Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Blue Square Bet Conference approach to influencing polititians

Ok, let's assume you're not in the Premier League with £250,000 to spend on a candle lit dinner with a top Tory - so how else can you get MPs to push your point of view?

It might be best illustrated by working though a hypothetical example.

Imagine you are a lobby group, let's pick one at random - how about CARE the Christian organisation who have a goal to get more people praying?  

What you could do is set up a program which pays bursaries to graduates, allowing them to offer their services to an MP for four days a week, for free.  So again, to show how it could work, let us select a random MP.

Then let's say an issue comes up that falls within your area of interest. How about the ASA banning an advert, which had irresponsible, misleading and unsubstantiated claims over the efficacy of prayer?

Perhaps your paid intern's MP could sign a letter which protests the decision to the chairman of the ASA and includes a threat to raise the issue in parliament.

Of course, someone could suggest something undemocratic is  happening, but you could point to the line on your website which says something like "Programme members are at no time asked to lobby on behalf of CARE" and pretend it is just a coincidence.

Please note, that the examples above are included for illustration purposes only. Any connection between the above and decent, moral, democratic behaviour is purely unintentional.

Perhaps I should finish this blog post with a warning.  This approach can on occasion have a downside and can lead to your MP being ridiculed and called hapless in a national paper and may lead to bloggers and tweeters mocking your beliefs.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Biblical Budget

Once again we have a budget which ignores the traditional Christian values handed down from God to man in the Bible. So what should George have done? Here are some biblically inspired suggestions :-

Minimum wage.

It is ridiculous that it is set at the same rate for men and women when God values men higher.
  • LEV 27:3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
  • 27:4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
Women of working age are only worth 60% of men so the hourly rates should be adjusted accordingly:-

Men £6.08 Women £3.65 (Note: rounded up for the lesser vessel as a generous gesture)

Currently there are three different rates for those up to 21 we should abandon this bureaucracy and have a single rate for the youth of each sex.
  • 27:5 And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
In line with the above that hourly rate should be;

Boys £2.43 Girls £1.22 (Note: generosity to females on rounding again)

State authorised Maternity leave

Currently far too generous at 39 weeks. Mothers only need 40 days if they have a boy and 56 days if they have a girl. 

  • LEV 12 If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; ….And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days;
  • But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
Death Duties

Obvious really. Raise to 100%
  • Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
  • 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
  • 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
State pension

Age qualification needs to reduce and come in at 60. Reduce the female pension to reflect the fact that they are worth less. Men to keep their £102.15 Women a reduction to £68.10
  • LEV 27:7 And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
Income tax

The 50% tax rate is far to low and should be doubled. I appreciate this may be unpopular but I refer complainants to James 5:1
  • Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Alcohol Duty
Duty needs to be increased to a punitive leve
  • Prov 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; For the drunkard ….. shall come to poverty:

Monday, 19 March 2012

Don't pray for Muamba

Fabrice Muamba is a young talented footballer who collapsed on Saturday with a cardiac arrest just before half time in the FA cup game between Bolton and Tottenham. Since then there has been pleas to pray for Muamba and the twitter hashtag #prayforMuamba has proved popular.

Muamba's manager summed up the thoughts of many by saying "God willing he makes it through".

God is portrayed in the Christian tradition as an omnipresent being; he is everywhere. He is also omnipotent and can do anything. Such a being undoubtedly would have the power to keep Muamba alive. However by definition such a being also chose or allowed Muamba to have a cardiac arrest. If Fabrice Muamba survives, it will be thanks to Muamba's fight and the team of medical experts who fought God's will for 2 hours in order to to get his heart beating again.

That prayers will not save Muamba is not just a theory. In 2006 the John Templeton Foundation, a charity which supports religious studies funded a $2,400,000 study into the effects of intercessory prayer on people recovering from heart operations. 1,800 patients took part in the study. They were split into three groups. Two groups did not know whether they were prayed for or not. Both groups 'prayed for' and 'not prayed for' had a similar rate of complications. The exceptional results came from the third group who were prayed for and knew that prayers were being said for them. They had 13% more complications than the other two groups.

Just because prayers do not work does not mean that there are not positive things that can be done.

  • Muamba is being treated in a NHS specialist hospital which is committed to helping patients and learning more about the causes of heart defects so preventative action can be taken. Currently it does not have to compete on price against a private entity whose principle motivation is not care or research but profit for their shareholders. The Health and Social care bill is currently going through parliament. Write to your MP and tell them you oppose the bill. Enter your postcode on this page and it will allow you to email them directly. 
  • Muamba is in the London Chest Hospital which is part of Barts and the London Hospitals. They have a charity. Click here to see how you can help
  • Based at the London Chest Hospital is the Heart Cells Foundation which is following up promising case studies and is trialling to see if they can use a patient's own stem cells to repair their damaged hearts. See how you can help them here.
  • Another charity based at the London Chest Hospital is the Barts and London Chest Hospital Radio Station. Their web page is here. You don't need to give much, £2 will pay for a radio which a patient can listen to.  The Radio station is currently off air due to pirate stations. Write to Ofcom and insist they do something about it.

By all means think of Fabrice Muamba and wish him a full and speedy recovery but rather than praying think about doing something that will make a difference.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cardinal O'Brien on same sex marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland. He appeared on the Today program on Monday morning to talk about gay marriage. You can hear his interview with John Humphrys by clicking on this link 

In the interview he said that the Declaration of Human Rights defined marriage as "a relationship between men and woman (sic)". Adding later "We know what the Untied Nations declaration says". I suggest not everyone does know what it says so it may be worth us taking a quick look at the relevant articles

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 16.
  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Stating at the end, the declaration makes clear that all articles apply equally .

The first article does not distinguish between men and women but states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Article 7 establishes that the law applies equally to all and article 12 prohibits arbitrary interference in family life.

While article 16 is the main article as far as marriage is concerned, we saw from article 30 that it can not be read in isolation; it must be read in conjunction with the other articles.

There is nothing in article 16 defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. It simply says both men and women have the right to marry. As long as they are both of full age there is no limitation on who they can marry, and rightly so, anything different would contradict article 1. Changing the UK law to allow same sex marriages appears to be an implementation of Article 7. The arbitrary interference of the Church in preventing same sex couples founding a family contradicts article 12. The article does not define marriage as a relationship between men and woman. Put simply Cardinal O'Brien lied.

He then went on to suggest that allowing same sex marriages would lead to slavery. When questioned he reaffirmed that slavery was a "very very good example as to what might happen in our own country at this present time" following it with the statement that slavery was a "perfectly good example as to could happen in our own country if we go this way".

The Cardinal has wicked imagination and is being extremely mischievous. As one who claims to be familiar with United Nations declaration of human rights he would be familiar with article 4.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

In an earlier post I listed some of the support in the bible for slavery. Those interested in the subject may like to read the Ministry of Truth's post about of the Church's involvement in the slave trade; the Bishops in the House of Lords voting against the abolition of slavery and the money the state paid to the Church in compensation for the loss of its slaves.

Having earlier stated that he was simply relating the "Teaching of the Church for over 2000 years" O' Brien went on to say "marriage is a natural state and we know natural law, it is natural for a man and a woman to be together for the procreation and education of children." Perhaps he is unfamiliar with 1Timothy written about 2000 years ago

2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach
but I would have thought he would be aware that his church still prevents women from educating as Priests.

O'Brien in calling same sex unions grotesque and saying it would shaming the country is clearly seeking to sow the seeds of discord amongst his congregation. Listening to the interview I was reminded of Proverbs 6:16-19

Proverbs 6:16-19 says, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Seems to me that Keith O'Brien will be on the receiving end of some of his God's hate.