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Last week, I introduced Percy Dearmer and his 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, first published by Mowbray in 1912.

I mentioned Dearmer was an avowed Socialist. He seems to have been a bit to the left theologically, too.

In Chapter 3 of his book, he introduces the title page. This alone is worth about three posts, so I shall focus on Dearmer’s dislike of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, painstakingly written and agreed upon in 1563 by a convocation of Anglican bishops.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Archbishop Cranmer (1489 – 1556) wrote most of the Articles, the number of which varied depending on the monarch. Under Henry VIII, there were ten, then six. Under his successors, they increased to 42, then decreased to 39 in 1563, under Elizabeth I. She subsequently removed Article XXIX, which denounced transubstantiation. She did not want to offend her Catholic subjects.

In 1571, Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I. Article XXIX was reinstated.

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are the official positions of the Church of England. Dearmer might have objected to them because they state particular things that could offend Catholics (the nature of Holy Communion) and Anabaptists (no mandate for commonly-held property).

You can read the full list here, along with the introduction. Today’s Anglican clergy downplay them a lot and actually discourage people from even reading them. Yet, they are still obliged to affirm at ordination that they accept the Articles.

However, as the Church Society notes:

the wording of the declaration is now such that many feel able to say it without meaning what a simple reading might suggest. 

The Thirty-nine Articles have their basis in Holy Scripture. I have no problem in affirming them, although I will never be asked to do so. Wikipedia states:

the Articles are not officially normative in all Anglican Churches …

Now on to Dearmer, who points out that the Thirty-nine Articles are not on the title page of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, although they are included in it:

It makes no mention of the Thirty-nine Articles; for they form no part of the Prayer Book. They are bound up with it …

Their inclusion bothered him, because they are not binding on Anglican churchgoers:

it is a mistake of the printing authorities to compel us to buy the Articles whenever we buy the Prayer Book; and it gives Church folk the impression that the Articles are binding on them, which is not the case — for a layman is perfectly free to disagree with the Articles, if he chooses.

However, I found them helpful when I was converting. I wanted to know what this denomination believed and why before I made a commitment. It took me some time and reading to understand what a few of the Articles meant and why they were included.

Dearmer was of the impression that they were a living document and should have been updated to reflect the times:

Nothing has been done to improve them. The needs of modern thought have indeed been partly met by altering the terms in which the clergy (and they alone) have to give their assent; but this does not help the average Briton, who, moreover, is without the assistance of the learned commentaries which alone can prevent serious misunderstandings ; while in other countries, both East and West, the presence of the Thirty-nine Articles in the Prayer Book continues to do grave harm, by giving to other Churches a false idea of the Anglican theology.

Whilst I agree that the average Briton does need learned commentaries, I just did my own research. Anyone interested in doing so can. Clergy in Dearmer’s day could also have held classes on the Thirty-nine Articles so that the congregation could better understand them.

Where I disagree with Dearmer is that the Articles could be somehow improved. He could not have been more wrong! An Anglican who follows the Thirty-nine Articles will end up much further along the road to sanctification in thought, word and deed.

I much prefer what the Church Society says about them in fewer words (emphases in the original):

Officially the Church of England accepts the full and final authority of Holy Scripture as the basis for all that it believes. Some of these beliefs were summarised in the historic creeds, and at the time of the Reformation the Church adopted the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as giving a concise and systematic statement of the teaching of Scripture.

It’s a pity that more Anglicans do not understand the Articles or believe, as clergy are wont to say, that they are ‘historical artifacts’.

For decades, Anglicans have believed anything they want. Some of them are more Quaker, Baptist or Methodist than Anglican.

Dearmer did have excellent insights on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer, more about which next week.

The other day, I ran across an old link to Percy Dearmer‘s Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, first published by Mowbray in 1912.

Percy Dearmer was an Anglican priest who lived between 1867 and 1936. He was a High Church Anglican, although one who championed the English Use rite used before the Reformation over Roman Catholic rubrics.

Dearmer was an avowed Socialist (unfortunately). That said, he served in various London parish churches and wrote several books about the Book of Common Prayer, liturgy as well as a history of King Alfred and a travel book about Normandy. In later years, he was a canon at Westminster Abbey, where his ashes are interred.

Dearmer was also a lecturer in ecclesiastical art at King’s College, London from 1919 until his death at the age of 69.

He was also interested in composing and compiling hymns. He and Ralph Vaughan Williams published The English Hymnal in 1906. Two more hymnals followed: Songs of Praise in 1926 and the Oxford Book of Carols in 1928.

Incidentally, when Songs of Praise was expanded in 1931, Dearmer wanted a hymn of daily thanksgiving, which is how Morning Has Broken (made famous 40 years later by Cat Stevens) first became known:

In Songs of Praise Discussed, the editor, Percy Dearmer, explains that as there was need for a hymn to give thanks for each day, English poet and children’s author Eleanor Farjeon had been “asked to make a poem to fit the lovely Scottish tune”. A slight variation on the original hymn, also written by Eleanor Farjeon, can be found in the form of a poem contributed to the anthology Children’s Bells, under Farjeon’s new title, “A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring)”, published by Oxford University Press in 1957. The song is noted in 9/4 time but with a 3/4 feel.

“Bunessan” had been found in L. McBean’s Songs and Hymns of the Gael, published in 1900.[3] Before Farjeon’s words, the tune was used as a Christmas carol, which began “Child in the manger, Infant of Mary”, translated from the Scottish Gaelic lyrics written by Mary MacDonald. The English-language Roman Catholic hymnal also uses the tune for the James Quinn hymns “Christ Be Beside Me” and “This Day God Gives Me”, both of which were adapted from the traditional Irish hymn St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Another Christian hymn “Baptized In Water” borrows the tune.

Dearmer, his wife Mabel and their two sons all served in the Great War. Dearmer and his wife were stationed in Serbia where he was a chaplain to a British Red Cross Ambulance unit. Mabel served as a nurse with that unit and died of enteric fever in 1915. Their younger son Christopher died in battle that year. However, their elder son, Geoffrey, survived and died at the age of 103, and, at that age, was one of the oldest surviving war poets.

Dearmer remarried in 1916. He and his wife Nancy had three children: two daughters and a son. Sadly, their son died in active service with the RAF in 1943.

The reason Dearmer’s book Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book caught my eye is that the second chapter is called ‘The Question of Set Forms of Prayer’.

One of my personal bugbears is going to a traditional liturgical service and hear a priest substitute his own improvised prayers for the special intentions which precede the prayer of consecration. If he (or she) simply prayed them out of the Prayer Book, he would find that all his prayer needs were satisfied outside of names of national leaders or the sick and dying.

Their waffling — ‘uhh, mmm’ — and their poor prose has me praying for patience and calm just as we are about to reach the apex of the service with Holy Communion.

This is what Dearmer had to say about that and also dispensing with set prayers altogether. Remember, he wrote this in 1912, so this is somewhat surprising (emphases mine):

It is worth while, therefore, asking ourselves at the outset, Is liturgical worship a good thing, or ought the minister to make up his own prayers?

Now, there is very much to be said for extemporaneous worship in church; it is often a most useful instrument in mission work, it is an indispensable way of bringing the idea of worship to the ignorant, it secures the necessary element of freedom; furthermore, it may bring spontaneity and vitality into a service, and be a good corrective to formalism …

Nor is there anything alien to Church ways or wrong in principle about extempore services. Indeed in the earliest days of the Church the celebrant at the Eucharist used to pray thus. The service went on certain general lines, but the “president” filled it in according to his own ideas, and offered up “prayers and thanksgivings with all his strength,” the people saying “Amen” (as is told on p. 185). it was only by degrees that the prayers thus offered became fixed. Those, therefore, who argue that everything which was not done in the first two or three centuries must therefore be wrong, should logically include liturgical worship among the things they condemn. But perhaps sensible people in the 20th century no longer argue thus.

Well, often, that was because the celebrant could not read very well. Also, parchment was highly expensive and there were no printing presses until much later, in 1439.

Dearmer then mentions John Milton, an irregular churchgoer. Milton was all for extemporaneous prayer. Dearmer points out:

Milton’s mistake, was, in fact, a very simple one. He thought that every minister, would be a Milton. He did not realize what a deadly thing average custom can be, what a deadly bore an average man can make of himself when compelled to do continually a thing for which he has no natural gift. He did not foresee the insidious danger of unreality and cant. We should all, of course, flock to hear Milton praying extempore, if he were to come to life again ; but there are many mute, inglorious ministers whom we would rather not hear.

To put the prayers as well as the sermon in the hands of the officiating minister is indeed a form of sacerdotalism which the Church most wisely rejected many centuries ago. We know what a joy and help it would be to hear an inspired saint, with a genius for rapid prose composition, make up prayers as he went along; and opportunities for extemporization do exist outside the appointed services. But the Church has to provide for the average man, and has to guard against that form of clerical absolutism which would put a congregation at the mercy of the idiosyncrasies and shortcomings of one person. For extempore services, which should be a safeguard for freedom, can easily degenerate into a tyranny.

Indeed!

Before defending a set liturgy, Dearmer points out the importance of a sensory church service, one which will escape people who worship in plainly:

history and a wide knowledge of Christendom show us that good ceremonies are a great preservative against Pharisaism. The reason for this is that action, music, colour, form, sight, scent, and sound appeal more freely to the individual worshipper, and more subtly, relieving the pressure of a rigid phraseology, and allowing the spirit many ways of rising up to God, unhampered by the accent of the workaday voice of man. It is only thus that the wonderful intensity of devotion among the Russian people, for instance, can be accounted for: we have no popular religious affection in the West which can compare with the evangelical spirit of this hundred million of Christians, who yet have used nothing but their very ancient forms of prayer during the thousand years since their race was first converted.

Precisely. This is what old school churchgoers refer to as the mysterium tremendum, which is very rare in our time.

Although he allows for some extemporaneous prayer, Dearmer concludes:

we may be confident that liturgical worship is the best of all. There is some loss in the use of printed words; but there is a greater gain. We have in them the accumulated wisdom and beauty of the Christian Church, the garnered excellence of the saints. We are by them released from the accidents of time and place. Above all we are preserved against the worst dangers of selfishness: in the common prayer we join together in a great fellowship that is as wide as the world; and we are guided, not by the limited notions of our own priest, nor by the narrow impulses of our own desires, but by the mighty voice that rises from the general heart of Christendom.

Our Lord had the ancient forms of the Church in which he lived often on his lips, and in the moment of his supreme agony it was a liturgical sentence, a fragment of the familiar service, that was wrung from him— “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” We have a richer heritage, for it is a heritage dowered by his Spirit; and from our treasure-house come things new and old …

… there is a place and a real use for extemporary prayer, and a still greater use for the silent prayer which is above words altogether. These very things will keep fresh and sweet for us those old set forms, in which we can join so well because we know beforehand what they are about, and in which for the same reason all the people can come together in the fellowship of common prayer.

My advice — and my hope — for clergy improvising their own prayers is to sit down and write out the text in full, revising and perfecting it for however long it takes.

I was a member for several years of a large Episcopal church which had perfect prayers. The curates wrote them themselves or read them from books by other ministers. They were beautiful prayers, worthy of God. The congregation also listened and silently prayed intently. You could hear a pin drop.

Here in the UK, things are different. I blame it on the seminaries. However, if they feel it so necessary to express themselves, Anglican priests should take up the challenge to have an outstanding set of prayers of their own that fit with the language being used in the liturgy.

Jesus is our friend, but let us not forget the many Bible verses about our rightful awe we owe to Almighty God. This is the second part of Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV):

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Friday, January 20, marked the beginning of the Don of a new era for the United States.

As many have said, it is always darkest before the Don.

What follows are highlights of not only Inauguration Day but the whole weekend.

Far from being austere, as many of us expected, it was wall-to-wall activity from dawn to dusk!

Before the post unfolds, let’s remember that:

It is possible because Big Media are — and have been — plain contrary. That’s an archaic use of contrary, but, in that sense, it means stubborn and resistant to reason.

All credit to Bill Mitchell, he boarded the Trump Train just before or after the Republican National Convention. Even though he objected to Pepe the Frog, the unofficial Trump mascot, he duly apologised on Twitter. Pepe gained traction with Hillary Clinton, who even lambasted the cartoon frog in a campaign speech.

Bill Mitchell hosts and presents YourVoice™ Radio, likely to become more popular over the next four years.

Even more interesting is this quote from Pastor Robert Jeffress, a big Trump supporter:

Thursday, January 19

January 19 was a busy day for the Trump family.

Flight from La Guardia to Joint Base Andrews

Donald Trump’s flight with his family, including his two sisters and brother, would be the last one he would take before becoming president.

Fox 10 Phoenix has a great video of the plane landing at Andrews. The interesting bit starts at 10:55 when someone on board tells ten-year-old Barron to leave the plane first. Not surprisingly, Barron, unusually wearing his hair over his forehead, is reluctant. The future first couple disembark at the 13:00 point. The extensive motorcade departs at 17:07, complete with a first-responder truck and an ambulance. The black Chevy Suburban vans are reinforced just like armoured cars:

Inauguration Luncheon

Once in DC, the Trumps went to the Trump International Hotel (The Old Post Office), where the incoming president held an Inauguration Luncheon to honour Republican Party leaders:

Welcome Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial

That afternoon, the Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration took place in front of the massive — and grand — Lincoln Memorial, which is considerably larger than one imagines. Seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

A variety of musical acts, including splendid military bands, performed. Trump gave a speech before a display from Grucci Fireworks ended the event in the early evening. Unfortunately, the last two displays let the whole thing down. ‘USA’ appeared as ‘USR’ and the American flag was, sadly, a blur. It is a pity, because their fireworks show before that was excellent.

This short video from Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media, gives a great summary of the event, including the fireworks. From left to right are Tiffany Trump (mother is Marla Maples Trump), Ivanka (Ivana Trump), the first couple, granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter), Donald Jr (Ivana) with his wife Vanessa and son, then to the far right, Eric (Ivana) and his wife:

The first couple contemplated the larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln:

The event ended with the new first couple thanking their supporters. Never mind the sentiment from a Twitter user. I wanted to show you just how ‘yuuge’ Lincoln’s statue is:

The Daily Mail has a comprehensive article, complete with photos and a video, about the concert and Trump’s address at the end, just before the fireworks.

Interestingly, Trump had a special meeting afterwards with a 23-year-old single father, Shane Bouvet, from Illinois who had given an interview to the Washington Post just days before. Trump saw the article and made sure he could meet the man, who is struggling to make ends meet. The billionaire had a private conversation with Bouvet and gave him a cheque for $10,000.

Campaign donors dinner

However, the evening had only just begun. A dinner to thank campaign donors took place afterwards at DC’s majestic Union Station. Both the Trumps and the Pences attended and addressed their guests.

Mike Pence opened his remarks by saying the administration would repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump (2:59) said that choosing Mike Pence was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He then went on to talk about the amazing election results where Republicans won in states they had lost forever. He mentioned Iowa. They had not won there since 1952. He then spoke about his cabinet nominees. The high point, however, was when he thanked Kellyanne Conway (18:28), the first successful female presidential campaign manager in American history. (I don’t understand what these feminists were protesting at the weekend in DC. Surely, Kellyanne’s success and the many women employees at the Trump Organization prove them wrong.)

Then it was time to turn in for some rest. The Pences returned to their house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which they rented and moved to soon after the election.

The first couple and family members spent the night at Blair House, a complex of four buildings for guests of the president.

The photo below shows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner at Blair House. Kushner will play a principal role as a presidential adviser. Both are practising Jews. Ivanka converted before her wedding. Kushner recently gave up holdings in his family real estate firm to be able to take on his new role:

Inauguration Day

Early in the morning, preparations for the inauguration ceremony began.

Meanwhile, Bikers For Trump were arriving in Washington, DC to form ‘a wall of meat’ in case the new president needed protection. Days earlier, Clinton family friend Dominic Puopolo, 51, was arrested by Miami Beach police for saying that he would be at the inauguration to ‘kill President Trump’.

This photo shows Donald Trump ready to leave Blair House in Washington, DC early in the morning of January 20. Trump’s granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican Party, are to the right of Trump:

Church service

From there, it was on to a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church (Episcopal) — known as the Church of the Presidents — in Lafayette Square, near the White House. The rector, the Reverend Dr. Luis León, greeted the first couple in front of the church.

They were joined by family and prominent well wishers. The first couple are on the far left centre of the photo. The Pences are in the lower left-hand corner:

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress delivered the sermon:

Meeting at the White House

The first couple left St John’s for the White House, where they had coffee with the Obamas:

Melania Trump gave a large gift from Tiffany & Co to Michelle Obama. Presenting a gift is a tradition from an incoming first lady to a departing one.

Afterwards, it was on to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony:

Inauguration ceremony

Trump quipped at the donor’s dinner the night before that he didn’t care if it rained on Inauguration Day, because at least people would see that his hair was real!

The incoming president awaited his cue inside the Capitol building:

All living former presidents are invited to attend the inauguration and are seated near the front. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn, William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary and George W Bush (Bush II) and Laura were in attendance.

George H W Bush (Bush I) and Barbara sent in their acceptance but were hospitalised days earlier. On Tuesday, January 10, he sent Trump a cordial, witty letter of regret.

Although Bush II tweeted the following earlier, at the swearing-in ceremony, he joked ad nauseam with the Clintons, seated next to him and Laura, signifying to the television viewer that he was closer to them than to Trump, his fellow Republican. But we all knew that the Bushes were NeverTrumpers because they said so.

Despite Trump’s sincerity, here’s the hypocrisy of it all. Dan Scavino Jr, rightly, took it sincerely. Then, the live coverage rolled and something else entirely was on display. Trump, no doubt, expected something different based on this (Bush I was the 41st president, by the way):

These were the prayers offered before the inauguration by clergy who were principal Trump supporters:

The Revd Franklin Graham did not hesitate to say there is only one God:

Please note:

Here is the swearing-in by Chief Justice John Roberts. The first couple’s son, Barron, 10, is to the right of the first lady. She held two closed Bibles, the Lincoln Bible (bottom) and Trump’s own, a gift from his mother (top):

Entertainment Weekly reports that Trump’s inauguration received the second highest television ratings for that event. Top-rated was Obama’s first swearing-in, which 37.8m Americans watched in 2009. Trump’s audience was 30.6m. However, Heavy points out that, in 1981, 41.8m people watched Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. That places Obama in second place and Trump in third. Definitive online viewing figures are unavailable at this time.

Important lines from the inaugural speech included the following. First, on the elites, several of whom were present. Politico reported:

“Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.” He also made a promise: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Also these (see here, here and here):

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

The closing lines were the following:

To Americans: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again – and yes, together, WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

However, most important were Trump’s mentions of God, including:

We will be protected by God.

You can view the full speech here or here. You can find the transcript here and here.

WND‘s Garth Kant wrote of the contrast between Trump and his predecessor with regard to the inauguration speech:

Trump mentioned himself just three times in the 1,400 words he delivered in his speech lasting 16 minutes and 20 seconds. He referred to the American people 45 times.

By comparison, Obama, as is his wont, mentioned himself 207 times in 84 minutes while campaigning for Hillary during a November speech ostensibly about her.

And, to make sure it was crystal clear that there has been a sea change not just in style but also in substance, Trump emphatically uttered the Obama administration’s three forbidden words: “radical Islamic terrorism,” which, he promised, “we will eliminate from the face of the earth.”

Kant channelled JFK’s Camelot:

However, the speech wasn’t just about ending American erosion. It was about a bright new beginning. Just as did Kennedy, Trump envisioned a promising future. One in which:

“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

One could arguably call it Kenndyesque.

Kant was most complimentary of the first daughter but couldn’t say enough about the new first lady:

This was grace personified.

A stately, poised, and stunning elegance were certainly part of it. But there was more. It wasn’t just what she was wearing. It was her bearing. Her perfectly poised demeanor.

And the crowd could clearly sense it, even if they could no more articulate it than to say “wow” over and over, which was what so many were doing.

She was a regal presence.

There was nobility.

Not because of her new station in life, but because of her carriage. The way she carried herself. Full of poise and grace.

Congressional Lunch

Before lunch, President Trump had work to attend to at the Capitol, signing his cabinet nominations into law. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, WI) is standing next to Barron. At the front are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) and, on the right, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Trump spoke at the lunch and was gracious enough to publicly acknowledge his opponent Hillary Clinton, present with Bill. Trump’s daughter Tiffany sat at their table. You can see all the speeches here.

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) once again lent their Eagle Lectern for use at the luncheon.

Inaugural parade

The Trumps walked for two minutes in the inaugural parade:

After the walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, the motorcade drove up to the White House, where the Trumps, Pences and family members disembarked and walked to the reviewing stand.

Barron probably found the two-hour event overwhelming at times (I would have), but he enjoyed himself:

The military bands played and marched past, as did a myriad of high school and university bands and special groups representing American history and service.

One of the those groups was the Navajo Code Talkers. Only two were able to make it to the parade. One of my readers, the author of the Pacific Paratrooper blog, wrote about their invaluable role in the Pacific during the Second World War. Well worth a read.

The Talledega College Marching Tornado Band from Alabama participated for the first time. Talledega is an all black college founded by two former slaves after the Civil War. Their band director received threats when he said the college wanted to perform in the parade. Since then, they have received more than $1m in donations which will be dedicated to the band’s needs. Talledega are a special band, because the college has no football team, so they rely on band contests and big parades such as this.

The full video of the parade is below. New York Military Academy, Trump’s alma mater, are at 2:03. Talledega are at 2:09. The Navajo Code Talkers are at 2:14. Virginia Military Institute closed the parade.

But, for Barron, the big highlight was the Rural Tractor Brigade (2:22:00), magnificently souped up. Look at his face (2:23:00). He beams and says, ‘Yesss!’ At 2:24:00, it looks as if Mike Pence sees the lad’s enthusiasm. He probably thought, ‘We’ve got to get him to Indiana for a tractor ride!’ (Separate tractor video here.)

After the parade

President Trump was eager to do some work before attending the evening’s events:

The Daily Mail has more.

Inaugural balls

The president and first lady — and the Pences — attended three inaugural balls.

Two took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The other was held at the National Building Museum.

Donald Trump Jr, his wife Vanessa and daughter Kai were ready to go:

This video shows President Trump and First Lady Melania at one of the balls dancing to My Way:

At the Armed Services Ball, the Trumps and Pences danced with military personnel (starts at 2:21):

There was also a magnificent cake for all to enjoy:

You can read press pool reports here and here.

First lady and first daughters attire

Melania Trump’s stunning inauguration outfit was a Ralph Lauren creation.

The first lady co-designed her striking silk crepe inaugural ballgown with Hervé Pierre, former creative director at Carolina Herrera. This stunning creation will help him launch his own couture house.

Pierre told Women’s Wear Daily:

“It was an amazing experience!” he continued, noting that Trump’s contributions were technical as well as aesthetic. “She knows what she likes. Our conversations were, and are, very easy. She knows about fashion, as a former model. She is aware about constructions, so we have already the same vocabulary when it comes to designing a dress.”

Ivanka Trump’s sparkling gown came from Carolina Herrera’s fashion house. Tiffany Trump purchased her gown from a Hollywood design house, Simin Couture. Ladies will enjoy full size photos and the article in the Daily Mail.

Saturday, January 21

Newspapers from around the world featured the inauguration on their front pages.

Saturday was a day of prayer and work for President Trump.

Prayer came first.

National Prayer Service

The National Prayer Service was held at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, DC.

It featured 26 religious leaders. Most were Christian. Others came from world faiths such as Judaism and Islam as well as more diverse groups, such as the Navajo Nation.

The following are short videos and photos from the service:

This girl, Marlana Van Hoose, was born blind and given only a year to live. The video below is from the service. She received a standing ovation afterwardsled by the First Lady!

Marlana is a committed Christian, firm in her faith. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice. She praises Him in song splendidly. She is yet another argument against abortion. May God bless her parents for giving her life and good, loving care.

In the next photo we see the Trumps and the Pences in the front row. May God bless them and keep them safe in the years ahead.

Sunday, January 22

On a lighter note, one of Trump’s grandsons feels at home in the White House:

Later, there was serious work to attend to:

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent post on this group of people, most of whom hold no political office (emphases in the original):

This afternoon President Trump and Vice-President Pence participated in swearing in the White House Senior Staff.  These are officials who represent the office of the President.  For the first time in modern political history, these are mostly ordinary citizen staff members from outside public office….

…A representative staff of outsiders, reflecting a

representative government for outsiders… Forgotten no more.

President Donald Trump has only selected a group of 30 people for commission to act as officers of the President and representatives of the White House.  Together with their families, the official ceremony to pledge an oath to their office took place this afternoon.

Then:

Like millions around the world, I am praying in thanksgiving for the new president’s safe inauguration. We were very worried something would prevent it from taking place.

Now we look ahead, remaining prayerful for success.

How blessed America is! How blessed the world is!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.                      2 Chronicles 7:14

In His infinite mercy, God heard our prayers and acknowledged our repentance by giving us Donald Trump. Those were words I never thought I would write, yet, here we are.

Yesterday’s post discussed the increasing influence of Communist thought among Catholic clergy.

Today’s post continues the theme with an introduction to the proliferation of liberation theology. Tomorrow’s post looks at its Communist origins.

What follows below are excerpts and a summary of an article on Bear Witness, ‘Pope Francis, Barack Obama, Raúl Castro, and the Liberation Theology’. It’s an excellent exploration of the subject from 2015. Emphases mine below.

The Revd Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann:

was minister of Foreign Relations in the communist Sandinista regime of Nicaragua and also president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

At the time, Pope John Paul II requested that he leave politics and return full time to the priesthood. D’Escoto refused to do so. Consequently:

In 1984, his Holiness Pope John Paul II punished Miguel D’Escoto for refusing to get out of politics and did not allow him to officiate masses or offer sacraments.

D’Escoto is a big supporter of liberation theology. He is also a Maryknoll priest.

The Maryknoll order is based in New York State. During my childhood, their priests and nuns did marvellous missionary work all over the world. I learned to read partly from perusing their monthly magazine at my mother’s suggestion. By the time I was at university in the late 1970s, my mother and I noticed the tone of the magazine was changing. The order was becoming steeped in liberation theology. My mother stopped donating to them in the 1980s. She couldn’t stand reading the magazine any more. She missed the real mission stories about schools, child care, hospitals and, most importantly, new Christians happy in the Gospel message. Maryknoll had become too political and somewhat anti-American. In fact, Bear Witness tells us:

Some Maryknoll nuns have supported and fought with communist guerrillas.

Returning to D’Escoto, in 2014, Pope Francis lifted John Paul II’s sanctions, allowing him to say Mass and perform other sacerdotal duties. The Bear Witness article says (emphases mine):

By taking this unwise action Pope Francis sent the wrong message of tolerance and acceptance to all the communists within the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, many now believe that Pope Francis sympathizes with the Marxist liberation theology of the Church.

Yep.

So:

After the punishment was lifted by Pope Francis, the communist priest Miguel d’Escoto immediately attacked the late Saint Pope John Paul II for “an abuse of authority.”

D’Escoto also said that Cuba’s then-líder máximo was divinely inspired:

Fidel Castro is a messenger of the Holy Spirit in “the necessity of struggle” to establish “the reign of God on this earth that is the alternative to the empire.”

Never mind that:

Totalitarian dictators Fidel and his brother Raúl Castro were responsible for assassinating 14,000 Cuban patriots, jailing over 300,000, and forcing tens of thousands to leave Cuba in rafts and small boats with an estimated 80,000 perish at sea trying to reach Florida. The serial assassin Fidel Castro is the messenger of the devil!

D’Escoto is now 82 years old. Surprisingly, perhaps, he was born in the United States. He was ordained in New York in 1961. Some years later:

He became one of the strongest proponents of the Marxist liberation theology. He collaborated with the National Sandinista Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional).

After the coming to power of the Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega, the communist priest was named Minister of Foreign Relations. When Miguel d’Escoto became President of the United Nations General Assembly, he chose a communist, Howard Zinn, as his personal assistant. Zinn is the author of a communist textbook, A People’s History of the United States, which is used in many universities across the United States by socialist professors.

Howard Zinn as his personal assistant. Hmm.

Ortega is a great ally of Cuba. He also supports a network of Latin and South American countries that are members of:

the communist association ALBA, which was founded by the late Venezuelan communist dictator Hugo Chávez. The extreme radical political parties from these nations as well as those from Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina joined the Foro de São Paulo (FSP; English: São Paulo Forum) with the intent of working with Cuba, China, and Russia to bring communism to Latin America. It was launched by the extreme radical Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) of Brazil in 1990 in the city of São Paulo.

The São Paulo Forum continues today and has held its conferences in the capitals of most Latin and South American countries with a wide participation from:

more than 100 parties and political organizations … Their political positions vary across a wide spectrum. These political groups include communist parties, armed guerrilla forces, social–democratic parties, extreme radical labor and social movements inspired by the theology of liberation of the Catholic Church, and anti-imperialist and nationalist organizations. For many years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC as is known in Spanish) met with the other radical leftist parties. Since 2005, the FARC had been not been allowed to participate.

But who among us has heard of the São Paulo Forum? Should we be concerned?

Ever since FSP’s first meeting (1990), the approved Declaration expressed the participants’ “willingness to renew leftist and socialist thought…” Hardly any Americans are aware of the danger to our national security present … by the Forum of São Paulo. Obama certainly is not going to tell the nation as he most likely sympathizes with the Marxist[s] and socialist[s] who belong to this anti-American anti-western organization.

There is no convincing leftist Christians (an oxymoron) that liberation theology goes against the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

In Jesus’s time, there were Zealots — a fringe Jewish group — willing to take up arms against Rome. In fact, Barabbas was thought to be a Zealot. Who did the crowd cry out in favour of on Good Friday? The mob thought that the Zealots could deliver Israel from oppression. That is not what Jesus came for. He came to deliver us from the oppression of sin and bring us to life everlasting.

Like the Zealots, the liberation theology supporters have forgotten that essential message of truth and light. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into their trap.

Tomorrow: the origin of liberation theology

j0313874Something is very wrong with the Catholic Church.

Something has been very wrong with it for decades, but only with the current pope is the rot becoming clear.

The spotlight is shining not only on him but also on renegade clergy. Yes, the Catholics have always had renegade clergy. (So have many Protestant denominations.) However, more and more are coming out of the woodwork, perhaps feeling ‘liberated’ in some sense by Pope Francis.

The following example comes from a former (?) Catholic, Daren Jonescu, who writes for The American Thinker. I commend his ‘Catholics and Communists’ article to everyone. He cites a Catholic priest from South Korea (emphases mine):

South Korea recently observed the third anniversary of the North Korean artillery attack against Yeonpyeong, an inhabited island which was the staging ground for a South Korean military exercise. The attack killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, and wounded many others. The Sunday before this anniversary, a senior Catholic priest, Park Chang-shin, gave a sermon in which he went all-out Jeremiah Wright [in damning his homeland, Wright being Obama’s former pastor]:

What should North Korea do if South Korea-U.S. military exercises are being carried out near the problematic NLL [Northern Limit Line, a UN-drawn maritime border]? North Korea needs to open fire. That was the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

“North Korea needs to open fire”? This statement was part of a general campaign by the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice (which comprises roughly half of Korea’s priesthood) against President Park Geun-hye’s ruling Saenuri Party. The CPAJ, active since South Korea’s pro-democracy movement picked up steam in the 1970s, is essentially a leftist anti-war group promoting Korean reunification through appeasement of the communists, as evidenced by its two main platform items: opposition to sanctions against the North, and opposition to the South’s “National Security Law,” which in theory outlaws communism and Marxist activism, and is therefore vehemently opposed by all organizations sympathetic to the North.

In response, a member of the Saenuri Party enjoined the Catholic Church to discipline its pro-North Korean priests. Needless to say, the Church will do no such thing.

Jonescu says that the Catholic Church is wrapped up in social justice aspects of Marxism and Communism. While the Church must reject the atheism of both, they have latched on not only to social justice but also to economic redistribution and the condemnation of financial security on moral grounds. Those dubious moral grounds are quickly becoming part of Catholic theology.

The Catholic Church is turning ever leftwards and this is overshadowing the Gospel message. Jonescu says most of the hierarchy — wherever they are in the world — are socialist and some clearly Marxist.

The pope has railed about:

The “new tyranny,” that of the pursuit of wealth, is “invisible and virtual”; and its only remedy is “state control,” i.e., visible and real tyranny. Pope Francis promotes the standard false dichotomy that has propelled progressivism forward for more than a century: the “uncontrolled free market” (a Marxist straw man if ever there was one) allegedly consolidates wealth among the few, while state controls (which are supposedly lacking) would allow the disadvantaged majority to rise. This dichotomy is, and always has been, a ruse to hide the truth: progressives regulate and distort the economy to protect their power, wealth, and privilege and to limit opportunity for potential challengers, and then they seize on the stagnation they have caused to launch populist appeals for even more restrictive and redistributive economic regulations, to further entrench their untouchable pre-eminence. (Take a good look at who supported, funded, and led the fight for the creation of compulsory schools, central banks, progressive taxation, socialized healthcare, and all the rest of the mechanisms of benevolent “control” throughout the prosperous West. Hint: it wasn’t the poor.)

Any decent Catholic clergy who disagree with the Left are marginalised, Jonescu says. He concludes:

The Catholic Church is no more defensible than any other institution that continues, against all historical evidence, reason, and decency, to embrace and defend — whether tacitly or openly — the politics of mass envy, of collectivist authoritarianism, of coercive redistribution of the fruits of men’s labor, and of the practical denial of the basic right of self-determination that ought to be at the core of a Catholic teaching that upholds the dignity of every living soul.

As the pope’s Year of Mercy draws to a close, notice that he spoke a lot about welcoming uninvited and illegal migrants. Europe is paying a deadly price for the tidal wave of millions coming in over the past few years.

It is unfortunate that his Year of Mercy did not extend to persecuted Christians. Maybe they were not on message enough with Marxism.

Hello, everyone.

Forbidden Bible Verses will appear on Sunday night going into Monday (GMT) for reasons beyond my control.

For now, this is what the Revd Austin Miles — a certified chaplain-counsellor who has worked in Communist countries — has to say to churchgoers who might be grieved about a notionally immoral Donald Trump ascending to the White House in January 2017. On October 24 — after the last debate — he wrote an article about Trump’s generous and private acts of charity, several of which I wrote about recently.

He prefaced the section on charitable acts with an excellent essay on character, ending with a few choice reminders from the Bible (emphases in bold in the original, those in purple mine). Also note what he says about Hillary Clinton:

While watching Hillary at this last debate with that smirking smile glued to her face while laughing whenever Donald Trump answered a question, this Scripture verse came to mind: “As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.”– Ecclesiastes 7:6.

It has been pointed out that one does judge others according to their own standard of conduct. Hillary accuses Trump of gross immorality. Yet at this moment, she is front paged on National Inquirer regarding a woman who arranged rendezvous with both men and women for her. Hillary’s lesbianism is well known. It is no secret. While in D.C. for a period of time when Bill Clinton was in office, many insiders on The Hill had stories to tell about her lesbian and other sexual activities. These are people close to her who have close knowledge of her activities. Yet, she lectures Trump on his lack of purity.

Furthermore the statements of her being ahead in the polls, and that Trump is losing, is a total liewhich is to be expected from the Dem Communist Party. Watch for upcoming story with the ACTUAL stats. Those phony stats are deliberately planted to trick Trump voters to stay home. Don’t fall for it. Go and make your voices heard.

Hillary preaches that one lacking in morals is not fit for public office, yet, she is still there. Indeed, she ducked every issue brought up in the debates by attacking Trump’s moral character. Distractions is the name of the game. We are voting for a man who will restore the greatness of our country, not a Pastor-in-Chief.

We want a COMMANDER in Chief who will indeed protect us from our enemies and bring sanity back to society as it was founded to be. This model has all but vanished as Communists and Muslims (who head the majority of Home Land Security offices) have successfully infiltrated the Government of the United States with Obama’s help, to bring the United States of America crashing down and turning this country into a One World Government puppet under the tyranny of The Communist Party.

Now back to the character issue: If we demand that any candidate for office come out of a monastic lifestyle, we will have no candidates …

The difference is in policy, not personality. I vote for the platform, not the person, People are imperfect and we are all flawed in some way. The Bible says “there is none perfect, no not one” and warns us about casting the first stone.

It is also good to remember that God chose wretched wicked people and worked through them. David lusted after a married woman, had a child with her and arranged to have her husband killed.

David’s son, King Solomon had 700 wives, 300 concubines and was carrying on with that Shulamite chick on the side. And that was in the days before Viagra.

(Nice ending!)

Please keep this in mind as Donald Trump prepares for the highest office in the land and, if you can, pray for him, Mike Pence and their families.

Stained glass shadows westernskycommunicationscomPeople are leaving the Church for a variety of reasons.

Micah J Murray has a post exploring those reasons. The commenters have more. This one says, in part:

I am weary of going face-to-face and having others think there is something wrong just because I look down or am not smiling. Could it be possible that in my despair or quietness, I am closer to God than ever before?

Precisely.

Yet, it seems that going to church now has to be a psychoanalytical, therapeutic exercise with the pastor or vicar silently summing up a newcomer or the occasional attendee after the service. Everyone is assumed to be an emotional cripple, and the clergyman is the guy (or gal) who will make that decision.

Why can’t we go back to the old days when we went to church to worship God? Why do we have to join at least one group or committee in order to be considered proper church members? Yes, I know there are verses from St Paul’s letters which encourage that, but his converts were also establishing fledgling Church communities. The Church grew into huge national and international denominational organisations.

Therefore, not everyone has to be ‘active’ in order to be a church member in good standing. Priests and ministers will disagree, but this is yet another reason why people shy away from either church worship or attending too often. They don’t want to be too well acquainted with clergy or other members. It could lead to further involvement.

Clergy and elders should really leave people alone and let them decide whether to get involved in groups and committees, most of which are surrogate forms of therapy.

Church is primarily for worship — spending structured time with God and Christ Jesus.

For many churchgoers, true worship is all that they want. Please let them be.

Although writing about a secular subject, author John M Barry wrote the following in his book The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. His words could also be applied to the church congregations of yesteryear:

They are simply a loose confederation of individuals, each of whom remains largely a free agent whose achievements are independent of the institution but who also shares and benefits from association with others. In these cases the institution simply provides an infrastructure that supports the individual, allowing him or her to flourish so that the whole often exceeds the sum of the parts.

Many would like to see a return to that kind of outlook.

This post explains the urgency of considering various facts — rather than emotion — in the run-up to the EU Referendum being held on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Below are links to my more recent posts on the referendum, specifically Brexit. (To see all of them, just click on the ‘Brexit’ link in the previous sentence.)

The most important ones are highlighted in bold.

Brexit debate results in audience wanting to leave (2016)

Brexit: about the white and red referendum communication (2016)

Brexit: The Movie — 71 minutes well spent (2016)

The Church of England’s prayer for the EU Referendum (2016, includes bookies’ view)

Tony Benn’s warning about the European project in 1975

EU Referendum: Catholic bishop criticises government’s Project Fear

And after Brexit — Frexit, Swexit?

Former advisor to David Cameron in favour of Brexit

EU Referendum forecast: hot and hotter

How the EU has asset-stripped Britain

EU Referendum latest

If you can only spend an hour or so, please watch Brexit: The Movie at the aforementioned link. That film has brought many an ardent Remainer to the Leave side.

For those who have only a few minutes, SpouseMouse suggests The Referendum Game, which is a four-minute song. Never mind the music, just read the lyrics which perfectly — and wittily — encapsulate Leave’s position.

It is an independent video, by the way, and not affiliated with the Leave campaign:

On June 16, The Telegraph reported that Leave has gained momentum because the British voters are sick and tired of ‘experts’ and the media telling them what to do, much of which goes beyond common sense:

Over two thirds of Leave supporters – compared to just a quarter of Remainers – say it is wrong to rely too much on “experts”.

A YouGov survey that they cite — details in full — shows that Leavers do not trust them. The Telegraph article has a helpful, easy to read graph of the survey’s findings.

Leavers find well-known business owners the most credible: 27% trustworthy v 55% untrustworthy.

That’s pretty bad.

It gets worse.

Senior religious figures came fourth from bottom; 68% of Leavers do not trust them. Only 10% find them trustworthy.

Count me in with the 68%. (I was not polled, by the way.)

Below senior religious figures, in descending order, were newspaper journalists, politicians from Britain and political leaders from other countries. The last group were found to be untrustworthy by 85% of respondents. Only slightly over 1% found them credible.

Now, part of the religious figure percentage might be because of the fact that so many Britons are secularists. On the other hand, many of our clergy just seem to be living in a bubble. Furthermore, their religious pronouncements are rather rubbish. It’s no wonder our pews are empty.

Even economists fare better:

While 63 per cent among Remainers trust economists on the referendum, 57 supporters of Leave don’t trust them.

None of these groups seem to share the same experiences of life that Leave voters do.

I am coming to the conclusion that middle-aged Remain voters must be doing very well for themselves or that they have taken that stance ‘to get down with the kids’, their own EU-loving offspring who know no other way than Brussels. Those parents should be educating those children — even if they are adults — on the phone, around the fireplace or at the dinner table.

Across the pond, Americans who have been following the Brexit stance have been rightly comparing it to Donald Trump’s race for the White House. Both Brexit supporters and Trump followers are vilified as being ‘stupid’, ‘idiotic’, ‘delusional’, ‘racist’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘low information voters’. We shall see at the polling station.

Along with several others in the online world, I predict that a Brexit win on Thursday will give a huge boost to Trump’s chances in November. As I’ve said before, voters will be choosing between globalism and patriotism.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when the Donald lands in Scotland on July 22. I am hoping he will stay silent until after the polling stations close. If he can’t do that, may he remain non-committal. He returns home by the weekend.

On Big Pink, an Independent voter pro-Trump blog — one which I read regularly for US campaign news — one commenter had this to say in response to a post linking the mood of Brexit with that of the billionaire’s supporters (emphases mine):

Osborne’s “punishment budget” with “punishment taxes” and “punishment immigration policies”[:] IF the public votes to take back their sovereignty is exactly what NeverTrumpers, Dems, and Obama are doing now in the US with the very “thought” of electing Trump. Mass immigration is “punishment”. Anything the public does that these globalist flunkies are supposed to stop, threaten them with, terrorize through social, fiscal, economic, and loss of civil rights. Give up your guns or more mass killings in soft target locations. Give up your speech rights or an economic crash. Give up right to assembly or we will beat your head in with foreign rent a mobs with the assistance of LaRaza police and DoJ/ISIS approved minders and judges. You must or bad things will happen because we must punish you.

You must do these things or we will let the mobs, ISIS, mass migration, and our toadies in the media help terrorize or murder you or humiliate you on live television. We are way down the rabbit hole. The Brits have a lot more push back by their party (both parties!) leaders and members than is in evidence here. Both of our parties, elected reps, and executive branch is owned by globalism. They are showing their hand everyday just like that [so-and-so] Osborne did in the UK. This is globalist fascism.

It’s not the most eloquently expressed comment but it got me thinking, ‘Why can’t more people — especially long-in-the-tooth Remainers — see what is happening right now?’

In closing on Brexit for today, The Guardian had an article about Gibraltar’s fear if Brexit wins. They have had a difficult relationship with Spain, particularly over the past few decades, despite the fact that tens of thousands cross the border both ways to go to and from work. One commenter offered a good analysis of the alternatives, should Brexit win. Excerpts follow:

… Although I and many others do appreciate Gibraltar’s position, I still think it valid to point out that this referendum is about the future of the entire UK. So while, as already stated, I believe we owe a duty to Gibraltar to support her and her interests to the limit of our power, those of 65 million Britons, along with their prerogative to vote [on] what they perceive to be our nation’s own interests and independence, must take precedence. Omho, that means a vote for Brexit and withdrawal from an inherently unaccountable and economically sclerotic EU

More generally, I think that assuming a Brexit vote, Gibraltar may indeed be subjected to another bout of petty minded shenanigans by Madrid, but alas, this cannot be helped, although I do also expect a solution will be negotiated in the medium term at worst. Hopefully the plight of 10,000 Spanish workers needing daily access to Gib, plus a large number of additional jobs in Spain herself that are dependent either directly on those, or on other Gib/Spain business links, will expedite such a resolution.

Somehow Gibraltar managed before we entered the Common Market, which evolved into the EU.

Even in the EU, Spain stirs the pot with Gibraltar most effectively. Every few years, Madrid comes up with something irritating that requires extensive negotiation.

Therefore, a Remain result will not resolve Gibraltar’s problems with Spain.

More to come on the referendum tomorrow.

In the early 21st the worldwide migration situation has produced Church-related anomalies in Europe, including the UK.

One of these has been the marriage of convenience, as a Workpermit.com post from 2006 describes. In 2005, a set of rules was introduced in the UK to put an end to this practice designed:

to get around immigration controls and require immigrants to obtain a special certificate of approval, or COA before they can wed in the UK.

However, Mr Justice Silber overturned these laws in 2006 because they violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Consequently:

The overturning of the marriage laws due to unfair discrimination against immigrants on religious grounds leaves the door open for hundreds of people from overseas getting married in the UK.

The test case involved in overturning by Mr Justice Silber, involved a foreign national from Algeria and an EEA national who was legally living in the UK. Once Mahmaud Baiai and Izabella Trzanska from Poland were refused permission to marry, they launched the challenge.

Mr Justice Silber said the case raised issues under Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to marry and found a family.

“The rules were incompatible because they discriminated against immigrants rights subject to immigration control on grounds of religion and nationality,” he declared.

Oddly, the rules overturned did not apply to Church of England members:

even if they are illegally in the UK.

This meant that the Anglican Church could conduct marriages of convenience. By 2008, as The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

the number of bogus weddings performed by Anglican priests has risen by as much as 400 per cent in some dioceses over the last four years.

Foreign nationals have turned to the Church because it is exempt from rules that require all foreign nationals from outside the European Union to obtain a Home Office certificate of approval to marry in a register office.

That year, Church of England bishops warned their clergy to be vigilant when evaluating immigrants wishing to marry in an Anglican ceremony:

the Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, urged priests to be wary of migrants looking to get married who have obtained a common licence – a preliminary for church weddings involving foreign nationls.

“The new regime does not apply to marriages by banns, common licence or special licence, which probably explains the substantial increase in demand for bishops’ common licenses,” he writes.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is significant abuse of the availability of Church of England marriage in order to try to gain some immigration advantage.

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, has also written to churches in his diocese with guidance on how to tighten measures.

The diocese of Southwark, which covers Greater London south of the Thames, has seen the number of applications for common licences rise from 90 in 2004 to 493 last year.

In 2013 the Coalition government (Conservative/Liberal Democrat) produced new rules to end marriages of convenience. From page 4 of the PDF:

Notices of marriage following civil preliminaries or civil partnership in England and Wales involving a non-EEA national who could benefit from it in immigration terms will be referred to the Home Office for a decision as to whether to investigate whether the marriage or civil partnership is a sham. Non-EEA nationals will only be able to marry in the Church of England or the Church in Wales following civil preliminaries, except in limited circumstances.

Perhaps something similar should be done in the case of conversions by refugees to Christianity.

On June 5, The Guardian reported that the Catholic bishops in Austria are suspicious of the number of sudden converts to Christianity among refugees from war-torn countries. The paper reported in 2014 that the same phenomenon is going on in the Lutheran Church in Germany.

Clergy with a rosy view of the world will say that this is a tremendous opportunity to revive the Church in Europe.

The Austrian bishops view the situation differently. In 2015:

the Austrian bishops’ conference published new guidelines for priests, warning that some refugees may seek baptism in the hope of improving their chances of obtaining asylum.

Admitting persons for baptism who are during the official procedure classified as ‘not credible’ leads to a loss in the church’s credibility across the whole of Austria,” the new guidelines say.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Vienna explained:

There has to be a noticeable interest in the faith that extends beyond merely the wish to obtain a piece of paper.

Austrian priests now informally evaluate potential refugee converts during their one-year ‘preparation period’. The Archdiocese of Vienna has recorded that 5% to 10% of potential converts drop out of the process prior to baptism.

In England, however, Anglican clergy are eager to not only ask no questions but to combine the conversion process with helping to ease the refugee application process.

The Guardian interviewed the Revd Mohammad Eghtedarian, an Iranian refugee and convert who was later ordained. He is a curate at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral. Eghtedarian says that refugee status and religious affiliation are intertwined.

Liverpool Cathedral has a process which involves registering refugee attendance, which helps their asylum applications. A candidate for Baptism must attend the five preparatory classes. A baptised refugee seeking Confirmation must attend a dozen courses.

Hmm. It sounds very minimal.

The Guardian asked Eghtedarian about the sincerity of those candidates. Even he acknowledged that ‘plenty of people’ were converting for convenience!

In large part, only a cursory examination exists. The Cathedral will also provide a ‘letter of attendance’ to immigration authorities, if requested.

The article said that the Church of England does not record conversions, regardless of background, because it could be a ‘sensitive’ issue.

It seems the Austrian Catholic bishops have approached the conversions of convenience issue more sensibly than the German Lutherans, who resent that immigration court judges ask refugees to discuss their newly-found beliefs in detail in order to assess their sincerity.

It is the responsibility of clergy to do a thorough examination of heart and mind during the conversion process rather than let false converts through the doors for Baptism and Confirmation.

Church of England clergy should pray for divine guidance on the matter rather than deceive fellow Christians, other citizens of our country and our government.

Admittedly, some of these converts are sincere. However, if ‘plenty of people’ are not, then the whole thing is a sham.

If marriages of convenience rightly rang Anglican bishops’ alarm bells, then conversions of convenience should, too.

Peter Smith.jpgNot a day goes by in Britain now without a warning from pro-EU Conservative government ministers about Brexit.

We’ll have a recession. Well, that’s probably on the cards, anyway.

The stock market will crash. That, too, is possible — Brexit or not. It won’t just be in the UK, either, but also in Europe and elsewhere in the West.

The latest is that house prices in Britain could plummet. For under-40s living in London and the Home Counties, that comes as welcome news.

The bottom line is that no one knows exactly what is going to happen. And most of what actually happens is unlikely to have anything to do with our position in or out of the European Union.

The Most Revd Peter Smith, Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Southwark (encompassing South London to the South Coast of England), has criticised the government’s Project Fear — as Brexit supporters call it.

The archbishop is the first senior cleric — Catholic or Protestant — to express empathy with Brexit, although he says he is still undecided.

On May 19, he gave an interview on the subject to Vatican Radio, which has the full audio.

On May 23, The Catholic Herald published an article on the interview, which is well worth reading.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Archbishop Smith, the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales … criticised the Remain campaign for attempting to “scare” the electorate into voting to stay in the EU when they go to the polls on June 23.

He dismissed as “ludicrous” the bleak economic forecasts predicted by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the event of a Brexit win.

“When we joined the European Union many decades ago, the chief arguments were about trade, that we would be better off and it would help the economy,” said Archbishop Smith …

The euro hasn’t worked particularly with the poorer countries in Europe – Greece, Portugal, Spain to an extent. It is not working with the euro and all of us are glad that we didn’t go into the euro because of the different economies on the continent of Europe.”

“I am very sceptical of the arguments the Chancellor makes. When he does a budget each year very often by the end of the year his forecasts are all over the place.

“When you look at the budgets even after 12 months very often the Chancellor is wrong because you can’t pin the economy down like that because it is so involved with the world economy which goes up and down.”

He added: “Most people are completely puzzled. They don’t know what the real arguments are and then they hear these scare stories like the Chancellor saying in 14 years’ time we will £4,000 plus less (worse off).

With great respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer I think it is ludicrous. He doesn’t know, and we don’t know

He did not think much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric either:

Archbishop Smith said that “The real difficulty is that there has been no clarity on either side of the argument” and that “there hasn’t been much argument at all.”

“There has been a lot of emotional speculation and so on,” he said.

Outside of Brexit: The Movie, he is right.

Archbishop Smith makes good points, especially as a party of one. It must be lonely being the sole major cleric to see the benefits of Brexit.

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