Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scottish evangelicals vow to hold back cash after pro-homosexual vote

Good to see that some Scottish Presbyterians still believe in the Bible. And in good Scottish fashion, they will keep money in their pockets to make their point. I am pretty sure there is a schism just down the road. Schisms are very Scottish

Traditionalists opposed to the appointment of gay ministers are planning a campaign of non-co-operation with the Kirk establishment, to deny the Church of Scotland hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue.

The move is in retaliation against Saturday night’s vote at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to uphold the decision of Aberdeen Presbytery to appoint the Rev Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross parish church, by 326 vote to 267. There were more than 250 abstentions, leaving Mr Rennie, a divorced father who lives with his male partner, admitting that the issue still had to be discussed further by the Church.

Mr Rennie, 37, who served on the Church of Scotland human sexuality taskforce two years ago, said that there were tens of gay ministers already working in the Church, who were afraid of coming out. “Two gay minsters came to talk [to the taskforce] under anonymity. It's awful that people feel they have to have anonymity before they are free to talk,” he said. “There are issues here for the Church. A space has to be found for gay Christians to have their voices heard. You can’t have an open debate about sexuality if one party feels it is unsafe to talk.”

Evangelical commissioners were aghast at the result of Saturday’s vote in support of Mr Rennie’s appointment, which followed more than four hours of fierce debate. Many felt that proceedings had been rigged by their highly organised liberal opponents on the first day of the General Assembly, it having been ensured that a scheduled debate on the primacy of heterosexual marriage was held only after Mr Rennie’s position was ratified.

That overture (motion) on the sanctity of marriage, proposed by the traditionalist Presbytery of Lochcarron and Skye, will be debated today. Already, a number of counter-motions and amendments have been tabled by liberals which, their opponents fear, could see matters of sexual morality swept under the carpet and considered for a year or more by a Kirk commission, rather than debated on the floor of the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh.

Despite their defeat, evangelical leaders made clear that rather than quit the Church, they intended to fight their corner. They claim that their congregations are among the largest in the Kirk, and simply through the collection plate provide a substantial income stream which can be denied to the church authorities.

The impact of a freeze on collection contributions would be big. A petition against Mr Rennie’s appointment gained the signatures of 272 serving parish ministers, among the 964 listed in Scotland. Evangelicals say that their congregations are among the biggest, from a church membership of less than 500,000. The largest congregations can generate more than £100,000 per annum, up to two thirds being paid over to the church authorities.

The evangelical ministers the Rev David Court, of New Restalrig Church, Edinburgh, and the Rev William Philip, of St George’s-Tron, Glasgow, gave warning in a joint statement of the battles to come: “The General Assembly has shown itself to be seriously out of touch with its grassroots in the churches. But it should remember that these are the people who have — hitherto, at least — kept a creaking denomination afloat financially. There will be a great deal less willingness to do that from now on,” they said.

“People are not obliged to give,” added the Rev Richard Buckley, of Forward Together, a leading evangelical organisation. “As far as we are concerned the Church has sent out a wrong message about Christian morality. God has revealed the truth and . . . the Word of God stands for ever.”

Dr James Simpson, one of three former Moderators of the Church of Scotland who during the debate spoke up for Mr Rennie’s appointment, warned that “some of the bitterest debates in church history begin with the words ‘Scripture says’.” Mr Rennie agreed. “There is no one reading of Scripture that falls from the skies. One of the great myths in the debate about sexuality is that one of the parties believes the Bible and the other does not. It is a caricature,” he said. [How could Romans chapter 1 be clearer?]

Mr Rennie’s appointment was warmly welcomed by Richard Baker, the Labour MSP for North East Scotland. A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “The First Minister is pleased that the debate was conducted in good spirit and in an atmosphere of mutual understanding.” [Laughable politician speak]


British Hospital worker told she'll be sacked if she keeps wearing crucifix because 'it might spread infection'

A Christian hospital worker is facing the sack for wearing a crucifix - even though it is not on show. Helen Slatter has been ordered by her bosses not to wear the one-inch tall gold cross on a chain round her neck, although they have no objection to her keeping it in her pocket. It means the 43-year-old must choose between her faith and her job as a phlebotomist - collecting blood samples - at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester.

The NHS Trust involved said that the issue was not Miss Slatter's religion, but conforming to a hospital uniform policy. This limits the amount of jewellery which staff are allowed to wear in the hope of reducing the spread of infection. It follows Health Secretary Alan Johnson's announcement of an anti-superbug dress code for all medics last September. This ordered all hospital staff to wear short sleeves and forgo wristwatches and jewellery whenever they are in contact with patients, in an attempt to halt the spread of MRSA and C. difficile.

Yesterday Miss Slatter said: 'I wear a fob watch and a name badge on my uniform, so what difference does a little cross underneath it make? 'I knew about the policy on jewellery, but this is a symbol of my beliefs. Some Muslim women who work here wear headscarfs. It just seems so wrong that I've been put in this horrible situation.'

Miss Slatter said she has worn the cross under her uniform since she started working at the hospital five years ago. She believes a colleague could have reported her after spotting it accidentally slip out earlier this month. She said: 'I've always worn my cross inside my uniform. It means a lot to me. They've told me I can carry it in my pocket but that simply isn't the same. I can't go along with that. 'My faith is important to me but I'm not a Bible-basher, I don't push it on colleagues or other people. 'Now I have to choose between my job and my faith and that's an awful situation to be in.'

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital says the crucifix ban is not down to religion but due to a uniform policy designed to reduce the spread of infection and the possibility of attacks by patients. [So how does a cross under clothes affect that?]

Mother of one Miss Slatter, of Gloucester, was told at a disciplinary meeting on Friday that she will be sent home if she continues to have the chain and crucifix around her neck. She has since signed off sick from work because of stress while she considers her next move.

She worships at St Peter's Catholic Church Gloucester, where the parish priest Canon Bernard Massey is also a chaplain at the hospital. He said: 'There seems to be an inconsistency in the trust's approach. When I visit patients in the hospital I wear a cross myself. 'It could be interpreted by some people that the problem is not that she is wearing it, but what she is wearing. 'I would be unhappy if she was made to take it off. I've been led to believe that some of the science about how a necklace spreads infection is dubious. 'They need to find ways of accommodating the beliefs of individuals with the needs of patients and hospitals, assuming that all these are fair and realistic.'

A spokesman for the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust said: 'The issue is not one of religion. The Trust employs a uniform policy which must be adhered to at all times. 'This policy applies to all staff employed by the Trust who wear a uniform on duty. 'Necklaces and chains present two problems - firstly, they can provide a surface that can harbour and spread infections, and secondly, they present a health and safety issue whereby a patient could grab a necklace or chain and cause harm to the member of staff. 'Jewellery is restricted to one pair of plain and unobtrusive studs in the earlobes only and no facial piercings are permitted, including tongue studs. One plain ring or band is permitted on the ring finger.'


Blood, sweat and development

The latest high-profile BBC show, ‘Blood, Sweat and Takeaways’, is a series of documentaries looking at how consumerism in the west is leading to poverty and exploitation within the Asian food industries, the first episode focussed on the Indonesian tuna industry. As can be expected with the BBC this show only presents half the debate.

It puts across a very tainted view of the situation; it implies that we are demanding cheaper and cheaper food in greater quantities than before. In order for this food to be produced, workers in foreign countries need to be exploited. It hints at a neo-colonialist world where Asian producers are at the beck and call of our demands at whatever human cost.

The evidence in the show is worrying, but the arguments are not conclusive. Clearly, hundreds of workers working and sleeping in cramp and hot factory conditions with few breaks is a distressing scene that none of us would envy – and yes, we probably have disassociated the food we eat with its production, but this is not the full story.

We need to consider the flip-side to these realities. Supermarkets already only make around 3p profit per tin of tuna they sell. If they were forced to pass any more of this profit onto the producers, the incentive for selling tuna would be severely limited (especially when the opportunity cost of stocking these goods is the sale of much higher-profit foods). This would result in a decline in the tuna industry and the consequential unemployment of the factory workers.

I’m sure after watching the show many would call for a growth in Fair Trade products. As the ASI report ‘Unfair Trade’ has shown this would not be beneficial to the individual producers. Even if in the short run the benefits filtered down to individual workers, the higher prices would encourage more firms to enter the market, artificially forcing prices down further in the long-run.

It is easy to blame consumers for these problems, and although our casual spending may have fuelled the rapid development and industrialisation of many foreign industries these jobs would not exist at all were it not for our consumption.


End Run on Free Speech

by George Will

For several decades, most of the ingenuity that liberal academics have invested in First Amendment analysis has aimed to justify limiting the core activity that the amendment was written to protect -- political speech. These analyses treat free speech as not an inherent good but as a merely instrumental good, something justified by serving other ends -- therefore something to be balanced against, and abridged to advance, other goods.

The good for which Zephyr Teachout would regulate speech is combating corruption, which, as she understands it, encompasses most of contemporary politics. A visiting law professor at Duke, writing in the Cornell Law Review ("The Anti-Corruption Principle"), she makes an astonishingly sweeping argument for emancipating government from First Amendment restrictions on its powers to regulate political speech -- speech about the government's composition and conduct.

Hitherto, most arguments for such emancipation -- for McCain-Feingold and other measures regulating the quantity, content and timing of political speech -- have rested on the supposed need to curb corruption or the "appearance" thereof, with corruption understood as quid pro quo transactions, political favors exchanged for financial favors. But bribery has long been criminalized, and courts are wary about allowing the criminalizing of the constant transactions of mutual support between politicians and factions.

Teachout's capacious definition of corruption includes even an unseemly "attitude" of citizens as well as officeholders "toward public service." She says the Framers thought limiting corruption was their "primary task." Therefore the "anti-corruption principle" should have "as much weight" as the First Amendment, giving Congress considerable "leeway" to regulate the political "process," which is mostly speech. What Teachout disparagingly calls "the apotheosis of speech" and "the sanctified meme of 'free speech'" is, she says, "a serious problem" requiring a rethinking of "the proper relationship of speech to self-serving public actors."

She advocates, as proponents of an elastic Constitution often do, an "evolving standard," this time a standard about how we define, measure and condemn "self-serving" behavior, aka corruption. This standard might license Congress to restrict speech in order to combat:

"Unequal access" to the political process; "unfair deployment of wealth"; "undue influence" by this or that group; speech that is "distorting" or lacks "proportionality" or results in "drowned voices" or a "passive" or "dispirited" public or that causes a "loss of political integrity" or creates "moral failings for members of Congress." Such speech might not be constitutionally protected if we properly "refine the meaning of the privilege of political speech."

So, political speech is not a right but a privilege, something granted by government when government deems it consistent with what Teachout calls the "equally important" anti-corruption principle. Imagine the "self-serving" uses incumbent legislators might have for the terms in the paragraph above as reasons for restricting political speech.

The word "corruption" or some permutation of it occurs 58 times in the 85 essays that are the Federalist Papers. James Madison wrote not only many of the papers but also this: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." He saw no conflict between that proscription and efforts to minimize corruption. He and other Framers considered corruption a vice requiring constant vigilance precisely because it is inextricably entwined with a virtue, America's vast scope -- constitutionally protected scope -- for self-interested behavior, including political speech.

Congressional Democrats want to kill a small voucher program that gave some mostly poor and minority students alternatives to the District of Columbia's failing public schools, and the Obama administration spent additional billions to avoid a declaration of bankruptcy by General Motors. Some people think both decisions represented disinterested assessments of the public good. Others think the decisions represented obeisance by Democrats to the teachers' and autoworkers' unions, respectively. If the decisions were such obeisance, they were, by Teachout's standards, corrupt.

If corruption is as ubiquitous as Teachout's standard ("self-serving" behavior) says, then reasons for restricting political speech also are ubiquitous. Under today's regulatory and redistributionist government, which is busily allocating wealth and opportunity, politics frequently "appears" to many people "self-serving." It will not, however, be prettified by regulating speech.

If Teachout considers the politics produced by today's gargantuan government unlovely, she should not try to further enlarge the government by empowering it to comprehensively regulate speech about government. Instead, she should join the movement to restrain government's incessant regulating and redistributing transactions on behalf of myriad factions -- transactions that create more and more clamorous factions. The movement is called conservatism.



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.


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