Amid all the bitchiness, hysteria and hate, The Donald does the right thing
Good to see a real man in charge
MISS California, embroiled in a national row over gay marriage during last months' Miss USA pageant, was told she can keep her state crown despite the release of semi-naked photos. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organisation, announced at a press conference in New York's Trump Tower that Carrie Prejean "will remain Miss California".
Prejean, 21, risked losing her crown after pictures of her wearing little more than skimpy bottoms appeared on the internet, despite having stated that she had never posed nude or semi-nude.
Trump said the photos did not violate her contract as Miss California. "We have determined that the pictures taken are fine," he said. "Some were very beautiful, some were risque, but, again, we're in the 21st century.... In many cases they were actually lovely pictures."
In a tearful statement broadcast live on MSNBC television, Prejean attacked the leak of the pictures dating to the start of her modelling career at 17, saying she was being victimised for her opposition to gay marriage.
Prejean said there had been "hateful attacks, despicable rumours and false allegations" ever since she responded to a judge's question at the Miss USA contest, where she was runner-up, that she only backed marriage between men and women. "I am not an activist or anything. Nor do I have a personal agenda. I was thrown into this firestorm from the time I was asked this question on stage," she said.
Prejean denied working for traditional marriage lobby groups. However, she has become a highly visible, if unofficial, champion of the cause at a time of growing national debate. Supporters claim that she lost the Miss USA crown only because of her stand.
California is locked in controversy on the issue, with voters in November backing a constitutional change to overturn a state supreme court ruling that had legalised gay marriage. New York's state legislature was to debate a possible law allowing same-sex weddings today.
Opposition to homosexual clergy in the Church of Scotland
Will we see another "Disruption" (schism) akin to that of 1843? It sounds a lot like it. The reunification of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland is relatively recent in ecclesiastical terms (1929) so could perhaps be reversed. The "Wee Frees" would have the majority of the congregations this time, though
The Church of Scotland is moving towards a schism after one of its ministers compared an increasingly determined campaign against gay clergymen to the war against the Nazis. The Rev Ian Watson railed against homosexual lifestyles, declaring that such people would not “inherit the kingdom of God” in a sermon that religious leaders and politicians condemned as deeply disturbing.
Mr Watson is a prominent opponent of Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister whose appointment to a parish church last year has caused divisions. Mr Rennie, a divorced father of one, lives with his partner, David, and has the support of his Aberdeen Presbytery. The Church of Scotland is due to debate his appointment at its General Assembly next week after a petition was signed by almost a third of ministers pushing for all gays to be banned from the pulpit.
A motion has been lodged urging the Church not to “train, ordain, admit, readmit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and woman”.
The row replicates the dispute within the Anglican Church about the ordination of gays. Anglican conservatives base their opposition to gay people on Bible texts that condemn homosexuality, although liberal members argue that many traditional teachings in the Bible, such as severe punishments for adultery, were no longer observed literally.
The strident position taken by Mr Watson’s Forward Together organisation has provoked both condemnation and support from Scotland’s religious community. The Rev Kenneth MacKenzie, the minister at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, which is attended by the Queen, said that he was disappointed that Mr Rennie’s sexuality had become an issue but warned that a schism would occur if his appointment was confirmed. “Life in the Church will never be the same again and my fear is that a sizeable minority of the clergy, and perhaps a majority of its people, may consider leaving the church, causing a rift felt in every parish.”
Mr Watson posted on his blog last night a sermon he delivered on Sunday at Kirkmuirhill Church in Lanark, in which he invoked the failure of the French Army to stand up to the Nazi annexation of the Rhineland in 1938. “[Hitler] guessed correctly that the French had no stomach for a fight. If only they had, then the tragedy of a Second World War might have been avoided,” Mr Watson said.
In the following 3,500 words, he invoked Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, St Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and the Apostle Paul as he reached his rousing climax. “To claim that the homosexual lifestyle is worthy of a child of God; to demand that a same-sex partnership be recognised as on a footing with marriage; to commend such a lifestyle to others is to deny that Jesus Christ is our only Sovereign and Lord. It is to turn the grace of God into a licence for immorality,” he said. “Such people will not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor.6:10). And therefore they must be resisted . . . Let me assure you, neither I nor like-minded minsters enjoy conflict . . . But have we learned nothing from history? Remember Hitler and the retaking of the Rhineland. He got away with it. No one stopped him. So next it was Austria, then Czechoslovakia, and then Poland and only then world war.”
The sermon was greeted with outrage and disbelief by people inside and outside the Church of Scotland. Some observers questioned whether Mr Watson had infringed legislation on sexual equality. The Rev Peter Macdonald, the leader elect of the Iona Community and minister of St George’s West, Edinburgh, said that he had found it deeply disturbing.
The Rev Lindsay Biddle, chaplain of Affirmation Scotland, a pro-gay group, said: “If you don’t like homosexuals, then get on with it — but don’t use the Bible to justify opinions.” [Thus speaks a non-Christian]
Mr Watson defiantly defended his sermon last night. “There is no doubt that there is a conflict,” he said. “I was trying to explain why I am engaged in this. People say to me, ‘This is not a hill to die on’, but I think it is a fight worth fighting. “Evangelicals seek to defend the historic and orthodox Christian faith. If we don’t what are we? I am a man of convictions.”
The Democrats' Dictionary
Doublespeak is alive as Democrats pull the strings in the White House and Congress 24 years after 1984. What do they mean when they engage in Democrat-speak? I know I'm not worthy, but I've got an assignment, so I shall borrow a page from Ambrose Bierce, not with a Devil's Dictionary, but a Democrats' Dictionary. The easy part: There's no dif.
Academic freedom: Full license to espouse liberal thought to unformed minds.
Bailout: Billions upon billions -- trillions really -- of government aid doled out to financial institutions to remind voters of the need for strong regulation.
Biden, Joe: Running-at-the-mouth politician, but, hey, he was elected vice president.
Bipartisanship: 40 Republicans and 60 Democrats.
Bush, George W.: Big-spending, war-waging Republican.
Cheney, Dick: Satan.
Clean coal: What Santa Claus puts in Democrats' stockings so they don't have to admit that their global-warming agenda is anti-coal.
Climate change: Global warming during a blizzard.
CNN. Unbiased news network whose reporters battle "right-wing" media.
Deficits: Overspending before 2009, or spending practices that President Obama inherited. For current usage, see: Investment.
Extremists: Abortion opponents.
Fox News: Unlike CNN, biased news network.
Global warming: An apocalyptic theory that every scientist believes in -- except dissenting scientists who don't count -- best bemoaned from one's Gulf Stream jet en route to an international conference on the environment.
God: What people in small towns clung to before Obama won the White House. See: guns, anti-immigrant or anti-trade beliefs.
Health care costs: A spiraling chunk of the U.S. economy that can be reduced by providing health care to all Americans. Really.
Homeland security: Gun control.
Iraq: An immoral war, once the focus of numerous anti-war demonstrations, which Democratic leaders vowed to end immediately upon winning the White House -- until Obama won the 2008 election.
Liberal: The L-word, a term unfairly hurled by name-calling right-wing kooks.
Lieberman, Joe: Former Democrat turned Independent senator from Connecticut. Sellout.
McCain, John: Former GOP maverick who -- the nerve -- turned out to actually be a Republican.
Middle class: Families that earn less than $250,000 -- until Washington decides it might be a good idea to pay for all the new Obama-era programs.
Nuance: Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's decision to refer to terrorist attacks as "man-caused disasters." Formerly known as Doublespeak.
Obama, Barack. God, at least in Detroit.
Oil: A crude substance used to fuel other people's cars.
One hundred days. The first in a series of holy days during which dutiful media preside over national thanksgiving.
Palin, Sarah. White-trashy grandmother utterly unqualified and too dim-witted to be vice president.
Pandemic: CNN-speak for flu.
Pelosi, Nancy. Grandmotherly House speaker who could not be expected to understand that when Bushies authorized waterboarding of high-value detainees, it actually might happen.
Public transportation: What other people should take to work.
Regulation: The threat of a salary cap for executives with firms receiving federal funds.
Republican Party: The party of the rich -- if the California inland empire and Central Valley are rich, and Beverly Hills, Marin County and Malibu are not.
Sacrifice: Something Bush never asked for during time of war. Now a tax hike for 95 percent of working families while U.S. troops fight in two wars abroad.
Specter, Arlen: Republican turned Democratic senator from Pennsylvania. Free thinker.
Stimulus: A rush in the nether regions at the prospect of spending trillions of dollars you don't have. Not to be confused with: Banking.
Surge: A tactic involving troop increases that could never work in Iraq, but always made sense for Afghanistan.
Tobacco: Toxic substance that should be overtaxed or banned -- unless it is marijuana. Then see: Medicine.
Tolerance: An essential element to civil societies; individuals deemed insufficiently tolerant must be re-educated.
War on terror: The fairness doctrine, the only weapon that can harm America's true enemy, Rush Limbaugh.
Waterboarding: Torture -- unless a plane piloted by terrorists hits a reservoir.
The ever-widening gap between the BBC and those it purports to serve
The BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson has said that religious broadcasting gives rise to more controversy in his job than any other subject. I am afraid he hasn’t seen anything yet. On Monday, the Corporation announced that it has appointed a Muslim as head of religious broadcasting. This is not a joke, I can assure you. The person responsible for overseeing the BBC’s — so far — largely Christian output will be Aaqil Ahmed, a practising Muslim.
Let me say at once that I have nothing whatsoever against Mr Ahmed, who is, I am sure, an excellent broadcaster who may have much to contribute to the coverage of religion. Some say that he has done a good job producing religious programmes in his present job at Channel 4, though he has been accused of intellectual shallowness, and last year some Roman Catholic priests alleged he had commissioned documentaries that appeared to contain a pro-Islam bias.
Nor do I doubt that Britain’s three million Muslims have every right to expect the BBC to provide some religious broadcasting directly aimed at them. They pay their licence fee like everyone else, and their views should be properly and proportionately reflected in the Corporation’s programming.
That said, they still constitute a small (though doubtless devout) minority of this country’s population of 60 million. Some 70 per cent of adult Britons describe themselves as Christian, though a far smaller proportion regularly attend church. Culturally, this still remains a Christian country with a national Church, the Church of England, whose supreme head is Her Majesty the Queen.
I realise there are also millions of atheists, Muslims and Hindus, and a smaller number of Sikhs and Jews, who may not embrace Christian religious broadcasting. But I suspect that most of them are happy to put up with it, partly because they respect this country’s Christian traditions, and partly because, in any case, the BBC is producing fewer and fewer specifically Christian programmes.
My quarrel is not so much with Mr Ahmed as with the BBC. Despite being required under its charter to provide religious programming, and despite being funded by licence-payers who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Christian, the Corporation has been increasingly pursuing what can only be, at best, described as a non-Christian agenda and, at worst, as an anti-Christian one.
Do I exaggerate? I don’t believe so. Religious programming on the BBC has dwindled over the past ten years, and what remains is usually anodyne — calculated not to offend non-Christians, and therefore likely to provide very little inspiration to those who have Christian leanings. Songs Of Praise, for example, has become little more than a jolly sing-a-long with very little Christian input. A few years ago the BBC’s own governors criticised the Corporation for ‘earlier and irregular scheduling’ of this once popular programme. In others words, the BBC was attempting to marginalise it, and to a large degree it has succeeded. In a bizarre move which prefigured the appointment of Mr Ahmed, the Corporation last year made Tommy Nagra, a Sikh, the producer of Songs Of Praise. So we have a non-Christian in charge of a programme which, not at all surprisingly in the circumstances, has less and less Christian content.
Christians at the BBC appear to be surplus to requirements. During the past year, four out of seven executives in its already diminished religion department have been made redundant. These included Michael Wakelin, a Methodist preacher, who was removed as head of religious programmes to clear the way for Aaqil Ahmed. I imagine that having a Methodist preacher at the heart of the BBC was more than it could stomach.
What the Corporation does at home, it does even more blatantly abroad. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently complained to Mark Thompson at a private lunch that the BBC World Service has reduced its English-language religious coverage from one hour 45 minutes a week in 2001 to a mere half an hour a week in 2009. Half an hour! This is a highly significant reduction. For in the Third World, and particularly in Africa, there are hundreds of millions of Christians who probably yearn for more religious programmes on the BBC, and yet the grim, secular-minded commissars who oversee these matters have chosen to cut them back. The BBC does not like God, unless perhaps it be a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh version.
At every possible opportunity it will wheel forward one of those professional atheists who are not happy to live silently with their own non-belief but are determined to shove it down everyone else’s throats. I am thinking particularly of the biologist Richard Dawkins, the novelist Philip Pullman and the philosopher A. C. Grayling. Can you think of a Christian biologist, novelist or philosopher who is afforded one-tenth of the airtime of these militant, omnipresent non-believers?
The odd thing is that we live in an age of growing religious conviction. Even in this country there is a small resurgence of Christianity, largely outside the mainstream churches. But the BBC is travelling fast in the opposite direction. The new intellectual orthodoxy, among the narrow group of people who control it, is profoundly anti-Christian.
Yet the Roman Catholic Mark Thompson is probably the most devoutly Christian director-general since John Reith, the first man to have the job and who, as a flinty Presbyterian, must now be spinning in his grave. Alas, in marked distinction to the militant atheists I have mentioned, Mr Thompson will not stand up for his beliefs.
Being, I trust, fairly realistic, I do not expect him to push back the encroaching secular tide that has taken over so many of the Corporation’s religious programmes. But one might reasonably hope that he would at least hold the line. That line is in keeping with the BBC’s obligations under its charter, and with the predilections of the Christian majority of this country. Mr Thompson will not defend it. To judge by Mr Ahmed’s appointment, he did not heed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concerns at their recent lunch that the BBC is ignoring its Christian audience.
However, the director-general does not mind intervening when he sees fit. Last year he suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media because it is a minority religion in this country.
For all I know, Mr Ahmed may prove himself remarkably sympathetic to the sensibilities of Christians in his new job. One cannot, however, count on that, and it is interesting that he has said there should be more coverage of Muslim matters in the media. Will this, on the BBC, be at the expense of an already reduced number of Christian programmes?
In all kinds of ways the publicly funded BBC does not reflect the views of the public it is supposed to serve. No doubt its secular suits assume that Britain is as anti-Christian as they are. They’re out of touch again. In appointing Aaqil Ahmed they do not simply offend against this country’s Christian heritage and traditions. They also further weaken the hold and authority of the BBC.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.