British school cancels Christmas play because it interferes with Muslim festival of Eid
A primary school infuriated parents after cancelling the traditional Christmas nativity play to make way for the Muslim festival of Eid. Parents at the Nottingham school were told that the planned performance had to be pulled because some of the pupils wanted to celebrate Eid at home with their families. In a letter, sent by the staff at Greenwood Junior School, mothers and fathers were told: 'It is with much regret that we have had to cancel this year's Christmas performances. 'This is due to the Eid celebrations that take place next week and its effect on our performers.'
However, following a barrage of complaints, a second letter was issued saying the show had 'not been cancelled outright' but has been postponed until the New Year. The follow-up letter, sent by headteacher Amber Latif and chair of governors Yvonne Wright, apologised for the 'misunderstanding' caused by the first correspondence. It read: 'We are a very inclusive school and fully respect the cultures and religions of all the children. 'We are upset to know that some of our parents/carers have been offended by the letter. 'The Christmas performance has not been cancelled outright but has been postponed until the New Year.'
Mum Janette Lynch, whose seven-year-old son Keanu attends the school, said she was angered that the performance had been moved until after Christmas. She said: 'The head has a whole year to plan for Eid and so she should be able to plan for both religious festivals. 'I have never heard of this at a school. It is the first year my son has been there and a lot of the mums like me were really looking forward to seeing the children in the nativity. 'I think it's wrong it has been moved to after Christmas.'
The school has also sent out a timetable of events to mark Eid ul-Adha, or 'greater Eid', which is the second of the two Eid festivals. It lasts for two or three days and starts on Monday or Tuesday next week. Muslim children will be off school for the religious holiday. Sajad Hussain, 35, of who has two children at the school said: 'My children will be off for the two days next week to see their family. 'It's not that complicated; they could have one event on one day and another on another day, they should have both celebrations at the school. 'If you do not have both it becomes a racist thing and that's why you have to be careful if an issue is made out of it it could become nasty.'
Yesterday, a statement issued by the school said: 'We would like to apologise for any confusion caused as a result of [the original] letter we sent out and would like to reassure parents and the community that Christmas has not been cancelled at Greenwood Junior School. 'As a multi-faith school, like many schools in Nottingham City, we represent a wide variety of faiths and due respect is given to each one appropriately. 'For very practical reasons we have taken the difficult decision to re-arrange some significant events on the school calendar to ensure maximum pupil and staff attendance.' The next two weeks are brimming with festivities for both Eid and Christmas that the children are really looking forward to.
Counsellor sacked for refusing to give sex advice to gay couples because it was 'against his Christian beliefs'
A Christian relationship counsellor was sacked because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gay couples, a tribunal heard today. Gary McFarlane, 47, had given advice to straight couples but felt his religious beliefs prevented him from offering advice on sexual intimacy with same sex partners. He was sacked by the national counselling service Relate for breaching its equal opportunities policy. The father-of-two says his religious beliefs were not taken into account and is claiming unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination at an Employment Tribunal in Bristol.
Mr McFarlane, of Bristol, had been a counsellor with Relate for three years when he undertook a diploma to become in psychosexual therapy, which involved dealing with intimate problems. But he says that promoting same sex physical relationships goes against his strong religious beliefs.
Yesterday his boss Michael Bennett, manager of Avon Relate, said he was dismissed because sexual advice might crop up in his everyday dealings with gay and lesbian couples. He told the tribunal: 'Sexual issues can come up in relationship counselling. 'You can have a situation where a counsellor can be talking to a couple and it might emerge that one has homosexual or bi-sexual feelings and have a despite to engage in a sexual relationship with the same gender to them. 'It is also true that heterosexual couples can also be involved in sex techniques that can mimic those of homosexuals.'
Mr McFarlane - a trained solicitor who specialises in resolving legal disputes through mediation and sits on a committee which advises the Law Society - joined Relate in 2003. He is also a part-time tutor on relationships at Trinity Theological College in Bristol and regularly attends both Church of England and Pentecostal services in Bristol. While training as a counsellor he had qualms about dealing with gay couples but claims he overcame them during discussions with his supervisor - and even offered support to a lesbian couple, the hearing was told.
But in September 2006 he trained as a psychosexual therapist, which involved dealing with people's intimate sexual problems. He assumed his supervisors would take into account his strong Christian beliefs and that he would not be asked to do anything that would encourage gay sex and that he would not be assigned to work with a gay couple, it was said. But some colleagues had difficulties with his stance and a letter was being circulated which claimed he was homophobic and there was pressure to dismiss him on these grounds.
Mr McFarlane's lawyer Paul Diamond said: 'There was a campaign raised against Mr McFarlane in Relate Avon calling for his dismissal. 'This campaign was organised against Mr McFarlane because of his religious beliefs.'
But Mr Bennett claims the pair held two 'constructive meetings' on October 10 and November 19 to see if they could resolve the situation. He said: 'I asked would he comply with our equal opportunities policy and he said that in PST that would put him under greater stress. 'I offered support to see if there was a practical way around it. 'Mr McFarlane said there was no practical way around it and during the meeting he said he did not feel he could work with same sex couples on sexual issues and that would continue to be the case.'
But Mr Diamond claimed Mr McFarlane's views were 'evolving' and that all he really wanted was for his supervisor to offer guidance and support. However, Mr Bennett denied this and told the tribunal: 'His views were quite fixed in both meetings. 'At the end of the October one I told him to go away and have a think about his stance because it was a very important decision. 'He had weeks to think this through and at the end of the November meeting he was absolutely clear that without a shadow of doubt he would not work with same sex couples on sexual issues on religious grounds.'
Fellow counsellors complained about Mr McFarlane's stance and claimed his views were homophobic, which led to his suspension in January 2008. He was summoned to a disciplinary hearing the following month and sacked on March 18 this year. His appeal was dismissed.
Relate, originally called the National Marriage Guidance Council, was founded in 1938. By 1998 it was counselling couples in a much wider range of relationships and changed its name to Relate. It now operates from nearly 600 locations nationwide and the Avon branch employs around 40 part and full time counsellors.
The hearing is due to last two days. Mr McFarlane is due to give evidence at its conclusion tomorrow. But he has previously been quoted as saying: 'If I was a Muslim this would not happen, they would find a way to make the system work. 'But Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights. This could force other Christians out of counselling.'
Feminist myth meets reality
It confirms what we knew, but the reminder still stings. Women don't often really like one another.
On Tuesday, the results of a 20-year study of hundreds of families found that two-thirds of women believed friction with their mother-in-law or daughter-in-law had caused them long-term unhappiness and stress. The study, by Cambridge University psychologist Terri Apter, found the disharmony was due to the perception that each was undermining or criticising the other. She said the mutual prickliness was often less to do with actual attitudes and more to do with perceptions of female norms.
That's right: she found cooking, cleaning and the care of children are standard battlegrounds between women bound by marital links. Sadly, I think the barbs are being fired far more widely than just between women who both love the same man. They are being shot everywhere, with women often gleeful about straining the bow. Women in positions of power in the workplace are criticised for being too manly, too coquettish, too pretty, too brutally honest. Women in social situations are criticised for being too much a wallflower, or garish. According to women, wives are mostly either of the surrendered (of author Laura Doyle's book), alpha or a trophy ilk. It's madness.
Much as the fight for equality for women has been won in many ways, the deeper undercurrents of relationships and communications have not changed for generations: much as they share a situation, a gender and a desire for harmony and mutual growth, women nobble their gender by criticising each other. The difference between our generation and the one that went before is that we stay with our default programming, but also have taken on tasks that were formerly the bastion of men.
Young women might step outside the traditional zone, drink more, party more and feel the zing of writing their own stories. But as we age, I have noticed we seem to slip back to the familiar ground of traditional gender roles. We take on the meal-planning without thought of consultation, and attend to the day-to-day childcaring without a thought. We sit in the passenger seat of the car and are the ones who remember to take the salad, and bring the emptied bowl home again, when we are asked over to our friends' homes for lunch. But we also clean the gutters, discipline the kids and pay the bills.
All the while, other women are watching and chipping away. Talk of the profound joy found in performing tasks that are traditionally done by the female gender, and feel the sting of the feminists' barbs. Talk of the joy found in tasks and duties performed traditionally by men and the condemnation is that you have denied your womanhood.
Why do women judge others so harshly? I have taken on a few renovation tasks around my home in recent months. I have tiled and painted a few rooms, oiled a deck and done some serious gardening. I do these things because I want to and really enjoy the planning and the process. The reaction to my paint-spattered hands, blackened nails and dusty hair has been mixed -- and most of the disbelieving or negative responses have been from other women. Why would I want to do it? Could I not afford to get a tradesman? That I want to take these jobs on, and really enjoy them, seems an unlikely story to my critics.
Why, when women give lip services to other women's freedom to make decisions about their own bodies, career choices, relationships and parenting status, do they then snipe and criticise those decisions once made?
Maybe we tear down those women we perceive to be successful to feel better about ourselves. The results of a New York University study released early this year found that women characterised women they perceived as successful as unlikeable, aggressive and hostile. The study found that women adopted this attitude to block their own feelings of incompetence.
The study found that giving positive feedback to women about their potential to succeed lessened their negative reactions to successful women and did not lower the self-ratings of confidence in those who had formerly sniped.
The title of this report by social psychologists Elizabeth Parks-Stamm and Madeline Heilman says it all - Motivated to Penalise: Women's Strategic Rejection of Successful Women. So much for the sisterhood.
Pirates and the Politically Correct
By Hal G.P. Colebatch
The Royal Navy may have been warned not to detain Somali pirates in case their human rights are violated, but Britain has cracked down firmly on pirates in other areas, such as children's parties. If real pirates are to be unmolested at sea, and domestic violent crime has increased hugely in the last few years, still the Nanny State has never been Nannier. After all, two-thirds of the new jobs created in Britain since Labour came to power have been in the public sector, and they have to do something productive and useful for their salaries.
This is, after all, the society where an actor playing the brave Lord Nelson had to wear a life jacket over his glittering uniform when crossing the placid waters of the Thames near the Tower of London by boat.
When a crude replica of a pirate ship was erected in memory of the late Princess Diana at a children's playground in Kensington Gardens, commemorating Peter Pan's duels with the wicked Captain Hook, officialdom decreed that it should be purged of violent imagery such as cannon, walking the plank, and skull-and-crossbones flag.
Children's books featuring the exploits of the naughty 11-year-old schoolboy William Brown, who delighted in playing pirates, have been attacked as creating bad role models.
Recently the skull-and-crossbones flag has also been banned from being flown in the gardens of suburban houses hosting pirate parties on the grounds that it is unneighborly.
Local authority officials told the parents of 6-year-old Morgan Smith (not thought to be any relation to either the notorious Bloody Morgan, who sacked Porto Bello, or Aaron Smith, tried for piracy at the Old Bailey in 1823 but acquitted) that they must apply for planning permission to fly the flag, at a cost to them of about $150. It was reported that an assessment of the 5'x4' flag's impact on the surrounding area would be undertaken before a decision was made as to whether the flag would be allowed for the party or not. The young would-be picaroon's father was quoted as saying: "When the lady from the council came to see me she said the Jolly Roger was of concern. She took some pictures and said that we would have to take it down from now on. I've put in a planning application but I shouldn't have to go to all this trouble."
Similar trouble befell fireman and ex-soldier David Waterman (not known to be related to "Bully" Waterman, opium-runner and most dreaded of the Western Ocean Packet Skippers), of Ashstead, Surrey, when he flew a skull and cross-bones flag for his four-year-old daughter's pirate's party. A neighbor complained and it was reported Waterman was facing court proceedings from the local council, whose spokesman said: "We are duty-bound to investigate complaints and enforce government regulations." Another neighbor then also hoisted a Jolly Roger as a gesture of solidarity with the Brethren of the Coast, but struck it after receiving a shot across the bows in the form of a warning letter from officialdom.
That old sea-dog Sir John Hawkins has also felt the wrath of the guardians of political correctness. One of the innumerable government-funded multiculturalism enforcers, the Plymouth Council for Racial Equality, attacked a proposal that a pub near Hawkins's birthplace in Plymouth be named after him, although in this case it was not because he cut out the occasional Spanish treasure ship but because he was a slave-trader.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Somalia the Royal Navy has reportedly received instructions from the Foreign Office not to detain pirates in case their human rights are breached. If sent back to Somalia they could, under Islamic law, face beheading for murder or having a hand chopped off for theft. (In Britain the death penalty for piracy on the high seas was only abolished in 1998.)
Captains of British warships patrolling off Somalia and other pirate-infested waters have also been warned that there is a risk captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain. Presumably they would be a charge on the State because they would not even be able to make new careers for themselves there at children's parties, or at least not without planning permission.
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.
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