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Religion- Archbishop Welsby wants to throw the Money Lenders out of the Temple ?
Updated: 28 Apr 2013
Archbishop of Canterbury criticises bankers for 'culture of entitlement'
Justin Welby, member of all-party commission looking into banking standards, throws support behind a new
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, repeated his warning that Britain is in an economic depression from
which it could take a generation to recover.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has accused bankers of having "a culture of entitlement" in a
scathing critique of the City's ethical and professional standards.
Welby, a member of the cross-party Banking Standards Commission, said bankers should be required to pass
exams in order to raise standards in the industry and restore public trust in the profession.
His comments come as the commission prepares to publish its final report on how to improve behaviour in
London's financial centre. George Osborne, the chancellor, has pledged to incorporate its proposals into draft
Speaking to the Financial Times, the archbishop said: "In banking, in particular, and in the City of London, a
culture of entitlement has affected a number of areas – not universally by any means – in which it seemed to
disconnect from what people saw as reasonable in the rest of the world."
The former oil industry executive said serious consideration should be given to forming a professional regulatory
body, similar to the General Medical Council, to enforce standards.
He said: "Banks are incredibly complicated things. The idea that people can hold hugely responsible positions in
them without any kind of formal training seems to a number of us quite surprising."
Welby also echoed the concerns of Sir Mervyn King, outgoing governor of the Bank of England, that some banks
were still carrying too much bad debt and could require further taxpayer recapitalisation.
"Part of an ethical approach is transparency and reality about recognising where you are," he said. "The lesson
from Japan is if you're going to bit the bullet, it's better to bite it sooner rather than later."
Speaking on Radio 4 on Saturday, the archbishop repeated his warning that Britain is in an economic depression
from which it could take a generation to recover.
"We are still significantly below where we were in 2007 in terms of economic activity, of GDP, and that's quite a
long time of being below," he told George Parker, the FT's political editor, on Radio 4's The Week in Westminster.
The archbishop also downplayed whether his comments on the state of the economy had annoyed Downing
Street. "They haven't said anything here. I mean they probably would have preferred it not said," he said.
"Now, I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular and saying it's so and so's fault or so and so's fault, it's
simply a measurable fact coming from the national statistics."
Religion - Countries where abortion is illegal
Updated: 20 Apr 2013
Countries where abortion is illegal
Abortion illegal in all circumstances or permitted only to save a woman's life.
Angola, Benin, Central African Rep.Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Gabon, Guinea- Bissau,
Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauretania, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda.
Middle East and North Africa:
Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Sudan (r), Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
Asia and Pacific:
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka.
Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela,
Religion- Playing God in Ireland Kills
Updated: 20 Apr 2013
Savita Halappanavar died due to medical misadventure, inquest finds
Jury endorses coroner's recommendations in case of Indian woman who was denied an emergency abortion in Ireland
Savita Halappanavar died from sepsis after suffering a miscarriage in Galway last autumn.
An Indian dentist who was denied an emergency abortion at an Irish hospital last autumn died due to medical
misadventure, her inquest has found.
A jury sitting in Galway reached a unanimous verdict in the case of Savita Halappanavar, 31, who died from sepsis
after suffering a miscarriage.
The jury endorsed nine recommendations of the coroner, Dr Ciaran McLoughlin. Offering his sincere condolences
to Halappanavar's widower, Praveen, MacLoughlin said: "You showed tremendous loyalty and love to your wife.
All of Ireland followed the case."
Halappanavar had been 17 weeks pregnant before she died on 28 October at GalwayUniversity hospital. Her plight
became the focus of an international outcry over Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws, which the current government
plans to reform.
The first of McLoughlin's recommendations was that the Irish Medical Council should lay out exactly when doctors
can intervene to save the life of a mother. The coroner said this would provide clarity for patients and doctors.
The jury also endorsed recommendations that blood samples should always be followed up to guard against
errors; that proper sepsis management training and guidelines should be available for hospital staff; and that there
should be effective communication between staff on call and those on duty in hospitals. MacLoughlin
recommended that a dedicated time should be set aside at the end of each shift for this to happen.
He said each hospital in the state should a protocol for sepsis management; modified early-warning score charts
should be introduced in all hospitals as soon as possible; and there should be effective communication between
patients and relatives to ensure clarity over treatment plans.
The final two recommendations were that medical and nursing notes should be kept separately and that no
additions should made to notes where the death of a person will be subject to an inquest.
Religion-Sermon on the Mound - Christian Tradition Died with Thatcher
Updated: 15 Apr 2013
Religion and politics
High office, low church
A Christian political tradition died with Margaret Thatcher
Apr 13th 2013
There’s a gun in my bag, Runcie
IT IS hard to imagine a prime minister doing such a thing now, and even then it seemed rather surprising.
In May 1988 Margaret Thatcher went to the General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland and gave
what would soon be called the Sermon on the Mound.
It was an impassioned statement of a certain form of Christianity.
The Conservative leader stressed individual salvation over social reform, the legitimacy of moneymaking when
combined with altruism, and the “responsibility that comes with freedom and the supreme sacrifice of Christ”.
In religion, as in so much else, Mrs (later Lady) Thatcher was a bundle of paradoxes.
She was the last British prime minister openly and emphatically to acknowledge the influence of Christianity on
her thinking, in particular terms not fuzzy ones.
Her fellow Tories, John Major and David Cameron, have presented themselves as loyal but lukewarm Anglicans.
“I don’t pretend to understand all the complex parts of Christian theology,” Mr (later Sir John) Major once said,
As for Labour’s leaders, Gordon Brown inherited the ethos but not the zeal of his father, a Presbyterian minister.
Tony Blair is passionately religious but was famously discouraged by his advisers from “doing God” in public
because of the fear that he might sound nutty.
Precisely because she had such well-defined ideas, Mrs Thatcher was almost bound to have stormy relations
with England’s established religion. In her time, the Archbishop of Canterbury was Robert Runcie, an Oxford
contemporary who irked her considerably.
A decorated tank commander, he commemorated the Argentine dead at a service following the Falklands war; he
produced “Faith in the City”, a left-wing tract on urban blight; and he chided the government for demonising its
Mrs Thatcher preferred the chief rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits, who shared her view that self-improvement, not
subsidies, would relieve poverty.
She helped to ensure that Archbishop Runcie was succeeded by George Carey, an unpretentious evangelical
who this week remembered her as a person of “uncomplicated but very strong faith”.
That faith was nurtured by a childhood steeped in the sober, self-improving world of Methodism.
As well as being mayor of the Midlands town of Grantham, her father was a lay preacher.
On a typical Sunday, she and her sister would have two sessions of religious instruction and attend one or two
The family’s social life revolved around the church.
A quiet conversion
It was never hard to see the influence of Methodism, born as a reaction to the complacency and privilege of 18th-
century Anglicanism, on Mrs Thatcher.
She believed in thrift and hard work, and liked the advice of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to earn, save
and only then give as much as possible.
The acts of generosity listed in the New Testament, from the Good Samaritan’s to that of the woman who
anointed Christ’s feet, were possible only because the donors had money, she noted.
But in other ways, Mrs Thatcher moved away from Methodism, and it moved away from her.
As she ascended firmly to the upper middle class, she began attending Anglican church.
Conspicuous consumption and debt-fuelled growth, often seen as legacies of the Thatcher era, could hardly be
further from Methodist values.
And in her native east Midlands, Methodist communities and ministers were active in defending coalminers
during the strike which she defeated.
Methodism has influenced Britain’s centre-left far more than its political right.
In explaining her denominational switch, Mrs Thatcher said that Methodism was “a marvellous evangelical faith”
with great music—but “you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service” as well as for more formal
theology. In her religious origins, she was informed by a passion that was foreign to the English establishment.
But as that puritan passion propelled her into high office, its sharp edges were blunted.
The Ritz hotel is an unlikely place for a Methodist woman from the Midlands to end her days
Religion-For the Biggest Tory Party Political Broadcast -Wear Red on Wednesday
Updated: 15 Apr 2013
Brassed off at the hymns of praise to Thatcher
Illustration: Gary Kempston
In 1982, the then archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, infuriated Mrs Thatcher by striking a note of
reconciliation at the Falklands war memorial service, asking the congregation to pray for families on both sides
of the conflict who had lost loved ones. Is it too much to hope that a similar note of reconciliation might be struck
at Mrs Thatcher's funeral in the same cathedral?
In our deeply divided country, many communities hold Margaret Thatcher and her government responsible for
Whatever views are held, surely here is an opportunity for the established church to once more ask the nation to
remember in prayer all who now suffer from the blight of poverty and unemployment.
The listeners can make up their minds as to its cause and Mrs Thatcher will have to plead her case to a greater judge.
Rev Canon Adrian Alker
Wetherby, West Yorkshire
• With reference to your editorial (11 April), I'd like to propose an alternative celebration.
I suggest that the magnificent film Brassed Off be shown on all TV channels next Wednesday, and also on a big
screen outside St Paul's (maybe inside as well during the service?).
That greatly lamented actor Pete Postlethwaite's peroration in the Royal Albert Hall regarding the enormous
ramifications of the destruction of our mining communities should surely be viewed throughout the land as an
alternative to the obscene obeisance towards the most reactionary prime minister we have ever countenanced in
East Grinstead, West Sussex
• Mrs Thatcher, I seem to recall, once said that her favourite hymn (Letters, 11 April), was George Matheson's O
Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go – though whether or not this had anything to do with the fact that the tune to which
it is normally sung is St Margaret, I do not know.
However, the second line of the second verse does now seem quite apposite: I yield my flickering torch to thee.
If it is to be a Wesley classic, however, then perhaps Forth in Thy Name O Lord, I go would be better – the
opening line continuing with my daily labour to pursue.
Another great 18th-century hymnwriter was Philip Doddridge, and he might prophetically have had Mrs T in mind
when he wrote My Gracious Lord, I Own thy Right. Even so, my own favourite would be the great Horatius
Bonar's Go, Labour On, Spend, and be Spent, with its unforgettable (and strictly never-to-be-sung-at-weddings)
last lines: Soon shalt thou hear the bridegroom's voice, the midnight cry, "Behold, I come!".
Fr Alec Mitchell
• Were Methodist hymns to be sung at Margaret Thatcher's funeral, rousing or otherwise, many of Methodism's
trades union founders would be turning in their graves.
It was said of the country preachers who formed the Agricultural Workers Union, and their chapels: "Here
labourers learned self-respect, self-government, self-reliance and organisation, here men learned to speak, to
read, to write and to lead their fellows."
Five of the Tolpuddle martyrs were Methodists, as were many of the founders of the miners' unions.
The founder of Methodism may have been a Tory, but so were their many persecutors.
Thatcher showed no sign of the humility demanded by many of the hymns of Charles Wesley.
It is hard to imagine her singing I am not worthy Lord, So foul, so self-abhorred, Thee, my God, to entertain In this
poor polluted heart.
They may sing what they like, but please keep Methodism out of the funeral.
Rev David Haslam
•Rev Dr Ian Bradley mentions that our founder, John Wesley, was "a loyal Tory to his dying day". Tories were
obviously different in those days. In 1753, Wesley said: "… so wickedly, devilishly false is that common
objection, 'They are poor, only because they are idle'."
• Downloading Ding Dong the Witch is Dead is a telling protest against the political establishment.
It rather brilliantly reminds us we are in a make-believe world where Baroness Thatcher "saved the country", won
the cold war, and "made Britain great again".
Her funeral with full military honours is just what one would expect in a children's book set in a banana
How telling too that this Ruritarian spectacle was dreamt up under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (Concern at the
palace over military pomp of Thatcher funeral, 11 April).
• It is quite wrong for people to buy Judy Garland's Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to mark the death of Lady
Judge her as you will, she was admired around the world.
Yes, even adored by some.
And it is merely grotesque to link her memory in this way with someone like Thatcher.
Willie Montgomery Stack
• Wednesday will see the longest and most expensive party political broadcast ever on behalf of the Tories.
Will Labour, the Lib Dems and Ukip get equal time?
• How very appropriate that Lady Thatcher should be buried at St Paul's.
A house of God that charges visitors a £16 entrance fee.
Free market to the end.
• No need for a red riot on Wednesday, but what about a riot of red?
I shall wear red to show I'm not in mourning.
• For the record, the funeral of Michael Foot cost the sum of 0p to the state.
Tom Foot, Matt Foot and John Foot
Religion- C of E Bishop says Thatcher's funeral costs a "mistake"
Updated: 15 Apr 2013
Margaret Thatcher funeral is asking for trouble, warns bishop of Grantham
It is a “mistake” to spend £10 million on Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, the Bishop of Grantham has warned,
as he predicted that such a lavish event was “asking for trouble”.
The Rt Rev Tim Ellis, from Lady Thatcher’s Lincolnshire birthplace, warned that protesters could hijack the
funeral for their own political purposes.
Dr Ellis, who was born in Sheffield, is a supporter of the ordination of women and is believed to be the only
bishop to wear an earring.
In 2007 he held the country’s first U2Charist, where his congregation swapped the usual hymns for the songs of
U2 as a way of holding “less formal, less rigid” worship.
He intervened as the political truce over the former Conservative prime minister’s death came to an abrupt end
with senior figures from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats also questioning the funeral plans.
Much of central London will be closed on Wednesday when Lady Thatcher is given a ceremonial funeral with full
military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral, which will be attended by the Queen.
The bill for the occasion has been estimated at £10 million, with Lady Thatcher’s family expected to contribute
about half of the costs.
Police are preparing for protesters to descend on central London for the procession of Lady Thatcher’s coffin
from Westminster to St Paul’s. The bishop said he believed that the scale and expense of the funeral would make
any protests worse.
He said while there was sadness over the death, people demonstrating and rejoicing was “distasteful”.
He added: “I am not surprised by the parties, which show that events of 30 or 40 years ago still engender that
kind of violent reaction because her reign was very divisive and controversial, and people still remember that
“In a context where there is great ill feeling about her legacy, we have a situation where we seem to be expecting
the nation to glorify that with a £10 million funeral it is asking for trouble. People with extreme views will use it to
promote their political views.
“We should be marking her as a person in Grantham and with a more low-key, personal marking.” The bishop’s
unease was echoed by Lord Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader, and Douglas Alexander, Labour’s shadow
Lord Ashdown called for a “more simple” funeral for Lady Thatcher and suggested he was “squeamish” about
the use of a gun carriage to carry her coffin through London.
“For my taste, something a little more simple – just as solemn but a little more simple – might be better,” he told
the Murnaghan programme on Sky News.
Mr Alexander became the most senior Labour figure to criticise the nature of the funeral, which is one step short
of a full state funeral.
“I’m a Presbyterian, I would, by inclination, err towards something rather more simple than what we will see,” he
told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.
He called for a future debate over the appropriate arrangements for a prime minister’s funeral after the
controversy over the cost. Mr Alexander accepted that “this is not the week” for such a debate.
“The funeral will happen on Wednesday and, reasonably, there has to be concern for the feelings of the family at
what is first and foremost a funeral. I think, once the funeral is past, there could, and should be, discussions as to
what are the appropriate ways to mark the passing of British prime ministers.”
Mr Alexander called on anti-Thatcher protesters to show restraint in any demonstrations.
“I disagreed with Thatcherism back in the Eighties, I disagree with it still today, but I do think there is a
responsibility on us to conduct ourselves with an appropriate degree of decorum and respect for a family that
are laying to rest one of their own,” he said.
Francis Maude, the Conservative Cabinet Office minister, told protesters to register their criticism in a “seemly
and dignified way” because Lady Thatcher fought as prime minister for the freedom to demonstrate and protest
around the world.
Concerns over protests grew as one of Lady Thatcher’s closest confidantes warned that a statue in her honour
would become “a focus for vandalism”.
A number of senior figures including David Cameron have indicated that they would support a statue. But, Conor
Burns, a Tory MP, said he was “cautious” about the proposal.
“I just worry a little bit that a statue would become a focus for vandalism,” he told Sky News
Religion- Descending into Hell ? The Nasty Party do not have God on their side
Updated: 03 Apr 2013
Churches accuse ministers of perpetuating myths about poverty
Churches attack 'systematic misrepresentation of poorest in society' as Labour claims cuts are costing families
£900 a year
Grant Shapps defended the government's policies and said: 'Welfare makes up a third of this country’s
spending, so it’s our job to make sure it’s getting to the people who really need it.'
A coalition of leading churches has accused the government of perpetuating myths about poverty in an attempt
to justify dangerous welfare cuts.
In a joint report, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist church, the United Reformed church and the
Church of Scotland said that the "systematic misrepresentation of the poorest in society" was a matter of
injustice that all Christians should challenge.
The churches spoke out before the introduction of the so-called "bedroom tax" on Monday, one of several major
welfare cuts that Labour claim will collectively cost the average family almost £900 a year when previous cuts
introduced by the coalition are included.
Paul Morrison, public issues policy adviser at the Methodist church, said the churches were concerned that the
benefit cuts were "a symptom of an understanding of people in poverty in the United Kingdom that is just wrong".
Speaking to the BBC, Morrison said: "It is an understanding of people that they somehow deserve their poverty,
that they are somehow 'lesser', that they are not valued.
The churches believe that they are valued and we believe that they should be treated much more fairly than they
In their report (pdf), which was published earlier this year, the four churches accused politicians and the media
of promoting six myths about the poor: that they are lazy; that they are addicted to drink or drugs; that they are
not really poor; that they cheat the system; that they have an easy life; and that they caused the deficit.
Morrison explained: "We saw that people who we value, who we believe God values and God loves, we saw
them being insulted day in and day out in the media, and that needed to stop.
The consequence of the attitudes towards the poor is that welfare cuts like this become more acceptable, so it's
right that we criticise that too."
Morrison spoke out as Grant Shapps, the Conservative party chairman, used an interview with the Sunday
Telegraph to highlight figures apparently showing 878,300 people who were on incapacity benefit dropped their
claims rather than complete a medical assessment.
That was a third of the total, he said, and included people on benefits because of blisters, acne, and strains and
Of the 1.44m who have been reassessed, 55% were found fit to work immediately and another 23.9% able to do
some level of work, leaving just 232,000 declared not fit to work.
"Welfare makes up a third of this country's spending, so it's our job to make sure it's getting to the people who
really need it," Shapps said.
In a separate interview, Steve Webb, the Lib Dem welfare minister, told Radio 5 Live on Sunday that while the
churches were criticising the government for cutting benefits by too much, other commentators were accusing
the government of not going far enough.
"On the one hand we've got the churches accusing us of savage cuts, and on the other hand the rightwing
papers saying: 'What? They haven't gone far enough.
They're only slowing the rate of growth of spending'. I think that gives you a bit of context," Webb said.
He said measures such as universal credit showed the government was reforming the system, not just cutting
And he accused the churches of not accepting the need to make savings.
"There's nothing in what the churches are saying – and I speak as a member of my local church – there's
nothing in what they're saying that helps us with the battle to we've got in getting the nation's finances in
balance," Webb said.
In a separate move, the "bedroom tax" came under fresh criticism on Sunday when David Orr, the chief
executive of the National Housing Federation, told the Observer that the tax would harm the lives of hundreds of
thousands of people. It comes into force this week alongside a range of other tax and benefit changes.
"The bedroom tax is one of these once-in-a-generation decisions that is wrong in every respect," he said. "It's
bad policy, it's bad economics, it's bad for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose lives will be made
difficult for no benefit – and I think it's about to become profoundly bad politics."
Religion- Catholic Pope "Francis" must answer for past human rights failings
Updated: 16 Mar 2013
Pope tied to junta
Thursday 14 March 2013
by Bill Benfield
Argentinian rights activists warned the world today of the new Pope Francis's dark past with the country's former
Some accused Argentinian Jesuit Jose Mario Bergoglio of being more concerned about preserving the church's
image than providing evidence for human rights trials.
He has twice refused to appear in open court in cases involving torture, murder and the theft of babies from the
"There are trials of all kinds now and Bergoglio systematically refuses to support them," said Estela de la Cuadra,
whose mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo activist group during the dictatorship to search
for missing family members.
"There's hypocrisy here when it comes to the church's conduct, and with Bergoglio in particular."
Human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman said that when he eventually testified in 2010 his answers were evasive.
Mr Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing
its citizens even as the church publicly endorsed the dictators, she said.
The most damning accusation against the new pope is that, as leader of Argentina's Jesuits, he withdrew support
for two priests whose activist colleagues in the liberation theology movement were disappearing.
Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics were kidnapped and tortured.
Mr Yorio later accused Mr Bergoglio of effectively delivering them to the death squads by declining to publicly
endorse their work.
The new pope was also accused of turning his back on the De la Cuadra family, which lost five relatives to state
terror, including Estela's sister Elena, who was five months' pregnant when she was kidnapped and killed in 1977.
The family appealed to the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Mr Bergoglio to help.
Mr Bergoglio assigned a monsignor to talk to police, who told him that the woman was a communist and therefore
doomed, but she had given birth in captivity to a girl.
The baby had been given to a family "too important" for the adoption to be reversed.
Despite this, Mr Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn't know about any stolen babies until well after the
dictatorship was over.
"Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies," said Ms
"But he can't keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is."
There was little love lost between Mr Bergoglio and Argentina's present government.
Relations became so frigid that President Cristina Fernandez stopped attending his annual "Te Deum" address.
President Fernandez compared his tone to "medieval times and the Inquisition."
Religion- Catholic Cardinals are not above the law as O'Brien faces legal action
Updated: 16 Mar 2013
New abuse claims hit former cardinal
Friday 15 March 2013
by Paddy McGuffin Home Affairs Reporter
Britain's former most senior Catholic is facing legal action over a new abuse allegation dating back to the 1980s.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien was forced to resign from his St Andrews and Edinburgh archdiocese last month after
three priests and a former priest made allegations of "inappropriate" behaviour against him.
It emerged today that a former seminarian, who has not been named, has also made a complaint.
A former priest told the Herald newspaper that the then rector of Blairs had groped and kissed him as a 19-year-old.
He said the cardinal invited him to his room after dinner.
"He had been talking about himself, how he was going places,
his career had been mapped out and it was for God to decide.
"I can't remember the exact phrase he used but he told me he would always look after me and
how good a priest I'd be.
"Until this stage I'd thought how excellent it would be to be a priest in his diocese.
"But that's when it happened.
After a few minutes he released me and I was able to make my excuses and go."
Solicitor Cameron Fyfe confirmed that he has been instructed by the man to make a claim for compensation
against Cardinal O'Brien.
Mr Fyfe said he is also exploring the cases of six other clients who allege they were abused by priests.
He said: "I have been instructed to make a claim for compensation against Keith O'Brien and his archdiocese on
the basis of abuse my client suffered in the 1980s.
"He is a good witness. You get to assess credibility over the years when you've seen so many clients in this
situation and he's entirely credible and would be a good witness."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said:
"The church is disturbed to hear of these allegations.
Any complaints raised will be taken very seriously."
Mr O'Brien stepped down after conceding that his sexual conduct had "fallen below the standards expected."
Religion- Pope Bergoglio friend of Argentine ex- dictators ?
Updated: 15 Mar 2013
The sins of the Argentinian church
The Catholic church was complicit in dreadful crimes in Argentina.
Now it has a chance to repent
Benedict XVI gave us words of great comfort and encouragement in the message he delivered on Christmas Eve.
"God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways," the pope said.
"He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need.
He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed.
God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin.
Again and again he begins afresh with us".
If these words comforted and encouraged me they will surely have done the same for leaders of the church in
Argentina, among many others.
To the judicious and fair-minded outsider it has been clear for years that the upper reaches of the Argentinian
church contained many "lost sheep in the wilderness", men who had communed and supported the
unspeakably brutal western-supported military dictatorship that seized power in that country in 1976 and
battened on it for years.
Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping them out of aeroplanes over the River
Plate and selling off their orphan children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops and
Yet even the execution of other men of the cloth did nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including
representatives of the Holy See, for the criminality of their leader General Jorge Rafael Videla and his minions.
As it happens, in the week before Christmas in the city of Córdoba Videla and some of his military and police
cohorts were convicted by their country's courts of the murder of 31 people between April and October 1976, a
small fraction of the killings they were responsible for.
The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military.
These were not to be served, as has often been the case in Argentina and neighbouring Chile, in comfy armed
forces retirement homes but in common prisons.
Unsurprisingly there was dancing in the city's streets when the judge announced the sentences.
What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentinian hierarchy was any expression of regret for
the church's collaboration and in these crimes.
The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of
Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence).
He recounts how the Argentinian navy hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights
Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners on an island linked to senior clerics.
One would have thought that the Argentinian bishops would have seized the opportunity to call for pardon for
themselves and put on sackcloth and ashes as the sentences were announced in Córdoba but that has not so
But happily Their Eminences have just been given another chance to express contrition.
Next month the convicted murderer Videla will be arraigned for his part in the killing of Enrique Angelelli, bishop
of the Andean diocese of La Rioja and a supporter of the cause of poorer Argentinians.
He was run off the highway by a hit squad of the Videla régime and killed on 4th August 1976 shortly after
• This article was amended on 14 March 2013.
The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed
that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called
El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors.
Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio's complicity in human rights abuses, he does not
make this claim.
The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio's "holiday home".
This has been corrected.
Religion-No 1- Sex Scandals - Putting the Vatican House in (Holy) Order
Updated: 14 Mar 2013
Clergy sexual abuse victims call on new pope to end sex abuse
Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope Francis I, appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being
elected by the conclave of cardinals at the Vatican on March 13, 2013.
Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:6AM GMT
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has called on newly-elected Pope Francis to put
fighting sex crimes by priests on top priority of the Roman Catholic Church.
The US-based clergy sexual abuse victims said in a statement on Thursday that Pope Francis "has both an
enormous opportunity and duty to help prevent heinous assaults against kids by this crucial and relatively
secretive segment of the Catholic clergy."
"Very little about this crisis has been exposed in South and Central America.
We worry about the safety of children in the church there," the statement added.
The SNAP urged the pope to reform the Catholic Church by “exposing the names of predator priests --
current and former, living and deceased -- in his home archdiocese" for “the safety of kids and the
healing of victims.”
"St. Francis was the greatest reformer in the history of the church, Pope Francis must do the same," the SNAP added. On Wednesday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was named the new pope of the Roman Catholic
Church, taking the nickname of Pope Francis I, as the sex abuse scandals cast their shadow on the Catholic Church.
The new pope faces a surmounting range of problems including sex abuse allegations, squabbling within the
Vatican and the threat of secularism.
The 76-year-old Francis, who had been the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first non-European leader of the
church in more than 1,000 years.
He also became the 266th pontiff in the Church's 2,000-year history.
Pope Francis replaces Pope Benedict XVI as the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholics.
On February 11, the 85-year old Benedict XVI announced his decision to step down, saying he was no longer
able to carry out his duties due to his advanced age.
He officially resigned on February 28, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Citing unnamed sources, a recent report by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, however, said that the pontiff
decided to resign after an internal church probe informed him about a series of blackmails, grafts and
underground gay sex in the Vatican.
Religion- A Philippine Pope for a faster getaway from higher morale ground ?
Updated: 13 Mar 2013
13 July 2011 Last updated at 16:51
Philippine bishops to return donated SUVs
Protesters dressed as bishops in SUVs stood outside the Senate during the hearing
Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines are to return sport utility vehicles (SUVs) received as gifts from
government funds, an inquiry has heard.
Senators are investigating claims that illegal gifts bought with state lottery money were given to the bishops by
the last government to win their support.
The bishops acknowledge accepting the cars but say they did so only to help poor people in remote
More than 80% of Filipinos are Catholic and the clergy are highly influential.
At the Senate inquiry in Manila on Wednesday, bishops turned over four SUVs and said others were in the
process of being returned.
The bishops apologised for any pain caused to their followers or the Church, but insisted the donations were
only to help them reach isolated communities.
"Even if it is not unlawful and even if it is not unconstitutional, we believe that it is important for us to clear
everything in the air and return the vehicles," Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the southern Cotabato diocese
told the inquiry.
He expressed "sincere sadness" on behalf of the Church that many Catholics were "confused, disturbed and
The head of the Philippine state lottery, Margie Juico, earlier told the hearing that seven bishops received gifts
during former President Gloria Arroyo's term in office.
Critics have accused Mrs Arroyo of using donations to try to secure the bishops' support. She stepped down
last year after nine years in power.
Mrs Juico said an audit had showed that at least 6.9m pesos ($158,600; £98,300) in charity funds were used to
buy vehicles at the request of several bishops.
Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, of southern Butuan city, admitted that he wrote to Mrs Arroyo to ask for a sport
utility vehicle costing 1.7m pesos for his 66th birthday but said it was to help him reach remote areas on
He acknowledged that the move "was a lapse in judgment on my part" that has "cast a shadow of uncertainty on
my dignity as a bishop and my moral ascendancy as a leader of the Catholic Church."
During the hearing, dozens of protesters held placards outside the Senate, some wearing bishops' frocks and
cardboard replicas of SUVs around their waists.
"I need my SUV to reach moral high ground," one placard read.
Religion- Archbishop Welby - Politicans have a duty to protect children from poverty
Updated: 10 Mar 2013
Archbishop Warns Benefit Cuts Will Hit Children
Sky News – 2 hours 10 minutes ago
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned the Government that "children and families will pay the price" for cuts
to the benefits system.
In his first significant criticism of Government policy, The Most Rev Justin Welby has said that the measures will
have a "deeply disproportionate" effect on children.
The Most Rev Welby is among 43 bishops who have written an open letter to the Government condemning its plans.
The comments made in the letter indicate that the archbishop, who will be formally enthroned at Canterbury
Cathedral on March 21, will be willing to enter political debate.
His predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, was strongly criticised for expressing his views about Government policy.
The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill will cap benefit rises at 1% a year until 2016.
The archbishop said the legislation would remove the protection given to families against the rising cost of living
and could push 200,000 children into poverty.
He said: "As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need.
When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
"It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel
"The current benefits system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with
"These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the
He added: "Politicians have a clear choice.
By protecting children from the effects of this Bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty."
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is attempting to steer the reforms through.
The Government says the changes are needed to help get spending back under control and create a fairer deal
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "In difficult economic times we've protected the
incomes of pensioners and disabled people, and most working age benefits will continue to increase 1%.
"This was a tough decision but it's one that will help keep the welfare bill sustainable in the longer term.
"By raising the personal allowance threshold, we've lifted two million people out of tax altogether, clearly
benefiting people on a low income."
Religion-The Life of O'Brien- Not a Sin but a Perversion of a Postion
Updated: 04 Mar 2013
Sex scandal priest issues admission of misconduct
Sunday 03 March 2013
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior Catholic cleric in Britain until he resigned last month, has admitted that his
"sexual conduct" had at times fallen below what was acceptable.
In a statement issued through the Catholic Church in Scotland last night, he apologised and asked for
forgiveness from those he had "offended."
He also apologised to the church and to the people of Scotland.
Cardinal O'Brien, an outspoken critic of gay marriage and adoption, quit as the Archbishop of St Andrew's and
Edinburgh last week after three priests and a former priest made allegations of improper behaviour against him.
The statement read: "In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public.
Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.
"However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen
below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."
Religion- Catholic Crisis- Communion Wafers contain 0% Christ
Updated: 04 Mar 2013
Vatican reeling as DNA tests show communion wafers contain 0% Christ
The Vatican is this morning facing a further crisis after routine DNA tests revealed that the communion wafers
used in Sunday mass contain 0% of the body and blood of Christ.
The findings are sure to pile further pressure on the ailing religious organisation, just days after their Chief
Executive resigned citing ‘personal reasons’ and ‘being a bit old’.
The news will concern billions of Catholic consumers, previously led to believe they were consuming Christ
himself each Sunday morning.
Catholic Simon Williams told us, “So what have I been eating all these years? It’s not bloody horse is it?”
“With the amount of cash I’m encouraged to put in the collection plate I can’t believe they’re scrimping on the
“You’ll be telling me next that the stuff they dip the wafer in isn’t actually blood.”
A spokesperson for the Vatican explained that the DNA test results merely highlight the incompatibility of science
They told us, “Where is your faith that the wafer is the body of Christ? Science can’t tell you everything, and just
as it can’t prove God doesn’t exist, it can’t prove the wafer ISN’T the body of Christ.”
“Oh, it has? Right. Well, there’s probably something in the Bible about that. I’ll have to go and look.”
Religion-Druids make hostile bid for struggling Vatican- Dearly beloved brethren, Is it not a Sin...
Updated: 26 Feb 2013
Druids make hostile take-over bid for struggling Vatican
Dearly Beloved Brethren -is it not a Sin
When you peel potatoes to throw away the skin
For skin feeds pigs and pigs feed us
Dearly Beloved Brethren is it not thus ?
Market-leading religion Roman Catholicism Inc. could be facing its biggest test yet; a hostile take-over bid from
a group of private equity druids.
With evidence of sexual impropriety and a failure to keep pace with the demands of the 19th Century
consumer, several senior board members have already been forced from their posts.
“The Vatican is still stuck on pushing the frankly outdated ‘one God’ model”, explained Chief Druid Arthur
“That’s the sort of patriarchal framework that just turns off the modern godless drifter.
We propose getting naked, and dancing our tits off in the woods.”
Dragonsbaine revealed his investors’ plans to turn Catholicism around, using a group of maternal Gods and some mushrooms he found in a field.
“We’re not just here to asset-strip”, explained Dragonsbaine, “we’re a not-for-prophet organisation. But it’s true we’ve scrapped the old-fashioned Basilica, and replace it with a nice, big friendly tree.”
While all the gold and elaborate stonework has sold very well on ebay, Dragonsbaine insisted that the Church’s employees were its most valuable asset.
“Sacrificial virgins are increasingly hard to come by, but the Vatican is full of supposedly celibate priests”, revealed the cloaked Soothsayer.
“That represents a good synergy for us, especially as we approach the burning season.”
Dragonsbaine assured senior cardinals that he had a place for them at the head of his new framework, although that framework would probably be a Wicker Man
Religion- "Inappropriate Acts" explained, appropriately
Updated: 26 Feb 2013
‘I thought they were underage’ insists Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric has resigned, following allegations that he tried it on with males
well past the age of consent.
Cardinal O’Brien is alleged to have plied elderly priests with drink, before attempting to get into their cassocks.
But despite their obvious Adam’s Apples and prominent nose hair, the Cardinal ‘made no attempt’ to check
they were still going through puberty.
“The Catholic church has a relaxed attitude to the ‘Children of God’, especially those that claim they’ve been
touched by his representative on Earth”, explained O’Brien.
“Showing an interest in choirboys is one thing, but bashing the Bishops is quite another.
Although in my defence I will say they can look remarkably similar: kneeling in front of you, eyes closed,
waiting to receive the meat of Christ.”
O’Brien is famously intolerant of homosexuality, believing it to be ‘damaging’ to the careers of those in the
Church who are outed.
Leading by example, O’Brien stepped down from the world’s largest organised group of child rapists, his
attraction to adults being at odds with his peers.
Critics have welcomed the Church’s ‘new openness’, praising the way a possible homosexual has been
hounded from office so quickly and publicly.
“Some matters should still be dealt with internally and in private”, insisted Sub-pope James Cahill. “For
example, matters relating to rank hypocrisy, lies about science, or the molestation of minors.”
O’Brien is the first to benefit from the Vatican’s new ‘Fast-track Bigotry’ initiative, which acts as a smokescreen
to the organisation’s festering core.
“As soon as I found out I might have done something gay, I knew I had to sack myself”, O’Brien admitted.
“Cardinals and Bishops rely on pent-up sexual frustration to stoke the fires of vengeful fury.”
“We’re not some laid-back bunch of Buddhists, we’re all about the smiting and damnation.”
“That’s an institution we don’t want to see undermined by mutually consensual sex between adults.”
Religion- "Inappropriate Acts" ? -For Heretosexuals the Mind Boggles, or Does it ?
Updated: 26 Feb 2013
Cardinal O'Brien retires after 'inappropriate act' claims
Monday 25 February 2013
Britain's top Catholic cleric Cardinal Keith O'Brien - dubbed the Cardinal of Controversy - lived up to his name
today when the Pope pushed him into early retirement after accusations of "inappropriate acts."
Cardinal O'Brien, 74, tendered his resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last November.
The Vatican accepted it "for later" - but the Scottish Catholic church said today that "the Holy Father has now
decided to accept the said resignation definitively."
Cardinal O'Brien, who was once tipped for pope, is facing allegations by four priests that he behaved
"inappropriately" toward them in the 1980s.
He remains a cardinal and is obliged to help choose the next pope but will not travel to the Vatican for the
conclave to pick Benedict's successor. In a statement issued by the Scottish church, Cardinal O'Brien said: "I
do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me."
Cardinal O'Brien was a trusted lieutenant of previous pope John Paul II.
Before he became a cardinal in 2003 he was a "liberal" on issues such as sexuality and priestly celibacy but
became a hardliner.
Last Friday, however, he gave his backing to married priests.
The Observer said three priests and a former priest in Scotland had reported Cardinal O'Brien to the Vatican
over allegations of behaviour stretching back 30 years.
A spokesman for the cardinal said the claims were contested.
Religion- The Pope and the Mafia inside the Vatican
Updated: 22 Feb 2013
Report: Pope left after learning about scandals
Pope Benedict XVI
Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:4PM GMT
A new report says that Pope Benedict XVI decided to resign as head of the Catholic Church after learning about
the extent of sex and graft scandals inside the Vatican.
On February 11, Pope Benedict XVI, the spiritual leader of Christians, said he intends to officially step down from
his post at 1900 GMT on February 28 since he is no longer able to carry out his duties because of his advanced age.
Citing unnamed sources, the report by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Thursday, however, said that the
pontiff decided to resign after an internal church probe informed the him about a series of blackmails, grafts and
underground gay sex in the Vatican.
The report stated that three cardinals, including the former chief of the Vatican’s secret services, were asked to
verify the allegations of financial impropriety, cronyism and corruption brought up by the publication of
confidential papal papers in the scandal known as “Vatileaks.”
According to the report, the three cardinals reported their findings to the pope on December 17, 2012 in
two red-leatherbound volumes, almost 300-pages long, which contained "an exact map of the mischief and
the bad fish" inside the Holy See.
"It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so
long," the report noted.
Vatileaks came to light in January 2012, when a series of the Holy See's internal documents were leaked to Italian
media, causing a stir nationwide.
Following the incident, the Italian Journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, also fueled the fire by releasing a book called “His Holiness.”
The book shed light on power struggles in the Vatican by presenting secret documents and confidential letters to
and from the Pope and his personal secretary.
In May 2012, Vatican authorities arrested Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s butler, on suspicion of being behind the leaks
and charged him with 18 months in jail. However, he was later pardoned.
Other reports also emerged in the Italian media in June 2012, linking the Vatican with Sicilian mafia heads.
The reports came out after the head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was dismissed amid claims of
power struggles and corruption within the Holy See.
He had reportedly been under investigation for laundering money for a Mafia godfather
Religion- Tony Bliar to become the New Pope - all with a Puff of ( Pure White) Smoke
Updated: 13 Feb 2013
Tony Blair welcomes new role as Pope
Millionaire Catholic Tony Blair has been revealed as the next Pope, a role he’s described as ‘quite an honour
really I suppose, if you think about it’.
Pope Tony I will carry out his duties on a part-time basis to begin with, while he winds down his other
Cherie Booth welcomed the news and explained that she would stand in as His Holiness, while her husband
wrapped up his ‘valuable work’ at investment banks across the US, Israel and Switzerland.
“I’ve been a big fan of Catholicism ever since I was head-hunted by the Vatican in 2007″, explained Tony.
“I suppose I felt an affiliation with their belief in telling lies, without having to apologize for them.”
Benefiting from a ‘fast track’ programme Blair made the board in less than five years, a record he puts down to
his vision for a New Roman Catholicism.
Tony Blair becomes new Pope
Recruiting Tony Blair to head up the Vatican was seen as a ‘real coup’ for the beleaguered religion, which has
struggled to look stubbornly medieval recently, in comparison with its competitors.
“His Holy Tone has a lot of experience working over the Middle East”, explained a Junior Press Cardinal.
“The speech he gave us about ‘hearts and minds’ helped him stand out during the interview process.”
The board were impressed with Blair’s record on killing thousands of people while claiming he was trying to
help them, a technique pioneered by the church’s policy on condoms.
Pope Tony I has vowed to continue his work in oil-rich, third-world countries, but this time with a shift in focus
to recruitment, instead of arbitrary annihilation.
“The key to getting people to invest properly in their afterlife is to create a hell on Earth”, explained Blair, “and
that’s something I can promise to bring to the no-negotiating altar.”
With many in the church secretly wishing for a properly financed Holy War, Pope Tony I is seen as something
of a crusader.
“It’s surprising how efficiently a fear of death can bring liquidity to a person’s assets”, decreed the pop-eyed Pope.
“You need to plan for the future.
Would you like to buy one of our new Halliburton indulgences?”
Religion- High and Mighty ?
Updated: 16 Dec 2012
A Church Marriage Ceremony is no more than that !
To some its pure mumbo jumbo ?
It is not certainly not legally binding
You can have any kind of ceremony you like but until you sign the Registry Office register
you are not legally married in the UK.
Have a Party and nominate anyone you wish
Say any words that you like
“I pronounce you man and wife”
But you are still not married in the eyes of the law.
So what is all the fuss about the Church refusing to “marry” homosexuals?
It’s a take it or leave it arrangement.
If you want to make a commitment to God then so be it.
Find a religion with a God that is more “understanding”
Some places of worship may be able to hold the Registry book in the Vestry
But until that is signed and witnessed you are not legally married.
As a third of marriages fail anyway, so the commitment to have and to hold until death
isn’t very strong in some cases.
And now it is women who instigated divorces most.
Money is important though because even the religious institutions want their cut.
So when it comes down to it, the law of the land decides whether two people can
legally become civil “partners”.
And the law ?
Society decides what is an acceptable law.
Even though through history many die fighting for that social change
Your rights have been fought for and not only that, they have to be protected from reactionaries
So its up to you and me to stand up for what we believe in.
As long as what you believe in didn’t come from the Sun or the Daily Mirror that morning.
Religion- A Ceremony is not Legally binding
Updated: 16 Dec 2012
A Ceremony is not Legally binding
Finding an Officiant
By Nina Callaway,
Since a commitment ceremony is not legally binding, really anyone that you want to can marry you.
It may be a close friend or family member, or it may be a religious leader.
(In Vermont, Justices of the Peace can perform a legally binding civil union.)
When considering asking a friend or family member to marry you, think about whether or not they make a comfortable public speaker.
This person will have to stand in front of a crowd and speak clearly and easily.
Consider people that you know who have had long and successful marriages or unions,
who will often have wise things to say about the nature of love and marriage.
If you're looking for an ordained religious leader, speak with a minister or rabbi from your congregation.
If you don't belong to a congregation, or your faith doesn't perform same-sex ceremonies, consider visiting your
local Unitarian Universalist, Universal Life or Metropolitan Community church, which support GLBT weddings.
Also, remember that several faiths leave the choice up to individual clergy, including Episcopalian, some other Protestant, Buddhist, and Reform Judaism.
Consult GLBT publications, community centers and the internet for religious officiants who will perform commitment ceremonies.
This person should be available to you during the wedding planning process to go over the order of service, what
their remarks will be, how you will handle the vows (will you and your future spouse memorize them or will you
follow a call and response format) and anything they will ask the congregation to do (stand or kneel for certain parts, join in singing, or jointly bless the union.)
If there isn't anyone who you feel is appropriate to perform the ceremony, consider doing so yourselves.
In this scenario, you would welcome everyone and thank them for coming.
You might say a few words about why having a public ceremony is important to you, or talk about how you met and the general history of your relationship.
You would then turn to each other to say your vows, and to exchange rings.
I recommend that you have everything memorized or be a good extemporaneous speaker, as you won't have
anyone to tell you what to say, and note cards will look a little tacky.
Religion- Still Believe ? All things are not that Bright and Beautiful
Updated: 14 Dec 2012
Thank God He created fossils
Thursday 13 December 2012
High or violent waves will erode the cliffs here and expose a new crop of amazing examples of life on earth millions of years ago.
This amazing Somerset beach where the Quantock hills jut out into Bridgwater Bay is one of the best places in
Britain to discover fossils.
On the beach you will walk over huge ammonites the size of dustbin lids set firmly in the limestone pavement.
Everywhere are fragments of ancient extinct wildlife buried in the rock for countless millennia now released by
the violent action of the ocean waves and last night's storm.
Prehistory is revealed in all its glory.
Experienced fossil hunters will be beneath the cliffs using their special pointed hammers to split the often soft
layers of shale rock to expose a fern frond, a reptile or a fish that hasn't seen the light of day for millions of years.
Small children will pick up their first few fossils and marvel at the intricate beauty of these primitive plants and creatures long extinct.
It's a great place for a bracing early morning stroll and a place to learn a little - or a lot - about the origins of life on earth.
Well, it is - but only if you believe Mr Charles Darwin and his remarkable theory on the origin of species.
Why wouldn't you?
Well at the last count some 49 per cent of the population of the United States said they don't believe Darwin's
theory at all and are firmly of the opinion that God created the world fully formed in every detail just 6,000 years ago.
The more lunatic fringe of fundamentalist Christians believe that not only did God create every species of plant
and animal exactly as they exist today but also diseases including Aids, cancer, smallpox, syphilis and even
David Attenborough's famous parasitic worm that eats African children's eyes.
Nice inventive creature their God.
Hard working, too - God would have to have designed and created at least 10 million different species, and if the
prediction of how many species are still to be identified is accurate, nearer 100 million.
Not bad going in seven days.
Not only that but when He (God is always a He for these people) had almost finished he buried a few fossils in
the rocks just to make the world more interesting and presumably to confuse Darwin, Richard Dawkins and me.
In case you think that these are only a few crazy uneducated US citizens it is worth remembering that when the
Republicans chose their presidential candidate earlier this year none of the six frontrunners interviewed on
television was prepared to state publicy that he or she believed in Darwin's theory of evolution.
Back in 1925 the state of Tennessee prosecuted a Dayton school teacher, Tom Scopes, just for mentioning evolution.
At the resulting "monkey trial" defence lawyer Clarence Darrow made the southern Bible Belt a laughing stock around the world.
Yet amazingly even today the Tennessee Education Board is demanding equal exposure in schools for both
evolution and the theory that God created the world 6,000 years ago.
They call it creationism.
I call it daft.
Now this fossilised thinking from across the pond is reaching more and more churches and Christians on this side of the Atlantic.
Some of our much praised faith schools are demanding the right to teach their fundamental creationist nonsense alongside proven scientific facts.
He who pays the educational piper it seems can call the fundamentalist tune.
Sadly Tories, Liberals and even Labour all say "amen" to that.
I need a walk on the beach to clear my head. East Quantoxhead might be a good place to start.
I hear there was a good storm last night.
Religion- 1 Peter 3:7 - Women by Men
Updated: 05 Dec 2012
New International Version (©1984)
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
New Living Translation (©2007)
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.
English Standard Version (©2001)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
International Standard Version (©2008)
In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
And you men, in this way dwell with your wives by knowledge, and hold them in honor as weaker vessels, lest you be subverted in your prayers, because they also inherit the gift of eternal life with you.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Husbands, in a similar way, live with your wives with understanding since they are weaker than you are. Honor your wives as those who share God's life-giving kindness so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American King James Version
Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American Standard Version
Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
Ye husbands, likewise dwelling with them according to knowledge, giving honour to the female as to the weaker vessel, and as to the co-heirs of the grace of life: that your prayers be not hindered.
Darby Bible Translation
Ye husbands likewise, dwell with them according to knowledge, as with a weaker, even the female, vessel, giving them honour, as also fellow-heirs of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.
English Revised Version
Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honour unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
Webster's Bible Translation
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Weymouth New Testament
Married men, in the same way, live with your wives with a clear recognition of the fact that they are weaker than you. Yet, since you are heirs with them of God's free gift of Life, treat them with honour; so that your prayers may not be hindered.
World English Bible
You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered.
Young's Literal Translation
The husbands, in like manner, dwelling with them, according to knowledge, as to a weaker vessel -- to the wife -- imparting honour, as also being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.
Religion-Women-On Top or Fragile Vessels ?-Dearly Beloved Brethren- Is it not a Sin...
Updated: 05 Dec 2012
Do women need the protection of the men in the church?
Or Women on Top ?
Do women need the protection of the men in broader society?
Protected or Patronised?
Women were typically less powerful than men when Peter described them using the metaphor of a “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).
Women were disadvantaged because they were usually uneducated and had less social freedoms and legal rights.
In contemporary egalitarian societies, however, women have pretty much the same freedoms and powers as men, and the same opportunities for education.
As a group, women in contemporary societies are not intellectually or rationally weaker than men.
Nor are they morally or spiritually inferior.
Most women, however, are physically weaker than men.
But physical strength is often not required when protecting and caring for people.
In difficult and dangerous situations, courage is usually what is most needed; and courage is not necessarily tied to sex and gender.
Plenty of Bible women were courageous and brave. [See endnote 2.]
These women make inspiring role models for men and women.
Most women are not as helpless and fragile as Rich seems to think.
They do not need to be protected from challenges and difficulties in the church or in general life.
Moreover treating women as fragile vessels does not ‘raise’ them; it diminishes and suppresses them.
It is insulting to treat a capable person as though they are weak and fragile.
Most women in the church, and women who live in reasonably safe, egalitarian societies, don’t need or want to be “protected”, that is, patronised, by men.
Safe or Suppressed?
Men and women should be concerned with the safety and protection of other human beings, including the safety and protection of young people and children.
But we need to be careful that we do not become over-protective.
If we are over-protective of our children they will fail to develop into resourceful, confident and independent humans beings.
My sons, who are now in their 20s, would think it ridiculous and embarrassing if I insisted that they hold my hand when crossing the street with me.
They have learnt how to cross the street safely and do not want to be treated as children.
Grown women also do not want to be protected and treated as children, nor do they want to be treated as less capable than men.
If churches treat their women as weak, the women will tend to see themselves as weak and behave as though they are weak.
Their personal growth will be stunted and the expression of their unique gifts and qualities stifled.
And if the church see women as weaker than men they are less likely to give women the same opportunities as men in ministry.
Instead of “protecting” and patronising women, the church should be encouraging and empowering her women.
Women who Protect and Lead
Many women are concerned about the safety and protection of others.
Some women have even made it their occupation.
In the Australian state of Victoria the highest ranking police officer during the years 2001-2008 was a woman: Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon.
And currently, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn holds the second highest rank in the New South Wales police force (my state). It is ludicrous to think that these women are fragile vessels.
Plus there are numerous examples of women who are skilled and competent leaders.
My personal observations of women leaders are that they handle confrontations, conflicts and criticisms better than many men.
Since ministry does not usually include heavy lifting or hand to hand combat, I cannot see that masculine physical strength is important, or an advantage, for church leaders.
Moreover there are many different ways of being a leader.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul described his leadership using both maternal and paternal imagery (1 Thess 2:7-8; 11-12). 
I think Rich is deluding himself if he thinks that cosseting women as fragile vessels and denying them the opportunity to be church leaders “raises” or elevates them.
I think that it is possible that men who claim to be protecting “fragile” women are in reality protecting their own self-interests by suppressing women and keeping them in a dependent, subordinate state.
Ideally, men and women should enjoy mutually interdependent, supportive and caring relationships.
Protecting and Empowering
Both men and women should be concerned with protecting the disadvantaged and vulnerable and truly raising them up – empowering them – regardless of whether these genuinely weak and disadvantaged people are male or female.
I hope men and women will use their courage, strengths and abilities to help these people who really need protection.
(It doesn’t take any courage to “protect” those who are already safe and well.)
Some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are, in fact, women and girls who are dependent on men and live in patriarchal societies.
What are Christian men, like Rich, doing to help these poor women and girls who really are in need of protection?
Men who feel it is their calling to protect women should direct this ministry to the women who actually need it and stop treating capable women in a condescending and patronising way.
Religion- What the Bible says about Polygamy
Updated: 12 Nov 2012
What the Bible says about Polygamy
And Lamech took unto him two wives.
Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
And Sarai ... gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived.
But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had....
Esau ... took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
Then Jacob rose up, and set ... his wives upon camels.
If he take him another wife....
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated....
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
1 Samuel 1:1-2
Elkanah ... had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah.
2 Samuel 12:7-8
Thus saith the LORD God of Israel ... I gave thee ... thy master's wives....
1 Kings 11:2-3
Solomon ... had seven hundred wives ... and three hundred concubines.
1 Chronicles 4:5
And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.
2 Chronicles 11:21
Rehoboam ... took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines.
2 Chronicles 13:21
But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives....
2 Chronicles 24:3
Jehoiada took for him two wives....
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom
Religion- The Vatican against Gay Rights claim to have God on their side over polygamy
Updated: 12 Nov 2012
Vatican digs in after gay marriage advances in US, Europe;
asks sarcastically why not polygamy
November 9, 2012 at the Vatican.
// By Associated Press, VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is digging in after gay marriage initiatives scored big wins this week in the U.S. and Europe, vowing to never stop insisting that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
In a front-page article in Saturday’s Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See sought to frame itself as the lone voice of courage in opposing initiatives to give same-sex couples legal recognition.
In a separate Vatican Radio editorial, the Pope’s spokesman asked sarcastically why gay marriage proponents don’t now push for legal recognition for polygamous couples as well.
Catholic teaching holds that homosexuals should be respected and treated with dignity but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”
The Vatican also opposes same-sex marriage, insisting on the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman as the foundation for society.
The Vatican’s anti-gay marriage media blitz came after three U.S. states approved same-sex marriage by popular vote in the election that returned Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency, Spain upheld its gay marriage law, and France pushed ahead with legislation that could see gay marriage legalized early next year.
“One might say the church, at least on this front, has been defeated,” L’Osservatore Romano wrote.
“But that’s not the case.”
The article insisted that Catholics were putting up a valiant fight to uphold church teaching in the face of “politically correct ideologies invading every culture of the world” that are backed by institutions like the United Nations, which last year passed a non-binding resolution condemning anti-gay discrimination.
“The church is called to present itself as the lone critic of modernity, the only check ... to the breakup of the anthropological structures on which human society was founded,” it said.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, for his part, said gays can have their rights protected by means other than through legal marital recognition.
He stressed that children should have a right to say they have a father and a mother.
“If not, then why not contemplate freely chosen polygamy, and naturally so as to not discriminate, polyandry?” he asked sarcastically.
Polyandry is when a woman has two or more husbands.
“As a result, don’t expect the church to stop insisting that society recognizes a specific place for marriage between a man and woman,” he said.
The US election had been closely watched at the Vatican because of the strong divisions that erupted during the campaign between the Obama administration and US bishops over gay marriage, which Obama endorsed in May.
The administration and bishops clashed more vehemently over Obama’s health care mandate requiring nearly all US health insurance plans to cover contraception, which the church opposes.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the contraception mandate — which exempts houses of worship but applies to faith-affiliated employers — is a violation of religious freedom.
The Vatican’s reaction to Obama’s re-election was tinged with such lingering criticism, with Pope Benedict XVI congratulating Obama and praying that the ideals of freedom and justice continue to be upheld.
Lombardi went further urging the administration to respect essential values in “promoting a culture of life and religious freedom” — Vatican buzzwords referring to abortion, contraception and the insurance mandate.
It was a far cry from the Vatican’s enthusiastic response to Obama’s election in 2008.
Then, the Pope termed Obama’s election an “historic occasion” in a personal note of congratulations sent right after he won, a break with traditional Vatican protocol that usually sees official telegrams of congratulations sent on inauguration day.
Religion-TUC "A Future that Works" Demonstration- "With God on our Side"?-Open letter to the Bishops
Updated: 15 Oct 2012
TUC “A Future that Works” Demonstration- With God on Our Side?
An open letter to Rowan Williams
"How many Bishops and Clergy will be there on 20th Oct " ?
Politics Britain-How to Keep Religions out of Politics in a Secular Society ?
Updated: 19 Sep 2012
Faithfuls face unfair treatment in UK
Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:28PM GMT
A new study has found that people of various faiths in Britain are experiencing unfair treatment based on their religion in the country.
The study commissioned by the University of Derby surveyed different religious bodies in England and Wales and questioned them about the impact of the equality legislation introduced more than a decade ago.
The preliminary results showed "substantial reporting of unfair treatment on the basis of religion or belief continuing across key areas of people’s lives".
A team of prominent scholars from Derby and the Universities of Oxford and Manchester are led by Paul Weller, Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, in the research project.
“A decade ago it was not illegal in England and Wales to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief, so at that time those who reported unfair treatment on the basis of religion or belief had little scope for remedy”, said Paul Weller.
“Since then we have had the 2003 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, Incitement to Racial and Racial Hatred Act, 2006, and the 2006 and 2010 Equalities Acts”, he added.
"Although unfair treatment on the basis of religion or belief continues, evidence from our field research suggests that, particularly in the public sector, these legal changes have contributed to policy development and institutional change, resulting in some improvements in both inclusive consultation and practice”, said the professor.
“The progress facilitated by new law has also highlighted unresolved tensions. We are still awaiting outcomes of key cases now before the European Court of Human Rights. The uncertainties mean that individuals and groups continue to feel unfairly treated on different grounds”, added Professor Weller
US Faith Leaders Condemn Romney and Ryan's Right Wing Values
Updated: 16 Sep 2012
Faith leaders condemn far right Values summit
by: John Wojcik
September 14 2012
WASHINGTON - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders, in a hastily called press conference, spoke out today against the Ryan budget just as the GOP vice presidential candidate wrapped up his speech to the extreme right Values Voters Summit here.
Ryan repeated his contention today that the budget he has proposed, which kills Medicare and Medicaid and guts services for the poor, is a reflection of the values he learned from his Catholic education.
Sister Simone Campbell SSS, the Catholic nun who became famous as the leader of the Nuns on the Bus Tour of nine states last June said the Ryan budget rejects the teaching of all the great religions of the world and that it does "nothing" to tackle the causes of the federal budget deficit it purports to close.
Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, declared, "None of the programs for the poor that Ryan proposes to destroy are the cause of the budget deficit.
The deficit is the result of two wars and military spending that the Bush administration not only did not pay for but made worse with tax cuts for the wealthiest.
People of faith understand that taxes are a necessity and that those who are the best off must pay their fair share."
She said that cutting food stamps, for example, adds to the 46.1 million already officially living in poverty.
"It's even more disgraceful and disconcerting," she added, "when we recognize that half the people in poverty are working people on the job who earn the minimum wage and that any minimum wage below $12.50 per hour is not a wage people can possibly live one."
Taking issue even with what the right wing summit defined as a "value voter," Sandy Sorensen, director of the Washington office of the United Church of Christ's Justice and Witness ministries, said, "a values voter is a voter who places the needs of the poor at the forefront and a federal budget is a reflection of faith values to the extent that it does that."
Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc, which is part of the Jewish Partnership for Justice, said Ryan's speech at the Values Summit this morning was "antithetical to American Jewish values."
"Our values, as expressed in the Book of Micah are 'Do justice, have mercy and show love,'" he said "The Ryan budget does no justice, it puts the burden on the poor and rewards the wealth.
It shows no mercy by slashing the supports people need to live and it shows no love by arrogantly disregarding the values of all religions."
He said the first bill passed into law during the Obama administration, the Lily Ledbetter Act which calls for equal pay for women, was "much more reflective of Jewish values."
The current controversy regarding Mitt Romney's reaction to the crisis in the Middle East spilled over into the press conference with a variety of questions on the topic for the faith leaders assembled.
"This is the lowest point in the campaign," the Jewish leader said of Romney's attacks on Obama at the height of the crisis.
"He is trying to use as political chips something that is not a political chip.
We are talking about human lives.
Instead of stirring up the pot Romney should be elevating the countless examples we have every day of Christians, Moslems and Jews working together.
I know Muslim women working in Catholic social justice programs in New York. Why not point to these good things," he said.
Sister Simone was asked about Romney campaign efforts to win favor with Catholics by focusing on the abortion issue.
"People of faith cannot ecxercise their faith by being single-issue voters," she said. "Jesus said we must care for those at the margins and to do this in today's world we have to navigate a complex series of issues.
It is impossible to be pro-life in the complete sense and at the same time support the Ryan budget."
Photo: Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, speaks during a stop, June 18, in Ames, Iowa.
The group of Roman Catholic nuns say their fight is with a Republican proposed federal budget they say hurts the poor and needy. Charlie Neibergall/AP
Dr Rowan Williams leaves office and directs blows at the Coalition economics and his C of E critics
Updated: 09 Sep 2012
Archbishop launches parting attack on critics
The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a major attack on his critics in the Government and Church of England months before he leaves office.
Edward Malnick, and Cole Moreton
9:00PM BST 08 Sep 2012
For almost 10 years he has endured a simultaneous barrage of criticism from those who say he should not meddle in politics and those who argue that when he talks about the Bible he becomes “irrelevant”.
This week the Archbishop of Canterbury issues a challenge to critics in a book which he introduces with a warning that he has become “resilient” and even “rebellious”.
Faith in the Public Square is a collection of lectures from his decade as Archbishop, all of them couched in the academic language that has become familiar from Dr Rowan Williams.
However, he uses the introduction, which he wrote this summer, to also make a fresh series of attacks on the Government and on his opponents in the Church of England.
He prefaces his remarks by saying that as he reaches the end of his time in office he is willing to take the “risk” that he will encounter further criticism — then takes it with a forthright attack on the Government’s economic record.
Dr Williams criticises the way the economy has been run during the financial crisis, saying that public life has become tainted by a “myth” that it is possible to guarantee financial security.
“A mythology of control and guaranteed security, combined with the fantasy that unlimited material growth is possible... has poisoned social and political life across a growing number of countries.
“No theologian has an automatic skill in economics; but there is an ethical perspective here, plainly rooted in theology, that obliges us to question the nostrums of recent decades, and above all persistently to ask the awkward question of what we want growth for, what model of well-being we actually assume in our economics.
“Without an answer to that, we enter just the 'virtual reality’ atmosphere that has created (and maintained) financial disaster in the last few years.”
Pointedly, the book also includes a lecture in which Dr Williams sets out his critique of the Prime Minister’s Big Society. He argues that David Cameron’s concept “has suffered from a lack of definition about the means by which ideals can be realised”.
He said this has bred a degree of cynicism, “intensified by the attempt to argue for devolved political and social responsibility at exactly the same time as imposing rapid and extensive reductions in public expenditure”.
He said the Big Society has been perceived by the public as “aspirational waffle” designed to hide a “deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable”.
Despite this, he says it offers an “extraordinary” chance for the Church to serve the community and “the opportunity is too important to let pass”.
In the lectures, Dr Williams also criticises changes in the way universities are funded. He writes: “God help us all (literally) when the humanities and the pure sciences come to be seen as luxuries in higher education, or indeed education of any kind.”
Dr Williams also uses the book’s introduction to criticise those on the evangelical wing of the Church, such as his predecessor Lord Carey, who have said that Christians in Britain suffer from persecution.
“We have been hearing quite a lot about the dangers of 'aggressive secularism’ and the strident anti-Christian rhetoric of some well-known intellectuals is still a prominent feature of our society,” Dr Williams writes.
“But ... our problem is not simply loud voices attacking faith (and certainly not 'persecution’ as some of the more highly-coloured apologetic claims).”
He adds: “Argument is essential to a functioning democratic state, and religion should be involved in this, not constantly demanding the right not to be offended.”
His intervention exposes a damaging rift within the Church, particularly with Lord Carey, who earlier this year told judges at the European Court of Human Rights that British Christians were being persecuted and “driven underground” by courts.
Dr Williams’s attack comes ahead of the publication of a book by the former bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, in which the leading conservative repeats his concerns about the dangers of “aggressive secularism”.
In May, Bishop Nazir-Ali said that the exclusion of Christians from their places of work for wearing a cross amounted to the “beginning of persecution”.
Dr Williams argues that secularism comes in two different forms and that a secular state does not necessarily pose a problem for Christians.
“Programmatic” secularism excludes religious practise and symbols from public life in order to emphasise the “unclouded” loyalty of individuals to the state, which Dr Williams describes as problematic.
However, he does not object to “procedural” secularism, under which the state allows people to publicly practise their faith but does not give preferential treatment to any single religious group.
He says the Church can continue to exist in a secular society as long as it is allowed to speak up for its values.
Bishop Nazir-Ali said Dr Williams’s distinction was “not really stable”, insisting that any form of secularism represents an assault on the Church and Christian values.
In an interview in The Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams acknowledged that he had made mistakes during his time in office.
“I know that I’ve, at various points, disappointed both conservatives and liberals,” he said. “Most of them are quite willing to say so, quite loudly.
“That’s just been a background to almost everything, a pretty steady 'mood music’.”
In November, at a meeting of the General Synod, he will make a final attempt to broker an agreement on women bishops — an issue which threatens to split the Church — before he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
Religion- Dying Catholic Cardinal has profound material concerns over his spiritual expectations
Updated: 03 Sep 2012
A dying cardinal, his final interview,
and a damning critique that has rocked the Catholic Church
Michael Day Milan
Monday 03 September 2012
One of Italy's most revered cardinals has stunned the Catholic Church by issuing a damning indictment of the institution from the grave, calling for its "transformation".
Hours after Milan's former Archbishop, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, died on Friday at the age of 85, the leading daily paper Corriere della Sera printed his final interview, in which he attacks the Church – and by implication its current leadership – for being "200 years out of date".
"Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous," the Cardinal said. "The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the Pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation."
Church insiders believe he wished for the interview to be published following his death.
Cardinal Martini, who was on the liberal wing of the church hierarchy, was once tipped to succeed John Paul II as Pope. His chances of being elected fell away when he revealed he was suffering from a rare form of Parkinson's disease and he retired as Archbishop in 2002. Instead, the ultra-conservative German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
The body of Cardinal Martini has been laid out in Milan cathedral since noon on Saturday, with thousands of people coming to pay their last respects. His funeral will take place there this afternoon.
The left-wing Mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, who recently angered church authorities by recognising gay couples and providing them with the same rights the city gives married couples, led the tributes to the dead Cardinal. "Difficult times require words of wisdom and hope from great men," he said. "Carlo Maria Martini illuminated the way for the entire city, not just for part of it. For this reason, today more than ever, Milan mourns its Archbishop".
Cardinal Martini was noted for supporting the use of condoms, at least a decade before the Vatican grudgingly accepted they might be acceptable in certain situations to prevent the transmission of HIV. He also questioned the Church's line on gay relationships and divorce – calling on it to reconsider what constituted a family in the 21st century or risk losing even more of its flock.
Conservative voices in the Church tried to repair damage caused by Cardinal Martini's criticism. Marco Tarquinio, the editor of the bishops' daily paper, L'Avvenire, accused the mainstream press of distorting the Cardinal's comments, although he did not give specific examples.
"The attempts to distort and manipulate in an anti-ecclesiastical way the Cardinal's final hours on this earth are a bitter reminder of similar actions against even the blessed John Paul II," he said.
The suspicion – ever present in Italy – that the Vatican has tendrils everywhere, even in the mainstream press, was heightened by the failure of the article to appear on the Corriere della Sera website. Following inquiries by The Independent, Corriere's editor, Ferruccio de Bortoli, said there had been no pressure to keep the article off the website. It was then published online yesterday evening. Other leading newspapers failed to give the cardinals' comments much coverage.
Robert Mickens, the Rome correspondent of The Tablet, called for Cardinal Martini's deathbed comments to be taken very seriously.
"They must be seen in the context of coming from a man who loved the Church and who gave his life to the institution. He made a profound statement, which he had already said many times to Benedict and John Paul II in private," he said.
Cardinal Martini caused controversy in his final days after refusing artificial feeding, contravening church policy on end-of-life issues.
Mr Mickens said that although Cardinal Martini's ideas had "zero support" in the Vatican, he was revered by rank and file members. "The people in the trenches looked up to him. He was a giant. We're in a very conservative period. But that won't last forever. A whole generation have been inspired by Martini's writings. That will be his legacy."
Cardinal Martini: A holy life
Carlo Maria Martini was born in Turin in 1927, entered the Society of Jesus in 1944 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1952. His appointment as Archbishop of Milan, Italy's most important diocese, in 1980 was considered highly unusual; Jesuits are not traditionally given bishop posts. He retired from the post in 2002, the year he was diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson's disease. He then moved to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem. He passed away at the Jesuit-run Aloisianum College in Gallarate near Milan
Religion-What to do - When Mitt's Mormon's come knockin on your door?
Updated: 31 Aug 2012
What do you do when Mormon's come knockin on your door?
Best Answer (Chosen by Voting):
Posted by jazzyknickers Aug 1st, 2012 at 5:52AM
"Put my nuns outfit on.smear cream around my mouth and tell them Father O'Leary can't come to the door right now"
1. Posted by HStoner Aug 1st, 2012 at 6:37AM
"Answer the door in the nude. It has a wonderful deterrent effect on all religiously motivated door-to-door solicitors whom I've encountered."
A question from a reader: Happened to me yesterday.
Told ‘em i was agnostic-atheist then proceeded to engage in (peaceful) debate with them about the universe, god, logic, etc.
My friend tells them he’s a Satanist in a demonic voice and slams the door (this is priceless to see in action).
Or - The next time some Mormon missionaries come knocking on your door, try this:
1. First of all, ask them if their parents are Mormons - over 90% will answer yes.
2. Ask them if they know how many Mormons there are in the world - they should know that the answer is about 13,000,000 and, if they don't, you can tell them.
3. Ask them if they know the population of the earth - they might hazard a guess that it is approaching 7 billion and, again, you can tell them if they don't know. It's actually a bit less than that but 7 billion is close enough.
4. Pull out a calculator and divide 13,000,000 by 7 billion which you will find equals 0.00185714.
5. Ask them if they feel lucky to have been born into a family which practices the right religion when over 98.8% of the world's population has got it wrong.
6. As you're shutting the door, tell them that every religion can't be right but they can all be wrong.
Religion-Australia-"God is not Mocked"-Widespread Sexual abuse by the Clergy
Updated: 21 Jul 2012
“God is not mocked”
Last week at a special Mass, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Julian Porteous offered prayers for victims of abuse by members of the clergy.
Many members of the congregation reacted with anger.
Prayers are not enough, and never have been.
Victims and their families are now calling for a Royal Commission into the matter.
Responsibility for these crimes does not rest with the clergy alone.
Australian governments have taken little action to deal with the problem, and the Church itself has shown disregard for the law.
Concealing evidence of a crime is an offence, and senior members of the church have failed to notify police about cases of abuse.
The perpetrators were often allowed to continue their duties in different parishes, where the pattern of abuse continued.
The abuse became a hierarchical system of denials, cover-ups and lies that reached the highest level of the church.
Twenty-five years ago a magistrate dismissed a case involving one victim, Damien Jurd, on the grounds that he was not as reliable a witness as the accused, a teacher at his school.
Tormented by the trauma of his experiences, including the rejection of his case, Jurd later succumbed to drug addiction and committed suicide.
As the ABC’s Four Corners program recently revealed, in 1992 the teacher, known only as “Father F”, confessed to an internal Church inquiry that he had interfered with Catholic alter boys over many years.
Father F was formally defrocked, but only after 13 years.
Father Brian Lucas, a senior church official who participated in the inquiry, attempted to explain the Church’s lack of action by pointing out that Father F had not given the names of the victims, and that in any case “the first responsibility to report crime is by the victim”.
They therefore decided that no criminal investigation could be mounted.
However, it was up to the police to make that decision, not the Church.
Moreover, anyone who has evidence relating to a crime must report it, regardless of whether the victims have made a complaint or been identified.
Admittedly, the Catholic Church is not the only organisation, religious or otherwise, whose members have committed these crimes, as shown by the recent shocking revelations about abuse of Australian naval cadets. Nor are all priests guilty of such acts. Far from it; most are decent, respected members of the community.
However, the Church has a particularly long and intense history of sexual abuse, resulting from its demand that members of its exclusively male priesthood must remain celibate.
The stated aim was to remove priests from the supposedly corrupting influence of lust, but its original purpose was actually to ensure that they would not have wives or children, and would leave their property to the Church.
A result of that terrible, avaricious policy has been a thousand-year culture of secret sexual affairs and vice.
Girls were particularly at risk because there was less likelihood of pregnancy.
Children of both sexes could be frightened into silence, having been taught that the Church represents God, who must be obeyed.
As Damien Jurd found out, if all else failed the perpetrator could denigrate the character of the victim, or rely on psychological pressure.
One man has testified that in the 1970s he told the principal of his Sydney Catholic high school he had been sexually assaulted by a science teacher.
He said he had not told his parents; he felt he could not do so because they trusted the teacher.
In due course the teacher was sacked, but no further action was taken.
The victim now intends to lodge a formal complaint about the principal’s failure to notify the police.
The actions of many members of the Catholic clergy are inconsistent with their own religious beliefs, as well as the law.
Their behaviour, and the reluctance of governments and the police to take action on these matters, has made a laughing stock of both religion and the law.
The Bible says “God is not mocked”, and neither is the law.
The victims and their families are determined that those who have abused children placed in their care will be punished.
The Church must also apologise, compensate the victims, and change its policies – and the sooner the better.
Religion- Catholic leaders cut 7% off low paid workers pay
Updated: 03 Jul 2012
UNISON calls on Catholic leaders to halt 7% pay cut
for low-paid workers
by Pete Murray - 30th June 2012, 8.15 BST
UNISON has called on the Archbishop of Glasgow and other senior figures in the Scottish Catholic Church to overturn a decision to slash the pay of low paid workers.
Archbishop Mario Conti sits on the board of the social care charity, The Mungo Foundation, which was set up to provide care and support to adults with learning difficulties across the West of Scotland.
Officials say the charity has ‘lost its way’ by attacking the wages of low-paid staff and is considering possible industrial action.
UNISON says many staff lost their jobs or had their hours cut last year as a result of local authority cuts to its social care budget.
The board is now looking to slash workers’ hourly rate of pay by 7% and cut their hours even further.
The union believes the latest round of cuts is an attempt to create a new workforce that the board can call upon when needed and drop when no longer required.
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON’s regional organiser, said: “The Mungo Foundation says it is rooted in sound Christian values with strong principles of social justice and inclusion.
However, the actions of the board seem to suggest otherwise.
“Attacking the pay, conditions and working hours of low-paid workers, predominantly women, is a major slap in the face for these dedicated staff – many of whom have served the Archdiocese for more than 30 years.
“Our members are seriously concerned that staffing cuts will have a major impact on the service they provide to some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable people.
”The cuts in working hours will particularly impact on those who receive tax credits, as the system requires that workers have a certain amount of contracted hours in order to maintain entitlement.”
UNISON is consulting staff directly affected by the cuts to wages and hours over possible industrial action, as well as balloting all members working at the charity over the imposition of a one-off payment of £350 after a 5-year pay freeze.
Said Simon Macfarlane: “Our members have been called into the offices of the Archdiocese to be told of the cuts, while sitting in a room surrounded by guilt-framed pictures worth countless thousands of pounds.
“It seems the Mungo Foundation has lost its way and we’re calling on the Archbishop of Glasgow, and other board members, to reverse this damaging decision and to end the cuts agenda.”
Religion- Rowan Williams describes Cameron's Big Society as "Aspirational Waffle"
Updated: 25 Jun 2012
Rowan Williams pours scorn on David Cameron's 'big society'
Key policy 'comes across as waffle',
says archbishop of Canterbury in valedictory bombshell
• Toby Helm and Julian Coman
• The Observer, Sunday 24 June 2012
Rowan Williams says David Cameron's 'big society' is 'designed to conceal a deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable'.
The archbishop of Canterbury has denounced David Cameron's "big society", saying that it comes across as aspirational waffle that was "designed to conceal a deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable".
The outspoken attack on the prime minister's flagship policy by Rowan Williams – his strongest to date – is contained in a new book, Faith in the Public Square, that is being prepared for publication ahead of his retirement.
Passages from the book, obtained by the Observer, reflect the archbishop's deep frustration not just with the policies of Cameron's government and those of its Labour predecessors, but also with what he sees as the west's rampant materialism and unquestioning pursuit of economic growth.
Williams also laments spiralling military expenditure, writing that "the adventure in Iraq and its cost in any number of ways seems to beggar the imagination".
But it is his suggestion that the big society – Cameron's personal vision of a more active civic society – is seen by people as a deliberate cover for plans to shrink the state that will be most controversial.
On Saturday night, Cameron revealed he was considering scrapping most of the £1.8bn in housing benefits paid to 380,000 under-25s, worth an average of £90 a week, forcing them to support themselves or live with their parents.
He also told the Mail on Sunday he might stop the £70-a-week dole money for the unemployed who refuse to try hard to find work or produce a CV.
Commenting on the "big society", Williams, who steps down in December after 10 years in his post, writes: "Introduced in the runup to the last election as a major political idea for the coming generation, [it] has suffered from a lack of definition about the means by which such ideals can be realised.
Big society rhetoric is all too often heard by many therefore as aspirational waffle designed to conceal a deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable."
He suggests that ministers have fuelled cynicism over the Cameron vision by failing to define what the role of citizens should be.
"And if the big society is anything better than a slogan looking increasingly threadbare as we look at our society reeling under the impact of public spending cuts, then discussion on this subject has got to take on board some of those issues about what it is to be a citizen and where it is that we most deeply and helpfully acquire the resources of civic identity and dignity."
Williams has never been afraid to wade into sensitive political issues during his decade at Lambeth Palace. But his valedictory work, to be released three months before he leaves office, is more strident in its criticism than anything that has come before.
It is certain to cause fury in the government, which is being criticised, including from some Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, for lacking a compelling message other than the necessity of public spending cuts and austerity.
A perception that the government is failing to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable as it pursues growth has spread since the chancellor, George Osborne's, decision to end the top 50p rate of tax on incomes of more than £150,000 a year in his March budget.
In a powerful section questioning economic assumptions that govern modern societies, the archbishop takes issue with the idea that growth, defined as increasing production, is necessarily a good thing.
"Practically speaking, at the individual and the national level, we have to question what we mean by growth," he writes.
"The ability to produce more and more consumer goods (not to mention financial products) is in itself an entirely mechanical measure of wealth."
The archbishop argues this mindset creates new demand for goods and thus new demands on a limited material environment for energy sources and raw materials.
"By the hectic inflation of demand it creates personal anxiety and rivalry.
By systematically depleting the resources of the planet, it systematically destroys the basis for long-term wellbeing.
In a nutshell, it is investing in the wrong things."
No 10 said: "The launch of Big Society Capital in April is a concrete example of the government delivering on its plans – £600m to help create a funding model that is truly self-sustaining and that will help charities and social enterprises to play their part in building a bigger society."
The archbishop says that the Labour party was wrong in 2006 to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence, arguing that anti-Muslim statements could show courage.
"The creation under British law of a criminal offence of incitement to religious hatred has provoked bitter and sustained controversy. Disproportionate attention has been given to a hypersensitive minority.
"Some anti-Muslim images or words (foolish and insulting as they may be) may well exhibit courage in a world where terrorist violence reaches across every national boundary."
He also calls for greater integration of Muslims living in Britain and insists they make their loyalty to "the nation state" rather than "the international Muslim community".
"To suggest that the Muslim owes an overriding loyalty to the International Muslim Community [the Umma] is extremely worrying," he writes.
"Muslims must make clear that their loyalty is straightforward modern political loyalty to the nation state."
Publisher Robin Baird-Smith, who runs Continuum, part of Bloomsbury, said that the book was "a powerful, carefully reasoned rebuttal of Williams's critics.
This is not a work of theology. It is a book about the role of religion in public life – it touches on economics, ecology, public morality, atheism," he said.
"This is thus a book of supreme importance."
Religion- Church - Blocking Gay Marriage
Updated: 15 May 2012
PETER TATCHELL FOUNDATION
Speaking out for Human Rights
Don't let church leaders block gay marriage
Make a submission to the government consultation process
Support civil marriage & civil partnership equality for all
London - 14 May 2012
One month from today, the government's public consultation on legalising same-sex civil marriage will close. June 14th is the end date for submissions to the government.
Church leaders have mobilised over 500,000 people to sign a petition against UK government plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies in register offices.
We need to counter their opposition to marriage equality; otherwise the anti-gay lobby may win.
Here's how you can help:
Using the model submission below, please respond to the government's public consultation on legalising same-sex marriage here:
Copy and paste the model submission into Question 16 on the government consultation website. Personalise and amend it, if you wish.
Please also email it to the Government Equalities Office:
I support full equality. I urge the government to legalise:
* Same-sex civil marriages
* Opposite-sex civil partnerships
* Religious same-sex marriages by clergy who wish to conduct them.
* Civil partnerships should be retained for gay and straight couples who want an alternative to marriage.
* Existing civil partners should be given the option to convert their civil partnership into a civil marriage, with a special ceremony if they desire this.
* Any individual minister of religion licensed to conduct marriages should be free to conduct a same-sex marriage in their place of worship, if they wish to do so.
* Married transgender people should not be required to divorce their spouse before they can receive a gender recognition certificate.
The UK's twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are unjust discrimination. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. I urge that both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to gay and heterosexual couples, with no discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, writes:
"The UK government is committed to legalise same-sex civil marriage (not religious marriage) by 2015. But it is refusing to legalise opposite-sex civil partnerships and refusing to legalise same-sex religious marriages by faith organisations and clergy who want to conduct them.
"The government currently has a consultation process where it is seeking the views of the public. The deadline for submissions is 14 June 2012.
"It is very important that we make submissions supporting equality for all, including for LGBT couples who wish to get married, for heterosexual couples who want a civil partnership and for same-sex couples who'd like a religious marriage.
"In a democratic society we should all be equal before the law.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to equal treatment and protection against discrimination, including the right to marry.
"Legalising same -sex marriage is the recognition that LGBT people are of equal worth, equally part of humanity and have the right to the equal validation of their love.
"The same principle of equality applies in the case of civil partnerships. Heterosexual couples should be able to have a civil partnership if they wish.
"Many heterosexuals supported the campaigns for LGBT equality. We should reciprocate by supporting their right to a civil partnership.
"By participating in the public consultation we can let the government know that we want equality in both civil marriage and civil partnership law. Help us send a message for universal equal rights," said Mr Tatchell.
For further information:
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
0207 403 1790
Religion- Jesus the Socialist would have rejected the Elitists !
Updated: 09 Apr 2012
Religious people are more likely to be leftwing,
says thinktank Demos
Research undermines commonly held view that faith group members are more conservative
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has taken progressive political positions on a number of issues.
"We don't do God," Alastair Campbell famously insisted when journalists pressed the former prime minister, Tony Blair, on matters of faith.
But it appears that New Labour's high command missed a trick by declining to talk up their religious convictions, for new research suggests they would have been preaching to the converted: people with faith are far more likely to take left-of-centre positions on a range of issues, including immigration and equality.
The research, revealed in a new report by the thinktank Demos, undermines the widely held view that members of religious groups are more likely to have conservative tendencies.
Its findings are exciting the interest of senior Labour politicians, who believe that attracting the faith vote will be crucial to the party's fortunes.
The Faithful Citizens report also has implications for the aspiration of prime minister David Cameron for a "big society".
It finds that people who identify with a faith are more likely to volunteer, be politically engaged and to become active citizens in their neighbourhoods.
Prominent left-of-centre figures who have strong religious beliefs, like the comedian Frank Skinner, who has spoken out in favour of higher taxes and is a committed Roman Catholic, are rare.
But the Demos report suggests that the example of the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, who combines deeply held progressive beliefs with his religious convictions, is not unusual.
"Rowan Williams may be far more representative of the religious community than many have suggested," said Jonathan Birdwell, the author of the report. "Progressives should sit up and take note.
Their natural allies may look more like the archbishop of Canterbury than Richard Dawkins."
The report found that 55% of people with faith placed themselves on the left of politics, compared with 40% who placed themselves on the right.
The report also suggests that people with faith are more likely to value equality over freedom than their non-religious counterparts.
It discloses that 41% of people with religious views prioritise equality over freedom, compared with 36% of those without faith.
The report, based on an analysis of the European Values Study, also finds evidence that people who belong to a religious organisation are more likely to say they are very interested in politics, to have signed a petition and to have participated in a demonstration.
Writer and psychologist Oliver James triggered a debate by suggesting that religious people were less likely to be leftwing.
His comments came as Cameron attempted to reinforce his party's religious credentials by suggesting that there was "something of a fightback going on" among Christians.
"The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity, are the values that we need," Cameron said.
Labour is now also keen to promote its faith credentials.
"The progressive cause is often cast as being in opposition to the religious one," Labour MP Stephen Timms notes in a foreword to the Demos report.
"Faith group members will be key in any future, election-winning, progressive coalition... Labour can draw new energy and inspiration from engaging with faith groups."
But politicians may find that cultivating the faith vote will become less important in the future.
Religiosity among younger citizens appears to be declining, with nearly two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds claiming that they do not follow a religion, compared with under one third aged 65 and over.
The writer and philosopher Alain de Botton – whose latest book, Religion for Atheists, examines the consolations of faith for those who do not believe – argues that the internal dynamics of religions often confer progressive views on their followers, who find themselves at odds with today's free-market society.
"The progressive side of religion springs from their frequent reminders to live for others and to concentrate more on the wellbeing of the group than on the happiness of the individual," de Botton said.
"In this sense, religions run counter to the implicit philosophy of modern consumer capitalism."
Religion- Rowan Williams resigns as Head of Church of England
Updated: 17 Mar 2012
Rowan Williams quits as Archbishop of Canterbury
Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:7PM GMT
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will quit his post after a troubled decade at the head of the Church of England.
The leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion will step down in December to take up a job next year as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. His departure follows rows over gay and female bishops, which have led to resignations and threats of schism. Announcing his resignation Friday, Williams said: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision. During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask your prayers and support in this period and beyond.” Williams, 61, took over at Lambeth Palace in 2002 and has attracted controversy ever since with pronouncements on subjects ranging from sharia law, saying its use was unavoidable in some circumstances. Williams opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and warned recently that the government was pushing through radical change for which no one had voted. His biggest challenges, however, have been over women bishops and homosexuality as he sought to hold the worldwide Anglican Communion together amid a bruising war between liberals and traditionalists.
Religion-"The God Squad"- On the Delusions of (always) being Right
Updated: 18 Feb 2012
Thou shalt not whinge
Friday 17 February 2012
Say what you want about the God squad, but when it comes to sanctimoniously taking the moral high ground, they're in a league of their own.
In recent days we have seen howls of outrage from various quarters over the claimed persecution of the Christian population in Britain.
It would appear that turning the other cheek is no longer in vogue.
On Tuesday we were greeted by the surreal sight of Tory chairwoman Baroness Warsi receiving a rapturous response from the Catholic hierarchy when she condemned the evils of "intolerant secularism" in this country.
It's not something you see every day - a Muslim female Tory MP giving a speech at the Vatican - but that's exactly what happened this week when the Yorkshire peer got up and addressed that famously tolerant body.
Of course she was - if you'll excuse the expression - somewhat preaching to the choir.
You're not exactly going to get heckled by the cardinals when your rallying call is for more religion in modern life. Even if you are a woman. Unsurprisingly it went down rather well.
To return to the central plank of her theory, that intolerant secularism is a blight on society, a few points if I may.
Since when has secularism been a threat to religion?
Since when has someone saying: "I'm not sure you're right about that, you know" been a bad thing?
When have you ever heard anyone declare a crusade or jihad in the name of theological uncertainty?
If you pick almost any instance of intolerance, bigotry, persecution and bloodshed throughout history the main candidates are invariably those who espouse some form of religious dogma, generally with them in the role of Messiah.
Historically of course one of the most infamous figures was a certain Torquemada.
And speaking of the Inquisition, Pope Benedict, or "God's Rottweiler" as he's affectionately known, was also for many years the head of that particular branch of religious zealots and they weren't exactly known for their tolerance of anything.
He has recent form too. In 2006 Il Papa got himself into a spot of hot water when he quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor who said Mohammed had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things.
So not like those paragons of virtue in the Catholic church then ... who have brought the world nothing but sweetness and light - and a novel approach to child care.
The odious EDL also like to make out they're Christians, defending the true English faith from the barbarity of Islam. They're not of course. They are racist thugs.
Either that or they've taken a rather obscure interpretation of the parable about throwing the first stone.
Warsi called for faith to be given "a seat at the table" and more influence in politics. Well, that's never gone wrong has it?
To cite a few recent examples - Tony Blair, George Dubya Bush, the Ayatollah, Saudi Arabia and al-Qaida.
This patent claptrap coupled with the "woe is me-ing" of Christian fundamentalists in recent days all adds up to a bizarre form of persecution complex.
This week we also had those enlightened people at Bideford Town Council wailing and gnashing their teeth after they were banned by the High Court from saying prayers before council meetings.
This, they claimed, was further evidence of the vicious persecution Christians face in this day and age.
Then we had the two bible-bashing B&B owners who claimed they were being picked on because they weren't allowed to discriminate against gay couples.
"How dare you not let me exercise my petty bigotries in the name of my imaginary friend of choice?
It's political correctness gone mad!"
Religion US- Jesus was a Commie - "Just read the Good book"
Updated: 18 Feb 2012
According to this minister, Jesus was a commie
The Episcopalian minister asked the audience what phrase is most often said by Jesus in the Bible. After hearing numerous wrong answers, he replied that it is, "Fear not."
"Jesus called upon his people to be bold for justice," said Yeager. "He says the same thing that Karl Marx says at the end of the Communist Manifesto: fear not, stand up, move into this new era, be free, you have nothing to lose but your chains."
The Episcopalian minister is also a United Auto Workers organizer. He told the audience, "When I talk to my union members, I say the God of your upbringing is not neutral. We should not be neutral. God is on the side of the oppressed, on the side of justice, on the side of working people."
At the same time, Yeager said, all who profess some faith or ideology should have "humility."
"The sins and the crimes committed against humanity in the name of the Prince of Peace would fill a concert hall, but don't hold that against him," he said. "I don't hold the crimes of the crusades, or of the white slaveowners, or of the Methodist pastor who led the Colorado militia to slaughter the Native Americans at Sand Creek, against Jesus.
"Just as Christ should not be responsible for all actions of his followers, we should have an understanding that neither should Marx be held responsible for the crimes of Pol Pot or Joe Stalin. There is no philosophical tradition or ideology or religious faith that is without its detractors, without its distorters, without its criminals."
Finally Yeager said, "The U.S. has a heavy interweaving of Christianity and theology throughout the fabric of our society. Whatever your philosophy or ideological orientation, if you are dealing with Americans, you have to deal at some point with this subject."
Modine's film highlights the themes of forgiveness and nonviolence, the priest noted. "As we fight the struggle to make a better world, this approach allows us to find the common humanity that unites us all," he concluded.
Religion- The Catholic Church - Not Fit for Purpose ?
Updated: 14 Feb 2012
The Catholic Church, Birth Control and the Poor
Written by John Berthelsen
Monday, 13 February 2012
The Bishops' Kind of President
As they say, what would Jesus do?
Authorities in Philadelphia in the United States announced Saturday that no full autopsy would be performed on Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, a key witness in a Catholic Church sex abuse trial who died on Jan. 31.
It is an affair that Asia’s 120.9 million Catholics should take careful note of.
The late Catholic leader is one of scores of top church leaders who have been ensnared in a decades-long sex scandal so vast that it is almost unimaginable, stretching across at least 27 countries including the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand in Asia as well as Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Norway and the United States.
Bevilacqua, the retired Archbishop of Philadelphia, died at age 88 the day after a judge ruled that he was competent to testify in an upcoming sex abuse trial involving priests as well as a Catholic school teacher.
His sudden death has raised questions on the part of critics that Bevilacqua, might have taken his own life and thus the vain call for the autopsy although he appears to have been suffering from cancer and dementia.
In the United States, according to a 2004 report commissioned by the US Conference of Bishops, 10,667 reports were made of allegations of sexual abuse against minors by 4,392 priests between 1950 and 2002.
In far too many cases, the priests’ superiors in the church ignored reports of sexual abuse outright or ordered the priests transferred to other dioceses, where they continued to remain in close proximity with young boys.
After publicity roused victims across the world, a cascade of clerical sexual abuse cases against minors were reported and prosecuted. It is estimated that the church in the US alone had paid out more than US$1 billion by 2002 in jury awards, quiet settlements and legal fees.
The cases ranged up globally as high as the Archbishop of Vienna, who was forced to resign his archbishopship -- but was allowed to remain a Cardinal.
This is the same Catholic church whose leaders believed they had the moral authority to block the United States government from requiring religious employers' health plans to cover contraceptives under the so-called Obamacare health plan, accusing the White House of betraying them on the issue.
Ultimately, with the church apparently handing the Republican opposition a potent campaign issue for the November election, the Obama administration was forced to back down in the face of the church’s antagonism, allowing religious employers opposed to birth control to opt out although insurance companies would be required to offer such care, without charging either the religious employer – read Catholic schools, service organizations and hospitals.
But that wasn’t enough for the bishops, who declared Saturday that the president’s compromise didn’t go far enough.
Thus a thoroughly corrupt church foisted its archaic superstitions onto the US government, seeking to deny the right of millions of Catholic women to make decisions regarding their own bodies.
This is despite the fact that according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health research organization, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have ignored their church and used banned contraceptive methods.
Only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.
Nearly 70 percent of Catholic women use sterilization or the birth control pill or an IUD regularly, according to the research.
This is not an irrelevancy in Asia, the home of 120.9 million Catholics, according to the CIA Factbook.
Some 75 million of them live in the Philippines, where, as in the United States, the Council of Bishops has waged perhaps an even more implacable war on family planning, using its power to drive politicians from office for opposing them.
The Catholic Church has blocked the passage of a reproductive rights bill for 15 years despite the fact that the ban on birth control not only sentences its families to penury from more children than they can afford to feed and sentences the country to being unable to marshal its resources because its population is growing so fast – 3.23 live births per woman, one of the fastest growth rates in Asia.
This is the same Council of Bishops that in 2002 was forced to apologize for the involvement of 200 Filipino priests in cases of adultery, homosexuality and child abuse, which is considered to be only a fraction of reality. In 2003 at least 34 priests were suspended in a sex abuse scandal involving sexual harassment of women, 20 from a single diocese.
As Asia Sentinel reported on July 11, last year, church leaders were forced to apologize for a 2006 scandal involving allegedly illegal donations of cars to bishops by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in what appeared to be an effort to gain church support in the face threatened impeachment for a long series of corruption charges including vote fraud.
Despite the church’s support in her 2006 go-around with the authorities, Arroyo now faces a long list of charges of having plundered her country’s coffers during her 10 years in office.
This is the same Catholic Bishops Conference that has threatened to excommunicate President Benigno S. Aquino III if he supports the reproductive health bills, a package aiming to provide universal access to women for birth control and maternal care.
There is no doubt that ability to control family size is directly correlated to poverty, and that the church is ignoring its duty to the poor.
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, said: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
There is nowhere in that sermon, considered Jesus's most important, where he said women should be forced to continue to have babies they couldn't feed, couldn't take care of, were ruining their health and lives and didn't want.
The world’s bishops and cardinals would do well to go back and read it for clues
Religion- The Inquisition
Updated: 14 Jan 2012
Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis (inquiry on heretical perversity), was the "fight against heretics" by several
institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church.
It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy.
Inquisition practices were used also on offences against canon law other than heresy.
Religion- 8 BC -Ancient Koran on display in British Museum
Updated: 14 Jan 2012
Ancient Koran goes on display
HISTORY: One of the oldest known copies of the Koran went on show at the British Museum today ahead of a new exhibition.
The Koran, believed to date from 8BC, has been lent by the British Library for the exhibition Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam.
The exhibition opens to the public from Thursday January 26 and runs until Sunday April 15.
Religion- "Broken Bonds and Abused Trust"-YES-The Archbishop is talking about this Coalition
Updated: 30 Dec 2011
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams' Christmas Message
First Posted: 25/12/11 07:48 GMT Updated: 25/12/11 15:31 GMT
stumble The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke today of the "broken bonds and abused trust" in a British society torn apart by riots and financial speculation.
Delivering his Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Rowan Williams asked the congregation to learn lessons about "mutual obligation" from the events of the past year.
"The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society.
Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.
"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark," he said.
It is not the first time the Archbishop has referred to last August's disturbances, which spread from Tottenham, north London, to cities across the country.
Writing in The Guardian this month, Dr Williams spoke about the "enormous sadness" he felt during the riots.
But he also said the Government should do more to rescue young people "who think they have nothing to lose".
The Church of England has also been caught up in the struggle between anti-capitalist protesters camped in front of St Paul's Cathedral since October and the Corporation of London, which is fighting a legal battle to disband the campsite.
After the Church initially gave support to the protesters, the canon chancellor of St Paul's, Dr Giles Fraser, resigned from his position on October 27 following reports suggesting a rift between clergy over what action to take concerning the activists.
And Dr Williams suggested last month he was sympathetic to a "Robin Hood tax" on share and currency transactions.
Today he used the Book of Common Prayer - which will celebrate its 350th anniversary next year - as an example of how ideas of duty and common interest can be expressed.
The archbishop quoted the Book of Common Prayer's Long Exhortation to say: "If ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution".
Religion- A Christmas prayer from the Pope but he didn't mention the "abused" once
Updated: 27 Dec 2011
Pope uses Christmas message to remind everyone that it’s all a load of old bollocks really
Pope Benedict XVI has used his traditional Christmas message to urge people to ignore all the enjoyable bits about Christmas and concentrate on some crazy Jesus-based mental shit.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church said, “Some people see Christmas as an excuse to get a bit pissed up before midday without feeling like they’ve got an alcohol problem.”
“They choose to associate the birth of Jesus Christ with Lynx deodorant and shower gel gift sets, but his message is much more important than that, and considerably less pungent.”
He also urged everyone else in the world to help famine victims in the Horn of Africa.
“Obviously we’d love to help, but the Catholic Church’s vast wealth is tied up in long term investments and property,” he revealed.
“Not to worry, you do the giving and we’ll do the praying.”
Pope Christmas message
Speaking in Italian from a balcony above St Peter’s Square, the pontiff also spoke out about numerous other issues that didn’t involve years of systematic child sex abuse.
Calling upon worshippers to pray for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, he said, “Praying is a way of making out we’re doing something while actually doing nothing.”
“This is the true meaning of Christmas for Catholics everywhere.”
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols, has also offered prayers as a solution to the problems that people face.
“There are people out there who will look at the suffering that is happening all over the world.”
“They will say that we need action not prayers.”
“Let us show these people that we are listening to their concerns.”
“Now, join me as I pray for action.”
Religion-Archbishop's Broken Society
Updated: 26 Dec 2011
Archbishop speaks of 'broken bonds' in society
Dr Rowan Williams will speak of "broken bonds and abused trust" in his Christmas sermon.
It is not the first time the Archbishop has referred to last August's disturbances, which spread from Tottenham, north London, to cities across the country.
11:59AM GMT 25 Dec 2011
Delivering his Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams will ask the congregation to learn lessons about "mutual obligation" from the events of the past year.
Dr Williams will say: "The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society.
Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.
"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark."
It is not the first time the Archbishop has referred to last August's disturbances, which spread from Tottenham, north London, to cities across the country.
Writing in the Guardian this month, Dr Williams spoke about the "enormous sadness" that he felt during the riots.
But he also said the Government should do more to rescue young people "who think they have nothing to lose".
The Church of England has also been caught up in the struggle between anti-capitalist protesters camped in front of St Paul's Cathedral since October and the Corporation of London, which is fighting a legal battle to disband the campsite.
After initially giving support to the protesters, the Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, Dr Giles Fraser, resigned from his position on October 27 following reports suggesting a rift between clergy over what action to take concerning the activists.
And Dr Williams suggested in November he was sympathetic to a "Robin Hood" tax on share and currency transactions.
Today he uses the Book of Common Prayer - which will celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2012 - as an example of how ideas of duty and common interest can be expressed.
The Archbishop quotes the Book of Common Prayer's Long Exhortation to say: "If ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution".
Religion- In Terminal decline in Britain
Updated: 22 Dec 2011
Is religion in terminal decline in Britain?
A groundbreaking social survey seems to suggest 'yes', but there is still a role for faith in our lives, argues author.
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2011 07:55
The number of British who identify themselves as Christian has significantly declined since 1983 [EPA]
Is religion fading in Britain? According to the latest influential British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), just released this December, half of us Brits do not belong to any religious grouping or affiliation.
What's more, more than half (56 per cent) of those who identify themselves as belonging to a religion never attend religious services. The ratio gets worse for the young: 65 per cent of 18-24 year olds do not belong to a religion, compared with 55 per cent of the same age group (18-27) in 1983.
Previous reports had already raised a number of interesting issues for humanists and a number of challenges to faith communities.
Between 1983 and 2009, British attitudes toward religion, Christianity in particular, shifted significantly. For example, those who professed no-religion rose from 31 per cent in 1983 to 51 per cent in 2009. Those who identified as Christian fell from 66 per cent in 1983 to 43 per cent in 2009. And those who identified as belonging to "other" religions rose from two per cent in 1983 to five per cent in 2009. Perhaps less surprising was that women, the old and less educated were more religious compared to men, young and better educated people.
There is no dearth of people who, with gleeful smiles, have long-expected that religion will have a slow but certain demise. The growth of New Atheism has joined a chorus of humanists and secularists advocating that religion should be "countered, criticised and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises". In 2008, a group of them came up with a £140,000 ($216,972) advertisement campaign in London's bendy buses and across England, Scotland and Wales, with the message that "there is probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life". In a tit-for-tat advertisement the Christian Party came up with the rebuttal: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life". Ignore the word "probably" and "definitely" from these adverts, and you expose a great divide that splits the population down the middle.
"There would be little or no modern education system without the Biblical (New and Old) Testaments, as well as the Quranic injunctions 'to learn'."
It is true this decline of religion is not only in Britain, but across Western Europe. According to the Centre for the Study on Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, "Every major religion except Islam is declining in Western Europe."
What we are talking about here is the decline of organised religions that have existed for millennia (not the new religious movements, beliefs, faiths or cults). To be more specific, for Europe, this is about the three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - all originating from the same source, Prophet Abraham's pure monotheism. In spite of some secondary differences on theology and rituals, these three religions have had a phenomenal impact on Europe. As Britain has a predominantly Christian legacy, any shift in social attitude towards religion here is primarily about Christianity. However, as Judaism and Islam are now integral parts of British life, the social trend affects them as well. And in our hurry to distance ourselves from religion's failings, we ignore its many successes too - particularly in a time of social hurt and economic confusion, when the need for belief and belonging is more crucial than ever. We risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater, if you will.
Take the issue of education. Education is at the heart of human progress. There would be little or no modern education system without the Biblical (New and Old) Testaments, as well as the Quranic injunctions "to learn". Monasteries, synagogues and mosques have been at the heart of the historical educational infrastructure that has helped shape the learning we have today. The cross-fertilisation of the pedagogy and philosophy of Christian Europe with the Islamic world shaped European Renaissance and Enlightenment. Al-Khwarizmi invented algebra to work out religious inheritance laws, while Isaac Newton wanted to discover and describe the perfect mathematical order of the Creation.
Religion provided the inspiration for their works. Any Muslim with basic Islamic knowledge would be aware that the first revealed word of the Quran was "Read". Albert Einstein in his speech, "My Credo", in 1932 said: "To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious."
No one can deny the fact that religion has been used to create intolerance, not only between people but within the same religious groupings, too. Europe faced this problem in the past; the Inquisition and Spanish Reconquista were blots on its history. The sectarian killings among Muslims in some countries and al-Qaeda's terrorism in recent times remind us how Islam is constantly in danger of being used in un-Islamic way.
In fact, all religions can be used to foster fanaticism and hatred. While this is unacceptable, we should not accuse religion itself per se. The fact is, throughout human history more killings and cruelty have been carried out for political conquests, economic greed, perverted sense of nationalistic or racial superiority and ideology than for any "religious" notion. Religion is often a convenient scapegoat used by those who wish to cloak their actions in some form of righteousness, by rulers who wish to stir up a populace. The 20th century wars, destruction, banishment of people, ethnic cleansing and other cruelty has surpassed probably all the so-called "religious" atrocities of the past.
As for the question whether God exits or not: This has perturbed the human mind throughout time, including even Abraham's quest for God. Is there any scientific or empirical evidence to prove or disprove this existence? There is none. Science is not in the business of finding "truth", let alone finding God. Science is about statistical probabilities based upon the experimental evidence. All scientific experimentation is subject to errors, because of confounding factors and multiple parameters. The "truth" of Newtonian physics was no longer held to be absolute once it was taken over by Einsteinian physics. However, this "truth" of the last century is now being questioned because of the recent experiments in CERN. When a new "truth" comes up, the previous "truth" gives way. There cannot be orthodoxy in science.
"Religion can be a source of tranquil hearts and inspiration for fight against tyranny, inequality and injustice."
The nature of the scientific method - which has undoubtedly led to much technological advancement over the few centuries - is that it cannot answer many questions, let alone the most difficult question of the existence of God. Probability, not truth, is science's language and jargon. An empirical approach can never answer the question whether or not the universe was created by an external force or whether it emerged from forces within itself. One cannot test this scenario. The most that those who reject the idea of a creator can offer are "theories".
This is not about rubbishing science and its method: I come from a background in physics. Nor is it to deny the respect for those who try hard to understand the processes that drive the universe and the nature of things - as Newton and Einstein both did in their time. It is about reminding ourselves of the limitations of science and conclusions one can infer from it. To apply science beyond its remit is bound to bring unnecessary disrepute to both itself and its practitioners.
The question is: How does religion know that there is definitely a God? Well, there is no "proof" here either. Religion starts with belief, based on the same message from all the prophets who were known as truthful in their life. Religions, particularly Islam, demand critical autonomy from its adherents in order to see the observable world, the "ayat" or signs in the creation. Prophet Abraham observed these signs, used his critical autonomy, and "discovered" God. The Quran is replete with exhortation to keep an open mind, observe, reflect, contemplate and act for the benefit of all humans and the creation. Religion's premise is different from that of science. Religion, when properly understood, brings ease of heart and mind and teaches love and care for all.
Religion may be on the decline in Europe, but it is flourishing among some communities and in many other parts of the world. Religion can be a source of tranquil hearts and inspiration for fight against tyranny, inequality and injustice. For argument's sake, even if there is no God, human beings need one to behave responsibly on Earth.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is a parenting consultant. He is a founding member of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust, and former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (2006-10).
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy
Religion- Humanists condemn Cameron's remarks
Updated: 19 Dec 2011
Prime Minister’s remarks ‘bizarre’ and ‘deeply concerning’
The British Humanist Association has condemned remarks made by Prime Minister David Cameron, in which he stated that Britain was a Christian country, that it was only as a Christian country that Britain could be welcoming of those of other religions, and that Christian values could reverse British society’s ‘moral collapse’.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson criticised the Prime Minister’s claims:
‘As a simple factual statement what the Prime Minister said is incorrect – only a minority of people in Britain are practising Christians and over half of the population sees itself as non-religious according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey.
Although Christianity has undoubtedly had a sometimes positive influence on the cultural and social development of Britain, it is far from being the only influence.
Many pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces have shaped our society for the better and Christianity has often had ill effects. So, on the factual level the Prime Minister’s remarks are simply bizarre.’
Mr Copson went on to express concern over the political motivations behind the Prime Minister’s remarks:
‘The most hopeful political reading of his speech is that Mr Cameron doesn’t really mean it and that his statements are intended as a way to pacify the increasingly strident lobbying of a minority of Christians for more influence in our public life and greater privilege for those with Christian beliefs.
The case for this reading is supported by the fact that the Prime Minister used his speech to peddle the myth that those of non-Christian religions are best off in a Christian society – a claim unsupported by history and logic but one of the favourite arguments of activist Christian groups against a secular state.
If this were the motivation behind the speech, at least it would give less reason to fear future policy initiatives shaped by these destructive ideas.
‘Most concerning would be if the Prime Minister were serious.
A politician and a government that tried to make Christianity and Christian beliefs the foundation of British values or a social morality would be building on seriously unstable foundations.
All the evidence is that religion makes no difference in terms of a person’s social and moral behaviour – the same percentage of religious as non-religious people do volunteer work, for example.
And people certainly don’t want to see it have more influence in government – in a 2006 IpsosMori poll, ‘religious groups and leaders’ actually topped the list of domestic groups that people said had too much influence on government.
‘However you look at it, whether as a sop to appease increasingly assertive and aggressive Christian lobbies, or as a serious proposition to change public policy, his remarks are deeply concerning for anyone who values reason and evidence in public policy and fairness and secularism in our political life.’
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief
Religion- Catholic Church and more Child Abuse
Updated: 17 Dec 2011
Archbishop says sorry over abuse scandal
Friday 16 December 2011
The archbishop of Utrecht was forced to apologise today after a report uncovered decades of child abuse in Catholic institutions in the Netherlands.
Archbishop Wim Eijk said the report filled him with "shame and sorrow."
The Dutch investigation uncovered some of the most widespread abuse yet from a slew of inquiries around the world into corruption in the world's largest church.
Catholic officials had failed to tackle endemic abuse - from "unwanted sexual advances to rape" - and had connived at a conspiracy of silence in order to prevent scandals, it found.
The government-appointed commission responsible for the report received over 1,800 complaints concerning abuse at Catholic schools, seminaries and orphanages.
The institutions suffered from "a failure of oversight," it said - but it denied that there was "a culture of silence in the church as a whole."
However commission head Wim Deetman has said that church leaders had known about the problem and done nothing.
"The idea that people did not know there was a risk is untenable," he said.
Abuse victim Bert Smeets said that the report did not go far enough.
"What was happening was sexual abuse, violence, spiritual terror, and that should have been investigated," he said.
"It remains vague. All sorts of things happened but nobody knows exactly what or by whom. This way they avoid responsibility."
The report broke new ground in following up its investigation into the church with a more comprehensive analysis of the scale of sexual abuse of minors across the country.
It found that 10 per cent of Dutch children had suffered "some sort of abuse" - and the figure rose to 20 per cent of those who had been brought up in orphanages or attended boarding school.
However abuse levels among those attending Catholic institutions were no higher than for other establishments.
Around 800 priests, monks, pastors and lay people working for the church were named in complaints submitted. Of these 105 are still alive but the commission referred only 11 cases to prosecutors, saying others did not contain enough detail. The Netherlands Catholic church has set up a fund to pay compensation of between €5,000 (£4,200) and €100,000 (£84,000) to victims.
Politics- "That Crazy Asian War"- has Hague just got a very short memory or is he Crazy too ?
Updated: 12 Dec 2011
No peace on road to Armageddon
Sunday 11 December 2011
Many in Britain swore it would never happen again.
In a hugely unpopular move at the time, Tony Blair is still vilified to this day by large sections of the British public for his decision to support the Bush administration and invade Iraq.
Fast forward eight years.
Now British PM David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague are spewing out a similar brand of finger-pointing bravado that we once heard from Blair, this time aimed at Iran.
The ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran has served to ratchet up existing tensions between Britain and Iran a few notches more.
Hague, the blood on his hands not yet dry from Libya, has used the embassy episode to exploit to the full what have become "common sense" perceptions of a demonic Iran that are prevalent among the British public.
And the British media can always be relied on to fuel them and then cheerlead the public into supporting aggressive actions and policies towards other states as it did over Iraq and Libya.
During the past few years, the British public has become used to media stories about Ahmadinejad "the crazy man" and the "mad mullahs" in Tehran as well as the Iranian regime being hell bent on wanting to acquire a nuclear bomb that would only threaten the "peace and stability" of the region.
What peace and stability?
Look at what the US's meddling, carnage and destabilisation have done to neighbouring states such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And why single out Iran over the nuclear issue?
Iran is a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory and there appears to be no firm evidence that it is in breach of it.
Nuclear-armed Israel and India are not NPT signatories yet it is Iran that is subject to all kinds of economic sanctions and nuclear inspections while India basks in the warm glow of US "favour," if that's what compliance with US hegemony can be termed.
The British government is softening up its public for possible British involvement in what could be an eventual military attack on Iran.
With Washington already having done its level best to destabilise Iran and its ally Syria from within, a huge build-up of US troops has been taking place in the region for months.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also cranking up dubious concerns over Iran's intention to acquire a nuclear weapon.
China's ambassador to the UN has already warned director general of the IAEA Yukiya Amano not to create "unfounded" evidence to justify a military attack on Iran in the name of halting its controversial nuclear programme.
The reality is that the British government is once more falling in line with US policy, this time over Iran.
What was once referred to as the "great game" during the days of the British empire to describe the struggle for influence between Britain and Russia in the strategically important west and central Asia regions is now a battle between the US and China, with Iran's oil and fresh water sources being a vital prize.
As a client state of the US, something the British foolishly regards as a "special relationship," this country can be relied on to do Washington's bidding.
When the drum is beaten over the ransacking of Britain's embassy in Tehran, the drum is provided courtesy of Washington.
Like a clockwork toy monkey, Foreign Secretary Hague beats it on cue.
While many in Britain too easily acquiesce when faced with misinformation, others see things differently, not least China.
Having had their influence curtailed in Libya and in the wake of the US killing of 26 Pakistani troops, a top Chinese government official has warned in a report on national TV that any threat to Pakistan would be taken as a direct threat to China.
The report also stated that as the US war in Afghanistan deepens and the threat of military action against Iran becomes stronger, the threat of confrontation with China increases.
A western-led military assault on Iran is strongly discouraged, a point China also hoped to stress by way of a show of force in its recent war games near the Pakistani border.
As Hague possibly contemplates another dose of murder and mayhem after Libya, surely the lies in the build-up to the Iraq war are too fresh in the mind for the British public to be fooled once again.
By now they should have realised the ongoing US-led deception of perpetual war for perpetual peace.
Ultimately, there's no peace to be found in Armageddon.
Religion- C of E Attendance & Visits Facts
Updated: 11 Dec 2011
Key facts about the Church of England:
Church attendance and visits
1.7 million people take part in a Church of England service each month, a level that has been maintained since the turn of the millennium.
Approximately one million participate each Sunday.
Approaching 3 million people participate in a Church of England service on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
Thirty-five per cent of the population attend a Christmas service of some sort, rising to 42 per cent in London, nationally, and 22 per cent among those of non-Christian faiths.
The Church of England has the largest following of any denomination or faith in Britain today.
More than 4 in 10 in England regard themselves as belonging to the Church of England, while 6 in 10 consider themselves Christian.
People support their local churches in many different ways at different points in their lives.
Each year 3 in 10 attend regular Sunday worship and more than 4 in 10 attend a wedding in their local church, while still more attend a funeral there
In 2009, 43 per cent of adults attended a church or place of worship for a memorial service for someone who has died and 17 per cent were seeking a quiet space.
Both these proportions are increases on 22 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in 2001.
85 per cent of the population visit a church or place of worship in the course of a year, for reasons ranging from participating in worship to attending social events or simply wanting a quiet space.
Every year, around 12 million people visit Church of England cathedrals, including 300,000 pupils on school visits.
Three of England's top five historic 'visitor attractions' are York Minster, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Religion- Three Commandments ?
Updated: 10 Dec 2011
Protestant - Lutheran
Catholic + Lutheran
So which sect is using the correct set?
We know three things
(1) given by god to moses
(2) written on stone tablets
(3) and called ten commandments
So lets see if we can find them in the bible
(7) Which version would Jesus have known?
Catholic & Lutheran
I am the Lord your G-d who has taken you out of the land of Egypt.
I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall have no other gods but me.
||You shall have no other gods but me.
||You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
||You shall not make unto you any graven images.
||You shall not take the name of the Lord your G-d in vain.
||Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
||You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
|You shall remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.
||Honor your father and your mother.
||You shall remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.
||Honor your mother and father.
||You shall not kill.
||Honor your mother and father.
||You shall not murder.
||You shall not commit adultery.
||You shall not murder.
||You shall not commit adultery.
||You shall not steal.
||You shall not commit adultery.
||You shall not steal.
||You shall not bear false witness.
||You shall not steal.
||You shall not bear false witness.
||You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
||You shall not bear false witness.
||You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
||You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
||You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Religion- C of E Leader says Coalition Government passing youth by on the other side
Updated: 06 Dec 2011
Archbishop of Canterbury says riots will return unless we reach out to young
UK must rescue those who think they have nothing to lose or face further civil unrest, says Rowan Williams
The archbishop of Canterbury warns that marginalising the young will lead to more 'futile anarchy'.
The archbishop of Canterbury has warned that England risks a repeat of the riots that spread across England this summer unless the government and civil society do more to "rescue those who think they have nothing to lose".
Warning of "more outbreaks of futile anarchy", Rowan Williams, called for a renewed effort to reach out to alienated young people during what he described as the "unavoidable austerity ahead".
In an article for the Guardian, Williams links the disorder spread cross England to the "massive economic hopelessness" and the prospect of record levels of youth unemployment.
Responding to the findings of the Guardian and London School of Economics research study, based on interviews with 270 rioters, Williams argues: "It isn't surprising if we see volatile, chaotic and rootless young people letting off their frustration in the kind of destructive frenzy we witnessed in August."
An overwhelming majority of people interviewed about their involvement in this summer's riots believe they will be repeated and one in three said they would take part in any future disorder.
Of those rioters questioned for the Reading the Riots study, 81% said they believed the disturbances that spread across England in August would happen again.
Two-thirds predicted there would be more riots before the end of 2014.
The research project, which is the only study to involve interviews with hundreds of people who rioted across England, found they were predominantly from the country's most deprived areas.
The downturn in the economy featured heavily in interviews, with many complaining of falling living standards and worsening employment prospects.
Williams said reading the accounts of rioters in towns and cities across England had given him "enormous sadness".
Williams writes: "Too many of these young people assume they are not going to have any ordinary, human, respectful relationships with adults – especially those in authority, the police above all. Too many of them inhabit a world in which the obsession with 'good' clothes and accessories – against a backdrop of economic insecurity or simple privation – creates a feverish atmosphere where status falls and rises as suddenly and destructively as a currency market."
Williams adds: "The big question that Reading the Riots leaves us with is whether, in our current fretful state, with unavoidable austerity ahead, we have the energy to invest what's needed in family and neighbourhood and school to rescue those who think they have nothing to lose.
"We have to persuade them, simply, that we as government and civil society alike will be putting some intelligence and skill into giving them the stake they do not have. Without this, we shall face more outbreaks of futile anarchy, in which we shall all, young and old, be the losers."
The archbishop's intervention comes just a week after George Osborne lowered economic growth forecasts, increased government borrowing and said austerity measures would be extended to 2017.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Monday that income inequality among working-age people has risen faster in Britain than in any other rich nation since the mid-1970s.
The Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting 710,000 public sector job losses in the next six years. Last month, official figures revealed the number of unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds had risen to more than 1 million.
Of the rioters interviewed in Guardian/LSE study who were of working age and not in education, 59% were unemployed.
Those questioned were pessimistic about the future, with 29% disagreeing with the statement "life is full of opportunities" – compared with 13% among the population at large. Eighty-five percent said poverty was an "important" or "very important" factor in causing the riots. The general population largely agreed, with 68% saying poverty was a significant cause of the summer unrest. In the aftermath of the August riots, the prime minister, David Cameron, was quick to dismiss the idea that poverty was a factor in the disorder. "These riots were not about poverty," he said. "That insults the millions of people who, whatever the hardship, would never dream of making others suffer like this."
However, the independent panel Cameron set up to take evidence from victims of the riots concluded last week that poverty was an important factor.
It found that more than half of those who had appeared in court proceedings relating to the riots had come from the most deprived 20% of areas in Britain.
The report added to a growing body of evidence about the poverty and alienation that characterised those who took part in the England riots.
Only 51% of rioters interviewed by the Guardian/LSE said they felt "part of British society" – compared with 92% of the wider population.
Williams also called for a restorative rather than a punitive approach toward those responsible for the looting and rioting four months ago. "Demonising volatile and destructive young people doesn't help; criminalising them wholesale reinforces the problem.
"Of course crime needs punishment and the limits of acceptable behaviour have to be set. The youth justice system has a good record in restorative justice methods that bring people up sharp against the human consequences of what they have done. We have the tools for something other than vindictive or exemplary penalties."
He added: " We may well wince when some describe how the riots brought them a feeling of intense joy, liberation, power. But we have to go on to ask what kind of life it is in which your emotional highs come from watching a shop being torched or a policeman being hit by a brick."
On the BBC's Newsnight last night the police minister, Nick Herbert, said he did not accept that the police behaved in the way mentioned by some of the young rioters who told Guardian/LSE researchers about negative experiences at the hands of officers on a regular basis.
"I think there were particular issues about where this kicked off, in Tottenham, that are being investigated at the moment," he said. "But I think elsewhere this was much more of copycat action. I think it was about looting."In relation to the cause of the riots, Herbert said that while the public at large had tended to cite issues such as social breakdown and family breakdown "The rioters themselves were of course much more reluctant to accept responsibility and what they wanted to do was blame others."
Herbert emphasised that two-thirds of those interviewed said they had been cautioned by police or convicted of an offence in the past.
Asked if he accepted what the interviews suggested about how the police were seen by many of those who took part, he said: "I accept that by the testimony of the peiople who were involved there, they were saying that they dislike the police. I make the point again. These were people who have been in trouble with the police. It is not surprising."
Religion- Bishops see through shrouded attack on the poorest in society
Updated: 21 Nov 2011
Bishops bash £500 a week benefits cap
Sunday 20 November 2011
Some of Britain's most senior clergy criticised the government's welfare reforms today over a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families as part of the Welfare Reform Bill.
Eighteen Church of England bishops used a letter in a Sunday newspaper to express concern that the policy will leave children facing "severe poverty and potentially homelessness."
In a letter to the Observer the bishops gave their backing to a series of amendments to the Bill which have been tabled by Bishop of Leeds and Ripon John Packer with the assistance of the Children's Society.
The amendments have also reportedly received the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.
The Children's Society has warned that a cap on the total benefits households can claim could make more than 80,000 children homeless and push many thousands more into poverty.
It has proposed that the Bill should be altered to remove child benefit from household income for the purposes of calculating the level of the cap.
The charity also suggested that certain vulnerable groups be exempt from the cap and the introduction of a grace period for newly unemployed families.
In their letter the bishops wrote: "The Church of England has a commitment and moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice.
"As such, we feel compelled to speak for children who might be faced with severe poverty and potentially homelessness, as a result of the choices or circumstances of their parents.
Such an impact is profoundly unjust."
The letter was signed by the bishops of Bath and Wells, Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, Leicester, Lichfield, London, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Religion- Irish Sex Abuse Scandal results in Vatican Embassy closure
Updated: 07 Nov 2011
Ireland closure of Vatican embassy angers Catholic church leaders
Cardinal Sean Brady 'profoundly disappointed' by cost-cutting move, which follows series of rows over sex abuse scandal
Henry McDonald in Dublin
Ireland's closure of its Vatican embassy 'shows little regard for its historic ties with the Holy See, Cardinal Sean Brady says. Photograph: Paul Faith/Press Association
The leader of Ireland's Catholics has criticised the republic's government for closing its embassy to Vatican City.
Cardinal Sean Brady expressed his "profound disappointment" over the move, which comes after diplomatic clashes this year between the Fine Gael-Labour coalition and the Holy See over the Vatican's handling of the clerical child sex abuse scandals in Ireland.
"This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries," the cardinal said on Friday.
The Irish foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Eamon Gilmore, said the decision followed a review of overseas missions which gave "particular attention to the economic return from bilateral missions".
Gilmore said the government had also decided to close Ireland's embassies to Iran as well as its representative office in Timor-Leste He said the coalition was obliged to implement cuts to meet targets set out in the EU/IMF rescue programme for the Irish economy.
The foreign minister pointed out that the closure of the three embassies would save about €1.25m (£1.1m) a year.
He said that while the embassy to the Holy See was one of Ireland's oldest missions, it yielded no economic return, and that Ireland's interests could be sufficiently represented by a non-resident ambassador.
The administration will be seeking the agreement of the Holy See to the appointment of a senior diplomat to this position, he added.
Gilmore stressed that the closure of the embassy in the Holy See was not related to the recalling of the Papal Nuncio from Ireland this year.
He added that the government would not be selling Villa Spada, the Irish embassy in the Vatican.
Instead, staff working in the embassy to Italy in Rome, which is a rented premises, will be transferred to Villa Spada.
The Vatican also said every state was "free to decide, on the basis of its possibilities and its interests, whether to have an ambassador to the Holy See resident in Rome or in another country.
What is important is diplomatic relations between the Holy See and states, and these are not in question with regard to Ireland."
The prestigious Villa Spada is the most valuable property owned by the diplomatic service.
The Vatican was among the first states with which the newly independent Irish Free State established full diplomatic relations in the 1920s
Religion- Canterbury leads country on condemning bankers greed
Updated: 02 Nov 2011
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams calls for new tax on bankers
The Archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind the St Paul’s Cathedral anti-capitalist protesters as he called for a new tax on banks.
He urged David Cameron and George Osborne to drop their opposition to a European-wide tax on financial transactions, which is expected to be formally proposed by France and Germany at the G20 summit of world leaders starting tomorrow.
“The demands of the protesters have been vague.
Many people are frustrated beyond measure at what they see as the disastrous effects of global capitalism; but it isn’t easy to say what we should do differently. It is time we tried to be more specific,” Dr Williams said.
The archbishop’s intervention came after the Church and the City of London Corporation agreed to suspend plans to evict protesters who have been camped on the doorstep of St Paul’s for more than two weeks.
The issue has caused deep divisions within the Church and led to the resignation of three members of St Paul’s clergy.
Last night, the archbishop said the rows over the handling of the demonstration had risked “forgetting the substantive questions that prompted the protest”.
“The protest at St Paul’s was seen by an unexpectedly large number of people as the expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment that shows no sign of diminishing,” Dr Williams said.
The archbishop said he supported the main proposals of a recent report from the Vatican calling for widespread financial reform.
The central recommendation is for a financial transaction tax – known as the “Tobin tax” after the economist who developed the idea – levied on the sale of shares, bonds and foreign currency.
It would be expected to raise billions of pounds that could be spent in the developing world.
The archbishop said: “This has won the backing of significant experts who cannot be written off as naive anti-capitalists – George Soros, Bill Gates and many others. It is gaining traction among European nations, with a strong statement in support this week from Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister.
“The objections made by some who claim it would mean a substantial drop in employment and in the economy generally seem to rest on exaggerated and sharply challenged projections – and, more important, ignore the potential of such a tax to stabilise currency markets in a way to boost rather than damage the real economy.”
The issue of the Tobin tax is expected to be on the agenda at the G20 summit in Cannes, with European countries considering introducing the levy to help fund the single currency rescue package.
Mr Osborne, the Chancellor, has said that he would only support the introduction of the tax on a global basis, because financial trading would simply move from London to other markets such as New York and Singapore. American and Asian governments are thought to be opposed to the levy.
Government sources declined to comment on the archbishop’s intervention last night. Dr Williams also called for wider controls on banks, saying they should be compelled to help “reinvigorate” the economy and not put the public’s savings at risk.
Writing in today’s Financial Times, the archbishop says: “The rolling-up of individual and small-scale savings into high-risk and high-return adventures in the virtual economy is one of the more obvious danger areas. Early government action in this area is needed.
A second plea is to recapitalise banks with public money. Banks should be obliged in return to help reinvigorate the real economy.”
He concluded: “These ideas, which have been advanced from other quarters, religious and secular, in recent years, do not amount to a simplistic call for the end of capitalism, but they are far more than a general expression of discontent.
“If we want to take seriously the moral agenda of the protesters at St Paul’s, these are some of the ways in which we should be taking it forward.”
The archbishop spoke out on a day in which senior bankers appeared in Parliament to defend their actions. Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, said that bonuses paid to staff were “not the fount of all evils”.
Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, said that banks “can’t be told to increase lending and capital at the same time” but backed the need for “strong regulation”.
Dr Williams’s article is his latest in a series of interventions in politics.
Earlier this year, he warned that the public was gripped with fear over some government reforms and said that the Coalition lacked democratic legitimacy.
Yesterday, it emerged that the St Paul’s protesters would almost certainly still be in position during next week’s Remembrance Sunday service and probably in the run-up to Christmas.
Police had been expected to start attempting to move them on this week.
Following a meeting between senior figures at St Paul’s and the Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, the authorities decided to abandon their eviction plans.
The bishop effectively told the Corporation of London that the Church would not sanction evictions on Church land, by saying: “The Chapter recognises the Corporation’s right to take such action on Corporation land.”
He added: “The alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St Paul’s has now heard that call. Today’s decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe.”
The cathedral asked Ken Costa, 62, an investment banker and Conservative Party donor, to draw up a plan to “reconnect the financial with the ethical”, and also gave a voluntary role to the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, the cathedral’s former Canon Chancellor, who resigned last week.
Religion-St Paul's -a divided Church as Dr Rowan Williams backs protestors
Updated: 01 Nov 2011
St Paul's branded 'laughing stock' as Dean Graeme Knowles resigns
St Paul’s Cathedral was derided as “a national laughing stock” as it was plunged into disarray with the resignation of its dean amid mounting criticism of its handling of the protest camp on its doorstep.
By Richard Alleyne, Victoria Ward and Martin Beckford
9:00PM GMT 31 Oct 2011
The Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, the Dean of St Paul's, stepped down after becoming ever more isolated in his bid to take legal action to evict the Occupy London activists.
He became the third and most senior victim of the debacle, following in the footsteps of the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Treasurer, in resigning as his position became “untenable”.
Last night, the Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, England’s third most senior cleric, was forced to take charge of cathedral operations as Mark Field, Tory MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said the charade had turned St Paul’s into a “national joke”.
He said: “The whole thing is farcical. You couldn’t make it up.
It’s gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
This tented community has been there for two weeks and has hardly brought the foundations of capitalism to its knees.
“Ironically, the only capitalist organisation that has lost out is St Paul’s.
I suspect that these resignations will only ensure that these protesters become more entrenched.”
The Dead of St Paul's had pushed hard for the church hierarchy to back legal action by the Corporation of London to remove the 200 or so tents from St Paul’s churchyard.
But the seven-strong chapter, depleted by the loss of Dr Fraser, were increasingly getting cold feet, concerned that the process would end in violence.
Eventually, the dean, already facing criticism over the closing and subsequent reopening of the Church, felt his position was “untenable”.
The development resulted in the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, wading into the fray for the first time, warning that “urgent” issues raised by the protesters needed to be properly addressed.
He said the resignation was "very sad news" and that the events of the past fortnight had shown "how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences".
Dr Williams added: "The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul's remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed."
The dean, 60, informed Dr Chartres, of his decision just hours after facing a barrage of questions from protesters as he addressed them directly on Sunday.
In a statement, he said that “criticism of the cathedral” in the press, media and in public opinion” had forced his hand and that a “fresh approach” from “new leadership” was needed.
"I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the chapter of this great cathedral," he said.
His resignation led to an emergency meeting of the chapter which is expected to immediately withdraw support for any eviction.
The Daily Telegraph has been told that the Rt Rev Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor at the cathedral and a former Bishop of Kensington, has been appointed acting Dean but it will take several months for a permanent replacement to be made.
A source said: “Mr Knowles was the strong one.
He was pushing for eviction albeit peaceful but the others were having major doubts.
“Many felt they should have gone with Giles.
They are very, very uncomfortable with the idea of using force to evict the camp.
“The dean knew that if push came to shove, the other members would cave in and the legal action would be dropped at the last minute.”
Dr Chartres, said it was a “tragedy” for the man and “challenging times” for the church.
"I was very saddened and shocked last night to hear his decision,” he told a press conference. “It's been one of the most challenging weeks in the recent history of St Paul's and I think you can understand and sympathise with the decision the dean has taken.
“The organisation of the Church of England is a great mystery to me, so nevermind for (those) outside.”
He evoked the image of the cathedral surrounded by smoke during the Blitz and that it was a symbol of “freedom”.
“The question is now in the 21st century what is the role of St Paul’s,” he said.
He denied that the church would now distance itself from the legal action.“
We are not taking a softer line, the camp site has to disappear at some point,” he said. “It has to scale down.
But I am told by the Chapter that they would not wish to condone violence.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s former spokesman, Rev George Pitcher, said the dean had fallen on his own sword after “naively and unwittingly” embarking on a course of action that could only lead to violence.
He said: “The Corporation of London has adopted a very traditional, hawkish City role and I suspect the dean’s feet were held to the fire.”
The Occupy London movement issued a statement saying that the management of St Paul's Cathedral was “obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause – but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral.”
Dr Fraser, who last week warned that to evict the anti-capitalist activists would constitute “violence in the name of the Church”. said last night: “The dean is a great man and it will be a sad loss to the cathedral.”
He said he had played no part in the chapter meetings as he was on “gardening leave”.
Religion- St Paul's Scalps 2 - AntiCapitalists won ?
Updated: 01 Nov 2011
Dean of St Paul's cathedral quits
Monday 31 October 2011
The Dean of St Paul's resigned today saying he felt his position had become "untenable" after mounting criticism over the cathedral's handling of anti-capitalist protesters camping on its door step.
Graeme Knowles's resignation follows that of Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Giles Fraser, who defended the protesters.
The Dean said that he believed he was "no longer the right person" to lead the chapter.
"The past fortnight has been a testing time for the chapter and for me personally," Mr Knowles said.
"It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St Paul's was becoming untenable.
"In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down as Dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised."
The Occupy LSX movement said that its protest was about "social justice, real democracy and challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few.
"The management of St Paul's Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause, but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral.
"Nor have we ever called for 'scalps' as reported in the media."
Religion- Jesus would have supported Occupy LSX against the Money Lenders
Updated: 31 Oct 2011
I know whose side Jesus would be on
Monday 31 October 2011
They have highlighted the avarice of the banks, while exposing the church as a cheerleader for the greed and corruption that is endemic to capitalism.
The Dean of St Paul's tells us that the City has exerted no pressure to evict the protesters.
What he has failed to comment upon is the suppression of a report, by St Pauls, which is extremely critical of the operation of the City, as well as bankers' bonuses.
Similarly, the Bishop of London is absolutely clear that protesters must be removed by force from St Paul's.
But as a large sign at the protest outside St Paul's asks: "What would Jesus do?"
The established church would have us believe that Jesus was a Snow White-type figure who walked around in a floaty dress, preaching peace to all while turning a blind eye to oppression.
This sterotype is seized upon by some comrades to suggest that Christians cannot really play a part in the class struggle.
However, the truth is very different.
The Bible is primarily a revolutionary text - a text that the church was desperate to keep out of the hands of the people and to retain in Latin.
Jesus tells us that we must bring down leaders, that the rich will not enter heaven, that greed is evil, that unfair laws should be disobeyed and that people must trade fairly with each other and live in peace.
It is absolutely clear that Christians cannot accept any economic system that damages their neighbour.
And as for the Snow White Jesus foisted upon us by the church, his own words are: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."
Jesus would be with the protesters and would tear down the walls of the City.
The Bible tells us that everyone, consciously or not, will choose between God and mammon.
I know who the leaders of St Paul's have chosen and, dare I say it, I know who many comrades have chosen.
Religion- OccupyLSX v's God & City of London-But who has God on their side ?
Updated: 29 Oct 2011
OccupyLSX protesters face St Paul's eviction bid
Friday 28 October 2011
Church and state turned against the people today when St Paul's cathedral and local councillors launched a legal bid to evict protesters from a public square.
Around 300 Occupy London Stock Exchange campers have held St Paul's Square for a fortnight after police barred them from private land directly outside the exchange, but today the cathedral and the City of London each confirmed they were seeking an eviction order to break up the protest.
City of London Corporation said in a statement that it believed it could clear the 200-tent camp as it was obstructing a public highway.
"Protest is an essential right in a democracy, but camping on the highway is not and we believe we will have a strong highways case because an encampment on a busy thoroughfare clearly impacts the rights of others."
Meanwhile the cathedral - which announced its reopening on Thursday after protesters made changes to the camp over health and safety concerns - said in a statement that legal action had "regrettably become necessary."
The statements followed tense scenes at the council's meeting in the City of London's Guildhall, where councillors immediately voted 12-4 to eject all press and members of the public before even discussing the eviction.
More than 30 protesters sat quietly as the resolution passed, then protester Ronan McNern broke the silence. "We're peaceful protesters, we have a just cause and we have a right to be able to demonstrate," he said to applause.
Occupy London Stock Exchange had not issued a response when the Morning Star went to print, but it is understood that lawyers for the occupation will invoke a "lawful excuse for the camp's existence under the European Convention of Human Rights."
The camp has also accepted an offer from human rights monitors Liberty to mediate talks with councillors and clergy.
Liberty director Sami Chakrabati said she found it hard to believe the council could not resolve the stalemate without expensive litigation and a violent eviction.
The protesters' decision to accept mediation was extremely heartening, she added.
"The rights to peaceful dissent and freedom of worship are cornerstones of British democracy that Liberty has stood for since 1934.
"We all have a duty in these difficult times to preserve our capital's reputation as a free and open city where people generally live and let live in peace and mutual respect."
Religion-St Paul's Cathedral-Thou Shalt Love thy Neighbour as thyself- said Jesus - God and Money ?
Updated: 29 Oct 2011
Who holds the purse strings?
Friday 28 October 2011
The public furore around London's occupation movement hit a new peak on Thursday when the Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral quit, reportedly over internal pressure to take legal action against the social activists seeking sanctuary on the cathedral's steps.
The Revd Giles Fraser, who the campers regard as an ally within the church, issued a statement just days before his resignation insisting that rumours the cathedral had closed its doors for commercial reasons were "complete nonsense."
But in light of his sudden exit and the cathedral's loss of income - an estimated £20,000 a day - it's worth taking a look at who does control the cathedral's purse strings.
For that we must look to the St Paul's Cathedral Foundation and its board of 10 trustees, which channelled £1.3 million worth of funds into the cathedral last year alone.
There's the chairman Sir John Stuttard, a former lord mayor and sheriff who racked up 30 years as a partner at the multinational auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers, taking two years off in the early '80s to join the Central Policy Review Staff advising the Thatcher government's privatisation agenda.
After leaving PwC in 2005 he was elected lord mayor of the city of London, a role typically understood as an ambassador for Britain's financial industry, and he appears to have done a bang-up job of defending its reputation.
In one instance in 2007 - just six months before the collapse of Northern Rock - Sir John led a public outcry over a US Securities & Exchange Commission chief's description of London's high-risk alternative investment market as a "casino."
Such comments were "inaccurate, injudicious and inflammatory," he said.
Indeed, Sir John assured the Guardian that Britain had "quite a mature, benign regulatory environment, which stops excesses, abuses and systemic risk."
It seems unlikely that Sir John would personally side with the protesters but, that said, he is only the chairman. So who else is on the board?
There's Dame Helen Alexander DBE - deputy chairwoman of the right-wing Confederation of British Industry, the largest and most influential business lobby group in the country. Much like Sir John, she beams confidence in the neoliberal status quo.
On her appointment to the confederation in 2009 amid a national uproar over CEO pay and bonuses, she said: "I think it should be left up to individual companies and remuneration committees to make sure that they get that right. It is serious stuff and they need to take it very seriously."
Dame Helen is also a director of energy giant Centrica, whose subsidiaries Scottish and British Gas notoriously raised gas and electricity prices by double digits this year despite reporting £1.3 billion in profits.
Dame Helen is incidentally also chairwoman of its remuneration committee, which less than three months later awarded nearly £16m in bonuses to Centrica board members, including a split of £3.2m between just five executive directors.
Then there's Carol Sergeant CBE. Having worked as the Financial Services Authority's managing director for regulatory process and risk, Sergeant left in 2004 to join Lloyds TSB as its chief risk director.
By 2009, the bank stood on the brink of collapse and was salvaged only by a £260bn taxpayer bailout in which the bank became 65 per cent state owned.
Yet before the year was out Sergeant was advising Chancellor George Osborne on his plans to disband the Financial Services Authority altogether, and rumour in the City suggests she is now tipped to lead whatever organisation replaces it.
And the list goes on. There's her one-time colleague at Lloyds, business banking director John Spence OBE, Roger Gifford, the British head of Swedish merchant bank SEB and former master of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers, Gavin Ralston of the FTSE 100's Schroder Investment Management and former Met commissioner Lord Blair of Boughton - who since retiring in 2008 has retained a pension of around £160,000 a year, in addition to whatever savings he may have scraped together from his £240,000 annual salary.
All that leaves on the board is theatre director Joyce Hytner, the cathedral's fundraiser in the US John Harvey and Dean Knowles himself - not exactly a cross-section of Britain's civil society.
And that's just the trustees. The foundation's full list of current corporate donors consists of Lloyds, money managers to the mega-rich Fidelity and Sarasin & Partners, brokers BGC Partners and the London Stock Exchange itself.
Such arrangements may have helped the cathedral to be the awe-inspiring icon it is today, but, as the original temple-crasher said, "No-one can serve two masters.
Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money."
Religion- Jews - Its all about money !
Updated: 28 Oct 2011
How did American Jews get so rich?
Since the mass immigration some 100 years ago, Jews have become richest religious group in American society.
They make up only 2% of US population, but 25% of 400 wealthiest Americans.
How did it happen, and how crucial is their aid to Israel?
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder sparked a row recently by calling on Israel to launch immediate peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
The statement was perceived as criticism against Lauder's personal friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Later, Lauder reiterated his "unequivocal" support for Netanyahu and "policies that seek to create a lasting peace in the Middle East".
Lauder's remarks made headlines and sparked both enthusiastic and angry responses not just because of his important role, but also – and mainly – because he is a very rich man.
Wall Street: Many Jews
Forbes magazine estimates his wealth at $2.7 billion.
His family owns the Estée Lauder cosmetics giant, he is one of the biggest art collectors in the world, and owns dozens of television channels and media outlets in the United States and worldwide, including 25% of Israel's Channel 10 TV.
He is a heavy donor to countless Jewish and Israeli organizations, bodies and officials – including Netanyahu.
Jews in all centers of power
Lauder is definitely not the only American Jew funneling money to Israel while influencing the country.
Many Israeli adults used to receive a parcel from "the rich uncle in America" during their childhood.
Thousands of organizations, including hospitals and universities, receive billions of shekels in donations from the US.
A Hebrew University study found that they make up about two-third of all donations in Israel.
Each new immigrant receives aid from the Jewish Agency, whose budget is mostly made up of donations from the US.
Many of us live on lands the Jewish National Fund bought from Arabs by Jewish-American money.
A haredi yeshiva student gets NIS 1,000 ($295) a month from the Israeli government, and another NIS 3,000 ($885) from haredi American donors.
The online Jewish Encyclopedia says some 5.6 million Jews live in the United States (not including half a million Israelis) – about 1.8% of the population.
Most of them reside in rich cities: Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston, and mainly New York.
A study of the Pew Forum institute from 2008 found that Jews are the richest religious group in the US: Forty-six of Jews earn more than $100,000 a year, compared to 19% among all Americans.
Another Gallup poll conducted this year found that 70% of American Jews enjoy "a high standard of living" compared to 60% of the population and more than any other religious group.
Hollywood: Many Jews
More than 100 of the 400 billionaires on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people in America are Jews.
Six of the 20 leading venture capital funds in the US belong to Jews, according to Forbes.
Google founder Sergey Brin has a Jewish father, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is Jewish, as is his deputy, David Fischer, the son of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Shalom Bernanke, is Jewish too, as is he predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and the Fed founder, Paul Warburg.
Jews are well represented in Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the US Congress and Administration, Hollywood, TV networks and the American press – way beyond their percentage in the population.
From town to Brooklyn alleys
The United States is among the richest countries in the world, making American Jews one of the wealthiest ethnic groups in the universe.
Their success story is even more phenomenal considering the speed in which they became rich.
Only several thousand Jews lived in the US upon its establishment on July 4, 1776, most of them Marrano and people who were exiled or escaped from Spain in favor of colonies in North America.
In the mid 19th century, some 200,000 Jews immigrated to the US, mostly from Germany and central Europe.
Most of them were Reform Jews, well-established, who saw themselves as Germans and Americans more than as Jews.
They scattered across the continent and set up businesses, from small stores and factories to financial giants like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs.
The great wave of immigration began in 1882.
Czarist Russia, which was home to about half of the world's Jews, went through a failed industrial revolution and was on the verge of collapse, while the Jews living in small towns became impoverished and suffered from cruel pogroms.
Within 42 years, some two million Jews immigrated to the US from Ukraine, western Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Romania.
They made up 25% of the Jewish population in those countries, about 15% of the world's Jews, and 10 times the number of Jews who immigrated to the Land of Israel during that period.
The US became the world's biggest Jewish concentration.
The mass immigration to Israel began in 1924, when the US enacted tough laws which halted the immigration.
The immigrants arrived in the US on crowded boats, and most of them were as poor as church mice.
Dr. Robert Rockaway, who studied that period, wrote that 80% of US Jews were employed in manual work before World War I, most of them in textile factories.
Many workplaces were blocked to the Jews due to an anti-Semitic campaign led by industrialist Henry Ford. Most of them lived in crowded and filthy slums in New York – Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.
Many films and books describe the world established in those neighborhoods: Vibrant, but tough and brutal.
There was a lively culture of cabarets and small Yiddish theaters, alongside a Jewish mafia with famous crime bosses such as Meyer Lansky, Abner "Longie" Zwillman, and Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, who grew up in the filthy alleys.
Many of the Jews, who were socialists in Europe, became active in labor unions and in workers' strikes and protests. Many trade unions were established by Jews.
The Jewish immigrants, however, emerged from poverty and made faster progress than any other group of immigrants.
According to Rockaway, in the 1930s, about 20% of the Jewish men had free professions, double the rate in the entire American population.
Anti-Semitism weakened after World War II and the restrictions on hiring Jews were reduced and later canceled as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, thanks to the struggle of liberal activists, many of whom were Jews.
In 1957, 75% of US Jews were white-collar workers, compared to 35% of all white people in the US; in 1970, 87% of Jewish men worked in clerical jobs, compared to 42% of all white people, and the Jews earned 72% more than the general average.
The only remnant of their poverty is that most of them still support a welfare policy and the Democratic Party.
As they became richer, Jews integrated into society.
They moved from the slums to the suburbs, abandoned Yiddish and adopted the clothes, culture, slang and dating and shopping habits of the non-Jewish elite.
Most Jews left religion when they immigrated to the US, but returned to it later on and joined Reform and Conservative communities, becoming more alike the Americans, most of whom are religious Christians.
'Jews always studied more'
Alongside the Jews, millions of immigrants arrived in the US from Ireland, Italy, China and dozens of other countries.
They too have settled down since then, but the Jews succeeded more than everyone.
All the experts we asked said the reason was Jewish education.
Jewish American student organization Hillel found that 9 to 33% of students in leading universities in the US are Jewish.
"The Jewish tradition always sanctified studying, and the Jews made an effort to study from the moment they arrived in American," says Danny Halperin, Israel's former economic attaché in Washington.
"In addition, the Jews have a strong tradition of business entrepreneurship.
The Irish, for example, came from families of land workers with a different mentality, studies less and initiated less.
"The Jews progressed because many areas were blocked to them," says Halperin.
"Many Irish were integrated into the police force, for example, and only few Jews.
The Jews entered new fields in which there was need for people with initiative.
They didn't integrate into traditional banking, so they established the investment banking."
"The cinema industry was created from scratch in the 1930s, and the Jews basically took over it.
To this day there are many Jewish names in the top echelon of Hollywood and the television networks.
Later on, they took high-tech by storm too – another new industry requiring learning abilities."
'Grandpa arrived with $2, dad completed PhD'
"The Jews were the first people to undergo globalization," says Rebecca Caspi, senior vice president of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).
"They had a network of global connections way before other nations, and a strong and supportive community.
"The Jewish communal organization is considered a role model for all other ethnic groups.
It helped the Jews everywhere and especially in the US, which was always more open than other countries and provided equal opportunities, while on the other hand –wasn't supportive of the individual."
How do community institutions help people succeed in business?
"The mutual help allowed poor Jews to study.
My family is an example of what happened to millions.
My grandfather arrived in New York with two dollars in his pocket. He sold pencils, and then pants and then other things, and in the meantime studied English, German and Spanish and established ties.
"He had five children, and the family had a small store in Brooklyn.
They got help from the HIAS Jewish organization, which allowed them to study.
They were so poor that they didn't have money for textbooks, so the siblings helped each other.
My father was the youngest, and until he started university the four older siblings had already managed to settle down, so they all helped him complete his medical studies."
"The Jews had to excel in order to survive," says Avia Spivak, a professor of economic and former Bank of Israel deputy governor.
"I once had a student of Russian descent, who told me that his parents said to him, 'You must be the best, because then you might get a small role.'
"That was the situation of the Jews abroad, and in America too until the 1960s.
The most prestigious universities didn't take in Jewish students, so they studied in colleges and got the best grades.
When the discrimination disappeared, the Jews reached the top."
Is that why they succeeded in the US more than in other places?
The discrimination lessened in most countries.
I think Jews succeeded in America in particular because capitalism is good for the Jews. Jews have a tendency for entrepreneurship, they study more and have quick perception, know how to seize opportunities and have networking skills.
A competitive environment gives Jews an advantage."
Is that the reason Israelis are not as rich as American Jews?
"I think the 'Jewish genius' – which is not a genetic issue but a cultural issue – is expressed in Israel in other areas. The Jews in America arrived in a country with existing, stable and strong infrastructure.
Here they had to build the entire infrastructure from scratch, under harsh conditions."
'Government hurting aid, but it'll continue'
There is no doubt that American Jews' huge success helped Jews survive in Israel.
"The help is beyond the actual donations," says Caspi.
"The federal aid arrives largely thanks to the Jewish pressure. Israeli businesspeople use their connections in America to open markets and raise funds, especially for the venture capital industry."
The American aid strengthens the connection between the two communities – which together make up about 80% of the Jewish people – but also creates discomfort on both sides:
The Americans view Israel as a "shelter for a rainy day" and feel committed to help the State, but some feel their money is being wasted due to wrong moves; the Israelis live in fear of what will happen if and when the aid stops.
The fear is increasing, with one-third of US Jews marrying non-Jews and stating that they feel less connected to Israel.
"Israel would have been established and would have survived even without the American aid, but it would have been poorer," says Halperin.
"There are areas, like higher education, in which the aid is critical – and if it suddenly disappears, things will be difficult."
Every time there are arguments between the Israeli government and Jews in America, Israeli and American public figures warn that "one day they'll have enough and stop donating."
Can that happen?
"The scope of donations is decreasing in the past few years," says Halperin.
"The Jews have a sense of belonging to the American society and give their donations to American organizations.
They want to see their names at a New York museum rather than at Jerusalem museum.
"As the Holocaust becomes more distant, the fear for Israel's existence drops.
In addition, Israel is no longer perceived as a poor country. And the Americans have their own problems:
The financial crisis and education in the US, which is becoming more and more expensive.
The donations will gradually drop, and may eventually disappear.
"But it's hard for me to believe that the donations will disappear at once because of a political crisis.
It looks like our government is trying to make it happen with all its might, but fortunately, it can't even do that."
Religion- The Vatican turns Left and sides with the anti capitalists
Updated: 28 Oct 2011
Vatican sides with anti-capitalist protesters and attacks global financial system
The Vatican aligned itself with anti-capitalism protesters around the world on Monday
when it condemned "the idolatry of the market"
and called for a radical shake-up of the global financial system.
In a forthright statement, the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called for an end to rampant speculation, the redistribution of wealth, greater ethics and the establishment of a "central world bank" to which national banks would have to cede power.
Such an authority would have "universal jurisdiction" over governments' economic strategies.
Existing financial situations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were outdated and no longer able to deal with the scale of the global financial crisis, which had exposed "selfishness, greed and the hoarding of goods on a grand scale".
The global financial system was riddled with injustice and failure to address that would lead to "growing hostility and even violence", which would undermine democracy.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the pontifical council, said banks needed to question whether they were "serving the interests of humanity" in the way they operated.
The proposal was short on specific detail, beyond calling for a new tax on international financial transactions.
The Vatican hardly has an exemplary record on financial transparency and propriety.
Last year the Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works, had €23m (£20m) of its assets frozen by Italian authorities as part of an investigation into suspected money-laundering.
After years of resisting calls for greater openness, the scandal forced the bank to adopt international norms on transparency.
The Holy See's murky financial past has included, most notoriously, its involvement in the bankruptcy of Italy's biggest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, in the early 1980s.
Its president, Roberto Calvi, who was nicknamed "God's Banker", was found hanged beneath Blackfriars Bridge, with investigators unable to rule whether he had committed suicide or had been murdered.
Thomas J Reese, a Vatican analyst at Georgetown University in the US, said the "radical" proposals put forward on Monday aligned the Holy See with the Occupy Wall Street movement and meant that the Vatican's views on the economic crisis were "to the Left of every politician in the United States".
He said the proposals reflected many of the encyclicals and addresses issued by Benedict XVI on the global economy during the last six years of his papacy.
RELIGION- OPIUM- THE MEANING ACCORDING TO MARX
RELIGION- UK RAMADAN EXPLAINED
Updated: 01 Aug 2011
Ramadan begins in United Kingdom
Many Muslims in the United Kingdom welcome Ramadan as period of fasting, self-evaluation and spiritual growth.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.
Ramadan begins 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Ramadan begins 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Note: Regional customs or moon sightings may cause a variation of the date for Islamic holidays, which begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. The Islamic calendar is lunar and the days begin at sunset, so there may be one-day error depending on when the New Moon is first seen.
List of dates for other years
Ramadan (also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims in the United Kingdom. The first verses of the Koran (Qu'ran) were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (also written as Mohammad or Muhammed) during the last third of Ramadan, making this an especially holy period.
Evening meals are kept simple during the month of Ramadan. They include dates (pictured above), bread, water, soups, and stews. ©iStockphoto.com/Paul Cowan
What do people do?
Many Muslims in the United Kingdom fast during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion. It is common to have one meal known as the suhoor just before sunrise and an evening meal (iftar) after sunset during Ramadan. The United Kingdom’s Department of Health produced a guide to healthy fasting during Ramadan, which aims to help people avoid health complications when they fast.
Ramadan is also a time for many Muslims to donate to charity by participating in food drives for the poor, organizing a collection or charity event, and other voluntary activities. Muslims are encouraged to be charitable during Ramadan. Campaigns have been promoted in the United Kingdom to raise public awareness of safe ways to donate to charity and how to avoid donating to fake charities during Ramadan. These campaigns aim to help people choose an honest charity organization when donating money and equipment.
People of Islamic faith are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an during Ramadan. Some Muslims recite the entire Qur'an by the end of Ramadan through special prayers known as Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a section of the Qur'an is recited. Ramadan Qu’ran competitions have been held for both children and adults in the United Kingdom in recent times.
Some political leaders in the United Kingdom, including the prime minister, previously made public announcements, greeting Muslims both locally and globally for the month of Ramadan. Their messages aim to help raise an awareness of the Ramadan’s importance among Muslims both in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.
Many Islamic businesses and organizations may amend opening hours to suit prayer times during Ramadan in the United Kingdom. There may also be some congestion around mosques during prayer times, such as in the evenings.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 months and lasts for about 354 days. The word “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink. It is considered to be the most holy and blessed month. Fighting is not allowed during this period.
The month of Ramadan traditionally begins with a new moon sighting, marking the start of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims (except children, the sick and the elderly) abstain from food, drink, and certain other activities during daylight hours in Ramadan. This is considered as the holiest season in the Islamic year and commemorates the time when the Qu’ran (Islamic holy book) is said to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. This occurred on Laylat Al-Qadr, one of the last 10 nights of the month. Ramadan ends when the first crescent of the new moon is sighted again, marking the new lunar month’s start. Eid-al-Fitr is the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
RELIGION- MUSLIMS START THE FIRST DAY OF RAMADAN
Updated: 01 Aug 2011
Muslims worldwide start first day of Ramadan
- Published : Monday, August 01, 2011 00:00
- Article Views : 528
- Written by : JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL CORRESPONDENT
|Muslim communities prepare for the start of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, by reading the Holy Koran at an Islamic public library in the Golden Mosque in Manila on Sunday. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN
MUSLIMS worldwide including Muslim Filipinos start today their 30 days of fasting that corresponds to Ramadan 1, 1432 of the Hijrah calendar, as officially announced by the head of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino 3rd extended his greetings of salaam (peace) to the Muslim Filipino community in the observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
Many Muslim leaders particularly from Mindanao have appealed for unity among Muslims, Christians and lumads in order to attain the elusive peace for Mindanao not only during Ramadan but even beyond.
Secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman and concurrently the NCMF chief operating officer said that majority of the Muslims throughout the world particularly in Saudi Arabia would start fasting today, a practice that is obligatory for every adult Muslim who is physically fit to perform the fasting from dawn till sunset every time the month of Ramadan comes.
Lucman, quoting a verse from the Holy Koran, reminded the Muslims of their goal in the observance of fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month in the Hegira calendar.
“As we observe this year’s fasting month, we should recall to mind the goal of Ramadan as embodied in the Noble Koran, “O ye believe, Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restraint,” she said.
Lucman sent an advance wish for Muslim pilgrims who will be performing their umrah (lesser pilgrimage) in Mecca after Ramadan.
President Aquino, in his message addressed to the Muslim community in the Philippines and sent through the d urged the Muslim faithful to solemnly observe Ramadan.
“Your devotion to perform the essential requisites of Islam, such as the holy fasting, is an inspiring deed that attests to your reverence for the Almighty. Your steadfastness in your sacrifice during the 29 days of Ramadan is also by itself an opportunity for enlightenment,” he said.
“Apart from being a personal quest of faith, Ramadan serves as a representation of peace, as Muslims around the world embody the spirit of solidarity in this moment of glorification. I am thus heartened by how this religious event demonstrates the readiness of Muslims to be humbled by abstinence. I am confident that we remain united by our common endeavor to attain lasting stability,” Mr. Aquino added.
Rep. Tupay Loong of Sulu (First District) and concurrently the chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs said that his constituents among the Tausugs of Sulu are also joining the Muslim world in the observance of Ramadan.
“We have made it through in our lifetime in the holy month of Ramadan. It is the moment not only of making physical abstention or observing social or emotional limitations, but above all it is the renewal of our personal and spiritual nourishment not only now but in the years ahead,” Loong said.
Sultan Fuad Kiram, the 35th reigning ruler of the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah, and also the head of Islam in the sultanate, explained that fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built.
Fasting during Ramadan, the fourth of these pillars, has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship, according to Sultan Fuad.
RELIGION- US CATHOLIC CARDINAL CAUGHT IN SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
Updated: 20 Jul 2011
Philadelphia cardinal quits amid abuse allegations
Tuesday 19 July 2011
A Catholic cardinal caught up in a sex-abuse scandal had his resignation accepted today by the Pope.
The Vatican said that 76-year-old Justin Rigali, formerly the cardinal-archbishop of Philadelphia, was stepping down because of his age.
But his diocese faces criminal charges for allegedly covering up for paedophile priests by sending them to new parishes.
A Philadelphia grand jury said earlier this year that Mr Rigali had "kept many priests in the area in active ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse."
The jury also said the church hushed-up accusations and hadn't told the police. Church officials called their report "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe."
Mr Rigali is expected to be replaced by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who opposes government health care, gay marriage and stem-cell research.
He caused a stir in 2010 by backing a Catholic school which refused to enrol children raised by gay or lesbian couples.
RELIGION- HOLY ORDERS ?
Updated: 18 Jul 2011
Archbishop of Canterbury fires advisor Rev George Pitcher over outpoken attacks on coalition
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has fired one of his closest advisers in the wake of the political storm over his outspoken attack on the Coalition.
Dr Rowan Williams is understood to have lost confidence in the Rev George Pitcher, his public affairs secretary, and agreed that he should leave his post at the end of the summer.
It is understood the situation came to a head when Mr Pitcher made a crude joke about the Archbishop in the Daily Telegraph's diary column following criticism of Dr Williams' attacks on the coalition.
Previously Mr Pitcher had played a key part in arranging the Archbishop's guest editorship of the New Statesman magazine last month, which Dr Williams used to launch a strident critique of David Cameron's policies.
Writing in the magazine, the Archbishop accused the Coalition of fuelling public fear by forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.
Dr Williams said that the Prime Minister’s flagship “Big Society” initiative had become a “painfully stale” slogan and was viewed with “widespread suspicion” as a cover for funding cuts.
But the "final straw" which tipped the scales against Mr Pitcher appears to have been an item in the Telegraph's Mandrake diary column the following week.
Mandrake reported that the political and religious affairs commentator, Cristina Odone, had tackled Dr Williams over his remarks at a party. The diary column quoted Mr Pitcher, a former Telegraph journalist, as joking that the Archbishop had responded to the confrontation by taking her "roughly over the canapés".
Miss Odone said she was dismayed that what had clearly been intended as a joke should have cost Mr Pitcher his job.
"George Pitcher and I are old friends. I would be sorry if our light-hearted spat has been taken so seriously," she said.
However, the fallout from the New Statesman controversy caused significant tension between Lambeth Palace and Downing St.
One senior Tory backbencher, Tony Baldry, who is also a leading figure in the Church of England, said Dr Williams should stop "shouting" at ministers.
He even appeared to suggest that the historic right of bishops to sit in the House of Lords could be at risk as a result of the episode.
The Prime Minister said he "profoundly" disagreed with Dr Williams's criticisms while the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said the Archbishop's remarks were “unbalanced and unfair”.
Relations with Westminster and the media fall within Mr Pitcher's responsibilities as public affairs secretary to the Archbishop.
Lambeth Palace confirmed that Mr Pitcher's contract would end in September, one year after he started, and would not be renewed.
A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said: "George will have finished the project he was working on and he wished to return to journalism."
Mr Pitcher said: "I have decided to bring things to an end but it is true that I would have stayed with the Archbishop for the duration [of his time in the post]."
POLITICS-GIVE THE FRANCHISE TO 16 YEAR OLD AND MAYBE MORE POLICE WILL BE LOCKED UP FOR THEIR CRIMES?
Updated: 06 Jul 2011
Teens take on Met over kids' 10-hour kettle ordeal
Tuesday 05 July 2011
Police were accused today of unlawfully refusing to release children as young as 11 from a "kettle" during last November's tuition fee protests.
One child continued to be corralled using the controversial crowd control tactic after it got dark, judges were told at the High Court .
The landmark court case brought against the London Met by three teenagers could end the routine kettling of protesters.
Adam Castle, 16, his sister Rosie, 15, and Sam Eaton, 16, sought a judicial review after police trapped them in a kettle near Whitehall for around 10 hours last November.
Martin Westgate QC, appearing for all three, argued that the decision to kettle them breached the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2004 Children Act.
Adam told reporters the experience was "like a punishment for protesting."
"As children we can't vote, so one of the best ways for us to voice our opinion is through protest.
"And if that's stopped or inhibited by kettling then where are we left?"
POLITICS - CON-DEMED TO PERFORM U TURN'S, SOMERSAULTS AND CARTWHEELS ?
Updated: 25 Jun 2011
Government performs U-turn on plans to reform U-turns
The coalition government has revealed plans for radical changes to the way that it continually changes its mind.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister David Cameron revealed how all decisions that the government made would now be subject to review by a panel consisting of readers of The Sun newspaper.
Mr Cameron said that the government had concluded it would “not be right” to push ahead with decisions that didn’t have the backing of taxi drivers and people that spend their entire lives in betting shops.
Reacting to criticism that the government’s recent U-turn on the sentencing of criminals was a sign of an indecisive government, the prime minister said: “I make no apology for listening to the views of Sun readers,”
“We have listened to their concerns and are currently looking into the feasibility of castrating shoplifters.”
U-turn on U-turns
The prime minister also revealed that the government’s planned changes to teachers’ pensions were also being reviewed by Sun readers.
“I think our decision to make teachers work longer, pay more and receive less has been completely vindicated by revelations that teachers work short hours and get really, really long holidays.”
“As for people claiming disability allowance! Don’t get me started.” he tutted.
RELIGION- ROWAN WILLIAMS FULL TEXT TO THE NEW STATESMAN
Updated: 25 Jun 2011
New Statesman Leader
Thursday 9th June 2011
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has guest-edited the New Statesman in an edition published on 13th June 2011.
The full text of his Leader, widely reported in the press, follows.
I can imagine a New Statesman reader looking at the contents of this issue and mentally supplying: "That's enough coalition ministers (Ed)."
After all, the NS has never exactly been a platform for the establishment to explain itself.
But it seems worth encouraging the present government to clarify what it is aiming for in two or three key areas, in the hope of sparking a livelier debate about where we are going - and perhaps even todiscover what the left's big idea currently is.
The political debate in the UK at the moment feels pretty stuck.
An idea whose roots are firmly in a particular strand of associational socialism has been adopted enthusiastically by the Conservatives.
The widespread suspicion that this has been done for opportunistic or money-saving reasons allows many to dismiss what there is of a programme for "big society" initiatives; even the term has fast become painfully stale.
But we are still waiting for a full and robust account of what the left would do differently and what a left-inspired version of localism might look like.
Digging a bit deeper, there are a good many on the left and right who sense that the tectonic plates of British - European? - politics are shifting.
Managerial politics, attempting with shrinking success to negotiate life in the shadow of big finance, is not an attractive rallying point, whether it labels itself (New) Labour or Conservative.
There is, in the middle of a lot of confusion, an increasingly audible plea for some basic thinking about democracy itself - and the urgency of this is underlined by what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa.
Incidentally, this casts some light on the bafflement and indignation that the present government is facing over its proposals for reform in health and education.
With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.
At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context. Not many people want government by plebiscite, certainly.
But, for example, the comprehensive reworking of the Education Act 1944 that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates.
The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.
I don't think that the government's commitment to localism and devolved power is simply a cynical walking-away from the problem.
But I do think that there is confusion about the means that have to be willed in order to achieve the end.
If civil society organisations are going to have to pick up
responsibilities shed by government, the crucial questions are these.
First, what services must have cast-iron guarantees of nationwide standards, parity and continuity?
(Look at what is happening to youth services, surely a strategic priority.)
Second, how, therefore, does national government underwrite these strategic "absolutes" so as to make sure that, even in a straitened financial climate, there is a continuing investment in the long term, a continuing response to what most would see as root issues: child poverty, poor literacy, the deficit in access to educational excellence, sustainable infrastructure in poorer communities (rural as well as urban), and so on?
What is too important to be left to even the most resourceful localism?
Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present.
It isn't enough to respond with what sounds like a mixture of, "This is the last government's legacy," and, "We'd like to do more, but just wait until the economy recovers a bit."
To acknowledge the reality of fear is not necessarily to collude with it.
But not to recognise how pervasive it is risks making it worse.
Equally, the task of opposition is not to collude in it, either, but to define some achievable alternatives.
And, for that to happen, we need sharp-edged statements of where the disagreements lie.
The uncomfortable truth is that, while grass-roots initiatives and local mutualism are to be found flourishing in a great many places, they have been weakened by several decades of cultural fragmentation.
The old syndicalist and co-operative traditions cannot be reinvented overnight and, in some areas, they have to be invented for the first time.
This is not helped by a quiet resurgence of the seductive language of "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, nor by the steady pressure to increase what look like punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system.
If what is in view - as Iain Duncan Smith argues passionately on page 18 - is real empowerment for communities of marginal people, we need better communication about strategic imperatives, more positive messages about what cannot and will not be left to chance and - surely one of the most important things of all - a long-term education policy at every level that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy.
For someone like myself, there is an ironic satisfaction in the way several political thinkers today are quarrying theological traditions for ways forward.
True, religious perspectives on these issues have often got bogged down in varieties of paternalism.
But there is another theological strand to be retrieved that is not about "the poor" as objects of kindness but about the nature of sustainable community, seeing it as one in which what circulates - like the flow of blood - is the mutual creation of capacity, building the ability of the other person or group to become, in turn, a giver of life and responsibility.
Perhaps surprisingly, this is what is at the heart of St Paul's ideas about community at its fullest; community, in his terms, as God wants to see it.
A democracy that would measure up to this sort of ideal - religious in its roots but not exclusive or confessional - would be one in which the central question about any policy would be: how far does it equip a person or group to engage generously and for the long term in building the resourcefulness and well-being of any other person or group, with the state seen as a "community of communities", to use a phrase popular among syndicalists of an earlier generation?
A democracy going beyond populism or majoritarianism but also beyond a Balkanised focus on the local that fixed in stone a variety of postcode lotteries; a democracy capable of real argument about shared needs and hopes and real generosity: any takers?
RELIGION- LAMBETH PALACE RESPONSE
Updated: 25 Jun 2011
Thank you for contacting Lambeth Palace about the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent guest-editorship of the New Statesman.
As you can imagine, we have received many hundreds of emails and letters, some two-thirds of which have been positive about what the Archbishop had to say.
This is very many more than Archbishop Rowan can reply to personally, much as he would like to, and as he’s currently away in Africa your message has been passed to me for reply.
The Archbishop believes very strongly that the Church is commissioned to stand by the most vulnerable in our society and that means that we have a duty to join the public discourse.
We won’t always agree with each other’s views, but Archbishop Rowan much appreciates your taking the time to express yours.
With sincere thanks again for writing to Archbishop Rowan.
The Revd George Pitcher
The Archbishop’s Secretary for Public Affairs
Lambeth Palace, London , SE1 7JU
RELIGION- HOLY SMOKE- SNUFF, PUFF AND BLUFF ?
Updated: 17 Jun 2011
Christians use Bible to predict end of statisticians
After several weeks of painstaking study, UK Christian Bible decoders have emerged with research which they say disproves statistics once and for all.
Head of the group, 76-year-old Margery Atkins, told us, “A cursory glance through the book of Deuteronomy reveals nothing untoward. Yet, if several words are selected and their letters moved around slightly, a startling picture begins to emerge.”
Atkins and her team claim that the first five books of the Old Testament contain a hidden message from God; or possibly from Moses.
It predicts a point in the near future, shortly after this year’s census, where statisticians cause a shift in the viewpoint of several previously secular countries due to constant over-analysis of mundane facts about British society published in the media.
Religion predicts end of statistics
Atkins went on to read passages of the recently uncovered Bible message, explaining their relevance for modern statistical analysis.
“Speak not of the rise of the national average house price and the richness of religious diversity,” the message is quoted as reading, “as such things lead to damnation.”
“Verily as well,” she continued in a serious tone, “everything which Brian Cox says about how the world started is rubbish, so watch Songs of Praise on Sundays instead of that Wonders of the Universe.”
Atkins also claims the Gospel According To Luke contains a similar, yet chillingly ironic warning about the forthcoming census.
“Anyone who puts down ‘Jedi’ as their religion again will spend all eternity being poked in the genitals by the Devil,” she read, before returning to an emergency summit on jam shortages for next week’s church fête.
RELIGION- THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ATTACK ON TORY POLICIES
Updated: 09 Jun 2011
Rowan Williams: no one voted for coalition policies
Archbishop of Canterbury issues broadside against 'radical policies' and 'big society' project in New Statesman editorial
Rowan Williams has attacked the coalition government's policies in an editorial in the New Statesman. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, has issued a broadside against the coalition government, claiming it is forcing through "radical policies for which no one voted".
He also challenges the 'big society' project and criticises the government for continuing to blame the country's difficulties entirely on the deficit it inherited from Labour.
The comments come in an editorial he has written as guest editor of this week's New Statesman magazine.
Full extracts are not available , but Williams says the "anxiety and anger" felt by voters is a result of the coalition's failure to expose its policies to "proper public argument".
He writes: "Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present."
Williams accepts that the government's big society agenda is not a "cynical walking-away from the problem".
But he warns there is confusion about how voluntary organisations will "pick up the responsibilities shed by government", and says that the big society is seen with "widespread suspicion".
"The uncomfortable truth is that, while grass-roots initiatives and local mutualism are to be found flourishing in a great many places, they have been weakened by several decades of cultural fragmentation," Williams writes.
He also criticises the chancellor, George Osborne, saying: "It isn't enough to respond with what sounds like a mixture of 'This is the last government's legacy,' and 'We'd like to do more, but just wait until the economy recovers a bit.'"
The archbishop challenges the government's approach to welfare reform, complaining of a "quiet resurgence of the seductive language of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor".
In comments directed at the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, Williams criticises "the steady pressure" to increase "punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system".
Westminster politics "feels pretty stuck" he warns, adding that his aim is to stimulate "a livelier debate" and to challenge the left to develop its own "big idea" as an alternative to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance.
The coalition is facing "bafflement and indignation" over its plans to reform the health service and education, he writes.
"With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted," the archbishop says.
"At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context."
He complains that the education secretary Michael Gove's free-school reforms passed through Parliament last summer with little debate, using a timetable previously reserved for emergency anti-terrorism laws.
Separate reforms to universities will see tuition fees treble and funding for humanities courses cut.
Williams says education "might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing".
But "the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument" has created "anxiety and anger" in the country.
Britain needs a long-term education policy "that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy", he says.
In a separate guest column for the magazine, the chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, argues that religion already does the big society's job – and does it better.
Sacks writes: "A powerful store of social capital still exists. It is called religion: the churches, synagogues and other places of worship that still bring people together in shared belonging and mutual responsibility.
The evidence shows that religious people – defined by regular attendance at a place of worship – actually do make better neighbours".
The reason for this is simple, Sacks argues: "Religion creates community, community creates altruism and altruism turns us away from self and towards the common good."
RELIGION- ROWAN WILLIAMS - THE CON-DEM-ED ARE NOT ON GOD'S SIDE
Updated: 09 Jun 2011
Rowan Williams condemns 'frightening' Coalition
Dr Rowan Williams will launch a sustained attack on the Coalition in the most outspoken political intervention by an Archbishop of Canterbury for a generation.
He warns that the public is gripped by “fear” over the Government’s reforms to education, the NHS and the benefits system and accuses David Cameron and Nick Clegg of forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.
Openly questioning the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition, the Archbishop dismisses the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” as a “painfully stale” slogan, and claims that it is “not enough” for ministers to blame Britain’s economic and social problems on the last Labour government.
The comments come in an article he has written as guest editor of this week’s New Statesman magazine.
His two-page critique, titled “The government needs to know how afraid people are”, is the most forthright political criticism by such a senior cleric since Robert Runcie enraged Margaret Thatcher with a series of attacks in the 1980s.
Lambeth Palace is braced for an angry response but Dr Williams, who became Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, is understood to believe that the moment is right for him to enter the political debate.
In the article, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he says the Coalition must “clarify what it is aiming for” in key areas of policy.
The Archbishop warns that Westminster politics “feels pretty stuck”, adding that his aim is to stimulate “a livelier debate” and to challenge the Left to develop its own “big idea” as an alternative to the Tory-Lib Dem alliance.
It is his attacks on the Coalition’s flagship policies, especially those of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, which will attract the most attention.
The Coalition is facing “bafflement and indignation” over its plans to reform the health service and education, he writes.
“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” the Archbishop says.
“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.” Mr Gove’s free school reforms passed through Parliament last summer with little debate, using a timetable previously reserved for emergency anti-terrorism laws.
Separate reforms to universities will see tuition fees treble and funding for humanities courses cut.
Dr Williams says education “might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing”.
But “the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument” has created “anxiety and anger” in the country.
Britain needs a long-term education policy “that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy”, he says.
More broadly, the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” is viewed with “widespread suspicion” as an “opportunistic” cover for spending cuts.
The Archbishop warns that Mr Cameron’s plan to give local and voluntary groups a greater role running services has created concern that the Government will abandon its responsibility for tackling child poverty, illiteracy, and increasing access to the best schools.
“Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around questions such as these at present,” he says.
“It isn’t enough to respond with what sounds like a mixture of 'This has been exposed to proper public argument” has created “anxiety and anger”.
Britain needs a long-term education policy “that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy”, he says.
More broadly, the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” is viewed as an “opportunistic” cover for spending cuts.
The Archbishop warns that Mr Cameron’s plan to give local and voluntary groups a greater role running services has created concern that the Government will abandon its responsibility for tackling child poverty, illiteracy, and increasing access to the best schools.
“Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around questions such as these at present,” he says.
The Archbishop reserves some of his harshest words for the programme of benefit reforms drawn up by Mr Duncan Smith, who also contributes to this week’s magazine, lamenting the “quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the 'deserving’ and 'undeserving’ poor”.
LIFESTYLE- WHO GOT THE DATE WRONG-GOD OR HIS REPRESENTATIVE ON EARTH ?
Updated: 27 May 2011
Rapture followers given new date to look incredibly stupid
The evangelical broadcaster who left thousands of his followers crestfallen by his failed ‘rapture’ prediction, has given them a new date on which to look like complete morons by re-scheduling Armageddon for 21st October.
Family Radio President, Harold Camping, said it had ‘dawned’ on him that there were still thousands of people stupid enough to continue to chuck all their worldly possessions his way.
Despite his statement having having all the authenticity of a Milli Vanilli world tour, many have admitted they are desperate enough to try their luck at Camping’s attempt to ensure their passage to the most prestigious venue of all.
Camping told an interviewer that Armageddon was being put off a little longer than he would have liked to allow for any debris from the Icelandic volcano eruption to clear.
“A whole number of factors came together to put a slight delay to the disintegration of all that the planet holds dear.”
“One of which is the partial disintegration of the planet around Iceland.”
“Armageddon can’t just be turned on like that, no matter what you might think.”
Rapture Mark II
Camping continued, “The good Lord foresaw the treachery of that damned Icelandic volcano, and knew he couldn’t expect Jesus just to sweep up all his followers to Heaven if there was going to be such severe flying restrictions in place for the British Isles.”
“It was never a one-day job anyway.”
Camping went on to offer his sincere apologies to all those who had liquidated their continued means of survival, expecting to be dining on God’s never-ending tab by Sunday evening.
“Of course I’m sorry they haven’t got anything more to give me this time round.” Camping continued.
“Maybe they should think about getting me some money by committing crime in the name of the church? Maybe they could embark on some elaborate world-wide confidence tricks?”
“I can assure you they’re an absolute doddle.”
RELIGION- FAT CATS OR POOR CHURCH MICE - BUT C of E PROFITS ARE UP TO 15.4% IN 2010
Updated: 09 May 2011
Church Commissioners' results confirm long-term growth
15 April 2011
The Church Commissioners have today announced a 15.2 per cent return on their investments during 2010. Their fund has now outperformed its comparator group over the past 10 and 15 years.*
Despite challenging economic times for both the Church and wider society, the Commissioners - who contributed more than £200 million in 2010 towards the cost of maintaining the mission of the Church of England - grew their fund to £5.3 billion (from £4.8 billion at December 31, 2009).
Although most of the costs of the Church's mission are met by the generous giving of today's parishioners, the Commissioners contribute around 17p in the pound towards the total. The Commissioners' contribution is biased towards supporting poorer dioceses.
Today's results show that the Commissioners are able to distribute £26 million more each year to the Church than if their investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years, while pursuing their policy of maintaining the real value of the fund.
Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, said: "These results are good news for the Church and its vital role in the life of the nation.
Our mission is to support the Church's ministry, particularly in areas of need and opportunity - we meet that by ensuring our investments achieve sustainable long-term growth."
Returns from the fund, held in a broad range of assets, pay for: clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops' ministries and some cathedral costs; and funding the legal framework for parish reorganisation.
The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines, with advice from the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: "Investment performance was strong across the board in 2010 underlying the importance of our diversified portfolio.
We plan to continue to diversify the fund into other attractive and appropriate asset classes to reduce further the fund's overall volatility.
"In addition, our Assets Committee has adopted a deliberate policy of being more active in terms of the fund's overall asset allocation, adjusting the level of risk depending on the market opportunity."
The main factors behind the fund's strong performance in 2010 were:
- The Commissioners' higher weighting in shares, particularly those held in companies with overseas interests.
- The bias to higher performing smaller companies within UK shareholdings.
- The low weighting in UK government bonds, index-linked bonds and UK investment grade bonds and higher investment in property compared with the average pension fund.
- The Commissioners' property portfolio achieved a 15.4 per cent return, exceeding its comparator group, the Investment Property Databank.
- The contribution from the Commissioners' multi-asset fund managers.
The Commissioners' overall 15.2 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 12.7 per cent for 2010.
Over the past 10 years, total returns averaged 6.3 per cent per year, against the comparator group's 4.5 per cent.
Over the past 15 years, the Commissioners outperformed the comparator group with an average annual return of 9.3 per cent against 7.0 per cent.
The key elements of the Church Commissioners' investment portfolio, as at December 31, 2010, are set out below. The levels at the end of December 2009 are in brackets.
Investments, including fixed interest, UK and overseas equities - £3,485.8 million (£3,167.4 million); Investment properties, including commercial, residential, rural, strategic land and global indirect property holdings - £1,492.9 million (£1,308.2 million); Other net assets and liabilities, including loans, short term deposits and cash - £340.8 million (£339.6 million).
Serving the Church
The Commissioners contribute to the ministry of each of the Church's 44 dioceses, in addition to their major role of funding all clergy pensions earned up to the end of 1997.
This contribution includes supporting the ministry of bishops and cathedrals, as well as parish ministry particularly in poorer dioceses.
In 2010, the Church Commissioners continued to provide significant support to encourage the growth of the Church's existing ministries and new opportunities.
Since it began in 2002, the mission development fund has given dioceses extra resources for parish ministry totaling £39.2 million, including £5.2 million in 2010.
A further £5.4 million is to be distributed for this purpose in 2011.
A fund of £7.25 million, earmarked for investment in areas of new housing and other developments in 2008-2010, has been allocated between 15 dioceses facing significant challenges and opportunities.
Distribution of the grants began in 2009.
The Commissioners' total charitable expenditure in 2010 was £200.5 million (£190.8 million in 2009).
Total non-pensions expenditure, including support for ministry within dioceses and for the ministry of bishops and cathedrals, totaled £88.5 million in 2010, compared with £81.6 million in 2009.
Included within this total, governance and other costs were £2.0 million in 2010 (2009: £1.8 million).
The main items of expenditure were (with 2009 figures in brackets):
• £114.0 million (£111.0 million) for clergy pensions based on service before 1998
• £46.8 million (£42.0 million) for parish mission and ministry, primarily to less-resourced dioceses
• £27.5 million (£26.6 million) for supporting bishops, including Archbishops, in their diocesan and national ministries, mainly for staff costs.
• £7.7 million (£7.4 million) for stipends of cathedral clergy and grants to cathedrals, mainly for staff salaries
• £4.5 million (£3.8 million) for other charitable expenditure including support for other Church bodies, church buildings and support costs for pastoral reorganisation.
*(See paragraph one).
The comparator group quoted is the WM All Funds Universe.
It is a collection of the investment results of UK pension funds and is widely used as an independent measure of the performance of funds.
There were 203 funds in the 2010 universe, and there were 137 and 119 funds that have been included in the sample for the last ten and fifteen years respectively.
The Church Commissioners
The Church Commissioners play a vital role in supporting the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community.
The Commissioners fund all clergy pensions earned before 1998. (Pensions earned since then are paid from the separate Funded Scheme, which is funded by contributions from dioceses and other Church bodies).
The Commissioners' fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money.
Actuaries assess the Commissioners' fund in detail every three years (with yearly 'desktop' reviews in the intervening period) to advise on how much they can safely plan to spend to maintain sustainable distributions.
The Commissioners' mission is to support the Church of England's ministry, particularly in areas of need and opportunity. Their main responsibilities are:
• to obtain a return from their diversified portfolio of assets, managed within an ethical framework, that will allow them to meet their pension obligations and to maintain, and grow over time, their support for the wider Church including supporting the work of bishops, cathedrals and parish ministry.
The target long-term rate of return is RPI + 5.0% per annum.
• to administer the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of buildings closed for regular public worship.
The 33 Church Commissioners are:
• the two Archbishops;
• three Church Estates Commissioners, who represent the Church Commissioners in General Synod and (Second Commissioner) in Parliament;
• eleven people elected by General Synod: four bishops, three clergy, four lay people;
• two deans;
• nine people who are appointed by the Crown and the Archbishops; and
• six ex-officio members: the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament.
The Queen Anne's Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners joined in 1948 to form the Church Commissioners. Queen Anne's Bounty was a charity founded in 1704 to help poor clergy.
The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were given the estates belonging to bishops and cathedrals, so they could fund their ministry as well as the Church's ministry into new urban areas.
RELIGION - 'I BELIEVE BECAUSE IT IS ABSURD'
Updated: 09 May 2011
TAKEN FROM JD BERNAL – SCIENCE IN HISTORY
FROM THE FIRST CENTURY ONWARDS PHILOSOPHIC MYSTICISM FUSED WITH THAT OF SALVATION RELIGIONS.
CHRISTIANITY WAS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL.
THEIR COMMON INTELLECTUAL FEATURE WAS A RELIANCE ON INSPIRATION AND REVELATION, AS A HIGHER SOURCE OF TRUTH THAN THE SENSES OR EVEN THAT OF REASON.
AS TERTULLIAN EXPRESSED IT :-
“I BELIEVE BECAUSE IT IS ABSURD”
THE RISE OF THESE RELIGIONS WAS ITSELF A SYMPTOM OF HOPELESSNESS OF THE SLAVE AND EVEN OF THE CITIZEN, IN THE FACE OF A SYSTEM THAT GROUND HIM DOWN AND FROM WHICH IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE TO ESCAPE.
HE COULD TAKE HIS CHOICE OF INDULGING IN ALMOST REVOLUTIONARY DENUNCIATION OF THESYSTEM, SUCH AS FOUND IN THE APOCALYPSE,AND STIRRING UP RESISTANCE OF OFFICIAL WORSHIP;OR OF RETIRING TO THE DESERT TO AVOID CONTAMINATION OF THE EVILS OF THE WORLD.
TO THE RELIGIOUS IT WAS NOT ONLY IDOLATRY BUT ALL THAT WENT WITH THE HATED,THE UPPER CLASS STATE, THAT WAS ABOMINABLE;THE LUXURY, THE ART,THE PHILOSOPHY, THE SCIENCE WERE ALL SIGNPOSTS ON THE WAY TO HELL.
From a "Science in History" by J.D. Bernall