Tuesday, March 31, 2009

G20 - the Prime Minister preaches in St Paul’s Cathedral

And in his sermon he spoke of the evils of the Credit Church Crunch, and how during the storms of the nation’s turbulent history, St Paul’s has been ‘a rock of faith at the centre of our national life’.

No, Prime Minister. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see. St Paul’s is a building; the rock (if His Grace’s Roman Catholic communicants will permit him a little latitude) is Jesus.

The Prime Minister spoke interminably of hope and faith, enduring values and virtues, timeless truths, family lives, neighbourhoods and communities. And what conquers fear of the future is faith in the future – ‘Faith in who we are and what we believe, in what we are today and what we can become: Faith most of all in what together we can achieve.

It must have bored God to the point of contemplating the virtues of mortality.

And on the day the Messiah President of the United States lands in the UK, Mr Brown unsubtly invoked the spirits of Dr Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln – President Obama’s two inspirations (as if he would have been tuning in on Air Force One). The Prime Minister said he was prioritising four urgent global concerns:

Financial instability in a world of global capital flows
Environmental degradation in a world of changing energy need
Violent extremism in a world of mass communications and increased mobility
Extreme poverty in a world of growing inequalities

And so he talked of the need to have ‘faith in globalisation’, for the world to ‘come together’ to agree ‘global rules’ informed by ‘shared global values’.

Of course, the Prime Minister never articulated what these are. But he does note that the globalisation which lifted millions out of poverty has also ‘unleashed forces that have totally overwhelmed the old national rules and systems of financial oversight’.

Therein lies a plea not for the international co-operation of sovereign nation states but for new continental or global rules for the post-democratic, post-national era.

And Mr Brown then declared: ‘And as I have always said I take full responsibility for all of my actions.’

Cranmer falls off his chair laughing.

Gordon Brown has consistently refused to apologise for anything. He has ducked and dived, swiveled and swerved to avoid taking responsibility for any of the damaging actions and appalling decisions he has taken over the past 12 years. Has he ever apologised for purloining billions from private pension reserves? For gambling away even more billions when he exchanged the nation's gold for euros? For over-spending during the years of plenty? For engorging the state with a million new public sector non-jobs? For tampering with the supervisory responsibilities of the Bank of England? For lying about 'prudence' and 'the end of boom and bust'?

The Prime Minister blames ‘unsupervised globalisation’ for crossing ‘moral boundaries’. He said: “Most people want a market that is free, but never values-free; a society that is fair but not laissez faire.” And he talked of the need to fulfill the promise of Adam Smith (‘who came from my home town Kirkcaldy’) that ‘individual gain leads to collective gain, that even when people are pursuing their private wishes they can nonetheless deliver public good’.

He continued: “Christians do not say that people should be reduced merely to what they can produce or what they can buy - that we should let the weak go under and only the strong survive. No, we say do to others what you would have them do unto you.”

His father would have been proud.

But then the sermon became multi-faith and all-inclusive when he referred to ‘each of our heritages, our traditions and faiths’:

“And when Judaism says love your neighbour as yourself. When Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. When Buddhists say hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. When Sikhs say treat others as you would be treated yourself. When Hindus say the sum of duty is do not unto others which would cause pain if done to you, they each and all reflect a sense that we all share the pain of others, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves - that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters’ keeper.”

Once again, he omitted the Jedi Knights, who (according the last census) outnumber in their adherents both the Jews and Sikhs.

And he referred to a letter he received ‘from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, reminding us that “positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women - of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty - is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis”.’

Why would a Scottish Presbyterian call Pope Benedict XVI ‘the Holy Father’? It rather reminds Cranmer of when Jack Straw ended a television interview with ‘Inshallah’. It was a little shocking that a British non-Muslim Home Secretary would be so ingratiating as to inculturate himself with what is so manifestly foreign and alien to him. Of course one should show respect, but Gordon Brown is no more Roman Catholic than Jack Straw is fluent in Arabic. It is an embarrassing hypocrisy to pretend to be what one is not; to subscribe to a false reverence; to attempt to dupe those who sincerely refer to the Pope by that title.

Unless, of course, one is trying to win their votes.

Incidentally, throughout the entire sermon, there was not one mention of God.

The Church of England might at least have ensured a prayer of repentance and forgiveness for permitting Gordon Brown to speak this vapid tosh. With all the talk of global trade, banks, money supplies and debt, one wonders if Jesus might not have turned over a few tables.

Labour is mired in sex and sleaze on an unprecedented scale

But, unlike during the John Major years when the media unremittingly homed in on and cruelly isolated each individual minister, the BBC is content to blame the political system. At least that is the inference from Nick Robinson.

It is not ministers or their partners who are immoral, but the inadequate procedure which permits them to claim £20 for pornographic films and 88p for a bath plug.

One wonders why Nick Robinson did not apply this impeccable logic to the ‘Tory sleaze’ of John Major’s era, and blame ‘cash for questions’ on the easy availability of brown bags.

Cranmer is a little irritated by a claim against the taxpayer for pornography, but he is rather more irked by the incredible level of pedantic pettiness which is evidenced in an 88p claim for a bath plug. The Home Secretary earns £120,000 per annum plus £116,000 for her ‘second home’ and at least all that again in ‘expenses’. Last year her expenses claim was £33,000 more than that of the Prime Minister. So, she owns two houses, lives with her sister, and purchases sinks, plugs, washing machines, dryers, camp beds... cuddly toy, fondue set. And she also employs her husband as a ‘parliamentary assistant’ at a cost of £40,000 per annum.

And they have the audacity to claim 88p from the taxpayer for a bath plug.

There is something distastefully dishonourable about this sort of small-mindedness which begins to tarnish all politicians. The claim of 88p for a bath plug is every bit as immoral as the pornography. Like all senior government ministers, the Home Secretary has a grace and favour house in Belgravia, of which she has decided not to avail herself because she could not thereby enrich her family. If she were to buy a bath plug for her Belgravia abode, she would be perfectly entitled to reclaim the cost of it from the taxpayer. But, importantly for her, when she ceased being Home Secretary she would not own the plug; the taxpayer would. Her little sordid scam is rather neat, for it has not only enriched her and her husband, but also her sister, with whom she apparently resides in London on more nights than she spends with her husband and children in Redditch.

This is possibly, of course, why he needs the pornography.

This episode is not only sleazy: it is squalid, perverse and a gross abuse of the taxpayer at a time of unprecedented financial hardship.

The Home Secretary should be a credible figure on the world stage. In the week of the G20 summit and the coming of the Messiah President Obama, her energies should be focused on issues of communication, security and policing. But she is distracted by pornography and diverted by counting how many nights she has spent at her sister's house.

The Prime Minister is not above all this (except, of course, in Nick Robinson’s mind). For he has stated that the pornography viewed by the Jacqui Smith’s husband is ‘a private matter’.

No, Prime Minister, it is not.

Perhaps what he was doing while he was watching the films is a private matter. But the moment an expenses claim was made and Cranmer was expected to pay for it, the ‘matter’ ceased to be private. And it is not sufficient for the Home Secretary to plead ignorance or blame her husband, for she had to sign her claim personally to declare that the expenses were ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ incurred for her duties as an MP.

Perhaps politics and pornography are both egotistically perverse. Politics is arguably more harmful, but pornography is a symptom of a deeper problem. What does it say about the Home Secretary that her husband has to resort to amusing himself with it?

Is she content that he is prepared to support the perception of ‘women as sexual objects’? This would be a little hypocritical, since she has taken a tough stance against the sex industry with a pledge to crack down on ‘lap dancing’ clubs.

She appears to assert that she spends more time with her sister than her children. Is she neglecting her family? Does she work such long hours that she is failing in her marital duties to her husband? Or is she withholding her body from him for other reasons?

Do not those who feel the need to watch pornography lead to deep-seated psycho-sexual problems? It has been called ‘the new crack cocaine’, leading to ‘addiction, misogyny, paedophilia, boob jobs and erectile dysfunction’. Pornography addicts ‘have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever’. It is also asserted that ‘pornography often leads to more harmful sexually addictive behaviour; eg, compulsive masturbation, fantasy, promiscuity, exhibitionism, soliciting prostitutes and rape. It isolates an individual – making him more intent on satisfying selfish needs even at the expense of his marriage, family, financial stability, and career.’

Men who need to indulge in pornography manifest the underlying problem of an addiction to ‘high intensity pleasure’. They have ceased to find deep and meaningful fulfilment in their personal relationships, and have forgotten (if ever they knew) how to experience pleasure from everyday, ordinary-life situations. They are invariably lonely, even if they do not know it. Quality time with the family is neglected; intimate honesty with one’s wife becomes infrequent. This leads inexorably to emotional suppression the inability to be honest.

The Home Secretary ought to resign – in order to ‘spend more time with her family’.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Conservatives should resist the Left’s assault on the Act of Settlement

Why not have same-sex couples upon the Throne?

Well, why not?

Is it not blatant homophobia that, should the Monarch be homosexual, that their partner may not be crowned at their side and granted a royal title to reign with them? Is it not unacceptably discriminatory in the 21st century that, should Prince William choose to enter into a civil partnership with his best friend from Eton, his lawful partner shall not also be king?

Why not have two queens upon the Throne?

This is surely a logical corollary of removing all ‘offensive discrimination’ from the institution of Monarchy. If the Monarch may not be and may not marry a Roman Catholic, it is undoubtedly ‘disgusting’ or ‘insulting’, as might be said in another place. But if one is legislating to end sexism and Catholophobia within the Monarchy, why not simultaneously end ageism (for why should the eldest of either gender automatically inherit the Throne?) and homophobia?

All of this reduces Monarchy to conformation to the European Convention on Human Rights. If ever there were legislation which establishes that Her Majesty is no longer sovereign in her Realm, it is the subjection of the Head of State and Supreme Governor of the Church of England to the effects of ‘Human Rights’ conventions, laws, regulations and diktats. The moment Her Majesty became a citizen of the EU, by virtue of the Maastricht Treaty, she was reduced to vassal status and became subject to the foreign princes of Brussels and the potentates of Strasbourg.

It is no accident that the campaign for repeal or reform of the Act of Settlement was led by The Guardian. And while the Guardianistas are fixated upon the discriminatory ‘anti-Catholic’ provision of the Constitution, the rabid secularists have jumped upon the bandwagon, as they spy the very mechanism by which they may purge the land of all Christian expression. They seek to cleanse the temple of Jehovah and Jesus and install an idol to the god of secularism; they wish to eradicate chaplaincies from the NHS and Her Majesty’s prisons; they want to end Religious Education and the compulsory provision of an act of collective worship in schools; the Apostles’ Creed must give way to their atheistic creed; and their ultimate goal is the removal of all religious symbols from public buildings and institutions, including crosses, Christmas trees, sacred imagery and paintings. It is no coincidence that the Royal Mail now issues two sets of Christmas stamps – one religious and one secular.

According to the Left, the Act of Settlement is bigoted, otiose and irrelevant. The history is forgotten, the battles are long gone, and it is time to ‘modernise’ the institution of Monarch to ‘make it fit for the 21st century’.

But the Act of Settlement is not only right, it is Right. It seeks to conserve all that Conservatives should desire to conserve, being acutely concerned with the supremacy of Parliament; guarding against foreign interference in domestic affairs; and being guarantor of the liberties of the people.

It is not simply a statute which may be arbitrarily amended or repealed simply because of the vicissitudes and vagaries of popularism or because Parliament may not bind its successors. It is part of the contract between the Monarch and her subjects. Her Majesty the Queen, with her hand upon the Holy Bible, swore at her Coronation to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom (and the Commonwealth) ‘according to their respective laws and customs’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury asked her: ‘Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?’

To which Her Majesty responded: ‘All this I promise to do,’ adding later: ‘The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.’

This oath is binding on Parliament because each and every MP takes an oath of loyalty to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors. If Her Majesty were to renege on her Coronation Oath to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law, then, according to the provisions of the Act of Settlement, her subjects are thereby absolved of their allegiance to her and to her heirs and successors.

Parliament is indeed sovereign. But Parliament has no right to cause Her Majesty to break an oath she has sworn before God.

New Labour continues to fumble and fiddle with the constitution as though it were their personal plaything. They are meddling in ignorance, oblivious to the consequences, solely to divert attention from the appalling mess they have made of the economy. And perhaps also to try to win back those Roman Catholic voters who have become disillusioned with Labour’s offensive and virulent anti-Christian agenda.

The impetus for reform of the Act of Settlement came from the Human Rights Act 2000 which the Conservative Party is pledged to repeal (whatever the consequences for the UK’s membership of the EU). The Human Rights Act introduced an explicit ‘human rights’ dimension into the decision-making and actions of all public bodies, government and legal system, such that they are obliged to ensure that every aspect of their functioning is compatible with the Convention rights. It requires UK courts and tribunals to take account of Strasbourg case-law (ie the case-law of the Court and the Commission in Strasbourg, and the Committee of Ministers). They are also bound to develop the common law compatibly with the Convention rights. It is only in the context of this Act that the Act of Settlement becomes an offence against diversity and a transgression of the statutory requirement for equality irrespective of religion.

Those Conservatives who support amendment ought to be aware of the European dimension of the agenda, and ask themselves why The Guardian has led the cause for reform and the secularists are supporting it.

The 26 bishops in the House of Lords are opposed to disestablishment, which is precisely where any reform will lead. The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, is right when he says that the proposed amendment to the Act would mean the end of the Crown in Parliament under God. He said that in the 18th century, when the Act was introduced, Catholics were viewed as ‘the Taleban of their day’.

He said: "Its repeal would have implications for the Acts of Union, and so for the Union itself between Scotland and England. A Roman Catholic marriage would be likely to produce, a generation on, a Roman Catholic monarch who could not, as things are, formally recognise the Church of Scotland, or the Church of England, as churches, or their clergy and bishops, or their sacraments, as true ministers and true sacraments. Nor could the Archbishop of Canterbury crown such a monarch until the re-union of the Western Church has been given to us – still less a Muslim or any other person unable to ‘join in Communion with the Church of England’, the requirement of the Act of Settlement.

"There would be a cutting of the mutual commitment of Church and Crown – and so in time the governance of the UK would cease to be by ‘the Crown in Parliament under God’.

"We cannot know what may prove to be the effects, on all this, of the eventual accession to the throne of Charles III, in whatever political situation that takes place."

But Cranmer has a question.

While it is not likely that two men (or women) may wish to reign as gay co-monarchs, it is far more likely that Parliament may eventually present a Bill for Royal Assent to which a (loyal) Roman Catholic could not, in conscience, grant such assent.

Since in the United States politicians are not infrequently excommunicated for failing to adhere to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on such issues as abortion and homosexual marriage (though there is no consistency), could one of Cranmer’s faithful and loyal Catholic communicants please explain the consequences of a Catholic Queen granting Royal Assent to (for example) such abhorrent legislation as the Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which caused problems for so many Roman Catholic MPs?

For Her Majesty to refuse Assent would doubtless precipitate a constitutional crisis which could and probably would bring about the end of the Monarchy. But if she were to grant Assent, would this not lead to the (Cardinal) Archbishop of Westminster excommunicating Her Majesty, if only to save her soul?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The communication chaos at the heart of Labour

The Justice Secretary Jack Straw met with his shadow Dominic Grieve the day before Dr Evan Harris planned to introduce his Private Member’s Bill to amend the Act of Settlement, in order to agree a common position. It was evident to both these scholarly and spiritual men that the issues were immensely complex and sensitive and would have considerable implications for the Church of England Established. Mr Straw told Mr Grieve that HM Government would not be supporting the anti-discrimination/secularising agenda of Dr Harris, and that no serious consideration was being given to his proposals.

Early next morning – at 5.00am, to be precise – Mr Straw received a telephone call to inform him that the Prime Minister had given an interview in an aeroplane whilst flying over Peru, during which he announced to the world that he was in favour of the proposed reforms.

One might think the Prime Minister would have had the courtesy to inform his Justice Secretary, under whose constitutional aegis the matter properly falls. But then Mr Brown is neither scholarly nor spiritually sensitive. And that he does not take counsel from his ministers on such important matters is evidence of his autocratic arrogance and his pathological inability to listen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bishop of Rochester to step down

It is cruel twist of fate. The day after Bishop Michael was praised so fervently in Parliament for his unwavering commitment to sound doctrine, he announces that he is stepping down early as Bishop of Rochester.

As a convert from Rome with strong views on Islam, he was never going to be appointed to Canterbury in this age of hypersensitivity to all things politically correct. But he will be a very great loss indeed. He will leave a vacuum in the church's understanding of 'multiculturalism' and its grasp of Islamic theology and scholarship. He has been the voice of common sense on so many pressing issues, and has trodden where no other Anglican bishop has dared to. He will be sorely missed.

A spokesman for the bishop said that he wants to turn his attention to working with the persecuted church.

Cranmer wonders therefore why he is stepping down now - ten years before he might be expected to - at a time when Christians in the UK are marginalised, mocked and derided for any public expression of their faith.

Last year Bishop Michael warned of parts of the country being turned into 'no-go areas' for non-Muslims and he confronted head-on the assertion by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the introduction of shari'a law into the UK is 'unavoidable'. As a result of these interventions, he received death threats which said he would 'not live long' and would be 'sorted out' if he continued to criticise Islam.

His diocesan website carries the following message:

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali will stand down on 1 September 2009. He will have been Bishop in the Diocese for nearly 15 years and during this time has played a major part in the life of the church.

The press release from Rochester this morning says: 'Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out.'

Bishop Michael, who will be 60 in August, is the 106th Bishop of Rochester. He is originally from Asia and was the first non-white Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England. He was appointed to Rochester in 1994. Before that he was the General Secretary of CMS from 1989-1994 and before that Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan and theological Assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since 1999 he has also been a member of the House of Lords where he has been active in a number of areas of national and international concern.

Bishop Michael says, “We thank God for his blessings and for friends we have made in the Diocese in the past 15 years. I am so grateful to God for the friendship and loyalty of those around us and ask for people’s prayers as we take this step of faith ‘not knowing where we are going’ (Heb 11:8).

The Archbishop of Canterbury says: 'Bishop Michael's decision to undertake this new and very challenging ministry will leave a real gap in the ranks of English bishops. His enormous theological skill, his specialist involvement in the complex debates around bioethics, his wide international experience and his clarity of mind and expression have made him a really valuable colleague, and he has served the Church and the wider society with dedication and distinction.

'In his new work with churches in minority situations, he will need all our prayer and support. It is a courageous initiative and a timely one. I am personally very glad that I shall still be able to draw on his expertise and friendship, and wish him every strength and blessing in his work.'

The Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Revd Dr Brian Castle says: “Bishop Michael has had a distinguished ministry locally, nationally and internationally. He has been a true prophet in the way that he has courageously spoken out against both injustice and compromising the Word of God. His talks and statements, always prayerfully conceived, are listened to carefully, even by those who disagree with him. His Presidential Addresses at Diocesan Synod merit publication. Bishop Michael, so faithfully supported by Valerie, has exercised a leadership which inspires, challenges and takes full account of the complexities of contemporary culture, ensuring that the structures of the diocese serve its vision. He will be greatly missed by Rochester whose people he has faithfully loved and nurtured over the years.”

The Dean of Rochester, the Very Revd Adrian Newman, says: “Bishop Michael has exercised an influential and high profile ministry within and well beyond the Diocese of Rochester. His passion for making Christ known is matched only by his ability to communicate across cultural divisions, and this has opened doors of influence that he has always been courageous enough to walk through, often at personal cost. It has been a privilege to serve alongside him within the Diocese, and I am delighted that his unique gifts will continue to be offered to the wider life of church and society.”

The Diocesan Secretary, Canon Louise Gilbert, says: “Bishop Michael’s tenure has been characterised by a determination to see some significant Diocesan challenges through to successful conclusion. Through his leadership we now have a senior staff which operates as a cohesive body following a comprehensive Diocesan structures review. This is of benefit to the entire Diocese. In addition, we have reformed partnerships with neighbouring Dioceses. Rochester Cathedral is now positively flourishing thanks to Bishop Michael’s keen interest and thoughtful appointments. His considerable gifts leave the Diocese with a legacy of exemplary arrangements for pastoral care, teaching and a positive environment in which faith can flourish. We will miss his guidance and on a personal note, I wish him every joy and fulfilment in his new role.”

Bishop Michael’s farewell service for the Diocese will be held at Rochester Cathedral on 12th September 2009 at 3.15 p.m. and further details will be circulated at a later date. Details about the process of appointing a new Bishop and the arrangements during the interregnum will also be published later.

Explicit sex videos for children

Children should be taught about sex ‘in a moral way’, according to Coronation Street's 17-year-old Sacha Parkinson, as a Christian charity launches three short videos which graphically communicate the impact of sex on others. The above video highlights some of the personal, financial and emotional costs of sex where there is no long-term commitment to the other partner.

In this video, plasticine couples graphically depict how individuals are always affected by the bonds that form in every sexual encounter. The video invites people to stop messing around with relationships and instead start sticking together.

"If people are just being taught about sex, then they'll think 'that's something we should do'; if they're taught in a moral way, then it gives more respect to it," says Miss Parkinson, whose character Sian Powers is friends with the soap opera's Christian teen Sophie Webster. Speaking about the 'purity lockets' that the two characters wear, Miss Parkinson comments, "It is a good idea and it allows people to wait. It gives people an option."

This video reveals the thoughts of a man sitting with his family reflecting on an affair he is having at work. Hinting at the damage caused by passive smoking, the sketch highlights the injustice to others caused by the actions of those who insist that sex is simply a question for the two consenting partners involved.

Sacha Parkinson, who previously played a pregnant young teenager in a film called 'A Boy Called Dad' notes, "People are too young to understand what the consequences are until you see these films and stuff like the 'purity pledge' to realise where it can go and what bad things can happen." In contrast, for those who 'decide not to have sex at a young age, it shows you the good things about it'.

"Most young people are only taught the biology of sexual intercourse," said Dr John Hayward, Director of the Jubilee Centre, responsible for producing the videos. "It is not until they start experimenting that they discover, too late, that every sexual relationship, whether brief or long-lasting, creates ties that the couple will carry with them into all their future relationships."

Dr Hayward told Cranmer, "We need to equip young people to make more informed decisions about when and with whom to engage in sexual activity - not just how to do so. If we fail to be explicit about the social, emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of sex, then we are guilty of neglect."

"The videos and accompanying discussion questions, together with a supporting book by trained counsellor Guy Brandon, 'Just Sex: Is it ever just sex?', will help young people to explore the impact that sexual relationships have on all our other relationships - on parents, children, past and future partners, friends, colleagues and, ultimately, the whole of society."

The Jubilee Centre is a Christian social reform charity based in Cambridge. For four years the Jubilee Centre has spearheaded original research into sexual ethics and relationships. Its conclusions are presented in three public information bulletins on YouTube, an accompanying lesson plan for teachers and youth workers, a book entitled "Just Sex: Is it ever just sex?" (authored by Guy Brandon and published by IVP), and a related set of studies for churches and Christian unions. Further information about the Jubilee Centre's work can be found online, at www.jubilee-centre.org.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Henry Bellingham MP: The Church of England 'lacks leadership'

The attempt of Dr Evan Harris to amend the Act of Settlement has failed. The BBC reports on the debate and highlights the valiant contribution of Shadow Justice Minister Henry Bellingham, who 'launched a fierce attack on the Church of England', saying it lacks leadership and is 'overcome with political correctness'.

Mr Bellingham said too few Anglican bishops were prepared to 'stand up for basic Christian beliefs' for fear of causing offence to minority religions.

He is not wrong there. But the report includes this little gem:

'The Church of England queried the MP's remarks, saying it did not recognise the picture the MP had painted. They said the church is in 'good heart'.

If the Church of England is in 'good heart', it is in a profoundly damaging and dangerous state of denial and self-delusion.

Insofar as Mr Bellingham praised the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and the Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, he was effectively damning the rest when he said 'I just hope that other bishops will follow in their footsteps'.

He continued: "I wish the bishops in this country would stand up and put a stronger case for Anglicanism. All too often, they take the easy way out and, rather than stand up for hard-pressed individuals who are being persecuted by the state, they walk by on the other side. As for speaking up for basic Christian beliefs, all too often, all we hear is a deafening silence. It seems to me that too many bishops are overcome by political correctness and a feeling of guilt about saying anything that might remotely cause offence to minority religions, and they are obsessed with multiculturalism."

The BBC also reports that 'ministers have held a "dialogue" with Buckingham Palace about possible changes to the law'.

Cranmer would humbly like to remind the BBC, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales that their personal opinion on this matter is of no consequence whatsoever. It is Parliament which decides, and Parliament has (again) rejected any proposed reform.

Mr Bellingham also said the Church of England was in 'no fit state' to engage in such an important debate because of its internal weaknesses: morale is low, church attendance is declining and many church buildings are falling into disrepair.

Mr Bellingham, a member of the Church of England, said self-confidence among senior Church figures was low and thinking in some areas was muddled: "I think one of the reasons why Church morale is low is because of the way in which the leadership in my church is, at the moment, distinctly lacking," he said.

Cranmer shall open a bottle of red this evening and shall sleep soundly in his bed. Not only because the extremist fundamentalist secularist Dr Death Harris has been roundly fdefeated, but because there is clearly another Anglican on the Conservative benches with the conviction of Gerald Howarth MP and those valiant Roman Catholics who were left to defend the Church of England against Dr Harris' previous Bill which succesfully abolished the common law criminal offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

There is hope in Parliament yet.

Act of Settlement reform unites Roman Catholics and Secularists

This is among the strangest of alliances: the union of Dr Evan Harris MP, the Liberal Democrat pro-abortion fundamentalist secularist who wishes to eradicate every expression of Christianity from the public sphere; and Edward Leigh MP, the ‘pro-life’ Roman Catholic Conservative whose ‘faith, flag and family’ is fundamentally antithetical to all that Dr Death Harris stands for.

While unemployment soars at its fastest rate since records began; while repossessions cause thousands of families to lose their homes; while bankruptcies increase and poverty abounds, the Liberal Democrats are obsessing about the Act of Settlement – the 300-year-old law which prevents the Monarch from being or from marrying a Roman Catholic.

Dr Harris is introducing a Private Member’s Bill to end the ‘antiquated’ concept of primogeniture and the Act's 'anti-Catholic' discrimination. Yet the Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill can only have effect some 60, 70, or – if Prince William lives as long as his great grandmother – 80 years from now. And only then if William's consort gives birth to a girl first, and only then if his first-born decides to marry a Roman Catholic.

This is a curious priority for the Liberal Democrats. It will involve lengthy debate upon and the amendment of nine other constitutional Acts (including the Act of Union), taking up thousands of hours of parliamentary time. It will also require the consent of the legislatures of 15 Commonwealth countries, and is fraught with complexity at every turn.

But 'the PM and Palace' are discussing it.

The Act of Settlement is – as the BBC asserts in its usual anti-Anglican fashion – ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unfair’. It has carried out a survey, and discovered that 89 per cent of the 1000 people questioned believed male and female heirs should have equal rights to succeed to the throne. Some 81 per cent believed that an heir to the throne should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic and still become monarch. According to the poll, 76 per cent said the monarchy should continue, against 18 per cent who said they would favour Britain becoming a republic. An additional 6 per cent said they did not know.

Cranmer has not seen the questions which were asked in order to yield these statistics, but his readers and communicants will be fully cognisant of the fact that responses are dependent on the precise questions posed.

Of course it is ‘unfair’ and ‘discriminatory’ that the monarch may not be or marry a Roman Catholic, but the very act of choosing a religion manifestly necessitates discrimination against all the others. It is also ‘discriminatory’ that the Pope may not be Protestant, and even more ‘unfair’ that he may not marry at all. But there are sound theological and historical justifications for the restrictions upon both the King of the Vatican and the Queen of the United Kingdom, and none of these amount to a violation of their ‘human rights’. Prince William is perfectly free to marry a Roman Catholic should he so desire: that it is human right. He is not then free to be King and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, but to be King is not a human right; it is the gift of Parliament.

It is difficult to view ‘historic injustices’ through the lens of the present, as Dr Harris is intent on doing. It is a realm about which he manifestly knows very little. The Protestant Christian faith is woven into the fabric of this nation’s life; it secured its liberties and forged its identity. But the Constitution is a fragile work of many delicate threads, and the tampering with one – and the Act of Settlement is a very crucial one – risks producing many loose ends and the eventual unravelling of the entire work.

Dr Evan Harris knows this. He is fully aware – though he denies it – that the relationship between the Monarch and the Church rests upon this Act. Once that relationship is fractured, it will lead inexorably to the secular republic which Dr Harris espouses.

So why is Edward Leigh supporting this?

It is strange indeed. For there are very many loyal Roman Catholics who are quite prepared to tolerate a little residual anti-Catholicism within the state if this is the price one pays for sustaining a Christian presence at the heart of Government. His desire to end the discrimination is doubtless sincere, but then he must address those cruel discriminations within his own faith, such as the one which caused Tony Blair to be barred by Cardinal Basil Hume from taking communion at Westminster Cathedral.

Contrary to popular belief, the Monarch is not free to be any religion or marry into any religion except the Roman Catholic one. For the Act of Settlement requires the Monarch and his or her consort to be ‘in communion with’ the Church of England. While Cranmer could write more than a few pages on the meaning of ‘koinonia’ in this context, it must be noted that it is not only Roman Catholics who are prohibited from taking bread and wine in Anglican churches: Dr Harris and Edward Leigh might just consider that Jews and Muslims would also find this unacceptable, and so adherents to many other faiths bar themselves from being ‘in communion with’ the state Church.

The Act was forged during an era of intolerable foreign interference in the governance of England. Edward Leigh would do better if, instead of uniting with the most rabidly pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, anti-Christian member of the House of Commons, he reflected upon the liberties assured by this Act, and asked himself why our forebears insisted that its provisions should be ‘for ever’. Cranmer would also humbly urge him to reflect upon the consequences for the future of the Monarchy of the tampering with that clause which stipulates that should the religious restrictions cease to have effect, that 'in all and every such case and cases the people of these realms shall be and are thereby absolved of their allegiance'.

Evan Harris is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, and is no fool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Labour and the Muslim Council of Britain

At last, they have got something right. Credit where it’s due, especially when it is done by Mr Dale’s ‘little chipmunk’.

The MCB has been around since 1997 and purports to represent about 800 Muslim organisations in the UK, making it the self-declared ‘most representative Muslim body in the UK’. Ms Blears has said that until the group – once Labour's most favoured Muslim quango organisation – takes a firm stance against its deputy secretary-general Dr Daud Abdullah, relations with Government will be suspended. In response, the MCB said: "We are appalled by the high-handed and condescending action of the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears."

The Government has severed links following the revelation that Dr Abdullah advocated attacks on British armed forces (specifically the Royal Navy) if they attempted to halt arms intended for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza. Dr Abdullah put his name to the ‘Istanbul Declaration’ along with 90 other Muslim leaders, because he supports the right of the Palestinian people ‘to resist the ongoing illegal and brutal occupation of their land’. The declaration includes the statement that ‘foreign warships in Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza’ was a declaration of war.

Considering that the Royal Navy is present in those waters for precisely that purpose, Dr Abdullah's support for the declaration is not only controversial and provocative; it is a betrayal: encouraging foreign nationals to attack the Royal Navy is treason.

But none dare call it so.

But the traitor good doctor has since clarified that he was not calling for ad hoc attacks on the Royal Navy, but only if they were to engage in ‘illegal activities’, which, of course, he hoped they would not. This essentially means he would support attacks on members of Her Majesty’s armed forces if he deemed them to be involved in ‘illegal activities’, and, of course, the question of that illegality would be resolved by appeal to the ‘ummah’ – the worldwide Islamic brotherhood – to whom the doctor’s greater allegiance is owed.

The real nature of the MCB is a world apart from that which it presents to the media. Its spokesmen are always polite, always placating, always pleading for understanding of their piety and sincerity. But the organisation is not liberal, and it does not in any sense represent the mainstream voice of Muslim Britain, despite its confession that it does.

One hears their apologies for their boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day; they express regret about the persecution of Sir Salman Rushdie; they talk of their desire to integrate with ‘British culture’. But they then carry on regardless. Their boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day has become an annual event; Sir Salman receives no encouragement with an MCB assertion of the right of freedom of expression; and integration is to be on their terms. Dr Abdullah was neither sacked nor asked to resign, and no statement was forthcoming which made it clear that he opposed extremism.

There is nothing ‘moderate’ about this group, and those true democrats and moderates who are content to operate under its aegis ought to ask themselves how the organisation can be so vulnerable to penetration by extremists at the highest level.

What is the alternative? There isn’t one. Muslims have no organisation like the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and there is a grave and urgent need for the founding of such an organisation.

Ms Blears has received widespread condemnation from the Left, particularly from ‘Outraged of Bradford’ and ‘Irritated if Islington’. Rabia Malik, chair of ‘The City Circle’, is of the opinion that ‘the government is not in a position to say who should and who should not be in a group’. Geoffrey Alderman of The Guardian even perversely compares the actions of Ms Blears with those of China and Zimbabwe.

Notwithstanding that the Government continues to fund some Muslim organisations which espouse extremism, Hazel Blears is to be applauded for severing links with the MCB. She is to be further applauded for doing the same to MINAB – the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body.

It is encouraging indeed to see the Government is at last prepared to act against those who ‘reject parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality’.

The Government needs to seek out Muslims – and there are very many – whose loyalty to the traditions and customs of United Kingdom are without question. They can be trusted to provide an alternative ideological narrative to Britain's young Muslims, and engaged in the battle against religio-political extremism. The Government needs to work towards establishing a Board of Deputies of British Muslims.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The 'Top Muslim Women' as voted by...

err... well, no-one, really.

Baroness Warsi has been appointed to her position as Britain's most powerful Muslim woman by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission which, as a Times contributor observes consists of 3 noble baronesses, a knight, a dame, 4 OBEs, 3 CBEs and a smattering of doctors and professors - all appointed.

Cranmer drew the attention of his readers and communicants to this development back in September of last year. He questioned then the validity of The Muslim Women Power List, the use of taxpayers' money, and the manifest discrimination and inequality of the pursuit.

But he is delighted for Baroness Warsi that she is now the most powerful Muslim woman in the UK, as decreed by a number of other unelected quangocrats. Her co-religionist Sadiq Khan MP said that David Cameron appointed her to the House of Lords and propelled her into the Conservative Shadow Cabinet to become ‘Britain's most senior Muslim politician’ simply 'because of her religion’.

As one of a persecuted minority, Cranmer really must try this appeal himself.

Dan Hannan’s message to Gordon Brown

Cranmer has been a little low of late, but this performance by Daniel Hannan MEP cheered him no end.

His Grace had been wondering whatever happened to political greatness. Politics has become tedious, drab, monotone, monochrome. He had come to believe that the age of greatness was past, and contentment with mediocrity symptomatic of an irreparably broken parliament.

But just occasionally, very occasionally, one glimpses something which has a foundation of conviction, authenticity and truth. And it is articulated eloquently by someone with the courage of that conviction. This speech to Gordon Brown in the European Parliament is a classic piece of rhetoric which stems from Mr Hannan’s belief in the classic virtues – truth, goodness, liberty, justice, beauty – expressed through knowledge and reason out of a sense of duty to God and to the common good.

This has been absent from the House of Commons for far too long.

It makes one wonder why Dan Hannan is not at Westminster.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A global single currency?

The United States has announced a plan to buy up to $1 trillion worth of toxic assets to help repair banks' balance sheets. And Gordon Brown is busy persuading his EU partners that he really is saving the world by burdening the United Kingdom with the worst public sector deficit in British peacetime history: the Chancellor's forecasts show debt peaking at more than £1 trillion (57.4 per cent of GDP) by 2012-13, and personal debt presently stands at £1.5 trillion.

It is all unsustainable.

But The Spectator has an intriguing story of a possible solution, with further details in The Financial Times, of a proposal from China:

China’s central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

A global currency would, of course, require a global government...

The goal would be to create a reserve currency ‘that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies’, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, said in an essay posted in Chinese and English on the central bank’s website.

The Spectator says ‘this is just the Chinese causing some mischief’.

But Cranmer is not so sure.

They are Communist, after all.

In 1802 Thomas Jefferson observed: "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

And he said more:

“The art and mystery of banks… is established on the principle that ‘private debts are a public blessing.’ That the evidences of those private debts, called bank notes, become active capital, and aliment the whole commerce, manufactures, and agriculture of the United States. Here are a set of people, for instance, who have bestowed on us the great blessing of running in our debt about two hundred millions of dollars, without our knowing who they are, where they are, or what property they have to pay this debt when called on; nay, who have made us so sensible of the blessings of letting them run in our debt, that we have exempted them by law from the repayment of these debts beyond a give proportion (generally estimated at one-third). And to fill up the measure of blessing, instead of paying, they receive an interest on what they owe from those to whom they owe; for all the notes, or evidences of what they owe, which we see in circulation, have been lent to somebody on an interest which is levied again on us through the medium of commerce. And they are so ready still to deal out their liberalities to us, that they are now willing to let themselves run in our debt ninety millions more, on our paying them the same premium of six or eight per cent interest, and on the same legal exemption from the repayment of more than thirty millions of the debt, when it shall be called for.”

Cranmer exhorts his readers and communicants to mediate upon the wisdom of this greatest of presidents, for he is talking of those people who bestow upon us the great blessing of trillions of dollars worth of debt, without our knowing who these people are, where they are, precisely what is owed, or what property they have the right to seize in order to pay off this debt when it is called in.

If the love of money is the root of all evil, the orgy upon these trillions is devil worship.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Conservative Party will ‘move heaven and earth to show that we are not the party of the rich’

So said a ‘Tory strategist’ following a BBC interview with Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke.

And while they are busy moving heaven and earth, all hell breaks loose with talk about Mr Clarke being off message; having usurped George Osborne by telling him what he cannot do, being at odds with David Cameron on inheritance tax, contradicting Boris Johnson on the 45p band, and betraying the Conservative cause by proposing to penalise the wealth creators during in a time of unprecedented economic turmoil.

The strategy, according to the ‘Tory strategist’, is to take an ‘anti-rich’ position in order to ‘buy room for acceptance of public spending cuts’, because ‘only when the party has decontaminated itself as the party of the rich will we have the authority to attack the size of the state’.

This is a curious way of conducting strategy, and this strategist ought to be sacked.

It is one thing to pretend to be ‘anti-rich’ in order to ‘buy’ the confidence of the public; it is quite another to place such a carefully-laid strategy in the public domain and give the impression that the public are being deceived by a superficial ‘decontamination’ process: it is all about image. The ‘Tory strategist’ is plainly saying that Tory strategy is to ‘attack the size of the state’. But the hint of deception, the whiff of hypocrisy and the admission of style over substance are unacceptable.

Howard Flight was sacked for far less.

Yet the strategist is right in the aspiration: it is the logical pursuit after the Thatcher reforms, and one which all Conservatives should embrace. During her first term, Mrs Thatcher focused on monetarism as the antidote to orthodox Keynesian economics, to which the ‘wets’ were wed. Only by targeting inflation could a sound economy be built. Her second term was focused on privatising state assets, democratising shareholding, and encouraging home ownership by permitting council tenants to buy their houses. In an epic struggle with the unions, she also re-established the principle that HM Government runs Britain. Only in her third term did her agenda extend to social policy, by reforming education funding by giving schools the ability to opt out of local authority control, and also by introducing some free-market thinking into the monolithic NHS.

Yet these reforms were nowhere near as radical as those she achieved in the realms of economics, industrial relations, private property and personal wealth. She rejected education vouchers, avoided much-needed reforms to the NHS, shackled local government with central targets, and eschewed the expansion of means testing to pay for welfare benefits.

David Cameron shows every sign of radical thinking in precisely those areas where Mrs Thatcher was timid. His premiership will be the ideological continuation of where she left off.

There is little doubt that David Cameron is proposing a revolution in social policy. Under him, the quango state will be decimated: it will cease to monopolise provision in education, welfare and health; local councils will be headed by elected mayors under the principles of subsidiarity; and it is intended to introduce a degree of democratic accountability in policing.

In an article for The Spectator last week, Mr Cameron talks of a ‘massive transfer of power from central government and its agencies to individuals and local communities’ and decries ‘the arrogant belief that the political élite...really do know best’. He believes policy should be informed ‘by our instinctive Conservative optimism about people’, and says he has ‘faith that most people are good and will do the right thing if only you trust them’. Those on the political Left, however, are ‘essentially pessimists, believing that people will do the wrong thing unless told what to do...’

Cranmer must write to this ‘Tory strategist’ to discover if this is an ‘anti-autocracy’ bit of Lockean spin in order to conceal the reality that the Conservative Party has massively transferred powers from local associations and individual members to central control, because the Hobbesian political élite at Conservative Campaign Headquarters really do know best.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jade Goody dies and passes into glory

There will be no more night, no pain, no sorrow or shame: the suffering is over. At the tender age of 27, Jade Tweed, mother of two, married for just 27 days, has died and passed into the holy light of paradise to sing the song of peace and glory. She is now with her Lord and Saviour, according to her faith, just as he has promised.

There were tears and sadness, but she wanted to be remembered for the laughter she brought. There will be very many who do not care, for who was she to them or they to her? There will be some who are relieved at her departure, sickened by the incessant, trivia-obsessed voyeurism of the tedious red-top notion of dumbed-down celebrity. There will be those who scoff at the paucity of her biblical understanding; who question the validity of her repentance and the efficacy of her death-bed baptism; who pour scorn upon her imperfect grasp of the soteriological and theological imperatives. They will doubtless make themselves known in the ensuing thread to this post, or in another place.

But there is also her family: her two sons, her husband, mother, stepfather, grandparents and friends. They did not ask to be thrust into the spotlight of perpetual scrutiny of emotional invasion. They are a family in grieving, and it is incumbent upon Christians to weep with those who weep.

It is curious how the death of a media creation has the capacity to inspire collective compassion, almost national mourning. If Kermit had died, the grief would be no less. It is consistent with the age of ‘feeling’; the emphasis on the spiritual; the zeitgeist of Dianafication.

Yet Jade Goody was no Princess of Wales. She had no palace in Royal Berkshire; just a house in Essex. She did not inherit vast wealth; she struggled to make ends meet for most of her life. She did not consort with kings and presidents; she was the daughter of a convicted criminal who died of a drugs overdose. She did not so much live like a candle in the wind as a foot in a cowpat. And the tabloids loved it: she was ridiculed for her ignorance, criticised for lewd dancing, derided for her drunkenness and shamed for her ‘racist’ bullying.

She did not win ‘Big Brother’, and yet her fame has spread far more than anyone who ever has. She thought she might earn her Warholian 15 minutes of fame, but was soon to discover that it was to last for the rest of her life.

A life that was destined to be tragically ever so brief.

Cranmer is fully aware that some of his readers and communicants will be thinking that he has lost it: this not religio-political; Cranmer has morphed into Dale; he has abandoned his thoughtful and erudite musings for the politics of gossip and social commentary.

Nothing of the sort.

Let us not forget that this was the young woman whose casual reference to ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ on national television caused an international outcry, gaining absurdly disproportionate coverage in the Indian media. It was the moment when reality television began to set the political agenda. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was visiting India at the time, condemned her behaviour for damaging relations with India and undermining the perception that Britain is a country of tolerance.

He probably had no choice. And yet Gordon Brown could now learn so much from Jade Goody, for in her living she was vibrant and in her dying she was authentic. While he evades the issues and laboriously ponders his words, she was direct and told it like it was. Of all the failings which beset the modern political class, it is the perception of the almost total absence of honesty and authenticity which is proving so corrosive to political discourse.

It is probably true to say that, had Jade Goody stood for Parliament, she would have won in almost any constituency. Politics has ceased to be about government, and the ‘soap opera’ has infinitely more to commend it. And politicians ought to ask reflect very deeply upon this and ask themselves why.

Jade Goody so very subtly entered the hearts of all those who have followed her tearful traumas and debilitating trials. Cancer is a monstrous demon, and it is heartbreaking to have to watch anyone be consumed agonisingly by its remorseless strangulation of life. Yet her dignity in dying has accomplished more for the common good than a thousand obscure and unheard-of members of parliament have ever accomplished.

Cranmer would have preferred Jade Goody MP to one of ‘Blair’s babes’ any day, whatever party she stood for.

Who would have thought that the Lord might have made her notorious in order to make use of her fame? Who would have thought that he might have chosen such an unlikely vessel to tell the world of his love; to remind us that he died so that we might live; that he paid the price that we may enter the Kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world? She ran the race, tasted the Passion, and kept before her the ultimate prize of her redemption.

God’s ways are not ours. Max Clifford now has had an ‘exclusive’ divine appointment to tell the world of Jade Goody’s salvation. And by speaking of her corporeal suffering and her spiritual peace, he preaches Christ and him crucified. And his audience is global – from the USA and South America, through the UK and Europe and on to India, the story is that of the first star of reality television having found Christ: of turning from her old life to that of the resurrection; of reading the Bible, placing her trust in the Lord, repentance, baptism, and now glory.

Like a little child, Jade Goody embraced the Christian faith like her Heavenly Father intended. And the moment she did, she was forgiven her past, cleansed of her sin and was born again.

In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu
suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te
in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Government gives faith grant to anti-Christian secularists

It is the logical consequence of moral relativism and ‘equal rights’ for all. It transpires that the Department for Local Government, which is headed by Mr Dale’s ‘little chipmunk’ Hazel Blears, has a little pot of money called the ‘Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund’. Yet Mrs Blears has granted £25,000 of this to the British Humanist Association, which is fundamentally opposed to ‘faith groups’, and to Christianity in particular. The BHA promotes secularism and propagates the virtues of atheism, asserting only this month that the role of Christianity in public life leads to 'discrimination, disadvantage, inequality'.

Public money is increasingly being used to boost the influence of atheism in councils, schools and the police. Thus taxpayers’ money is being used to actively undermine the Christian foundations of the nation. The BHA opposes faith schools, religious education, and the use of religious symbols in public buildings. They were also responsible for financing Richard Dawkins’ £140,000 advertising campaign on London buses, which used the slogan: 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.' In addition, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has given the group a further £35,000 ‘to promote secularism in the public services under equality and human rights laws’.

So now taxpayers may know that they subsidised the ‘No God’ campaign to the tune of £60,000 – 43 per cent.

Caroline Spelman, the Conservative communities and local government spokesman, has observed the dilemma. She says: “There is a clear agenda to twist so-called equality and human rights. It is wrong that taxpayers' money is being used to bully town halls into axing funding for Christian faith groups... It is scandalous that Government cash is being used to train ‘local authority equality officers’ and tear down the religious paintings and imagery which are part of the fabric of our nation.’

Cranmer shall forgive Mrs Spelman the reference to ‘Government cash’.

Since Labour has granted (taxpayers') cash intended for faith groups to a group of rabid atheists, the Government has defined atheism as a faith.

If atheism is a faith, it follows that it must contend in the public sphere for supremacy within the emerging pyramid of competing rights, and it must do so under the aegis of Christianity, for that faith is inseparable from British history and traditions and is woven into the fabric of the nation’s life. In addition, it ought to be obliged to 'respect' those who hold contrary views - that is to say this grant ought to prevent the group from proselytising or imposing its views upon those who might be offended. If taxpayers' money is withheld from Christian groups which adhere to orthodox beliefs - on the grounds that they fall foul of 'equality' legislation - the same stringent criteria ought to apply to the NSA.

Cranmer could not see Mrs Blears granting £25,000 to a Christian group which was responsible for an advertising campaign which proclaimed Allah does not exist, Mohammed is a false prophet, or that homosexuality is a sin.

The liberal democracy which has developed over the centuries has become manifestly illiberal where Christianity is concerned. The state should tolerate all beliefs which do not restrict the freedom of others. It has been revealed in the Scriptures and found by experience that Christianity yields equality, liberty and a distinctive moral vision of the common good.

In pursuit of Labour's 'common good', it is to be observed that the state is increasingly intolerant of Christianity; all citizens are no longer equal before the law; and the only neutrality expressed by the state towards religion is that which is profoundly anti-Christian, which is no neutrality at all. The secularism of the NHA is as aggressive as the most odious of faiths: it is not ‘neutral’. It has its own creed, propagates its own infallible dogma, and is as corrosive to the common good as any other assertion of absolute intolerance.

Germany legalises paedophilia

This booklet, entitled ‘Body, Love and Playing Doctor’ emanates from Germany’s Ministry for Family Affairs, and it encourages parents to ‘sexually massage’ their children as young as 1-3 years of age. There is a sequel for children aged 4-6 years of age which recommends teaching them the movements of sexual intercourse.

This is actually pederasty, not paedophilia, but Cranmer has given up trying to educate the world on the nuances of Greek love.

Astonishingly, the booklet advises: ‘Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex.’

And the rationale for this?

‘The child touches all parts of their father's body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same.’

There are no plans yet for the teenage edition.

According to Michael O'Brien, this amounts to ‘state-encouraged incest, which in most civilised societies is a crime’. The development is, he suggests, ‘a natural outcome of the rejection of the Judaeo-Christian moral order’.

He observes: "The imposed social revolution that has swept the western world is moving to a new stage as it works out the logical consequences of its view of man's value. It is merely obeying its strictly materialist philosophy of man. If man is no more than a creature created for pleasure or power. If he is no more than a cell in the social organism, then no moral standards, no psychological truths, no spiritual truths can refute the 'will to power' and the 'will to pleasure'.

"The wiser and deeper position of most civilizations recognised that children need a period of innocence. Now the state, the German state, is encouraging destruction of this state of innocence. This is consistent with the materialist philosophy that sees all moral norms and all truths about human nature as repressive. Pleasure and their distorted concept of freedom are their only guiding principles."

It is reported that use of these booklets is not only obligatory in nine German regions, but that they are used for training nursery, kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Inexplicably, and quite bizarrely, it is recommended by organisations tasked with fighting paedophilia.

That which would constitute child pornography in the UK features on Germany’s billboards and television advertisements with impunity. The age of consent is 14, permitting teenagers to be routinely displayed in sexual positions and sexualised from their earliest pubescent years. The European age of innocence is being eradicated as the Christian foundations of morality are set aside and society degenerates into a hedonistic cesspool of psychological egoism.

Or perhaps it is a prelude to the Europe-wide acceptance of Mohammed’s ‘thighing’ of the 6-year-old Aisha, his third wife, known as the ‘Mother of Believers’.

Cranmer does not use the term lightly – and he cannot recall when last he used it – but these booklets are evil.

It is to be observed that Germany has taken central control of the education of their children, outlawing home-schooling (to ‘protect’ the children) in order to inculcate them with the ‘new morality of the secular materialist establishment’.

Cranmer joins with Mr O'Brien in quoting GK Chesterton: ‘When men cease to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing anything.’

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jon Snow: ‘The Pope is condemning many millions of people to death’

And the unequivocal riposte of Aunty Joanna is that he is doing no such thing.

The Pope (with a hint of redaction from the Vatican's press office) has reiterated that 'condoms (even) aggravate the problem of aids' and that abstinence and fidelity are the only absolutely certain ways of avoiding sexually transmitted infections. And one gets the slight impression that Mrs Bogle agrees with him.

Cranmer likes orthodoxy, passion, eloquent conviction and balls.

But what is noteworthy during this interview is the moment when Jon Snow criticises Mrs Bogle for being ‘fierce’, reminding her that ‘we’re talking about God and Christ and all this stuff’.

Actually, they were talking about 22 million Africans dying of AIDS.

And that, of course, is nothing to be remotely angered by or passionate about.

Cranmer does not entirely agree with Mrs Bogle on the question of ‘bits of rubber’, but he is rather irritated by the patronising and pompous attitude of Mr Snow and the inference that God, Christ and the death of 22 million human beings may only be discussed in a calm, objective and dispassionate manner. We appear to have lost all understanding of righteous anger.

One wonders what Mr Snow might have said to Jesus as he was turning over a few tables in the Temple.

Is the Church of England still ‘the Tory Party at prayer’?

The relationship in the UK between party politics and religious affiliation has been nowhere near as analysed as the correlation in the United States. So sparse is the research that it has barely moved beyond the 18th century perception of the Church of England being the Tory Party at prayer. One of the principal historic divisions in the House of Commons has been between the Anglican Tories and the Roman Catholic Labour MPs; a divide which has been reinforced through numerous surveys over the decades.

Total Politics has attempted to contribute some insight into the contemporary situation, observing that such surveys are increasingly distorted by the reluctance of some members to ‘do God’. It is also muddled by the undeniable reality that Anglican adherence is increasingly a cultural expression which has meaning once or twice a year – possibly at Easter but always at Christmas – while Roman Catholic adherence is more usually a vibrant commitment and a regular practice. During the debate on the Bill to abolish the common law criminal offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel, Bill Cash MP noted that the case for the Established Church of England had overwhelmingly been articulated by Roman Catholic Conservatives, there being so few committed Anglicans on the Conservative benches.

But among Conservative supporters, a very different picture has emerged about the state of the party’s soul. The Theos think tank commissioned a ComRes poll of more than 2000 adults from all over the UK as part of a major study into attitudes towards evolution, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Integral to this were questions about religious belief and political affiliation. Total Politics summarises the results and draws three principal conclusions:

1) The Church of England really can be described as the Tory Party at prayer in that among the 35 per cent of the population who claim to be Anglican, almost a third of these are Conservative identifiers while fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) are natural Labour supporters. There are fewer Roman Catholics among Conservative identifiers - 23 per cent - compared to 29 per cent of Labour identifiers. So the historical stereotype is still, it seems, borne out.

2) Conservative supporters are the least likely to claim no religion, but the secularists are evenly spread among both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Among Tory identifiers, fewer than one in five, 18 per cent, say they have no religion compared to 26 per cent of Labour identifiers and 28 per cent of Liberal Democrats.

3) While the Tories have got the lion's share of the Christian market in voters, they do much less well among other religious groups. The upshot of this is a reduced support base among Asians. Where the party allegiance divides fairly evenly between Conservative and Labour for those who describe themselves broadly as Christian (28 per cent to 25 per cent respectively), among Muslims the division is very stark - just 11 per cent describe themselves as Conservatives (which is fewer than the Liberal Democrats attract), yet 41 per cent are Labour identifiers.

It will be profoundly disheartening to David Cameron that, despite his quest to change the ‘face’ of the Conservative Party - principally through a ‘priority list’ which is yielding quality black and Asian candidates - the Conservative Party continues to poll badly among these groups. The survey found that 54 per cent of black and Asian voters identify most with the Labour Party while just 16 per cent are inclined towards the Conservatives. The only encouragement is that the Liberal Democrats attract a paltry 3 per cent.

Important for all parties vying for ‘the middle ground’ is the finding that 27 per cent of UK adults say they are of no religion, while 60 per cent are either practising or non-practising Christians. The ‘cultural’ affiliation – ‘believing without belonging’ – remains strong.

Quite why Roman Catholics continue to support this profoundly anti-Christian Labour government is a mystery. And why any of them support the rabidly anti-Catholic Liberal Democrats is equally bemusing. Until one understands that, sexual morality aside, the vast majority of Roman Catholic bishops in the UK are pathologically of the Left, just as those in the Church of England.

Labour has rejected Methodism for secularism, and its mission statement now includes the persecution of church schools, the closure of Catholic adoption agencies, the undermining of marriage, and legislation for the creation of human-animal hybrids, fatherless children and ‘saviour siblings’. The Liberal Democrats are intent on going even further with a desire to legalise euthanasia and deregulate abortion to a do-it-yourself kit in the comfort of your own home. But for Roman Catholics in the UK, all of these horrors are subsumed to the utopian desire for Socialist economics, a generous welfare state, non-interventionist foreign policy and more compassion for criminals than retribution.

Total Politics is right to observe that party ‘identification’ is not quite the same as voting intention, especially in a fluid and volatile context like the present one which sees polls fluctuate immensely from week to week. But these figures ought to persuade the Conservative Party to adopt a moral agenda in tune with the Christian majority. At the very least, a pledge to liberate church schools from government interference, and to reinstate the right of adoption agencies to screen potential parents in accordance with their orthodox understanding of the family, would go a very long way to winning some of the 'Catholic vote'. And since such a moral purpose would undoubtedly find resonance among the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities, the Conservative Party would find itself increasingly attracting the votes of ethnic minorities.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tim Montgomerie: 'Without a moral purpose, a political party will never inspire’

Tim Montgomerie raises many important issues in his Telegraph article ‘A strong family and small state ought to go hand in hand’.

He observes the traditional Conservative themes of ‘low and simple taxation; light touch regulation; free trade; opposition to monopolies; property rights; and low inflation’. And he articulates the ‘Compassionate Conservative’ thesis that these ‘depend upon the strength of society’, which he summarises as: ‘Families that stay together. Children who leave school with meaningful qualifications. Adults who stay free of drug and alcohol dependency. A welfare state that encourages personal industry, not dependency.’

These are, he says, the ‘hallmarks of a socially conservative society (which) should also be the goal of every fiscal conservative’, if only because ‘family breakdown is costing the Exchequer about £24 billion a year. Underachievement at school is costing £18 billion. Reoffending by prisoners, £11 billion. Drug and alcohol abuse is costing taxpayers £39 billion’. He quotes figures from the The Centre for Policy Studies that ‘an average family will cost the taxpayer £10,000 more each year if it splits up, owing to a reduced offering in tax and a greater need for welfare benefits. Reconvicting a repeat offender takes an average of £24,000. Annual incarceration adds about £35,000. Drug treatment puts £2,000 per annum more on top of that.’

The ‘price of our broken society’, he reports, ‘is close to £150 billion’.

British society needs saving, of that there is no doubt. But the fissure within the Conservative Party on issues of morality run far deeper than that over Europe, which is deep enough. Mr Montgomerie writes of the ‘laissez-faire members of the Conservative coalition (who) argue that government has no business in trying to build stronger families or supporting not-for-profit organisations’.

One thinks of the likes of Kenneth Clarke or John Bercow. They are wrong, he says, and articulates his ‘vision of the good society’, which is essentially the antithesis of the statement above: ‘Without a moral purpose, a political party will never inspire’. And his allies in this quest would include the likes of Iain Duncan Smith, Ann Widdecombe, and all members of Cornerstone.

The 'moral purpose’ will have the staunch opposition of many in the Conservative Party. The phrase alone will set off ‘Back to Basics’ alarm bells over echoes of a policy announcement which inadvertently precipitated the resignation of numerous of John Major’s talented ministers of state for their ‘hypocrisy’. After all, how can Conservative MPs preach a ‘moral purpose’ while themselves cohabiting with their partners, having children out of wedlock, advocating homosexual and lesbian 'civil partnerships' and other rights, fleecing the taxpayer with their expenses...

The ‘moral purpose’ is Tim Montgomerie’s solution; the crucial counterbalance to the starkness of monetarism and heartlessness of economic utilitarianism.

But whose morals and to what purpose?

Like it or not, we live in what is known as 'postmodernity', and Mr Montgomerie fails to explain (quite crucially) how such a purpose may be articulated in an age of moral relativism. And it is difficult for the state to propose a moral purpose when the national church has abdicated its responsibilities in this area, unless one is to populate the Conservative benches with those who are more Christian than the bishops.

Even with the excellent work of Iain Duncan Smith, there is little evidence of a ‘moral purpose’ at work in the day-to-day functioning of Her Majesty’s Opposition. There has been scarcely a whisper of protest to some of Labour’s quite blatant transgressions of ethical codes and erstwhile moral absolutes, and no objection to the deliberate manipulation of data and the concealing of evidence.

Nick Gulliford notes that Labour has ‘wiped “marital status” off government forms’. Setting aside the silence of the Conservative Party on this matter, he wonders how research will be conducted into the outcomes of families other than 'couple' and 'single' parent families.

He further asks why the Conservatives are not demanding that a Social Capital Index be included in the Statistics and Registration Services Bill like the RPI.

The ‘moral purpose’ must be calibrated in order for measurement to be possible, otherwise there can be no means of discovering if the objectives have been attained or the policies are effectual.

But then advocating a ‘moral purpose’ in an age of moral relativism may be as vacuous as talking of ‘fiscal responsibility’ in a credit crunch. It sounds responsible, traditional, beneficial, utter common sense.

Until one comes to the politics; the divisive process of articulating policy and making decisions. Which taxes are to increase and which services are to be cut in order to arrive at ‘fiscal responsibility’? Which morals are absolute and which are negotiable in the ‘moral purpose’?

And with the systematic eradication of Christian traditions and the increasing hostility expressed towards Christianity in the public sphere, whose moral code are we to use any way?
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