Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Cameron says Britain should 'feel proud that this is a Christian country' as he hails Church a 'living, active force for good'
David Cameron has called on people to 'feel proud to say this is a Christian country', in his annual Easter message.
As the election campaign slowed to mark the Easter weekend, the Prime Minister hailed the work of the Church and condemned the persecution of Christians following the massacre in Kenya.
Mr Cameron's praise for the Church comes after he criticised bishops for a controversial election letter calling for a 'fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be' which was widely seen as an attack on the Coalition's welfare cuts.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has condemned certain welfare reforms as part of a series of interventions by church leaders raising concerns about the shape of the economy.
In his video message the Prime Minister, who has defended the right of the Church to intervene in political debate, said Easter was ' time to reflect on the part that Christianity plays in our national life'.
'The Church is not just a collection of beautiful old buildings; it is a living, active force doing great works across our country,' he said.
'When people are homeless, the Church is there with hot meals and shelter. When people are addicted or in debt; when people are suffering, or grieving - the Church is there.'
'Across Britain, Christians don't just talk about 'loving thy neighbour', they live it out ... in faith schools, in prisons, in community groups.
'And it's for all these reasons that we should feel proud to say: this is a Christian country.
'Yes, we are a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none but we are still a Christian country.'
The PM, whose severely disabled son Ivan died in 2009, said that he knew ' from the most difficult times in my own life, that the kindness of the church can be a huge comfort'.
'We have a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world too,' Mr Cameron said. 'It is truly shocking to know that in 2015, there are still Christians being threatened, tortured - even killed - because of their faith...
'In the coming months, we must continue to speak as one voice for freedom of belief.
'So this Easter, we should keep in our thoughts all those Christians facing persecution abroad and give thanks for all those Christians who are making a real difference here at home.'
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: ' While politicians in the UK are busy on the campaign trail, we must not forget the cruel and barbaric killings that took place in Kenya.
'The thoughts of people here are very much with the families and friends of the murdered students in Garissa University.'
Labour leader Ed Miliband said 'fear and uncertainty' were issues for Christians both in the UK and abroad.
'In the midst of the Easter celebrations our hearts go out to those who face difficult times both overseas and closer to home. My thoughts are particularly with Christians in Syria, Iraq and other countries where the church suffers terrible persecution,' he wrote in a post on Facebook.
'According to the International Society for Human Rights, Christians are the victims of 80% of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today. We must all do everything we can to speak out against this evil and work to alleviate the suffering of those who are persecuted simply for their creed.
'But we don't need to travel far to find families facing fear and uncertainty. Over two million children are now living in poverty in the UK. I have admiration for those church members and Christian charities that provide support and hope to those in need.
'Over the Easter weekend millions of Christians will attend Easter services and events up and down the country. Through such gatherings, the Church shares the story of the resurrection, and spreads the good news of Easter.
'In the months to come I hope that we will all stand up for justice, serve the most vulnerable and work to positively transform our communities together.'
UK: NO EASTER GREETING TO CHRISTIANS ON PRIME MINISTER'S WEBSITE
There was an official Easter message from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and they were published for the whole world to see on the No10 website. But not this year.
The omission must be to do with the election campaign, people speculated. Parliament was dissolved on 30th March, so perhaps Government websites reflect the fact that there are no longer any MPs and all parliamentary business has ceased. Except that, constitutionally, the Government does not resign when Parliament is dissolved: the Prime Minister is appointed by the Queen, and all Ministers of State are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. Ergo the Government remains in office until the result of the General Election is known and a new administration is formed.
Which is why the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published Nick Clegg’s Easter message (on 2nd April), in which, despite being an atheist, he affirmed: “What it celebrates is the moving and powerful story of Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection.” And it is also why the FCO published the Foreign Secretary’s Easter message (on 3rd April), in which he appealed: “My hope is that all those facing discrimination, persecution and violence because of their faith – particularly in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity – have a peaceful Easter.”
But throughout the Easter period (and at the time of writing), the Office of the Prime Minister displayed a few humdrum statements, namely about a phone call with President Obama and another with Sultan Qaboos of Oman.
And there is the Prime Minister’s Passover greeting to Britain’s Jews, which was issued on 2nd April (the same day as the Deputy Prime Minister’s Easter greeting).
Funny, isn’t it? The No10 website carries prominent and very prompt (if not advanced) greetings to Jews during Passover, Rosh Hashanah and other holy festivals. And the Prime Minister never fails to wish Muslims well during Ramadan and Eid (both of them). There are effusive announcements about Vaisakhi and fulsome statements about Diwali to embrace Sikhs and Hindus. But nothing this year for Christians about Easter.
It is all the more peculiar because it isn’t as if the Prime Minister hasn’t gone to the trouble of recording one, and it has been tweeted out by the official No10 Twitter account and published on YouTube. “My video message on the importance of Christianity in our national life,” he says..
But, unlike Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Eid (both of them), Vaisakhi and Diwali, the most important festival in the Christian calendar is not apparently so important as to merit publication and dissemination on the official 10 Downing Street website.
Why would David Cameron restrict his Easter greeting to Christians on Twitter? Only 12,490 have viewed that video (it will doubtless climb today). Judging by the Eid-al-Fitr video (currently on 33,994), this increases (at least) three-fold when promoted by the Office of the Prime Minister (ignoring the relative demographic variations in numerical faith adherence, which is obviously a key variable).
Why would David Cameron issue a (bizarre) Easter greeting via Premier Christianity magazine (which doesn’t mention Jesus or the Resurrection, and takes a gratuitous swipe at the Church of England); and another through the Conservative Christian Fellowship (which at least mentions Jesus [though not Resurrection] and is crafted in slightly more orthodox terms for its target audience [there is, after all, an election looming]), but fail to publish his official Easter greeting to all of Britain’s Christians (and, indeed, to all the world’s Christians, especially those throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa) on the official 10 Downing Street website?
It’s not because he doesn’t believe it all, is it? “Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever,” he observes rather prosaically in that Premier Christianity article. But the lack of belief in the Resurrection of Christ doesn’t stop Nick Clegg talking about it. These are politicians, after all. So why no timely Easter greeting on the Downing Street website? Sabbath adherence? A nod to the atheist/humanist/secularist vote? Mere oversight? It may be a mystery for the ages.
$828,000 raised for Indiana pizzeria that said it won't cater gay weddings
A fundraiser for the owners of an Indiana pizzeria that became the target of widespread animosity after they said they wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding reception has collected more than $828,000 from anonymous donors.
A GoFundMe page started by a producer from The Blaze, a conservative news network founded by Glenn Beck, has drawn more than 28,500 donors.
"The intent was to help the family stave off the burdensome cost of having the media parked out front, activists tearing them down, and no customers coming in. Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family's plate as the strangers sought to destroy them," wrote Lawrence Jones, a producer who works for Blaze personality Dana Loesch. "But other strangers came to the rescue and the total just keeps going up."
The Walkerton pizzeria was dragged to the center of a national debate over Indiana's Religous Freedom Restoration Act on Tuesday, when Crystal O'Connor told a local television reporter her family would refuse requests to cater a same-sex wedding reception because it conflicted with their faith.
The comments quickly gained national attention, as activists said the pizzeria highlighted concerns that Indiana's legislation allowed blanket protections for businesses that engaged in discriminatory practices.
Crystal's father, Kevin O'Connor, told The Times on Wednesday that he has no problem with same-sex couples, and had not sought to make a declaration that he wouldn't serve them. His daughter was simply responding to a television reporter's question, O'Connor said, and he had not been asked to cater a wedding before she made those comments.
“We service anyone. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if they’re covered with tattoos, I don’t care if they got rings in their ears. I don’t care if they’re gay. The only thing I said was I cannot condone gay marriage," O'Connor, 61, had told The Times.
He expressed concerns that he might go out of business because of the comments, and later shut down the store after receiving threats, according to local media accounts.
Loesch interviewed the O'Connors earlier this week, and the GoFundMe page was started shortly after. She published a sarcastic blog post Friday dismissing the idea that the fundraising website was a cash-grab by the O'Connors or anyone else.
Indiana and Arkansas Concede to Politics in Religious Liberty Fight
State-level conservatives confronted with the sea of change that homosexual rights activists bring to society must choose between what is moral and what is political. Bowing to national pressure, the Indiana lawmaking machine weakened its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, essentially creating a protected class of “LGBT” people, writes Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson.
Similarly, Arkansas weakened its RFRA bill Thursday. Matt Lewis writes in The Telegraph, “[W]hile conservatives tend to view this as nothing more than a power grab by gay rights activists, others truly view this as a great civil rights cause. In their minds, protections allowing a devout believer to decline to photograph a gay wedding would be tantamount to Jim Crow laws where African-Americans were turned away at lunch counters.
While this analogy seems a stretch, the notion of comparing one’s own cause to the civil rights struggle is some mighty high moral ground to seize – and seize it they have.” Due to leftists' successful and emotionally evocative rhetoric, Republicans are stuck. Should they once again concede ground as the Left labels them bigots? Or do they stand firm to fight for Liberty? Lawmakers made their choice plain.
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.