More on the ban on Norwich church by Norwich council

I wrote yesterday about the banning of a Norwich church by the City Council.  Thankfully the widely-read Cranmer blog has picked up on this disgraceful story.

This is the New Inquisition: the demand for theological orthodoxy has given way to prohibition of ‘feeling insulted’. And you might be next. Indeed, as His Grace has previously observed, this blog may well be closed down because someone (just one) complains to the police that religio-political polemic makes them feel uncomfortable and causes them distress; that they feel ‘insulted’, despite His Grace’s best efforts ‘to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions’. This blog is, after all, a public space and His Grace is publishing alarming material. He probably not infrequently falls foul of equality and diversity demands, or transgresses the bounds of acceptability for those of other faiths or ‘disordered’(© Benedict XVI) sexual proclivities. His Grace never means to insult or cause distress, but the intention or motive is irrelevant: if the beholder feels offended, His Grace may be reported to the police under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and they are obliged to investigate.

And now, if they determine that no crime has been committed, you can rely upon some jobsworth from bureaucratic officialdom to override the law and mete out their own brand of summary justice, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. This blog does not agree with all of Dr Clifford’s message, but, by God, it stands foursquare with him against the misuse and abuse of power by Norwich City Council.

And so does this blog.

A correspondent has pointed me to what is said to be the leaflet.  Since I understand that Norfolk police have advised that, despite everything, it violates none of our new and excitingly vague laws against saying what we think, I give it here.  It reads as follows:


The Inauguration of President Barack Obama is an alarming development. Behind his seductive charm and eloquent rhetoric lurks a dark and dangerous agenda. His speech should alert all who dimly perceive the world-wide Islamic threat. Yes, he challenged terrorists, but he also proposed cooperation with the Islamic world. Does he not realise that in one sentence he betrayed the ‘free world’?


It is undeniable that Islam’s global jihadists – some quietly, others violently – are plotting the overthrow of all we have known for centuries. They are preparing for ‘USAistan’ and ‘UKistan’ in no uncertain terms! Tragically, our secularist Governments – which Islam aims to subjugate and replace in any case – are playing dangerous games by ignorantly distinguishing between militant and moderate Islam. The only difference between moderates and militants is between those who keep their mouths shut and those who don’t! Western Governments and other secularists are deluded by the deceptive mantra ‘Islam means peace’ (reinforced by the early, pre-abbrogated Sura 2: 256 and the frequently misquoted Sura 5: 32). But it means nothing of the kind! The Arabic word for ‘peace’ is ‘salaam’, the Hebrew equivalent being ‘shalom’. No, ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’, submission to Allah. The only sense in which the Pax Islama could mean ‘peace’ is when tribute-paying non-Muslims are silenced by conquest and reduced to a state of dhimminitude or ‘second class’ citizenship. To properly use Sir Iqbal Sacranie’s deceptive expression (used to shield Islam from its critics after 7/7) ‘the Qur’an is perfectly clear’, it states: ‘Make war on them: … Fight those who believe not in Allah … Nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are of the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians), until they pay the jizyah with submission, and are utterly subdued’ (Sura 9: 14, 29).


Yes, you have read it correctly. Muslims are not really Muslims. They are properly called ‘Muhammadans’ – followers of their prophet Muhammad. The god they claim to submit to (the true meaning of ‘Islam’) is in reality the ancient pagan moon god of Arabia. For all their protestations against ‘idolatry’, their crescent moon symbol of Allah may be seen on every mosque. This imagined god is not to be confused with the living God who has uniquely revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Since Muslims reject the true God, only acknowledged by true Christians, Christians alone are truly ‘islamic’ since they alone submit to God! Invoking an absurd piece of Islamic rhetoric, the Lord Jesus Christ was only a ‘muslim’ in the sense that He, as the Son of God, submitted Himself to the will of His heavenly Father. While Jesus may be regarded as a ‘muslim’ in this sense, Muslims are arguably not Muslims because they fail to submit to the living God! Their hostility to God in Christ makes them strictly ‘anti-muslim’!


So, Muslims need rescuing from Islam! At the same time, the West needs rescuing from Islam! To implement this twin rescue mission, two directives must be pursued:

1. Reliable information must be made available to community, educational, church and political leaders about authentic Islam. The loveless concept of Allah; the incoherence of the Qur’an; Islam’s appeal to the baser instincts of human nature; the degradation of women involving female circumcision and forced marriages; honour killings; the killing of apostates, its bloody jihadism and a fallaciously-promised erotic paradise for suicide bombers (murderers not martyrs); all these features must not be hidden. In responding to the growing threat, Western Governments are failing to face reality. The distinction between moderate and militant Islam misses the point that the religion itself is the source of the problem. Indeed, no other religion on earth can claim to match the violence of the Islamic agenda. Seemingly-benign Muslim communities will always be breeding grounds from which their more militant members can recruit jihadists.

2. With sensitive yet courageous compassion, Christians must use all proper means to evangelise Muslims. In the process, there must be no concessions to liberal as well as Muslim denials of the deity and grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and only Saviour of the world. In short, the case for the pure, life-transforming faith of biblical Christianity must be courageously made. On the religious education level, the RE component of National Curricula must ‘put the record straight’. Teachers must stop pretending that Jesus and Muhammad are on a par and that the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an teach similarly-positive values. Without denying that too often Christians have failed to demonstrate the compassionate virtues of its Founder, the true character of Muhammad’s programme and its devastating dictates must not be hidden from our children. Yes, the Christian Gospel forbids and condemns hatred and violence. The same cannot be said of the message of Muhammad. The children of Western schools must learn the difference between the mercy of the Sermon on the Mount and the hatred of the Hadith. The children of Muslim citizens must also be exposed to the purity of Christ and not the poison of Muhammad.


With a continuing and growing assault on our Christian heritage, never was there a greater need to get to grips with the truth of the Bible text: ‘No man ever spoke like this man’ (John 7: 46). This was the response of amazed men who heard Christ. What truths explain their astonishment?


And why? He was no ordinary man. He was perfect and sinless. He is the ‘God-man’ (Matthew 1: 23); ‘God manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3: 16); the Eternal ‘Word made flesh’ (John 1: 14).

Thus, He spoke words of truth, purity, love, kindness and compassion. He spoke with divine unction, grace and authority. No one else, before or since, ever spoke like Him. He is Creator, King, and Lord of the Universe.

On the other hand, Muhammad was an ordinary man. He was imperfect and sinful. He spoke words of error, impurity, hate and cruelty.


His life backed up His words. In lip and life, He was perfectly consistent. He brought blessing, healing, comfort and joy to people. His many miracles confirmed His deity.

His tender touch declared the compassion of God. He liberated women from the abusive treatment of selfish men. He rejected violence as a method of spreading His message. No life has ever been lived to match the life of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, Muhammad’s life contradicted many of his more noble sayings. His life is not a good example for ‘private character’. His claims cannot compare with Christ’s. Spreading his message by the sword, he brought violence and bloodshed to those who refused to submit to his ‘Allah’. He humiliated women. His tenderness was reserved chiefly for his own sexual indulgence and his stomach (according to wife – one of fourteen – A’isha).


While His life and preaching angered the religious establishment of His day, nothing could justify the hatred directed at Him. He was guilty of no sin. Expressing God’s mercy to us hell-deserving sinners, Jesus, Saviour of the world, died for our sins.

He died, ‘the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3: 18). In His agonizing crucifixion, He breathed nothing but love and kindness to His enemies. Such dying! Such love!

On the other hand, Muhammad died, burdened by his own guilt. Sadly and tragically, his death did not terminate his cruel conquests. Others perpetuated his vicious legacy.





His impact on history is not just the effect of a perpetuation of His memory. Jesus rose from

the dead! He lives! The Gospel is the greatest blessing the world has ever known! It has

brought forgiveness, love, joy and peace. Christ has mended broken hearts and lives.

He has given hope to those in despair. Through Him, the light of heaven has dispelled the

darkness of death.


He has liberated individuals and nations. The Gospel has delivered people from

ignorance, slavery, poverty and degradation. All that is truly good, noble, pure and

beautiful comes from Him (even if apostate believers – crusading Roman Catholics and

deity-denying Protestant Liberals – have corrupted His truth). Christ’s resurrection

influence continues still where He is accepted, trusted and served.


On the other hand, Muhammad died, to rise no more, except to be judged by Christ when He

returns. His tomb is not empty. His legacy is ignorance, cruelty, fear and oppression. The

continued influence of his teachings is a threat to all that Christ represents.


In conclusion, the case for Christ and against Muhammad is compelling in every respect.

Assessed by every test that may be devised, there is simply no competition. So let us all

respond as did the men in our text! May we all acknowledge, believe, trust, love and

surrender to the incomparable Christ. May we all rejoice in Him, and seek to make Him

known throughout the world.


I am well aware that many in the secular West desire Christ no more than they desire

Muhammad. Therefore, I must warn them. Even if they never suffer from some jihadic

atrocity, they will stand before the judgement seat of Christ, when He returns to judge the

world in righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5: 10).


While opportunity remains, come to Christ! If you are a Muslim, renounce Muhammad,

and come to Christ! Then, everything I have tried to express will become wonderfully and

experientially true. I invite you all to trust and serve Him with me. Amen!


Dr Alan C. Clifford

Norwich Reformed Church


Norwich Reform Church banned from meeting and from their own market stall by Norwich Council for “hate”

BBC East report from yesterday (16/4/12):

Norwich Reformed Church banned for Islam ‘hate’ leaflet

A church has been banned from holding a weekly bookstall in Norwich following a complaint it was producing “hate-motivated” literature against Islam.

The Norwich Reformed Church held the stall on the city’s Hay Hill, which is owned by Norwich City Council.

The council has stopped the church using the site for equality reasons.

Pastor Alan Clifford said the church would appeal in the hope “the council will see sense and see how they are violating our freedom of speech”.

Mr Clifford wrote the leaflet, Why Not Islam, about 10 years ago. The church has been distributing the literature from Hay Hill since 2008.

‘High and mighty’

He said: “Our first response was one of surprise.

“We felt this a violation of freedom of speech and I was accused of hate motivation in producing this leaflet.

“It’s an intolerance from the city council acting in a high and mighty manner as we’ve had it confirmed by Norfolk Police – who’ve inspected the document – there is no crime involved.”

Masoud Gadir, Muslim chaplain at University of East Anglia and president of Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association, said: “When you look at the leaflet it brings in hatred and scaremongers as to what Islam is.

“God has given us the mind and brain to think – not to follow any religion blindly.”

The Norwich Reformed Church, associated with the Farthing Trust, received notice from the council on 5 April that it would no longer be able to do outreach work on Hay Hill.

The authority has also advised the council-owned Eaton Park Community Centre not to take any further bookings from the church, which has used the centre as a place of worship since 1994.

A council spokesman said: “We received a complaint from a member of the public about material published by the Norwich Reformed Church which uses council facilities.

“This was considered to be hate motivated.”

The spokesman added that the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, but the council had a “duty to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions”.

The Farthing Trust is appealing against what it describes as the city council’s “dramatic action”.

The Norwich Evening News also have the story.

More details are accessible, courtesy of Max Farquar.  The leaflet was HERE in PDF form, but has sadly vanished.  The story is also mentioned here at the Happy Propagandist blog, who comments:

Unfortunately, [the law in question] is extremely vague and the criteria for breaking the law are entirely subjective. We all know some people who are taken aback by even the most minor of grievances.  This law also allows individuals or groups with ulterior agendas to target freedom of speech, at will. Consequently, the law needs to get a grip on the difference between ‘inciting religious hatred’ and simply voicing innocuous opinions, which we are all entitled to do (just about).  It also needs to define what ‘grossly offensive’ means.  I was of the opinion that one of the great things about a liberal society is that one does not have the right to ‘not be offended’.

It seems that the church have contacted the Christian Institute, and are taking legal advice.

Now I know that bookstall personally, because I pass it every time I visit Norwich.  It’s a tiny little table, with a little hut built around it, about 6 foot long in its largest dimension.  It’s unobtrusive, and innocuous in every way, as is the literature on it.  Yet, apparently, the council — paid for by the taxes of church members — can ban the stall, expel the church from a building paid for by taxpayers, even though no crime has been committed.

It is useless to complain that the council officials — nameless, of course — have acted in this manner.  Rather, a legal climate has been created in which those officials are afraid NOT to censor in this way.  I only learned of this case by accident.  Yet up and down the country, liberty is being interfered with, routinely, deliberately, without malice.  This is what comes of evil laws and bad government.

I would suggest that younger church members organise a sit-in at the next council meeting, notifying the local TV just before they do, and appear on TV being dragged out by the police or security.  Protest visibly, chaps.  It’s the only way.


“Christians vilified” in Britain — yes or no?

The headline story in the Daily Telegraph today is about a submission by George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, to a court case before the European Court of Human Rights. 

Britain’s Christians are being vilified, warns Lord Carey

Christians are being “persecuted” by courts and “driven underground” in the same way that homosexuals once were, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Lord Carey says worshippers are being “vilified” by the state, treated as “bigots” and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.

The attack is part of a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom.

In a written submission seen by The Daily Telegraph, the former leader of more than 70 million Anglicans warns that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been “banned” in Britain under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct”.

His comments represent one of the strongest attacks on the impartiality of Britain’s judiciary from a religious leader.

He says Christians will face a “religious bar” to employment if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing their beliefs are not reversed.

Lord Carey argues that in “case after case” British courts have failed to protect Christian values. He urges European judges to correct the balance.

The hearing, due to start in Strasbourg on Sept 4, will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith. It will also take in the cases of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor sacked for saying that he may not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples, and a Christian registrar, who wishes not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

Lord Carey, who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002, warns of a “drive to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square”. Courts in Britain have “consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians”.

They show a “crude” misunderstanding of the faith by treating some believers as “bigots”. He writes: “In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by State bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong.

“It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

He outlines a string of cases in which he argues that British judges have used a strict reading of equality law to strip the legally established right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect”.

“It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists,” he says. “Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom require guidance.”

He says the human rights campaign has gone too far and become a political agenda.

The article is not a particularly sympathetic one, and gives us little idea of the context from which Dr Carey’s words have been excerpted.  I think it is reasonable to ask who sent the submission to the Telegraph, and with what motives.

The article in the Belfast Telegraph is headed, ‘Vilified’ Christians ‘fear arrest’, but is based on the Telegraph article.

What are we to make of this? 

The background is that there has been a concerted effort in Britain in recent years to create case law which has the effect that a Christian must conform to newly created laws which seem designed to attack Christian beliefs. 

In particular an individual named Ben Summerskill — son of a prominent Labour politican — and his gay campaigning group Stonewall seem to be behind much of the mischief.  It is said that he presented a list of demands for laws, in favour of gays and criminalising opposition to them, to Tony Blair, a decade ago, who agreed to enact them all.  It is certainly the case that he sent agents provocateurs to the home of an elderly Christian couple who offered “bed and breakfast” to visitors to demand that these two gays should be given a double room to practice their vice in, with the expectation of being refused and reporting the couple to the police under the laws which he himself had drawn up.  The object of this hateful exercise was to drag his victims through the courts, and in the process create case law which would prevent Christians running hotels unless he permitted it.  A list of his misdeeds would doubtless make interesting reading, but there seems no special need to dwell on them here.

Times of bigotry and intolerance inevitably produce men like Summerskill, men adept at manipulating people in power in order to achieve their own evil ends, and subsequent ages look with revulsion on such people, and wonder why men allowed them to flourish. 

But God allows such things, in order that the difference between good and evil shall become clear.  It is easy enough to see the difference between those who claim the name of Christian, but whose “god” is merely a servant to Summerskill and his ilk; and those who follow God himself, at whatever cost.   The suffering of the confessors — we have yet to have martyrs — is the seed of the church.

But … “vilified”?  Is that right?  Are Christians, is Christianity vilified in Britain?

Years ago, I went to see progressive rock group Yes at the old Wembley Arena.  This was their “90125” tour, which featured a song about vice in the city called “City of Love”.  As singer Jon Anderson introduced the song, he referred to a “city of love … a city of sin …”.  When he said the word “sin”, the whole arena, probably 100,000 people, shivered, including me.  Everyone was nervous that a sermon was about to follow.  Yet Anderson is not a Christian, and the line was just a throwaway.  That involuntary reaction shows us that there has been some powerful negative conditioning in our land towards religious themes.

Surely we all know that it is embarassing to evangelise, to share the gospel?  That it is embarassing to be known as a Christian at work?  That to do so is to invite an unfriendly scrutiny, and a jeer when, in vexation, we allow some expletive to pass our lips?  We’re accustomed to this, we’ve never known anything different.

But … why is it embarassing?  Is it not that we are all — Christian and non-Christian — in possession of attitudes that make it nearly impossible for us to feel otherwise? 

And what shapes our attitudes?  What was it that created the attitudes that made 100,000 people shiver at Wembley, that evening?  It was, of course, the “climate of the times”, as we might call it.  The “media agenda of this country” might be another term. 

If we look at how Christianity and Christians are portrayed in our mass media, in every way that anyone ever learns about anything, do we not see hostility?  Do we not see contempt?  Do we ever find that the Christian character in a drama is ever portrayed as anything but a weirdo, a creep, a bigot, a hypocrite and, in our police dramas, not infrequently as a murderer?

We’re used to it.  Like a fish, we hardly see it.  It’s normal.

But … it is NOT normal.  We see how individuals like Summerskill manipulate the political climate to normalise a hideous vice.  Why do we doubt that other individuals, no less cynical, manipulate the same environment to make a world in which fornication is normal, abortion routine, and any interference with the same is shouted down or grounds for sacking?  The selfish generation had only one creed: “if it feels good, do it”.  We know that this was all about sex; and we have discovered that the same creed has rotted the quality of care in our hospitals, and the integrity of our major companies.  Why do we suppose that this same rotten attitude does not determine what is “normal” in our society, when it controls all the levers for shaping public opinion?

Dr Carey is right.  In modern Britain Christians are indeed vilified.  

This is not, necessarily, a new thing.  It has always been rather risky to be a Christian.  I read this morning, in the Collected Essays and Addresses of the excellent Augustine Birrell, how the commands of religion no longer commanded the assent of most people.  That essay was dated 1904.[1] 

But the efforts of Summerskill, and those like him or sympathetic to him, are creating a new thing.  They are creating a climate of systematic, structural, legal discrimination against Christians.  “Your faith or your job” is the cry.  Christians may not run adoption agencies, thanks to Summerskill; he is determined that they may not run hotels, may not decide who does or does not stay in their own homes if they offer B&B; may not wear crosses in workplaces where turbans may be worn; and so on, seemingly endlessly.  It matters nothing whether Jews — or Christians, or any other respectable group — are prevented from working by a law that says it explicitly, or by a law which has the same effect by deliberately requiring them to violate their beliefs.

The case before the Euro-court is well-judged.  It is a political body; but it is unlikely to rule against the interests of French and Italian Catholics.

In the meantime let us pray for England, where such evil is intended and being put into effect.  We have not had to deal with a season of deliberate, malevolent harassment for nearly two centuries. 

We might also pray for Ben Summerskill.  For, as Tertullian remarks in Ad Scapulam, those who seek to do evil to God’s people tend to live short and unhappy lives; and it is our duty, not to threaten, but to pray.

  1. [1]UPDATE: But my memory deceived me when I wrote this.  I was thinking of an essay in volume 2 of that work, entitled Marie Bashkirtseff, wherein he writes on p.263, “The eclipse of faith has not proved fatal by any means to the instinct of confession.”  By the mysterious alchemy of memory this became the statement above.

Evil in England – persecution of Christians grows

Three stories in one day today.  The first is a general de-Christianisation thing; the other two involve state-backed attacks on Christians just going about their lives.  Three in a day is sobering, isn’t it?

The first story is at eChurch blog, in the BBC and commented on by Cranmer.  This is headline news here, so needs little special treatment from me.  Apparently a judge in the High Court has ruled, after a claim by an atheist activist, that having formal prayers before the start of council meetings — something that councils have done for a century — is illegal under some law of 1972. 

A Devon town council acted unlawfully by allowing prayers to be said before meetings, the High Court has ruled.

Action was brought against Bideford Town Council by the National Secular Society (NSS) after atheist councillor Clive Bone complained.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Christians will not necessarily be that exercised about these formal things, except that it indicates a general state determination to remove anything associated with Christianity — the official religion, remember — from official functions.

The ruling itself is absurd, of course, and the judge must have known it.  You can’t discover that a law says something as controversial as this after a period of 40 years, so evidently the judge was trying to invent the law for political purposes of his own.  However I don’t remember voting for Mr Justice Ouseley to invent law, and neither did anyone else.  The government should oblige him to resign; but I suspect it won’t.  Such behaviour by a judge is quite improper.  Issues of this kind should be decided by parliament.  But the verdict, to me, suggests that English justice is not to be relied on, and has been corrupted. 

The other items are much more sinister.  The case of two elderly Christians, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who were targeted by the gay lobby continues.  Regular readers will remember the story.  The victims rented out rooms in their home to visitors on a bed-and-breakfast basis, aimed at Christians.  A pair of sodomites were sent by a gay pressure group as agents provocateurs to demand accomodation in a double room — which was naturally refused.  They had no business there, of course, so they were there to provoke that refusal.  They then denounced the owners to the police under the “equalities” legislation drawn up by that same pressure group and passed by a dirty deal with the government.  The court promptly found the victims ‘guilty’ of various absurd ‘crimes’ and fined them thousands of pounds.  The couple appealed, with the help of a Christian charity who funded the appeal (since the couple were penniless).  Today we learn via the BBC that the appeals court rejected their appeal.

Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled last year that the Bulls had breached equality legislation.

The appeal judges heard that the Bulls thought any sex outside marriage was a “sin”, but denied they had discriminated against Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.

Mr Bull, 72, and Mrs Bull, who is in her late 60s, were not in court for the ruling.

The judges heard that the Bulls’ appeal was funded by the Christian Institute and Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The sinister EHRC is a taxpayer-funded organisation.  The Christian Institute is a meagerly funded charity.  Nice to know that the state is harassing the elderly for who they let in their homes, isn’t it?  The EHRC stooge added, menacingly:

He added that the commission had no intention of enforcing its entitlement to legal costs.

Translation: “Now roll over or else.”  Nice again.  Again we have to ask whether the justice system has become corrupt; for what honest court would allow this evil? 

But the final word rests with the wealthy and well-connected gay activist who, I am told, drew up the law being used here, in a backstairs deal with the last government, and then masterminded this attack on two poor frail old people:

“I hope Mr and Mrs Bull will now feel content to go home to do God’s good work as Easter approaches, instead of relentlessly pursuing a happy couple through the courts.”

The only people being pursued through the courts, relentlessly, on and on, with state funding, are two old pensioners who were targeted out of malice, and Summerskill knows that very well. 

In the third story, the Daily Mail has been ordered to put the establishment line on this one in their headline, it seems:

Bible-clutching street preacher in court for ‘telling gay couple they would “burn in hell” in High Street’

Love the adjective “bible-clutching”.  The Daily Mail would usually be expected to object to this sort of thing, so evidently the establishment has instructed newspaper proprietors to toe the line.

A Christian street preacher told two gay men they were ‘sinners’ who would ‘burn in hell’ as they walked past him on a busy high street, a court heard today.

In a case which could reignite the debate over the boundaries of free speech, Michael Overd, 47, is accused of using threatening language towards civil partners Craig Manning and Craig Nichol when he saw them as he preached on a busy high street last July.

The court heard claims the lay preacher was provoked by a previous altercation with the couple in October 2010, when he singled them out when he saw them holding hands.

The words agents provocateurs again springs rather strongly to mind.  Walk past a street preacher ostentatiously holding hands, and then denounce him to the police if he shows any sign of objecting — yes, I think we all know what that’s about.  And since “the process is the punishment”, and the object is to chill free speech, it hardly matters whether the victim is convicted or not.  Others will be afraid to risk the same, and thus will not dare to say that homosexuality is a sin; and that, I think, is the object here.  What kind of country can’t tolerate sandwichboardmen saying “prepare to meet thy God”?

The defence counsel added an interesting snippet about the complainants:

He said: ‘You made up your mind to silence him, didn’t you?

‘You went up to him and abused him, saying ‘Who the f*** do you think you are? I’m going to kick your f****** head in. You’re dead, you’re dead’.’

They deny it, of course. 

Again, I think English justice is on trial here.  Is the judge honest?  Or will he behave as the establishment demand, and convict a man for stating an unpalatable truth in the hearing of overt evildoers desperate to “take offence”?

All this is very bad, and there is undoubtedly worse to come.

It is the hallmark of a repressive society that it cannot leave the Christians alone.  Such societies insist on harassing this unthreatening group, under one pretext or another. 

It is the mark of such societies that they pass laws which they know Christians must break, because Christ says so, and then the society treats them as law-breakers, and punishes them viciously for offences that wouldn’t even come to court, if the victims held some other views. 

This is how persecution is done, over some trivial pretext.  This is how hate manifests.

But let us not revile the wicked men who do these things.  They are merely dupes of Satan, allowed to make themselves miserable for the purposes of one who will treat them as meat.  Let us love them, and pray for them, and discuss them without reviling, as the scripture says.  Let us also pray for the confessors and the martyrs, for Peter and Hazelmary Bull, and those who support them; and for Michael Overd and his people.  Pray that God will strengthen them to endure this trial. 

UPDATE: Michael Overd has been found not guilty by the magistrates.  This is excellent news.

UPDATE2: Eric Pickles, the powerful no-nonsense Yorkshire MP who is Communities Secretary (and has been doing an excellent job of recalling corrupt local councils to the purposes for which they exist), has criticised the ruling that official prayers cannot be held.  Another MP has commented that, if the ruling stands, even the House of Commons could be interfered with.  Good news again.


Michael Bordeaux, Faith on Trial in Russia

Back in the summer I noticed that there was very little material online about the Soviet persecution of the Christians.  This saddened me, since it was something that should not be forgotten.

Keston College, which sought to publicize the situation in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, has disbanded but the Keston Institute still exists.  I was able to correspond with Michael Bordeaux, who founded Keston, and obtain permission to put a couple of his books online.  I created a PDF of one, and enquired if it might be hosted here or there — my site isn’t the best place for such — but in vain.  Then pressures of work forced me to lay the matter aside.

Today I have been running “Faith on Trial in Russia”[1] through my scanner.  The pages are yellowed, and the paperback spine is stiff, although thankfully the glue warmed and became flexible as I worked.  It is, neverthless, a risky business scanning a paperback of that period.

The book deals with the sufferings of the Russian baptists, and is an interesting and involving read.  Unlike some such books, it is not a depressing read.

What I think that I will do, is to create a page on my site, and also to OCR the book so that the search engines can find it easily.  It’s pure gold, from a historical point of view.

UPDATE: I’ve now scanned the book, and also his 1983 publication, Risen Indeed.  They’re both here.

  1. [1]Michael Bordeaux, Faith on Trial in Russia, Hodder and Stoughton, 1971.

Atheists in Santa Monica hijack nativity displays

Atheists often complain that they are not a popular group, that they are misrepresented and so forth.  In Santa Monica they’ve managed to give a whole city a reason to hate their guts.  (h/t Mark Steyn).  This from the Daily Telegraph:

For more than six decades, religious groups have recreated life-size scenes   depicting the birth of Jesus, alongside statues of the Virgin Mary and the   three wise men, on the city’s cliff top promenade.

But this year the traditional tableau in Palisades Park was replaced with a   battleground on religion.

Instead of Jesus being rocked softy in a manger, passers-by were greeted with   images of Satan, Father Christmas  and Jesus with the strap line: “37 million Americans know a myth when   they see one… What myths do you see?”

Fifteen of the boxes were simply left empty with a security fence surrounding   them.

Councillors were forced to pool requests for the spaces in a lottery this year  after atheist groups objected to the traditional use of the displays.

By a quirk of fate, the atheists won 18 of the 21 available display areas. A   Jewish group won the other spots. …

Bobbie Kirkhart, of Atheists United, said their use of the boxes was  simply levelling the playing field.

“For many years, atheists were excluded from city-subsidised displays,” he said. “Now, finally, atheists have an equal chance. Christians who   believe their god is concerned about such things might take note of the extraordinary luck the atheist lottery winners have enjoyed.”

Yes, I’m sure we all know precisely how much luck is involved in “winning” 18 out of 21 display slots.  Kirkhart apparently was allocated 9 “slots” by the city.

The LA Times has more details.  It seems that the “slots” were really an organised display of the nativity scene, in 14 sections, from the annunciation, the manger, the flight into Egypt, and so forth.  The whole thing was put together by a united effort by local churches.

The same article features a selection of comments by various atheists:

Patrick Elliott, a lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said tradition is no excuse for violating the boundaries between church and state. “Just because they’re long-standing doesn’t mean they’re right,” he said.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said December is a busy time for the organization’s attorneys, who challenge the use of public spaces for religious messages.

“It’s littering — literally, littering — these spaces,” Gaylor said of such displays, which she said are a “territorial attempt by Christians to impose their beliefs in this season.”

“That creates an atmosphere of intimidation,” said Gaylor, who noted that the organization’s banner was destroyed by vandals after being hung in Palisades Park. “Christians are the insiders, and everyone else is an outsider.”

In Santa Monica, atheist Damon Vix called national organizations seeking help because he felt marginalized by the display, and tradition alone didn’t merit saving it. Vix, a 43-year-old prop maker from Burbank, said the display “defines Santa Monica as a Christian city, and I feel very excluded by that.”

Vix, apparently, is the other one whom the city officials considered was the best possible person to award nine slots to.

The Independent also covers the story, although I have yet to see the BBC mention it.  Nor have I yet seen an apology from the city of Santa Monica.

Mark Steyn comments dryly:

Perhaps Santa Monica should adopt a less-theocratic moniker and change its name to Satan Monica, as its interpretation of the separation of church and state seems to have evolved into expressions of public contempt for large numbers of the citizenry augmented by the traumatizing of their children. Boy, I can’t wait to see what those courageous atheists come up with for Ramadan.

I have a feeling that it will be a long, cold, hard winter before the city of Santa Monica listens to atheist groups ever again.


US universities harassing Christian groups

Some years ago a nasty episode of Christian-bashing took place at Exeter university, with the connivance and support of the university authorities.  I read this evening (via Dyspepsia Generation) of similar harassment in US universities.  The university headlining the article is Vanderbilt.

Is Vanderbilt University flirting with the suppression of religion? Yes, according to Carol Swain, a professor at Vanderbilt’s Law School.

Specifically, Swain is referring to four Christian student groups being placed on “provisional status” after a university review found them to be in non-compliance with the school’s nondiscrimination policy.

Vanderbilt says the student organizations cannot require that leaders share the group’s beliefs, goals and values. …

Among the groups threatened with shut down is the Christian Legal Society. It ran afoul with this language from its constitution. “Each officer is expected to lead Bible studies, prayer and worship at chapter meetings.”

What fiends these Christians are.  The article continues:

CLS’s Gunter says his group’s membership is open to anyone, but leaders have a different requirement. “CLS is a Christian organization”, he told me. “That means to preserve our integrity, we need Christian leaders.”

Carol Swain is CLS’s faculty advisor. She insists the university has gone way beyond political correctness with its actions and demands. “It seems reasonable”, she told me, “to require that leaders share the beliefs of the organizations that they seek to lead.” She sees this as part of a larger problem at liberal-leaning universities across the nation. She says, “I see it as part of a larger attack on religious freedom that’s taking place across the country – particularly when it comes to conservative groups.”

This is familiar territory for the Christian Legal Society. Last year the Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit it filed against Hastings Law School in California. CLS had argued that Hastings’ “all-comers” policy regarding student groups infringed on its right to religious freedom.  …

The Vanderbilt group – and the national CLS organization are worried about “infiltration”, arguing that a person hostile to the group could rise to a leadership position, then attempt to tear it apart through conflict. CLS did have a problem at Washburn University Law School when a student whose religious beliefs were contrary to the group was allowed to lead a Bible study. When CLS stopped him he complained. Washburn put CLS on “provisional status”, but reinstated the group when CLS sued.

I remember, when I was a student, that leftist student activists campaigned for “general meeting sovereignity”.  They wanted the student union meetings to have the power to do everything.  What this meant, however, was something different.

Most students never go to student union meetings, having beer to drink and other things to do.  The few that do quickly get bored and leave.  So what this innocent-sounding demand really meant was the abolition of student democracy and the transference of all power to the activists.  Quel surprise, perhaps.

A similar demand was made at Exeter.  (Rather to my surprise, I can find no blog post here about that event.  An article at Catholic Action is here).  The 50-year old Christian Union allowed any student to attend, but would not allow unbelievers to be officers.  One unbelieving student demanded this, and then organised a campaign to get the CU banned.  Various evil events then occurred.

The point of the demand is simple.  All these groups allow any student to come along, and often to be members.  But once a non-believer can be the leader, all an ill-disposed person has to do, is arrange for a couple of hundred non-Christians to turn up, “as a joke”, and vote him in.  At which point he can do with the CU — and its funds — as he pleases.  Effectively the CU is disbanded. 

But the CU refuses to allow this unreasonable demand, the university can be brought in to disband the CU on grounds of “diversity”.  Whatever they do, the Christians cannot win.  In both cases, it is impossible for the Christians to operate as a recognised student society.

In the Exeter case, the UCCF — the CU parent body — outmaneouvered the haters at Exeter by doing a deal with the National Union of Students, while friends in the media brought the story to national prominence.  There have been some nasty cases of attacks on Catholic student bodies also.

But it is telling that the same tactic is being used in the US.

We need to face up to the reality, that all of this harassment indicates a shift in attitudes towards Christianity.  It indicates that the amused contempt of the last few decades is giving way to real hatred.  The establishment has adopted a path of institutional vice, as it did in the Restoration period.  Those determined to follow vice do not care to be reminded that what they are doing is wrong, and are not scrupulous about how they deal with anything they dislike.  The government of Charles II created almost all the legislation for religious discrimination that stained this country for the next two centuries, and forced half the country into “non-conformity”, i.e. exclusion from state service or participation in the nation.  I remember seeing a gloating article in The Guardian, welcoming the possibility of recreating non-conformity.  I think we may expect to see more such harassment of Christians in the next few years, both here and in the US.

These are sad times.  Let us remember, however, that “they hated Me, and they will hate you.”


An example of why abolishing AD and BC causes problems

A report in the Daily Mail at the weekend highlighted a fresh stage in the step-by-step campaign by the establishment to replace AD and BC with the Jewish-originated CE and BCE. 

The BBC’s religious and ethics department says the changes are necessary to avoid offending non-Christians.

It states: ‘As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.

In line with modern practice, BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) are used as a religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD.’

The report has been attacked for being “untrue”, although the authenticity of the statement does not appear to be in dispute.  Nor is the creeping introduction of this novelty denied either — indeed it has been apparent to most of us for years.  The attacks, therefore, are merely an attempt to quiet media criticism.

But today I came across an example of how this nonsense is causing confusion.

In  Laina Farhat-Holzman, Strange Birds from Zoroaster’s Nest: An Overview of Revealed Religions, (2003), p.201, there is a summary of Mary Boyce’s discussion of Zoroastrian sources.  In this I read:

None of this [the Zoroastrian scripture] was committed to writing until the Avestan alphabet was designed for this purpose in the 5th century B.C.

Fortunately I had just been reading a useful book on modern research on Zoroastrianism, and this felt wrong.  And I found Mary Boyce, Textual Sources for the study of Zoroastrianism, University of Chicago Press (1990) p.1, which stated:

All their religious works were handed down orally: it was not until probably the fifth century A.C. that they were at last committed to writing, in the ‘Avestan’ alphabet, especially invented for the purpose.

Had Dr Boyce stuck to AD and BC, this error could hardly have arisen.  Thank you, University of Chicago Press, for causing an unnecessary confusion.


Christianity — the only belief you can censor?

My attention was drawn by eChurch blog to a rather worrying report, on the threat of anti-Christian censorship on new media platforms.  The report on Internet censorship is by the  National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and the American Center for Law and Justice and is entitled: An Examination of the Threat of Anti-Christian Censorship and Other Viewpoint Discrimination on New Media Platforms.  The report is a sober, and rather worrying document.

The report is US-based, but a major example happened in the UK.  I excerpt some key findings:

Apple has twice removed applications that contained Christian content from its iTunes App Store. In both instances, Apple admitted that these apps were denied access because it considered the orthodox Christian viewpoints expressed in those applications to be “offensive.” One app had expressed the traditional, heterosexual view of marriage as set forth in the Bible; the other had stated the view that homosexuality is inappropriate conduct that can be changed through a Christ-centered spiritual transformation. Of the 425,000 apps available on Apple’s iPhone, the only ones censored by Apple for expressing otherwise lawful viewpoints have been apps with Christian content.

The search engine giant Google has committed past practices of anti-religious censorship. For content reasons, it refused to accept a pro-life advertisement from a Christian organization, an issue that prompted litigation in England. Google is also alleged to have blocked a website in America that had conservative Christian content. It had blacklisted certain religious terminology on its China-based Internet service, and in the United States it bowed to questionable copyright infringement threats from one religious sect, which had complained when a blog site criticizing it had quoted from the sect’s materials. Google blocked that blog site on alleged copyright violation grounds, disregarding the obvious “fair use” provisions of copyright law. Such a practice could block the ability of Christian “apologetics” ministries to quote from primary source materials when using Google platforms to educate the public on the teachings of certain religious groups. Also, in March of 2011, Google established new guidelines for its “Google for Non-Profits,” a special web tool program, but specifically excluded churches and other faith groups, including organizations that take into consideration religion or sexual orientation in hiring practices.

Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt content on its social networking site deemed to be “anti-homosexual,” and it is participating in gay-awareness programs, all of which suggest that Christian content critical of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or similar practices will be at risk of censorship.

The underlying attitude of those in power in our days is mildly but profoundly hostile to Christianity.  It has been made socially acceptable to say almost anything about Christians, however negative or unfair; and socially unacceptable and risky to object to it.   The general urge towards censorship in our days will impact Christians badly, therefore.