Sunday, 27 December 2009

Labour performs U-turn on love and marriage ahead of election

Gordon Brown is preparing to pitch Labour as the party of marriage and the family in an audacious bid for core Tory votes.

In a shift in strategy ahead of the general election, the government is abandoning its long-standing ambivalence towards wedlock, conceding that children fare better if their parents are together. A green paper to be published in January will outline new measures to shore up “stable parental relationships”.

Labour’s 11th-hour acknowledgment of the importance of marriage has been derided by the Conservatives, who accuse the government of ignoring evidence about the benefits for the past decade. The Tories are preparing their own green paper on promoting family units, setting the scene for an election battle for the parental vote. Read more
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Saturday, 26 December 2009

We need a shared story to underpin our national life

By any reckoning, Britons have had an uncomfortable and anxious year. Even as the implications of the financial crisis sank in and the belt-tightening began, news broke of the ride for which we had been taken by our political masters, via their expenses forms. The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of more than 100 British soldiers. The Copenhagen summit raised awareness of environmental problems, but left it unclear what would or should be done about them. And attacks on the traditional family continued, with claims by ministers and "experts" that no one form of the family was to be preferred to any other.

It has been tough for everyone, but Christians in particular have found themselves under pressure. Nurses have been told not to pray with their patients; registrars ordered to conduct civil partnership ceremonies in spite of conscientious objections; evangelists forbidden to spread the word in "Muslim" areas; and permission for Good Friday processions refused on the grounds that they are a "minority" interest and do not warrant police time.

Given the sea of troubles with which we are faced – at home and elsewhere – what can we look forward to as we face 2010? First, we need to accept that the financial and political crises are not primarily about the failure of procedures and regulation. The angst about the war in Afghanistan, similarly, is not just about the sad loss of life. The broader problem is that there has been the loss of a common narrative, a story which underpins our national life. In the past, this was provided by the Judaeo-Christian tradition, derived from the Bible. This narrative has been at the root of those values which we regard as particularly British, whether to do with the dignity of the human person, with fundamental freedoms of belief, speech and assembly, or with equality – which is not about "sameness", but a recognition of the image of God in others. Read more
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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Teenage alcohol abuse up, but fewer people counselled for hard drug use

Record numbers of teenagers are receiving help for drug and alcohol problems, but the number of those undergoing counselling for heroin and crack use is falling, official figures show.

A total of 24,053 under-18s in England were treated in 2008-09, according to statistics from the NHS National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA). That was 150 up on the previous year, suggesting that demand for specialist services such as counselling and harm reduction is levelling off, said the NTA.

Almost nine in 10 of those got help for problems associated with their use of cannabis (12,642) or alcohol (8,799). However, the number of those getting help for their use of heroin or crack has fallen by about a third in the last four years. In 2005-06 a total of 1,081 did so but, last year, that number had fallen to 657. Those figures confirm the recent generational shift among those under 30 away from the two drugs, a trend experts have welcomed.

Similarly, while the number of young people being helped to tackle cocaine problems had risen from 453 in 2005-06 to 806 in 2007-08, it dropped to 746 last year. That constituted 6% of all teenagers who received help.

Addiction is rare among teenagers, said the NTA. "Evidence continues to suggest that overall drug and alcohol use among the general population of young people is declining, and the increasing availability of specialist substance misuse services ensures that many more of the minority who do need help are getting it." Read more
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Church recruiting drive targets two-year-olds

(Ed: Can't help noticing the difference in the target link "church-recruiting-drive-targets-children" and the eventual headline: "Church recruiting drive targets two-year olds". The latter is obviously much more likely to help people discover their inner Richard Dawkins.)

Children as young as two are to be targeted as part of a new campaign to recruit young people back to the church, the Guardian has learned.

The Church of England is planning its first concerted drive to engage under- 18s after admitting that it is comprehensively failing to connect with children and teenagers.

Proposals will be put before the general synod in February that include a blueprint to set up breakfast, homework and sports clubs in schools as well as working in publicly funded toddler playgroups to spread the Christian word.

A document outlining the proposals, seen by the Guardian, says urgent action is needed to shore up the number of children in church.

"We need to reconsider how we engage with and express God's love to this generation of children and young people, whoever and wherever they may be," it says.

Using frank language, it suggests the church is failing young people by being out of touch with their lives. "The tragedy is that we appear to be failing even those with whom we have already connected. The challenge is how to creatively offer children and young people encounters with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ," it says. Read more
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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Dominic Lawson: It's no wonder some Christians forget that Jesus was Jewish

(Ed: in a brilliant series of non sequiturs, Lawson manages to establish, on the strength of the biblical evidence, that Jesus existed and that he wasn't who the biblical authors clearly believed he was.)

The muse of Minnesota, Garrison Keillor, is generally thought of as an impeccably liberal figure. He was raised as a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a notoriously rigorous Christian sect; but as an adult he became an Episcopalian by choice, indicating a much less stern attitude to matters of faith than that practised by his parents.

Yet, in the week of good will to all men, Keillor suddenly demonstrated a flash of that old-time religious fervour – even fury. In his regular column for the Baltimore Sun he launched into an attack on two groups which he claimed were attempting to destroy the true spirit of Christmas: Unitarians and (whoever would have guessed it?) the Jews.

This (in part) is what he wrote: "Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong [for them] to rewrite 'Silent Night'. If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn 'Silent Night' and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write 'Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah'? No, we didn't. Christmas is a Christian holiday – if you're not in the club, then buzz off ... don't mess with the Messiah." Read more
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Monday, 21 December 2009

Cervical cancer link to early sex

Ed: There is a wonderful 'non sequitur' from Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK at the end of this article, who is quoted as saying, "the results back up the need for the HPV vaccination to be given in schools at an age before they start having sex, especially among girls in deprived areas."

Why does she not say, "the results back up the need for girls, especially in deprived areas, to be taught the importance of not beginning sexual activity at an early age"? Why is it always assumed that whereas human beings can cut down their carbon use, and even give up the highly addictive activity of smoking, they cannot change their sexual habits?

Having sex at an early age has been linked with double the risk of developing cervical cancer.

An investigation into why poorer women have a higher risk of the disease found they tended to have sex around four years earlier than more affluent women.

It had been thought that the disparity was due to low screening uptake in poorer areas, but the study found this was not the most important factor.

The latest findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer. Read more
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Friday, 18 December 2009

Russia 'to ban swearing'

The law would be based on an existing scheme in the Russian region of Belgorod where police hand out on-the-spot fines for anyone overheard using foul language in public.

The fines there range from 500 roubles (£10) to 1,500 roubles (£30). People heard cursing in front of children are fined the most.

Mikhail Nikolayev, deputy chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament, or Federation Council, is pushing the improbable initiative.

"Swearing should cease to be part of our everyday life," he says, adding that the scheme in Belgorod, started in 2005, has produced encouraging results.

A clutch of fellow senators is supporting Mr Nikolayev's plan. Read more
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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?

Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?

The question first came to mind on the plane to Copenhagen last week while scanning The Guardian's feature on movers and shakers in the "sceptical" field.

So we go down their list... Bjorn Lomborg, Viscount Monckton, former TV presenter David Bellamy, British National Party leader Nick Griffin, Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Lord Lawson, social anthropologist Benny Peiser, geologist Ian Plimer, US Senator James Inhofe, Czech President Vaclav Klaus... all men.

In the centre of Copenhagen, a group called the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) has been holding an event giving the "sceptical" version of the climate science story. The speakers list? Nils-Axel Morner, Cliff Ollier, Stuart Wheeler, and so on down the agenda... all proud possessors of a Y-chromosome.

The recently-launched London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation numbers a single woman across its Board of Trustees and Academic Advisory Council.

I could go on... but I hope the point is demonstrated. In fact, across the entire sceptical landscape, as far as I can see, the female contingent numbers one UK columnist, a couple of Australian bloggers, UK academic Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and US counterpart Sallie Baliunas... and that's about it, apart from former US presidential candidate Sarah Palin who - as the Washington Post reveals - hasn't always displayed climate scepticism in the past.

Sarah PalinIt's a marked contrast to the world of mainstream climate science, which boasts a number of eminent female practitioners including IPCC lead authors Susan Solomon and Cynthia Rosenzweig; and to the world of UN climate talks, where many delegations include, and are led by, women, including the UK's negotiating team.

The renowned environmental commentator Charles Clover noted the trend recently in The Times, writing of "... the born-again climate sceptic, the kind of man (always a man, almost invariably wearing a tweed jacket) who now materialises beside me at parties and confides that he has been having second thoughts about climate change".

So what's going on? Why is this issue such a gender-divider? Read more
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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Women go online to share child sex-abuse fantasies

Thousands of women appear to be using the internet to share sexual fantasies of abuse involving children.

An investigation by The Independent on Sunday found a series of websites that depict female-perpetrated child abuse as "natural, educational and enjoyable" for children.

Users log into online forums to meet other "like-minded" web users and to share personal childhood experiences about sexual acts with adults that they say include mothers, teachers and babysitters. User profiles on one website monitored by the IoS claimed to be those of teachers, doctors and retired grandmothers with an interest in "young girls" and "lesbian incest".

The postings on such sites – assuming they are not posted by men – run counter to the widely held belief that female abusers are either anomalies or feel forced into such depravity by abusive men. Many of the users appear to have easy access to children and describe deriving sexual gratification from sharing their fantasises.

The discovery comes just days before three women are due to be sentenced for a range of sexual offences involving children. Read more
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Friday, 11 December 2009


BY FAR the most significant thing about the case against Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang was that it reached a court of law in the first place. This evangelical Christian couple who run a hotel were accused of making derogatory remarks about the religion of one of their guests, Ericka Tazi, a Muslim convert, and thereby spreading religious hatred and contempt.

Mrs Tazi was found to have exaggerated the couple’s verbal abuse grossly but the fact that the case was thrown out of court should not blind us to the insidious and creeping reign of terror that the Government has introduced in Britain by facilitating this kind of prosecution.

While the criminal justice system actively promotes real crime by its refusal to repress it vigorously, it attempts to make criminals of Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang because they expressed forthright Christian beliefs.

For myself I do not much care to be buttonholed by religious enthusiasts but in a free country that is a situation with which citizens must be expected to cope on their own without resort to the courts.

Apart from this, however, there is the strong suspicion that if the boot had been on the other foot, if the Vogelenzangs had complained about remarks made by Mrs Tazi about their religion, no case would have come to court.

THE reason for the difference in approach is an officially-sponsored indifference or hostility to anything which might be considered part of the European and British cultural and religious heritage, combined with a tender regard for any non- European and non-British cultural heritage. Read more
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Irish Evangelical Alliance backs legislation for same-sex partnerships

The Evangelical Alliance Ireland has urged Christians to back the Civil Partnership Bill, which would introduce legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the Republic of Ireland.

The Alliance’s stance on the issue is likely to win praise for its courage, as well as criticism from those who expect evangelicals to oppose gay people’s rights.

“We suggest that evangelical Christians should support the basic thrust of the Bill,” said the Evangelical Alliance Ireland in a statement signed by its General Director, Sean Mullan.

It goes on to say, “We may disagree on the detail of the legislation, but as followers of a just and compassionate God we can recognise the justice and fairness of providing some legal protection for the reality of both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting relationships”.

The statement is likely to cause surprise in Britain, where many leading evangelical organisations actively campaigned against the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005.

The Irish Civil Partnerships Bill would give same-sex couples tax, pension, inheritance and hospital visitation rights, as for married mixed-sex couples.

It has been criticised by those who object to the exclusion of the word “marriage” and who are disappointed that it would not give same-sex couples the chance to adopt children. Read more
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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christian Couple Declared Innocent

Breaking news: Christian
couple declared innocent
  Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang I am delighted to tell you that the case against Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang has been dismissed by the judge. Ben and Sharon have been found to be entirely innocent of the charges against them. In the days to come The Christian Institute will be asking why the prosecution was ever brought.
For now we are thrilled to say that Ben and Sharon have been completely vindicated.
Thank you for praying for Ben and Sharon. Please pray now that the press will report the true story.

Yours in Christ,

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Children do better when fathers are involved

... What this report does is give the lie to Harman's contention that one family is as good as another. No, it damned well isn't. The report cites half a dozen pieces of research that demonstrate pretty conclusively that children do better in terms of mental health and social adjustment when their fathers as well as their mothers are involved in their upbringing. Children are 40 per cent more likely to suffer mental health problems if they do not have contact with one parent. Girls are more likely to have healthy relationships with men – as you'd expect – if their fathers are part of their lives.

Granted, there are any number of single mothers who would love to have their children's fathers closely involved in their upbringing – if they could track them down. But it has to be said, fathers are more likely to be tied into the rearing of their children if they are married to the mother: unmarried, separated fathers tend to lose touch with their children within three years. Read more
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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Anglican Mainstream responds to election of Canon Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles

December 6th, 2009

We are saddened but not surprised by this announcement from TEC. Unless their diocesan bishops and their standing committees decline to endorse the election, it will confirm that TEC have no intention of respecting the mind of the Communion and halting their current trajectory. That is why tens of thousands of Anglicans, in order to witness to the Communion's common basis of faith, and particularly biblical teaching on Christian marriage, have had to leave TEC and form the Anglican Church of North America. For any who doubted whether that action was justified TEC's latest announcement, made in full knowledge of its negative effect on the Communion's Covenant process, will confirm that TEC, rather than wanting to remain within the Communion's bonds of affection, is determined to walk away and follow its own path.

Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)

Canon Chris Sugden (Secretary)

Anglican Mainstream Here
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An Appropriate Reading for Today

From the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday in Advent:

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” (The Holy Bible : New International Version. Lk 21:25-26)
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Rift flares after US Episcopal Church elects [second] gay bishop

Ed: The theological Elvis has left the ecclesiological building.

A diocese in Los Angeles has elected only the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican Church, reigniting an issue that has caused deep division.

Rev Mary Glasspool, from Baltimore, was elected assistant bishop, although she needs a majority of national Episcopal Church heads to back her consecration.

The election of the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, six years ago created a massive rift.

Traditionalists have already expressed opposition to the latest election. Read more
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Monday, 30 November 2009

Tory Muslim peer Baroness Warsi pelted with eggs

Eggs are thrown at the Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and Social Action, Baroness Warsi, when she visited Luton.

Baroness Warsi was taking part in a walkabout in the Muslim Bury Park area of Luton when she was confronted by a group of protesters.

The male protesters accused her of not being a proper Muslim and supporting the death of Muslims in Afghanistan. See here
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Christian loses sex therapy case

Ed: Another Revelation 13:17 moment.

A relationship counsellor from Bristol who refused to offer sex therapy to gay couples has lost his appeal for unfair dismissal.

Christian Gary MacFarlane, 47, was sacked by marriage guidance service Relate after he said he could not do anything to promote gay sex.

Mr MacFarlane, who is a former church elder, was appealing on the grounds of religious discrimination.

He alleged Relate had refused to accommodate his religious beliefs. Read more

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

London Gay Men's Chorus Mayor's choice for Carols at Southwark Cathedral

Ed: The photo says it all

"The London Gay Men's Chorus is delighted to have been invited to perform once again at The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall. Come and join in the merriment as they sing both Christmas favourites and extracts from their show Singderella. The gentlemen of the Chorus have been extraordinarily busy this year with a concert in Helsinki, being a host choir for the Various Voices festival, their sold out Edinburgh Fringe show Oklahomo, a summer concert at the Shaw Theatre, their Christmas Show at Cadogan Hall, and performing as the chosen choir for the Mayor of London's Christmas Carol Concert at Southwark Cathedral." See here

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The crisis in Anglicanism threatens its position in national life

[...] The congregation is falling away almost as quickly as the money. Thirty years ago 11 per cent of the UK population went to church and the average age of the flock was 37. Today, only 6 per cent are regular observers and the average age is 51. With the Anglican Church in a state of decline, troubles are piling up in battalions. The divisive issues of the ordination of women as bishops and the rights of homosexual clergy are making Anglo-Catholics susceptible to the inveigling of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church’s apostolic constitution has set out the terms whereby Anglo-Catholics would be permitted to become Roman Catholics without giving up their liturgies.

Now that 8.5 per cent of Anglican clergy jobs are expected to disappear over the next five years, the very question of the Church of England’s role in the nation’s affairs is at issue. There is still a case for the Church to be the spiritual witness to moments of temporal national communion but the privilege of establishment becomes much harder to defend when the congregation is thinning out and the Church cannot pay the bills. The Anglican Church faces a dilemma analogous to that of the BBC. It needs a wide scope to justify its position of national privilege and yet its future as an organisation may lie as the provider of a smaller, niche product. Read more
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Cutbacks contribute to impression of ‘dying and divided church’

The lopsided church of St Vincent has stood in the village of Littlebourne since the 13th century, in the diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Its 87 regular worshippers, mostly retired or nearing retirement, managed to raise £50,000 last year through coffee mornings and cake sales. Of that, more than £34,000 went to the diocese to help to pay for clergy and clergy pensions.

The ten worshippers in the neighbouring church of Stodmarsh, also under the cure of the Rev John Allan, raised nearly £5,000, of which a quarter went to the diocese. The other two parishes in the benefice, Ickham and Wickhambreaux, with only 35 worshippers between them, raised £25,000 and contributed £11,000 in quota.

It costs about £40,000 a year to “run” a stipendiary parish priest in the Church of England. As the combined quota of the four parishes came to more than £50,000, worshippers assumed that when Mr Allan announced that he had to retire next January because of ill health, they would be given a replacement. But instead, they claim that they have been advised that even if they raised £1 million, they would not get another full-time priest.

They are to be given instead a “house-for-duty” priest, an unpaid part-timer. In return for free accommodation in the vicarage, he will work three days a week. Read more
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Church of England set to lose a tenth of its clergy in five years

The Church of England is facing the loss of as many as one in ten paid clergy in the next five years and internal documents seen by The Times admit that the traditional model of a vicar in every parish is over.

The credit crunch and a pension funding crisis have left dioceses facing massive restructuring programmes. Church statistics show that between 2000 and 2013 stipendiary or paid clergy numbers will have fallen by nearly a quarter.

According to figures on the Church of England website, there will be an 8.3 per cent decrease in paid clergy in the next four years, from 8,400 this year to 7,700 in to 2013. This represents a 22.5 per cent decrease since 2000. If this trend continues in just over 50 years there will be no full-time paid clergy left in Britain’s 13,000 parishes serving 16,000 churches.

Jobs will instead be filled by unpaid part-timers, giving rise to fears about the quality of parish ministry. Combined with a big reduction in churchgoing, the figures will add weight to the campaign for disestablishment. Read more
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Teenage boys to learn how to respect women in drive to tackle violence

A generation of youths who do not know how to treat women are to be targeted in a drive to tackle violence and abuse in teenage relationships, the Government announced today.

The campaign could also involve children as young as 5 being taught about “gender equality” as part of personal, social and health education that, from 2011, is to be a compulsory part of the national curriculum. Rules are also to be produced for how teachers should tackle “sexist, sexual and transphobic” bullying.

A strategy to tackle violence against women and girls published yesterday highlights the need for “attitudinal” change among teenagers in relationships. The move follows growing concern that some teenage boys are mistreating girls with verbal abuse, physical attacks and attempts to coerce them into having sex.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Reaching teenagers who are embarking on early relationships to challenge their perceptions of what constitutes a healthy relationship is vital to preventing violence against women and girls.” Read more
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Russian faith leaders call for calm as murdered priest is buried

A murdered Russian Orthodox priest was laid to rest in Moscow yesterday, amid fears of rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country. Father Daniil Sysoyev was shot dead inside his own church last week, in a killing that many suspect was by Islamic radicals.

Father Sysoyev was a controversial figure, even within the Orthodox Church. He was an active missionary, attempting to convert Muslims to Orthodoxy, and authored a number of books, including one warning Russian women against marrying Muslim men. He also posted a series of online sermons on YouTube dissecting the Islamic faith and making several incendiary claims about the religion.

Late last Thursday night, after the evening service, an intruder burst into Father Sysoyev's small church, located in a drab Moscow suburb. The killer was wearing a surgical mask, brandishing a pistol, and demanded to know where Sysoyev was. When the priest emerged, he was shot twice, in the head and neck, and later died in hospital. Read more
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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Martin Amis: the sexual revolution killed my sister Sally

The author's younger sister died in 2000, aged 46, after suffering for years from alcoholism and depression.

Amis said she had been crushed by the pressures he felt women had been subjected to ever since the idea of sex before marriage became the norm.

Society was still dealing with the fallout, he said, but women usually fared worse than men.

He said: "It's astonishingly difficult to find a decent deal between men and women and we haven't found it yet."

While women enjoyed more freedom than they did before 1970, he said, they were also more liable to suffer from the pressures the revolution exerted on them.

Sally could not cope with the sexual liberation it granted her, said Amis, 60.

"She was pathologically promiscuous," he told the Richmond Book Now Festival.

"She really had the mental age of 12 or 13 and I think she was terrified. I think what she was doing was seeking protection from men, but it went the other way, she was often beaten up, abused and she simply used herself up."

In the 1980s she married a wine merchant twice her age but the union lasted only six months. She had a baby daughter from another relationship Catherine, whom she gave up for adoption. In 1994 she suffered a stroke and the following year their father Kingsley Amis died, from which she never recovered.

She died of an unspecified infection in November 2000 after five days in intensive care. Read more
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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Leading article: Heavy hand of Rome

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has travelled to Rome to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Dutch Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, a campaigner for the unification of Christianity. But when Dr Williams holds a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI today, the mood is likely to be one of animosity, rather than ecumenicism.

Last month saw one of the most divisive acts by the Catholic Church in decades. The Pope unveiled an "apostolic constitution" which would allow practising Anglicans to join the Catholic Church. Under the new arrangement, Rome would even admit married Church of England clergy and allow entire congregations to continue using their traditional liturgy and prayer book. The Archbishop has been quietly criticising the Catholic move in recent days. But behind closed doors he ought to be more direct.

The Vatican claims that the invitation was entirely a response to requests from disgruntled Anglicans to be allowed to join the Catholic communion. But this affair looks more like an attempt by Vatican conservatives to exploit tensions within the Anglican Church over women bishops and gay priests for their own gain.

Tellingly, the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity played no part in devising the new arrangements. And Dr Williams was not informed of Rome's intentions until virtually the last minute. This whole business has served to undermine the Archbishop's authority in the midst of a bitter struggle for the very future of Anglicanism. Dr Williams should tell the Pontiff that there is nothing ecumenical about trying to poach congregations. And he should make clear that talks on a closer union of Anglicanism and Catholicism cannot continue while Rome engages in such unilateral power grabs. Read more
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Friday, 20 November 2009

Public faces of Richard Dawkins' atheism campaign were ... devout Christian children

(Ed: Reminds me of the 'Polish spitfire' chosen for the BNP publicity campaign.)

The two children chosen to front Richard Dawkins’ latest assault on God could not look more free of the misery with which he associates religious baggage.

With the slogan “Please don’t label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself”, the two children, their hair flying and with broad grins, seem to be the perfect advertisement for the new atheism being promoted by Professor Dawkins and the British Humanist Association.

Except that they are about as far from atheism as it is possible to be. The Times can reveal that Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7, are from one of Britain’s most devout Christian families.

Their father, Brad Mason, is something of a celebrity within evangelical circles as the drummer for the popular Christian musician Noel Richards.

Mr Mason has been supplementing his income for years by giving photographs to agencies who sell them on to newspapers and advertising campaigns.

“It is quite funny because obviously they were searching for images of children that looked happy and free. They happened to choose children who are Christian. It is ironic. The humanists obviously did not know the background of these children.” Read more
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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Atheist author Philip Pullman writes alternative ending for Jesus in Bible

Ed: May we now look forward to a Christian publishing "His Dark Materials" with an alternative plot? Thought not.

The writer has penned an alternative Bible passage imagining a different fate for Christ, who was executed by the Romans.

"He has written what would have happened if Jesus had had a fair trial," a friend told The Daily Telegraph's Mandrake column. Read more

"He knows it will be controversial, but he has some serious points to make."
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Churches head for a showdown in Rome

The Archbishop of Westminster has blamed Church of England bishops for keeping their leader in the dark about the Pope’s attempts to entice Anglicans to Rome.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said that it had been the “duty” of the Anglicans involved in the talks to keep their primate informed about the Pope’s plans to admit thousands of opponents of women priests.

The Archbishop was defending the Pope against accusations of discourtesy after he failed to alert the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, of the proposals for an Apostolic Constitution, or decree to set up a new Anglican ordinariate. The announcement was sprung on a distressed Dr Williams last month with barely two weeks’ notice.

He was speaking before Dr Williams’s first visit to Rome to see Benedict XVI since the norms for the new ordinariate were published. Read more
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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Churchwarden resigns over BNP membership

A BNP member has resigned as a churchwarden after his political views were deemed to be "incompatible" with Christianity.

David North said he was forced to quit his post at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, in Frisby on the Wreake, near Melton, because of his openly-held support for the BNP. The Diocese of Leicester said it simply "pointed out" his views were incompatible with those of the church.

Mr North, of Frisby, said: "After 60 years service to my church at Frisby, I feel very let down to be asked to resign as churchwarden of some 15 years in two stints, having done nothing illegal whatsoever, only to be asked to resign because I'm a member of the BNP. As far as I can tell, I have done nothing wrong. To be asked to resign reasonably forcefully after 60 years' service – it hurts."

Mr North, who has spent the past 15 years serving as a warden, stepped down three weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Leicester said: "It was pointed out to Mr North that membership of the BNP is incompatible with being a practising Christian. This is the Bishop's complete stance on it. We received a letter from Mr North telling us he had resigned. We did not ask him to but he had been under a lot of pressure. The pastor is not able to kick out a churchwarden, but it can be pointed out that he must make a choice between the BNP and the Church. Members of the congregation can be a member of the BNP but he held an office in the church and was representing us both legally and professionally." Read more
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Monday, 16 November 2009

Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again

[...] As children and teenagers, the ex-jihadis felt Britain was a valueless vacuum, where they were floating free of any identity.

Ed Husain, a former leader of HT, says: "On a basic level, we didn't know who we were. People need a sense of feeling part of a group – but who was our group?" They were lost in liberalism, beached between two unreachable identities – their parents', and their country's. They knew nothing of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or the other places they were constantly told to "go home" to by racists.

Yet they felt equally shut out of British or democratic identity. From the right, there was the brutal nativist cry of "Go back where you came from!" But from the left, there was its mirror-image: a gooey multicultural sense that immigrants didn't want liberal democratic values and should be exempted from them. Again and again, they described how at school they were treated as "the funny foreign child", and told to "explain their customs" to the class. It patronised them into alienation.

"Nobody ever said – you're equal to us, you're one of us, and we'll hold you to the same standards," says Husain. "Nobody had the courage to stand up for liberal democracy without qualms. When people like us at [Newham] College were holding events against women and against gay people, where were our college principals and teachers, challenging us?"

Without an identity, they created their own. It was fierce and pure and violent, and it admitted no doubt. Read more
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Latest press release from Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate

The Revision Committee met for its third scheduled meeting yesterday (13 November) since 8 October (see earlier statement: It concluded a substantial exploration of ways in which the draft legislation could be amended to enable certain functions to be vested by statute in bishops who would provide oversight for those unable to receive the episcopal and/or priestly ministry of women.

After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated.

The effect of the Committee’s decision is therefore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

There remain important issues for the Committee to determine at its forthcoming meetings over the shape of the proposed legislation in the light of this decision, in particular whether to retain a statutory code of practice or adopt the simplest possible legislation. Read more
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Sunday, 15 November 2009

'Sinister link' between Darwin and high-school killings by nihilistic teenagers

Kind of fits in with the hagiolatry of Darwin by the media that I mentioned here.

[...] In America, where Darwin’s writings on morality and race have come under particularly intense critical scrutiny because of the enduring creationist debate, he has been accused of fostering moral nihilism and scientific racism, and even of promoting an ethic that found its ultimate expression in the Holocaust. Most startling of all, a connection has now been drawn between Darwin’s theories and a rash of school shootings. In April, 1,000 people gathered at sunset in Littleton, Colorado, to commemorate the victims of the Columbine high school massacre, 10 years on. Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was the first of the 13 children to be murdered, and whose son Craig narrowly escaped being shot, cannot understand why so little attention has been paid to the motivation of the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and their interest in Charles Darwin’s ideas. “Harris wore a ‘Natural Selection’ T-shirt on the day of the killings. They made remarks on video about helping out the process of natural selection by eliminating the weak. They also professed that they had evolved to a higher level than their classmates. I was amazed at the frequent references to evolution, and that the press completely ignored that aspect of the tapes.”

Much of the evidence remains sealed under a court order issued to minimise the risk of copycat killings, but from those documents that are in the public domain, it is clear that Eric Harris fantasised about putting everyone into a violent computer game that only the fittest could survive. And, like Darwin himself, he noted how vaccination might be interfering with nature’s weeding process. In his rantings Harris said he wished there were no vaccines, or even warning labels on dangerous goods, “and let natural selection take its course. All the fat, ugly, retarded, crippled dumbass, stupid f***heads in the world would die… Maybe then the human race can actually be proud of itself”.

As the attorney for the families of six of the students killed at Columbine, the Denver lawyer Barry Arrington has come across more in a similar vein. “I read through every single page of Eric Harris’s journals; I listened to all of the audio tapes and watched the videotapes… It became evident to me that Harris consciously saw his actions as logically arising from what he had learnt about evolution. Darwinism served as his personal intellectual rationale for what he did. There cannot be the slightest doubt that Harris was a worshipper of Darwin and saw himself as acting on Darwinian principles.”

In 2007, detectives following up a tip-off about a planned school shooting in Pennsylvania discovered that their suspect often logged on to a social networking site called Natural Selection’s Army and a number of related chatrooms that were later tagged by the media as the “cyber school for killers”. These sites were quickly shut down by their service providers, but today “Natural Selection” is the name of a popular computer game in which competing teams attempt to annihilate one another — a sign that Darwin’s term is still associated by many teenagers with sudden and extreme violence. Read more
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How to tell kids there's no heaven - you just rot

Ed: Brave words from an atheist mum, but when you read to the end, you realize she fudges it.

They've asked me what happens when you die before, of course - just like they've asked where babies come from, and which is, ultimately, best: Madonna, or Lady GaGa?

But the thing with those Big, Difficult Conversations that you dread, is that you never have them just the one time. If I've told them about what happens when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much once, I've told them a hundred times. They just keep forgetting. And so, to be fair, do I. Last time we went through "How do babies get in the tummy?" I did all the blah bah blah "Daddy's seed" bit.

"And how does Daddy's seed get in your tummy?" Eavie ask.

"Through Daddy's willy," Dora replied, briskly. "It gets big."

"Oh." I said, momentarily nonplussed. "Oh. And who told you that?"

"You did, Mummy," Dora said. "Last time."

"Oh," I said. "I must have been feeling very chatty that day. Oh."

So yes. We've talked about death before - not that they or I remember it, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I ladled on the "going to heaven" thing quite strongly. I think I've always done the "heaven" thing - albeit, given my otherwise-strident aethism, a mealy-mouthed caveat of "Some people believe ...." at the start. I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO TELL THEM THEY ROT, OK? They always ask just before bedtime, and it's enough faff as it is, what with teeth-cleaning, and finding Eavie's "Chicken" doll (it's a duck - don't ask), and Dora often just lobbing in a querelous, "I feel like I might be scared, later, and not able to sleep," just at the point I've started to really visualise putting on America's Next Top Model, and eating an orange. You don't want to chuck in rotting then. That's delaying bedtime by at least an hour. No, no - just waffle about heaven a bit, and then get back down to the telly. Read more
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Friday, 13 November 2009

Royal Navy 'watched yacht hijack'

Ed: I thought the thing about Nelson's eye was knowing when to turn it. After the Iran hostage navy crisis, this wasn't supposed to happen again. :-(

The crew of a Royal Navy vessel watched as a British couple were taken hostage by Somali pirates but were ordered not to open fire, it has emerged.

The ship did not act for fear of getting the couple killed, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, aged 59 and 55, from Kent, were ordered off their yacht by gunmen in the Indian Ocean in the early hours of 23 October.

The Chandlers had been travelling to Tanzania from the Seychelles. Read more
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BNP come close to third place in Glasgow by-election

Ed: The Scottish edition of the Sun seems to be the source most openly recognizing this result.

THE BNP gave Scotland a fright night as they came close to grabbing a shock third place in Glasgow North East.

The far-right party looked to have edged out the Conservatives in the Westminster by-election - which Labour romped.

The British National Party's candidate Charlie Baillie was believed to have nabbed third spot - but was beaten by 62 votes after a recount. Read more
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Thursday, 12 November 2009

Archbishop Rowan Williams admits future of Anglicanism is 'chaotic'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that the future of Anglicanism is “chaotic and uncertain”. One can’t help asking: And whose fault would that be, Your Grace?

Of course, many of the problems of the Anglican Communion are insoluble, by Dr Rowan Williams or anyone else. But his attempts to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds – firmly backing women bishops while pleading with opponents to stay; privately expressing support for gay unions while disciplining churches that bless them – don’t help at all.

Dr Williams was preaching at All Saints, Margaret Street; the sermon, which you can find here, is gentle and reflective. It was also intended, I think, as an appeal to members of an Anglo-Catholic parish to stay in the Church of England. Read more
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Episcopal diocese to bless gay unions

The Episcopal bishop for southern Ohio has announced the diocese will begin blessing gay relationships next year.

The Right Rev. Thomas Breidenthal told delegates to the diocesan convention Friday they should not be surprised since he had written in support of same-sex unions before he was elected bishop in 2006, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He said the blessings would begin after Easter in 2010. Read more
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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Ministers cancel 'Big Brother' database

Plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit in the United Kingdom have in effect been abandoned by the Government.

The Home Office confirmed the "Big Brother" scheme had been delayed until after the election amid protests that it would be intrusive and open to abuse. Although ministers publicly insisted yesterday that they remained committed to the scheme, they have decided not to include the contentious measure in next week's Queen's Speech, the Government's final legislative programme before the election.

The effect of this move could be to kill off the plans for years. The Conservatives have not ruled out reviving the idea but remain sceptical about the practicality of Labour's proposals. Read more
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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Tough love 'is good for children'

Children brought up according to "tough love" principles are more successful in life, according to a study.

The think tank Demos says a balance of warmth and discipline improved social skills more than an laissez-faire, authoritarian or disengaged upbringing.

It says children aged five with "tough love" parents were twice as likely to show good character capabilities.

Report author Jen Lexmond said: "It is confidence, warmth and consistent discipline that matter most." Read more
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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Transsexual Jesus sparks protests

Ed: The best bit has to be this: Festival organisers described the [protest] banners as "fairly provocative" and said they could be viewed as inciting homophobia.

About 300 protesters held a candlelit protest outside a Glasgow theatre over the staging of a play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual.

The protest was held outside the Tron Theatre, where Jesus Queen of Heaven, in which Christ is a man who wants to become a woman, is being staged.

It is part of the Glasgay! arts festival, a celebration of Scotland's gay, bi-sexual and transsexual culture.

Festival organisers said it had not intended to incite or offend anyone. Read more
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Comment is Free: Is there an atheist schism?

As a professional philosopher my first question naturally is: "What or who is an atheist?" If you mean someone who absolutely and utterly does not believe there is any God or meaning then I doubt there are many in this group. Richard Dawkins denies being such a person. If you mean someone who agrees that logically there could be a god, but who doesn't think that the logical possibility is terribly likely, or at least not something that should keep us awake at night, then I guess a lot of us are atheists. But there is certainly a split, a schism, in our ranks. I am not whining (in fact I am rather proud) when I point out that a rather loud group of my fellow atheists, generally today known as the "new atheists", loathe and detest my thinking. Richard Dawkins has likened me to the pusillanimous appeaser at Munich, Neville Chamberlain. Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True, says (echoing Orwell) that only someone with pretensions to the intelligentsia could believe the silly things I believe. And energetic blogger PZ Myers refers to me as a "clueless gobshite" because I confessed to seeing why true believers might find the Kentucky Creationist Museum convincing. I will spare you what my fellow philosopher Dan Dennett has to say about me.

There are several reasons why we atheists are squabbling – I will speak only for myself but I doubt I am atypical. First, non-believer though I may be, I do not think (as do the new atheists) that all religion is necessarily evil and corrupting. This claim is on a par with golden plates in upstate New York. The Quakers and the Evangelicals were inspired and driven by their religion to oppose slavery, and a good thing too. Of course there has been evil in the name of religion – the pope telling Africans not to use condoms in the face of Aids – but as often as not religion is not the only or even the primary force for evil. The troubles in Northern Ireland were surely about socio-economic issues also, and the young men who flew into the World Trade Centre towers were infected by the alienation and despair of the young in Muslim countries in the face of poverty and inequalities. Read more
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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

20 Incredible iPhone Apps for Christian Evangelists

With more problems and followers than time, many Christian evangelists are finding out that their iPhone can be used for much more than phone calls. Below are the top 20 incredible iPhone Apps for Christian evangelists. The apps can help with prayer, Bible study, productivity, and much more. Read more (an advert, but you might enjoy it)
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Monday, 2 November 2009

A New Anglicanism

Just this past term I have had the great pleasure of co-teaching – with Professor Ashley Null, the renowned Cranmer scholar - a MA unit offered here at Moore College entitled ‘Anglican Identity’. In it we made careful study of the development of the English reformation and the works of leading figures like Fisher, Cranmer and Hooker.

A highlight was reading the moving testimony of Catherine Parr, last wife of Henry VIII, to her conversion to the gospel of justification by faith.

I was curious, however, as to why so few Sydney clergy thought this was a subject that might interest them, or that the study of the founding documents of our denomination might be well worth their while.

This was confirmed by casual conversations with Moore students. I asked them ‘how do you understand your identity as an Anglican?’ – and was met with baffled looks and shrugs. The denomination is a ‘good boat to fish from’, mostly, but there is (it seems to me) no great passion for Anglicanism itself and no great commitment to study its formularies and its history.

Perhaps it is because the international controversies have become wearisome and even a source of embarrassment. Perhaps it is because the denomination changes at glacial speed – and we in our time are addicted to change, even for its own sake. Perhaps we are also in the grip of the ‘lone ranger’ vision of the brave church planter, unencumbered by denominational vagaries. Perhaps the baby-boomer generation have so scrubbed away any outward signs of Anglican distinctiveness that it is hard to see what it is anymore.

But I was surprised that even the GAFCON movement, with its bold and remarkable vision for an global Anglican movement, has not caught the local imagination. It has been perceived as a political rather than a spiritual movement.

More than ever, we need to renew our vision of what it means to be an evangelical Anglican. My conviction is that not only is being evangelical the most authentic way of being Anglican – we’ve been saying that for years - but also that being Anglican is a great way of being evangelical. Read more
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Sunday, 1 November 2009

Government "longed for" an immigration boom


London's role as a magnet for immigration busted wide open the stale 1990s clich├ęs about multiculturalism: it's a question of genuine diversity now, not just tacking a few Afro-Caribbean and Bengali events on to a white British mainstream. It's one of the reasons Paris now tends to look parochial to us.

So why is it that ministers have been so very bad at communicating this? I wonder because I wrote the landmark speech given by then immigration minister Barbara Roche in September 2000, calling for a loosening of controls. It marked a major shift from the policy of previous governments: from 1971 onwards, only foreigners joining relatives already in the UK had been permitted to settle here.

That speech was based largely on a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit, Tony Blair's Cabinet Office think-tank.

The PIU's reports were legendarily tedious within Whitehall but their big immigration report was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy.

Drafts were handed out in summer 2000 only with extreme reluctance: there was a paranoia about it reaching the media.

Eventually published in January 2001, the innocuously labelled "RDS Occasional Paper no. 67", "Migration: an economic and social analysis" focused heavily on the labour market case.

But the earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.

I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended - even if this wasn't its main purpose - to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.

Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing. For despite Roche's keenness to make her big speech and to be upfront, there was a reluctance elsewhere in government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour's core white working-class vote.

This shone through even in the published report: the "social outcomes" it talks about are solely those for immigrants.

And this first-term immigration policy got no mention among the platitudes on the subject in Labour's 1997 manifesto, headed Faster, Firmer, Fairer.

The results were dramatic. In 1995, 55,000 foreigners were granted the right to settle in the UK. By 2005 that had risen to 179,000; last year, with immigration falling thanks to the recession, it was 148,000.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of migrants have come from the new EU member states since 2004, most requiring neither visas nor permission to work or settle. The UK welcomed an estimated net 1.5 million immigrants in the decade to 2008.

Part by accident, part by design, the Government had created its longed-for immigration boom. Read more

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Labour’s secret scheme to build multicultural Britain

Can the recent success of the British National party be explained by the misguided immigration policy of the government? That was the killer question from the floor during the notorious episode of Question Time 10 days ago. Four times it was put to Jack Straw, the justice secretary, and four times he avoided answering it. Until that evening I had thought Straw was a fairly decent sort of bloke, for a politician. No longer. In a man so central to the new Labour project, who has served in cabinet under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who has been home secretary and foreign secretary, evasion on such an important subject is shocking.

In his first evasion Straw waffled about Enoch Powell’s recruitment of immigrants to work for the National Health Service. But that was more than 40 years ago and, as David Dimbleby pointed out, Labour has been in power for the past 12 years and Straw should answer the question. Again he waffled irrelevantly, this time about identity.

Dimbleby challenged him for a third time: “Are you saying there is no worry about the scale of immigration in this country? Is that the point you’re making? I can’t get out what you’re saying.” Straw responded by saying that new figures show a reduction in the rate of increase in migration and added something about the new points system, all of which was offensively irrelevant.

So, for a fourth time, Dimbleby pressed him to answer the question. Again Straw failed to do so, but concluded by saying: “I don’t believe it is.”

It was a farce. As Baroness Warsi, the Muslim peer, protested: “That answer is not an honest answer.” Watching Straw’s face, I was puzzled about what he was thinking. Was he knowingly dishonest or had he somehow blinded himself to all the facts about the mass immigration of the past 10 years and its consequences? Read more
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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Anti-homosexuality Bill being proposed in Uganda

(Ed: A quick 'Google' found this, which is apparently being tabled before the Ugandan Parliament. My immediate personal reaction -since someone is bound to ask -is that it is clearly extreme in places, most obviously in suggesting the death penalty for homosexual acts with an under-18 year old. Why not, I find myself asking, a similar death penalty for adulterers or fornicators?

I also cannot help wondering why this is felt necessary in Ugandan society, when there is already legislation in place. My personal inclination is that in any humanly-ordered society, criminal punishment is inappropriate for sexual impropriety. That which is immoral should not always be illegal.

Nevertheless, I cannot help reflecting that in just forty years our own society has gone from one where homosexual acts were tentatively decriminalized between 'consenting adults in private', to one where objection to homosexual acts is virtually a crime in itself. My advice to the Ugandans, were they to ask, would be 'tread very carefully', but this is not the way to go.)

APRIL 20, 2009
1. The Principle
The object of this Bill is to establish a comprehensive legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting (i) any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex; and (ii) the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions as healthy, normal or an acceptable lifestyle, including in the public schools, through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any non- governmental organization inside or outside the country. Research indicates that the homosexuality has a variety of negative consequences including higher incidences of violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and use of drugs. The higher incidence of separation and break-up in homosexual relationships also creates a highly unstable environment for children raised by homosexuals through adoption or otherwise, and can have profound psychological consequences on those children. In addition, the promotion of homosexual behavior undermines our traditional family values.
Given Uganda’s historical, legal, cultural and religious values which maintain that the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman is the basic unit of society. This Bill aims at strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family. These threats include: redefining human rights to elevate homosexual and transgender behavior as legally protected categories of people.
This legislation is aimed at halting the advance of the “sexual rights” agenda, which seeks to establish additional legally protected classes based on sexual preferences and behaviors, as well as claims that people have rights based on these preferences and behaviors. Sexual rights activists have created new euphemisms to promote this agenda such as “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “sexual minorities” and “sexual rights.”
This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic and that people who experience this mental disorder can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation. It also recognizes that because homosexuals are not born that way, but develop this disorder based on experiences and environmental conditions, it is preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.
The Republic of Uganda needs comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect our cultural, legal, religious, and traditional family values against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on Uganda.
There is also need to protect our children and youths who are made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies, parentless child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care, or otherwise.
2. Defects in the existing law.
This legislation is designed to fill the gaps in the provisions of the constitution of Uganda and the penal code Act by establishing that, in Uganda, marriage is only between a man and a woman and that no other sexual unions or relationships will be recognized by the government.
The Penal Code Act (Cap 20) does not directly address this issue of homosexuality. It instead talks about unnatural offenses under section 145. This section does not specifically talk about homosexuality as an offense. It does not even have any reference to homosexuality. Not surprisingly the Act does not have a definition for homosexuality in the definition section.
The Penal Code Act does not explicitly address the issue of same sex unions and gender identity disorders which are damaging the social fabric of our nation at an alarming rate. There are no provisions in the Penal Code Act panelizing the procurement, promotion, disseminating literature and other forms of report for the offenses of homosexuality hence the need for legislation to provide for charging, investigating, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing of offenders on the above law. There is need for equal treatment of man and woman before the law in regard to homosexual offenses.
This legislation comes to complement and supplement the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda and the Penal Code Act by not only criminalizing same sex marriages but same -sex sexual acts and other related acts.
3.1. The objectives of the Bill
The objectives of the Bill are:
(a) To protect marriage as that only between a man and a woman in Uganda;
(b) To prohibit homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family;
(c) To safeguard the health of Ugandan citizens from the negative effects of homosexuality and related practices;
(d) To establish progressive legislation protective of the traditional family that can serve as a model for other countries;
(e) To prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act;
(f) To ensure that no international instruments to which Uganda is already a party can be interpreted or applied in Uganda in a way that was never intended at the time the document was created;
(e) To withdraw from any international agreements to which Uganda already is a party, or file reservations to them, which are re-interpreted to include protection for homosexual behavior, or that promote same-sex marriage, or that call for the promotion or teaching about homosexuality as being healthy, normal, or an acceptable lifestyle choice, or that seek to establish sexual behavior, sexual orientation, or gender identity, or sexual minorities as legally protected categories of people; and
(f) To prohibit Uganda from becoming a party to any new international instruments that expressly include protection for homosexual behavior; promote same-sex marriage; call for the promotion or teaching about homosexuality or homosexual relations as being healthy, normal, or an acceptable lifestyle choice; and/or seek to establish sexual behavior, sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual minorities as legally protected categories of people
3.2. Part 1 of the Bill incorporating clauses 1 and 2 provides for Preliminary matters relating to commencement and Interpretation of the words and phrases used in the Bill
3.3. Part II of the Bill incorporating clause 3 to clause 6 prohibits homosexuality and related practices by introducing the offences of engaging in homosexuality, and the penalties of imprisonment upon conviction. This part also creates offences and penalties for acts that promote homosexuality, failure to report the offence and impose a duty on the Community to report Suspected Cases of homosexuality.
3.4. Part III of the Bill incorporating of clause 7 to clauses 9 provides for the jurisdiction of Ugandan Courts in Case of Homosexuality, including extra territorial Jurisdiction.
3.5. Part IV of the Bill incorporating clauses 10 and 11 provides for miscellaneous provisions on International Treaties, Protocols, Declarations and Conventions and the Minister to make regulations to give effect to the Act.
4. Schedule 1 of the Bill gives the value of the currency.
Hon. David Bahati
MP, Ndorwa County West
1. Commencement
2. Interpretation
3. Offence of Homosexuality
4. Aggravated Homosexuality
5. Promoting Homosexuality
6. Failure to report offence

7. Jurisdiction
8. Extra – territorial Jurisdiction
9. Extradition
10. International treaties
11. Regulations
Schedule 1
Currency point.
1 – Commencement
This Act shall come into force upon publication in the Gazette.

2 - Interpretation
In this Act, unless the Context otherwise requires –
“Gender” means male or female;
“Homosexuality” means same gender or same sex sexual acts;
“Homosexual” means a person who engages or attempts to engage in same gender sexual activity.
“Minister” means the Minister responsible for Ethics and Integrity.

 “Sexual act” means –
(a) Stimulation or penetration of a vagina or mouth or anus or any part of the body, however slight of any person by a sexual organ;
(b) The use of any object or organ by a person on another person’s sexual organ or anus or mouth;
“Sexual organ” means-a vagina or penis.

3. Prohibition of homosexuality
(1) Homosexuality is prohibited.
(2) Any person who engages in homosexuality contrary to sub-section (1) commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding 500 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.
4. Aggravated homosexuality
(1) Any person who commits the offense mentioned in section 3 above with another person who is below the age of 18 years in any of the circumstances specified in sub-section (2) of this section commits the offense and on conviction is liable to suffer death.
(2) The circumstances referred to in sub-section (1) are as follows: -
(a) Where the person against whom the offense is committed is below the age of 14;
(b) Where the offender is infected with HIV;
(c) Where the offender is a parent or guardian or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offense is committed;
(d) Where the victim of the offense is a person with disability; or
(e) Where the offender is a serial offender.
(3) Any person who attempts to commit the offense of homosexuality with another person below 18 years in any of the circumstances specifies in sub-section (2), commits an offense and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
(4) Where a person is charged with the offense under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
(5) Any person who without the consent of an adult victim being under their authority or not commits the offense mentioned in this section
5. Promotion of homosexuality
(1) Any person who,
(a) Participates in production, trafficking, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing homosexual materials;
(b) Funds or sponsors homosexuality and related activities
(c) Offers premises and other fixed or movable assets
(d) Uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phone and
(f) Who acts as an accomplice or attempts to legitimize or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices
Commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine of five thousand currency points or imprisonment of atleast five years or both.

(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a Non-governmental organization conviction its Certificate of Registration shall be cancelled and the Director(s) or proprietors or promoter(s) shall be criminally liable.
6. Failure to report the offense
Any person who being aware of the commission of any offense under this Act omits to report the offense to the relevant authorities within 24 hours commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding six months year.
7. Jurisdiction.
Save for aggravated homosexuality which shall be tried by the High Court, other offenses under this Act shall be tried by the Magistrates Court.
8. Extra – Territorial Jurisdiction.
This Act shall apply to offences Committed outside Uganda Where-
(1) A person who, while being a citizen of, or permanently residing in Uganda, Commits an act Outside Uganda, which act would Constitute an offence had it been Committed in Uganda.
(2) The offence was committed partly outside and or partly in Uganda.
9. Extradition.
A person charged with offence under this Act shall be liable to extradition under the existing Extradition laws.
10. Nullification of inconsistent International treaties, protocols, declarations and conventions.
(1). Any international legal instrument whose provisions are contradictory to the spirit and provisions enshrined in this Act, are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency.
(2). The foreign definitions of “sexual orientation”, “sexual rights”, “sexual minorities”, “gender identity” shall not be used in anyway to legitimize homosexuality, gender identity disorders and related practices in Uganda.

11. Regulations.
The Minister may by statutory instrument make regulations to effect implementation of the provisions of this Act, and Promote the objects of this Act.

One currency point is equivalent to twenty thousand Shillings.