Friday, April 17, 2009

EU Parliament Removes Religious Exemption: Churches Could be Forced to Perform Same-Sex "Marriages"

The attack on Christianity continues under the guise of "tolerance"

Changes made this month in the EU Anti-Discrimination Directive could force Christian and other religious groups to perform homosexual "marriages" and allow non-believers to receive Communion and other sacraments in their churches.

The directive was adopted by the EU Parliament on April 2nd, by 360 votes in favor and 227 votes against and will apply to all organizations offering a service to the public, including hospitals, charities, businesses and prisons, and churches. With the removal of exemptions for "organizations based on religion and belief," Christian groups, including the Church of England and the Catholic Education Service, have expressed concerns that conscience protections traditionally allowed under UK law will be abolished.

MEPs also altered the directive to ensure that "differences in treatment in access to educational institutions based on religion or belief" will not "represent an infringement of the right to education and does not justify discrimination on any other grounds."

The directive bans discrimination in the offering of goods and services and specifies "sexual orientation" as one of the grounds of outlawed discrimination. Similar legislation passed in Britain under the Tony Blair Labour government result in the closure of several Catholic adoption agencies after the government refused to allow a religious exemption.

In July 2008, the European Commission announced, "The law will prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation."

Critics have warned, however, that it could result in religious groups facing lawsuits for refusing to perform "marriage" ceremonies for same-sex partners. Christians have also argued that the law could prohibit them from refusing to give Communion or membership to non-Christians. It could also abolish policies in religious schools to give priority in admission to members of their own faith.

A spokesman for the Christian Institute, said, "UK discrimination law is already pretty extreme, as the forced closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies shows. The Directive would make things even worse by transferring ultimate control of equality law to Brussels, beyond the control of our own Parliament."

Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, said that, "It feels as though the European Parliament is antagonistic to faith and fails to see the human rights dimension of faith."

Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South East England, also criticized the directive, saying, "As it stands, this legislation would not only threaten the status of faith schools, hospitals, adoption agencies and the like; it could also force political parties to hire ideological opponents or criminalise single sex institutions."

The Daily Telegraph editorialized on Saturday, "What is being attempted, under the guise of eliminating discrimination, is discrimination against Christians." Under the new concept of European "anti-discrimination" theories, which are contrary to British legal traditions, "legislation has closed Catholic adoption agencies, while a politically correct reign of terror is afflicting our workplaces." Christians face an "increasingly hostile environment" in Britain, said the paper.


The useless British police allow a woman to be killed

Immigrant stabbed wife to death after police refused help

A woman was stabbed to death by her husband in front of their two children hours after police had refused to escort her to a women’s refuge, a jury was told yesterday. Cassandra Hasanovic, 24, died in hospital after suffering wounds to her chest, back and buttocks. Hajrudin Hasanovic, 33, was about to be deported to his native Serbia when he dragged his English wife from her mother’s car and attacked her with a kitchen knife. He admits manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

Lewes Crown Court was told that Mrs Hasanovic had just won a residence order for her children, Sam, 4, and Adam, 2, but she feared that her estranged husband was determined to kill her. Hours before the stabbing in July last year police had visited her at her home in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. She was “terrified” but they refused to drive her to a safe house, said Philippa McAtasney, QC, opening the case for the prosecution.

Instead, she got a lift from her mother. She was in the car and the doors were locked when Hasanovic began a “shocking, vicious and violent attack”. He tried to open the door, wrenching off the handle, and in the panic that ensued, Mrs Hasanovic’s mother accidentally deactivated the central locking. He then dragged his wife from the car and killed her. The jury at Lewes Crown Court was told that Hasanovic fled after telling his mother-in-law: “See what you have done. I just wanted one hour. See what you have done.”

Ms McAtasney said that he was a “paranoid and jealous” partner. The couple’s five-year marriage ended when he was charged with sexually assaulting her in May 2007. Mrs Hasanovic fled to Australia, where she hoped to be able to fight to keep her children living with her. But a court there insisted that she return to Britain and go through the British courts. Ms McAtasney said: “She obeyed the court order at the cost of her life.”

Police were called to a number of confrontations between the couple and gave her a panic alarm. At one court hearing for breaching a non-molestation order, Hasanovic was said to have approached his wife and told her: “You’re f***ing with the wrong person, you know that.”

On the day of the killing, Mrs Hasanovic made another statement to police and told them that she was going to a women’s refuge arranged by the local council. She asked for a police escort but was told that it was not possible.

Mr Hasanovic, of Southsea, Hampshire, was arrested after he dialled 999 and said: “I need the police, I’ve done something bad, I stabbed my ex-wife.” He told police that he had not intended to kill her.


BBC admits bias against Israel

The BBC’s Middle East editor breached the broadcaster’s rules on impartiality and accuracy in his coverage of conflict in the region, the corporation’s internal watchdog concluded today. Jeremy Bowen breached internal guidelines in an article posted on the BBC’s website and in a report on the Radio 4 programme From Our Own Correspondent, the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee ruled.

In a piece for the website written in 2007 explaining the historical significance of the Six-Day War in 1967, Bowen wrote of Israel's “defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own”. Although it rejected the majority of the complaints about inaccuracy, the committee said that with this and other comments the journalist had failed to use the “clear, precise language” needed when covering such a sensitive subject as the Middle East. Also finding that the article had breached impartiality rules, the trust said that Bowen had failed to acknowledge that there were views contrary to his own.

The committee said: “Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war.”

In Bowen’s report for From Our Own Correspondent, on January 12 last year, he said that the US Government considered Har Homa, an Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem, to be illegal. The committee, however, said that claim breached accuracy rules because Bowen had failed to acknowledge that the information came from his own “authoritative source”, rather than official channels. It dismissed other complaints about accuracy and impartiality.

BBC journalists are subjected to some of the fiercest scrutiny of any media organisation in the world, and the corporation regularly receives complaints about its coverage of the Middle East, from both sides.

In January the corporation was attacked by supporters of the Palestinian cause after it refused to screen an appeal made by the Disasters Emergency Committee for aid to Gaza, citing impartiality concerns.

In 2006 The Thomas Report, an external examination of the corporation’s coverage of the conflict, found that there was no systematic or deliberate bias. The BBC is currently engaged in a High Court battle to try to stop the release of a similar internal document, The Balen Report, written in 2004 to examine the corporation’s coverage.


In turning against free speech, Western nations turn against their citizens

Jonathan Turley

For years, the Western world has listened aghast to stories from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations of citizens jailed or executed for questioning or offending Islam.

Even the most seemingly minor infractions elicit draconian punishments. Late last year, two Afghan journalists were sentenced to prison for blasphemy because they translated the Koran into a Farsi dialect that Afghans can read. In Jordan, a poet was arrested for incorporating Koranic verses into his work. And last week, an Egyptian court banned a magazine for running a similar poem.

But now an equally troubling trend is developing in the West. Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticising religion. The "Free World" may be losing faith in free speech.

Among the new blasphemers is the French actress Brigitte Bardot, convicted last June of "inciting religious hatred" for a letter she wrote in 2006 to the then interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that Muslims were ruining France. It was her fourth criminal citation for expressing intolerant views of Muslims and homosexuals. Other Western countries are also cracking down on religious critics.

Emblematic of the assault is the effort to pass an international ban on religious defamation, supported by the United Nations General Assembly President, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann. Brockmann is a suspended Roman Catholic priest who served as Nicaragua's foreign minister in the 1980s under the Sandinista regime, the socialist government that had a penchant for crushing civil liberties.

The UN resolution is backed by countries such as Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive nations when it comes to the free exercise of religion. Blasphemers there are frequently executed. Most recently, the Government arrested the author Hamoud Bin Saleh simply for writing about his conversion to Christianity.

While it hasn't supported the UN resolution, the West is prosecuting "religious hatred" cases under anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws. British citizens can be arrested and prosecuted under the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which makes it a crime to "abuse" religion.

In 2008, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for holding up a sign reading "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" outside the organisation's London headquarters.

This year, the British police warned that insulting Scientology would be treated as a crime.

The subjects of such prosecutions are often anti-religious - especially anti-Muslim - and intolerant. Consider the far-right Austrian legislator Susanne Winter. She recently denounced Muhammad as a pedophile for his marriage to six-year-old Aisha, which was consummated when she was nine.

Winter also suggested that Muslim men should commit bestiality rather than have sex with children. Under an Austrian law criminalising "degradation of religious doctrines," she was fined €24,000 ($44,000) and given a three-month suspended prison term.

But it is the speech, not the speaker, that's at issue. As insulting and misinformed as views like hers may be, free speech is not limited to non-offensive subjects. The purpose of free speech is to be able to challenge widely held views. Yet there is a stream of cases similar to Winter's coming from various countries.

In May 2008, Dutch prosecutors arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot over a cartoon that caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and a Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who meet at an anti-gay rally and want to marry.

Last September, Italian prosecutors investigated the comedian Sabina Guzzanti for joking about Pope Benedict XVI: "In 20 years, [he] will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons, and very active ones."

In February, Rowan Laxton, an aide to the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was arrested for "inciting religious hatred" when, watching news reports of Israel's bombardment of Gaza while exercising at his gym, he allegedly shouted obscenities about Israelis and Jews. Also in February, Britain barred the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders from entry because of his film Fitna, which described the Koran as a "fascist" book and Islam as a violent religion.

In India, the editor and publisher of The Statesman was arrested for printing an article by the British journalist Johann Hari in which he wrote: "I don't respect the idea that we should follow a 'Prophet' who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year-old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him."

History has shown that once governments begin to police speech, they find ever more of it to combat. Not only does this trend threaten free speech, freedom of association and a free press, it undermines free exercise of religion. Countries such as Saudi Arabia don't prosecute blasphemers to protect the exercise of all religions but to protect one religion.

Western ideals are based on the premise that free speech contains its own protection: good speech ultimately prevails over bad. There's no blasphemy among free nations, only orthodoxy and those who seek to challenge it.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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