Sunday, April 24, 2011
Jesus vs Che Guevara: A man who laid down his life for us ... or a murderous ‘rock-star’ rebel?
We now have to be pleased that a man has not been sacked from his job for putting a small cross on the dashboard of his company van.
Please forgive me if my joy is muted this Eastertide. The real meaning of the Wakefield Palm Cross Affair is not specially happy.
Colin Atkinson would have been fired if it hadn’t been for the might of this newspaper – and the dogged courage of a union official, Terry Cunliffe. Many unions are keen on ‘Equality and Diversity’ codes, and wouldn’t have taken the case.
And as it’s Easter, I’d like to focus on the fact that the manager involved, Denis Doody, had a picture (perhaps I should say ‘icon’) of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara on his office wall.
Why? Well, what we recall at Easter is the show trial and judicial murder of Jesus of Nazareth. A mob is manipulated into calling for his death. The judge, who knows he is innocent, feebly gives in. Such things are common in the real world, to this day.
The resurrection, which some of us still celebrate today, symbolises the ultimate defeat of cruel and cynical human power by a far greater force. Among other things, Easter enshrines the idea that what we do here matters somewhere else, that there is an absolute standard by which our actions are judged.
Down 20 centuries, this idea has restrained the powerful. They do not like it. Never have. Never will.
The worship of Christ, victim of a lynch mob and a crooked judge, is dangerously radical. What about the cult of Comrade Guevara, embraced by Mr Doody?
It claims to be radical too. But its devotees are the power-worshipping generation that now dominates our culture, using their slogan of ‘equality’ as a bludgeon to flatten opposition.
Guevara was an evil killer, the exact opposite of Jesus. There is no excuse at all for revering him.
He personally slaughtered alleged traitors to his nasty revolution.
One of these was Eutimio Guerra, a peasant and army guide. Guevara himself icily recounted: ‘I fired a .32 calibre bullet into the right hemisphere of his brain which came out through his left temple. He moaned for a few moments, then died.’
Later, when the rock-star rebel ‘Che’ was in power, he would lie on top of the wall at
La Cabana prison, jauntily smoking a cigar while he watched the firing squads below punching bloody holes in the victims of his kangaroo trials.
Guevara’s view of justice was typical of the smug Left, which knows it is right because it knows it is good. ‘Don’t drag out the process. This is a revolution. Don’t use bourgeois legal methods, the proof is secondary.’
There you have it, rather neatly expressed – the two rival forces that compete for supremacy in what was once a Christian country – the Gospel of Che, hot with hate and splattered with other people’s blood and brains in the pursuit of a utopia that never comes, and the Gospel of Christ, a life laid down willingly for others.
Care to choose?
Is this equality? As a British lawyer, I never thought I’d have to defend Christians in a Christian nation
By Andrea Minichiello Williams
I wanted to be a barrister for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be an advocate, to give a voice to those in society who could not help themselves. I wanted justice to be done and believed that our great British legal system, founded on Christian principles, would secure such justice.
I never imagined that my skills as a lawyer would be used to defend Christians for following their faith in 21st Century Britain.
In the UK, Christians are beginning to experience discrimination that leads to them being marginalised and losing their jobs. Over the past three years more than 100 have suffered after wearing a cross, sharing their faith, even offering a prayer.
Why is this? I believe it is because, as a nation, we have forgotten our history and Christian foundations – our very identity. The legal and political elite tell us that we have now ‘grown up’ and are a secular nation.
This rings hollow for many of us. Even those who might not attend church regularly still – the majority of them – identify with the great faith that shaped our nation.
Christian principles are clear-cut and easy to understand. They espouse life, joy, forgiveness, freedom, tolerance and justice. These principles are good for all and we are poorer as a society when we reject their source.
The social reformers of the 19th Century who made Britain great – Wilberforce, Fry, Peel and Rowntree, among others – were compelled by their love for Christ and built on the foundations of preachers such as Wesley and Whitefield of the 18th Century. Most of the great advances in public life, in healthcare, education and social provision, came as a result of Christian conviction.
Biblical principles of justice transcribed into the statute books helped to maintain true tolerance within our society, the dignity of every human being and the call to great
sacrificial public service.
Yet since the middle of the last century the Christian framework that shaped our culture has come under increasing attack.
As a young barrister in the Eighties I had the privilege of knowing Lord Denning – a judge famous for doing the right thing – and every three months I would enjoy fish and chips with him at his local pub in Whitchurch in Hampshire. What was it that informed Lord Denning? It was his notion of Christian justice. He once proclaimed: ‘Without Christianity, there can be no morality, there can be no law.’
Yet modern legal and political thought, particularly under the Blair/Brown regime but continuing under Cameron and Clegg, has been dominated not by Christian principles, but by liberal secular humanism, exemplified in the equalities legislation of the past decade.
Contrast Lord Denning with Lord Justice Munby, and his statement in a recent Christian Legal Centre case: ‘Although historically this country is part of the Christian West, and although it has an established church which is Christian, there have been enormous changes in the social and religious life of our country over the past century. Our society is now pluralistic and largely secular.
‘We sit as secular judges serving a multicultural community of many faiths . . . The laws and usages of the realm do not include Christianity, in whatever form. The aphorism that “Christianity is part of the common law of England” is mere rhetoric.’
Has Lord Justice Munby forgotten the whole of our nation’s history?
While appearing to have the noble aim of upholding personal dignity, equality laws passed in the past decade have acted as a political lightning rod to eliminate Christian morality from the workplace. In essence, they are being applied unequally.
Take marriage. Marriage as traditionally understood no longer has any special status in the law and yet it is the first building block for a stable society. We have exchanged the ideal of marriage between a man and woman for ‘All relationships are equal’.
As the new morality is enforced by the State, the fear of appearing ‘phobic’ has led to many public bodies conducting ‘Middle Age’ witch-hunts against anyone who dares speak or even think differently.
Eunice and Owen Johns were foster parents with an impeccable record. Their fostering application, for children aged between five and ten, stalled because they couldn’t sign an equality policy which meant that they would be prepared to ‘promote the practice’ of homosexuality.
The judges said there might ‘be a tension between equality provisions concerning religious discrimination and those concerning sexual orientation’. Where this is so ‘the equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence’.
It has all gone too far. It is time to turn the tide. I don’t believe the great and ordinary British people want this kind of liberal-tyranny. We want our freedom back. People should be free to debate, state and hold the view that a child needs a mother and a father without feeling ashamed or sidelined.
We don't want preachers arrested or Christian registrars forced from office because they can’t, in conscience, officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies. We don’t want doctors and magistrates to lose their jobs because they believe that vulnerable children are best raised in a home with a mother and a father, or our children put in isolation because they refuse to take off a purity ring.
I could go on. The liberal tyranny does not stop at the family but invades any manifestation of the Christian faith in the public arena. It leads to a nurse of 38 years being taken off frontline nursing because she won’t take off her two-inch cross; it leads to an electrician being told to remove the palm cross he has had in his van for 15 years.
These cases are the tip of the iceberg. Most go unreported. It was the sense of injustice that led us, three years ago, to set up the Christian Legal Centre and its sister organisation, Christian Concern. Are we as a nation really prepared to let go of our Christian roots? Well, I am not, not without a fight.
There cannot be a Big Society without a Big Story. This nation’s great story is based on that of Jesus Christ. At Easter, we celebrate how, faced with a world that had rejected Him and gone its own way, God reached out in love, at the cost of His own life, to bring reconciliation at the most fundamental level – a reconciliation to Him.
Christians for generations have responded to this story of new life, hope and sacrifice by giving themselves in acts of service to our great land. Surely it is time to embrace and accept them, noting that true tolerance is accepting the difference, not silencing or eliminating them from public life.
MT: Judge rejects gay couple rights suit
A Montana judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit that sought to extend to gay couples the same legal protections as married couples, saying in his decision that he can't grant the benefits partly because of the state's voter-approved constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the gay couples, arguing that the guarantees in the Montana Constitution of equal protection, privacy and dignity should require the state to afford the legal rights to the gay couples. The ACLU said it plans to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court.
The gay couples weren't asking for the right in the lawsuit to marry, which the Montana Constitutional defines as between a man and a woman. Rather they wanted to be able to make burial, health care and other decisions, while enjoying such benefits as jointly filing taxes.
The attorney general's office has countered in court that Montana can't extend spousal benefits to gay couples because those benefits are limited to married couples by definition since Montana voters in 2004 approved the marriage amendment.
The state argued in court that the Legislature is free to create a new, separate class for couples regardless of sexual orientation. It argued such a policy choice should be made by the state, and not the courts.
District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock noted in a decision dated Tuesday that the state government grants its gay employees the same employment-related benefits for their same-sex partners. And he pointed out that the Montana Supreme Court has previously decided that that the state university system's past policy of barring such benefits to gay employees violated the equal protection provisions of the Montana Constitution.
But the new case sought to go farther.
Sherlock pointed to similar cases in Vermont and New Jersey that successfully ordered the states to allow the common benefits and protections of marriage to gay couples, even if they are not allowed to get legally married. But Sherlock said neither state had a constitutional marriage provision like Montana.
The judge said, despite sympathy for the plaintiffs, that it would be an inappropriate breach of separation of powers for him to order the Legislature to enact "a domestic partnership or civil union arrangement" as sought by the gay couples. He said forcing the lawmakers to draw up new laws goes much farther than asking him to declare one of their statutes unconstitutional.
"This court finds plaintiffs' proposal, although appealing, to be unprecedented and uncharted in Montana law," Sherlock wrote. Sherlock said the marriage amendment alone wouldn't prevent the court from extending the relief, but he argued it does play into his decision that the "requested relief constitutes an impermissible sojourn into the powers of the legislative branch."
Sherlock said the information provided voters deciding the state's amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman were told by both sides that it went beyond just a legal designation.
"Indeed, the proponents and opponents seem to both acknowledge that the marriage amendment would have something to do with benefits and obligations that relate to the status of being married," Sherlock said. "Thus, it appears that both the proponents and opponents of CI-96 felt that that constitutional provision bore on some of the very issues now presented to this court."
The ACLU argues that the marriage amendment does not preclude other rights.
"We are obviously very disappointed in the judge's decision," said ACLU of Montana legal director Betsy Griffing. "We are evaluating all of our options. We recognize that this is a long road. We certainly don't consider our advocacy on this point to be over."
Virginia Protects Religious Liberty in Adoption and Foster Care
Virginia residents witnessed a significant victory for religious liberty this week. On Wednesday, Virginia’s State Board of Social Services voted 7–2 to reject a controversial policy that could have forced faith-based institutions to abandon their beliefs and cost Virginia many effective adoption agencies. Governor Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to approve the regulations.
The proposed changes to the regulations would have added sexual orientation, family status, age, religion, and other characteristics to the state’s family services nondiscrimination policy, prohibiting any adoption agency in Virginia from considering those attributes in prospective adoptive parents. Refusing to abide by this or any other adoption and foster care regulation would result in an agency losing its state-issued license to place children for adoption in Virginia. A religiously affiliated agency that believes children thrive in married households with both mom and dad would have been forced to either renounce its moral beliefs or shut its doors.
The proposed changes would have threatened the religious liberty of adoption agencies, effectively banning many faith-based family service organizations with tragic consequences for the thousands of Virginia children waiting for adoption. In 2002, the latest year for which data is available, roughly 80 percent of Virginia’s 2,121 adoptions were facilitated by private organizations or through direct placement. Forty-two of the nearly 60 state-approved private adoption agencies have a particular religious affiliation.
A public comment period on the proposed regulations afforded a glimpse into the consequences of alienating faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. As Teresa McDonough, director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Arlington, wrote: “We feel this does not allow faith-based agencies to follow their beliefs in regard to sexual orientation, religion and family status when approving families for foster care and adoption, thereby impacting their ability to continue to operate in this state.”
Likewise, Brian Luwis, CEO of America World Adoption, which is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, commented, “As a Christian adoption agency … we fear that this regulation, if implemented in its current form, could put our agency in conflict with licensing standards and endanger our ability to serve children.”
According to the Washington Times review of the 1,000-plus public comments on the proposed regulations, the vast majority of respondents took issue with the addition of “sexual orientation” to the nondiscrimination policy, while just over 30 respondents viewed the change positively.
Similar unintended consequences have resulted from broadly defined nondiscrimination policies in other localities. In the wake of legalizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, both jurisdictions sacrificed the vast and important work of local Catholic archdioceses in helping place foster children in loving homes. The new same-sex marriage laws and previous sexual orientation policies pitted legal statutes against the organizations’ teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that children deserve the unique benefits provided by both a mother and a father.
Absent robust religious exemptions, government redefinition of civil institutions like the family often forces religious organizations to choose between providing services or forfeiting their convictions on bedrock moral issues. As Heritage visiting fellow Thomas Messner writes in recent research:
When civil liability or equal access to government benefits depends on private citizens adopting the “official” state position on controversial moral issues, the potential for infringement of religious liberty and rights of conscience is clear.
Differences over moral issues of great weight are not likely to end soon. Whenever government has a regulatory or funding interest in such issues, policymakers should be careful to provide full protection for and encouragement of the religious liberty of organizations whose work advances civil society.
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.