Monday, March 05, 2012
Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O'Brien clashes with British PM on same-sex marriage plans
The Catholic Church is on a collision course with David Cameron as one of its most senior figures issues an outspoken attack on the Government over its plans to legalise gay marriage.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, says the proposals to allow same-sex unions are “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
The cardinal’s intervention, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, is the strongest criticism yet from any church figure of the plans, which are due to be unveiled this month by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister.
He accuses ministers of trying to “redefine reality” and change long-standing laws and traditions “at the behest of a small minority of activists”.
The cardinal has added his voice to those of leading figures in the Coalition for Marriage, a group of bishops, politicians and lawyers opposed to the changes. The group’s supporters include Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
The group is in outright opposition to Mr Cameron, who hopes to make legislation changing the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, expected by 2015, one of the central achievements of his time in office.
Mrs Featherstone is to launch a consultation on how the changes will come about this month. Despite opposition from some sections of his party, the Prime Minister has personally associated himself with the proposals.
Mr Cameron told last year’s Tory conference in Manchester: “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” Last week his spokesman said he was “passionate” about the issue.
Cardinal O’Brien, the only British Catholic to be part of the College of Cardinals, the body which elects popes, accuses ministers of showing “intolerance” and coming up with plans that would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.
The new clash between the Coalition and the Catholic Church comes as the Church of England also appears increasingly split over the issue of gay rights.
A new proposal for a deal that would effectively prevent openly gay clergy from becoming bishops is on the brink of failure despite the personal endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The proposed agreement, known as the Anglican Covenant, has been rejected by 13 dioceses so far, with only eight backing it. Defeat would, it was said, be a “devastating” blow to Dr Williams. The Covenant needs the approval of a majority of dioceses for a vote at the General Synod.
The Government, meanwhile, faces a Commons rebellion of scores of Conservative MPs over its gay marriage proposals. Some Tory ministers are among those opposed. Any vote is many months away, however, and Labour would be almost certain to back the move.
The legislation would apply only in England and Wales. However, Scottish MPs would be able to vote on the plans – a fact which has helped provoke Cardinal O’Brien’s intervention today.
He writes: “Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.
“Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”
Ministers have assured church groups they will not be forced to accept same-sex marriages – a pledge which does not impress the cardinal. He writes: “Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that 'No one will be forced to keep a slave.’
“Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right?”
Campaigners say the state has no right to change the definition of marriage according to most Christian thinking – a definition which is enshrined in laws dating back almost 800 years.
Mrs Featherstone, however, has argued that marriage is “owned by the people” and that governments have a duty to change laws to bolster the “underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms”.
Outraged by Mormon proxy baptism? Not this Jew
by Jeff Jacoby
IN A COLUMN many years ago, I described how I once attempted to chart a family tree. Most of my father's family had been killed in Auschwitz and my efforts to trace their genealogy left me, I wrote, with a family tree that "has stumps where branches ought to be" and "gets narrower, not wider, as it grows."
A woman phoned me the morning that column appeared. She said she was a Mormon, and wanted to add the names of my father's massacred relatives - the column had mentioned about 18 of them by name - to the Mormon Church's vast genealogical archives. I told her that I certainly had no objection; indeed, I was grateful for any gesture that might help preserve some remembrance of these family members whose lives had been so cruelly cut short.
At the time I knew nothing about "baptism by proxy," the ritual that Mormons believe gives even souls in the afterlife a chance to accept their faith and thus enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only later did I learn that some Mormons, eager to save the souls of dead Jews, had taken to submitting the names of Holocaust victims for posthumous baptism.
The discovery didn't trouble me at all. In Judaism, conversion after death is a concept without meaning; no after-the-fact rites in this world can possibly change the Jewishness of the men, women, children, and babies whom the Nazis, in their obsessive hatred, singled out for extermination. I found the Mormons' belief eccentric, not offensive. By my lights, their efforts to make salvation available to millions of deceased strangers were ineffectual. But plainly they were sincere, and intended as a kindness.
Other Jews, however, were offended. There was a commotion over the issue in the 1990s, and in response the Mormon Church formally barred proxy baptism for Jewish Holocaust victims. As a rule the ban is respected but there are occasional violations of church policy, and the issue is back in the news following reports that Anne Frank, who died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was recently baptized by proxy at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic. Relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were also submitted for proxy baptisms.
So now there's a whole new commotion, with some prominent Jewish voices once again expressing indignation.
"Holocaust victims were killed solely because they were Jews," fumes Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "And here comes the Mormon church taking away their Jewishness. It's like killing them twice." The Simon Wiesenthal Center, pronouncing itself "outraged," declares that the latest proxy baptisms "make a mockery" of Jewish-Mormon relations. Wiesel himself insists that Mitt Romney, as "the most famous and important Mormon in the country," has a moral obligation to tell his church: "Stop it."
But if anyone should be told to "stop it," it's men like Foxman and Wiesel, whose reactions to this issue have been unworthy and unfair.
For one thing, the Mormon church promptly apologized for the listing of Anne Frank and the others, and firmly reiterated its policy: "Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited." Leaping to take offense at something the church has unequivocally repudiated is cheap grandstanding.
More odious by far is the accusation that a posthumous "baptism" no Jew attaches any credence to is tantamount to a second genocide ("It's like killing them twice"). What an ugly slander. Even to the most zealous Mormon, proxy baptism is simply the offering of a choice -- it gives non-Mormons in the afterlife a chance to accept the gospel, should they wish to. You don't have to buy the theology -- I certainly don't -- to recognize that its message is benign.
As a Jew, I am less interested in what other religions teach about the fate of Jews in the next world than in how they affect the fate of Jews in this world. Rafael Medoff, a scholar of America's response to the Holocaust, notes that Mormon leaders were outspoken supporters of efforts to rescue Jews from Nazi Europe at a time when many mainstream Christians were silent. For example, Utah Senator William King -- among the most renowned Mormons of his day -- strongly backed legislation that could have saved Anne Frank and her family.
Outraged by proxy baptisms? Count me out. As my stunted family tree attests, the Jewish people have very real, very dangerous enemies. Mormons undergoing peaceful rituals in their own temples aren't on the list.
German "Anti-Zionism" drops the mask to reveal its Nazi face
Israeli footballer is subjected to vile Holocaust songs and Heil Hitler! salute by German fans
German football authorities have promised to stamp out racism in the stands after an Israeli football player was subjected to Heil Hitler! salutes and sordid chants about the Holocaust at a training game.
Germany's Football Federation the DFB said it 'will not tolerate anti-Semitic or racist attacks' after a small group of people verbally abused Israeli player Itay Shechter during a Kaiserslautern practice session.
The incident took place on Sunday, a day after relegation-threatened Kaiserslautern's 4-0 defeat at Mainz 05.
The group gave the Heil Hitler! salute, shouted out 'sieg Heil' - the Nazi party greeting during the Third Reich - and shouted a vile chant about him joining 'the six million'. This is a reference to the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis during World War II.
'Together with the president we want to underline that the DFB will not tolerate such actions and we must act decisively,' said Wolfgang Niersbach, who is due to become the new DFB boss next month. 'Racism and anti-Semitism have no place in football. We must defend ourselves against this and we wish that the authorities chase up this incident,' added Niersbach.
Police have launched an investigation to identify those involved while the club, which has called on fans to help identify the people involved, condemned the incident saying those responsible were not football fans.
'The players understood the feelings, views and fears of the fans,' Kaiserslautern chairman Stefan Kuntz said on Tuesday on the meeting with the Kaiserslautern fans.
'As a conclusion, it is this meeting with 300 club fans that should be in focus and not the inexcusable behaviour of a handful of radicals.'
The display of Nazi symbols, greetings and slogans is banned in Germany and there have been growing concerns since the revelations last November that an extremist right-wing cell calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground lay behind the killings of 10 people, eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman ovder a 13 year period.
The German government's own survey revealed earlier this month that anti-Smitism is on the rise, particularly among the young.
Last Thursday, on the day that Germany held a day of mourning for the victims of the NSU death squad, a photograph emerged of a masked Berlin policeman giving the Hitler salute on the Facebook social networking site.
New Free Speech Campaign Launched in Australia
You would all know by now that Mr. Ray Finkelstein QC, a left-wing former Federal Court Judge with no media experience, issued a 400 page report for the Gillard Government which calls for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to 'regulate' political speech and - among other things - impose new laws to stop Australians from speaking up.
Its “recommendations” should sicken every single Australian: They actually call for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to censor not just the newspapers and TV, but websites, personal blogs, and even what you say on Twitter!
This is a proposal that would seem right at home in North Korea or Zibmabwe. I never thought – as dark as things seemed- we could stoop this low here in Australia.
The size and scope of the proposed Super-Regulator is breathtaking. They will have the power to impose a “code of ethics”, force you to print views you don’t agree with as part of a ‘right of reply’, take you to court, and even make you take pieces down! Even personal blogs that get only 40 hits a day will be covered! To make matters worse, the SuperRegulator "would not have to give reasons for its decisions" and the decisions "would not be subject to appeal." Even climate change websites in other countries like Watt’s Up With That will be coved by this!
This is not a matter of partisan politics. If you are left wing or right wing, you should take action against this horror.
We need to speak out now – while we are still allowed.
This is why we just created www.FreeSpeechAustralia.com so we can work together to help stop this nightmare from becoming a reality.
It includes an online petition, which I STRONGLY urge you all to sign and to pass onto all your family and friends, as well as an “Action Centre” detailing what other activities you can take, a resource toolkit, and links to a Facebook page and Twitter account.
Australia is already behind countries like, Niger, Mali, Slovakia, Namibia and Poland in the Index of Media Freedom. If this is passed, we will be joining North Korea, Cuba, and Zimbabwe.
Here’s what you can do right now to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality:
1)Visit www.FreeSpeechAustralia.com and sign our online petition calling on the government to reject these recommendations outright. Then pass this on to your family, friends, bloggers you read, and any other contacts you may have!
2)Visit our online resource centre to find out what MP’s to contact, and a draft email of what to say.
3)Call your local talkback radio station, or write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your disgust at this proposal!
4)Follow this new campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and share with all your contacts!
5)Make a donation of $25, $50, or $100 to help us spread the word. As much as I would like to, I can't afford to run this campaign myself, and every cent donated will go to making sure this does not become a reality!
Freedom of speech is at the very heart of democracy, and if we do not stand up to defend it now, we might not have the chance again: all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
I know I can count on you to do the right thing and take action now. Our future as a free society depends on it.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
Australia: Exposing Finkelstein’s Dirty Trick
Mr. Finkelstein, in his 400 page attack on freedom of speech in Australia and call for Big Brother regulation of the media, website, blogs, and even Twitter, spent a number of pages discussing media bias in Australia regards to Climate Change.
It is clear from the report, particularly paragraphs 4.31-4.42 that a major driving force behind this proposal is to muzzle climate sceptics; it is pretty explicit about this.
However, what is interesting is the dirty little trick Mr. Finkelstein used.
Mr. Finkelstein pointed out that only 21% of Australians agree that the media reports all sides of the story (at paragraph 4.27). In the next paragraph (4.28) he comments that a different study found 72% thought that the media was fair to the Coalition, and only 55% to Labor. The next paragraph (4.29) cites another study that 62% of Australians believe that newspapers are biased against Labor, and even 42% of non-Labor supporters agree with this.
The implication from context is clear: the media biased to the Coalition which is why we need to take action.
Except for one thing. The polls showing a pro-Labor bias were from… wait for it… 1966 and and 1976. That’s right, they are decades old. Yet they are in the same section as debate on climate change, and used later on as justification for this regulatory regime.
This would be funny, if it wasn’t so scary…
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.