Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

This is about as silly as using models to predict global warming. One might reflect that almost all prophecies are wrong. I live in a very secular society (Australia) where only a small minority are churchgoers but many churches are well-attended nonetheless. And in Britain, the Church of England may be in decline but Pentecostal and other more fundamentalist churches have growing memberships

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers. The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Their means of analysing the data invokes what is known as nonlinear dynamics - a mathematical approach that has been used to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages. At its heart is the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another.

"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona. "It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility. "For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."

Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category. They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them. And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.

However, Dr Wiener told the conference that the team was working to update the model with a "network structure" more representative of the one at work in the world. "Obviously we don't really believe this is the network structure of a modern society, where each person is influenced equally by all the other people in society," he said. However, he told BBC News that he thought it was "a suggestive result".

"It's interesting that a fairly simple model captures the data, and if those simple ideas are correct, it suggests where this might be going. "Obviously much more complicated things are going on with any one individual, but maybe a lot of that averages out."


British government to crack down on the 'no win, no fee' lawyers

Kenneth Clarke will today sound the death knell for 'no win, no fee' deals which encourage ambulance-chasing lawyers to pursue frivolous cases. Victorious solicitors will now have to take a share of the damages awarded, rather than claiming huge success fees.

The Justice Secretary will also raise the maximum damages which can be awarded in small claims courts from £5,000 to £15,000. Mr Clarke wants as many people as possible to settle civil disputes through this less bureaucratic system, where costs are kept to a minimum, or by mediation.

Lawyers are not always needed in small claims courts, and many 'no win no fee' solicitors do not operate in them because there is not enough money to be made.

Everybody lodging a civil claim for damages will be forced to consider mediation. A similar move is planned for divorce cases.

Mr Clarke will say the aim is to reverse a trend which has seen Britain become a 'very, very legalistic and litigious' society in which huge sums are paid to 'fat cat' lawyers.

Many of those in 'no win, no fee' deals claim success fees up to 100 per cent of legal costs at the expense of the person or organisation that loses. Some claims are more than 1,000 per cent of damages.

Campaigners say the payouts have had a 'chilling' effect on freedom of speech, forcing scientists, writers and newspapers to settle even flimsy libel accusations out of court rather than risk the huge costs of losing. NHS trusts have also been affected in this way.

In future, lawyers will take a share of the damages awarded to the winner – the same as in the U.S.


For every sensible citizen of Middle England, resorting to the law has become something to dread.

Frivolous claims are brought against small firms; legal costs grow out of all proportion to the value of the damage done; fines are imposed but never collected.

Too often the system seems to create problems, rather than solving those which caused the dispute in the first place.

For most people, fighting a case, enforcing a contract or resolving a dispute with a neighbour means months of anxiety, hassle and delay. More often than not, the only certainty is that the bill, when it arrives, will be larger than expected.

Today I am announcing reforms which I hope will begin to tackle the compensation culture and restore a sense of proportion to our legal system.

First, we will encourage people to solve their disputes through formal mediation rather than heading straight to court with all the cost and time that entails.

Second, we will fix the 'no win, no fee' agreements which have made it so costly for businesses to defend spurious claims that they often pay out, even when they know they are in the right.

And third, we will put more cases into the quicker, cheaper small claims and county courts, keeping costs down even further.

I hope that one day, normal citizens will regard going to a lawyer as a sensible way of sorting out a dispute – not the expensive nightmare that people fear now. These reforms are the first important steps towards that goal.

This will be capped at 25 per cent of the damages awarded by the court.

Judges will be told to increase damages by 10 per cent to ensure that those who win still receive the money they deserve.

Lawyers will also be forced to reach an agreement with their clients before a case begins over how much of the damages they will receive if successful. It is hoped that, by making lawyers compete for business in this way, success fees will be driven down significantly.

The number of claims made by ambulance-chasing solicitors is likely to fall as defendants – freed from the threat of massive costs – become more likely to fight back.

Daytime television is packed with adverts for 'no win, no fee' lawyers. They encourage people who have had even minor accidents at work or in their car to pursue civil claims.

In a report last year, Lord Justice Jackson said there had been a huge rise in civil litigation costs. The fees awarded to lawyers were sometimes more than 1,000 per cent of damages, he said.

People making claims in clinical negligence cases and other incidents where they have suffered harm will be able to do so without fear of huge costs.

A judge will be able to put a ceiling on the amount they will be made to pay even if they lose. This is designed to prevent people who have been seriously wronged from being afraid to claim compensation.

The moves come after Mr Clarke this month announced a string of reforms to Britain's defamation laws. In future, the rich and powerful will have to prove they have suffered or are likely to suffer 'substantial harm' from the words of their critics to sue successfully for libel.

A defence of 'honest opinion' would replace that of 'fair comment', meaning that it will be a defence against libel to establish that something was published responsibly, without malice and in the public interest.


ACLU: 'Communism is the Goal'

Irony is defined as "the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning." The term doublespeak means "evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse."

There is perhaps no greater example of ironic doublespeak than inclusion of the phrase "civil liberties" within the inapt designation: "American Civil Liberties Union."

Indeed, few leftist organizations in existence today can compete with the ACLU in terms of demonstrated hostility toward what the Declaration of Independence describes as "certain unalienable rights" with which Americans are "endowed by their Creator."

Consider the doublespeak inherent throughout the "progressive" Goliath's flowery self-representation:

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Now contrast that depiction with ACLU founder Roger Baldwin's candid vision:

I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself... I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

Ironic, isn't it? So much for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." By combining straightforward segments from each ACLU rendering we arrive with an accurate portrayal. One that cuts through the doublespeak:

The ACLU is...working daily in courts, legislatures and communities. Communism is the goal.

In 1931, just eleven years after the ACLU's inception, the US Congress convened a Special House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. On the ACLU it reported:

The American Civil Liberties Union is closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90 percent of its efforts are on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law. It claims to stand for free speech, free press and free assembly, but it is quite apparent that the main function of the ACLU is an attempt to protect the communists.

To be sure, the "main function of the ACLU" is entirely counter-constitutional.

A shared objective between both Communism generally, and the ACLU specifically is the suppression of religious liberty; principally, the free exercise of Christianity.

Karl Marx, high priest of the ACLU's beloved cult of Communism, once said: "The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."

Even the ACLU's own promotional materials overtly advocate religious discrimination: "The message of the Establishment Clause is that religious activities must be treated differently from other activities to ensure against governmental support for religion."

Utter hokum. The First Amendment's Establishment Clause -- a mere 10 words -- says nothing of the sort. Its message is abundantly clear, requiring severe distortion to stuff within the ACLU's Marxist parameters. It merely states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." That's it.

Now let's break it down. What do you suppose the Framers of the US Constitution -- a document expressly designed to limit the powers of federal government -- intended with the word "Congress"? Did they mean State government? Municipal government? Your local school district? Your third grade teacher?

Of course not. They meant exactly what they said: Congress. As in: The United States Congress! It takes someone with a distinctly disingenuous ulterior motive to derive anything else.

Now what did they mean by "...shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?"

Well, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, a fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson -- often touted by the left as the great church-state separationst -- answered that question. The First Amendment's Establishment Clause was singularly intended to restrict Congress from affirmatively "establishing," through federal legislation, a national Christian denomination (similar to the Anglican Church of England).

Or, as Jefferson put it: "[T]he clause of the Constitution" covering "freedom of religion" was intended to necessarily preclude "an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States."

How far removed we are today from the original intent of our Founding Fathers. The ACLU is largely responsible for creating the gulf between the Constitution's original construction and its modern misapplication.

The ACLU remains one of America's most powerful secular-socialist political pressure groups. It relentlessly tramples underfoot the First Amendment, which guarantees sweeping and absolute liberty for all Americans -- including government employees -- to freely exercise their faith both publicly and privately without fear of reprisal: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Examples of its constitutional abuses are manifold, but one of the most recent involves an ACLU assault against a group of Christians in Santa Rosa County, FL. Liberty Counsel represents those Christians.

An ACLU-crafted Consent Decree has been used as a weapon to threaten school district employees with fines and jail time for merely praying over a meal, and for exercising -- even while away from school -- their sincerely held Christian faith. You read that right. The ACLU is literally seeking to criminalize Christianity.

In August of 2009, Liberty Counsel successfully defended staff member Michelle Winkler from contempt charges brought by the ACLU after her husband, who is not even employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a privately sponsored event in a neighboring county.

Liberty Counsel also successfully defended Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman against criminal contempt charges, after the ACLU sought to have the men thrown in jail for blessing a lunch meal served to about 20 adult booster club members.

Under the Consent Decree teachers are considered to be acting in their "official capacity" anytime a student is present, even at private functions off campus.

Liberty Counsel describes this unconstitutional decree:

Teachers cannot pray, bow their heads, or fold their hands to show agreement with anyone who does pray. Teachers and staff cannot 'Reply' to an email sent by a parent if the parent's email refers to God or Scripture. Teachers either have to delete such references from the original email or reply by initiating a new email. Teachers and staff are also required to stop students from praying in their own private club meetings.

During witness testimony, Mrs. Winkler sobbed as she described how she and a coworker, who had recently lost a child, literally had to hide in a closet to pray.

Although the case continues, on Monday the ACLU suffered a tremendous setback while freedom took a significant step forward. Federal District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers granted in part a Preliminary Injunction in favor of Liberty Counsel's twenty-four Christian clients.

Judge Rodgers concluded that even though "a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy," one aspect of the Consent Decree -- its attempt to prohibit school employees from fully participating in private religious events -- is so flawed that it must be immediately halted.

The Court thus enjoined the School Board "from enforcing any school policy that restrains in any way an employee's participation in, or speech or conduct during, a private religious service, including baccalaureate" pending a trial on the merits.

"Progressives" are nothing if not consistent. As they gain confidence, they invariably rush across that bridge too far. They engage wild-eyed efforts to "fundamentally transform America" to reflect their own secular-socialist self-image.

I'm certain that both the bare-knuckle spirit of the American people and Liberty Counsel's enduring 92 percent win record against the ACLU will maintain a durable safeguard - an "impenetrable wall of separation" if you will - between our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and a subversive "progressive" agenda built upon the distinctly un-American creed: "Communism is the goal."


Glee’s Not for Me

Doug Giles

My friend, SNL’s Victoria Jackson, got verbally hammered by the female host of HLN’s Showbiz this week for “daring” to say in a recent WND column that two male teens making out on a recent episode of Glee was sickening. Jackson, according to HLN’s high priestess of political correctness, needs to repent.

Yep, Vickie offended a seminal creed of the Church of PC, an unpardonable sin of postmodernism, namely openly criticizing homosexual Hollywood activists as they proselytize your kids on primetime television. Bad Victoria. Bad, bad Victoria.

In actuality, in said column VJ was mainly criticizing woman-hating militant Islam. That, too, is a sin unto death according to “them.”

Another bridge too far and strike three for “evil” Vickie is that she often points out Obama’s communist roots, friends and philosophy in her columns, which, according to the “tolerant” progressives, is intolerable. By their estimation such sins damn Miss V to bake for all eternity in Dante’s pizza oven. Lucky for Jackson Pastor Rob “No Hell” Bell has informed us all in his latest heretical screed that no one goes to Hades because God is a merciful, celestial Gomer Pyle who’d never do that to a corrupt critter. Whew, eh Jackson?

Now, I’d like to go on record stating that I also think the gay Glee kiss was … uh … inappropriate. I also have gay friends who think the Glee kiss was way too gay and tasteless for primetime. Additionally, they believe Glee is an unreal, dorky show and are insulted that it is being pitched as “their” program. Are they haters? Are they homophobic?

Geez, everyone’s got to love and applaud Glee and its overt homo/heterosexual junk or we’re bigoted, buckle-shoed troglodytic killjoys. Musicians are even being jackbooted to love the show and want to be on it or the creators of this slop will verbally whip them. For instance …
Foo Fighters star Dave Grohl has lashed out at Glee creator Ryan Murphy for assuming all musicians are desperate to feature on the hit show. The rocker isn’t a fan of the high school singing and dancing program and insists he wouldn't want to follow in the footsteps of Madonna and Britney Spears, who have had their songs used in the series. And Grohl is fed up with Murphy slamming stars if they decide not to sign up to Glee.

“You shouldn’t have to do ___ing Glee. And then the guy who created Glee is so offended that we’re not, like, begging to be on his ___ing show ... I watched 10 minutes (of it). It's not my thing,” Grohl told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Slash was the first one. (Murphy) wanted to do Guns N’ Roses, and Slash is like, ‘I hate ____ing musicals. It’s worse than Grease.’ Then (Murphy’s) like, ‘Well, of course he’d say that. He’s a washed-up ol’ rock star. That’s what they ____ing do.’

“And then Kings of Leon say, ‘No, we don’t want to be on your show.’ And then he’s like, ‘Snotty little a**holes ...’ And it’s just like, ‘Dude, maybe not everyone loves Glee. Me included.’”

Now, before a reflexively irate PC cop gets out a label maker and tries to tag me as a homophobe for disliking Glee and siding with Jackson’s assessment of the previously mentioned homoerotic scene, let me assure you that I’m not. Just ask my gay friends in Miami.

By the way, if anyone, anywhere and at any time should bully a gay teen I would recommend that the teen who’s being harassed body slam the bully like Casey Heynes did Ritchard Gale. But I digress.
I’ll tell you what I am, Gleevangelical. Are you ready? I’m coming out. I’m wife-o-centric and becoming increasingly homonauseous, as I am way weary of the over-injection of gay sex in our kids’ faces via TV and their kindergarten curriculum.

I have a question for the militant Hollywood gay storm troopers in Testicle Town: Can’t you dudes leave the kids alone for a TV minute? Huh? You’re beginning to get as annoying as Jehovah’s Witnesses with your incessant evangelizing via the boob tube. Yep, you’re way overselling your amazing lifestyle.

That said, I’d like the record to state that overt heterosexual make-out scenes via TV between teens, tweens, middle-aged Cialis droppers and especially betwixt octogenarian Hugh Hefner and his 24-year-old gold-digger are all becoming really, really old as well. It appears as if the tide is going out on the creative juices of those who write for La-La-Land.

What pisses me off the most regarding Hollywood’s wholesale onslaught of teen sex, whether gay or straight, is their obvious omissions of the life-rattling consequences of giving free reign to the gibbering monkey in one’s pants.

Hey, Glee, I’ve got a script idea for you: Why don’t you show one of your randy characters contracting AIDS or one of its ubiquitous and multitudinous STD cousins or catching throat cancer by way of oral sex and HPV and then the physiological, psychological and spiritual hell that ensues, huh? Because that’s what’s happening in mind-boggling record numbers in real life. Yep, the likelihood of that scenario occurring to your target demographic, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is now through the roof … and I hear it’s not that gleeful of an experience.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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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