Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Church of England dying -- and a bishop shows why

The Church of England will cease to exist in 20 years as the current generation of elderly worshippers dies, Anglican leaders warned yesterday.

The average age of its members is now 61 and by 2020 a “crisis” of “natural wastage” will lead to their numbers falling “through the floor”, the Church’s national assembly was told. The Church was compared to a company “impeccably” managing itself into failure, during exchanges at the General Synod in York.

The warnings follow an internal report calling for an urgent national recruitment drive to attract more members. In the past 40 years, the number of adult churchgoers has halved, while the number of children attending regular worship has declined by four fifths.

The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, a Synod member from Norwich, told the meeting that some projections suggested that the Church would no longer be “functionally extant” in 20 years’ time. “The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said. “The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that.

“These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy … 2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage, that is people dying. “Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all.”

Andreas Whittam Smith, the first Church Estates Commissioner, who leads the Church’s £5.3 billion investment fund, said the demographic “time bomb” for Anglicans should be seen as “a crisis”. He told the assembly: “One of our problems may be that decline is so slow and imperceptible that we don’t really see it coming clearly enough.

“I have seen large companies perfectly and impeccably manage themselves into failure. Every step along the road has been well done. “Every account is neatly signed off.” Then finally they find they have “gone bust”, he said. “I sometimes feel the Church is a bit like that.” He added: “I wish that all of us would have a sense of real crisis about this.”

And a bishop unwittingly exhibits some of the politically correct attitudes behind the decline. The church's gospel is boring political correctness, not the love of Christ

Maths lessons are too “capitalist” and should be reformed to promote Christian values, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, told Synod.

The meeting heard that teachers should not illustrate lessons with examples of “profit and loss”, or encourage children to save in order to buy bikes or toys.

Instead, lessons should focus on the maths involved in giving donations to charity, saving for an overseas project, or even “tithing” – giving 10 per cent of one’s income to the Church, Synod members said.

In his speech to the assembly, Bishop Butler said: “We need to explore different models from a Christian perspective of how we approach all the curriculum, not just RE.”


British squatters to face prison under plans for new offence

At long last

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, wants to end so-called “squatters rights” and give home owners and businesses more powers to act against those who take over properties. A consultation to be launched today proposes introducing a new offence of squatting which could carry a jail sentence.

Business owners would also be given the legal right to force their way in to their own properties if squatters have taken over. Currently only home owners are allowed to force their way back in to their homes.

Police and other enforcement agencies will also be encouraged to prosecute squatters for any other related offences such as criminal damage, burglary and using electricity without permission. It follows a separate Government announcement of plans to end access to legal aid for squatters fighting eviction.

There are an estimated 100,000 incidents of squatting every year. A Ministry of Justice source said: “Squatting causes misery for hundreds of innocent home owners and businesses each year and it is clear we must make a stance and do the right thing

“Ken Clarke is clear that the current outdated system which works in favour of the squatter must go. “The consultation we are launching is the first step to making that happen. Ken Clarke was aghast to find that not only do rightful owners face an uphill struggle evicting squatters if they take over a property but currently the taxpayer through legal aid can foot the bill for any squatter who tries to fight eviction

“Our new bill will put a stop to that while we investigate making squatting more generally a criminal offence.”


Disgusting old hatreds still live on among the Australian Left

Want to see stormtroopers picketing Jewish shops? You don't have to go to 1930s Germany. You can see it in Melbourne right now

A century ago, Australia was a relatively tolerant society. Even so, Jews and Catholics were banned from Protestant-dominated gentlemen's clubs in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere. In other words, discrimination against certain minorities became acceptable and fashionable. Consequently, it was rarely commented on or even noticed.

Today Australia is an accepting society which formally outlaws discrimination on the basis of race or gender and disapproves of intolerance towards minorities. Except, it seems, Jews and Catholics.

On the evening of Friday, July 1 - at the commencement of the Jewish sabbath - there was a demonstration outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne. This was part of the Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel. Demonstrators prevented customers entering the premises. The reason? The Strauss Group, the parent company of Max Brenner, supplies confectionary goods to the Israeli Defence Force.

There's not much connection between buying hot chocolate on a cold winter night in Melbourne and the events in the Middle East - where Israel remains, with the possible exception of Iraq, the only democracy. Yet this was a violent demonstration. Victorian Police suffered three injuries and 19 protesters were arrested. Demonstrators called for the destruction of Israel and chanted: "From the river to the sea/Palestine will be free." The protest was reported in the Herald-Sun but all but ignored by The Age and the ABC.

Michael Danby, the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, put the matter in perspective when he commented: "These people are prejudiced fanatics who should look into their soul. While 1500 people are murdered in Syria, they launch their own sad little attack on a chocolate shop because it also has stores in Israel."

Danby's point about double standards is well taken. There is little doubt that most ABC and Age journalists would regard a violent boycott of a kebab shop, in opposition to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, as both a provocation and newsworthy.

Then there are the historical parallels. In the mid-1930s, Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists used to go on rampages outside Jewish-owned shops in London's East End - some were boycotted, others smashed up. The British government responded by implementing the Public Order Act. Mosley targeted Jewish traders because they were Jews. The BDS protesters targeted the Max Brenner chocolate shop because its parent company does business in the Jewish state of Israel.

The demonstration in Melbourne (there was also one in Sydney in June) has attracted little attention, apart from coverage by Andrew Bolt and reports in the Australian Jewish News. This suggests society has become complacent when the target of a protest is Jewish.

It's much the same with traditional Catholics, such as Tony Abbott. Last week he was subjected to two negative advertisements: one by the Labor Party, endorsed by the ALP national secretary, George Wright; the other by the left-wing CFMEU, which was endorsed by the trade union's national president, Tony Maher.

The Labor advertisement has Abbott being woken by an alarm clock and then going through his wardrobe to choose his attire for the day. Among the outfits rejected are a red pair of swimming briefs, bicycle clothing and a cassock with a crucifix on the front. Get it? Abbott, who trained as a seminarian, once thought about being a Catholic priest.

The CFMEU advertisement is more of the (sectarian) same. The Liberal Party leader is presented as one of the popes of old who rejected Galileo's scientific findings. Abbott is presented as not merely someone who declines to believe that the world is round but a Catholic who wears a crucifix on his cassock.

I know and respect Wright. I doubt that the newly appointed ALP national secretary understands just how sectarian Labor's advertisement is - or that such anti-Catholic material is capable of offending conservative Catholics who vote ALP. But that's the point. Like pro-Israeli Jews, conservative Catholics are readily taken for granted.

As is its practice, Britain's irreverent Private Eye publishes anonymous reviews. Whoever had the task of assessing the latest offering by the atheist A.C. Grayling made a perceptive point about modern Western manners. He or she pointed out that, for the likes of Grayling, Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists make easy targets.

The reviewer added: "The wise would quite like to be equally contemptuous of Muslims and Hindus, but these persons generally have brown skins and thus criticism of their religious beliefs is better avoided." Australia's very own born-again atheist Catherine Deveny admitted as much on Q&A in February when she said she was "flat out" attacking the "Catholic faith".

Conservative Catholics are a large enough minority to look after themselves. However, there is reason to be concerned about the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in the West. Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada have been relatively free of this blight in recent times. Not so Europe, including western Europe.

In his recent essay From Blood Libel to Boycott, Professor Robert Wistrich paints a disturbing picture of anti-Semitism in contemporary Britain. A similar case has been made by the British lawyer and historian Anthony Julius about the hostility to academic Jews exhibited by the University and College Union in Britain.

Wistrich asks the hard question: "Why is Anglo-Jewry the only important ethnic or religious minority in contemporary Britain that has to provide a permanent system of guards and surveillance for its communal institutions, schools, synagogues and cultural centres?" A similar question could be asked about Australia - both with respect to Jewish property and anti-Catholic sectarianism.


Australia: Didn’t sign up for an internet filter? Have one anyway

HAVE you received an email about Australia’s internet filter lately? Seen a brief note from your internet service provider?

No? Neither have I. Yet, like the majority of Australian internet users, my access to the internet is being filtered. A list of hundreds of websites is being blocked from view. ‘Which websites?’ you ask. It’s hard to say. They’re on a secret list.

‘Why didn’t the Government tell me?’ you ask. The Government isn’t overseeing this operation. In fact, the Australian Government has no control over this filter at all. It’s something a select group of internet providers have taken on all by themselves.

Are you concerned yet? You have a right to be. As suspected, Australia’s internet filter crept on to the worldwide web very quietly.

This filter, you see, was not the much-publicised version devised by Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. It would have seen every website lumped into the ‘Refused Classification’ basket banned from view. There were more than a few Australians concerned about what that filter might ban, including political debates on topics such as euthanasia and abortion.

The RC filter still on the Labor policy table, though we’ll have to wait for the results of a Classification review before it rears up again. That is due next year. The filter we now have (surprise!) was instead devised as a stop-gap while we wait for our full-blown filter. It is just as secretive, however.

Optus has confirmed it plans to start censoring the web this month, though it won’t say when. Telstra flicked the filtering switch on July 1, as did CyberOne.

So what exactly are they filtering? At this stage, the voluntary filter is designed to block child abuse material. According to the Communications Minister’s department, that includes the ACMA list of about 500 websites plus Interpol’s list of sites. We don’t know how long this list of websites is. No one will say.

So why should you be concerned? No one here is in favour of child abuse, after all. Here’s a list to get you startled.

1. Subscribers have not been told.

I expected to know when Australia got its first internet filter. I also expected to be notified when my long-time internet provider installed one. Telstra has told me nothing about it. Millions of others are in the same boat. If it’s for our own good, why aren’t we being told about it?

2. We don’t know what is on this list.

It’s all very well for the IIA to come out in support of this voluntary, commercial filtering, but even they won’t say what exactly is being filtered. Can we have content descriptions at least? Will there be a repeat of the incident in which Wikipedia was blocked in the UK due to an album cover the Internet Watch Foundation didn’t like? Nobody knows.

3. No appeals process.

Discover your website is being blocked unfairly? Perhaps you have a saucy album cover on your website? There is no way to appeal this ban. You could perhaps lobby the IIA or individual service providers, but there is no pre-constructed method to get your site off this list.

4. Companies are in charge.

This internet filter affects millions of Australian internet users yet it’s being governed by companies. Forget child abuse. Why not block customers whinging about Aussie telcos? Why doesn’t Vodafone block Vodafail? It’s possible now.

5. Paving the way for a bigger filter.

Much more serious is the threat that this system could be expanded to become Conroy’s planned internet filter. If no laws are required to set up this system, what is preventing its expansion to all Refused Classification sites? What is to prevent the banned website list getting longer? Based on this current experience, we would never know just how long the list was and wouldn’t discover a website was banned until we tried to visit it. This filter could become downright insidious without notice.

There is hope, however. Quite a few Australian internet providers do not see it as their job to block websites. These include iiNet, Internode, Exetel and TPG. Those looking for a way to protest this quiet filter can opt for any of these services.

We shouldn’t have to change service providers to make a political point though. This filter is not something Australians were allowed to vote upon and it’s not something about which we’ve been adequately informed. The Government won’t say anything about it as they’re not in charge of it and the ISPs are not even telling their customers.

If a site is illegal, take it down. If more law enforcement is needed online, fund it. Installing a voluntary, commercially introduced ban on a list of unknown websites? Dodgy.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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