Draconian Equalities Bill has it's wings clipped

Harriet HarmanImage by skuds via Flickr
Harriet Harman and our wonderful government was intent on introducing amendments to the Equalities Bill which could have led churched into legal difficulties with employing people whose public and personal conduct was inconsistent with the beliefs of the church. The government claimed that wasn't the case but the awful wording of the bill would have given a green light to those opposed to the church to cause untold damage. However the House of Lords has stepped in and for all intents and purposes has knocked the amendments on the head.

Now I'm no fan of the House of Lords per se and think we need a democratically elected second chamber, but thank God for them at this time.

This government speaks with a forked tongue on matters of faith. They go on about 'inclusivity' and 'diversity' but when it comes to the Christian faith then their real intentions show through. They have already run the Catholic adoption agencies out of town and were hoping to socially engineer the institution of the church with this bill, to remake it in the image of 'New Labour'.

And may God bless those who have been brave enough to put their head above the parapet to show their displeasure with this bill. They have risked having vile unfounded accusations made against them by those who hate the church and all it has given to our society.
  • John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, added: “Where are the examples of actual abuses that have caused difficulties? Where are the court rulings that have shown that the law is defective? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? The truth is that there are none because the status quo has been working perfectly satisfactorily.”
  • Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservatives’ shadow minister for Community Cohesion, hailed the vote as a “victory for common sense". She said: “We delivered a blow against the governments attempt to narrow the definition of ‘employment’ for the purposes of religion."
  • Lady Butler-Sloss, one of Britain's longest serving senior judges, told peers the Bill would restrict "the rights of religious groups to work with those of the same views and same religious convictions and it will, if passed, create the confusion it seeks to avoid."
  • Labour peer Lord Davies added: "My support for my Government is second only to my Christian view. My view is that the standards and morals of the Christian church makes this country a much better place and I shall always oppose any measures that seek to marginalise the Christian Church."
But of course if it's religion in the public sphere then you can guarantee the fundamentalists will be waiting in the wings with their sharpened daggers.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “The Government has faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of religious agitation in the Lords. The National Secular Society will once more complain to the European Commission. It is now quite likely the Government will be prosecuted in the European Court of Justice.”

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If Loving God Was A Crime

An oldie but goodie, Big Tent Revival at their best! Shame I couldn't source the original video. :(

But how apt the words are for today's world.

If loving God was a crime, I'd be an outlaw.
I would join the fight.
They could not shut me down. I would stand tall.
What I know is right.
Would you stand with me, for the world to see,
when all is on the line?
Would you be ashamed, of Jesus name?
If loving God was a crime.

The school room I hear, teaches choices,
to kids who cannot pray.
And the unborn I fear, they have no voice,
in politics today.

Would you stand with me, for the world to see,
when all is on the line?
Would you be ashamed of Jesus name?
If loving God was a crime.

Take a look around.
What will tomorrow hold?
It's time to stand our ground.
We must be bold, we must be bold.

If loving God was a crime, I'd be an outlaw.
I would join the fight.
Will you stand with me, for the world to see,
when all is on the line?
Will you be ashamed, of Jesus name,
when loving God is a crime?

When loving God is a crime...

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Stephen Baldwin on Celebrity Big Brother

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Stephen Ba...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I have spent years resolutely not viewing Channel 4's Big Brother. But this years has grabbed my attention. I think I was attracted to the possible train wreck of Stephen Baldwin meeting George O'Dowd (Boy George). Even though George was refused leave to enter the Big Brother House by the Probation Service I decided to throw caution to the wind and have a shufty at the program. Plus I saw The Usual Suspects a week before BB started.

Of all the inmates I find Stephen Baldwin the most interesting character. A born-again Christian, just like me but without the British reservation. He's been on a number of reality shows in the States so his 'play' should be interesting.

He's certainly not shy about his faith and has even led Alex Reid to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Fantastic!

I shall continue to watch while it remains interesting and gets up the nose of the born-again atheists.

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God's Batallions - A Review

Just finished this book. You can read my short review below as posted on www.goodreads.com

God's Batallions: A History of the Crusades as the First Western War on Muslim Terror and Aggression God's Batallions: A History of the Crusades as the First Western War on Muslim Terror and Aggression by Rodney Stark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's such a joy to find a book that doesn't seek to downplay or denigrate the Christian history of the West and the Middle East. Stark takes us into the reasons of the Crusades by relating the attacks and massacres of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places. The Crusades and their so-called barbarity are put into the context of the time and the practice of war and diplomacy.

The relationship between the Latin church, the Orthodox church, the Western Kingdoms, the Byzantine empire and the Islamic world is wonderfully told. Enough information to enlighten but not too much to create a turgid narrative. The diplomacy, negotiation and intrigue involved in the preparation and continuation of the Crusades is fascinating to read.

The summing up also looks at how the historical accuracy of the Crusading period has been manipulated and used by West and East to fit their own desired version of history.

It's only January but for me this will be the book of the year.

View all my reviews

Why not link up with me on www.goodreads.com?
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Here's some I missed

More persecution of the Christian
  •  On December 23, a bomb was detonated near the Syrian Orthodox church of St. Thomas in Mosul, Iraq.
  • On the same day, a bomb exploded in the same city outside the Chaldean church of St. George, killing three people.
  • Fifty people barred the doors of the Tafat Church in northern Algeria to stop a Christmas service. According to the Algerian newspaper El Watan, the Muslims threatened to kill the pastor.
  • On Christmas Eve, armed people attacked worshipers at a church in Kalar Kahar, Pakistan, injuring 65 Christian women and children. Local police were called but refused to help.
  • On December 17, about a thousand people attacked the nearly-completed church of St. Albert, which was being readied for Christmas Mass, in Bekasi Regency, near Jakarta, Indonesia. The people carried tanks of kerosene with which they set the church afire.
In each of those situation the 'people' were in fact adherents to another 'religion'.

H/T John C Wright

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What hope for the Church of England as a Christian Institution?

Blessing phones, pdas and laptops. Ixplora

A VICAR has launched a bizarre bid to attract city workers to his church by offering to BLESS their mobile phones and laptops.The Rev David Parrott issued his first blessing over a heap of high-tech laptops and smart phones on the altar of London’s 17th Century St Lawrence Jewry church today.

Perhaps I'm being cynical but this does sound to me like the encroachment of trendyism into the church. Surely this disrespects the whole concept of christian worship?

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Christian Persecution Continues Unabated

They're at it again. From thestar.com
Police stand by as church torched, desecrated

ALGIERS, ALGERIA – Islamists looted and burned a Protestant church in Algeria, the congregation's leader said Monday, suggesting they were inspired by a recent spate of religious intolerance in the Arab and Muslim world.

The church – hosted in an apartment block in the city of Tizi Ouzou some 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Algiers, the Algerian capital – was ransacked and set ablaze on Saturday night, several Algerian newspapers said.

The independent El Watan daily published a picture of a smouldering pile of pulpits and desks that had been brought outside for destruction. It quoted the pastor of the local Pentecostal community, Mustapha Krireche, as saying worshippers fled the temple because local police had left a gathering of anti-Christian rioters unchecked.

The congregation was worshipping in the apartment block because it had not received official government approval to operate a church.

Mustapha Krim, the head of the Algerian Protestant Church association, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday that looters also set fire to a pile of Bibles and religious textbooks, and desecrated Christian crosses.
He said the looting showed "Islamist intolerance considers there is no room for Christian religious practices in Algeria," and alleged it was "fuelled by what just happened in Egypt," where six people were killed in a church shooting during Christmas celebrations.

In mainly Muslim Malaysia, nine churches have been attacked recently – the assailants used firebombs and in one case, paint – amid violence against the country's Christian minority.

The Protestant Church in Algeria filed five separate complaints for arson and looting with local authorities, Krim said Monday. "Authorities don't want to get involved because they're worried of getting in trouble with the Islamists," Krim said.

There was no official comment from Algeria's government on the church looting. A senior police officer in the town of Tizi Ouzou confirmed the police hadn't intervened, despite the complaints. He said authorities couldn't intervene because the church hadn't been authorized as a place of worship. "What happened is appalling, but the apartment wasn't an authorized house to practice a religion," the police officer said, requesting anonymity because Algerian law bars security forces from talking to the media.

The officer said local authorities had ordered the church to shut down in November because the apartment hadn't received approval to function as a place of worship.
The officer denied police were caving in to Islamist pressure, pointing out that security forces regularly battle Islamist militants in the mountains around Tizi Ouzou, considered the stronghold of the local Al Qaeda offshoot.

Krim said the 300 Pentecostal practitioners in the area used the apartment because authorities had refused to provide them with another venue.

An overwhelmingly Muslim nation where Islam is the religion of state, Algeria allows the practice of other faiths in authorized venues. A few Roman Catholic churches are still open, left over from the French colonial era.

But small Protestant groups have been accused of proselytizing, or trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, which is illegal in Algeria. Several Protestants were prosecuted last year for illegally carrying Bibles or converting people to Christianity.

Krim said the Algerian Protestant Association was officially registered in 2003 and is tolerated by authorities, but often turned down by the Ministry of Religious Affairs when it files requests for houses of worship.

What was the majority faith in Algeria? Answers on a postcard.

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In the bleak midwinter

An apt video and hymn for today as we look out on the snow, beautiful to our eyes but deadly to the poor.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.


Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Po...Image via Wikipedia
Sometimes we hear words that touch us in way that our only response can be "Oh God!" But it's an exclamation of surprise that something so deep can be communicated so simply.

One such of these is from Pope Benedict XVI.
"Even suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus, trying to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk creating, despite our good intentions, fragile persons of little generosity: The capacity to love, in fact, corresponds to the capacity to suffer, and to suffer together." ~Benedict XVI
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Persecution of Christians

There have been a number of news headlines that have caught my attention this Christmas in relation to the persecution of Christians.
Image via Wikipedia
First off there is the massacre of Coptic Christians leaving Midnight Mass in the town of Nag Hamadi, 40 miles from the ancient ruins of Luxor. The Daily Telegraph gives the story:
Thousands of Coptic Christians clashed with police in southern Egypt on Thursday during a funeral procession for seven people shot dead as they left a Christmas service hours earlier.
And in Malaysia churches have been firebombed, as reported by the BBC.

Three churches have been attacked in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, ahead of protests by Muslim groups.
The administrative offices of one church were destroyed by a firebomb attack and one of the other two churches attacked was slightly damaged.
Some Muslim groups are angry at a court decision allowing non-Muslims to use the word Allah to refer to God.
The government of the mainly Muslim nation has condemned the attacks on the churches and vowed to take action.
About 60% of Malaysians are Malay Muslims and the government relies on their vote.
And in the good old UK the trendies and the militant atheists still continue to try and marginalise and disenfranchise anyone showing a sniff of Christian faith as per the title in the Daily Telegraph.
BBC is driving religion 'to the margins', says Simon Mayo
I have this horrible feeling that this will be the decade of persecution of Christians, especially in Muslim controlled lands and also a big ramp up of the marginalisation of Christians in the UK.

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Choral Heaven

I'm a sucker for quality spiritual choral works. Banksyboy has posted a fine piece by Morten Lauridsen over at St Peter's View.

Go see!
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Some New Books For The New Year

As with a lot of people it's the time of year to make new resolutions for the coming year. One of the resolutions I aim to employ is to vastly improve my diet. My wife has started eating a lot more healthy last year so this resolution should be somewhat easier to stick to than many.

There's a couple of books I intend to use for recipes that seem to have good reviews. Both are from the same author, Victor D'Avila-Latourrette.

While we're here why not link up with me on www.goodreads.com

First off is his book called Sacred Feasts from a Monastery Kitchen: Recipes and Reflections. As some reviews say

This book of seasonal cooking provides a backdrop of celebrating sacred feasts of the year from a monastery kitchen to your kitchen, focusing on using seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to create inexpensive, delicious, healthy, and beautiful vegetarian dishes.

Sounds good to me! Kills two birds with one stone. If you read one of my previous posts I'm feeling pretty disconnected from the church life so linking good diet to some form of church calendar seems a good idea.

The next book is called Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. The publisher says;
To Brother Victor-Antoine, soup making is a spiritual exercise in which you consider food, health, and the meaning of creation. Twelve Months of Monastery Soups harks back to a simpler era, when people were in tune with seasonal harvests and the natural flavors of fresh, locally grown ingredients.
Can't go wrong by the look of things. I love soups and cooking up some made with fresh ingedients sounds irresistable.

Father Corapi's Conversion Story

I'm always fascinated by people's personal testimonies of how they became Christians. Here's one from Father John Corapi. I trust you will enjoy it as much as I did.