Friday, July 18, 2008

Christian doctrine offensive to Muslims, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Key elements of Christian doctrine are offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a letter to Islamic scholars. Dr Rowan Williams also spoke critically of the violent past of both religions and Christianity's abandonment of its peaceful origins. His comments came in a published letter to Islamic leaders, intended to promote closer dialogue and understanding between the two faiths.

However they come just months after Dr Williams was forced to clarify comments in which he said some parts of Islamic law will "unavoidably" be adopted in Britain. The comments are also made as the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference begins in Canterbury. Up to a quarter of bishops are boycotting the event, as the Anglican Church faces continuing division over the issues of women bishops and homosexual clergy.

The wide-ranging letter, which covers difficult issues including religious freedom and religiously-inspired violence is in response to a document written last year by Muslim scholars from 43 countries. Discussing differences between the religions, Dr Williams acknowledges that Christian belief in the Trinity is "difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims". The Trinity is the Christian doctrine stating God exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and conflicts with Islamic teaching that there is one all-powerful God.

Speaking about the history of the two religions, Dr Williams said they had been too often confused with Empire and control. He said: "Despite Jesus' words in John's gospel, Christianity has been promoted at the point of the sword and legally supported by extreme sanctions; despite the Qur'anic axiom, Islam has been supported in the same way, with extreme penalties for abandoning it, and civil disabilities for those outside the faith. "There is no religious tradition whose history is exempt from such temptation and such failure." He goes on: "What we need as a vision for our dialogue is to break the current cycles of violence, to show the world that faith and faith alone can truly ground a commitment to peace which definitively abandons the tempting but lethal cycle of retaliation in which we simply imitate each other's violence."

The 17-page letter, called A Common Word for the Common Good, is in response to a letter from Muslim leaders written last September. That letter, A Common Word Between Us and You, was signed by 138 Muslim scholars to declare the common ground between the two religions.

Dr Williams described the Muslim document as hospitable and friendly and added: "Your letter could hardly be more timely, given the growing awareness that peace throughout the world is deeply entwined with the ability of all people of faith everywhere to live in peace, justice, mutual respect and love." His own dense and meticulous letter did not mention sharia Islamic law at all. He received widespread criticism from politicians and other clergy for his comments in February and later told the General Synod he took responsibility for his "unclarity" and "misleading" choice of words.


Self defence now legally permitted in Britain

Home owners and "have-a go-heroes" have for the first time been given the legal right to defend themselves against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution. They will be able to use force against criminals who break into their homes or attack them in the street without worrying that "heat of the moment" misjudgements could see them brought before the courts.

Under new laws police and prosecutors will have to assess a person's actions based on the person's situation "as they saw it at the time" even if in hindsight it could be seen as unreasonable. For example, homeowners would be able stab or shoot a burglar if confronted or tackle them and use force to detain them until police arrive. Muggers could be legally punched and beaten in the street or have their own weapons used against them. However, attacking a fleeing criminal with a weapon is not permitted nor is lying in wait to ambush them.

The new laws follow a growing public campaign for people to be given the right to defend themselves and their own homes in the wake of a number of high profile cases. In 2000, Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer, was sent to prison for manslaughter for shooting an intruder in his home. Earlier this year, Tony Singh, a shopkeeper, found himself facing a murder charge after he defended himself against an armed robber who tried to steal his takings. During the struggle the robber received a single fatal stab wound to the heart with his own knife. The Crown Prosecution Service eventually decided Mr Singh should not be charged.

Until now people have had to prove in court that they acted in self defence but the changes mean police and the Crown Prosecution Service will decide on cases before this stage. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said that people would be protected legally if they defend themselves "instinctively"; they fear for their own safety or that of others; and the level of force used is not excessive or disproportionate. He added the changes in law were designed to ensure the criminal justice system was weighted in favour of the victim.

Mr Straw - and other Labour ministers - have previously repeatedly blocked attempts by opposition MPs to give greater protection to householders. In 2004 Tony Blair promised to review the existing legislation after he admitted there was "genuine public concern" about the issue. But his pledge was dropped weeks later after the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke concluded that the current law was "sound". Two Private Member's Bills on the issue were tabled by the Tories around the time of the 2005 general election, but both were sunk by the Government. In 2004, a Tory Bill designed to give the public the right to forcibly tackle burglars was also rejected.

The new self defence law, which came into force yesterday, is contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and was announced by Mr Straw last September. He is understood to have decided new laws were necessary after he was involved in four "have-a go'' incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home. Opposition leaders said it offered nothing new and was merely the latest policy designed to appeal to core Tory voters.

In practice, householders are seldom prosecuted if they harm or even kill an intruder but the Act will give them greater legal protection. Nick Herbert, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said: "This is a typical Labour con - it will give no greater protection to householders confronted by burglars because it's nothing more than a re-statement of the existing case law."

Mr Straw said: "The justice system must not only work on the side of people who do the right thing as good citizens, but also be seen to work on their side. "The Government strongly supports the right of law abiding people to defend themselves, their families and their property with reasonable force. This law will help to make sure that that right is upheld and that the criminal justice system is firmly weighted in favour of the victim.

"Dealing with crime is not just the responsibility of the police, courts and prisons; it's the responsibility of all of us. Communities with the lowest crime and the greatest safety are the ones with the most active citizens with a greater sense of shared values, inspired by a sense of belonging and duty to others, who are empowered by the state and are also supported by it - in other words, making a reality of justice. "These changes in the law will make clear - victims of crime, and those who intervene to prevent crime, should be treated with respect by the justice system. We do not want to encourage vigilantism, but there can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal."

It came as it emerged that homeowners could have to wait up to three days after reporting a crime to see a police officer, according to a leaked draft of the Policing Green Paper. It sets out new national standards for local policing for all 43 forces cross England and Wales. Callers to the police will be given set times within which officers will attend an incident. The paper says that this will be "within three hours it if requires policing intervention or three days if there is less immediate need for a police presence." However, the Home Office would not comment on the plans.


Depressing Poll (And Pollsters) On Racial Divide

Post below recycled from Discriminations . See the original for links

The most recent CBS/New York Times poll on the racial divide in the U.S. (actually, more like a chasm) is depressing, as is the NYT's article about the poll. You'll need to read the article/poll for yourself. They stop just short of portraying a stark racial divide on absolutely everything. Thus, almost surprisingly, no evidence is presented showing a racial disagreement over whether the sun rises in the east. I will leave it to others to analyze the poll's techniques and methodology, with one exception: the question on affirmative action was maddeningly, although not unexpectedly, obfuscatory and slanted:
55. In order to make up for past discrimination, do you favor or oppose programs which make special efforts to help minorities get ahead?
44% of whites favor this version of "affirmative action"; 48% oppose. 80% of blacks favor; 13% oppose. 73% of Hispanics favor; 21% oppose. In addition to being misleading, and thus producing misleading results, this formulation of the question is quite odd, inasmuch as special treatment of minorities "[i]n order to make up for past discrimination" has been regarded as unconstitutional, at least in higher education, ever since Bakke (except in cases where such treatment has been allowed as a remedy for proven discrimination by a specific defendant).

In addition, asking people whether they favor or oppose "programs which make special efforts to help minorities get ahead" is too broad a question to reveal anything useful. Almost everyone would favor at least some "special efforts," and similarly almost everyone would oppose some other "special efforts." Most people, if they thought about it, would need to know some details about the "special efforts" at issue in order to say anything meaningful about whether they favored or opposed them.

Based on other polls, I believe it's clear beyond cavil that changing "special efforts" to "preferential treatment based on their race" would have produced a substantial majority in opposition. On the other hand, if the question concerned support for non-discriminatory "special efforts," the majority in favor would be equally substantial. Good evidence for the above assertion can be found in the answers to the question that immediately followed the one on affirmative action:
56. Do you favor or oppose programs that make special efforts to help people get ahead who come from low-income backgrounds, regardless of their gender or ethnicity?
Whites favored such policies by 82% to 14%; blacks by 93% to 4%; and Hispanics by 85% to 10%. By using such a mealy-mouthed term as "special efforts" in its question on affirmative action, the CBS/New York Times poll has disguised, whether on purpose or not, the pervasive unpopularity of most of what is actually done under the rubric of "affirmative action," which is providing preferential treatment to some individuals based solely on their race or ethnicity.

No nonsense about Muslim taxicab drivers in Queensland, Australia

Company fires them if they object to dogs -- unlike the constipated proceedings in the USA

Some Muslim taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind and disabled passengers with guide dogs - because their religion tells them the animals are "unclean". Brisbane's Yellow Cab Company has been forced to sack drivers over their conduct towards passengers with assistance dogs. Bill Parker, general manager of the firm, said the behaviour would not be tolerated and penalties will be imposed if drivers disobeyed. The company has produced a booklet informing drivers of their duty towards blind and disabled customers with dogs.

Islamic Council of Queensland president Suliman Sabdia said dogs were considered a health risk for Muslims but "to use religion as a reason to refuse blind and disabled passengers is unjustified".


Wow! Reformation Christianity still lives in Sydney, Australia

It's just sentimentality on my part (although my own background is Protestant fundamentalist, I am an atheist and brought my son up as a Catholic) but I must admit that I still do enjoy smelling a whiff of the old fire and brimstone in the article below by immensely-influential Sydney Anglican clergyman Phillip Jensen. Beliefs such as his have transformed the world

Roman Catholicism is a very diverse thing and what you see in the Philippines is not necessarily what you see in the streets of Sydney. It has a Protestant face in the Protestant world. Recently we've been getting into the Stations of the Cross here in Sydney with World Youth Day in 2008, but not all 14 Stations of the Cross are going to be done, only I think eight of the Stations of the Cross - I can't remember the exact number.

The ones that are going to be done are the ones that are in the Bible, but the extra ones, like Veronica, well they're not in the Bible. They're not going to be done in the streets of Sydney. Now in one sense it is because they haven't got time, space and energy to do all of them, and in one sense it is out of courtesy to Protestants that they choose to leave out the ones that are not in the Bible.

But if Martin Luther came into Sydney and saw Roman Catholicism and its Stations of the Cross, he'd say, "Ah, they've cleaned up their act." So there are certain aspects of Catholicism in the Protestant world which are much more acceptable to where Luther would have been.

But no. Things are actually worse than in Luther's day because since Luther's day the Roman Catholic Church not only calcified itself explicitly against justification by faith alone, or the authority of the scriptures alone, or salvation by grace alone, etcetera; not only calcified itself against that back at the Council of Trent but since then you've had the Vatican I Council in 1870, which clarified the idea that the Pope can speak infallibly.

A faithful Roman Catholic would say, "Well, they're just saying what we've always believed," but in fact it was not until 1870 that it was ever said that this is really what the belief is. Since then we're not too sure how often the Pope has spoken infallibly but the one occasion on which everyone agrees he did was in the 1950s when he declared that Mary had been bodily assumed from the grave. Well, that's not in the Bible anywhere. And why would she be bodily assumed from the grave? It's all part of the Maryology that has come in. It has also identified the immaculate conception of Mary; that is, that Mary was without sin. Well, that's nowhere in the Bible.

So since the Reformation we've had the infallibility of the Pope, the sinlessness of Mary, the bodily assumption of Mary. These things show you that Roman Catholicism has moved since the Reformation - but it has moved further away from us, not closer to us.

NOW in Vatican II there was an opening up - people were "separated brothers" and things like that - but with all due respect to the genuineness of their attempts to be more ecumenically open - and certainly I'm appreciative of the sense of which we can live in a tolerant acceptance of each other - it was only a year or two ago that the Pope made quite clear that the Anglican Church, Presbyterians, are sects, cults; we are not the true church.

So you can't get salvation through us; you are moved into fairly serious deviation. And so Protestants can be very warm and fuzzy towards Roman Catholicism but it's not actually reciprocal. We are not really seen as God's people in Christ Jesus because the Pope is seen as the vicar of Christ. Now from a Bible-believing point of view, that is an appalling blasphemy because the Holy Spirit is the vicar of Christ.



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 INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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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