Sunday, September 25, 2011
BBC turns its back on year of Our Lord: 2,000 years of Christianity jettisoned for politically correct 'Common Era'
The BBC has been accused of 'absurd political correctness' after dropping the terms BC and AD in case they offend non-Christians. The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.
Some of the BBC's most popular programmes including University Challenge, presented by Jeremy Paxman, and Radio 4's In Our Time, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, are among the growing number of shows using the new descriptions.
The BBC's religious and ethics department says the changes are necessary to avoid offending non-Christians. It states: 'As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians. In line with modern practice, BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) are used as a religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD.'
But the move has angered Christians, mystified other faith leaders and been branded unnecessary by the Plain English Campaign. Critics say the new terms are meaningless because, just like AD and BC, they still denote years in relation to the life of Christ.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: 'I think this amounts to the dumbing down of the Christian basis of our culture, language and history. These changes are unnecessary and they don't achieve what the BBC wants them to achieve. 'Whether you use Common Era or Anno Domini, the date is actually still the same and the reference point is still the birth of Christ.'
Marie Clair of the Plain English Campaign said: 'As with most politically correct innovations, I am sure this was done with the best of intentions. But it is difficult to see what the point of the changes are if people do not understand the new terms. It sounds like change just for the sake of change.'
The website for BBC Religion and Ethics, headed by commissioning editor Aaqil Ahmed, who is a Muslim, is littered with references to Common Era and Before Common Era. However, the BBC bizarrely insists the bbc.co.uk/religion website has nothing to do with Mr Ahmed and is actually the responsibility of BBC Learning.
The terms are not confined to religious output and have also been used in news bulletins. Some reports add to the confusion by switching between both terms in the same item.
A report on historic monuments in Jerusalem, for instance, informed viewers that Temple Mount, a shrine which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, was built in '70 AD (the Common Era)'; while a recent report on frankincense quoted one reference to 7000 BC before describing another event as taking place in the 1st Century BCE.
One of the BBC's study guides highlights Greek philosopher Demokritos, whose dates are given as 460-370 BCE, while a section on GCSE Bitesize on American playwright Arthur Miller says that the first tragedies were written by the Greeks in the 5th Century BCE. Similarly, a section about the rules of Hindu warfare refers to 3000 BCE.
Often viewers have no idea why presenters, contributors and guests are using the new terms. In an edition of In Our Time broadcast in March, one contributor made several references to the Common Era in a discussion on sacred Hindu texts. Melvyn Bragg did not feel the need to clarify it.
This is not the first time the BBC has caused controversy over its use of alien language to promote a politically correct, Europhile agenda. Its increasing reliance on metric measurements rather than the imperial system and its occasional reference to expenditure in terms of euros rather than pounds has infuriated many viewers.
Several prominent Christians last night blasted the Corporation for sidelining Christianity.
The Rev Peter Mullen, Anglican chaplain to the London Stock Exchange, said: 'This is absurd political correctness and these new terms do not mean anything to anyone. 'I think it's an example of the BBC trying to undermine Christianity by pushing an aggressive secularism. 'I would be very surprised if any other faith had complained about the use of Anno Domini and Before Christ.'
Ann Widdecombe, the Catholic former Tory Minister, said: 'I think what the BBC is doing is offensive to Christians. They are discarding terms that have been around for centuries and are well understood by everyone. 'What are they going to do next? Get rid of the entire calendar on the basis that it has its roots in Christianity?'
A spokesman for the Church of England said that although both terms were common, BC and AD 'more clearly reflect Britain's Christian heritage'.
Several of the BBC's most well-known presenters said they saw no problem with the established system of AD and BC. John Humphrys, who presents Radio 4's Today programme and TV's Mastermind, said: 'I will continue to use AD and BC because I don't see a problem. 'They are terms which most people use and are clearly understood.'
Historian Simon Schama, who has presented several programmes for the BBC, said: 'As a Jew I don't have any problems with AD or BC. But CE and BCE are used frequently in Jewish circles. 'I have been familiar with them since the Fifties, so it's not like the BBC have just made them up.'
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Institute, said: 'I don't know anyone who has been offended by AD and BC, so why change them?'
British Police tell cafe owner: Stop showing Bible DVDs, or we will have to arrest you
Police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest –for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen. Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.
Mr Murray, 31, was left shocked after he was questioned for nearly an hour by the officers, who arrived unannounced at the premises. He said he had turned off the Bible DVD after an ‘aggressive inquisition’ during which he thought he was going to be arrested and ‘frog-marched out of the cafe like a criminal’.
But he added: ‘I have now checked on my rights and I am not going to be bullied by the police and the PC lobby out of playing the Bible silently in my cafe. It’s crazy. Christians have to stand up for what they believe in.’
The Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool has for years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible, a 15-DVD set produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament, on a small flatscreen TV on the back wall.
The sound is turned down but the words flash on to the screen against a series of images. The cafe, which opened eight years ago, also prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of Blackpool.
Mr Murray said the two uniformed officers from Lancashire Constabulary arrived at lunchtime on Monday, the cafe’s busiest time of day. WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, told him there had been a complaint and he was breaching the Public Order Act 1986.
Mr Murray said: ‘I told them that all that appeared on the screen were the words of the New Testament. There is no sound, just the words on the screen and simple images in the background of sheep grazing or candles burning. I thought there might be some mix-up but they said they were here to explain the law to me and how I had broken it.
‘I said, “Are you really telling me that I am facing arrest for playing the Bible?” and the WPC fixed me with a stare and said, “If you broadcast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law.” ’
Mr Murray, who worked in a homeless shelter for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago, said he realised the only way to appease the police was to pull the plug on the Bible.
‘I was worried about being handcuffed and led out of the shop in front of my customers. It wouldn’t have looked good so I thought it was better to comply. It felt like a betrayal. They left the shop and told me they would continue to monitor if we were displaying inflammatory material. At no stage had they spoken to me like I was a law-abiding citizen trying to earn a living. I felt like a criminal.’
Mr Murray said he had been given no indication of who had complained or which verses of the New Testament had caused the offence, but he guessed it may have been a reaction to the Book Of Romans that had been playing the week before. The Book takes the form of a letter from the apostle Paul to the people of Rome, in which he rails against all manner of godlessness.
In verses 26-28 of Chapter One he says: ‘God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural.
‘Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.’
The verses take 30 seconds to play and the Bible translation used is the 2005 Contemporary English Version (CEV), a plain English text by the American Bible Society. Experts at the British Bible Society, whose patron is the Queen, have described it as a well-respected text that, while using straightforward language, fairly reflected the meaning of the original.
The Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr Murray, said its lawyers had told him he is free to display the Bible in any way he chooses, and they are preparing a complaint against the police.
The Institute’s spokesman Mike Judge said: ‘I have no problem with the police looking into a complaint, but once they realised it was just the words of the Bible being shown on the screen then they should have walked away. ‘They did not even look at the offending DVD. They simply told Mr Murray that he had to stop showing the Bible and warned him that they would continue to monitor what he was doing. This is intimidatory and completely unacceptable.
‘It is a problem right across the country that the police are under huge political pressure to be seen to respond to anything homophobic.’
Lancashire Police said they had received a complaint on Saturday afternoon from a female customer who was ‘deeply offended’ by the words she had seen on the screen. A spokesman said they were ‘duty bound’ to respond to the complaint and had concluded the cafe could be in breach of Section 29E of the Public Order Act, which warns that people who play images or sounds that stir up hatred against homosexuals could be guilty of an offence.
However, it also says criticism of sexual conduct ‘shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred’.
A police spokesman said: ‘At no point did the officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took a commonsense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint. We believe our response and the action we took was completely proportionate and our officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter or need any advice in the future.
‘The Constabulary is respectful of all religious views. However, we do have a responsibility to make sure that material that communities may find deeply offensive or inflammatory is not being displayed in public. ‘No complaint has been received about the conduct of the officer in question and we are satisfied that they performed their duties professionally.’
British Labour Party leader refused to call people who falsely claim welfare benefits 'cheats'
Ed Miliband faced criticism from Labour MPs last night – for refusing to describe people who falsely claim welfare benefits as ‘cheats’.
The Labour leader was urged by aides to denounce welfare scroungers as ‘cheats’ in a speech this summer but insisted the word was not included in his final draft. He would not attack people on benefits in such stark terms, protesting: ‘You want me to accuse people who defraud the system of being “cheats”? I can’t do that.’
The disclosure came on the eve of the Labour conference in Liverpool, where Mr Miliband hopes to respond to growing claims that he has failed to make an impact since becoming Opposition leader a year ago today.
Labour MPs said Mr Miliband’s failure to condemn welfare cheats in explicit language undermined his claim to be taking a tougher line on people who abuse the benefits system. One Labour MP said: ‘Ed has got to convince people he is just as determined to end the obscenity of people who rip off benefits as he is to end the obscenity of bankers who get paid obscene bonuses. ‘He won’t do that by shying away from denouncing welfare cheats. ‘Ordinary people call them cheats, why can’t Ed?’
A Labour spokesman said he had ‘no recollection’ of Mr Miliband refusing to call welfare scroungers ‘cheats’. He claimed the Labour leader’s condemnation of ‘abuse’ of the system went further than calling the abusers ‘cheats’. ‘He has said people who abuse the welfare system must be stopped,’ said the spokesman.
‘Abuse is a much stronger word than cheat. For the record, he does believe people who do that are cheats and he is prepared to use the word.’
However, he did not do so in a keynote speech on the subject in June. The Mail on Sunday can find no record of him denouncing ‘welfare cheats’ in public.
Mr Miliband’s speech in June was hailed as an attempt to shrug off his ‘Red Ed’ image and relaunch his leadership by talking tough on welfare scroungers and overpaid bankers. He called for greater social responsibility from the idle and super-rich.
Australia: Major investigation into 'marshmallow generation'
FEARS that our children are becoming too soft and cloistered has prompted a major investigation.
The impact of over-protective parenting will be the focus of the VicHealth study, amid psychologists' concerns of a "marshmallow generation", the Herald Sun reported.
The three-year study will examine the impact of parental fear on reducing children's independence and physical activity levels.
It comes as psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said parents were raising a generation of children too afraid to fail.
VicHealth acting chief executive John Fitzgerald said irrational fears of stranger danger and a strong desire to protect children from injury were barriers to them walking to school or playing outdoors.
The study, to start in December, would examine these issues, and interventions would be developed to minimise parental fears and its negative effects on children, Prof Fitzgerald said. "We want to be able to help parents work through it, so it doesn't impact on kids exercising," he said.
The Australian Health Survey 2010 found 42 per cent of children aged nine to 16 failed to meet activity guidelines of an hour or more on most days, he said.
Dr Carr-Gregg said some schools were awarding participation ribbons rather than first, second and third prizes to minimise competition.
It comes as Education Department report cards do not give failing grades, but note that work "needs attention" or is "below the standard expected".
Psychologists said some children were seeing them:
IN tears because they had been beaten by parents or siblings in backyard family sport or board games.
REPORTING minor friendship tiffs to school authorities as bullying.
THROWING tantrums because their teams lost.
VIEWING rough-and-tumble sporting games as violent attacks.
INCONSOLABLE because they had a bad mark for school work.
Dr Carr-Gregg said a lack of competition meant children did not learn to deal with disappointment. "Where is the incentive to achieve and get better? When you take away the ability to win and lose, you are taking away the capacity to develop resilience and the ability to overcome adversity," he said. "We are raising a 'marshmallow generation,' but we are doing them no favours because life does not work like that."
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.