Eric Pickles securing the ballot 2
Civil Liberties

Spiritual influence: bullying voters with threats of hell is no different from threats of physical violence

 

Following the 2015 Tower Hamlets election court judgment which saw the disqualification of the elected mayor Lutfur Rahman for a number of corrupt and illegal practices, Sir Eric Pickles was asked last year to consider what further changes were needed to make the electoral system more secure. His conclusions are set out in his report ‘Securing the Ballot‘. It’s all cogent, common sense and combative stuff, as you’d expect from Sir Eric. Except perhaps for this paragraph on spiritual influence:

199. The potential for spiritual influence to be exercised in society may be increasing, and it is important that the legislation unambiguously protects voters of any faith from having their religious beliefs manipulated in order to prevent them freely exercising their vote. Bullying a voter by asserting that they will ‘burn in hell’ for not supporting a candidate is ultimately no different from threatening physical violence or from an employer threatening to sack a worker. Freedom of worship and the right to vote are important and hard-fought British liberties. Britons should be able to exercise both those liberties without injury or intimidation.

And so he concludes: “The offence of undue influence should retain a reference to spiritual/religious influence.”

It is an interesting proposition in the 21st century of pervasive secularity that spiritual injury should be considered equivalent to physical injury. Where does the crime of ‘undue spiritual influence‘ begin and end? If it should be illegal to threaten a voter with Jahannam and al-Nar for voting against Allah’s chosen political candidate, what about threats of purgatory for Roman Catholics who vote for abortion-supporting candidates, or the menace of being reincarnated as a dung beetle in the great Karmic wheel of universal justice?

Who determines what constitutes a spiritual threat? Who discerns whether a sermon has had spiritual influence? How can the police (for, presumably, it is they) judge whether an imam, rabbi, priest or pujari has asserted spiritual influence and that such influence is undue? Is it not the primary duty of religious leaders to keep their flocks on the narrow path that leads to Heaven/Janna/Nirvana? Might not a perceived threat of hell actually be a righteous exhortation to follow the author and finisher of the faith?

If the reality of sin and the consequential inevitability of hell should be considered equivalent to threats of physical violence, then we move into a realm where preaching the truth of salvation at election time becomes a subversive act. If it be bullying to assert that a voter will “burn in hell” for not supporting a candidate, how is it any less bullying to assert that a voter will find reward in heaven for supporting a candidate? If threats of damnation are unduly coercive, what of assurances of salvation?

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved‘ (Acts 4:12). Neither is there political enlightenment in any other candidate: for there is no other name in any party who can bring peace, truth or justice into the world. You may demur, but who are you? You may spiritualise your earthly motives, but why shouldn’t you?

Faith in Jesus Christ is essential for spiritual salvation (16:31). Voting for a particular candidate may be considered essential for temporal peace and justice. How can the police and courts really determine where freedom of religion infringes the freedom to vote, especially where there is little apprehension or understanding of what may properly be considered ‘spiritual’?

  • Albert

    Isn’t the key word here “bullying” rather than “religious beliefs”? Bullying is always wrong. Is it bullying to tell someone that action X may be punished in purgatory? I really don’t see how, at least, not if it is not bullying to say action Y may result in jail.

    Much depends on who is saying what. If the candidate is saying “If you don’t vote for me, you will go to hell”, then clearly there is a problem. But if a religious leader is saying “If you vote for [a candidate who supports] policy Y, then you may be punished in purgatory for it” then I cannot see the objection. Didn’t the CofE ban clergy from belonging to BNP? Whether or not the CofE was right to do that, I fail to see how it is anyone else’ business to tell the CofE that they shouldn’t do that.

    • bluedog

      What’s the difference between bullying, persuasion and advocacy? It’s merely a relative matter of perception and persistence.

      • Albert

        You’re right, there is a problem of definition and of working out when a line has been crossed. Nevertheless, there is in my experience a difference and it involves things like intimidation. That seems to me to be going beyond persuasion and advocacy.

  • IanCad

    Eric Pickles is on very dodgy ground here. The State should not interfere in religion.
    The liberty to say whatever you wish – right or wrong – is the hallmark of an enlightened liberal society.
    Thanks for bringing it to our notice YG.

    • Dreadnaught

      So Hamjam Choudray should be freed to carry on spilling his bile if that is the case – glad the court didnt see it that way.

      • IanCad

        I’m not up on Choudray, but wasn’t he inciting violence? Big difference.

        • Dreadnaught

          Go back to sleep IC.

          • IanCad

            OK! OK! So I’ll have to Google him. After a nap.

          • Dreadnaught

            Good man!

  • Orwell Ian

    Who determines what constitutes a spiritual threat?

    It will probably be determined similarly to so-called ‘hate speech’ A complaint by someone who has been ‘bullied’ rather than ‘offended’ will be sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed. Incidentally it is alleged that tweets tantamount to undue ideological influence are targeting labour supporters voting in the leadership campaign. eg “Momentum is running this Labour Leadership election so if you don’t vote Corbyn we will know AND WE WILL FIND YOU!!!!!.”

  • Uncle Brian

    If the vicar catches a boy nicking apples from his back garden, what is he allowed to say? “If I catch you doing it again, I’ll tell your dad” is presumably acceptable, while “I’ll bash you over the head with a crowbar” could easily get him into trouble. But what about “People who steal go to hell”? There must be some clergy still left who believe that to be no more than the plain truth.

  • chefofsinners

    Christians do not believe that our eternal destiny rests on who we vote for. Anyone preaching that should be disciplined by the church.

  • len

    I suppose if we have the concept that we live in’ a free and liberal society ‘any sort of bullying will be considered an offence.
    But we do not live in a free and liberal society.Some groups are more free and more liberal than others.
    ‘Bullying’ exists it is part of the nature of fallen man.The desire to dominate and to to intimidate goes on right from infancy to adulthood.
    Our society like its inhabitants is not perfect.

    Multiculturalism has magnified already existing problems with groups block voting for their own particular candidates.

  • Minority communities are to be congratulated for organizing to advance their best interests, and envied for the skill and perseverance they bring to the task. If a particular community happens to be highly devout, they can hardly be expected not to capitalize on that. We can only hope that the indigenous majority rediscovers its own tribal instinct and starts to protect its own best interests, preferably before it becomes a minority.

    By the way, if we are serious about making the electoral system secure, postal voting has to end. Quite apart from the opportunities it presents for corruption, everyone should have the right to vote as they wish and that can be guaranteed only by voting in public.

  • David

    Well done Eric Pickles, I say.
    Our democracy will only function well if every voter is free to cast their vote without undue influence be it economic, sexual or spiritual.
    Leaving aside the philosophical complications, unnecessarily introduced by this piece in my opinion, I think that the plain man “on the Clapham omnibus”, as the lawyers used to say, is well able to distinguish between reasonable political discourse designed to win voters over to their side, and those who by virtue of their position or the power they possess, threaten or bully people into voting in certain directions. A herd mentality, identity politics if you like, must be discouraged up to and including making outright bullying illegal.
    Let us be practical – this must be stamped out !

  • B flat

    The paragraph numbered 199 does not seem to be cogent, or common sense.
    How is a sermon, or a conversation, or catechetical/scripture study, directly coercive of an individual’s free and secret vote in the UK electoral system? Within the Christian context, at least, I suggest that anyone attending such a sermon or study session is doing so voluntarily, if they are eligible to vote, except perhaps marginally in Scotland where the age is lowered to 16.
    The provisions of that paragraph are simply a proposal for further intrusion of the power of the State upon our freedoms of religion and of speech, as well as of secret ballots, for otherwise, how can a connection be established between the proposed crime of spiritual bullying, and voting outcomes?

    • Dreadnaught

      Don’t be so naive B; this is about in-yer-face Islam. No other religion – not one, has made its presence felt the way Islam has and is the only reason for such a review; but none can speak it’s name [publicly]. This is the stupid state of affairs we all have to endure thanks to Labour’s policy to rub our noses in ‘diversity’.

  • The postal voting system is a major source of corruption and should be stopped except for the elderly, disabled and those who can demonstrate their absence from home on polling date. My two daughters left home when they got married, but there was absolutely nothing to stop me leaving them on the voting register and for them to have two votes.
    In certain homes, all members of the household who have a postal vote are required to give it to the head of the household to complete. Voting should take place at the polling booth unless the individual can prove that he/she will not be able to attend. No-one should be allowed in the booth with a voter; if they don’t know enough English to do it by themselves, surely they should not get a vote as the would equally be unaware of the policies of the candidates.

    • Malcolm Smith

      How is the postal vote managed in the UK? Here in Australia, voting is compulsory. But even if it weren’t, it would still be difficult to vote twice. At every polling booth at election day is a copy of the electoral roll. When you attend, and ask for a ballot sheet, they cross your name off the roll. Admittedly, it would be possible to go to two polling booths in the same electorate, and do the same thing twice. However, afterwards, they would discover you had voted twice, and you would be prosecuted. Likewise, when you apply for a postal vote, they cross your name off the roll.
      Aren’t the same obvious precautions taken in the UK?

      • Dreadnaught

        We have town now where immigrants from Pakistan outnumber or closely approach the same numbers of indigenous inhabitants in some northern towns and major parts of the Capital.
        Postal votes are freely available on request as long as the name is on the electoral roll. That roll is accessible on line and may well contain fictitious or ghost voters who simply have to be stated to be registered. No other proof is required.
        As the Muslims are ‘honour bound’ to accept instructions from the Mosques and Committees, they hand over their voting papers to the election agents and foot soldiers who fill them in and deposit them at the Council Offices by the bundle; no questions asked, as the Council officials are more than likely to be Muslim themselves.
        They have taken us back to the times of the Rotten Boroughs because no one here will call them out for the corrupt fraudsters they are for fear of being tagges Racist.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        Malcolm,

        In the UK electoral rolls are local not national. Hence in the example that english_pensioner gave [1], if his daughters stayed in the same council area then double voting would (at least potentially) be caught but not if they moved to another council area, which in a big city might only be a few miles, or even just across the road.

        Here
        http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/08/able-vote-twice-eu-referendum/
        is another example.

        1. In fact, english_pensioner’s example should not work as of a year or two ago. Up until then the ‘head of the household’ filled out the form for everyone that lived there. Now each person has to fill it out a form for them self.

        This in turn has lead to loads of wailing from lefties who say that this is discriminatory against young people. Personally I think that if they are too lazy / stupid / whatever to fill out a form (it can be done online) once per year then they don’t deserve to get a vote.

      • Each year as head of the household, I get a form showing who is on the register for my address. If there is no change I simply sign it and return it. When my daughters left home, I crossed their names off, but in practice if I hadn’t, no-one would have checked. They are now registered under their married names in different constituencies, but even if they had still been in the same constituency it is unlikely that anyone would have noticed. If you have a postal vote, it is shown on the register so you would not be able to vote in person, and you are allocated a particular polling station so you would not be able to vote at another.
        But when you’ve got hundreds of Patels on the list, who knows if there is one or two ( or a couple of dozen) extra!

      • IanCad

        How you Aussies can reconcile liberty with compulsory voting is beyond me.

        • Dreadnaught

          Democracy is taken for granted and is vulnerable to wither if not defended; better compulsory voting than people dying to have it re-established.

          • bluedog

            The great benefit of non-compulsory voting is that the voters self-select and thus shrink the franchise. Those too stupid or too lazy to vote volunteer for irrelevance, almost certainly a positive. A further essential step is the abolition of translation services and interpreters.

          • Malcolm Smith

            One problem is that the political parties concentrate on getting their own supporters out to vote, rather than convincing the unsympathetic.

          • IanCad

            A rather strong whiff of compulsion is evident in your comment.
            “Vote dammit – or you’re off to jail.”

          • Eustace

            Compulsory voting does not mean you have to cast a vote for any of the parties standing in an election. You can return a spoiled or blank vote, which will be counted as an abstention.

            It’s no more an attack on liberty than having to pay taxes, or having to undertake jury service, or any of the other obligations imposed on citizens by the state for the common good.

            We don’t have compulsory voting here in France, but I personally would not be against its introduction. If nothing else, it gives a true picture of real political support for various parties, and if associated with a rule stating that any election result is invalid if abstention exceeds a certain percentage, reinforces democracy by making it more difficult for motivated minorities to take advantage of majority apathy and win by default.

          • IanCad

            I completely disagree. Taxes and voting are clear different things. The former an obligation to pay for what the lawful government decrees. Voting should be for those who want to participate, or otherwise, in directing – to some small degree – the allocation of those funds.
            I think it is grand when motivated minorities give the apathetic lot a kick in the pants. The majority are nearly always wrong – Brexit excepted.
            Anyway; while not offering an alternative, it should be borne in mind that democracy is, essentially, an exercise akin to an election over deciding what two wolves and a goose will have for dinner.

      • Maxine Schell

        How does the compulsory voting law handle the Jehova Witness?

        • Malcolm Smith

          I’ve no idea, because the issue has never come up, to my knowledge. And, strictly speaking, voting is not compulsory – only turning up to a polling booth and taking a ballot paper. You can leave it blank if you want to.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Barchester, of course, remains a rotten borough, and I can assure my friends that the Bishop and I make sure a sensible Whig is returned each and every time. Tea, anyone?

    • chefofsinners

      Eric Pickles could do with you returning his sensible wig. You might also ration the supply of hobnobs in order to stop things being blown out of all proportion.

      • IanCad

        Rationing Eric Pickles’ hobnobs? You may well have a point.

    • Martin

      Mrs Proudie

      A Whig like that nice Tim Farron?

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Goodness me NO! Tim Farron is not, by my definition, a Whig…my preference would be someone like…Walpole.

        • Martin

          Mrs Proudie

          I’m afraid he is not in the current party.

          • Dreadnaught

            Call him Waheed Al-Walpole and he’ll be entitled to vote in a flash.

  • Eustace

    I have no problem with religions telling their believers how to vote. As long as they abide by the rules that all political lobby groups have to abide by, which here in France include paying all applicable taxes and social charges, strict limits on donations, the keeping of a public donor register AND public disclosure of all salaries, bonuses and perks, they should be able to campaign for what they like.

    The problem is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to act like political lobby groups when it suits them, yet be treated like charities for fiscal purposes.

    Either they butt out of politics or play the game according to the rules everyone must follow. Why do they think they merit special treatment? Who do they think they are?

    • Malcolm Smith

      Who says that churches are treated like charities for fiscal purposes? Church-run charities are treated like charities – just like non-church charities. But you won’t get a tax deduction simply by putting something in the plate at your local church. (Perhaps you should!)

      • Eustace

        In some countries churches benefit from a favourable tax regime and are not required to pay social charges on salaries and stipends or to pay corporate tax on operating profit or investment income. Donations are tax-deductible and even capital gains taxes are waived. They may even benefit from a church tax, as is the case in Germany.

        I don’t know what the situation is like in Britain, but I would be surprised to learn that the state church benefits from no favourable fiscal treatment at all.

  • carl jacobs

    OK, so let’s grant up front that this is in some sense an attempt to appear neutral in the face of Islam. Even so …

    If you are a typical modern Secularist, government-issued, one each, you will believe that religion is at its very essence a form of cynical manipulation. After all, rational people just don’t believe all that superstition. A necessary implication of this attitude is that religious believers – being irrational as they are – are highly susceptible to manipulation. Else, why are they believers? So to say that the ballot must be protected from “undue spiritual influence” is a euphemism for saying “The process must be protected from easily-manipulated voters who are too irrational to be trusted with the franchise.”

    The example itself is astonishingly poor. “You will burn in hell if you vote for Mr X.” You would have to be really, Really, REALLY untaught to buy that line as a Christian. The population of people who would accept such an argument is so small as to be statistically insignificant. But that’s precisely how Secularists think we think.

    • The Explorer

      “You will burn in hell if you vote for Mr X,” might not cut it for Christians. But it might for Muslims. Islam is a works-based faith, and – except for martyrdom in battle – without Christianity’s assurance of salvation. And Islam is the real target here.

      • dannybhoy

        You’re right. Everyone tiptoes around it for fear of provoking the extremists, but Islam is very much the issue. Islam simply does not/cannot fit in with our culture because they come from different belief systems and cultures. The msm and in particular the BBC tie themselves up in knots trying to avoid examining for example, the Islamic belief system. They try to present Islam in the same way they present yoga. Not as a potent spiritual belief but as a lifestyle choice, a healthy alternative as it were.

      • That’s what was once said of Catholics – and still is – and why this law was first brought in. Why shouldn’t the religious leaders of Islam seek to inform their followers how a “good” Muslim will vote?

        • The Explorer

          Tactical voting is a reality of life. Catholics voted for Kennedy. 93% of Blacks voted for Obama.

          I was simply saying that salvation in Islam depends on works in a way that it doesn’t for Christianity.

          • And Jack agrees. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to follow (obey?) their religious leaders in how they vote. The secret ballot is sufficient.

          • The Explorer

            Novalis said, “Character is fate.” There’s a lot in that. In politics, demographics is fate. As was said of the Trayvon Martin trial, with more blacks on the jury, the verdict would have been different. Ethnicity was the issue; the facts were irrelevant.

            But I’m not clear where I said voters couldn’t follow their religious leaders.

          • You didn’t. Jack was making a polemical point.

          • IanCad

            I have to quibble a little here. Only 60% of Blacks voted for Obama. Remember, only 66% of those eligible to do so, voted.
            True, 70 – 80% of Catholics voted for Kennedy – that’s a lot.
            I know plenty of immigrants; believe me, once they’re in they want to close the door. They know exactly the consequences of too many applicants for a job.

          • bluedog

            ‘Only 60% of Blacks voted for Obama.’ Evidence? The Explorer has it right and it was not until the second term that the numbers dropped below 90%.

          • IanCad

            Re-read my post please. The 60% figure is about right.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, good points. I should have said, “Of the blacks who voted…”

            Bill Clinton noted immigrants tend to vote Democrat. So give them the vote asap, and they’d keep the Democrats in power indefinitely. That’s the example I had in mind.

            Maybe a better example would have been single mums on welfare, if they vote, tend to vote for the party most sympathetic to welfare.

    • If the way you vote reflects your beliefs or materially aides immorality, then there may be truth in the warning: “You will burn in hell if you vote for Mr X.” To support abortion or the normalisation of homosexuality, for example, is not morally neutral. And Jack doesn’t buy the argument that you can support the “right” of an individual to procure an abortion or undergo a same sex “marriage” whilst being personally opposed to these things.

      • jsampson45

        Unless the one uttering the threat can send anyone to hell I cannot see the equivalence with threats of violence. In the recent referendum we had the threat of an “emergency budget” and the vague threat about pensions. Perhaps Mr Pickles should look closer to home.

  • chefofsinners

    More worrying to me is the subtle phrase ‘freedom of worship’, a much lesser freedom than that defined in the Human Rights Act, which includes freedom to exercise religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance, in public and in private.

  • The Explorer

    The postal vote was a humane idea. It suits the elderly and the infirm. We had to be in Canada for a funeral on Brexit day, but the postal vote enabled us to contribute.

    What the postal vote didn’t envisage was members of a household being bullied by other members, or even having the vote filled in for them according to the preference of the intimidators.

    Failure to believe in Original Sin results in over optimism. With consequences.

  • Sybaseguru

    There seems to be a significant difference between the political and the spiritual. As a good Anglican I was on the receiving end of sermons about supporting the miners ( who were trying to overthrow an elected government) and encouraged the Vicar to read Article 21 (Authority of the Church) along with Romans 13 (Authority of governments). I have no problems with clergy preaching for care of the poor in the context of giving them hope in Christ, or injustice as a result of greed, but its up to politicians to define “poor” in the UK context as opposed to 3rd world context. Its up to the politicians to suggest and implement solutions.

  • preacher

    Politics & religion don’t mix, unless of course ones freedom of choice in either sphere has been eradicated by indoctrination from an early age. This was proved by the reaction here a short while ago to clergy presuming to tell their communicants which way to vote regarding the E.U referendum.
    Regrettably some faiths fuse the two together in an attempt to hijack power & control.

    • How can our faith not be political? As Christians we live in the world and are called to convert it. Most of the comments about the EU on this blog had a religious theme. Same with issues about homosexuality, abortion etc.

      • preacher

        Hi Jack, both deal with different concerns, one deals with the daily running of the country, the other with spiritual matters & beliefs.
        Although one may have a bearing on the other, they should be kept separate. The referendum is a good example of this, various ministers & vicars held the view to remain, & attempted to influence their people to do the same. But thankfully the communicants voted according to their logical views, be they in favour of either camp, & we know the result. Now there is nothing wrong with differing opinions or points of view & both leave & remain, be they ministers or so called ‘ lay ‘ people are called to vote according to their own perceptions of which would be more beneficial to themselves & the country as a whole. But as stated above, both deal with separate issues.
        Obviously ones beliefs will influence on how we vote, but we are called to preach the gospel not a party manifesto.
        Hope this clarifies my position.
        Blessings. P.

        • The daily running of any nation will only be successful if the leaders adhere to God’s design for how we should lead our individual and collective lives. Some things are very clear and some not so. Take abortion and homosexual “marriage”. No Christian, in my opinion, would support laws permitting or promoting either. Then there are matters for individual judgement e.g. economic policy and foreign policy, where legitimate differences exist bout how to realise Christian values and one has to exercise one’s own conscience in the light of our Christian faith and scripture. So is there really a dividing line between religion and politics? Jack thinks it reasonable for our Church leaders to analysis choices facing us according to our faith. Indeed, if they didn’t, Jack feels they would be neglecting their duties.

    • Royinsouthwest

      It was famously sad many years ago that “the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than to Marxism” and it was true then. Those were the days!

  • Jack sees no problem at all with religious leaders outlining theological reasons for supporting one politician as opposed to another when it is a matter affecting faith or morals. How one votes can advance or obstruct realising the Christian Gospel.

    • Martin

      HJ

      It is, after all, what Rome has always done, look, for example, at Northern Ireland.

      • Oh yeah, as if Protestantism played no part in that particular situation. conflict. Go study some history.

        • Martin

          HJ

          Are you telling me that Rome wasn’t there encouraging the conflict? Of course those who were Christians were opposed to Rome, they always have been.

          • As Jack said, go study some history.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Rome has always encouraged conflict.

  • len

    Everyone on this Planet is under ‘ a spiritual influence.’ For Christ or against Christ.
    Just sayin’.

    • dannybhoy

      True, but we have to maintain a sense of balance in this life. We know that Christ Jesus is God’s solution to man’s needs, but a) as Christians we aren’t always great advertisements, and b) many people in our country see no need of salvation because they think religion is tosh and they have all that they need.
      What’s important is that we live out our Christianity and share our faith as the Holy Spirit leads.

  • We should ban everything Muslim in this country, from Friday prayers in prisons, to their worshiping on the streets, wearing their garb in public and all the rest until they learn to accept and respect us and renounce all violence towards us.

    • Martin

      Marie

      Quite a lot of Muslims are peaceable, why offend them. On the other hand, looking at that statement, that clearly depicts Christians as the problem, can we expect the state to distinguish between Christian and Muslim?

      • Yes of course Christians and Muslims are different. How can you interpret what I said above to be Christians as being the problem? If the peaceable Muslims have an ounce of intelligence and really want to live in our country then they will understand and not be offended. Those who take offence are free to leave.

        • Martin

          Marie

          I meant the statement by Eric Pickles. He sees no difference between Christian and Muslim.

          • Then he needs to educate himself on both, he’ll soon see the difference. Then he needs to decide where his loyalties lie.

    • bluedog

      Criminalise the Koran by all means, but actually banning Islam won’t work in a globalised and wired world.

      • Ban it in this country, we can do that now.

        • bluedog

          You can only ban an ideology by cutting off its supply of oxygen, meaning all communication with the world outside a defined perimeter. Is that practical? The Chinese have done something like this with their internet firewall policy that has banned facebook, google, et al. as channels for Western political ideas. For an open trading economy like that of the UK, restricting communication could have a disastrous economic impact.

          • Oh what! Frightened we wont be able to sell more weapons to the Saudis then are you? That might be a good thing.
            Surely we can restrict all that Islamic bull, it has nothing to do with trading just look at China.

          • bluedog

            Restricting Islamic bull denies the opportunity to discredit Islamic positions, which are abhorrent in so many ways. By all means deport Islamic terrorists or Muslims with dual citizenship, and no former IS jihadi should ever be allowed to set foot in the UK again. But given the size of the service sector, with financial services representing 13% of GDP, maintaining a free flow of ideas and information would seem to be of critical importance. The Chinese economy has a greater dependence on manufacturing.

          • Eustace

            Whatever Pickles needs or doesn’t need to do, one thing is sure: he’ll continue to ignore you.

            I find it quite amusing that ever since the Brexit vote, the rabid right seems convinced that it now rules the country and can dictate policy to the government.

            It was a referendum about one issue, not a general election. You still have a Conservative government and a moderate prime minister who isn’t so very different from the last one, and who certainly isn’t going to veer radically to the right just to please you.

            By all means at the next general election vote for whatever party has a policy of ethnic cleansing and the suppression of religions you don’t like. It won’t win enough votes to form a government. So your Muslim neighbours are safe from your desire to wreak revenge on them for the time being. Unless you decide to take matters into your own hands, of course…

            I advise you not to. Why not show us the efficacity of this religion of yours by turning all your anger and bitterness into love and works of charity? The effort would be too much for you? I quite understand.

          • bluedog

            ‘You still have a Conservative government and a moderate prime minister who isn’t so very different from the last one, ‘

            You’re out of touch. It’s considered action rather than endless sound bites and press releases.

          • Eustace

            If you think that Theresa May’s government is going to swing sharply to the right, I think it’s you who’s out of touch. The extreme right helped swing the Brexit vote, but it doesn’t form a majority and can’t dictate action to the government.

            The banning of Islam is quite simply not going to happen. Whatever you consider “considered action” to be, that won’t be part of it. The law forbids it, so unless Parliament passes new laws to allow the suppression of a religion, which is highly unlikely given the present composition of the House of Commons, Islam will remain a religion that is openly practiced in the UK.

          • bluedog

            You should address your comment ‘The banning of Islam is quite simply not going to happen.’ to Marie 1797.

          • Eustace

            She’ll see it and know it’s meant for her.

          • I’m a voice of reason who sees how difficult Mr Pickles’ position is.
            It’s got nothing to do with pleasing me but defending and saving our culture and Christian religion. Revenge on muslims is pointless, that’s the way to a civil war which is what they thrive on and love. We’ll be fighting for centuries and be dragged down to their level.

            What do you mean “take matters into your own hands”? Credit me with a bit of intelligence please.
            People are indeed pissed off with Islam taking over, as am I. My way is to close all the doors and shut it out. That religion and ideology does NOT belong in this country.

          • Eustace

            It’s against the law to discriminate on the grounds of religion. Governments are subject to the law, so no government can institute an immigration policy that bans Muslims from entering the country.

            The current government isn’t going to change that law. They’d never get it through Parliament. So how exactly do you plan on “closing the doors”?

            Muslim immigration is here to stay. And where there are Muslims, there will be the practice of Islam. You might not like it, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Try banning it and you’ll have a civil war on your hands.

            And in any case, if your religion really is the truth and Islam is just idol worship, surely the truth can stand on its own two feet and look after itself. If the Church really is of God, nothing can defeat it, right? So why are you so worried about the effect of Islam? Could it be that your faith isn’t quite as ironclad as you’d like us to think?

          • I wasn’t talking of banning all Muslims from entering the country. I meant closing the door on all their demands and publishing widely that Islam is NOT the default religion of this country along with a warning before they get here that they will not be able to practice full Islamism here, that they will be expected to take on our culture.

            The Church needs a little help otherwise Islam will crush it and extinguish all the candles. It seems it is standing back and allowing itself to be walked all over. It’s almost as though it’s inviting it’s own downfall and destruction here. It will be down to Russia to save the Christian faith.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Voting in a certain way might well indicate the eventual destination that someone is headed for. However, it cannot send them to that destination. It takes ‘works religions’ such as Romanism and Islam to make that foolish claim.

    • Romanism? Works based religion?
      Yet another “ex-Catholic” priest, either poorly trained or who failed to pay attention in theology, who abandoned his faith without actually understanding it.

      • Martin

        HJ

        If you have to do anything to be saved, that’s works. E$ither salvation is entirely of grace or it isn’t of grace at all.

        • Catholicism actually teaches that grace is necessary for salvation and that this is free gift from God and is solely initiated by Him. However, it also teaches that this grace can be lost through wilful choice to sin and that even though we have faith and are justified, the temptation to sin remains present. It also teaches that grace will sanctify and change us over time but that this perfecting requires effort and cooperation with God and that charitable acts (temporal and spiritual works of mercy) and reception of the sacraments, again prompted by grace, strengthens us spiritually.

          • Martin

            HJ

            So you see, “grace is necessary for salvation” not that salvation is by grace. You are adding works to grace making it no grace at all.

          • As Jack said, we can loose grace. Grace is not irresistible. It is necessary to initiate and sustain our salvation.

            The Catholic Church has never taught that salvation is through works. Indeed, it condemns the notion that men can earn or merit salvation. Catholicism teaches that it is only by God’s grace – completely unmerited by works – that one is saved and that it’s God’s grace from beginning to end which justifies, sanctifies, and saves us.

            The is the second half of the justification equation, missed by you, it is that a Christian must be actively working toward salvation. Scripture informs us: “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2: 24) And: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

            The Council of Trent stated Catholic teaching:

            “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or by the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema”

            “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema”

            Saint Paul teaches that good works are necessary for attaining eternal life: “For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.”

            Moreover, later in Romans, Paul tells us that after baptism, obedience to Christ leads us to justification while sin will lead us to death: “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness”

            Paul also emphases our continuing in Christ’s grace or “kindness”: “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.”

            The Catholic Church teaches the true, biblical doctrine of justification.

          • Martin

            HJ

            On the contrary Rome rejects salvation by grace through faith and places requirements on the one seeking salvation. Works are the evidence of salvation, not the cause. That is what James is clearly saying. Grace for you is an add on, not the sole cause.

            “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema”

            You have proven my point.

          • Trent is entirely consistent with the writings of Saint Paul in Romans. We have to cooperate with grace for it to remain efficacious and we have to avoid the loss of grace and faith that comes through sin. Saint James does not say that works are the evidence of salvation.
            Demonstrate biblically that faith alone secures salvation.

          • dannybhoy

            The two go hand in hand, but it is saving grace which initiates the process of salvation. In other words no matter how hard we tried to be a saint, only God’s salvation through Christ Jesus makes it possible.

          • Dominic Stockford

            “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8 Grace ALONE.

            And yes, James does say that works are evidence – as does Paul speaking to the Ephesians.

          • dannybhoy

            Kerching indeed. A sound theologian…

          • All compatible with Catholic teaching. However, what you don’t acknowledge is that faith/grace can be resisted and it can also be lost through sin.

          • Dominic Stockford

            As John MacArthur has sensibly pointed out, ‘If you COULD lose your salvation, you WOULD.’

          • Plenty of people do.

            MacArthur also stated, “It should never be presented merely as a matter of being once saved, always saved – with no regard for what you believe or do. The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord’s presence.” As a result MacArthur, a Calvinist, was accused of teaching a form of works-based salvation.

            He also argued that the one-third of all Americans who claimed to be born again according to a 1980 Gallup poll reflected millions who are deceived, possessing a false, soul-destroying assurance.

          • Martin

            HJ

            On the contrary, if we have to cooperate with grace it isn’t grace.

            For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
            (Ephesians 2:8-9 [ESV])

          • So, for you, grace is irresistible?
            Actual grace, the prompting towards God, can be resisted before justification (by stubbornly remaining in unbelief); and sanctifying grace, that which transforms us, can be lost (by failing to follow God’s commandments).

          • Martin

            HJ

            Grace isn’t the prompting towards God, it is God’s mercy in saving a sinner, who can do nothing for themselves, and making them one of God’s people.

            What you describe is not grace, more a sort of leg up. Why do you think that doing what God requires of you can gain any merit?

          • Who mentioned merit? We can resist initial, actual grace that moves us towards God.

          • Martin

            HJ

            You mentioned merit, right there. The merit of not resisting ‘grace’.

            Of course such grace is not grace at all, but a reward for what is, or is not, done.

          • Why is it a merit not to resist God’s law?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Isn’t it so to obey God?

            For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
            (Ephesians 2:8-9 [ESV])

            If you did not resist God you have something to boast of.

          • Jack sees it as us being culpable for not responding to the initial promptings of the Spirit, rather than boasting and seeing merit or “works” in answering the call.
            As Jack recall, the Prodigal Son “came to his senses” before returning to his Father. What does this mean?Jack reads this as actual grace prompting him homeward. Would he have stayed in sin if he had not been miserable? Was his return home contingent on this misery? What caused him to come to the realisation that he needed to ask his Father for forgiveness instead of more money? His Father had already forgiven his waywardness and waited in love. But his Father let him go and hoped he would return. However, he didn’t go out looking for him or compel him to return. The Father waited.

            And, key question, was he compelled to go home in repentance or could he have stayed where he was? His initial motives for going home are not clear cut. He was missing something. He was thinking of himself and his misery. It seems to Jack, what converted him was the embrace from the Father, although we are not informed of this. This would be sanctifying grace.
            There’s no merit in any of this on the part of the Prodigal Son.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’m not sure what HJ sees it as has any relevance. And the Prodigal Son is not about the son coming to his senses but the Father welcoming him back and the self righteousness of the elder brother. You shouldn’t push a parable beyond what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture, and we are clearly taught that the sinner is incapable of repentance without God’s action.

          • Scripture informs us that before his journey home the Prodigal Son came to his senses. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been journeyed met by his Father who was watching and ran out to greet him.

            “Then he came to himself, and said, How many hired servants there are in my father’s house, who have more bread than they can eat, and here am I perishing with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee; I am not worthy, now, to be called thy son; treat me as one of thy hired servants.”

            And you shouldn’t ignore this and the numerous passages and parables in scripture where it is clear God loves and offers redemption to all.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Unlike sinner in need of salvation, the Prodigal Son was not dead in his sins.

          • carl jacobs

            The argument is not about the necessity of grace but the sufficiency of grace.

          • Well, Saints Paul and James have enlightened us about this.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, they did. Is grace sufficient or isn’t it?

          • Jack answered this to Martin below.

          • carl jacobs

            So your answer is “No, grace is not sufficient.” Is that a fair and accurate statement?

          • “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or by the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.”

            “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.”

          • carl jacobs

            I find it fascinating that you won’t answer a “Yes or No” question with either “Yes” or “No”.

          • Who is Jack to answer, Carl? He’s no theologian and so has to let scripture, as interpreted by the Catholic Church, answer. You’ll notice, the clauses from Trent pose a conundrum. There is a tension between them that a straight “Yes” or “No” cannot answer. It’s not an “either/or” but a “both/and”.

            The second clause states that man must cooperate with grace and be: “prepared and disposed by the action of his own will” for this. Yet, man’s will, without grace, the first clause confirms, is ineffectual. So, man’s “own natural powers or … the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ” are insufficient. Where does predestination enter the picture?

            As Jack said on the previous thread, the Catholic Church leaves what has not been revealed to her yet unanswered and there are a number of possibilities that remain within her teachings:

            “The way I see it, and Catholics are not obliged to adopt any position on predestination, is that God, who is Love, will hold out the offer salvation to all. He does sufficient to initiate saving grace in all of us and, in ways that are mysterious, He knows those who respond and continually bestows additional efficacious graces on them. He also knows those who will not and, whilst He will keep making the offer, there will come a point when He leaves them to their fate. He knows who is saved and who is damned because He is Transcendent. Scripture is written from His perspective, not ours.””

            It’s a mystery …..

          • carl jacobs

            Who is Jack to answer

            Oh, please. When has that ever stopped you before?

          • Some things are just above Jack’s paygrade.

          • carl jacobs

            Tappity-tappity-tappity-tappity
            Slide – swoosh. Slide – swoosh.
            Tappity-tappity-tappity-tappity
            Spin twirl kick twirl.

            [And now for the big finish!]

            Tappity tap! Tappity tap! YEAH!

          • You really are into black and white thinking, Carl. Jack’s said it before, and he’ll say it again, you lack a poetic imagination. He can’t work out if this is due to Calvinism or whether it’s what attracted you to it. Probably the latter. Too much cold logic and no room for inspiration. As if we’re capable of unlocking God’s deepest mysteries.

          • carl jacobs

            Sola Gratia wasn’t one of the Five Solas for no reason, Jack. You know very well what the RCC teaches. And it is revealing that you won’t say it.

          • Jack has said it – more than once. He’s also posted the teaching from Trent. What more do you want? Perhaps you should enlighten Jack about Catholic teaching.

            The Five Solae are heretical man made inventions that seek to deny the authority given by Christ to His Church.

          • carl jacobs

            I didn’t see you answer. I saw you post two quotes from the Council of Trent. And then you said you couldn’t answer because you weren’t a theologian. And then you appealed to “tension”. So I’ll give you another chance, then. If you have already answered, it should be easy to repeat. Is grace sufficient or not?

          • “Are we saved by faith or works?”
            Yes.
            “Are we saved by grace or free will?”
            Yes.

          • dannybhoy

            The individual come to recognise that they are sinners incapable of consistently living up to their own moral standards, let alone God’s standard.
            Once convinced of this, the penitent throws himself on God’s mercy and grace, made possible by His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross.
            The Holy Spirit gives assurance of that forgiveness and indwells the new believer changing them from within.
            The fruit of the Spirit begins to be made manifest in the believer’s life, attitudes and behaviours begin to change, and confirm the reality of the new birth.

          • “Take away free will and there remaineth nothing to be saved; take away grace and there is no means whereby it can be saved.’’
            (Bernard of Clairveaux)

          • dannybhoy

            Well there you are then. We express it slightly different ways. Perhaps the most significant difference is the role and authority of the church (hierarchy) in the corporate and individual believer’s lives. I cannot accept the Roman Catholic or Anglican interpretation of ecclesiastical authority, or their having a role in ascertaining our state of grace before God.

          • There are different types of grace – actual and sanctifying grace. Actual grace is the universal prompting of the Holy Spirit turning us to God. If we do not resist, this will lead us into a relationship with Christ and justify us. Sanctifying grace is an infusion of God’s saving grace into our soul whereby we are perfected and made ready to be in His presence. This can be lost through failing to keep God’s commandments and/or the teachings of His Church. The channels of sanctifying grace are the sacraments administered by His Church – starting with baptism.

          • dannybhoy

            So now you introduce caveats -just when I thought we were getting somewhere you reintroduce the overarching authority of the Catholic church…
            “This can be lost through failing to keep God’s commandments and/or the teachings of His Church.”

            There are no man made ‘addons’ to the Christians faith. All that is needed for salvation is within Scripture.
            The New Testament knows nothing of a celibate priesthood, or bishops’ palaces and robes or traditions which keep the faithful in thrall to a non Scriptural hierarchy.

          • How just do you know all that is needed for salvation is within scripture? Scripture doesn’t say this. And how do you know the books we have defined as “scripture” is authentic?

          • dannybhoy

            Okay..
            (in unkind mode)
            And on what grounds then, can a Catholic hierarchy which has elected dud Popes and flip flopped on various issues of theology, claim to know what what God (absent mindedly?) left out of the canon of scripture?
            If we accept that every person in authority in the Catholic church is but flesh and blood,
            (you do believe that don’t you?)
            that evils have been committed by said church in the name of Christianity; what grounds could they possibly have for introducing add ons to the Christian faith, other than for the need to control?
            It’s wrong Jack.

          • You only know scripture is canonical and contains all that is necessary for salvation because the Church has declared this and told you. It was the Church who wrote the Gospels and it was the Church who selected what the bible contains. The same Church you now want to disown, studied what is now scripture and determined it was an accurate account of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. And it is scripture that assigns authority to the Church to interpret, develop and clarify the truth it contains.
            All men are sinful are fallen. Christ promised to guard the teachings of the Church. He didn’t say all priests and bishops would be free from sin.

          • dannybhoy

            ” It was the Church who wrote the Gospels and it was the Church who selected what the bible contains.”
            Ecclesiastical sleight of hand there Jack. For church, substitute ‘catholic church’ because that is surely what you mean.
            And it wasn’t the (organised proto Catholic) church was it?
            The early Church fathers prayerfully deliberated on the Canon of Scripture, but they didn’t write it.
            The gospels and letters of the New Testament were written by the (Jewish) disciples/Apostles. The early Church core was made up of (Jewish) believers who knew only the relative simplicity of Jewish worship and practice.

          • Are you claiming the authors of the New Testament were not Christians – i.e members of the early Church? Incidentally, Jewish worship and practice was hardly simple. The writings that were placed together as canon were originally written and circulated as records of Jesus’ life and/or as evangelising/teaching documents. It was the Apostles successors who gathered these together, preserved them and decided they were inspired. Who appointed these men and with what authority and where did it come from?

            No contradiction at all ……………..

            1 John 2; 27 has nothing to do with who has authority to interpret the bible. Persons who are not anointed Christians need someone to teach them the revealed principles of the faith. John’s readers needed him to teach them before they became Christians. The Jewish scripture had to be interested and explained. John is teaching things in this Epistle, and his teachings are explicitly addressed to anointed Christians. Taken literally and out of context, this verse would mean there is no need for instruction in the faith. It seems natural to understand that by “anyone” John is referring to teachers coming to his readers from outside the company of the Apostles (see 2:18-19). Far from rendering the Church and the Bible unnecessary, this verse presupposes that the readers are in the Church and being nourished by the scriptures, as taught – and written – by Apostles and Apostolic men such as the author of 1 John.

            Ephesians 4:11 teaches us that God gave Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists to show that God has made ample provision for the extension of his Church and that God’s children are growing in this world.

          • dannybhoy

            “Are you claiming the authors of the New Testament were not Christians – i.e members of the early Church?”

            They were the appointed founders of the Church, disciples turned apostles. They were Jews who had not yet formulated a theology of what they had seen and heard..
            Acts 4>
            “10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

            13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

          • After Pentecost they were confirmed Christians.

          • dannybhoy

            But not yet confirmed Catholics…

          • carl jacobs

            You keep answering questions I haven’t asked. Would you answer the question I did ask?

          • “Is grace sufficient or isn’t it?

            Jack did answer.

            Yes, grace is sufficient for salvation. But, as Jack said, grace can be resisted, before justification (by remaining in unbelief); or after (by failing to follow God’s commandments).

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, grace is sufficient for salvation. But, as Jack said, grace can be resisted

            You are just playing word games, Jack. All you have done is subtly shift the definition of sufficiency to include the concept of insufficiency. In other words, you are using the word “sufficiency” but you have defined it to mean “necessary”. By definition if something is sufficient, then it requires nothing else. You have stated the proposition as “Grace is sufficient but it requires the addition of something that is not of grace.” Grace cannot save by itself. This is how sufficiency becomes reduced to necessity. That “something” is the assent of the sovereign will of man. Now, what do we call that which is not of grace? We call it a “work”. Why? Because it is something about which any man can legitimately boast.

          • Your shifting the meaning of words. There is a difference between the “sovereign will” of man and a man who is empowered by initial/actual grace. Without the gift, available to all, he cannot respond to God. With the gift he can. It’s down to God. Just how is this “work”? However, man can resist. There’s nothing to “boast” about as there is no merit in it.

          • Martin

            HJ

            And there you demonstrate that salvation is not by grace but works.

    • Uncle Brian

      “… for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt 12.37)

      A lot of things come under the heading of “works”, including words.

  • Dreadnaught

    500+ comments on a person’s sexual orientation. Less than 50 on the issue of the corruption undermining of our Democracy.
    Just shows where the interest is focused.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      where the interest is focused.

      The interest of society as a whole, but driven by a narrow clique. A gentlemen of colour whom I was talking to said that the Hollywood casting couch applied to male and well as female actors, and they only took up civil rights for black people as a stage in getting gay rights. That sounds a bit too far-fetched, but he was certainly right in identifying the source of the problem.

      I’m heading back to the cave for now, so closing down this station for a few hours.

      • Dreadnaught

        I tend to agree with you. There is way too much representation of the minorities on TV especially, that gives the impression that certain minority groups are more prominent in numbers than they actually are.

    • Ivan M

      It means that everyone you picked on in the other thread in the name of freedom for buggery agrees with your take on this matter.

      • Dreadnaught

        Picking on someone – Moi? Harsh! – Minding ones own business was the point I made.

  • Martin

    It is worth noting that the threat is pictured from an entirely Christian perspective, as if it is clearly the Christian leaders who have been browbeating their followers into voting in the acceptable way. Either this is based on a belief that Christians are unlikely to threaten to behead him for challenging them or it is based on the PC view that nothing in Islam may be criticised because it is a minority religion held by a minority racial group. I wonder which, and could it be that both are equally objectionable

    • Dreadnaught

      nothing in Islam may be criticised because it is a minority religion…
      Yes a billion plus is a minority considering the other 6 billion in the world.
      I remember the parable of the good tares etc and if I may extend the analogy, permit me to liken Islam to the Japanese Knot Weed – and we can’t find the courage to apply the weed killer.

      • Martin

        Dreadnaught

        Perhaps I should have added, “in the UK”

        • Dreadnaught

          I knew where you were with it – just adding a little perspective because its the same all over Europe – a minority that got the politicians running scared and enablers like HJ living with their heads up their bums.

  • bluedog

    A carefully managed entry on the electoral roll could be one of the paths to eternal life, through which one’s children can continue to exercise one’s wishes to the benefit of a grateful nation. Or so it would appear in a number of constituencies.

    Photo ID with evidence of date of birth would appear to be a pre-requisite to casting a vote.

    As to undue spiritual influence, we seem to be forgetting the wisdom of Gloriana, ‘I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls’. Strictly enforced control of the physical nature of the electoral roll has more chance of success than attempts at abstract discrimination.

    • Ivan M

      Its the only way.

  • Inspector General

    Agreed then, chaps. Para 199 to read ‘unallocated’

    Men of colour (It’s always the men, as their women are rather squeakless in as much as they know they are in for a bloody good hiding if they so much as utter…) do things differently to the indigenous. Thankfully, these types are only a damn nuisance where they are massed together. So let them get on with it. It’s their problem, if problem it be…

    • So where have you been? Your favourite topic was discussed yesterday and there was no sign of the Queer Missionary. Most disappointing.

      • Royinsouthwest

        I remember that on one previous occasion when the Inspector was absent it turned out that he had been on holiday on the Isle of Wight where he had been hunting big game, or at least the hotel cat. Perhaps he has been on safari again.

        • bluedog

          In he past he has gone to the Lake District to recover.

  • Inspector General

    Off topic, but can any of Cranmer’s world wide following translate this to Cantonese…

    “Ancestors say You hoover house top to bottom once a week. Do not disgrace ancestors!”

    Helping some excellent people out, you see. It’s to do with a long term house let in the Lake District. All attempts welcome…

    • Uncle Brian

      Our Catholic friend Ivan M lives in Singapore, I believe. It’s getting on for midnight there now but, if he sees your question, he ought to be able to help out.

      • Inspector General

        He’s strong meat, that Ivan M, and has oft curtly dismissed the Inspector as an ‘Imperialist’. Which he is, in a way.

        Should any suggestion be forthcoming, the Inspector will take it to a Chinese restaurant for translation. Should he not have his face slapped, or worse, then the result may well be woven into a tapestry to hang above the mantelpiece…

        • Then why not ask the Chinese to give you the translation?

          • Inspector General

            That would be imposing on these hard working fellows time…

          • IanCad

            Wouldn’t, by any chance, be the replacements for the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers?

          • Inspector General

            Shame Sir!

    • “老祖說你胡佛房子從上到下每星期一次。不辱沒祖宗!”

      It’s Google Translate in Chinese.

      • Inspector General

        Much obliged, Jack.

      • Uncle Brian

        Translating that back into English, my Google Translate gives:

        “Hoover said you ancestors house from top to bottom once a week. Do not disgrace the ancestors”

        • Lol …..
          That’s Google translate for you!

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Be careful if you try throwing odd bits of Chinese speech around, or they may think you are a 傻佬.

    • Eustace

      Easy solution. Do what we’ve done in France and ban all government employees from wearing religious symbols and religiously inspired clothing while at work. No more niqabs on policewomen’s heads. No more crosses around nurses’ necks.

      Problem solved, and everyone treated equally at the same time.

      Of course what you want is a ban on all Muslim religious symbols while letting Christians do what they like. And that is called “discrimination on the grounds of religion”. Not legal, I’m afraid. Either everyone has to stop flaunting their religion, or nobody does. It’s the only way a ban can work.

      • Inspector General

        No more rainbow flags too!

        • Eustace

          The rainbow flag isn’t a religious symbol. But in saying that, I have no problem with a ban on all symbols except those associated with the nation in or on public buildings or worn by public servants.

          Of course in Britain that gives Christianity the preference because of course the British flag is full of Christian symbols. But as long as it’s your national flag, there isn’t much that can be done about that, and if the truth be told, few associate the Union Flag with Christianity, so the harm it does is limited.

          But of course I don’t get to decide these things. And neither do you.

          • Inspector General

            Don’t be too quick to dismiss gayism as a religion. It has all the attributes necessary for a practicable faith and is even working on blasphemy laws for all of us to adhere to on pain of punishment…

            More cake?

          • HedgehogFive

            Both gayism and Islamism seem to have the BBC by the what-passes-for balls.

      • IanCad

        If the employee and the employer are all square with it, I see no reason why religious symbols/clothing should be a problem,

        • Eustace

          In France the state is secular and favours no religion. Representatives of the state must therefore personify this neutrality in the carrying out of their duties.

          In Britain the situation is more complicated. The state is still nominally Christian, however in practice it is effectively secular, but it can’t quite work out what message it should be sending to the public. Christian or secular? Partisan or neutral? It’s a typical British muddle.

          In a multi-cultural, multi-faith society allowing one faith to dominate creates a situation in which other faiths will resent and challenge what they see as an unfair advantage. That’s what’s happening with Islam in Britain today. And it will keep on happening if Christian symbols and Christian traditions are given preference over all others.

          In France we’ve already confronted militant Christianity and limited it to the sphere in which it rightly belongs, i.e. the private lives of individuals. We’re now confronting militant Islam, which will also be forced back into the home.

          You’ll never see a niqab on a French policewoman. And when private individuals attempt to proselytize in public spaces like beaches by wearing religiously charged clothing designed to attack the equality guaranteed by the Republic to all women, they can be legitimately fined and ordered to remove the offending garments.

          Whatever you believe or don’t believe, if you live in France you owe public respect to the principles of the Republic. That is how we are governed, by common consent. If you don’t like it, you can always choose to live elsewhere.

          • IanCad

            A good, comprehensive answer, and in regards to the wearing of religious garb by public officers, one with which I must agree.
            I do however, profoundly object to your conflation of the wearing of religious clothing with the act of proselytizing. Even more, your support for that wretched scene of the bullying of that poor Muslim lady on the French beach.

          • Eustace

            The ban on burkinis has been well-publicised. Anyone wearing one on a French beach is only doing so as an act of provocation.

            There was no “bullying” of a “poor Muslim lady”, merely the application of a regulation that a defiant woman deliberately tried to flout.

            You Christians are impossible to please. You constantly bitch about how laws should be applied to everyone and then when they are, you bitch about that too. There’s no pleasing you because you don’t wamt to be pleased. Basically you’re just professional bellyachers and contrarians.

          • IanCad

            Hold On! Hold On! We live in a complex world where consistency tends to fluidity, therefore we Christians receive a constant blast from such as your goodself accusing us of failing to be absolutely precise in thought and deed.
            We do our best and willingly accept that failure in that regard is more common than success.
            That said; it’s a bit rich of you to seemingly endorse the notion that laws should apply to all yet cite an incident where a law only applies to Muslims.

          • Eustace

            The law doesn’t only apply to Muslims. It applies to all who make an ostentatious show of religion. If a nun turns up on a beach wearing the full penguin costume, she too will be fined and then asked to change into something more suitable or leave.

            Of course Christians don’t generally go to beaches in their religiously inspired costumes. Muslims do. So it looks as if the law is solely directed against them. But it is not. It is designed to remove ALL signs of religion from public spaces where they cause tension and conflict.

          • IanCad

            Why on earth are the French such control freaks?
            I cannot see how a nun or a Muslim woman could possibly cause offence if she just wants a few hours at the beach. it should be no concern of anyone else.

          • Eustace

            Interestingly enough, the Conseil d’Etat has just invalidated the burkini bans on the basis they interfere with personality liberty.

            It appears that our final court of appeal agrees that Muslims have the right to flaunt their disregard for the fundamental principles of the Republic in all our faces.

            The politicization of this issue is going to weigh heavily on the election campaign. A community that refuses to integrate into society and sets itself apart by means of dietary and sumptuary laws always becomes the target for popular discontent and scapegoating.

          • IanCad

            I’m glad that exercise in control went south in such a hurry.
            Variety is the spice of life. Makes for a better dining out experience as well.

          • Eustace

            It appears the Conseil d’Etat has decided that personal liberty now trumps all other considerations. As the principle is one I generally support, it’s hard to argue against it.

            As a direct attack upon two of the founding principles of the Republic at a time when religious fanatics are striking at the heart of our freedoms, I had thought the decision would be different.

            On the one hand I’m against it because I believe that ostentatious displays of religion designed to offend and intimidate have no place in public spaces like beaches. On the other hand, judicial support of the right to freedom of dress certainly strengthens the position of certain members of my own community. If a Muslim woman can wear a burkini to the beach, who can object to a trans woman wearing a skimpy frock and killer heels to a football match?

            Of course she’d be a brave woman to do it in the face of the ingrained transphobia of football fans. But with a police escort and a little chutzpah, a very important point could be made. If we’re free to wear whatever we want wherever we want to, the freedom must apply to us all.

            If the State is willing to defend that idea, who am I to complain?

          • dannybhoy

            In the context of cultural pre-eminence I actually agree with France’s approach. It’s not that I suspect the lady of an act of provocation – although it might be. It’s much more about the symbolism; what the burqa/hijab/burkini represents.
            It’s the idea that another totally different culture can come in and establish its self without making any concessions or attempts to assimilate. That is colonisation without violence, and as the numbers grow so will the demands made upon secular French society.

          • Eustace

            Let them demand. We’ve dealt with Christians before. We’ll deal with Muslims too.

          • The Explorer

            You can have multi-faith or an established church ( Or neither). British fudge and muddle tries to have both. It’s like Kent having grammar schools and comprehensives.

            When you say France has confronted militant Christianity, do you mean the protests over same-sex marriage, or have Christian militants been attacking people on trains, blowing up airports, doing mass shootings, targeting Jewish supermarkets etc?

            Islam has certainly been doing stuff like that, and more, and it’s good to see the French taking a stand to protect themselves. Bonne chance!

          • Eustace

            The Republic dealt with a militant and obscurantist Catholic Church at the turn of the 20th century with the law of 1905 separating Church and State. Yes, it provoked violence, with fanatical Catholics refusing to let State authorities into churches that had been State property since 1789, but which had been occupied by the Church since the Concordat of 1801. Many barricaded themselves inside and had to be expelled by force. Serious injury and even deaths ensued as mobs of zealots attacked the police. So much for Christian non-violence.

            But the Republic held firm, the law was applied and the Church came to accept the new situation. It had little choice. The country massively supported the State position. Anticlericalism was rife, caused by Catholic attempts to turn back time and interfere in the government. Had the State not intervened when it did and the Church had continued with its campaign to undermine secular government, it would have ended in civil war.

            Thwarting the ambitions of religions that want to impose their values on everyone is something we know how to do.

          • The Explorer

            “churches that had been State property since 1789.” How they became state property might, in other circumstances, be termed theft. But that’s a very clear account. Thank you. Hope the campaign against Islam is as successful.

          • Eustace

            The means by which the Church acquired its former property could also be termed theft. The history of illegal expropriation didn’t start in 1789.

            The Republic will prevail. It has the support of virtually all Frenchmen. Islamists make a lot of noise, but they’re a tiny minority that can never hope to control the destiny of a Western country, especially not one like France where opposition to the idea of theocracy is visceral.

          • The Explorer

            I think Rousseau says somewhere that the original thief was the first to erect a fence and say, “This is mine.” From that emerged private property, the family, and the whole sorry tale of civilisation.

          • Eustace

            Curtailed? How do you plan to “curtail” births to foreign mothers? Planning on slipping contraceptive drugs into the water supply, are you?

            Odd strategy for a Christian. But then I suppose you’re not a Catholic, are you? The Anglican principle of making everything sinful except what you want to do yourself (e.g. get rid of an unwanted wife…) therefore must operate, so all your acts are justified.

          • The Explorer

            It’s a neutral-enough term. I did say ‘curtailed’, not ‘culled’. Put another way, if the 75% statistic continues unabated, then within a generation indigenous Brits will be in the minority in the relevant areas. For that to apply to the UK as a whole would be a longer process: overall, only 25% of 2015 new-borns were to mothers born abroad.

            How might curtailment happen? Two ways.

            1. Nature. As immigrants themselves become indigenous, reproduction falls to indigenous- Brit levels. That happens with Muslim women born in Britain, but not with imported brides.

            2. The Danish solution. The Danes found Muslims were 7% of the population, but consumed 54% of the welfare budget. Unsustainable. Result: immigration restrictions.

      • Dreadnaught

        In a Secular society the right to practise religion is a given. As the only recognisable Christian token is a small cross or St Christopher medal. They are in any case, hardly visible in comparison to the overtly Islamic cultural dress from several Countries, which the wearers insist in highlighting their desire to remain separate rather than integrate with the host culture.

        I for one,find this deeply offensive considering it is the followers of Islam that is responsible for the murder of Westerners at home and abroad.

        In any case there is no compulsion on either male or female Muslims to wear any specific dress whatsoever.

        I like what the police are doing on the beaches in Nice. Given the recent events there, Muslim women turning up on la Plage in overt Islamic dress deserve all the abuse and harassment they get.
        They are fast enough to take offence when it suits their convenience, yet don’t have the decency to consider how indigenous French must feel at their sight, after what their co-religionist did in the very same place.
        That is of course unless it was as I think more likely – a deliberate act of provocation to stoke more planned retaliatory violence and sense of victimhood.
        Not that need an excuse to murder and maim.

        • Eustace

          If you want the state to be credible in suppressing the public expression of religion, it needs to be neutral in matters of religion. The French state can enforce laicity precisely because it is secular. The British government however is nominally Christian. Enforcing bans on other religions then becomes problematic. Giving preference to one religion encourages other religions to challenge it for dominance. That’s the nature of religions. They’re competitive philosophies that need to convert in order to grow their power base and appease their deity. Why do you think evangelism forms a core commandment of Christianity?

          • Dreadnaught

            Talk about stating the obvious – I find it most peculiar that I can make a tacit compliment in the direction of the French, only for turn it into the basis of anti-Christian/British argument/insult? You are an odd fish for sure.
            In passing, its not the British Government [elected every 5 years] that is nominally Christian, it is Parliament or at a stretch, British culture.

      • The Explorer

        Slightly different situation in Britain because of a (theoretically) established Church.

        • sarky

          ……that nobody goes to.

          • The Explorer

            I did say theoretically/

          • sarky

            Got to agree with Eustace on this one.

          • len

            No surprise there then….

          • sarky

            Why? Because it’s common sense?

          • layreader

            For 2000 years, a cross has meant life and peace and freedom (despite commemorating Roman execution) – that’s why people wear them. To say that all religious symbols are therefore equal is exactly the same as saying that all religions are equal – the statement of those who don’t know and don’t want to know. And thus you entirely miss the point of the ferment that’s currently engaging the world – be an ostrich if you like, but the problem will not go away.
            And if you’re worried about people not going to church, just consider the fact that more people will be in church on the average Sunday morning than paid to watch professional football on the previous Saturday afternoon. Think about it.

          • sarky

            Less than 750,000 attend cofe services. 8.2million (or 1 in 5 adults) participate in football (FA stats). Think about it.

          • layreader

            I didn’t say c of e, I said church. 2.4 million people will be there on Sunday morning. 1.4 million pay to watch clubs in the top 4 divisions of English football.

          • sarky

            That statistic is always bandied around by Christians, but is meaningless in the face of falling congregations, which are currently dropping at 1% per annum.

          • layreader

            Not meaningless at all, whatever the British Humanist Association (membership less than 4000) might say about it. Around 800000 Anglicans, slightly less Catholics, and around 900000 all others (denomination or not). And official membership (as opposed to those who actually turn up on Sundays) is in excess of 5 million.

          • sarky
      • Eustace, life isn’t as black and white as you want and would like it to be. A ban on all Muslim religious symbolism safeguards our culture and Christianity here and all the other religions that are here peacefully will benefit too. And if any other alien religion here becomes too demanding and aggressive they too will have curbs put on their symbols and practices.

        • Eustace

          You speak as if you wield some kind of power. I somehow doubt it.

          But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps all you need to do is wave your magic wand and all Muslim religious symbolism will be banned.

          Again, I somehow doubt it…

    • Dreadnaught

      Its been optional in the Met for the past ten years. The two idiots in the picture could just as well pass as Nuns with Guns in poor light.

  • len

    Time has come for our society to decide exactly what it wants and the direction it wants to travel in.
    A society which has no firm moral foundation is one that will disintegrate rapidly.We see this happening already in the UK and further afield.
    A society with’ no boundaries’ and ‘no absolutes’ is one that has no moral reason to defend itself.
    We either value our foundation or our whole house collapses.

    • sarky

      How is our society disintegrating??
      Teenage pregnancies have halved, crime is down?? The gap between rich and poor is large, but hasn’t that always been the case (and our definition of poor is vastly different from other parts of the world)
      I think what you mean is that Christianity is in rapid decline. This is not necessarily a bad thing as so called morality and crime has been shown to be higher in so called ‘christian’ countries.
      The bible belt, for example, has the highest number of divorces, abortions etc.
      Don’t talk the rest of us down because your little sect is becoming more and more irrelevant.

      • bluedog

        ‘…as so called morality and crime has been shown to be higher in so called ‘christian’ countries.’

        Interested in your explanation of how you would quantify high morality. Is it possible to define low morality as well? It seems you could really be on to something here. Or not.

        • sarky

          I believe all cultures have a baseline morality that is commonly shared.
          Abover or below this baseline is how I would define higher/lower morality.

      • len

        ‘How is our society disintegrating??’
        Open your eyes sarky.Open your eyes.
        The EU is on the verge of collapse.
        The family unit (the cement that holds society together) is under constant attack from all directions.
        America could embark on another civil war.

        The rise of Islamic terrorism.

        The Planet is being poisoned by its inhabitants.
        Resources are running out(this was the primary cause of the second world war)

        And that’s is just the tip of the Iceberg.Without even mentioning N Korea , China, and Russia who all have massive problems of their own.

        • sarky

          Nope. A major town.

      • The Explorer

        Laurie Lee says somewhere, “Sin had not changed; only its definition.” Same sort of thing with crime? Decriminalise certain activities, or turn a blind eye, and the crime rate drops dramatically.

  • Inspector General

    “Inspector, my exam results are through!”

    “How did you do in French, Sophie. You say that’s your best subject”

    “I got an A Star!!”

    “Sophie, C’est magnifique !”

    “What does that mean, Inspector?”

    • Andre´Kristian

      Most magnificent marvel amongst men,
      I avow to the fact I shouldn´t really venture to approach this venerable establishment. I also, filled with a passionate desire to receive Your quiet remission of sins, avow to the fact I have taken the liberty of sharing that exquisite example of Your authorship on the less noble Twitter 😉 Guilty as hell, mylord!
      No response necessary.
      Andreas.

  • Anton

    Bullying a voter by asserting that they will ‘burn in hell’ for not supporting a candidate is ultimately no different from threatening physical violence or from an employer threatening to sack a worker.

    Mr Pickles does not understand the elementary difference between bullying, when a speaker himself threatens to harm the listener, and warning, when the speaker informs the listener that a third party (over whom the speaker has no control) might harm the listener.