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We’re still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), so I am continuing — and concluding — a short series on Americans’ views of Christmas.

On Monday, I explained that there really is a war on Christmas: Jesus offends.

On Tuesday, I recapped Pew Research’s ‘5 facts’ about Christmas in the United States. That was the big picture.

Now we drill down into Pew Research Center’s detail, published on December 12, 2017: ‘Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life’.

In short, the people conducting the war on Christmas are winning. And, yes, there is a war on Christmas.

A summary with excerpts from Pew follow. Emphases mine below, unless noted otherwise.

The numbers of Americans celebrating Christmas are still over 90% per cent, however, less than half of those celebrating now consider December 25 as primarily a religious holiday:

Currently, 55% of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46% who see it as more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9% who celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural occasion. In 2013, 59% of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, including 51% who saw it as more religious than cultural and 7% who marked the day as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

Americans are not bothered too much about the declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Some of those polled perceived a de-emphasis; others did not:

Overall, 31% of adults say they are bothered at least “some” by the declining emphasis on religion in the way the U.S. commemorates Christmas, including 18% who say they are bothered “a lot” by this. But the remaining two-thirds of the U.S. public either is not bothered by a perceived decline in religion in Christmas or does not believe that the emphasis on the religious elements of Christmas is waning.

There is also a political party split on those perceptions:

A higher share of Republicans than Democrats express the view that the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less now than in the past (68% vs. 50%). And the partisan gap is even bigger when it comes to whether this perceived trend is seen as negative. Fully half of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they are bothered “a lot” (32%) or “some” (20%) by a declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Among Democrats, just one-in-five say they are bothered “a lot” (10%) or “some” (11%) by these changes.

There was also a political divide between the two parties’ adherents and church attendance at Christmas:

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they will attend church on Christmas (65%). Among Democrats, 45% plan on attending religious services this year.

There was a slight religious split — between Protestant Evangelicals and other denominations — with regard to the seasonal greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

Most white evangelical Protestants say they prefer for stores and other businesses to greet their customers by saying “merry Christmas” during the holidays. But evangelicals are somewhat less likely to express this view today (61%) compared with 2012 (70%).

Within every other major Christian tradition, there are at least as many people who say the holiday greetings used by stores and businesses don’t matter to them as there are who say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

As for the biblical narrative, Pew asked their subjects about belief in four biblical Christmas details: the Virgin Birth, Jesus in a manger, the angel announcing His birth to shepherds and the arrival of the Magi. All results below are comparisons between 2014 and 2017. All show a decline.

Those who believe in the Virgin Birth have declined by seven per cent: 73% to 66%.

Those who believe that the Christ Child lay in a manger declined by six per cent: 81% to 75%.

Those who believe that the angel announced His birth to shepherds declined by seven per cent: 74% to 67%.

Those who believe the Magi visited Jesus declined by seven per cent: 75% to 68%.

The number who believe all four events took place dropped eight per cent: 65% to 57%.

Worryingly, fewer Christians believe these events took place:

Overall, the share of Christians who believe in all four of these elements of the Christmas story has dipped from 81% in 2014 to 76% today. This decline has been particularly pronounced among white mainline Protestants (see below for details).

The survey report did not say why, but the decline could be due in part to churches’ de-emphasis on the Bible in general. Many denominations are now social justice centres, nothing more.

The decline in three years’ time was most marked among Millennials, adults born after 1980. These are all big drops:

Millennials’ belief in the Virgin Birth fell from 67% to 55% — 12 points.

Their belief that Baby Jesus lay in a manger fell from 78% to 65% — 12 points.

Their belief that an angel announced His birth to shepherds fell from 68% to 54% — 14 points.

Their belief that the Magi visited Jesus fell from 75% to 57% — 15 points.

The percentage of Millennials believing all four events took place fell from 59% to 44% — 15 points.

WHY?

This generation is now raising children. What are these parents telling their offspring about Christ’s birth?

Something is very wrong with the Christmas picture in the United States.

End of series

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As I mentioned yesterday, slowly but surely, the war on Christmas is making more incursions in the United States.

Pew Research findings prove it.

A December 18, 2017 Pew Research Fact Tank article, ‘5 facts about Christmas in America’, shows that little by little, year after year, secularist thought is turning the tide.

A summary with excerpts follows. Bold emphases in the original, those in purple mine.

The first fact states that, although 90% of Americans and 95% of Christians celebrate Christmas — holding steady over recent years:

the role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining. Today, 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.

Wow! So now, only 46% of Americans celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious holiday.

And over half don’t care if the religious aspect is de-emphasised, which, as Americans told Pew, is happening.

The second fact concerns the greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

 About half of Americans (52%) now say it doesn’t matter how stores greet their customers over the holidays, up from 46% in 2012. About a third (32%) choose “merry Christmas” – down considerably from the 42% who said this five years ago. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

The preference for ‘Merry Christmas’ dropped by ten per cent in only five years’ time! It’s now under one third.

Also, why is it not surprising that more Republicans than Democrats prefer ‘Merry Christmas’?

The third fact concerns public Nativity displays on government property:

A growing share says religious displays should not be allowed on government property under any circumstances (26%, up from 20% three years ago). At the same time, a declining share say Christian symbols should be allowed on government property even if they are unaccompanied by symbols from other religions (37% today, down from 44% in 2014). Roughly three-in-ten (29%) say these displays should be allowed only if they are accompanied by other religious symbols like Hanukkah candles, a share that has held relatively steady in recent years.

In 2014, 20% believed there should be no religious displays on government property. In just three years, that percentage has grown by six points.

Furthermore, the number those who support Christian symbols on government property at Christmas has decreased by seven per cent in the same time period.

That is a lot in such a short space of time.

The fourth fact is not a survey piece as such but relates to Christmas displays on public property and how successful they are in going unchallenged:

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court handed down two landmark rulings that allow for displays of Christmas crèches, Hanukkah menorah and other religious holiday symbols on public property so long as they do not actively endorse or promote a particular religion or religion in generalIn practice, religious symbols that are a part of larger secular holiday display (containing, say, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and reindeer) have had a much better chance of surviving a court challenge than those displays that are solely or more overtly religious.

The fifth fact relates to Americans’ belief in the biblical Christmas story between 2014 and 2017:

Two-thirds (66%) say Jesus was born to a virgin, compared with 73% who said this in 2014; 75% believe he was laid in a manger, down from 81%. Similarly, the shares who say they believe that wise men, guided by a star, brought Jesus gifts — and that an angel appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus — also have declined. A slim majority of U.S. adults (57%) believe that all four of these things actually happened, down from 65% three years ago. Belief in these events has declined not only among people with no religious affiliation, but among Christians as well. Overall, about one-in-five Americans (19%) now say none of these things actually happened.

Ding! Ding! Ding! An increasing number of Christians no longer believe the events of Christmas and Epiphany took place.

How sad is that?

Also, in 2014, just under two-thirds of Americans believed all four events took place. That percentage has dropped eight points since then to an anaemic 57%.

Again, this has happened in only three years’ time.

Good grief.

What will the results be in 2020? I shudder to think.

Don’t let anyone tell you there is no war on Christmas. There is, and the anti-Christmas people are winning, bit by bit, year by year.

Another Pew survey follows tomorrow.

As we are still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), my next two posts will address the war on Christmas as seen in the United States.

Secularists and leftists laugh at this notion, but it does exist.

On December 22, 2017, Fox Radio host Todd Starnes had a poignant news story about a Christian couple, Mark and Lynn Wivell, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Among the Wivells’ outdoor Christmas decorations was a beautiful display that read ‘JESUS’.

Todd Starnes tells us:

A few days later they received an email from the homeowner’s association asking them to remove the sign. One of their neighbors had complained that the “JESUS” display was offensive.

“We know that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus,” Mr. Wivell told the Evening Sun newspaper. “I was quite shocked it offended somebody, but I guess in today’s world I shouldn’t have been.”

The homeowner’s association came up with a brilliant wheeze to get the Wivells to take the sign down:

They argued that the “JESUS” display was a sign – and signs are not permitted.

The Wivells were unmoved and kept the display up. Good! I hope they had a happy and blessed Christmas.

Starnes then discussed the war on Christmas:

Over the past few months we’ve heard the Mainstream Media tell us that Christmas is really not a big deal. They’ve tried to discount the meaning of the holiday.

Public colleges and universities have demanded that Christmas be an all-inclusive holiday — and it should be celebrated without religious references or traditions.

Even some government leaders have tried to erase Christmas from the public marketplace — fearing that people might be offended by the true meaning of the Christmas season.

I will go into that in tomorrow’s post. This war is working. Pew Research Center results prove it.

Starnes came up with his own brilliant strategy for reminding his listeners of the Reason for the season:

And that’s why I’ve started a new tradition at the Todd Starnes Show. Beginning this Christmas, I will read the Gospel of Luke’s account of the birth of Christ on the radio — verse by verse.

So I hope you will take a moment to our recitation of the birth of Christ …

Merry Christmas, America!

Well played! It’s about time.

Mad Men Mad-men-title-card WikipediaPicking up from my 2010 post on Mad Men, it seems apposite to add a bit — yet (?) — more analysis to this outstanding drama series which explores not only advertising but the socio-political elements of the 1960s.

Warning — spoiler alert!

Producer Matthew Weiner has strongly hinted that the next series — the seventh — will be the last.

As series six wound down recently, protagonist Don Draper (pictured in the title card above) was either sacked or given an indefinite leave of absence from the advertising firm where he had become partner.

Don’s truth brings rejection

As viewers discovered in the first series, Don Draper stole a fellow soldier’s identity in the Korean War. The ‘mad man’ (short for ‘Madison Avenue advertising man’) Don Draper is really Dick Whitman from rural Pennsylvania. When Dick Whitman discovered in situ that his comrade Don Draper had been killed in action, he took the man’s dog tag along with a few other possessions and assumed his new persona.

Whitman’s greatest fear is that as soon as someone finds out about his real background, he or she will reject him.

Mad Men Wikipedia 220px-Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photoAnd so it proved true. His first wife Betty discovered parts of his Whitman truth and divorced him. In series six, Draper revealed sordid aspects of his Whitman childhood to Hershey’s chocolate bar executives during an ad pitch. They were astounded to find out that Draper-Whitman grew up in a house of ill repute after his mother died and an aunt — her sister the madam — adopted him.

They were further aghast to find that Draper told them Hershey’s should not advertise. He explained that, as a boy, the only comfort he had in life was from eating a Hershey’s bar alone. To him, it was a totemic product, almost sacred — therefore, it was something which advertising should not defile.

However, this candid revelation proved to be Don-Dick’s undoing. Up until then, his fellow partners had no idea that Don Draper was really someone else, a hayseed. Roger Sterling (pictured second from left above, next to Joan), the well-heeled silver fox and Draper’s closest colleague, was disgusted at finding out about this lowlife with whom he’d associated for nearly a decade. There was also the business matter of losing a potential huge client known across the nation. Don would have to go.

In a way, once again, as Don Draper-Dick Whitman knew, as soon as his truth emerges, people actively reject him. Some viewers have posited that it’s not what you say but the way that you say it.

Living with a lie

From the very first episode, I’d wondered how the new Don Draper was going to be able to hide the real Dick Whitman.

We saw the Korean War scene, then a tense episode on an evening train from New York City to Ossining, where an old Army buddy attempts to make conversation with Dick. Our mad man deftly discouraged conversation and found a seat elsewhere.

In a subsequent series, if I remember rightly, Dick’s dissolute brother Adam tried to extort money from him with regard to his identity. Don-Dick delivered an attaché case of cash to Adam’s hotel room and gave him strict instructions never to cross his or his family’s path again.

The big question intriguing me is how one can continue such a lie for so many years. It must gnaw at the conscience every day. As Don was raised with practically no religious identity, he has nothing on which to fall back.

However, in series six, he heard a preacher giving a sermon on Judas’s pride. The upshot was that no sin is too great that Christ cannot forgive it. The preacher says that Judas, in his pride, chose suicide instead: he thought his sin was too great to forgive, which was wrong.

I wonder whether Don’s Hershey’s revelation demonstrated his decision to come clean about his identity. Although he would become a truly broken and rejected man, at least he could come to some rebirth by embracing the truth and rejecting a great lie.

Storytelling in Mad Men

Matthew Weiner Wikipedia 220px-MattweinerWeiner (pictured at left) and his team of writers have put together a marvellous show. Granted, the later series are less well done in places than in earlier ones, yet each episode attracts eight to ten million viewers, four or five times the Nielsen ratings average.

Weiner, being Jewish, is — by definition — a natural storyteller. My favourite boss was Jewish and had a different — and true — work story to relate to me every day. I learned so much from him.

Weiner says that he has borrowed true stories from his own life and those of his writers for Mad Men.  As improbable as some of them seem, they have happened at some point in America of living memory.

Therefore, we can trust what he and his writers portray for us on screen. I find Mad Men a realistic depiction of life in the United States in the 1960s. Admittedly, not being a Sky subscriber, I have not seen series five or six but have recently read in detail about the latter (links below).

Furthermore, we never have a black-and-white, clear-cut episode. We’re drawn in further each time. The end of one series leads to anticipation of the next. Few people who regularly watch Mad Men find it boring or a show to scratch from their viewing list.

Weiner and crew present us with puzzles, moral dilemmas and questions which transcend the 1960s. Their writing lends itself to comparisons with Shakespeare, opera and Dante’s Inferno. Viewers’ analyses of the programme bear this out in fascinating detail.

The detail Weiner and his team put into clothes, office interiors, homes and more also shows careful attention to the time. It would be difficult to point out where a hairstyle or setting was out of place. (My only tiny complaint is box-style cigarette packs. I do not recall they came out as soon as portrayed in the series. I didn’t really see them regularly until the late 1970s.)

The trauma of the late 1960s

Although Weiner was born halfway through the decade and has not exactly found that period a redeeming time in America’s history, he and his writers weave historical events and advertising in each episode.

When the series started, I recognised the pleasant, secure years full of optimism. New consumer durables and postwar prosperity filled the middle class with hope for the future. It is no surprise that procreation reached record levels — the Baby Boom. When the middle classes have hope, they procreate.

So we see normal-looking American families happily going about their business until JFK’s assassination in 1963. We then see Betty Draper, like millions of other Americans, glued to the television set for wall-to-wall coverage. I remember it quite well, especially the complaints from female Kennedy opponents who were missing their soap operas. In those days, when television covered an event, it was non-stop during the daytime for as long as necessary. In Kennedy’s case, if I remember correctly, the coverage lasted three days on the main networks.

Later on, Weiner shows us the shock of 1968, with MLK Jr’s assassination and the Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago. It’s a pity that they did not fit in the interim event — RFK’s assassination — because it would have shown just how quickly America herself was assaulted.

By 1969, Americana was well and truly over; it had died an ignoble death.

A decade which had begun full of promise and peace — despite the Cold War — ended so horribly.

1960s home life

On the domestic front, Weiner accurately depicts Don and Betty as a married couple and as parents, typical of the 1960s.

Men were strong and silent. Women were also self-contained, the only exceptions being for a bit of gossip at the hairdresser’s or the grocery store; however, even that concerned other people, rarely themselves. There was little ‘talking about things’, which really only came about in the 1970s. No parent ever ‘related’ to their children. That wasn’t even a parenting concept.

Yet, as we see in Mad Men, times were changing. Whereas ‘nice girls’ didn’t do certain things without suffering social sanction, as the decade progressed, fornication and adultery progressed among all sorts of people who wished to ‘experiment’. The Pill, mainstream psychology and a postwar Beat Generation (1950s) questioning of mores increasingly became the norm. And the Frankfurt School was partly responsible for changing the way the middle classes viewed life (see my Marxism/Communism page) as more young people attended university. The media were also changing; ideas from New York and California — featured in magazines and on television — permeated the rest of America. Homespun truths from the first half of the century were eventually displaced by revisionist versions of history, Christianity and statecraft (e.g. the Vietnam War).

The well-read household often made mainstream reading material available and accessible to children. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Draper children — Sally and Bobby — pick up on the zeitgeist. Sally demonstrates an early interest in sexuality, Bobby in race relations.

I’m closer to Bobby’s age than Sally’s, although I’m probably a mix of both. My mother says I was precocious; I certainly was compared to my contemporaries. Some Mad Men viewers are worried that Sally has no friends of her own sex. I don’t find that strange at all. Despite what might be seen as repressive — perhaps cruel — parenting, Don and Betty’s household was one of new ideas and trends, for better or worse. Although I might have given the impression here that everyone was receptive to change in the 1960s, a substantial number of households ignored or downplayed their significance. That extended to the perspectives which their children held.

My paternal grandmother tapped into the zeitgeist but my maternal grandparents did not. My immediate family did in order to better understand it but a number of our neighbours did not. (I think this explains why American conservatives are so divided today. A lot just do not pay attention to what’s happening, never mind analysing it. This, understandably, annoys those who keep track of the news and apply it, along with history, to America’s future.)

As one of my former high school teachers told me several years ago, ‘It was all new then. We had no idea what the consequences would be.’

Change came thick and fast at the end of the 1960s — too much so. In fact, every time I hear the word ‘change’ today, I cringe. What more needs to be done?

I am glad now that BBC4 gave up the rights to Mad Men to Sky. In some sense, it would have made me sad to see a realistic portrayal of those years. I’d rather read about them instead.

Closing thoughts — for now

It surprises me that Jon Hamm has never won an Emmy for his depiction of Don Draper. I hope he wins next year; he is long overdue and well deserving.

Vincent Kartheiser plays Pete Campbell so well that I’m beginning to connect him personally with the character. He, too, deserves an Emmy, but only after Jon Hamm wins one!

Kiernan Shipka, who plays Don’s daughter Sally, is a well grounded actress, despite the fact that she is only 14. See the first link below for an interview.

Don’s telling Peggy — who had just delivered Pete’s illegitimate child (series one) — that ‘this never happened’ was a typical response of the 1960s. Peggy, if I remember rightly, took some time off for ‘female trouble’ or similar in her final trimester and gave her baby up for adoption. Don came to pick her up at the hospital and took her home, at which point he uttered those words. Some viewers found this harsh. I do not. He was trying to preserve her reputation by urging her to keep the pregnancy a secret for her protection. He did not want her to be seen by others as a fallen woman.

It is interesting that Don has never challenged the buxom siren, office manager Joan. I think he sees something in her that reminds him of himself. I would have liked for Weiner and Co. to have explored her background a bit more for us. I suspect she and Don aren’t too far apart in socio-economic origins and life experience.

Finally, many viewers are worried for Sally’s future. (I hope none of them are in the 55-60 age range. If so, they are talking out of their hats, for reasons explained in this paragraph.) I think she probably did just fine. Yes, we used recreational drugs to a greater or lesser extent and fornicated — sins to true Christians but less so in modernist Christianity. That said, most of us graduated from university when a degree was still worth the paper it was printed on. We then went on to marry and raise children whilst being productive members of society. I think that Sally was in the preppy circle, went to an Ivy League or Seven Sisters school and made a good name for herself, probably as a civil rights lawyer and prominent Democrat.

But that’s looking too far ahead.

For now, I wish Matthew Weiner and his team all success for series seven.

For further reading on Mad Men series six (when only the best links will do — don’t miss the comments):

Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka …

‘Mad Men’ creator Matthew Weiner on … series 6

‘Mad Men’ creator: Don’t hate Don Draper

Tom & Lorenzo — Mad Men: In Care Of (last episode of series six with more on their ‘television’ page)

Mad Men: Notes from the break room (every episode of series six analysed)

A Psychiatrist Analyzes Mad Men‘s Sally Draper

A Psychiatrist Analyzes Mad Men‘s Don Draper

‘Mad Men’, Oranges And Their Role In Foreshadowing Death

In England last week a General Practitioner (family doctor) was censured by the General Medical Council (GMC) for discussing the role of Christian faith in recuperating from illness.

The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

Dr Richard Scott, a family GP with 28 years’ experience, is facing disciplinary action and fears he could lose his job after he discussed his faith in Jesus with a patient last year.

The 50-year-old is being investigated by the General Medical Council but Christian doctors rallied to his defence and criticised the way that the professional standards regulator had handled the case.

In 2010, Dr Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, a practice known for its Christian partners, saw a patient at the request of the patient’s mother. He maintains that he only discussed how his faith in Jesus had helped him at the end of the consultation, and with the patient’s consent.

But the GMC wrote to Dr Scott, warning him that he had distressed the patient and risked bringing the profession into disrepute. He has appointed a human rights lawyer to fight the reprimand.

Faithful Christians will instantly recognise that the name the practice has — Bethesda [sometimes ‘Bethsaida’] — is mentioned in the New Testament, specifically, John 5:1-17:

2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8Jesus said to him,  “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I said ‘faithful Christians’ above, because they are the most likely to read the Bible in its entirety.  Today, because of the three-year Lectionary, most people aged 35 and younger will not have encountered this story because, for some reason, it is not included as a passage to be read on Sundays or feast days.  Expect to see it, therefore, in an upcoming Forbidden Bible Verses post. (These aren’t banned verses as much as they are, inexplicably, excluded from public worship.)

The painting above, which you can click on to enlarge at Aboutbiblevideos.com, was painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch in 1883.  You can see another of Bloch’s many religious paintings here.

Now back to the story.  One of Dr Scott’s supporters is:

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which has 4,000 members including about 2,000 GPs, criticised the GMC.

He said the “clear implication” of the GMC guidelines was that a doctor should be allowed to express his personal beliefs in a way that is “appropriate and sensitive”.

“It does seem to me that the GMC have overreacted by censuring him,” he said.

“All good doctors try to treat their patients as whole persons, not just biochemical machines. That does sometimes include spiritual matters, dealing with questions of meaning and purpose.”

The paper also featured an editorial on the story, fully supporting Dr Scott:

Dr Scott fears that the GMC’s action may eventually lead to his being struck off.

Had he withheld orthodox medical treatment, offering only prayer and the possibility of miracles, Dr Scott might have been a menace to his many non-believing patients (and probably to those who shared his beliefs as well). But that is not what he was doing. All he did was to share his conviction that a commitment to the Christian religion could be one element that contributed to a recovery from illness. If the patients objected, or made it clear that they did not like the turn of the conversation, he dropped the topic. Nevertheless, the mother of one of those with whom he raised it complained. Indeed, she was perfectly entitled to do so – but we cannot see how her complaint can be grounds for the GMC to take action against Dr Scott. After all, no one maintains that he ever forced religion on anyone, or that his faith ever impeded his ability to dispense medical care.

What, then, is the fuss about? The GMC’s excessive reaction is part of a tendency: a number of institutions and companies have, in a misguided attempt to be “multicultural”, banned Christian symbols and overt expressions of faith, something that would never be attempted in the case of other religions. And yet the Christian faith is central to our country’s history and our traditions. Its legacy is visible everywhere. It is right that today, no one expects a person who holds positions of power and responsibility to be a practising Christian. But we appear to be heading towards an alarming situation in which the profession of faith becomes an active disqualification.

The Telegraph opened this editorial to readers’ comments.  On page 2 of the oldest comments, a Margate resident, Aston Walker, wrote in to say that not only was there a clue in the name of the medical practice — Bethesda — but:

The notice is in the waiting area and all the partners are Christians.

I live and work in Margate. The Bethesda is where my family are registered.
Have people forgotten that we are a Christian country, which allows freedom of speech.

I support Dr Scott and what the Bethesda do and offer.

Reader kbo1 rightly points out the Christian origins of European hospitals, dating back to the Middle Ages if not before.  kbo1 adds:

It’s a worrying Stalinist trend, where you can be denounced and fired from your job for not subscribing to the prevailing orthodoxy (in this case atheism).

In closing, many of us will no doubt agree with what responsible has to say:

It is part of Labour’s legacy of socialist soviet totalitarian thought control to promote State rules that benefit the vested interests of people in State funded bodies, above individual freedoms.  The GMC are a medical body with no place in religious matters … 

It reflects the multi-culti, moral equivalance, PC State control and socialist dogma to increase tax and State borrowing to fund State interference in all aspects of life and State dependency.  All funded by huge loans taken by Labour to be repaid by others who do not vote now. 

The values of freedom, equality and fair non-violent rule of law are disappearingThose values were hard won by lives freely given in war against tyrants and dictators.  They are values the civilised West enjoys, and people in other countries now realise are denied them

Sadly, we have not yet reached the point where Westerners are conscious of losing these hard-won rights and liberties.  The West is more than a pool of taxpayers’ money waiting to be raided by all and sundry.  But how many of our fellow citizens steeped in today’s bread and circuses — takeaways and televisual entertainment — are aware of what we are in danger of losing before the decade is out?

My prayers go to Dr Scott in his appeal against the GMC’s reprimand and for the continued success of the Bethesda practice.

Whilst browsing the superb collection of WordPress blogs, I came across one from Jesus Christ is Lord entitled ‘Hollywood’s False Messiahs: Conditioning the People for the Anti-Christ?’

The blogger explores various futuristic films from the past decade.  Be careful about how you are influenced by them.  I’ll give you a few excerpts but would invite you to read the post in full.  Emphases mine below.

The fact that mainstream evangelical Christianity would rather join with Hollywood than oppose it notwithstanding, there is one theme in major Hollywood films that seems to be curious: the false messiah. Please recall John 5:43, where Jesus Christ says I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. This refers to Jesus Christ’s rejection by the world as its true Messiah and Saviour, and the same world’s willingness to embrace false messiahs in His place … How fascinating it is that Hollywood is using movies to prepare the way for the man of sin by releasing “entertainment” that conditions its audience for following him. Consider some examples.

Star Wars – Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader:

“Star Wars” is the product of George Lucas, who apparently is an adherent to the theosophy belief system (which is a combination of religious philosophy and mysticism). Anakin Skywalker was born to a virgin slave woman, was prophesied as “the one who would bring balance to ‘the force’” (a dualistic non-personal energy), and after a period of “temptation” by “the dark side of the force” experienced a sacrificial death to secure the triumph of good over evil, and had a sort of “spiritual resurrection.” He also had a forerunner, a John the Baptist sort of herald who preceded him in a death by martyrdom in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The Matrix – Neo:

“The Matrix” is a product of a worldview that is a combination of postmodernism, Marxism, liberation theology, eastern religions and gnosticism given to us by what used to be “The Wachowski Brothers”, but now consists of one Wachowski brother and another who underwent a sex change operationNeo saves mankind from an oppressive world order of machines (which stands for white people, technology, western culture, Christianity and capitalism) to bring in a new bohemian order. The coming of this “Neo” was prophesied by “the oracle”, who is a “goddess” figure that created him as an “incarnation” of herself to help her overthrow the (ultimately secondary) antagonist, “the architect”, a malevolent “god” figure …

Avatar – Sully:

This is the product of the atheist environmentalist James Cameron, who saw fit to produce a movie that claimed to prove that Jesus Christ never rose from the dead. It combines Viet Nam and Iraq War allegories with promoting a generic synthesis of eastern, New Age and tribal animistic beliefs. In Hinduism, an avatar is the descent of a deity from heaven to earth, although it is more like an appearance or manifestation than a true incarnation, more akin to the theophanies of the Old Testament than Jesus Christ. However, since the introduction of Christianity into India, many Hindus have concluded that Jesus Christ was an avatar from their religion who appeared in Israel to provide spiritual and moral instruction and enlightenment, essentially assimilating Jesus Christ into their own religion. (In a more modern, secular sense, an avatar is a physical representation of an idea or personality. Note that many websites call the personalized picture that accompanies a username/account an “avatar.”)

The Last Airbender — Aang:

Unlike the director of the other movies,  M. Night Shyamalan has a more traditional worldview and is old-fashioned by Hollywood standards in that he actually respects Christianity on some level (see Signs), has a negative view of the occult (see Unbreakable) and rejects postmodernism as it relates to evil (see The Village). Still, Shyamalan jumped at the chance to write and direct a movie that not only presents a false messianic figure, but aims its worldview at impressionable children …

Aang, the messianic figure, is an incarnation of the planet’s spirit component (i.e. an incarnation of Gaia). This Aang discovers that he is the prophesied avatar, and – reminiscent of the prophet Jonah – flees his spiritual calling and as a result winds up in the ocean during a storm. Aang “dies” when he is frozen in ice, is “resurrected” 100 years later, and as the last (or unique) representative of the “air nation” (analogous to  heaven) then defeats a penultimate evil threat: the lord of the “fire nation” (analogous to Satan and hell). Aang’s role is to ensure peace, harmony and world order, and as a human incarnation of spirit, he is a link or bridge to both.

Job, the blogger, has found a number of common threads running through all of these media offerings — see his post for the full list and his analysis:

  • All the films embrace eastern religions and philosophies.
  • All the films reject monotheism and organized religion in favor of a type of spirituality.
  • All the films heavily emphasize martial arts (i.e. karate, kung fu, judo, tai chi) including but not limited to swordsmanship. Make no mistake, just as Albert Mohler (and this own site) says about yoga, eastern practices like martial arts are part of the religion. So, the use of martial arts – often combined with other forms of weaponry and warfare, whether lasers in Star Wars or guns in The Matrix – makes the violent aggression in these messianic films entirely religious in nature, religio-military propaganda after the manner used to justify the Crusades, or in a more recent era the same religious-military propaganda used by axis powers of World War II …
  • All on some level contain elements of there existing some common, shared or “connected” mind or spirit among humanity.
  • The films go out of their way to depict racial and cultural diversity and “gender equality” (and this was rather striking in the 1970s when Star Wars was made) among the protagonists (who represent the new world order) while – with the exception of “The Last Airbender” generally depicting the antagonists as white males (representing the existing world order).
  • In each, the antagonist represents or at least bears a striking resemblance to our existing world order, and the protagonist represents a new world order (that again, shares the common points mentioned) ...

The blogger states that he has no socio-political agenda, just that he has found common characteristics of these films.  He astutely concludes:

Unfortunately, the world rejects this successful mission on the part of Jesus Christ because the world rejects the idea that it is sinful; that it stands inherently guilty before a holy sovereign God that is Ruler and Judge. To it, the Biblical concept of sin does not exist (a la Buddhism and new age) or one can earn salvation from whatever idea that they do have of sin through works (Hinduism and some forms of shintoism). Either way, it does not recognize a need for a Saviour from sins, and therefore the Person and work of Jesus Christ is irrelevant to its concerns and a foolish offense to its desires.

… But the refusal to acknowledge that the root cause of political oppression, economic exploitation, discrimination, wars etc. is the sinful condition of humanity requires the one promising temporal deliverance to do so by picking up the sword, taking the fight to and overcoming “the other side”; the oppressors that are perceived to be responsible for all the evil …

He points out that the Book of Revelation predicts active persecution:

Christians will be the evil empire … 

This will be because the church (and perhaps also the Jews) will represent the old world order. It will also be because of the church’s witness! During this time, the remnant will bear witness that the anti-Christ is no true deliverer but a fraud, and that the real solutions are not his program, but rather turning away from sins in true repentance and submission to the true Messiah who is Jesus Christ. Needless to say, it will not be a message that the world wants to hear. Similar to the early Christians who were persecuted often to death for refusing to worship the Roman emperor, such ideas will be considered “unpatriotic” (a fact which should strike contemporary Christians that are politically conservative with no small amount of irony) in the anti-Christ’s regime.

It honestly does appear that with these sorts of movies, Hollywood is providing a picture of the man of sin, and paving the way for his appearance in the process.

Thank you, Job — excellent work and point taken! Anything repetitive on television or in film — adultery, violence, gratuitous death — should be viewed with suspicion.  The more of these scenes we see, the more desensitised we become, to the point where we say, ‘So what?’  Yet, we are rapidly moving closer to that moment where the balance is tipped against Jesus Christ, the Church and the faithful.

Whilst researching Jacque Fresco, the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist films (yet another word stolen from our lexicon!), I happened upon an explanation for the underpinnings of thought accompanying this type of movement.

What follows will help clarify to the small-l libertarian and the average Internet user what exactly is happening with regard to what I call secular pietism: a striving for purity.

On a site — Zeitgeist Movement Exposed — which debunks the Venus Project and its attendant films, blogger James Kush walks us through the process, which includes communitarianism, Abraham Maslow’s ‘peak experiences’ and a drive for personal purity. As far as I am concerned, the following excerpts have less to say about leftist Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project and carry a greater bearing on bans on this, that and the other which have been strangely endemic over the past 30 years.

In ‘Zeitgeist Cult Characteristics’ Mr Kush has two sections of import, borrowed from Rick Ross’s cult-busting site, which appears to have been taken down.  One is called The Demand for Purity.  Emphases mine (and italics in the original) in the passages below:

In the thought reform milieu, as in all situations of ideological totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All “taints” and “poisons” which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.

Thought reform bears witness to its more malignant consequences: for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition.

It rather sounds like Rick Warren’s New Age-inspired Daniel Plan for health.  I hope the participants don’t end up like this:

The individual thus comes to apply the same totalist polarization of good and evil to his judgments of his own character: he tends to imbue certain aspects of himself with excessive virtue, and condemn even more excessively other personal qualities – all according to their ideological standing. He must also look upon his impurities as originating from outside influences – that is, from the ever-threatening world beyond the closed, totalist ken. Therefore, one of his best way to relieve himself of some of his burden of guilt is to denounce, continuously and hostilely, these same outside influences. The more guilty he feels, the greater his hatred, and the more threatening they seem. In this manner, the universal psychological tendency toward “projection” is nourished and institutionalized, leading to mass hatreds, purges of heretics, and to political and religious holy wars. Moreover, once an individual person has experienced the totalist polarization of good and evil, he has great difficulty in regaining a more balanced inner sensitivity to the complexities of human morality. For these is no emotional bondage greater than that of the man whose entire guilt potential – neurotic and existential – has become the property of ideological totalists.

Isn’t that the truth?  So many people these days are hostile and judgmental.  I really do believe a fair number of them could work great acts of violence if given the go-ahead.  That includes some churchgoers, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, the rest of us look on from the sidelines, aghast.

Mr Kush adds a few prescient observations of his own, one of which really nails leftist thought — the notion that anything they disagree with represents destruction.  (This recent edict of don’ts from the City of New York to its Health Department employees follows this line of thought.)

An example of zeitgeist dividing the absolute good from the absolute evil includes a segment (audio was made exclusive only to members that downloaded the program from the official site; once the segment was exposed, the complete radio broadcast was removed) The Zeitgeist movement believes that everything in the world today is destructive, including families, laws, governments, currency, nations, cultures, states, languages, religions, god, the list goes on and on. Everything is destructive except for The Venus Project which is “perfection” and “heaven on earth”.

The next section, also from the Rick Ross site, is about ‘sacred science’.  And, those of us who have been following the Church of Gaia (aka the ‘Climate Change’ priesthood) along with the many worldwide bans and excessive taxation on legal products.  When he speaks about the Word, he does not appear to be referring to the Bible but a received secular paradigm:

The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself. While thus transcending ordinary concerns of logic, however, the milieu at the same time makes an exaggerated claim of airtight logic, of absolute “scientific” precision. Thus the ultimate moral vision becomes an ultimate science; and the man who dares to criticize it, or to harbor even unspoken alternative ideas, becomes not only immoral and irreverent, but also “unscientific.” In this way, the philosopher kings of modern ideological totalism reinforce their authority by claiming to share in the rich and respected heritage of natural science.  The assumption here is not so much that man can be God, but rather that man’s ideas can be God: that an absolute science of ideas (and implicitly, an absolute science of man) exists, or is at least very close to being attained; that this science can be combined with an equally absolute body of moral principles; and that the resulting doctrine is true for all men at all times. Although no ideology goes quite this far in overt statement, such assumptions are implicit in totalist practice.

This explains so much, so clearly.  But, why is this true for a vocal minority when it isn’t for most of the world’s population?

the totalist sacred science can offer much comfort and security. Its appeal lies in its seeming unification of the mystical and the logical modes of experience (in psychoanalytic terms, of the primary and secondary thought processes) … Since the distinction between the logical and the mystical is, to begin with, artificial and man-made, an opportunity for transcending it can create an extremely intense feeling of truth ...

Yet so strong a hold can the sacred science achieve over his mental processes that if one begins to feel himself attracted to ideas which either contradict or ignore it, he may become guilty and afraid. His quest for knowledge is consequently hampered, since in the name of science he is prevented from engaging in the receptive search for truth which characterizes the genuinely scientific approach. And his position is made more difficult by the absence, in a totalist environment, of any distinction between the sacred and the profane: there is no thought or action which cannot be related to the sacred science. To be sure, one can usually find areas of experience outside its immediate authority; but during periods of maximum totalist activity (like thought reform) any such areas are cut off, and there is virtually no escape from the milieu’s ever-pressing edicts and demands.

This is still the best explanation I’ve read yet of the attraction to secular pietism and healthism coupled with bogus ‘sacred science’.

N.B.: Whilst reading the Rick Ross pieces, I gathered that he was not Christian.  However, his blog has news archives about all types of cults of various secular and religious persuasions from around the world.

Some of my regular readers will know the following already, but others might not.

People in the Western world are so accustomed to reading that the Republican Party — aka ‘Grand Old Party’ (GOP) — is elitist and hateful, that their history will no doubt come as a surprise.  So, why don’t we hear about it?

As Andrew Klavan explains for Pyjamas Media (H/T: Wolf Howling), it’s all about the left wing’s constant call to SHUT UP about the truth:

An American commenter on Counting Cats in Zanzibar (occasional language alerts) was recently given a guest post on the basis of a comment he made on one of their posts, ‘Democratic Party’, the text of which reads in part:

the party of slavery,
the Confederacy,
the Klan,
Segregation,
Jim Crow,
George Wallace

GW, the chap whose guest post follows, is the blogger at Wolf Howling, a US socio-political blog. This is something to pass along to the kids (emphases in bold mine):

Through the mid-60’s, blacks did not vote as a monolithic group. Eisenhower received the majority of black votes during his campaigns in the 50’s. The change came about in the 60’s, as the “left” in America became ever more influenced by radical Marxist left. This from a post I wrote for Martin Luther King day expounds on this and the history of race in America that might throw some light on the issue:

. . .

The Republican Party – the party of Abraham Lincoln – was borne in 1854 out of opposition to slavery.

The party of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan was, as Jeffrey Lord points out in an article at the WSJ, the Democratic Party. And Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) [was the last] member of the Senate who was once a member of the KKK.

The 13th (abolishing slavery), 14th (due process for all citizens) and 15th (voting rights cannot be restriced on the basis of race) Amendments to the Constitution were enacted by Republicans over Democratic opposition.

The NAACP was founded in 1909 by three white Republicans who opposed the racist practices of the Democratic Party and the lynching of blacks by Democrats.

– In fairness, it was the Democrat Harry Truman who, by Executive Order 9981 issued in 1948, desegregated the military. That was a truly major development. My own belief is that the military has been the single greatest driving force of integration in this land for over half a century.

It was Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former Republican Governor of California appointed to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower, also a Republican, who managed to convince the other eight justices to agree to a unanimous decision in the seminal case of Brown v. Board of Education. That case was brought by the NAACP. The Court held segregation in schools unconstitutional. The fact that it was a unanimous decision that overturned precedent made it clear that no aspect of segregation would henceforth be considered constitutional.

Republican President Ike Eisenhower played additional important roles in furthering equality in America. He “proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and signed those acts into law. . . . They constituted the first significant civil rights acts since the 1870s.” Moreover, when the Democratic Governor of Arkansas refused to integrate schools in what became known as the “Little Rock Nine” incident, “Eisenhower placed the Arkansas National Guard under Federal control and sent Army troops to escort nine black students into an all-white public school.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was championed by JFK – but it was passed with massive Republican support (over 80%) in Congress and over fierce opposition from Democrats who made repeated attempts at filibuster. Indeed, 80% of the vote opposing the Civil Rights Act came from Democrats. Women were added to the Act as a protected class by a Democrat who thought it would be a poison pill, killing the legislation. To the contrary, the Congress passed the Act without any attempt to remove the provision.

– Martin Luther King Jr. was the most well known and pivotal Civil Rights activist ever produced in America. His most famous speech, “I Had A Dream,” was an eloquent and stirring call for equality. If you have not read the speech or heard it, you can find it here. I would highly recommend listening to it. Rev. King was, by the way, a Republican

Nothing that I say here is to suggest that racism and sexism could not be found in the Republican party or among conservatives at any point in American history. But if you take any period in history and draw a line at the midpoint of racist and sexist attitudes, you would find far more Republicans than Democrats on the lesser side of that line. And you would find a much greater willingness on the part of Republicans, relative to the time, to effectuate equality. That was as true in 1865 as in 1965 – and in 2011.

Sometime about 1968, the far left movement emerged as a major wing of the Democratic Party. This far left wing hijacked the civil rights movement and made it, ostensibly, their raison d’etre. Gradually, the far left has grown until it is now the dominant force in Democratic politics. JFK, Truman and FDR would recognize precious little of today’s Democratic Party.

The far left fundamentally altered the nature of the Civil Rights movement when they claimed it as their own. They imprinted the movement with identity politics, grossly distorting the movement’s goal of a level playing field for all Americans and creating in its stead a Marxist world of permanent victimized classes entitled to special treatment. The far left has been the driver of reverse racism and sexism for the past half century. That is why it is no surprise that, with the emergence of a far left candidate for the highest office in the nation, Rev. Jeremiah Wright should also arise at his side and into the public eye preaching a vile racism and separatism most Americans thought long dead in this country. Nor is it any surprise that the MSM, many of whom are of the far left, should collectively yawn at Obama’s twenty year association with Wright. Wright is anything but an anomaly. To the contrary, he is a progeny of the politics of the far left.

The far left did not merely hijack the civil rights movement, they also wrote over a century of American history, turning it on its head … The far left managed to paint the conservative movement and the Republican Party as the prime repositories of racism and sexism. The far left has long held themselves out as the true party of equality. They have done so falsely as, by its very nature, identity politics cements inequality. Beyond that truism, the far left has for decades played the race and gender cards to counter any criticism of their policies, to forestall any reasoned debate and to demonize those who stand opposed to them. They continue to do so through this very day. . . .

Just another history lesson to pass on to you and yours.

For my readers outside of the United States — in case you didn’t know, Chicago elected a new mayor on February 22, 2011.

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, won the election with 55% of the vote.  Questions arose earlier in the campaign as to his eligibility, since Mr Emanuel was not a Chicago resident under the terms defined for a mayoral candidate.  (Today’s ‘campaign poster’ comes courtesy of The Smoking Jacket.)

Mr Emanuel has long been known by insiders for his hot temper and by the man on the street for his charm.  During the Inauguration Day proceedings in 2009, he was snapped in the crowd thumbing his nose and laughing.  He also told the Administration to ‘never let a crisis go to waste’.  Before becoming involved in politics, he was a ballet dancer.  As such, some his detractors have dubbed him Tiny Dancer and Ballerino.

However, no one denies that he knows how to work media and people to his advantage. Money flowed into his campaign coffers.  Second City Cop (language alert) tells us more about his war chest, said to have totalled $18m, and its contributors (emphases mine to highlight those living outside of Illinois) —

Here is a quick list of Rahm donors:

Shahid Khan : Pakistani from Champaign, Il, owner of Flex-n-Gate products and bidder on the St. Louis Rams — $100,000.00 (WT-!)

Blue Media LLC — $100,000.00 (huh?)

James Clark (Palm Beach, FL) $100,000

Donald Edwards (Chicago) $100,000

Fred Eychaner (Chicago, News Web CEO) $100,000 Hmmmmm?

David Geffen, record and film producer: $100,000

Donald Trump : $50,000

Steven Spielberg: $75,000

Diane and David Heller (Chicago) $200,000

Haim Saban, made Inspector Gadget and other cartoons: $300,000

The list goes on and on… I didn’t know the mayor of Chicago was so important to the country.

A reader remarks:

$18,000,000.00 spent to get a job paying 165K?
You stupid people.
Good luck with your future …

And how many people turned out to vote?

Thirty-five-point-six percent voter turnout?

    • 1.4 million registered voters;
    • 35.6% means 498,400 people voted;
    • at last count, Rahm had 305,000 votes

Reader Bill puts this into perspective:

The facts here tell us a simple story;

The number of registered voters is vastly smaller than the number of eligible potential voters.

The number of registered voters who bother to vote is vastly smaller than the number of registered voters.

What does this tell us?

The vast majority of Chicagoans don’t give a —- about who runs this town.

Which means this town is doomed.

It will be a new (yet very similar) Machine — the name given to the Chicago political system which makes New York’s 19th century Tammany Hall corruption look tame and short-lived by comparison.  It’s interesting that Toby Harnden from the Telegraph reports that the outgoing mayor’s brother, William Daley, is President Obama’s new Chief of Staff (Mr Emanuel’s previous position).

So, the question is — why the large contributions from all and sundry?  Many wonder if Mr Emmanuel has his sights on the White House eventually.  In the meantime, contributors can curry favour for media contracts (Mr Clark founded Netscape and Blue Media is involved with Democratic Party work), films, massive construction projects and the like.

Yes, I understand that the Chicago Police (and firefighters, for that matter) are concerned about the future of their pensions.  Yes, I realise that Mr Emanuel’s brother runs a Hollywood talent agency.  Still, does Rahm love the city or is he doing this as a stepping stone on the fertile Obama plain to great heights in the future?

Having said that, there were no other candidates who were not already cogs in the Machine.  There is no way out for Chicago.  Watch what happens to America’s former Second City over the next decade.  Many see another Detroit on the horizon.

In closing, once again the media were complicit in ‘bigging up’ the Mayor-elect.  Leftist columnist E J Dionne fawns over him for the Washington Post:

One of my favorite (printable) Rahm quotations is his observation that the talk in his home when he was growing up led him to believe that the Democratic Party “was one of the 10 lost tribes of the Jewish faith.” This primordial feeling allows him to understand every kind of Democrat

Now, he will be the star

More at the WaPo link … if you can bear it!

What follows is a fuller reply to my libertarian friend in the smokers’ community, Dick Puddlecote.

His post of February 13, 2011, ‘The State Bigger than God?’ addressed the issue of same-sex ‘marriages’ (emphases in bold mine throughout):

You can just imagine the self-satisfaction within the coalition for announcing this on a Sunday, can’t you? Just to remind you all that the state is the most important entity in life even on the sabbath.

Ministers are expected to publish plans to enable same-sex couples to “marry” in church, the BBC has learned.

Although not having a strong view one way or the other, I reckon the inverted commas surrounding the word ‘marry’ are very well placed here. The reason being – and I would love to know the thoughts of this blog’s official theologian on the matter – that it is surely theoretically impossible for gay couples to be married under the auspices of the church.

If the church is run along the rules laid down by the Bible and scriptures, and a truly religious ceremony is banned under those rules, then it really shouldn’t matter what law is proposed by the state.

Sure, they can say that same sex couples can be allowed to use spiritual venues, but unless the faith concerned is theologically aligned with the principle, the union wouldn’t be blessed by whichever God is worshipped there. On that basis, If I were gay I’d struggle to see the point in choosing a church for my ceremony.

As would I.  However, according to one of the hundreds of comments on the Telegraph‘s ‘Gay “marriages” to be allowed in church’, it is partly about being ‘married’ in a beautiful atmosphere.  Let’s face it, such a ceremony in an Anglican church requires little outlay on the couple’s part, whereas one at a stately home or luxury hotel can cost quite a lot.  Therefore, I infer that part of this is about cost — value for money.  The other part is ‘equality’: ‘If breeders (as heterosexuals are known) can get married in a church, so can we’.

New Testament verses against

Some vicars will be willing to perform these ceremonies.  If so, let it be on their shoulders and souls.  They will have to answer to God for them, as the New Testament — including Jesus — states that such relationships are an abomination.  Here is an additional verse from another of St Paul’s epistles (1 Timothy 1:8-11):

8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

11According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Common misconceptions

Now, before proceeding, allow me to please clear up a few misunderstandings about Christianity which appeared in the discussion on the Telegraph article:

Christ’s death and resurrection freed us from the 613 Mosaic Laws of the Old Testament.  Yes, some Christians still follow these, but they are in error.  We follow Christ’s commandment to love God and neighbour as specified in the 10 Commandments.  This is moral law, not ceremonial or ritual law.

The Gospels are in the New Testament.  They record Jesus’s life, teachings, death and resurrection.  The four Gospels are the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there a call for people to put to death those guilty of what Scripture records as serious sin.  God will judge all of us — as sinners.  He will mete out punishment to those guilty of the most serious sins (e.g. theft, murder, fornication, adultery, homosexuality). If unrepentant, these sinners may spend an eternity in Hell — the death referred to in Revelation 21:8.  Although it is up to Him — not us — to condemn, Christians are obliged to warn!  Many people are unaware of the gravity of these offences.

Traditional Christians believe that Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant; in other words, it contains the true word of God.

It is no wonder, then, that many Christians are concerned about this latest development.

Reactions are divided

In another Telegraph article, ‘Sentamu: don’t force churches to conduct gay weddings’, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York

told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show: “I live in a liberal democracy and I want equality for everybody. I cannot say the Quakers shouldn’t do it.

“Nor do I want somebody to tell me the Church of England must do it or the Roman Catholic Church must do it because actually that is not what equality is about.”

Meanwhile:

Quakers welcomed the plans. Michael Hutchinson, Acting Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “This is about including all of our religious community in being able to publicly express their deep commitment. We wish to move further to allow legal marriage for same sex-couples but this is a welcome step along the way to full equality.”

And:

Peter Tatchell, from the homosexual human rights campaign group, OutRage!, said allowing civil partnerships to take place in religious settings was “long overdue”.

“When the legal change comes into effect, no religious institution will be forced to perform civil partnerships. It will be up to them to decide,” he said.

“The next logical step is to end the ban on gay civil marriages. I urge the government to bring forward legislation to ensure marriage equality. Gay civil partnerships are not good enough. They are not equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. All couples – gay and heterosexual – should be able to get married in a civil ceremony in a register office.”

In the BBC’s article, ‘Gay church “marriages” set to get the go-ahead’

A Church of England spokesman said: “Given the Church’s view on the nature of marriage, the House of Bishops has consistently been clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register civil partnerships.”

He added the worry was that any changes could “lead to inconsistencies with civil marriage, have unexplored impacts, and lead to confusion, with a number of difficult and unintended consequences for churches and faiths“.

“Any change could therefore only be brought after proper and careful consideration of all the issues involved, to ensure that the intended freedom for all denominations over these matters is genuinely secured,” he said.

Concerned about possible consequences of refusing to perform such a ceremony

Stephen Parkinson, director of Forward in Faith, a traditionalist Anglican movement, said: “It is a matter for the Christian churches to order their own affairs. Her Majesty’s Government has no place interfering.”

He said he was concerned that individual churches could suffer the same fate as the Christian B&B owners who were recently sued for refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room.

Some lobby group could set about trying to provoke litigation,” he said. “The question would be whether it is litigation against the Church as an institution or more likely against poor, innocent ‘Rev Bloggs.’

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church

has long held that homosexuality is a “deviation” and is not expected to agree to same-sex ceremonies.

However, along with the Quakers, the Unitarians and liberal (‘reform’ for my American readers) Jews are open to performing them.

As for more conservative Judaism

Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet, from Mill Hill Synagogue in north London and a columnist for the Jewish News, told the BBC: “Same sex marriages have no place in any house of religious worship.

“To suggest that advocating such a position is homophobic is unconscionable. The Bible is not homophobic anymore than it is incest-phobic, adultery-phobic or necrophilia-phobic.

There is a divine value system which religious people subscribe to and which is very much their entitlement.

That it doesn’t conform to liberal idealism doesn’t mean that its proponents should be written off as narrow-minded or worse, bigoted.”

Double standard and scope creep

The issue is that up until now, the Government has forbidden houses of worship to conduct same-sex ceremonies for civil partnerships.  Now they will be permitted, should a house of worship register to perform them.

Fine, except that with all these laws — from the seat-belt laws in the 1980s to smoking bans to the new Equality Bill — the goalposts inevitably move.  A Christian Institute article from 2009, ‘Gay groups want civil partnerships in church’ reports:

Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”

Rather like, ‘All we are asking is that flights under two hours be made completely non-smoking.  It’s such a small request.’  Now look where we are.  Some two decades later, smokers are increasingly denied housing, employment and health care.  We have untrammelled scope creep with smoking.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this spread (conversely) to same-sex partnerships.  After all, as the Christian Institute article goes on to say:

Tony Grew, a leading homosexual campaigner, said the Government’s Equality Bill aims to “entrench gay rights in all aspects of public life”.

Substitute ‘non-smokers” for ‘gay’ in that sentence and you’ll see what I mean.

It was only a month or so ago that we had the controversy over the older couple, the Bulls, owners of a B&B in their Cornwall house.  They had to pay damages to a gay couple to whom they tried to give separate rooms.  The Bulls said that their website stated their policy on unmarried couples, regardless of orientation.  Their gay guests said that they had not seen this.  The Telegraph explains:

Judge Andrew Rutherford rejected the suggestion that Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy, with the assistance of a gay rights organisation, had tricked the claimants …

The judge made the ruling in a written judgment at Bristol County Court as he awarded the couple £1,800 each in damages.

Mr Hall, 46, and Mr Preddy, from Bristol, were seeking up to £5,000 damages claiming sexual orientation discrimination under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 …

The Bulls, along with Christians in general, were described online in various fora and discussions as being bigoted and hateful.

Yet, there are hotels in England which are exclusively for certain groups of people.  In fact, at least two hotels cater for gay clientele in the northern seaside resort of Blackpool. One is called Chaps, which bills itself as (caps in the original)

Blackpool’s friendliest GAY hotel

and

is the largest and one of the best Hotels for men only and perfect for Gay holidays and Gay weekends, Chaps Hotel Blackpools Premier Gay Hotel is truly one of the most popular hotels in Blackpool and has been ‘the place to stay for gay holidays’ for many years … Chaps Hotel one of the UKs premier Hotels for Men only Holidays.

Similarly, Guyz Hotel clearly states on its website that it caters

for gay couples, singles and groups who want a gay environment with quality accommodation.

So, it appears that some groups are more equal than others.  Try substituting the word ‘Christian’ for ‘gay’ in the above publicity blurbs.  It seems that such advertising would be discriminatory.

More equality discrepancies

In a comment on the Telegraph‘s editorial regarding the Bulls, ‘Gay couple awarded damages’, paratw-t at 01/20/2011 12:43 AM explores several instances of discrimination on various grounds (caps in the original):

Insurance e.g. Sheila’s Wheels. My son paid £2000 for car insurance, same company same criteria, chick pays £600. Legal, because it is based on actuarial data. However, when actuarial data applies in men’s favour, as in life insurance and life assurance, the EOC got that ruled illegal in Europe, but did not press for it to be ruled illegal in insurance, nor have they or their successor taken any actions out in this area.

I took this up with the “equality” hustlers some years ago when I was approached by a copper who was losing out on part-commutation of his pension because he was male. Females at his rank got about £18 grand more because they lived longer, therefore the fund saved more on their part-commutation. Every male officer in Strathclyde Police had put in a SD1 discrimination form on the advice of the Police Federation, who [ha]d hired a QC to fight it, then gave up on his [ad]vice after a judgment against Colorol, the wallpaper firm …

Equality mean[s] that if a man and a women both contribute, say £ 50,000 they should get 50g back plus any interest SPREAD OVER THEIR ACTUARIAL LIFE SPAN — otherwise men are subsidising women …

Women only swimming sessions? Swimming pools are businesses. There is an exemption from SDA for “risk of serious embarrassment” but plenty of them have women only sessions – with male lifeguards!

Women only- training companies? Ethnic-only training companies -allowed under SDA in some cases, and abused in many others. So … businesses are allowed to discriminate in some areas, and are allowed to get away with it in others, but not if those di[s]criminated against are not on the privileged list of “victims”.

Getting back on topic, people don’t really mind what consenting adults do in private.  However, when a law applies to one group of people differently than it does to another, we have a problem.

A word in closing …

Chuck Anesi has written a helpful and concise primer on fascism, which includes a study of Mussolini’s government.  He also discusses control through legislation and has this to say:

Amateur commentators on fascism … fail to see that fascists did most of their work using the state’s monopoly on “legitimate” violence with nearly universal popular approbation.  This included passing laws that controlled the most trivial aspects of human behavior, backed up by the traditional apparatus of police, courts, and prisons.  In many cases considerable procedural due process existed, most notably in Italy, where the judicial machinery was largely untouched.   But of course procedural due process used to enforce an unjust law does not yield justice.

The point here is this: if you think you are better than a fascist because you are passing laws to control people’s behavior in trivial and oppressive ways … well, you are wrong.  The fascists did exactly the same thing.   In fact, you are worse than a fascist, because you are too cowardly to do the dirty work yourself, and want to leave it to the police and the courts.

Tomorrow: More scope creep in the long march through the institutions

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