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Kids’ Author says Jesus is not God (http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090908/kid%E2%80%99s-author-says-jesus-is-not-god/)

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Kids’ author says
Jesus is not God

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

An atheist children’s author is to use his latest book to say that Jesus was not God, instead claiming the Apostle Paul imagined the idea.

In a new book entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman says the idea of Jesus being God came from the “fervid imagination” of Paul.

Mr Pullman is a strident atheist who has said his books aim at “killing God”.

Critics have described his work as “proselytising”.

Commenting before the launch of the new book Mr Pullman said: “For every man or woman who has been led to goodness by a church, and I know there have been many, there has been another who has been inspired by the same church to a rancid and fanatical bigotry for which the only fitting word is evil.”

Mr Pullman described Paul as, “a literary and imaginative genius, who has had more influence on the world than anybody else, including Jesus. He had this great ability to persuade others and his rhetorical skills have been convincing people for 2,000 years”.

He adds: “By the time the Gospels were written down, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether different and extraordinary.”

The new book is due to be published around Easter next year.

In 2007, the first of three planned series of film adaptations of Mr Pullman’s novels was released.

The first film sparked considerable controversy and after low box office ratings, plans for a sequel were dropped.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said Philip Pullman’s books are among his favourites.

Dr Rowan Williams, said he liked Mr Pullman’s work because he took the church “seriously” at a time when it appeared to be “drifting out” of mainstream intellectual debate.

The Association of Christian Teachers’ Chief Executive, Rupert Kaye said of the trilogy: “My key concern is that many young people (and adults) who read Philip Pullman’s trilogy will be left with an extremely distorted understanding of what Christians actually believe and what the Bible really says about the person of God.”

Tony Watkins, an evangelical media commentator said: “The trouble is, he blurs the line between fantasy and reality by giving interviews and talking about the Republic of Heaven in the world.

“And because he’s got all of this anti-God rhetoric in the real world that is even stronger than what’s in the book, I think he can’t get away with saying, ‘It’s just a story and you can read into it whatever you like.’ Because he does understand what he’s saying.”

Columnist Melanie McDonagh warned about His Dark Materials, a trilogy written by Pullman, saying it was “actually setting up a parody of Christianity as a thing itself.

“Now, that’s fair enough as Mr Philip Pullman’s own belief but I think it is something that readers should be alerted to because it is a proselytising agenda,” she added.

BBC highlights squeeze on Christian street preachers

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BBC highlights squeeze on
Christian street preachers

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A BBC report has highlighted some of the religious liberty issues facing Christian street preachers.

Listen to the report

An extract from BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, broadcast on 23 August 2009. Visit the BBC’s website to listen to the entire programme.

The report, featured on Radio 4’s Sunday programme this weekend, included a recording of a recent incident where a street preacher was told by police officers that it is a criminal offence to identify homosexuality as a “sin”.

They said this to Andy Robertson, an evangelist with the Open-Air Mission (OAM), even though he had never mentioned homosexuality in his preaching.

Mark Jones, an employment lawyer who specialises in religious liberty issues, told the programme: “Giving offence of itself is not against the law.

“There is no protection that I may have from somebody simply walking up to me in the street and saying something that I might disagree with or I might be offended by.”

Mr Robertson is not alone in encountering problems while preaching in public.

Earlier this month it was reported that a street preacher had been arrested after reading out Bible passages in Maidstone, Kent.

Last summer a street preacher in Birmingham was arrested after he had mentioned homosexuality while preaching about sin and its consequences.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge told the Radio 4 programme why more cases like this are taking place.

He said: “I think the reason for this increase has been there is a diversity and equality agenda that doesn’t seem to allow for Christians to express their faith in a way where other people may disagree with them.”

He said that sensitivity about issues such as minority faiths and sexual orientation has put police officers and local authorities “under huge pressure to be seen to be responding”.

He added that “sometimes you get over-zealous public officials who want to step in and say, ‘you can’t say that because someone might be offended’, and that over-zealousness is I think part of the problem”.

Another evangelist with the OAM was recorded for the programme as he preached in Hounslow, West London.

Tim Whitton told the reporter: “Our approach generally is just to speak but not shout, to be friendly”.

He said the aim was to make sure that “if anyone is ever offended, they’re offended by the message of the Bible, rather than by anything that we’re doing”

Receptionist takes school to court over prayer row (from www.christian.org.uk)

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Receptionist takes school
to court over prayer row

Friday, 21 August 2009

A primary school receptionist from Devon is taking legal action against her employers after they disciplined her for asking friends to pray about the school’s treatment of her daughter. 

Archive: a BBC news report (Feb 09)

Lawyers representing Jennie Cain have lodged papers with Exeter employment tribunal claiming that she has suffered religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

The claim is brought against the governing body of Landscore Primary School and the school’s head teacher Mr Gary Read. A claim is also brought against Devon County Council for aiding the discrimination.

Mrs Cain’s daughter Jasmine was attending the school. In January this year, then aged five, she was reprimanded by her class teacher for talking about her Christian faith to another child.

The school has said the five-year-old had frightened another child by talking about hell.

It has since come to light that the conversation between the children was never witnessed by any adult and took place around October time the previous year.

On hearing that her daughter had been reprimanded for expressing her faith, Mrs Cain sent a private email to church friends and family asking them to pray about the incident.

The email was sent from Mrs Cain’s home computer, outside work time, using her personal email account.

But the email ended up in the hands of head teacher Gary Read who launched an investigation against Mrs Cain for professional misconduct.

A panel of school governors decided to discipline Mrs Cain by issuing her a final written warning. This was reduced to a written warning on appeal.

However, the legal papers lodged with the Employment Tribunal claim that the decision to discipline Mrs Cain is part of ongoing hostility to her Christian faith by her employers.

The legal papers also claim that the governors sitting on the appeal panel had wanted to remove the warning from Mrs Cain’s record completely but were blocked from doing so by staff from Devon County Council’s Human Resources Department.

It is further claimed that school’s disciplinary procedure was not properly followed.

Mrs Cain was told to stay away from work for four months. The legal papers claim that, upon her return to work, Mrs Cain has continued to suffer religious discrimination and harassment. She also suffered victimisation on account of her taking legal action.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “We support Jennie’s decision to take legal action.

“Her case is important because it highlights a wider problem. I am sad to say that a number of Christians, particularly those who work in the public sector, have been disciplined for expressing their faith.

“If Jennie was from a different religious background I believe her employers would have handled her situation differently.”

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24-hour drink fuels “massive” crime problem says Cameron (from www.christian.org.uk)

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24-hour drink fuels ‘massive’
crime problem says Cameron

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has said the availability of cheap alcohol is fuelling crime, and that 24-hour drinking is making the problem worse.

Mr Cameron made the comments after joining police in Hull on a late night patrol to witness the effects of alcohol-related crime.

He blamed the Government’s 2003 Licensing Act for exacerbating the problem, and said “serious changes” were needed if the situation is to improve.

“Drink-related violence and drink-related crime are a massive problem in our country,” he said.

“We need to look at the unbelievable availability of very cheap drink, getting three litres of cider for £1.99, at all hours of day and night.

“We’ve got to do something about this and I’m exploring what we can do to deal with the drink that’s fuelling so much of the crime in our country.”

When the Licensing Act 2003 introduced 24-hour drinking the Government promised it would foster a continental-style café culture.

But police chiefs say the change simply forced alcohol-related incidents further back into the early hours of the morning.

In the first three years after the law came into force public order offences rose by 136 per cent.

Last year a survey by the Local Government Association found that seven in ten police authorities, Primary Care Trusts and councils said 24-hour drinking had increased or failed to change levels of alcohol-related incidents.

The Government has defended the Licensing Act, claiming that it has not led to increased crime and disorder.

But Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party accuse them of being “in denial” about the law’s impact.

Split parents harm kids into adult life (Christian Institute)

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Children whose parents separate are likely to suffer “enduring” problems with their education, mental health and future relationships, a Government-commissioned report reveals.

Children whose parents divorce are twice as likely to become divorced themselves as adults, the report says.

Girls are often hit by the consequences of their parents’ separation later in life, experiencing more anxiety and depression as adults than their male counterparts, the study found.

Behavioural problems, gaining fewer educational qualifications, needing more medical treatment, becoming pregnant at an early age and turning to drugs, alcohol or smoking, were all among the possible negative consequences named in the report.

Academics at the Institute of Education reviewed an extensive list of existing research for the report, which was commissioned by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls.

They looked at the impact of family breakdown, and factors often associated with it such as repeated family transitions, poverty and parental mental health, on the wellbeing of children.

“Adults who had experienced parental separation in childhood had a higher probability of problems which included mental health and well-being, alcohol use, lower educational attainment and problems with relationships”, the authors found.

Lone parent families – which account for almost a quarter of all dependent children –“tend to be more disadvantaged in terms of poverty and health”, according to the report.

Divorce is the “main route into lone parenthood”, the report says, “whilst the rise in births to cohabiting mothers has made an important contribution because of the higher rate of breakdown in relationships within this group”.

A recent survey of 2,000 adults who had experienced divorce as a child found that a third had sought solace in alcohol or drugs, while eight per cent had considered suicide.

A survey of children aged under ten last year found that the thing they would most want to ban if they ruled the world was divorce.

Leading family lawyer Mr Justice Coleridge warned last month that an “epidemic” of family breakdown was ‘infecting’ children.

He said a documentary he was involved with, about what went on in the family courts, had been deemed ‘too dark’ for prime time by the BBC and pushed to a later time slot.

Mr Justice Coleridge warned: “There is a tendency, especially among the chattering classes, to assume that we have attained a social utopia, in which we are entirely and happily free from taboos, stigmas and other constraints on behaviour. It sounds so beguiling: let us all do what we want, when we want and sort out any mess as we go along.

“But surely the test of any social change is whether it enhances people’s lives or makes them more miserable. And this is where I take issue with the modern view of the family. If it is so successful, why are the statistics for separation so large?

“More significantly, why are the family courts overwhelmed with cases involving damaged, miserable or disturbed children? How do other children, caught up in less serious separations, really feel? Do they relish the endless changes of partner, or adapting to a new step-parent and step-siblings?”

Witches: we’ll sue over church club hire refusal

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A group of witches is claiming religious discrimination because they could not use buildings belonging to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury.
Sandra Davis, High Priestess at the Crystal Cauldron, said she was “appalled” that the Diocese would not let her Pagan group hold their Annual Witches’ Ball in its social club.

“My congregation is shocked that in this day and age there can be such religious discrimination”, she said.

“We’re normal people who follow an earth-based religion and want to enjoy ourselves.”

She said her reservation of Our Lady’s Social Club in Stockport was originally accepted, but she was later told the event could not be held there.

Revd John Joyce of Shrewsbury Diocese explained: “Parish centres under our auspices let their premises on the understanding users and their organisations are compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic church.

“In this instance, we aren’t satisfied such requirements are met.”

The outcome of any legal action may depend on whether the Roman Catholic social club is held to be a religious organisation or a commercial one.

The Equality Act 2006 makes it unlawful to refuse to provide goods and services on grounds of religious belief.

Churches have some religious liberty exemptions to protect their ethos. However, these exemptions are not available to an organisation which is mainly commercial.

The issue of whether faith groups should be forced to provide services in a manner that conflicts with their religious ethos has been hotly contested in a spate of recent cases.

Numerous Roman Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to sever ties with the Church because new laws force them to consider gay couples as adopters.

A Christian care home in Brighton lost £13,000 of public funding because it refused to adopt a barrage of ‘gay rights’ measures. It won the funding back after launching a legal action.

The Christian owners of a guest house in Cornwall are being sued by a same-sex couple because the guest house has a ‘married couples only’ policy for double rooms.

Commenting on the witches case, religio-political blogger Cranmer said: “The acceptance of diverse religious paths is intrinsic to liberal democracy and tolerance of differing views is wholly necessary in a pluralist society.

“But the statutory obligation increasingly being placed upon churches to accommodate practices and beliefs which are antithetical to Christian teaching and tradition is the real persecution.”

He added: “Perhaps if the witches had all been lesbians, their case would have been incontrovertible.”

http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090618/witches-well-sue-over-church-club-hire-refusal/

Parents face prosecution over gay lessons protest

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Christian and Muslim parents in London who kept their primary school children away from controversial lessons promoting homosexuality could now face legal action by the local council.

The lessons – part of LGBT History Month – used books such as King and King, promoted by homosexual rights activists to help teach children about homosexual relationships. Around 30 children were withdrawn from the week of lessons at George Tomlinson Primary School in Waltham Forest, East London. A Waltham Forest Council spokesman confirmed that the withdrawals are being treated as “unauthorised absences” and that “action has been taken”.

Although the Council refused to say how they plan to punish parents, the Council website says that parents of truant children can be asked to sign a contract, fined on the spot or taken to court.

“We as parents did not receive any guidance that this was going to happen,” said 41 year old accountant Pervez Latif. “There was just a newsletter mentioning the week and that certain themes would be taught. “I didn’t want my children to be learning about this. I wrote a letter to the chairman of the governors explaining that I would be taking my children out of school and he wrote back saying that there was no other option. “If I am faced with court action, then I will just explain that these are my views. It was also very difficult explaining to my nine and ten-year-old boys why they were being removed from school. “I found it difficult to explain topics such as homosexual relationships at such a young age.”

Another parent, Sarah Saeed, said: “It is not an appropriate age for the children to be learning such matters. We have our own way of explaining things to them and they should not be subjected to this. “I was aware they were going to be learning about homosexual relationships through stories. “If the council takes action against me I will tell them that I told the school beforehand I would be taking my child away if they did not change their policy. “She has a 100 per cent attendance record otherwise. This is the only time and this is the only choice I had.”

The Council spokesman said: “As part of the borough’s policy of promoting tolerance in our schools, children are taught that everyone in our society is of equal value. “

At George Tomlinson, parents were invited to meet with teachers and governors several weeks ago to discuss what work would be taking place throughout the national LGBT History Month and how this work would be delivered.

“Regrettably, some parents chose to remove their children from school. “The council does not condone any unauthorised absence from school and action has been taken.”

Family values campaigners have applauded the stance of the parents. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: “It is a fundamental principle of education law that children must be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

“It is outrageous for a school or local authority to think it can ride roughshod over parents and impose lessons upon children that arouse such widespread concerns. “The only action that needs to be taken is to offer an apology to the parents concerned.”

Original story from http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090309/parents-face-prosecution-over-gay-lessons-protest/

Don’t tell children right from wrong, parents told by government

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The Government has told parents to discuss sex with their children without “trying to convince them” of what is right and wrong. Should the Government tell parents not to pass on values? The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert discusses the issue on BBC Three Counties Radio. The advice comes in a new booklet, called Talking to your Teenager about Sex and Relationships, which is to be made available at pharmacies nationwide.

It has prompted criticism from family campaigners who say it is “outrageous” for the Government to tell parents not to give children clear moral guidance on sexual relationships. Although the Government says it is keen for parents to discuss sex with their children, it recently emerged that parents’ views were ignored during consultations on making sex education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. The new booklet tells parents: “Under the NHS, contraception and condoms are free and there are lots of safe and effective methods that are suitable for young people – encourage your teenager to visit their local clinic or GP so they can make a choice that’s right for them. “Why not offer to go with your daughter or encourage them to take a friend to support them? “Or, if you have a teenage son, suggest he talks to his girlfriend about it and visits a clinic with her.” It cautions: “Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. “Remember though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open.”

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said the Government “doesn’t bring up children” but “does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information”. But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “The idea that the Government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. “Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds.”

Author and researcher Patricia Morgan, who is completing a book on teenage pregnancy, said: “All the evidence from the United States is that if parents say they disapprove of underage sex, the teenagers are less likely to do it. “If parents talk about underage sex and do not disapprove of it, the children go on to do it. It is pretty basic stuff,” she added. “Parents are not allowed to know if their child is being given contraception or getting an abortion. But they are being told to teach their children about sex in a manner dictated by the State.”

Meanwhile FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) has been given £530,000 by the Government to train parents in how to teach their children about sex. FPA is the group behind “Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe”, a comic-style sex education booklet for six-year-olds. The group was one of the most vocal proponents of the programme of compulsory in-depth sex education which the Government intends to introduce for school children as young as five.

FPA was criticised last year for promoting a video to schools along with a leaflet telling teenage girls as young as 14 that warnings about the negative consequences of abortion are just ‘myths’. “Women may feel relieved, have mixed feelings or feel sad. Only a few women experience long-term psychological problems and those women who do often had similar problems before pregnancy,” it read. But earlier that year the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that having an abortion can damage a woman’s mental health. The RCP said women should be warned of the risks before proceeding.

Christian carer struck off after Muslim girl converts

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A Christian foster carer has been struck off because she allowed a Muslim child in her care to convert to Christianity.

The girl, in her late teens, was interested in exploring Christianity before she was placed with the foster carer.

But when the girl decided she wanted to be baptised, council officials said her carer had failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have used her influence to prevent the baptism from going ahead.

They said the girl should stay away from church for six months, and later struck the carer off the fostering register.

The carer, who has over ten years experience looking after more than 80 children, is now challenging the local authority’s decision.

Her case is being backed by The Christian Institute’s legal defence fund. Neither the carer nor the girl can be named for legal reasons.

The carer is a practising Christian, and made it clear to the girl when she arrived that she could continue to practice her Muslim faith if she wanted to.

In assessments before the baptism, the authorities said the girl’s emotional needs were being met, and noted that the carer was showing understanding and respect for the girl’s culture.

The carer’s lawyers say there was no evidence that the change in the girl’s religion would harm her, and argue that the authorities failed to listen to the girl’s views.

The carer, an Anglican who attends a local evangelical church, said: “I did initially try to discourage her.

“I offered her alternatives. I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go, ‘I am interested and I want to come.’ She sort of burst in.”

The carer said that the girl’s social workers were fully aware that she was going to church and had not raised any objections.

The girl had told her auxiliary social worker of her plans to convert before she was baptised in January last year, and the social worker had appeared to give her consent.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. That surely must be a core human right in any free society.

“I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain.

“In recent months we have seen grandparents, a nurse, adoption agencies, firemen, registrars, elderly care homes – and now a foster carer – being punished because of the Christian beliefs they hold. It has to stop.”

The carer’s solicitor Nigel Priestley said: “There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised.

“This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate. Even at this late hour, we hope that the council will resolve the issue.”

A council spokesman said: ‘From the details provided, we believe that this information relates to a child who is the subject of a final care order in favour of the council. In those circumstances, we are unable to pass any comment.”

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Teacher scolds girl, 5, for talking about Jesus

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A five-year-old girl from Devon was left in tears after her teacher reprimanded her for talking about Jesus in class – and her mummy could be facing the sack.

The girl’s mother, who works part-time at the school, is being investigated by governors because she emailed friends at church asking them to pray about her daughter’s situation.

Mrs Jennie Cain is being supported by The Christian Institute’s legal defence fund.

The head teacher at the school, Mr Gary Read, learnt about the prayer request after he got hold of a private email sent by Mrs Cain from home using her personal email account.

He would not tell the 38-year-old mother of two how he got a copy of her personal email, but he told her she was being investigated for misconduct.

Mrs Cain said: “I felt embarrassed that a private prayer email was read by the school – it felt like someone had gone through my personal prayer diary.

“I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children’s life.

“I do feel our beliefs haven’t been respected and I don’t feel I have been treated fairly. I don’t know what I am supposed to have done wrong.”

On 22 January Mrs Cain went to pick up her children from the 275-strong Landscore Primary School in Crediton, Devon.

Earlier that day her daughter, Jasmine, had been overheard by a teacher discussing heaven and God with a friend. The teacher took the five-year-old to one side and told her off.

Mrs Cain said that when she picked her children up from school, “my daughter burst into tears, her face was all red and she was clearly upset.

“She said ‘my teacher told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus’ – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn’t say that. I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do.”

The next day Mrs Cain was called into Mr Read’s office over another matter before he started discussing her daughter, Jasmine.

“He started talking about my daughter about how he wasn’t happy about her making statements about her faith.

“At that point I froze, I felt very small and I felt trapped as I was a junior member of staff.”

That weekend, she emailed a prayer request from her personal computer at home to ten trusted friends from her church.

“I asked them to please pray for us, please pray for Jasmine, please pray for the school and pray for the church.”

A few days later she was called back into Mr Read’s office.

“I didn’t think at this point I could be more stunned. He had in his hand a copy of my private, personal email and it was highlighted all the way through.

“He said that he was going to investigate me for professional misconduct because I had been making allegations about the school and staff to members of the public.”

Mrs Cain, who was not suspended, said he refused to tell her where he had got the email but said two independent governors would be taking statements and calling witnesses.

“He said the investigation could be followed by disciplinary action up to and including dismissal because of this private email.”

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “I thought I had heard it all when I learned a nurse had been suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

“But now a five-year-old girl and her mother have been slammed for nothing more than expressing their Christian faith.

“I am particularly concerned about the way in which Mrs Cain’s private email to her church friends ended up in the hands of the head teacher.

“This is the latest in a series of cases where Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. It is really getting to a point where it has to stop.”

http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090212/teacher-scolds-girl-5-for-talking-about-jesus/

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