An Easter victory as Christian electrician wins battle to display cross in his van
Christian electrician Colin Atkinson has won his fight to display a cross in his van following a nationwide outcry. The dramatic climbdown by Wakefield District Housing came after senior church figures were joined by Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders in condemning his employers.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey had described the 64-year-old grandfather’s plight as ‘scandalous’ and Housing and Planning Minister Grant Shapps said WDH’s action was ‘wrong’. Last night Lord Carey said: ‘I’m so glad. All that was needed was a little bit of compassion and understanding. Where there is a bit of common sense we can find a resolution.’
WDH caved in and agreed to let Mr Atkinson display his cross in an effort to end the embarrassing row. The U-turn came at a ‘confidential and unminuted’ meeting between Mr Atkinson, his Unite union rep Terry Cuncliffe, WHD executive director of people Gillian Pickersgill and a senior manager at the organisation’s headquarters in Castleford, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday.
During the hour-long meeting WDH managers put a series of proposals to Mr Atkinson – all of which would allow him publicly to display the cross.
Mr Atkinson has agreed with managers not to reveal the details of the compromise agreement. But he had maintained all along his right to display the cross publicly was ‘non-negotiable’. He has been supported throughout his 18-month battle to keep his cross by Mr Cuncliffe.
Yesterday Mr Cuncliffe told the Mail: ‘The issue is about Colin’s ability to demonstrate his faith. ‘And any proposals to resolve this issue must allow Colin to display his faith in the way he is comfortable. ‘I believe the situation is up for resolution. ‘It is now time to calm things down and apply some common sense.’
He added: ‘This was a private and confidential meeting. Minutes were not taken so there could be a frank exchange of views between parties. ‘Both parties put forward suggestions to provide solutions and we worked jointly towards reaching a resolution.’ Mr Atkinson is expected formally to agree to WDH’s plan that will allow him to display his cross next week.
He told the Mail: ‘I just want this all over so I can get back to work and provide for my wife and family. ‘This is important. ‘I did not ask for this fight but I have been forced to join it. ‘I have every right to manifest my faith. That is all I have done. ‘I have not bashed anybody with my Bible. I simply want to be able to demonstrate my faith.’
Yesterday WDH declined to comment on the climb-down. Lord Carey thanked the Mail for championing Christians’ right to worship. He said: ‘I am grateful to the Daily Mail for highlighting this case. Christians in this country are under pressure.’
Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe, a devout Christian, added: ‘At last, a victory for common sense and tolerance. It is hugely symbolic that this has come so close to Good Friday.’
Mr Atkinson faced the sack after he refused to take the small palm cross off the dashboard of his company vehicle. WDH told him it was ‘unacceptable’ to display the 8in symbol of his Christian faith in the van for fear of upsetting ‘diverse’ tenants in the organisation’s 31,000 homes.
However, a Muslim worker is allowed to display a Koranic verse in the car she uses for work and staff are allowed to wear specially made company burkas. The obvious injustice led WDH to be branded ‘anti-Christian’ as the dispute sparked anger across the country.
Mr Atkinson has also been supported by Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders. The electrician from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is married to Geraldine, 61. They have five children from previous marriages and three grandchildren.
His ordeal began after bosses received an anonymous letter claiming tenants may be offended by the cross in the van. He refused to remove it and was accused of rejecting a ‘reasonable’ management complaint. Mr Atkinson and his union rep argued there was nothing in company rules prohibiting the cross.
Hindu and Sikh colleagues appeared as witnesses in his defence. WDH promotes its inclusive policies and allows employees to wear religious symbols – including burkas – at work. But it changed company policy on Christmas Eve last year to ban all personal effects in its vehicles.
In January Mr Atkinson was reported for continuing to display the cross and last week WDH concluded he had breached company rules. On Monday he was thrown out of his workplace and told he had violated his contract by revealing his ordeal.
Mr Atkinson, who is currently on ‘gardening leave’, expects to return to work on Tuesday – and display his cross in public.
Dubious claim: Women to sue hotel that 'banned them because they're gay'
A guesthouse owner is being sued by a lesbian couple who claim he turned them away for being gay. But the manager of a hotel in Brighton insists he had no qualms about their sexuality and only refused the two women a room because they were being ‘loud and abusive’.
Now Nasser Dean, 52, fears his guesthouse will be dragged into a high-profile political row by the gay rights movement, after civil rights group Liberty declared it was backing the couple in their legal action.
Rebecca Nash, 22, and Hope Stubbings, 19, of Andover, Hampshire, say they phoned up and booked a double room at the Brunswick Square Hotel. But when they arrived, they claim the manager told them no rooms were available and that the hotel only accepted straight couples and families. They were then ushered out of the hotel by the manager who allegedly became increasingly aggressive towards them, according to Liberty, which is funding their legal battle.
It is the latest in a string of cases of gay people being turned away from hotels. But unlike some others, in which Christian owners have refused gay people a room on principled grounds, Mr Dean says he has nothing against homosexual guests.
He said: ‘I never ask if my guests are gay, it’s none of my business. If I had a problem with it, I wouldn’t have come to Brighton [known as the gay capital of Britain] or stayed in business here for 22 years. ‘I have never had trouble like this before. It is very upsetting. The only time we send people away is if they are loud or hooligans. ‘I run a quiet hotel and these girls were not quiet, so I did not want them disturbing other guests.’
He claims the women never actually made a booking, but had merely phoned to inquire if a room was available before showing up a couple of hours later.
However, a different story is told by the women, both office workers. A Liberty spokesman said: ‘When they arrived, they were told by the manager that no rooms were available and that the hotel only accepted “couples and families”. ‘Miss Nash and Ms Stubbings explained that they were in fact a couple, and had purposely booked a double room. But the manager replied: “No two boys, no two girls. We don’t have any rooms”.
‘Despite the couple’s protests, the manager became increasingly aggressive, raising his voice and ushering them out of the hotel. They told him they had nowhere else to stay, but he threatened to call police before shouting: “I don’t accept rejects in my hotel”.’
Liberty claims the women were unable to find other accommodation and had to go home, losing out on their weekend away in October. Liberty is bringing proceedings against the hotel on the couple’s behalf on the grounds they were discriminated against contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Legal director James Welch said: ‘Laws prohibiting hotels and guesthouses from discriminating against gay men and lesbians have been in place for four years but clearly the message isn’t getting through.’
Anti-Semitism as Thick as a London Fog
Anti-Semitism reached a new low in London earlier this month as the Hamas-affiliated International Solidarity Movement (ISM) successfully forced Israeli-owned AHAVA to close its London shop. For almost two years, the Israeli-based cosmetics company, a manufacturer of Dead Sea mineral skin-care products sold worldwide, has been targeted by street protests and in-store disruptive actions by the ISM and related groups committed to destroying the state of Israel.
The ISM actions against AHAVA were part of the ISM's broader anti-Israel activities. These have included demands for international sanctions against Israel, sponsorship of worldwide Israeli divestment campaigns, and orchestrated boycotts of Israeli products, academics and events. The ISM has advanced the false narrative of Israel as a Nazi-like apartheid state and mendaciously equated the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust with the plight of the Arab-Palestinians today. Like its partners-in-crime Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the ISM does not support the peace process and endeavors to eliminate Israel. Thus, the Israeli cosmetics company has been yet another political target as part of the ISM strategy to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State using false accusations of "illegal" activities.
Last fall on two occasions, ISM members carried a concrete block into AHAVA's London shop, blocked the store entrance, and disrupted business for nearly seven hours. ISM operatives refused to leave and were later charged with trespassing and disobeying a police officer. In court, ISM defense attorneys denied that AHAVA's business had been damaged or any employees and customers intimidated. Participating ISM members justified their criminal actions by claiming that AHAVA operates in "illegal Israeli settlements" and thereby engages in "illegal business activities."
This tactic of disruptive actions against private individuals and businesses in retaliation for Israel's foreign and domestic policies has been widely used to suppress Israeli research and punish Israeli academics. Despite its organizational name, the ISM focuses only on what it calls "Israeli apartheid in Palestine," solely targeting Israeli Jews for fictitious atrocities and ignoring widespread global human rights abuses, including summary executions in Communist China, government-sanctioned enslavement in North Korea and Saudi Arabia, and the chemical genocide of the Kurds committed by the Turkish government.
In 2009, ISM members caused damages totalling nearly $300,000 when they ransacked an arms factory in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, to protest the alleged manufacture of arms for the Israeli air force in Gaza. They were later acquitted after arguing that their activities were legally justified given Israel's war crimes. The presiding judge, George Bathurst-Norman, who was later sanctioned by the Lord Chief Justice, injected his political bias into the court proceedings with another lie by referring to Gaza as a "giant prison camp."
This statement, besides being grounds for disbarment, was followed by even more outrageous comments as Bathurst-Norman disparaged U.S. support of Israel, spuriously calling it evidence of complicity with Israel's actions. The judge also said Gazans suffered "Hell on Earth," as he referred to Operation Cast Lead, Israel's defensive war in 2005 after over 10,000 rockets from Gaza sent Israeli civilians running for their lives to bomb shelters. Not surprisingly, given the judge's attitudes, all five defendants who damaged the arms factory were acquitted. An appeal is unlikely under English law.
In the AHAVA matter, the Covent Garden store has been an ISM target for years. Two times in 2009, and again in the fall of 2010, the store was forced to close after demonstrators chained themselves to a concrete block inside the store. English courts, again, seem determined to set ISM protestors free. The first trial was dismissed after witnesses failed to show up. A second trial on subsequent trespasses is still in the works with a verdict expected this month.
The inherent anti-Semitism in singling out an Israeli shop for alleged human rights violations was lost on neighboring shopkeepers who appealed to the local landlord not to renew AHAVA's lease. Instead of condemning the protestors' actions as a public nuisance and an obstruction to normal business activities, they complained about AHAVA "bringing the street down." They failed to confront the protestors and allowed a lawful business to be chased out of the area by people opposed to Israel's very existence.
Of course, all sense of reality about Israel is typically barred whenever the narrative against the Jewish state springs up. Israel is not a soi-disant "apartheid" entity as it is erroneously portrayed, but a democracy with a plurality of ethnic groups and religions living side-by-side and enjoying equal rights.
Contrast this to Gaza, in which homosexuals and non-Muslims are persecuted and unable to openly declare their sexual orientation or freely practice their religions. Arab-Palestinian homosexuals escape the threat of death in Gaza by making their way to sanctuary in Tel Aviv. Whereas churches have been destroyed, Christians have been murdered, and acid-throwing has forced the veiling of Christian women in Gaza, Christian holy sites, as well as the holy sites of all religions, are protected in Israel, as are all religious practices. Women and non-Jews enjoy the same rights of Jewish Israelis and may even serve in the Knesset. Unlike Gaza, no gender segregation exists, nor any requirement to follow the Islamic shariah. Fully 20% of Israel's population is Israeli Arabs who enjoy the same rights as Israeli Jews.
As the country with the most freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Israel is also the most maligned country in the world. There is not and never has been a system of apartheid in the Jewish state. The true apartheid by religion, sex, and sexual orientation exists in the Arab-Palestinian territories and throughout the Muslim world. Sadly, it is opposition to Israel because it is a Jewish state -- the only one in the world -- that underlies the phenomenon of continued opposition and hatred. By allowing anti-Israeli terrorist-affiliated groups to dictate which shops will be permitted on a London street, appeasement has reached a new low and London falls further down the slippery slope toward Islamization.
Hate-filled "LGBT" Professor Sends Vulgar E-Mail to College GOP
This won't make many waves, it was a Leftist professor saying it to the college Republicans and so the mainstream media will not even talk about it
When the College Republican club at the University of Iowa sent out a university-approved blast e-mail regarding its “Conservative Coming out Week,” one professor took umbrage with it. And she let the group know it with three some simple words: “Fu** You Republicans!”
Ellen Lewin [above], a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, was outraged at the club‘s playful rundown of the week’s events, which included a friendly blood drive competition between Rupublicans and Democrats “for a good cause.”
The e-mail, with Lewin’s initial response, is here, via the Iowa Republican
Lewin’s response was sent via her official University of Iowa e-mail account and included her official university title in her signature.
“We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Natalie Ginty, University of Iowa student and chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology. Lewin did offer an apology, but it came with multiple disclaimer:
“This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government. I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”
The Iowa Republican notes that the group did not choose the distribution list, the e-mail was school-sanctioned, and it met the guidelines for mass e-mailings.
Lewin eventually sent another response bashing the GOP’s “general disdain” for LGBT rights:
"I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity. Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event “conservative coming out day,” appropriating the language of the LGBT rights movement. Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work. And the “Animal Rights BBQ” is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause.
Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted.
I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.
The controversy prompted a blast e-mail response from University of Iowa President Sally Mason blasting Lewin’s “intolerant and disrespectful discord,“ calling it ”not acceptable behavior:”
Dear Members of the University Community:
The University of Iowa encourages freedom of expression, opposing viewpoints, and civil debate about those opposing viewpoints. This is clearly articulated in our core values of Diversity and Respect. Because diversity, broadly defined, advances its mission of teaching, research, and service, the University is dedicated to an inclusive community in which people of different cultural, national, individual, and academic backgrounds encounter one another in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and shared appreciation.
The University also strongly encourages student engagement in such discussions and supports students acting on their viewpoints. Student organizations are sometimes formed along political lines and act on their political beliefs. Even if we personally disagree with those viewpoints, we must be respectful of those viewpoints in every way. Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior.
According to the Iowa Republican, Lewin is the author of the books titled, Inventing Lesbian Cultures in America, and Gay Fatherhood: Narratives of Family and Citizenship in America.
Gateway Pundit might have summed it up best: “You’ve gotta love it. She tells them to “f**k off” then lectures them on civility during these ‘difficult times.’”
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.