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False Europe, True Europe & The Traditional Family

A couple of months ago a pan-European group of scholars and intellectuals published an excoriating attack on the EU and the continent’s political elite, and offered instead a better vision of the ‘true Europe’. A couple of weeks ago my comment  below was published on UKIP Daily:

In May a group of conservative intellectuals from across Europe, including British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, met in Paris.

They were brought together by their concern about the ‘false Europe’ currently promoted by Europe’s governing class, arrogant liberals, virtue-signalling progressives and faceless eurocrats who stalk the corridors of power in Brussels and elsewhere; and by a desire to defend and promote the ‘true Europe’, our “precious and irreplaceable civilisation… a community of nations… that is marked by Christianity… and draws inspiration from the Classical tradition of ancient Greece and Rome”.

The result of their deliberations was published on 7th October in ‘The Paris Statement: A Europe We Can Believe In’. Although often couched in scholarly language, the Statement is a blockbuster and a gold mine – a blockbuster of analysis as it blows open the hollow pretensions of the ‘false Europe’ also known as the EU, and a goldmine of right thinking as it provides many intellectual riches within the tight argumentation of its mere 36 paragraphs.

For instance, in the third paragraph they write this precise, searing, illuminating condemnation of the continent’s political leaders:

  1. The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear—as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook. Sunk in prejudice, superstition and ignorance, and blinded by vain, self-congratulating visions of a utopian future, the false Europe reflexively stifles dissent. This is done, of course, in the name of freedom and tolerance. 

The Statement argues strikingly too, that shrinking freedoms and growing restrictions mean that European citizens are being straitjacketed into an Orwellian underclass of voiceless conformity and homogeneity:

  1. At the same time that we hear boasts of unprecedented liberty, European life is more and more comprehensively regulated. Rules—often confected by faceless technocrats in league with powerful interests—govern our work relationships, our business decisions, our educational qualifications, our news and entertainment media. And Europe now seeks to tighten existing regulations on freedom of speech, an aboriginal European freedom—freedom of conscience made manifest. The targets of these restrictions are not obscenity or other assaults on decency in public life. Instead, Europe’s governing classes wish to restrict manifestly political speech. Political leaders who give voice to inconvenient truths about Islam and immigration are hauled before judges. Political correctness enforces strong taboos that deem challenges to the status quo beyond the pale. The false Europe does not really encourage a culture of freedom. It promotes a culture of market-driven homogeneity and politically enforced conformity. 

And, further, the Statement exposes the EU as a paralysing dystopian pseudo-religious empire from which we may be saved only by re-secularising and re-invigorating Europe (or, of course, by Brexit)?

  1. The work of renewal begins with theological self-knowledge.The universalist and universalizing pretensions of the false Europe reveal it to be an ersatz religious enterprise, complete with strong creedal commitments—and anathemas. This is the potent opiate that paralyzes Europe as a political body. We must insist that religious aspirations are properly the province of religion, not politics, much less bureaucratic administration. In order to recover our political and historical agency, it is imperative that we re-secularize European public life.

It’s brilliant stuff and provides many sticks with which to beat wearisome Remoaners and Eurofanatics.

But as a member of the Support 4 the Family group (S4tF) in UKIP, I was also forcibly struck by the Statement’s memorable declaration about marriage and the traditional family:

  1. Marriage is the foundation of civil society and the basis for harmony between men and women. It is the intimate bond organized around sustaining a household and raising children. We affirm that our most fundamental roles in society and as human beings are as fathers and mothers. Marriage and children are integral to any vision of human flourishing. Children require sacrifice from those who bring them into the world. This sacrifice is noble and must be honoured. We endorse prudent social policies to encourage and strengthen marriage, childbearing, and childrearing. A society that fails to welcome children has no future.

It also contends (para 10), “The bond of marriage allows both men and women to flourish in communion. Most of the sacrifices we make are for the sake of our spouses and children.” 

So for Europe and the UK to flourish once more we must throw off the selfish anti-family individualism of the political mainstream, and instead develop “social policies to encourage and strengthen marriage, childbearing and childrearing”.

This, of course, would be radical, politically-incorrect and subversive. In other words, it is exactly UKIP territory.

At the Torquay party conference in September, a motion was proposed by S4tF chair Alan Williams and seconded by S4tF committee member Dr Deborah Pitt that called for the appointment of a UKIP Spokesperson for Families and Children. It was passed by members virtually unanimously.

The Spokesperson’s task is to develop marriage and family policies in time for the next general election manifesto.

The membership has spoken. The conference resolution is now for the NEC and Henry Bolton as our new leader to implement.

In 2012 UKIP alone had the courage to oppose the redefinition and downgrading of marriage against vicious hostility and opposition. In 2018 we should grab this socially conservative territory once more, set the political agenda once again, and deliver party policies that will help children and families thrive and flourish.

Best Place To Be Gay?

“We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British parliament in one of its periodical fits of self-righteous morality.” Or so Macaulay might have said about the nights of 21st May and 16th July this year when MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage, accompanied by much cheering, applause and self-congratulation. madnessThe votes created, too, an oleaginous and telling unanimity amongst government and opposition party leaders, the latter of whom is paid by the taxpayer actually to oppose the government in power.

And at the subsequent celebration party at Downing Street for the gay great and good (surprisingly and unnecessarily excluding Peter Tatchell (here)), the parliamentary smugness turned to colonialist superiority – originally honed no doubt on the playing fields of EtonEton – as the prime minister promised to export gay marriage around the globe (here). This of course closely followed his previous threats to cut overseas aid to poor Commonwealth countries and former British colonies that refuse to jump to his gay agenda (here).

Apparently, therefore, we British are the world leaders on gay marriage and the uncivilised untutored peasants in Africa and Asia need to follow our lead or be brought to heel. The sun will never set on Britain’s imperial reach while David Cameron is at No 10 as, clearly, he now intends to re-paint the whole globe Empire pink (here).

There was more prime ministerial politics of fiction and special effects too: “We’ve set… something of an example of how to pass good legislation in good time,” the premier opined to the fawning company (here). bulldozerBut his legislation was without democratic mandate or legitimate consultation, was rushed and bulldozed through parliament without full debate, is without safeguards on matters of conscience for public servants like teachers and registrars, and is recognised to be full of unplanned and unintended consequences. Only a self-satisfied politician with his head in the clouds could consider this “good legislation” delivered in “good time”. Your mirror is lying, Mr Cameron.

The superior and exclusive nature of the celebrations would be irrelevant if they weren’t so spot-on symptomatic of the whole wider issue. Brendan O’Neil has written searingly about how the top-down elitist drive for same-sex marriage by ”tiny handfuls of sharp-suited gay lobbyists, lawyers, celebrities, commentators and the Notting Hill/Hampstead sections of the political class” has “completely destroyed the meaning of social progress” (here).

He is killingly accurate too in describing the new gay marriage conformism – “the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as good by the upper echelons of society” (here).

And as usual with upper echelons, the travails of people in the inferior classes are ignored. It is not just coincidence that while the gay leadership were drinking Pimms and hobnobbing with Mr Cameron on the manicured lawns of the sunlit gardens at Downing Street and he was telling them with monumental insouciance – but without noticeable dissent – that Britain is now “the best place to be gay, lesbian or transgender anywhere in Europe”, the real gay community outside the bubble was and is undergoing a huge health crisis.

party scene“Alarming rise in HIV amongst gay men,” cried the recent headline in The Independent (here). Based on a study published in The Lancet it showed that the 20%+ annual increase in HIV infections amongst gay men was due to their increased use of party drugs and unprotected sex. “This is one of the most serious public health issues we face in the UK and it must be treated as a public health priority,” said Yusuf Azad of the National Aids Trust.

“Young gay men 15 times more likely to develop genital cancer than straight men,” shouted Pink News (here) on the day the same-sex marriage Bill became law, using figures taken from the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. The HPV virus can cause penile, anal, throat and cervical cancers as well as penile and anal warts. As the lifestyle and behaviour of gay young men makes them particularly susceptible to the infection, the British Medical Association has argued that the NHS’s HPV vaccination programme should be extended to include them.

Even more concerning was an article by businessman and gay campaigner Ivan Massow (here) published three weeks earlier. “Am I the only one to notice that the gay scene today seems obsessed with drugs? Obsessed with sex. Unable to take responsibility for its part in the spread of HIV. Inhabiting a soulless and empty world of hedonism. 

“Each week the number of kids who die while out clubbing or in south London apartments from drug overdoses or choking on GHB goes up… Prosecutions are practically non-existent as the gay scene hides behind its new anti-discrimination laws and calls any such policing ‘homophobic’. 

“We the gay community are becoming a group of people who suddenly have everything and nothing, all at once. 

depressed man“It’s a miserable way to live. Chemically-induced highs and kids addicted to ‘chem-sex’ is all fake b****cks (my asterisks, Alan). B****cks that leads to depression and, frequently, death. B****cks that is just plain boring and ultimately empty.” 

Massow, who personally pushed hard for gay marriage, admits with surprising honesty what we all knew, that gay leaders like him in steady leafy civil partnerships are “not representative”. No, neither are the gilded gay groupies who attend Downing Street soirees.

Same-sex marriage will, in the event, be taken up only by a miniscule minority who will be feted, facebooked, photoed and make glossy national headlines out of all proportion to their numbers, no doubt alongside a beaming self-congratulating David Cameron. It will be media heaven.

But meanwhile gay young men will be ruining their lives and dying for lack of appropriate intervention, alone in the hell of empty south London flats. Same-sex marriage has done nothing for them.

I doubt they think Britain is the best place to be gay.

Helping The Tory Haemorrhage

The growing row in the Tory party over gay marriage has been dubbed David Cameron’s Clause Four moment (here), but it isn’t. It’s his Munich moment, aka his Munich betrayal (here).

But there are differences between Neville Chamberlain and David Cameron. The former’s appeasement during that cataclysmic civilisational clash was sincere if misguided; the latter’s treachery on this different but deep civilisational issue is cynical and slickly perfidious. Chamberlain was forced into the Munich pact by Hitler’s aggression and a commendable fear of war; Cameron has freely chosen to aggressively crusade for same-sex marriage (SSM) when there is no need and miniscule demand. The pre-war premier’s democratic credentials and popular support were unquestionable; today’s has neither manifesto mandate nor the legitimacy derived from proper consultation (here).

It also could be Cameron’s Iraq moment. SSM will hopefully become a political lead weight round his neck that the Iraq war became to his model, hero and now public sunken wreck, Tony Blair.

Why? The good news is that Cameron’s gay marriage obsession is generating Tory grass-root rebellion and resignations (here) and recently colleagues and I have been doing our bit to help the haemorrhage of Tory membership. Given the increasing frenzy of shrill pro-SSM media comment, our aim has been simple: to slow down the Cameroon SSM juggernaut and create space for proper reasoned debate.

How can we do that? For the past couple of years I’ve been an active member of the Marriage, Sex and Culture group of Anglican Mainstream (AM), the information resource for the global Anglican Communion (here).

In July Policy Exchange, David Cameron’s favourite think-tank (here), published a pro-SSM report What’s In A Name? (here). It is half-baked, superficial, overtly political and, for ‘the UK’s leading think-tank’ (here), well below standard.

In August and on behalf of AM I challenged Policy Exchange to a fringe debate in front of the Tory faithful at the October Conservative party conference. We intended to demonstrate to the grassroots the weakness of the gay marriage argument. Policy Exchange obligingly picked up the gauntlet and, despite on/off twists and turns and ‘lies and duplicity’ – all recorded in detail on Archbishop Cranmer blog (here) and especially (here) – the debate finally took place (‘a result’, according to Cranmer) at Jury’s Inn in Birmingham. You can watch it (here).

(Incidentally there was a revealing moment during a pre-debate planning meeting. Policy Exchange wanted gay marriage to be called ‘equal marriage’ which implies of course that conventional marriage is unequal or unfair. I countered by insisting that conventional marriage should be termed ‘real marriage’ which implies rightly that SSM is fake and false. The atmosphere dropped from friendly to frosty – but they also dropped their demand.)

As part of AM preparations for the debate one of our group, R S Harris, produced a superb and extensive rebuttal of gay marriage, Is There A Case For Same-Sex Marriage?, now available as an e-book (here) or hard copy from TLB Direct, PO Box 3837, Swindon, SN6 9DS. The book is commended by luminaries like the former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern, was edited by Lynda Rose (here) and is the first of its kind – you should get a copy.

It argues from the evidence that:

• The concept of ‘equal marriage’ is fundamentally flawed as it presupposes a questionable notion of ‘equality’ and ignores the essential and defining components of conventional marriage.

• Gay marriage falsely treats parenting roles as interchangeable.

• Same-sex marriage wrongly assumes that the benefits of marriage are automatically transferable to same-sex couples who enter the same institution.

• There is no evidence that same-sex couples will benefit from the ‘commitment device’ invoked by marriage.

• Gay marriage introduces a disturbing, unproven and socially risky new norm into society, that children do not need both a mother and father for optimal development, when all the evidence points the other way.

• Same-sex parenting studies are fundamentally flawed in their sample size and methodology when measured against commonly accepted social science standards.

• If ‘love and commitment’ are the sole criterion for marriage then alarming consequences ensue such as the validation of incestuous relationships, as well as the recognition of polygamous and polyamorous relationships as has already begun in countries with SSM.

• Fear of causing offence makes society tread silently around disturbing medical data from both the UK and the US that, like smoking, homosexual activity is intrinsically unhealthy. For instance unlike vaginal lining, rectal lining is unable to withstand penetrative activity without medical damage. The active promotion of gay lifestyle in schools that SSM marriage inevitably entails is medically harmful for our children, especially boys, and costly to the health service.

I led a small team that laboriously searched the internet for the contact details of 350 chairmen of local Conservative associations up and down the country. Early last week we sent them each a copy of the book to provide them the evidence and to fuel more rebellion in the Tory ranks.

Yesterday the Sunday Telegraph ran an article about the opposition from Tory chairmen and the loss of party members to UKIP which opposes gay marriage. “David Cameron is barking mad,” said one (here).

The knives are out. The Tories are bleeding…

Sharia – Nigeria’s Descending Darkness

We sat in the back of a 4X4 discussing sectarian violence in Nigeria while we toured dirt-poor villages outside Jos, Plateau State, in the central belt of the country. He was the Nigeria researcher at the Washington office of international NGO Human Rights Watch and I was making my second visit to Jos.

My previous visit in November 2010 (here) had been so disturbing that I pulled together a small group of London-based Nigerians and we formed LoveJos (here), an organisation aimed at increasing awareness of the deteriorating situation in Jos and Plateau State amongst the UK Nigerian diaspora. We staffed an information stall at the massive Festival of Life at ExCel in Docklands (here) in April, held a conference in September and a vigil outside the Nigerian High Commission in January.

So I went back last month to assess the latest situation and spent a day visiting outlying Christian villages that had been attacked by Fulani Muslim settlers. In one we met a young man who lost all his family. We examined the bullet holes in the mud-brick and corrugated-iron huts that serve as homes, and paid our respects at the earthen graves out the back where he’d buried his family.

In another we sat in the shade with 20 villagers while in their Berom tribal language they quietly recounted a horrific Fulani assault on their community one night. A boy still has a bullet lodged in his body and women showed us their appalling machete wounds. A number of villagers died during the attack and the grief and mourning continues unabated for the rest…

During our back-of-the-car discussion it became clear that my HRW companion made no moral or political distinction between Muslim and Christian violence. He drew attention to Christian attacks on Muslims and argued that for virtually every instance of Muslim violence he could point to comparable Christian attacks. He made a simple mathematical equivalence between the two.

His neutrality is right in part of course. All sectarian violence is to be deplored wherever it comes from. And certainly Christians have killed and maimed Muslims, occasionally in substantial numbers.

Furthermore (he didn’t mention this naturally) insofar as Christians participated in retaliation attacks rather than self-defence they denied some of the central tenets of their faith. Forgiveness, loving your enemy and leaving ultimate justice and judgement to God – these are vital distinctives that Christianity offers the world, for “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.

Also the New Testament has no concept comparable to Islam’s jihad or war in the cause of Allah so that the Crusades, for instance, while plausible on straight geopolitical grounds, were an unacceptable religious aberration when carried out in Christ’s name. Jesus doesn’t do war; the only violence known to him was that which was done to him.

But I was puzzled at my companion’s detached mathematical equivalence for, as someone said, context is everything. And the dominating issue which dramatically changed the context in north and central Nigeria is the abrupt imposition of Sharia law by local Muslim authorities and traditional leaders in twelve northern states in 1999/2000, and the consequent dhimmi (second-class) status of non-Muslim minorities. Straightaway religious identity came to predominate, religious differences were highlighted, and the major Nigerian fault-line became that between the Muslim-majority north and the chiefly Christian south. It was Nigeria’s political 9/11, a constitutional earthquake that many predict will lead eventually to the Sudan-style breakup of the nation.

Minorities in the north protested (here) but to no avail. And as Nigerian Islam continued its increasingly assertive path, suspicion grew that there were further expansionist Islamic aims and that neighbouring states like the predominantly Christian Plateau State were to be targeted for similar Islamification. The explosion of violence and mass slaughter following an incident outside a mosque in the Congo-Russia area of Jos, Plateau’s capital, on 7th September 2001 showed how tense inter-faith relations had become. Other violent sectarian crises followed in the city and its surrounds in 2004, 2008 and 2010 (here).

Formed two years after Sharia law was instituted, nurtured in this assertive and increasingly zealous Islamic atmosphere and fuelled also by poverty, unemployment and corruption, the violent Islamist group Boko Haram burst onto the national scene in 2009 with attacks on the security forces in northeast Nigeria. Probably affiliated with Al Qaeda and supported by some local Muslim leaders (here), their aim is to create chaos, fear and paralysis in order to further establish Sharia government.

Suspicion of Islamic expansionism was vindicated when Boko Haram declared recently they intend to force another seven states including Plateau State to embrace Sharia law, and Jos as Plateau’s capital became a target for their deadly campaign. While I was in the city in February they threatened an attack and since I returned home they have undertaken two suicide bombings at city-centre churches (here) and (here).

Sectarian reprisal attacks are never acceptable, especially by Christians. But there is a moral difference between offensive and defensive violence – I met a Jos pastor who legitimately reached for a gun when he saw a baying mob coming down the road towards his home and church.

So in the light of the aggressive and fundamentalist Islamic darkness descending from the north, my companion was plain wrong to sweep all Plateau State’s Muslim and Christian violence together as equivalent. Context and back-drop are indeed everything.


Taliban-Style Sharia Law? Welcome To Tower Hamlets

A couple of weeks ago the Sunday Times ran an article ‘London Taliban tell women to cover up’ (here). The main thrust of the story was about a Bangladeshi woman who works in a pharmacy in Whitechapel who has received death threats for refusing to wear a veil even though she is not a Muslim. She wears western clothes, and both she and her employer have been told that unless she covers her head and wears longer robes local people will boycott the shop “because this is a Muslim area”.

Her story had been covered at length on BBC Newsnight a week earlier. As a result a Muslim man came into the shop threatening to kill her. She went to the police and to her MP Rushanara Ali.

I know the young woman in question and her husband. Like the Sunday Times journalist and the police, I had extensive talks with her, walked round the area and visited her in the pharmacy. I became concerned that unwittingly or deliberately, the issue has been universally misinterpreted. The intimidation cannot be dismissed as the work of a small extremist Islamic fringe from say Luton or Leicester. Rather, this is  normal Islam practiced by the pharmacy’s regular customers all living in the same neighbourhood as the huge East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road and the Tablighi Jamaat Markazi Mosque on Christian (sic) Street.

If it’s Taliban-style sharia law as the Sunday Times says, then Taliban-style sharia law is mainstream in Tower Hamlets today. And that’s the issue.

So I wrote this letter which the newspaper published (here):

Playing down the Tower Hamlets Taliban

Both the Tower Hamlets police borough commander and the Quilliam Foundation, the anti-extremism think tank, are wrong to minimise the threats to the Whitechapel pharmacy assistant as just the work of a “small minority” of “Talibanesque thugs” (“Tower Hamlets Taliban order women to cover up”, News, last week). The issue is much more serious than that.

I know the young woman and the pharmacy concerned, which is located in a Muslim-majority residential area under the shadow of the East London Mosque. The intimidation comes from burqa-wearing women as well as bearded men, who live in the vicinity and come to the pharmacy for their prescriptions. They are normal, local residents — the Mr and Mrs Smiths of the neighbourhood — who have made it clear they reckon their part of England is now part of Islam and that the non-Muslim young woman must wear Muslim clothing.

It is especially ominous that the police borough commander should play down the matter. He of all people needs to recognise that this is standard Tower Hamlets Islam doing its normal hardline outreach work. The consequences of this are very distressing for the young woman in the chemist shop. In the long run they are an equally disturbing threat to the liberty of the rest of us.

Alan Craig

Weep For Pakistan – And For Us

I couldn’t sleep on Wednesday night. It was partly due to my frustration at the disingenuous High Court judgement of Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson in the high-profile Johns fostering case (here).

Their judgement stated revealingly that, although “historically this country is part of the Christian west and although it has an established church which is Christian… we sit as secular judges…”

“No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief…” they opined piously. “This is not a prying into mere belief… the court is (not) seeking to open windows into people’s souls.”

Nonetheless the two ‘secular judges’ decided they would have an attempt at theology, ludicrously separated Christian beliefs from Christian ethics and in the end issued a non-judgement refusing any order on the case.

In effect they allowed today’s gay rights to continue to trump millennia-old Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) orthodoxy and we can be sure that Derby Council will not be employing the fostering services of Owen and Eunice Johns with their traditional beliefs about homosexuality. The judges affirmed no conscience clause for the couple, so our fairly tolerant Christianised country – that, for instance, since 18th century Quakers has allowed conscientious objectors to claim non-combatant status even at time of national peril – continues its decline into a narrow nanny state and Big Sister society that squeezes all citizens into secular one-size-fits-all strait-jackets.

What further Christian orthodoxy is set to disappear, undefended from secular attack by our ‘secular’ High Court? Thou shalt not kill? Thou shalt not steal? Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour? Whatever key tenets of religious teaching are overturned next, it’s clear that elderly sclerotic UK – and Europe – is erasing its foundational Christian values and liberties at a horrendous rate; our risk-taking, vitality and creativity is in decline; the lights of our liberal democracy are going out; and our society is becoming a dead man walking. Barring Christian revival, the deterioration is terminal. Goodbye and goodnight Europe.

However it was the martyrdom of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs and sole Christian cabinet member Shahbaz Bhatti that deprived me of most sleep. His assassination is a tragedy for his immediate family. It is a disaster for the Christian and other Pakistan minorities whose cause he championed. But even more it is a calamity for Pakistan, as a courageous campaigner for liberty, tolerance and respect is snuffed out by the Islamic fundamentalism that has become mainstream there and is growing around the globe.

First Benazir Bhutto (here), then Salman Tazeer (here) and now Shahbaz Bhatti; we should weep for Pakistan.

Bhatti was an inspirational man. Single and single-minded, on his appointment as a cabinet minister in 2008 he set out his personal political manifesto: “Jesus is the nucleus of my life and I want to be His true follower through my actions by sharing the love of God with poor, oppressed, victimized, needy and suffering people of Pakistan.” (here). Which member of David Cameron’s cabinet can beat that?

Convinced that he would be assassinated, Bhatti gave a videoed final testament to the BBC four months ago. It is short, powerful, courageous and worth reading in full:

“The forces of violence – militant banned organisations the Taliban and Al-Qaeda – they want to impose their radical philosophy on Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy threatens them. When I’m leading this campaign against the sharia law, for the abolishment of the blasphemy laws, (when) I’m speaking for the oppressed and marginalised persecuted Christian and other minorities – these Taliban threaten me.

“But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of (the) Cross and I’m following the Cross and I’m ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights.

“So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. It is better to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather (than) to compromise on these threats”.

On Friday evening I joined a vigil outside the Pakistan High Commission in London organised by Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association (here) and Upkar Singh Rai of the British Sikh Council (here). We sang, we prayed and five of us gave speeches in tribute. We then signed the book of condolence and met with the High Commissioner, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who regretted that he had no answers to the hate-fuelled Islamic fundamentalism that had killed Bhatti except “we need to stand firm and stand together”.

Islamic intolerance is growing in Pakistan as is secular intolerance in the UK. We should weep over them both.

The Mega-Mosque And Multiculturalism In Newham

One of the delights of living in Newham is that frequently you find yourself experiencing first-hand the issues that are hitting the headlines. The Olympics of course is one. And following David Cameron’s speech in Munich (here), multiculturalism is another.

I’ve been participating in a major Public Inquiry that finishes on Tuesday. Fundamentalist Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat is appealing against a Newham Council order to stop using their current temporary mosque at their proposed mega-mosque site at West Ham (here).

The Inquiry has proved fascinating, in part due to the vast array of professionals hired by the group. One report estimates that the Inquiry is costing them £500,000 (here) which once again raises suspicions about the source of the group’s funding. Three decades ago Saudi-backed Muslim World League was a significant financier behind Tablighi Jamaat’s current European HQ mosque in Dewsbury, so presumably there’s no reason today why Saudi petro-dollars shouldn’t also fund the current expensive appeal and the proposed mega-mosque.

The Wall Street Journal was in the press gallery on the first day and their subsequent article put the Public Inquiry at the centre of the UK’s multiculturalism debate (here). They were right to do so; Tablighi Jamaat promotes a socially-harmful separatism (here) that exactly illustrates the menace of isolationist ‘silo’ multiculturalism.

Local MP Stephen Timms also weighed into the debate with a sloppy superficial article in the Newham Recorder (here, 16 February edition, page 21)  about our local experience.

Newham has become one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet with indigenous white British residents now comprising less than 39% of the 250,000+ population and declining. Over 110 languages are spoken on a daily basis. “A large proportion of people in the borough belong to an organisation in the borough – a church, a mosque, a temple or other community organisation – and all those organisations see themselves as part of the wider community,” gushed Timms. This means that “a large proportion of borough residents feel part of the borough community.” Ergo, “multiculturalism has enriched our community.”

Such rose-tinted nonsense reminds me of a BBC discussion on multiculturalism I heard some time ago. Faithworks founder Steve Chalke advanced the superficially attractive but operationally vacuous concept of a multi-racial multi-coloured “fruit salad” society (here). “Fruit salad idea from fruit cake thinking,” I muttered at the offending radio.

What is “our community” that Timms reckons has been enriched? He was first elected to public office as a Newham councillor in 1984 and many of the residents and their children that comprised his community a quarter of a century ago are not part of Newham’s population today. They left behind generations of inbred loyalty to the East End and, embittered, joined white flight into Essex. They didn’t find themselves enriched; rather they were marginalised by the mass-immigration multi-cultural rush, and quit.

Timms reckons that multicultural Newham “works”. But Newham “works” only as an airport departure lounge “works” – and a heavily subsidised departure lounge at that.

For the most part immigrant communities haven’t come to the borough because they love Newham. They come for a better quality of life than is available in their country of origin – and essential to this are Newham’s health service, free schooling and welfare state. These facilities of course are predominantly funded from outside the borough.

Neither are they loyal to Newham; many immigrants stay only as long as it suits them. The dual passports, the unwillingness to learn English and the satellite dishes trained to TV signals from Albania, Bangladesh and Congo – these indicate the hearts and real homes of many Newham residents. Some of course do settle, have children and decide they like the UK; often they then leave the borough for more salubrious parts of the country.

The exceptionally high population mobility is implicitly acknowledged by the Council motto: “Newham: A Place Where People Want To Live, Work And Stay”. With typical New Labour double-speak the town hall says that people want to stay because actually they don’t.

Newham is the third most deprived borough in the country. We have in abundance all the problems associated with poverty such as bad health, high crime and low educational achievement. Timms blithely ignores the immigration-specific issues that compound these problems such as the highest rate of TB in the western world (here), sex trafficking from Eastern Europe and South Asia (see for instance the front page of the Newham Recorder, linked above) and the educational drag-down effect of the high proportion of school children who speak little or no English at home.

And – with rich and nearly literally tragic irony – he doesn’t mention that he himself was almost assassinated last year by a young Newham resident of Bangladeshi parentage with an alien and imported Islamist ideology (here).

Personally I enjoy living and bringing up my family in the borough and I value the diversity of its peoples. But life in Newham is a challenge, and I decry romantic notions of our multi-cultural borough that ignore gritty reality.

Timms waxes lyrical on how Newham can set an example “not just to David Cameron but to the country as a whole.” Nonsense. If Newham’s multicultural project was rolled out to the rest of the country, social stability would disappear and public finances would collapse.

Rather I reckon it’s time to roll it back.

Asia Bibi My Sister

For some unexplained reason it seems the horrendous slaughter of Iraqi Christians in Baghdad’s Syrian Catholic cathedral on 31st October has been a game-changer in mainstream UK media.

Before then, the growing persecution of Christian minorities around the globe had been ignored. Since then – well, on Friday the BBC even saw fit to make a significant radio and TV news story about the extra security necessary in Egypt as Coptic Christians celebrated the Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve (here) following the attack on their Alexandria church on New Year’s Day in which 21 people were killed. Before 31st October the attack itself would hardly have merited mention; today increased security around churches 2,000 miles away is thought newsworthy.

The persecution of Pakistani Christian villager Asia Bibi has also been making global headlines. Her death sentence (here) passed on 8th November at Sheikhupura District Court near Lahore, Punjab, for supposedly critcising Islam’s Prophet raised the profile of the issue; the subsequent demonstrations against her and the 4th January assassination of her high-profile supporter Punjab governor Salman Taseer transformed it into a national flashpoint and a dramatic indicator of the advance of medieval Islamic fundamentalism into the mainstream heart and psyche of Pakistan society. The advance is causing the meltdown of this nuclear-armed nation. Osama bin Laden is licking his lips (here).

It seems Asia is a committed believer. Reports tell of her faith in Jesus that is strengthening her through her ordeal, and I’m interested that it was her rejected offer of a cup of water to her Muslim fellow villagers that started the original incident. Offering someone a drink in the face of their hostility, like turning the other cheek, is true New Testament behaviour (see Romans 12:20).

The sight of hate-fuelled Imams and Muslim mobs baying for Asia’s blood on the streets of Lahore and elsewhere while she sits alone in her prison cell with her Jesus reminds me of the best-known psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies… Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23: 1,4,5,6)

The mobs can chant all they want; they simply demonstrate their tortured and intolerant Islamic spirit. Asia on the other hand shows quiet Christian resolution in the face of injustice and persecution. The world should watch and take note.

Next door in Afghanistan there’s a similar story but, as yet, with less media attention. 25 year old Afghan national Shoaib Assadullah converted to Christianity and now is facing the death sentence from a court in Mazir-e Sharif, northern Afghanistan (here). Recent reports say he has been given a week to renounce his faith and return to Islam or face execution for apostasy. Like Asia it seems his faith in Jesus is strengthening him through the ordeal; according to one source, ‘Shoaib stated he has given his life completely into the hands of Jesus. He said he was so happy for the spiritual fight, saying, “Without my faith I would not be able to live”’.

Islam is Pakistan’s state religion according to the country’s constitution (here), and all laws ‘shall be in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Qur’an and Sunnah’.

The ‘sacred religion of Islam’ is Afghanistan’s state religion according to that country’s constitution (here), and ‘no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.’

So, according to their respective constitutions and due processes of law under those constitutions, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan can put to death their own citizens for the simple fact that they’ve made public what they believe. Asia and Shoaib haven’t compromised national security, committed treason or been an agent for an enemy power. They haven’t murdered or raped anyone. They haven’t abused a child or mugged a little old lady in the street. They’ve simply made it clear they believe in Jesus Christ and they don’t follow Muhammad.

Christ warned his followers this would happen:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven. (Matt 5: 11,12)

Whatever happens to them on earth, great indeed will be the reward in heaven for Asia and Shoaib.

Meanwhile, there’s a tough question for me: They are my Christian sister and my Christian brother; what am I doing to help them?

Neeson’s Nonsense

We took our eight-year-old to see Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on Saturday.

It’s the third in the Chronicles of Narnia films which are based on the seven fantasy books for children by       C S Lewis. It is entertaining stuff about the difficulties and temptations of life, but I’m not sure the final climactic battle with the powers of darkness warrants the low-threshold PG classification; the troubled face behind the Polarised 3D glasses beside me indicated that a 12A classification would be more appropriate. Thankfully as yet we’ve had no nightmare-induced knocks on our bedroom door.

Liam Neeson provides the rich deep voice for Aslan, the gentle powerful Lion in the film who represents Jesus. In Lewis’ first Narnia story, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan dies in the place of one of the children and then comes back to life thereby breaking the power of the White Witch, aka the devil. It is a clear reflection of the New Testament account of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Neeson does a good job in the films – but off-film the Catholic-raised Northern Irish actor who professes admiration for the Province’s hot-Prot preacher Dr Ian Paisley (here) has just said some rather silly things: “Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries,” he opined (here) .

Now apart from Christ, which of these ‘great spiritual leaders and prophets’ was killed on behalf of others? And which of them claims to come back to life thereby defeating death and the devil? None except Jesus of course.

Multi-cultural multi-faith politically-correct censorship has done its hatchet job on Neeson. As a public persona he evidently feels the need to reduce all culture, morality and religion to a heart-warming sweet-smelling potpourri that is as inoffensive as it is untrue. In the pc lexicon the virtue of ‘discernment’ has been dumbed down to equal the new vice of ‘discrimination’, and we are not now permitted to distinguish between people-groups or values. Everything is equal and everyone must have prizes.

It’s facile and unintelligent and leads to category confusion and the conflation of opposites. It’s also potentially dangerous, as when then-Home Secretary David Blunkett equated right-wing evangelical Christians with Islamic violent extremists (here) and thereby downgraded the threat from the latter.

Media consultancy Lapido Media has recently instituted a Religious Illiteracy Award and bestowed the first such honour on New Statesman political editor Mehdi Hasan (here) for his inability to discern a difference between the Pope and the anti-Semitic, gay-stoning, FGM-supporting Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

I’m nominating Liam Neeson for the second.

Old Bailey Epiphany! Timms’ Judge Gets It defines an epiphany as “a sudden insight into the reality or essential meaning of something” (here). That’s exactly what occurred at the Old Bailey last week when Mr Justice Cook sentenced Roshonara Choudhary to 15 years for the attempted murder of East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

During sentencing the judge drew a pointed contrast between Timms’ Christian and Choudhary’s Islamic faith. He said (here),

“I understand that (Stephen Timms) brings to bear his own faith, which upholds very different values to those which appear to have driven this defendant.

“Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God.

“These values were the basis of our system of law and justice and I trust that they will remain so as well as motivating those, like Mr Timms, who hold public office.”

An Old Bailey judge gets it! I was astonished. This was a totally unexpected insight into the reality that many ideological secularists, new atheists, multi-culturalists, social relativists, hand-wringing leftists, guilt-ridden liberals, libertarian opinion-formers, academics with an agenda, Whitehall mandarins, the chattering classes, the entertainment media and the politically-correct have been denying for decades. I’ve simply got to repeat that middle paragraph in bold:

“Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God.”

Frame it. Stick it on your fridge. Have it as your screen-saver. There in just 43 words is solid gold truth which all the whining and wishful thinking of the National Secular Society (here) and other opponents of Christianity cannot eradicate. While the Enlightenment – which secularists rightly rate – made a seminal contribution, Christianity is the prior and prime source of our legal system, our liberal democracy, our freedoms, our understanding of the ordered rational world around us – and indeed of the Enlightenment itself. The Faith has been at the heart of our society for a thousand years and more.

This truth also is promoted in a magisterial piece by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali in the latest edition of the centre-right monthly Standpoint (here).

Responding to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s welcome insistence that “our island story” should again be taught in schools (here) the bishop points out that a connected narrative of historical events and personalities requires a Hellenistic ‘golden chain of harmony’. What is it that provides this connection and chain? It’s worth quoting him direct:

“[T]his has to do with a world-view that underlies the emergence of characteristically British institutions and values: the Constitution itself (“the Queen in Parliament under God”); a concern for the poor; a social security net, based on the parish church, which goes back to the 16th century; and personal liberties as enshrined in the Magna Carta.

“The world-view that made these fundamental national building-blocks is the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible.”

There’s more, much more, to be said, as the trashing of our Christian cultural core by our national cultural establishment such as the future Monarch (here) and the BBC (here) and (here) is a key contributor to our national loss of identity and confidence.

But meanwhile I’m thanking God for Mr Justice Cook and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.