British cop forced to quit after 15 years over views on homosexuality, says the service has a 'bias against faith'
The Christian policeman sacked after a row over gay rights has told how his dismissal after 15 years in the force has `devastated' his family. As The Mail on Sunday revealed in the summer, Graham Cogman objected to being `bombarded' at work by emails and posters promoting events such as Gay History Month. He responded to the `politically correct' campaign by sending emails to colleagues quoting Biblical texts suggesting that homosexual sex was sinful. But he faced accusations of homophobia and a series of disciplinary hearings, culminating 12 days ago in his sacking by Norfolk Police for misconduct.
The twice-commended officer said yesterday: `I am totally devastated. It was a job I loved. This is destroying me and my family.' He admitted he had `stupidly' breached a ban by using the internal communications system to post a link to an American Christian organisation, but said the force's decision to sack him was `harsh and disproportionate'. Mr Cogman, 50, accused the police service of becoming so sensitive to the rights of gays that Christians could no longer safely express their views.
Speaking at his home in Sea Palling, Norfolk, which he shares with his wife Elaine, 46, and his two children, Mr Cogman said: `In the service in general there is a feeling of fear. There is a definite bias against faith - any faith - if it takes a critical view of homosexual sex. `The easy option for me would have been to keep quiet but when there is such prejudice towards one point of view, how can that be right? That doesn't sound like equality and diversity to me. `I don't have any worries with what people do in their private lives - if they are gay, that's fine. I haven't gone after anyone maliciously.'
Mr Cogman, backed by the Police Federation, is appealing against his sacking and is planning to take his force to an employment tribunal next year, funded by the Christian Legal Centre. He said he had received a huge amount of support both from within and outside the force. Last week the Rev Martin Young, vicar of St Andrew's church in Norwich, wrote an open letter to Norfolk Police protesting that it had `manifestly failed to uphold PC Cogman's right to express his Christian faith'. The vicar added: `His views are not extreme or unusual. They are consistent with the published understanding of the Church of England, of which he is a member.' Mr Cogman said he had no problems with colleagues until gay liaison officers circulated an email to officers in early 2005 encouraging staff to wear a pink ribbon on their uniforms during Gay History Month.
He emailed colleagues suggesting they might want to read biblical texts suggesting homosexual sex was sinful. As a result, he was ordered to stop using the internal messaging system for failing to show `tolerance and respect' for fellow officers. The following year, when officers were encouraged to wear rainbow ribbons during Gay History Month, Mr Cogman said it was `inappropriate, thoughtless and insensitive' as the rainbow symbolised God's faithfulness. He was accused of unlawfully using the internal messaging system and victimising another gay liaison officer by saying: `Love the sinner, hate the deed.' He was docked 13 days' pay.
In April this year, he was questioned again after circulating a link to a helpline for people struggling with their sexuality on a website headed by the controversial American preacher Pat Robertson. At the misconduct hearing, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a panel found that Mr Cogman had ignored an order banning him from using the police computer system and had failed to treat a colleague with politeness and respect.
Mr Cogman said: `I felt physically sick when I heard the ruling. If I hadn't posted that link I would still have a job. That was my downfall, my stupidity, however you want to put it. But my intention was to help.' He claimed a small group of pro-gay officers had been determined to oust him. `They have their own agenda and now they have my scalp.'
Norfolk Police said: `The issue is not about Mr Cogman's beliefs but about his behaviour. He ignored repeated warnings about his behaviour and was dismissed for failing to obey a lawful order and required to resign for failing to show politeness and tolerance to colleagues.' [If he had quoted the Koran rather than the Bible, those who criticized him would be in the gun]
Is It A "War On Christmas?" Or Is It A New, Acceptable Bigotry?
Has the “war on Christmas” returned? Some would say that, yes, to the extent that there ever was a “war” against the language and symbolism of Christmas, it most certainly has returned this holiday season, and it’s worse now than it has been in previous years. But unfortunately, I think something even more troubling is emerging in our country- - an assault on the freedom of conscience, if you will - - and all Americans should be alarmed by this.
To be sure, this Christmas season has brought about some interesting incidents of religious expression , and not-so-religious expression, in the public square. For example, in the Washington, DC area, the American Humanist Association launched an ad campaign last month, purchasing billboard signage at Metro Rail stops, and on Metro buses, that read “Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness’ sake…” Many D.C-area residents have taken offense to this. And yes, the message is intended to be ‘in your face.” And no, it‘s not an accident that this message has emerged during the Christmas season.
I, however, find the atheists’ message to be amusing and thought provoking, for at least a couple of reasons. For one, there is no religious tradition (not even Judaism or Christianity) that suggests that it is morally wrong for a person to “be good for goodness’ sake.” Secondly, if God does not exist, then who is to say what is “good?” Determining what is “good” without first believing in an all-good God, quickly becomes a very subjective enterprise, and both religious and non-religious Americans should consider this.
And for these reasons (and others), the atheists’ billboard campaign has made for some engaging discussion on my radio talk show at Washington, DC’s 630 WMAL. Additionally, the atheists’ billboard campaign has spawned a counter-campaign from a Catholic non-profit group in Bethesda, MD. Soon we‘ll have billboards around town that read “Why believe? I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake - - God.” As I see it, both Christians and atheists are exercising their rights to free speech in this situation , and that’s just fine with me.
What is not just fine with me, however, are the disgusting events that have emerged over last month’s passage of several statewide ballot initiatives regarding the re-definition of marriage (especially the passage of Proposition 8 in California). The outcome of these elections has given rise to a whole new level of bigotry among the cultural and political left, and the leaders of the left need to account for it.
Let’s first understand that the government sanctioning of homosexual marriage is an unpopular idea most everywhere in the U.S. - - even in states where liberal Democratic political sensibilities reign supreme. So it was no surprise that, while a majority of Californians voted to elect Barack Obama President, they also voted for Proposition 8 - - that is, they voted to amend their state’s constitution so as to define “marriage” as a relationship between one man and one woman. And “majority” is an important part of the story. A majority of Black Californians voted in favor of Proposition 8. A majority of Hispanic Californians voted in favor of it. And a majority of Asian Californians, and, yes, a majority of California’s Democrats, voted in favor of it.
Yet, the left has singled-out a religious group - - the Mormons, to be specific - - for ridicule and harassment. After weeks of shouting and picketing in front of Mormon temples around the state, the California Fair Political Practices Commission has now launched a “probe” into “non-monetary” contributions that the Mormon church may or may not have made towards the passage of proposition 8.
The message here, is clear: Americans of faith, especially those Americans for whom their faith leads to a conservative worldview, simply should not have a say in America’s public policy.
The messages of Christmas and Hanukah can survive just fine, even with secular, irreligious messages placed along side them. But attempting to belittle and damage and ultimately silence a minority group - - which is what is happening to Mormons in California right now - - is a different matter altogether. Americans who care about their freedom to think, and to believe, and to assemble, and to vote as they see fit, should stand in opposition to these attacks. The left is targeting Mormons today - - but tomorrow it could be you or me.
Welfare mothers to be forced to work
Britain trying to catch up with the USA
ALMOST all benefit claimants will be forced either to look for a job or prepare for work if they want to continue to receive state handouts, under a shake-up of the welfare state. Single mothers of children as young as one and people registered unfit for work will be compelled to go on training courses and work experience or risk cuts to their benefits. In an interview with The Sunday Times, James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, said: "Virtually everyone will be doing something in return for their benefits."
The welfare reform white paper, to be published this week, is set to provoke anger from rebel Labour MPs and campaign groups who believe such measures are unfair in a period of rising unemployment.
The conviction of Karen Matthews for kidnapping her daughter Shannon has shown the perverse consequences of the welfare system. Matthews, who had seven children, had never worked and was existing on 400 pounds a week in benefits.
The government will also announce plans to:
- Reform housing benefit to ensure the jobless can no longer live in large houses courtesy of the taxpayer.
- Allow companies to bid for contracts to place the long-term unemployed in work.
- Introduce a medical testing regime for people on incapacity benefit.
- Impose US-style "work-fare" schemes forcing those who refuse to take jobs to work in return for benefits.
At the core of the reforms is the proposal to divide benefit claimants into three groups. The first group is made up of unemployed people on jobseeker's allowance. From 2010, single mothers whose youngest child is aged seven or over will be moved from income support to the allowance. Lone parents now remain on income support until their children reach 16.
The second group will include about 400,000 single parents whose youngest child is aged between one and six, and more than 2m people claiming incapacity benefit. These claimants will face job centre interviews before being forced to undertake training courses or unpaid work placements.
A third group, including seriously disabled people and mothers of young babies, will continue to receive "unconditional" benefits.
There is expected to be legislation next year detailing the powers to be given to benefits advisers to compel claimants to attend official interviews. Those who fail to turn up could have their benefits cut. Under one proposal being considered, a first offence would result in a claimant losing 12 pounds, rising to 24 for a second offence. Repeat offenders could forfeit all their benefits for four weeks and would have only essential bills paid. The basic rate of income support and jobseeker's allowance is 60.50 a week.
Purnell said his scheme was "not about stigmatising anybody". He said sanctions would be a last resort and the thrust of the reforms was to provide "personalised advice". Purnell sought to reassure parents of young children that they would be given assistance finding childcare. "The conditionality would be very different for a one-year-old compared to a six-year-old," he said. The new approach would make women like Matthews work rather than rely on welfare, he said.
Terry Rooney, the Labour chairman of the work and pensions select committee, warned that Purnell's plan would prompt a backbench rebellion when it was debated in the Commons. "This will lead to a bureaucratic nightmare with tens of thousands of people being called in for interview and then being sent home again," he said. "The key question on lone parents is whether childcare is available. In most cases, it is not."
The Conservatives expressed doubts about the clampdown on lone parents. Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "I don't think these measures will actually work. Britain urgently needs real welfare reform to end the entitlement culture."
British parents who block estranged spouses from seeing children face community punishment
Parents who prevent their estranged spouses from seeing their children will have to carry out community service. Only a small step towards justice but better than nothing
Under new laws that come into effect next week, divorced or separated mothers and fathers will be hit with tough punishments for breaking contact orders handed down by family courts. They can be sentenced to up to 100 hours of unpaid work in the community for breaking the orders, with the penalty doubling to 200 hours and a fine if they fail to abide by the punishment. In addition, parents can be forced to attend therapy sessions and parenting lessons in the terms of the contact orders.
The new rules come into effect from Monday in provisions of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 that aim to strengthen the power of the authorities to deal with parents who block contact. They are being welcomed by some legal experts as a way of ensuring that parents who separate are able to keep in touch with their children.
Barbara Reeves, a partner in the family department of leading law firm Mishcon de Reya, said: "Any measures that support parental contact following the separation of a child's parents are to be supported. "These latest measures allow courts far greater powers to facilitate contact by imposing conditions to contact orders which will compel parents to attend family therapy, parenting classes and the like. "Also, where one parent frustrates contact, the court now has a practical enforcement power in that it some circumstances the recalcitrant parent can be compelled to take unpaid work. "It remains to be seen however, just how far the courts will take advantage of these new powers and move us towards the ideal situation whereby children are brought up always knowing both parents and honouring agreements or orders that facilitate contact."
But others claim the new sanctions will criminalise mothers and fathers unnecessarily, and point out that single parents will struggle to find the time to attend courses as well as meeting the costs, which could reach 2,500 pounds.
Chris Goulden, of the family law group Resolution, said: "The principles behind these new powers are laudable but they are unlikely to bring about any meaningful improvement unless the new services are up and running, properly funded and readily available for the courts to refer families to. "At the present moment there is a disturbing lack of clarity as to what activities will be available, where, when and who will pay for them."
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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.