Monday, 21 June 2010

CAM is now Chelmsford FCA

Following the launch of the Chelmsford Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream is no more.

The new blog is here.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dean of Southwark Cathedral preaches on Presiding Bishop's controversial visit

[...] It seems to me that love must, by its essential nature, be always unconditional. We welcome Katharine Jefferts Schori to this pulpit because we love our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church of the United States; not because she is female, or a woman bishop ahead of us, or has permitted a practising lesbian to become a bishop (As it happens she couldn’t have stopped it after all the legal and proper canonical electoral processes resulted in the election and nomination), we welcome her because she is our sister in Christ.

The lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures is enormously topical. Disaffected Anglicans have been threatening to ‘walk separate ways’ for many months. Abram and Lot travel together and their herdsmen bicker and fight, in modern translation there is 'strife' between them. They reach agreement to take separate paths and settle down and so their mutual belonging as members of one family is secured. [...]

It may be that some Anglicans will decide to walk a separate path. I believe the Chapter and congregation of this church will walk the same path as the Episcopal Church of America, the links are deep in our history, especially here. Their actions in recent months have been entirely in accord with the Anglican ways of generosity and breadth. They have tried to ensure everyone is recognised as a child of God. They have behaved entirely in accord with their canon laws and their freedom as an independent Province of the Church, not imposing or interfering with others with whom they disagree but proceeding steadily and openly themselves. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"Paganism is not a distant or very different religion"

From The Church Times:

SOME Pagans see a strong link between the more ritualistic worship of Christians — for example, lighting candles, burning incense, making the sign of the cross on oneself, asking saints for intercession with God — and the way in which Pagans often per­form rituals. The practice of directing rituals to “appropriate” deities is similar to asking saints for intercession — the Protestant Re­former Erasmus made this very point, suggesting that instead of praying to a god of healing, Christians now prayed to the patron saint of healing.

  Equally, the lighting of a candle and directing of thoughts to one person or issue is used as a basic form of magick by many Pagans. There is a misconception that “magick” implies an intention of compelling a Deity to do one’s bidding, but it is considered by Pagans to be more about “opening the world to possibilities”. This may be done through chanting, drum­ming, lighting candles, dancing, and singing — perhaps not so different from many church services.

  It would be better if the 21st cen­tury could bring the first seeds of a new era, a truly Common Era, which would emphasise religious tolerance. What religions share — indeed, what humanity shares — should be granted more importance than the smaller differences between us. The way forward lies through peace and understanding. What better gift could we give to any Deity?

Penelope Fleming-Fido is a prac­tising Pagan, and runs an online coven. No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Monday, 14 June 2010

CAM to become Chelmsford Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

Chelmsford Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (CFCA)
Invites you to a ‘launch meeting’ with Paul Perkin, Chair of FCA (UK).

A gathering of friends...

There is now a need, more than ever before, for Anglicans who want to preserve an orthodox voice in our denomination (and to identify with orthodox views across the Anglican Communion), to seek God and to take counsel together. Paul Perkin is a gentle and respected speaker who is able to unite Charismatics, Conservatives and Catholics as we pray and think together about contending for the faith ‘once and for all delivered to the saints’.

Where: St.Peter’s Church, Harold Wood

When: Wednesday 16th June 2010

Time: Lunch at 12:30 pm

Main meeting 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Cost: £5

Please reply to to book your place.

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Saturday, 12 June 2010

From: The Times online

Sir, We wish to express our concern over the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (USA), Katherine Jefferts Schori, preaching and presiding at Holy Communion in our cathedral at Southwark tomorrow.

Bishop Schori is well known for her doctrinal statements and practice that are contrary to the teaching of the Bible. She is also well known for initiating many litigations against orthodox congregations within the Episcopal Church and defrocking doctrinally orthodox bishops and clergy, so exacerbating disunity in the Anglican communion. Only recently she defied the instruments of the Anglican communion by reneging on the agreement made by the Episcopal Church to abide by the moratorium regarding the consecration of actively gay and lesbian bishops.

We, the undersigned clergy of Southwark diocese, distance ourselves from Bishop Schori’s teaching and presiding in our cathedral. We seriously question the judgment of those who have not withdrawn their invitation to her after her recent consecration of Mary Glasspool.

Father Francis Gardom
St Stephens, Lewisham

The Rev Stephen Kuhrt
Christ Church, New Malden

The Rev Ray Skinner
St Lawrence, Morden

The Rev Sandy Christie
St Michaels, Blackheath

The Rev Christopher (CJ) Davis
St Nicholas, Tooting

The Rev Ian Gilmour
Holy Redeemer, Streatham Vale

The Rev John Goddard
Morden parish

The Rev Martin Hislop
St Lukes, Kingston-on-Thames

The Rev David Larlee
St Marks, Battersea Rise

The Rev James Paice
St Luke’s Wimbledon Park

The Rev Paul Perkin
St Marks, Battersea Rise

The Rev Dan McGowan
St Martins, Morden

The Rev Precious Omuku
Morden parish

The Rev Les Wells
Morden parish

The Rev Bill Wilson
St Stephen’s, South Lambeth

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Bishop of Chester criticises 'celebratory' modern funerals

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Peter Forster, said that he “regretted” the tendency for families to have a small private burial or cremation followed by a larger commemoration of the deceased’s life.

He said it gave the impression that the body is not important, and that death was being denied.

The bishop added that some of the music and poems heard at funerals lacks the appropriate solemnity.

It comes after another Church of England cleric caused uproar by admitting that secular funerals left him feeling “like a lemon”.

Fr Ed Tomlinson complained that hymns and prayers were being replaced by a “poem from nan” and that he had better things to do than stand by as mourners listened to Tina Turner or Frank Sinatra.

In the May issue of Chester Diocesan News, Dr Forster said that his mind had turned to funerals having recently turned 60.

He wrote: “My mind has been concentrated by another experience, which is becoming more common: to go to a funeral, only to find that the cremation or burial has taken place earlier in the day, and the funeral has become a celebration of the deceased’s life. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Religion's regressive hold on animal rights issues

(Ed: Bear in mind that Singer's views on animals include the notion that objections to sex between humans and animals are equally irrationally bolstered by the Judaeo-Christian tradition.)

[...] The chief minister's comment is yet another illustration of the generally regressive influence that religion has on ethical issues – whether they are concerned with the status of women, with sexuality, with end-of-life decisions in medicine, with the environment, or with animals. Although religions do change, they change slowly, and tend to preserve attitudes that have become obsolete and often are positively harmful.

"Go forth and multiply" was a reasonable idea when the world had a few million humans in it. Now, unrestricted multiplication of our species has become a grave risk to the environment of our planet, and a significant cause of infant mortality and poverty. Yet some religious leaders continue to condemn not only abortion, but also contraception, and their condemnation of homosexuality also has the same roots in the non-reproductive nature of same-sex relationships.

In the same way, there has been great progress, worldwide, in attitudes to animals over the past century, but some religious believers, such as Mohamad Ali Rustam, remain stuck with attitudes that were formed many centuries ago. Read more

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Prisoners convert to Islam for jail perks

Inmates are converting to Islam in order to gain perks and the protection of powerful Muslim gangs, the Chief Inspector of Prisons warns today.

Dame Anne Owers says that some convicted criminals are taking up the religion in jail to receive benefits only available to practising Muslims.

The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s — from 2,513 in 1994, or 5 per cent of the population, to 9,795 in 2008, or 11 per cent. Staff at top-security prisons and youth jails have raised concerns about the intimidation of non-Muslims and possible forced conversions.

Dame Anne’s report, Muslim Prisoners’ Experiences, published today, says that, although several high-profile terrorists have been jailed recently, fewer than 1 in 100 Muslim inmates have been convicted of terrorism.

She says that prison staff are suspicious about those practising or converting to the faith and warns that treating Muslim inmates as potential or actual extremists risks radicalising them. The report says: “Many Muslim prisoners stressed the positive and rehabilitative role that Islam played in their lives, and the calm that religious observance could induce in a stressed prison environment. This was in marked contrast to the suspicion that religious observance, and particularly conversion or reversion, tended to produce among staff.” Read more

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Children raised by lesbians 'have fewer behavioural problems'

Teenagers brought up by lesbians achieved better results in school and had a more active social life, the research discovered.

They were also less likely than children of heterosexual parents to engage in aggressive behaviour of break rules.

Researchers concluded that the main cause was because the mothers, who conceived their babies through artificial insemination, were "committed parents" aware that their children may face difficulties at school because of their upbringing.

They therefore took an active interest in their child's education and many chose to attend parenting classes. The mothers also tended to be older than mothers who had conceived naturally. Read moreNo comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Church of England Evangelical Council appeals to parishes for funding

(Ed: Please bring this to the attention of your church as appropriate)

To the Incumbent and PCC

We write to ask whether you would be willing to support financially the work of the Church of England Evangelical Council.

The Council exists to bring together representatives of evangelicals ‘To promote effective consultation… order that the evangelical heritage, as expressed in the Basis of Faith, may be better applied to contemporary opportunities and problems in church and nation….To seek primarily to identify key issues, to work for the development of a common mind and concerted action on each, and should this not prove possible, to map out the different views held.’ (Extract from the CEEC Constitution)

As you are aware there are a number of major issues before the church at the present time and CEEC is seeking to represent all evangelicals as we react to them. Our work can only continue if we have sound financial backing.

Over half of the members of the Council are elected – some by the Diocesan Evangelical Fellowships, others by the Evangelical Group on General Synod, and others by the Principals of the evangelical Theological Colleges. The rest are representatives of various evangelical Societies and Networks and people co-opted on account of particular experience and expertise.

You will find further information about the Council on our website .

Please would you consider making a regular contribution to the work of CEEC?

Yours in Christ

{Wallace Benn – President} {Michael Lawson – Chairman}

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Three Anglican bishops hold talks with the Vatican over apostolic constitution

Read here.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Review of 'The World Turned Upside Down' by Melanie Phillips

In the West we are involved in a war of worldviews. On the one side is the Judeo-Christian worldview. Opposed to it are various contenders, chief of which are two main rivals: radical secular leftism, and radical Islam. Indeed, Phillips notes the many striking similarities between the Western progressives and the Islamists.

Both are a threat to the free West and to Judeo-Christian values because both are involved in coercive utopianism; both demonise any dissent from their ideology; and both have declared war against Israel and the Jewish people. And often these two forces find themselves working together in their assault on the Judeo-Christian West.

In this volume the incisive British journalist examines in detail these and related threats, and highlights how successful these attacks have been in the past few decades. Those familiar with her regular columns for the Spectator and other publications will find familiar ground here.

But this volume allows her to take her brief opinion pieces and develop them in much more depth and detail. In 18 meaty chapters she chronicles this war of worldviews, and demonstrates how very much at risk Western civilisation in fact is. She clearly delineates “The global battle over God, truth, and power” as the subtitle puts it. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

As pregnancies on the frontline soar, MoD tells women soldiers: Carry a condom

The Ministry of Defence has launched a campaign warning female soldiers to carry condoms after an alarming number of pregnancies at bases in Afghanistan.

Adverts in the Army’s official magazine Soldier warn ‘on deployment, there’ll be 50 blokes to each woman’ and urge female squaddies, medics and administrative staff to use a condom or ‘face something you really don’t want to hear.’

Officially, a ‘no-touching’ rule bans military personnel from having sex in a war zone. But, according to senior officers, provided sexual relationships are between soldiers of a similar rank and do not impact on operations commanders often turn a blind eye.

Read more
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Saturday, 15 May 2010

US Church set to ordain lesbian bishop

The Episcopal Church in the US is set to go ahead with the controversial ordination of an openly lesbian bishop.

Saturday's ordination comes despite warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury that it will deepen an already bitter dispute on sexuality.

Canon Mary Glasspool, 56, will become an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, the first openly gay US bishop since Gene Robinson seven years ago.

Since then the Anglican Communion has been on course for a permanent split. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Footage of police arresting Christian street preacher in Cumbria, England

View here

And just when did the British police start referring to members of the public as 'mate'?

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Magistrate told off for branding boys who desecrated cathedral 'absolute scum'

A magistrate who branded two boys 'absolute scum' after they desecrated a cathedral faces disciplinary action.

The 16-year-old boys wrote racist and sexually-abusive graffiti in prayer books, and bent a priceless John The Baptist cross out of shape at Blackburn Cathedral, causing £3,000 damage.

Pages were also torn out of the prayer books and insults written in the prayer and visitor books included: 'I will kill all Jews. Don’t underestimate me', and lurid sexual comments about ‘the vicar'.

They were caught after they wrote their names in the visitors' book.
Desecrated: Blackburn Cathedral where the two boys wrote racist and sexually-abusive comments in prayer books and bent a statue of John The Baptist

Chairman of the bench at Blackburn Magistrates' Court Austin Molloy labelled the boys 'absolute scum' during the sentencing yesterday at the Youth Court.

But he was immediately criticised by the court clerk who stood up and objected to the use of the 'inappropriate language'.

The mother of one of the boys said she would be making an official complaint.

Read more
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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Church of England clergy asked to cut costs as recession takes toll

Clergy in the Church of England are being asked to cut their cloth to suit the economic times and to prepare for mergers and staff cuts that could drastically reduce pastoral care and worship.

A report on finances has found that a quarter of all 44 dioceses are running deficits and plundering reserves to pay stipends and pensions. A similar proportion has liquid reserves to last them one month or less.

High staffing levels of clegy and laity are highlighted. The Church of England spends £1 billion a year in salaries and pensions for clergy as well as the upkeep of its buildings, an amount roughly matched by donations from parishes. But rising pension costs mean that every year churchgoers are asked to increase donations. The report, commissioned to help churches to improve “efficiency and effectiveness”, suggests that finances are so finely balanced in some areas that parishoners will have to dig even deeper or face cuts in provision. “Cuts are not inevitable, but are an option that needs to be thought through,” said Paul Gibson, of the accountant Mazars, and the report’s author.

The study of 42 dioceses found that although the Church has assets valued at £3.5 billion, its cashflow is parlous. Between them the dioceses had an income of £388 million in 2008 and spent £384 million. While some are extremely wealthy, 14 dioceses are running deficits. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Church of England Evangelical Council survey on "The Future Role of Bishops in the Church of England"

"The CEEC survey was completed by a reasonable number of respondents, 86% of whom were men, 69% of whom were ordained, and of whom half were aged 50 to 65 with a quarter who were either younger or older. Replies came especially where evangelicals are strongest.

The key dominant issue facing Bishops today was the need for mission, something re-inforced when respondents were asked what should be the top priority for Bishops. The answer was Mission and Teaching the faith. While the issue of declining attendance and the importance of speaking out in public were also seen as crucial they were nevertheless secondary to the key topic of mission."

Download as a pdf here. No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

'Fresh turmoil' over women bishops

The Church of England is facing fresh turmoil within its ranks as it published proposals paving the way for the consecration of women bishops.

Women bishops would be created without safeguards demanded by opponents under plans drawn up by a group working on the legislation.

The scheme, to be debated at the Church's national assembly, rejects measures such as new dioceses or a special class of bishops to cater for objectors.

Instead, women bishops who might be appointed in the future would retain the authority to make local arrangements for objectors if necessary after referring to a statutory code of practice.

The proposals are expected to spark a walkout by some Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals in the Church of England if they are approved by the General Synod of the Church of England meeting in York in July. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Friday, 7 May 2010

So bad it's good: Why do we find evil so much more fascinating than goodness?

The Devil, so they say, has all the best tunes. Why is evil so irresistibly glamorous? Why is it that when I told my 12-year-old son that I was writing a book on evil he replied "Wicked!"? Virtue may be admirable, but it is vice we find sexy. Nobody would have an orange juice with Oliver Twist if they could have a beer with Fagin. As Oscar Wilde remarked, anyone who doesn't find the death of Dickens's saintly Little Nell uproariously funny must have a heart of stone. We all love to boo a villain, whether it's Colonel Gaddafi or Simon Cowell. Popular culture is obsessed with ghouls and vampires, zombies and monsters; this Friday, cinema's archetypal evil guy, Freddy Krueger, returns in a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street. Nothing is more delightful than being scared to death.

When did evil start to look so alluring? One answer might be: when goodness began to look boring. We can blame this on the puritanical middle classes. It is they who redefined virtue as thrift, prudence, meekness, abstinence, chastity and industriousness. It's not hard to see why some people should prefer zombies and vampires. Goodness came to seem negative and restrictive. As the poet Auden wryly remarked, the Ten Commandments consist in observing human behaviour and then inserting a "not".

Yet goodness hadn't always been as dreary as this. For some ancient thinkers such as Aristotle, it was really a matter of knowing how to enjoy yourself. It meant learning how to flourish as a human being, developing your humanity to its fullest, finest extent. Being human on this view is something you have to get good at, like playing the tuba or tolerating bores at sherry parties. For Aristotle, it had an intimate link with happiness. Being virtuous for him was the quickest route to well-being. The good man or woman is one who excels at the precarious business of being human. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Don’t write the Restoration out of history

Samuel Pepys, my very favourite lecher, noted in his diary on May Day 350 years ago that London was ablaze with bonfires, that bells were ringing and that the streets were full of men sunk to their knees, drinking the King’s health. Pepys, ever the kettle-coloured pot, moralised that this excess of drinking was, “methinks a little too much”.

Charles II had been declared the rightful King and was on his way home, restoring the monarchy and setting a seal on the brief British republic, that strange and overlooked brush with theocracy and radicalism.

The poorly named English Civil War, which was in reality a British and Irish, many-stranded revolution, is unaccountably missing from our popular history narrative.

Think of revolution, and what comes to mind? Bolsheviks rampaging through the Winter Palace, stripping gilt from the walls? A Frenchwoman, drunk with blood lust, screaming for another aristocratic head to hit the bucket? Revolutions are for foreigners. They get all the glamour and all the turmoil of violent regime overthrow. The gutters of Paris and St Petersburg filled with revolutionary blood, not London’s.

This 350th anniversary of the Restoration is passing with barely a whimper. Our island story, as told in schools, on television, in fiction, seems to skip straight from Elizabeth I to Queen Victoria, from Virgin to Empress, with lots of apologies for slavery and empire en route. When our history meets our culture, only the Queens count. Read more

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Postmodernism: A Unified Theory of All the Trouble in the World

Like the "fatal error" message that pops up unexpectedly on a computer, the phrase itself is menacing: "post-normal science." I ran across the phrase as I was reading Climate Change and the Death of Science. The author's explanation did nothing to allay my anxiety.

Once there was modern science, which was hard work; now we have postmodern science, where the quest for real, absolute truth is outdated, and "science" is a wax nose that can be twisted in any direction to underpin the latest lying narrative in the pursuit of power. Except they didn't call it ‘postmodern' science because then we might smell a rat. They called it PNS (post-normal science) and hoped we wouldn't notice.

This death sentence for science left me with the same enervating feeling I get at the precise moment I realize my hard drive is crashing. How could science, too, fall into the grasp of postmodernism's insanity? The author continues:

What has become of science? We thought that science was about the pursuit of truth. Then we became perplexed at how quickly scientists have prostituted themselves in the service of political agendas ... scientists refusing to share their data, fiddling their results, and resorting to ad hominem attacks on those who have exposed their work to be fraudulent.

Science has succumbed to the same virus that beset literature, art, economics, and the rest of the social sciences: postmodernism. Postmodernism is a progressive virus that negates reason, objectivity, and truth -- replacing them with relativism, subjectivism, and pragmatism. Having colonized every other branch of academics decades ago, postmodernism has now come for science. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Desmond Tutu: 'South Africa has lost its pride'

Desmond Tutu has delivered a withering verdict on the state of South Africa as the country prepares to host the continent's first football World Cup.

The archbishop emeritus, often described as South Africa's moral conscience, condemned rampant crime and corruption and said the legacy of racial apartheid was still being felt.

Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president, now a frail 91 and deep in retirement, would be deeply saddened if he was aware of recent events, he added.

"Something happened to us," Tutu, 78, told South Africa's Die Burger newspaper. "It looks like we have lost our pride. And it is not because of poverty.

"I don't want to make apartheid the scapegoat, but it might be that we are unaware of the damage that was caused. To all of us South Africans. "The damage to people who implemented such an inhuman policy, as well as the damage done to the victims." Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Thousands of Anglican churchgoers could cross over to Rome with bishops

Churchgoers in almost 300 parishes that disapprove of women priests may take advantage of Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to change denomination if their “flying bishops” lead the way.

However the Church of England is expected to make a last-ditch attempt to stop the disillusioned groups leaving, by offering them concessions over the introduction of female bishops.

As The Sunday Telegraph disclosed, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet held a secret meeting with papal advisers last week to discuss plans for Anglicans to convert to the Roman Catholic Church en masse.

At least one key member of the English Catholic church’s commission on the Anglican Ordinariate – the Pope’s move to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Holy See while retaining some of their spiritual heritage – was in Rome at the same time. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Church warned that flag of Jesus is 'religious advertising'

Rev Mark Binney, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Hampton, Worcs, said he had been told he needed planning permission if he wanted to fly a flag “advertising Christianity” in future.

The flag was put up outside the church in the week preceding Easter Sunday displaying the words 'This is Holy Week' and an image of Jesus on the cross.

Mr Binney said the warning was “appalling”, and he felt it was part of a gradual erosion of Christianity in Britain.

Wychavon council said it investigated a complaint from a member of the public and decided no consent was required. Read More No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Special legal protection of Christianity 'divisive, capricious and arbitrary'

Christianity deserves no protection in law above other faiths and to do so would be “irrational” , “divisive, capricious and arbitrary”, a senior judge said today, as he rejected a marriage guidance counsellor’s attempt to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples.

In the latest clash between the judiciary and Christian believers, Lord Justice Laws said that laws could not be used to protect one religion above another.

He also delivered a robust dismissal to the former Archbishop of Canterbury who had warned that a series of recent court rulings against Christians could lead to “civil unrest.”

To give one religion legal protection over any other, “however long its tradition, however rich its culture, is deeply unprincipled”, the judge said.

It would give legal force to a “subjective opinion” and would lead to a “theocracy”, which is of necessity autocratic.” Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Relate therapist Gary McFarlane loses appeal bid

A relationship counsellor's bid to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples has been turned down by the High Court.

Gary McFarlane, 48, from Bristol, was sacked by Relate Avon in 2008. He claimed the service had refused to accommodate his Christian beliefs.

Lord Justice Laws said legislation for the protection of views held purely on religious grounds cannot be justified.

He said it was irrational and "also divisive, capricious and arbitrary". Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

FCA General Secretary ABp Peter Jensen responds to the Global South to South Encounter

The image of the trumpet blast seems to be an over-dramatic description of the communiqué issued from the latest Global South Encounter. In fact, the response to it has been somewhat muted. But as a guest at the conference, I believe that it fully deserves the title ‘trumpet’ and will in time be regarded as an historic statement.

One reason why it fails to create a strong reaction is that it simply confirms the obvious. The crisis moment has now passed. Many of the Global South provinces have given up on the official North American Anglicans (TEC and the Canadian Church) and regard themselves as being out of communion with them. They renew the call for repentance but can see that, failing something like the Great Awakening, it will not occur. The positive side to this is that they are committed to achieving self-sufficiency so that they will cease to rely on the Western churches for aid. That is something the Global South has been working on for some time, with success.

In my judgment, the assembly was unresponsive to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s video greetings. I don’t think that what he said was obscure. It just seemed to be from another age, another world. His plea for patience misjudged the situation by several years and his talk of the Anglican covenant was not where the actual conference was at. He seemed to suggest that the consecration of a partnered lesbian Bishop will create a crisis. In fact the crisis itself has passed. We are now on the further side of the critical moment; the decisions have all been made; we are already living with the consequences. And it was in working out the consequences that the communiqué may eventually be seen to be historic. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Would-be Tory MP Philip Lardner is sacked over anti-gay comments

A would-be Tory MP from Scotland has been suspended after describing gay people as not "normal”, it was disclosed today.

The comments made by Philip Lardner on his campaign website were branded “deeply offensive and unacceptable” by a party spokeswoman.

Under the heading "What I believe in", the North Ayrshire and Arran candidate had written: “Homosexuality is not ’normal behaviour’.”

The seat is a Labour stronghold, where Katy Clark was returned with a majority of more than 11,000 at the last general election.

The comments have now been removed from the website but the gay news service Pink News said Mr Lardner, a primary school teacher, declared his support for parents and teachers who do not want their children to be taught about gay rights. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Shocking disgrace of Pope memo: God Save Our World

In The Sunday Times online we report that the Pope's advisers are starting to regret he ever accepted the invitation to come to Britain in September. This emerged following the Fantastic exclusive by my colleague in religious affairs, Jonathan Wynne-Jones at The Sunday Telegraph, on the astonishing memo dreamed up by some Oxbridge person at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. To Jonathan's revelations I can add one more line. The memo also suggested that, during the visit, the National Anthem be changed from God Save the Queen to God Save the World. For a commentary, former Ambassador to Italy Sir Ivor Roberts told me: 'I cannot think of a Papal visit anywhere in the world where the host government has had to apologise so profusely and abjectly in advancing for the appalling behaviour of one of its officials.'

He added: 'It is quite disturbing that they should be so badly organised to have someone in charge of the visit at the Foreign Office who has so little common sense and such a puerile sense of humour and who does not seem to realise he is in a department of state which by and large tries to improve relations between states and organisations, not make matters worse or create tensions where they did not exist. He or she might want to think about whether they should take another job, such as in the Treasury, where they can't do much harm.' Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Bishop of Durham to retire

THE Bishop of Durham is to retire, it has been announced this morning.

The Right Reverend Tom Wright, will step down on August 31.

Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, and will take up a new appointment as research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

"This has been the hardest decision of my life," said Dr Wright. Read more 

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Viewpoint: What has happened to the Foreign Office?

When I first saw the headline about the Foreign Office and the Pope I thought at first this was probably a silly internal e-mail or maybe even an April Fool's joke.


One word showed that this was actually a formal document. The Foreign Office statement of regret/anger/embarrassment said it had been "withdrawn". This meant of course that it had been circulated and it was something I had trouble in getting my head round.

This did not seem to be the Foreign Office I have known.

It turned out that the list of ideas for the papal visit ("Benedict" condoms, blessing of a gay marriage etc) had been drawn up by a team "brainstorming" for the visit and was attached to an invitation to a wider meeting.

This was definitely not the Foreign Office I have known.

"You cannot be serious" was my immediate thought. It still is.

The memo was sent with a somewhat unnecessary warning that some suggestions were possibly "far-fetched" (so why send them?) and with a necessary but dangerous warning that it was not for external exposure, often a hint of something spicy to a determined leaker. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Foreign Office forced to apologise to Pope after officials' wrote mocking memo about 'Benedict' brand condoms

The Government has been plunged into a major diplomatic storm after Foreign Office officials circulated an offensive memo mocking the Pope's forthcoming visit to Britain.

In the document, staff who were asked to propose ideas for the 'ideal' visit suggested Benedict XVI could launch a new range of 'Benedict' condoms or back a Miss Developing World beauty contest.

Sources in Rome said the document also proposed that the Pope might sing a duet with the Queen to raise money for charity. The pair are due to meet during the Pontiff's visit in September. Read more  

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

“Light for the Nations” – GSE4 Day 3 Report, 21st April 2010

The Global South-to-South Encounter entered into its third. What does it mean for the Churches in the Global South to be a “Light for the Nations?

The day started with Archbishop Robert Duncan presiding at Holy Communion. In his homily, Abp Peter Jensen reminded us that we, who are “deeply, truly and permanently loved” are truly free. We do not “go our own way” to find freedom, but we come to Jesus, the bread of life. Assistant Bishop Rennis Ponniah, led the Bible Study, sharing from Isaiah 42:1-9. Bp Ponniah emphasized the vital need for a fresh vision of the Church. The scope of the Church’s ministry has to include the bringing forth of God’s justice in society, by modeling covenantal relations and by teaching society the keeping of God’s moral law. The nature of the Church’s presence is as a servant to the world’s needs; Anglican ministers are not celebrities, but celebrants. Finally, Bp Ponniah once again reminded us to look to the Holy Spirit as the source of the Church’s power, to give us an indefatigable constancy to do God’s work every day. Read more
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Global South to South encounter: Thematic Address 3: “Light for the Nations” - Rev Dr Paul Swarup

We started by looking at the covenant with Abraham where Yahweh had promised Abraham that he would be a blessing to the nations. We noticed in Gen 18:19 that God had called Abraham in order that he would direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord would bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. Election, Ethics and Mission are directly related to each other. If we have been called as the Covenant Community then we are called to lead ethical lives so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would reach the ends of the earth. Even though God’s call was to a particular person in a particular period in a particular location, the purpose was for the universal blessing of humanity. Through Abraham the nation of Israel was to fulfill the role of a Servant and be a blessing to the nations, but Israel miserably failed in her mission. It is Jesus the suffering Servant who eventually fulfilled the role of a Servant and brought blessing to the nations by his life, death and resurrection. After the resurrection of Jesus, the early Christians carried on this work of being a light to the nations as they shared the good news of Jesus from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Now, the Global South believing community has the same ethical challenge before it. We are the descendents of Abraham by faith in Jesus. We too are called to keep the way of the Lord. If we walk in the way of the Lord – by following the instruction of the Lord – in other words God’s word is to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Scripture has to be our guiding factor in our decision making.

If we pursue justice – that is if we seek course correction – if we act as a plumb line showing where the wall has gone off plumb then we would be acting as the light to the nations. We can only be a light to the nations by doing justice – by this we are calling people to be accountable. Peter proclaims to the Jews in his encounter with Cornelius that he was proclaiming Jesus whom God appointed judge of the living and the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the final putting-to-rights of all human injustice. In the light of the Resurrection, the Covenant Community must never stop reminding the world's rulers and authorities as well as its own rulers and authorities that they themselves will be held to account, and that they must do justice and bring wise, healing order to God's world ahead of the day of the Lord’s coming. Read more
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Monday, 19 April 2010

The Video That Ended a Career

When it comes to incriminating videos these days, the one of Bruce K. Waltke might seem pretty tame. It shows the noted evangelical scholar of the Old Testament talking about scholarship, faith and evolution. What was incriminating? He not only endorsed evolution, but said that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming to accept science.

"If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult ... some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God's Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness," he says, according to several accounts by those who have seen the video. Those words set off a furor at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Waltke was -- until this week -- a professor. (The seminary is evangelical, with ties to several denominations.)

The statements so upset officials of the seminary that Waltke had to ask the BioLogos Foundation, a group that promotes the idea that science and faith need not be incompatible, to remove it from its Web site (which the foundation did) and to post a clarification. The video was shot during a BioLogos workshop. But even those steps weren't enough for the seminary, which announced that it had accepted his resignation. Read more
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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Binge-drinking: What happened to our sense of shame?

... none of this properly explains why so many people are prepared to set out for a night’s boozing utterly determined to get so drunk they will no longer be in control of themselves and remain utterly unashamed by it. Which takes me back to where I started: the absence of shame.

That’s the big change, isn’t it? We seem no longer to be as constrained by the social mores as we once were.

We want to let it all hang out. Everything. Grief is a public commodity and no longer a private emotion. It may have started with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but it’s come a long way since.

You wonder about our sense of dignity when a supermarket has to ban its customers from shopping in their nighties. And when “housemates” on Big Brother are happy to be viewed having sex. And when you are as likely to hear the sort of foul language in the park that would once have been restricted to the football terraces.

Maybe the new shamelessness is connected to what some perceive as a breakdown in discipline in so many areas, especially schools. The reluctance to respect authority converts easily into a reluctance to respect each other and, ultimately, to respect ourselves. Read more
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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Anglicanism has lost its integrity, conservatives say

THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Primates Council has bracketed the UK with Kenya and Uganda as nations “where Christian views are marginalised and ignored”.

England is also defined as an “Associate Par­ticipant”, along with Australia, New Zealand, the Anglican Church in North America, and the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church in the United States, in the “Fourth Global South to South Encounter” to be held in Singapore later this month.

The Council, which constitutes the Primates of Nigeria, West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the Southern Cone, to­gether with the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, and the leader of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Robert Duncan, was meeting in Bermuda as guests of the American businessman Emmanuel Kam­pouris (News, 9 April). Read more
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British bishop convicted of denying Holocaust by German court

A British bishop was yesterday fined €10,000 (£8,750) by a German court for continuing to insist the mass extermination of Jews by the Nazis did not take place.

A court in the southern German city of Regensburg convicted Bishop Richard Williamson of inciting racial hatred for stating in a television interview aired in January 2009 that only '200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps'.

He also denied the Nazis had used gas chambers.

Read more

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Removal of post

A post on this blog made on 21st June 2008, linking to an online news story about Graham Brandreth Wills has been removed at his request, due to his allegation that "The vast majority of the article is incorrect."

Anyone who has read, or may read, the article should please bear this assertion in mind.

John Richardson

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Dawkins U-turns on clerical abuse

For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can’t help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America… We should be aware of the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown great courage, in the face of spiteful vested interests, in demonstrating how easy it is for people to concoct memories that are entirely false but which seem, to the victim, every bit as real as true memories. This is so counter-intuitive that juries are easily swayed by sincere but false testimony from witnesses.

(The God Delusion, pp. 315-16) Read more
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School receptionist prayer case settled

A school receptionist who was suing her employers for religious discrimination following a dispute over a prayer email has secured an undisclosed payment and settled out of court.

Jennie Cain’s case was backed by The Christian Institute and they are pleased that the dispute has been resolved.

News of the settlement comes in a joint press release issued today by Devon County Council and The Christian Institute. Read more
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Friday, 2 April 2010

Anglicans in Essex clash over Pope Benedict's offer

Traditionalist Anglicans in Essex say they are being shunned by neighbouring parishes after it emerged that they were considering taking up the Pope's offer of joining a "personal ordinariate".

In a letter addressed to the area dean of Waltham Forest and copied to the parish priest of the Anglo-Catholic St Margaret's Leytonstone Fr Robert Page, the clergy of the three adjoining parishes said that they did not want members of the ordinariate to worship in the parish.

The letter to Fr Stephen Saxby, written by Fr Raymond Draper of St John the Baptist, Leytonstone, on behalf of the three parishes said: "If Fr Rob and a group from St Margaret's choose to explore the new Anglican ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church, we wish them well in this experiment.

"But we do not think it would be realistic to allow a new and rival group under the former parish priest to worship at St Margaret's or to worship in St Margaret's parish. To do this would be to put an impossible burden on the loyalty of Anglicans in St Margaret's church and to place any new incumbent in an intolerable situation."

According to the letter, the priests from the adjoining parishes discussed the future of the area as if Fr Page was no longer the parish priest of St Margaret's Leytonstone. They proposed to cluster the four parishes of St Margaret's Leytonstone, St Andrew's Leytonstone, Holy Trinity Harrow Green and St John's Leytonstone into a group of affirming Anglican churches. Read more
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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter Show bans Jesus

Bible Society NSW has received communication that it was not able to secure a 'Jesus. All About Life' stall at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year due to it being of a religious nature.

“It’s a curious thing that an event bearing the name “Easter” has disallowed anything to do with the very thing Easter is all about – the death and resurrection of Jesus,” says CEO of Bible Society NSW, Daniel Willis.

Thousands of Easter Eggs, Scripture resources and Youth material meant to be handed out at this year’s Royal Easter Show will now be given away at an alternative location. Read more
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Isa savers ‘cheated of billions’ by banks

[Ed: Of course, one answer is the Stocks and Shares ISA, but as they say, the value of your investment can go down as well as up and they are not entirely tax free.]

A tax break created by Gordon Brown to encourage millions of people to save has degenerated into a £3 billion a year rip-off that enriches the banks, according to a damning verdict from the statutory consumer watchdog.

Consumer Focus has made a formal complaint to the Office of Fair Trading alleging that cash Isas pay derisory rates of interest and that banks use unfair obstacles to stop people from switching to better deals. The OFT has 90 days to respond.

“It beggars belief that in 21st century Britain it takes a month to transfer information and funds from one bank to another,” said Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus. “The average Isa saver is getting a poor deal.” Read more
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Isas prove why trust is in such short supply

The banks came in for a good bashing from the three Chancellors on Monday night. And yesterday brought yet more evidence of how richly deserved the public abuse seems.

The Consumer Focus report on cash Isas makes depressing reading. It is very hard to defend the banks against the charge that they shamelessly exploit ignorance and inertia to give millions of their customers a very bad deal. The banks make good use of “bait and switch” tactics with other savings products, enticing customers in with high teaser rates then reducing them once the fish is hooked. With cash Isas the behaviour appears especially egregious. Historically, the rate of tax-free interest offered on cash Isas was higher than on other savings accounts. But that has now changed, with the average cash Isa paying depositors only 0.41 per cent.

For the banks, that represents a very nice turn on the £158 billion sitting in cash Isas. Consumer Focus reckons savers are being shortchanged by up to £3 billion a year. Read more
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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Pet shop owner fined £1,000 and told to wear an electronic tag... for selling a GOLDFISH to a boy aged 14

Buying a goldfish at a pet shop used to be an innocent childhood pleasure.

But today an elderly pet shop owner told how she was 'entrapped' into selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old schoolboy, then warned she could face jail.

She had breached a law introduced in 2006 which bans selling live fish to anyone under 16.

After a prosecution estimated to have cost taxpayers £20,0000, Joan Higgins, 66, a great-grandmother who has never been in trouble before, has been forced to wear a tag on her ankle like common criminal and given a seven-week curfew.

Her son, Mark, 47 was also handed a fine and ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work in the community. Read more
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Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell slams £1,000 fine for street preacher who said homosexuality is a sin

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has defended a Christian street preacher fined £1,000 for telling passers-by homosexuality is a sin.

Born-again Baptist Shawn Holes was taken away from a busy shopping street in a police van and locked up in a cell for the night.

Mr Holes was charged with 'uttering homophobic remarks' in a breach of the peace that prosecutors said was 'aggravated by religious prejudice' and appeared in court the next day.

Last night leading gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said he supported Mr Holes, attacking his fine as 'heavy-handed' and 'totally disproportionate'.

He said: 'The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.

'Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.' Read more
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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Budget 2010: We are in danger of ignoring Britain’s real debt disaster

Every day, especially in this Budget week, you can read articles to your heart's discontent about government debt. I am not objecting to that: government debt is just as big a problem as people say it is. But you read very little just now about the personal debt which threatened to destroy us 18 months ago. Yet it explains our unhappiness, and our poor future, just as clearly as does Gordon Brown's borrowing. You have to put the two forms of debt together to see why we, as a country, as individuals, and as a political system with an election coming, do not know what to do next.

In 2003, which is now generally accepted as the year when policy in the Western world decisively took the path of profligacy, the mortgage debt of the British people amounted to £775 billion, or 68 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. This year, it is reckoned to be £1,253 billion, which is 86 per cent of GDP and works out at £49,000 per household. On top of that is another £340 billion of other forms of household debt, which pushes what we, as individuals, owe, to 9 per cent more than what the country produces in a year. All this debt is still growing. Read more
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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

The blurb says, "Adored by secularists, feared by the pious, Sam Harris' best-selling books argue that religion is ruinous and, worse, stupid - and that questioning religious faith might just save civilization."

Watch a (very slick!) video of the man here.

Actually his views have nothing necessarily to do with 'science'. It is just a common sense pragmatism: moral value = what reduces suffering.

There's some attacks on some religious practices (eg veiling), which seems enough to indicate, in his view, that religion is 'bad morality'.

Watch out for the bit early on where he shows a map of US states that permit corporal punishment in schools. It shows more than half the US, with these states coloured red. Most of them are in the south, 'therefore' it is all about the commands from God, spare the rod, spoil the child. What he doesn't show is something more like this diagram here, which, with the accompanying article, indicates that in seven of the states where corporal punishment is legal, fewer than 0.1% of pupils actually receive this form of punishment in 2002, whilst three-quarters of the instances were in just five of the twenty-two states on is map.

So apparently being a bit disingenuous in the interests of making a point is morally OK if you're a 'scientist'.

Slick? Yes. Profound? No. Scientific? Don't make me laugh.

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Anglican Cathedral Congregation Welcomes Witches

Just up the road in Asheville it seems the Episcopalians are welcoming witches onto their property to celebrate the Spring equinox together. The original news story is here and Midwest Conservative Journal waxes eloquent here.

As it happens Asheville witch Byron Ballard is cousin to a very good friend of ours who lives here in Greenville. What a small world it is! I hasten to add that our friend is a very good Catholic. No bedknobs and broomsticks or wicked old Wicca here, I can assure you.

Of course it is rather easy to poke fun at aging ladies in flowing robes and dangly earrings lighting candles and dancing around in a circle to celebrate the flowering of mother earth, and the Episcopal Church is an easy target for such ridicule, but we ought to stop chortling for a moment and realize that the witchy folks are very serious about their witchcraft, and while ridicule is one response we should remember that any sort of dabbling in the occult opens one to demonic infestation. All the literature on the deliverance ministry affirms that the easiest way to pick up a nasty spirit is through intentional occult activity.

This being the case, what can we say about the fact that a once Christian denomination--the Episcopal Church--and an Episcopal cathedral no less-- is welcoming a pagan group of witches onto their property? We might be dismayed, but why should we be surprised? Read more
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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Passerby reported to police after trying to help schoolboy from tree

(Ed: "reported to the police"???)

A woman was reported to the police after going to the aid of a child left in a tree because it was the school's policy not to help youngsters in that situation.

Kim Barrett was passing Manor primary school, in Melksham, Wiltshire, when she saw a five-year-old boy apparently stuck in a tree. She went to help him but next day received a visit from a police community support officer, who told her she had been trespassing, she said.

Manor primary school today admitted that its policy was to observe children who climb into trees from a distance rather than go to them, for fear the pupil might be distracted and fall, or feel rewarded for bad behaviour.

It claimed the incident was shortlived and urged adults not to enter school grounds without permission.

Barrett, who has a six-year-old daughter at a different school, today said she was shocked by the policy. She had simply wanted to help the boy and was upset at how the school had responded. Read more
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Saudi woman poet lashes out at clerics in 'Arabic Idol'

[...] Ms Hilal earned her place in the final with a performance last week, which was seen as a response to a prominent Saudi cleric's call for those who advocated the mingling of men and women to be punished with death. In a 15-verse work, she railed against preachers who "sit in the position of power", "frightening" people with their religious edicts.

"I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas, at a time when the permitted is being twisted into the forbidden," she said, with only her microphone and her eyes visible against the uniform black of her burqa. The clerics, she went on – and, by extension, suicide bombers who wrap explosives around their waists – "are vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt".

It was a bold message indeed, and in Saudi Arabia, where unmarried men and women are entirely segregated, a highly controversial one. But when she finished, the ranks of men listening erupted into cheers, and the judges sent her into today's final with compliments ringing in her ears. Read more
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Rory Fitzgerald meets the controversial former Bishop of Rochester and unofficial leader of conservative Anglicans

[...] Dr Nazir-Ali speaks weighty words at a hypnotic pace, each word enunciated with a trace of a soft Pakistani accent. You know that you are in the presence of a profound and incisive mind. I refer to Churchill's speech in 1940 and ask whether he feels that Christian civilisation is now endangered.

"I used to speak of a moral and spiritual vacuum that was created by the catastrophic loss of discourse in terms of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in the public place," he says.

"I think that vacuum is now giving way to a hostility to the Judaeo-Christian worldview. "I am pursuing a twin track on this: on the one hand you have to uphold the Judaeo-Christian tradition as a basis for making the most important moral decisions that need to be made.

"At same time, I am conscious that if present trends continue, we need another strategy... [as] in the last Dark Age, when Christian communities preserved the Gospel learning, and a kind of humanism, so that there were lights in the darkness. I think it would be wise for the churches also to build strong moral and spiritual communities that can survive and flourish in the darkness, and indeed attract other people to themselves. That's the way I have begun to think." Read more
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MP quizzed by police after saying 'wearing burkha was like having paper bag over your head'

(Ed: I wonder what would happen if I said the burka feels to me like the religious equivalent of a hoodie?)

A Tory MP has been investigated by police for alleged racial hatred after criticising the burka during a Commons debate.

Philip Hollobone described the garment as 'the religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes'.

Northamptonshire Race Equality Council, which is funded by taxpayers, complained to police.

Mr Hollobone, pictured, said the group wanted to see him prosecuted for inciting religious hatred but the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to take action.

Debates in Westminster are protected by parliamentary privilege. Read more

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Atheists and believers walkout ends Government advisory group on religion

The Government’s main advisory group on religion has collapsed in acrimony after church groups walked out in a row between atheists and believers.

The Church of England condemned the group as “not fit for purpose” and complained that each meeting degenerated into an “impasse” between secularists and the religious. Secularists hit back, accusing Christians of “triumphalism and bullying”. Muslims had already stopped attending the group, whose remaining few members are meeting tomorrow to decide whether it is worth carrying on at all.

Hindus, Baha’is and secularists are still represented but the Church of England, Salvation Army, Methodist Church and Roman Catholic Church have all left, jeopardising its future. Read more
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Monday, 22 March 2010

New Bishop of Chelmsford: "Christian voice must counter racist voices"

The next Bishop of Chelmsford has urged people in his diocese not to vote for the British National Party in the forthcoming general election.

The Right Reverend Steven Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading - who was named as the next Bishop of the Essex and East London Diocese - said the “Christian voice must counter racist voices”.

The 51-year-old, who will be the bishop of the second largest populated diocese in the country behind London, said people must exercise their right to vote despite a lack of confidence in the political system.

”My message to voters is to go out and vote, despite an understandable anxiety and dissolution in the political process,” he said.

”I believe the particular Christian message to offer here is that we do want to live in a world which offers difference and diversity. Read more
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(From 2004): Stephen Cottrell "My mind is not made up"

Canon Stephen Cottrell, 45, Pastor at Peterborough Cathedral, who was named by Downing Street yesterday, is married, with three children. He is a liberal Anglo-Catholic, and no less radical in his beliefs than Dr John.

An adherent of church policy on homosexuality, Canon Cottrell said: “My personal view has been one that has been open to what God is trying to say to us through the experience of gay and lesbian people. I feel this is an open question. My mind is not made up.”

Canon Cottrell said he had supported the choice of Dr John for Reading when it was announced last year. This, he said, was because Dr John also backed the official line and as a celibate homosexual was not himself in breach of church policy. Read more
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Stephen Cottrell to be new Bishop of Chelmsford

(Which is interesting, considering my blog post last week which observed:

When Jeffery John was forced to stand down as Bishop of Reading, the appointment of Stephen Cottrell as his successor was greeted with enthusiasm by evangelicals within the Diocese of Oxford. Yet John and Cottrell are both members of the liberal group, Affirming Catholicism, and a glance at the cover of this book (published in 1998) is a salutory warning that the two men may differ little in underlying theology. For what reason, then, was Cottrell welcomed in place of John, other than that he was not a homosexual?
We shall see. Ed)

1.  New Bishop of Chelmsford

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading, has been nominated by Her Majesty the Queen as Bishop of Chelmsford in succession to The Right Reverend John Gladwin. He will be the tenth Bishop of Chelmsford.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell said: “I was born and brought up in Essex, and it is still the place I think of as home. Now I have been invited to return to this large, diverse and richly varied diocese to serve as your bishop. It is an immense privilege.

“What sustains me in ministry is the joy and beauty of the gospel. I want us to be a church that is gospel centred, servant hearted and mission focused. I am hungry for us to be a church that connects with every person and every community.

“I am excited by the prospect of getting to know and working alongside the parishes and communities of East London and Essex that make up this great diocese. I look forward to working with new colleagues and making new friends. Building upon the work of those who have gone before us in the faith, together we can do something beautiful for God in the communities we have been called to serve.

“For me coming to Essex and East London feels like coming home. However this is not the end of the journey. We must set our sights on the glory of God and on his son Jesus Christ and on the needs of the world - this is the path we will travel together.”

The Bishop of Bradwell, Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, added: “We are delighted that Bishop Stephen Cottrell is to become the new Diocesan Bishop of Chelmsford.   Bishop Stephen is an exceptional man, whose abiding concern is that we all catch that glimpse of the wonder of God which can change our lives.  

“He is man of prayer who has a shrewd eye for the important issues of the day.  His books are always challenging and delightful, and he will bring new insights about how we should respond to Gods love and justice amidst the worlds challenges.   He is family man of great warmth and charm, and we look forward to learning from him and working with him here in Essex and East London.”
About Stephen Cottrell
  1. Stephen Cottrell was born and brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex (baptised at St Barnabas, Hadleigh; confirmed and married at St Margarets, Leigh-on-Sea). 
  2. He was ordained in 1984, having trained for ministry at St Stephen's House in Oxford. He has served in parishes in London and Chichester, on the staff of Chichester Theological College where he taught apologetics and pastoral studies, as Canon Pastor and Vice-Dean of Peterborough Cathedral, as Missioner in Wakefield Diocese, and as part of Springboard, the Archbishop of Canterburys evangelism team. He was consecrated Bishop in 2004.
  3. The Reading Episcopal Area is part of the Diocese of Oxford. Bishop Stephen has oversight of 200 parishes across Berkshire. He also chairs the Board of Education for the Diocese.
  4. Before ordination he worked in the film industry and for a year at St Christophers Hospice in Sydenham.
  5. He is a founder member of the Church of Englands College of Evangelists and serves on their Governing Body. He also chairs the Church of Englands Religion in Media group.
  6. He is the author of many books, having written widely about evangelism, catechesis, ministry and spirituality. He is one of the team that wrote the Emmaus programme. This is used by about 3,000 churches in Britain, and also around the world, where it has been translated into several languages.
  7. In 2004 he was invited to write the Archbishop of Canterburys Lent book. This is entitled I Thirst (Zondervan 2003).  His most recent books are Do Nothing to Change your Life; discovering what happens when you stop (CHP 2007), Do Nothing Christmas is coming (CHP) and Hit the Ground Kneeling; seeing leadership differently (CHP 2008), a book of Lent and Holy Week meditations The Things He Carried (SPCK 2008) and a follow up book for Easter The Things He Said (SPCK 2009).  He has also written a collection of childrens stories, The Adventures of Naughty Nora (BRF 2008).
  8. Stephen is married to Rebecca, who is a potter and a lecturer in ceramics. They have three teenage sons. When hes not bishoping or writing books hes cooking, attempting to paint, reading poetry, juggling, playing the guitar, trying to play the ukulele banjo or busy with the joys of being a dad.
About the Diocese of Chelmsford
9.      With more than 2.8 million people, the Diocese of Chelmsford is the most populated Church of England region after the Diocese of London. The Diocese of Chelmsford covers the county of Essex, the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock and the five East London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. The Thames Gateway, the main site for the London 2012 Olympic Games and London Stansted Airport are all within its boundaries. There are 608 churches in the Diocese, served by 387 stipendiary clergy, 26 non-stipendiary clergy and 360 Readers. The Diocese is led by the Bishop of Chelmsford and is divided into three Episcopal areas, each under an area bishop.


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