Sunday, 16 December 2012

British values v Bible values

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Charity begins at home

I follow John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, on Twitter.  A couple of months back, (I know I really am bad at updating this blog), he posted a number of tweets about Acts 435 - a charity which he is a patron to and which he promotes on his official website

The charity is named after Verse 35 in Acts 4, which is a tale about sharing resources.
"And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

Acts 4:35 (King James Version)

Acts 435, is promoted and managed by CofE churches and involves people in need requesting financial assistance for specific items (up to a maximum of £100 a time) from others.  Donors then match their donations to the specific requests.  There is a limit on assistance, currently set £300 a year.

In order to obtain associated tax and other benefits, charities need to register with the Charities Commission.   In turn, charities are required to make their accounts publicly available, so we can see the benefit they are providing.  As a result, Acts 435's accounts for 2010 and 2011 are available on the Charity commission’s website

These accounts provide a fascinating (to me at least), insight into who this charity has benefited most... 

In its first year Acts 435 had a healthy income of £59,999, yet only managed to distribute a measly  £6,985 in grants.  The main reason for distributing less than 12% of what it received appears to be the £24,434 cost of generating voluntary income.

Note 5 to the 2010 accounts explains some of this expense when it states:
"One trustee acted as Director of the Charity during the year and received £13,183 for professional services rendered during the year."
Also of interest is Note 13, which provides an explanation of the high debtors figure in the balance sheet:
"Included in Debtors and Prepayments is an amount of £9,534 which has been paid on account to Margaret Sentamu, a trustee, for project consultancy services."
This debt reflects the fact that the charity paid the Archbishop's wife Margaret Sentamu for services she hasn’t performed, effectively providing an interest free loan.  I think it is fair to assume that Margaret Sentamu is also the trustee who provided the professional services.  In other words, over the course of the first year,  the poor and needy received £6,985, capped at £300 per person, whilst she received £22,717.

The accounts for 2011 tell a similar story.  The Charity’s total income was £49,147 of which it paid out £17,592 in grants to the needy.  £30,006 was spent in generating that income.  A huge amount considering the claim in the charity's FAQs
the running costs of the charity .. are kept to an absolute minimum with no fundraising department nor fund-raisers employed.”
Once again Margaret Sentamu was responsible for some of those fund raising costs.  Note 10 to the accounts states:
 "Included in Other Debtors is an amount of £4,505 (2010 -£9,534) which has been paid on account to Margaret Sentamu, a trustee, for project consultancy services. The amount expensed to the Statement of Financial Activities during the year was £5,029 (2010 -£15,466).”
What this means is that she worked off part of her loan during the year.  This note appears to correct the previous accounts suggesting that she was paid £15,466 in 2010 as opposed to the £13,183 originally declared.

So, during Acts 435 first two years of operation,  it  received £109,146 and paid out £24,577 in grants to the poor and needy.  During the same period, it also paid  £25,000 to Margret Sentamu.

It is only fair to point out that Margaret Sentamu is a freelance consultant who specialises in diversity management and recruitment consultancy, and who has an interest in relieving poverty (whose poverty is not specified in her bio).

Mrs Sentamu's expertise in diversity management and recruitment must have been invaluable when it came to employing the Charity's er...ONE part time worker.  

Monday, 17 September 2012

Britain- No longer a Christian nation

The 29th British Social attitudes survey has just been published. The survey covers a number of subjects including immigration, transport, heath and employment. There were three questions concerning religion.  You can find these by scrolling down to pages 78 & 79 of the questions list. All participants were asked;
Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?
and, (along with an amusing capitalised instruction for the interviewers!)
In what religion, if any, were you brought up? PROBE IF NECESSARY: What was your family's religion?
In addition those professing a religion were asked
Apart from such special occasions as weddings, funerals and baptisms, how often nowadays do you attend services or meetings connected with your religion
For the first question the percentages opting for the various categories were
No religion 45.7
Christian - no denomination 10.1
Roman Catholic 8.7
Church of England/Anglican 21.1
Baptist 0.6
Methodist 1.3
Presbyterian/Church of Scotland 2.3
Other Christian 0.6
Free Presbyterian 0.2
Brethren 0.3
United Reform Church (URC)/Congregational 0.7
Other Protestant 0.4
Hindu 2.2
Jewish 0.8
Islam/Muslim 3.4
Sikh 0.4
Buddhist 0.2
Other non-Christian 0.4
(Don't know) 0.2
(Refusal) 0.4

According to the survey, the various Christian denominations in total constitute less than half the population. The 46.3% total only just exceeds those without any religious belief. We no longer appear to be a Christian country.

The second question concerning the religion the person questioned was brought up in, is very interesting. It shows how the country's religious make up has changed over a generation. The following percentages show the increase (+) or decrease (-) in belief (or lack of it).
No religion 27.4
Christian - no denomination -5.4
Roman Catholic -4.6
Church of England/Anglican -13.3
Baptist -0.2
Methodist -2.4
Presbyterian/Church of Scotland -1.9
Other Christian 0.2
Free Presbyterian -2.2
Brethren -0.6
United Reform Church (URC)/Congregational -2.6
Other Protestant -0.1
Hindu 2
Jewish 0.7
Islam/Muslim 3.4
Sikh 0.3
Buddhist -0.2
Other non-Christian -0.5
(Don't know) 0
(Refusal) 0

In total Christianity has fallen 24.6%. If this trend continues 75% of the population will be non believers after the next generation and 90% the generation after that.  Obviously that future relies on a lot of assumptions but it does illustrate the tremendous rise we are experiencing in people who profess no faith.

The third question asks how often believers attend a church service. The percentages given are
Once a week or more 14.3
Less often but at least once in two weeks 1.7
Less often but at least once a month 5.8
Less often but at least twice a year 10
Less often but at least once a year 5.6
Less often than once a year 4.6
Never or practically never 57.5
Varies too much to say 0.4
(Don't know)                -
(Refusal) 0

This shows that over 6/10 'believers' never attend or won't attend in a typical year. Seems that the most of the remaining religious believers don't take it very seriously.

Friday, 20 July 2012

More hypocritical MPs

In this post I listed some MPs who are supporting the Campaign for Marriage's attempts to prevent equal marriage legislation.

Since then some more MPs have nailed their colours to the anti-equality mast. and yet again we find that some of them have personally struggled to live up to C4M's standard which is

"I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

Therese Coffey, Robert Halfon, Alec Shelbrooke & Nicola Blackwood have yet to tie the knot. As they have similar views perhaps they could form two couples?

Geoffrey Clinton Brown and Eleanor Laing failed at 'for life' aspect and are both divorced.

Laurence Roberson hasn't got divorced yet but it hasn't stopped him shacking up with his new partner.

Andrew Turner appears to have formed a voluntary union with his partner but forgot to actually get married, doh.

The undoubted star of this batch is Roger Gale currently on his third wife. [insert your own cheap 'Roger' Joke here]

However I have to give an honourable mention to Jacob Rees Mogg. As far as I am aware he is happily married but his father in law . Wow!

 Once again, I am more than happy to blame Wikipedia and amend any errors.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

God - The Psychopath test

When it comes to God's mental disorders multiple personality disorder (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) is a given. Having been introduced to Robert D. Hare's Psychopathy Check list through Jon Ronson's excellent book, I thought I would try it out to see whether he was a psychopath as well.

The check list consists of 20 personality traits. The subject scores 0, 1 or 2 points on each. A normal person will end up with around 5 points out of the 40 possible. A psychopath 30 or more.

God's personality traits

1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM -- Score 2 - Two billion follows attest to this one.

2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH -- Score 2 - "Thou shalt have none other gods before me."

3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM -- Score 2 - Why else would he create life, the universe and everything?

4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING -- Score 2 - See 2chronicles 18:22  "behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets." He not only lies but made a special lying spirit.

5. CUNNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS- Score 2- See 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth."  

6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT -- Score 2 - Wiped out the whole of civilisation apart from one family. Any sign of an apology?

7. SHALLOW AFFECT -- Score 2 - Happy to have Job's life ruined over a bet with Satan.

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY -- Score 2 - Matthew 12:48 tells is the charming tale where Jesus refuses to see his mother "Who is my mother?" he chides.

9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE -- Score 2 - Jesus went from town to town taking money from the poor.

10. POOR BEHAVIOURAL CONTROLS -- Score 2- You don't kill 2,552,451+ people without some control issue

11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR -- Score 2- Getting another man's wife pregnant, come on.

12. EARLY BEHAVIOUR PROBLEMS -- Score 2 - Jesus ran away from his parents on a trip to Jerusalem at the age of 12

13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS -- Score 2 - 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God'. Sorry it just isn't happening.

14. IMPULSIVITY -- Score 2 - Remember Jesus' meltdown at the temple?

15. IRRESPONSIBILITY -- Score 2 - Fancy giving all those biblical rules on keeping slaves. Of course people would follow them

16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS -- Score 2 - Issiah 27:11 God will show no mercy to those who do not understand him. He clearly needs to realise that communication is a two way process.

17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS -- Score 2 - Given we are told marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life any short term relationship is wrong. For abandoning Asherah, Yahweh picks up full points.

18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY -- Score 2 - Running away and arguing with priests. 

19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE -- Score  2 - Before  he was released from this mortal coil Jesus made a promise to return. Well.....

20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY -- Score 2- Drowning, famine, smiting, burning, plague, buried alive, stoning, hanging, beheading & mutilation by bears. That is just how God killed children. Two is barely a high enough score for this one.

So it 40 out of 40. God is officially a psychopath. If you have read the bible you would probably have suspected as much but it is nice to have it confirmed.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Synod Fair

164 years ago the first college for women was founded
152 years ago women students were admitted to the Royal Academy
147 years ago women were allowed to become doctors
142 years ago women were allowed to own their own property
128 years ago women were allowed to attend lectures and take exams at Oxford university
128 years ago women were admitted into Royal Navy
96 years ago women were allowed to join the police
94 years ago women over 30 were allowed to vote
94 years ago women were allowed to stand for parliament
92 years ago women were allowed into the legal and accounting professions
89 years ago the grounds for divorce were equalised for men and women
84 years ago women were given same voting rights as men
54 years ago women were allowed to sit in the House of Lords
39 years ago women were admitted to the stock exchange
37 years ago the Sex discrimination Act came into being
23 years ago women were allowed to pilot combat aircraft
22 years ago women were allowed to serve on warships
Today the Church of England says it needs more time before it decides whether to stop discriminating against women.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Oh Lordy

The government recently published the House of Lords reform bill which proposes  radical changes to the Upper Chamber.  However, there is one area that remains unaltered: the unique privilege awarded to the Church of England. Although there will be a reduction in the number of free seats for the Lords Spiritual, (from 26 to 12)  this matches the overall cut in numbers to the Lords.

I am in favour of reforming the Lords but believe reform should include the removal of automatic representation for the Church of England (CofE). 

Currently, the Lords are split into Lords Spiritual (CofE Bishops) and Lords Temporal.  The Lords Spiritual are in the minority making up just 4% of the total.  Interestingly the 2007 Tearfund report on church attendance in the UK found that only 4% of the public regularly attend a CofE church. Church attendance is in decline and it is estimated that when the Lords transition is complete in 2025, church attendance will have dropped by a third.

If the Lords was set up for purely religious issues this proportion would  have been fair, five years ago.  In this scenario, in addition to the CofE bishops, there would be 72 leaders of other Christian religions, 39 leaders from other faiths, and 305 leading atheists. With 205 'cultural' Christians all 650 Lords would be Lords Spiritual and there would be no Lords Temporal! 

In reality, none of these other groups get free places and the House of Lords does not arbitrate spiritual disputes. The CofE representation is therefore totally inequitable and out of all proportion.

One would imagine that the Lords Spiritual would be amongst the hardest working of our peers, to show their appreciation for their privileged position. Well actually, they do very little in the House.

Reviewing the attendance records for bishops over the last three months,  they clocked up a total of 224 days  or  19.1% of the days they could have attended. Not only that, but their contribution to debate is poor and they only vote on 4.5% of issues. 

A clue as to why there is a huge mismatch between the attendance and voting can be found in the report of  the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill

"They attend as their episcopal duties allow and a rota system ensures that there is always at least one bishop in the House each day, to read prayers at the start of the day's business."
Essentially, the Bishops turn up to churn out their prayers, collect their expenses and leave.

It makes no sense to give the CofE disproportionate representation. They don't appear to be anything other than an expensive ceremonial throwback. This bill needs to be amended.   If you feel the same, you can pass on your thoughts on the matter to your MP at the Holy Redundant website.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

God loves me; he hates you.

I find it incredibly arrogant and ignorant for sports stars and athletes to immediately thank God when things go their way.  By openly thanking God they are telling everyone that God has chosen them to do well, to score the goal, to win the game.

Sport has winners and losers. If he is choosing one team to win God is also choosing one team to lose. If you give someone success in the field of sport somebody else is inevitably punished.

Am I alone is looking forward to the day a Christian sports star publicly blames God for their failings with the same exhibitionism that they display when they thank God for their success?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Wed as I say not as I did

The Coalition for Marriage website has a petition where people can sign up to the following

I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.
A number of MPs are signatories. Others have express their views on the subject to newspapers or constituents. The Coalition for Equal Marriage are compiling a list detailing way MPs are likely to vote.

I make it 49 MPs who have said they will vote against an equal marriage bill. How many of them do you think would have their own relationship categorised under the definition above? All of them? 90 percent? Lets count and see who wins the race to be the biggest hypocrite.

I will start with those who didn't even get out of the blocks and have yet to embrace this whole marriage thing.

John Stevenson,
Paul Murphy
Philip Lee
Richard Fuller
Ann Widdecombe
Sammy Wilson
Robert Alexander Stewart and
Paul Maynard

Now it starts to get interesting. Bronze medals go to those who tripped up over either the 'for life' or the 'exclusion of all other' hurdles.

Robert Syms - Divorced
Simon Burns - Divorced
John Whittingdale - Marriage Dissolved
Stephen Pound - has a child from a previous relationship and
John Glen - married a woman with children from a previous relationship.

Silver medals go those who stumbled at the 'one man and one woman part', who so embraced the idea of marriage they did it twice or three times.

Sir Roger Gale, 3 wives
Richard Drax, 3 wives
Tony Baldry, 2 wives
Ann Main, 2 husbands and
Craig Whitaker, 2 wives

However we have a clear winner. The gold medal goes to

Nadine Dorries

Who not only got divorced but then went on to have an affair with a married man. Congratulations Nadine.

So to answer my earlier question less than 62% can be advanced as role models for the alleged marriage definition.

P.S. In awarding medals above I am not criticising the failure or otherwise of the relationships concerned. The end of marriages or relationships can be a painful and traumatic event, but it happens. Sometimes one party may be to blame, other times both, but it can also be neither.

My criticism is in the attempt by the Coalition for Marriage and the signatories to try to promote a false definition of marriage. I have said before 'Marriage is not defined a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman. It is not life long. Married people can get divorced and if they choose may marry again. It is not exclusive either. People who have affairs are still considered married.'

The MPs highlighted above are promoting a false definition of marriage in order to exclude certain people despite personally failing to live within their own definition.

PPS. The information above was taken from the internet mainly Wikipedia. I am happy to amend any errors.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

VAT a disgrace

The Church of England is today celebrating a gift of £30 million extra a year from the Government which is cutting services and laying off workers in order to cut costs. This windfall is on top of the £12 million a year churches already receive as part of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (LPWGS).  

The origins of this gift can be found in the fiscal theme park of VAT.  Bear with me whilst I explain.  VAT has traditionally not been charged on supplies of alterations to listed buildings, when they are  used for charitable purposes or as a church. This "zero rating" did not apply to repairs. This created a VAT anomaly.  For example, if you repair a wall you will be charged VAT;  move the same wall -  or build a new one  - you will not be charged VAT.

The last budget removed the VAT free status of alterations. At the time, the budget note stated:
"Removing the zero rate removes a perverse incentive to change listed buildings rather than repair them and ensures that all alteration works receive the same tax treatment."
The removal of the zero rating means that all owners of listed buildings who use them for charitable purposes will pay more for any alterations.  Repairs will remain unaffected as VAT will still be charged.

This is bad news for charities, but not for churches thanks to the LPWGS.  VAT is a European based tax and rules are consistent across the member states. Those rules do not allow charities or churches to recover VAT charged in respect of their charitable activities. To get round this the Government uses the LPWGS to  give grants to churches which match exactly the VAT that would be recovered had the VAT system allowed it.

Until now, the scheme which started 11 years and £133 million ago, only covered repairs.  Today's annual £30 million gift from the Government to the churches, means that the scheme will be extended to alterations as well.

So what does this mean for charities and churches?
The original VAT relief was intended to help defray some of the costs of providing charitable activities.

The current situation is that a church will effectively pay no VAT on either repairs or alterations.  By contrast a charity will pay 20% VAT on both.

According to the House of Commons briefing paper on the subject, the budget measure was expected to raise around £85 million in two years.  However, thanks to today's decision, a very similar amount will be paid to churches.  Or, in other words,  the extra charge paid by charities will all go to churches to subsidise their repairs and alterations.

This policy will take money from charities who provide care to the disabled and disadvantaged and will pass it to churches to pay for repairs to pews, bells, and organs. Excuse me if I don't join in the celebrations.


Note:  By way of perspective the Church of England had investment funds of £4.8 billion at the end of 2009.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

More Christian persecution?

It seems that there is a growing tide of Christians complaining about being oppressed. This oppression is claimed to be coming from the state. We have recently seen the courts rule against Christians in a number of cases; the B&B who turned away same sex couples, the nurse and BA worker who each wanted to wear an outward symbol of their faith and the banning of prayers as part of official council business.

In addition to the courts, the Advertising Standards Authority have also incurred the wrath of Christians. I previously blogged about the Bristol group who falsely claimed prayer would cure Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness.

The latest ASA investigation to rile the Christian community concerns an advert by the Coalition for Marriage which appeared on the blog of right wing Christian Archbishop Cranmer. The advert consists of a series of wedding pictures followed by the words "I do" then "70% of people say keep marriage as it is" followed by an appeal to sign the coalition's petition.

Cranmer blogged about the investigation calling it persecution. Comments by supporters refer to it being harassment. Many suggest he tells the ASA to f*ck off. Others in solidarity have hosted the same advert on their own blogs and websites.

Is this investigation justified? At first glance there doesn't appear to be anything which would trouble the ASA. However, looking deeper it does appear that there is a case to answer. Cranmer helpfully lays out what rules may have been broken 'CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 4.1 (Harm and offence)’. The full text can be found here but the following extracts give the idea.

3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.

3.3 Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information.

3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation.

4.1 Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
You may still be wondering how the advert might have broken the above rules. A clue is the in the small print to the "70% of people say keep marriage as it is" image. It says "Source ComRes poll for Catholic Voices". You can download that poll here.

The question, which got a 70% approval rating in the poll was "Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman"

My first issue is that marriage is not defined a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman. It is not life long. Married people can get divorced and if they choose may marry again. It is  not exclusive either. People who have affairs are still considered married.

The second issue is that the question covered only one definition. There could be others. Just because most people would agree 2+2= 4. It does not mean that they don't think 1+3=4 as well.

In stating that "70% of people say keep marriage as it is" the advert is relying on the answer to a question that did not give the correct definition of marriage and which did not ask whether marriage should be extended to same sex couples. I suspect there is a good reason why the obvious question was not asked. Other polls show a much higher support for same sex marriage than the 22% disagreeing with the Catholic Voices statement.

Seems to me that there is a case that the advert is misleading. I am not sure that 70% of people (or even 70% of those polled) do support the conclusion drawn. We will have to see whether it is misleading enough for the ASA to take action.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Is it time the Government lost God?

Alastair Campbell famously told Tony Blair "We don't do God". The current Government certainly does. I blogged last month about Cameron's claim that the values of the Bible are the values the UK needs.

Following last weeks elections, which were bad for the coalition, the Tory right has identified the cause for voter unrest and has identified the cure. The reason that the coalition did badly was their support for Equal Marriage and House of Lords reform. Dropping these will, they suggest, bring back the electorate. The signs are that the message is getting through. Were these the real reasons for the decline in votes or is this simply people with an agenda exploiting the traditional mid-term drop in support for the ruling party?

The London assembly vote gives an interesting insight. 'Christian Peoples Alliance - Supporting Traditional Marriage' fielded 25 candidates for the 11 available top up seats. I guess believing five loaves and two fish will feed 5000 renders this particular bums/seats problem trivial! The addition of  'Supporting Traditional Marriage' to the party's name brought the equal marriage issue to the fore. If this was a real concern then the votes would show it.

The results must have been a blow for the anti-equal marriage brigade. The Christian Peoples Alliance polled 1.7%, down from the 2.9% they achieved in both 2008 and in 2004. This 41% fall in support even managed to eclipse the catastrophic losses of the Liberal Democrats. Christianity is declining but not at the rate suggested by these results. This result shows one of two things. Either Christians have lost the appetite for mixing religion with politics, or maintaining discrimination in marriage is not an issue they can support. 

Similarly the support for Lords reform does not appear to be an issue which has alienated voters from the Government. A recent Yougov poll showed that only 5% support the current Lords appointment system. Perhaps this is the place to insert a plug for 'Holy Redundant' the humanist campaign to remove the automatic right for Bishops to sit in the Upper Chamber. Their website contains an email generator allowing you to express your opposition to the "Lords Spiritual" to your local MP.

Whatever reason people deserted the Government in the last round of elections, there is no reason to suggest it was down to Equal Marriage or Lords reform. Nadine Dorries suggests in the article above that that the Conservative party needs to drop these issues so they don't appear out of touch, inward looking and self interested. What appears to me to be out of touch, inward looking and self interested is Dorries and other Christians attempting to derail natural justice by trying to "do God" in politics.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Gay Cure bus advert pulled.

The BBC is reporting on  the 'Gay Cure' bus advert which was pulled before it hit the streets.

What is interesting is the organisation behind the advert, Core Issues 'God's heart in sexual and relationship brokenness...' Perhaps I missed something but it seems to me that there is only one kind of relationship they have an interest in.

According to their website "The CORE vision seeks to uphold Biblical standards and values and appropriate ethical principles in contemporary society" 

So what are the biblical standards in respect of homosexuality? Take your pick

Old Testament

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

New Testament

Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet..
1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
I find nothing in the Core Issues site about killing homosexuals. Seems that they have picked upon the Biblical 'values' but are reluctant to apply the Biblical 'standards'. They accept the condemnation in half a verse but recognise the second half is inhumane and morally obnoxious. 

So how do you get a verse that represents the will of God in the first half but not in the second? I think we can rule out a perfect God changing his mind. Seems to me that this verse could not have come from a perfect God rather it was made up by people based on their prejudices at the time. The same prejudices that exist today.
Of course I could pick out parts of the Bible that take the opposite view which doesn't limit the love between two people. Seems for years people have been coming to their own view of the world and then have tried to use the Bible to support it. That is part of the reason why Christianity is now found in tens of thousands of different denominations, all of whom claim the 'correct understanding'. Strangely none of those denominations have a Biblical understanding that they disagree with. It is clear that the Biblical understanding follows personal beliefs rather than the other way round. Christians will change denominations to those which match their opinion,.

It would be nice if for once Christians were honest about their own prejudices rather than claiming they are simply applying Biblical values and standards.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Can I take your coat?

Matthew 5:40 says 
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”
Mr Chris McGrath, who describes himself as a Christian, recently sued Amazon, Richard Dawkins, The Dawkins' Foundation and Vaughan Jones, an internet blogger. I wonder if McGrath assumed these defendants would apply the same principle? That he hoped that if you sue any man at the law to take away his coat, he would also let you have his cloak?

The case is very strange. The statements McGrath complains about seem, to me, innocuous. Even assuming the statements are incorrect, it would have been far simpler to refute them, rather than go for litigation. In addition, McGrath appears to have gone to great lengths to be offended. For example, after being called a "creationist" he attempted (unsuccessfully) to convince the Court that 'creationists' were by definition malicious liars, fascists, homophobes, anti-western and a danger to the education of children.

The disagreement started when McGrath used the Amazon customer review section for Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's book The Grand Design, to promote his own book "The Attempted Murder of God". However, McGrath has since claimed that his book was a parody and the positive reviews he wrote himself (using various pseudonyms), were  'satirical art'.

Vaughan Jones discovered McGrath's ruse and called him on it, which led to the dispute. A dispute, which resulted in McGrath originally submitting 61 pages of claims against the defendants. Ultimately, the Court threw out all but six allegations, which have the potential to be defamatory but which may also have a good substantive defence.

To me, the most interesting aspect to this case are the allegations the Court had no problem with. In fact, the Court was happy that either McGrath had admitted or a valid defence could be provided for the following.
McGrath is an unethical, intellectually dishonest fraud who improperly sought to gain commercial advantage for himself by piggy-backing on the work of a disabled person. His company was failing financially and his conduct could fairly be described as desperate, sick and depraved.
Compared to these damning indictments the remaining allegations are trivial. Despite this, McGrath has indicated a willingness to continue with the litigation. Even if the Court found in his favour and there was no counter claim, I doubt any resulting damages would even cover his train fare home.

Personally, I would have recommended that McGrath read 1 Corinthians before embarking on any  litigation. Translation (The Message):
"And how dare you take each other to court! When you think you have been wronged, does it make any sense to go before a court that knows nothing of God's ways instead of a family of Christians? The day is coming when the world is going to stand before a jury made up of followers of Jesus. If someday you are going to rule on the world's fate, wouldn't it be a good idea to practice on some of these smaller cases? Why, we're even going to judge angels! So why not these everyday affairs? As these disagreements and wrongs surface, why would you ever entrust them to the judgement of people you don't trust in any other way?

I say this as bluntly as I can to wake you up to the stupidity of what you're doing. Is it possible that there isn't one level headed person among you who can make fair decisions when disagreements and disputes come up? I don't believe it. And here you are taking each other to court before people who don't even believe in God! How can they render justice if they don't believe in the God of justice?

These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. Wouldn't it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged and forget it? All you're doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, bringing more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family"

This link will take you to the Court Decision.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cameron's Easter Message

The recent budget gave tax breaks to the rich while doing nothing to ease back on the drive to eliminate free public services. So what is in store for those who can not afford private healthcare and education and who don't have the public providing us with a rent free house in Whitehall and an estate in Bucks? Wonder no more David Cameron has laid out his vision for the poor in his Easter message. 
I think there is enormous potential in churches and faith-based organisations to tackle some of the deepest problems we have in our society, whether it is educational and under-attainment, whether it is homelessness, whether it is mental health.
Call me old fashioned but I am not convinced that people who hear voices in their head telling them what to do are the best placed to offer mental health advice. Similarly I am not keen to have my kids educated by people who openly seek to discriminate on the grounds of sex and sexuality.
But why you may wonder would the churches want to help Cameron? Well apart from letting them keep representatives in the upper chamber, exempting them from the burden of tax, seeking to involve them in all levels of government how about a bit of flattery. This is from his speech.
I think that we have lots of things going for us as a country, all sorts of difficulties and challenges, but the greatest need we have in our country is to have strong values and to teach our children and to bring people up with strong values. The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values that we need – values of compassion, of respect, of responsibility, of tolerance. Now, I’ve made this argument many times that you don’t have to be a Christian or you don’t have to adhere to another religion to have strong values, to believe in strong values or to pass those values on to your children, but the point I always make is that it helps. We’re always trying to tell our children not to be selfish, but is there a better way of putting it than ‘love thy neighbour’? We’re always telling our children to be tolerant – I know I am, and often a fat lot of good it does me – but is there a better way of explaining tolerance than saying, ‘do to others as you would be done by’? It’s the simplest encapsulation of an absolutely vital value and the Christian church and the teaching of the Bible has put it so clearly.
So what teaching about tolerance, compassion and neighbourly respect can we find expressed so clearly in the bible? A small sample....

How to treat other faiths
Ex 23:24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
Deut17:2:5 If there be found among you, or woman, that hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
Phil 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lev 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Romans 1:31 they which commit such things are worthy of death,

Interracial relationships
Deut 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

Corporal punishment
Psalms 89:31-32 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
Non believers
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

1 Tim 2:11-14 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

From the last verse we also learn the vital Christian value of bearing a grudge. Something I hope to do in respect of Mr Cameron come election time.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Blue Square Bet Conference approach to influencing polititians

Ok, let's assume you're not in the Premier League with £250,000 to spend on a candle lit dinner with a top Tory - so how else can you get MPs to push your point of view?

It might be best illustrated by working though a hypothetical example.

Imagine you are a lobby group, let's pick one at random - how about CARE the Christian organisation who have a goal to get more people praying?  

What you could do is set up a program which pays bursaries to graduates, allowing them to offer their services to an MP for four days a week, for free.  So again, to show how it could work, let us select a random MP.

Then let's say an issue comes up that falls within your area of interest. How about the ASA banning an advert, which had irresponsible, misleading and unsubstantiated claims over the efficacy of prayer?

Perhaps your paid intern's MP could sign a letter which protests the decision to the chairman of the ASA and includes a threat to raise the issue in parliament.

Of course, someone could suggest something undemocratic is  happening, but you could point to the line on your website which says something like "Programme members are at no time asked to lobby on behalf of CARE" and pretend it is just a coincidence.

Please note, that the examples above are included for illustration purposes only. Any connection between the above and decent, moral, democratic behaviour is purely unintentional.

Perhaps I should finish this blog post with a warning.  This approach can on occasion have a downside and can lead to your MP being ridiculed and called hapless in a national paper and may lead to bloggers and tweeters mocking your beliefs.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Biblical Budget

Once again we have a budget which ignores the traditional Christian values handed down from God to man in the Bible. So what should George have done? Here are some biblically inspired suggestions :-

Minimum wage.

It is ridiculous that it is set at the same rate for men and women when God values men higher.
  • LEV 27:3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
  • 27:4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
Women of working age are only worth 60% of men so the hourly rates should be adjusted accordingly:-

Men £6.08 Women £3.65 (Note: rounded up for the lesser vessel as a generous gesture)

Currently there are three different rates for those up to 21 we should abandon this bureaucracy and have a single rate for the youth of each sex.
  • 27:5 And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
In line with the above that hourly rate should be;

Boys £2.43 Girls £1.22 (Note: generosity to females on rounding again)

State authorised Maternity leave

Currently far too generous at 39 weeks. Mothers only need 40 days if they have a boy and 56 days if they have a girl. 

  • LEV 12 If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; ….And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days;
  • But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
Death Duties

Obvious really. Raise to 100%
  • Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
  • 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
  • 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
State pension

Age qualification needs to reduce and come in at 60. Reduce the female pension to reflect the fact that they are worth less. Men to keep their £102.15 Women a reduction to £68.10
  • LEV 27:7 And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
Income tax

The 50% tax rate is far to low and should be doubled. I appreciate this may be unpopular but I refer complainants to James 5:1
  • Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Alcohol Duty
Duty needs to be increased to a punitive leve
  • Prov 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; For the drunkard ….. shall come to poverty:

Monday, 19 March 2012

Don't pray for Muamba

Fabrice Muamba is a young talented footballer who collapsed on Saturday with a cardiac arrest just before half time in the FA cup game between Bolton and Tottenham. Since then there has been pleas to pray for Muamba and the twitter hashtag #prayforMuamba has proved popular.

Muamba's manager summed up the thoughts of many by saying "God willing he makes it through".

God is portrayed in the Christian tradition as an omnipresent being; he is everywhere. He is also omnipotent and can do anything. Such a being undoubtedly would have the power to keep Muamba alive. However by definition such a being also chose or allowed Muamba to have a cardiac arrest. If Fabrice Muamba survives, it will be thanks to Muamba's fight and the team of medical experts who fought God's will for 2 hours in order to to get his heart beating again.

That prayers will not save Muamba is not just a theory. In 2006 the John Templeton Foundation, a charity which supports religious studies funded a $2,400,000 study into the effects of intercessory prayer on people recovering from heart operations. 1,800 patients took part in the study. They were split into three groups. Two groups did not know whether they were prayed for or not. Both groups 'prayed for' and 'not prayed for' had a similar rate of complications. The exceptional results came from the third group who were prayed for and knew that prayers were being said for them. They had 13% more complications than the other two groups.

Just because prayers do not work does not mean that there are not positive things that can be done.

  • Muamba is being treated in a NHS specialist hospital which is committed to helping patients and learning more about the causes of heart defects so preventative action can be taken. Currently it does not have to compete on price against a private entity whose principle motivation is not care or research but profit for their shareholders. The Health and Social care bill is currently going through parliament. Write to your MP and tell them you oppose the bill. Enter your postcode on this page and it will allow you to email them directly. 
  • Muamba is in the London Chest Hospital which is part of Barts and the London Hospitals. They have a charity. Click here to see how you can help
  • Based at the London Chest Hospital is the Heart Cells Foundation which is following up promising case studies and is trialling to see if they can use a patient's own stem cells to repair their damaged hearts. See how you can help them here.
  • Another charity based at the London Chest Hospital is the Barts and London Chest Hospital Radio Station. Their web page is here. You don't need to give much, £2 will pay for a radio which a patient can listen to.  The Radio station is currently off air due to pirate stations. Write to Ofcom and insist they do something about it.

By all means think of Fabrice Muamba and wish him a full and speedy recovery but rather than praying think about doing something that will make a difference.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cardinal O'Brien on same sex marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland. He appeared on the Today program on Monday morning to talk about gay marriage. You can hear his interview with John Humphrys by clicking on this link 

In the interview he said that the Declaration of Human Rights defined marriage as "a relationship between men and woman (sic)". Adding later "We know what the Untied Nations declaration says". I suggest not everyone does know what it says so it may be worth us taking a quick look at the relevant articles

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 16.
  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Stating at the end, the declaration makes clear that all articles apply equally .

The first article does not distinguish between men and women but states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Article 7 establishes that the law applies equally to all and article 12 prohibits arbitrary interference in family life.

While article 16 is the main article as far as marriage is concerned, we saw from article 30 that it can not be read in isolation; it must be read in conjunction with the other articles.

There is nothing in article 16 defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. It simply says both men and women have the right to marry. As long as they are both of full age there is no limitation on who they can marry, and rightly so, anything different would contradict article 1. Changing the UK law to allow same sex marriages appears to be an implementation of Article 7. The arbitrary interference of the Church in preventing same sex couples founding a family contradicts article 12. The article does not define marriage as a relationship between men and woman. Put simply Cardinal O'Brien lied.

He then went on to suggest that allowing same sex marriages would lead to slavery. When questioned he reaffirmed that slavery was a "very very good example as to what might happen in our own country at this present time" following it with the statement that slavery was a "perfectly good example as to could happen in our own country if we go this way".

The Cardinal has wicked imagination and is being extremely mischievous. As one who claims to be familiar with United Nations declaration of human rights he would be familiar with article 4.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

In an earlier post I listed some of the support in the bible for slavery. Those interested in the subject may like to read the Ministry of Truth's post about of the Church's involvement in the slave trade; the Bishops in the House of Lords voting against the abolition of slavery and the money the state paid to the Church in compensation for the loss of its slaves.

Having earlier stated that he was simply relating the "Teaching of the Church for over 2000 years" O' Brien went on to say "marriage is a natural state and we know natural law, it is natural for a man and a woman to be together for the procreation and education of children." Perhaps he is unfamiliar with 1Timothy written about 2000 years ago

2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach
but I would have thought he would be aware that his church still prevents women from educating as Priests.

O'Brien in calling same sex unions grotesque and saying it would shaming the country is clearly seeking to sow the seeds of discord amongst his congregation. Listening to the interview I was reminded of Proverbs 6:16-19

Proverbs 6:16-19 says, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Seems to me that Keith O'Brien will be on the receiving end of some of his God's hate.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Someone tweeted a link to this case concerning a care worker who lost her constructive dismissal case against Merton Council. The dispute arose over her contract of employment requiring her to work on Sundays. This she said conflicted with Christian teachings about the Sabbath.

She was quoted as saying

"I am amazed by this decision. I thought that this country was a Christian country. I worked hard for years at my job, and to lose it because of intolerance towards my faith is shocking to me."

I too am shocked at the decision. Exodus is explicit about the consequences of Sunday working.

  • 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
  • 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
  • 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

That the courts will not allow her a day off on Sunday so she can go round murdering people who are working is clearly quashing her legitimate rights to practice her religion.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The voluntary union for life of one man and one woman

A new group, the Coalition for Marriage, has recently stared a petition asking people to support the "legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others".

It is claimed to have the support, amongst others, of lawyers. I would suggest that anyone thinking lawyers favour an unambiguous and incontrovertible legal definition does not have the slightest idea how the legal profession makes its money.

The above definition can not be found in UK statute. The marriage act of 1949, rather than banning marriage between those of opposite sex, actually prevents marriage between certain men and women. Specifically it makes the Marriage between Abraham and his sister which was blessed by God in Genesis 17:16 illegal in the UK.  It was not until 1971 and the Nullity of Marriage act that same sex marriages were outlawed.

The spotlighted signatories of the petition are predominately Christian leaders. Ironically the list is headed by Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury. One wonders, when signing a petition calling for the union of one man with one woman for life, whether he contemplated the circumstances which caused his Church to separate from Rome. Or indeed whether he considered the traditional lessons about marriage found in the bible. 

God certainly was not a fan of this one man & one woman malarkey. From Lenach in Genisis 4, to Esau, Jacob, David  and Soloman the O.T. has no shortage of polygamy. God even gave rules in Exodus 21: 10 on how to take another wife. Indeed he went further rewarding those marrying again

Deuteronomy 24:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

Paul, the prime mouthpiece for Jesus, on the other hand was clearly giving an anti-marriage message. 
1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 
1 Corinthians 7:7-9 For I would that all men were even as I myself    .... I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 

Matthew 19:10-12 reports Jesus' downer on marriage when he said you are better off castrating yourself than getting married. Jesus' ambivalence further illustrated in  Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35 which all report him saying that marriages are not recognised in heaven.  

So it appears that the 'one man one woman thing' is far from the biblical ideal, what about 'for life'? If marriage was for life why would Jesus encourage the disciples to abandon their wives as pointed out by Mark 10:29-20?
There is no man that hath left .. (his) wife for my sake, and the gospel's. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
And why make divorce is so easy? Back to Deuteronomy and 24:1

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house

We have yet to address the part of the definition concerning the 'voluntary' nature of the union.  Deuteronomy 21 contains a charming moral teaching where wives can be taken without consent.

21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will
Incidentally note in the above there are no issues with abandoning a wife who is not satisfactory. None of that 'for life' rubbish here.

That leaves us with "to the exclusion of all others". Can I just suggest that you search the bible for one of the many references to 'concubine' and draw your own conclusions.

What is clear is that this 'voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others' meme has no legitimate or consistent basis for support in the bible. Wherever it came from it is is not reflected by the traditional Christian Values found in the holy book.