Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The Charmed Life of the Unbelievers
It's a charmed life for non-believers, because when you basically believe in nothing, you can watch history pass you by, and chalk up monumental shifts and changes in sociopolitical life to whatever cause you want. All you have to do is find a way to make history, and the ever-shifting tectonic plates of society, spell out the need for the end of religion.
This was basically what renowned atheist Richard Dawkins was doing on CNN recently. When asked whether or not a society without religion would leave us with no moral compass, Dawkins said, "So we live in the early 21st century, and our moral compass in the early 21st century is quite different from 100 years ago, or 200 years ago," Dawkins said. "We are now much less racist than they were, much less sexist than they were. We are much kinder to non-human animals than they were -- all sorts of respects in which we are labeled with a moral compass. So something has changed, and it certainly has nothing to do with religion."
Of course, I'm sure Protestant Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be quite shocked to find out that religion had nothing to do with the changing of race relations in this country, were he alive. Especially surprised might be the survivors of King's Birmingham civil rights campaign. All of whom, were required by King to sign a pledge to do 10 things.
The first one of which was, "MEDITATE daily on the teachings and life of Jesus." Other requirements included, "WALK and TALK in the manner of love, for God is love." And let's not forget, "PRAY daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free."
Yes, curious language indeed for a movement that supposedly had "nothing to do with religion."
But again, why should we hold Dawkins responsible for being aware of the fact that the leader of the 20th century's most significant civil rights movement was a devout Christian named after the leader of the Protestant Reformation, who acquired a Ph.D in Systemic theology before following in his father's footsteps and becoming a reverend?
I mean, in Dawkins world, we just woke up one day and decided racism had gone out of style. Much the same way, we decided the piano key necktie and parachute pants had gotten old. I, for one, am hoping society gets over skinny jeans sooner rather than later.
Equally shocked to hear that religion had nothing to do with the improvement of race relations over the last couple hundred years would be the people who ended slavery in the largest empire in the world!
Thomas Clarkson was just a 25-year-old divinity student at Cambridge when he first seriously studied the horrors of slavery. Not long after, this white Christian minister from England decided to devote his life to freeing a group of people he had never met and had no understanding of.
And who did he decide to align with, to begin his crusade to abolish this most cruel and inhumane practice of human enslavement? The London Atheist Society? The British Foundation of Secular Reason & Logic?
Oh, no. Thomas Clarkson reached out to the Quakers! Quite possibly the most severely observant group in all of Christendom. As David Brog relates in his incredible work, In Defense of Faith, Clarkson and this group of fellow Christians would form the nucleus of what was to be the British abolition movement.
"Thus it came to pass that on May 22, 1787, twelve men met in the London shop of a Quaker printer and established the Society for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade. These twelve founders were all men of deep Christian faith: nine were Quakers, and three others, including Clarkson, were Anglicans."
The group then recruited a passionately Christian member of Parliament named William Wilberforce, who championed the cause in the halls of power. In 1789 Wilberforce introduced the first bill to abolish the slave trade in Parliament. It wouldn't be his last, because it and many other such bills were defeated. It took 18 years before Parliament passed a bill to abolish the slave trade.
And what did Clarkson and Wilberforce do after that? Party it up? Get in line for the 19th century version of the Nobel Peace prize? No. Almost immediately, they reconvened the original members of the slave trade abolition group and started working on banning slavery altogether. It would take another 26 years, but they would do it.
And so it came to be, that a group of Christian men fought tirelessly for over 45 years, for the rights of people they didn't know from Adam. And they managed to win their freedom at a time when the British Empire was profiting immensely from slave labor, and desperately trying to outproduce the rival French empire.
But why? How could Clarkson, Wilberforce, and their Quaker friends be motivated to such ends? Precisely because of their Christian belief in the worth and dignity of every human being, regardless of his skin color or where he came from.
Atheists like Richard Dawkins probably believe this sense of human worth is universal human trait, something that has always existed, and he could add that to the list of other things he's wrong about. The belief in the moral worth of even the lowliest human beings is a distinctly Judeo-Christian ethic. Neither the Romans nor the Greeks believed in, nor could they understand, this central belief that is as old as the Golden Rule itself.
Richard Dawkins looks at the passing history and changes in attitudes, and through willingness or ignorance, gives credit to "time", or the lack of religion, the things that are distinctly Christian achievements. We can have any debate we want about whether or not there is in fact a God. I welcome it. But, there's no debating the record of God's followers when it comes to conquering evil and civilizing society.
Slavery died in the British Empire far earlier than it otherwise would have because of men fueled by powerful religious conviction.
The Aztec massacres at the hands of Spanish Conquistadors would have been even worse had it not been for the determined resistance of Dominican Friars who stood up for them at great personal peril.
And yes, it was Dr. King's faith that largely formed his vision of a peaceful movement to achieve a colorblind society. The kinder, more enlightened society we have today isn't a product of evolutionary biology the way Richard Dawkins would like to believe it is. It's a product of people following a God who commanded that they "love one another, the way I loved you."
British recruitment boss brands unemployed 'lazy' after NO ONE applies for FIFTY jobs - in town where 2,000 people are without work
A company boss who advertised 50 vacancies in a city with nearly 2,000 unemployed has branded local jobseekers 'lazy' after nobody came forward.
Danny James, owner of recruitment agency Consistent Personnel, urgently required unskilled workers for at least three months' work at a local food factory.
But when he posted an advert at the local Jobcentre not a single person came forward in time for the start of the contract.
Mr James said the response was 'unbelievable' and the attitude of local job-seekers was 'a disgrace'.
Recruitment boss Mr James claims that many do not want to work and have no intention of taking menial jobs they are offered.
He said: 'If I lost my job, I would have a job tomorrow, even if it was cleaning toilets. I don't understand the mindset of these people.'
Mr James contacted Worcester Jobcentre at about 12.20pm on October 9 seeking people for warehouse work at the local Senoble food factory, which would last through the Christmas period.
The firm then followed up the call with an e-mail at 12.41pm with more details about the minimum-wage £6.31-per-hour jobs.
Inductions for the Monday-to-Friday roles were due to begin at 5pm that day, before the shift.
However, a job centre source said the problem was the 'very short timescale' given to find people for a night shift.
Mr James, 29, said: 'People need no skills whatsoever.
New figures released last week revealed there are more jobseekers than available jobs in Worcester, with 1,870 residents signed on
New figures released last week revealed there are more jobseekers than available jobs in Worcester, with 1,870 residents signed on
'It's the most simple cake-packing, box-stacking position. My three-year-old daughter could do it. But not one person has rung me up. 'It's a disgrace. Everybody should know. People who pay their taxes will be so disappointed in that. 'There is work and it is beyond me why nobody has rung me. They couldn't even get me one person. It's unbelievable.
'I see so many people hanging around on street corners, people outside the job centre smoking and then something like this comes up where I need just 50 people old enough to work in a factory.
'It's beyond me that they can't even get one person from the job centre. It is so very frustrating.
'The only conditions are that they have to be over 18 and have a national insurance number and no criminal convictions. You don't need any experience whatsoever.'
Mr James managed to get 10 people himself by using his contacts, records and by calling friends, claiming he had effectively had to act as a Jobcentre himself to fill at least some of the positions.
But one of those who considered the job hit back saying he had no choice because he is better off on benefits.
Dean Scollan, 37, says it is 'not worth the money' because the take-home pay of £220 will leave him out of pocket. 'I do want to work but what is the point of me going if it's going to make me worse off?' he said. 'I'm not going to work for peanuts. 'If the finances were right, I would have gone for the induction. I would have got a pushbike and gone up there but it wasn't worth the money.' The Senoble job would only earn him £200 to £220 per week after tax, less than he received on benefits, he said.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the short notice of the shifts meant staff were unable to fill the roles. 'Every day Jobcentre Plus staff up and down the country are successfully helping employers fill their vacancies and get people into work,' he said.
'On this occasion, however, the very short timescale given by the agency and the need for jobseekers to be available to work the night shift, that same day, meant we were unable to help on this occasion.'
Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, said: 'It seems disappointing that there aren't people prepared to take those jobs. 'You would have thought there would have been a reasonable amount of take-up given the number of people out of work.'
Britain's TV licence fee is a 'medieval anachronism' and those who pay it should have more control over the BBC, MP tells Parliament
The BBC licence fee is a ‘medieval anachronism’ and can only be justified if those who pay it elect the chairman and board, have a more direct say on programme-making and an input on celebrity pay, MPs will hear today.
Tory MP Robert Halfon will argue the licence fee is a ‘coercive system backed up by the threat of fines and prison’ in a backbench business committee debate on the Corporation’s future.
Mr Halfon believes the fact that fee-payers have little input into how the Corporation is run makes the BBC as undemocratic as a ‘feudal monarchy.’
A debate in parliament on the Corporation’s future will hear that public trust in the BBC has been eroded by the Jimmy Savile and severance pay scandals.
The debate will hear that in order to win back public trust, the licence fee should be reformed so fee payers are treated like shareholders in a business they have invested in.
Under proposals, Mr Halfon will suggest today people who pay the £145.50 a year licence fee should be allowed a vote on both the election of the chairman and the board.
They would have some say over the annual report, programme making and celebrity pay, and the ability to call for board members who have ‘grown out of touch with public opinion’ to be sacked.
While there is a statutory requirement to consult its licence fee payers, Mr Halfon said this process is in reality a ‘sham’ as most of the decisions they are consulted on, are made well in advance.
The MP calls for a new system whereby the public are able to cast a vote online using a unique pin number, as a cheap way to ‘democratise’ the BBC for viewers and listeners.
He said it would also help to ‘spark a genuine debate - a battle of ideas-about the kind of BBC that we want, and how it should spend our money’.
'The BBC is monopolistic, with about a third of TV viewing and half of radio, it is often branded as anti-competitive because it does not have to make a commercial return on its products, and the licence fee is a mediaeval anachronism’, he told the Mail.
'Some might feel that the licence fee is a regressive tax which penalises those on low incomes. 'Others will be upset by the salaries of senior BBC executives and celebrities.
‘The reality is that licence fee payers want choice. Some might want a beefed-up World Service, paid for by reducing expense elsewhere - perhaps by cutting the £50,000 a day that the BBC spends on taxis.
‘At the moment we are powerless' he said, adding: 'As licence fee payers, we are compelled to pay our dues, and if we do not like that, our only choice is to abandon TV altogether.’
The BBC made £3.6billion from the licence fee in 2012/13.
It emerged this year that 3,700 a week were prosecuted for not having a TV licence - around one in ten of all cases coming before the courts in England and Wales.
They face fines of £1,000, compared with £80 spot fines handed to shoplifters, petty vandals and drunken yobs. It later emerged a private firm employed to catch licence fee evaders has hundreds of officers who can earn four-figure bonuses for them to court.
Yet BBC managers received £25milion in secret severance deals between 2009 and 2012, and nearly £3million was paid over and above what they were entitled to in their contracts in the six years to 2012, according to an official report this year.
A debate entitled ‘the Future of the BBC’ will be held this afternoon in the House of Commons by the backbench business committee, which represents rank and file MPs.
Mr Halfon said it was no longer acceptable to argue that giving the public a say would result in dumbing down of content.
‘Look at Classic FM and Sky News’, he said. ‘The BBC cannot continue-dare I say it-to be a kleptocracy, indifferent to the public who pay for it.
‘Auntie pays out huge salaries to executives and celebrities alike. Her bureaucracy grows exponentially. Her undemocratic licence fee has become an anachronism in the days of multi-channel satellite television.
‘If the BBC really does depend on the licence fee for its survival, then there must be some genuine checks and balances. What better way than democratising the licence fee?’
‘It would be similar to shareholders having the ability to hire and fire their board, but with one main difference-every licence fee payer would hold just one share and one vote.’
We can win wars against the Human Rights Army
In the past two years the [British] Ministry of Defence has received 5,827 claims for damages, and paid out £36 million in lawyers fees, with the majority of cases relating to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As if our military did not have enough on its hands trying to defeat the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, it must now do battle with the army of judges, lawyers and human rights activists who scour their every move for the possibility of taking legal action.
As the Telegraph reported earlier this week, it is actions like this that have led to the creation of a "hostile recruiting environment" which is having an adverse effect on the Army's recruitment drive for the new Reserve force.
It might seem trite to say so, but going to war is a dangerous business, fraught with risk, and the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces regularly place their lives in peril in defence of our freedoms. But it becomes another matter when, assuming they manage to return home unscathed, they must then face the human rights lobby which is invariably more inclined to give credence to the enemy's (often unsubstantiated) claims of wrong-doing, and often results in legal action.
It is a well-known fact that the al-Qaeda handbook urges its followers to exploit the West's liberal legal system to sow discord, and the legal actions brought against the military in the past two years have certainly had the effect of damaging the morale of our service men and women who, quite apart from accepting the risks involved in undertaking combat operations, must now face the prospect of having to justify their actions before a court of law. No wonder Ministers are cautious about committing ground forces to military action.
It is certainly the case that the present system needs to be reviewed if we are to stand any chance of winning the wars of the future. For who nowadays would want to risk their life only to find themselves in the dock for committing war crimes.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.