Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Gay New Year! ( Ulster)

New Year’s Day 2007 is an inauspicious day in Ulster. It is the day that the Northern Ireland Sexual Orientation Regulations become law, imposed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain MP, using ‘direct rule’ powers. The Cabinet has delayed the introduction of these regulations in the rest of the UK because of concerns for religious liberty in schools. But for some reason, the Government cares less about the education of Ulster’s children.

The NI regulations outlaw discrimination and ‘harassment’ on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services and education. Gay rights groups view the laws as the precedent for UK-wide regulations. While Cranmer cares little for what they do in the privacy of their own homes, he cares a great deal indeed for what is forced down our throats, and is positively incandescent when our children – the most vulnerable minds in society - are obliged by law to ‘respect’ a person’s sexual orientation when it may be alien to their understanding of both biology and religion.

Doubtless such an assertion makes Cranmer ‘homophobic’, yet this would be just one more example of the abuse of a word and the misrepresentation of a valid concern. It is one thing to love one’s neighbour from the heart, for that is agape; it is quite another to be forced by statute law to respect how some of them make love, for that is eros.

Of particular concern is the loosely-worded harassment law (Regulation 3:3), which states:

(3) A person (‘A’) subjects another person (‘B’) to harassment in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision referred to in these Regulations where, on the grounds of sexual orientation, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of
(a) violating B’s dignity; or
(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.

From this, it may be adduced that ‘harassment’ may constitute an ‘offensive environment’. This could mean that a church turns down a practising homosexual as a member, or refuses them communion, and when it explains why may find itself sued for harassment. There is some protection for religious organisations, but they may still be vulnerable over the manner in which they deal with the situation. It is more to do with how the victim feels, rather than how the organisation acted.

A teacher who teaches that sex is only for marriage may be sued by an aggrieved pupil. The school curriculum and ‘Christian’ assemblies are not exempt.

A homosexual student could argue that a university has created an ‘offensive environment’ by permitting a ‘homophobic’ Christian Union to promote itself on campus.

A Christian old people’s home may be sued for refusing a double room to a homosexual couple in a civil partnership.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, initial fines could be between £500 and £5000, with subsequent breaches attracting damages of up to £25,000. These laws pose an alarming threat to the religious liberty of Christians in Ulster, which is the one corner of the United Kingdom where the complexities of religio-political tensions find expression in everyday life. They could force schools to actively promote homosexuality, and could form the legal apparatus to persecute Christians.

Christians oppose the harassment of anyone, and there are already adequate laws on the statute books to deal with the offenders. These new regulations will inhibit freedom of conscience, limit freedom of speech, and imperil the freedom of religion.

And as if all this were not bad enough, under Regulation 52, the burden of proof in every case is reversed, such that the accused is obliged to prove his or her innocence.

Cranmer is dismayed, and seeks the termination of this corrupt and corrupting Government, and beseeches the Lord that 2007 might be the year in which we may be delivered from its evils, and granted a government of righteousness and justice.

His Grace wishes all of his regular communicants, infrequent contributors, and silent readers, a most blessed new year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Babylon the Great - Saddam’s legacy

As the world preoccupies itself with the execution of Saddam Hussain, Cranmer is not being drawn on the morality of capital punishment. It is unequivocally a tool of justice of the state, advocated in both the Old and New Testaments, yet it must be observed that the Lord himself urged one vengeful crowd not to insist upon its application, and, if his ministry was about anything, it was mercy and love. To obey is better than sacrifice; vengeance belongs to the Lord.

Cranmer wishes instead to focus on Saddam Hussein’s legacy, and in particular his decision to rebuild Babylon. The Bible speaks extensively of this city as a place of manifest evil, and it was Saddam’s intention to restore it to its former glory. For two millennia, the ruins have lain on the Euphrates river in modern-day Iraq. Some of the bricks of the ancient ruins still carry the embossed message of King Nebuchadnezzar, inscribed: ‘I am Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the world’.

Saddam, as ruler of Iraq, perceived himself to be the heir to Nebuchadnezzar, and manifested the sort of demonic defiance of God exemplified by him. He spent billions of dollars reconstructing Babylon, emulating his forebear in almost everything. He even embossed the bricks with his own inscription: ‘In the era of President Saddam Hussein all Babylon was constructed in three stages. From Nebuchadnezzar to Saddam Hussein, Babylon is rising again.’

‘Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling-places not their own.’ (Hab 1:5)

Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that he would be cut down like a tree, leaving only a stump in the ground (Dan 4:23). His kingdom would be restored to him when he acknowledged the rule of God, which, after seven years of beast-like behaviour, he did. He was indeed humbled. The recent pictures of Saddam resemble something of a beast, but he would not humble himself; he was defiant to the end, and died denouncing the West, clutching a copy of the Qur’an. One wonders what Allah will make of his good and faithful servant…

Saddam may have bequeathed to the world a new city, but it is possessed by an ancient spirit. It is complete with an opulent palace, and a most impressive throne room. But who will the next occupant be?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The BBC’s Christmas repeal vote

The BBC’s Today programme asked the public to suggest laws which should be scrapped, and thousands made their suggestion. A panel has now come up with a shortlist of six, and Cranmer is urging all of his communicants to vote, by New Year’s Eve.

Of course, there is no assurance that a lone MP will take up the battle on the nation’s behalf, but the poll is important in its symbolism, and, in this day and age, symbols are frequently more important than the reality they seek to evoke.

Cranmer would support the repeal of a number of these laws, but two are of considerable interest, and both would have potentially seismic implications if repealed:

European Communities Act 1972
Act of Settlement 1701

Cranmer unequivocally supports the repeal of the 1972 Act, and just as unequivocally opposes repeal of the 1701 Act.

It is interesting to observe BBC bias once again at work. Some of these Acts have a line of BBC explanation, in order to inform the public in their vote. The European Communities Act has no helpful explanation like ‘the unaccountable source of 80% of British laws’. It simply stands alone, without comment. The Act of Settlement, however, is ‘the law that prevents a monarch from marrying a Catholic’. A simple, biased statement, which ignores every other clause in this important document. There is no mention of it being crucial ‘to the peace and safety of the Realm’, no understanding of its historical significance, and no appreciation of its role in protecting the UK from unwanted external political interference. It is paraded as a ‘bigoted’ and ‘outdated’ Act, the repeal of which will doubtless appeal to millions of Roman Catholics and Scottish nationalists. Its demise would, however, herald the end of the Church of England.

It costs nothing to vote on-line, so Cranmer exhorts all of his communicants to visit the BBC Radio 4 site, and to consider voting for the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972. This yoke of oppression has been borne for too long.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cathedral 'must be open to Muslim prayers’

There is a most interesting article in today’s Guardian in which it is reported that Spanish Muslims have demanded that the Pope grant them permission to worship alongside Christians in Córdoba’s magnificent cathedral. It would be a further sign of his 'tolerance' of Islam, after the insult he gave in Regensburg.

Of course, this particular cathedral was once a mosque, only being converted in the 13th century, and one may therefore have sympathy with the Muslim demand that it (partially) revert to its former use. Yet the letter sent to the Pope, by the president of the Islamic Board of Spain, Mansur Escudero, is most curiously worded:

"We invite you to create a new example, to send a message of hope to the world. Do not fear. Together we can show the violent, the intolerant, the anti-semites, the Islam-phobes and also those who believe that only Islam has a right to remain in the world, that prayer is the strongest weapon imaginable."

It is curious because of its manifest ambiguity. A message of tolerance must be sent, but the Pope must send it. It must be sent to various ‘intolerant’ groups, and also to those ‘who believe that only Islam has the right to remain in the world’. What sort of message does it send to these? The Pope offends us, we riot and murder, the Pope apologises. We demand the right to pray in a cathedral, the Pope acquiesces. At the very least, Islam perceives the symbolic leader of the world’s Christians to be subject to its demands, and most compliant in the face of threats.

And what sort of prayers would be offered in this cathedral-mosque? The letter states quite clearly that they are ‘inspired by the optimism caused by the image of Your Holiness in the Blue Mosque saying a prayer shoulder to shoulder in Islamic style’. So there you have it. It is the Christians who will be expected to adapt their mode of worship to the ‘Islamic style’. It would not be too long before the Bible was replaced with the Qur'an, Jesus became Isa, and there was no mention of his divinity 'for fear of causing offence'.

They do, however, graciously confirm that they ‘do not intend to take control of the building or recover a nostalgic Al Andalus’ (the Islamic term for most of modern Spain), but rather they seek to restore the ‘spirit of Al Andalus’. And what is this ‘spirit’? It is the spirit of the dar-al-Islam; the spirit of Islamic religio-political supremacy; of territorial ownership; the spirit of total submission to Allah and his prophet Mohammed. One may quite rationally fear this ‘spirit’, which is not only intolerant of other religious practices; it is antithetical to the Enlightenment principles of Western civilisation.

Cranmer understands the letter is in the Pope’s in-tray. An outright rejection risks causing great offence, as seems to be very easily taken, and innocent nuns may once again be slaughtered by the barbaric masses. So Cranmer suggests a polite reminder to Spain’s Muslims that this site in Córdoba was, in fact, a church before it was a mosque, which the invading Moors destroyed in order to assert their political supremacy. Or how about a quid pro quo? We’ll give you back Córdoba’s mosque, if you give us back Istanbul’s 6th-century Byzantine Hagia Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453.

Deal or No Deal?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

For unto us a child is born

Christmas has become an annual Sabbath; almost the only time now when families gather together, friends are remembered, and the ghosts of Christmases past are recalled, some with joy, some with sorrow. It is the one time of the year when thoughts of God enter directly into the home. And so must it remain, for it infuses hope into lives of despair, and light into a world of darkness, conflict, and turmoil.

Politicians win elections by promising heaven on earth – they will feed the starving, house the homeless, dispel the fear, and instil a hope as bright as day. Yet when the electorate realises that they are still in purgatory a decade later, another swathe of disaffected voters views the democratic process with cynicism, and declares a plague on both their houses. The government of man is in crisis, and the heart of man is bereft.

But this child, this Jesus, this god-man mystery – some day, the government shall be upon his shoulder.

The deliverer is human, one of us, flesh of our flesh. He is born to rule, born to be a king, conceived of the house and lineage of David. His name is Wonderful – a mystery of divinity in humanity; Counsellor – the oracle of wisdom; the mighty God – the Word was not just with God, but was God; the Everlasting Father – not the same person as the Father, but of one substance with the Father; the Prince of Peace – bringing a peace that passes understanding.

Cranmer wishes all of his regular communicants, and all of his intermittent guests, a joyful Christmas, and a blessed New Year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

And now… a single EU driving licence

Despite a recent survey establishing that religion is as divisive in Europe as it ever was, the drive towards a single political entity continues apace. The EU already has a flag, an anthem, a passport, a currency, a central bank, and a parliament. It has common policies on agriculture, fisheries, food safety, industry, and employment. It has a common foreign and security policy, and an embryonic army. It is pressing for harmonisation of fiscal policy, and a common judicial system, both of which are being realised. It is intent on acquiring a constitution, giving it a legal identity, a foreign minister, common diplomatic representation, and unitary representation on international bodies including the UN Security Council.

Amidst all these trappings of state, it comes as no surprise that the lawmakers in Strasbourg have agreed to a single EU driving licence. It will be in a credit card format, with a photograph, and an (optional) microchip. But this is not simply a single licence to facilitate Brussels bureaucracy; it presupposes common jurisdiction on the EU’s road network, such that offences committed in one state have repercussions in another; or its withdrawal for health reasons in one state leads to an EU-wide ban.

For the United Kingdom, it is also likely to be an ID card by the back door. Apparently, the Government has already suggested that the chip ‘could contain information about the driver, as UK citizens have no ID card, while the Nordic countries suggested it could be used for paying road taxes’. EU-wide road taxation?

Welcome to the Peoples' Republic of Europe.

Cranmer agrees with Mr Churchill on this matter:

‘We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. And should European statesmen address us in the words that were used of old, 'Shall I speak for thee to the King or the Captain of the Host?', we should reply with the Shunamite woman 'Nay sir, for we dwell among our own people.’

If it is no longer possible to be interested and associated without being absorbed, it is time to disassociate, and to dwell among our own people.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Islam in the Nativity of the Lord

Cranmer is most appreciative of this little festive gem, which comes from his most friendly communicant, Mr Parker, in Oxford.

This children’s playmobil is a nativity scene, with the City of David in the background. While Mr Parker was setting up the family nativity set, he noticed an odd detail on the skyline. He recounts:

Why, atop one of the buildings, there is (ahistorically) a minaret – a most peculiar thing, since the Mohammedan heresy came half a millennium later, of course. The rest of the skyline also looks rather Islamic. Bethlehem, in the year 0 AD, has an evidently thriving Islamic community – along with its own giant, London Olympics-style mosque. Clearly the Playmobil chappies are well on top of the changing political and religious situations in the Holy Land, if a little too keen in their anticipation. (Or perhaps this typifies the Palestinian success in convincing ignorant Westerners of their priority claims on Israel).

Doubtless, for merely drawing his communicants’ attention to this, Cranmer is racist, Islamophobic, and a supporter of the BNP. Cranmer notes that Pope Benedict has been embraced by the BNP for some of his recent comments, yet it does not make him a member of their fraternity, nor a subscriber to their creed. Where are the enlightened Mohammedans who can engage with the religio-political issues, instead of indulging in puerile ad hominem remarks?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O Muslim town of Bethlehem…

How still we see thee lie.
And stiller, and stiller.

The Telegraph paints a bleak picture of the City of David this Christmas. Manger Square is not bustling with tourists, the Church of the Nativity is devoid of pilgrims, and no-one is worshipping in the candlelit grotto where the Lord Jesus is believed by tradition to have been born. Along with Jerusalem and Nazareth, Bethlehem is one of the most sacred sites for the world’s Christians, but this Christmas sees it cleansed of the faith that has sustained it for the past 60 years. The town's Christian population has dwindled from more than 90 per cent in 1948 to just 35 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006, and this is diminishing by the week.

Christian hotels are empty, Christian businesses are boycotted, the souvenir shops are closed, Christians are verbally and physically abused, and there are murders, beatings and land grabs. If there is a job vacancy, it goes to a Muslim, not a Christian. One dare not display a cross or crucifix, and women wearing anything but Islamic dress are frequently spat upon by male Muslim youths.

The situation has become so desperate that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, are leading a joint delegation to Bethlehem to express their solidarity with the beleaguered Christian population.

The Cardinal said that Bethlehem is being ‘steadily strangled’. He did not say ‘by Islamic fundamentalism’ for fear of incurring the same wrath that befell the Pope in Regensburg, but this is surely what he meant. The problem is heightened now that Bethlehem finds itself behind Israel’s 400-mile-long security wall, which divides the Jewish and Palestinian areas, separating the sheep and the goats. In 2004, half the Israeli fatalities caused by suicide attacks were committed by extremists from Bethlehem. It has become a prison for Christians, and a paradise for Mohammedan terrorists.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has hung a large banner on the security wall, with the message ‘Peace Be With You’. Cranmer is reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.

How silently, how silently the world beholds this ethnic cleansing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

German Church lays down the law for Muslims

In a move which would send shockwaves throughout the Church of England, and result in condemnation and cries of ‘racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ from the highest echelons of the British Government, the Protestant Church in Germany, led by the Lutherans, has bravely issued a 124-page document on the future relationship it wishes to see between Christians and Muslims in Germany.

Cranmer is indebted the Gates of Vienna for this summary:

In short: Europeans must demand Muslims to respect certain values. Schoolteachers wearing head scarves are unfit to teach. Jewish and Christian symbols can be displayed in schools, because they don’t conflict with the values in Germany’s constitution. Nuns who teach can wear their order’s dress if they so prefer. Oppression of women, honor killings, female genital mutilation, and forced marriages are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in a democratic society. No person can claim cultural identity as an excuse for violating human rights.

One section states:

Civil servants must at all times adhere to liberal democratic and constitutional structures and concomitantly to the equality of men and women. If a Muslim applicant for a training activity wants to wear a head cloth at public schools with reference to freedom of religion in the service, this behavior justifies doubts about her suitability — in view of the meaning of the head cloth in Islam — as a teacher in a national school.

Apparently, the Muslims of Germany are not very happy with this.

If any of Cranmer’s communicants wishes to read this report, it is to be found here (in German). If any may translate its more salient points, he would be appreciative of the further insights. It sounds like a document worth reading, and nailing to the doors of a number of European institutions…

Monday, December 18, 2006

Compulsory halal meat in UK schools

Cranmer is indebted to his faithful communicant Ms Dexey for bringing his attention to the fact that Reading schools are serving halal meat to their students with neither their foreknowledge nor parental approval. It is not the option to which Cranmer objects, but the compulsion. The RSPCA condemns the practice of slitting an animal's throat while it is conscious, but issues of cruelty and inhumane treatment have been completely ignored as Berkshire schools bend over backwards to accommodate the sensitivities of Islam.

The reason given is that Reading ‘has a high proportion of Muslim students’. By the same reasoning, Bradford, Oldham, Leicester, Slough, and most of London should also be serving nothing but halal meat, and now the precedent has been set, it will not be too long before the demands are made.

But Cranmer finds a flaw in this multicultural manifestation. Of course the Christians may object, and without doubt their pleas will fall on deaf ears, but the Sikhs also have cause for complaint, and they have yet to raise their voice on this matter.

Unlike Hindus, some Sikhs eat meat, not least because one of their gurus is recorded as being a hunter. Yet within the Sikh faith are the ‘kurahit’, or prohibitions, one of which is to not eat meat ‘killed in the Muslim way’. The origins, as ever, have more to do with the politics of identity, but it is a sustained article of belief for Sikhs all over the world – they are simply not permitted to eat halal meat at all. In Reading, they have been doing so without their knowledge.

Consider for one moment if these schools had been serving reconstituted pork disguised as some other meat, without the knowledge of Muslim students or parents. There would be uproar, with a high-powered delegation of ‘senior Muslims’ to Downing Street demanding national repentance and a global apology, to which the Prime Minister would doubtless acquiesce.

In this instance, the sensitivities of other faith groups and the demands of the animal rights activists are subjugated to the demands of the Muslims. Cranmer is grateful to Mr Wrinkled Weasel for his insight into the dilemma of relativism:

At the core of relativism is the pyramid of rights. Various groups vie for these rights appealing for hegemony at the expense of others in a state of flux - an amoral soup - struggling for a place at the top of the pyramid.

Cranmer is in no doubt as to which group is nearing the apex…

Muslim-only swimming in public swimming pools
The bias of the BBC towards Islam
Muslims making BBC documentaries about Jesus
The (suspended?) plans for a veiled Muslim to bring the C4 Christmas message
Trafalgar Square given over to Eid celebrations
British justice delayed as courts adjourn for Eid
The rule of law ignored as police turn a blind eye to Muslim death threats and incitements to violence
The demand from Muslim leaders for a change in British foreign policy or face the consequences
Houses built to conform to Shari’a law
Plans for a Muslim-only day at Alton Towers
Concerns that the capital city is becoming Londonistan
The mingling of minarets with Oxford’s dreaming spires,
The observations of the Church of England that Islam seeks to dominate
The Head of the British Army stating that Islam undermines our way of life
Observations in Parliament that ‘Islamism’ threatens our very existence.

Cranmer prays that they eyes of England will be opened before it is too late.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stuffing euros down our throats

Cranmer’s sermon this morning was on the real-meaning-of-Christmas versus the orgy of Saturnalian materialism that it has become (or reverted to being). He exhorted his flock from the Prophet Jeremiah: ‘Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.’

And as the sheep within his flock bethought themselves guiltily of their trees, lights and tinsel, Cranmer told them of his own Christmas shopping expedition yesterday, in search of stocking fillers. Not that the children hang stockings any more - indeed, a pillowcase is rarely of sufficient size these days - but Cranmer buys numerous small gifts for various miscellaneous progeny, and he found himself in Boots buying chocolates.

There was a time when the foil-wrapped golden coins were sterling – crowns, half-crowns, or sovereigns – or they resembled magnificent doubloons, and encouraged fantastical games of pirates or hours of treasure seeking. But all Cranmer could find was foil-wrapped foreign currency.

And this was not just any foreign currency. No, these were euros.

If the British people have an aversion to the euro, let us stuff them down their throats - literally. The single European currency is sneaking in through the back door - disguised as a festive stocking filler - and sweet-toothed children are being brainwashed into accepting as utterly normal these gold and silver tokens instead of the national currency.

Chocolatising the euro is evidently seen as a good way of winning over people to accept this as the future currency of the United Kingdom. Cranmer did not purchase any; indeed, he moved a few bags nearer to a heating source, in the intense hope that they would melt into an amorphous lump.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Veiled threats end C4 Christmas message

It is reported in The Telegraph that the Muslim woman who was due to deliver Channel 4's alternative Christmas message wearing a niqab has cancelled her appearance. Apparently, she received criticism from inside and outside her community.

According to the report, ‘she had been pressurised by senior members of the community who felt it was not her place to talk about Islam. It has also been said that she had received threatening letters from non-Muslims accusing her of trying to upstage the Queen’.

The second reason is a little puzzling, given that the very raison d’être of this slot is to upstage Her Majesty, and letters of complaint about Quentin Crisp and Sharon Osborne in previous years were quite ineffectual. The first reason, however, is more than a little revealing about the nature of Islam – it is simply not a woman’s place to talk about its beliefs or practices, and pressure has been applied by 'senior Muslims’ to force her withdrawal. One wonders who these people are and what they threatened.

But Cranmer is baffled by this announcement, and can’t help thinking it is all a further publicity stunt to boost viewing figures. Given that no face would be visible, and no-one would see lips move, anyone could front this programme while any woman read the message. In fact, C4 could even have asked Cranmer to deliver this message, his vast beard concealed beneath a niqab, and kept all of this embarrassing coverage out of the media altogether…

Friday, December 15, 2006

Abolishing right and wrong

There is something more than a little sinister permeating the British education system, which will have a profound effect on the morality of future generations. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has drawn up proposals to replace the requirement that pupils should be helped to develop principles for distinguishing between right and wrong. Instead, the emphasis will be on inculcating ‘secure values and beliefs’ and a ‘commitment to human rights’.

We have a state education system which is becoming secularised, the nation’s religion is relativised, and the legal requirement for a daily act of worship is widely ignored by teachers, governors, and even Ofsted inspectors. There is no ‘truth’, no sense of responsibility, no absolute demand that can be made, because notions of ‘truth’ and ‘right’ have simply become what one chooses them to be. Children are to be taught as part of the national curriculum that essentially what they believe is true; what they feel is right.

And which path will children follow when they are no longer taught right from wrong? Is this a strategy for a more cohesive or stable society? No, it is a recipe for lawlessness and confusion as every man does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

Faith-based education may have its detractors, but those who pretend that education provided by the state is either religiously or morally neutral are deceiving themselves. Cranmer wonders, in the present climate, if faith schools – of whatever theological foundation – are not the lesser evil…

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conservatism, compassion, and the EU

Cranmer’s sermon this morning was drawn from a variety of biblical texts, and the theme was caring for poor, the oppressed, and the outcasts. From Deuteronomy, he expounded to his flock that God ‘executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows his love for the alien by giving him food and clothing’ (10:17). God is the helper of the fatherless, and he demands justice for them, and mercy, and generosity, in order that Israel may be humble and perpetually reminded that they too were once helpless and homeless, and God in his mercy chose to redeem them.

The command to help the poor and needy is carried into the New Testament, where compassion became the Church’s principal raison d’être. While man does not live by bread alone, he is certainly far more receptive to spiritual nourishment when the belly is full. And so the Early Church supplied the needs of the poor out of its own resources (Acts 4:36f), and took it upon itself to respond to national disasters (11:27ff). There was no state provision, no welfare, no notion of relative poverty; the Church encouraged individuals to show compassion, and thus to reflect something of the heart of God, restoring hope in an era of hopelessness.

If politicians have any task, it is to show compassion; to ensure provision for those who are unable to lead their lives unaided; to restore a sense of community and responsibility in an era that deifies individuality and rights; to inject hope in a world beset by loneliness and isolation. David Cameron identified these concerns in Brussels this week, criticising the European Union for its ‘culture of hopelessness’, the immorality of the Common Agricultural Policy which yields ‘economic and humanitarian disaster’, and its financial system that is ‘wide open to fraud’. He concluded: ‘It’s not good enough and it’s got to change.’

He might just ponder the legacy of the ERM, and the present situation on the Continent as a result of the single currency. In many EU countries, companies are being condemned to closure, workers to unemployment, families to homelessness, and their national governments can do little to alleviate their suffering. There is a real human cost in terms of suicides, heart attacks, divorces and mental breakdowns. Mr Cameron has called for action, for relevance, yet he has not uttered a word of policy. How will he succeed where Margaret Thatcher failed? What will he try that John Major did not? Whence comes his authority which Tony Blair does not already possess?

It is one thing to boast that his engagement with the EU will be somehow ‘better than Gordon Brown’s’, but this was also the boast of Blair against Major in 1997. Nothing changed. Mr Cameron was elected leader of his party with a ‘cast iron’ pledge to divorce Conservative MEPs from the EPP ‘within weeks not months’. This has been kicked into the long grass, and is now to be fulfilled within years. And perhaps most revealing is his directive that any Conservative MP who advocates withdrawal from the EU will be permanently barred from serving on his Front Bench. This does not sound like a strategy to critically engage with the profound flaws inherent in the European Union project.

How can the abdication to unaccountable, immovable, foreign control of the responsibility for fundamental human needs ever be justified from a Christian perspective? God manifestly cares for the poor, the oppressed, and the underdogs in society. He pours his wrath upon those who corrupt justice or create economic machines designed to provide more wealth for the wealthy and deprive the poor. The story of Naboth’s vineyard (1Kings 21) establishes that authorities are not free to pursue any policy they please or to ride roughshod over the rights of the poor. These same concerns are vehemently expressed by the prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, writing in the 8th century BC.

God demands political conviction seared by conscience. If Mr Cameron is serious about his EU reformation, he needs to nail his 95 theses to the door of the Commission in Brussels, whatever the political fallout. Only then will he communicate to the rest of Europe that he means business, and that he will address the root causes of EU corruption. And like Luther, he must reluctantly prepare for possible schism. Only then will people believe his promise to bring the redemption of Compassionate Conservatism to those who long for liberation from the yokes of loneliness, poverty, and oppression.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

St George’s Day petition to No.10

It seems more than a little inappropriate for Cranmer to be posting on the subject of St George’s Day during the season of Advent, but he has received a request from his erstwhile communicant Mr Mission Impossible to draw attention to an e-petition to 10 Downing Street.

Apparently, one may now petition the Prime Minister on any matter directly. While Cranmer thinks this is more a publicity stunt to give the illusion of being ‘in touch’, it is not unreasonable to expect that, should considerable public interest be evident for a specific populist issue, the Prime Minister may be moved to grant the petitioners’ request.

Mr Croydonian has already drawn attention to the absurdities that this facility may encourage, noting one petition requesting that ‘the Prime Minister force the manufacturers of Alco-pops to include a high dose fertility control hormone in order to reduce the rate of un-planned teenage pregnancies in the UK’. However, the recognition of St George and the granting of a national holiday to England is a matter of race equality. Andrew gives rest to the Scots, and Patrick repose for Ulster Man, so the present inferior status of George and the consequent discrimination against the English gives rise to an unacceptable constitutional imbalance that needs to be regularised.

The petition is worded:

In light of the increasing awareness of English identity (albeit against the best efforts of the current government), St George's day presents the ideal opportunity to celebrate the nationhood of the biggest constituent country of the United Kingdom.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Proclaim St George’s Day a national holiday for England.

Cranmer exhorts all communicants to sign at:

Cry God for Harry, England and St George!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Public swimming halted for ‘Muslim afternoon’

In a further example that the values and aspirations of Islam are antithetical to those of the United Kingdom, Croydon Council has instituted ‘Muslim only’ swimming times in its public swimming baths.

Cranmer’s occasional communicant, Mr Croydonian, will now be barred for two whole hours on Sundays from swimming in his revealing speedos, and there will be no watching the girls go by, because they are all banned. Mr Croydonian will only be admitted if he conforms to Shari’a law and wears shorts that hide the navel and cover the knees.

Croydon Council has made provision for Muslim women outside its normal opening hours, and the Shari’a dress code is to be covered from the neck down to the ankle. Have you ever tried swimming wrapped in a sheet? Cranmer can’t help wondering why health and safety factors have been subsumed to this impractical dress code.

Croydon Mosque states quite unequivocally: ‘Muslims are not allowed to show off intimate parts of their body. This is non-negotiable. Muslims have as much right to go swimming as anyone else.’

Indeed they do, sir, indeed they do. But everyone else also has as much right to go swimming when they wish to do so. This is the United Kingdom, and nothing is ‘non-negotiable’ in its liberal democratic tradition. With ironic timing, the Prime Minister has said in a speech today that tolerance was 'what makes Britain, Britain' and warned 'we must be ready to defend this conform to it; or don't come here. We don't want the hate-mongers, whatever their race, religion or creed.'

Cranmer wonders how such sectarianism in the leisure industry would go down in other parts of the UK. What would be the outcry in Northern Ireland or Scotland if there were 'Protestant only' swimming times? How would the Mohammedans react if Christians started to insist on non-negotiable Christian-only hours in the public services? Cries of ‘racism’? Religious discrimination? Insults to ‘The Prophet’? ‘Behead those who oppose the Shari’a swim’?

By adopting Islamic practices, Croydon Council is unwittingly conforming to the demands of the Dar-al-harb – the House of War. In Islamic theology, this is a battle that rages until there is a victor, and a vanquished…

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The BBC’s religious bias

A helpful communicant has drawn Cranmer’s attention to the BBC website on Religion, and observes evident bias. For Christianity, it states:

‘Christianity is the world's biggest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide. It is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago.’

This is factual and dispassionate.

Compare this with the description of Islam:

‘Islam began in Arabia and was revealed to humanity by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).’

The BBC bestows and affirms the unequivocal status of prophet upon Mohammed, and emotively exhorts us all to wish him peace.

If one were looking for equality and impartiality, ‘the Prophet Mohammed’ would be counterpoised with ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’. At least then both would have the prefix accorded by their followers.

It is more theologically significant that the BBC refers to the revelation of Islam, while there is no mention of Jesus being the fulfilment of the revelation of YHWH to mankind. And further, they reiterate the point when they state: ‘Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia’. Balance this with what they say about Jesus: ‘His birth is believed by Christians to be the fulfilment of prophecies in the Jewish Old Testament. Of Hinduism, they sate: ‘Hinduism claims to have many founders, teachers and prophets who claim first hand experience of God.’

Islam’s revelation is an unequivocal fact; Jesus’ birth is only believed by Christians to be the fulfilment of prophecies; and Hinduism claims to have many founders who claimed to have experiences. Why is the phrase ‘believed by Muslims’ not used? What about ‘Islam claims that Mohammed is the last prophet’? Or even 'Mohammed claimed to have revelation from God', which would then be consistent with the statement on Hinduism?

This is not the first time that the BBC has placed Christianity in submission to Islam; Christian orthodoxy was dissected by the Muslim journalist Rageh Omar just a few months ago, with no reciprocal analysis of the claims of Islam by a Christian journalist. But even more bizarrely for Cranmer, the BBC’s history of the Church ends in 1054 with the Great Schism. There is absolutely no mention of the Reformation which, of course, had a far greater impact on Christianity in the United Kingdom. It makes one wonder what it was all for…

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Merry Isa-mas and a Happy New Niqab

This is how Channel 4’s alternative to Her Majesty’s Christmas speech will appear this year. In a purposely provocative move, C4 has decided that a veiled Muslim woman will deliver the festive speech ‘because religious clothing has dominated the news agenda’.

Cranmer is appalled by such selective recollection. This is a year in which Islam has dominated the news agenda, not mere trivial matters of clothing. So why has C4 not chosen Christians to present programmes about its origins, its theology, its politics, or its prophet? Why does C4 not commission a series of purposely provocative Eid programmes to investigate its claims?

Jesus is one of Islam’s prophets – they call him Isa. He was born of Mary, and worked miracles, but there was no crucifixion, and no resurrection, because he was not Immanuel, not the promised Messiah, not the Son of God, and manifestly not the Saviour of the World. Channel 4 is content with the symbolic blasphemy and insult to the nation’s Christian population, but God forbid that it should ever offend the Muslims.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Church bookshops ban Qur’an

It is most encouraging on the Lord’s Day to return from one’s pulpit duties, open The Sunday Times, and discover that the UK’s oldest and most established chain of church bookshops is to stop selling the Qur’an. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) was founded in 1698, and over the centuries has produced millions of books, booklets, leaflets, pamphlets and tracts which have not only assisted believers in their private devotions, but have contributed to some of the nation’s major socio-political advances, such as the abolition of the slave trade, the education of the poor, and prison reform.

In recent decades, however, SPCK had taken to promoting a multi-faith, amorphous spirituality rather than Christianity exclusively. But in a surprising change of direction, they have now decided to remove the Qur’an from their shelves because it is ‘inimical’ to Christianity.

The choice of word is interesting, coming from the Latin inimicus, meaning unfriendly, hostile, and even harmful. Cranmer wonders whether such a declaration would fall foul of the Government’s proposed religion-hate laws, which they have promised to ‘strengthen’ following the acquittal of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin. If Mr Griffin may not, in a private meeting, state that Islam is a ‘wicked and vicious faith’, by what right may the SPCK say publicly that it is hostile or harmful one?

Only a month ago the SPCK was bought by the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust, which is linked to the Eastern Orthodox Church. The chairman of this trust states without equivocation: ‘Stocking books which are inimical to Christianity, which without question the Qur’an is, could well create the wrong impression among some that we endorse the belief systems of other religions as equal or viable alternatives.’ It is his mission to counter the ‘explosion of Islam’ in the UK, and hold back the tide of secularism. He intends to ‘re- establish Christianity in areas where it has been driven out’.

Cranmer notes that SPCK’s patron is Her Majesty the Queen, who may find their newly-discovered crusading spirit a little unpalatable. Certainly, her heir and successor is unlikely to continue the royal patronage. But, perhaps more importantly, it must be asked how long it will be before members of the SPCK board, or workers in its shops, are arrested for stirring up ‘religious hatred’. Or how long it will be before these bookshops are torched by Muslims who feel that their faith has been demeaned or their prophet insulted. The Muslim Council of Britain has already complained. It will not be too long before the violent tendencies of Islamism take the law into their own hands, or force this dhimmi Government to act on their behalf.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Plight of Protestants in Turkey

It is hard to discern which stories are picked up from blogs by the media establishment, but Cranmer is delighted that The Times is today reporting on an issue he raised a few days ago on the plight of two Christians in Turkey.

Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal are converts from Islam, and now face up to nine years’ in prison after going on trial last week for ‘insulting Turkishness’. While the EU wants this article of Turkey’s penal code amended, all indications are that it is being increasingly applied to all discourse and conduct that may be deemed to be ‘un-Islamic’. The problem is acute for the nation’s Protestants, who number about 4000. The other Christian denominations – principally Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Syriac Christians – have a legally defined status and rights under law. The Protestants have no such recognition and therefore no protection.

Mr Tastan and Mr Topal were approached by three young Muslim males under the guise of wanting to know more about Christianity. Charges were filed soon afterwards, which included accusation that they referred to Islam as a ‘backward religion’. More alarmingly, they were also accused of trying to sell women and of possessing guns, which they vehemently deny. Mr Topal said: ‘I don’t mind going on trial for my religion. We expected to be accused and imprisoned for that - the Bible says so’. He notes that Saint Paul was stoned for preaching in Ephesus. He continued: ‘But some of those accusations are so revolting it’s upsetting - it just shows the mentality behind the case’.

Indeed – the mentality. Yet the Pope symbolically submitted himself to this ‘mentality’ when he entered Istanbul’s Blue Mosque yesterday. He not only prayed; he removed his shoes, purposely faced Mecca, and clasped his hands in the Muslim manner. He made a full apology for his remarks at Regensburg University, and thereby placed his brilliant discourse on the relationship between faith and reason at the feet of terrorism of Islamism. The Enlightenment is thereby eclipsed by a return to the Dark Ages. The Grand Mufti of Istanbul said the Pope’s prayer was ‘much more important action than any verbal apology’. Cranmer agrees. It was not so long ago that there were calls in London from representatives of this ‘religion of peace’ for a Papal beheading, yet now he has affirmed that their anger was understandable, and their murderous threats justified.

One must now be careful to re-write history and pattern the world order according to the religio-political agenda of the ascendant spiritual power. This is perhaps supremely illustrated in the Papal U-turn on Turkish accession to the European Union. While Cardinal Ratzinger once believed and very publicly proclaimed that Turkish accession would be a-historical, as Pope Benedict he has informed Prime Minister Erdogan that the halo of European Union lies within his grasp, and that he now supports Turkey's entry. The change has been enforced to pacify the beast of Islamism. The alternative would be more murders of nuns, more churches torched, and more Christians mutilated and persecuted. Cranmer’s regret is that His Holiness has signalled to the Muslim world that Christianity can and will make concessions to Islam, and that intimidation and violence work. This is a great pity, since the world now desperately needs Christian leaders who will not only debate these issues forcefully, but will defend Judeo-Christian notions of justice and liberty, and the principles of enlightenment reason. Tolerance and patience are only virtues in the context of truth, and it is time for the Church to state quite clearly to the Muslim world that there are things which we also find offensive.
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