Sunday, April 08, 2012

Wear your cross every day with pride: Head of Scottish Catholics wades into crucifix row

The head of the Catholic church in Scotland has added his voice to growing calls for Christians to be allowed to express their beliefs at work.

In his Easter Sunday homily, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will urge Christians to  'wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives'.

Speaking at Edinburgh's St Mary's Cathedral tomorrow, he will quote Pope Benedict XVI, who said Christians 'need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles'.

He will add: 'I know that many of you do wear such a cross of Christ, not in any ostentatious way, not in a way that might harm you at your work or recreation, but a simple indication that you value the role of Jesus Christ in the history of the world, that you are trying to live by Christ's standards in your own daily life.'

His message will give further weight to a campaign led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey which calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to back the legal rights of Christians at work.

He will say: 'I hope that increasing numbers of Christians adopt the practice of wearing a cross in a simple and discreet way as a symbol of their beliefs.

'Easter provides the ideal time to remind ourselves of the centrality of the cross in our Christian faith.

'A simple lapel cross pin costs around £1. Since this is less than a chocolate Easter egg, I hope many people will consider giving some as gifts and wearing them with pride.'

Lord Carey wants the Prime Minister to press for greater legal protection for Christians who have been sacked for following their consciences when a group of test cases are heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg next month.

Four Christians are taking legal action at a landmark hearing because they believe British laws have failed to protect their human rights to wear religious symbols or opt out of gay rights legislation.

The cases include those of Shirley Chaplin, a Devon nurse banned from working on the wards after she failed to hide a cross she had worn since she was 16, and Gary MacFarlane, who was sacked as a Relate counsellor after suggesting he would refuse to provide sexual therapy to gay couples.

The judges will also examine the cases of Nadia Eweida, a check-in clerk for British Airways who was told to remove her small crucifix at work, and registrar Lilian Ladele, who lost her job at Islington town hall, North London, after refusing to officiate at civil partnerships.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: 'Wearing a religious symbol is entirely a matter for individual members of staff. We have no policy as an employer.'

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament said: 'The Scottish Parliament does not have a specific policy for staff displaying religious symbols in their work attire.'

NHS Scotland advises health boards to 'conduct a full risk assessment' to ensure that their local dress code policy 'is appropriate for different categories of staff and should look to support staff in complying with both the needs of the service and any religious or cultural requirements'.


Products of Britain's welfare state don't want to work

As the country plunges into the depths of a record youth unemployment crisis - with one in four youngsters now out of work - you might expect any jobs would be snapped up within hours.

But a landlady has condemned Britain’s ‘stay-in-bed’ generation of youngsters after spending six months fruitlessly searching for trainee chef.

Despite one in six 16 to 24-year-olds currently being part of the unenviable NEET tribe - short for not in education, employment or training - Janette Harrop, 53, has been unable to fill the pub's vacancies.

She has set up five interviews every week on average, but said only half of applicants have turned up.  And those offered a job, which pays the minimum wage, have failed to show up for work.

Now Janette and husband Tom, 55, who run the Old Original pub in Scouthead, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, have criticised the culture of ‘spoiling’ youngsters with pocket money instead of instilling a basic work ethic in them.

It comes 24 hours after deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched the £1billion ‘youth contract’ scheme in a bid to create jobs for youngsters after figures revealed more than a million 16 to 24-year-olds are without a job, more than at any time since records began in 1992.

Mrs Harrop said: ‘Our pub is a fantastic place to work - it’s a young hard working team and another youngster would fit in and enjoy working here.  ‘But we are struggling to find that person to become an apprentice because of lack of reliability. I have to say it’s not an easy job and it’s not a doddle but it’s one you can get a lot out of and hopefully have a whole career in.

‘We’ve had about 30 people apply but barely half of those turn up for interviews. It just wastes my time as well waiting for them.  ‘After a bit you’re a bit cynical and just think they won’t turn up, so I wait 20 minutes and then I won’t wait any longer because I’m too busy.

‘Most of them just don’t turn up, they’re full of enthusiasm over the phone and then they don’t bother. Some of them you ask for a trial and they might start off okay but then they just let you down.  ‘People come to work here then realise the shifts are unsociable hours. That’s when they realise their friends are out doing other things whilst they are working. It doesn’t help and they let us down.  ‘All we want to do is give someone a chance but it’s just finding that person.’

The post as a trainee chef would involve the chance to train on a local college course so the person would be a fully qualified chef at the end.

The position includes food preparation, cooking, cleaning, learning to keep the books and at the beginning is a 30 hour week, with most mornings starting at rather leisurely 10am.

Mr and Mrs Harrop expected hordes of eager youngsters wanting to snap up the trainee chef job and advertised in local shops, the job centre, the pub itself and local colleges, last October.

But despite youth unemployment being at an all-time high the couple had just 30 people apply for the position - with only half bothering to turn up for the interview.  One hopeful blamed his lack of bus fare for not being able to come while others just never even called. When the applicants were invited for trial weeks they would often just stop coming without warning.

Janette thinks a lack of commitment to hard work and more of a focus on their social life has led to the record numbers of young people who are out of work across the country.

Mrs Harrop added: ‘Since we first advertised the job in schools, colleges and the job centre, we’ve had an average of about five interviews set up every week. I’m lucky if two of the applicants turn up.  ‘The people who have taken the job have been unreliable, claiming they’ve got no bus fare and making excuses week after week.

‘Some youngsters are only too keen to stay in bed on a work day because they have been enjoying themselves the night before and we’ve allowed them to get away with it.

‘I think we spoil our children now. In our day we had to do paper rounds or milk rounds, you got yourself prepared for work.

‘But whilst the world’s changed due to safety worries, it does make work suddenly come as a bit of a shock.

‘I think a lot of youngsters go out at night and can’t be bothered in the morning. But it’s not that early, it’s a 10am start for us - a lot of jobs are a 7am or 8 am start.

‘It is unsociable hours and we are out of the way and it is a big commitment but it’s a job.

‘I know they want to do both, going out and working, but they just can’t when it comes to the next day and getting up, they’re not fit for work.

‘We want them by the end to be a fully qualified chef. It’s like any job the money isn’t fantastic at the start but you work your way up, it’s a career.

‘We’re looking to employ someone who we can send to college. They’d be doing NVQ certificates to do the job professionally and long term. We’re offering someone the chance of further education.’

Minimum wages for apprentices start at £2.60 an hour between the aged of 16 and 19 or £3.68 hourly pay for employees aged between 16 and 17 and £4.98 for 18 to 20 year olds. Over 21s can get a minimum of £6.08.

On Tuesday Mr Clegg said youth unemployment was akin to a ‘ticking time bomb.’ His youth contract is designed to get young people ‘earning or learning.’


'It does matter how women look on TV': Former BBC correspondent Michael Cole says ageing female broadcasters should stop complaining about sexism

A former BBC correspondent has claimed that female broadcasters should stop complaining about ageism and sexism, claiming 'it does matter how you look on TV.'  Michael Cole, 69, also said producers had a right to choose presenters 'regardless of age, gender, colour or race'.

Writing exclusively in the latest edition of Press Gazette magazine, Cole said men were just as likely to suffer from discrimination at the BBC and claimed to have endured five years of rejection because he looked too young.

'I have to smile every time a middle-aged female television presenter comes out of the shrubbery complaining that her honour has been tarnished by those wicked people at the BBC who have failed to promote her, to renew her contract or, in extreme cases, sacked her,' said Cole.

'What do these women expect? It matters how you look on television. The studio lights aren't kind to ageing skin. Without exception, they all got their first jobs on the box when they were young. And they got those jobs, at least in part, because of their looks.'

Cole said producers should be free to choose presenters 'regardless of age, gender, colour or race' and argued that casting was one of the most potent factors in the success of any programme.

'The creative process should not be skewed, and the producer's freedom constrained, because any woman believes she has the right to a permanent place in a visual medium,' he said.

'There aren't any gorgons on television and with the possible exception of Patrick Moore, there aren't any strange-looking presenters either. Gargoyles are for cathedrals.'

Cole, who was a correspondent at the BBC between 1968 and 1988 and twice won Royal Television Awards for best home news story, argued that 'all of us, men and women and children, prefer to see young, good-looking people, unless we are very unusual indeed'.

He went on to claim that women were not the only victims of 'lookism', `ageism' or any other pejorative term they use when trying to hold back time and extend their television careers'.

Men were just as likely to suffer from discrimination because of the way they look, said Cole, who claimed to be the victim of prejudice 'every bit as disheartening as anything a TV sofa queen has ever had to suffer'.

Cole, who joined the Harrods and House of Fraser group as director of public affairs in 1988, said that for five years he had to endure rejection at the BBC 'not because I looked too old, but because I looked too young'.  He went to recount his struggle to land a position on the BBC desk in London, but claimed that 'unlike the women who complain of unfairness, I said nothing'.

'I know Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford, Anna Ford, Selina Scott and Julia Somerville,' he added. 'I have worked with them. Without exception, I like them. They are all talented broadcasters.

'Instead of complaining, women on TV should feel fortunate that they have natural gifts that men can never hope to match.'

He added: 'Look at the male news presenters: Mark Austin, Alastair Stewart, James Mates, Chris Eykin, Ben Brown, Nicholas Owen. All of them have been successful on-the-road reporters with a body of great stories to their credit.

'Consider the women news presenters: Natasha Kaplinsky, Julie Etchingham, Fiona Bruce and all the stars of breakfast television. They may do a serviceable studio interview and sometimes have to present a bulletin from abroad.

'But they are really there, on our screens, because they are attractive women who can read the teleprompter convincingly and they wear some beautiful jackets.'

The BBC declined to comment.

At the beginning of the year a tribunal ruled the BBC was guilty of ageism after axing Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly.

The tribunal found that O'Reilly, 53, had been dropped because of her age and victimised by management over newspaper stories that criticised the corporation for letting older presenters go.

The BBC apologised to O'Reilly and promised to overhaul its recruitment and appointment process.


TX: Atheist Students Encourage Christians to Exchange Their Bibles for... Pornography

Atheists have ramped up their efforts to gain greater respect and prominence in American society. While there are some non-believing organizations and groups that seek to have respectful debates with religious peoples, there are others that simply seek to poke fun at and incite the faith community.

Take for instance the Atheist Agenda, a student group at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The group setup a table on campus and promised to offer an exchange to anyone interested: Hand in a Bible or religious text and receive a pornographic magazine. They dubbed the event "Smut for Smut," in an apparent effort to frame the Bible as a book with comparable connotations to pornography.

The annual event, which can be traced back to 2008, is typically carried out to bring attention to the group. However, Kyle Bush, the president of Atheist Agenda, claims that the effort is also setup to spark conversation, while spreading freethinking sentiment.

"The point is not to hand out porn, but rather the primary purpose is to get people to come talk to us so we can get our message out," Bush explained. "We want to spread atheism and bring it more to the spotlight. We offer another alternative to people who might not fit in anywhere else."

While the event has been well-covered in the past, it barely attracted attention this year. While one can certainly argue that exchanging Bibles for pornographic material is an attention-getter, there are certainly less controversial ways of sparking debate and discussion.

WORLD on Campus has more about the somewhat cool response the campus group received this year:
    The event caused an uproar on campus in 2008 and made headlines around the world. But this year, few students took notice. During the four hours Atheist Agenda members spent next to their signs each day, only about 30 people stopped by to get information about the club or start a debate. [...]

    In addition to Bibles, the group offered to collect other religious texts, including the Quran, and any books written by prominent pastors, including Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. During the event, Atheist Agenda collected five Bibles, one Encyclopedia of Islam, and one Quran. The group plans to donate the books to a local library.

    Despite the event's ability in previous years to attract attention for atheism, Bush said the group didn't have any financial backers outside its student members. The group raised all of the money needed to put on the event themselves, he said. One of the group's fundraisers included selling popsicles.

Considering that organizers needed to purchase signs, pornography and other essentials, the students had to pitch in to make the event happen. The group apparently purchased 140 pounds of smut magazines for only $30 on CraigsList.

There was mixed reaction to the Atheist Agenda's anti-Bible effort. While some disagreed fervently, many still felt as though it was the students' right to hold an event based on their beliefs (or lack thereof). Nearby, members of the school's Victory and Praise Choir sang worship songs and prayed in an effort to make their presence - and stance against the event - known.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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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