Anglican Samizdat

April 15, 2010

The latest danger to Christians wearing a cross

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 12:08 pm
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Apparently it’s the horror of being mistaken for a rabid fundamentalist.

Ruth Gledhill, who identifies herself as a liberal Christian, has become aware of this ever present danger:

I believe some of what Ruth says here about persecution is spot on: Christians in the West are more inconvenienced than persecuted – although we seem to be heading in the direction of persecution.

As for the rest: well, I think I am going to have to start wearing a cross so that I can have the pleasure of being easily identified as someone with extreme right-wing fundamentalist views.

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April 11, 2010

Intolerance of Christianity

Filed under: The fall of the West — David Jenkins @ 11:31 pm
Tags: ,

Prejudice against Christians seems to be at a fever pitch. I was chatting to an Anglican priest today who told me that he was with a group of non-Christians who, when asked what a clerical collar meant to them, said they associated it with paedophilia.

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are paying a lawyer in an attempt to have the Pope arrested when he visits the UK in September – not, I am sure, to satisfy even their own fanciful and provincial sense of atheistic justice, but to discredit and preferably destroy the Catholic Church.

Christians in the workplace are being singled out and made examples of by what Archbishop George Carey believes are biased judges:

The Church and the judiciary are two of the most venerable pillars of the establishment.

But in an explosive development, war has been declared between them over one of the most fundamental aspects of our society – freedom of religious conscience.

In an unprecedented move, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and other church leaders are calling upon the Master of the Rolls and other senior judges to stand down from future Court of Appeal hearings involving cases of religious discrimination because of the judges’ perceived bias against Christianity.

Christian hoteliers, although they won their case for the supposed hate crime of calling Mohammed a warlord and expressing the opinion that Muslim women are oppressed, are still losing their business:

The two Christian hoteliers cleared last year of insulting a Muslim guest are being forced to sell up because their business has collapsed.

Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are putting their nine-bedroom hotel up for auction in May because they can no longer pay the mortgage.

Despite donations sent to them by Christian supporters from around the world, they still have debts of well over £400,000.

Meanwhile, although a Christian woman is not allowed to wear a cross for fear that it might scratch a patient, Muslim women are allowed unhygienic long sleeves for “religious reasons”:

Muslim doctors and nurses are to be allowed to wear long sleeves for religious reasons – despite the risk of spreading deadly superbugs.

The Department of Health will allow female Muslim staff to opt out of a strict NHS dress code to cover their arms and protect their modesty.

But campaigners warn that the NHS is putting lives at risk because guidance that all staff should be ‘bare below the elbow’ was introduced after long sleeves were blamed for spreading MRSA.

So long Western Civilisation, it was nice while it lasted.

April 5, 2010

Holy Land Christians call for protest…

Filed under: Israel — David Jenkins @ 1:06 pm
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Against the Muslim  persecution of Christians in Palestine?

Don’t be silly. The protest is against something much more important, something discriminatory: Israeli travel permits for Easter.

Christians call for protest against Israeli travel permits for Easter.

Holy Land Christians are calling on their religious leaders to protest against the travel permit system imposed by Israel during Easter celebrations.

The situation is complicated in 2010 by the overlapping of Easter with the Jewish feast of the Passover.

“Any system which assigns entry permits to Easter celebrations necessarily denies the rest of the faithful their rights of participation in these religious events,” they wrote in a letter that has been circulated during the month of March.

Some 103 Christian lay leaders and 21 Christian organizations of all denominations, including the Near East Council of Churches, Gaza and Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, Sabeel, the YMCA-Jerusalem, Bethlehem Bible College, Norwegian Church Aid and Arab Orthodox Society, signed the document.

Like all West Bank Palestinians, Christians must have permits to travel to Jerusalem.

“This is further proof of the inherently discriminatory nature of the denial of the basic rights to religious observance”.

March 29, 2010

A Muslim student doesn’t want ‘in the year of our Lord’ on his diploma

Filed under: Christianity,Islam — David Jenkins @ 8:23 pm
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And he has convinced a cadre of mindless dupes to go along with him:

A group of students at Trinity University is lobbying trustees to drop a reference to “Our Lord” on their diplomas, arguing it does not respect the diversity of religions on campus.

“A diploma is a very personal item, and people want to proudly display it in their offices and homes,” said Sidra Qureshi, president of Trinity Diversity Connection. “By having the phrase ‘In the Year of Our Lord,’ it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ.”

Qureshi, who is Muslim, has led the charge to tweak the wording, winning support from student government and a campus commencement committee. Trustees are expected to consider the students’ request at a May board meeting.

Other students and President Dennis Ahlburg have defended the wording, arguing that references to the school’s Presbyterian roots are appropriate and unobtrusive.

Founded by Presbyterians in 1869, Trinity has been governed by an independent board of trustees since 1969 but maintains a “covenant relationship” with the church.

“Any cultural reference, even if it is religious, our first instinct should not be to remove it, but to accept it and tolerate it,” said Brendan McNamara, president of the College Republicans.

McNamara pointed out that Trinity displays other signs of its Christian heritage, including a chapel on campus, a chaplain, Christmas vespers and a Bible etching on the Trinity seal.

Why, I wonder, did a Muslim student attend a college with such overt Christian symbolism in evidence if he is too fastidious to have “in the year of our Lord” on his diploma?

This could not possibly be an attempt to subvert Christianity in the interests of promoting Islam could it? Surely not.

March 22, 2010

Christian B and B couple face legal action for turning away homosexuals

Filed under: homosexuality — David Jenkins @ 11:09 pm
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Equality hell in action:Add an Image

A Christian bed-and-breakfast owner is facing legal action for breaching discrimination laws after turning away a gay couple.

Susanne Wilkinson said it was ‘against her convictions’ to let the couple share a double bed in the home where she lives with her husband and children.

But she was reported to police after refusing a room to Michael Black, 62, and John Morgan, 56.

Mr Morgan said he and Mr Black, who live together in Brampton, Cambridgeshire, were considering suing not for money but ‘for a principle’.

The principle in question appears to be the grinding into oblivion anyone who is not prepared to accept homosexual activity as other than aberrant – and Christians are in the direct line of fire. This isn’t the first instance.

March 11, 2010

The denaturing of evil

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 2:53 pm
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The New Statesman would like to substitute “damaged” for “evil”:

Bulger killers were damaged, not evil.

Why can we not see Jon Venables and Robert Thompson as both victims and perpetrators?

Since the 1993 murder on Merseyside of the toddler James Bulger, the single most profound shift in our understanding of what creates disturbed children comes not from the criminal justice system, but from neuroscience. It is the graphic evidence for something many parents instinctively feel: that love is as vital to children as breathing. Brain scans conducted in the 1990s on children from Romanian orphanages deprived of almost all human interaction show a virtual black hole where the part of their brains dealing with managing emotions should be. The scans suggest the infant mind is not born but made, building itself like a muscle over the first two years of life as parental attention triggers physical responses in the brain.

In Samuel Butler’s Erehwon, the sick are treated as criminals and those who commit crimes as people in need of healing. For today’s elite, having largely abandoned the idea that the will exists independently of the brain, the latter of Butler’s ideas does not seem too far-fetched. Evil, for an atheist, is not rebellion against absolute moral law, it is simply something he doesn’t like, something that disrupts the harmony of the information processing capacity of his neurons. For example, in Christopher Hitchens’ case it is something that seeks to diminish his ego.

Most people, though, even though they may be adiabolists, instinctively understand that evil is real. In the case of Venables and Thompson, their killing of a helpless toddler was an act of evil for which they bear responsibility; to claim otherwise is to make them less than human – it assumes their freedom of choice had been “damaged” to such an extent by their parents that it no longer existed.

Nevertheless, there is still hope for Venables and Thompson: it is in acknowledging the evil they have done and in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

February 28, 2010

Homosexuals protest that the Roman Catholic Church is too Roman Catholic

Filed under: Christianity,homosexuality — David Jenkins @ 8:09 pm
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From the BBC:

Hundreds of Dutch activists have walked out of a Mass in protest at a Roman Catholic policy of denying communion to practising homosexuals.

On this occasion, the church, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, had already decided not to serve communion, so the protesters left, shouting and singing.

The dispute began earlier this month when a priest in a nearby town refused communion to an openly gay man.

This dispute began during Dutch carnival celebrations earlier in February, when the man chosen to be carnival prince in nearby Reusel was refused communion because of his open homosexuality.

The refusal offended many in the local community.

Several hundred demonstrators, dressed in pink wigs and clothes, left the church in protest.

The man at the centre of the row has said he just wants equal treatment – if he is regarded as a sinner, he wants the priest to refuse communion to all other sinners too.

The man at the centre of the row, rather than come to the Lord’s table as a penitent sinner, wants to argue with God about his particular sinfulness which, presumably, he thinks is so special that it deserves to be affirmed rather than forgiven. That is equal treatment?

February 27, 2010

Rifqa Bary: a few more twists in the plot

Filed under: Christianity,Islam — David Jenkins @ 1:14 pm
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US law enforcement adroitly illustrates the Mr. Bumble Principle.

Read it all at American Thinker:

A girl flees from her home in fear for her life — and law enforcement goes after the people who helped her. That’s the situation in the Rifqa Bary case. The Columbus Dispatch reported this about Rifqa’s friend Brian Williams: “An Ohio minister accused of driving a teenage runaway to a bus station last year has retained a lawyer as police say they’re investigating whether anyone broke the law in helping the Christian convert leave home for Florida.” And why did she flee to Florida? Because, she says, when her devout Muslim father found out she had become a Christian, he said to her, “I will kill you.” And with Islam’s death penalty for apostates, she had to take that seriously. But Rifqa’s father is not in danger of being prosecuted. Brian Williams is.

Law enforcement, in a perverse twist of reality, continues persecuting the Christians in Ohio who helped a teenage apostate escape the death threat (in line with sharia law) made by her family. They are investigating any “criminal wrongdoing with anyone involved in getting her from one location to another.” How many other runaway cases are pursued in this way? How many other teenage girls in America have this attention paid to them by law enforcement? How many teenage girls who sell their bodies for sex and drugs for an adult pimp are pursued this way? And their pimps?

February 16, 2010

How to hit the headlines with a sermon

Filed under: Anglican,Christianity — David Jenkins @ 3:10 pm
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Tell women they should submit to their husbands.

This goes so much against the Zeitgeist, is so politically incorrect and seems so outrageous to contemporary sensibilities that the Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times all carried the story.

Something that was not mentioned in any of the articles is the fact that it was Christianity that elevated women from being the property of a man to being his equal, a child of God. From a review of Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History:

Stark produces impressive evidence that Christianity was deeply appealing to pagan women, for within the Christian sub-culture, women held a much higher status than did women throughout the Greco-Roman world. Women were recognized by Christianity as equal to men, children of God with the same superantural destiny; moreover, the Christian prohibition of polygamy, divorce, birth control, abortion and infanticide contributed to the well-being of women substantially, securing them dignity and rights within both Church and state. One effect of this higher status was to increase the number of Christian women, which in turn led to a superior fertility rate for Christians, another factor in the growth of the faith.

The papers also made little mention of the fact that in Ephesians 5, just after the “wives submit to your own husbands” verse, we find:  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” While women submit to their husbands, husbands have to love their wives as Christ loved the church: in other words, a completely selfless love: the husband would die for his beloved.

Islam makes an interesting contrast: women are considered inferior to men and the Koran encourages a Muslim husband to beat his wife – an activity that is so common it ceases to be news:

When I first began to study the topic I did not realize that an Islamic marriage is not equivalent to a Christian marriage. Its rules, roles, and requirements are different. In a Christian marriage the husband is given the role as head of the household and the wife is expected to submit to the husband’s leadership. However, she is his equal in terms of social status; she is not inferior to him. In Islam the husband is also the head of the marriage, additionally he is his wife’s manager. Women are considered to be “in-between a slave and free man”. Slaves are not equal to their masters, rather they are subservient, managed, and controlled. Similarly, Muslim wives are inferior to their husbands and are managed and controlled.

As for, “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” women have the advantage of being able to sleep through the sermon and ask their husbands about what happened later; husbands have to be wide-eyed in rapt attention.

February 3, 2010

Suicide of the West

Filed under: Christianity,The fall of the West — David Jenkins @ 3:13 pm
Tags: ,

The luminous Theodore Dalrymple:

The secularization of Europe is hardly a secret. Religion’s long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no longer, and hardly even a murmur. In France, the oldest daughter of the Church, fewer than 5 percent of the population attend Mass regularly. The English national church has long been an object of derision, and the current Archbishop of Canterbury succeeds in uniting the substance and appearance of foolishness and unworldliness not with sanctity, but with sanctimony. In Wales, where nonconformist Christianity was the dominant cultural influence, most of the chapels have been converted into residences by interior decorators. Vast outpourings of pietistic writings molder on the shelves of secondhand booksellers, which themselves are closing down daily. In the Netherlands, some elements of the religious pillarization of the state remain: state-funded television channels are still allotted to Protestants and Catholics respectively. But while the shell exists, the substance is gone.

Perhaps it is Ireland that offers the most startling example of secularization because it was a late starter. Late starters, however, are often apt pupils; they catch up fast and even surpass their mentors. When I first went to Ireland, the priest was a god among men; people stood aside to let him pass. No respectable family did not count a nun among its members. As for the Archbishop of Dublin, his word was law; the politicians might propose, but he disposed.

In the historical bat of an eyelid, all that has gone, beyond any hope (or fear) of restoration. It would hardly be too much to say that the Church is now reviled in Ireland. I suspect that if you performed a word-association test using the word “priest,” it would more often than not evoke a response of “pedophile,” “child abuser,” or (at best) “hypocrite.”

The whole article is well worth reading, but I highlighted the above because it provides an outsider’s assessment – Dalrymple is an agnostic – of the state of the institutional church. This is not mere Dawkinesque arrogance and bluster, but considered insight from one of our culture’s keenest observers.

To the outsider, the Anglican church is the home of buffoonery with a leader to suit, and the Catholic church, the home of pederasty. Is it any wonder that neither one can garner much respect amongst unbelievers.

January 22, 2010

Who Created the Creator?

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 5:07 pm
Tags: ,

Logic from a master, John Lennox:

January 15, 2010

Haiti: an act of Devil

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 5:12 pm
Tags:

It seems to me that there are three major revelations that are accessible to man. They are:

God exists; Jesus is God; the Devil exists.

The third is a sticking point for many; this is odd, since evidence for the Devil’s existence is both prolific and conspicuous. Theodore Dalrymple, oddly enough a non-believer  says it this way:

The news from Haiti is always terrible; when there is no Haitian news, it does not so much suggest that the news is good as that the long, slow catastrophe that is Haitian history is merely continuing as usual. But this week’s apocalyptic earthquake makes Haiti’s recent past seem almost like a golden age.

No one who has been to Haiti ever loses his interest in the country. It is one of those places that, because of its history, because of its culture, because of its torments, captures the imagination and never lets it go. You respond to it not with tough, but appalled love. The American writer, Herbert Gold, summarized the country in the title of his wonderful memoir of his experiences there: The Best Nightmare on Earth.

By now it is a commonplace, a piece of received wisdom in every country, that the devastating consequences of the Haitian earthquake are not those of a natural disaster alone, but of a natural event interacting with extreme poverty. The causes of the poverty itself are a matter of deep ideological contention. What is beyond dispute is that so many buildings collapsed because they were so flimsily constructed in the first place.

That Haiti was a slow-moving disaster even before the earthquake was visible—obvious, in fact—from a height of 35,000 feet. When you flew from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince, the border was as clearly visible as on any map, a straight line drawn on the earth’s surface: on the Dominican side, verdant, on the Haitian side, brown, bare as a desert. It’s difficult to imagine now, but Haiti was once deeply forested; but 98 percent of the tree cover is gone, leaving eroded hillsides with gullies down which the rain torrentially washes whatever soil is left.

Perhaps this explains why one of the themes of Haitian naïve painting (one of the glories of Haitian culture) is lush forests inhabited by sleek African animals and exotic birds. The inheritance spent, the painters indulge in reverie, romanticizing the past, retreating into what Jung would call the collective unconscious. Writers have responded differently. The increasing desperation of Haiti is traceable in its twentieth-century literature. Gone is the gentle satire, the bourgeois refinement and gentility of the works of Fernand Hibbert; the situation calls for holy rage, savage denunciation.

A Nigerian journalist once said of his country, “No known system of government works in Nigeria.” This is even truer of Haiti. It’s often claimed that Haiti’s desperate situation is the consequence of outside interference—principally American, of course—plus recurrent, often bizarre, dictatorship. But Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, has suffered similar disadvantages; yet it prospers. Moreover, descriptions of Haiti after the American occupation of 1915 make clear that the country received many benefits from it, whatever the attendant humiliations. As with other forms of external help, however, the occupation’s benefits proved temporary and ultimately fruitless.

Nor does voluntary assistance seem to do much better. It’s estimated that 10,000 voluntary organizations operate in Haiti—one for every 800 residents—but the effect, globally speaking, has been minimal, whatever good work each organization does individually. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Disaster relief is, of course, something completely different. No one can remain unmoved by the pictures of Port-au-Prince after the earthquake (the situation outside the capital remains unknown, but one can imagine). Everything that can be done should be done: the financial resources necessary are, comparatively speaking, tiny.

But because of the very problems that contributed so much to the disaster in the first place—appalling infrastructure, absent administration—such relief will be difficult to provide efficiently, without the absurdities of supplies accumulating where they are not useful, and not reaching the places where they’re desperately needed. Terrible as the Haitian army was, and often harmful as its role was, its deliberate and total dissolution in 1994 may now be a severe handicap, an unintended consequence of a good intention.

And after the immediate crisis has passed, what? International administration? Restoration of national sovereignty under a government incapable of governing? More aid that results in little but corruption and infighting? Laissez-faire? The mind reels.

January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson in trouble again

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 11:23 pm
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This time, because on his TV show he tells us that Haiti is cursed due to a pact they made with the devil.

This hasn’t been particularly popular either in the mainstream media, blog-land or, in fact, anywhere at all. The National Post, for example, call the remarks “distasteful comments”, and according to Keith Olberman, Robertson has revealed himself to be the devil.

Robertson’s organisation, CBN has attempted to settle things down by pointing out:

Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.

And has links to Operation Blessing which is collecting for disaster relief.

The almost universal – by Christians and non-Christians – condemnation of Robertson’s comments, seems to be fuelled by the following undeclared ideas:

  1. The devil doesn’t exist; Robertson is a fool to believe he does, let alone that a nation could make a pact with him.
  2. People are not responsible for their own condition; Robertson is implying it’s the fault of the people of Haiti and they only have themselves – or their ancestors – to blame.
  3. Even if Haiti did make a pact with the devil, God would not punish them because even if the devil exists, God’s wrath doesn’t. God would also not allow the devil to punish them.
  4. Spiritual forces are not at work in the world; an apparent evil that befalls a nation is the result of  a natural accident (which means it isn’t evil, of course, just – accidental).

None of the above points are particularly consistent with a Christian view of reality, so they should not evoke an outpouring of high-minded indignation from Christians. For materialists, atheists and Darwinians, a disaster killing hundreds of thousands of people is nature culling excess numbers of a species that has over-reproduced – neither good nor evil, but possibly beneficial to the species in the long run.

So why is everyone so upset at Robertson? Perhaps because he was tactless.

December 19, 2009

What is wrong with this picture

Filed under: Christmas,homosexuality — David Jenkins @ 6:15 pm
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First we have this:

Children as young as five should be taught to understand the pleasures of gay sex, according to leaders of a taxpayer-funded education project.

Heads of the project have set themselves a goal of ‘creating primary classrooms where queer sexualities are affirmed and celebrated’.

The ambition was revealed in documents prepared for the No Outsiders project run by researchers from universities and backed with £600,000 of public money provided by the Economic and Social Research Council.

This:

The government announced today that sex education will become compulsory for all schools, including lessons on gay relationships and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

Teaching will begin from the age of five. Primary school children will learn about their bodies and puberty, along with marriages, divorces and civil partnerships.

And then this:

A devout Christian teacher has lost her job after discussing her faith with a mother and her sick child and offering to pray for them.

Olive Jones, a 54-year-old mother of two, who taught maths to children too ill to attend school, was dismissed following a complaint from the girl’s mother. She was visiting the home of the child when she spoke about her belief in miracles and asked whether  she could say a prayer, but when the mother indicated they were not believers she did not go ahead.

Mrs Jones was then called in by her managers who, she says, told her that sharing her faith with a child could be deemed to be bullying and informed her that her services were no longer required.

Allowed: Compulsory gay sex education for 5 year olds.

Not allowed: Offering to pray for a sick child.

Perhaps Olive Jones should have claimed she was praying for a spirit of gayness to fall upon the child.

December 15, 2009

Psychological evaluation for an 8 year old Christian

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 11:23 am
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My 5 year-old granddaughter, who has a far clearer understanding of the gospel than Fred Hiltz – admittedly not a surprising achievement – produced a painting for my inspection a few months back. Most of it was red and in a corner was a small cross. “That”, she said proudly pointing to the sea of red, “is the blood of God”. We pinned it on the fridge.

A school in Taunton takes a dim view of this sort of thing:

A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a stick-figure picture of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing. The image in question depicted a crucified Jesus with Xs covering his eyes to signify that he had died on the cross. The boy wrote his name above the cross.

h/t: SF

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