Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles’ Creed

Onward, Multi-Faith soldiers, marching as to war,
With the Qur’an of Mohammed, going on before.
Nanak, Buddha and Krishna, lead against the foe;
Forward into battle see the Jedi go!

Cranmer apologises for beginning with such trite levity, but he has had to contrive a means of deflecting from his fermenting anger and sheer incredulity at the news that the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst has excised the reciting of the Apostles’ Creed from its church services, ‘over fears that it may offend religious minorities’.

This astonishing decision has been made by Sandhurst’s senior chaplain, the Reverend Jonathan Gough. And the man’s surname encapsulates precisely what Cranmer thinks of the decision. While worshippers are said to be ‘furious’ and ‘outraged’ that ‘centuries of religious tradition have been sacrificed for the sake of political correctness’, it is evident that this chaplain has little respect for Church tradition, even less appreciation of the Book of Common Prayer, and no understanding at all of the purpose of creeds.

How can a minister of the Church, a Christian leader, a shepherd of the sheep, eradicate from church services the Christian declaration of faith in God the Father Almighty, the Son and the Holy Spirit? The sense of incredulity is exacerbated when one considers that these services are not even compulsory for cadets, so any Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jedi Knights are perfectly free not to attend; they are at liberty to avoid being offended.

If, indeed, any were.

For Cranmer is just ever so slightly curious to know if, in fact, the Reverend Jonathan Gough had received any complaints at all. And if he had, to which faith group did the offended cadet(s) belong? And did he ask this/these offended cadet(s) if they might be prepared to forego their own declaration of faith, lest their colleagues be offended?

Sandhurst’s senior chaplain has withdrawn the Creed simply for fear of offending non-believers and ‘to stop upsetting cadets who do not believe in God’. And Cranmer would bet his withered right arm that no offence had ever been reported and no cadets had ever been upset. The Reverend Jonathan simply wants services in the Royal Memorial Chapel to be ‘more inclusive’.

Cranmer is pleased this was not the overriding priority at Nicea or Chalcedon. The creeds included in the Book of Common Prayer – the Apostles’, the Nicene and that Athanasian – were developed to unite Christians and to refute heresy. One ought to be grateful that that the early ecumenical councils were more concerned with defining orthodoxy than with not offending Arius or making the Marcions feel more included. To eradicate the Creed is to abolish orthodoxy, which can only have the effect of welcoming the Arians and Marcions back into the fold.

But that, of course, is the Chaplain’s agenda. He is a former secretary for ecumenism to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he is apparently so ecumenical that his services not only embrace the Arians and Marcians, but those of all faiths and none. If you wish to worship the tooth fairy or believe the moon is made of blue cheese, you are welcome to hear the Reverend Jonathan Gough preach at the Royal Memorial Chapel every week, and you are assured of warm and fluffy feelings. The cross he preaches is not made of harsh wood, and there are no sharp nails. Instead, he talks of a cross which is as comfortable as a duvet and as warm as toast. His Christianity has no time for fasting, inner conflict, spiritual warfare or hell, but endless feasting, chatting about heaven, being tolerant of everything and nice to everyone.

How does one preach to the heathen without causing some discomfort? How does one talk of the cross of Jesus Christ without causing offence?

Cranmer thinks the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt , will not be too pleased to hear of the diminution of the Christian ethos of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. He has previously spoken of the ‘moral and spiritual vacuum’ which now permeates British society, and has warned of the religious forces which seek to undermine ‘our accepted way of life’. Sandhurst's senior chaplain ought to reflect on the words of his commanding officer just a few years ago. The General observed: 'Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind.'

An Army spokesman has said that those who are angered by the decision to pull up the anchor of the Apostles' Creed 'should sit down with Reverend Gough for a cup of tea.’

The Reverend Gough?

Cranmer notes that Sandhurst is a Royal Military Academy, and so enjoys the patronage of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, who swore at her Coronation to ‘uphold the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law’.

While Cranmer awaits his invitation to tea with the ‘Reverend Gough’, he shall be writing to Her Majesty to express his concern.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail link for this story has ominously disappeared. One can do a search, and the story heading is still prominently linked. The content has been expunged. One wonders why. Surely they did not fabricate or exaggerate this story? Not The Daily Mail, surely.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Holocaust denial is no bar to communion with Rome

As has been observed by a number of communicants, Cranmer has restrained himself from commenting upon the matter of Bishop Richard Williamson, notwithstanding numerous requests for him to do so.

But he shall not.


He shall resist all temptation.

Fervently praying.

But he does have a question:

Rome has been fiercely critical of the Church of England for ordaining women and admitting them to the episcopate, and for even thinking about ordaining homosexuals. As far as Rome is concerned Anglican Orders are absolutely null and utterly void anyway, so a fortiori must they be for women and gays.

But what does it say of the Roman Catholic Church that it actively incommunicates a bishop who is a self-declared and unashamed holocaust denier?

Women have no choice with regard to their gender. The debate about a genetic predisposition towards homosexuality is on-going. But one does actively choose to believe 'there were no gas chambers' and that 'only 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million' - as if the revised figure somehow renders Adolf Hitler a merciful and congenial sort of chap.

It has even led to questions in Parliament.

Labour MInister Sadiq Khan told MPs: "The fact that somebody who can deny that the Holocaust took place can hold high office, can be invited to august institutions to debate this, causes me great concern. Many MPs will... find the promotion of such a person highly unsavoury. Let's be clear those who deny the Holocaust aren't pseudo-historians who are revising history. Some of their views... demonstrate anti-Semitism. We can't pretend the Holocaust didn't happen."

For the Conservative Party, Dr Julian Lewis added: "The Pope has made this decision to take someone who is an unrepentant denier of the Holocaust back into his Church. I'm sure British Roman Catholics and British Jews and those of no religion whatsoever will be absolutely horrified about what the Pope has done."

And for the Liberal Democrats, Lembit Opik said the Holocaust was 'a blood-stained testimony to what happens when an ordinary, decent society is allowed to descend into extraordinary barbarism and the abandonment of basic human rights'.

Would one rather be in communion with an ordained woman, an ordained homosexual, or an ordained holocaust denier?

For all his faults, Cranmer cannot quite see the Archbishop of Canterbury tolerating a holocaust-denying bishop with Nazi sympathies, and less still being proactive in the rehabilitation of one.

What the BBC did not want you to see

This is footage of London's recent 'March for Gaza' or 'Freedom for Palestine'. Cranmer had been left with the distinct impression that this was a contained and relaxed affair, with nothing more untoward than a little sedate shoe-throwing at Downing Street.

It is when one views this angry mob - with their distinct cries of 'Allahu Akhbar' as they attack members of Her Majesty's police force - that one is left with the distinct impression that there is a media conspiracy to convey that all is well; that the peace and security of the United Kingdom is not imperiled; that Islam does indeed mean 'peace'.

And it is also not until one views such footage that one understands the full implications of Lord Ahmed's threat to call upon 10,000 Muslims to protest around Parliament in order to intimidate and harass the guardian of our liberties into compliance with his demands.

Why do we tolerate this intolerance?

If one ceases to tolerate the intolerant, does one not become equally intolerant?

There is a fine line between toleration and appeasement.

But Cranmer cannot help wondering how the BBC would have handled this story had the violent mob consisted of protesting Jews or white Christian-looking types.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vatican: Obama choice is ‘the worst’

Blessed are they who wish to harvest stem cells – they shall be exalted.
Blessed are they who wish to abort their children – they shall be financed all over the world.
Blessed are they who wish to marry with their own sex – they shall be given special rights.
Blessed are they who threaten the security of the world – they shall be liberated.
Blessed are they who threaten to wipe Israel off the map – they shall be given tea and cake.

While the world watches in awe as the President-Messiah continues to pronounce his beatitudes upon all people everywhere, it appears that only the Vatican has the audacity to express any disquiet about the morality; only the Vatican has the discernment to express any concern over the policies; only the Vatican has dared to say how ‘disappointed’ it is with Obama's first acts as President.

It is no surprise that the Roman Catholic Church is finding President Obama somewhat antithetical to all that it holds dear. It is evident that he is not primarily concerned with feeding the starving, housing the homeless or healing the sick. As Monsignor Elio Sgreccia - a senior official with the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life – observes: "Among the many good things that he could have done, Barack Obama instead chose the worst." And the Head of this Academy is forthrightly prescient: "If this is one of President Obama's first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we're heading quickly toward disappointment."

They cannot say they were not warned.

Yet one must observe that President Obama secured around 53 per cent of the Roman Catholic vote - 13 per cent more than John Kerry – himself Roman Catholic – managed to win in 2004. 'Catholics for Obama' appeared to be omnipresent, and they fully aware of their dilemma.

Richard Esenberg, a law professor at Marquette University, is of the impression is that the Roman Catholic Church is prepared to be ‘militant and assertive’ on pro-life issues. He notes that professing Catholic politicians have been excommunicated in recent years for not supporting positions consistent with the church's teachings. The status of Vice President Biden is not at all clear: he appears to have been excommunicated in some states, but is welcome to communion in others.

The church is coordinating a national postcard campaign to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill that could wipe out federal and state restrictions on abortion, including parental notification and informed consent laws. Partial birth abortions will multiply. Live birth abortions will abound. Some argue that FOCA is so broad that it could eliminate ‘conscience clauses’ which protect hospitals and doctors who refuse to perform abortions because of their beliefs.

And this is not only of concern to Roman Catholics, but to Christians of all denominations. The ‘right-to-life’ movement will be unified and energised by FOCA. In his first week in office, President Obama has decided to take on the Church.

God help him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ken Clarke: David Cameron is taking on the attitudes of America’s ‘religious right’

Cranmer wondered how long it would be before Ken Clarke’s real thoughts on David Cameron were disclosed. We already know that Mr Clarke has variously described some of his leader’s policies as ‘silly’, ‘right-wing nationalist’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘head-banging’ or ‘absurd’.

But David Cameron has made his commitment to supporting marriage through the tax system foundational to his social policy. And foundational it ought to be. The laudable work done by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice - not to mention common sense - has persuaded the Conservative Party to reintroduce tax breaks for married couples, recognising that marriage is a fundamental building block of a stable society, and the more it is encouraged and the more it succeeds, the less the state has to spend on the appalling consequences of family breakdown. There is empirical evidence which inclines one to the view that marriage is not only of considerable benefit to those who are married, but also to their children and to society. Mr Cameron has argued consistently that the decline of marriage has contributed significantly to the ‘broken society’ which the Conservative Party is pledged to restore.

But Ken Clarke dismisses support for marriage as ‘social engineering’, and observes a touch of the American ‘religious right’ entering Conservative thinking. He proudly boasts: “I got rid of the married couples’ allowance,” and added: “I really don't think it's anything to do with politicians whether you (get married) and most of the younger people I know don't seem very keen on it. My view of Conservatism is that it's not for us to tell you (what to do through) the tax system – my wife didn't put up with me because I was getting £150 by way of tax allowance. This is social engineering, for God's sake, and when I joined the party we weren't in favour of it.”

Cranmer is not quite sure why Mr Clarke’s wife ever put up with him, but the observation that state support for marriage ‘is social engineering for God’s sake’ is most apt. It ought to be evident to all right-minded politicians that marriage is a union observed in all cultures, and seems, according to Aristotle, to exist by nature. Marriage in the Bible is essential for the functioning of society, and is the model used to explain the mystery of Christ’s relationship to the church (Eph 5:25-32). The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the Old Testament, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage.

The state’s recognition of marriage is indeed social engineering for God’s sake, for all manner of issues of family breakdown, poverty, social disorder and crime are inseparable from it. The poorer parents are, the more they struggle to raise their children. If they are penalised financially for staying together, the more they may be inclined to separate. And so single mothers abound, and it is the children who suffer.

Cranmer would rather have David Cameron’s ‘religious right’ than Ken Clarke’s secular left any day. But it does not have to be sullied with America’s notion thereof, for England’s religious right is the true foundation of Conservatism, which has historically been fused with the Church of England.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lord Ahmed threatens Parliament into submission

Lord Ahmed is a repugnant individual. Not only in appearance, but in association, character and morality. And to hear that he has threatened jihad on the House of Lords if their lordships should fail to meet his demands only serves to intensify Cranmer’s loathing of the man.

It appears that a member of the House of Lords had invited the Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, to a private meeting in the Palace of Westminster. She had intended to invite her colleagues in the Lords to a private viewing of his ‘documentary’ Fitna, followed by discussion and debate in true parliamentary fashion. This is, after all, a liberal democracy, and their lordships enjoy the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association, not to mention certain parliamentary privileges for the protection of their function in the legislature.

But no sooner had the unsuspecting baroness sent out her invitations, Lord Ahmed raised hell. It is reported that he ‘threatened to mobilise 10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr Wilders from entering the House and threatened to take the colleague who was organising the event to court’.

And so Fitna has been cancelled: it shall not now be screened in the House of Lords on 29th January.

The Pakistani Press is jubliant, and Lord Ahmed is praising Allah for delivering ‘a victory for the Muslim community’.

It is a sorry state of affairs indeed that a parliament whose liberties have been forged through centuries of religious intolerance should succumb to the threats of one intolerant Muslim. Lord Ahmed is manifesting a notion of Divine Right, and one suspects it is precisely the sort of defence of Islam that Prince Charles shall make when he is sworn ‘Defender of Faith’. The blasphemy laws are being re-forged to protect one god, one faith and one prophet; they no longer defend YHWH, Christianity, Jesus Christ or the Church of England. Lord Ahmed is not functioning as a Labour peer; he is the self-appointed khalifa of all things Islamic. He is not concerned to protect freedom of expression or freedom of speech, but to stifle debate and ensure that Parliament submits to the Dar Al-Islam.

It is for moments such as these that one might hope the Lords Spiritual might enter the fray and defend the right of the noble baroness to extend an invitation to a democratically-elected Dutch MP. Their silence is deafening. They no longer believe anything strongly for fear of causing offence; they no longer defend anything for fear of being abolished.

If Lord Ahmed had threatened Cranmer with ’10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr Wilders from entering the House’, His Grace would have assured his Lordship of 100,000 people of all faiths and none to prevent the Muslims from preventing Mr Wilders from entering the House.

There are occasions when turning the other cheek is sheer folly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

British Government to compensate the families of suicide bombers

As the Government considers paying £12,000 to the families of all those killed during the Northern Ireland troubles – including members of paramilitary groups – they ought to pause to consider not only the implications for the innocent in the distortion of justice, but also the potential consequences for all religio-political ‘freedom fighters’ in the UK, whose families all might soon be able to claim thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

The ‘Consultative Group on the Past’ is to publish its report this week on the way forward for Northern Ireland. But what is this past upon which they have consulted? Does it stretch back as far as Cromwell, or before? Does it deal with grievances concerning potatoes? Or is it to be limited to the past 30 years or so? The Northern Ireland political ‘troubles’ are steeped in religious sectarianism, and it is not possible to grasp one without the other. While there are notable exceptions, the Nationalists have overwhelmingly historically professed the Roman Catholic faith and fealty to the Pope of Rome, while the Loyalists have overwhelmingly professed the Protestant faith and allegiance to the British Monarch. Both sides profess to have fought for freedom, and thousands on both sides have sacrificed with their blood.

It is not the cost which irks Cranmer, for £40m is a paltry sum when one considers the Bloody Sunday Inquiry has cost £200m. But it is perverse to equate the paramilitary murderers with their innocent civilian victims, or to assert an equivalence between the illegal activities of paramilitary groups with legally-constituted police and security forces. Unless, that is, Lord Eames and Denis Bradley are intent on treating all those 30,000 who died as victims to one force or another, in order to eliminate any notion of hierarchy.

Reports indicate that this is precisely what the authors are proposing. To distinguish between those who use violence and those who maintain peace would create ‘a hierarchy of victims’. And we can’t be having that, can we?

It would be a perverse justice which ‘rewards’ the families of the IRA Shankill bomber or the families of UVF bombers with same amount of compensation as those of the families of the hundreds of civilians they killed. If this report makes such a proposal, it will be morally flawed and an affront to justice. A terrorist killed while undertaking a mission of murder cannot in any sense be equated with the civilian he murders. The perpetrator is evil for he has freely chosen and is responsible; the victim is innocent for he or she has been given no choice. And only the latter is worthy of state compensation, for the state manifestly failed to protect them.

But the dimension of this reported compensation plan which interests Cranmer is that it proposes to give taxpayers’ money to the families of IRA terrorists and Loyalist thugs who happen to have died or blown themselves up while pursuing their religio-political ends. It is difficult indeed to see how the families of professing Muslims would not also be entitled to claim such compensation, and the withholding of it might fall foul of religious discrimination legislation. The Islamists could be despatched to Allah's paradise to claim their 70 virgins and lake of wine, secure in the knowledge that their families would be generously provided for.

Is there really any difference between the Catholic IRA, the Protestant UDF or the Muslim Al-Qaeda? They may all have members with little understanding of their respective religions, and they may all have subsumed foundational tenets of these religions to an overriding political objective. But Cranmer is damned if he can understand why the families of any of them should get a penny from the taxpayer. And if the IRA and UDF are to do so, then Al-Qaeda ought to litigate promptly for equal treatment under the law. The families of those who blew themselves up on 7th July 2005 in their ‘freedom’ cause would indeed be grateful for the odd £12,000.

While the Lord says: ‘Blessed are the peace-makers’, the British Government says: ‘Blessed are the bombers’. And blessed they are with £12,000 more than the peace-makers. Terrorism pays. Perverse. Utterly perverse.

Lord Eames, the former Archbishop of Armagh, used to be quite a sound Anglican. Cranmer does not understand why His Lordship has not come up with a sound proposal to give £12,000 to everyone who has never engaged in terrorism but chosen instead to pursue justice and to walk humbly with his God.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

British Muslim scouts to pledge allegiance to Allah

The British Scout Movement was founded in 1907, since which time every boy (and, more recently, girl) wishing to become a member has been obliged to swear to ‘do their best to do their duty to God and to the Queen’. The organisation, which is now worldwide, has the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, so that they may play constructive roles in society.

The Oath of Allegiance has occasionally been questioned by Atheists and Roman Catholics, the latter because of the recognition that the Queen is not only Head of State, but also Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Despite these objections - which are undoubtedly sincerely held - the Oath of Allegiance has never been amended in the UK to meet their demands or to recognise their sensitivites.

But Muslim Boy Scouts in Dundee will now be able to pledge allegiance to ‘Allah’ and drop the traditional oath to God and Queen, says the Scout Association in Scotland.

In the oath Muslim recruits will be able to replace the name ‘God’ with ‘Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful’.

Cranmer has absolutely no objection to this. It is manifest common sense that, in order to accommodate the movement's 28 million members around the world, the words of the Oath can and ought to modified to encompass non-Christian faiths. Since ‘Allah’ simple means ‘God’ (actually, ‘The God’), it is (to all scouting intents and purposes) no different from swearing allegiance to God. There will be very few scouts who have a developed doctrine of God, and the theological implications are irrelevant when it comes to fishing, backpacking, tying knots and fire-making.

The Scout guidelines state: ‘The phrase “to love God” and “duty to God” implies belief in a supreme being and the acceptance of divine guidance and therefore the word “God” can be replaced by “Allah”, “my Dharma” or others as appropriate to suit the faith or religion of the individual concerned.’

So what is Cranmer’s problem?

Muslim scouts in the UK will not only be swearing allegiance to ‘Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful’, but they will pledge to honour ‘the country in which I am now living’, instead of Her Majesty the Queen.

Drummond Cox, a spokesman for the Scout Association, claims the change ‘represents a tweak rather than a major change’. But he is quite wrong. This is nothing to do with denominational sensitivity or issues of inclusivity,

It is curious that Muslims have achieved what Roman Catholics could not. If there is a desire to ‘cater for Muslims specifically’, and this is ‘affirmative action’, why were the concerns of the Atheists, Roman Catholics or Republican-minded scouts never ‘catered for specifically’?

On a superficial level, the change ignores those very many Muslims in the UK who are proud monarchists, but, more significantly, it is a charter for scouts to demand to swear upon whatever they see fit. It is not so much a ‘two-tier Scout Movement’, but the eradication of that which has unified British scouts for a century – allegiance to the Monarch in his or her role as Head of State.

And Cranmer is rather concerned that allegiance to ‘the country in which I am now living’ does not specifically demand allegiance to its customs, traditions or to liberal democracy, of which Her Majesty is both symbol and guardian. Islam is a religio-political construct which is territorial – the Dar al-Harb must give way to the Dar al-Islam. Scouting has not yet introduced that Jihad Merit Badge, but swearing allegiance to a geographic entity is convenient and somewhat portentous.

This is the time for the UK’s Atheist scouts, Roman Catholic scouts and Jedi Knight scouts to demand an oath tailored to suit their sensitivities. To be denied this now would be rather blatant religious discrimination.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ben Bradshaw MP: ‘The BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities’

Ben Bradshaw is Minister of State in the Department of Health. And he is under the impression that the BBC has been biased towards Israel throughout the Gaza conflict. He has been joined by other members of the Government in putting pressure upon the corporation to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza.

At present, the BBC (along with ITV and SKY) is refusing to show an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee who wanted to run TV and radio appeals to help raise funds for people in need of food, shelter and medicines ‘as a result of Israel's military action in the Palestinian area’. The charity is an umbrella organisation for several major aid charities, including Oxfam, Red Cross, CAFOD, TEAR Fund, Islamic Relief and Save the Children.

The BBC is citing its commitment to impartiality as the reason for refusing to broadcast the appeal.

Mr Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, said this it was ‘an inexplicable decision’ and that the appeal to impartiality is ‘completely feeble’.

Cranmer is inclined to agree with Mr Bradshaw to this extent – the BBC has been pathologically biased at so many levels on so many occasions (pro-EU, pro-global warming, anti-Conservative, pro-Blair, anti-Israel, pro-Obama, anti-McCain) that an appeal to impartiality over a charity broadcast is distinctly hollow. The BBC Director General Mark Thompson is concerned that the appeal ‘might jeopardise the public's confidence in the BBC's impartiality’. And the BBC's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, is concerned that such appeals should be made ‘without affecting and impinging on the audience's perception of our impartiality’.

Too late, Mr Thompson and Ms Thomson. That confidence was jeopardised decades ago, at least when a decision was made to recruit BBC staff solely through the pages of The Guardian. And any residual confidence that may have survived has been destroyed through the recent sagas of fixed phone-ins or the crude antics of ‘talented’ stars. And the concern with the ‘perception of impartiality’ is a ruse, for there has been no such concern over so very many issues of global importance, and the ‘facts’ have chronically been subsumed to the vague imaginings and rhetorical rants of its journalists’ Leftish, ultra-liberal obsessions.

If the BBC were ever to report some 'pro-Israel' facts, they would have to reveal that Israel is not the 'artificial state' it is so frequently referred to as being, but a wholly legitimate state founded by the international community in 1947. The view that this land belongs to the Arabs is also erroneous, since sizeable Jewish communities have lived in both the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza for millennia. As for Israel's 'aggression' and 'military action', the BBC might consider that many of the Palestinian sick and wounded are presently being treated in Israeli hospitals. And many Palestinians have been fleeing to Israel in order to escape Hamas oppression for years. And Cranmer cannot recall hearing from the BBC the condemnation of Hamas which was clearly articulated by some prominent Arab nations. By being anti-Zionist, the BBC is being anti-Israel; by being anti-Israel, it is being anti-Semitic. By refusing to refer to 'Islamic fundamentalist terrorism', or to the professed faith of Gaza's terrorists, it is shrouding the immense suffering of Israelis (of all faiths and none) in a cloak of relativist obfuscation.

But it is, in any case, no business of the Government to apply pressure upon the BBC to reconsider its position on this broadcast. There may be, as the Development Secretary opines, ‘great human suffering still taking place in Gaza’, but so there is in Darfur and the Congo. Indeed, the suffering there is far greater, and Mr Alexander ought also to be concerned with their common humanity, not simply that of the Gazans.

Before Mr Bradshaw dismisses the BBC’s judgement as ‘flawed’, ‘weak’, ‘nervous’ or ‘biased, he might just consider that these are the very attributes which have helped to keep him in a job for 11 years.

If, as he says, the BBC ought ‘to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally’, then a fortiori should the BBC stand up to Labour’s authorities – just occasionally.

Friday, January 23, 2009

‘Right wing’ author banned from the LSE

Douglas Murray – director of the Centre for Social Cohesion and one of the most reasonable and knowledgeable journalists and commentators of the right – has been banned from chairing a debate at the London School of Economics, entitled ‘Islam or Liberalism: Which is the Way Forward?’

Please note he was chairing; not speaking.

Apparently, he poses a security risk. His mere presence could provoke unrest.

You see, LSE students have just ended a week-long siege in protest at Israel's attacks on Gaza, and they have already decided the way forward, so there is nothing to debate and no discussion to be had – except on their terms.

The debate between Dr Alan Sked and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis will go ahead as planned, but the chairman shall not be Mr Murray.

And there was Cranmer thinking that education was built on the Enlightenment narrative necessitating rational discourse, and that it was the role of the universities to challenge perceptions; to turn the eyes of their students to the light in order that they may see for themselves.

Instead, we have education through intimidation; a myopic syllabus formulated by terror. Violent protesters now dictate which debates may take place: the Islamists and critics of Israel seek to silence rational discussion and thereby compromise students’ education. This is a censorship born of intimidation. It has no place in a liberal democracy.

The LSE’s capitulation sets a profoundly concerning precedent. Will British universities now only employ lecturers who accord with the fore-ordained political worldview of the Left, for fear of ‘provoking unrest’?

DEFRA pursues a policy of religious discrimination

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to have one policy when dealing with the animals of the monotheists, and quite another when it deals with the animals of the Indic faiths. The pets of Christians are to be terminated to alleviate their suffering, but those of the Hindus shall be permitted to live on.

It transpires that the RSPCA has apologised to a Hindu temple for killing its sacred cow. It did so on ‘welfare grounds’, but this protocol is to be reassessed. Yet it is only to be reassessed when they deal with the welfare of animals ‘at organisations which have a non-violent ethos’.

The RSPCA is developing a policy in which the animals of monotheists (including Sikhs?) must be euthanised to alleviate suffering, but those of the karmic religions are to be left to continue in their suffering, for the suffering of these animals is intrinsic to samsara and necessary for the attainment of mokshe, while the suffering of the animals of the monotheists is pointless, for they cannot attain salvation.

Perhaps the RSPCA should consider Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, or consider that King Solomon referred to the spirit (Heb: ‘ruach’) of animals (Ps 150:6).

The new DEFRA policy emanates from the dispute with Bhatkivedanta Manor Temple in Watford. When its sacred cow, Gangotri, was injured, she began to suffer from pressure sores because she could no longer stand. The Hindus believe this suffering to be the result of Gangotri’s karma – ie, she gets what she deserves. The RSPCA thought this a load of tosh and distinctly inhumane, so they administered a lethal injection to Gangotri, thereby ending her suffering.

This angered Hindus nationwide and provoked protests outside the RSPCA headquarters (non-violent, of course).

The RSPCA have duly apologised to Bhatkivedanta Manor Temple, saying they ‘recognised the hurt caused to the sentiments of these communities, and wishing to build a progressive relationship, apologised unreservedly for causing hurt and offence’.

Progressive relationship?

One rule for Hindus; another for Christians?

By way of compensation, the RSPCA purchased a new, pregnant cow for the Temple.

Henceforth, DEFRA’s new protocol will guide animal welfare at all farms and organisations in the UK which have a ‘non-violent ethos’.

So, the animals of Christian farmers will no longer be treated in the same manner as those in Hindu temples.

Who is the theologian at DEFRA discerning and expounding this ‘non-violent’ ethos? Who is determining the orthodoxy? Who is establishing adherence?

Who is assessing the implications of the formal recognition of ahimsa in a Government department?

Are Jews, Christians and Muslims being branded faiths with a violent ethos?

There is evidently now one law for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and another law for Hindus, Sikhs (?) and Buddhists. Yet there is supposed to be equality under the law.

It is self-evident that some religions have more rights than others, and that some animals are more equal than others.

The next time there is an outbreak of foot and mouth, scrapie or ‘mad cow disease’, Cranmer exhorts all farmers who wish to save their animals simply to profess the Hindu faith. Your animals shall thereby be exempt from slaughter, and your own ‘good’ karma multiplied a thousand-fold.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dutch MP Geert Wilders to be prosecuted for criticising Islam.

Cranmer thought the age of Inquisition was long gone. But it seems that one uncompromising pursuit of God’s will for Europe has simply been supplanted by another.

A Dutch court has ordered the prosecution of Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders for ‘inciting hatred and discrimination’ against Muslims. The charges relate to Fitna, a film (censored in the UK) he made last year in which he compared the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and drew a direct link between Islam and violence. The film juxtaposed images of the September 11th attacks with quotations from the Qur’an. This, apparently, is not acceptable, notwithstanding that the perpetrators of this evil were professing Muslims and justified their atrocity with appeals to the Qur’an, and flew into the Twin Towers with ‘Allahu Akhbar’ on their lips.

May one not state this as a matter of historical fact?

Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was also murdered by a radical Dutch Muslim who left qur’anic quotes stabbed into his chest. His co-producer on the project, Somali-born former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, lived under government protection for several years after van Gogh's killing. She now lives in the United States.

May one not state this as a matter of historical fact?

The film also includes images of other terror attacks; bloodied victims; beheadings of hostages; executions of women; and footage, with subtitles, of Muslim leaders preaching inflammatory sermons against Jews and Christians.

Mr Wilders is simply of the view that in 1945, Nazism was defeated in Europe; in 1989, communism was defeated in Europe; and in now Islamic ideology has to be defeated.

He has called the decision to prosecute him for making a film about this view ‘an attack on the freedom of expression’.

And he is not wrong.

This will be a defining trial of the age. It will polarise communities, divide the Netherlands, and the eyes of the world shall be upon the European Union as it wrestles with the seismic consequences of whatever verdict is delivered.

Mr Wilders has not criticised individual Muslims, or defamed Mohammed, or blasphemed against Allah (directly). But what if he had? Is one no longer free to pour scorn upon a god in whom one does not believe, mock a prophet one deems to be false, or question an ideology one considers repugnant? Can you imagine Elijah being prosecuted for mocking the prophets of Baal? Does not the assertion of the supremacy of one God over the pantheon of others necessitate the humiliation of these false gods and idols? Is not the very choice to follow one particular faith over another an act of ‘discrimination’?

Islam is not a race, but a religio-political ideology. And now it appears that a Dutch MP – a citizen of the EU – may be prosecuted for daring to criticise an ideology.

This decision will have every member of the BNP wringing their hands with glee, and leave every libertarian of moderate political persuasion profoundly perplexed. Doubtless no British MP will dare to comment on this story at all (not even those who profess to be immensely concerned about the erosion of liberties) for fear of inciting the BNP to excessive gloating or of offending the UK’s Muslim population and thereby losing their votes with two elections imminent.

Geert Wilders called the Qur'an a ‘fascist book’.

This is apparently a crime; specifically that of inciting racial hatred.

Cranmer would like to know why those Muslims who refer to the Holy Bible as flawed and full of lies have not been similarly prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.

Ahh – Christianity is not a race, but Islam is.


Cranmer does not wish to trivialise the pain which Mr Wilders may have caused to many Muslims. But they live in a liberal democracy, in a European Union which enshrines the principle of freedom of expression in its Charter on Human Rights, and no-one has the right not to be offended.

Not even Muslims.

Many may consider Mr Wilders to be as odious as Nick Griffin, but neither is involved in anything illegal. While the BNP exists on the fringe of the political extremities and has indeed been found to be fundamentally racist, the Dutch Freedom Party is a democratic organisation with nine MPs. Mr Wilders' film may be painful for Muslims, but it is not criminal.

However, the court's three judges said they had weighed Mr Wilders' ‘anti-Islamic rhetoric’ against his right to free speech, and they have ruled he has gone ‘beyond the normal leeway given to politicians’. By attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, they say ‘he also insulted Muslim believers’.

No parliamentary privilege there, then.

The judges have said that while the Netherlands is ‘generally liberal’, they are ‘making an exception in the case of Wilders' comments about Islam’. Their statement is illuminating: ‘The court considers appropriate criminal prosecution for insulting Muslim worshippers because of comparisons between Islam and Nazism made by Wilders.’

In observation of the increasing general acceptance of expressions of anti-Semitism in society, it is curious that a British MP may compare the actions of Israel (=’Jews’?) to those of Nazis and do so with impunity, but a Dutch MP who dares to equate Islam with Nazism is hauled before the courts.

Surely the EU needs to ‘harmonise’ this inconsistency?

It appears that the court is only acting because it has received nine (yes, nine) complaints from citizens over the prosecution service's refusal to press charges against Mr Wilders for his ‘anti-Islamic statements’. There is a fear that their non-response might spark riots and civil unrest.

This is curious. Cranmer did not know that the courts were subject to the common cry of curs.

Mr Wilders has said on his website:

"Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted."

He said not only he, but all Dutch citizens opposed to the ‘Islamisation’ of the Netherlands will be on trial.

"Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?"

Make no mistake about it, this is a founding nation of the EU limiting freedom of expression by appealing to a notion of blasphemy, under the pretext of preventing civil strife. The only religion which is being protected in law is Islam. Cranmer has previously observed this development in the UK.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Ps 11:3).

The sad extent of Labour’s self-delusion

There appears to be no limit to self-belief and manic persistence expressed by some Labour ministers. The appearance of self-confidence is often the enemy of self-knowledge, and the words of most politicians are thereby rendered unreliable and untrustworthy. Their quest for significance supplants that of ordinary people for food and drink, and their capacity for egotistical assertions and manipulative scheming is invariably shrouded in an idealistic, even noble, assertion of complete selflessness.

They are, quite simply, deluded.

According to Housing Minister Margaret Beckett MP, there are signs of an ‘upturn’ in the property market. It is somewhat of an exaggeration on behalf of The Sunday Times to apportion to her talk of a ‘house boom’, but her assertion of an ‘upturn’ is strangely delusional.

Business minister Baroness Vadera recently denied that she was ‘out of touch’ after claiming she could see ‘a few green shoots’ of economic recovery.

If these politicians have ever seen a green shoot emerging out of the slough of this recession, Cranmer is certain that the stony ground set by Labour would soon kill it off.

The reality is that thousands are losing their jobs every week, famous high-street names are calling in the receivers, tens of thousands of families face being evicted and made homeless, crime is increasing during this hardship, and house sales have plummeted to an unprecedented level.

While Margaret Beckett and Baroness Vadera insensitively talk of recovery and upturn, Ernst & Young have warned that 2009 ‘will see the biggest peacetime downturn in the economy since 1931’. They predicts a 16 per cent fall in house prices this year and a further 6 per cent drop in 2010. Spokesman Professor Peter Spencer said: “The housing market remains in dire straits, starved of mortgage finance.”

And as these self-deluded and hyper-optimistic politicians go on repeating their mantra and spinning their prayer wheels – which they are obliged to do for fear of realising that much of what they do with their lives is a pointless waste of time – HM Treasury continues to pour billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into a flawed ‘rescue package’ of bank recapitalisation, and is set to ‘insure’ them against all losses.

The phrase ‘out of touch’ is not the half of it. Labour have lost all touch with reality: they have become oblivious to the real-life struggles of real-life people; they are arrogant and consumed by nothing but a strategy for their own survival and the perpetuation of their ideology.

It was once said of Gordon Brown that he is ‘psychologically flawed’.

One is left to wonder if his affliction is viral.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama and the spirit of Abraham Lincoln

In terms of global viewing figures, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America is likely to approach those for the funeral of the Princess of Wales. It has been hyped, spun, designed, stage-managed and cultured to perfection. Barack Obama became an icon without pausing for his image to be captured. He is cherished, worshipped and adored like the most sacred of devotional objects. The expectations of fulfilment are colossal, so much so that Isaiah’s messianic prophecies reverberate around the world:
Today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

But as the world’s media is focused on the eternal hopes and Olympian aspirations of the man, Cranmer wishes to highlight on two aspects of this event – the spectre of Abraham Lincoln and the ceremonial use of the Holy Bible.

The significance easily escapes a nation which has ceased to express its historic faith – indeed, has developed a culture which is positively hostile to Christianity and makes its adherents ashamed to express their faith in the public sphere. British prime ministers no longer ‘do God’. The Head of State was ‘sworn in’ on the Holy Bible in an age when oaths were taken on pain of divine or preternatural wrath, and people believed in them. Her successor wishes to be ‘sworn in’ on the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, the Gita, the Upanishads and the Beano. The magic has gone.

But Barack Obama has chosen to be sworn in on the Holy Bible, and he will invoke God. He is not obliged to do either; he has chosen to. And (unlike Bishop Gene Robinson) he apparently does not care about those he may offend by doing so.

It is heartening to see politicians fearlessly treading where clerics have ceased to.

The US Constitution does not require a Bible, but it has become tradition.

There have been a few lawsuits attempting to oblige the Chief Justice – who will administer the Oath of Office– from adding ‘so help me God’ to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath (Art. II, Sec. 1). They have also sought to declare unconstitutional the use of clergy to deliver an invocation and benediction.

But all this is trivia and tittle-tattle.

Barack Obama is not being sworn in on just any old Bible, like most of his predecessors. He is to use the very tome used by Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration of 1861. He will be the first incoming president in 147 years to use the Lincoln Bible, and he has chosen to do so because he intends pursuing Lincoln’s themes of national unity, arguing that the US Constitution was created ‘to form a more perfect Union’.

Bizarrely, Mr Obama will travel to his inauguration via the same route that Lincoln took, and will also eat lunch off replicas of the Lincolns' White House china.

The spirit of Lincoln will be as immanent as the Spirit of God.

Most presidents have sworn the Oath of Office upon a Bible which had personal or political significance – usually the family Bible. Theodore Roosevelt exceptionally swore on nothing, and John Quincy Adams, although a Christian, took his presidential oath upon a "Volume of Laws", declaring that he was elected to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution.

Adams’ choice of ‘unholy’ writ was unique, since those who were not sworn in on the Bible (however hastily) all laid their hands on something which they considered ‘holy’. Lyndon B. Johnson took his oath aboard Air Force 1 upon a Missal – the Roman Catholic liturgical book – because it was all that was found in President Kennedy’s airplane bedroom.

Harding was sworn in on the Bible used by George Washington in 1789. Eisenhower, Carter and Bush Snr all doubled up, using the Washington Bible along with their family bibles. Clinton used his grandmother’s Bible, and Coolidge, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan all used bibles from the maternal sides of their families.

The Bible has now become intrinsic to the inauguration ceremony, so much so that more questions would be asked about a presidential candidate who purposely eschewed it than would ever be asked of a candidate who deploys it. History still notes that Franklin Pierce broke with precedent in 1853 when he chose not to kiss the Bible.

As Barack Obama is sworn in, the world shall witness a ceremony which has evolved its own sacred liturgy. It has been adapted over the years just as the Coronation Ceremony of the United Kingdom has been - to better suit the spirit of age and the idiosyncracies of the anointed one. The irony is that in the UK there are calls for the sacred Christian ceremony and anointing to be replaced with a more ‘modern’ secular or ‘multi-faith’ affair, while in the United States the Bible has become more prominent and the God invoked is distinctly and unashamedly the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cranmer wishes President Obama well, and he encourages all of his readers and communicants to pray for him as they are exhorted:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1Tim 2: 1-7).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ken Clarke - return or revenge?

It is reported than Ken Clarke QC MP is to return to the Shadow Cabinet after a decade on the back benches - probably because he realises that the Conservative Party is once again on the cusp of power, and he wishes to be a part of it. One has to observe that he been of absolutely no assistance to the Party during its decade in the wilderness, and he has actively sought to undermine some Party leaders during this time. One might also recall that he was the first Cabinet minister to advise Margaret Thatcher to resign during the 1990 leadership contest.

Mr Clarke is to replace as Alan Duncan as Business Secretary. Apparently, he 'has accepted that the Tory position on Lisbon, the EPP and the Euro is settled. He won't attempt to change party policy but neither will he change his views.'

The Conservative position on Lisbon, the EPP and the Euro is not remotely settled. There is an entente cordiale between opposing factions, and Mr Clarke will actively oppose from within the Shadow Cabinet giving the British people a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon (he is no fan of democracy even within the Conservative Party). Mr Clarke has always said precisely what he thought on matters relating to the EU, having appeared on platforms with his political opponents to the detriment of the Conservative Party and to the embarassment of the Leader. Indeed, he even favours a coalition with the europhile Liberal Democrats, and has publicly said so. He is a loose cannon, and regularly defies the Party whip with impunity: indeed, his voting record identifies him as a rebel.

This promotion is a reward for disloyalty and rebellion. But while eurosceptics who assert their EU beliefs are permanently exiled from David Cameron's inner circle, europhiles who do not toe the Party line are positively embraced. That Mr Clarke enters the Shadow Cabinet for perpetually defying the Party Whip sets a curious example for all those ambitious young MPs who are encouraged to cease thinking for themselves and to vote as they are instructed.

Cranmer does not wish to say any more.

He is a little despondent.

The real face of Hamas – terrorists, murderers and thugs

WARNING: This video is disturbing. Do not watch if you are of a nervous disposition, or if you do not want your perception that Hamas are benevolent and kind towards the Palestinian people to be in any way challenged. Cranmer would also urge Sir Gerald Kaufman MP not to watch, for he may have to reconsider who the real Nazis are.

This footage shows Hamas firing on a wedding party, killing guests, and beating the groom to death. Their crime?

They were singing.

Why has this film footage not been broadcast on UK TV? Why is every woman and child whom Israel injures or kills displayed by the BBC for the world to see, yet there has been not a hint of the realities of Hamas terrorism and oppression?

And where are the protests on the streets of London by British Muslims against the Hamas slaughter of innocent Palestinians?

Israel has announced a ceasefire in this war, which has apparently already been breached by Hamas.

It will be a useful pause during which Hamas will re-arm in order that they may continue inflicting atrocities on both Israelis and Palestinians.

Allahu Akhbar.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Michael Portillo on the case for an Established Church

The whole article may be read in The Daily Telegraph, but it is woefully ill-informed and inaccurate on so many levels that Cranmer can hardly be bothered to fisk it. Some of the comments and observations made in the Telegraph's response column say it all:

Mr Portillo conflates ‘England’ with ‘Britain'.

‘Constantine did not convert to Christianity in 312: he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire. He converted to it on his deathbed in 337. Has Portillo never read Gibbon and is his programme going to display the same level of basic ignorance?’

‘Constantine made Christianity the state religion? Actually Emperor Theodosius the Great did that. Constantine simply granted universal toleration to Christians and acted as a benevolent benefactor to them.’

‘The Established Church in this country serves many purposes but standing in the way of radicalisation is not one of them. I find it very hard to believe that the disestablishment of the Anglican communion would lead to an upsurge in Protestant bigotry. Nor do I have the dread fear of religious people that you seem to nurse Michael. Margaret Thatcher was a preacher's daughter and began her Premiership paraphrasing that famous St Francis prayer and she didn't turn out so bad.’

‘Our allegiance is to the Crown and through the Crown to all the people in this land and long may it remain so because if the Treaty of Lisbon becomes active, signed and ratified by this temporary Government that ignored the very people who mistakenly elected it once more, our allegiance might be to a head of very different kind of State. Do you think everyone in the UK would have allegiance to the likes of those that sit in our Parliament at present that takes our money yet cannot do the job we foolishly elected them to do? Or to a Head of State that lodges in Brussels or Strasbourg? We may have a Government at present that has absolutely no idea of what our own Constitution stands for, or what this Country went through in 1939-1945 war fighting to keep that very same Constitution and Head of Church and State rather than a foreigner Governing all...

Our Head of Church respects all religions let that be enough for a different Head of State, one that is voted in one day, might not allow such freedom.’

‘...there is quite a lot to that persecution as well as the political use of a state religion. "Constantine's Sword" by James Carroll provides a valuable insight to all of this.’

“Keeping religion out of politics remains essential. The need for institutionalised moderation is growing, not diminishing." -

‘This is the contradiction in the column - keep religion out of politics by keeping it in. The assumption that a wishy-washy, but increasingly fundamentalist-rent, Anglicanism is the only option as a hold on fundamentalism is false. In the modern world secularism is a viable option. In fact, it is a far better option since even the CofE gives reinforcement to the idea that irrationality is reasonable. Do you really think that the CofE serves as any sort of check on fundamentalist Islam or Protestantism? How and why? Even Sharia law was given a look-in by the AB of Canterbury!’

Cranmer is most looking forward to Rageh Omaar’s view of the Crusades. This is sure to be a most objective and unbiased account.

And His Grace is still wondering why Channel 4 have not yet commissioned a series on the origins and foundation of Islam or on the historicity of Mohammed, and why are they not inviting Christians to present it? It is strange indeed that this present series - Christianity: A History - is being presented by a Jew, a Muslim, three Roman Catholics, an Atheist, and two evangelicals of Afro-Carribean origin - one a Pentacostalist, the other a liberation theologian with a discernible obsession with 'Black theology'.

Not an indigenous Protestant or via media Anglican among them.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Conservative Party to select candidates by religion

Cranmer saw this on Slugger O’Toole a week ago, and then saw it reported by ConservativeHome a day later. He thought it curious that Mike Fealty’s emphasis was quite subtly de-emphasised by ConservativeHome, who have previously vehemently opposed the manipulation of candidate selection through ‘A-lists’, top-down ‘guidance’, and other discriminatory practices within the Conservative Party which seek to make it appear ‘more representative’ of the modern United Kingdom.

Mr Fealty observed unequivocally that the Conservative-Ulster Unionists (or whatever they are to be called) are ‘seeking Catholics and women as candidates’. His source of information was no less than Owen Paterson MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Marion Little, described as the ‘Battleground Director’ for the UK.

For the Conservative Party to discriminate on the basis of a candidate’s religion is a most profoundly un-Conservative action, and one which runs quite counter to its own aspiration to ‘modernise’. Indeed, such an overt discrimination is taking the Party back to the 18th century, to the days when patriotism and loyalty to the Crown were discerned through a member's expressed religious adherence. The Conservative Party (as a post-19th-century construct) has never discriminated against Protestants or Anglicans as it now proposes to do - even though it is itself no longer either particularly Anglican or remotely Protestant.

Cranmer does not have time this morning to expound the history of the Party, and how its Whig and Tory roots fused to de-emphasise religious polarities while adopting the via media of the Church of England – a soft Protestantism embracing Anglo-Catholicism and eventually becoming attractive to Roman Catholics. It has been a long and complex process.

But Cranmer does wish his readers and communicants to observe this:

The Conservatives in Scotland are prioritising Scots, women, the disabled, gay and ethnic minorities.

The Conservatives in Wales are prioritising the Welsh, women, the disabled, gay and ethnic minorities.

The Conservatives in Northern Ireland are prioritising the Irish, women and Roman Catholics.

The Conservatives in England are prioritising women, the disabled, gay and ethnic minorities.

He shall leave it to his intelligent and discerning readers and communicants to see what the Conservative Party is actively discriminating against.

And intelligent and loyal Conservative Roman Catholics like Edward Leigh wonder why it is left to him and his co-religionists to articulate on behalf of the Established Church of England.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety'

With profuse apologies to his communicants across the pond, and also to his nocturnal communicants in the UK, Cranmer regrets to announce that comment moderation is on (for posts older than 14 days).

This is an attempt to remedy the affliction to which he refers below.

You may continue to comment freely on Cranmer's most recent posts.

Others shall be filtered tomorrow, and the demonic shall be driven out.

Nighty night,

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP: Israel is giving Gaza ‘the reply of the Nazis’

This is a curious interjection from someone who was brought up as ‘an orthodox Jew and Zionist’.

Sir Gerald Kaufman is a man whom Cranmer has always held in high esteem. Of course he does not agree with him on everything, but there are certain Socialists – Frank Field, Tony Benn, Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey - for whom Cranmer has a high degree of respect.

But to compare, as Sir Gerald has done, the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany is a perverse analysis. Hamas has far more in common with the Nazis, and Sir Gerald appears to be blind to the fact. So much so that he has demanded that the Government impose an arms embargo on Israel. He said: “It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli government that its conduct and policies are unacceptable and to impose a total arms ban on Israel."

Sir Gerald told MPs: "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town... a German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt from gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians."

He said the claim that large numbers of the Palestinian victims were militants ‘was the reply of the Nazi’ and added: "I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants."

He was sufficiently prescient to observe that Hamas was a ‘deeply nasty organisation’ but asserts that the fact that they were democratically elected renders them ‘the only game in town’.

Cranmer thought that was Solitaire.

Sir Gerald made a call for peace, specifying ‘real peace’.

And he thinks this will achieved by dialogue with Hamas.

Cranmer is sorry (quite genuinely) that Sir Gerald’s grandmother was shot dead in her bed, but begs him to understand that there are quite a few Palestinians who think Hamas have more in common with the Nazis than Israel ever could. And to dismiss Israel as ‘war criminals’ and ‘fools’ is folly itself.

Cranmer has one thing to say to Sir Gerald:

Cranmer - oppressed, persecuted and afflicted

Cranmer is disturbed that his august blog of intelligent and erudite comment upon matters religio-political, his great and world-renowned bastion of free speech upon some of the 'touchiest' topics of the age, may have to be closed down, or comment moderation imposed.

For three days now he has been afflicted by hundreds and hundreds of posts which link to some of the most undesirable sites abroad, each one of which has to be removed individually. This is involving him in hours and hours of wasted time (six hours yesterday), and his ashes are weary. It is bad enough having to type with the burnt stumps of the fingers of his left hand (the right having been totally consumed by the flames of that fateful day). But time is precious, and each hour he spends exorcising cyber-demons is an hour he cannot spend ministering to his flock.

Cranmer is despondent, dejected and distracted.

To be precise, he is of that disposition expressed by the perfect tense of the process of urination and the adverbial qualification denoting distance.

He humbly beseeches his readers and communicants for their prayers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coronation Street producers deem a cross IN A CHURCH to be offensive

Cranmer does not know who Tyrone is, or Molly. And neither does he care. He cannot recall the last time he watched a soap opera, not least because both politics and religion are infinitely more entertaining: both have their great storylines and larger-than-life characters - there is a sense in which Annie Walker is Margaret Thatcher, Ernest Bishop is Iain Duncan Smith, Mike Baldwin is Tony Blair, and Stan Ogden is John Prescott. His Grace will not go on (though communicants may). He is simply content to observe that religion and politics provide a daily dose of angst and trauma - interspersed with rare moments of joy - which eclipse any soap opera.

But Cranmer does know that Coronation Street is considered one of the great British institutions. He also knows that it has won a myriad of awards, and is widely considered abroad (unfortunately) as the ‘essence of England’ – or ‘up North’ at least. Certainly, Cranmer can recall some sporting bid being called into question when Manchester was symbolised by the depressing rooftops, interminable rain and dreary theme music of the show’s opening sequence.

But Cranmer is more than a little irritated – in fact, he is rather angry - that the show’s producers decided that a cross in a church had to be removed before it was considered a 'suitable' setting for ‘multi-cultural’ Britain. They insisted that the bronze cross on the altar of a 14th-century church - which was to be the location of Tyrone’s and Molly’s wedding – should be covered over because ‘it might offend viewers’.

The Revd James Milnes, of St Mary's Church in Nether Alderley, Cheshire, said the producers originally asked for it to be removed entirely, but they compromised on it being concealed behind candles and flowers.

He described the request - made during the filming of Molly and Tyrone's wedding scenes - as a disgrace.

The ‘during the filming’ is important, for it is down to the show’s producers to find suitable locations before filming, and, having agreed with the vicar of St Mary’s that his building was to be used, they ought to have had the courtesy to make the request in advance.

He might then have told them where to go, and forfeited his £4000 fee.

In fact, Cranmer would have told them where to go anyway, and stuffed their cheque down their throats. And Cranmer is not given to bouts of violence. He would certainly not have concealed the cross behind flowers and candles, and ‘disgrace’ isn’t the half of it.

Christianity is the religion of England established by law. The Head of State is Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The cross is intrinsic to and inseparable from English history. Without the cross there would be no church. Would these idiots also ban the flag of England, lest it cause offence? Would they ban the Bible, lest it cause offence? Would they prohibit all mention of the name of Jesus, lest it cause offence?

This is just part of the war of attrition against the essence of England and Englishness. And the producers of one of England's greatest television institutions are evidently complicit in that offensive process of identity 'tranformation' which in reality is eradication.

If they wish to film in a church, what on earth do they expect to find? Has anyone ever filmed in Westminster Abbey and demanded that it be 'cleansed' of all its Christian symbolism? Or the Vatican and demanded that all crucifixes and popes be removed? Would the producers insist that the crescent symbol be removed from mosques? Or the menorah from synagogues? Or the khanda from a gurdwara?

A cross is what one would expect to find at a Christian wedding in a church. But in modern Britain, preachers dare not talk of hell for fear of offending; or of Muslims for fear of inciting; or of homosexuality for fear of discriminating.

And God forbid that one might enter a 14th-century church and find the symbol of a cross.

It is an offence to all who are not being saved.

Which must include the producers of Coronation Street.

Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East

Last night saw the launch of a new group at the House of Commons, to be known as ‘Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East’.

This is a curious new lobby group, with a curious name.

It is a little like founding ‘Labour Friends of Slough and the United Kingdom’, or ‘Labour Friends of Malta and Europe’. Except, of course, that neither Slough nor Malta have been magnified out of all proportion to their significance. And neither Slough nor Malta are artificial geo-political constructs whose populations are agitating for the eradication of that to which they are intrinsically linked.

Of course, Labour could not possibly launch at the present time a group called ‘Labour Friends of Israel & the Middle East’, not least because ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ has existed since 1957 and ‘Labour Friends of Israel & the Middle East’ would be interpreted as bestowing upon Israel an exalted status and political dominance over the rest of the Middle East of which it is not worthy.

But what becomes of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ now? Since Israel is manifestly part of the Middle East, are those who choose to befriend Palestine not also befriending Israel? And will members of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ not also be obliged to join ‘Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East’ since that group professes to additionally befriend that to which they have already pledged their friendship?

But Israel aside, why would any sincere Socialist supporter of Palestine wish their admirable cause to be tarnished with support for the rest of the Middle East? Can one not be a Labour supporter of the Palestinian cause and consider it good, without having also to support the bad and the ugly of the Middle East?

The region that spans southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa is vast. If one wishes to be a friend of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, why should one be obliged to spread that friendship very thinly indeed to Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt?

After all, what hath Ramallah to do with Tehran, Damascus or Beirut?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gene Robinson to invoke God at Obama inauguration

Barack Obama’s first inauguration ceremony will demonstrate to the world how much these Christians love one another. It transpires that the President–Elect has heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered, cross-dressing community who objected strongly to the Revd Billy Graham being replaced by the Evangelical ‘homophobic’ pastor Rick Warren.

Mr Obama has heard their cries, and has appointed New Hampshire’s Bishop Gene Robinson to open the first inaugural event (how many are there?) with a prayer this coming Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial.

Bishop Gene said: “It will be an enormous honour to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the ‘I have a dream speech’ was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community."

He also said he would not use the name of Jesus in his prayer, lest it cause offence.

Cranmer breathes deeply.

Instead, he will offer a ‘non-sectarian’ prayer at the Sunday event, and will not use the Bible. He said: “While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans. I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Bishop Gene Robinson has built an episcopal career on not being especially Christian, for it is difficult to see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in an hypocritical, bisexual adulterer who misrepresents the Faith, denounces Christian prayer as ‘sectarian’, and is ashamed of the gospel of salvation. Instead, he prefers to go all Buddhist and pray about rivers and trees, of mountains and seas, of the dollar and the poor, of families and (one presumes) some of his minority concerns – ‘people of colour’, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Cranmer does not believe the Bishop will mention the obese, for they will take up too much room in the Kingdom of God.

The Bishop further said: “It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way, whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority or, in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

So how will the Roman Catholics be represented at this inauguration? What about the Hispanic community? The Muslims? Who is representing the unemployed? The disabled? The fat? The ugly? The Jedi Knights?

There is no logical end to the fracturing of society into ‘minorities’. Bishop Gene is talking nonsense to insist that ‘seeing someone like you up front’ is important. If it were, Jesus might have consulted his diversity adviser before selecting his ‘up front’ team.

Perhaps President Obama should find a one-legged Muslim Lesbian who might be seen ‘up front’. That would cater for four groups simultaneously, and more if she were of Hispanic extraction, had HIV, fondled crystals and hugged trees.

There is evidently not much love lost between Gene Robinson and Rick Warren.

Bishop Robinson said he would love to sit down with Rick Warren but believed that the California pastor has ‘perpetrated lies about the gay, lesbian and bisexual community’.

Perhaps Pastor Rick would like to sit down with Gene Robinson but believes the New Hampshire Bishop has perpetrated lies about God, the Church and the Bible.

Rick Warren has said he is on the Bishop’s ‘attack list’ for his position on marriage equality and his association with Anglican leaders such as Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola.

Bishop Gene referred to President-Elect Obama’s decision for Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation as ‘a slap in the face’. He said:

“I'm all for Rick Warren being at the table, but we're not talking about a discussion, we're talking about putting someone up front and centre at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he's praying to is not the God that I know."


So Gene Robinson will be praying to one god on Sunday, and Rick Warren to another next Tuesday.

In this pantheon of gods as everyone invokes his or her own, who will be remotely concerned with praying to or invoking The God?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The media conspiracy against Israel

Cranmer has one simple question:

Why is this so widely reported...

Prominent British Jews call for ceasefire in Gaza

Group of British Jews calls for Gaza ceasefire

Prominent British Jews urge Israel to stop Gaza attacks

British Jews rally for peace in Middle East

....when we are hearing nothing about those Arab and Muslim states (not to mention the thousands or millions of individual Muslims) who happen to believe that Israel is fully justified in its operation in Gaza, or who believe that Hamas deserve to be ‘wiped off the map’?

The reaction from the Arab world has been mixed. In some Arab countries there have indeed been chanting protesters, burning flags and attacks on embassies. But from others has either been a muted silence on the conflict or an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas.

And what has the BBC said about this? Where has this been reported in the great British media?

Saudi Arabia has not given its support to Hamas. Egypt has roundly condemned Hamas, blaming them for provoking the conflict. Jordan has remained detached, Syria has been decidedly lukewarm, and let us not forget that there have been voices raised among the Palestinians themselves in condemnation of Hamas.

With Iranian influence and involvement in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, there is a feeling in many Arab countries that they are all beginning to share borders with Iran, and this is far too close for comfort. President Ahmadinejad may want Israel wiped off the map, and he would not be too bothered if a few Sunni nations were casualties in the process. If one were to believe the media narrative on this conflict, the whole of Arabia and all the world’s Muslims are incandescent with rage at Israel's ‘unjust’, ‘disproportionate’ and ‘illegal’ offensive against Hamas. But things are seldom what they seem. Skimmed milk masquerades as cream. There are some leading Arab nations and hundreds of thousands of level-headed Muslims who secretly long for an Israeli victory.

But the media dare not say so, for it conflicts with their prejudicial worldview and their foreordained, liberal, left agenda.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Anglican SPREAD

Cranmer has received a missive from a group called ‘Anglican SPREAD’ – The Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine - a Church of England group supporting the aims and intentions of GAFCON.

He has warned them that their choice of name will invite all manner of trivial and derisory comment (Anglican SPREAD – like Marmite, you either love it or hate it; Anglican SPREAD – like vermin/disease, etc., etc., etc.).

However, Cranmer is delighted to inform his readers and communicants that the Revd Charles Raven is the director of this group which is based in the United States under the Chairmanship of Bishop John Rodgers, formerly President and Dean of Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry and one of the founding bishops of the Anglican Mission in America.

It is dedicated ‘to the preservation and propagation of the reformed Christian faith as classically expressed by the English Reformers and definitively stated in the Anglican Formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, it produced a number of carefully-researched papers with a particular concern to shed light on the widespread confusion surrounding the beliefs of the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

‘Events between the 1998 and 2008 Lambeth Conferences have demonstrated decisively that the Communion’s present ‘instruments of unity’, including the See of Canterbury itself, are no longer fit for purpose when confronted with deep theological confusion in which evil is held out as good and good as evil. A merely institutional unity not firmly rooted in the revealed truths of God’s Word written is not only counterfeit but also toxic, exposing the whole Communion to the false teaching and the immorality absorbed by the Western Churches.

‘Taking encouragement from the GAFCON movement’s Jerusalem Declaration of June 2008, which reaffirmed the authoritative role of the historic formularies for Anglicanism today, SPREAD seeks to guard against this danger and to encourage the emergence of new Anglican structures able to support a coherent and confident proclamation of the gospel around the globe.

‘With a new Anglican Province being declared in North America, we concluded that the Society would be best based in England as the focus of the struggle for a reformed Anglican Communion now shifts to the other side of the Atlantic. As Archbishop Greg Venables noted in May last year: "The central question of the attitude to gay partnerships is just as big and pressing a matter in England as in North America and the division of opinion runs as deep in North America and so all the factors that could bring internal division and a blow up are there.”

‘It is increasingly clear that the Church of England and the other Anglican Churches of the UK are following the same path to apostasy as their North American counterparts. SPREAD therefore supports wholeheartedly the commitment of the Jerusalem Declaration to a unity which is in the first place confessional rather than simply institutional and is committed to articulating this need and the implications for future leadership and governance.’

The SPREAD website is worth checking out, and the Revd Charles Raven will be sending out a brief weekly commentary to everyone on their mailing list, should you wish to register.

Cranmer shall be watching this group, not least because one of its published articles is entitled: ‘There is no via media between incompatible convictions’.

His Grace is steeped in the via media, and the Church of England has survived almost five centuries of apparent incompatibilities.
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