Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cardinal advocates break-up of United Kingdom

For all those who assert that His Grace is erroneously obsessed with fighting the (irrelevant) religious battles of five centuries ago, could they please explain in what sense the meddling of a Cardinal in the constitutional affairs of the United Kingdom is a purely political issue?

Once again the leader of Scotland’s Catholics has transgressed his brief (or is he fulfilling it?) by supporting the secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom. His Grace’s assertion that political objectives may constitute religious agendas got him banned from the EU Referendum blog. Dr Richard North was having none of it, so a permanent ban was duly meted out ( - the first time since that fateful day that His Grace has had his freedom restricted). It seems that elephants in rooms are sometimes invisible even to those who presume to be experts at spotting the variety.

Cardinal O’Brien referred to the visit of Pope John Paul II and to his kissing the ground on his arrival at Edinburgh airport. It was intended to remind ‘the world that Scotland is a nation among nations’, and this is consistent with his reference to declarations by previous popes in support of Scottish nationhood in the Middle Ages. He conveniently neglects the events of the 16th century when Scotland rejected the Papacy, and subsequent centuries of vigorous Protestant witness. But the Cardinal is pursuing the old Roman strategy of ‘divide and rule’. The Europe of Regions strategy is the same principle - the one by which the Holy Roman Empire divided countries into small dukedoms, principalities and kingdoms, ensuring that no civil ruler was strong enough to challenge the Pope or Emperor. The fragmentation of the United Kingdom is of course to weaken it, and it is no coincidence that the opposition to the Act of Settlement is simultaneously being organised within the Scottish Parliament, where the strategy will always be to raise an issue outside of the Edinburgh remit, in order to provoke Westminster to appeasement.

Cardinal O’Brien has repeatedly pressed the issue of the unacceptability of the ‘anti-Catholic’ provisions of the Act of Settlement, but realises that this is an area of UK competence. For him, the only solution is Scottish separation, and he therefore speaks enthusiastically of ‘the benefits independence can bring’, which will be fulfilled ‘before too long’. The Governor of the Bank of England and the Conservative Party have warned that such a development would be a backward step, and would massively impoverish the Scottish people. It is, however, no surprise that the Leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, has described the Cardinal as ‘a man of vision and stature’. His vision, however, is for the terminal undermining of the United Kingdom, and his stature is the self-obsessed one that St Andrews and Edinburgh should be equal with Westminster, for they are Rome’s cardinals in the United Kingdom, and this stubbornly Protestant nation must be adapted to conform to their pastoral principalities.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Catholic Church ‘bares its teeth’ on education

Labour’s policy on faith schools has been muddled and confused from the outset, and continues in its philosophical inconsistency. On the one hand they wish to appease the forces of political correctness by asserting the equality of all faiths, and therefore the establishment of state-funded schools for all faiths; yet on the other, they are clinging to a notion that the Judeo-Christian heritage is something quite distinct from the Islamic one, and the latter is now manifesting a tendency towards separation, not least in the establishing of Islamic schools.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, had a solution. He was going to require new faith schools to accept 25 per cent of pupils from other faiths, in the hope that resulting melee would not be insular or socially divisive. But in the face of an unprecedented lobbying operation by the two-million strong Roman Catholic community, we have witnessed, according to the former Conservative education secretary Lord Baker, ‘the fastest U-turn in British political history’. Lord Baker is in no doubt that it was the Catholic Church's campaign against the proposal which had persuaded the Cabinet to change its mind. He accused the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, of running a ‘very deceptive campaign’ based on ‘a tantamount lie’. Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said it was ‘frightening’ to see the Government back down as soon as the Catholic Church ‘bared its teeth’.

Archbishop Nichols was the architect of the campaign. He mobilised the Catholic lobby in England and Wales, threatening Labour with the alienation of two million voters. This would have had a sizeable effect on many key marginal seats at the next General Election. Letters were written to all 2000 Catholic head teachers in the country urging them to lobby their MPs to oppose the plans. They in turn sent letters to parents urging them to join the campaign. The deception was in his suggestion that the quota would apply to all faith schools, when in fact the proposals were for all new faith schools – therefore particularly aimed at the 180 Muslim schools currently being planned. Lord Baker said: ‘It is craven surrender because the Catholics have given nothing. There is no proposal for a new Catholic school in the country. The real beneficiary is going to be Muslim schools. I have tabled an amendment which incorporates what the government policy was on Thursday night. We probably won't win, but it will be very embarrassing to the government.’

Lord Baker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: ‘If you have a group of primary Muslim schools starting, then some secondary schools, you have a closed community. They'll ask for their own inspection, they will ask for modifications to the curriculum and they will probably ask for family community law. If you have those ghettos, they will be closed communities. No other children will want to go into them. And the characteristics of a ghetto are to be underprivileged, disadvantaged and poor.’ The Education Secretary also faces a battle with teachers’ unions outraged at the amendment that he introduced at the last minute giving faith schools increased powers to refuse to employ staff off different faiths. Amendment 54 gives faith schools new rights to discriminate on the ground of religion when employing support staff and head teachers. This may be very much at odds with EU law prohibiting precisely such discrimination.

Cranmer wishes to point out that there was also a group of individuals within the Government which is prepared to fight the Catholic corner. Chief among them is the cabinet minister Ruth Kelly, the former education secretary and a member of the Catholic conservative movement Opus Dei. There is also the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, and Home Secretary, John Reid.

If anyone thinks the Catholic Church is without political teeth in the Protestant United Kingdom, they have only to consider the evidence in this case.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trafalgar Square given over to Islamic celebrations

The first ever celebration in Trafalgar Square to mark the Muslim festival of Eid ul-fitr takes place today, Saturday 28th October. It is supported by the Mayor of London, who is pathologically anti-Christian and anti-Jew, yet unequivocally supportive of everything Islamic (conveniently ignoring its ‘anti-gay’ tendencies). He said: ‘Eid ul-fitr is the most auspicious day of the Muslim calendar. It is a day of great joy and serves as a reminder to people of all faiths of the importance of peace, compassion, unity and charity.’ Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

For the Mayor to mark the end of Ramadan, and yet personally ignore Easter or Yom Kippur, is to pervert the culture of the United Kingdom and convey a sense of the indigenous population being supplanted by the foreign. It can only exacerbate ‘Islamophobia’, as the vanquished of London feel subdued by the triumphalism of the victor, and Londonistan becomes a looming reality .

The involvement of the Muslim Council of Britain, Islamic Relief, and the Islam Channel indicates forethought and strategy. There are, apparently, many entertainments for visitors to enjoy, including a street bazaar and various exhibitions and displays about Islam. One is called ‘Hip-hop act Mecca2Medina’, but Cranmer doubts this will include accounts of how many died or how much blood was spilled when Mohammed was hip-hopping his way between the two. The façade is educative, but the motive is manifestly to proselytise.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Conservative MEPs vote for Euro - against Party policy

It is the official stated position of the Conservative Party to oppose the UK’s membership of the Euro. We were told by William Hague, amongst others, that it is ‘thus far and no further’. It is of immense concern, therefore, that Conservative MEPs were whipped to vote in favour of a report on the European Central Bank which included these words (p6, para 9):

"Supports the introduction of the Euro by all the member states."

There was reportedly pressure from the EPP to whip Conservative MEPs to vote for this report. There were a few notable exceptions, but by-and-large they complied with the will of their Euro masters. Ironically, they did so on a day The Times carried an illuminating article on how the Euro is ‘slowly killing half of Europe’. It is worth quoting at length:

The Iraq invasion, disastrous though it has been, may not go down in history as the greatest political blunder of the past decade. That dubious honour will probably belong to an event most people still regard as a triumph: the creation of the euro. What we see today, not only in Italy and Hungary, but also in the other relatively weak economies on the southern and eastern fringes of the EU, is the beginning of the end of the European project. And if the euro project does turn out to be the high-water mark of European unification, then history will judge it a far more important event that anything happening in the Middle East.

But what does the euro have to do with the political troubles in Hungary and Italy? And how can I compare the technocratic financial problems connected with the euro to a moral and humanitarian disaster such as Iraq? These two questions have a very clear answer: democratic self-government — or, more precisely, its denial.

What we see in Eastern and Southern Europe today are the consequences of the EU’s transformation from a union of democratic countries into a sort of supra-national financial empire in which the most important decisions affecting EU citizens are no longer subject to democratic control.

In Italy the Government is on the brink of collapse because of Signor Prodi’s insistence on implementing tax increases and budget cuts demanded by Joaquín Almunia, the EU Economic Commissioner, under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty. In Hungary, the riots began a month ago because the Prime Minister showed his contempt for democracy by publicly admitting that he had “lied, morning, noon and night” about the tax increases and public spending cuts that he had promised Señor Almunia before a recent election — and after the election was over, he naturally felt that his promises to Brussels were far more important than the ones he had made to Hungarian voters.

The resulting budget cuts of 7 per cent of GDP over two years would be roughly equivalent in Britain to closing down the entire NHS. And Hungary, remember, is being forced to do this to comply with the Maastricht treaty, without even being admitted to the eurozone.

There is now almost no chance of Hungary, or any other new European country, being admitted to the euro-zone in the foreseeable future. This was demonstrated over the summer when Lithuania and Estonia was refused permission to join the euro on the flimsiest of grounds. This EU decision attracted little attention in Britain but was hugely controversial in Eastern Europe. It effectively meant that the accession countries would continue to have their economic policies set in Brussels and Frankfurt without even being able to enjoy the modest benefits of using the single currency.

The political consequence of this asymmetry of power is growing disillusionment in the East, not only with the EU but even with the concept of parliamentary democracy. The economic effect of forcing Central Europe to abide by deflationary policies designed for the mature economies of the eurozone is the weak demand growth and mass unemployment experienced by the accession countries. This unemployment has been the main driving force behind the huge flow of labour out of Central Europe. And that flood of workers, in turn, has provoked the hostile and ultimately self-defeating rhetoric of the British Government against Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants.

The Maastricht treaty has turned the Eastern Europeans into second-class citizens. The belated recognition of this fact is starting to have the predictably ugly impact on the politics of Europe’s eastern periphery. But before getting too indignant about the injustices to Eastern Europe, let us spare a thought for the citizens of old Europe who are privileged to “enjoy” full membership of the eurozone. The latest budgetary crisis in Italy may well be averted and the Prodi Government will probably survive for a few more months. But as Signor Prodi’s huge tax increases begin to bite, the Italian economy is almost certain to sink back into recession. Moreover, there will be no chance of Italy tackling any of its real economic problems once unemployment starts rising next year.

What Italy needs today is competition, privatisation of grossly inefficient state-sponsored utilities, deregulation of the financial system and changes in labour laws. Such reforms can be hard to implement even in a booming economy. In a stagnant or declining one, they will become impossible.

To make matters worse, Italy will be tightening its budget at the same time as Germany implements the biggest tax increases in its modern history — also in deference to the Maastricht Treaty, if not under quite such direct compulsion from the EU. These simultaneous fiscal blunders in Italy, Germany and Eastern Europe will almost mean another “lost year” for the euro zone, with economic performance falling far behind America, Britain and Japan. But the long-term consequences could be more far-reaching.

At some point the people of Europe will realise that there is something rotten in a political system that leaves them forever in the world economy’s slow lane — and which cannot be changed by any democratic process, regardless of how people vote.

Why, then, the political schizophrenia? Why do Conservatives have this Jeckyll and Hide personality that agrees with The Times when they speak in the UK, but toes the Euro-line when they vote in Brussels?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

UK courts adjourn – ‘because of Eid’

What is the justice system of the United Kingdom coming to? Hearings in the Glasgow High Court and the Hamilton Sheriff Court were adjourned yesterday - because of Eid.

Both trials were dependent on Muslims attending, and they refused because they were celebrating the end of Ramadan. While the Sheriff’s case was a relatively minor issue of assault, the High Court case involved terror charges. The accused, Mohammed Atif Siddique of Clackmannanshire, was excused in order that he may eat (halal), drink (probably not alcohol), and be merry (as much as pending terror charges permit him).

While one of Scotland’s leading advocates said it was unacceptable that justice should grind to a halt over religious objections, Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, said: ‘This is like asking a Catholic to come in on Christmas Day.’

Does Mr Saeed not know? Has he not heard? In Islamic countries, Christians have to attend their courts not only on Christmas Day, but also Whitsun, Easter, throughout Lent, and indeed whenever their courts instruct them to do so. Shari’a justice does not grind to a halt out of respect for any religious observance, save that of Islam, and any suggestion that it should would probably be met with a death sentence.

Cranmer is irritated by the assault case, not only because the victim has to wait a further month for justice, but also because the adjournment conveys the message that the religious sensitivities of the accused are more important than justice for the victim. Yet he is incandescent at the adjournment of the terror case, which means that the cleverest Muslim terrorists may plan their atrocities during Ramadan, and execute them during Eid, with impunity. Indeed, religious observance becomes the ultimate smokescreen for acts of terrorism; the police will not make arrests for fear of accusations of ‘racism’, and neither will judges hear cases if any of the participants want to party.

But why stop here? What about courts not sitting on Diwali, Holi, Navaratri, Raksha Bandhan, or Janmashtami? And what about Guru Nanak’s birthday (or the other nine)? Or Wesak? And let’s not forget Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. Has anyone ever heard of UK courts not sitting out of respect for the holy days of the Eastern Orthodox Church?

The 2002 census established a very sizeable community aspiring to the Jedi Knight fraternity. How long will it be before British courts are adjourned to permit celebration of the birth of Yoda?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Vicar keeps job after conversion to Hinduism

The Evangelical Alliance has today published its report into its thoughts on the next Coronation, and has concluded that Prince Charles (or King George VII, as he will be known) may not be defender of all faiths; the Christian religion must remain pre-eminent (though they do not specify the ‘Protestant, reformed religion’ presently demanded). In this, they are joined by the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who is having none of this 'multi-cultural' nonsense, and insists that all faiths cannot be defended because of the serious differences between them.

They are, however, differences with which the Church of England has increasingly little problem. One priest, the Rev David Hart, a convert to Hinduism, has been allowed to continue to officiate as a cleric. His diocese renewed his licence even though he had moved to India, changed his name to Ananda (Sanskrit for ‘happiness'), and participates daily in pagan fire offerings to the snake god Nagar, and offers prayers to the elephant god Ganesh. He also offers namaaz at Muslim prayer halls. He sees no contradiction between these practices and his duties as an Anglican priest; he said he will officiate in a Christian church and a Hindu temple because ‘My philosophical position is that all religions are cultural constructs… The modern world is no longer dominated by any single form of belief. It is a world of religious pluralism. The Anglican Church firmly believes in engaging itself fully in inter-faith dialogues. God is the same irrespective of whether you pray to him in a temple, church or mosque.’

Unfortunately, Mr Hart does not appear to understand the difference between inter-faith dialogue and inter-faith worship. As an active member of the Sea of Faith Network (need Cranmer say more?), he embraces the ‘spiritual’; there is no dogma, no orthodoxy, no truth; everything is what one wishes to make of it. He is therefore simultaneously a Hindu and a Christian; a Sikh and a Muslim; a Jew and a Buddhist; there is no difference. Quite where one is supposed to start with this absurd affirmation is not known; it requires numerous theses, not a blog entry. Does he actually believe Ganesh to be a real, divine entity? If so, do he and Jesus get along? Or is Ganesh just Jesus in an elephant suit? Or are Jesus and Ganesh actually something else: one disguised as a first century Jew, the other disguised as a large proboscidean?

The Rev Hart has reduced Jesus to simple manhood, rejecting his soteriological claims and the orthodox teaching of the Church of England. He is leading his flock astray in asserting that the laws of karma are synonymous with belief in judgement, heaven and hell, or that reincarnation is the same as resurrection. Hinduism is incompatible with the Christian religion, and the Church of England is wrong to permit this man to remain in holy orders. His acceptance is, however, indicative of the Church's likely approach to the next Coronation, where the promise to be 'Defender of Faith' is the most likely oath that will be presented to the Monarch. Such a development may put many in sympathy with today's Times, which makes a case for disestablishment as the only antidote to the infectious multi-cultural, multi-faith demands:

The CofE may be benign but its establishment encourages other, more extreme, religious groups to demand the same privileges, rights and favours of the state. The only equitable answer, say the secularists, is to turn the way of France and America and cleanse public life of all contact with faith and superstition.

Ahhh... that old chestnut...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lord Harris of High Cross (10th December 1924 - 19th October 2006)

His Grace is immeasurably saddened by the news that Ralph Harris has died.

Ralph was a founding father of the Institute of Economic Affairs because his Christian faith persuaded him that the liberalisation of economic structures was the key to feeding the poor and housing the homeless. He was one of those profound thinkers of the right, with a maddening independent streak, who bothered to argue that in order to be able to give a coat to those who have none, one must have been in a position to earn two in the first place. To focus purely on the need, which the Church frequently preached, ignored the reality that wealth creation is the most effective means by which the plight of the poor may be eased. He possessed immeasurable insight into how the European Union damages the United Kingdom, and saw all things clearly, in three and sometimes four dimensions.

His Grace was frequently confronted by Ralph's pipe(s) - an unmistakable aura - and challenged on levels that few political philosophers are now able to reach. He was unique; a man of his time, who (thankfully) coincided with the rise of a political soulmate in Margaret Thatcher.

You will be missed, my friend.

God bless.

EU Constitution: dead or alive?

The medical profession are finding death increasingly hard to define. With the revelation that people in a ‘persistent vegetative state’ have the capacity to think and react, and that ‘brain death’ may no longer justify inducing corporeal death, the scientific community is having to urgently reassess its ethical approach to the issue.

The same ought to be demanded of our EU leaders.

On the one hand, the British Foreign Secretary declares the EU Constitution to be ‘a grandiose project that failed’ – i.e., it is dead. On the other, the Chancellor of Germany insists there will be a constitution by 2009 – ie, it is very much alive, albeit in suspended animation. In this she is joined by the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who believes that the provisions of the constitution, and in particular the creation of an EU foreign minister, need to be revived. The German presidency is to be the mechanism by which this is achieved.

Konrad Adenauer once stated: ‘Germany has a divine mission to save Western Europe.’ Since the era of Charlemagne, the notion of a German destiny or fate has been deeply engrained in the German psyche; it is an instinct which has driven Germany in the past, and one to which Hitler frequently referred in his speeches. Helmut Kohl also had dominance and destiny at the forefront of his thinking when he said: ‘The future will belong to the Germans...when we build the house of Europe... In the next two years we will make the process of European integration irreversible. This is a really big battle, but it is worth the fight.’

This salvation for Europe would entail Germany overturning of the expressed will of the French and Dutch peoples. They have, of course, marched over them before. But they have never vanquished the British, and quite what the United Kingdom will make of this is dependent on whether anyone bothers to ask them. While Mrs Beckett is sounding a little sceptical, she did observe the need for a codified document, because the EU ‘is a very different beast at 25 or 27 members than it was at 12 or 15’.

Did she say ‘beast’?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gay Police Association guilty of 'faith crime'

Remember this advertisement by the Gay Police Association? Well, the Christians have won a rare victory. The advertisement received 533 complaints – more than any other this year – and the GPA has been banned from using it again, after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld assertions that it breaches codes covering truthfulness, accuracy and offence.

Cranmer reported on this earlier, and it was his considered opinion that it constituted a ‘faith crime’ against Christians. The ASA accused the GPA of making ‘false claims’ that Christians were responsible for a sharp rise in 'hate crime' attacks on homosexuals. They also found:

• The GPA failed to provide evidence backing up the claims of an increase in attacks.
• Used images of spilt blood to give the impression that all the incidents involved violence. This was not true.
• Falsely implied Christians were responsible for the incidents it was highlighting. In fact, even the GPA admitted that around a quarter of allegations involved Muslims.

It is the last of this points that interests His Grace. A massive 25% of these ‘homophobic' attacks involved Muslims, yet the GPA would not have dared to juxtapose the Qur’an with blood. They chose to focus on the unsubstantiated assertion that Christians were the principal offenders. The advertisement was therefore a deliberate attempt to stir up hatred against Christians. Unfortunately, the CPS has ruled out prosecution, but it is reported that the officers involved could face disciplinary action.

Cranmer rather doubts that they will. It was, after all, only the Christians who took offence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Allons enfants de l‘Ensemble...

This is the inspirational logo selected by the EU Commission for the next year’s pan-European festivities to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome next year. It was designed by a 23-year-old Polish student. The word ‘together’ is self-explanatory (if one speaks English, which presumably the young Pole does, possibly with a view to joining us here in the UK sometime soon, having heard how much the designer of the Conservative Party’s ‘tree’ was paid…), and the different fonts and colours are symbolic of diversity and difference. All very nice, don’t you think?

The language issue is an important one. This logo is not a singular trademark in the usual sense, since it has to be registered multiple times – once for each language officially represented or spoken in the European Parliament (don’t forget this now includes subsidiary languages like Welsh). Although it currently has accents and umlauts, it will be adapted so it will have the ‘correct orthography’ in every language. Such impressive attention to detail is, of course, profoundly important, especially to Jacques Chirac who is already singing ‘Allons enfants de l‘Ensemble, le jour de gloire est arrivé…’.

Apparently the young Pole was ‘shocked’ to win the contest, having beaten off the other 1700 (exactly) who entered. There is little about the EU that shocks Cranmer, save that this is not to be a logo, or a slogan, but a ‘slogo’ (a combination of both). Yes, Commissioner Wallstrom (can’t be bothered with the umlaut) has invented a new word, and this evolution of the single European language is to be applauded.

Although all this is all relatively trivial, one cannot escape the fact that this ‘slogo’ is fundamentally a lie. Le jour de gloire n'est pas près d'arriver. The EU is not together, not in concert, not an ensemble, not harmonised or unified. They can’t even agree on a constitution as a basic operational framework, so it is a manifest deception to portray the differences between the member states as issues as superficial as fonts or colours; varying the very word ‘together’ (in whatever language) would be a more accurate representation of the reality.

Of course, if one repeats the mantra often enough, and aim the celebrations at children and young people, the lie will be transformed into a truth… for future generations if not the present.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Michael Howard’s son refused ordination

His Grace usually leaves political gossip and tittle-tattle to Mr Iain Dale, but this news has a theological angle, and Mr Dale tends to steer clear of those.

Michael Howard is a family man, and occasionally has deployed his genetic progeny in his political pursuits. Nicholas Howard, the 31-year-old son of the former Conservative Party leader, converted from Judaism to Christianity at the age of 15. For him, it was more a fulfilment of his Jewish heritage than a conversion, and he has pursued a 3-year theology degree at the impeccably-named Cranmer Hall, part of St John's College, Durham University. He was hoping to become an ordained minister in the Church of England, but the Diocese of Oxford, which sponsored his theological training, has rejected his application for ordination. The reasons are interesting…

Mr Howard’s supporters cite his Evangelical commitment to uphold the Church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality, which he staunchly opposes – i.e., he his being persecuted for condemning homosexual practices and adhering to the traditional Church doctrine; a dogmatic stance considered unpalatable in the 21st century.

Mr Howard’s detractors quote a written opinion from Cranmer Hall, which states that he is unsuitable for ordination because he is ‘unwilling to listen to other viewpoints’.

Cranmer knows one or two who might just think the condition to be inherited...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ann Widdecombe MP calls on Christians to boycott British Airways

The Telegraph is reporting that a committed Christian employed by British Airways for seven years has been suspended for refusing to remove or conceal her small silver cross. Nadia Eweida is on unpaid leave pending an investigation (at least Orange employee Inigo Wilson was suspended on full pay), and Ann Widdecombe has called for a boycott of the company for its persecution of Christians.

An over-reaction? Possibly, but it is worth considering what religious symbols BA permits, and why:

Hijab: permitted. Reason: ‘not practical for staff to conceal beneath their uniforms’.

Turban: permitted. Reason: ‘not practical for staff to conceal beneath their uniforms’.

Kara: permitted. Reason: ‘not practical for staff to conceal beneath their uniforms’.

Cross (this one literally the size of a 5p piece): not permitted. Reason: it is contrary to BA’s policy of ‘respecting and understanding other people's beliefs’.

Miss Eweida said the cross reminds her that she ‘belongs to Jesus - one body, one spirit, one baptism’. She was informed by BA: ‘You were asked to cover up or remove your cross and chain which you refused to do. British Airways uniform standards stipulate that adornments of any kind are not to be worn with the uniform.’

BA uniform policy states that these items can be worn, but beneath the uniform. There is therefore no ‘ban’, as such, but Ann Widdecombe asserts: ‘We are supposed to live in a free country. Everyone should be able to practise their beliefs.’ She said that while a Muslim could wear a headscarf or a Sikh could wear a turban, ‘Christians have to stick their crucifixes behind their BA blouses’.

Cranmer understands that Miss Eweida’s appeal is sometime this week. If she loses, His Grace has a solution. He has in his possession a very large silver cross; it is fully 10 inches in length. He is prepared to loan this to Miss Eweida, and BA could not possibly object to her wearing it because ‘it would not be practical for her to conceal beneath her uniform’.


A helpful communicant has forwarded very useful contact information. The people at BA to whom one might complain are:

Willie Walsh, via his PA: theresa.j.sabin@britishairways.com
and Company Secretary: robert.webb@ba.com

Blessings on your efforts.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Head of British Army says Islam undermines ‘our way of life’

The head of the British Army has launched a broadside against Tony Blair’s moral crusade in Iraq. He demands the withdrawal of British troops, or risk catastrophic consequences for both Iraq and British society. It is rare indeed for such a senior military officer to directly challenge the political authority, but General Sir Richard Dannatt is no managerial doormat; he is the sort of military leader who would make a fine head of state – a strategist with a clarity of communication that cuts through all the political waffle of the age, and manifests true leadership.

Although his context is clearly Iraq, where he warns that the presence of British troops ‘exacerbates the security problems’, his insights into the nature and objectives of Islam are illuminating. He perceptively observes that a ‘moral and spiritual vacuum’ permeates British society which is allowing Muslim extremists to undermine ‘our accepted way of life’. By this, he means that Christian values are under threat in Britain, and that foreign policy is directly affecting the UK’s domestic security. He appears to be more than aware that the battle between the Dar al Islam and the Dar al Haab is a universal one, and believes that the West’s imposition of liberal democracy in Iraq is ‘naïve’. Indeed it is. Islam has no interest in the power of the people, and Muslim countries little respect for ‘foreign’ systems of government.

Sir Richard clearly perceives that to which our politicians are blind: the failure to support and promote Christian values is permitting the ascendancy of a predatory Islamist vision. He said: ‘When I see the Islamist threat in this country I hope it doesn’t make undue progress because there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country… Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind... We need to face up to the Islamist threat, to those who act in the name of Islam and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force on societies that do not wish it. It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judaic-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British army.’

He concluded: ‘I am going to stand up for what is right for the army. Honesty is what it is about. The truth will out. We have got to speak the truth.’

Cranmer says Amen, and prays for this man’s protection and blessing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

‘Living in sin’ is the new marriage

The Church of England has continued its pursuit of the via media by extending its definition of marriage. By supporting legal rights for unmarried couples, it is participating in the agenda to formalise cohabitation as a State-recognised union. The Church of England still believes marriage to be central to the stability of health of human society and that it provides the best context for bringing up children, but it asserts there is a ‘strong biblical precedent’ for protecting the vulnerable. This is undoubtedly true, but Cranmer asks his communicants to consider that biblical exhortations to protect the widow and orphan is hardly justification for giving a cohabitee the right to 50% of his or her partner’s assets.

The Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, said: ‘It is perfectly justified in terms of public policy for marriage to continue to confer particular benefits and privileges not available to those who choose not to commit to an enduring legal relationship, so long as adequate steps are taken to prevent manifest injustice. The test we would commend in assessing possible solutions is whether they will genuinely correct injustices without at the same time downgrading or creating disincentives to marriage.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, observes that marriage has ‘suffered a long process of erosion’, but is at a loss to know how to strengthen the institution. The concept of cohabitation is an utterly vague one that covers a huge variety of arrangements, and the Church of England is intent on giving formal recognition to all of them. At this rate, there is likely to be a liturgical blessing for heterosexual cohabiting couples and homosexual cohabiting couples. But why stop there? If one defines marriage as a partnership with whatever takes one’s fancy, why not a liturgy for marrying the dog?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The future’s brighter!

Remember Inigo Wilson - the Orange employee who was suspended pending an internal review when a reactionary Muslim group complained about a joke/observation he had made on the ConservativeHome blog? Cranmer covered this issue, and exhorted his flock from the pulpit to boycott Orange if they refused to reinstate Mr Jones.

It appears that Mr Jones has indeed been reinstated. A doubtless victory for free speech and common sense, but a slap in the face for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee.

Cranmer awaits news of an Islam-wide boycott of Orange, with demands for shari’a law to be introduced in order that its directors may be executed…

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Church of England: Multi-faith agenda causes division

In a rare statement of something approaching a doctrine, the Church of England has contributed an opinion to the multi-ethnic / multi-cultural / multi-faith debate. While multi-ethnicity is largely accepted in the UK as a simple statement of the reality, multi-culturalism is increasingly derided in political circles, and the issues raised by a multi-faith agenda are rarely raised, for fear of undermining the acceptance of what is, quite plainly, a multi-ethnic society. Historically, there has been something of a universal acceptance that inherent to ethnicity is much inextricable ‘baggage’, and part of that ‘baggage’ is ‘religion’, and it is therefore left well alone for fear of accusations of ‘racism’.

The Church of England, of course, would never have volunteered an opinion on this contentious subject, so a faithful saint has leaked the confidential report to The Sunday Telegraph. The Church's document is said to challenge the view that the UK is a ‘multi-faith society’ insofar as ‘the contribution of the Church of England in particular and of Christianity in general to the underlying culture remains very substantial’. It further states that Government policies designed to encourage community cohesion and the integration of minority faiths has left society ‘more separated than ever before’, and asserts that the Church has been ‘sidelined’, and Islam given ‘preferential’ treatment.

Cranmer has some sympathy with the Church’s accusation that Government policy in this area is ‘schizophrenic’. How does one address such complex issues when the nuances of debate are reduced to superficial soundbites, causing Muslims to, at best, withdraw into self-indulgent victimhood, or, at worst, aspire to acts of terrorism? How does one offer solutions to separateness when some of those symbols of separateness, as Jack Straw has discovered, are deemed to be beyond criticism? How does one assert any kind of Christian response, when the Established Church appears to have been supplanted by an Established Mosque, and the Government emits signals that appear to encourage the notion that Islam enjoys some kind of privileged relationship?

Perhaps the Minister for Local Government, Phil Woolas, alludes to the nexus of the dilemma when he observes that other faiths might find aspects of Islam ‘frightening and intimidating’. Thus any dialogue appears to carry with it a latent threat that bombs and bullets, metaphorical or literal, are concealed beneath the niqab. This is a justifiable fear, and the Church of England is right to raise the ages-old Reformation question: How, precisely, does one dialogue and negotiate with those who consider that their view of society is the one to which we must all be subject, and in this they are infallible?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Righteous justice - a life sentence that means life

Remember Richard Reid? The guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it? Did you know his trial is over? Did you know he was sentenced? Did you see/hear any of the Judge's comments on British TV or Radio? Didn't think so.

Everyone should hear the justice dispensed by Judge William Young in the US District Court. Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also asserted his "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stating, "I think I will not apologise for my actions," and told the court "I am at war with your country."

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:

'Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That's 80 years.) On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 that's an aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

'This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal." You are no big deal.

'What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

'It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mould and shape and refine our sense of justice.

'See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America . That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will. Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.’

Cranmer asserts that this is righteous justice. It sets an example for the British system where life means, on average, 8 years. Thank God the shoe-bomber was not captured and sentenced in the UK. He would probably be out in 5 years, able to sue HM Government for 'racism', and acquire the status of a martyr for Islam.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Institutional anti-semitism?

PC Alexander Omar Basha is a police officer in Scotland Yard’s Diplomatic Protection Group. It is his job to uphold the law of the land, and he has taken an oath to maintain law and order in the United Kingdom. It transpires, however, that this does not extend to the protection of British Jews.

Having been assigned to guard the Israeli Embassy, Mr Basha objected on ‘moral grounds’, citing Israel’s actions in Lebanon. His request for reassignment was considered, and (since his wife is Lebanese), granted. It appears that if you are a Muslim police officer and don’t want to protect Jews, you can object on ‘moral grounds’ and be excused. It seems that such moral grounds may include having a spouse that happens to object because of ethnic affinity. The Association of Muslim Police Officers are supporting him in this, insisting that it is a ‘welfare issue’.

But whose welfare?

If police officers may pick and choose to which assignments they are posted, based solely on their individual consciences rather than any sense of corporate responsibility, where will this lead? Should Jewish officers be excused working at an Islamic national embassy? Will Catholic officers be excused assignments to Protestant churches? Should Christian officers be permitted to decline an order to police a Gay Pride march? Should Muslim officers be excused entering mosques to search them for guns or fake passports, on the grounds that it demeans their place of worship? Should Christians be permitted to object to entering mosques because they consider them to be dedicated to an evil cult worship? Should the Hindus and Sikhs be permitted to object because of the actions of Pakistani Muslims in Kashmir against their co-religionists? Who will this leave to search Britain’s mosques? The atheists? Must we now urgently recruit a disproportionate number of atheists into HM Police Force to ensure that there are always a sufficient number of officers who may not object on ‘moral grounds’? And what if the atheists object because they happen to think they can’t be bothered to protect the worshippers of any god, because they all deserve whatever bombs and bullets come their way?

Lord Mackenzie has stated: ‘If officers have political, religious, ideological or moral views about things then they've got to put their duties above that because their service is to the public.’ Yet Cranmer suggests that no Christian would have been granted such preferential treatment. Indeed, they are likely to have been suspended and ordered to attend a ‘minority support’ course or ‘diversity’ training.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Religious discrimination or Christian persecution?

Cranmer has received an email from a correspondent (what should Cranmer call these? Communicants? Brethren?) which accorded with his own experience. It raises very important issues of immigration policy, particularly with regard to the faith of those who are admitted, and the inequities inherent in the respective assessment processes:

"For many months now I have had an Iraqi Christian, a Catholic of the Chaldean Rite, in my parish. He already has close relatives, already living in England with the right to remain indefinitely. He is a highly qualified, professional medical man who is fleeing the persecution of Christians in his homeland. The Home Office have been exceptionally difficult throughout and opposed his further stays in this country with every weapon in their armoury. In court case after court case the Catholic Church has pleaded for him to be allowed to stay, as yet with little success.

"I was anxiously pondering this case when I was given a copy of the journal of the United Reformed Church. There was an article entirely devoted to the plight of Christians fleeing persecution and attempting to gain admittance to the UK. In essence the article pointed out that the Home Office sets absurdly difficult tests which they expect Christian asylum seekers to pass, often asking questions that a well informed Catholic would find taxing. Furthermore, these tests are uniform across the Christian spectrum and make no distinction between a Catholic petitioner and one from say a Salvation Army background. When the bishops of the Church of England asked the Home Office if they could advise them on what were appropriate questions to test the authenticity of applicants from across the wide spectrum of the Christian family, they were refused. Earlier in the year, asylum seekers who had committed serious crimes were allowed back into the community after their terms of imprisonment. The comparison with the treatment of Christians is remarkable and surely poses an important question."

Cranmer is aware of one instance of immigration assessment in which a Christian convert was asked to explain the Trinity. This, apparently, was considered a fair line of inquiry to determine the veracity or otherwise of the conversion. Since the matter of the Trinity has been a cause of theological strife since Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, first used the term (in writing) in 160, it would seem a little unreasonable to demand that a recent convert would be able to expound the complexities of Monarchianism.

Cranmer wonders if Muslims trying to enter the country are asked to explain the theology of Jihad?
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