Monday, November 30, 2009

DPP circumvents Parliament with the ‘guidance’ on assisted suicide

Readers and Communicants will recall that Lord Falconer attempted to amend the Coroners and Justices Bill in the summer to allow for assisted suicide. This was thrown out by a convincing majority.

Undaunted by this, Ms Debbie Purdy decided to take her case to the UK Supreme Court. The court instructed the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a policy statement, setting out his approach to the law. This was done and we have until December 16th to respond with our views.

The DPP has set out a number of 'less likely to prosecute' categories and the organisation Care Not Killing has responded, outlining some serious concerns.

CNK considers that this interim policy statement is not fit for purpose in its present form. There are serious defects both in its underlying principles and in several of the specific prosecution criteria proposed.

Though the statement disclaims any intention either to change the law or to offer immunity from prosecution for assisters of suicides, the approach it adopts to clarifying prosecution policy for this offence risks producing these outcomes.

In particular, it does not take as its starting point the guideline laid down in the current Code for Crown Prosecutors that ‘a prosecution will usually take place unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution’ and it gives the appearance of a shift in the role of the CPS from one of enforcing the law other than in exceptional circumstances to one of arbitrating, in an even-handed manner, between the merits and demerits of prosecuting those who assist suicides. In particular, there are specific categories set out which are both discriminatory and dangerously unrealistic and as such pose serious dangers to public safety:

1) the victim is disabled or seriously/terminally ill - despite the fact that Parliament has repeatedly rejected legalising assisted suicide for terminally ill people and that it is a fundamental principle of the criminal law that its protection should be afforded equally to all, irrespective of their age, sex, race, religion – and state of health.

2) the victim has attempted suicide before - even though this often indicates mental illness and in prisons or hospitals such a history is grounds for extra vigilance.

3) the ‘assister’ is a spouse, partner, or close family member - even though elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial) often occurs within apparently ‘loving families’.

There is at least one case where a disturbed young woman (Kerrie Wooltorton), who had attempted suicide nine times before, drank antifreeze in September 2007. She phoned an ambulance and handed the doctors a note to say she did not want them to save her life. The doctors and nurses took this instruction to the letter and let her die. The Mental Capacity act 2005 gives legal force to suicide notes. Her bereaved father said he was ashamed to be British.

George Pitcher wrote in the Telegraph: 'Imagine that the police visit your home and tell you that your child has committed suicide. Now imagine they tell you that ambulance and hospital staff could and would have saved her life but that she handed them a letter asking them not to.'

It also implies that if a mother suffering from post natal depression took an overdose and left a note to the effect that she could not go on and she was unworthy, would that be grounds for the doctors at the hospital to forgo the use of the stomach pump or any emetic to make the poor woman sick? Or would there be a need to have a lawyer on hand to give a judgement? Lawyers, being cautious sort of coves would probably advise to let her die.

What can be done?

The DPP has issues a questionnaire for the public to give their views. Readers and Communicants can download the consultation document HERE.

This will download a Word document which can be completed and emailed to the Crown Prosecution Service. CNK points out that the questionnaire is quite long and complex and this sadly will probably deter many people from completing it in full – or even at all. But it is vital that as many concerned people as possible should complete the questionnaire and thereby make their views known.

If you feel you cannot complete the whole document, please at least try to complete the all-important Question 5 – which appears on pages 12 and 13 and lists various circumstances in which people might not be prosecuted for assisting a suicide. If you disagree with the proposition, it is essential that a number of these circumstances – in particular, those numbered 1, 4, 6, 8 and 11 – should be firmly answered with ‘No’.

The wider issue

We are told that Parliament is supreme and the judges only serve to interpret the law as set out by Parliament.

Here we have a situation where Parliament has given a view and the ‘Supreme Court’ (as we now have) has decided to instruct the DPP to ‘give guidance’. Apart from the sheer brass neck of the Judiciary outflanking Parliament, if such guidance is necessary with a tick-box of rules, why do we need judges at all?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Switzerland, minarets, Islam and human rights

Cranmer has received quite a few emails about the decision of the Swiss people to prohibit the construction of any more minarets (there are just four in the entire country). He was not going to comment on the matter because, for the (former) life of him, he cannot work out what all the fuss is about.

The poster campaign showing minarets as missiles was undoubtedly provocative and offensive. Switzerland is a democracy which permits freedom of speech and freedom of expression, so get over it.

The Muslim community there makes up 400,000 out of a total population of 7.5 million people. They are justifiably dismayed by this decision, but Switzerland is a democracy which is governed by the ballot box, so get over it.

Muslims may feel alienated, ostracised and defamed by this decision, but 57 per cent of Swiss voters have expressed their view, so get over it.

The Swiss government and parliament had rejected the ban as unconstitutional, but their people have decided to the contrary. In a true democracy, it is the people who decide which powers to lend to their governments, and the people have spoken, so get over it.

Apparently, the ban is a ‘far-right’ initiative of the Swiss People’s Party. This is appalling. How dare any ‘right wing’ (let alone a ‘far right’) party articulate any view with which as many as 57 per cent of an entire population might agree.

And Cranmer is equally appalled that 22 out of 26 cantons voted to ban the minarets: what does this say about the backward, unenlightened, extremist, xenophobic Swiss and their outdated, medieval views, their contempt for human rights and the tyrannical propensity by which they oppress the minorities who dwell among them?

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and so not subject to its courts. Were it to be so, there is no doubt that the democratic will of the Swiss would be overturned with the stroke of a pen by the assertion of an 'equality' directive: after all, if the Christians can have their spires, why should the Muslims not have their minarets and the Jedi their death stars? But this is a local planning matter, and mosques and minarets are no more a prerequisite for the practising of Islam than church buildings and spires are for Christianity. There is no 'phobia' or 'religious hatred' in the decision: for the Swiss, this is not simply about the construction of minarets, but the realisation that each one may lead to an amplified call to prayer, and each amplified call to prayer the universal proclamation five time a day of the omnipotence of Allah and the uniqueness of Mohammed his prophet. And so the matter is both political and religious; material and spiritual; planning and prophetic.

Was Switzerland right to ban the construction of minarets?

Cranmer is not Swiss: it is not for him to say. But Calvin would undoubtedly have thought so. And the people of Switzerland have in any case spoken. They still possess and inhabit a democracy.

Is their intolerance un-Christian, unenlightened or undemocratic?

Possibly, maybe, yes and no. But who are we to judge the express will of a sovereign and independent people?

Will there be a 'Muslim backlash'?

Only by the intolerant, unenlightened and anti-democratic ones.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lord Pearson of Rannoch – God’s Euro-sceptic

The election of Malcolm, the Lord Pearson Rannoch to the leadership of the United Kingdom Independence Party is no trivial matter. He may be dismissed by ConservativeHome as lacking democratic legitimacy, and by some contributors as being BNP-lite; he may be marginalised by the BBC as being an ‘extreme-right’ former Tory rather grey peer who was thrown out of the Conservative Party for conduct unbecoming a grey Tory peer. He may merit almost no mention in the mainstream media because he is obscure, unknown and uninteresting. But UKIP now have a leader of gravitas, charisma, experience and intelligence. Not that Mr Farage had neither intelligence nor charisma, but Lord Pearson possesses a thousand times his credibility, standing and political acumen.

He was termed ‘God’s Euro-sceptic’ by The Daily Telegraph back in 1997: the article merits scrutiny. He is referred to as ‘a man of manic activity (with) the inflexible resolve of an indefatigable, compulsive fighter’. Beneath a kindly humility he is ‘burning with moral fire’. To understand what makes him tick, one has to appreciate that he is inspired not by politics, financial gain or personal ambition, but by an understanding and appreciation of ‘his place and purpose in the universe’: his charity work for the mentally handicapped; his passion for democracy; his anti-corruption stance; his record of helping Soviet and East European dissidents; his remembrance of God and loathing of Socialism all derive from a ‘Manichean vision’ in which ‘evils (are) fighting side by side in (a) cosmic conflict’.

He is a Whig-type of Conservative of the highest calibre, possessing of a formidable intellect and Rottweiler-like tenacity. And he has pledged to broaden UKIP from being perceived as a one-trick, single-issue-obsessed receptacle for the disaffected Tory protest vote to being a party of broad appeal with a credible political manifesto.

And the Conservative Party ought to be worried: very worried indeed.

Lord Pearson’s stated objective is a hung parliament, and this is not an unlikely outcome. He hopes somehow to be able to influence its direction in that neutered state of paralysis, but it is not clear how (considering that only Buckingham is likely to yield a UKIP MP).

His strategy for wider appeal is that he is not only concerned with Britain’s relations with the EU, but also with the rise of Islamo-fascism, for it was he (along with Baroness Cox) who invited Dutch MP Geert Wilders to Parliament to explain his fight against extremist Islam, who was overruled by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, but who ultimately triumphed despite the threat from Lord Ahmed to bring 10,000 of his co-religionists to Westminster to protest.

He intends to make the fight against ‘radical Islam’ something of a crusade. The reality is that Lord Pearson is intent on bringing the issue of immigration to the next general election, and his intervention may achieve precisely what Sir James Goldsmith achieved back in 1997 with his demand for a referendum on the ‘ever closer union’ of the European Union.

The problem for the Conservative Party is that the juxtaposition of Euro-scepticism with a robust policy on immigration will go down well with the general public, many of whom are horrified about the direction the country is taking, and who, according to The Guardian, ‘want to physically puke every time they see a Westminster MP on television, but who are not prepared for the mental leap of voting for the BNP’.

Lord Pearson is a strong supporter of freedom of speech and a ‘localist’, desiring to introduce Swiss-style referenda on major issues, subject to a million signatures, and to limit Parliament’s remit only to national affairs (so foxhunting, for example, would be decided by local assemblies and local referenda). And he would also reduce the number of MPs to 250, and he favours the re-introduction of grammar schools. He is also a supporter of the pro-field sports and conservation Countryside Alliance.

It is difficult to discern anything that Whiggish Conservatives will not like: he was nominated as ‘Peer of the Year’ by Daniel Hannan. It cannot be forgotten that Lord Pearson leads the party that came second in this year’s Elections to the European Parliament, and has 13 MEPs, which includes Marta Andreasen who leads the opposition to the EU fraud, corruption and false accounting.

Under Lord Pearson, UKIP will become a credible populist party of patriotic appeal (some will term it nationalist zeal). He is fair and decent man (some will term him 'extremist', 'loony' and ‘racist’); he will court the votes of disaffected Conservatives with eloquence and gentle persuasion (which some will term the irrelevant musings of a gadfly).

The reality is that Lord Pearson is not prepared to be complacent on issues in which the other parties are content to be so. He said: “If you are a sheep or a lemming you don’t join UKIP. The party is for original thinkers, lateral thinkers, people who care passionately about our culture and our history and who do not like to see our system of representative parliamentary democracy being broken down.”

The Conservative Party might just find this man rapidly becomes the People’s Peer: the Peer of people’s hearts. He says: “It is very worrying that a large and growing sector of our society is set against our way of life and laws, our treatment of women and our religion.” He is candid about the dangers of a ‘religious, political and legal system all rolled into one’, and is intent on donning the armour of God to battle against the principalities and powers.

He says that he has received veiled threats, but he is not going to keep quiet. Lord Pearson has seen the face of God, and been anointed a prophet: he is a man with a mission. It would be a grave mistake to underestimate him.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mass child sex abuse: ‘the structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated the cover-up’

Jesus wept.

As did the hundreds of desperate, lonely, terrified children, as they lay in the impenetrable shadows of their beds wondering if Friar Tom or Father Dick would be paying them a visit to ‘comfort’ them at some unknowable hour of the darkness.

No, it was Brother Harry’s turn that night. And he knew full well that no bishop or archbishop would even bat an eyelid. Turning the other cheek took on a myriad of alternative sinister and shady meanings.

Remember these four faces, for these are they who handled allegations of child abuse against 46 priests. It was not just one; not simply a singular rogue priest of depraved morality, but FORTY SIX priests who were known to be sexually abusing the children in their care. One priest admitted to 'interfering' with over 100 children, while another accepted that he had abused on a fortnightly basis over 25 years. It is a pity three of these bishops are dead. Or perhaps not. Archbishops John Charles McQuaid died in 1973; Dermot Ryan died in 1984; Kevin McNamara died in 1987. Cardinal Desmond Connell is retired, and may well now be fleeing to the Vatican for sanctuary, where others are known to safely reside. They all had qualifications in canon law, some in civil law, and yet they decided to place themselves above the law of both Church and State. For them, the standing and reputation of Ireland’s Roman Catholic Church was more important than the protection of children: the exposure and prosecution of paedophiles was deemed to be a greater evil than permitting the nuns and priests to continue beating and raping the girls and buggering the boys to kingdom come. The institution was more important than the most vulnerable individual: the church’s assets worth more than dignity, truth and justice.

Suffer the little children?

Yes, until the pain is unbearable, the suffering insurmountable, and the violation unforgivable.

One wonders what Jesus would have said to these professing ministers of the gospel.

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin covered a period from 1975 to 2004. The scrutiny of just these past 30 years has revealed a cesspit of depravity and a sewer of corruption on a scale one could scarcely believe. God alone knows what might be uncovered if the previous 30 years were examined, or the 30 before that.

The report states: ‘The Dublin archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets.’

Clergy were able to molest hundreds of vulnerable children because of a ‘systemic, calculated perversion of power’ that put their abusers above the law. They refused to pass information to the police, and evidence was kept inside a secret vault in the archbishop's Dublin residence while the paedophile priests were shunted from parish to parish to prevent the allegations being made public.

And the State was complicit, as the Gardai ignored the complaints from victims, effectively granting priests immunity from prosecution. The inquiry found that church authorities nurtured ‘inappropriately close relations’ with senior police officers.

Cranmer is struck by the observation that ‘the structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up’, for it is a theme to which the Archbishop of Canterbury referred last week in Rome when he repudiated ‘the language of rule and hierarchy established by decree, with fixed divisions between teachers and taught, rulers and ruled’. Power corrupts, and unaccountable power facilitates collusion and cover-up, placing institutions beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes.

Quite incredibly (and Cranmer is sincerely shocked by this), the inquiry heard a defence from the former bishops that they did not know sex abuse was a crime.

It beggars belief that those whose lives are dedicated to the Lord, whose training and vocation are steeped in the faith of the Fathers, do not recognise sin, refuse to control their lust, and cannot see that evil is evil.

There is no doubt that the actions of these priests were evil, but the greater evil and more appalling scandal was the conspiracy between Church and State to pervert the course of justice. It is not only the clerics who should face prosecution, but the police officers who colluded in the cover-up to protect the honour of the Roman Catholic Church. The welfare of children counted for nothing.

There are those who frequently quote in this context that the forbidding of marriage is a doctrine of devils (1Tim 4:1-3), and that the Roman Catholic Church is colluding with Satan by enforcing celibacy upon its clergy. Or that confession and a few Hail Marys are considered to be the end of the matter, not least because of the sanctified confidentiality of the confession box.

But this is superficial theology. The sexual abuse of children by religious leaders, which is overwhelmingly by male clergy upon young boys, is inescapably homosexual. And the constraints imposed upon priests (marital status, sexual orientation, erotic sex) are not irrelevant: they are inseparable from the reality that Roman Catholicism (as the Church throughout the ages) is patriarchal and inherently masculine. The gendered nature of the organisation and all of its literature over centuries has produced a static, totalitarian expression of masculinity, such that notions of fraternity and paternity precede sexuality and become the visible medium of the expression of catholicity. Consensual submission in the context of hierarchical assertions of power is inherent in brotherhood and episcopal structuring. While the novice, priest, bishop, and cardinal have vowed and aspire to be asexual, in reality they cannot deny their human nature, and so adopt the masculinity of the hermaphrodite. And as their public face is that of purity and holiness in deeply-fulfilling celibacy, the private paradox is confused, constrained and yearning deeply to express itself. And if it cannot be with a woman, as St Paul observed, it will be predatory upon the malakoi - the ‘soft’ or ‘effeminate’ prepubescent ‘pet’.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody

His Grace has been working on his thoughts for tomorrow - child abuse and paedophilia in Ireland's Roman Catholic Church. And in a moment of brief respite from the appalling accounts he has read, he came across this Bohemian Rhapsody by the incomparable Muppets.

What is religious about it? What is political? What is religio-political?

Well, the original had Freddy Mercury singing about 'Bismillah' - the opening word in the Qu'ran which is translated 'In the name of Allah':

Bismillah! No - we will not let you go - let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go - let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go - let me go

Yet this lyric does not appear in the Muppet version: it is supplanted by incomprehensible gibberish.

Presumably, it is completely excised so as not to offend some hyper-sensitive Muslims or to cause the invocation of a fatwah on Kermit or Gonzo. After all, we could not have Miss Piggy invoking the name of Allah, could we?

But it is enjoyable, none-the-less.

The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan DeclarationPerhaps, just perhaps, this declaration might one day be ranked with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, or at least raise Manhattan to the equivalent historic significance to that of Boston.

The Manhattan Declaration unites Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican Christians (not to mention a few others) around contemporary key themes, which they summarise as: respect for human life; the sanctity of heterosexual marriage; freedom of conscience and religious liberty; and the refusal to render unto Caesar what is God's. It is basically a challenge to the White House under Barack Obama.

They say:

A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1.the sanctity of human life
2.the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3.the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And the list of religious leaders who support this declaration is quite possibly the most formidable ecumenical gathering in US history, consisting, as it does, of eminences, graces, archbishops, bishops, reverends (most and right), professors, doctors, pastors, presidents, CEOs, deans, directors, founders, editors, not to mention a 'TV Host' and the 'National Facilitator of Spiritual Unity'.

Cranmer wonders what an equivalent British initiative might be termed, and whether anyone would be inclined to sign it after the founder, president and CEO of The Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Labour subsidises Islamic extremism with taxpayer funding

Cranmer has written about Hizb-ut-Tahrir before: here, here and here.

They are not very nice.

Not nice at all.

So it comes as something of a surprise (or perhaps not) to learn that this amoral, deficient, anti-Christian Labour government are subsidising a terrorist-supporting, kuffar-hating, strife-inducing Islamic agenda for world domination.

His Grace has been sent a very interesting letter by the Conservative Party (at last, they are trusting him with their intelligence).

It was sent from the Michael Gove MP to Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

It concerns the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, which runs an independent school in Slough and an independent school and nursery in Haringey. The foundation allegedly has strong links to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Mr Gove says he believes that the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation not only has very strong links to Hizb ut-Tahrir, but is in fact a front for its political activity. He says:

‘I believe that the Foundation’s schools are teaching an educational philosophy that is incompatible with Britain’s liberal democratic values. Furthermore I am greatly concerned the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation is in receipt of public money to further radical Islamist aims despite appearing not to meet basic DCSF criteria.’

Most concerningly, the headmistress of the Slough school, Farah Ahmed, is a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and has written for its journal attacking the ‘corrupt Western concepts of materialism and freedom’.

When Mr Gove asked the DCSF what had be done to ensure the senior staff at the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation schools were suitable people to be teaching children, they responded that all school staff ‘had undergone a CRB check’.

It beggars belief that even this Labour government believes that a CRB check would ascertain whether or not a teacher or school leader is a political extremist.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose supporters and members run the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation and teach in its schools, defines Israel as an enemy state and sanctions the killing of Israeli Jews. The party’s ideology is therefore inherently anti-Semitic.

It is not therefore clear how the headmistress of the Slough school can possibly fulfil her statutory duty to promote racial equality. Perhaps someone from the DCSF, or a Labour supporter, or even a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir (should any be sufficiently enlightened to read His Grace’s blog) could explain how a school whose head teacher is a member of a radical Islamist organisation; which teaches an educational philosophy imbued with an Islamist world view; and whose foundation was started and run by members of Hizb ut-Tahrir can possibly be ‘meeting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils’.

But Cranmer has another interesting question:

The DCSF has recently conducted a review into safeguards to protect young people from discrimination and prevent the teaching of partisan political activities. One high profile suggestion which came from this was the banning of BNP members from working in schools.

If BNP members may not be teachers, how is it that members of Hizb ut-Tahrir may be head teachers?

At PMQs today, David Cameron disclosed that £113,000 of taxpayers money has so far been donated to the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation. Ironically, this has been secured from the Pathfinder scheme, whose objective is supposed to be the prevention of violent extremism.

A few facts:

Tony Blair promised to ban Hizb-ut-Tahrir: On 5 August 2005, the Prime Minister set out a twelve point plan on new measures to tackle terrorism. He said: ‘We will proscribe Hizb-ut-Tahira and the successor organisation of Al Mujahiroun. We will also examine the grounds for proscription to widen them and put forward proposals in the new legislation’.

‘Kill Jews wherever they are found’ was a Newsnight Reporter on August 2003: ‘We went to Denmark, where Hizb Ut Tahrir has come to the attention of the police and the courts because of its anti-Semitic views. In March and April 2002, Hizb Ut Tahrir handed out leaflets in a square in Copenhagen, and at a mosque. The leaflet, which also appeared on the Danish groups internet site, makes threats against Jews, using a quote from the Koran urging Muslims to 'kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been turned you out.' The leaflet also said, 'The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context.' And the leaflet describes suicide bombings in Israel as "legitimate" acts of "Martyrdom"’.

Then: ‘The Danish magistrate described Hizb Ut Tahrir as secretive, but the case did expose something of the way the group is organised. The Danish police established that the web site on which the offending material was published was being hosted in the UK. That wasn't relevant to their case so they didn't pursue it any further. However, Newsnight can reveal that it wasn't only being hosted in the UK, it was actually being run from the UK. Computer records show that the Danish web site shared the same internet address as web sites registered to a mailing address here, at 56 Gloucester Road, London, the British Headquarters of Hizb Ut Tahrir, and that's not all. Newsnight can reveal that the leaflet, which has been successfully prosecuted for racism in Denmark, is on the British group's web site today. The document is in English and has been on the web site since March 2002’.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir constitution. Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s constitution states that non-Muslims in non-Muslim lands are ‘in a state of war’ and are ‘combatants on the battlefield’ whose ‘blood is lawful [to be spilt].’ (Muqadimmat al-Dustur aw asbab ul-Muwajjabbatlah, p.450, cited in the Centre for Social Cohesion’s report, Hizb ut-Tahrir: Ideology and Strategy, p.26)


Islam4UK is an extremist organisation which calls for Islamic rule in Britain and the blanket imposition of Sharia law. Members of Islam4UK, including its leader, Anjem Choudary, are linked to the banned terrorist groups Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect.

Anjem Choudary described the 9/11 hijackers as ‘magnificent’ and organised a protest against British soldiers returning from Iraq in March this year. He and his demonstrators shouted at the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton, calling them ‘murderers’ and ‘rapists’.

Same as banned organisation. For all practical purposes Islam4UK is the same organisation as Al-Ghurabaa, listed as a proscribed group in 2006.

Organisations can be banned if they are the same as others that are already banned. The Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by the Terrorism Act 2006, allows the Home Secretary to proscribe a group that he believes is to be treated as another name for a group that has already been proscribed.

Links with Al-Ghurabaa. Al-Ghurabaa was proscribed in the UK on 26 July 2006 because it was ‘concerned with terrorism.’ Al-Ghurabaa still run a website aimed at a British audience which hosts lectures inciting terrorism. At the moment, the website is offering a free download of a lecture by Anwar al-Awlaki (considered the spiritual guide of several of the 9/11 hijackers and also linked to the gunman who attacked Fort Hood, Texas recently). The lecture, delivered in March 2009, urges on the Pakistani Taliban and their allies against the Pakistani government. There are strong links between two of the people known to be involved in Al-Ghurabaa, Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed, and Islam4UK:

Anjem Choudary, a British-born agitator, was the spokesman for Al-Ghurabaa. He was interviewed by The Guardian a few days before the group was banned. Asked what he would do once the group was disbanded: ‘[Choudary] makes it clear that he sees nothing to prevent members of al-Ghurabaa regrouping under a different banner, as long as they avoid the glorification of terrorism, the offence which has allowed the Home Office to ban the organisation.

‘One could still have an organisation that calls for Islam and sharia, and calls for an alternative to the capitalist ideology, and doesn't do those things which caused the other organisation to be proscribed. I could join Labour tomorrow, and they're not going to proscribe the Labour party just because I've joined, are they?’ (The Guardian, 22 July 2006).

Choudary is now the spokesman for Islam4UK and his mobile phone number is often the contact number given at the end of Islam4UK press releases (Islam4UK website, accessed 9 November 2009). He has lived on benefits for many years (Daily Mail, 24 July 2009).

Anjem Choudary quotes:

On the aims of Islam4UK: ‘On this day we will call for a complete upheaval of the British ruling system, its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari’ah in Britain’ (The Daily Express, 15 October 2009).

On a British army homecoming parade in Luton: ‘A vile parade of brutal murderers’ (The Daily Express, 15 October 2009).

On blasphemy: ‘Whoever insults the message of Muhammad is going to be subject to capital punishment’ (Evening Standard, 19 September 2006).

On Jihad: ‘What the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Palestine are doing is defending themselves from foreigner fighters coming to kill them. It's outrageous that we get called terrorists if we speak about the right to defend ourselves’ (Daily Mail, 24 July 2009).

On non-Muslims: ‘At the end of the day, when we say “innocent people” we mean “Muslims”. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, they have not accepted Islam. As far as we are concerned, that is a crime against God’ (BBC Interview, accessed 4 January 2007).

On Jihad: ‘This honourable act must be carried out according to your own capabilities because... Muhammad said strike the [infidels] with your wealth, hands and tongue’ (The Times, 14 January 2007).

On the 9/11 hijackers after Al-Muhajiroun branded them ‘The Magnificent 19’: ‘Those individuals are Muslims, they were carrying out their Islamic responsibility and duty, so in that respect they were magnificent, and the Muslims worldwide hope that they are accepted as martyrs in the eyes of God’ (CNN, 10 September 2003).

After 7/7: According to the Evening Standard, ‘after the July 7 atrocities in London, he vowed he would not tell the police if he knew a terror attack was being planned and urged Muslims to defend themselves against perceived attacks by “whatever means they have at their disposal”’ (Evening Standard, 19 September 2006).

On the role of his groups in creating terrorists: ‘To say that we radicalise people is unfair. I don't think it is a surprise that a small number of people who have met us might go on to do other things. But it is not the case that anyone who comes across us automatically becomes a radical and commits a martyrdom operation’ (The Independent, 17 June 2009).

Statement on behalf of Islam4UK: ‘We have had enough of democracy and man-made law and the depravity of the British culture’ (The Daily Express, 15 October 2009).

On Nelson’s column: Under his Sharia government it ‘would be removed and demolished without hesitation’ (The Daily Express, 15 October 2009).

Omar Bakri Mohammed. Omar Bakri Muhammad is a Syrian-born cleric who lived in London until banned from Britain shortly after the 7/7 terrorist attacks. He is considered to have inspired the group that formed al-Ghurabaa and, subsequently, Islam4UK. Anjem Choudary, spokesman for both organisations, has said that he was first drawn towards Islam4UK’s perverted form of Islam when he ‘bumped into Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed’ at a mosque in Woolwich in the early 1990s (The Guardian, 22 July 2006). The websites for al-Ghurabaa and Islam4UK have both been used to host video messages from Omar Bakri Mohammed to a British audience.

The Islam4UK website carries audio lectures by both Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed. One of Bakri’s lectures is on the life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder and former leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, who was killed by the United States in 2006.

Omar Bakri Mohammed quotes:

On suicide bombings: ‘We call it self sacrifice. You must fight for the way of Allah - to kill first and be killed. If somebody decided to land an aeroplane over 10 Downing Street, for example - this is a form of self sacrifice’ (The Times, 21 July 2005).

On Jihad: ‘The jihad is halal [permissible] for the Muslims wherever they are, the whole ummah [Muslim community] wherever they are. OK brothers - wherever you are, do it’ (The Times, 21 July 2005).

On the deaths of British servicemen in a Nimrod crash: ‘Allah has his own soldiers and I was so happy. I was just thanking Allah’ (The Sun, 11 September 2006).

On terrorism: ‘We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity…they are our brothers, the terrorists’ (The Age, 19 April 2004).

On Tony Blair: ‘A legitimate target’ for assassination (Sunday Mercury, 31 May 2009).

On Osama bin Laden: ‘An honourable man’ (Sunday Mercury, 31 May 2009).

On Osama bin Laden again: ‘Why I condemn Osama bin Laden for [sic]? I condemn Tony Blair, I condemn George Bush. I would never condemn Osama bin Laden or any Muslims’ (The Times, 21 July 2005).

On the 7/7 bombings: ‘I blame the British Government and I blame the British people. They are the ones who should be blamed’ (The Times, 21 July 2005).

As His Grace said, they are just not nice people at all.

A Hung Parliament?

The bets are on. Apparently, a hung parliament is a highly likely outcome of the next general election, following decades of gerrymandering and Labour-favouring boundary reviews. And in such a scenario, the Liberal Democrats have indicated that they would support the Conservative Party: Yes, Nick Clegg would be prepared to climb into bed with David Cameron, if the Conservative leader would entertain such a coupling.

Can you imagine the chimera Cabinet this would spawn?

Prime Minister – David Cameron
Deputy Prime Minister – Nick Clegg
Chancellor of the Exchequer – Vince Cable
Home Secretary – George Osborne
Foreign Secretary – William Hague
Education Secretary – Chris Huhne
Health Secretary – Chris Grayling
Transport Secretary – Michael Gove
Environment Secretary – Simon Hughes
Europe Secretary (a LibDem demand) – Charles Kennedy
Constitutional Reform Secretary another LibDem demand) – Ed Davey
Defence Secretary – Liam Fox
Culture Secretary – Ken Clarke
Leader of the Lords - Thomas, Lord Stratclyde
Deputy Leader of the Lords - Menzies, Lord Campbell

(Cranmer cannot be bothered to continue speculating upon this nightmare)

The price for having Prime Minister Cameron would doubtless be a referendum on Proportional Representation, probably another on the Euro, and Dr Evan Harris would achieve his life-long ambition to disestablish the Church of England.

A hung parliament would be disastrous for the nation; the worst of every world.

There is speculation in today’s Times on the role of the Queen in such a scenario. Of course, she would first invite the leader of the largest party to ask if he might be able to form a government. Yet a minority government might not be able to govern. And what if the largest party – by some fusion of economic luck, electoral fluke and Cameronian calamity – were to be Labour? The Queen would invite Gordon Brown to form a government, and what would Nick Clegg then do?

And what might the DUP do?

Cranmer has been warning the Conservative Party for a few years that cosying up to the Ulster Unionists might be politically expedient in Northern Ireland, but it could spell disaster in Westminster, where the UUP have just one MP while the DUP have nine. And Labour have been courting those nine quite assiduously, especially over some crucial votes which could have fatally wounded the Government.

There is no possibility of Sylvia, Lady Herman joining a Conservative Cabinet, and her singularity would be of no benefit in a coalition anyway.

But what about:

Prime Minister – David Cameron
Deputy Prime Minister – Peter Robinson
Chancellor of the Exchequer – George Osborne
Home Secretary – Chris Grayling
Foreign Secretary – William Hague
Education Secretary – Michael Gove
Health Secretary – William McCrea
Transport Secretary – Jeffery Donaldson
Environment Secretary – Sammy Wilson
Culture Secretary – Jeremy Hunt
Europe Secretary – Ian Paisley
Justice Secretary – Dominic Grieve
Defence Secretary – Liam Fox
Business Secretary – Ken Clarke
Leader of the Lords - Thomas, Lord Strathclyde
Deputy Leader of the Lords - David, Lord Trimble

There would be no demand for PR, no appetite for the Euro or 'ever closer union', and a healthy respect for the nation's Christian foundation and the constitutional position of the Queen.

While a hung parliament may the worst of all worlds, there is surely a lesser evil.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Margaret Thatcher returns to 10 Downing Street

Sadly, it is not permanent.

Unless an image of the likeness captures something of the spirit, and that spirit casts a presence of perpetual influence and greatness.

But what is this greatness? Why has Margaret Thatcher been granted honours during in her lifetime which her predecessors have attained only years and usually decades after their death?

She is the only former prime minister to be immortalised in bronze in the Palace of Westminster while still living. And now her portrait hangs in Number 10, alongside those of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

And she has been placed there by a Labour prime minister, who personally commissioned the portrait. Gordon Brown thanked the Great Lady for ‘the contribution she has made to the country over many years’.

Tony Blair was premier for as long as Margaret Thatcher; he had a comparable (if not greater) transformative effect on his own party, and his period in office has undoubtedly transformed the culture of the United Kingdom. ‘Cool Britannia’ is his legacy: a utopian fusion of constitutional revolution, ‘third way’ conversion, mutually-destructive equalities and ever-competing multiculturalism. He, too, was a war-time leader, and arguably the ‘just war’ in Iraq was of far greater geo-political importance than the liberation of a few godforsaken rocks in the South Atlantic.

Yet no-one is pleading the cause of Tony Blair to be immortalised in bronze or preserved on canvass.

And it is highly unlikely that he will be accorded either honour even a century after his death.

Is it that true political greatness lies in sincerity and conviction? And is it that Tony Blair possesses neither, or, at least, is it that his chameleon variety, his mercurial shiftiness, his all-things-to-all-people capacity, his spiritual conversion and his political mutability all conspire to give the impression that there is nothing constant about him, nothing secure, nothing stable, dependable or resolute?

Is it that the house of Tony Blair was built on sand while Margaret Thatcher constructed hers upon a rock?

Cranmer is persuaded that Conservative Way Forward and The Thatcher Foundation will outlast The Tony Blair Faith Foundation by centuries. And he is further persuaded that Tony Blair will never be cast in bronze or find his portrait hanging in the state rooms of Number 10.

Unless, of course, the Red Tory persuades the next Conservative prime minister to commission such a work – just to thank Mr Blair for 'the contribution he has made to the country over many years'.

Monday, November 23, 2009

EU forces Government to put gay equality over Christian conscience

The Torah says:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Lev 18:22).

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Lev 20:13).

The New Testament says:

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9f).

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another (Rom 1:24).

The Qur’an says:

Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds" (7:80-81).

Of all the creatures in the world will ye approach males. And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay ye are a people transgressing all limits!" (26:165-166)

Please note, this is not a post about the divergences between Hasidic/Orthodox/Haredi/Masorti and Reform/Reconstructionist Judiasm; or between Orthodox/Protestant/Roman Catholic and Liberal Christianity, or between Sunni/Shi’a and Sufi Islam. And Cranmer is fully aware of the hermeneutic complexities, exegetical difficulties and the debates over the Sitz im Leben of all of these passages. Sexual ethics is not the point.

It is a post about national sovereignty.

Whatever one’s interpretation of the above scriptures, the European Commission has just subordinated the Christian conscience of the United Kingdom to the Divine Right of Europa, religious conviction to the infallible proclamation of secular orthodoxy.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

The spirit of Factortame is alive and well as once again Her Majesty’s Government is forced to amend a sovereign Act of Parliament in order that it might conform to a higher-sovereign EU directive.

There are now so many sovereigns that it is difficult to find the head that wears the crown.

Readers and communicants will recall that Labour’s Equality legislation granted religious groups certain exemptions when it came to employing homosexuals ‘so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers’. Some agreed, some disagreed. The majority view prevailed: that is democracy.

But the EU has decreed that such exemptions are incompatible with their directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation. The Guardian informs us: ‘The ruling follows a complaint from the National Secular Society, which argued that the opt-outs went further than was permitted under the directive and had created "illegal discrimination against homosexuals".’

Again, Cranmer has no argument with the National Secular Society in expressing its view: in a liberal democracy they have every right to argue their case in the public sphere. But to read that the Commission have heeded the ‘reasoned opinion’ of its lawyers that the view of the NSS may be imposed upon the professing Christian majority is of immense concern. The Government have been told: ‘exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive’.

So sort it.

It is interesting to note that The Guardian then talks of ‘a furore among church groups’ and how this is preferable to the ‘backlash from the commission’.

The furore among church groups will be as nothing compared to the furore among mosque groups, but (of course) The Guardian does not want to go there.

The ‘significant victory for gay equality’ and the ‘serious setback for religious employers’ may be of little consequence or a cause of no concern among many supine church groups, but there are other rather more convicted religious adherents for whom a ‘backlash from the commission’ is of no consequence at all.

Peter Tatchell may be right (again) that this intervention by the European Commission is ‘a big embarrassment for the British government, which has consistently sought to appease religious homophobes by granting them opt-outs from key equality laws. The European commission has ruled these opt-outs are excessive’.

But this is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing over the rights and wrongs of sexual ethics. It is an ‘embarrassment for the British government’ because it is manifestly no longer sovereign: there is a higher moral power. Even this hyper-cautious, equality-obsessed, anti-Christian Labour Government could not legislate sufficiently in the realm of equality to satisfy the rabidly-secular beast in Brussels.

As the NSS director Keith Porteous-Wood observed: “Now the government must demonstrate its commitment to equality, rather than continuing to jump to the church's tune."

Equality is the new religious orthodoxy. Its god is Europa; its creed is the rights of man.

It is no longer possible for religious groups to preach their beliefs or to sustain a distinct identity. By legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups, the Government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.

The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jedward are out but deadwood remains

Cranmer cannot recall the last time the Conservative Party had its act together so swiftly, with such deftness, panache, creativity, flair and intuition for the trivial obsessions and the shallow mood of the nation...

Van Rompuy's tax plans

Cranmer was going to talk about the 20-minute meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury had with the Pope yesterday. But it hardly seems worth it. They have agreed 'to make progress'. That's nice, but there can be none.

Bruno Waterfield today reports on Rompuy-Stiltskin's plans for an EU-wide tax, and he has not yet even been installed / enthroned / confirmed, or whatever they intend to do with presidents of Europe.

It appears that both presidents (Rompuy and Barroso) want a new 'Euro tax' (to be drawn from a fixed percentage of VAT and fuel duties).

But here's the interesting bit, which will delight the Bilderberg conspiracy advocates no end:

'Mr Van Rompuy has not set out in detail exactly which tax raising mechanisms he favours most, but after the Bilderberg meeting his spokesman said he would look favourably on either green taxes or a version of the Tobin Tax, originally proposed in 1972 by the US economist James Tobin as a tax on currency speculation.'

And the President disclosed his strategy for attaining high office. He told colleagues a few weeks ago that to achieve a top EU function you must 'not ask for high office, but become a grey mouse, and offers will come'.

Tony Blair's problem was in being a prancing peacock displaying all the colours of the rainbow. The EU prefers grey mice: no-one is interested in watching them; they are uninteresting vermin.

With an EU-wide tax at the forefront of Van Rompuy's manifesto, any hope that David Cameron had of keeping 'Europe' off the agenda for the election campaign and during his first few years of government is in vain. Our President has designs on our national taxation, and neither our Prime Minister nor our Queen can do very much at all about it.

Perhaps Mr Cameron might be invited to a Bilderberg gathering.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rowan Williams – Defender of the Faith

Cranmer never thought he would write that, but credit where it’s due. The Archbishop of Canterbury appears to have (re-)discovered a (slight) Protestant streak, even if his rebuke to Pope Benedict was cushioned with ecumenical pleasantries, concealed by conciliatory overtures and couched in some of his trademark dense theological verbiage.

His speech/lecture/sermon/six theses, that he nailed to the door of Gregorian University in Rome, made as strong a defence of Anglicanism as Cranmer has ever heard his successor deliver. He reiterated his commitment to women priests, and called for ‘clarity’ on the future of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue which (let’s face it) has been a little stalled over the past decade and somewhat stifled by the Pope’s decision to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to offer ‘Personal Ordinariates’ to disaffected Anglicans who think their church has gone a via media too far.

He has said that he was kept largely in the dark about the Pope’s master plan, which The Telegraph says he referred to ‘the elephant in the room’ (though the phrase does not appear in the version on the Archbishop’s website). He diplomatically referred to the move as ‘an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some’, but added that it ‘does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground’. He said: “It remains to be seen whether the flexibility suggested in the Constitution might ever lead to something less like a 'chaplaincy' and more like a church gathered around a bishop.”

And Cardinal Kasper seems as disapproving of the Pope’s move as the Archbishop was irritated. He said that such delicate issues ‘should be undertaken in the greatest possible transparency, tactfulness and mutual esteem in order not to entail meaningless tensions with our ecumenical partners’.

The Archbishop asked quite directly why the ordination of women by some local Anglican churches had become a deal-breaker in Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, in spite of the fact that the two religions had reached agreement on far more complex theological questions in the centuries since the Reformation. And he added a rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church, asking in what way the ordination of women as priests ‘compromise(s) the purposes of the church’.

And he continued, setting out quite clearly the issues which divide: ‘issues about authority in the Church, about primacy (especially the unique position of the pope), and the relations between the local churches and the universal church in making decisions (about matters like the ordination of women, for instance).’ He asks: ‘Are they theological questions in the same sense as the bigger issues on which there is already clear agreement? And if they are, how exactly is it that they make a difference to our basic understanding of salvation and communion? But if they are not, why do they still stand in the way of fuller visible unity? Can there, for example, be a model of unity as a communion of churches which have different attitudes to how the papal primacy is expressed?’

And he gets to the nub of the matter with: ‘The central question is whether and how we can properly tell the difference between “second order” and “first order” issues. When so very much agreement has been firmly established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it really justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?’

He praised Vatican II because it ‘turned away from... the Church as primarily an institution existing because of divine decree, governed by prescription from the Lord, faithfully administering the sacraments ordained by him for the salvation of souls – an external, visible society, whose members, under a hierarchical authority headed by the pope, constitute with him one visible body, tending to the same spiritual and supernatural end, i.e., sanctification of souls and their eternal happiness'. And by praising the Ecumenical Council from which Pope Benedict appears to be distancing himself, the Archbishop is seeking the ear of a very sizeable constituency of the Roman Catholic Church indeed.

He identifies the two issues which divide as authority – the nature or indeed the very possibility of the magisterium; and primacy - the extent to which the integrity of the Church is ultimately dependent on a single identifiable ministry of unity to which all local ministries are accountable. And he repudiates ‘the language of rule and hierarchy established by decree, with fixed divisions between teachers and taught, rulers and ruled’, advocating instead ‘filial and communal holiness held in a universal pattern of mutual service’. As far as he is concerned, papal primacy is ‘allied to juridical privilege and the patterns of rule and control’ to such an extent that it fails to achieve what it sets out to do. He realises that this is a ‘slightly sensitive discussion’, but he asserts that ‘the question of altar fellowship and of mutual recognition of ministerial offices should not be unconditionally dependent on a consensus on the question of primacy'.

The Archbishop of Canterbury articulates the historic via media when he observes ‘a restored universal communion would be genuinely a “community of communities” and a “communion of communions” – not necessarily a single juridically united body – and therefore one which did indeed assume that, while there was a recognition of a primatial ministry, this was not absolutely bound to a view of primacy as a centralized juridical office’.

He indicates that the corporate reading of Scripture, obedience to the Lord's commands to baptise and make eucharist, the shared understanding of the shape and the disciplines of what we have called filial holiness, do not need any ‘further test’ and certainly not ‘a universal primate’.

And so he repudiates those Roman Catholic theologians who assert that the ordination of women priests ‘makes the Anglican Communion simply less recognisably a body “doing the same Catholic thing”.’ But he says, for many Anglicans, ‘not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women, which in their view threatens to undermine the coherence of the ecclesiology in question’.

‘And the challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so “enhance the life of communion”, reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined? And do the arguments advanced about the "essence" of male and female vocations and capacities stand on the same level as a theology derived more directly from scripture and the common theological heritage such as we find in these ecumenical texts?’

‘Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals? In terms of the relation of local to universal, what we are saying here is that a degree of recognizability of 'the same Catholic thing' has survived: Anglican provinces ordaining women to some or all of the three orders have not become so obviously diverse in their understanding of filial holiness and sacramental transformation that they cannot act together, serve one another and allow some real collaboration.’

‘...It is this sort of thinking that has allowed Anglicans until recently to maintain a degree of undoubtedly impaired communion among themselves, despite the sharpness of the division over this matter. It is part of the rationale of supplementary episcopal oversight as practised in the English provinces, and it may yet be of help in securing the place of those who will not be able to accept the episcopal ministry of women. There can be no doubt, though, that the situation of damaged communion will become more acute with the inability of bishops within the same college to recognise one another's ministry in the full sense. Yet, in what is still formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception, is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life and mutual acknowledgement of integrity might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene? At least, by means of some of the carefully crafted institutional ways of continuing to work together, there remains an embodied trust in the possibility of discovering a shared ministry of the gospel; and who knows what more, ultimately, in terms of restored communion?’

‘...At what point do we have to recognise that surviving institutional and even canonical separations or incompatibilities are overtaken by the authoritative direction of genuinely theological consensus, so that they can survive only by appealing to the ghost of ecclesiological positivism? The three issues I have commented on may all seem, to the eyes of a non-Roman Catholic, to belong in a somewhat different frame of reference from the governing themes of the ecumenical ecclesiology expressed in the texts under review. If the non-Roman Catholic is wrong about this, we need to have spelled out exactly why; we need to understand either that there are issues about the filial/communal calling clearly at stake in surviving disagreements; or to be shown that another theological “register” is the right thing to use in certain areas, a different register which will qualify in some ways the language that has so far shaped ecumenical convergence.’

And the Archbishop ended by noting that these are ‘political matters’ which ‘there is no point in approaching theologically’. And he posed a final question:

‘For many of us who are not Roman Catholics, the question we want to put, in a grateful and fraternal spirit, is whether this unfinished business is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain. And if it isn't, can we all allow ourselves to be challenged to address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us thus far?’

Cranmer can hardly wait to hear the response of His Holiness today, for we Anglicans ‘need to have spelled out exactly’.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rompuy-Stiltskin – the first President of Europe

Who is he?

God knows.

But perhaps that’s the point.

Just as the Son of God was incarnate as a humble carpenter in Galilee, so Satan does not always appear as an angel of light: sometimes he just skulks incognito, concealed in tenebrous anonymity until the time is right for him to reveal himself. And Herman Van Rompuy-Stiltskin looks far more like the spawn of Gollum that a credible, charismatic, inspirational ‘President of Europe’ who can 'represent the interests’ and 'fulfil the purposes’ of European Union on the world stage. Of course, one should not judge by appearances, but in this instance Cranmer will make an exception. The first President / Emperor of Europe for five centuries is everyone’s third choice and has all the appearance of low-key, lightweight, compromise non-entity; there is nothing presidential about him at all. He looks like just another committee man, of which we have too many already.

Cranmer thought they were after a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass in which we are sinking.

And yet...

Rompuy-Stiltskin has called for a massive extension of the presence of the EU in town halls, schools and sporting events. He wants an EU national anthem. He sees no place for Turkey in the EU – ever – because the EU is a ‘Christian club’.

He has talked of Europe's Christian ‘fundamental values’, which would be undermined by admitting Turkey into the union. He said: “An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey.”


What is interesting is that a ‘Belgian official’ has attempted to defuse this with the explanation that ‘things that are said in opposition, as David Cameron will soon find out, are different from what you find yourself saying when in government’. He continued: “Serious politics, however, is to judge someone by what they say and do when in power."

Cranmer begs to differ: serious politics is to judge someone by the extent to which they honour when in power the pledges made whilst in opposition. It is to do with such notions as consistency, sincerity, integrity, reliability, truth and honour.

It is noteworthy that when The Times introduced Herman Van Rompuy-Stiltskin last week as being ‘harmless’ and a ‘nice guy’, their opening sentence was: ‘He is a devout Roman Catholic’.

They also said he has ‘a quiet sense of purpose’. Perhaps ‘devout’ in this instance is synonymous with ‘cradle’, or euphemism for non-convert, like Tony Blair, whose devoutness is more to his own liberal agenda than to any particular orthodoxy.

And it would be very useful indeed to have a devout Roman Catholic leading Europe’s secular government while a devout Roman Catholic also occupies the Vatican: they can oppose Turkey together. It is highly unlikely that a ‘devout Catholic’ in opposition would be inclined to oppose Turkey’s accession on the basis of Europe’s ‘fundamental’ Christian values, only to discover, when in power, that Islam shares all of those values and they are not so uniquely fundamental to Christianity after all.

Whatever else is or is not known about this nonentity, he is no democrat, and so perfect to lead a fascist, totalitarian, anti-democratic, obfuscationally bureacratic Tower of Babel.

When the first Irish ‘No’ vote on the Lisbon Treaty created a slight headache, Mr Van Rompuy said ‘this doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to work in a creative way in the direction which the Constitution points in’.

Creative way?

He clarified: “I don’t object if we break up the Constitution into smaller parts, as long as we continue to work in the same direction: in the direction of more Europe.”

So there you have it: there is just one direction in the world of Rompuy-Stiltskin, irrespective of the express will of the people.

He also supports proposals for an ‘EU Tax’ to finance the Union, which he has identified could come from a specifically ring-fenced swathe of ‘green taxes’ (so that’s what they’re for).

As ever, the whole process for the appointment of Europe’s first president was a Franco-German stitch-up.

The spirit of Charlemagne broods ever closer. Van Rompuy’s appointment is the politics of pure jealousy. Everyone knows that the most credible and competent operator who could have ‘incarnated’ the EU on the world stage was Tony Blair. The problem, of course, is that his shekinah incandescence would have eclipsed the humble halos of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel. And the EU Commission are also jealous to guard their status: whenever Tony Blair spoke, their voices would have been as whispers and their protestations nothing more than pathetic squeaks. Who would have listened to President Barroso if President Blair were co-regent?

Herman Van Rompuy has succeeded precisely because he has no charisma, no initiative, no personality and no presence. In short, he has no teeth and is therefore no threat either to the Franco-German axis or to the omnipotent European Commission.

Churchill beats Jesus as ‘most wanted Twitterer from history’

Cranmer simply cannot be bothered with Twitter: it is nothing but a cacophony of inane flashes of gossip and damp squibs of naught; ephemeral bleats of gossamer and fatuous cock and bull; characterless whisperings of vanity, idle trivia, airy utterings, colourless rumours and hollow streams of consciousness which seeks to reduce everything to the superficial sound-bite of a Sun headline.

It is so perfectly postmodern.

Prospect Magazine has done a poll amongst the Twitterati, asking them which historic character they would have chosen to follow had the technology been around at the time.

Sir Winston Churchill came out on top.

Twits clearly think that his sublime utterances and depths of thought can be condensed into 140 characters.

The poll tested the views of the 11 per cent of British people who use Twitter — an estimated 5.5m people — and compared them to the rest of the country, revealing that while they have a strong liberal bias in their politics, their heroes are conservative (as defined by Prospect). Churchill topped the list (34%), while Jesus (30%) and Darwin (28%) came second and third.

(Cranmer would like to clarify that an examination of the extent to which Jesus and Darwin were 'conservative' would require a thesis, and it is noteworthy that even Churchill ratted an re-ratted).

According to Prospect editor David Goodhart: “Churchill and Jesus both specialised in brief, memorable phrases — so both ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ and ‘blessed are the meek’ are messages perfect for the Twitter generation. Jesus was obviously born to tweet.”

He'd have managed better
If he'd had it planned
So why'd he choose such a backward time
In such a strange land?
If he'd come today he could have reached a whole nation
Israel in 4BC
Had no mass communication...

Churchill was most popular among potential Conservative voters, men, the over-35s, and the English. Jesus, meanwhile, came first among Labour voters and Scots. But the two are a statistical dead-heat with Liberal Democrats, women and the under 35s.

Famous female figures like Elizabeth I (17%) and Joan of Arc (8%) were less popular, and women were much more likely to follow female figures.

The poll revealed that most people would much rather follow someone inspiring than evil — with Jesus, Martin Luther King (24%) and John F Kennedy (23%) comfortably outscoring Adolf Hitler (14%) and Jack the Ripper (13%). Hitler, however, holds a special fascination for men and the under 35s.

Young people were also much more likely to want to follow ‘difficult’ writers and thinkers than their parents: under 35s were more likely to follow Shakespeare — perhaps because his dialogue would be easier to understand if reduced to 140 characters. Noted wit Oscar Wilde was most popular among those who were frequent Twitter users.

The Top 20 people Twitterers want to follow:

Winston Churchill 34%
Jesus 30%
Charles Darwin 28%
Martin Luther King 24%
Leonardo Da Vinci 23%
William Shakespeare 20%
John F Kennedy 20%
Queen Elizabeth I 17%
Princess Diana 16%
Oscar Wilde 16%
Mahatma Gandhi 15%
Adolf Hitler 14%
Jack the Ripper 13%
Marilyn Monroe 12%
Eve (as in Adam and Eve) 11%
Che Guevara 10%
Joan of Arc 8%
Marie Antoinette 5%

Frankly, as far as Cranmer is concerned, the lower down one comes on this list, the greater the compliment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Government of Opposition

Only in the postmodern era in which black can be white, good can be evil and right can be wrong could the Government be the Opposion.

We have been treated to a seven-minute glimpse of the 15 (or was it nine?) Bills which will constitute Labour’s final (God willing) legislative programme. And they are a distracting delusion. As David Cameron observed, the man who boasted that he had ended boom and bust has presided over the ‘longest, deepest recession in recent memory’. He said: “Our economy has been overtaken by Italy. We have had the biggest bank bailout in the world, the biggest bank run in Europe and after all this the governor of Bank of England's verdict is there has been little real reform.”

And mocking the Prime Minister’s ‘moral compass’, Mr Cameron accused Gordon Brown of borrowing slogans ‘directly from the far right (sic) BNP with his pledge for “British jobs for British workers”, and allowing No 10 staff to smear MPs’. He said this government now represented a ‘moral failure for the prime minister and monumental failure for the country’.

There was no Immigration Bill. There was no Bill for directly-elected police representatives. There was no mention of the NHS or reforms to Parliament, and yet there was the announcement of a new law to halve (yes, halve) the budget deficit.

Cranmer is not sure how a government can legislate for such an aspiration, and he feels sorry for the Queen who is constitutionally obliged to spout such bilge.

How long, O Lord, how long?

Labour’s Equality Bill means Christmas could be ‘killed off’

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the annual Daily Mail blurb about Christmas being banned somewhere or other: lights being renamed to accommodate other religions; Santa being banned on health and safety grounds; reindeer having their animal rights restored; carol singers barred from shopping centres; Winterval supplanting any mention of Christ; nativity plays replaced with the Grinch; Christmas cards which don’t mention Christmas...

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill is the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference. It is his job to make all the arrangements for the Pope’s state visit next year – the first ever by a pope to the United Kingdom – and one gets the feeling that he is raising his profile as a prelude.

Today he warns that Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill will lead to the banning of Christmas celebrations. He warns of the Bill’s ‘chilling effect' on town halls and other organisations, ‘for fear of offending other cultures’. He notes such developments as the renaming of Oxford's Christmas festival as the 'Winter Light Festival' to make it more ‘inclusive’; a local authority instructing tenants to take down Christmas lights in case they might offend Muslim neighbours; and authorities removing the word ‘Christmas’ out of cultural sensitivity to everyone except Christians.

Monsignor Summersgill has also recently warned that the European Commission's Equal Treatment Directive is an ‘instrument of oppression’ which will force Christians to act against their consciences.

Cranmer has some sympathy with the Monsignor’s concerns, but one cannot help but feel that he is stirring feathers and spouting histrionics in a desperate attempt to find something he might have in common with Pope Benedict XVI; some ‘common cause’ he might be able to discuss with His Holiness next year which might earn him a Vatican gold star and perhaps a promotion.

The reality is, for all the Christmas scare stories, the festival remains central to the mid-winter bleakness, just as it did since before the time it was Christianised. There may be the occasional silly regulation, over-zealous interpretation or hyper-sensitive application of some rule or other, but such agendas are really no different to the seventeenth-century attempts to force businesses to trade on Christmas day or to rename the festival ‘Christ-tide’, in order that the ‘popish mass’ might be eradicated from the public sphere. Thankfully, Harpie Hormone is no Lord Protector, and Labour's Equality Bill is nowhere near the Cromwellian level of prohibition on Christmas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conservative Muslim Forum shunned by CCHQ

Cranmer covered the establishment of this official Conservative-Muslim website exactly two years ago. There is nothing wrong in principle with political campaigning websites aimed at the micro-narratives of the diverse and disparate. Let us have one for the Christians, one for the Jews, one for the Sikhs, one for the Atheists, etc., etc. As long as their aims accord with the objectives of the Conservative Party, and their understanding of theology accords with conservative poitical philosophy, there should be no problems at all.

But back in 2007, the Conservative Muslim Caliphate Forum was concerned with issues which were so far off the policy radar of the Conservative Party that it was difficult to understand why they were permitted a subsidised presence at CCHQ and why they were able to use the Party’s logo – other, of course, than to garner the votes of like-minded Muslims.

They advocated nuclear weapons for Iran, the cessation of support for Israel, a compulsory history curriculum in schools which gave ‘full recognition to the massive contribution that Islam has made to the development of Western civilisation’, and an immigration policy which permitted the right of entry to the UK of those who reject our democracy and its institutions. They even support Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s message of ‘gay-hate’.

Cranmer knows a good many Conservative Muslims and even more Muslim Conservatives, and they do not hold beliefs or advocate policies which bear any remote resemblance to those advocated by the Conservative Muslim Forum. Indeed, it is not clear to what extent those behind the website are Conservatives at all, as they seek to join President Ahmadinejad in his quest to ‘wipe Israel off the map’; grant support to a barbaric theocracy which executes women and children; and give succour to Holocaust-deniers. And by advocating the admission to the UK of Muslim preachers who wish to destroy British democracy, they fuel the flames of the Islamist agenda and offer them the Conservative brand in support of a totalitarian Shari’a system. The rights and liberties of the British people are inalienable, and the Conservative Party above all parties should stand in their defence.

Here was an opportunity for Conservative ‘moderate’ Muslims to distance themselves from their ‘extremist’ co-religionists, yet they have done no such thing. Instead, they challenge the foreign policy advocated by the Party Leader, repudiate Conservative policy, undermine the FCO, and assert that their way is the only ‘sensible’ way. And further, they demand censorship:

We accept that some terrorists do abuse Islam for their purposes. However, an incoming Conservative administration must deny their attempt to link criminal acts to any religion. The term ‘terrorism’ must be separated from any religious references. We reiterate that the Conservative Party should not explicitly or implicitly link terrorism with Islam as, similar to other major religions, Islam forbids terrorism.’

It is curious that the Conservative Muslim Forum wishes to silence the factual reporting – ‘explicit or implicit’ – of the Islamist terrorists who shoot or blow up innocent people with a cry of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ on their lips and a copy of the Qur’an in their hands. It is concerning that the Conservative Muslim Forum seeks to silence those Muslim Conservatives who perceive a link between terrorism and the rise of Wahhabi Islam. It is worrying that the Conservative Muslim Forum has no place for Muslim Conservatives who oppose nuclear weapons for Iran. It is disquieting that the Conservative Muslim Forum does not tolerate Muslim Conservatives who support the existence of Israel. It is offensive that the Conservative Muslim Forum isolates those Muslim Conservatives who do not want to see homosexuals summarily executed.

There are very many Conservative Muslims who find a natural home in the Party and who view the theology and politics of this Forum with extreme distaste. It is noteworthy that CCHQ have been quick to stamp on MPs or candidates who advocate tax cuts, who support grammar schools, who join Better Off Out, and God help any who dare even quote Enoch Powell. But the odious policies of the Conservative Muslim Forum have been tolerated for years. Global Wahhabism is a far more immediate and real threat to the world than ‘Global Warming’, yet while David Cameron is sledding on the melting glaciers, the Conservative Muslim Forum has been advancing a decidedly anti-Semitic and homophobic agenda - at the Conservative Party’s expense, financially if not electorally.

But it has taken two years for CCHQ to begin to address some of the concerns which were posed by Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome.

And it was The Daily Telegraph’s Mandrake column which prompted the investigation.

It transpires that the Conservative Muslim Forum has been so keen to win the Muslim vote that they have been lifting entire sections of text from ‘IslamOnline’ – a website founded by Yusuf al-Qaradawi. That he happens to be a ‘hate preacher’ and banned from Britain is apparently of no consequence. That he has been described as ‘dangerous and divisive’ by David Cameron is apparently irrelevant.

Can you imagine what wrath, what fire and brimstone would be poured out by CCHQ upon the owner of a Conservative website which happened to quote Enoch Powell?

Yusuf al-Qaradawi doubtless spouts an awful lot that is ‘in line with mainstream Muslim thought’: it is the custom of the devil to appear as an angel of light. But by quoting even the wholesome sections from a website founded and written by a man who supports suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, which he called a ‘necessary Jihad’, the Conservative Muslim Forum lends credence to and exalts the status of the unofficial leader of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.

The Conservative Muslim Forum was established in order to increase the Conservative Party’s ‘understanding of Muslim issues and (to) encourage Muslim involvement in the party’.

It is time that its commitment to our shared values – ‘belief in enterprise, in the sense of community, the belief in the family and in the value of hard work’ – was extended to include democracy, transparency, accountability, scrutiny and an advocacy of the British national interest.
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