DEFENDING THE FAITH

We have all been there. We have had a discussion with an unbelieving friend or relative on some aspect of the faith and come away thinking that we really screwed it up and utterly failed to present a coherent Christian position.See the source image

When reflecting on the discussion later, we come up with all the sharp answers, all the convincing responses. Every discussion I have ever had about the Christian faith I have won brilliantly, but only in hindsight. Unfortunately the reality is different. But there is groundwork we can do to become more effective. Continue reading “DEFENDING THE FAITH”

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ERODED IN SWITZERLAND

Reporting from Vietnam, the war correspondent Peter Arnett quoted an American major saying, ‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it’. Today’s liberals are as ludicrous as those they poured scorn on yesterday.

In the latest advance of the LGBTQ movement earlier this week, Swiss voters decided in a referendum to back hate speech legislation making supposedly ‘homophobic’ speech a criminal offence.

Protesters demonstrate in favour of same-sex marriage in Bern

In an ironic and intellectually fraudulent move, Swiss government authorities assured voters that even though free speech is being curtailed it is not actually a curtailment of free speech, which according to the Swiss is an inviolable principle.

In other words, they say that although there is speech which will carry criminal sanctions, this is not a limitation of free speech. Continue reading “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ERODED IN SWITZERLAND”

MALLEABLE MODERATES OPEN DOOR TO RELENTLESS MODERNISTS

The second largest Christian denomination in the USA, with roughly half of its 13million global members living in the United States, has agreed to split over the issue of same-sex marriage.See the source imageThe United Methodist Church, a denomination long home to a wide mix of theological opinion, has been experiencing tensions for decades. The split, which has been a long time in coming, is the inevitable outcome of long-lasting institutional reluctance to maintain doctrinal clarity. It will take formal effect after the denomination’s General Conference in May. Continue reading “MALLEABLE MODERATES OPEN DOOR TO RELENTLESS MODERNISTS”

YOU’RE FREE TO SAY WHAT WE TELL YOU TO SAY

An American Christian couple who own a media company are having to sue their state after being threatened with fines, including compensatory and punitive damages of up to $25,000, and up to 90 days imprisonment if they refuse to make films involving same-sex marriage.

lARSENS
Carl and Angel Larsen

Carl and Angel Larsen, own Telescope Media Group in St Cloud, Minnesota. The Larsens are Christians who believe that they have been called to use their talents and their company to create media productions that honour God, and as such they want to make films promoting Christian marriage. Continue reading “YOU’RE FREE TO SAY WHAT WE TELL YOU TO SAY”

WHEN IS A CHURCH NOT A CHURCH?

It is not only in politics and the media that progressives have become the establishment. It is true also of the mainstream church.

What do you do with a minister who confidently proclaims at Christmas that the Incarnation is a ‘fairy tale’ and it is embarrassing to preach on it every year? If you are in the Church of Scotland you do the same as you do with minsters who deny the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, the bodily Resurrection of Christ and His return – you do nothing. And so the revisionists grow ever bolder.

Effectively the Church of Scotland, like many other mainstream Christian denominations, is devoid of doctrinal standards. They may exist on paper, but certainly not in practice.

The YouTube video below touches on the successful attempts by progressive Christians to turn once theologically confident denominations into pale reflections of society, with an added veneer of Christian language and symbols.

It seems likely that the Church of Scotland at its General Assembly in May 2016 will vote to allow the ordination of ministers in same-sex-marriages. Which raises the question: How much of Christianity, both in theology and in practice, can a church jettison and still remain a church?

SAME SEX MARRIAGE SCOTLAND

Dating back to at least 1532 the Faculty of Advocates is the independent body of lawyers given the task of preparing future lawyers for admission to the Scottish Bar. The Inns of Court perform roughly the same function for England and Wales. The Faculty is a douce organisation with a reputation of being an earnest body of serious lawyers not given to exaggeration or hyperbole. Therefore, when it issued a report in March 2013 eviscerating proposed legislation coming before the Scottish Parliament we would have hoped the government would take note. Unfortunately Alex Salmond’s government takes little notice of anyone other than pollsters and the media.

The SNP government in Scotland in its sad eagerness to be seen as a serious player with the big boys in the playground pursues every trendy cause it can. This usually involves passing laws to ban things, well that’s how the elites work. This time though they want to widen the borders of what is acceptable. Last week they published their proposed legislation to legalise same sex marriage. Without actually saying so out loud the Faculty clearly think the proposed legislation is ill thought out and impracticable, and the government has done nothing to allay their fears.

The Faculty report drew attention to the chaos likely to result from the proposed legislation. In a Bill which proposes to alter the legal definition of marriage in Scotland the SNP never actually define marriage, its nature or purpose. Thus the proposed legislation also deals with civil partnerships without clarifying any essential difference between civil partnership and marriage. When this legislation goes through we in Scotland will have at least four forms of legal status: single, cohabiting, civil partnership and marriage. To further confuse the issue there is even talk amongst SNP politicians of eventually extending civil partnership to heterosexual couples.

More seriously the Faculty pointed to possible grave dangers for all who are opposed to homosexual marriage. The conflict between the rights of homosexuals to be married and the right of freedom of thought and conscience has not been resolved.

Alex Neil, Health Minister in the SNP government, claims that the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill contains ‘unequivocal protection’ for those who refuse to participate in same sex ceremonies. Matters, however, are not quite so clear cut. Janys Scott QC, convener of the Faculty’s Family Law Reform Group, says that Neil could not provide a ‘cast iron guarantee’ of protection for those opposed to same sex marriage.

The proposals give initial protection to religious bodies to decide their own policy with regard to same sex marriage. That this protection will last is open to serious doubt. The European Convention on Human Rights Article 13 gives everyone the right to ‘effective remedy’ if their rights have been violated, no matter by whom. Does anyone seriously believe that a homosexual activist will not seek out a non-compliant church in order to take it to the European Court for denial of his rights to be married in church?

Those in other occupations do not have even the fig leaf of supposed protection. Under the Bill local and other authorities will have an obligation to promote same sex marriage. Amongst others government employees such as chaplains in prisons and hospitals, foster parents and teachers will all be subject to the requirement to promote same sex marriage. The Faculty pointed out that the European Convention on Human Rights in Article 9 protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This potential conflict is not addressed in the Bill, but we can have a good idea of what the European Court of Human Rights will decide in any future cases brought before it.

As well as individuals this Bill will also impact groups operating in the public sphere. Will a local authority be able to use church premises for functions or occasions such as polling stations at local and general elections? Will bodies which oppose this legislation be allowed to retain their charitable status? The Bill does not address these issues.

In restrained language the Faculty judgde that the protection given to parents and teachers is ‘less robust than implied’. Whilst under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 Section 9 parents can withdraw their children from religious instruction and a parent’s attitude towards same sex marriage may be shaped by their religious convictions, teaching on same sex marriage is not viewed as religious instruction. Thus there is no protection for Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or non-believing parents who do not wish their children to be taught that same sex marriage is a positive good for society. Parents have no statutory right to withdraw their children from sex education, no matter what form it may take.

The report from the Faculty also discussed the confusion about to be created by the proposed legislation in a number of areas such as our understanding of divorce, adultery, bigamy, cohabitation and transgender marriage. These issues remain to be worked out, meanwhile the Bill steams ahead.

The SNP government have taken what the Faculty describes as ‘a superficial similarity with heterosexual marriages’ and without working out the possible pitfalls have determined to push through this legislation with the support of the other parties no matter what. For our political class, even in parliaments as small as that of Scotland, avoiding criticism by the media is more important than governing well.

WHO DECIDES WHAT IS PREACHED?

Some time ago we pointed out that whilst those who hold  to the traditional concept of marriage were still able to preach that biblical view within our churches it would be a different matter for chaplains employed by secular bodies such as hospitals, prisons or the forces.

Government ministers have repeatedly insisted that no one should be sacked from their job for voicing opposition to same-sex marriage and have built in special “protections” for clerics into the Government’s Marriage Bill.

Since then we have seen the parting of the ways between Strathclyde Police and part time chaplain Rev Brian Ross.

Mr Ross claims that after a meeting with a senior officer his services were dispensed with because his views go against the force’s equality and diversity policies. Mr Ross was told that postings on his blog on the subject of marriage did not fit with the force’s equality and diversity policies. This well before any legislation has reached the statute book. 

Strathclyde Police claim Mr Ross was sacked was because he sometimes wore the wrong uniform and did not make appointments to see people.

More seriously for all those who are school chaplains is the following report sent to us by the ever vigilant Kate who forwarded the article below from yesterday’s Southern Reporter concerning a discussion within Scottish Borders Council about what school chaplains can be allowed to preach.

Fears that school chaplains could preach their views on issues such as gay marriage to pupils has led Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to alter its guidelines, writes Kenny Paterson.

Parents will now be allowed to see the written agreement between a head teacher and school chaplain after Tweeddale West councillor Catriona Bhatia raised concerns over the possible content of school services.

The amendment was made by SBC’s education committee as it agreed a revised religious observance policy for schools, as well as updating the role of the chaplain.

Councillor Bhatia said: “Parents may be comfortable with religious observance around Christmas, but a particular chaplain may be anti-gay marriage and introduce that into their service.

How do we know what the content will be of the chaplain’s service?

Some chaplains will stay away from issues such as that (gay marriage), but others may sway into it.

Some religions have different rules and they are entitled to that, but they should not be introduced in our schools.”

Colin Easton, SBC’s policy manager, replied: “The head teacher will be responsible for the content.

They will appoint the chaplain and will develop the religious observance programmes.

The head will frequently develop it in discussions with senior pupils. We think this provides sufficient safeguards.”

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne said the policy cannot cover all eventualities, adding: “Some parents think that it is right to preach about gay marriage, others don’t.”

The religious observance policy – which aims to promote the spiritual development of pupils and differs from religious education – was last updated in 1984, and councillors agreed to look at it again within two years.

Committee member Graeme Donald said: “It is a timely report as school inspectors are in the process of conducting a review of religious observance and religious education, while the Church of Scotland is reviewing its own thinking on both.”

How many ministers acting as school chaplains, and that is practically all CofS ministers, will agree to having the content of their preaching and teaching of the Bible decided by a head teacher who will probably be an atheist? If a single objection is raised by a parent concerning the written agreement in whose favour do you think the head teacher and Council will decide?

SCOTLAND: A HEALTHY DEMOCRACY?

Congratulations are due to Cardinal Keith O’Brien leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Last night Cardinal O’Brien was declared winner of Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year award. We may differ theologically but he is obviously doing something right to be singled out for attack by the extremist, intolerant organisation.

Despite Keith O’Brien’s win all is not all is well in Scotland. Scotland’s SNP government is determined to force through the Scottish Parliament a bill legalising homosexual marriage no matter what the people of Scotland think. All five parties represented in Parliament support this move. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, won Stonewall’s Politician of the Year award.

The “Yes” campaign for homosexual marriage in Scotland is being led by the Equality Network. For the Equality Network the “N” in Non-Governmental Organisation is redundant as it receives almost its entire funding from the public purse. The Equality Network is in effect an arm for the implementation of governmental policy.

The Equality Network receives funding from the Scottish Government Equality Unit for five projects: LGBT Sector Building, Policy, Information, Scottish Transgender Alliance, and the Intersectional (Disability/LGBT) project.

Their Everyone IN minority ethnic/LGBT project is funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission of the UK government. In the UK Parliament all three main parties support homosexual marriage.

Equality Network’s Transgender Transition Support project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. There is also support from the Lottery’s Award for All programme for research into LGBT issues in sport.

The Equality Network also receives funding from the European Commission Grundtvig programme for participation in a partnership sharing knowledge about minority ethnic LGBT issues across Europe.

We can see less overt governmental influence with the Bigot of the Year awards themselves. When first approached by the Catholic Herald regarding Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year award Barclay’s bank, an independent business reliant upon its customers, immediately denied any connection with the bigot award and said they did not support such an award. Coutts bank, which is 84% government owned, were initially unapologetic and stressed that they “valued diversity.”

The campaign against homosexual marriage is led by the Coalition 4 Marriage. How much state funding does it get? If your answer is somewhere between 0% and 0% you stand a good chance of being right.

Social engineering on the massive scale we are seeing today corrupts democracy. The fact that such funding comes from the taxpayer, the majority of whom are ambivalent towards or opposed to homosexual marriage, matters not a whit to the anointed. Homosexual marriage has become a shibboleth of the elite and their views must prevail.

Opposition to homosexual marriage has become much more than a discussion as to whether or not homosexuals should marry. Due to the massive manipulation by politicians and media it has become a matter of democracy itself.

When the only parties likely to be elected all support a contentious policy, when they throw considerable funding to one side in the argument, when the media present propaganda for that side, we have to ask how healthy our democracy is.

“Consultation” With Progressives

Arthur McGeorge is a bus driver from Consett working for Go North East. Like many he made the error of thinking that in this country we have freedom of speech. He realised this when he took a petition opposing the government’s plans for same-sex marriage to work. During his break he asked his workmates if they wished to sign it. This is a petition already signed by more than 125,000 people.

As a result he has been threatened by his manager with disciplinary action. He has also been accused of ‘homophobia’ the pretend crime committed by anyone who dares question the prevailing orthodoxy. He has also been ordered to apologise for the offense he has caused. Clearly bus drivers in the North East of England are of more delicate sensibilities than most Geordies the rest of us have encountered.

Mr McGeorge has seemingly caused huge offense by asking for asking his workmates to sign a petition which says that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.” A statement which accords with the law of the land if not with the progressive authoritarians who control so much of our country.

A manager asked Mr McGeorge to promise not to bring the petition back to work. Mr McGeorge’s response was ”I’m not prepared to be told what I can discuss in my breaks.”

The government has just launched a “consultation exercise” on same-sex marriages. The Prime Minister David Cameron tells us he is “passionate” about legalising same-sex marriages.

Home Secretary Theresa May assures us that the government is determined to legalise same-sex marriages.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has accused churches of “fanning the flames of homophobia” and basically told the churches to butt out in the discussion of same-sex marriages. She has given “a cast iron guarantee that homosexual marriage will be law by the 2015 election.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maud has stated that “In government we will legislate to introduce same-sex marriage.”

Not much “consultation” going on there.

We should not lose perspective on this. This is not the most anti-Christian government we have ever had. Even their decision to oppose the right of Christians to wear a cross at work is not anti-Christian. If only it were.

Instead of being anti-Christian the government, as do all progressives, think that Christians are irrelevant. We can be ignored, or bypassed by giving a few bishops and other church leaders a pat on the head.

The “consultation” is merely a window dressing exercise. This does not mean that it should be ignored. It is incumbent on Christians to seize every opportunity to make our voice heard.

In the sixties we were assured that abortion would only be practiced for medical reasons. Today we have abortion on demand and Christian medical personnel can be disciplined for refusing to participate in abortions.

Forgive me if I appear to be cynical, but experience can teach us a great deal. It does not take someone with the gift of prophecy to predict what will happen. We will be given assurances that ministers or priests will not be compelled to officiate at same-sex marriages. Does anyone really trust such assurances? Bitter experience tells us that when progressives have the power they are ruthlessly totalitarian.

Just ask a bus driver in Consett.

Culture Conflict

Civil partnership is not enough. Homosexuals must be allowed to marry, it’s only just. Any tolerant society must, as a matter of principle, allow same sex couples to formalise their relationships in the same manner as heterosexual couples. So argue progressives throughout the Western world.

By placing the argument within the field of ‘rights’ those who favour what can be loosely termed ‘alternative lifestyles’ have played a seemingly trump card. After all, who can argue against the rights of any individual, it’s like arguing against fairness and for intolerance. However, the pressure for homosexual marriage is not merely about rights, it is not even primarily about homosexual marriage. The issue at the core of the debate is about values and the shaping of our culture.

The attempt to redefine marriage by the advocates of homosexuality is not a matter of rights or fairness. There is a progressive elite who are sincerely convinced that they, and they alone, know best, that they, with the best of intentions should be entrusted with the ordering of society.

There is no conspiracy emanating from the bowels of the BBC with Graham Norton squeaking out directives and Johann Hari cutting and pasting press releases. There is, however, a general cultural shift which undermines heterosexual marriage, promotes homosexuality and elevates those who are described as experts in sociology, anthropology and other soft sciences.

The whole issue of homosexual marriage has been turned into a cultural weapon. Widely accepted cultural norms have been challenged and those who uphold those norms have been demonised. This is more than a matter of a change in legislation and is more seen as a righteous cause to be pursued with the vigour and commitment of a crusade. One’s moral superiority is proclaimed by support for homosexual marriage, whilst one’s opponents are consigned to the ranks of the reactionary and therefore wicked and intellectually obtuse. Unbridegable divisions in culture are proclaimed in this struggle.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and human Rights Commission argues that evangelical Christians are a greater danger to our society than Muslims because of our attitudes to what he terms mainstream views. ‘Mainstream’ for Mr Phillips clearly indicates those views held by the professional elite who control our politics, media, and social and cultural quangos. The incompatibility of traditional Christianity with modern society, particularly on homosexual issues, is causing increasing culture clashes.

What the Equality Commissioner is actually affirming is the double standard of tolerating those who support homosexual marriage whilst being intolerant of those who oppose it. This is seen as an acceptable and understandable attitude in a society where the enlightened and tolerant pour contempt on those whom they denounce as homophobic bigots.

However, we must agree with Trevor Phillips, what he terms ‘old time religion’
and modern society are incompatible. It’s only unfortunate that many within the Church instead of changing society are endeavouring to change the faith to make it more acceptable to the modern world-view.

The enlightened elite employ homosexual marriage as one of the issues through which they demarcate themselves from the grubby hoi polloi. It enables them to have a satisfactory inner sense of superiority over the ordinary folk. In their minds they constitute the courageous and enlightened minority who, for the sake of the persecuted and downtrodden are willing to take on the prejudice of the majority. They hold this view even if it means denying things they supposedly hold dear, such as free speech.

Recently in the Guardian, where else, Hadley Freeman an American journalist argued that the whole matter of homosexual marriage is beyond discussion. Why should it not be discussed? In other areas there is room for discussion because there are cultural differences to be taken into consideration and there are subtleties which must be teased out. Homosexual marriage is not one of these areas because “there is a right answer.” No shades of difference, no questions of further implications for society, no reference to any authority other than sentiment, for the died in the wool progressive questioning in this matter must be silenced.

At the same time that there is increasing pressure for homosexual unions to be sacralised heterosexual marriage is under assault. Its worst aspects being magnified in the media and in academic studies whilst its joys are minimised. The guiding concept behind such an attack appears to be George Bernard Shaw’s maxim that marriage is legalised prostitution.

Marriage is fast becoming the eccentric choice of a religious minority. We are approaching a situation where more than 50% of children born in the UK will be born out of wedlock. Since Victorian times the overall proportion of illegitimate births was broadly steady at around 5%. This continued until the late 1950’s, since when it has roughly doubled every 20 years. In 2002 40.6% of children born in England and Wales were illegitimate. In the North East of England an actual majority of children are now born out of wedlock.

Statistically this means more broken ‘family’ units with a consequent growth in
child abuse, education failure, criminality and further ‘family’ breakdown. Such is the disintegration of the family that at present more children in the UK have a television in their bedrooms than a biological father in the house.

Relate, formerly the Marriage Guidance council, predicts that marriage may be extinct within 30 years, with most adults opting instead for a series of long-term relationships. The social consequences are so obvious that only a progressive intellectual could ignore them.

Of course there are dedicated professionals who are willing to step in to the breach and provide help, advice and support for broken families. Unfortunately they are influenced and educated by the very people and principles which have brought this situation about.

That the progressive elite are determined to expand the concept of marriage so that it is progressively weakened until it becomes meaningless is hardly surprising. The family, its bonds and structures provides a bedrock within society which is resistant to constant erosion by the encroachment of the progressive elite’s authority.