Thursday, February 09, 2012

Air Force Removes ‘God’ From Logo

A Virginia lawmaker is calling on the Air Force to reverse a decision to remove a Latin reference to “God” from a logo after an atheist group complained.

Rep. Randy Forbes, (R-VA), said the Air Force removed the logo several weeks ago from the Rapid Capabilities Office. The patch included a line written in Latin that read, “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money.”

But after the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers complained, Forbes said the line was rewritten in Latin to read, “Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money.”

Forbes, along with a bi-partisan group of 35 lawmakers, sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz expressing concern over the decision to remove a non-religious reference to God. “It is most egregious,” Forbes told Fox News. “The Air Force is taking the tone that you can’t even use the word ‘God.’”

Forbes said his office contacted the Air Force and officials there confirmed that the logo had been changed after the atheist group complained.

A spokesman for the Air Force told Fox News they had received the letter and would investigate the claims.

Forbes said the removal of “God” is a “bridge too far in terms of the rights of men and women who serve in our services and their ability to express their faith.”

“But the significance of this is what the Air Force is saying with this move – that the word ‘God’ – whether it has any reference to faith or not, can’t be used in the Air Force,” Forbes said.

He said the incident is one of several in recent months that have caused him to wonder if the military is cleansing itself of religious references.

“It’s a very dangerous course to take,” he said. “I am concerned that the RCO capitulated to pressure from an outside group that consistently seeks to remove references to God and faith in our military,” he said. ‘The RCO’s action to modify the logo sets a dangerous precedent that all references to God, regardless of context, must be removed from the military.”


British Gov. Bans Christian Group From Advertising That God Can Heal Illnesses

I wonder when they will crack down on the Prince of Wales' "Duchy originals" -- which is a line of quack medicines

Faith healing comes with a fair share of controversy. For some non-believers, the notion that a higher power would intervene to heal the afflicted it patently absurd. For some believers, even, the practice seems somewhat above and beyond the earthly realm of possibility.

Yet for others, faith healing is an important tenet that showcases the full power and ability of the Almighty. But in England, the government is agreeing with the former cohorts, as an agency is cracking down on the notion that God can cure those in need.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Britain’s media advertising watchdog, has banned a Christian group from making claims on its web site and advertising brochures that God can cure a number of ailments, RNS reports. According to the ad authority, the group Healing on the Streets (HOTS) Baths was being both irresponsible and misleading in its stated claims about God’s power to heal.

HOPS Bath has claimed that ulcers, depression, allergies, asthma, paralysis and sleeping disorders, among other illness, can be cured by the Lord. After an anonymous individual complained about one of group’s leaflets, the ASA investigated and concluded that the ads “could encourage false hope and were irresponsible.” The leaflet reads:
“Need Healing? God can heal today! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction … Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness?

The BBC has more regarding the group’s reaction
“It seems very odd to us that the ASA wants to prevent us from stating on our website the basic Christian belief that God can heal illness.

“All over the world as part of their normal Christian life, Christians believe in, pray for and experience God’s healing; our ministry, in common with many churches, has been active in praying for God’s healing (of Christians and non Christians) for many years.”

The group said it had tried to reach a compromise, “but there are certain things that we cannot agree to – including a ban on expressing our beliefs”.

The ASA has distinguished itself as extremely strict when it comes to oversight. In fact, it‘s considered among the world’s most stringent advertising oversight agencies.


The British army under fire from elf'n'safety and a busybody culture making babies of us all

Once upon a time, when a man chose a career as a soldier, everybody — including himself — knew he was making a deal. In return for more excitement, travel and adventure than he would get as a bank clerk or supermarket manager, he put his life on the line.

Not any more. Last week, the head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, made a speech in which he deplored the growing public belief that if wars are fought right, nobody gets killed.

‘I sense there is an expectation in some circles in society that the sort of zero-risk culture that is understandably sought in many other walks of life ought to be achievable on the battlefield,’ he said.

Sir Peter’s dismay is widely shared in the armed forces, and among senior veterans. Recently, I heard General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded the SAS in the Falklands, deplore the new ethic created by coroners, human rights cases and media pressure, which he believes to be gravely damaging the Army as a fighting service.

The plague virus of health and safety is seeping into the military, as into every aspect of British life. We are conditioning ourselves to believe that with proper management, we can eliminate risk. Yet as we slither down this sorry road, we diminish the quality of all our lives, and especially those of the young.

For the past month, I have been shooting a documentary for BBC TV, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. Again and again during filming, small incidents and exchanges have reminded me how much the world, and especially our society, has changed its attitude to risk since 1982.

First came Mike Rose’s remarks before the camera about risk-aversion. Then we went to view construction of one of the Royal Navy’s new carriers at Rosyth.

Before entering the shipyard, as at almost every modern industrial facility, we had to watch a ten-minute health and safety video. Its message could have been conveyed in ten seconds: wear a hard hat, behave sensibly and watch out.

But the company’s lawyers obviously advise that unless every visitor views a childishly exhaustive safety briefing, the yard could be vulnerable to litigation from one of the vulture flock of compensation lawyers that now crowd the courts.

Next day, we were filming Royal Marines cliff-climbing at a quarry in Argyll. I hate heights and am getting old and clumsy. As I made my way along a slate face to shoot a sequence, I gazed uncomfortably down 80ft or so and thought: ‘If I am fool enough to slip and fall, who will get sued? The BBC or the Ministry of Defence?’ I mean, nobody made me wear a safety harness.

I was tempted to stop and write a last will and testament saying: ‘If I break my neck, I want absolutely nobody to get blamed.’ But even then, some idiotic coroner would probably decide that I could not have been of sound mind to say such a thing, so somebody should be blamed anyway.

It is madness, and most of the young realise this. We filmed a group of teenage schoolchildren from Somerset talking about their attitude to history, and to the Falklands. Several of them said, unprompted, that they regret everybody is now so desperate to avoid exposing them to danger that it is much harder for them than it was for our generation to have adventures — which every right-thinking boy or girl wants to do.

I was thinking of their remarks last week, reading accounts of the tragic deaths of the two Essex schoolchildren Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson on a level crossing in 2005. Network Rail admits breaches of health and safety regulations, for which the company faces heavy fines.

Yet am I the only person in Britain who asks the question: ‘Why did they not stop and think before crossing the line when red lights were flashing and yodel warnings sounding?’

It is utterly understandable that their parents, distraught with grief, dismiss suggestions that the girls behaved recklessly. But it seems to me that we now expect government and public bodies to protect us all, and especially children, from even the most ill-advised personal actions.

As a teenager, I sometimes did foolish things on and around railway lines because I liked to live dangerously. But I did not doubt then, and do not doubt now, that if anything had gone wrong and I had been injured or killed, blame should have rested solely with me.

Last autumn, my wife and I were among a group visiting some wonderful castles and monasteries along the Black Sea coast. We made jokes about the fact that, in Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine, we could clamber freely on rickety medieval buildings above sheer mountain drops. In Britain, alas, they would be rigorously fenced off as a threat to public safety.

The National Trust and its staff have suffered shockingly from harassment by the Health And Safety Executive, not least in respect of trees, of which you may notice the Trust owns quite a few.

At one point, a senior NT executive was moved to demand of an H&S gauleiter: ‘Are you expecting us to fence off every tree on our properties in case a branch falls on somebody?’ And by gosh, these tyrants came close to demanding just that.

We should recognise the punitive cash costs we inflict on ourselves by demanding that life should become inexorably safer, safer, safer. The railways are statistically our least perilous means of travel. But every time a fatal accident takes place, following a hue and cry, Network Rail or the regional companies are bullied into spending millions of pounds installing new equipment to insure against any repetition.

It would never occur to us to make the same demands, following car accidents such as happen every day. Expenditures on safety are often wildly disproportionate to risk.

But the real price of health and safety madness is paid by all of us as people, morally enfeebled. If we accept no personal responsibility for our actions — and even children are perfectly capable of bearing some — we become sheep, fit only to be herded from pen to pen.

As for soldiers, to return to Sir Peter Wall’s speech last week, it is almost demented for the media, civilian coroners and judges to try to make their trade as safe as stacking supermarket shelves. Almost every man who serves in Afghanistan admits to the buzz he gains from combat — precisely because it is dangerous.

Although the Army has had to fight its recent campaigns amid a deplorable shortage of helicopters, we should ignore much of the claptrap about alleged equipment failures: our soldiers in Afghanistan are the best-equipped Army Britain has ever put into the field.

If their kit is not perfect, it is because nothing ever is. If commanders sometimes make mistakes which cost lives, and earn magisterial rebukes from ignorant coroners, this is because young men do make mistakes, and in war the price is paid in blood.

I often deplore my generation moaning about how Britain is not what it was in our younger days. We must sometimes bow to the spirit of a new century; certain things have got better.

But the spreading pollution of the blame culture, the corrosion even of the spirit of our fighting men by health and safety, seems wholly deplorable. It suggests a society in moral decline, which aspires to make babes in arms of us all.


Circumnavigating the authorities

Why were the parents of the Dutch teen who sailed the world deemed incapable of deciding what's best for their child?

Last month, Dutch teenager Laura Dekker became the youngest sailor ever to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world. This was a phenomenal achievement, requiring incredible personal courage and endurance. But marring her celebrations was the fact that the Guinness Book of Records failed to recognise her achievement on the grounds that it was deemed ‘irresponsible’. Furthermore, Dekker has claimed she may never return to her home country due to the treatment of her, and her parents, by meddling Dutch authorities.

Laura Dekker began sailing alone when she was just six years old. By the age of 13, she had single-handedly completed a trip from the Netherlands to Britain and back. Her proven ability and determination convinced her parents to let her try to realise her ambition to break the record for being the youngest person to sail around the world solo. And last month, at the age of 16 years and four months, she did indeed beat the unofficial record set by Australian teenager Jessica Watson, who was days away from her seventeenth birthday when she completed her voyage in 2010.

Her struggle to achieve this record almost pales in comparison to the struggle to circumnavigate officialdom in order to make the attempt. Strikingly, it was actually the interfering British authorities that caused Dekker’s troubles to begin back in 2009. Following her solo return trip to Britain, police there intervened and tipped off Dutch child welfare authorities who, as a result, began intervening in Dekker’s stated plans to circumnavigate the world. When she turned 14, the Dutch government ruled that she was too young to sail alone.

The young girl and her father, who supported her trip, were brought to court six times as the Netherlands Bureau of Youth Care attempted to take Dekker under guardianship. After she made an attempt to escape to the Dutch Caribbean island, Saint Maarten, she was arrested and brought back to the Netherlands. In her blog, Dekker recalls that ‘over a period of 11 months, I was constantly afraid that Youth Care would lock me up… It was all a frightening and traumatic experience.’

The Dutch authorities’ reaction to Laura Dekker shows that they have become a Frankenstein of the mentality that inspired the introduction of menacing tobacco labels and countless similar policies. The doctrine that individuals need to be saved from themselves has unleashed a swarm of crusading bureaucrats who relentlessly raid our private lives. Joost Lanshage of the Netherlands Bureau of Youth Care exemplified this pervasive creed as he protested, ‘If Laura had drowned we would be accused of not doing enough to protect her.’ Lanshage assumes his responsibility over both Laura and her parents with uncanny ease. More alarming, however, is Lanshage’s testimony that this is what society has come to expect from public authorities.

Forfeiting judgment to a faceless state erodes the importance of personal interactions as it undermines our dependence on family, friends, and community. The state’s hijacking of the responsibility for our lives also robs us of the ability to exercise and develop our personal judgment. This crucial aspect of our development is being debilitated by the craze to squeeze individuals into the shrinking mould of acceptable citizenship. Denying us the right to take risks, enjoy successes and suffer through mistakes restricts our ability to act according to our individual values and develop purposefully. We’re sacrificing our individual autonomy for the comfort of apathetic mediocrity.

As this process continues, unique approaches to life and education increasingly become unacceptable. After Dekker mentioned on her blog that she had to temporarily put schoolwork aside in the face of dangerous storms at sea, Dutch authorities mounted their high horses once again and summoned Laura’s father to court. While the 16-year-old conquered innumerable challenges that the vast majority of adults would not be capable of facing alone, authorities back in the Netherlands fretted at the idea that she would fall behind with her school work. As Dekker rightfully reflected on her blog towards the end of her journey, ‘Now, after sailing around the world, with… the full responsibility of keeping myself and [her boat] Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organisations put me through were totally unfair.’

Exhibiting the disturbing nature of our culture of conceded autonomy, Lanshage asserted, ‘I am sorry Laura is traumatised, but I have no regrets about fulfilling our responsibility to this child.’ Ultimately, the authorities’ accomplishments amounted to delaying Dekker’s trip, imposing a series of costly safety regulations, and traumatising her along the way. It is unclear what responsibility Lanshage could be claiming to have fulfilled, if not a responsibility ruthlessly to bully an individual because of her entrepreneurial attitude towards her own life. The state’s appetite for macro-managing society has metamorphosed into the self-indulgent micro-management of individuals, dangerously coupled with an ‘ends justify the means’ mentality.

Personal responsibility and the informal authority of close relationships have been appropriated as sacrificial lambs fit for slaughter at the altar of public paternalism. If Laura Dekker had been harmed during her journey, Laura and her family would have been the ones to suffer. By trampling over their authority, the state disrespectfully undermines this intimate relationship. If people want to take risks with their own lives, it isn’t the role of you or me or the state to do anything about it. We should commend Laura for bravely challenging our complacency by turning off autopilot and steering her own course.



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. 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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