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Australia unhappy with Islam: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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Islam is not a religion of peace in the minds of the majority of Australians, a survey conducted on behalf of the Q Society of Australia reports. The survey undertaken by Roy Morgan Research Ltd shows indicates a majority of Australians believe the assimilation of Muslim immigrants is not working as 70 per cent believe the country is not a better place because of Islam.

The survey, completed in late October, found a majority (53 per cent) of Australians want full face coverings banned from public spaces and 50.2 per cent want Islamic sharia law banned all together.

Older Australians and those who voted for the governing Liberal/National parties coalition were helding harsher views of Islam than did Green party supporters or younger voters. However, only 15 per cent of Australians think Islam and terrorism are not related, while proposals by secularist and multi-cultural advocates to cancel state Christmas, Easter or ANZAC Day celebrations in order not to offend non-Christians is endorsed by only 3.5 per cent of those surveyed.

Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said the poll results validate in their opinion the need for “new strategies and policies. While followers of most religions seem to get along well, Australian politicians must acknowledge Islam is not just another religion and the growing concern is not a fringe issue,” he said.

The Q Society of Australia is a civil rights advocacy group founded in 2010 whose members are “concerned about the socio-political problems associated with the rise of Islam and sharia law in Australia; as well as religiously-motivated human rights abuses against religious minorities in many OIC-member countries,” its website states.

Gay marriage and golf: Get Religion, February 11, 2013 February 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Marriage, Multiculturalism.
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Little news of the gay marriage debate in the French National Assembly has made its way across the Atlantic into the American press. The lack of news coverage could be due to the perception that the outcome is not in doubt. The governing Socialist Party and their allies on the left hold a majority and have directed their members to vote in favor. Or France, being a very foreign country, the goings on way over there are of little concern to the American newspaper audience.

Whatever the reason, the lack of interest is a shame as the debate has been informative, lively and fun to watch. And, some of the arguments being proffered have not been laid before the American public. Let me digress for a moment and bring you up to speed as to where things stand as of this post’s publication.

The story so far — Following last year’s general election victory by the Socialist Party (PS) and its presidential candidate, François Hollande (I have shortened this from François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande), the party and its allies on the Left — the Radicals, Communists, etc., began the legislative implementation of their campaign promise to legalize gay marriage and permit gay couples to adopt children. The right has fought the move while social conservative groups — led by the Catholic Church — have mounted a vigorous public protest campaign, culminating in the largest public demonstrations last month in France in the last 30 years.

In the National Assembly, the right, led by the UMP party, proposed 4999 amendments to the bill. After 24 marathon sessions spread over ten days, with many sittings lasting until the small hours of the morning, the National Assembly concluded debate on Friday and a formal vote is scheduled for Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013.  The Senate will then take up the bill on 18 March.

Back to GetReligion — When I say the debate has been fun, I mean that it has been vigorous and pointed to a degree seldom seen in the U.S. Americans fed upon the pap of MSNBC or Fox commentators might find the French political debate indigestible — too spicy, too rich. Part of this lies in the stark polarization of French public life. In European eyes there is very little difference between the American Democrat and Republican Parties. While such an observation would baffle most Americans, from a French perspective the difference between the two American parties is miniscule compared to the spread of ideas between the Communists and the extreme Right in France.

And the place of religion in politics is very different in France — some right-wing French groups are ultra-montane Catholics while others are atheists — and there are Catholic Socialists on left (though no Catholic Communists I have found, though friends tell me a few of their seminary professors might qualify).

The right-wing news blog, 24 heures actu, which the Atlantico says

est un média impertinent de droite, radical (sans être extrême), et dans une France bâillonnée par le discours convenu de certaines élites, ça fait du bien !

is an impertinent radical right (though not extreme) publication, and with France gagged by the conventional chatter of its elites, its impertinence is a good thing.

has attacked gay marriage as racist.

Le mariage pour tous serait-il, à l’image du golf, un loisir réservé aux blancs et aux bourgeois ?

Will “marriage for all”, like golf, be a hobby reserved for whites and the bourgeoise?

N.b., “Marriage for all” or “mariage pour tous” is the French equivalent of America’s “marriage equality” — a slogan of the left that seeks to drive the direction of the debate through packaging. But again I digress. Calling “marriage for all” a liberal bourgeois preoccupation that is irrelevant to the lives of “les pauvres, les Noirs, les Arabes, les Asiatiques, les Juifs, les Latinos, les ouvriers et les chômeur”( it is more euphonious in French, but means, the poor, Blacks, Arabs, Asians, Jews, Latinos, and the unemployed), might be dismissed out of hand were it not for the revolt of the black (or should I say Franco-African) Socialist deputies from the Caribbean and Réunion who have broken with the PS and will vote no. The center-left Paris daily Libération reports that none of the black overseas members of the GDR (gauche démocrate et républicaine) of the Front de gauche (Left Front) will support the bill.

Libération cites a speech given to the National Assembly by Bruno-Nestor Azerot, a deputy from Martinique who said in overseas departments, almost all of our population is opposed to this project that “challenges all the customs, all the values” of French citizens. M. Azerot added that it was offensive to link the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement, noting in particular that black slaves could not marry or raise families recognized as legitimate by the state. Marriage for all, he argued would undermine the family and devalue the hard won social and legal rights of France’s former slave populations.

A white PS leader from Réunion (a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean) Jean-Claude Fruteau told Libération he had not received any “negative reaction” from his constituency but added that a demonstration in Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion organized by the Catholic bishop of the island should not be taken as a sign of the strength of the opposition to the bill. Réunion was a “small department where the Catholic Church has a strong influence,” he said.

Libération explained to its readers why overseas Black deputies would opposed gay marriage by quoting the chairman of the Left Front Group in the National Assembly, Communist Deputy André Chassaigne. In overseas territories, i.e., in departments with a majority black population, the “cultural dimension of family values may be more pronounced, it has a more traditional look.” The overseas deputies were invoking a “family model that was more conservative than in France,” but were “imposing religious practices” and “local circumstances” onto the French national stage.

The Libération article is written from an advocacy perspective — it makes no pretense at being balanced or offering opposing commentary. It quotes the speeches of the black deputies, but offers explanation and interpretation only from the left. The article is framed in such a way to help the newspaper’s liberal readers understand the puzzling phenomena of why blacks, whose rights the Left has always championed, would not return this support on the issue of gay marriage.

Frankly, I would not have expected Libération to have addressed the issue any other way. French newspapers have different standards than American ones. Criticizing Libération for being something that it is not is a pointless exercise, though pointing out its biases to those unaware of the differences between American and European journalism is a necessary task.

My colleagues and I at GetReligion have written hundreds of articles detailing the creeping Europeanization of the American press — where the New York Times and other prominent media outlets engage in advocacy journalism. But unlike the French or British press, they do not admit to their biases. While I would not hold out the European model as the ideal, its unashamed partisanship does allow for a discussion of issues that would never be countenanced in the American press — gay marriage, race (and golf) is one such subject.

First published in GetReligion.

The Hot Dog theory of history: Get Religion, November 5, 2012 November 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Get Religion, Multiculturalism.
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It is touching to see that in spite of everything that has happened over the course of the Twentieth century, there is still a belief in the Whig theory of history — of the inevitable march of progress. One can see this philosophical framework of man’s “move forward into broad, sunlit uplands” in this story on gender violence from the AP’s New Hampshire reporter.

The article entitled “8 Pakistanis tour NH domestic violence programs” recounts the visit to the Granite State of  “women’s rights advocates from Pakistan” underwritten by the U.S. State Department to “learn how to combat domestic violence.” It seems the money expended by the government was not well spent as the situation in New Hampshire is as bad as that in Peshawar. The eight were “stunned by the magnitude of the problem here,” the AP reports.

Opening with the observation:

‘‘All the violence we are facing, you have here,’’ said Ishrat Jabeen Aashi, a gender specialist based in Islamabad.

And closing with:

Aashi said she now feels domestic violence is more of a problem in the United States than it is Pakistan. ‘‘People know how to highlight issues here in the media,’’ she said. ‘‘We cannot give any negative impression of the country.’’

Aashi said Pakistan’s domestic violence issues are more prevalent among the poor and uneducated. ‘‘If we can address the poverty issues and people have enough money to survive, domestic violence will decline,’’ she said.

This article adopts the moral equivalence model of reporting. It accepts without question or verification statements that reflect badly on Western culture but asks nothing about those making the criticisms. If the statements put forward in this article were true, the AP would have a great story on hits hands. Who knew of the rash of honor killings taking place in New Hampshire?

The article also lacks any sense of context and intellectual maturity. Is gender violence in Pakistan the same thing as gender violence in the U.S.? This is not to minimize the problem of domestic abuse in the U.S., but rather to say this story lacks the necessary sophistication to be treated seriously. The terms need to be defined.

In the bad old days, one of Pravda‘s stock stories was to speak of the terrible conditions facing the American working class. Pictures of hard hat construction workers consuming hot dogs for lunch at a job site were proof positive of the superior living standards of homo sovieticus. Are the Russians particularly credulous? Are hot dogs so nekulturny as to be evidence of the superiority of the socialist workers’ paradise? No. Lunch is the main meal in Russia and the casual hot dog consumed from a cart in Manhattan seemed to the ordinary Russian to be a demonstration of his country’s material prowess.

The AP story is written from the hot dog fallacy point of view.  Like the characters from a modern day Ninotchka, the Pakistani visitors in this article praise their home country and culture when on a visit to a foreign land. Might I say, good for them. Always nice to see loyalty to the home side. But the AP might have done a bit better.

This story is framed by the belief that if only the problem of poverty and an inadequate education were resolved, the ills of this world will fade away. I do not dispute that poverty is bad and education a good thing — but morality and ethics play their part as well.

The “I”-word is also not mentioned in the story — Islam. Nor is the question of honor killings, the position of women in Pakistani society, or the treatment of Pakistani women from minority religious groups addressed.

Gender violence is a problem across the world — but it is foolish to think that its causes are limited to the material. This story from the Daily Dispatch from South Africa caught me eye on this point.

Butterworth police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha said a suspect had been arrested over the murder of the Centane granny in the belief she was a witch. “A 37-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection with her murder.”

“The elderly woman was allegedly attacked and stabbed several times at her home by the suspect, who was accusing her of bewitching his family.”

Viewing the world through a materialist lens does not capture reality. In Africa, gender violence sometimes has a pronounced religious element to it — be it the murder of witches in South Africa or the rape of Christian women by Muslim militias in the Sudan. In Pakistan gender violence is closely tied to the country’s social and religious culture. Can the same be said of gender violence in America? A staple of the anti-Islamist websites is the story of some Muslim sheik somewhere issuing a fatwa approving the beating of women or of a group of men beating a Muslim woman for having offended their religious sensibilities. While it is fun to pick on Pat Robertson, I don’t remember his having gone that far as to having commended spousal violence.

The AP’s gender violence story has a religion ghost, but appears deaf to its shrieks. It is written from the Hot Dog theory of history — assuming words and actions in one culture have an identical meaning in another. They don’t.

First printed in GetReligion.

Canadian honor killing and Islam: Get Religion, January 31, 2012 January 31, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Islam, Multiculturalism, Press criticism.
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An Ontario jury has convicted three members of the Shafia family — father, mother and son of an Afghan family living in Quebec — of murder in what has become Canada’s most notorious “honor killings” case. There has been some great crime and court reporting in the Shafia case, and the articles in the major newspapers are really quite good

But some of the analyses have fallen short and in a few cases come across as special pleading that there is only one legitimate view in Islam on these issues, when experience tells us that there is not a single view on the morality of honor killings in Islam — just as there is no single Islam.

“Pay no attention to the facts in these cases, trust our experts” is the line taken by CNN on this issue. While it is important to hear why some Muslim scholars believe honor killings are not condoned in Islam, one is left wondering why we do not hear from those who support this barbaric practice, or who can explain why it is such a widespread belief.

Do a little digging and you will find these voices. Do a little more digging and you will see that the legal codes of a number of Muslim-majority states do not in practice punish honor killings, or punish their perpetrators far less severely than they do others convicted of murder.

Lets look at the news reports from Canada and then the piece from CNN.

The lede sentences in the article entitled “Judge condemns ‘sick notion of honour’” in the Globe & Mail sets the scene nicely:

The murder trial of three Afghan-Canadians accused of drowning four relatives in a so-called “honour killing” came to a cathartic end Sunday afternoon as the defendants were convicted on all charges.

Before the trio were led away in handcuffs and shackles to begin automatic sentences of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years, each proclaimed their innocence, and they were visibly upset.

Mr. Justice Robert Maranger of Superior Court was unmoved. Their crimes stemmed from “a sick notion of honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society,” he told the packed courtroom.

… “It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime. The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour, a notion of honour that is founded upon the domination and control of women.”

Staring hard at the defendants, the judge said: “There is nothing more honourless than the deliberate murder” of the three teenaged girls and their step-mother.

Other Canadian press accounts are equally spirited. The Toronto Star opened its account, entitled “Shafia family members guilty of first-degree murder,” with:

This is blessed Canada. They won’t be “hoisted onto the gallows,’’ But they’re going to prison for life.

Mohammad Shafia: Guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. Tooba Mohammad Yahya: Guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. Hamed Shafia: Guilty on four counts of first degree murder.

In our country, men and women are equal. A female’s life is worth as much as a male’s. In our country, femicide is homicide.

The National Post’s columnists took an even stronger line:

By using the words “honourless” and “shameless”, [Judge] Maranger was tossing back at Shafia some of the very epithets he used so often when speaking about his dead daughters.

The mass honour slaying of Zainab, Sahar and Geeti — respectively 19, 17 and 13 — and 52-year-old Mohammad, Shafia’s other, and sadly barren, wife, ranks among the worst in the sordid history of honour crimes.

Let me set the terms of the debate for this post. What I am not saying is that honor killings occur only in Islam. They occur in other religions as well.

Nor am I saying that all Muslims support honor killings. They do not, as CNN has reported.

Nor am I saying the question of religion was ignored. The major newspapers for the most part bit the bullet and mentioned the I-word — how the killers’ interpretation of their faith shaped by the cultural mileau in which they were formed could have provided a sanction for their crimes.

My question is how religion was used to explain motive in this story and whether a blanket denial that Islam supports honor killings is sufficient when the Star reported during the trial that a wiretap recorded the killer justifying his deeds by reference to his faith.

To his wife, Shafia allegedly assured that the right actions had been taken: “I say to myself, you did well. Were they to come back to life, I would do it again. No Tooba, they messed up. There was no other way. They were treacherous. They betrayed us immensely. There can be no betrayal worse than this. They committed treason on themselves. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam. They betrayed our religion. They betrayed everything.”

Some articles rule out of bounds any discussion the influence Islam may have on honor killings. In other words, an appearance of unequal treatment is created where Islam is given a pass that reporters would not give to other faiths.

GetReligion reader Ray McCalla directed my attention to an article in CNN entitled “Islam doesn’t justify ‘honor murders,’ experts insist” as an example of this tendency. Mr. McCalla wrote that he kept waiting for CNN:

to find a voice who does think that honor killings are justified by Islam. But no, it was just an apologetic piece, defending “true,” moderate Islam. The subtext seems to be that the perpetrators are acting on a perverted version of Islam or just backwards culture. But is that true, or just what the Western media want to be true?

His point is well taken. The CNN story states:

Leading Muslim thinkers wholeheartedly endorsed the Canadian judge’s verdict, insisting that “honor murders” had no place and no support in Islam.

“There is nothing in the Quran that justifies honor killings. There is nothing that says you should kill for the honor of the family,” said Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in England.

This is a a good strong quote and the rest of the CNN story continues similar statements and assertions. But which constituencies do these CNN-selected Muslim scholars represent? Do all Muslim scholars share these views? What is the difference in authority between a scholar, a sheik, an imam, a mufti, a kadi? How do their views, teachings or fatwas influence the faith of Muslims?

In a 4 Dec 2008 interview with Al-Hayat TV, Wafa Sultan argued that honor crimes arose from within Islam.

The subjugation of women reduces them to a level lower than beasts – not to mention the laws of inheritance, testimony in court, the beating of a wife who refuses to go to bed with her husband, and ‘honor’ crimes. “Muhammad said in a hadith: ‘Three things spoil one’s prayer: a woman, a black dog, and a donkey.’ Do they ever give this any thought? Do they realize that Allah chose the female body for his greatest invention – creation itself? Wouldn’t it be moral to bestow upon the female body a certain holiness, instead of viewing it as impure?”

Should we take Dr. Sultan seriously? She is a Syrian-born physician and human rights activist who now lives in Southern California and was profiled by Time magazine in 2006 as one of the “100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world.”

How about Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Writing in the Huffington Post Canada about the Shafia case, Ms. Ali stated:

The experiences of the Shafia sisters are becoming all too familiar. A recent spate of honour violence perpetrated in the United States exemplifies the tragic incompatibility between Western liberties and radical Islam.

Can we assume that there is a common moral code across faiths? If the reporting does not lay out why these killers interpreted their faith as allowing them to kill their children, the reader is left to conclude that the killers are moral monsters, are fanatics or insane. Radical Islam, though repellent to Western sensibilities, appears to justify honor crimes, Ms. Ali argues — should not reporters attempt to explain why this is so?

First published in GetReligion.

Episcopal priest banned from practicing Islam: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 p 7. March 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Missouri, Multiculturalism.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

An Episcopal priest’s decision to give up Christianity for Lent has not been well received by his bishop.

On March 10, the Rev Steve Lawler, an assistant at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson, Missouri, distributed a press release announcing that he would be practicing the rituals of Islam for the 40 days of Lent. However, Bishop George Wayne Smith of Missouri informed Mr Lawler that if persisted in this Lenten devotion he would be defrocked.

Speaking to a reporter for the St Louis Post-Dispatch about his spiritual exercises, Mr Lawler said that on Ash Wednesday he began the five-times-a-day Salah, the formal prayers to Allah required of all Muslims. He also began a study of the Qur’an and followed Muslim dietary laws. Holy week, Mr Lawler told the reporter, would see him fast from dusk to dawn in imitation of Muslim customs during Ramadan.

Mr Lawler obliged the photographer accompanying the reporter by performing the Salah, and faced east towards Mecca for the camera and prayed on his knees on a tasteful prayer rug. However, the priest stopped short of reciting the Shahadah, the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Mohammad as his prophet.

Bishop Smith was not amused, stating Mr Lawler “can’t be both a Christian and a Muslim.”

“If he chooses to practise as Muslim, then he would, by default, give up his Christian identity and priesthood in the church,” he told the Post-Dispatch.

“Playing” at Islamic practices was disrespectful, the Bishop said, telling the Post-Dispatch that as a priest Mr Lawler “remains responsible as a Christian leader is to exercise Christianity and to do it with clarity and not with ways that are confusing.”

While he could commend the priest’s desire to learn more about Islam, the way he went about it was wrong, the Bishop said. “You dishonour another faith by pretending to take it on. You build bridges by building relationships with neighbours who are Muslim.”

Informed of his Bishop’s views, Mr Lawler ended his Islamic flirtations.

A diocesan spokesman told The Church of England Newspaper that Bishop Smith “did not issue a pastoral directive having received Steve Lawler’s assurance that he will desist from the practices of Islam.”

However, the Bishop told Mr Smith, “I stand ready to issue a pastoral directive, if that proves necessary.” In the Episcopal Church a pastoral directive is a formal notice by a bishop to a cleric. Violating a pastoral directive can lead to being deposed from the ministry.

The Diocese noted that Mr Lawler “sent a letter of apology to his congregation but was unable to deliver it to them in person this past Sunday,” as he had left for Europe on vacation the day before.

Compensate Aboriginals or leave says Australian Dean: CEN 8.14.09 p 6. August 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Multiculturalism, Politics.
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CEN Logo

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Australians should offer compensation to its Aboriginal residents for the crimes and odious sins committed by the descendants of the country’s European settlers, the Dean of an Anglican theological college in Melbourne has declared, or be prepared to leave the country.

Christian teaching requires recompense either through restitution or satisfaction for crimes, Dr. Peter Adam of Ridley College said on Aug 10 during the 2nd Annual John Saunders Lecture entitled “Australia — whose land?” given at Morling College to the New South Wales Baptist Union. The Christian response to the sins of the settlement of Australia, he argued was to return what was taken or to give something in return of equivalent value to the victim where restitution is not possible.

However, “the politics of Aboriginal romanticism that Rev Adam endorses have little basis in reality,” Australian historian Keith Windschuttle tells The Church of England Newspaper. The premise that Australia’s colonization and the English relationship with the Aboriginal peoples was based upon the extermination of the native inhabitants cannot be supported by history, Dr. Windschuttle said.

Government moves towards offering compensation were a beginning, Dr Adam said in his lecture, but something “more drastic” need be done as “no recompense could ever be satisfactory because what was done was so vile, so immense, so universal, so pervasive, so destructive, so devastating and so irreparable.”

The European settlement of Australia was a crime against the native peoples and a sin against God, Dr. Adam said. The church was complicit in the genocide as “the prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads, our reservoirs are stolen property.”

All non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave the country, if the indigenous people so desired, or else provide an appropriate recompense, he said. ”It would in fact be possible, even if very difficult and complicated, for Europeans and others to leave Australia. I am not sure where we would go, but that would be our problem,” he said.

In a statement given to the CEN, Dr. Windschuttle, author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land, 1803-1847, and editor of Quadrant, the country’s leading intellectual journal, stated Dr. Adam had “uncritically accepted the interpretation of Aboriginal history offered by a particular school of university-based authors comprised of an alliance of neo-Marxists, postmodernists and former members of the Communist Party.”

This school claimed that “after British colonization in 1788 the Aborigines engaged in frontier warfare against the white invaders and, in retaliation, suffered massacres and genocide.” Such an account has been shown to be untrue, Dr. Windschuttle said. The postmodernist school of Australian historians had “failed their public responsibility to tell the truth about this issue and instead have perpetrated a long series of willful misrepresentations” about the country’s past.

“My own empirical research concludes that in all of Europe’s encounters from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century with the New Worlds of the Americas and the Pacific, the colonization of Australia was far and away the least violent. Rather than being common, massacres of Aborigines were rare and isolated events. Some well-known apparent atrocities had been exaggerated out of all proportion and some were entirely fictitious. The overall death tolls cited by the most reputable historians were no more than guess work and fabrications,” he said.

There was no evidence that the prescription offered by Dr. Adam was wanted as the “great majority of modern Aborigines today show little interest in that kind of politics” of race. Studies show that “65 per cent of Aboriginal adults who are married or cohabiting, are doing so with a non-indigenous spouse” while in urban areas where 73 percent of Aborigines live, the figure rises to 90 percent.

“Instead of an Aboriginal state or treaty, instead of customary laws and traditional culture, most Aborigines have shown by their actions they simply want to live like the rest of us,” Dr. Windschuttle said.

Bishop urges Muslim evangelism: CEN 7.04.08 p 5. July 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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The Anglican Bishop of Lichfield has urged Christians not to be fearful of inviting Muslims to learn about Jesus Christ. In a letter to the diocese last week, Bishop Jonathan Gledhill said that Christian “neighbourliness” required sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.

Writing in response to a private members motion to General Synod on the subject of a multi-faith Britain tabled by Mr Paul Eddy and set down for discussion in February Bishop Gledhill stated that “both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths. That means that each understands that the other has a message to convey to the world.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop urges Muslim evangelism

Bishop warns of rise of “militant secularism”: CEN 6.27.08 p 7. June 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Multiculturalism.
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“Militant secularism” is the greatest threat facing the Church and Western culture, the Bishop of Rochester told delegates to the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) on June 24.

In Parliament and in governments across the globe, “Christian views are being denied” a place in the public square “on the basis of scientific progress, or a crude materialism,” he said.

Secularism was not a “privileged vantage point,” Bishop Nazir-Ali argued, nor “some sort of neutral place” but a worldview that seeks to exclude others. The loss of “Christian nerve” had left society ill-equipped to respond to the aggressive demands of modern culture, he argued.

This loss of theological and intellectual vigor had also taken its toll on the Anglican Church, where “private deals” have supplanted theological principles, he told the delegates.

In a 45 minute address delivered without notes, the Bishop of Rochester said the future of the Communion was to be found “its authentic nature, not in recent innovations or explanations.” Citing John Henry Newman, Bishop Nazir-Ali said the development of doctrine must be tested against Scripture.

“The Bible is the norm by which we appreciate what is authentically apostolic. That is the reason for the Bible being the ultimate and final authority for us in our faith and our lives and this is the reason why Anglicans have taken our study of the Bible so seriously.”

This renewed church would be “confessing,” “conciliar” and “consistatory”: one under the authority of Scripture and governed by councils whose authority was recognized across the Communion. “We have to be clear that we are a confessing church. Some people have the mistaken idea that Anglicans can believe anything, or that Anglicans can believe nothing. I don’t know which one is more serious,” he explained.

“We need to be a conciliar church,” he said, one governed by councils. These councils must also be consistatory as the “church needs to exercise the authority of its teaching office.” In the life of the Anglican Communion, “I have been frustrated by decision after decision after decision that has not stuck. We cannot have this for a healthy church,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said.

He urged the reform of the present hierarchical structures of the Communion. While they had proven effective over the past hundreds years, “in the crisis that is facing us at this time we have found them not to be enough, because in the end they were based on English good manners. In our world we have found that English good manners are not enough.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali closed his address with a word of hope that Gafcon might serve to renew and rebuild Anglicanism. “If you are anything gathered here together, you are the beginnings, the miraculous beginnings, we may say, of an ecclesial movement for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of Christ’s church.”

Akinola attacks inclusiveness: CEN 5.30.08 p 8. June 1, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Multiculturalism.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Nigeria has denounced “multiculturalism” and “inclusiveness” as tenets of a false gospel that have sapped the missionary imperative of the Church.

In his commencement address to the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry outside of Pittsburgh on May 17, Archbishop Akinola warned the new graduates from the Episcopal Church’s sole remaining Evangelical theological college that the world outside their seminary’s walls would not be welcoming.

“Here, you live in a community of faith. But out there, secularisation of society has led to the consignment of the Christian faith and practice to the background. What is left of the Church is infested by such new phenomena as ‘inclusiveness’ here in the USA, and in the UK we hear of multiculturalism,” the Nigerian primate said.

These worldviews were a form of “political correctness” that sought to “accommodate all shades of opinion and practice in the church.”

However, the “consequences” of multiculturalism were “grave. We end up with what looks like Church but in reality is not.”

“The authority of Scripture is put to doubt and denied. The uniqueness and Lordship of Jesus the Christ is jettisoned and our Lord is categorised as no more than one of the great men of his time. The fatherhood of God is questioned and a new vocabulary of father/mother introduced to please those of feminist persuasion. We learn that some even deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. When you take away these cardinal teachings and beliefs of the church, what is left is certainly not the church of Jesus Christ called out of the world but stationed in the world to bring the erring world to God,” he said.

The situation for Anglicanism in the West was grim. The church was full of “heretics and apostates” and was “declining so fast” that its “cathedrals are becoming mere tourist attractions. Of the Episcopal Church’s “two hundred bishops, I doubt if you can count on forty bible believing orthodox leaders,” he said.

The situation in Europe was as the continent had “gone apostate,” leaving a “huge religious vacuum which is now being aggressively filled by Islam.”

Archbishop Akinola called upon the new clergy to rise up and “overthrow all the ungodliness and apostasy we see in our Church and society” and challenge the “extreme revisionist liberalism of the Episcopal Church.”

He denied the disputes dividing the Anglican Communion were manifestations of power politics, but were salvation issues. For “to deny the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct is to remove the ground from the feet of theology,” he said, and would lead to damnation.

EU says religious groups can help in climate change campaign: CEN 5.09.08 p 9. May 10, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment, EU, Multiculturalism, Persecution, Russian Orthodox.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Religion must play its part in combating climate change, EU political leaders told a gathering of European religious leaders on May 5. However, Russian delegates used the one-day conference in Brussels to urge the EU to direct its political energies towards supporting oppressed Christians around the world.

Twenty Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders—including the Bishop of Hulme, the Rt. Rev. Steven Lowe met with the Presidents of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament in the fourth annual meeting of EU officials and religions leaders.

European Council President Janez Janša, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, told the delegates the environment was “not only natural but also a sacred place.”

“Community and loyalty between man, nature and the Creator is a basic principle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike,” he said. “Climate change requires us to rethink how we channel imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship into creating a world, free of dependence on fossil fuels, and yet prosperous and connected as never before.”

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso added that climate change “obliges all of us to take urgent action,” and that “thanks to their outreach and role in our societies, religions and communities of belief are well placed to make a valuable contribution in mobilizing” against climate change.

Noting that 2008 was the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering asked faith leaders to take the lead in “building bridges between people and to safeguarding peace based on mutual respect.”

“Intercultural dialogue” he argued, was an “important contribution” to a common EU foreign policy “in particular in the Mediterranean region”.

However the Russian Orthodox delegate, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria said the EU’s notions of intercultural dialogue placed Christians at a disadvantage.

“Tolerance should not cause detriment to Christians, who still make up the majority of the European population. Phobia and discrimination of Christians should be condemned officially,” he said.

Bishop Hilarion called upon the EU to protect Europe’s Christian heritage, citing Muslim predations against Orthodox Christians in Kosovo and Cyprus. Turkey should not become part of Europe, he argued while it continues to “disregard the needs of its Christian population.”

The Russian Orthodox Church called upon the EU to “do more for the protection of Christians outside Europe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Islamic countries,” Bishop Hilarion said, according to a statement released through the Interfax news agency.

Australia unveils plans to consult Muslim panel: CEN 4.11.08 p 7. April 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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Australia has announced plans to create a Muslim advisory panel to assist the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in addressing strained relations and to improve the public image of the country’s Muslim immigrant minority.

Last month the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson said the seven member council would draw upon academics, sporting figures and non-religious Muslims, and would seek to break down the “misconception” that all Muslims were hard-line fundamentalists.

“The whole spectre of Muslims is women in hijabs and other stereotypical characteristics and I think there is not enough opportunity to see a difference,” he told The Australian newspaper, adding that he knew “a lot of Muslim youth in my electorate that are totally irreligious, or is marginal to their existence and they don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Koran.”

The government of former Prime Minister John Howard had created the Australian Muslim Community Reference Group in 2005, but abolished it after 12 months.

Ferguson said the last government’s council had drawn its members from Islamic clerics, and had not been able to agree on key goals or support the government’s call for integration. Council member Fehmi Naji el-Imam, the grand mufti of Australia, had also embarrassed the government by declaring support for Islamic militants during the 2006 Lebanon war between Hizbullah and Israel.

The appeal to the Muslim mainstream by the Rudd government, Ferguson said, was an attempt to integrate Muslim immigrants in a non-threatening way. “I think one of the failures of the previous government was to drive people into a corner, to force people to make a choice, sometimes which reinforced hard religiosity,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ameer Ali, the former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and chairman of the Howard government’s advisory group, welcomed the proposal. He told Sky News Australia that Muslims in Australia suffered from a poor public image. “Islam has been portrayed as religion of violence, which is not true. Islam has been portrayed as a religion that promotes jihads,” he said.

However, critics of the Rudd government note the proposal to populate the committee with media celebrities and academics who happen to be Muslim, would do little to resolve the underlying tensions. “You cannot exclude imams and expect all Muslim voices to be represented on an advisory body” Sydney imam Khalil Shami told The Australian.

German philosopher backs Archbishop in Shariah row: CEN 4.10.08 April 10, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Multiculturalism.
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JÜRGEN HABERMAS has waded into the debate on Islam in Europe backing the line taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Temple lecture on Shariah law.

In the “Dialectics of Secularisation,” the noted German philosopher argued that Europe must adopt an inclusive, critical discussion on the role religion plays in public life through a dialogue in which all parties cooperate as equals for the purpose of achieving understanding.

Writing in the April issue of the German journal Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, Habermas cited the controversy over Dr Williams’ comments to the BBC that some aspects of Sharia law “seems inevitable” in Britain as an example of the unsettled state of intellectual discourse over the place of religion in public life.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

German philosopher backs Archbishop in Sharia row

Muslim activists concered at Archbishop’s Sharia talk: CEN 3.28.08 p 6. March 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement that some aspects of Sharia law in Britain “seems unavoidable” has served to undermine democratic reforms in the Arab world, a Libyan activist has claimed.

Writing in the Arabic language journal Elaph on Feb 26, Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Muttalib Al-Houni wrote Dr. Williams’ words had encouraged Islamist fundamentalists and had grave repercussions for human rights in the Muslim world.

While the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups have applauded Dr. Williams’ February remarks to the BBC and his lecture at the Temple Church on aspects of Sharia and British law, the response from moderate and secular Muslims has been poor.

Were Britain to incorporate “Islamic Sharia laws regarding personal status” into its civil code, a dual court system would have to be established or “else a large number of European judges would have to be sent to the Taliban to learn Sharia thoroughly enough to implement its laws.”

Britain would also have to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and modify its own tradition of civil liberties so as to permit polygamy, allow “Muslim citizens to beat their wives to discipline them,” permit men to divorce their wives “without requiring any court proceedings,” outlaw adoption, deprive divorced women of the custody of their children if they remarried, give daughters half the share of sons in inheritance proceedings while allowing widows only an eighth share of the estate, and forbid Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men.

Acceding to the demands of Sharia law, Al-Houni wrote, would destroy the concept of citizenship and “spell the end” of human rights legislation in Britain. Dr. Williams’ argument “sends the wrong message to the Islamic world. The gist of this message is that there is no contradiction between Islamic Sharia and Western civilization if [Sharia] applies [only] for Muslim citizens.”

The “reverberations” from Dr. Williams’ remarks would have a “grave” impact on the Islamic world, Al-Houri said according to a translation provided by the MEMRI news service.

“The Islamic world has been suffering from fundamentalist attacks on what is left of secular society in their countries. These fundamentalists want to implement a Sharia law that contravenes human rights, taking as their model and inspiration the seventh-century state [established by] the Prophet Mohammad in Medina.”

“At present, these [fundamentalists] are picking fights with the secularists in Islamic countries, and their attitude is: ‘How can you oppose Sharia law in your own countries when we see that the Anglican Church is seeking its implementation in Europe?’,” Al-Houri wrote.

Dr. Williams’ “message is wrong, and it is detrimental to all pleas for modernism and secularism in the Islamic world,” Al-Houni said.

Bishop’s death threat after mosque support: CEN 3.26.08 March 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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The Rt. Rev. John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford 

The Bishop of Oxford told a community meeting that he had received a death threat for backing a proposal to allow the Muslim muezzin’s call, the Adhan, to be broadcast five times a day at the Oxford Central Mosque.

The Rt. Rev. John Pritchard told the meeting organized by the Anglo Asian Association in East Oxford on March 8, the virulence of some of the letters he received was “extraordinary.”

“One said, on a piece of A4, ‘resign’ six times in large font. One called on me to be beheaded and one said ‘I wish I was closer so I could spit on you’.”

” The dark underbelly of British society was coming out,” Bishop Pritchard told the meeting, according to an account printed by the Oxford Mail.

A diocesan spokesman said the threatening letters had not been reported to the police.

Bishop Pritchard, a Muslim speaker, a representative from the mosque, and city councilor Craig Simmons addressed the meeting, which was called to discuss concerns over the muezzin’s call in East Oxford.

Mr. Simmons said the controversy was premature. One of the conditions Oxford had made to allow construction of the mosque was a ban on amplified calls to prayer. “Planning permission would be needed to overturn this, which would involve a full consultation” he said, adding that the mosque had not yet submitted a request for permission to broadcast the muezzin’s call.

A representative from the mosque conceded the its interim committee had mishandled the affair. “It was basically a romantic idea from pure hearts. It was something that people wanted to share without any intentions of asserting a theology or culture on anyone,” Mr. Altaf Hussein said.

In January, Bishop Pritchard sparked controversy by telling the Oxford Mail he supported allowing the mosque to broadcast the muezzin’s call. “I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you,” he said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

German court upholds ban on veils in class: CEN 3.20.08 March 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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A German state court has upheld laws forbidding Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in schools.

The Baden-Württemberg administrative court of appeal in Mannheim on March 18 held that wearing a headscarf for religious reasons in the classroom contravened laws forbidding proselytism in state schools. However, while Muslims may not wear headscarves, Roman Catholic nuns would be permitted to wear a wimple while teaching in state schools.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

German court upholds ban on veils in class

Bishop questions oath plan for citizenship: CEN 3.21.08 p 4. March 19, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration, Multiculturalism.
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tim-stevens.jpgThe Bishop of Leicester has questioned the utility of holding ceremonies for school-leavers to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen and country.

Writing in the Leicester Mercury on March 15, Bishop Tim Stevens said “the swearing of oaths of allegiance do have a place in our society but the important thing is they are symbolic acts and don’t get in the way of valuing our children.”

The March 11 report commissioned by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on British citizenship recommended the creation of a British national day, citizenship ceremonies for young people, reforming the treason laws, and loans to immigrants to help pay the cost of English language classes.

The report’s author, the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith said holding an allegiance ceremony would help young people strengthen their sense of Britishness.

“Certainly there isn’t a crisis of national identity, but the research does tend to show there’s been a diminution in national pride, in this sense of belonging,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The citizenship ceremonies, which are just one of the many things I have suggested, are a way of marking that passage of being a student of citizenship to a citizen in practice, Lord Goldsmith said.

“It does make sense to promote a sense of shared belonging, a sense that you are part of a community with a common venture, to integrate better newcomers to our society and be clearer about what the rights and responsibilities are,” the former attorney general explained.

While he applauded the Lord Goldsmith’s motives, his conclusions were misplaced, Bishop Stevens said, as a ceremony would do little to foster national pride.

“We shall recover confidence in our national identity if we learn to be proud of our young people and recognise the contributions they are making. That will do more to make them feel British than any act of allegiance,” he said.

Top German newspaper backs Dr. Nazir Ali: CEN 1.25.08 p 6 January 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Multiculturalism.
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faz-logo.gifThe Bishop of Rochester’s warning about the creation of “no-go zones” for non-Muslims in Britain has touched a cord with Germany’s largest newspaper, which last week argued that Europe’s failure to integrate Muslim immigrants posed a threat to the foundations of democratic western society.

On Jan 15 the publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) warned that the “mix of youth criminality and Muslim fundamentalism” could be correctly called the “closest thing to the deadly ideology of the 20th century.”

In an article printed in the Sunday Telegraph on Jan 11, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali wrote, “there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into ‘no-go’ areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.”

Writing in the wake of the murder of a German pensioner in the underground at the hands of Muslim youths, FAZ publisher Frank Schirrmacher (pictured) warned the conflation of Islamist ideology with crime posed a challenge to German society. frank-schirrmacher.jpg

“Germans have been called Schweinefresser [pig-eaters] during unfounded attacks,” by members of Muslim youth gangs, “which already moves the conflict into the sphere of a cultural war. You can’t take such comments lightly because they are developing as an evolutionary stage in the parallel worlds of our society,” he said.

The second and third generation of “disenfranchised” Muslim immigrants has “turned parts of Berlin into ungovernable zones, according to their mayors,” Schirrmacher wrote.

The multi-cultural policies of the government had failed to integrate immigrants into British society Bishop Nazir Ali wrote in the Telegraph, creating instead a “multifaith ‘mish mash’, which lacked “the underpinning of a moral and spiritual vision.”

The problem in Germany was just as great the FAZ said. Hopes that radical Islam would be subsumed into the mass of German society, “misjudged the demographic crisis of an aging society.”

“The failure to integrate immigrants, which is our own fault, is now making itself felt among those born here: the majority is falling apart, through the selective slaughter of a few” by Muslim criminal gangs, Schirrmacher said.

Stronger communities are needed, says Bishop: CEN 11.27.07 November 28, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, Multiculturalism, Politics.
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STRONG communities cannot be created by government fiat, the Bishop of Salisbury told the House of Lords, but can only arise through the moral regeneration of society.

Speaking in response to the Queen’s speech, Bishop David Stancliffe questioned the government’s drive to define Britishness by means of a constitution and chastised its shallow vision of ‘community’.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Stronger communities are needed, says Bishop

Government urged to invest in inter-faith dialogue to combat terror threat: CEN 11.25.07 November 25, 2007

Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, Interfaith, Multiculturalism.
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INTERFAITH dialogue is a worthwhile investment in the war against Islamist terrorism, the Bishop of St Albans has said.

Speaking in response to the Prime Minister’s national security speech to the House of Commons, Bishop Christopher Herbert told the House of Lords the government would benefit from the experiences of the church’s interfaith dialogue.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Government urged to invest in inter-faith dialogue to combat terror threat

Russian Church leader hits out at secularism: CEN 11.23.07 p 8. November 22, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Multiculturalism, Russian Orthodox.
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alexy-and-putin.jpgSecular liberalism will deposit Western Civilisation on the ash-heap of history, the number two man of the Russian Orthodox Church told a political rally in Moscow last week.

Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Relations told a rally at Moscow State Technical University for activists of the Young Guard—the youth wing of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russian Party—that postmodernism will lead to the collapse of the West.

“We live in the times of the postmodern that is characterised with the dangerous idea: that postmodern does not imply the conception of the truth – it is relative, that there are as many truths as human minds,” he said.

Metropolitan Kyrill cited Western Europe’s experiments with civil gay marriage as the primary example of its moral and cultural decay. Fifteen years ago gay marriage was unthinkable he said. Now laws were being enacted to normalize the practice across Europe.

“Pedophilia will be the next step in this process” that elevates the “popular conception of human’s rights” above all else, he said.

The end to this process was “Hades, the fire of the Apocalypse,” Kyrill said.

Metropolitan Kyrill urged the activists of the Young Guard to reject Western cultural ideals, adopting instead a mindset influenced by Holy Mother Russia. While truth was undivided across creation, no single social model contained the “ultimate truth” that required the world’s allegiance, he said, according to an account printed by the Interfax news agency.

President Putin’s Russia and the Orthodox Church believed in a “diverse world” based on peaceful co-existence. The new world order should be one of “harmonic union” Kyrill said, and not founded purely on the “western liberal” ideal of human rights and personal freedoms.

Female mutilation worry expressed by bishop: CEN 11.02.07 p 4. November 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords, Multiculturalism.
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THE GOVERNMENT has been challenged to do more to educate young people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.

The call came from the Rt Rev George Cassidy, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. His intervention came during a debate initiated by Labour peer Baroness Rendell who asked the government about the Metropolitan Police’s efforts to combat the crime.

Lord West noted that the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 made it an offence for women to betaken abroad for female genital mutilation or circumcision: a cultural practice followed in a number of African and Arab countries that has come under harsh criticism from health and rights activists and has been condemned by the African Churches.

lord-west.jpgThe government was currently investigating the prevalence of FGM among migrants to the UK and had ‘instigated awareness raising initiatives, including the training of health professionals.’ He noted the Metropolitan Police was investigating approximately 30 cases reported since July.

Lord West told Bishop Cassidy the police were investigating suspected cases of FGM through its child abuse investigation command under Project Azure. “This is an enforcement campaign, but it also focuses on raising awareness within communities that this is an illegal practice,” he said.

There was a ‘cultural dimension’ to FGM, Lord West said. “But that does not mean that the practice is not still barbarous. Some communities used to practise cannibalism, but that would not be accepted today. It is a difficult issue but we are doing as much as we can to stop this dreadful practice,” the minister explained.

Primate in South Africa diversity call: CEN 9.21.07 p 8. September 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Multiculturalism.
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The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has called upon South Africa to embrace tolerance and welcome diversity in order to build a new society.

Speaking at the Steve Biko 30:30 Conference in Cape Town on Sept 12, Archbishop Ndungane warned of the perils of romanticizing the past and “thinking that all that was pre-colonial or anti-apartheid is automatically more authentic and thus superior.”

The nation must shed its historical and “cultural baggage” to build a new society, he argued. While “some of our African heritage passes the necessary test that asks whether it contributes to the abundant flourishing of every child of God, in every aspect of our humanity,” he urged black South Africans to exercise a critical eye when addressing the “complex legacies of colonialism and apartheid.”

The new South Africa sought to build “a multi-racial, multi-faith and multi-cultural society,” he said. It was far easier to tear down than to build, the Archbishop said, and appealed for society to value the diverse voices found within society.

“If we are all on the same side – if we are all pursuing the quest for true humanity – we should not feel threatened by such diversity,” he said. “We should see it as a powerful resource for creative mutual engagement.”

God does not have favourites, Archbishop Ndungane said. “His promise of true humanity is for everyone, as he affirms our equality before him in all our differences and diversity.”

Racist crimes are on the rise: CEN 9.07.07 p 8. September 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, EU, Immigration, Multiculturalism.
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Incidents of racially and religiously motivated crime have risen sharply across Europe, an EU report on Racism and Xenophobia said last week, with the latest figures showing a rise of 6.7 percent in England and Wales, and 11.3 percent in Scotland.

“Racist violence and crime remain a serious social ill across Europe”, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency said in its Aug 27 report, which analyzed discrimination in employment, housing and education across the 27 Member States.

The full extent of the problem remains unknown, however, as only two countries, the UK and Finland report comprehensive crime statistics in accordance with the EU’s Racial Equality Directive. Only 11 of the 27 countries collect data on racial and religious crime. Of these, the UK, Germany, Denmark, France, Slovakia, France and Ireland reported a rise and Austria, Sweden and the Czech Republic showed a decrease in race crimes.

The EU report said national data from most countries “remains unsatisfactory,” and noted that the definition of race crime differed from country to country. In 2006 Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal reported no racist crimes; ten states provided “limited” statistics, while ten were identified as providing “good” data.

“As a stark illustration of the difference in awareness and the variation in data collection policies, the UK collected more reports of racist crime in a 12 month period than the other 26 Member States combined,” the EU report said.

Britain’s definition of racial and religious crime also differed from other EU Countries. In the wake of the Lawrence inquiry the definition of a “racist incident” is based upon the “victim’s initial interpretation of an incident centre-stage” rather than upon police investigation or reporting, the EU report said.

Between April 2004 and March 2005, 57,902 racist incidents were reported to the police, of which 37,028 were officially recorded. Last year the Crown Prosecution Service received 7,430 cases and prosecuted 6,123 racially motivated crimes and 41 religiously motivated offences.

Unemployment among immigrants and minorities remains significantly higher than for the majority population, the report concluded, while discrimination over housing continues to be one of the main sources of complaints to anti-discrimination authorities.

The EU findings track conclusions reached by General Synod’s 15-member Committee for Minority and Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) which concluded the Church of England remained institutionally racist.

CMEAC’s report, Present and Participating – A Place at the Table, acknowledged that while some dioceses had sought to address the problems, the Church’s current structures still alienated many black and Asian people.

Last month the Archbishop of York told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he believed the Church of England was “institutionally racist.” Dr. Sentamu said the Church had no racist policies in effect, “but to say there is institutional racism within the church, yes, that much I’ll accept.”

He likened the climate of the Church of England to a smoke filled room. “You could go into a room when people have been smoking and there isn’t anybody you can see in sight who’s smoking, and you know there has been smoking. That’s what I call institutional racism: you know there are some behaviors that are unacceptable, but you can’t quite pinpoint anybody who’s done it,” he said.

Archbishop Rebuffs Claim of Re-Written Pastoral Letter: CEN 8.31.07 p 7. August 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Multiculturalism.
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The Church of Nigeria has denounced as racist and demeaning suggestions that Archbishop Peter Akinola’s Aug 20 pastoral letter was ghost written by his American bishop, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns.

The charges of American manipulation of African Archbishops were “another attempt to divert attention” away from the root causes of the crisis of faith and order in the Anglican Communion, it said.

On Aug 24 the Church Times reported “computer tracking software suggests” the pastoral was “extensively edited and revised over a four-day period” by Bishop Minns. The article stated there were “about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream.”

The Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude charged the Church Times report confirmed his suspicions that American conservatives, not African bishops were driving the Global South’s calls for discipline of the US church.

The Church Times report “demonstrates that the most extreme demands being made of the Anglican Communion by the secessionists originate not with Archbishop Akinola in Nigeria but from Bishop Minns and other extreme conservatives associated with CANA.”

“The conservatives who have been driving the Global South agenda have tried to present themselves as orthodox in contrast to what they claim is TEC’s heterodoxy. In their campaign to defeat those of us who support the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion, they are prepared to use methods which we believe to be abusive, dishonest and fail to embody Christian values,” Mr. Coward said.

The Church of Nigeria’s director of communications Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola responded that it was “very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to.”

Archdeacon Popoola stated work on the pastoral letter began in Abuja on Aug 6, as staffers gathered research for the letter. A first draft was read by Archbishop Akinola on Aug 9, but no corrections were made at that time.

Archbishop Akinola then traveled to the United States, and working in the offices of Bishop Minns, completed the letter. The charge that Bishop Minns wrote the letter was nonsensical, Archdeacon Popoola said.

“I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bp. Minns’ computer” by Archbishop Akinola. “Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the amendment, the Archbishop like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk often phones me and other staffs to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Abp. Peter Akinola knows you can not make him say what he does not mean,” he said.

Bishop Minns told The Church of England Newspaper he served in a secretarial capacity as Archbishop Akinola’s amanuensis, and did not write the pastoral as claimed by the Church Times.

On Aug 20 CEN received a copy of Archbishop Akinola’s pastoral from the Church of Nigeria written using Microsoft word. A revised copy of the pastoral was sent out later that day. In its report on the pastoral the CEN noted that Archbishop Akinola was visiting his parishes in Northern Virginia at the time of the document’s release.

Using the Microsoft word feature “Track Changes”, changes to the original draft document as claimed by the Church Times can be observed, including the name of the registered user of the software used to edit the document.

While Bishop Minns is named as the registered owner of the software, there is no evidence that he was the author of the document—merely that it was typed on a machine whose copy of Microsoft Word was registered in his name.

Comment at Thinking Anglicans or Titusonenine

NHS denies banning lunch for Ramadan: CEN 8.31.07 p 4. August 27, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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THE NHS in Lothian, Scotland, has said that staff will not be barred from eating at their desks during Ramadan and vending machines will not be removed.In a statement yesterday, a spokesman for NHS Lothian said that initial reports that the new measures would be introduced to avoid causing offence to Muslims during the holy period were based on a briefing paper from a private public affairs company.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

NHS denies banning lunch for Ramadan

NHS trusts ban lunch for Ramadan: CEN 8.24.07 p 2. August 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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Two Scottish NHS Trusts have asked their staff to refrain from eating lunch at their desks so as not to give offense to Muslims who fast from dusk to dawn during Ramadan.


NHS Lothian and Greater Glasgow will remove vending machines and food trolleys from public areas and have asked senior staff not to hold “working lunches” for one month beginning Sept 13.


The NHS’s Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance the Scotsman reported last week, asking that Muslim staff be given time off to pray and to celebrate the three-day festival of Eid at the end of Ramadan.


Jim McCaffery, director of acute services and workforce at NHS Lothian, said: “This e-mail was circulated to a number of senior managers as we continue to promote cultural awareness in our organisation.”


During the month of Ramadan, devout Muslims are enjoined from eating, drinking or engaging in sexual relations during daylight hours.


“Frankly, this advice, well meaning as it may be, is total nonsense,” Bill Aitken, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, was reported as saying. “This is the sort of thing that can stir up resentments rather than result in good relations.”

NHS trusts ban lunch for Ramadan

George Carey: “Religion Central to Terrorism Debate”: CEN 7.19.07 p 4. July 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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Lord Carey has criticized attempts to airbrush religion out of the debate on terrorism, telling the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tackling Terrorism that an understanding of the religious dynamic was essential in defeating Islamist terrorism.

The government had to take care in avoiding “two dangers,” the former Archbishop of Canterbury said on July10 at Westminster .

“One is to tar all Muslims with the brush of extremism and Islamism. The second is to airbrush Islam out of the picture by suggesting that Islamists do not represent Muslims. They do represent many Muslims but not all, and possibly not the majority. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but Islamism will always be a threat to the values and traditions of a western democracy,” Lord Carey said.

His comments come in the wake of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ban on using the word “Muslim” by his cabinet colleagues in ­connection with the ­terrorism crisis. Following the Glasgow airport attack the prime minister also instructed the cabinet that the phrase “war on terror” was to be dropped, in what is believed to be a bid to avoid giving offense to Muslims.

Lord Carey, who has taken an active leadership role in Christian-Muslim dialogue since his retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury, told the Parliamentary committee that the “religious component” was essential in understanding the “causes of Islamist terrorism.”

The West consistently failed to comprehend the “religious dimension” motivating terrorists, and policies that avoided this component were doomed to failure.”

“Islamist terrorism” was an international phenomenon that was “indiscriminate in its victims,” he said, noting that it was appropriate to “use a term like ‘Islamist’ to describe it rather than a more neutral term because its ideology is deeply theological. To separate the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘Islamist’ is to ignore the fact that Islam is being interpreted in such a way to lend justification to violence.”

Committee members Mohammed Sarwar MP and Lord Ahmed challenged Lord Carey’s linkage of “Islamist” and “terrorist”, arguing that not all Muslims were terrorists. The former Archbishop agreed, but said it was “vital to recognise what we are up against. The enemy is not Islam, the religion, or Muslims, the people. It is an ideology that distorts a faith.”

Defeating Islamist terrorism began with strengthening the position of “moderates in Muslim communities and starve the radicals of oxygen.” A nuanced security response was also important as “spying” was “not the answer,” as “many Muslim communities feel that they are under siege and threatened on all sides, they need affirmation and encouragement to participate in wider society.”

Lord Carey urged the registration of all Mosques, requiring foreign Imams be properly trained and fluent in English before being permitted to immigrate to Britain , requiring faith schools to adhere to state curriculums, and resisting demands for parallel legal structures for Muslims. “Sharia courts should not replace civil courts,” he argued.

It was necessary to “empower and facilitate religious dialogue at every level,” Lord Carey argued. “There are already a host of dialogues taking place and no more are needed,” he said, “butt it is important for governments, intelligence communities and Parliamentarians to hear from those experienced in interfaith dialogue about the directions of this dialogue, about the current movements in Islam.”

Winning over the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world “requires a holistic response” and supporting and funding “scholarship which is engaging in the work of exploring democratic and secularising traditions within Islam,” Lord Carey said.

Ethnic Diversity Worries: CEN 6.29.07 p 5. June 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration, Multiculturalism.
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ETHNIC DIVERSITY and immigration fragments communities and reduces social cohesion, a forthcoming study by a Harvard political scientist has found. The preliminary results of the five-year study by Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, published in the June issue of the Scandinavian Political Studies reports that high levels of immigration results in a reduced social capital of decreased trust, altruism and community co-operation. Ethnic diversity 'fragments communities' claims research

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Diversity Backed in New Zealand: CEN 6.22.07 p 7. June 21, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Multiculturalism.
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THE ANGLICAN and Roman Catholic bishops of New Zealand have released a National Statement on Religious Diversity calling for a tolerant pluralism among the country’s religious groups. The bishops’ call came during the third Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue, which was held last month in Waitanga, New Zealand. The government-sponsored conference drew political and religious leaders from 15 Asia-Pacific nations to New Zealand for talks aimed at promoting peace, regional security and religious tolerance.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark (pictured) told the gathering, which included Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, that the dialogue was initiated in the wake of the Bali terror bombings to promote understanding between Islamic and Western countries.

New Zealand bids for tolerant pluralism

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper


Bishop Questions Straw Identity Call: CEN 5.18.07 p 7 May 20, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration, Multiculturalism.
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BRITAIN is undergoing a “crisis of identity” and must forge a common ethos and citizenship, the leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw, has argued.

However, a British identity that is not informed by the Christian religion will not survive the tests of the modern age, the Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali told The Church of England Newspaper.

UK Minister's citizenship call

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