Civil Liberties

If imams may not influence voters, why should priests or bishops?


According to Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor of The Times, there is an 18th-century law which prohibits the ‘spiritual influence’ of the electorate in the process of democracy. He writes (£):

Influencing voters is illegal, judge tells priests and imams

Religious leaders were told by a judge yesterday that it was unlawful to instruct their followers to vote for particular candidates in an election.

Richard Mawrey, QC, an election commissioner, said that priests and imams could be committing the 19th-century offence of “spiritual influence” if they told their supporters it was forbidden to vote for a certain candidate.

Mr Mawrey, a High Court deputy judge, gave the warning as the case opened against Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, who is accused of winning re-election last year by telling Muslims that it was their religious duty to vote for him. Mr Rahman is fighting all allegations against him.

Spiritual influence in elections was last alleged in a British court against Irish Catholic clergy in Victorian times. They were accused of ordering their rural parishioners to vote for candidates sympathetic to Home Rule.

The context is the investigation into the “corrupt campaign” which led to the election of Lutfur Rahman as Mayor of Tower Hamlets. The Guardian explains:

It was claimed that a Bengali newspaper, The Weekly Desh, published a letter signed by 101 Islamic leaders which was “intended to have undue influence on the Muslim population of the borough”, Hoar said. Their pronouncements had been used to cajole and control many within the local 65,000-strong Muslim community.

The court heard that one of the petitioners saw a voter crying outside a polling station after allegedly being told by a supporter of Rahman that it was “un-Islamic” not to vote for him, and that if you did not vote for him you were “not a good Muslim”. Bribes were also used to win over voters, the court heard, with meals given out on election day. Hoar said that there was evidence of “interference with voters” – including in polling booths.

And the Evening Standard:

Mr Rahman is said to have spoken at an event at The Waterlily last May where local imam Mawlana Shamsul Haque is claimed to have urged those attending “to retain truth, righteousness and practise religious belief” by voting for him. He is said to have prayed for Mr Rahman’s victory at a wedding at the same venue a week later.

Now, allegations of voter intimidation, bribery, electoral fraud, slush funds, contractual corruption and medieval monarchies aside (Tower Hamlets is manifestly a very rotten Islamic borough), the crime of ‘spiritual influence’ is an interesting prohibition, for what religious leader does not desire to influence his (or her) flock toward a particular conception of the common good? Is it socially harmful or dangerous to exhort one’s followers to vote for a particular candidate in an election? Is it a deviant behaviour? Is not society shaped by interpersonal relationships which are subject to forms of social control – either formal or informal – and these require compliance to certain norms and cohesive values?

The crime of ‘spiritual influence’ belongs to the demonic era of criminal law – when Satan was the explanation of all evil and demon-possession the excuse for sin, vice and crime. Punishment is not only carnal and temporal, but preternatural and eternal: vengeance belongs to God. If, as alleged, Lutfur Rahman persuaded or colluded with Imam Mawlana Shamsul Haque in order to exhort faithful Muslims “to retain truth, righteousness and practise religious belief”, what business is that of the criminal court?

Certainly, if this exhortation was complimented with certain physical ‘assistance’, then it would be a matter for the courts. But spiritual influence?

Is it supposed to deter Roman Catholic priests from expressing an opinion about public morality? Is it a crime to encourage a congregation not to vote for a particular parliamentary candidate because they happen to support abortion or same-sex marriage? Has a criminal offence been committed if this catechetical instruction goes further – an assertion that to vote for a particular candidate might meet with divine disapproval and judgment? Is it a matter for the courts if a vicar says that voting Labour must be followed by repentance? What if an entire church – from the lowliest curate to its most senior archbishop – favours a particular political settlement (UK membership of the European Union, for example), and makes it very clear in its sermons, meetings, conferences and briefings that it is an enlightened, transformational Christian enterprise which must be supported by all who work for peace and reconciliation? Should Roman Catholic and Anglican prelates be prosecuted for influencing their parishioners to vote for candidates opposed to home rule?

Obviously, a congregation is not obliged to obey a political exhortation, but coming from a pulpit such encouragement is undoubtedly embroidered with soteriological significance. Forget Lutfur Rahman and his coterie of compliant imams, how can it be a criminal offence for any religious leader to urge people “to retain truth, righteousness and practise religious belief”, and then to make it clear that, in their judgment, Candidate A is more righteous than Candidate B?

Is the crime of ‘spiritual influence’ not designed to enforce a concept of ‘neutral’ secularity in the public sphere, making it a criminal offence for people of faith to engage in democracy? Surely they should be free to exhort and we free to denounce? Where does such a crime leave the Christian Party? If it should be illegal for religious leaders to guide or ever-so-subtly coerce others in how they might vote, why are the 26 Lords Spiritual in the Upper Chamber of Parliament?

  • OldJim

    I must advise your grace that seeming to be anything other than impartial on the matter of the law against spiritual influence would be unwise. After all, is that not a matter of public policy? And are you not, by your own admission, engaged in a form of Christian ministry?

    This sort of nonsense should have been chucked off the statute books at the time of catholic emancipation. It’s dangerous now. There are not a few in the present age who wouldn’t have dared make such a law, but who, finding it ready made, will be tempted and disposed to use it with zeal. And will believe themselves to be on the side of right in so doing.

  • Dominic Stockford

    If Christians (in England) would vote for the Christian Party then maybe we’d find out the consequences of this law. Interestingly they have councillors in Wales – but no-one has yet used this against them. Neither has anyone used it against the RC church for their regular instructions on who to vote for.

  • William Lewis

    Is this not further evidence that secularism has no answer to the proposed, by some, Islamification of this country? Ditto the previous article. It simply does not have the tools – or even the understanding.

  • Uncle Brian

    Whenever this controversy crops up in the United States, it has to do with churches imperilling their tax-exempt status by engaging in activities other than those that legally constitute the grounds for their exemption. This has always sounded to me like a very sensible arrangement, but I’d like to hear what others have to say, not least the Right Hon. Member for Iowa.

    • IanCad

      So true UB. Theocracy is to be avoided at all costs.
      The Yanks have so much right!

    • carl jacobs

      Yes, in the US, it’s all about tax exempt status. However, there is a fair amount of hypocrisy in the application. Liberal churches exist to involve themselves in politics. They do so with very little complaint. These things are allowed because they align with the cultural Zeitgeist. Complaints about church-state separation arise only when religious people cross the Zeitgeist. So, a group of Catholic nuns protesting for abortion rights is acceptable. A group of Baptists opposing abortion is the church meddling in politics.

      I personally don’t want politics brought into the church. You don’t need a church-sanctioned voters guide to know how to vote. And the Christian Coalition of the 80s was an absolute political disaster. It achieved only two things:

      1. It confounded the Gospel with conservative politics.

      2. It revealed the heart of a nation by giving that nation something to explicitly reject.

      That second outcome seemed to me its primary purpose in terms of divine economy.

      • IanCad

        In a nutshell Carl. In a nutshell.

  • CliveM

    To be honest this baffles me. This particular horse bolted long ago. If a conviction is secured against this charge, does anyone seriously believe it would stand an appeal?

    “Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, who is accused of winning re-election last year by telling Muslims that it was their religious duty to vote for him. Mr Rahman is fighting all allegations against him.”

    Is Mr Rahman an Inman? If not can he be charged under this law? Are any of the Imans who have urged their congregations to vote for him been charged? Frankly what is the chance that they will be? As close to zero as makes no difference I would have thought. What about freedom of expression guaranteed under Human Right legislation? It can hardly be accused of being hate speech.

    It’s all very odd.

  • Inspector General

    Didn’t they have a clear out of archaic laws during this parliament. How come this one survived…

  • The Explorer

    Interestingly, modern education seems to have moved in the opposite direction. What to think, not how to think. The task of modern cultural facilitators (let us not be so crude as to use the word ‘teachers’) is to enable correct social opinions. Not to influence the attitudes of their charges in certain appropriate directions, indeed, would be reprehensible.

    • Uncle Brian

      Is it really as bad as that, Explorer? My grandson went to a London primary school for a couple of years, but I don’t think he ever displayed any symptoms of having been indoctrinated. Maybe that’s just because he has his own defences against that sort of thing: he has never paid very much attention to anything his teachers say.

      • The Explorer

        The perennial ability of kids to resist their education is a great source of hope.

        • IanCad

          No irony at all as I read it.

          • The Explorer

            Call it certain trends pushed to their logical conclusion.

    • IanCad

      “let us not be so crude as to use the word ‘teachers”
      Just received an email from the Education Secretary extolling “Our Incredible Teachers.” While – in the same missive – lauding her own goal of ensuring 11 year olds will learn their multiplication tables.
      Let’ see? Six years of schooling and billions from the taxpayer for so little!
      Cut the education budget now!!

      • The Explorer

        I stand corrected. Unless the word has remained with its meaning altered. Thus ‘teacher’: one who culturally enables.

        Incidentally, what exactly did you mean by “own goal”?

        • IanCad

          Note amended post.

    • Coniston

      Do you mean brainwashing? Apparently a magistrate has been ordered to attend a ‘diversity’ course to make him understand how wrong his defence of traditional marriage is in this enlightened age. Psychiatric prisons next? – Soviet style?

      • The Explorer

        Yes: although for it to be successful it must be couched in language no one can understand; or the intention becomes obvious. The case you mention was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. And ten year olds and lesbians. And the list could go on. On an American website I read how kids had been told to write a speech in favour of gender reassignment. A speech against was not an option. Only positive attitudes allowed.

  • carl jacobs

    There is a fair amount of secular conceit behind the invocation of this law. It originates, I am sure, with Protestant suspicions of Papal influence, but that isn’t why it would be invoked today. Its use in this modern age originates in the idea that thinking and religion are mutually exclusive activities. Religious people (it would seem) are by nature highly susceptible to authority by virtue of the fact that they can’t string two rational thoughts together. (If they could put two rational thoughts together, they wouldn’t be religious, now would they.) It would probably be better if religious people didn’t vote at all, but how does a good liberal manage that outcome? At least they can try to prevent them from voting as a block. Otherwise the drones will unthinkingly march to the polls and elect some theistic reactionary.

    In dark places they don’t like to talk about, you will find Secularists (stereotypically) dividing religious people thusly:

    1. A cynical leadership that knows religion is all bullsh*t but sees it as a way to obtain power and influence.

    2. The masses who are too dumb to realize they have been had.

    And you wonder why they don’t want spiritual influence?

    • Uncle Brian

      The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.

      Leave out the word “Roman”, put both verbs in the present tense, and there we are. Gibbon lives!

    • saintmark

      Can’t understand what a superior secular human is doing on a website mainly populated by and for inferior second class religious drones…have you got lost?

      • carl jacobs

        Ummm…. What?

        • The Explorer

          Glad it’s not just me.

        • Lol …………

        • CliveM

          A surrealist blogger! Who would have thought.

  • Dreadnaught

    Is it socially harmful or dangerous to exhort one’s followers to vote for a particular candidate in an election?

    Damned right it is.

    We are an enfanchised Society imbued with the option to partake or not, in a secret ballot influenced only by the individual’s perceptional decision of the candidates ability to represent his/her political viewpoint. That is the only way democracy can ever work. Block voting on racist lines should be anathema to anyone who believes in the democratic principle of one person one vote.

    Attaching a racial, ethnic or religious dimension on pain of social exclusion or shunning is intimidation. Similarly by declaring that not to vote in accordance with some religious decree, further warps the mind of an adherent from the imaginary prospect of joining their ancestors and their gods after their death.
    By not challenging voter intimidation on which ever dimension, which makes mockery of British standards in the prime public arena.

    This is not the Indian sub-continent. The sooner we shake off the gag of political correctness and demand that our rules are accepted and applied to all, the sooner we take the first steps in re-establishing the British Values that have shaped us as a nation.

    • carl jacobs


      In US Presidential elections, the black vote and the Jewish vote break heavily for the Democratic candidate. They form an important Democratic block. During the campaign, you will see numerous black and Jewish community leaders exhorting black and Jewish voters to support the Democratic candidate. Does this only become problematic when the community leaders are religious community leaders? Because most people would call this campaigning. It’s a normal part of an election.

      There are always consequences for going outside the group. (Ask a black Republican in the US.) Still a man is free to do so if he has the courage. Is this only a problem if the group is a religious group? Because I would love to hear how you would enforce this idea of a group not being allowed to impose consequences. You can’t mandate private relationships.

      Like it or not, people are free to exercise their mandate as they see fit. This law was originally targeted at the influence of an external authority that didn’t necessarily have the best interest of Britain in mind. It was intended to protect Britain’s sovereignty. That at least provided the benefit of being able to identify agents of a foreign power. But here you are talking about internal agents. What it comes down to is simple. You don’t want them to win. They are free to vote for whom they wish according to whatever influence they choose. You can’t mask your desire to render them politely impotent by appealing to rules that do not bind.

      • The Explorer

        The Latino voting block is presumably an increasingly-significant element in US politics? Interesting because it is not uniform: Cubans, I imagine, do not follow the same voting pattern as Mexicans?
        And, looming as a future issue, will be the impact on US foreign policy of the increasing US Muslim vote.

      • Dreadnaught

        the black vote and the Jewish vote break heavily for the Democratic candidate
        You quote this as a good thing? Wait until the contrived Muslim Block vote gets going in your Country you’ll see that the reality is something greatly different from the theory.
        Unlike the US we are no longer a two party democracy. We also have been divested of the autonomy of sovereignty. So I don’t see where the comparison between UK and US valid.
        You refer to my ‘desire’ to render other people’s votes impotent but how you arrived at that conclusion escapes me. My position I thought was perfectly clear to understand.
        At least by being multi-party we avoid the situation of de-registering hundreds of black voters and the farcical, fraudulent rigging of the Presidential vote in Florida.

        • carl jacobs


          Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is irrelevant. It’s a true thing. What’s more, it is a freely chosen thing. There isn’t anything you can do about it. You can fulminate about “values” and the threat to democracy but you aren’t going to move people away from advancing factional interests. And, no, it doesn’t matter that the faction is built around race or religion. Faction is an inherent part of democracy.

          Earlier you presented the ideal voter as an isolated independent informed actor. That isn’t how the world works.

          A demoracy is very difficult to sustain unless there is broad agreement on the underlying worldview in the population. That is why it’s very difficult to sustain a democracy across irreconcilable religious difference. Democracy is fragile and inherently unstable. If you want stability, then you need to restore a broadly held world view. Secularism won’t cut it over time.

  • Linus

    I don’t have a problem with priests or imams or rabbis telling their followers who to vote for. As long as they pay all of the same taxes on all of their income and all salaries like any lobby group whose avowed aim it is to influence the political process, let them do what they like.

    If however they benefit from special tax breaks or, as in the case of some Western European nations, part or all of their income is derived from the public purse, then the price of that subsidy should be silence and impartiality on all matters political.

    Want to be political? Fine! Pay your own way then.

    • IanCad

      That’s more like it Linus!
      Couldn’t agree with you more.

    • So Stonewall (“working for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals”) should lose its charitable status and public funding too if it campaigns on behalf of homosexual rights and is in favour of, or opposed to, particular candidates?

      • Linus

        All “charities” that endorse political candidates should be taxed under the same régime as lobby groups.

        • CliveM

          And they would be. They would lose their charitable status.

  • CliveM

    “In the political arena, a charity must stress its independence and ensure that any involvement
    it has with political parties is balanced. A charity must not give support or funding to a political
    party, nor to a candidate or politician”

    Charity commission guidance. It is probable the Mosques will enjoy charitable status, I wonder if the Charity Commission has investigated? Or have they decided that the Imams spoke as a private Citizens? Unlikely as it is reported that one of the occasions that Tower Hamlets residents were advised who to vote for, was at a wedding!

  • len

    ‘There is an 18th-century law which prohibits the ‘spiritual influence’ of the electorate in the process of democracy’

    I don`t think that ‘the Prince of the Power of the Air’ is taking much notice of this law and seems to be having a great deal of influence over our secular Governments.

    • The Explorer

      There is a paragraph in HG’s article consigning “the demonic era of criminal law” to history. You, by contrast, see any such consignment as premature.

  • Albert

    Religious leaders were told by a judge yesterday that it was unlawful to instruct their followers to vote for particular candidates in an election.

    If that’s what the law says, then the law needs changing. The law was clearly designed to meddle with democracy and freedom of speech, since it prevented people from hearing positions they may have wanted to hear. It would appear to belong to a philosophy that assumes politics and moral do not cohere.

    In the meantime, if a priest (or an imam) wishes to tell his congregation to vote against (say) abortion-ridden candidates then if someone decides to prosecute such clergy, it will just remind us that being “pro-choice” is nothing of the sort.

    • CliveM


      Even if the law was changed, Churches would have give up their Charitable status. How many would be willing (or able) to do so.

      They are allowed to campaign on issues. However a case involving a Brethren Church is troubling.

      • Albert

        So is the key thing that they can campaign because they are charities? (Did I miss that?!)

        • CliveM

          Hi what I hoped I was making clear ( but obviously failing) is that a Priest (say) can say from the pulpit, “question the candidates and vote for the one who supports the Churches position on abortion”. The will keep the Charities Commission from your door and not contravene this law that has re-reared from nowhere!

          However if the Priest was to say “vote for Jim Blogs of the Labour Party, I throw this Churches support behind him as he supports our views on abortion” he would risk the churches charitable status and would be (it appears) in contravention of the law. Even if the law was repealed, the Charitable stays would be at risk.

          • Albert

            Thanks, Clive, that makes more sense to me. It seems reasonable as well, in a way in which the other law didn’t. The reality is that churches at least are not normally as clear to say vote for this or that party. They might, of course tell people not to vote for someone or other – as the Catholic Church told Germans not to vote for Hitler. I wonder if that is allowed.

          • CliveM

            Probably not. It would certainly contravene this odd law.

          • Albert

            Great, so telling people not to vote Nazi is illegal.

          • CliveM

            Albert my response to this has disappeared. To be honest I’m not sure. As said above the attitude with regards the BNP suggests otherwise.

          • Albert

            Although Uncle Brian has noticed all might not be as it seems in that regard…

          • CliveM

            AB and Carls points are astute. One thing I have noticed is the law seems to be about specifically advocating something ie Irish Home Rule or Vote for So an So. Haven’t seen it applied for Priests warning against something ie the BNP.

          • Uncle Brian

            From what I’ve been reading here at Cranmer’s over the past six months or so, there’s no shortage of Anglican clergy who aren’t afraid of losing their chaitable status by openly and explicitly preaching against Ukip. It must be the same unwrittten rule that Carl Jacobs has described in the U.S., lower down on this thread. Clergy who preach conventional bien-pensant political views — e.g., in this case, anti-Ukip — have nothing to fear. It’s only the ones who dare to doubt the gospel of PC who need to keep looking over their shoulders.

          • Being a member of the BNP means you cannot be a minister in the Church of England.

          • Albert

            But you can be a member of a party that support abortion, etc.? That was well thought through!

          • Good explanation Clive, I was trying and failing to explain the difference above – this is a far better explanation than mine 🙂

          • CliveM

            Thank you! ;0)

  • It comes back to a very old principle – that the acid test of any law should be not what a current government of ( relative) good will does with it, but what a future government of ill will could do with it. If you do not want a hypothetical religious leader to compel his followers on threat of hellfire to support his stance, then the caveat must apply to all religions and not just the one that worries you. If a religious leader tells his flock from the pulpit that they must study the issues and parties carefully and vote according to an informed conscience, that’s one thing. If they tell them specifically not to vote for a certain party or they will go to Hell/be barred from parts of their faith/ then that is religious coercion and it has no place in a democratic society. Period.

    • The Explorer

      It might have no place, but it could still work if not prevented in time. I forget who it was who said that a theocratically-focused electorate, given the vote, could make it their first and final vote to get rid of democracy.

    • “If they tell them specifically not to vote for a certain party or they will go to Hell/be barred from parts of their faith/ then that is religious coercion and it has no place in a democratic society. Period.”

      So are you suggesting it should be made illegal in a democracy? Should sermons be the subject of political control and scrutiny?

      • In a liberal democracy anyone can say anything they like, so long as it does not break the law on the land. The last time I looked, deliberate coercion by means of threats, verbal or physical, was still a criminal offence.

        • Then that’s the protection, surely, unless you’re extending the definitions to spiritual ‘threats’.

          • If all the voters speak the language of the land, are well educated, of independent means, and not dependent of a community that may ostracise them or worse if they break ranks, then spiritual threats of course are very unlikely to be coercive. Now, take a look at the demographic of Tower Hamlets, especially the women. And tell me how likely it is that the current laws would have protected them.

          • Those preconditions were not in place before universal suffrage and many are still not met by various demographic groups, including white-British.

          • Then we’re back to the point of how best to prevent a system being abused by the manipulative. Do I think an archaic anti-Catholic law the best solution? Probably not. Will I cry if through the archaic anti-Catholic law they actually manage to nail those who screwed with democracy in Tower Hamlets? No, I’ll probably break out the champagne 🙂

          • As you wrote above:

            “It comes back to a very old principle – that the acid test of any law should be not what a current government of ( relative) good will does with it, but what a future government of ill will could do with it.”

          • Agreed

            Now, how are we going to prevent voter manipulation from the pulpit – of any religion – and still protect freedom of speech? At this point we’re back at the dividing line. And Clive actually explained a very good distinction somewhere below in what he said to Albert – would you agree with what he said?

          • This was the quote –

            “a Priest (say) can say from the pulpit, “question the candidates and vote for the one who supports the Churches position on abortion”. This will keep the Charities Commission from your door and not contravene this law that has re-reared from nowhere!

            However if the Priest was to say “vote for Jim Blogs of the Labour Party, I throw this Churches support behind him as he supports our views on abortion” he would risk the churches charitable status and would be (it appears) in contravention of the law. Even if the law was repealed, the Charitable status would still be at risk.”

            It seems a reasonable dividing line to me

          • Both ‘sermons’ seem to amount to pretty much the same thing. However, Jack agrees with it, with the caveat Albert gave in response to the comment. There are some issues the Church has a positive duty to be clear about.

          • So had the Imams said “It is the duty of a Muslim to know what Islam teaches, and to cast the vote in a manner that befits such teaching” I wouldn’t have had a problem. But when they say “You cannot be a good Muslim if you do not vote for (Mr X) (see His Grace’s piece above) they have crossed the line. And they aren’t the only religion ever to have done so – this is just the current (bad) example.

          • If that’s all they did, then Jack disagrees with you. They did an awful lot more though.

  • Is voting a moral activity? If it is, why is it unreasonable for an organisation that provides spiritual and moral guidance to voters and politicians alike to seek to influence them and, in the case of religious bodies, to advise them God will hold them to account?

    • HJ, in the hypothetical situation where a religion whose tenets were at utter opposites with what you believe was in the ascendant in your country, and the only thing protecting your own freedoms was that the law prevented them deliberately subverting the electoral process by pulpit threats, what would you say then?

      • Why would it be “subverting the electoral process” for religious leaders to indicate the teachings of their faith and how to vote to be in accord with them? One person’s “pulpit threats” is another person’s moral guidance.

        • It’s an argument that has been used before. And I agree that there can be a fine line between the two. On that basis, if you cannot define “acceptable” and “unacceptable” and the end result is what has happened in Tower Hamlets, then there’s a problem.

          Example – my priest tells us all that “X” is gravely sinful and we risk taking part of the sin on our own consciences if we vote for A politician who supports it. We go off, study the parties, the facts, and make a decision in informed conscience – which may or may not agree with our priest. acceptable? Yes, in my view.

          Now, reframe the debate. My priest tells us that we all have to vote for politician Y, because he is the only one whose voiced principles are in agreement with the Faith. It is our duty to make sure our families all vote for him too, someone will check we have done so, any failure to vote for him must be brought to Confession and if we actually vote against him, no matter who else we vote for, then we are barred from Communion and must sign a public declaration that we did vote for him before approaching the Communion table again. acceptable? Absolutely not. And this is what seems to have happened in Tower Hamlets.

          Where does the line fall between the two?

          • What I will say, Jack, is that the way the world is going it is far more likely that Christians will be the victims rather than the villains on the day that a theocracy is imposed on the UK. In which case I will come and die side by side with you and Len on the barricades, and promise you faithfully never to say that I told you so 🙂

          • CliveM

            Sadly the truth.

          • Not really. Muslim theocracies are killing homosexuals today as per their ‘holy’ book. And an Islamic theocracy is a real possibility. Neither applies to Christianity.

            Equating Islam and Christianity as if there was no difference, blaming ‘religion’ for the misdeeds of Islam is a deeply embedded smear tactic of the secularist left.

            Incidentally, since all the UK church leaders objected to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, if we had a Christian theocracy that terrible mistake would have been avoided. And we wouldn’t have ISIS.

          • CliveM


            I thought what Sister Tiberius was saying, in the UK as Christians we are more likely to be victims in an Islamic a Theocracy, then the perpetrators of one. My response was probably a bit unclear in that I meant to agreed with her, this would appear to be the more likely. Whatever the possible ME advantages I would still be wary of advocating a Christian one. Even with the Church, absolute power corrupts.

          • DanJ0

            If either Muslims or Christians create a theocracy in the UK then people like me will be the likely victims.

          • There is no defence of what you say may have happened in Tower Hamlets if threats and physical intimidation were used.

            “My priest tells us that we all have to vote for politician Y, because he is the only one whose voiced principles are in agreement with the Faith.”

            No harm in that, that Jack can see. Jack would consider the issues carefully before deciding.

            “It is our duty to make sure our families all vote for him too”

            Our family members must make up their minds. It’s not my job to impose my spiritual views on my wife and children.

            ” … someone will check we have done so in deliberate subversion of the principles of a secret ballot”

            Unlikely this could ever be done.

            ” … any failure to vote for him must be brought to Confession …”

            Not going to happen given the Church’s position of the exercise of conscience. People cannot be ‘instructed’ to bring matters to confession n this way. We only confess that which we deem sinful.

            ” … and if we actually vote against him, no matter who else we vote for, then we are barred from Communion”

            See above. However, if Jack ever wilfully voted for a candidate who openly supported abortion or homosexual marriage, for example, when there was an alternative available, he would, of his own accord, see this as sinful, barring him from Holy Communion and something to raise in Confession.

            ” … and must sign a public declaration that we did vote for him before approaching the Communion table again.”

            (Communion table, Tibs? What is this?)

            Of course that’s not acceptable. Both voting and the Confessional are private matters – unless one is a politician who’s position is a matter of public record.

            “And this is what seems to have happened in Tower Hamlets.”

            Is it?

          • Read the reports on it, Jack, especially the parts dealing with postal ballots and influence in the actual polling booths. It’s frightening

          • There are different laws that can be used to tackle voter intimidation, bribery and electoral fraud.

          • Linus

            There’s a difference between lobbying and voter intimidation.

            The law here in France is pretty clear about what constitutes such a difference. Surely this is also the case in the UK, or does the tradition of the rotten borough still live on?

  • Arden Forester

    So a judge has dug up an old law. This is slippery slope stuff. The Church of England bans clerics and paid workers from being in the BNP and “influences” congregations not to vote for BNP. Is this against the law? Be an interesting test case.

    Is it spiritual influence to say one should not vote for pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage candidates? It would be singularly unfair to pick on imams but not priests. This is good that the point has been raised.

    Bye the bye, your grace, a fair few Anglican priests express opinions about public morality even if some collude with dubious practices.

  • Aborted children have been deprived of their vote.

    (The Abortion Act was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill, backed by the Labour Government. No manifesto; no mandate.)

    • Linus

      Children can’t vote. You have no way of knowing whether what you call an “aborted child” would have survived to full term, would have survived birth, would have survived infancy, would not have been run over by a bus the day before he or she turned 18.

      Of course many of them once born might have survived long enough to vote, but the same is also true of what one assumes you would call “miscarried children”. How many voters has your god eliminated, if he exists and determines the fate of every embryo?

      You may consider the number of pregnancies voluntarily terminated to be a “massacre”, but if so, then surely your god is the biggest serial killer history has ever known.

      • Happy Jack would sooner trust the Providence of God than the selfish decisions of man.

        So far as Jack is concerned, every time he votes, he votes for the 7 million children, and rising, who have been deprived of their right to life.

        • Linus

          “Right to life”?

          Where does it say in your bible that we have a right to life?

          According to Christianity we’re here by the grace of God alone. We have no “right” to the life we lead.

          The “sin” of abortion is not in depriving us of some kind of pretended “right to life”. It’s in usurping God’s absolute to dispose of us as he sees fit.

          Only in general Christians don’t want to say that because it reveals God for the tyrant he is…

          • This is true, Linus. One of the Commandments is: “Thou shalt do no murder.”.

            “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”

          • Linus

            No, I did not read “those articles”. I don’t read fundamentalist Catholic blogs. Half of what they say is mindless abuse and the other half regurgitated priest-speak.

            If Cranmer is the psych ward outpatient clinic, the grim little site you linked to has to be the high security wing where the criminally insane are locked away.

          • You did read it then ….

          • Linus

            I read the name in the links. I’ve seen a couple of other things that particular crackpot has written, so I knew there would be nothing there worth my while to look at.

          • Well, he gives a solid explanation for all the evil in the world that leads you to call God “the biggest serial killer history has ever known” and a “mass murderer”. Still, having been raised in the faith, you know it already.

          • Linus

            Whatever he says will be interlarded with gratuitous insults and abuse. Why would I go out of my way to read that when I get quite enough of it here?

          • This is true, Linus. He has absolutely no sympathy or tolerance for active homosexuality, especially when combined with atheism. He’s not attempting to get you to amend your ways by reaching out with encouraging words. You have a fairly tough skin so should be able to cope. Behind them you’ll find words of wisdom. Besides, you do reasonably well here and, be honest, some have extended you the hand of friendship. But, as you’ve declared more than once, your sole purpose here is to dismiss all religion as delusional and to save others from it.

          • Linus

            There’s no wisdom in abuse. The man is an evil bully whose adoption of conservative Catholicism is clearly driven by the position of absolute and subjective morality he feels it gives him. He treats it like a fortified castle and shoots to kill from the walls, although he’s not really interested in defending his position, but rather in venting as much hatred and derision as he can on anyone who isn’t in the castle with him. He thinks the castle is impregnable and will take care of itself, so he can concentrate on what he likes doing best, which is insulting, belittling and abusing others.

            There are no words of wisdom to be learned from a sociopath who uses his religion as a club to beat others over the head with.

          • Well, yes, he’s not everybody’s cup of tea, Jack will grant you that. His target audience is conservative Catholics. You should read what he writes about Pope Francis.

          • The Explorer

            Just been checking out this Mundabor chap you Catholics are talking about. Linus seemed to have some reservations about him, which sounded like a good recommendation.
            Certainly robust in argument isn’t he, this Mundabor? He breaks two cardinal (no Catholic pun intended) rules of modern debate. 1. He says what he thinks. 2. He says it in comprehensible language.
            I’ve added him to my list of people to visit for another perspective on the world. I’d visit Linus’ as well, if Linus had a blog.

          • It takes a while to ‘get’ him and Jack has been reading him for 3 years. It was a link from HG that led Jack to discover him. He is also very entertaining and has a sharp wit. He is outrageous and very offensive but certainly makes an impact and causes a reaction. Jack finds him an effective antidote to the ‘Church of Nice’ and all the liberal bullshit around today. Jack also enjoys his anecdotes and comparisons between modern British culture and Italian society. He does ‘overstep the line’ at times but beneath his style there is a solid Christian who is not afraid of telling it as he sees it.

          • I’ve never considered Mundabor to have a solid explanation for anything, it tends to be a combination of Catholic conspiracy theory a interspersed with rants about Pope Francis. Still, I’ll allow for the possibility that there’s a few nuggets amongst the slime. I’m just thankful I’ve never met a Catholic like him in real life – or if I have, they were going to great trouble not to act like a raving lunatic in public.

          • Linus

            You’re not gay then. If you were, you’d have met MANY a Catholic just like Mundaboor (sic).

            If they think you’re “normal” (i.e. according to Catholic morality), they’ll leave you alone. What they’re looking for is evidence of “sin”. This is the excuse they need to start attacking. It justifies them in their raison d’être, which is the infliction of pain on others, by giving them an excuse of “you have to be cruel to be kind”. But it’s just an excuse. Their ultimate goal is to cause as much pain as they can.

            The rigidity of Catholicism breeds this kind of sadistic monster with depressing regularity. Every parish has its Mundaboor. Often several. Many of them take orders to maximize their bullying opportunities. Put a Mundaboor in clerical weeds and set him loose on a congregation and he’ll rip through the place like a buzz saw leaving a trail of destruction behind him. They are truly sick in the head and in a perfect world would be identified and treated, or where that is not possible, isolated to prevent them from harming others. But the world of Internet blogs is far from perfect. So our best protection against harm is never to put ourselves in harm’s way.

          • I am very sorry that this has been your experience, Linus. I know of no Catholic at the church I attend who remotely resembles Mundabor, and while it’s always possible there’s a few hiding their true feelings, they’ve done a remarkably good job in not letting the facade slip in that case” I do agree that the lunatic fringe of Catholicism (both traditionalist and liberal in case Happy Jack thinks I save all my criticisms for the Trad wing) is overrepresented in the blogosphere as a group, and I can only assume that most middle-of-the-road Catholics have better things to do with their time. I do actually think that there has been an outburst of sanity from some of the blogs on both sides that were more militant previously, and I do think some of that is down to Pope Francis managing to find a middle road that most Catholics can cope with without too much online bitching. Perhaps that’s why Mundabor hates the man so much.

            Take care, and God bless you (and if you don’t feel that a blessing is appropriate, then accept the good wishes anyway)

          • Linus

            I’m perfectly sanguine about blessings, prayers and suchlike. They seem to relieve the feelings of those who recite them, and as they can’t possibly harm me in any way, it would be churlish to object to them.

            So bless away to your heart’s content, Madame Tiberia. I thank you for the sentiment even if the words seem strange to me.

            Blessings I don’t mind, but the highjacking of familial titles by those in religious orders, real or pretended, I do take issue with. You may be somebody’s sister, but unless one of mine has experienced not only a miraculous conversion, but also a revolution in her mastery of the English language, which in our family at least seems to be recessive on the maternal X chromosome and means that one of the defining characteristics of any woman claiming to be a sister of mine will be her utter inability to string together a coherent sentence in her mother’s tongue, we certainly cannot be siblings.

          • He’s a very ‘manly’ blogger, Sister Tiberia. Very robust in his opinion. No room for feminine fluffiness or being ‘nice’. His language and style is deliberately provocative and mocking of modernism to counter what he sees as ambiguity and ‘double-speak’ in the Church since Vatican II.

          • Frankly, I’ve never seen deliberate abusiveness to ones opponents to be a quality of “manliness”, HJ. I don’t think he’s just deliberately provocative, I think he’s out-and-out rude, and even my father who was a Polish Catholic and not backward in coming forward on a number of subjects where his views were politically incorrect, would not have spoken to anyone as Mundabor speaks on the net. I have to hope the man is a keyboard warrior and not as deliberately hateful in his real life as he appears, otherwise perhaps he has a few things he might have a chat to his own confessor about.

            Of course Linus may be correct, and the man may have a mental disorder, in which case he deserves nothing but our pity. But I wince every time someone references Mundabor. I just want them to realise that Mundabor is not representative of any Catholic I have ever know well.

          • The Explorer

            Verdict of an outpatient: terrific exercise of wit!

          • You are quite right, Linus. You are indeed here by the grace of God, and every breath of the good air He has given us should remind you of it.
            Your purpose on the earth is the glory of God, and you will glorify Him. You will either glorify His mercy should you repent, or you will glorify His justice should you not.
            On the subject of abortion, I cannot prove it from the Bible but it is my belief that every aborted child will rise up at the Last Day to condemn this wicked generation.

          • The Explorer

            “God’s absolute to dispose of us as he sees fit.” Does that apply to adults too? Is that the reason for the prohibition against murder? If someone else murders us then that’s taking away God’s opportunity to do so. Spoiling God’s fun. Sure you’re not a secret Baal worshipper?

          • Linus

            I worship no god. Not the fictional god of the Bible, nor the fictional god called Baal, nor any other fictional being with super powers and a penchant for mass murder.

            All acts of worship are foreign to me. I can’t imagine any kind of god worthy of the name who would even want to be worshipped.

            What is it about us getting down on bended knee and bowing and scraping before him that pleases this fictional god of yours?

          • The Explorer

            Because he’s Attila the Hun with attitude and cosmic power. Actually have you noticed it’s Satan who asks Christ to fall down and do him homage? Those actually worthy of adoration seem to get it without having to command it.
            I think you make challenging and worthwhile contributions to this blog. I see them as threefold.
            1. Reasons why God probably does not exist.
            2. If he does exist, probing questions about his nature. Why assume a God of love? Why not a malevolent tyrant?
            3. The unknowability of God. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” No he hasn’t, for no one has seen ‘Me’ either. It’s as if Christ’s sojourn on Earth had never occurred. It’s a pre-Christian take on things. If there’s something out there it’s unreachable and inscrutable.
            We both concede the cruelty of the world order. I’ll reiterate my own possible explanations for this.
            1. No God: just “blind, pitiless indifference”.
            2. God is a devil.
            3. God is not a devil (although He must be if He exists and the Devil doesn’t.) The Devil is a separate entity, possessing the sort of qualities that you ascribe to God. One day, the current scheme of things will change.

          • You’ve missed out free will, the Fall of man and Christ’s saving work – again.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, but one stage at a time. My current discussion with Linus is ongoing from a previous conversation.
            I’d say the problem of evil is twofold: the evil in humans and the evil in Nature. The Fall of Man accounts for the first, the fall of Satan for the second.
            Linus, it seems to me, is a sort of dualist: there are two more or less equal and opposite forces. Instead of two different supernatural beings he combines them in one. Since God (if He exists) is evil, that is a good reason for rejecting him. It’s a perfectly coherent position.

          • Linus

            On the balance of probabilities, I believe your first option is closest to the objective truth.

            But if there is a God, then only your second option can describe him accurately.

            Your third option is an attempt to divest God of the things you don’t like about him. You’re trying to extract evil from the godhead and invest it in a bogeyman figure we can all hate, while absolving God from all responsibility for that evil. But if God is sovereign, then evil must be part of his creation otherwise it could not exist. Delegating the practice of evil to a being specifically created for that purpose does not relieve God of ultimate responsibility for the creating evil in the first place. Fobbing off the things you’ve created but don’t want to be blamed for onto someone else is a pretty devilish act, don’t you think?

            Evil couldn’t exist unless God had imagined it, defined its parameters, and then created a being who would embody it and attempt to make us commit it.

            So yes, if God exists then evil is his creation and his responsibility. His nature must therefore be far more devilish than Satan’s, who as a created being is only carrying out the role assigned to him by his cynical and Machiavellian creator. The only way around this is to make evil something that proceeds from a force other than God, which then divests God of omnipotence, omniscience and sovereignty all in one fell swoop. And a God divested of these qualities is not God. He may be one spirit among many, but he can’t be the one and only true God, creator of everything, if he didn’t in fact create everything.

          • Linus, the Christian and Catholic option you’re overlooking is that God gave the Angels free will and Satan opted to rebel. Being Spirit, his decision was irrevocable and eternal. Satan then corrupted man, who was also given free will. The rest is “history”.

            God will have foreknown all this and permitted it – not willed it – because he doesn’t want blind obedience from robots. He didn’t create evil. And, of course, He had a solution to redeem mankind.

          • Linus

            Right, so God “foreknew” all of this and let it happen anyway.

            What would you call a father who let his child chase a ball into the street because that was the child’s “free will”? When the child was killed or maimed by a passing vehicle, it wouldn’t be the father’s fault, would it? Of course not! His duty as a father to protect his child from its ignorance of the world around it and the consequences that flow from ill-informed decisions would be secondary to his obligation to let the child do exactly as it pleases at all times, right?

            If the god you worship exists, he is nothing better than criminally negligent. Not only did he create us “foreknowing” that we’d fall and suffer for it, he made no effort to guide or teach us of the consequences of our actions. All he did was issue a command – don’t touch that fruit because I say so – and then leave us to struggle with a temptation he KNEW we’d fail to resist. And then he had the temerity to act all outraged and surprised and punish us for doing exactly what he knew we were going to do.

            If God is omniscient then he created us knowing we would fall. You can equate his actions to those of a father who decides to raise his children in an explosives factory. “Don’t strike a match or you’ll be sorry,” he says to his children one day before leaving them with a box of matches and no supervision, even though he knows exactly what’s going to happen. Off he goes and the children, being both curious and completely naive, start playing with the matches. BOOM!

            The father, who’s been lurking at a safe distance knowing that the explosion is about to happen, comes rushing back, feigning surprise and anger and instead of blaming himself for his own criminal negligence and trying to help his wounded and bloodied children, instead he throws a massive tantrum and drives them away to fend for themselves.

            “Don’t darken my door until you’re sorry for what you did and can learn to obey,” is his parting shot as he abandons his children to their fate.

            This is the God you worship. You believe that all you have to do is say you’re sorry and he’ll let you back in. Maybe he will, but what happens then? Based on past performance, what else does he have lined up for you? Will he take you to live in a minefield, tell you to stay exactly where you are, and then be all outraged and angry when you blow yourself to smithereens because you just can’t stand on one spot for the rest of time? Or maybe your eternal home will be on a shark infested beach where it’s so hot and sticky and the water so cool and inviting that you just can’t help going for a dip…!!!

            Will God be sitting in a comfortable chair with a tub of popcorn enjoying the spectacle and maybe covering his eyes with his fingers from time to time during the goriest parts, a bit like we might do during a Jaws movie? We know that dumb blonde going for a midnight skinny-dip is going to be torn to shreds by that shark, just as God knows every mistake and false step we’re going to make. Are we just a form of entertainment that helps him while away eternity?

          • cacheton

            You have obviously thought a lot about this, and I like your clarity. For what it’s worth, here is my understanding of evil.

            The Christian assertion that the devil exists is not so much about his actual existence but about the human need to explain experience. The discomfort with the devil is about fear, and an understanding of where it comes from. It is a recognition that the devil was invented to cope with the experience of fear, not fear experienced as a reaction against this separate entity ‘devil’. In other words, the fear came first, the devil second, and not the other way round. Of course a spiritual path will involve confronting that base fear and all the other so-called ‘negative’ constructs that have been edified around it, which is why The New Testament treats evil as effectively real. That is because the basic fear on which the idea of the devil is constructed IS effectively real.

            Unfortunately if you take the New Testament as literal you will not be encouraged to go ‘past’ evil to its origin, the fear. You just have to accept that it exists and grovel to god to ‘save’ you. This is where the church lacks spirituality and is using emotional blackmail to keep adherents, all the while pretending it is ‘spiritual’.

          • The Explorer

            Personally, I believe that the Devil (which I regard as an actuality) came first and the fear came second. I think the nightmarish gods of paganism are a reflection of something real: an attempt to placate the nightmarish element in Nature. It was there first, and the religions found it.
            I think Gnosticism was a brave attempt to grapple with evil. The world is the creation of an evil demiurge. We reach the true God beyond by escaping the vileness of matter that includes our bodies.
            Gnosticism is probably the best guess there is without divine revelation. The biblical view of a good creation spoiled is far more radical and original.

          • cacheton

            The nightmarish element in Nature is only judged to be nightmarish by humans, Nature itself just does what it does. The human fear of nature, their vulnerability to it, was then projected out to ‘gods’, or ‘devils’.

            We reach the true god not by escaping the vileness of matter, but by integrating godliness into matter, our bodies. Jesus is the (an) example. Otherwise you are vilifying god’s creation, are you not? This reminds me of the period I went through wanting to take the church to court for a crime against humanity – the vilification of the human body!

            Of course you believe the devil came first and fear second – all believers in exterior gods have to, otherwise their belief systems do not stand up to scrutiny. But then you also have to believe that god created the devil. And that the devil could even prevail over god, which renders god himself useless.

            Good creation spoiled by what exactly?

          • The Explorer

            Spoiled by supernatural and human rebellion. Why does Paul speak of the creation groaning for redemption if the world is the way God intended it to be and Nature just does what it does?

          • cacheton

            I’m not sure what you mean by supernatural rebellion, but re human rebellion, why did/do humans rebel? Because, in their incarnated state, they (understandably) fell for the illusions associated with incarnation – material wealth, power ‘over’, physical reality as the only reality etc etc.. But Jesus showed that it is also possible to be god incarnate, to retain one’s divinity AND live in the physical world. Humans are groaning for guidance to the awareness of this, which the church and most other religions are not providing.

          • The Explorer

            Six responses/questions arising from you last two posts.
            1. I am not , in any sense, advocating Gnosticism. I said it was a good guess in the absence of divine revelation, but I believe in revelation.
            2. You speak of believers in exterior gods. Are there interior gods? Are you saying we are all divine?
            3. You say I have to believe the Devil could defeat God. Why? That’s true only of Arhiman and Ormuzd stuff. Christianity is not about full-blown dualism. Satan’s closest equivalent is Michael, not God.
            4. By supernatural rebellion I mean the Fall of Satan, which impacted on Nature in some way: “the prince of this world”.
            5. Jesus showed it was possible to be god incarnate and live in the physical world. Was that true only for Christ, or are you saying it’s a possibility for anybody?
            6. I think you have evaded the issue about the groaning creation which Paul refers to in ‘Romans’ 8:22. In verse 23 he goes on to speak about humans groaning, thus drawing a distinction between humanity and the rest of the created order.

          • cacheton

            2. Yes.
            3. If you don’t believe the devil could defeat god, why do Christians spend so much time trying to right the wrongs of the world?
            5. Yes.
            6. Paul is no doubt referring to his own groaning.

          • The Explorer

            2 and 5 Why do you think this? Is there anyone who is not divine?
            3. It’s like the D-Day situation. The ultimate result is not in doubt, but there’s fighting that has to be done to achieve it.
            6. Actually, Paul says “we”. He’s not just talking about himself. ANd that still doesn’t address the distinction between humans an the rst of creation.

          • cacheton

            2. No there isn’t, though due to the illusions associated with incarnation that I mentioned a few posts ago, most people have forgotten.
            3. Completely illogical.
            6. The distinction between humans and the rest of creation is one of consciousness, self awareness. As we are aware of our state in a way that animals and plants are not, we ‘groan’ for guidance on how to become more conscious, more self aware.

          • The Explorer

            2. Are you a pantheist?
            3. The stronger side will win in the end, but not without a fight. Please explain the illogic in that position.

          • cacheton

            Having just read about what a pantheist is I think I probably do have pantheistic tendencies, yes.
            Why do you have to fight if the ‘good’ side will win anyway? If you feel you have to fight you obviously think that, unless you fight, the ‘good’ side may not win. Therefore your position is illogical.

          • The Explorer

            I’d say the only biblical reference to our being gods is ‘Genesis’ 3. Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is different, and available only to believers.
            Yes, I see your point about why fight? I’d say it applies more to the Norse position. The gods and heroes fight although they know they will lose. With Christianity, it’s a bit like the question of petitionary prayer. Why bother: won’t it happen anyway? Boyd says no it won’t. Because God has chosen to limit his omnipotence for this stage of history, some things happen as a result of prayer that wouldn’t happen otherwise. To refine the statement: there will be victory, but there must be a battle for the victory to happen. It won’t occur on its own.

          • cacheton

            I thought the holy spirit WAS god, three in one and all that. And as to it being only available to believers, you know that because…? It says so in the bible? And you believe that because …?

            ‘Because God has chosen to limit his omnipotence for this stage of history …’ And you know that because Boyd said so (whoever he is), without any logic, evidence or even theological thinking?

            ‘some things happen as a result of prayer that wouldn’t happen otherwise…’ And that would be because god is in us, we make it happen. It is not god acting on his own on a whim, deciding to answer some prayers and not others.

          • The Explorer

            Having God within you is not the same as being a god in your own right. Suppose you grieve the Spirit, and the Spirit leaves you? Available to believers. Try ‘John’ 14:16, ‘Ephesians’ 1:13. If you’re asking why believe the Bible, that’s a huge question and not, in my view, appropriate to a blog format.
            As to who Boyd is, Gregory Boyd is an ‘Open’ theologian. I agree with some of what he says, not all. I was having a conversation with Linus about him, which you joined. That’s the context. Boyd sets out his views in two volumes ‘God at War’ and ‘Satan and the Problem of Evil’. Each book is over 400 pages long.

          • cacheton

            ‘Having God within you is not the same as being a god in your own right.’ Not ‘a god’, not any old god. Divinity may be a better word.

            ‘Suppose you grieve the Spirit, and the Spirit leaves you?’ Now this is interesting because this shows that you believe that there is some kind of separation between you and whatever godliness may dwell within you, as it can be taken away. Then it was never really part of you was it.

            Why is the question of whether to believe the bible not suitable to blog format? It is THE fundamental question underlying much of what most people write here, it seems to me, yet nobody tackles it.

          • The Explorer

            Calvinists would say it is not possible to lose salvation, but Arminians would argue that the Spirit can leave you. What do you make of Paul’s dictum of “the temple of the Spirit”?
            As for the Bible, many of those posting here share the assumption that it is divinely inspired. Interpretation, not inspiration, is the issue.
            As to whether the Bible is inspired or not, these areas/figures are pertinent.
            1. A purely human document. “Ancient scribblings” Dawkins.
            2. Unreliable transmission/translation. Bart Ehrmann.
            3. Authentic sayings of Christ. The Jesus Seminar.
            4. Authorship and datin. Bultmann.
            5..Rival gospels. Nag Hammadi .
            6. How was the Canon decided? Catholic critics of ‘Sola scripture’.
            These issues are resolvable, but they take a book-length analysis to be meaningful. That’s why most of us simply refer others to a relevant scholarly text.

          • The sun rose on you this morning, Linus; another reminder of the goodness of God: ‘For He is kind to the unthankful and evil’ (Luke 6:32).
            But if you want to see the love of God, you are looking in the wrong place when you look at the world. It is God’s righteous judgement that sinful people shall not live in a perfect world.
            ‘Cursed is the ground because of you’ (Genesis 3:17). Death and suffering have come into the world because of the sin of mankind. Now you can ask, why didn’t God make us all Stepford wives? But the answer is simply that that was not His good pleasure. No, when you look at the world, what you see is God’s outrage and anger against sin. You also see His gracious provision for you. I assume you are sitting by your laptop with clothes on your back and shoes on your feet and food in your stomach, sucking God’s air into you lungs: for these things alone you ought to praise and glorify God. But if you want to see the love of God in all its wonder you must look elsewhere.
            If you want to see the love of God, you have to look at the cross. ‘For so God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Now the verse isn’t saying, God loved the world soooooooo much; it’s saying, This is how God has loved the world. Look at the cross! See the Lord of Glory suffering and dying in the most horrible way, and understand that it was not for good people who just need a little bit of help, but it was for evil people like you and me who hated Him and wanted Him out of the way.
            Here is the love of God: ‘The one who comes to Me I will by no means turn away’ (John 6:37). Christ stands ready to give you eternal life. His nail-scarred hands beckon you now! So down on your knees with you, Linus, or admit that your own choice is that you would sooner have your sins. ‘This is the condemnation; that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’ (John 3:19).

          • Linus

            Mystical nonsense offers nothing in the way of knowledge or solutions. It’s the equivalent of a drug used to take the edge off whatever pain you’re experiencing.

            If God really exists and we can’t face him without dissolving into quivering heaps of ecstatic wonder, then what’s the difference between God and a narcotic? Anything that forces us to lose our grip on reality is a drug. Nothing more, nothing less.

            One of my major objections to Christianity as it’s currently practiced is the narcotic role it plays in so many believers’ lives. God as self-administered pain relief does not address the root causes of pain. All he does is treat the symptoms.

            I’m reminded of an interview I once saw with that supposed paragon of Christian virtue Anjezë Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When asked whether it wouldn’t be better for those born into poverty and misery not be born at all (the topic of conversation was contraception), her response was quite shocking: that every beggar represented an opportunity for conversion and another soul to glorify God. Their suffering was neither here nor there. All that counted was their worship potential, and that in worship they would find a palliative for the suffering their misery inflicted on them.

            She may as well have said that every beggar born represented a development opportunity for the crack industry, and that in the consumption of crack they would find a similar sort of palliative as a Christian finds in God.

            If God is no better than a drug lord offering us respite from our misery in return for the coin of worship, what does that make heaven? An eternal crack high?

            One of the basic truths about life seems to me to be that 10 seconds of reality is worth 10 years of artificial highs. Reality is what is, whereas the altered states associated with drugs, alcohol and religion take you into imaginary realms where nothing is tangible and everything is a mirage and therefore meaningless and worthless.

            And as for it being “God’s good pleasure” that we should suffer for his failure to take proper care of us and protect us from dangers that he himself allowed to exist, and then to revile us as broken and tainted and offer himself as a drug to take away the pain, I personally find such behaviour to be morally reprehensible. It reveals God as, at best, negligent and unthinking, or at worst, diabolical and cruel.

            That being the case, his offer of narcotic respite from the pain of existence can only be one of two things, neither of which bode well for us if there is an eternity. Either it’s his attempt to salve his own conscience for the pain inflicted on us because of his neglect, in which case eternity is a frightening prospect if we have to spend it with a neglectful God. Or he’s just preparing us for the coming slaughter in the same way you’d stun a cow in the abattoir before you kill it, chop it up and consume it for your own pleasure and sustenance.

            Is “God’s good pleasure” the equivalent of what you feel when you go to a farm and pat a pretty cow on the nose and then go home and tuck into a nice juicy steak?

          • Is the monkey still playing with the watch?

            ‘Is “God’s good pleasure” the equivalent of what you feel when you go to a farm and pat a pretty cow on the nose and then go home and tuck into a nice juicy steak?

            Not at all. If I may stoop to the level of your analogy, God’s good pleasure in that instance would be to give the life of His own dear Son to save that cow, and not just any cow, but one that had previously dunged all over His feet and tried to gore Him. Look to the cross, Linus. You’ll never understand anything until you get your head around that.

          • Linus

            Show me something worth finding and I might seek it. But simply displaying your drug paraphernalia and telling me how great the high is doesn’t fill me with a desire to follow you down the path of belief. Quite the reverse…

          • Well, Linus, I did the anti-God route for more than half my life and I found it grim. It’s either the ‘blind, pitiless indifference’ of Richard Dawkins or the resigned nihilism of Omar Khayyam:-

            Come, fill the cup! What boots it to repeat
            How time is slipping underneath our feet…….’

            Atheism? No thanks

          • The Explorer

            Apollo knew what he was doing when he cursed Cassandra by giving her knowledge of the future. Imagine the problem for God when he picks up a whodunit and knows the ending before he’s even started the book. That’s the sort of absurdity we end up with if we think of God as existing within time.
            Brilliantly-written satire on your part, though. All the examples are terrific, and that final sentence is a classic.

          • Linus, these are the questions thinking men have asked since the dawn of time. Let’s try and work through them.

            “What would you call a father who let his child chase a ball into the street because that was the child’s “free will”?”

            Jack would call such a father negligent. Any father who stood by and watched a child, without capacity, heading for danger would most certainly be at fault.

            On the other hand, the child has to learn through mistakes. A loving father would let his child have as much freedom as it could manage and standby ready to intervene if danger threatened. At some point, the child reaches maturity and has to accept full responsibility for his or her choices, actions and the consequences, good and bad, which follow from these.

            “If the god you worship exists, he is nothing better than criminally negligent. Not only did he create us “foreknowing” that we’d fall and suffer for it, he made no effort to guide or teach us of the consequences of our actions.”

            Well, that’s not entirely true, now is it? According to Scripture, God made Adam complete and integrated with full ability and complete freedom to exercise choice. He warned Adam of the consequences of choosing to rebel. Adam knew what he was doing was wrong – but he did it anyway.

            “All he did was issue a command – don’t touch that fruit because I say so – and then leave us to struggle with a temptation he KNEW we’d fail to resist. And then he had the temerity to act all outraged and surprised and punish us for doing exactly what he knew we were going to do.”

            Because God foreknew the result doesn’t mean the outcome was predetermined by Him or that Adam was compelled to behave the way he did. The alternative would have been for God to create us without the capacity to say “No” to him. Now, that would be a God that would be a tyrant.

            “If God is omniscient then he created us knowing we would fall. You can equate his actions to those of a father who decides to raise his children in an explosives factory. “Don’t strike a match or you’ll be sorry,” he says to his children one day before leaving them with a box of matches and no supervision, even though he knows exactly what’s going to happen. Off he goes and the children, being both curious and completely naive, start playing with the matches. BOOM!”

            Again, you have assumed complete naivety and childishness on the part of Adam and Eve. They were created as “good” with a soul and with the capacity to understand their actions and the consequences. God gave them freedom. That He foreknew the outcome doesn’t make God responsible for it.

            “The father, who’s been lurking at a safe distance knowing that the explosion is about to happen, comes rushing back, feigning surprise and anger and instead of blaming himself for his own criminal negligence and trying to help his wounded and bloodied children, instead he throws a massive tantrum and drives them away to fend for themselves.”

            This isn’t what God did, now is it? He could have just abandoned the whole project of creation. However, He willed the solution. That He Himself would become human and suffer a most cruel death so that man could be reconciled with Him.

            “This is the God you worship.”

            No, Linus. What you have presented is not the God Jack loves.

            “You believe that all you have to do is say you’re sorry and he’ll let you back in.”

            Not quite. The ability to say “sorry” is a God given gift too. Faith and grace come directly from Him on account of the Cross. Every person is offered these gifts. God foreknows all our responses to His offer, and repeated offers, and to those He foreknows will accept these, no matter how late in their lives, He calls His own and their salvation is ensured.

            “Maybe he will, but what happens then? Based on past performance, what else does he have lined up for you? Will he take you to live in a minefield, tell you to stay exactly where you are, and then be all outraged and angry when you blow yourself to smithereens because you just can’t stand on one spot for the rest of time? Or maybe your eternal home will be on a shark infested beach where it’s so hot and sticky and the water so cool and inviting that you just can’t help going for a dip…!!!”

            Once we die, Linus, our trials and tribulations are behind us. Meantime, while alive, if we accept Him there is no guarantee of a life without suffering or pain. All we can be certain of is that God will provide us with every means we need to make it home.

            “Will God be sitting in a comfortable chair with a tub of popcorn enjoying the spectacle and maybe covering his eyes with his fingers from time to time during the goriest parts, a bit like we might do during a Jaws movie?”

            Not the God Jack loves, no.

            “We know that dumb blonde going for a midnight skinny-dip is going to be torn to shreds by that shark, just as God knows every mistake and false step we’re going to make. Are we just a form of entertainment that helps him while away eternity?”

            Like every good parent who allows his children to grow up and reach maturity, He will watch over us and wait patiently on us.

            Have a read of these two documents. They are written by Father William Most.



          • The Explorer

            Hello Linus,
            Thank you for your considered response.
            I’d say your argument is that if God existed you would want God to be evil. Then you could reject him on the grounds of decency.
            I’m not convinced by your reasons for rejecting Option 3; although I think you set out those issues you address very clearly. I’d like to tease out Augustine’s view of evil as parasitic on good: that good once existed without evil, and will eventually do so again.
            But I’d like to mull it over for a while to present the case as concisely as possible. I’ll get back to you on another thread.
            In the interim, regards to you.

          • Everybody worships someone, Linus. Even Bob Dylan knows that:

            You might be a rock n’ roll addict, prancin’ on the stage
            You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
            You may be a business man or some high degree thief
            They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

            But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you’re
            You’re gonna have to serve somebody
            Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
            But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

            You strike me as the sort of self-made man who worships his creator.
            Two reasons why it is right and good to worship God.
            1. Because He is worthy. ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created’ (Revelation 4:11).
            2. Because it is the most blessed and worthwhile thing that anyone can do.
            ‘How pleased and blessed was I
            To hear the people cry,
            Come let us seek our God today.
            Yes, with a cheerful zeal,
            We haste to Zion’s hill,
            And there our vows and homage pay.’

            Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 122.
            You are like a monkey playing with a watch. Because you don’t understand it, you just try and break it.

          • Linus

            What you’re really saying is that you think it’s in our best interests to worship God. I’m not so sure.

            If he really exists and planned for us to live eternally in bliss in the Garden of Eden, well that didn’t happen, did it? So his plans clearly aren’t perfect and he makes mistakes. Do you want to worship a fallible God? Better hope he doesn’t make any more mistakes in the future, eh?

            The only other choice is that he doesn’t make mistakes and his plan for us involved our fall right from the start. So all the pain you’ve ever suffered and will ever suffer was preordained and God created you specifically to feel it. For what reason? And should you take the pain relief he offers you in the form of himself, or is he just trying to calm you down and stop you thrashing about in your cage? Perhaps souls that are bruised and stressed don’t taste as nice as the nice, happy, tranquilized ones.

            Nobody has ever seen this perfect pasture we’re supposed to be put out to when we die. Does it exist or is it just a vain promise designed to quiet us down while we’re fattened for slaughter, or absorption, or rendering down into the dark energy God needs to power his psychic experiments, or whatever? Is the earth a farm and we’re the cash crop?

          • You’re still not looking to the cross Linus. Until you do that, you’re wasting your time and ours. You’re still playing with the watch and trying to pull it apart.

          • Linus

            The cross is the Christian equivalent of a syringe or a crack pipe. It’s the means by which a narcotic is administered, it’s not the narcotic itself.

            Studying the syringe you let fall from your hand tells me little about the effects of the drug it’s just pumped into your system. It can tell me what the drug is, but it can’t let me experience the effects of that drug unless I plunge it into my own arm.

            Looking at what it’s doing to you, I can’t say I’m tempted to follow your example.

          • OK, Linus, back to your certainties then.
            First there was nothing, then it exploded; then it all sort of fell into shape, and lo and behold! Goo became you, and lichen became Linus. Trouble is, you know, deep down inside that that it’s not true; that it’s a load of rubbish- everybody knows that, if they’d only admit it- and that’s what makes you keep coming back here.
            Maybe it’s God in His goodness, keeping you here, and eventually the penny will drop.

          • Linus

            And first there was dust and God huffed and puffed into it and lo and behold, there was your great great grandfather!

            Trouble is you know it’s rubbish, so you seek confirmation from other believers hoping that hearing them say “yes it’s true” will persuade you it really is.

            Maybe the subconscious logical part of your brain is seeking ways in which to resolve the cognitive dissonance you force it to live with, and eventually the penny will drop.

          • You’re floundering here a bit, Linus. Try to say something original.
            Have you ever read Robinson Crusoe? The eponymous hero is walking on the beach of his desert island when he sees a human footprint.
            He does not think to himself, “This footprint must have originally have belonged to an ant and has evolved over millions of years into a human one.” Nor does he think, “Maybe the action of the sea has caused an eddy which has caused the sand to be disturbed in this way.” No, he sees the footprint and he knows perfectly well that someone must have made it, and if it wasn’t he, it must have been someone else. And of course, a few pages later on he discovers Man Friday.
            Now let me refer you to the Julie Andrews School of Cosmology:
            ‘Nothing comes of nothing,
            Nothing ever could……’

            There has to be an eternal First Cause of the Universe. If there is not then nothing exists. And if there is order and design in the world- if e=mc2 and so forth- then there has to be a Designer. If there is a footprint, there has to be a maker of the footprint.
            But that is just obvious. Even the devils in hell know there’s a God. You need to discover who He is and what He requires of you. That you will only discover in the Bible. And when you look there, you will discover His gracious plans for the world and His love for mankind, for which the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood, so that a great crowd (so vast that no man can count it) of sinful humans can be made right with Him and live forever in perfect happiness.
            The question is: are you going to be one of them?

          • Linus

            Deluded children who confuse fairy tales with reality often think that a big powerful wizard waving a magic wand is the “first cause” of every story that interests them.

            Why not go and ask your “first cause” who created him? God simply takes the so-called problem of the origin of the Big Bang back one step. Who created God, and who created God’s creator?

            Christians try to get around this problem by making God eternal, but that’s just an arbitrary idea backed up by no evidence whatsoever. They then say that a collection of ancient writings gathered together by nomadic tribesmen is this eternal first cause’s will, which again they have no evidence of, and which again is just an arbitrary notion.

            By all means believe in your arbitrary ideas, but don’t be surprised when others reject them as the fantastical myths of sheltered and naive children who create fairy stories to explain what they just don’t understand.

          • Well, Linus, you’ve got more faith than I have. It’s of the order of those loonies who refuse to believe that Neil Armstrong & Co ever walked on the Moon. Never mind the evidence; never mind the order and design in the Universe and in the world; never mind the impossibility of something coming out of nothing, you’re going to stick to your guns. And your blindness has got nothing to do with science. Read Richard Lewontin, a Harvard geneticist (and Marxist).

            It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive , no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door…..’

            In other words, never mind the facts; we shall re-interpret them to agree with our own prejudices.

            ‘Professing to be wise, they became fools…..’
            (Romans 1:22). That’s my lot on this thread. I leave you to your blind, irrational prejudices.

          • Linus

            If something can’t come out of nothing, where did God come from?

            Call me a loon if you like, but all your god does is push the need for a first cause back one step. You can’t solve the problem by saying that your god is magical and eternal and needs no first cause. You have no evidence to back that statement up with. It’s merely an assertion.

            Making unsupported assertions and having complete faith in them in the absence of all supporting evidence is one of the definitions of lunacy, it seems to me. Atheists admit that our theories about the origin of the universe don’t (yet) explain the origin of the Big Bang. This is why we call them theories rather than facts. We admit that we don’t know because to maintain that we do would be untrue. Or a delusion.

            What do you call a Christian who claims to know everything about the origin of the universe and, when you ask for corroborating evidence, starts quoting verbatim sections of an ancient tribal legend? That’s my definition of a loon.

          • I wasn’t going to reply, but I just can’t resist an open goal!
            Statement 1. Making unsupported assertions and having complete faith in them in the absence of all supporting evidence is one of the definitions of lunacy, it seems to me.

            Statement 2. Atheists admit that our theories about the origin of the universe don’t (yet) explain the origin of the Big Bang.

            That’s why I called you a loon. I do admit though that you have more faith than I do.

          • Your a priori belief in a material cause for the Universe is irrational. Nothing comes from nothing – and all you’re offering is infinite regress which is both a logical and practical impossibility.

            There’s no more to be said.

            “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

            “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

          • Linus

            Irrational? Filling in the gaps in your knowledge with a magical being who conjures something out of nothing is what’s irrational. It’s simply you gazing at yourself in a looking glass and imagining yourself endowed with limitless power.

            Your god is nothing more than an ego projection blown up to hugely inflated proportions. The ultimate accessory for a narcissist: God made in your own image.

            None of this surprises me of course. A self-regarding blowhard such as yourself is of course going to believe that he’s the universe’s ultimate creation, therefore God must be just like him.

            Not even your determination to impose your beliefs on everyone else and to persuade them of eternal punishment if they won’t obey you is unexpected. It’s all about power and control with you, isn’t it? That’s your primary motivator.

            I suppose I should feel sorry for you. The powerlessness of Christianity and its increasing lack of influence must be very hard for you to bear. It’s clear that your tendency to lash out at and abuse anyone who disputes your “divine right” to rule is born of a deep frustration. There’s nothing quite as vicious as an autocrat living in an age that gives him no opportunity to dominate and control others.

            But here’s a thought that might help you to cope. If your god really does exist, perhaps the delusions of grandeur he endowed you with were a gift with a point. Living as you do in a place and a time where you can do nothing except bawl your anguish at not ruling the world across the Internet, perhaps the resulting frustration is the cross he designed specifically for you to bear.

            The more I think about it the more sense it makes. Putting a sociopathic autocrat in the weak and feeble body of a sad fat old Scotsman and then plonking him down in a bleak backwater where his opportunities of influence are limited to his long-suffering family (and perhaps one or two other masochistic individuals, for whom he represents their personal cross – wheels within wheels, you see…) shows a degree of heartlessness and cunning that only the Christian god could be capable of.

            One can only assume that he has some kind of special task for you to perform in the afterlife and therefore needs to you suffer exquisite pain in the here and now so you can shortcut your way through purgatory and get to work as soon as possible.

            Take heed then. Every time you lash out in an attempt to alleviate your suffering, you’re actually working against God’s plan. He wants you to read the newspapers and weep. He wants you to see everything you hold dear destroyed before your very eyes. He wants you to taste the full bitterness of woe he’s measured out for you, the better to serve him in whatever he has planned for you after you die.

            Who knows, if those plans turn out to be of a military nature, which would make sense given the pugnacious and aggressive nature of your base personality, perhaps we’ll meet one day when you’re leading the charge of a squadron of Christ’s angelic host against the army of the damned. You’ll then have the pleasure of plunging your flaming sword into my evil chest and banishing me to Hades forever.

            Keep hold of that thought! One day you’ll have your vengeance! But only if you’re a bit more meek and mild now…

          • Blasphemous rant over, Linus?

            What part of Jack’s last comment did you not understand?

            “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

            This also applies to internet discussions.

          • Linus

            Criticize Sad Jack and all of a sudden it’s blasphemy, eh?

            Even I didn’t think you’d admit to self-worship quite so openly. But there you go…

          • The Explorer

            Christ has seen it, if one accepts the Resurrection. But the current Paradise which Christ offered the penitent thief is only temporary. The perfect pasture (with the restored Tree of Life for the healing of the nations comes after the Last Judgment, when there is a new Heaven and a new Earth.

          • Anton

            The “sin” of abortion is not in depriving us of some kind of pretended “right to life”. It’s in usurping God’s absolute right to dispose of us as he sees fit. Only in general Christians don’t want to say that because it reveals God for the tyrant he is

            You understand Christian doctrine rather better than some in the church, Linus; your first two sentences I have quoted are spot on. That God is a heartless tyrant follows only if you ignore how sinful humans are, and ignore the get-out-of-jail card that God has made available at great personal cost.

          • Linus

            “Great personal cost”? You mean the crimp in Jesus’s life when he lost three days and then came back to life?

            Admittedly crucifixion can’t be very pleasant, but for a god who knows rather than just believes he’s going to be resurrected, isn’t it more of a temporary setback than the total catastrophe it would be for you or me?

            I never understood the whole “for God loved us so he gave his only son…” thing. He didn’t “give” him so much as “lend” him for a while, which on a timescale of eternity surely can’t count for that much. And didn’t he owe us some kind of consideration when you think that some of the responsibility for our fall falls squarely on his shoulders? After all, it was his decision to plonk us in a garden with a snake and a perilous tree. He could have put the tree somewhere we couldn’t get at it, or even not created it at all. If he wanted us to learn to resist temptation, other lessons with less serious consequences could have been arranged. But no, he chose to put us directly in harm’s way and when we got hurt, we only had ourselves to blame? Really?

            I think not. This god of yours needs to man up and take responsibility for his actions. If he were a human father, he’d be declared unfit and his children would be placed in care to protect them from his negligence. So he lent us his only son to give us a way out of the mess he let us get ourselves into? Great, and about time too. The responsibility for the crucifixion is not just ours alone. There would have been no need for it had God taken his creative act and parental role seriously in the first place.

          • Anton


            If no tree then no way that man could express his love for his creator by not eating of it. The Fall was not inevitable. As for the great personal cost to God of the Crucifixion, consider also what it felt like carrying all the sins of the world. It’s bad enough carrying the sins of one person as all who have repented know from experience.

          • The Explorer

            In Beckett’s ‘Endgame’, Hamm inveighs against his “accursed progenitor”. In response to the question, “Why did you engender me?” the hapless father replies, “I didn’t know it would be you.” We may argue that God doesn’t have that excuse; although ‘Genesis’ 6:7 suggests God’s disappointment with the way the human race has turned out, and the possibility that it might have been otherwise.

            We may, like Hamm, argue that we did not ask for individual existence; that it would be better, indeed, if the human race as a whole had never existed. But that the race does exist, and has an eternal destiny, is more of a problem for believers than it is for the likes of yourself.

            For atheists, there can be the reassurance that one day Earth will be a dead planet, and the human race as if it had never been. For there will be no one alive to remember it.

          • Anton

            By the way I agree that there are no such things as “human rights”. If they exist then by definition every human has them simply by being human. But if, for instance, “freedom” is a human right then it is wrong to imprison anybody, no matter what crimes they have committed. Reductio ad absurdum! With the notion of civil rights, in contrast, there is no such contradiction: The State grants them and the State may remove them for those who infringe its laws.

            Obviously I believe that people should treat each other well, but “human rights” are not why.

      • dannybhoy

        You’re still here Linus?
        Yet another non believer who seems to find ‘the company of the demented’ strangely addictive…
        I continue to pray for you Linus.

        • DanJ0

          If you’re also including me, and I expect you are given a recent comment, then I don’t know who the hell you think you are. Perhaps you should take a look at the Commenting Policy section here:

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, I include you, and yes I know who I am, thank you very much.
            S’funny how people can feel free to throw all kinds of insults at Christians and their beliefs, yet get upset when someone like me asks why then, they continue to comment here
            Don’t have a cow about it DanJ0.

          • DanJ0

            As far as I know you don’t own or police this area so f.o.a.d.

          • dannybhoy

            Now where did I say I did?
            I asked a question of someone who often finds fault or ridicules people here. Then instead of a rational answer you sound off. Why?
            And what does “f.o.a.d” stand for?
            Is this perhaps an example of your enlightened, superstition free non Christian philosophy full of love for all men?


          • DanJ0

            I recall your previous comment directed to me, unpleasant and out of the blue, so you have no high ground here, Sunshine. My answer at the time? “Bless you”

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t claim high ground anywhere DanJ0, but I think “FOAD” is taking the reaction a bit far…

          • DanJ0

            You can think what you like. If you choose to attack people here then you can hardly complain when you get it back in spades.

          • dannybhoy

            You were under attack?!!

          • DanJ0

            You’re not the first person to fancy himself as a forum policeman, trying to manage someone else’s blog comment space for them, uninvited, you know. Over the years, people like you have come and gone yet the Commenting Policy remains the same.

          • The offending comment:

            One wonders why you stay then.
            Have you no friends− “

            The complete response:

            “Bless you. Bad day today for you by the look of it here and elsewhere.”

            A song and a dance over nothing, Danjo.

          • DanJ0

            Getting bored with Linus now, Dodo? So back to the old hunting ground.

          • For the ‘silent reader’, Danjo.
            Wouldn’t want anyone to think you were being treated harshly.

          • DanJ0

            Inevitable, really.

          • ….. or exaggerating for effect.

          • dannybhoy

            So DanJ0,
            I asked twice now why stay, when you not only don’t believe but ridicule people’s beliefs. I have no problem with anyone here who doesn’t believe. I don’t mind all the attacks etc., but I think to ask why stay then is a pretty reasonable one.
            Then you react like the Christians here don’t react when you and others get stuck into mockery and derision.
            Not to mention the language.
            Not to mention telling someone to eff off and die… (yes, I looked it up.)
            I don’t mind abuse. You carry on. But why react like that when you’re asked a simple question. Why say I’m trying to police the site? Why not just say you stay because you quite like it even though you don’t believe.
            It just seems an unbalanced reaction from someone who likes dishing it out to the poor Christians..

          • DanJ0

            “I asked twice now why stay, when you not only don’t believe but ridicule people’s beliefs.”

            Who the hell do you think you are? This is not your blog and you are not its policeman.

          • dannybhoy

            I’ve already agreed to that, but neither is it your blog, and telling people to “eff off and die” shows how little of our Christian values have rubbed off on you.

          • DanJ0

            I’m not obliged to adopt Christian values. Not that I rate your particular interpretation of them very much given your current behaviour.

          • Lol ………. he’s behaving perfectly fine. Embarrassed, Danjo?

          • Fuck Off And Die. Danj0’s a charming chap.

          • dannybhoy

            Ha Ha!
            I used to get frequent and similar advice when I worked in a school for children with ‘special educational knees’ when they were kicking off and bent on destruction..
            They didn’t deliver their wise counsel as “F.O.A.D.” Perhaps more colourful and graphic than DanJ0’s..

        • Linus

          Pray away. It can do me no harm and if it gives you a goal and keeps you out of mischief, at least somebody gains by it.

          As part of the Christian disorder you’re suffering from, it appears that you believe I’m here because you’re so wonderful and attractive that I can’t keep away.

          I suppose it’s the same impulse felt by a psychiatric patient who’s convinced that his doctor is obsessed with him.

          Let’s just say I’m a doctor who’s lost loved ones to the psychotic impulses of believers, so I understand how dangerous they can be. I therefore intervene on this blog in order to highlight the absurdity and ridiculousness of much of the conversation that takes place here, in the hope that innocent victims who might stray here by accident won’t be taken in by it.

          Judging by the number of “upvotes” I receive, I think I’ve helped a few visitors to understand that the thin layer of seriousness and academic credibility this blog plasters over what is really just crazed religious ranting, hides nothing but hatred and spite. I will never know if I really have saved anyone from the clutches of the Jesus freaks and the homophobes, but the hope is what keeps me here.

          It certainly isn’t your “erudite” and “witty” company…

          • chiefofsinners

            Dear Linus
            When I went to our church prayer meeting tonight there were some children banging on the windows. They often do it.
            Your contributions to this blog are similar.

      • The Explorer

        He certainly is when you consider that 100% of humans die. If that’s the whole story, then rather than use the term ‘God’ one should say ‘Nature’, or ‘The Life Force’ (while it lasts), or ‘The Evolutionary Process’.
        If there is a God, and we have souls and there’s an after life, then the parameters change. I quite agree with you, however, about miscarriages, stillbirths and child deaths: all highly problematic. They raise the question not of why a loving God would allow them, but of why the idea of a loving God would have arisen in the first place. I think there are answers, but the brevity of a blog is not the appropriate forum.

        • Actually, your man Mundabor has the basics right there. I obviously don’t agree with all his R.C. doctrinal stuff, but the rest is good.

  • dannybhoy

    Some of our communities still believe in standing together shoulder to shoulder, united against criticism and rage. They believe in facing adversity and opposition in order to secure rights or fair treatment for their community
    Now take the Westminster tribe’s crusade to improve MP’s pay and perks for example….

  • DanJ0

    Article: “Is it supposed to deter Roman Catholic priests from expressing an opinion about public morality? Is it a crime to encourage a congregation not to vote for a particular parliamentary candidate because they happen to support abortion or same-sex marriage? Has a criminal offence been committed if this catechetical instruction goes further – an assertion that to vote for a particular candidate might meet with divine disapproval and judgment?”

    Not a crime, no. But there’s something faintly sinister about (say) threatening politicians with excommunication in advance if they vote for laws which are inconsistent with the Roman Catholic Church teachings.

    • What’s “faintly sinister” about it? Do explain.

      • carl jacobs

        If you assume that a politician should by necessity keep his public life separate from his private life, and if you assume that his religious beliefs should only affect his private life, then you come to the conclusion that the RCC is illegitimately attempting to Influence the public life of a politician. This is why the first article made reference to “privately devout.” It draws a boundary around the church’s proper scope of authority.

        A politician is evidently supposed to check his religious beliefs at the door of his office. The church is evidently supposed to respect this boundary because… well, if it didn’t that would subvert democracy or something. Politicians are evidently supposed to be immune from conflicts between church and policy. If the church provokes a conflict by violating that boundary, it is evidently behaving in a “sinister” fashion.

        A man can be a Catholic. A man can be a politician. But a Catholic politician can’t claim privilege to do what he wants in the public arena devoid of consequences that would attach because of his Catholicism. The politician will do what he must. The church will do what it must. The electorate will respond to future Catholic candidates accordingly. Remember, JFK was only electable because he distanced himself from the authority of the Vatican.

        There is a prudential case, and there is a principled case. Either one may be legitimate. Both will have different consequences.

        • You’ve set the issues out well, Carl.
          There is a real conflict in holding public office and being a Roman Catholic because of the obedience the Church expects. For a politician, it entails accepting the teachings of the Church in the areas of birth control, marriage and abortion. There’s a good deal more scope for ‘wiggle room’ in the broader social teachings of the Church and prudential judgement comes into play more. Really, there’s very little, if any, room in these hot button moral issues.

          It seems that Kennedy’s campaign was nearly scuttled when shortly before polling three American-born bishops in Puerto Rico issued a statement forbidding Catholics from voting for candidates who disagreed with the Church on abortion and birth control. Kennedy concluded it was unwise to focus attention on this damaging incident. Several studies have concluded that this controversy was a significant factor in the sudden halt in Kennedy’s momentum and the surge toward Nixon in the final days of the campaign. He won the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history. Religion helped him in several urban and industrial states but it was a significant factor in his loss of Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee, and in his very close win in Texas.

          This is probably why Tony Blair delayed his formal conversion to Catholicism until after leaving Downing Street.

          • carl jacobs

            He won the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history.

            Yeah. Kennedy carried the precincts in the Chicago cemeteries by an overwhelming margin. It was enough to put him over in Illinois.

          • Eh? You’ll have to explain that comment. Jack takes it Chicago has a sizable Catholic population and this was sufficient to take Illinois. But why “cemeteries”?

            (You sound bitter, Carl)

          • carl jacobs

            Vote fraud in Chicago gave Kennedy the election. Mayor Daley’s machine was famous for rigging elections.

          • Do you think you may be showing some partisan bias (again) in this assessment?

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t have much of an opinion on the 1960 election, at all – other than it brought to power the dumb SOBs who dumped us into the Vietnam war. The Jackass in Chief being Sec’y of Defense McNamara.

            But then I’ve never hid my feelings about the Vietnam War.

          • Dangerous times the 1960’s and Jack really isn’t informed enough to comment on America’s strategic approach to the advance of communism and the methods they were using. It all feels a bit like history repeating itself in respect of the Middle East.

          • Bonkim

            The earlier Korean War to save Korea from the Communist menace, and Viet Nam from Ho Chi Minh following Dien Bien Phu and the defeat of Imperial France. The US was the defender of the Free World and the last barrier between Communism and the Free World – the same story in the 1950s adventure into Tehran or the later Cuban Missile Crisis, or the War in Angola. That is part of US history – whether you like it or not. People were prepared to wage wars for their ideals – not just economic calculations as today – and ISIS today lives on their ideas and ideals – whether we like it or not. Look back in history – ideas and ideals made people take more risks than simple cost/benefit calculations. The US War of Independence or the American Civil War for example.

            Today the world is joined together by economics and business and ideas and ideals are not considered worth fighting for – and any conflict will destroy profitable assets and people’s purchasing power – bad for business.

      • carl jacobs

        BTW Jack. Happy Roger Staubach’s Birthday. 🙂

        • Was he a Redskin player?

          • carl jacobs

            Peasant. Philistine. Cultural illiterate.

          • A Roman Catholic. Married his childhood sweetheart 50 years ago and fathered one son and four daughters. Now they have 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, yeah. He’s also the richest NFL athlete in history. But what’s realty important is that he is the Greatest QB ever. And he played for the Dallas Cowboys.

          • From Jack’s research, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Otto Graham, Dan Marino and one or two others are ranked higher.

            Do you think you may be showing some partisan bias in this assessment?

          • carl jacobs

            No. I wouldn’t.

          • Lol …. unusually brief and to the point, Carl.

          • CliveM

            What’s NFL got to do with culture!

            Fortunately the 6 Nations start today. Yippee!

  • Royinsouthwest

    When exactly was this “19th century” law passed? If it was very early in the 19th century it could have been used against some of Wilberforce’s supporters campaigning against slavery.

    If they had had this law in the United States in the 1960s it could have been used against Martin Luther King and other civil rights campaigners who were also clergymen.

    • It’s actually also in a statute dated as recently as 1983. This surprised Happy Jack.

      • CliveM

        Yes it is surprising. Was this not the time when Mrs T was having problems with ‘turbulent’ Priests?

  • Dominic Stockford

    So, if I stand for Parliament for, say, The Christian Party, I can’t by law ask anyone to vote for me?

    • You could so long as you didn’t threaten anyone with ‘spiritual harm’ if they voted for another candidate.

      Undue influence is a corrupt practice and is defined under Section 115 of ‘The Representation of the People Act 1983’.

      (2)A person shall be guilty of undue influence:

      (a) if he, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence or restraint, or inflicts or threatens to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel that person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of that person having voted or refrained from voting;

      It’s very wide in scope.

      • grutchyngfysch

        Which rather prompts the question as to whether the CofE’s much publicised assault on the BNP might fall foul of the letter of that law…

        [Personally, I don’t much care either way – de facto, people are going to assess candidates on the basis of their beliefs/principles/current stomach sensations (just to be inclusive of a-believists), which are in turn shaped by their priest/Stephen Fry/KFC. Even if nary a word regarding the election is uttered by the Colonel, an impact he will have on some poor soul who is out looking for a kebab but has found an electoral booth.]

      • A genuinely fascinating bit of archival research. Bless you.

        • Thank you, Archbishop. Bless you too.

          Happy Jack was surprised to discover this on the statute book. He surmises it is to prevent any religion from instructing its followers, on pain of damnation or excommunication, to vote for a particular candidate solely on the basis of their religion. It would seem to apply to the situation in Tower Hamlets. The case law will be interesting.

          • dannybhoy

            “Religion” as within the denominationalism or corruptions of Christianity. or religions as in other religions?
            Because as far as I am aware there was no other religion -apart from a small representation of Judaism back then.

          • Hmmm …. that depends whether you view Catholicism as a “corruption of Christianity”. However, it applies to use of all spiritual inducement or compulsion.

            The extant legislation is dated 1983. It may be a legacy from Britain’s past religious friction and issues to do with the tensions between loyalty to one’s nation and its leaders versus obedience to the leaders of one’s faith.

            Say, for example,another Pope Boniface VIII was elected Pontiff. In the Bull Unam Sanctam in 1302, he wrote:

            “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.””

            This has, in Jack’s view, been quoted out of context and misrepresented but one reading of it is that one should follow the Church in all things relating to the affairs of state. However, if a future Pope declared a Catholic should, under pain of excommunication, vote for a Catholic candidate, then it would be illegal under this legislation. The same applies to all faiths.

          • dannybhoy

            you must stop thinking it’s all about you and Catholicism!
            When I said corruptions I was thinking of the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism and Christian Science..
            Carholicism comes under the heading (in my book) of denominationalism. I know there are true Christians within the Catholic church. All the rest is theology, politics and…’powah’!
            My point was that Islam did not figure at the time this law was written as we were a pretty homogenous flavouring of Christianity.
            Now what we have is a serious clash of world views that could see the end of Christendom altogether in Europe.

          • Danny, here’s a digital copy of a rather long book written in 1884, explaining the law.


            A summary by 6pm, if you please.

          • dannybhoy

            In scrolling through Jack it is patently obvious that the context of the law is a Christian society.
            As I have said before multiculturalism is a modern add-on, and we are starting to see the clashes that result from a previously homogenous* society trying to accommodate people from quite different cultural and religious backgrounds.
            * homogenous as in all the squabbling parties reside in the British Isles, and have long time historical connections to the British Isles.

            “The difficulty of the task thus attempted is not incon-
            siderable, and is due, in no small degree, to the somewhat
            piecemeal method of legislation which finds favour with


            “Those who are wont to lament that, with the disappearance of
            the pocket borough, the glory of the English Parliament
            has departed, may perhaps find some consolation in the
            fact that similar complaints found utterance as far back
            as the days when the first Resolution against Treating
            was passed.”


            “Bee. a. is equivalent to the actual carrying it into execution,
            and so where two persons threatened a Baptist
            minister, that they would give up their sittings in
            his chapel, it was held to be intimidation

            ” The Catholic priest has, and he ought to have, ^^’ ^•
            great influence. In the proper exercise of that
            influence on electors, the priest may counsel,
            advise, recommend, entreat and point out the true
            line of moral duty, and explain why one candidate
            should be preferred to another, and may, if he think
            flt, throw the whole weight of his character into the
            scale ; but he may not appeal

          • “but he may not appeal …. “

            What’s this a suspenseful ending until Episode 2?

          • dannybhoy

            It got boring…. 🙂

          • Lazy ……….. it actually got really interesting.

          • dannybhoy

            You only read the Catholic bits…
            You skipped the bits involving the Imam..

          • ;o)

          • Facinating

            “The Catholic clergy have a right to address their congregations, to tell them that one man is for the country, that another man is against the country. But they must not refuse the rites of the Church, in order to infiuence votes at an election [Qalway, 1 0. & H. 307) ; and the Mayo election, 1847, was avoided, because the priest told the people from the altar that “the curse of God would come down upon anyone who voted for Colonel H. and that if they were dying, he would not give the rites of the Church to anyone voting for him ” (W.&D. 1)

            The Catholic priest has, and he ought to have, great influence. In the proper exercise of that influence on electors, the priest may counsel, advise, recommend, entreat and point out the true line of moral duty, and explain why one candidate should be preferred to another, and may, if he think flt, throw the whole weight of his character into the scale ; but he may not appeal to the fears or terrors or superstition of those he addresses. He must not hold out hopes of reward here or hereafter, and he must not use threats of temporal injury, or of disadvantage, or of punishment hereafter. He must not, for instance, threaten to excommunicate, or to withhold the Sacraments, or to expose the party to any other religious disability, or denounce the voting for any particular candidate as a sin or as an offence involving punishment here or hereafter.

            If he does so with a view to influence a voter or to affect an election, the law considers him guilty of undue influence. (Pr. Fitzgerald, J., Longford 2 0. & H. 16; cp. Oalway ib. 57; Tipperary, lb. 81.) ”

            The Parliamentary Elections Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention acts, 1854 to 1883,
            Pages: 83-84

          • Anton

            Unam Sanctam was intended as a thunderbolt to the King of France regarding taxation of clergy. But crying “Context!” is sorely overdone by some here. It either is or is not necessary for “the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”, and the precise circumstances which elicited that claim are irrelevant to the truth or otherwise of the matter. Furthermore (Jack) I’d like to have seen Boniface VIII’s face if someone had told him that what he wrote in Unam Sanctam didn’t count because, as you stated on an earlier thread, it wasn’t ex cathedra since a previous council had already pronounced on the matter.

          • It does rather depend on what one means by being “subject to the Roman Pontiff” and just how this operates, Anton. This is where historical context is relevant. Also, this has been used to suggest Catholics follow the Pope, as a man, rather than Christ, who’s Vicar he is and who’s authority he carries, or the Church and the deposit of faith entrusted to it.

          • Anton

            If Boniface thought his words were not clear then he would have clarified them: If I excommunicate you, King Philippe le Bel of France or anybody else, you will lose salvation.

            I’ll risk it.

          • If a Catholic, you would only “risk it” after weighing all the issues, considerable soul searching and references to Scripture.

            In the year 2015, would you “risk it” over voting in favour of abortion? How about voting Labour, if they had presented the Abortion Act of 1967 in their manifesto? Or same sex ‘marriage’, if the electorate had actually been given a choice?

          • Anton

            In a referendum I would unhesitatingly vote the same way as you on those issues Jack. Voting in parliamentary elections is not a single-issue decision, although the things you mention would be very strong factors in my choice.

      • CliveM

        Happy Jack

        During your research did you find out when the last time someone was convicted using this law and details?

        • Happy Jack is a mere a ‘Google savant’. He has his limits.

          • CliveM

            Now, now don’t do yourself down!

          • Jack leaves that to others …….. ;o)

          • CliveM

            Personally I see google as an international on line library. Don’t see a problem.

          • The Explorer

            Nor do I. People who used to be good at tracking stuff down in books now do so on line. People who weren’t good at finding necessary information in books aren’t that hot about finding it on line either.

          • CliveM

            If you read the definition of ‘savant’ it actually quite flattering.

          • Well, Happy Jack didn’t want to brag ….

            “Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal.”

          • CliveM

            “Didn’t want to brag”

            Really…………………………..! :0)

          • It was Danjo who described Happy Jack as a ‘Google savant’.

          • The Explorer

            In Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’ Thamous complains that writing will atrophy memory. If you can write it down, you don’t need to carry it in your head.
            I think that is DanJ0’s point: if one is a real savant one knows it already without having to look it up.
            On the other hand, if one followed that consistently, one would never learn anything new. On line is now the fastest way to find out new stuff. I applaud anyone with the will and wit to make use of the new technology.

          • DanJ0

            One doesn’t need to carry the detail in one’s head, just remember enough about the subject to look up the detail if necessary. I agree about extending one’s knowledge, and the hypertext nature of the web certainly aids that. Heck, Dodo learnt from scratch to be a staunch Roman Catholic entirely on-line since 2010 so one shouldn’t knock its power 😉

          • DanJ0

            But not the phrase Google Savant; the phrase being mine here of course. There’s no problem using Google as a search engine or referring to Wikipedia (whilst knowing its potential for inaccuracies). The derogatory nature of the phrase is about people using Google on the fly in a debate or argument to pretend to be more knowledgeable on-line than they actually are in real life, and failing to pull it off.

          • Linus

            Surprising that Sad Jack hasn’t already rifled Wikipedia for information about convictions. Perhaps he’s doing it as I type, but old age and slowing reflexes are impeding his progress.

            So, on Sad Jack’s behalf, here’s an interesting Wiki-snippet, which you can take with as large a grain of salt as you like:

            “In September 2007 Miranda Grell was found guilty under this section when she made allegations of paedophilia and having sex with teenage boys against her gay opponent during the United Kingdom local elections, 2006. Convictions under this law are so rare that this was thought to be the first.”

            And also…

            “In November 2010, Labour MP Phil Woolas was found by an electoral court to have breached section 106. The judges ruled that a by-election for the seat should be held. Woolas said that he would apply for a judicial review into the ruling. In a statement released through his lawyer, Woolas stated that “this election petition raised fundamental issues about the freedom to question and criticise politicians” and that it “will inevitably chill political speech”. The judicial review failed to overturn the ruling of the election court.”

          • Why thank you, Linus. The reference to the Wiki article would be most welcome.

          • Linus

            Search under “Representation of the People Act 1983”.

          • CliveM

            Are either of these actually related to the spiritual injury element? It’s not immediately obvious.

          • Linus, these were breeches of Section 106 of the Act, not Section 115.

          • Linus

            Oops, my mistake…

          • CliveM

            Truly this is the age of miracles!

          • Linus

            I’ve never claimed to be infallible. I leave that to the man from Del Monte and the ex-cathetered German who preceded him in the role.

          • ” … to err is human; to forgive, divine.”

      • Dominic Stockford

        Which is interesting – for if, as the Bible says, I first point out that ‘all are sinners’ and then point out that another sin (for those who are already sinners and already need to repent or perish before committing it) would be to vote for the others, could they still catch me out?

  • Doctor Crackles

    Archaic law is used to correct abuses in a community trapped in the past. Doesn’t say a lot about the Bangledeshi community does it.

    On the other hand should not secular preaching be considered unlawful? T’would be most amusing for Fry to be censored for dissuading his devotees from voting UKIP.

  • cacheton

    What is called ‘spiritual influence’ here is clearly nothing of the kind, and should be called by what it is; ’emotional blackmail’.

    ‘…how can it be a criminal offence for any religious leader to urge people “to retain truth, righteousness and practise religious belief”’

    Because, as has been made clear very recently, that can and does lead to violence, in thought and word and deed.

  • A Spectator columnist from 1883 on this precise subject

    “..spiritual intimidation alone — spiritual intimidation not involving
    physical injury and loss — ought not to have been made penal in the
    Corrupt Practices Bill at all. The net result of the long argument in
    the House of Commons was admitted to be this — that no spiritual teacher
    is worth his salt who does not, on sufficient occasion, denounce sins
    which affect political life, just as much as sins affecting the moral
    and social life; and that no spiritual teacher who really believes that
    the consequence of sin is suffering, either in this world or in the
    next or in both, can properly abstain from pointing out this
    consequence to his congregation, and from pointing it out in any kind of
    language which is best fitted to bring it home to their hearts. Well,
    if that is admitted, it seems to us as clear as daylight that the only
    difference between undue influence and due influence, is the difference
    between a conscientious exercise of this influence by spiritual
    persons, and an unconscientious exercise of it? Is that a matter on
    which a Judge — perhaps of another faith and almost certainly of another
    phase of culture and political belief — sitting in judgment at the trial
    of an election petition, can properly pronounce with any sort of

    • More and more interesting, Archbishop:

      In the case of the priests and clergy, as in the case of landlords and other classes, it is only the abuse of their influence that is struck at by the section. The Catholic clergy have a right to address their congregations, to tell them that one man is for the country, that another man is against the country. But they must not refuse the rites of the Church, in order to infiuence votes at an election [Qalway, 1 0. & H. 307) ; and the Mayo election, 1847, was avoided, because the priest told the people from the altar that “the curse of God would come down upon anyone who voted for Colonel H. and that if they were dying, he would not give the rites of the Church to anyone voting for him ” (W.&D. 1)

      The Catholic priest has, and he ought to have, great influence. In the proper exercise of that influence on electors, the priest may counsel, advise, recommend, entreat and point out the true line of moral duty, and explain why one candidate should be preferred to another, and may, if he think flt, throw the whole weight of his character into the scale; but he may not appeal to the fears or terrors or superstition of those he addresses. He must not hold out hopes of reward here or hereafter, and he must not use threats of temporal injury, or of disadvantage, or of punishment hereafter. He must not, for instance, threaten to excommunicate, or to withhold the Sacraments, or to expose the party to any other religious disability, or denounce the voting for any particular candidate as a sin or as an offence involving punishment here or hereafter.

      If he does so with a view to influence a voter or to affect an election, the law considers him guilty of undue influence. (Pr. Fitzgerald, J., Longford 2 0. & H. 16; cp. Oalway ib. 57; Tipperary, lb. 81.) ”

      (C. A. Vansittsrt Conybeare; ‘The Parliamentary Elections Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Acts, 1854 to 1883’; Pages: 83-84

  • Would it be wrong for the local MP to read one of the lessons or read the intercessions at his Parish Church on Sundays? Ours does occasionally.

  • Dreadnaught

    All this agonising hand-wringing will never tackle the real issue. We no longer live in a one dominant faith society. Politicians and the legislature have denied us the open debate whether it is desirable to embrace multiculturalism and accommodate a completely alien culture in such strength as to change the nature of the host country.

    The Koran should be the focus of political attention as it is from there that justification for Islamic advancement is spelled out. Not only does it spell out that it’s intentions are to dominate the world it spells out how that domination will be achieved by directing its disciples from how to wipe their arses to employing the vilest actions against anyone standing in their way.

    Enslavement, beheading, stoning, roasting, maiming are all graphically condoned in that vile book covered by a diversionary syrup of benevolence that will always be upheld to promote the ‘Religion of Peace’ image much loved by head-in-the-sand politicians, which is all too readily pushed aside pursuit of territorial gain is opportune.

    • IanCad

      You’re making some good points Dreadnaught.

      What concerns me most – in regard to those granted citizenship – is the Muslim disregard for truth when dealing with other faiths or none.

      As the concepts of Taqiyya and Kitman are well documented this should give our legal system a means to revoke the citizenship of those who conspire to undermine our tolerant way of life.

      • Dreadnaught

        Thank you IanCad. I don’t know the legal implications for making someone Stateless or even how effective given the technology available to fool our non effective ‘Border Security’ staff. However I make no excuse for hammering away at the Koran as the catalyst for the mayhem going on in he world in the name of Islam.
        I don’t buy into the argument that it is a corruption of Islam that we are facing but rather it is the true Islam with 1500 years practice on record. What more proof do the politicians and public require before they call for a stop on the importations of Islamic literature in Arabic and that Muslim immigrants, Imams and Mosques are suspended until it is proved to the contrary, that the threats and violence have been denounced and expunged.
        Until the Koran is seriously revised and written in the language of the host country, I doubt that politicians or the general public will ever get to grips with its content or its long term ambition of domination.

        • You can rage all you like Dreadders, but as long as the secularist radicals like Mandelson, Harman, the BBC, TUC, SWP (who were threatening Farage today) and the rest of them see Islam as the spearhead of their dechristianising agenda you can whistle for a change of policy. What do you think our leaders are going to do, admit they were wrong or something?

          They still believe they can secularise and tame Islam once it has served its purpose. They haven’t done their homework.

          • Dreadnaught

            Not raging at all SH. Why have you let the Conservatives and Church Leaders off you list of appeasers?

          • James60498 .

            I assume he has left Church leaders off because he is talking about those who are using Islam in their misguided attempts to replace Christianity. Whilst it is not unreasonable of you to refer to some of them as appeasers, I don’t think that this is what his list was.
            As far as many members of the Conservative Party are concerned though, yes, I too believe that they should be included.

          • Yeah, add them too. Sometimes, brevity. But the secularists didn’t just misinterpret or maladapt to this. They made it happen as part of a strategy.

  • Anton

    It is a disgrace that anybody might not be legally permitted to influence by words the voting of anybody else. Provided that the voting box is private then people are free to ignore what anybody else says when they come to vote. Islam is not the issue here.

    • dannybhoy

      I disagree with that. Most Muslim communities are far more bonded and supportive of the communities concerns than native Brits. So if a Muslim group quite legitimately campaigns and secures a majority vote on a parish, town or even borough council. then their community priorities will dominate council business. They’re doing nothing wrong, but it will distort democracy as we understand it, because essentially Islam does not believe in democracy.

      • Dreadnaught

        How can you say ‘they’re doing nothing wrong’ then follow it up with that it will ‘distort democracy? What we are looking at is colonisation by a 5th column. Churchill said ‘secure your defence of the home then take the fight to the enemy’ We seem incapable of even identifying the threat or the enemy.

        • dannybhoy

          Because they are doing nothing wrong according to the system, but the system was set up and developed by people with a Judaeo/Christian/Democratic world view!
          So I agree with your premise, but we have to accept that we -or our political representatives were the dozey wotsits that have allowed it to happen.

          • Dreadnaught


        • Anton

          To clarify: Islam is intrinsically political and should be dealt with robustly by the authorities as such. But the issue on which I commented was freedom of speech.

          • Dreadnaught

            How can ‘the authorities’ deal with it when it passes as a religion that even the various recent Popes and ABCs welcome with open arms.

          • Anton

            Perhaps politicians guided by intelligence services have a bit more sense than Archbishops and Popes. If not now, then after a few more Hebdo incidents and/or threats to the milk cow sited a mile east of parliament.

          • bockerglory

            Totally agree. Their scriptures cover daily life, diet, menstration, marriage etc to the nth degree. It is all encompassing and cannot be challenged. Jesus taught us that the Law can only condem us that is why he said (in irony) “I am not here to change one jot of the Law”.

            The law reflects history, climate, culture, level of education, technology etc. God knew that laws change as humans become more organised inventive and more literate. That is why Jesus commands us to love God, our neighbour and follow him by following his Acts – so that we can adapt to future challenges and not be condemned by the law!

            Islam condemns billions to live by laws set for a small military desert nation 1400yrs ago. So sad…..

        • bockerglory

          Hello Dreadnaught, I have worked with professional Muslims for many years. It is the Madrassahs that are to blame – they are not like innocent Sunday Schools for tots. In these schools all over the World young people (boys) rote learn scripture often in a language which is not their mother tongue. There is no dialogue or debate if children express a different view they are automatically corrected (in various ways). Mohammed promises great sexual rewards for young men to get them to fight – obviously not for women.

          There is no history of apologetics! Xianity produces hundreds of books a year on how to answer questions about your faith …. And hiwvto debate. Not so Islam

          • Dreadnaught

            It does us no favours when we have a crazy law for criminalising offending someones ‘hurt feelings’ or beliefs on their say-so. As an atheist I just have to suck it up and move on when told of the eternal punishments that await me – I just get on with enjoying the only life I am likely to experience.

          • dannybhoy

            But you enjoy that life as a citizen of a country greatly influenced by Christianity, where education and science and hospitals and social reforms were brought in mainly by Christians.
            Even the very notion of freedom and worth comes from Christianity which asserts that man is made in the image of God.
            Just think if you’d been born in Saudi or Afghanistan..

      • carl jacobs


        They’re doing nothing wrong, but it will distort democracy as we understand it

        There is an illustrative conflict of this concept in a US city called East Ramapo NY. That particular city has a large Hasidic Community, and the Hasidim in the US don’t use public schools. They do however pay taxes to support those schools. The Hasidim got tired of being taxed for a school system they didn’t use. To make a long story short, the Hasidim decided to take over the school board (the local agency in the US that sets policy for public schools for a given location). They had the votes to do so. The conflict arises because the new school board set about running the public schools according to the interests of Hasidic Community. This was all very democratic, and very legal. But it amounts to gov’t by a faction for the interests of that faction. If you aren’t a part of that faction, then you have no say. As a matter of fact, some of the school board members have suggested it might be best if the dissenters departed for other more agreeable locations.

        One of the unspoken premises of democracy is that this kind of factionalism must be controlled. It must be channeled to support the larger collective community. But that requires a common collective vision of what that larger community should be. When radically different cultures collide, there is no possibility of common vision. Islam will vote in a block in order to build its own local vision, and that vision will be Islamic. It’s completely legal and democratic, but it subverts the larger vision.

        The modern problem is that secularism has eviscerated that common vision. That’s why there is all this casting about for “British values.” The Christian faith used to underpin those values. But now the Christian faith is gone, and only a vacuum remains. Anything can rush in to fill the vacuum. The secular world wants Christian Britain without Christianity. But that isn’t possible. And now it views with alarm the things that might arise to replace it.

        • dannybhoy

          Very well put Carl.
          We have schools that cater for Jewish students here in the UK, but I think they fund themselves. Even if they don’t they have never affected the greater community negatively. (again, as far as I know.)
          The point is that until the sixties when our homogenous society began to be affected by immigration, the small Jewish population were the only community most people were aware of as being truly ‘different.’
          There is a big difference between a community that makes no demands, produces scientists, doctors, musicians and entertainers etc. and mostly keeps itself to itself, and one that actively demands and attempts to change the country to suit themselves.

          What I think has happened is that our new policy of multiculturalism has broken that tacit relationship, and now British Jewry is under pressure mainly from some in our Muslim communities.
          Because of those three state policies of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, all communities are now to be treated equally, more aggressive political and religious groups are tolerated, and even if banned pop up in a different guise, and we tolerate all kinds of tosh totally alien to our own values….

        • Phil R

          This is nothing new.

          It happened in Africa all the time.

          Independence meant that the largest ethnic group or the most powerful gained power

          from then on the country was run mainly for the sole benefit of that group.

          They seemed to see it as perfectly logical. If you can get power you use it for your benefit

          • dannybhoy

            Which is what may well come to the UK and Europe.
            Interesting isn’t it, that only Europe and the UK has consciously developed the idea of multiculturalism. No other part of the world has actually chosen it. All pther countries insist that minorities must conform to the main group and obey its laws.

          • The Explorer

            USA, Canada, Australia? Seems to be an issue there too. In fact – I speak under correction – I was under the impression multiculturalism was a US invention.

          • dannybhoy

            The Americans started off with a European nucleus, strong
            moral Constitution which everyone acknowledged.
            As the immigrant population flowed in that strong government held, but the changes really started to appear after ww2. America shows us what happens once the major culture loses ground and vote chasing and corruption takes hold.
            America is starting to come apart.

          • avi barzel

            At least as a defined and official government policy, multiculturalism is a Canadian invention, introduced by the late Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in the mid 70s. It defined itself as a Canadian “cultural mosaic” model, as opposed to the American “melting pot” ideal.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you. Canada it is; although one internet source cites Paula Rothenberg. (But it looks like a site with personal issues against her.) Incidentally, I thought the “melting pot” ideal went out with the 1965 Immigration Act?

          • avi barzel

            Possibly the US altered its formal stance, but here the multiculturalism policy was promoted (and still is) as a better approach in contrast to what they defined as a policy of assimilation. Of course, initially it made sense and gained acceptance or faced indifference in the context of French Quebec and its unique cultural and legislative status in the Dominion, the scattered minority Francophone communities among the provinces and the low number of mostly European immigrants.

        • CliveM

          Elective Dictatorship. Democracy only works if minorities have their legitimate interests protected.

          • They can only have their legtimate interests protected up to the point they become disruptive, harmful, incompatible with everybody else.

          • CliveM

            Which is why I chose the term legitimate. What this constitutes maybe argued over, but it can’t be to strictly defined.

          • DanJ0

            Tyranny of the majority, as JS Mill put it (citing de Torqueville)

          • CliveM

            Yes, probably a better description then the one I quote!

      • Uncle Brian

        A couple of years ago, at the time of the parliamentary elections in Jordan, King Abdullah was interviewed on television – on CNN, I think, though I can’t be sure. He made a very interesting point about the way Jordanians vote. They have little or no notion, he said, of left and right, or of making a choice between different political programmes. They just want more power for their own clan, their own tribe or their own village, and less power for everybody else’s. Could this be what people are complaining about in the Tower Hamlets case? That the Bangladeshis were voting tribally, not in terms of what most people would recognise as party politics.

        • CliveM

          Yes that would appear to be the problem.

          Without being critical I think immigrant communities tend to be like that.

          • dannybhoy

            Clive, UB and yourself state it clearly, and reinforce my own assertion that multiculturalism doesn’t work in the long term.
            In the short term it can be held together by a strong central
            government which rigorously upholds the values and laws of the host nation.
            Ultimately though, that arrangement will be worn down by the influences or demands of smaller ethnic communities. Because eventually those communities will become part of the political process,and as UB says, will first look out for the needs and aspirations of their own people first. and foremost.
            Social and political instability becomes more common.
            Eventually the most powerful and ruthless group will come to dominate the nation.

          • CliveM


            I replied to this hours ago but it’s disappeared.

            SO, I would like to think my view is a bit more nuanced then this. I agree there is a problem with some immigrant communities. Some find it either difficult to integrate (or are unwilling to do so).
            But some are integrating and in all probability within a couple of generations will all but have forgotten where they came from. I suspect the Eastern Europeans will be like this.
            If I look far enough back at least part of my family is immigrant stock, it means nothing to me.
            And I’m not unique. It is important not to label (or is that tar) all communities with the same brush.

          • dannybhoy

            I am addressing the reality of those who do not wish to integrate. Those who do not believe in ‘live and let live’, those who have beliefs that do not allow for change, those who are willing to use violence in defence of their beliefs.
            Let’s for example look at what is happening in parts of southern America where Spanish is becoming the dominant language or cities where the tensions betwen blacks and whites are still a serious problem.
            I agree that some groups will integrate and come to be accepted, as some already are. As long as they actually integrate and become a part of society they will indeed be regarded as British, The thing is that the British have to retain control of their own country and enforce their laws.
            We are witnessing an unprecedented level of immigration and that is why people are concerned.
            I don’t regard myself as any better than any other person, I like to get on with people.
            But I don’t see why I should be expected to welcome other countries criminals or troublemakers, or rip off merchants or people who make me feel unwelcome in my own country, or treat my country with contempt or antagonism, or treat women with contempt or homosexuals with hatred.
            That’s the bottom line.

          • CliveM


            I am certainly happy to support stricter limits and the Australian approach to immigrants who break the law. Kick them out. If it breaks up a family, well that’s the individuals fault and not the State.

          • dannybhoy

            I thought you’d gone on holiday you took so long on responding!
            Just to make my position even clearer I would welcome seriously retricted immigration, although I would want us to look sympathetically on whites in or from former colonies where they now find their lives in danger.
            I would unashamedly base that on the fact that they are white and originated from the UK or Europe.
            Secondly I would want us to “grow” more skilled people and professionals from our own country rather than filch from abroad.
            And finally any person who has shown a willingness to fit in with our country and especially serve in our armed forces, then they will be accepted as British citizens and find their place in our society.

  • DanJ0

    I like to think I’m fairly clued up on the law in England but I’d never realised this quirk to date yet there it is in the electoral commission pamphlet about undue influence and threats of spiritual harm. This is one reason why I so like this blog.

    • dannybhoy

      Quite so.
      Are you calm now DanJ0?
      Can we find some common ground, or at the very least hold an uneasy peace?

  • Free speech means free speech, including the right to talk nonsense.. its the electoral system that’s wrong. Until we have one income tax payer one vote we will continue to have bad local and national government as knaves bribe fools for their votes using other people’s money.

    No representation without taxation. And end jerrymandering by introducing proportional representation.

    • Dreadnaught

      No representation without taxation.
      So what about the injured ex-service people and pensioners getting by on less than 10K a year?

      • dannybhoy

        The real point is that democracy isn’t working because political parties offer their vision of the way forward by consulting with the power blocs that fund and influence them. They throw in a few sweeteners to the Electorate so as to secure enough votes to make it legitimate and keep the population happy.
        For decades the emphasis has been on the welfare state and benefit provision instead of employment, and now we find ourselves horrendously in debt. Plus of course, a great deal of our country’s infrastructure and real estate is now owned by foreign investors and companies, so those considerations take priority over the sovereignty and security of the UK.

    • CliveM

      Will VAT count or is it only Income Tax?

    • bockerglory

      Stephen, agree. I have also been saying that taxpayers should get two votes and non taxpayers one vote. This would completely change the political landscape.

      • Anton

        Everyone should pay tax at a flat rate. You should get two votes if you put more money into the State than you get out.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Your grace, the point is that party politics is best kept out of pulpits.

    • Uncle Brian

      Yes, I agree, I think it should. However, I suspect that what people are complaining about in this case isn’t what you or I would recognise as “party politics” at all, but as something else. I don’t want to post the same comment twice over, but please take a look at a reply to Dannybhoy I posted a few minutes ago, a short way down the thread, about a point that King Abdullah of Jordan made in the course of a TV interview.

  • sarky

    Since when did we have a true democracy? We may have a vote,but the politicians we vote for have very little real power. The real power resides with Europe and big business. That’s why no matter who is in power, nothing really changes.

  • bmudmai

    Does this mean the Church of England are illegally influencing by saying those going for ordination can’t be members/have affiliation with the BNP?

    • The General Synod gave approval in 2012 to legislation making it “unbecoming or inappropriate” conduct for clergy to be members of a political party with policies and activities declared incompatible with church teaching. As such it would be an offence that would lead to disciplinary action and possibly dismissal.

      Banning of the clergy from being members, officers or candidates of the British National Party. or any legally constituted and registered political party, may or may not be a breach of ‘The Representation of the People’s Act 1983’. It doesn’t prevent them exercising their consciences and voting freely. However, it could be a breach of common law and also the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of association.

      Why not define the job as being “politically restricted” and ban clergy from being members, officers or candidates of any or all political parties?

      More widely, declaring one political party as having views incompatible with church teaching might be construed as “undue influence”, depending on what sanctions, or threats of sanctions, it attaches to voting for them, whether in this life or in the next.

  • len

    To suggest (or even demand) that voters should not be influenced by leaders(spiritual or otherwise|) is total nonsense.
    Who approaches an election (or indeed any matter ) without prejudice and pre conceived ideas?.
    Our whole society( in the Western world at least) indoctrinates people AGAINST religion right through the education system and if any doubt remained secular theologies are hammered home by the Media.
    Hardly a level playing field?.

    • DanJ0

      How exactly does it indoctrinate children against religion?

      • sarky

        It doesn’t. Children are probably more aware of religion than ever. What Len means is that evolution is taught instead of creationism, assemblies are not exclusively christian in tone.
        Religion isnt indoctrinated against, but christianity isnt taught as the truth.

        • Phil R

          It is more than that. I have given examples before from my own kids. For many Christian kids however this is counterproductive.

          The bias is widespread and subtle. E.g. The BBC presenter the other day in a report for teenagers reflected on a series of news articles (about ISIS etc) as rather “Old Testament”

          This is interesting on where we might be going from Canada.

          I really like the flag and think we should adopt it in this country.

          • DanJ0

            No wonder you’re so paranoid about stuff and misunderstand totalitarianism if you look at ridiculous articles like that all the time.

          • Phil R

            I think we need to simplify our message. Yellow umbrellas work well for Hong Kong. Three fingers from the Hunger Games is becoming a worldwide symbol for freedom from the sort of oppression, censorship and anti religious view of morality your and your mates would like to impose on us.

            The flag I was suggesting might work rather well.

          • sarky

            Cant speak for DanJo , but I’m not trying to impose anything on anyone. As for oppression, I think your confusing that with choice. One thing I won’t be lectured on by you is morality, your morality is shaky to say the least. As for the flag, that sort of puerile thing sums you up perfectly.

          • Phil R

            I couldn’t care less about your morality. Except it affects mine and I agree my morality perhaps is shaky (as is everyones)

            The trouble is you keep trying to use the state to impose your morality on me, my children and my faith.

            I have found that non Christians understand this concept of big brother Gov very well indeed and are equally at a loss to know how to counter it.

            All I am saying is that our attempts have been perhaps too intellectual and wordy. We need a symbol that we can rally around. Three fingers or the flag would do nicely.

            You would have the flag banned of course. However I can see the three finger thing working. It can be done surreptitiously.

            In a recent meeting an Atheist was banging on and I simply held up three fingers out of his eye line when he was speaking. Everyone suddenly laughed in the middle of his “serious” point, but he had no idea why.

          • DanJ0

            Is it perhaps the rest of society’s symbol of two fingers towards you that rankles?

          • Phil R

            Read the above post then comment

          • DanJ0

            Well, I thought it was quite funny anyway. I’m happy enough with my comment regarding your absurd totalitarian thing and your blatant lack of a response to that. But what could you reply anyway other than accuse me of somehow lying or having a secret agenda because the truth doesn’t suit your hyperbolic narrative of persecution?

          • Phil R

            Lets just see then if the rest of the readers agree with your assertion that society is getting freer and my concerns for freedom are ridiculous

            Symbols seem to work though better than argument in today’s world. You keep the two fingers and we can adopt the three. (And the flag) for as long as you and the state will tolerate opposition.

          • DanJ0

            Well I provided a list of things I’m very happy for you to do, not an exhaustive list obviously, just to show how absurd your claims of totalitarianism are. Perhaps you ought to go back and consider that for a moment without your tinfoil hat thing on.

          • Phil R

            Nearly all the things on your list have come under scrutiny over the last few years as potentially “insulting” or “hateful” or “intolerant” behaviour by Christians

          • DanJ0

            By me and my friends, as you claim? Despite what I say time and again here, as demonstrated by those quotes of mine above from 2012? Or are you lying again? Besides, I don’t think what you’ve said there is true for others either.

          • Phil R

            The fact remains

            “Nearly all the things on your list have come under scrutiny over the
            last few years as potentially “insulting” or “hateful” or “intolerant”
            behaviour by Christians”

            Sorry to cut and paste.

            But check it out.

            It is true.

          • DanJ0

            Your assertion, your obligation.

          • Phil R

            The readers know it is true without me trawling through the news reports. Many instances have even been debated on Cranmer

          • DanJ0

            Let’s have two examples from you out of my list. That should be easy given that you’re claiming that nearly all of them fall into your assertion. I’ll ignore your “you and your mates” thing for now.

          • Phil R

            Even in the list of (only) 10 “freedoms” you are willing to grant Christians

            Numbers 2 ,3, 4 and 5 have already caused issues. Atheists make no bones about their desire to remove 5 entirely calling it child abuse. The Nazis also saw the need to restrict or eliminate 5 above, that is why the swastika in the rainbow flag is so apt.

          • DanJ0

            I note your continual evasions, and your Dodo-esque sliding of the emphasis. Especially what you’ve now turned that set of examples into. It’s a wonder to behold.

            So, back to the “your friends” bit. Let me try to at least get that out of you. I note the Nazis appear to be my friends too now. Lol. Explicitly name the rest.

          • Phil R

            The sliding bit in debate i learned from you.

            In fact i have learned quite a lot from you in our regular discussions

            Don’t worry. Think of yourself as my mentor perhaps?

          • DanJ0

            I note your continual evasion.

          • sarky

            DanJo, the evasion is because he knows you are right. He is hopelessly trying to shore up an argument that is built on stand.
            Christians in this country still have their freedoms and are not persecuted, however, what Phil seems to object to is when their views and morality are questioned. Ironically this is a sign of a free society.

          • DanJ0

            I agree with the second paragraph. Christians have considerable freedom in the UK, especially as religious belief is a protected attribute in the equality legislation. I recognise there has been a cultural shift in the last two decades, of course, resulting in clashes in expectation.
            However, the evasion I’m primarily chasing Phil R about is his casting of me as some sort of totalitarian agent despite years of demonstrable quotes showing otherwise. He started here with “you and your friends” and, being unable to demonstrate that, he’s drifted to “your friends” (who he won’t name to date).
            At worst, it’s blatant lying. At best, it’s very sloppy thinking. I suspect I’m EveryGay and EveryAtheist in Phil R’s mind. It doesn’t matter whether anything said is actually even remotely true about me, I’m suppose to just stand there and be the political foil for Phil’s tirade and exasperation. Like that’s going to happen! 🙂

          • Phil R

            I am a good pupil

          • DanJ0

            I note your continual evasion. I suppose there’s little you can do now though when you’re so completely exposed. Unless you have some residual integrity left, of course.

          • Phil R

            Another debating trick you use that I will not use.

            To be honest I don’t think it fools anyone.

          • Phil R

            Whats this lying again business?

          • DanJ0

            You’re forever lying about me. If you had a conscience then it would be keeping you awake at night. I bet you sleep like a log.

          • Phil R

            Give me an instance?

          • sarky

            He probably had no idea because he wrongly assumed he was talking to adults!

          • Phil R

            Worked though. Argument destroyed with a symbol. Was very interesting to observe

          • sarky

            The more you comment, the more you are exposed to be the total pillock you are.

          • Phil R

            When you replace argument with insult. it is time to leave as it is clear that you have nothing further to add.

          • DanJ0

            As ever, as far as I am concerned feel free to attend whatever church you wish, pray whenever you like (as I’m not your employer), add bumper stickers to your car, put dayglo signs in your house windows and outside church proclaiming “Jesus lives!” or whatever, indoctrinate your children as proto-Christians, marry whomever you wish (female or male), march in the street with like-minded people, follow Billy Graham on Twitter, publish Bibles in whatever language or style you wish, pour scorn on the Church of England as the established church … in fact, feel free to do pretty much everything religious you have ever been able to do in your life. Behold DanJ0 and his mates’ totalitarian society! With our special thanks to Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao for their trailblazing, and Bacofoil for providing the material to make Phil R’s tinfoil hat. 🙂

          • Phil R

            You personally may be in favour. But nearly all have been refused by your mates.

            OK lets just try one bumper sticker. I would prefer to stick it on some buses though.

            Some people are ex gay, Get over it.

          • DanJ0

            Feel free to put that on your car, it’s no skin off my nose. It’s akin to writing “I’m a religious nutter” anyway. Lord knows who you think my friends are, and how you know they’re friends. I’m not sure I dare ask to be honest. Oh wait! It’s probably Boris Johnson! He and I go way back. To the Bullingdon Club, in fact.

          • Phil R

            The point is we were not allowed to use the phrase “Some people are ex gay, Get over it.”

            Intolerant you see.

          • DanJ0

            And that has precisely what to do with me and my friends?

          • Phil R

            Your side put out the bus advert stating that “some people chose the gay lifestyle, get over it” —I cannot remember the exact words 😉

            When Christians asked for the rebuttal to be placed that “some people are ex gay get over it ” the advert was a refused.

            Some freedom. No good saying that the might have chosen a different way to get their message across. (For now)

          • DanJ0

            I’ve just noticed the “Your side” there, which is very indicative of what’s wrong with you.

          • Phil R

            Why you think you are on God’s side?

          • dannybhoy

            He’s not!

        • DanJ0

          I’m minded to agree.

          I’d still like to hear what Len thinks is going on. Not being a parent, I don’t really have much experience of modern schools, other than what friends and acquaintances say about them. I’ve never heard anyone say they’re indoctrinating against religion there though.

      • Dreadnaught

        If ‘indoctrination against religion’ was the case, we wouldn’t have Faith Schools who’s open purpose is State sponsored sectarian indoctrination. What Len is really bemoaning is the opening of young minds in order make their own decisions.

        • len

          Its rather the closing of minds that I object to, and its the dumbing down of minds that our education system promotes.

          • Dreadnaught

            The Dumbing down premise sadly is indeed a truism, but its a curious claim that secular education closes minds when Faith Schools (all) begin with a conclusion which is then worked backwards to manufacture the the ‘proof’ for its validity. That is not opening minds that is brainwashing.
            I think you said you found your faith in adulthood once you were mature enough to decide for yourself what you wished to reject; which AFAIAC is the way it should be.

        • grutchyngfysch

          The assumption being that young minds which pursue the faith in which they are nurtured and raised must somehow have compromised free will, whilst the substantial number who rebel, reject and leave that faith mysteriously retain theirs intact?

          • Dreadnaught

            This spurious free will element as the same argument use by the Paedophile Information Exchange.

          • grutchyngfysch

            You’ve lost me. Are you suggesting that raising children in a Christian ethos is somehow comparable to paedophilia?

      • “Indeed, one of the greatest legacies of the last Labour government was the progress we made to sweep away decades of legislation based on the prejudice and persecution of lesbian, gay and trans individuals. Abolishing Section 28, equalizing the age of consent, adoption rights for gay couples, fertility treatments for lesbian couples, removing the laws which prevented our armed service men and women from being open about their sexuality, and establishing civil partnerships.”

        Prejudice and persecution? One person’s ‘prejudice’ is another’s person’s sincerely belief.

        “The next Labour government still has work to do to ensure LGBT people experience equal treatment: as users of public services, in the workplace, in our communities and across the world …. But …. legislating is often the easy part. Cultural change, the battle for hearts and minds takes time and will need renewed commitment from all those who’ve fought for progress.”

        ‘Cultural change’ …. what can this mean? Battling for the ‘hearts and minds’ of children. Sounds like indoctrination to Happy Jack.

        “That process has to start with education, which is why it is absolutely right that the Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has committed to tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying as a priority. Key to this is inclusive sex and relationships education (SRE). A Labour government will make SRE compulsory in every state-funded school, including faith schools and academies. We will do so because want to make sure our young people are equipped to deal with the pressures of the modern world, of the internet, and also grow up aware of the diversity of modern families, and to celebrate diversity amongst us.”

        Sounds more and more like using education as a method of indoctrination to Happy Jack.

        “We need conversations in the classroom about same sex relationships and parenting, conversations about issues such as consent, and about diversity in identity.”

        (*All comments by Gloria De Piero, Labour, Shadow Women and Equalities Minister)

        • DanJ0

          I think that demonstrates the issue very nicely. It doesn’t look like religion is being indoctrinated against in schools, it’s just being challenged by the existence of non-religious stuff. Some religious people appear not to like their loss of hegemony. Thanks for that.

          • It’s a cultural war, Danjo.

            At the moment the State is on the side of secular atheism and is promoting the assumption there is no objective morality that serves both the good of individuals and the common good.

            Once parents are confronted with the reality of these proposed new educational approaches and witness the impact on their children, their eyes will be opened to the influence exercised by a small minority that is over represented in the political and media elite.

          • DanJ0

            A curious comment given the existence of State-funded Faith Schools whose scope was increased by the New Labour government run by closet Roman Catholic Tony Blair.

          • Not a curious comment at all.
            Labour were chasing the Catholic voters, principally in Scotland and the large cities. Tristan Hunt’s recent performance on Question Time will have further damaged his party’s chances with the Scottish voters. And their policies on multiculturalism are damaging them in the English cities.
            British culture has been built on the moral presuppositions of Christianity. Overall, the country isn’t really all that diverse in terms of minority sexual interests.
            Whether objective morality associated with a particular deity is ‘demonstrable’ or not, people will eventually understand that certain ways work for a society and others just don’t. Chief amongst these is stable family life based on sexual morality, marriage between men and women and providing emotional stability for children. Modern parents may be tolerant but they will not want their children’s minds polluted with ‘conversations’ about deviant sexual pursuits.

          • DanJ0

            I’d say it was curious that you’ve segued onto homosexuality from Len’s comment but, of course, it’s not at all surprising for you Dodo. Ever the troll. Go and find Linus instead.

          • Let’s stay on topic, Danjo.

            The topic being the State ‘educating’ (indoctrinating) children by presenting an atheist, ‘non-discriminatory’ morality and enforcing this via Ofsted. It’s now ‘un-British’ to teach marriage and sex between men and woman and are normal and commendable. Political legitimacy is being achieved by deception and one tool is education of the young.

            You think primary school children can discuss the dignity of human life and how its effected by the genetic modification of human embryos with mitochondrial donations from third ‘parents’?

          • Anton

            I’d probably have voted against, but suppose the genetic material spliced into that of the husband and wife had been synthesised in a laboratory rather than taken from a third person, as is feasible nowadays; and suppose that it wasn’t identical to that of any human whose mitochondrial DNA sequence were known, but definitely didn’t contain the defect that caused the couple to seek medical help?

            I’m not sure I have the answers to these questions myself; I’m just pointing out that it is a complex issue.

          • And suppose you didn’t have to start human life in a dish in the first place; an suppose you didn’t have to disregard some of the human life thus started in embryonic form; and suppose you actually knew what you were introducing into human DNA; and suppose you weren’t initiating the first steps in wider interventions in the construction of DNA; and … suppose … suppose …

          • Anton

            Of course you know what you are introducing; that’s the point of doing it. I actually agree that your other points are reasons against, but you didn’t engage with the points that I made. An adroit little change of subject!

          • It’s immoral, unethical and potentially unsafe whether its artificially created or harvested material from existing life.

            “Of course you know what you are introducing; that’s the point of doing it.”

            Jack meant mutations into future generations. This is unknown

            Is it safe?

            “This is far from established. Each technique involves experimental reproductive cloning techniques (cell nuclear transfer) and germline genetic engineering, both highly controversial and potentially very dangerous. Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California has argued in an piece titled ‘A slippery slope to germline modification’ that were the United Kingdom to grant a regulatory go-ahead, it would unilaterally cross ‘a legal and ethical line’ observed by the entire international community that ‘genetic-engineering tools’ should not be used ‘to modify gametes or early embryos and so manipulate the characteristics of future children’.

            Cloning by nuclear transfer has so far proved ineffective in humans and unsafe in other mammals with a large number of cloned individuals spontaneously aborting and many others suffering from physical abnormalities or limited lifespans. Also, any changes, or unpredicted genetic problems (mutations) will be passed to future generations. In general, the more manipulation needed, the higher the severity and frequency of problems in resulting embryos and fetuses.

            Prof Stuart Newman’s recent article in Huffington Post is a brilliant analysis of the way scientists have pulled the wool in misrepresenting the scientific facts to a gullible public and parliament.”




          • Anton

            Not disagreeing!

          • Good ………… and welcome back.

          • Anton

            Thank you!

          • Linus

            “It’s now ‘un-British’ to teach marriage and sex between men and woman are normal and commendable.”

            Typical manipulative Christian lies.

            Just because Ofsted directs schools to teach pupils about the innate value of one kind of relationship does not mean it is teaching them to devalue other kinds of relationship.

            Nowhere in a British school syllabus will you find heterosexual relationships devalued and denigrated. To say that they are is to actively lie and twist the truth in order to discredit opponents whom one is determined to defeat at whatever cost. Truth, honour and a Christian conscience clearly take a back seat to the idea of victory in Sad Jack’s mind.

          • What nonsense, Linus.

            To give equivalence to homosexual ‘marriage’ and to attempt to normalise the perversions of homosexual sex acts, by definition devalues and undermines Christian morals and subjects innocent minds to needless confusion.

          • Linus

            So if someone tells you he likes pears, presumably you’ll take him to task for libelling and defaming apples.

            This is the problem with rigid and dogmatic beliefs, Sad Jack. When they come up against basic common sense and logic and fall apart, they make those who believe in them look like utter fools.

            With every word you write you dig yourself in deeper and render your faith and yourself more and more ridiculous.

            Voltaire was wrong. There’s absolutely no need to “écraser l’infâme”. It does itself so much more harm than we could ever do.

          • But Linus this isn’t about one’s tastes and preferences in fruit. This is about what God has ordained about relationships between men and women. About what is right and what is wrong in sexual practices. There is no moral choice involved in choosing between apples and pears.

          • Linus

            I know that if I eat a pear or an apple, I won’t do myself any harm. I would be wise to check that the fruit is not diseased in any way that could harm me, but if it’s a healthy pear or apple, there will be nothing intrinsically wrong with it and I can consume it without ill effect. I may prefer one fruit over the other and therefore eat only pears, or only apples. But that’s just a matter of taste. Pears or apples aren’t morally defective because I happen to dislike them.

            I also know that if I have sex with a man or a woman, I won’t do myself any harm. Again, I would be wise to make sure that the individual isn’t carrying a disease that might infect me, but if he’s healthy, there will be nothing intrinsically wrong or harmful about the sex I have with him, so I can have sex with no ill effect. I may prefer having sex with one gender over another and therefore only have sex with men. But that’s just a matter of taste. A particular variety of sex is not morally defective because I happen to dislike it.

            The only way you can make particular varieties of sex morally defective is to 1) show that they are harmful, or 2) create an arbitrary religious or social taboo that states they are harmful even though no evidence can be presented to support this claim.

            After a brief period of trying but failing to prove option 1, Christians are forced to fall back on option 2 as their “incontrovertible evidence” that gay sex is wrong. They’re like children who scream about how evil a particular food they don’t like is. “Olives are the devil’s food!” one of my sisters used to say when she was a small child. She clearly didn’t like olives, but to demonize anyone who did like them was a childish projection of her own likes and dislikes onto the world at large and showed an inability to accept that other people are not like her and can make up their own minds about what’s good and what’s bad.

            But Sad Jack won’t understand this because despite his advanced age, he’s still stuck in a juvenile stage of development where he’s unable to understand that his own personal likes and dislikes are not archetypal for the whole of humankind.

          • ” … if it’s a healthy pear or apple, there will be nothing intrinsically wrong with it and I can consume it without ill effect.”

            There you go, Linus. Back to the Garden.

            ” … you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

            God has told you. He’s planted this knowledge in your conscience. It’s up to you whether you listen to it through the ‘noise’ of your own desires and the culture telling you it’s acceptable. With this freedom comes accountability.

          • dannybhoy

            Which is why I support Coalition for Marriage, and am against same sex marriage -especially with children.

          • Children cannot marry (yet), Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            Very funny. I left it unamended to provide an opportunity for your brilliant wit..

          • Linus

            It isn’t a war so much as a walk-over. The history of Christianity in post-modern Europe is comprised of one defeat after another. Catastrophic declines in church attendance accompanied by waning political influence and an inability to adapt its message to new circumstances and changing social conditions mean that the Church is is a far weaker position now than any defeated imperial power has ever been.

            When Christians talk about “culture wars” I’m reminded of those tales of Japanese soldiers marooned on Pacific islands 5, 10 or even 20 years after the end of WWII, hiding in the jungle and keeping watch for enemy forces who long ago swept their empire away. They don’t know they’ve been defeated, so every morning they pray to their divine emperor and prepare to defend him to the death. They scan the horizon waiting for the Japanese fleet to hove into view and rescue them from their isolated outpost. But there is no Japanese fleet any more. It’s rusting away at the bottom of the ocean.

            This website and other places on the Internet where the remnants of Christianity gather to chant their “never give up, never surrender” creed are just like those islands. The world around them has changed forever and no matter how fervently they support their dead imperial cause, victory will never be theirs. All they can do is keep the memory of things that once were alive for a short while until they fade away into oblivion. That’s the “culture war” Sad Jack is talking about. A last and futile charge of doomed, powerless and irrelevant warriors against an irresistable force that conquered them years ago.

          • dannybhoy

            Huzzah! for Christians who believe that the order and complexity of life could not have occured by accident.
            Huzzah! for Christians who believe in a Creator God whose holy and compassionate nature underwrites the beliefs of both Christians and Jews,
            Huzzah! because without those beliefs and the practice of those beliefs western civilisation could never have developed,
            A belief in progress and discovery could never have happened, and a caring compassionate society would not have developed.
            Let’s look around the world shall we?
            Of all the world’s religions, none has impacted the people of the world more positively than Christianity.
            State Communism failed in Russia and China. They brought fear and death and torture and repression to all those unlucky enough to live under them.
            Islamic States can only survive with strong and ruthless leaderships, and do not produce more freedom or progress, only subjugation, conformity and fatalism.
            It is Christianity which has most influenced our world, and continues to influence it, even though the West has largely abandoned it.

          • Good day to you Linus.
            Where Christians differ from the Japanese, of course, is that the outcome of this war has already been decided and it’s you who at the moment is on the losing side. It was all predestined in the mind of God in the instant of creation. We’re in the middle of the unfolding of His plan but it’s already been fulfilled in eternity. Remember what Jack shared with you recently about God’s foreknowledge? And Christian’s have access to a book that informs us of the nature of this war, the challenges we will encounter and our eventual victory.

          • Linus

            Poor old Sad Jack doesn’t understand that the losers don’t make the rules. Neither does his imaginary god.

            He comforts himself with the belief that one day our comprehensive victory will cost us dear, but his options for revenge are limited to the fantasies he plays out in his fevered imagination. Given the hours he dedicates to telling me how awful my fate will be, clearly much of his time is spent savouring the thought of how all gay people will suffer for defying his will. In fact we seem to be a bit of an obsession for him. Which makes our victory even more complete. Not only have we achieved equality before the law, we’ve also succeeded in giving our principal tormenters a taste of what our lives were like before we defeated them. All the frustration of powerlessness and the knowledge that society as a whole views you as sick in the head are now reserved for the Sad Jacks of this world rather than their gay former victims. If his imaginary god actually existed, one might be tempted to talk about divine retribution. As it is, we’ll have to content ourselves with the old truism: what goes around, comes around. Sad Jack is suffering the age-old fate of bullies and cowards and getting a taste of his own medicine.

            Divine retribution indeed!

          • Not at all, Linus. Your eternal fate is known only to God and Jack takes no joy in believing some people will spend eternity in Hell. None at all.

            Jack has absolutely no sense of frustration, defeat or sense of powerless. Why would he? As he has said, all of history is in God’s hands and we are where He foreknew we would be. Things are as they should be with God in control.

            It sounds very much to Jack that Linus is denying reality and pretending God has been defeated and that He does not exist. Satan probably felt the same as he watched Christ die in agony on the Cross. More fool him. Unlike him, you still have a choice.

          • Linus

            Well, at least we can agree that if there is a God, his name is not Sad Jack and that all of the doom and judgment you call down on my head is merely the expression of your own personal opinion, i.e. what you would like to see happen, or what you think God should do, but not necessarily what he will do.

            The problem is that Sad Jack is as human and fallible as the rest of us, so his opinion counts for no more than anyone else’s. The same is true for every Catholic on the planet. They happen to agree about the meaning of a book they call the Bible and that their particular interpretation of it tells us there is a God and that he commands humanity to live in a certain way. But consensus does not necessarily equate to truth.

            Most people believe that Vikings wore horns on their helmets, but there is no evidence of this and the stereotype seems to date from a specific production of a Wagner opera staged in 1876. Before this no image of or reference to Vikings wearing horned helmets can be found.

            Fiction is a powerful thing. It can create an almost universal consensus by popularizing ideas and theories that have no basis in fact. If we had an archeological record that confirmed the existence of horns on Viking helmets, then the popular consensus would be based on fact. But successive archeological digs and studies of burial practices and the art of the period show no evidence at all of horns. The modern consensus of opinion is therefore based on fiction. It’s a pure fantasy that has built on itself over the years and is now so unassailable in the minds of most people that whenever they think of Vikings, they immediately visualize horns. Fiction has become confused with reality in the space of a century and a half. Imagine the confusion that can happen over two millennia.

            Sad Jack wants us to accept his Church’s interpretation of an old story as fact when there exists not a single shred of archaeological evidence nor a single contemporaneous eye-witness account to back it up. He can show us no exhaustive Roman records of the trial and execution of someone called Jesus of Nazareth. There are no sworn statements from eye-witnesses to the Resurrection, nor do we even have memoirs of the principal characters involved in the stories. Neither Jesus nor Mary left a diary. All we have are tales committed to paper at least a generation after the narrative they recount is supposed to have taken place.

            Based on this dubious set of writings and the consensus that has grown up around them over 2000 years, we’re supposed to accept that every word uttered by Sad Jack and his Church is God’s unchangeable truth and alter our lives to live in accordance with their commandments. God is supposed to have created us and given us the intelligence and ability to examine evidence and correlate cause with effect. But these talents are not needed when it comes to the Bible, which we’re supposed to accept on blind faith rather than reasoned evidence. It’s God’s word because the Church says it is, just like Vikings wore horned helmets because everyone knows they did.

            Sad Jack is clearly fool enough to fall for this charade. Indeed he participates in it enthusiastically, because he sees in it a way to make himself relevant and important in a world where he otherwise he would count for nothing. He can (try to) be a leader of men by regurgitating his Church’s myths and legends and then hurling threats at anyone who dares to question him. That’s what Christianity means to him. It provides him with an excuse to tell other people what to believe and a justification for insulting and belittling them when they refuse to be dictated to. He doesn’t have to get himself elected, so he can be as odious as he likes and still claim the right to tell everyone what to do. Catholicism is tailor made for his particular combination of repulsiveness coupled with a need to dominate. More attractive characters than Sad Jack tend to use politics as their route to power, but Sad Jack knows that nobody would ever vote for him, so politics are of no use to him. His only chance to exercise control is via coercion rather than consent. That’s why he’s such a fervent believer.

            Ask not what Christianity can do for others, Sad Jack. It’s all about what it can for you, no?

          • Yes, Linus, that all sounds terribly convincing. Quite a little tirade that you’ve put a lot of effort into. It is clear to Happy Jack you are in avoidance mode. Unfortunately, now you know the truth you have to make a choice. Really, there’s no more to be said.

          • Linus

            Sad Jack has run out of abusive words?

            Well stone the crows!

          • You leave the crows alone, Linus.

      • len

        Our education system promotes one world view and channels all thought to come into line with that world view.
        Evolution is a’ faith based religion’ taught as ‘fact’ to schoolchildren rather than allowing students to come to their own conclusion about the origins of Creation.
        Education is supposed(IMO) to give students to ability to’ open their minds’ and make decisions for themselves not to be spoon fed biased information.

        • DanJ0

          The theory of evolution by natural selection is a type of scientific theory and any school worth its salt ought to be teaching it as such in science classes. Of course, Creationism is not the same sort of thing and belongs in Religion Education classes. I expect children of devout Christian and Muslim parents are already indoctrinated at home and at their parents’ church or mosque. Covering the theory of evolution by natural selection is science classes and Creationism in religious education classes ought to provide enough information coverage for future decisions to be made when appropriate.

          • Phil R

            This is crap and I suspect you know it.

            In 100 years they will be laughing at your scientific certainty. As we laugh at the science that was certain 100 years ago.

          • DanJ0

            Scientific certainty? I said explicitly that it’s a theory and should be taught as such. You don’t know what that actually means, do you? Dear, on dear.

          • Phil R

            Have you seen a GCSE textbook recently?

            It is taught as fact.

          • DanJ0

            You wrote “your scientific certainty” back there. Feel free to retract.

          • Phil R

            Correct. You personally did not write Dawin’s theory

          • DanJ0

            You cretin.

            Man up and retract it.

          • Phil R

            All of the books for kids do not write the information on evolution as “just a theory,” it is taught as fact.

            The link you post from the BBC still uses the Peppered Moth Fraud as fact. It works well with kids because it sounds so plausible but it is not true and even evolution believers state that it is a poor example to use.

          • DanJ0

            It’s curious that the BBC revision site for the GCSE sets out the right stuff about it being a theory. It’s not much good as a revision site if it’s introducing new material to the syllabus.
            The Bitesize things usually have good reviews too.

            The peppered moth evidence is not evidence of evolution but, it seems to me, of natural selection. That supports the theory of evolution by natural selection as part of the overall process. I’d say the site is technically correct.

            One other thing. I tend to agree that evolution is largely taught as scientific fact. That’s subtly different thing to teaching the theory of evolution by natural selection as a sort of scientific theory [1].

            I expect the overwhelming majority of educated people think life evolved into species. Whether the theory is true is a different matter because scientific theories are created using inductive reasoning.
            [1] The timeframe makes the whole thing impossible to test, but in most other respects it meets the bill for one.

          • “The theory of evolution by natural selection is a type of scientific theory and any school worth its salt ought to be teaching it as such in science classes.”

            Except its unravelling b the day. Mutation cannot explain evolution. At best, evolution by natural selection is becoming an increasingly discredited hypothesis.

  • The current election law does not rule out spiritual influence but makes ‘undue influence’ a ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 115 (2)(a) of ‘The Representation of the People Act 1983’.

    So just what is ‘undue influence’? The legislation and accompanying guidance notes do not make this clear and the last time provisions like these were used was back in the 1880’s in Ireland when the issue was Home Rule.

    According to the 1983 legislation, ‘undue influence’ is the use intimidation or threats of ‘spiritual injury, harm or loss’ in order to ‘induce or compel’ a voter’s actions. Religious leaders may properly influence by argument and persuasion but must not threaten to refuse access to the rites of their religion or threaten divine punishment in this life or the next. The last time the law was used it concerned elections in Ireland where Catholic clergy had refused the rites of the Church in order to infiuence votes at an election with one priests telling the people that “the curse of God” would come down upon anyone who voted a certain way and that he would withhold the rites of the Church from them if they were dying.
    According to case law, a religious leader must not appeal to the “fears or terrors or superstition” of those he addresses. He must not ” threaten to
    excommunicate, or to withhold the Sacraments, or to expose the party to any
    other religious disability, or denounce the voting for any particular candidate
    as a sin or as an offence involving punishment here or hereafter.”

  • As if Irish Catholics in the nineteenth century, or East End Bengalis today, needed to be so “ordered”!

    • dannybhoy


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