Jul 29

Bishops Denounce Executive Order

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week preventing all federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week preventing all federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Two chairman from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have denounced an executive order from President Barack Obama, saying that the order “is unprecedented and should be opposed.”

President Obama’s 21 July executive order prevents federal government contractors from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This order offers no exemption for religious organizations, despite many religious groups asking Obama to include one in the order.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said the following in an official statement:

“In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination. With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

The bishops’ concern is that this order “ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term ‘sexual orientation.’” Because of this, employers could be turned away from receiving a federal contract if their religious beliefs object to any extra-marital sexual activity.

This order could prevent Christian organizations from applying for federal contracts to fund their charity and relief programs.

“If you hold that certain sexual practices are immoral, there is a good chance you probably will be disqualified from contracts,” said Melissa Swearingen, adviser and spokeswoman for the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Equally problematic to this executive order is the idea that “gender identity” is nothing more than a social constraint that can be chosen regardless of the person’s biological gender. The practical results of this could be a biological man using the women’s restroom because he identifies himself as a woman. (For problems with this view of gender, see my article ‘Gender Benders: Is My Sexual Identity an Accident Just Waiting to Happen? and ‘Unmaking a Difference: Is Gender Neutrality the New Stereotype?‘)

Swearingen, who said that the President’s lack of religious exemption was “very disappointing and hurtful,” also sees this as evidence of the Obama administration’s lack of regard for the concerns of his religious supporters.

“We definitely think the administration is on the wrong side of history. It seems they are intentionally discriminating against people of religious faith in the name of nondiscrimination.”

This Executive Order, which will go into effect early next year, comes after months of lobbying by homosexual groups.

President Obama called the order “extraordinary progress” for LGBT rights and hailed it as a bringer of fairness to America’s citizens. He told a White House gathering: “Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”

At a White House signing ceremony, Obama told advocates that he believed in the “irrefutable rightness of [their] cause” and declared that “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”

Vice President Joe Biden essentially said that gay rights override the beliefs of everyone else. In remarks to the Associated Press, Biden declared, “I don’t care what your culture is…Inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.”

Rev Barry Lynn, Executive Director for American United for Separation of Church and State, said that Obama made the “right call” by not allowing religious exemption to his Executive Order. Lynn said in a statement:

“Faith-based groups that tap the public purse should play by the same rules as everyone else and not expect special treatment…No forms of discrimination should be supported with the taxpayer dime, period.”

Obama might have published this order sooner, but he was waiting to see if Congress would pass the more comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for people that work for private businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

ENDA cleared the U. S. Senate in November, but could not get past the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. So Obama took matters into his own hands, saying that it was “time to address this injustice for every American.”

The ENDA legislation contained a religious exemption, but the USCCB declared it too limiting. However, a group of 14 faith leaders asked for a similar provision in the executive order. They said in a letter to Obama that an executive order without a religious exemption could “significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government.”

Vice President and Senior Counsel of the Thomas More Society, Peter Breen, believes that Obama’s executive order should have been decided by Congress. While directly applying to federal employers and contractors, this order, according to Breen, could become a “slippery slope.”

“This does appear to be laying the foundation for further regulation on the issue of homosexual employees and on transgendered employees,” Breen said.

Eric Kniffin, an attorney with Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP who has litigated religious-liberty cases, believes that the recent Hobby Lobby case ruling instigated Obama’s not providing a religious exemption.

“There is a huge blow-back to Hobby Lobby, and I think this was one way of President Obama being able to show his supporters, ‘I’m going to deliver despite the court’s ruling,’” Kniffin said.

Kniffen also said that the Executive Order “continues the Obama administration’s efforts of narrowing religious liberty to internal ecclesial matters: freedom to worship, but not to practice and express ideas in the public square.”

“Basically, if you employ and you serve people of your own faith, then you can preserve your rights,” Kniffin asserted. “But when you engage in the public square, then you have to play by the same rules that govern everyone else. Wherever the administration thinks it can narrow religious liberty, it does so. Obviously, this is a First Amendment right, and people are accustomed to this right.”

Obama’s Executive Order adds to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 directive that prohibits employers and contractors from discriminating based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” In 2002, George W. Bush made the amendment that allowed religious employers to favor members of their own religion for employment, which Obama’s order retained.

24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce, will be affected by this order, despite many federal contractors already having provisions that prohibit anti-gay discrimination.

Approximately 14 million workers will now get protection from employers who currently do not have nondiscrimination policies, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School.

The fundamental issue in this case is that the Obama administration is equating race, something a person cannot change, to sexual lifestyle choices.

It would appear that the Obama administration wants to tell America’s Christian citizens who they are allowed to hire and how they must run their business. Americans who want to live our lives according to Biblical beliefs now have one more obstacle put in their way.

 

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Jul 25

AIDS: Moral Degeneration in Melbourne Declaration

AIDS2014The terrible Malaysian airline disaster has focused attention on the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. After reports that over a hundred activists were on the tragic plane bound for the Conference, it turns out that there were just six.

But what of the conference, which is running as we go to press? Is it merely a symposium for good-hearted people who want to develop medicines to combat HIV and AIDS? Well, no, it isn’t. It is also a grindingly right-on campaigning forum advancing special rights for homosexuals, drug abusers and prostitutes.

It issued a declaration, even before it started, supported by Richard Branson, Bob Geldof, fanatical Australian gay agitator Michael Kirby and, depressingly, by Aung San Suu Kyi who endured so many years of house-arrest in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi has allowed her name to be attached to the amoral Melbourne Declaration

Aung San Suu Kyi has allowed her name to be attached to the amoral Melbourne Declaration

The Declaration opens with a pretentious nod to the Animist Australian Aborigines:

‘We gather in Melbourne, the traditional meeting place of the Wurundjeri, Boonerwrung, Taungurong, Djajawurrung and the Wathaurung people, the original and enduring custodians of the lands that make up the Kulin Nation, to assess progress on the global HIV response and its future direction, at the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014.’

The Declaration begins by claiming ‘that non-discrimination is fundamental to an evidence-based, rights-based and gender transformative response to HIV and effective public health programmes’. If it going to be ‘rights-based’ and to mess around with gender roles, one supposes that the elimination of discrimination, or of making any moral judgments at all, must be fundamental.

It then states that ‘nobody should be criminalized or discriminated against because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability, religious or spiritual beliefs, country of origin, national status, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a sex worker, prisoner or detainee, because they use or have used illicit drugs or because they are living with HIV.’

So Governments should not pass laws against prostitution or using illicit drugs? ‘Illicit’ means ‘forbidden by law, rules, or custom’. Drugs are ‘illicit’ because they are illegal. If you do something illegal you are criminalised.

Dr Joep Lange died in the Malaysian aircraft disaster

Dr Joep Lange died in the Malaysian aircraft disaster.

The Declaration affirms everyone’s right to treatment, but spoils it by clothing it in terms of ‘social justice, equality, human rights’ which can mean anything.

In fact, for the International AIDS Conference, it means a sexual and – taken with the call to decriminalise currently illicit drugs – a drug-crazed free-for-all:

‘In over 80 countries’, it moans, ‘there are unacceptable laws that criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation. All people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. All people are born free and equal and are equal members of the human family’.

Uganda's President Museveni recently signed a law to criminlaise homosexual propaganda.

Uganda’s President Museveni recently signed a law to protect young people from homosexual propaganda.

Yes, they are, but if they break the law they need to be brought to justice. Would the Melbourne signatories complain about laws that criminalise people on the basis that they steal, or murder, or bear false witness, or deliberately infect others, or have sexual relations with children? It is hard not to wonder whether they might.

‘Governments must repeal repressive laws and end policies that reinforce discriminatory and stigmatizing practices that increase the vulnerability to HIV, while also passing laws that actively promote equality’, they say. No, they must keep in place and enforce laws which protect children from predatory homosexuals, particularly, in the developing world, from those from rich Western nations on the look-out for exotic children to corrupt for a couple of dollars.

The Melbourne signatories want to shut up politicians like Uganda’s President Museveni and Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who speak about decency and Biblical morality:

‘Decision makers must not use international health meetings or conferences as a platform to promote discriminatory laws and policies that undermine health and wellbeing.’  Perish the thought that any challenging view should ruffle the feathers of AIDS activists.

Zambia's Youth Alive programme would lose funding for opposing the distribution of condoms.

Zambia’s Youth Alive programme would lose funding for opposing the distribution of condoms.

And they are very keen to keep as much project funding as they can in the hands of politically- correct people like them:

‘The exclusion of organisations that promote intolerance and discrimination including sexism, homophobia, and transphobia against individuals or groups, from donor funding for HIV programmes.’

Church-based programmes may find it difficult in future to offer their care and expertise to those in need because the Melbourne Declaration, so keen on non-discrimination, wants to discriminate against them:

‘All healthcare providers must demonstrate the implementation of non-discriminatory policies as a prerequisite for future HIV programme funding.

‘Restrictions on funding, such as the anti-prostitution pledge and the ban on purchasing needles and syringes, must be removed as they actively impede the struggle to combat HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C among sex workers and people who inject drugs.’

The Melbourne people refuse to concede that those who would crack down on prostitution, refuse to distribute condoms and ban the sale of needles to drug addicts are doing it out of good-hearted concern for society at large and trying to protect those who might get caught up in destructive practices.

There is only one way of looking at the world in the Melbourne Declaration and it is an amoral, Western liberal godless way, with avarice clothed in a veneer of altruism. The Melbourne Declaration is not just a recipe for moral degeneration, it is an anti-Christian, self-righteous, self-serving and self-absorbed recipe for moral degeneration.

It is a pity that it has taken an air disaster and the loss of so many lives to bring it to light.

 

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Jul 24

World Humanist Congress meets in Oxford

Grayling

A C Grayling

The World Humanist Congress is meeting in Oxford from 8-10th August 2014.

The Congress meets every three years, bringing together activists from over forty countries under the auspices of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Being ‘ethical’ is important to humanists, because they have constantly to repel charges that without God, they only have their own prejudices to base their ‘ethics’ upon.

This year, the British Humanist Association (‘BHA’) is hosting the World Humanist Congress. They are bringing together no fewer than seventy-seven speakers, from as far afield as Switzerland, America, Australia, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uganda and Greece. The speakers are headed by humanist philosopher A C Grayling, writer Taslima Nasrin, Philip Pullman, Author of ‘His Dark Materials’, and Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka.

Other speakers include Jim Al-Khalili OBE, President of the BHA, Labour Party Peer Joan Bakewell DBE, Richard Dawkins, who is Vice-President of BHA, PZ Myers, Associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris, who describes himself as ‘A godless liberal biologist’, Peter Tatchell, and Prof Peter Atkins, Roy Brown of the pro-abortion International Foundation for Population and Development.

Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross

BBC Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross

Also speaking are Professor Ted Cantle, London Assembly member Tom Copley AM, Andrew Copson, who is Chief Executive of BHA, former RC chaplain Catherine Dunphy, Liz Lutgendorff, Chair of the Conway Hall Ethical Society, author Zoe Margolis, Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, Maryam Namazie, Maajid Nawaz, the highly-paid co-Founder of Quilliam, in receipt of government grants to counter Islamic extremism, Prof Richard Norman, founder-member of the Humanist Philosophers Group and Vice-President of the British Humanist Association, journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross, and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams.

A number of speakers also have links to the National Secular Society, which is slightly more extreme even than BHA. Philip Pullman is a ‘honorary associate’ of NSS as is Professor Cantle, Richard Dawkins, Nick Cohen, Maryam Namazie and Maajid Nawaz.

According to the WHC website, P Z Myers ‘is an outspoken critic of creationism and intelligent design (for which he has “nothing but contempt”, saying that it is “fundamentally dishonest”)’. Prof Myers was featured in Ray Comfort’s video ‘Evolution vs God‘, trying in vain to think of evidence for evolution and claiming that human beings are fish.

See: Teach Children Creation, says report.

 

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Jul 17

Halal stays ‘hors menu’ in French prisons

Saint Quentin

Saint Quentin Fallavier Prison

A plan to serve up halal meals to Muslim inmates in a French prison has been dropped, reports Associated Press.

The council of state said yesterday that providing Halal meat at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison in Grenoble, eastern France, was impractical “owing to its financial cost and high needs for organization.”

France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira also argued the plan would infringe France’s robust rules on secularism that ban religious expression in public places. France’s highest appeals court will have the final say.

The plan — which could have proved a test case — was being considered after the request of a Muslim inmate last November.

The French decision is in marked contrast to that of the Prison Service in Britain (see below), where Muslims have become so used to halal food, they are suing because pork DNA was found in it.

prisonmuslimsHARASSMENT OF NON-MUSLIMS

France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, estimated at some 5 million.  An investigation last year found evidence of Islamic oppression and harassment against non-Muslim inmates in French prisons.

The French magazine Valeurs Actuelles obtained a secret French government document about “proselytism in custody”. Written in 2011, it describes how Islam has taken over the French prison system.  Non-converts are subject to pressure, insults, threats and violence. They are marginalised in day-to-day prison life.

BRITAIN SUED OVER PORK IN PRISON HALAL PIES

The situation seems little better in British prisons.  The BBC reported in 2010 that gangs of Muslim prisoners were becoming an increasingly powerful force.

UK – England – Prison“Muslims run the prisons and there’s nothing the screws can do about it. For a Muslim you’d say it’s good but for a non-Muslim, it’s very, very bad,” said a former inmate.

In March 2014 the Guardian reported that the number of Muslims in the prison population had more than doubled to nearly 12,000 in a decade.

The 2011 census showed Muslims represented 4.7 per cent of the population in England and Wales, yet one in seven prisoners (14 per cent) in England and Wales is a Muslim, according to the statistics.

Amongst young offenders, the position is even more striking. The proportion of Muslim offenders is growing year by year. One in five males in young offender institutions identified themselves as Muslim in 2011/12, compared with 16% in 2010/11.

Our Government have bowed to pressure from Muslim inmates to serve them halal food.  In September 2013. it was reported that some 200 Muslims were taking the Prison Service to court because traces of DNA from pork, which is strictly ‘haram’ or ‘forbidden’ in Islam, were found in supposedly ‘halal’ pies from a halal certified supplier.

Professor Anthony Glees

Professor Anthony Glees

EXTREMISM TAKING OVER BRITISH PRISONS

Since Islam is a religion built around observance and not around the repentance demanded by Christianity, it is perfectly possible to be a criminal – to be a terrorist or even to run a drug firm, a prostitution ring or an extortion racket – and still be a good Muslim.

The Government is so concerned that prisons could become breeding grounds for terrorism that it it has has deployed imams to help steer them away from extremist paths.

Yet even this desperate move is set to backfire. An expert has warned that imams with links to extremist Muslim groups are helping to turn Britain’s prisons into ‘state-funded breeding grounds for extremism‘.

Professor Anthony Glees, head of the centre for security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘Our prisons have turned into a state-funded breeding ground for extremism. It is completely unacceptable that imams with extremist views are allowed to preach in prisons.’

Burqa-clad women demonstrating in London against the French burqa ban

Burqa-clad women demonstrating in London against the French burqa ban.

BURQA BAN LAWFUL

Earlier this month, Judges at the European court of human rights upheld France’s ban on wearing the burqa, accepting the French governments’ argument that it encouraged citizens to “live together”.

Foirmer president Nicolas Sarkozy told the French parliament when introducing the ban that the burqa was a sign of “servitude” that isn’t “welcome on French soil.”

There is no sign of such a ban being introduced in the United Kingdom, despite concerns that terrorists can use the dress to escape detection.

Somali-born Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, 27, escaping police by changing into a burqa in the An-Noor Masjid and Community Centre in Acton, west London, last November.  Yassin Omar, now convicted of attempting to blow up a tube train on 21st July 2007, also attempted to evade detection by wearing a burqa.

Latest atrocity from the followers of what Tony Blair described as the ‘Religion of Peace’:  Christians crucified by ISIS in Syria.  Thanks, Mr Hague.

 

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Jul 16

Christian Therapist Disciplined for “Bullying” Muslim Colleague

Victoria Wasteney

Victoria Wasteney

A Christian occupational therapist was disciplined for “bullying” a Muslim colleague, and is now making a legal challenge against the NHS.

Victoria Wasteney, a 37-year-old Head of Occupational Therapy at the East London NHS Trust, was summarily suspended with full pay for nine months and is forbidden to discuss her faith at work. The NHS also gave her a formal warning that will remain on her record for one year.

Wasteney maintains that she was always respectful of her colleague and never spoke of her faith unless the woman invited it in their conversations.

“One of the earliest conversations I can recall was one in which she said she had just moved to London. She felt that God had a real plan and a purpose for her,” said Wasteney, who is from Essex. Wasteney was “very cautious because our environment is such that these things can be misconstrued and, with her being from a different faith background, I was mindful of being respectful of that,” Wasteney told the Daily Telegraph.

Eight complaints were originally brought against Wasteney, three of which she was eventually charged for: inviting her colleague to her church events, praying with her colleague, and giving her coworker a book that tells the story of a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity.

Wasteney first invited her colleague to a church event when she found out the coworker was interested in the anti-trafficking work that her church does. After that, she invited her Muslim colleague to other church events.

When her colleague was going to the hospital for treatment, Wasteney gave her the book about a Muslim conversion. She had never read it, but a friend recommended it to her.

“Because we had had these conversations it did not seem abnormal. It certainly was not an attempt to convert her to Christianity, as it was put to me later.”

Later, the Muslim coworker tearfully came to Wasteney’s office seeking advice, because she had health issues and problems at home that she wanted to discuss.

I said to her that she had strong faith and she should draw on that faith,” said Wasteney.

I said ‘Pray!’ She told me she could not pray, so I replied ‘Maybe I can pray for you?’ And she said ‘OK’.

I asked if I could put my hand on her knee, and she said yes. I don’t know if I said ‘Lord’ or ‘God’ but I said what I thought was the most neutral. Then I said ‘I trust that You will bring peace and You will bring healing.’

She affirmed that she would have stopped praying if she believed her colleague was distressed in any way. She says that they openly discussed their respective faiths and that the Complainant “welcomed” such conversations.

Four months later, the formal complaint against Wasteney was made by her Muslim colleague on 13 June 2013, which included accusations of bullying and harassment. The next day she was called before the Associate Director of Therapies and immediately suspended while the investigation was carried out.

A February hearing upheld the three previously-mentioned charges of misconduct.

“I fear I may have been entrapped by a colleague who encouraged me to discuss my faith, who willingly agreed that I could pray for her and who even accepted an invitation to a church charity event,” she says.

“For nine months I was made to feel I was a danger to my colleagues and the public despite no evidence of wrong-doing. I had email evidence clearly showing the Complainant wanted to come to my charity church event and I only put my hand on her knee in friendship after asking her permission while I prayed for her,” she insists.

Wasteney challenged the NHS in court because she believes the NHS is “stifling ordinary conversations about faith.”

Throughout all of this, Wasteney has tried to show the importance of being tolerant to all religions and not to discriminate against Christians.

“I believe in tolerance for everyone and that is why I am challenging what has happened to me.”

She finds it hard to believe that after all her faithful service to the Trust they are so willing to bring charges against her.

“I’ve had an unblemished 15 year career and suddenly I am confronted with vague and unclear complaints by the Associate Director. I didn’t receive a written complaint until four months later. Now my file shows a nine-month suspension and a Final Written Warning for simply responding in a loving and compassionate way to a young colleague who seemed genuinely interested in talking about my faith as a Christian,” she says.

Wasteney believes the trust took a “one-sided, politically correct decision to punish her despite the fact that the complainant had initiated discussions about faith and never complained to her personally.”

In addition, Wasteney said that Christian groups must work around managerial arrangements in the Trust, whereas joint staff and Muslim fellowship meetings are facilitated by the Trust regardless of staffing issues.

“There is undoubtedly a pattern of inequality of treatment of Christians and Muslims in the NHS. Regardless of allocated break times, Muslim staff can pray five times a day, which I am not objecting to, but Christians are often denied time off on Sundays or permission to take breaks during their lunchtime for prayer or religious worship. However, I never expected to be persecuted by the very Trust I have been dedicated to over the past seven years.”

She is appealing to the 2010 Equality Act, and is being represented by Human Rights barrister Paul Diamond through Christian Legal Centre.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, argues that Wasteney’s case indicates a move away from the very values on which the NHS was built.

“The NHS was founded and inspired by Christian principles and precepts. Such heritage meant that the NHS was a model of how to deliver health care across the world; a place of safety, care, freedom and flourishing with a staff inspired by their chosen career,” she has said in a statement.

“Sadly, this case, along with others, demonstrates that today’s climate in the NHS is increasingly dominated by a suffocating liberal agenda that chooses to bend over backwards to accommodate certain beliefs but punishes the Christian.”

 

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Jul 12

Theresa May Resurrects “Snooper’s Charter”

Theresa May is in favor of increasing internet surveillance in Britain.

Theresa May: in favour of increased internet surveillance in Britain.

Theresa May has resurrected plans for a “snooper’s charter” in order to counteract, she says, terrorist threats from British jihadists in Syria.

She stated again that she wants to “equip the state with greater surveillance powers—including the ability to access citizens’ email and social media accounts.”

May claims that it is vital for security authorities to have enough power to counteract terrorist in a world with ever-increasing internet capabilities. She claims that having this power is a matter of “life and death, a matter of national security.”

She related how many Britons have travelled to Syria to fight the Assad regime, and how this could represent a threat when they return to the UK.

It was of course British Foreign Secretary William Hague who encouraged the uprising against President Assad and paved the way for Islamist terrorists to become entrenched in Syria in the first place.  The UK gave the anti-Christian rebels £32.5m.  Only as a result of prayer and by the grace of God did the UK not send warplanes against Syrian government forces and make matters even worse.

May also claimed that at least 20 cases, 13 of which involved a threat to a child’s life, were dropped by the National Crime Agency in the past six months for lack of communication data.

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Defence and Security Lecture, May said that “the real problem is not that we have built an over-mighty state but that the state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty, which is to protect the public.”

She believes that internet technology has given criminals more ways to commit crimes, and that the Government needs to be able to match these criminals in technological advances, which includes accessing information that can help stop them. She even referred to the internet as a “breeding ground for criminals.”

Emma Carr, acting director of privacy campaigner group Big Brother Watch, asserted that May differs from the majority opinion on this issue.

“Yet again the Home Secretary is clashing with the broad political consensus that no new powers should be introduced until a full independent review into the currently available surveillance legislation and oversight mechanisms has taken place,” she said in a statement.

“We know from surveillance transparency reports published by private companies that they largely comply with law enforcement requests for communications data.

“Therefore, if the Home Secretary is stating that communications data was unavailable in specific cases, then that would suggest that a warrant was either not submitted to, or was rejected by, the companies in question. The question therefore should be why is this the case?” Carr added.

May introduced the “snooper’s charter” proposal last year to increase surveillance of people’s internet and phone communications, but it was blocked by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. He believed her plans would be opening up doors for all sorts of mass surveillance by the government.

If passed, the proposed legislation would require internet firms to keep records of all email and social media interactions for up to a year, in case these records need to be accessed in an issue of national security.

Based on recent reports, May appears to want this legislation passed before the next general election.

May also denied a “surveillance state” programme as alleged by Edward Snowden, and she affirmed that Britain did not rely on the US to illegally obtain internet records.

“There is no programme of mass surveillance and there is no surveillance state,” May asserted.

However, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has already been accused by privacy campaigners of spying on citizens by hacking unlawfully into personal information.

Privacy International alleges that GCHQ was illegally spying on people and has broken the European Convention of Human Rights by doing so. This document ensures citizens a right to privacy and freedom of speech.

Privacy International claims that, based on information from whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the GCHQ and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used a monitoring programmed called Tempora, which “taps into the network of fibre-optic cables which carry the world’s phone calls and online traffic.”

The deputy director of Privacy International, Eric King, said this was the “modern equivalent of the government entering someone’s house and reading their diary, correspondence and journals.”

May denied these allegations as well, calling them “nonsense” and affirming that everything the Government is doing in surveillance is perfectly legal.

The Government received more criticism when Charles Farr, Britain’s most senior security official, said in a statement in mid-June that the Government is allowed to access citizens’ personal messages on social media sites because they are regarded as “external communications.” These include searches on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in addition to emails from non-British citizens.

This is the first time that the Government openly stated that they intercept, without a warrant, what citizens believed were private messages.

Farr said that today the biggest threat to national security in the UK and beyond is from “militant Islamist terrorists,” and it is therefore necessary to find these suspects before it becomes too difficult to trace them. If the government was only allowed to monitor individual people or locations, this would not provide an adequate degree of protection which the people expect.

In addition, ministers have proposed this week to enact emergency laws that would require phone companies to keep records of people’s phone calls, texts, and internet history. Labour and Liberal Democrats are supporting this move but also warned that they will not allow this new law to reinstate a more extensive “snooper’s charter.”

Many allegations have been recently made against the Government regarding surveillance, followed by profuse denial from Theresa May. Are online terrorists really a threat to our national safety and is this the only way we can counteract terrorist threats? It is hard to say. But one thing remains certain: as much of a danger as terrorism may be, an even greater danger arises when a populace is willing to surrender substantial liberties for the promise of security. As we pointed out earlier this year, the normalization of the modern surveillance state arises from the universal human temptation to surrender freedom for the often illusory promise of increased security. That is why, when Government officials begin talking about “matters of life and death,” one must be cautious about the motivation behind it.

 

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Jul 11

Ashers Baking ‘Discriminated’

The Politically-motivated cake was baked by another firm.

The campaigning cake was baked by another firm.

A bakery firm in Northern Ireland is facing a discrimination case after refusing to bake a cake with a slogan supporting ‘gay marriage’

Ashers Baking Company, which is owned and run by the McArthur family, who are Christians, declined an order from a gay rights activist asking for a cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with a slogan saying ‘Support Gay Marriage’.

Marriage between people of the same sex is illegal in Northern Ireland.  In April 2014 the Stormont Assembly rejected a Sinn Fein motion to change the definition of marriage for the third time in eighteen months.

The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called “Queerspace”.

The cake was ordered for a civic event in Bangor Castle Town Hall, County Down, to mark the invented ‘International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia’, ‘IDAHOT’ in May.

Cllr Andrew Muir campaigns for 'gay marriage' by cutting the 'QueerSpace' cake.

Homosexual Cllr Andrew Muir campaigns for ‘gay marriage’ by cutting the ‘QueerSpace’ cake.

The event, hosted by Councillor Andrew Muir, the openly-homosexual Mayor of North Down for  the divisive Alliance Party, went ahead after another company provided a cake.

But now, six weeks after the event, the County Antrim firm has received a letter from a self-important quango called the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

The firm’s general manager, Daniel McArthur, said that his firm offered the customer a full refund, which was collected shortly after the order was refused.

“We thought that was the end of it, but approximately six weeks later we received a letter from the Equality Commission. The Equality Commission’s letter said that we had discriminated against the customer on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

“It asked us to propose how we would recompense the customer for this discrimination. It also said it would pursue legal proceedings if we didn’t respond within a seven-day time period,” Mr McArthur said.

The watchdog confirmed it is assisting the customer.  In a statement, it said: “The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland provides advice and can provide assistance to people who complain to us that they have suffered unlawful discrimination.

“In this case the commission has granted assistance to the complainant, and has written to the company concerned on his behalf.  The commission will consider any response before taking further action.”

Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, presents the   Newtownabbey Business Person of the Year to Colin McArthur of Ashers Bakery.

Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, left, presents the Newtownabbey Business Person of the Year award to Colin McArthur of Ashers Baking Company.

But the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said the Equality Commission had overstepped the mark and the complaint highlighted the need for a “conscience clause” to protect Christians and others who have deeply held beliefs.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: “The case re-opens the debate about how exactly religious belief is respected within the United Kingdom and the need for someone’s conscience to be protected whilst ensuring that discrimination does not occur.”

Mr Dodds could point out that Ashers have not discriminated against the complainant on the grounds of his sexual orientation, although this should in conscience be their right.

They have instead objected to manufacturing a product carrying a contentious political message.

Ashers could equally have objected to producing icing depicting the Sesame Street’s ‘Bert’ and ‘Ernie’ out of respect for the copyright protection attached to those characters.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is now considering its next step.

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland:
Telephone: 028 90 500 600
Textphone: 028 90 500 589 Fax: 028 90 248 687
Equality House 7-9 Shaftesbury Square Belfast BT2 7DP

[email protected]

 

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Jul 05

British Man Believes Son Radicalised by Imam

Rhahim Kalantar, father of Ali Kalantar, believes his son was radicalised by an imam at a mosque his son attended.

Rahim Kalantar, father of Ali Kalantar, believes his son was radicalised by an imam at a mosque his son attended.

A British man believes his teenage son, who traveled to Syria to join a jihadist group, was radicalised by an imam from a UK mosque.

Rahim Kalantar, father of Ali, 18, told the BBC he believes his son is now fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an active jihadist group in Iraq and Syria. Kalantar claims that an imam sent him “down this road,” but the imam denied the allegations.

Ali would be one of about 500 Britons who have gone to the Middle East to fight in the conflict.

Kalantar says he worries about his son “every minute” and that his grief is “limitless.” He believes that his son was brainwashed by the imam while Ali was taking classes at a mosque after evening prayer.

Although the BBC contacted the mosque to speak with the imam, he refused an interview and denied all allegations.

Kalantar believes this imam radicalized his son, as well as another 18-year-old, Rashed Amani.

Family members of Amani had travelled to the Turkish-Syrian border to search for the boys, but Amani’s father said they came back “empty-handed” after looking for over two weeks. He also feared that his son had joined ISIS.

“Maybe somebody worked with him, I don’t know. Maybe somebody brainwashed him because he was not like that,” he said.

This report comes after two other young Britons, Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan, both 20, appeared in a recruitment video posted by ISIS. In this video the two men encouraged other British Muslims to join the fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Former independent reviewer of terrorism laws, Lord Carlile, informed the BBC that the Muslim community itself was in the best position to prevent jihadists from recruiting in the UK. He also said that the UK needed to “reintroduce” tougher measures to stop terrorism.

“Mothers, wives, sisters do not want their husbands, brothers, sons to become valid jihadists and run the risk of being killed in a civil war,” he told the programme.

He also said that the Government needs to “look at preventing violent extremism before people leave the country and also we need to look for further measures.” He suggested reintroducing “something like control orders.” These were replaced in 2011 with Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPims), which are less restrictive than control orders.

United States President Obama announced on 19 June that he will send 300 U.S. special operation forces to Iraq in order to repel the uprising of Muslim jihadist troops involved with ISIS.

Although the jihadists recruit mainly Muslims, these incidents are just another way that the increasing Muslim population in Britain is affecting British culture.

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Jul 03

Ditch Christian School Assemblies says NGA

schoolprayerThe National Governors’ Association (NGA) has suggested scrapping Christian assemblies in state schools.

The NGA, which told Christian Voice that one-fifth of state school governing bodies are members, says staff are “unable or unwilling” to lead pupils in prayer and that worship is ‘meaningless’ to non-Christian schoolchildren.

In a policy statement, the body said schools were “not places of worship but places of education” and “the worship of a religion or religions in all schools should not be … compulsory.”

“Few schools can or do meet the current legislative requirement for a daily act of collective worship, partly because there isn’t space in most schools to gather students together and often staff are unable or unwilling to lead a collective worship session,” it said.

“There is also the added issue that worship implies belief in a particular faith – if the ‘act of worship’ is not in your faith then it is meaningless as an act of worship.”

The NGA said dropping collective Christian worship from schools’ remit would “not prevent them from holding assemblies that address a whole range of topics, including faith and belief.”

The Church of England said dropping Christian assemblies would “deny children the opportunity to experience something they wouldn’t experience elsewhere in their lives”.

In 2012, Welsh Evangelical Alliance National Assembly Liaison Officer Jim Stewart said of Christian worship in schools: “If this right were taken away from us it would lead to further marginalisation of Christianity in public life. This is not just something that is beneficial to us though – it is for the common good and other faith groups in Wales are supportive of it as are people who don’t have a particular faith.”

Naturally, the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society welcomed the NGA’s comments, with the BHA saying schools should be “holding inclusive assemblies that forward the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils and staff”.

However, it isn’t at all clear what ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural’ values would qualify as ‘inclusive’ nor whom or what they could be founded on if not on the God who brought this nation victorious through two world wars.

It is no good appealing to ‘multi-culturalism.’  Even though Islam is the UK’s fastest-growing religion, its practitioners still only number 5% of the population. Our African and Caribbean populations are overwhelmingly Christian.  Britain is not ‘multi-cultural’ in any meaningful sense.

For some fifteen hundred years, as they became converted, rulers in this nation increasingly rooted their laws and morality in what Almighty God revealed in the Bible, revering Jesus Christ as King of kings.  This process culminated in the late-ninth-century law-code of King Alfred the Great, who based his ‘dooms’ on the laws of God in the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses.

In a country with such a rich Christian heritage, who defines what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ if not Almighty God?  The school head?  The school governors?  On what basis?

A collective act of worship has been a statutory requirement in state schools since the Education Act 1944 stated that ‘the school day in every county school and every voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all the pupils in attendance’.  The Act gave parents the right to withdraw their child, perhaps in favour of separate arrangements.  The Education Reform Act 1988 reaffirmed that position and reinforced it, stating that the act of worship should be ‘mainly of a broadly Christian character’.

Children in state schools should engage in a collective act of worship because ours is constitutionally and demographically a Christian country.  As we lose respect for the sacred, we lose respect for each other.  Britain would become just a bit more brutal, crass and disrespectful as a result.

The elimination of school prayer would rank alongside amoral sex education and the silencing of any possibility of creation as a prime motivator of antisocial behaviour.  It would be irrational for anyone to ask why God permits this or that outrage of violence  in schools which have legislated God out of the door.

The National Governors’ Association cannot claim to represent anything approaching a majority of school governors.  But if it is true that staff are unable or unwilling to conduct an act of Christian worship, the way is open for a local church to offer the services of its pastor, youth leader or another committed member of the congregation.  So there is an opportunity in the present situation for closer relationships between schools and churches.

 

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Jul 02

Elton John – confused, crass and clueless.

Elton John

Elton John

Elton John may never become any kind of Christian leader, but he still thinks he should be.

On Sunday, according to the Washington Times, the ageing celeb said ‘that Jesus Christ would support the idea of two gay priests tying the knot and that the celibacy vow among clergy is an “old and stupid” rule that should be abolished’.

Mr. John, who hopes to ‘marry’ his sodomite civil partner David Furnish some time next year, said gay clergy should be allowed to ‘marry’ and have sexual relationships.

“These are old and stupid things. If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen,” he said.

Apparently, the greater and more ‘Christian’ one is on planet Elton, the more one agrees that the rectum is an appropriate receptacle for the male anatomy.

That only confirms Elton as confused, crass and clueless about the Christian faith.

The Lord Jesus cannot be described as a ‘Christian person’ and he is alive.  He was and is the Son of God who ministered on earth as a Jewish Pharisee, upheld and taught the laws of God and died on a cross to bear the sins of as many as would believe in him, sexual sins like sodomy included.

There is little evidence that Elton John understands this and even less that he has repented of his acts of sodomy and/or gross indecency with David Furnish and countless others.  His ignorance of the Lord Jesus knows no  bounds:

“He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together, and that’s what the church should be about.”

Actually, the Jesus we read about in scripture, not the one who is a figment of Elton’s imagination, is ‘all about’ division:

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

John 7:40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43 So there was a division among the people because of him.

John 9:16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

As to ‘love and compassion and forgiveness’, Elton, yes, the Lord Jesus will forgive all your sins if you turn to him, but if if you persist in your sin and go around promoting it in your pride and arrogance he will be a consuming fire.

The love of Christ is not some mawkish, sentimental endorsement of whatever goes, but a calling to repentance:

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

2John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Sir Elton told Sky News that ‘the global fight for gay rights was stalling’ and that he planned to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November.

“Globally, we seem to have gone backwards over the last 18 months,” he said. “I will see Putin and talk to him. I don’t know what good it will do though.”

Let us hope and pray that President Putin will tell Elton John the truth, that sodomy is a act of abuse, that homosexual desires are vile affections and that Jesus Christ can release him from his sinful life.  Then their meeting, if it takes place at all, will have done some good.

 

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