Wednesday, April 02, 2014
British preacher arrested for quoting from the Bible is awarded £13,000: Held for 19 hours after gay teens said he upset them
A Christian street preacher was wrongly arrested and held in a police cell for almost 19 hours after quoting verses from the Bible.
John Craven, 57, recited from Revelation after two gay teenagers asked about his views on homosexuality. But after he read from chapter 21, verse eight – which says sinners will burn in a lake of fire and sulphur – police arrested him on suspicion of committing a public order offence.
He was taken to a police cell where he claims he was denied food, water and access to medication for his rheumatoid arthritis. He was fingerprinted, had to give a sample of his DNA and told he was being investigated for allegedly using insulting words with the intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress – which could have led to a six-month jail sentence.
Two days later, however, police told him there would be no charges and no further action.
Yesterday he was awarded £13,000 in compensation after a three-year legal battle against Greater Manchester Police which is estimated to have cost the public purse £50,000.
Mr Craven said: ‘I never intended to cause anyone harassment, alarm or distress. I preach the gospel, which means good news and the love of God for all. ‘At the end of the day God loves everybody, but homosexuality is a sin and I am not going to contradict the word of God.’ He added: ‘The actions of the police have left me feeling nervous and anxious.
‘I was in a cell on my own. I was fingerprinted, swabbed and had my photo taken. They took my shoelaces from me. They said I would not be interviewed until the next day and then they left me.’
The incident happened in 2011 when Mr Craven, who has been street preaching for 14 years, was at his regular twice-weekly pitch in Manchester city centre.
Mr Craven, who is married, said: ‘Two young lads asked me what God thinks of homosexuals. I told them whilst God hates sin, he loves the sinner and that according to the word of God homosexuality is an abomination. That is not my opinion, it is the word of God.
‘I quoted them Revelation chapter 21, verse eight, “But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death”.
‘This made them upset and they started to do obscene gestures to me. They were trying to provoke me.’
The boys then told a policeman his comments had caused them distress. The constable was alleged to have grabbed Mr Craven roughly by the arm before arresting him.
From the time of his arrest at 7.15pm until 9.30am the next day he was given nothing to eat before eventually being given a bowl of cereal.
Mr Craven won damages under the Human Rights Act using his entitlement to enjoy the freedom to manifest his religion and freedom of expression, including the freedom to impart ideas without interference by a public authority.
Colin Hart, director of The Christian Institute which funded Mr Craven’s case, said: ‘In terms of the infringement of religious liberty, it was one of the worst cases we have ever dealt with.’
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: ‘We acknowledge that we did make mistakes and, in particular, kept the claimant in custody for too long.’
US Air Force Airbrushes Religious Liberty Again
Fox News reported a few weeks ago about how the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., removed a Bible verse from a cadet's personal whiteboard. I am personally so disappointed that the branch of service that I served in to protect our freedoms is now trying to suppress them.
When one walks the dorm halls of the Air Force Academy, one immediately notices the hundreds of whiteboards hanging on students' doors. This past week, Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., cited Air Force officials who explained that cadets "often use these boards to display items, quotes or other things that reflect their personality or from which they draw inspiration." I guess the Bible is the wrong type of inspiration, at least according to some Air Force leaders.
The host of "Fox News and Commentary," Todd Starnes, reported that Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that "29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted" his "organization to complain about the Christian passage." Within two hours of Weinstein's calling the academy and filing a complaint, the cadet's whiteboard had been whitewashed.
Why is it that 29 cadets and four faculty members can exercise their anti-religious sentiment by communicating their grievances against the display of a Bible passage but a single cadet cannot exercise his own pro-religious sentiment by communicating his faith on his own personal whiteboard?
According to The Blaze, as a result, many cadets revolted in protest and solidarity by posting their own passages from the Bible and the Quran on their whiteboards.
Outside the academy, a new billboard has been posted near the entrance to the Air Force training school by the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, according to WorldNetDaily. The billboard contains a picture of the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt -- and addresses Air Force cadets: "Are you free to say So help me God)? They did." The bottom contains the coalition's Web address: militaryfreedom.org.
Despite everyone's efforts to encourage religious freedom among Air Force Academy cadets, chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, Ph.D., recently and sadly reported that "Air Force Academy government lawyers continue to threaten cadets with punishment for posting Bible verses on their personal white-boards, according to a Christian attorney who spoke to the lawyers and several cadets."
I agree with retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, now executive vice president of the Family Research Council, who explained to Starnes: "Once the academy allowed cadets to use these whiteboards for their personal use, censorship of religious commentary is unacceptable. Either the Air Force Academy is very confused about the Constitution of the United States or they don't really believe in the liberties that are provided by that document. In essence, what they are doing is preparing young men and women to defend the Constitution while at the same time depriving these cadets of their own constitutional liberties."
Unfortunately, the Air Force's whiteboard whitewashing isn't the first prohibition of religious expression in U.S. military circles. There have been many others since our current president took office. Here's a sample:
--The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child, a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send Christmas gifts to impoverished children around the world.
--Air Force officials stripped religious aspects from a 20-year-old course on "just war theory."
--Yet, as reported in the Los Angeles Times in November 2011, the Air Force is building an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship site for those who practice "Earth-based" religions, including "pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths."
--Walter Reed National Military Medical Center drafted policy that prohibited individuals from using or distributing religious items during visits to the hospital.
--Boykin, though he is a war hero, couldn't speak at the United States Military Academy because of his Christian faith.
--The Marine Corps considered tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes.
--The Navy relocated a live Nativity scene at a base in Bahrain to the chapel area.
--The Department of Veterans Affairs censored references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery.
--The Pentagon released regulations forcing chaplains to perform same-sex weddings, despite many chaplains' religious objections and the fact that members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus had worked tirelessly to ensure that the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013, which was signed into law in January, included key religious freedom protections for service members generally and chaplains specifically (Section 533).
--The Pentagon revoked approval to use the logo of each service branch on the covers of Bibles sold in military exchange stores.
What is going on in the U.S. military? Apparently, the military's urge for neutrality is officially and fundamentally transforming into hostility against faith and religious expression.
What is so difficult to understand about the free exercise clause in the First Amendment, which says the feds "shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise" of religion?
What is the White House's response to all the military omissions and prohibitions of religious freedom and expression? Absolute silence. Apparently, the Oval Office never received Edmund Burke's message: Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.
Long gone are the days when the commander in chief wrote the prologue to the Gideons Bibles given to service members, encouraging them to find strength and courage from the contents. That's what President Franklin D. Roosevelt did before the start of World War II: "As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul."
The only fight left is for we the people to defend our First Amendment's freedom of religion, not espouse or enable the freedom from religion. Start in your own town, and take the battle all the way to Washington.
Cinderella Law could become a charter for whiny kids, claims Tory
'And can you point to the man who refused to buy you a pony?'
A law to protect children from emotional abuse risks becoming a ‘charter for whining kids’, a Tory MP warned last night.
Government sources yesterday confirmed that a so-called Cinderella Law introducing jail terms for parents who starve their children of love and affection will be included in the Queen’s Speech in June.
Ministers said the move would ensure ‘emotional cruelty’ is treated with the same seriousness as physical abuse and children’s charities hailed it as a ‘monumental step forward’ for child protection.
But critics said the law would be difficult to enforce – and warned that loving parents could be dragged to court on the say-so of estranged partners, nosy neighbours and disaffected children.
The new offence would include doing anything that deliberately harms a child’s ‘physical intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development’.
Parents found guilty could face up to ten years in prison, the maximum term in child neglect cases.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘No-one is going to condone the extreme levels of abuse that some children suffer. But there is a real danger that this becomes a charter for every kid whining and complaining about a bit of tough love from their parents.
‘I am sure it’s well-meaning, but we have seen in the past how easily these things get completely out of control with the result that perfectly decent parents, who love their kids and are trying to do their best, get dragged through the courts.’
He added: ‘Being a parent is a tough job and most people do their best – I don’t want to see them caught up by this. If the Government is going to go down this route then they are going to have to find pretty robust measures to protect ordinary, decent parents or they are going to create a monster.’
Jack Hart, of the Freedom Association, urged ministers to focus on helping parents rather than finding more ways to criminalise them.
‘This so-called Cinderella Law is yet another example of the state stepping in to criminalise parents where in fact education would be a far more powerful tool for combating harmful behaviour,’ he said.
‘Simply introducing swathes of new and hard-to-police legislation does not guarantee the right results. There should be a focus on helping parents who are having serious problems, not a rush to criminalise them.’
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday welcomed the proposals, saying current laws did not reflect the terrible impact on children of emotional abuse.
But he acknowledged the need for ministers to strike the right balance to prevent intrusion into normal family life. Mr Clegg said: ‘You can’t micro-manage what goes on in the living room, in the family home, in the kitchen, in law.
‘But what you can do is make sure that where the state has to step in to stop maltreatment of children … that they reflect emotional and mental abuse just as much as more visible physical abuse.’
Neglect is the most common reason for a child protection referral in the UK and emotional abuse is more common in these cases than physical abuse, according to the Department for Education.
Former Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton backed the change in law and insisted it would not affect normal parenting.
He said: ‘What we’re not talking about is somebody who shouts at their kid in the aisles at Tesco because they go off on one.
‘This has got to be sustained and deliberate emotional abuse and I think we need to be able to give the powers to social workers and others that we entrust with the protection of children in this country, so that when they see something they clearly think is systemic neglect of that child, ongoing neglect, they can intervene.’
A previous bid to change the law was blocked by ministers in February last year, with Justice Minister Damian Green arguing that it was not needed and that it was not clear ‘how a new offence would work in practice’.
But following a concerted campaign by children’s charities Mr Green launched a consultation on the issue in the autumn.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of the charity Action for Children, said: ‘This is a monumental step forward for thousands of children who we know suffer from emotional abuse and countless others whose desperate situations have yet to come to light.
‘I’ve met children who have been scapegoated in their families, constantly humiliated and made to feel unloved. The impact is devastating and can lead to life-long mental health problems and, in some cases, suicide.’
It's time we stopped worshipping the working class
Why do so many middle-class people de-gentrify their backgrounds and pretend they grew up poorer than they did, asks Alex Proud
It’s amazing. After all these years - after Thatcher, Major and Blair, after endless claims that we’re a classless society and considerable evidence that most of us are middle class - we’re still obsessed with being working class. Every time I think we might have grown out it, I hear the mangled vowels of another public school mockney or a celebrity declaiming their working class roots with the kind of self-righteousness you normally reserve for trying to prevent a genocide.
I have nothing against the working class or any other class. Inasmuch as class is largely an accident of birth, I don’t care if you were born in Mayfair or Middlesbrough. What I do care about, though, is being endlessly told that being born in Middlesborough is better and that, if only I was less of a product of privilege myself, I’d realise that. Like all guilt-trap arguments, this is total rubbish and amounts to saying: “Being a snob is dreadful, but being an inverted snob is something we should all aspire to.”
Obviously, I have a hierarchy of annoyance here. So I’ll start at the bottom with those I dislike the least – working class people who long ago become middle class and who now won’t shut up about how authentically working class they are.
Yes, in general, I’m sure it was harder for you. I’m genuinely impressed that you had the drive to work your way up and that your determination got you a look-at-me job in the media or fashion or film or whatever. I take my hat off to you and I recognise that your journey was harder than mine. But I can’t be impressed every single time I meet you. Or every time I read something you’ve written. Or every single time I see you on TV.
The thing is, once you’ve made it, you’ve made it. Once you’ve got your newspaper column or TV show or made your first million, you’re not working class anymore. And, pretty soon, your endless prole-ier than thou platitudes start to ring a bit hollow. You’re like the rapper on his fourth album, still talking about slinging rock in the hood. I’m not saying there aren’t privileged people who, at 40, still haven’t got over the fact that they went to Eton, but I hate them just as much. I guess the point I’m making is that, once you’ve bought £1.5m house in the part of Hackney that’s really Islington, we need a statute on of limitations on your underprivileged childhood.
Also, is growing up a bit poor really that bad? What about people who were born a bit short? Or a bit ugly? Personally, I tend to be a bit fat and bald. Perhaps that’s what’s held me back. Should I remind you of it every time I open my mouth? While we’re at it, being working class in the UK is pretty good compared to being almost any class in plenty of other countries. So, next time you want to tell me about sharing a bedroom in a damp, northern terrace, please remember that there are a billion people in rural India whose story makes yours seem like Downton Abbey.
But I’m a reasonable guy. And if it was just Tony Parsons endlessly re-telling his working-class story in the books that have made him part of the 0.1%, I could probably live with it. It’s tedious, but it does have the notable quality of being true-ish. The trouble is, our love of all things working class comes with three important riders. The first is that, as someone who isn’t working-class, I should constantly apologise for my comparative privilege. The second is that, if I refuse to do so, I should be righteously pilloried as some a Little Lord Fauntleroy. And the third is that, really, it would be better for everyone if I pretended to be working-class myself.
It’s funny. My dad is a kind of mockney dream made flesh. He left school at 14 to train as an apprentice engineer in his father’s footsteps (his dad built power stations for, among others, Stalin). He grew up in London in World War II and played in bomb craters. Later, evacuation gave him a glimpse of another world and left him with a desire to better himself. He went into the Merchant Navy, ran a power station during the communist insurgency in Malaya and saved enough danger money to start a stamp dealing business. Eventually he became middle class and rich. At no point have I ever heard him romanticise his poor childhood, idolise an East End gangster or tell me how much more authentic he is than his middle-class friends.
By contrast, I recently had dinner with a magazine editor, a film director and a model, all of whom come from similar backgrounds to me, and all of whom were bigging up their (frankly non-existent) working class credentials. When I made a crack about mockneys, I was hauled over the coals for being unacceptably bourgeois. You know, in that good-natured, jokey way that tells you people are deadly serious. The lesson is clear: I was born in a flat in Brighton and for the first few years of my life my parents were quite poor – so, for the purposes of my personal narrative, I should focus on this and gloss over the happy ending where all their hard work paid off.
This peculiar tendency to de-gentrify our backgrounds is at its most acute in the creative industries. Film makers and photographers, ad-men and artists, tell me - why is it you wish you grew up poorer than you did? Why do you wish for a background that could well have resulted in you working in a call centre in Sheffield? Maybe it’s because you have to. The UK film and fashion industries pretty much have this lie as their founding truth. In these sectors, in order to become rich, you must first pretend to be have been poor.
I suppose your work rubs off on you too. If you spend your life essentially writing stories, the desire to embellish your own story becomes overwhelming. By changing your starting point, you can make your own narrative a struggle against the odds. Of course, if you really wanted that kind of gritty excitement, you’d have done something about it. You could have joined the army or become a foreign correspondent. You could still go and work for the UN. But these jobs are hard, dangerous and often badly paid – and so, instead, you sit around in your Paul Smith suit in Soho House at 1am banging on about how you spent a term at the worst comp in Farnham and once interviewed Mad Frankie Frazer.
Which brings us to the strangest sub-genre of working-class worship – the fetishisation of blue-collar criminals. Now, there’s no denying that crime is exciting and I enjoy a good thriller as much as the next man. But what I don’t do is lionise criminals who burn people to death and maim them. You won’t hear me prattling on about some south London gangster who had “a kind of authentic honesty” about him – or even (as people I know have done) attending his funeral. This is because, working in the nightclub industry, you actually meet quite a few proper gangsters. And really, they’re not very nice and they don’t operate according to some stupid code of honour. If I was the devil, I would set up a special circle of hell for gangster-lovin’ mockneys. One where they had to spend eternity running a small business on the Krays’ turf.
Is there a solution to all this? Well, one possibility is that we could all be a bit more American. You know, that crass and vulgar country that a lot of the real working-class people idolise. For all America’s faults, I like the fact that Americans are more interested in where you’re going than where you’ve come from. I suppose a more home grown solution is to do what the upper classes do and treat everyone just like you, although this leads to awkwardness when you have to explain Latin phrases to the dustman.
I doubt either of these will work though. Our parents had no desire to go back to the working classes because they knew what they were like. We don’t – and so many of us treat them as a kind of gentrified Hackney of the mind – a imaginary societal playground for people called Josh and Jasper. When all this really took off in the mid 90s, I’d rather hoped that it would pass quickly. That we’d assimilate the message in Pulp’s clever and perceptive Common People, not the one in Guy Ritchie’s moronic films. But 20 years later, it’s still going strong.
What’s more, fighting the good fight is becoming tiring. It’s tiring having to apologise for for being honest about your background to someone who is lying about theirs. It’s tiring knowing even if you manage to win the argument, you’ll still lose because you’re a snob and an elitist. It’s tiring when so many social interactions are like Kafka set in a private members’ club.
So maybe it’s time to give up. Time to de-gentrify myself. It shouldn’t be hard. I run nightclubs, I own a flat in a purpose-built block in Primrose Hill and my parents have a 50-acre garden. So I don’t even have to lie: I work in a club, I grew up on an estate and I live in an inner city flat in a 60s block. You can call me Big Al. Nice one, innit?
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.