Saturday, April 07, 2007

A last dying twitch of standards in the Church of England?

A gay man was rejected for a post as a youth worker because of his sexual lifestyle, not his sexual orientation, a Church of England bishop told an employment tribunal yesterday. The Right Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford, said that John Reaney did not get the job because he had admitted having had sex outside marriage. The Bishop denied unlawfully discriminating against Mr Reaney, saying that he had been complying with the teachings of the Church.

He said that he told Mr Reaney that any person in a sexual relationship outside marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would have been rejected for the post. "Such sexuality in itself was not an issue, but Mr Reaney's lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese," he said yesterday. He added that his views on sex outside marriage were backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, and the Lambeth Conference.

Mr Reaney, 41, from Llandudno, North Wales, claims that being openly gay cost him the job. His claim for unlawful discrimination against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance is being backed by the gay rights group Stonewall. Under equality legislation introduced in 2003, it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, although organised religions were given exemptions. The hearing is believed to be the first test case of how it applies to the Church of England.

The tribunal in Cardiff was told that Mr Reaney had been offered the job last July after an interview before a panel of eight. The Bishop, 59, was told that he had indicated on his form that he was homosexual. Mr Reaney was called in for a discussion, during which it emerged that he had recently ended a five-year homosexual relationship. The Bishop said that, although Mr Reaney undertook not to start a new gay relationship, he felt that he was not emotionally in a position to be making such a promise.

He told the tribunal: "The end of a five-year relationship leads to a lot of grieving and it can take much time for someone to recover. It would not have been right for me to take an undertaking of his head that his heart could not keep. It remains my judgment that Mr Reaney had not met the standards required. It was not a risk I was prepared to take." He said that Mr Reaney did not seem overwrought, humiliated or distressed when he was told that his application was being turned down.

The tribunal was told that the job was not offered to anyone else. Bishop Priddis said that, because of the diocese's limited finances, even if Mr Reaney had been appointed he might have been made redundant "sooner rather than later". The Bishop denied that he had breached the diocese's equal opportunities policy. He said: "The Church's teaching draws distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle. We didn't discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn't have called him for an interview. "What is at issue is the lifestyle, practice and sexual behaviour, whether the applicant is homosexual, heterosexual or transsexual." The Bishop added that his diocese had ordained a transsexual woman as a priest. In September 2005 Sarah Jones, who was a man for 29 years, was described by Bishop Priddis as a "superb candidate" for the post.


The results of politically correct policing in Britain

A neighbour in our new street came round to ask for a cheque towards a private security patrol. "Wouldn't that undermine the police?" I asked, sensing a threat to my bank balance. "What police?" he replied. It's true. There are police boards sprouting all over our area ("Did you see? Incident, stabbing, assault"), but no police. London is becoming a city of vigilantes. The well-off are hiring uniformed guards, and the teenagers down the road are arming themselves with knives - because no one else is going to defend them. We have seen the results of that: five teenagers stabbed to death in the past four weeks.

We are giving up on the police because they seem to have given up themselves. The sheer quantity of blogging by disillusioned bobbies is a sign of just how blue parts of the thin blue line are feeling. PC David Copperfield drily documents the daily grind in his book Wasting Police Time. DC Johnno Hills, who quit the Brighton force this weekend after complaining in the Sunday Express about bureaucracy, has started a petition for police reform.

The latest Home Office figures show that a fifth of officer time is spent on paperwork. This week Sir Alastair McWhirter, retiring as Chief Constable of Suffolk, complained that it can take 56 people and 128 different bits of paper to bring one assault case to court. Well, thank you, Sir Alastair. Now you can go gentle into that index-linked retirement. But where were you in April 2005, when the Government introduced stop and account (as opposed to stop and search) forms? These require an officer asking anyone to account for themselves to fill in 40 questions. Yes, 40. The consequences should have been obvious. I'm not surprised that the cops I do pass refuse to make eye contact. They're probably petrified of becoming a party to my personal information.

The police and the public are still on the same side. But it doesn't always feel like it. A recent ICM poll found that trust in the police is sliding. The official insistence that crime is falling does not help, when people feel it is not. Criminologists say that the most reliable measure of the true rate of violence in society is stranger murder - and killings by strangers have increased by a third between 1997 and 2005.

The police have more money than ever before, and more officers - 140,000 at the last count. But they are not having a commensurate impact. This has stoked a dangerous defeatism among criminologists and within the Home Office: the belief that rising crime is a fact of life that the justice system can do little about. The extraordinary decline of crime in big American cities in the 1990s should be a reason for optimism about policing. But many criminologists there have tried to explain it largely as a function of demographic shifts that produced fewer young men. Others credit schemes to overcome the "moral poverty" of fatherless homes and tough neighbourhoods.

Yet a powerful analysis by Franklin Zimring, Professor of Law at Berkeley, finds both theories to be overdone. His new book, The Great American Crime Decline, finds that neither demographics nor poverty alleviation get anywhere near to explaining the three-quarters drop in lethal youth violence, for example, that took place in New York after 1990. Professor Zimring's message is positive: that policing can reduce crime and that crime, as he says, "is not hardwired into the ecology of modern life or the cultural values of high-risk youth". Within a generation, the behaviour of young men has completely changed - because of better policing.

We know this is true. We have seen it in Manchester, where zero-tolerance policing reduced stranger killings from 37 in 1999 to 5 in 2005. Last week's government crime and policing review made some of the right noises, promising to reorganise the force and cut red tape. But the breathless repetition of old ideas gave little hope of any real change from a Government whose latest wheeze has been to make officers agree every single charge they make with the Crown Prosecution Service. This has helped the CPS to meet its targets for successful prosecutions, but created mindboggling delays that leave citizens bereft of protection.

How do we return pride and power to the police? A Conservative police reform task force this week published an excellent analysis of the problems, with a sensible range of solutions. The most fundamental of these is to roll back the dead hand of central control by directly electing police commissioners. In the past, this idea has been met with defeatism: it wouldn't "take" in the UK, or it would politicise the force. But the police are already politicised. It is time to consider direct accountability, not simply because there is a gulf with citizens, but also because a radical change in management is needed.

New York's police commissioner was, notoriously, as tough on his officers as he was on criminals. Every week the most senior officers detailed the crime in their precincts and told him how they were tackling it. Once almost half of them had been fired, there was no confusion about the objective. The NYPD was not about printing customer satisfaction surveys, but about keeping people safe.

That kind of reform will not be welcomed by a unionised, cosy and conservative service. Even the bloggers who are quick to moan about paperwork may be less keen to acquire public accountability. But the Tories must stick to their guns. There are many brave, talented police officers who work tirelessly. But they should be doing so on behalf of the public, not as the claims department of the insurance industry or the administrative arm of the CPS


Australia: Anti-smacking kit hit

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son" -- Proverbs 13:24

A NEW $2.5 million campaign urging parents not to smack their children has upset a family group that supports smacking. It is not illegal for parents to smack their children, but the federal government-funded "Every Child is Important" campaign argues against it. "Hitting a child does not teach acceptable ways to behave," its material says. "Instead it may result in a repeat of the misbehaviour. "Successful discipline can be achieved without the use of physical punishment."

Family Council of Victoria secretary Bill Muehlenberg said it was wrong to use taxpayers' money to push an anti-smacking line most parents would disagree with. Mr Muehlenberg, who smacked his three boys, said that in some cases with small children it was the only option. "It's usually done as a last resort, done in love, done with moderation, self-control," he said. "It's not the same as abuse -- which we already have laws on the books about."

But Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, which compiled the "Every Child is Important" campaign material, is opposed to smacking. He said parents should work out why their child was misbehaving and address the cause. "You don't have to hit your children to teach them right from wrong," Dr Tucci said.

Sunrise presenter and father-of-four David Koch is a high-profile smacking advocate. "Smacking is very different to being abusive," he told the Herald Sun. Koch said that it was wrong to smack when you were emotional, but an out-of-control child might need a tap. "I think a smack can be useful because it actually is a circuit-breaker, if you like, from actually being out of control," he said.

The "Every Child is Important" campaign features brochures, CD-ROMs and website advice for parents. It covers -- in 16 languages -- the early years, play, expressing love, harmful words, misbehaviour, siblings, accepting difference, safety and coping with stress.


I think I would back Biblical wisdom against modern-day do-gooder theory. The do-gooder wisdom about the importance of self-esteem has long since imploded so there is no reason to think that this related thinking will be any different


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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