Saturday, 6 December 2008

Don't deny campus radicalisation

Ed: worth reading for the comments section as well.

On Wednesday, newspapers gave wide coverage to a report produced by researchers at Cambridge University which found that "British universities are not hotbeds of Islamic radicalism" and that "most young British Muslims are opposed to political Islam". The report, principally authored by Dr June Edmunds, was promptly – and deservedly – trashed by Professor Anthony Glees for its methodology (it was based on just 26 interviews at three universities, out of a total Muslim student population of 89,000).

I spent several years in Hizb ut-Tahrir and sat on its national leadership committee. During this time I regularly visited and spoke at least a dozen universities promoting Islamist thought. I can assure Edmunds that Islamist radicalism remains a problem at these and other universities – partly thanks to my recruitment activities. Let's look at the three universities where Edmunds conducted her research.

Take Bradford, where I often spoke about the need for Muslims to reject democracy. Until recently, Bradford University's Islamic Society (ISOC) was run by Hizb ut-Tahrir (it is now run by Deobandis instead). Thewebsite of Bradford's ISOC shows how these same members prepared themselves for Edmunds' October 31 2007 focus group, warning each other to "be careful what you say". No wonder her focus groups produced little of value or interest. In 2007 four Bradford university students were put on trial for terrorism offences. Although they were acquitted in 2008, their possession of vast libraries of pro-jihadist material was not disputed.

Or take the London School of Economics. A regular speaker at LSE's ISOC is Hizb ut-Tahrir's Reza Pankhurst, previously convicted in Egypt of seeking to overthrow the government. Other speakers favoured by the LSE ISOC include Kemal Helbawy, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who is not allowed to enter the US. Radicalised alumni include Omar Sheikh who brutally killed reporter Daniel Pearl in 2001. Read more

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Split in Episcopal Church hits new level

Hundreds of conservative Episcopal congregations in North America, rejecting liberal biblical views of others in the denomination, formed a breakaway church Wednesday that threatened to further divide a global Anglican body already torn by the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

Leaders of the new Anglican Church in North America said they took the extraordinary step to unify congregations and dioceses that had fled the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over issues of Scripture.

The 700 renegade churches, mostly from the U.S., had already expressed their displeasure by placing themselves under the jurisdiction of Anglican leaders in vast, self-governing foreign provinces.

The festering disputes have prompted numerous lawsuits over church property, as well as spirited -- and prayerful -- debate over the role of gays and lesbians in church life.

Leaders of the churches and splinter groups, saying they represent 100,000 Christians, adopted a provisional constitution Wednesday to govern their new province. They acted at the behest of conservative global Anglican leaders who, during a gathering in Jerusalem last summer, called for the creation of a new independent North American province. Read more

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Alternative Anglican Province Formed in North America

A new Province of the Anglican Church in North America, a rival province to The Episcopal Church USA complete with a provisional constitution and nine canons, was birthed today with 700 churches and 100,000 church-going members. A formal ratification of the constitution and canons will take place in a provincial assembly in six months in Bedford, Texas, at St. Vincent's cathedral in the diocese of Ft. Worth.

It is historic and unprecedented, said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. "It is an extraordinary day for us. We have reversed 40 years of Anglican history and years of division among The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada. Today we bring together 11 jurisdictions in Canada and across the US. Today marks 5 years of labor and attempts to come together." Read more
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The future of the Anglican Church in North America

People are asking two questions about the Anglican Church in North America:

1. Does ACNA want recognition as part of the Anglican Communion?

2. What makes ACNA different from the alphabet soup of continuing bodies in North America?

To some extent the answer to both these questions is: GAFCON!

The GAFCON Final Statement not only makes clear that the participants, including all those who are in ACNA, wish to be part of the Anglican Communion but they consider themselves to BE part of the Communion. Would they like recognition by the “Instruments” of the Communion? Sure. Do they consider that such recognition is the only means of recognition? No, they do not. Are they willing to wait for full and final recognition in a reformed Communion? You bet.

Secondly, the Global Anglican Future Conference itself was a sign of something new in the Communion: a movement, not a moment, as we said. Pulling off the conference was something of a miracle and showed the high degree of commitment and creative energy behind this movement. It was the fruit of a global alliance that has been developing for more than a decade (see Miranda Hassett’s Anglican Communion in Crisis). This is not Naughton’s bevy of gay-bashers and “handful of likeminded leaders in Africa” (Jim, think Nigeria! think Uganda). I have personally been on the ground floor of much of this movement and tell you the relationships that were manifest at GAFCON are rich and deep. Read more
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Church of England must serve all the faiths, says Archbishop

The Church of England should be open for use by people of any religion or none, like a hospital, says Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.

There is a strong case for regarding the Church as a public body that does not exist simply to serve believers, he argues. Whether or not most people attend regularly is irrelevant.

“At a time when a creeping social Darwinism is on the rise, where life is measured in terms of its quality or usefulness, the Church remains the last bastion of defence for those who would find themselves close to jettison by society,” the Archbishop says.

As the recession bites, the Established Church must rediscover its confidence and self-esteem. “The Church of England must once again be a beacon by which the people of England can orientate themselves in an unknown ocean.”

He cites the 23 million hours of community service carried out each year by Anglicans to make the case that the Church should remain established.

Dr Sentamu’s remarks will be published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Britain’s leading progressive think-tank, in a collection of essays by senior British faith leaders. Read more
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Friday, 5 December 2008

The new Bishop of Chelmsford - what happens next?

There is a very helpful article about the appointments process on Wikipedia, which seems to be basically accurate.

The process itself does seem to have become slightly more open and consultative than it used to be. There is much more of a tendency to invite suggestions, comments and names for consideration.

If anyone has any information about the Vacancy in See Committee (who is on it, when it may convene, and so on) would they post it as a comment below?

John Richardson

Almighty God, we beseech thee
to save and defend thy Servant ELIZABETH our Queen;
that under her we may be godly and quietly governed:
And grant unto her whole Council,
and to all that are put in authority under her,
that they may truly and indifferently minister justice,
to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue.
Give grace to all Bishops and Curates,
that they may both by their life and doctrine
set forth thy true and lively Word,
and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments:
And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace;
that, with meek heart and due reverence,
they may hear, and receive thy holy Word;
truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness
all the days of their life. Amen.

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Conservative Anglicans Create Rival Church

In a history-making gesture, conservative evangelical Anglicans, deeply alienated by the decline of the U.S. denomination, sounded a shofar to herald the creation of the Anglican Church of North America.

On a snowy Wednesday evening, about 1,000 worshipers, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, gathered in Wheaton, Illinois, for a worship service to celebrate the creation of the new entity, which comprises 656 congregations, 800 clergy, 30 bishops, and 100,000 people in regular worship. They represent the evangelical, charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic traditions within Anglicanism.

During a pre-service press conference, Bob Duncan, the former Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh and now archbishop-designate for the new church, told news media that he expects the Episcopal Church (TEC) to continue its decline and that in time, the new province will come to replace it.

He said, "The Lord is displacing the Episcopal Church."

This year, TEC leaders have seen the decades-long downward spiral continue in both attendance and finances. By some estimates, attendance and membership are declining by 1,000 people per week. Many dioceses are cutting budgets and staff, and drawing down endowment funds to maintain operations. The denomination has about two million members. It is spending millions of dollars on court actions to prevent individual churches and dioceses from pulling out. Read more
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Emergency summit in London to discuss US schism

Five senior Anglican Archbishops flew into London on Thursday for an emergency summit with the Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow to discuss the unfolding schism in the American church.

The meeting between Dr Rowan Williams and the primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Southern Cone comes two days after conservatives in the US unveiled the constitution and canons of the new Anglican Church in North America.

With a membership of 100,000 drawn from The Episcopal Church of the US and from traditional Anglican churches that broke off in earlier disputes over women’s ordination, leaders of the new “province” claim they are not breaking away from the 75-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion.

A formal proposal arguing for recognition as the 39th province of the Anglican Communion will be put before the primates at their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt at the end of January.

However, a statement from Lambeth Palace last night made it clear that no request for recognition as a province had been made and seemed to indicate that this was unlikely.

Lambeth Palace said there are “clear guidelines” set out for the creation of new provinces.

“Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete,” the Palace said, making it clear that in the case of the US conservatives no such process had begun.

The new church remains relatively small compared to the 2.2 million members of The Episcopal Church, which sparked the crisis in 2003 with the consecration of the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Rev Gene Robinson. Read more
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Animation of Nativity Story

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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Bishop of Chelmsford to retire in 2009

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, has announced his intention to retire in August 2009.

Despite their differences, Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream wish Bp John and his wife Lydia well in this new phase in their lives, and pray for him and his successor.

Read here.

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body
of the Church is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer
for all thy faithful people,
that in their vocation and
ministry each may serve thee in holiness
and truth to the glory of thy name;
through our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ,who liveth and reigneth with
thee,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

First women priests ordained in Antsiranana diocese

The Diocese of Antsiranana made history November 30 when it ordained its first three women priests during a joyful ceremony at St. Joseph's Church in Nosy Be, Madagascar.

The Rev. Marie Jeanne Befeno, the Rev. Vitasolo Roline and the Rev. Nivondrazana were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza of the Diocese of Antsiranana, part of the Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean. Three other priests and eight deacons -- including three women deacons -- were also ordained during the service.

The three new women priests were ordained as deacons in June 2007 at the inauguration of the new Cathedral of St Matthew in Diego Suarez.

Led by Church of England Bishop Graham Cray of Maidstone, a delegation of women priests and other dignitaries from the Diocese of Canterbury attended the November 30 service. Read more
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Final draft of Anglican covenant could take five years to sign on

The Covenant Design Group has published a document “which sets out the responses of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference in their discussions of the St. Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican covenant,” an Oct. 22 news release from the Anglican Communion Office announced.

The 33-page Lambeth Commentary, compiled at the Covenant Design Group’s recent meeting in Singapore, was sent to all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion “to assist in their discernment and response to the St. Andrew’s Draft,” the news release said.

The provinces have until March 9, 2009 to respond to the St. Andrew’s Draft, which will also be sent to ecumenical partners of the Anglican Communion, inviting their reflections and responses

The Covenant Design Group says it hopes that the Lambeth Commentary “will stand alongside the St. Andrew’s Draft as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response..” Read more
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Should the Church advertise?

This week radio advertisements, devised by the Churches' Advertising Network (CAN), will start playing all over the UK on commercial radio stations, delivering the Christmas story in an unusual way.

Why? What does CAN hope to achieve from this?

The first question is simple. A Theos survey last year showed that only 12% of the population, and only 7% of young adults, had a reasonably comprehensive understanding of the Nativity.

There are undoubtedly many reasons for this but one is that there is increasing pressure, from a small if vocal quarter, to “secularize” the public square. Some businesses, for example, are increasingly nervous about sending Christmas cards and some schools about staging Nativity plays, for fear that it will supposedly cause offence to other faiths (or atheists).

The cumulative effect of this is an erosion of the knowledge of the basic tenets of Christianity, in what is supposed to be, at least notionally, a Christian country, a trend that is most pronounced among the increasing number of families with no direct contact with a church.

This campaign is an attempt to reach some of those young people outside the Church, to interest them in finding out more, using humour and an unexpected approach to engage their attention.

The bigger question is “will it work?” (and accordingly, “how will you know?”) Read more
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Churchgoers have a right to know about clergymen behaving badly

[...] No doubt many in the Church would wish these stories stayed under wraps, not just the commentators who do not wish to appear prurient and the theologians who want the authorities to provide pastoral care rather than punishment.

But I believe that despite the personal discomfiture of the priests who have made so many headlines, and that of their innocent families, the Church is right to publish the full findings of these hearings.

Not to punish them further through public humiliation, but because vicars are servants of the people as well as of God, and so their parishioners have a right to know when they have fallen short of the high ethical standards demanded of them.

Obviously there will be fears that naughty vicar stories bring the Church into disrepute. But how much more damaging would it be to churchgoers, and to the image of the Church as a whole, if dioceses tried to cover them up? Read more
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Canadian Dioceses consider next steps towards same-sex blessings

Bishops from four dioceses emerged from the house of bishops meeting in October struggling with how to proceed with plans to introduce same-sex blessings in their dioceses.

While the majority of bishops agreed to a moratorium on same-sex blessings, the bishops from the dioceses of Ottawa, Montreal, Niagara and Huron, and from the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior faced pressure at home to offer same-sex blessings.

Given the strong support for a moratorium and the fact that two significant meetings will be held early in 2009 — Anglican primates meet in February and the Anglican Consultative Council meets in May — few decisions are expected to be made before the spring.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster says that four more parishes in his diocese have indicated through votes of their vestry meetings that they would like to become places of same-sex blessings.

Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara said he did not support the moratorium and he mourned the fact that “an opportunity had been missed to find a creative and generous solution to one of the most momentous challenges our church has faced in many years.” Read more
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Protestant minister defiant over homosexuality adverts

A Protestant church minister in the North is vowing to defy a ruling that he must not publish adverts calling homosexuality an abomination.

The British Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the Rev David McIlveen's church breached guidelines on causing offence by publishing the ad.

It said particular care should be taken in future and it will be monitoring the Rev McIlveen future ads.

However, he says this will not influence his choice of words. Read here
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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

How Hitler perverted the course of science

We all have an image in our minds of the role of scientists in Nazi Germany: sinister, lab-coated figures who spent half their time conducting gruesome – and largely pointless – experiments on concentration‑camp inmates to gratify their own cruel impulses, and the other half devising futuristic weapons of mass destruction for Hitler to hurl at the advancing Allies in a last attempt to stave off defeat.

Yet once you dig a little deeper, what is so disturbing is how prosaic the reality was, how similar in form, if not content, their work was to the research of today. As I discovered when researching a history of the Nazis at war, much of what scientists did under the Third Reich was regarded as "normal science", subject to standard protocols of peer review in conferences and journals. The infamous Dr Josef Mengele regarded himself as a normal scientist, held seminars to discuss his experiments, got research funds from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and reported regularly to his teacher, the eminent scientist Otmar von Verschuer, on his progress. [...]

How can we explain such obvious violations of basic medical ethics? How, indeed, did the doctors justify such work? The answer springs from the fact that medicine was both dominant in the world of science under the Third Reich, and closely allied to the Nazi project. [...]

What underpinned this behaviour was a widespread belief that some people were less than human, relegated to a lower plane of existence by their inherited degeneracy – or their race. For German doctors, a camp inmate was either a racially inferior subhuman, a vicious criminal, a traitor to the German cause, or more than one of the above. Such beings had no right to life or wellbeing – indeed, it was logical that they should be sacrificed in the interests of the survival and triumph of the German race, just as that race had to be strengthened by the elimination of the inferior, degenerate elements within it. After all, German medical science had uncovered the causes of several major diseases and contributed massively to improving the health of the population over the previous decades. Surely, therefore, it was justified in eliminating negative influences as well? Read more

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Archbishop of Wales would consecrate gay bishop

THE Archbishop of Wales has revealed how he would personally consecrate a gay bishop if the Church in Wales approves such a contentious choice.

The Most Rev Barry Morgan also spoke of his backing for a narrowly defeated bid to allow women bishops in Wales and the “vitriolic” letters of abuse he received from his fiercest opponents.

Dr Morgan said: “The Church has been here before, it used the Bible against women and it used the Bible against slavery and in the end the Church has seen sense and...has allowed women to be priests and in some places to become bishops.

“I long for the day when being gay or lesbian is no longer an issue for the Church.” Read more

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