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.