traditions and institutions of their new home. Read more
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The Independent: 'I've got kids who sleep with knives under their pillows'

[...] Many of the children Batmanghelidjh helps have, like Peter, suffered from both neglect and physical violence. "If you are a child living with a drug addict, for example, drug dealers could and will burst into the house at any time of night or day. You are always in debt to them. Girls are often violated by the drug dealers at a young age, and pretty quickly [the dealers] want young boys to come and work for them. I've got kids who sleep with knives under their pillows because they don't know what's going to happen in the middle of the night. They live in constant terror and they are very jumpy their brains become different in structure and chemistry from other people's.

"These sorts of children don't care if they live or die. They are very brave and they cause great harm because they have nothing to lose."

Samuel is another child at Kids Company HQ today. Batmanghelidjh met him when he was five she found him wandering the streets of a rich London neighbourhood in the middle of winter with no shirt on. She started talking to him and he led her back to the flat he lived in with his mother; Batmanghelidjh quickly discovered that Samuel's mother was a crack addict who was unable to care for him. His father had died from an overdose.

"I tried to get his case picked up by social services, but because he wasn't being beaten he didn't meet their criteria.

"He was left without food, appropriate clothing or bedding. He had to cope with drug dealers coming in and out of the house, who often attacked both him and his mother." The most violent and dangerous children are those, like Samuel, who have been violently abused. "Not all children who have been abused go on to abuse, but all abusers have been abused themselves."

Batmanghelidjh rejects the idea that violent video games or rap music have much to do with these very serious cases. "The most dangerous children are those who have experienced violence first-hand, behind closed doors. Other children, who have been well cared-for at home, can come across these very violent children and have to mimic their behaviour to protect themselves from it. It's those children who are more likely to be influenced by violence in films, video games and rap music." Read more[...]
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Monday, 26 May 2008

Nigeria Saturday Tribune: Gay Bishops: Anglican Communion Sits On Keg Of Gun-powder

ANGLICAN Communion worldwide has been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008.

At a time when the church should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth there is little enthusiasm towards the meeting.

There are continual cries for patience and understanding; and yet the record shows that those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” have shown remarkable forebearance while their pleas have been ignored, leaders have been demonised, and advocates marginalised.

In 1998, the Anglican Communion made a deliberate decision with regard to matters of human sexuality; it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Bishops of the Communion. It reflected traditional teaching interpreted with pastoral sensitivity.

And yet it has been ignored and those who uphold it were derided for their stubbornness. However, the church continued to meet and pray and struggle to find ways to maintain the spirit of unity. Read more
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Daily Mail: Church pulls out of Catholic agencies over 'gay equality' adoption law

The Roman Catholic Church is pulling out of three of its top adoption agencies because it cannot comply with Labour’s new gay equality laws.

The Mail on Sunday has learned the Church will this week cut its ties with the Surrey-based Catholic Children’s Society, one of the biggest in the country covering much of the South-East.

The dioceses of Nottingham and Northampton have also decided to pull out of their agencies.

The development will anger Catholic MPs, who warned last year that the contentious legislation would have a dramatic impact on the charities.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said: ‘This is a tragedy. We are taking the ethos out of these adoption agencies and leaving them with a crisis, all because the Government wouldn’t listen.’

It will also dismay hundreds of thousands of parishioners who have raised millions of pounds over the years to support the much-loved organisations. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Church of England row over Muslim conversion

A row has erupted within the Church of England over calls for British Muslims to be converted to Christianity.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, accused the Church of failing in its duty to "welcome people of other faiths" ahead of a motion at July's General Synod in York urging a strategy for evangelising Muslims.

However, his comments were condemned by senior figures within the Church. The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme and the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith, said: "Both the Bishop of Rochester's reported comments and the synod private members' motion show no sensitivity to the need for good inter-faith relations. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another's paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities."

A Church of England spokesman added: "We have a mission-focused Christian presence in every community, including those where there are a large number of Muslims. That engagement is based on the provisions of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion." Read more
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Sunday, 25 May 2008

US Presiding Bishop gives warning to traditionalists

ANGLICAN bishops exercise universal jurisdiction over the geographical territories that lie within their dioceses, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has argued.

This proprietary ecclesial oversight covers all parts of the geographic territory of a diocese, Bishop Schori said, and extends to entities outside of the Episcopal Church --- an opinion not shared by other leaders of the Anglican Communion.

While the concept of territorial episcopal inviolability has been active in Anglicanism since the debates over the restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England in 1850, it has taken on a new life within the Episcopal Church in recent years as a tool to stifle dissent, conservatives claim.

The former Bishop of Quincy was brought up on charges by the Bishop of San Diego earlier this year when he made a visitation to a non-Episcopal parish in San Diego, while the former suffragan bishop of Oklahoma was accused of violating the “ancient customs of the church” for performing an ordination in Kansas on behalf of the Archbishop of Uganda without the permission of the Bishop of Kansas.

On May 12, US Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori released a public letter addressed to Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi, protesting his “unwarranted incursion” into the Episcopal Church by visiting a former parish of the Diocese of Georgia.

Bishop Schori said she was “concerned that you seem to feel it appropriate to visit, preach, and exercise episcopal ministry within the territory of this Church, and I wonder how you would receive similar behaviour in Uganda. These actions violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions."

Archbishop Orombi responded on May 14, that were he to visit a parish of the Diocese of Georgia he would “observe the courtesy” of contacting the local bishop. “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.”

If there was any blame to be apportioned, Archbishop Orombi said, it fell on the Episcopal Church which had persisted in an “unbiblical” course of action in “defiance of repeated warnings by all of the Anglican Instruments of Communion.” It was “ironic for you to be quoting the Windsor Report to me,” Archbishop Orombi said in light of the Episcopal Church’s conduct. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Church of England faces exodus over women bishop reforms

[...] Following the debate, the bishops decided to endorse legislation – which will now be voted on at the Synod – that would end special arrangements for clergy who are not prepared to accept female priests, including "flying" bishops, senior clergy who operate across different dioceses, ministering to those opposed to women priests

Instead, the bishops opted for a Synod motion that asks for respect for opponents of women bishops, but does not make provisions for them.

The motion makes clear that a significant minority disagrees with this approach.

The move means that it is now highly unlikely that new dioceses will be created for opponents of women bishops.

Less than the two-thirds majority required to pass the legislation at the General Synod were in favour of allowing women to become bishops without ensuring more extensive safeguards.

One bishop told The Telegraph that opponents of women bishops would consider what is being offered as "totally insufficient".

He added: "Traditionalist bishops are very upset because they believe there has to be some sort of structural provision to allow them space to follow their conscience, but we felt that the majority case has to be put to the Synod."

A report published this month from the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, warned that consecrating women without provision for opponents "would trigger a period of uncertainty and turbulence within the Church". It concedes that many priests and congregations would undoubtedly leave.

The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, has said that he would be forced to leave the Church if women become bishops and suggested that as many as 800 would follow suit.

Christina Rees, the chairman of the group Women and the Church, said that the bishops' decision represented "the best possible way forward for the Church".

A Church of England spokesman said all options would be debated at the Synod.

More than 700 female clergy signed a statement this month urging bishops not to concede to traditionalist demands. Read more
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Sunday Telegraph: Dozens of historic buildings to be made redundant

Dozens of churches have been selected for imminent closure under radical plans to merge parishes and save money, The Telegraph has learnt.

The plans have been drawn up by both Church of England and Roman Catholic dioceses and will see some of their most historic buildings made redundant. In one area, buildings with fewer than 100 worshippers are under threat while more than a third of Anglican churches could be lost in one city.

The disclosure comes as more church leaders, celebrities and heritage groups give their support to this newspaper's Save Our Churches campaign. Earlier this month, The Telegraph disclosed that one in five of Britain's churches face closure by 2030.

Among those threatened by the latest plans are St Peter's in Brighton, a Gothic-styled Victorian building, and St Walburge's in Preston, which has the tallest spire of any parish church in England.


Of the 50 Anglican churches in the Brighton area, a review has recommended six closures, with a further 11 at risk, unless there is a marked increase in attendance levels or an improvement in finances. Jonathan Pritchard, Chichester's diocesan secretary, said: "People have recognised that the future of their church as it is is no longer tenable."

Dr Ian Dungavell, the director of the Victorian Society, said: "The best way to look after such national treasures is to keep them in the use for which they were designed or, where that is not possible, to find a new use which will keep what is special about the building intact."

New figures from the Church of England show that 115 buildings were made redundant between 2003 and 2007, while Catholics, Baptists and Methodists are finding it even more difficult to keep their premises open. Read more
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Thanking God for Rome

[...] these days, living in England -- a country where the bulk of the established church is in a moral funk -- I am thrilled to see Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and his Scottish counterpart, Keith O'Brien, taking on the British secular Establishment on such huge ethical issues as abortion, stem cell research and the right of children to have fathers.

It was the belt of a couple of croziers that caused three Catholic Cabinet ministers (Des Browne, Ruth Kelly and Paul Murphy) to put their religious scruples before their ambition and force Gordon Brown to allow a free vote on contentious clauses in the abhorrent Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Read more
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