Category Archives: Pro Life

A New Day Dawns

It was an off-the-Richter-scale earthquake, followed by an even bigger – because American – aftershock. Brexit, followed by Brexit plus plus plus. History before our eyes.

farage_trumpWhen it comes to forcing new realities upon disconnected political elites, Donald Trump’s election victory in the US is the biggest thing since 9/11 and Nigel Farage’s Brexit victory in the UK is bigger even than the 1956 Suez debacle.

For decades politically-correct liberals – of all parties – have succeeded in every skirmish and won every battle in the culture wars. They’ve established their hegemony and new morality right across the institutions.

They’ve done this so effectively that, when it came to the highpoint of trendy right-on progressive gestures, gay marriage, they were able to impose it on society without electoral mandate, popular support or, in the UK, statutory consultation or proper debate.

But almost single-handed, the two unashamed unapologetic older straight white males have taken on the political establishments, said the unsayable, spoken for the sidelined masses, and won.

The shock-waves will reverberate for years. The elite will fight back of course and no doubt win some battles. But the lights have come on, the tide has turned and the hypocrisy, shallowness and manipulation of the politically-correct has been exposed for what it is.

One benefit is that freedom of speech is being restored. free-speech-voltaireThe abusive language through which the liberal elite controlled discourse and confined debate, has been shown, in the event, to be so overused and misapplied as to be rendered powerless. ‘Racist’, ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘Islamophobe’, ‘hate-fuelled’, ‘bigot’, ‘prejudiced’, ‘uneducated’, ‘narrow-minded’ – the list of insults intended to shut down discussion and cast outsiders back into outer darkness is endless.

But now thanks to Farage and Trump these epithets are bouncing off like Teflon and have little effect, at least amongst the electorate. Indeed they are becoming a badge of honour and success.

“UKIP are closet racists,” railed David Cameron. He’s gone, thanks to Farage.

“Love Trumps hate,” campaigned  Hillary Clinton. She’s gone too, thanks to Trump.

Not just powerless and a badge of honour, but hypocritical as well. The poisonous post-referendum torrent of social media bile towards Brexit voters was a vivid illustration of metropolitan Europhiles’ authoritarian intolerance and rejection of ordinary patriotic Brits’ majority decision. Liberal, open-minded and charitable they are not.

geldof-on-boatLuvvy Bob Geldof is a well-heeled millionaire from southern Ireland. His invective and visible loathing for out-of-work fishermen from English east coast ports whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the EU, rivalled Labour MP Emily Thornberry’s famous tweet for contempt and condescension.

And furious feminist Grace Dent’s anti-Trump anti-men tirade – published centre-page in a self-described ‘concise quality newspaper’ and complete with expletives – is a public window on her partisan soul.

So the liberal elites’ emperor is wearing no benevolent tolerant clothes after all, and their fangs have now been pulled by Farage and Trump. While they rant and rave in protest, a new day of freedom to discuss real issues has dawned for the rest of us.

During the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013, doubters were intimidated into silence by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! who claimed across the media that anyone who opposed gay marriage (which then included Nigel Farage and UKIP of course) was “homophobic”. Ben Summerskill, then CEO of Stonewall, merely damned us as “bigots”.

However, following Brexit and Brexit plus plus plus, and embracing this new freedom of speech, I’d like to see the gay marriage debate reopened:

There is now credible peer-reviewed evidence  that same-sex parenting is damaging to children compared with that of still-married heterosexual biological parents.

There is credible evidence too that sexuality is fluid, orientation is not fixed from birth and therefore people are not necessarily ‘born gay’ – the claim that was the central plank of gay marriage campaigners’ platform.

Also, since the legislation was passed in 2013, the prestigious but liberal Royal College of Psychiatry has been forced by the facts to concede that “post-natal environmental factors” at least partly determine sexual orientation.

In the light of this and for the sake of our children, I personally reckon we should resurrect the gay marriage debate and consider repealing the same sex marriage Act.

And if this means that the gay Tory LBC Radio presenter Iain Dale yet again abuses his position and calls me a homophobic bigot on air, it doesn’t matter. He is yesterday and on the wrong side of history.

Learning From The Pit Of Hell

They told me it would be grim. In the event I was left numb, silenced by incomprehension and the inadequacy of words.

Early this month we had enjoyed an uplifting week in conference at the huge Hotel Golebiewski in the ski resort of Wisla, southern Poland, near the Czech border. Overlooking the Vistula River close to its source and with spectacular views across the tree-covered hills and valleys of the Silesian Beskids mountain range, the hotel offered 5-star luxury and an extraordinary range of facilities.

There 700 Christian leaders from across Eastern and Western Europe ate, slept, saunaed and swam, worshipped, prayed, fellowshipped and wrestled with issues such as church planting, understanding Roman Catholicism, the sexual revolution, apologetics and a Christian response to the ISIS crisis. It was inspirational.

KrakowOn the way to the conference, too, we had experienced a heavenly sunny afternoon in the historic city of Krakow, lazily consuming ice cream under huge parasols in the Old Town’s medieval and spacious Market Square. We sat in front of the 14th century St Mary’s Basilica facing the 16th century Cloth Hall and in view of the 10th century Church of St Adalbert, watching the elegant open horse-drawn carriages circle the Square. It was magical.

On the way back from the conference, though, we descended into hell.

At the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp 65 km from Krakow, over a million people, mainly European Jews, were gassed, shot, hanged, starved or burned to death by the Nazis during WWII. Accompanied by a fierce, perhaps emotionally-seared guide, we walked under the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” sign at the gates, stood where the camp orchestra played to accompany prisoners marching to and from work, stopped in the gas chamber in Crematorium 1 and viewed the reconstructed Death Wall where many prisoners were executed.

She took us too into the notorious Block 11, death block, with its unspeakable “standing cells” in the basement where the Catholic priest Maximillian Kolbe was starved and poisoned to martyrdom. We saw horrible mountains of children’s and adults’ shoes, human hair, spectacles and used Zyklon B gas cylinders and, at Birkenau, fragments of human bones from cremated victims still in the ground. AuschwitzDollI examined a broken doll in a glass case and, as the father of young daughters, I wondered about the little girl to whom this had belonged and feared for the anguish and pain she will have suffered.

I left the camp aware that I had read somewhere that many of the German officers, guards and staff attended church especially at Christian festivals such as Easter. How on earth could they – and we – reconcile the Christian belief in a Lord of love with such depravity and evil?

The answer is, of course, we can’t. But since returning home I’ve studied Edwin Lutzer’s analysis of the German church under the Nazis, Hitler’s Cross . Previously I had devoured Eric Metaxas’ superb biography  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, the story of the anti-Nazi churchman Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The rapid Nazification of the Protestant church in Germay had complex antecedents. These include the weakening of belief as a result of 19th century German biblical criticism, and the post-WWI poverty and despair of the German people as a result of military defeat and the imposition of massive financial reparation by the victorious Allies. Whatever the reasons, by 1930 an open-door opportunity for a national saviour had arisen.

AdolfHitlerWhen one came along the enfeebled church compromised on the Gospel and lost sight of her true Saviour who said he himself is the real Truth. Churchmen had no theological rock on which to stand out from the crowd and were easily swept along by Hitler’s oratory and untruth accompanied by Goebbels’ propaganda and Gestapo intimidation. Although the Nazi regime planned to destroy Christianity and replace it with a new paganism, gullible pastors and church leaders arrived at a 1933 General Synod in Berlin wearing Nazi uniforms and giving the Nazi salute.

Later, many congregations submitted to the prevailing zeitgeist and substituted the swastika of the Nazis for the cross of Christ and Hitler’s Mein Kampf for the Bible. This was the anti-Semitic church-going ‘Christianity’ of Auschwitz officers and guards.

But God always has His faithful remnant, and thousands of ordinary Christians resisted the regime and heroically rescued Jews from their fate. Albert Einstein, exiled from Germany because he was a Jew, wrote  that, unlike the academics in universities and editors of national newspapers who were silenced in a few short weeks, “only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth… The church alone had the moral courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom”.

Dietrich BonhoefferAt great personal cost Dietrich Bonhoeffer and other members of the anti-Nazi ‘Confessing Church’ clung to Christian truth. Bonhoeffer argued in his Cost of Discipleship that the cross of Christ is above the world and that Christianity and National Socialism cannot be united. He plotted against Hitler and was executed on Hitler’s orders just three weeks before the end of the war.

Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, now famous for his poem “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist… then they came for me”, spent eight years in a concentration camp for his vehement opposition to Nazi control of the church, and only narrowly escaped execution.

David Cameron’s Britain is not Hitler’s Germany of course, but there are some disturbing parallels:

9911715-Elderly-Senior-Woman-Using-Walking-Frame-Stock-Photo-seniors-disabled-walkingThe UK too is rapidly saying goodbye to its Judeo-Christian roots and turning to a new secular paganism that aims to restrain, control and extinguish the church, promotes the wholesale slaughter of unborn children, and is on the way to approving euthanasia for the ill, the elderly, the frail and the medically hopeless.

The most media-friendly, youth-friendly and influential Baptist Church leader actively seeks State endorsement for his work while trashing Christian belief, dismissing the central Christian understanding of Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross as  “cosmic child-abuse” – a profane misnomer akin to Richard Dawkins’ famously blasphemous depiction of God.

Anti-Semitism is rising rapidly and anti-Semitic attacks are at record levels.

And the Government plans to impose ‘British values’, introduce control orders, ban extreme speech and censor talks and sermons.

The Auschwitz visit gave me much to think about.

Deliver Us From Evil

40dayslogoforwebI was standing on Earls Court station when I took a call that lifted my heart. It was Robert Colquhoun, head of the pro-life organisation 40 Days For Life UK (here). “We’ve been planning our autumn campaigns and we’ve decided to hold a 40 day prayer vigil at the BPAS centre in your neck of the woods,” he said. “We’d like you to join the local organising team.” I’ve blogged before about our local abortion centre (here) and (here) and I leapt at the chance to oppose it again.

HydraIt seems that by their prayers and God’s grace Robert and others had been successful in ending abortion at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s headquarters in Bedford Square, central London. But BPAS had now moved these repellent child-cull activities to their centre in Stratford, east London, about a mile from my home (here). “BPAS is like a many-headed hydra,“ said a friend referring to the reptilian monster of Greek mythology that grew another head each time one was cut off. “Then we’ll have to pray and play whack-a-mole,” I responded referring to the American pop-up arcade game.

After much planning the vigil started outside BPAS on the Romford Road last Wednesday and it will continue from 8am to 8pm every day for 40 days until 3rd November dv. It is intended as a visible and peaceful witness against the slaughter of unborn innocents that takes place in Newham, which has one of the highest abortion rates in the country (here). The vigil has been cleared with the police and local authorities and each participant is required to sign a Statement of Peace which enjoins respect and compassion towards all people and proscribes any violence or hatred.

praying-handsSo now each day we pray and watch and wait and see what happens; some fast too. On Tuesday a group of pro-abortion campaigners shouted slogans outside the pre-vigil meeting. On Wednesday we were so loudly harangued by a young Somali man about the superiority of Islam over Christianity that people had to ask him to stop so they could pray. But rather than their noisy activities, we are looking to see what God himself will do in the coming days in answer to our prayers.

And, coincidently, next Thursday the CEO of BPAS, Ann Furedi, will go head-to-head in public with seasoned pro-life campaigner Gregg Cunningham from the Los Angeles-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. They will debate CBR’s peaceful but graphic vigil displays outside abortion centres in the US and UK. It’s a must-see. The details are (here).

Unnecessary Clumps Of Flesh?

I’ve blogged before about the BPAS abortion centre that opened in Stratford, east London, last year (here) and (here). Now successive vigils by various pro-life groups have provoked a backlash. Fifty pro-abortionists demonstrated outside the centre to condemn what they claim is the “harassment and intimidation of its staff and women seeking advice.” (here).

However their spokeswoman was forced to admit that the pro-life groups have in fact been peaceful, “but we have to be present to stop them getting worse”. So with the evidence against her she flatulently puffed up the story and one-sidedly raised the demo stakes. But she was tilting at windmills.

More regrettable however was the enthusiastic support of three GPs from next-door Tower Hamlets representing that borough’s branch of the British Medical Association and led by one Dr Anna Livingstone. It’s depressing to see society’s salaried life-preservers actively promoting life-destruction. It is a contradiction and an hypocrisy. Whatever happened to the Hippocratic oath?

The Newham Recorder decided to start a debate about the vigils and the BPAS centre, and asked me to contribute a 300 word article. It was a golden opportunity to highlight locally the heartless commercialism of the abortion companies – sisters to the tobacco companies – and the mass-murder of our unborn children, so I published this piece:

A friend called one of the big two private abortion providers to ask about a termination. The first question they asked was for her post code. The second was for her credit card details. 

The abortion companies weep crocodile tears of sympathy for women in a pregnancy crisis but, like tobacco companies, their real interest is in increasing their cash flow and market share. 

So they offer no proper pre-abortion counselling to their vulnerable but valuable clients as this would take time, cost money and lose them business. And they protest loudly against those who insist that women in crisis should be given the space and support required to make a properly informed choice between the different alternatives available – for her unborn baby, for her family, for herself and for their future together. 

Nationally, London has become the abortion capital of Europe and Britain terminates the equivalent of a full primary school of unborn children every single day. It is far worse than a cull; it is a holocaust. We have wiped out almost the entire population of greater London – over 7 million abortions – in less than fifty years. 

We worry about our aging population yet we kill off our kids. Where is the logic let alone the compassion? 

So I welcome the rise in peaceful vigils – and only peaceful vigils – outside abortion centres like BPAS in Stratford. I have taken part in them there myself. 

Some, like Abort67, silently display pictures of aborted babies’ bloodied body-parts which, like the graphic images of throat cancer on cigarette packets, are intended to show clients and passers-by the shocking human cost of abortion and to urge a different way. 

Others like Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and 40 Days For Life quietly stand at a distance and simply pray against the tragedy of abortion. 

May God answer their prayers soon. 

The equivalent pro-abortion article by Dr Anna Livingstone can be seen in full (here).

It is notable that both articles – from very different perspectives – highlight the wellbeing and interests of the woman, but of course only mine was in a position to promote the welfare of the baby. To pro-abortionists, he or she (the gender of a pre-born is identifiable from 7 weeks) is airbrushed out as an unmentionable unperson of no moral worth, “a cluster of cells… an unnecessary and insentient clump of flesh” (here), and is only there to be terminated by surgical assault from today’s equivalent of Victorian knitting needles and poisons.

I’d hate it if one of the demonstrating doctors had been our family GP when my wife was pregnant with our children. They were never unnecessary clumps of flesh.

The Killing Flats

I’ve posted before (here) about social landlord One Housing Group (OHG) who build and manage affordable housing and care homes for the elderly and who, with oleaginous but empty empathy, proclaim that their key corporate values include concern for their tenants, value and respect for others, making a “positive difference to our residents’ lives” and providing “much more than just a place to live” (here).

Last summer and without informing or consulting their tenants, OHG leased part of the ground floor of a residential block of flats in Stratford, east London, to the murderous British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) – the UK’s largest independent abortion provider – so the latter could open an abortion centre close to Europe’s newest and largest urban shopping centre at Westfield Stratford City.

So thanks to OHG management unborn kids now suffer a brutal and bloody death on OHG residential premises, under the feet of and next door to their – originally – unaware and unsuspecting tenants. This is the same OHG that, in its Anti-Social Behaviour Policy (here), claims it will take firm action against any physical violence “whether it happens in the home, on the street or within the locality of (the) home.”

Such rank hypocrisy and hardened hearts deserve exposure, so together with the amazing Kathryn Attwood and her colleagues of Abort67 (here), I recently descended once again on the OHG head office at Chalk Farm, north London.

Abort67 is the UK associate of California-based clumsily-named but admirable Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) which ‘operates on the principle that abortion represents an evil so inexpressible that words fail us when attempting to describe its horror. Until abortion is seen, it will never be understood’ (here).

CBR uses explicit images of actual abortions, terminated babies and bloody body-parts so viewers can see and understand the sheer brutality and inhumanity of abortion; the images also and incidentally provide a dramatic window into the calloused consciences of those who knowingly propagate it. Strictly non-violent – “we oppose violence against babies and against the abortionists who kill them” – CBR’s main method is the shock tactic of standing quietly in key public places and displaying large posters of these graphic images. College campuses (eg here) and abortion centres are frequently foci for their efforts.

Almost invariably the images generate anger from pro-abortionists and revulsion by the general public to whom the sickening gory barbarity of abortion procedures, where pre-born babies are battered, poisoned and torn limb from limb, is a revelation. The images divide, but they also kick-start debate about the morality and ethics of abortion, and some attribute a pro-life opinion shift amongst US college students (here) to such tactics.

Inevitably there are shrill liberal-left accusations about the ‘Americanisation’ of the abortion issue and the import of US-style culture wars by UK Christians. But,

(a) all areas of life are influenced by US vitality, originality and dominance (where did the personal computer and internet come from?) so why should politics and campaigning be any different? UK gay activism has been profoundly impacted by the US and indeed would not exist without its elder brother across the Atlantic;

(b) Dan Blackman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has superbly exposed the self-Americanisation of bpas itself and the UK abortion industry (here); and

(c) CBR self-consciously models its approach on the tactics of William Wilberforce and the British anti-slavery campaigners who two hundred years ago devised radical new ways of bringing their abolitionist cause to public attention: they promoted pamphlets full of eye-witness testimony, graphics such as the famous image of the slave ship, Brookes, which showed captive Africans packed like sardines in a can and Josiah Wedgewood’s brooch that depicted an enslaved man on bended knee together with the inscription “Am I not a man and a brother?” (here).

The parallel between Wilberforce’s 19th century anti-slavery campaign and CBR’s 21st century anti-abortion activism is compelling as both deliberately use images to emphasise the humanity of the victims and the brutal nature of their treatment. They also both face powerful vested interests and an entrenched establishment, and both encounter a demonic degree of furious opposition – ‘For Wilberforce personally it meant enduring vitriolic attacks in the newspapers; he was physically assaulted, he faced death threats and he had to travel with an armed bodyguard’ (here). He also suffered a nervous breakdown.

So far the heroic Kathryn Attwood and Andy Stephenson of Abort67 have had to suffer merely venom in the newspapers (here) and social media (here), intense pressure on their church leaders and arrest and arraignment in court (here). If they continue on their mission they’ve more, much more, to come. They deserve our full support and prayers.

Meanwhile together we’re planning another vigil with visuals at both OHG and bpas in Stratford, as both organisations still need to get the picture.

Needed: A Dose Of Nadine’s Courage

As part of her personal research, a friend phoned the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to ask about an abortion. The first question they asked was for her post code in order to locate her nearest BPAS clinic. The second was for her credit card details.

Despite soft-focus spin the abortion industry is increasingly hard-nosed, commercialised and cash-flow oriented. From small charitable beginnings forty years ago when terminations were based on genuine concern for the mental and physical health of pregnant women, the business has developed into an £60m+ behemoth undertaking nearly 200,000 terminations a year frequently for life-style or convenience reasons. Money-making brings vested interests, so in addition to the well-paid CEOs and target-setting business development managers (here), the industry engages lobbyists, PR agents and professional activists to generate the spin and promote their cause.

And business expansion brings industry competition and an appetite for market share. So it’s no surprise that BPAS as market leaders have leapt at the growth opportunities offered by next year’s Olympics and this month’s opening of the massive Westfield shopping centre – Europe’s largest – at Stratford in east London. They have taken over ground floor premises of a residential block of 20 flats owned by the affordable-homes supplier One Housing Group close to Stratford town centre and a few hundred metres from an all-girls school with over a thousand 11 to 16 year olds. They obtained the necessary CQC certification on 9th August and are now open for business. And it’s right on my doorstep.

As suits an activity that deals in death, the whole operation has been covert and clandestine. It’s only the excellent eagle-eyed researchers at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children who have uncovered what’s been going on:

BPAS made no attempt to inform local residents of their intentions of course. Their planning application to Newham Council (here) and even the Council’s own statutory letter of consultation with local residents made no mention of an abortion facility.

But most deplorable of all has been the role of landlords One Housing who haven’t seen fit to explain to their tenants upstairs that terminations will take place on the ground floor and that clinical ‘waste’ will be put into a locked storage unit just by the entrance. Residents were left completely unaware.

Yet One Housing’s own blurb (here) highlights its social responsibility and commitment to residents, and without irony claims that the group does much more than provide a place for the tenants to live. Quite. In Stratford they now provide a place for the unborn to die.

This summer however some low-profile activities of BPAS and other abortion providers have become high-profile. The irrepressible MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries is no saint – except perhaps in the technical New Testament sense – but she has courage, flair and publicity skills. The author of two parliamentary attempts to reduce the time limit for abortions (here) and (here) for which she received death threats from pro-choice activists, she has promoted a Just Say No campaign for teenage girls (here) and this month proposed an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to stop abortion providers like BPAS from also providing abortion advice.

She argued rightly that the industry has a financial vested interest in encouraging more abortions, and pointed to the pensions industry where pension provision has been decoupled from pension advice. She proposed fully independent abortion counselling so that pregnant women can, unpressurised, make a calm and properly informed choice.

I sat in the House of Commons gallery during the 7th September debate and was sorry but not surprised at the heckling aimed at Ms Dorries. This followed attacks on TV, radio and the internet, denouncements in the press and even a protest demo outside Parliament (here).

Pro-abortionists claim they are ‘pro-choice’ and Nadine Dorries cleverly and correctly described her initiative as ‘pro-informed choice’. And although the amendment overwhelmingly lost the vote it’s clear that, perhaps for the first time, the pro-life side emphatically won the parliamentary and media debate. Pro-abortionists struggled to find any reasoned argument against the purpose of the amendment – how can anyone argue against better informed choice? – and were left ludicrously fulminating about the “Christian fundamentalism” they said was behind Ms Dorries. It was a classic case of what C S Lewis called ‘bulverism’ – when they lost the argument they attacked the speaker. Fortunately Ms Dorries seemed unfazed by the abuse.

Health minister Anne Milton MP supported ‘the spirit’ of the amendment and promised a government review of current counselling arrangements. It was progress – if not the ‘victory’ that the Mid Bedfordshire MP claimed.

Stratford residents are currently formulating a challenge to the underhand opening of the BPAS branch in their neighbourhood. They’re going to need a dose of Nadine Dorries’ courage to take on such entrenched vested interests.

(This post appeared as an article in The Church of England Newspaper on 23 September 2011)

Sun, Sand and the Corner of a Spanish Campsite

As usual this month sees our annual family fly-away to the hot sun, cool pool and relaxed sociability of a Spanish campsite. The baking beaches, long slow barbeques and solitary early morning prayer times at the water’s edge as the magnificent translucent Mediterranean sun rises silently, imperceptibly, over the sea’s far horizon – the attractions never pall but rather entice us back year after year.

It was maybe five years ago that I fell into a new holiday habit and developed a new holiday mantra. I casually threw Alan Storkey’s ‘Jesus And Politics’ into my baggage thinking I really ought to get to grips with some serious reading rather than the usual airport novel, and surprisingly found myself gripped by the intensity and originality of his argument. In swimming trunks under the poolside parasol, with Bible in one hand and highlighter in the other, I checked and re-checked Storkey’s thesis and for hours was interrupted only by the delighted shrieks and splashings of our pre-teen children enjoying themselves under the watchful eyes of the pool lifeguards.

I love my children deeply, but I was now suddenly addicted to heavyweight vacation reading. “My own holiday begins when the kids are safe, happy and quarter of a mile away,” I announced, and I’d intone this new mantra as I retired to a far corner of the campsite to the amiable disgust of my wife.

Haykel’s 600-page ‘The Life of Muhammad’ was next. Laborious but informative, I was astonished at how this authoritative tome which has the endorsement of the Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar University, Islam’s premier seat of learning, could simply airbrush and whitewash the darker doings of Muhammad’s life. For instance, Muhammad’s approval of the assassination of the poetess Asma bint Marwan – slaughtered whilst asleep with her young children – for composing abusive verses against him, is passed over without comment while the subsequent Islamic conversion of Banu Khutmah, Asma’s husband’s tribe, is warmly attributed by Haykal to the ‘courage’ of her assassin!

The title of the following year’s book, ‘Matters of Life & Death’ by Christian ethicist Professor John Wyatt, didn’t look like jolly holiday reading. Jolly it wasn’t but illuminating it was. It highlighted the callous treatment of weak, vulnerable and disabled people implicit in the Ronald Dworkin and Peter Singer type of godless liberal humanism and how there is an straight-line connection between today’s utilitarian individualism and the growing enthusiasm for euthanasia and eugenics. We are, it seems, steadily returning to the laws of the jungle and Darwinian survival of the fittest; the talented and useful are lauded and acclaimed while the elderly, terminally-ill, unproductive and unwanted are looked at askance. Brute barbarism with a smooth smiling liberal face is apparently becoming the mainstream mindset. O come Lord Jesus!

My main book last year was Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’. Perhaps affected by the Spanish sun, I decided to give atheism’s chief proselytist full credit and try to get inside his ‘evidence-based’ arguments against the existence of God. “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down,” writes Dawkins (p28). Apprehensively, I determined to be vulnerable to his evidence and arguments, with the attendant risk that his book might in some way undermine my faith.

However it took just eighty pages for Dawkins himself to dispel my apprehension. He claims to be a scientist who draws conclusions only from hard facts and clear evidence; if he could see incontrovertible proof of the existence of God he reckons he would change his mind immediately. This sounds terrific – at least until you read Dawkins on Stephen Jay Gould, from whence you realise his claims are untrue and that he has creedal doctrines as rigid as any red-neck fundamentalist believer.

Gould was an eminent evolutionary biologist who argued in ‘Rocks of Ages’ that science, which deals with the empirical realm, and religion, which deals with questions of ultimate meaning and moral value, are ‘non-overlapping magisteria’; the how question is categorically different from the why question. This conflicts directly with Dawkins’ scientism (which believes that science has or will have the answer for virtually every question) so he is forced to write on page 81, “I simply do not believe that Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote in Rocks of Ages”!

Gould’s says one thing plainly and clearly. Dawkins, away with the fairies, flying teapots and little green men, and against the clear evidence, believes it simply must mean something else. It’s classic Dawkins self-delusion. I said goodbye to his nonsense.

For this summer’s holiday I have David Bentley Hart’s ‘Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies’ awaiting me on my Kindle. Dipping into the first few pages, I’ve already highlighted the author’s comments about “Christianity’s twenty centuries of unprecedented and still unmatched moral triumphs – its care of widows and orphans, its alms-houses, hospitals, foundling homes, schools, shelters, relief organisations, soup kitchens, medical missions, charitable aid societies, and so on.”

It seems Bentley Hart will be an excellent antidote to Dworkin, Dawkins and Christianity’s other trendy detractors. I can’t wait for my shady corner of the campsite.

(This post was published as an article in The Church of England Newspaper on 26 August 2011)

Nazis in NW1?

The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust claims to be one of the largest specialist mental health trusts in the country (here). Known also by its former name, the C&NWL Mental Health NHS Trust, it provides mental health and social care services for people at over 100 sites across five London boroughs.

The Chair of the Trustees, Dame Ruth Runciman OBE, is the ‘ultimate… liberal do-gooder’, committee person and well-heeled member of the great and the good (here). Her Chief Executive, Claire Murdoch, is a professional mental health manager.

Together from their headquarters in Camden Town NW1 they preside over an organisation that proclaims adherence to the great liberal verities of understanding, tolerance, diversity and inclusivity. The Trust says it is committed ‘to treat every person with dignity, respect and fairness, in a way that is sensitively responsive to differences and similarities, and thereby contributes to creating a genuinely inclusive culture’.

This, I’m afraid, is sheer PR guff as underneath the warm welcoming public face is an intolerant and exclusive style that is Nazi in its narrowness and Gestapo in its ruthlessness.

Want a quick test now to see if I’m on the right track or simply OTT? Well, while self-righteously proclaiming its liberal commitment to ‘value diversity and equality’, to ‘challenge racism, prejudice and discrimination in all its forms’, to ‘demonstrate multicultural… responsiveness’ and to promote inclusivity, the Trust’s nine-member Senior Executive Team in diverse cosmopolitan multi-racial multi-ethnic London is itself all white. Check it out here.

But worse than the unrepresentative all-white nature of the Executive Team is their bare-faced hypocrisy about it; they simply aren’t doing what they claim. Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s master of misinformation and propaganda, would applaud them.

Yet there’s a more horrifying example of the illiberal nature of the Trust:

Until recently Margaret Forrester worked for them as a ‘psychological wellbeing’ mental health worker.

I’ve never met Ms Forrester but on 27th October last year she, like me (here) and a couple of hundred others, attended a pro-life vigil outside Parliament to mark the 43rd anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act.

She like me and the others heard various speakers including Nadine Dorries MP argue for a woman’s right to an informed choice over abortion. We also heard Margaret Cuthill from Taunton, Devon, talk about post-abortion counselling in her town and the 40-page booklet ‘Forsaken’ that her group had produced. In the booklet five Taunton women relate their personal post-abortion experiences – the psychological, emotional and physical scars, the long-term depression, feelings of guilt, relationship difficulties and fertility problems.

She, like me, took home a copy of the booklet. After reading these heart-wrenching true stories, I gave my copy to my wife. Ms Forrester however gave hers to her colleagues at the Trust’s centre in Westminster where she worked. She believed – naively it turned out – that they would be interested professionally in the hidden and unspoken risks to health associated with the termination of a pregnancy.

A few days later the roof fell in. She was hauled before her managers, suspended (here), sent home on full pay and told she couldn’t see any patients or go near any NHS centres. Subsequently she was informed she was suspended no longer and could return to different duties from her usual work pending a disciplinary hearing for ‘distributing materials some people may find offensive’ – a sackable offence. Under such intimidation and pressure and expecting to be dismissed, she soon signed off sick.

The disciplinary hearing took place on 22nd December. The decision was due to be announced by the Trust last Wednesday but was postponed. Ms Forrester is still left swinging in the wind.

The Trust claims to be a tolerant and inclusive organisation that is interested in the welfare of women. Then why should Ms Forrester refrain from providing plain facts and clear evidence about post-abortion trauma to her colleagues, especially as she believes the current silence on the issue is harming women? (And note: she didn’t offer the booklet to patients or the public but gave it internally to a couple of fellow professionals.)

The answer lies in the type of elitist politically-correct left-liberalism that has come to dominate our public institutions – the NHS, Civil Service, BBC, Universities, Church of England. It is no longer truth-based: its tolerance is skin-deep; its inclusivity includes only its own kind; its diversity is selective; and its rationality isn’t obliged to encompass hard reality.

Ms Forrester is Catholic and pro-life; her values are certainly not mainstream left-liberal although they are rooted in facts.

So while her facts about post-abortion trauma are incontrovertible and her evidence is sound, the Central and North West London Mental Health NHS Trust cannot accept the truth from her; they prefer denial, delusion and untruth. She speaks truth to power; they threaten, control, discipline and/or reject her as dangerous.

“The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the… consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

They are the words of none other than Josef Goebbels.

I rest my case.

A Woman’s Right To Know

Tonight there will be an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons about “Government policy on the information provided to women prior to a request for a termination of pregnancy” (here).

It’s being proposed by Tory MP Nadine Dorries, a member of the (almost) Christian Democratic and (certainly) socially conservative Cornerstone Group (here) of the parliamentary Conservative Party – a Group that interestingly takes its name from Psalm 118:22, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’, which the New Testament tells us refers to Christ himself (Acts 4: 11 etc). I doubt though whether all Cornerstone members are Christians or even hold recognisably Christian views.

Ms Dorries however is onto a good Christian cause with her Adjournment Debate.

Last week I attended a vigil outside Parliament organised by the indefatigable Andrea Minichiello-Williams and her team at Christian Concern to mark the 43rd anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act. Since 1967 there have been nearly 7 million terminations in the UK – and they are currently running at the rate of 572 per day. Utterly horrendous. What sort of benighted short-sighted society are we that we mass-murder our unborn and kill off our own future? The womb, designed (by God, or nature if you prefer) to be a place of security, protection and nurture, has become the least safe place in Britain.

At the vigil Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship spoke sombrely of our increasing knowledge about the detrimental physical, emotional and psychological effects of abortion on women – effects that can and often do stay with women for the rest of their lives.

Then along bounced blonde Ms Dorries hot-foot from the House of Commons to tell us that women in a pregnancy crisis should have the right to make an informed choice from all available information and options before having an abortion, and that her demand for such a legal provision “is gaining traction” in Parliament. I was impressed; contra her fluffy media image she was articulate, passionate, serious and persuasive.

And we need to hear her argument. A few years ago a close friend phoned abortion-provider BPAS to see how her enquiry would be handled. The first question they asked was for her post-code to locate their nearest clinic. The second was for her credit card details.

Like any industry, abortion-providers such as BPAS and Marie Stopes International are interested in increasing their turnover, cash-flow and influence. Genuine care and time-consuming counselling for women in crisis are costly and against the providers’ commercial and ideological interests; after reflection the potential client may of course decide against abortion and the provider has lost both the ‘sale’ and the debate.

Maybe the tide is turning and the pro-life, pro-women’s-informed-choice argument is gaining traction as Ms Dorries reckons. Perhaps we’ll know more tonight.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide: the campaign gathers pace

The past week has seen a big step forward for the growing culture of death in the UK.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute the parents of paralysed former rugby player Daniel James for their part in helping him die at the Swiss clinic Dignitas. The suicide of motor neurone disease sufferer Craig Ewert at the same clinic was the subject of a sympathetic documentary broadcast on Sky TV. And the BBC’s Panorama programme about Scottish former political firebrand and Parkinson’s Disease sufferer Margo MacDonald was entitled “I’ll die when I choose” – which indicates which side of the debate that programme was on.

So it’s been a good few days for the euthanasia and assisted suicide campaign. It seems Dignity in Dying (aka the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and their chums have learnt the lessons of the gay rights movement over the past 15 years or so – that life is about public relations and press coverage. Corner the media and you’ve won the battle.

The extraordinary success of the homosexual movement which moved from quirky margins (‘the love that dares not speak its name’) to dominant mainstream in less than two decades resulted from the fact that it was almost entirely media driven. There was no discussion about the social effects, the health consequences or the moral issues involved in the gay lifestyle. Presentation beat principle, style trumped substance and we bought into it lock, stock and barrel. Gay became the new straight in our superficial celeb culture society, so Little Britain and Graham Norton usually occupy our weekend prime-time TV slots.

It was the seminal ’After The Ball’ by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, published in 1989, that first set out the gay media strategy. Their six-point programme was designed to change heterosexual perceptions of the gay community, and included (a) talking incessantly about homosexuality in public ‘to make gayness seem less furtive, alien and sinful’; (b) portraying homosexuals as victims; and (c) themselves ruthlessly sidelining some less acceptable members of the gay community such as ‘drag queens, bull dykes and the North American Man-Boy Love Association’.

I don’t know if the death lobby has a similar six-point strategy, but they are certainly talking incessantly. They are promoting those who assist and commit suicide as courageous selfless victims. And presumably they will begin also to distance themselves from the obscene horror shows that illustrate our current degradation of human life, such as the recent online suicide by a Florida teenager who killed himself in front of his webcam while computer users egged him on and the two Finnish students who, ten months apart, wrote suicide notes, posted YouTube videos and then went on killing sprees that included themselves.

They didn’t value life. Neither does our creeping and creepy death industry.