Showing posts with label David Cameron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Cameron. Show all posts

Friday, 5 April 2013

WHEN IT COMES TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, WE MUST NEVER, EVER RELAX

St Mary Undercroft, the servants' chapel beneath Parliament
by Colin Bloom

When it comes to religious freedom in the UK, the US and around the world, we must never, ever relax. David Cameron calls them aggressive secularists, he's right, but they are so much worse than that. They will never stop, never grow tired, never give up, never give in until they reach their goal of what they call 'ending religious privilege'. They won't be satisfied until God and all his followers are ultimately driven out of public consciousness.

Nearly a millennia years ago the Kings of England lived in the Palace of Westminster and the Royal court worshipped in St. Stephen's Chapel. Nowadays St Stephen's is the main entrance into Central Lobby, where written into the tiled floor are the opening lines from Psalm 127. "Unless the Lord builds the House, the workers labour in vain."

Deep in the bowels of Parliament is one of the most beautiful Christian chapels in the country. Called St Mary Undercroft, it was originally the chapel for the Palace servants and staff, whilst the Royalty used St Stephen's Chapel, it was the King's servants who went down into the Undercroft. Fittingly, it's still the case today that servants of the King, Christ the King, can still meet for Christian worship, prayer and services. It is still the case that Parliamentarians and their families, with permission, can have a Church of England marriage in the Chapel.

Recently there has been much furore because of a threat by a Labour MP to try and get St Mary Undercroft turned into a multi faith, or non faith room. An attempt that we are soothingly assured will not get very far because the status of the chapel is that of a 'Royal Peculiar' meaning that only the Queen can change its designation. We've been here before, we've had soothing words and reassurances but the relentless tide of secularism still comes in.

Let me describe what a Secular United kingdom will look like:

No Chaplains in Military bases, hospitals, schools, police stations or prisons. No faith schools. No prayers before Council Meetings and before Parliament. No Lords Spiritual. No Church of England as the 'Established Church'. No state occasions that included anything spiritual; if the Royal Family survived (and they probably wouldn't under these liberal totalitarianists) but if they did, Royal Weddings would have to be in a Registry Office, the next coronation would be held in Windsor's Civic Centre. No charitable status for faith groups (why should we give tax breaks to people that believe in fairies). No funding going to World Vision, Tear Fund, the Red Cross, Cafod, Save the Children, Christian Aid etc etc. No Easter March of Witness in your Town Centre, no public plays of the Passion. If you believe in anything supernatural, you would have to do it in your own buildings with the doors and windows shut! A Secular UK would be a soulless, grey and ultimately harsh place.

I've written about being an antidisestablishmentarianist before, and I am more convinced than ever that we need to do more than just stand our ground, we need to start taking back the ground that has been lost. We do not want to create a theocracy, we live comfortably with differences of opinion, but when we see acts of cultural and religious vandalism brought into our spaces, we cannot be neutral, we must wear what the Apostle Paul calls the 'Full Armour of God' and fight back.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES CAN BE PROUD OF THIS COALITION'S RECORD BUT A LOT MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE


by Colin Bloom
The Prime Minister is getting a shellacking from many Christians this weekend. Yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey got in early with a few combination shots, and today the Methodists and Baptists decided to mix it up with an ecumenical tag-teaming left foot kicking. Some of the blows were a bit low, but the referees in the broadcast media are seemingly on the side of the Holy minority.

Earlier today I was prompted by a friend to list the Government’s biggest ‘Christian’ achievements. This friend is known to everyone on this site, and he suggested that the increase in faith schools or the .7% of GDP on Overseas Aid as a good start. Pah! There is so much more to list than that.

However, the near universal and visceral rejection of same-sex marriage by the Church has perhaps meant that now anything and everything the Government does, and particularly if it comes from the Prime Minister, is going to be rejected and rubbished without consideration. This would not be fair, and dare I say, it would not be a particularly Christian thing to do either.

The Bible tells us in numerous places to honour and respect and pray for those in Government, for ‘…all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.’ I would gently remind my Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in the Clergy to spend as much time praying for our politicians (of all parties) and less time attacking them.

So I’ll pick up the challenge our friend has given me; I will list some of the things that I am most proud of as a Christian Conservative, accepting that the critics have probably already made up their minds anyway.

I.               We are unashamed to ‘do God.’ Let’s never forget that the previous administration famously said they ‘didn’t do God’ and this one has said very firmly that they do.
II.              We are even prepared to go further, and say that we are a ‘Christian Country.’ Whether it was Baroness Warsi when she, as British Muslim, told the former Pope that the United Kingdom was a Christian Country, or whether it is the PM in numerous speeches – unlike the previous Government we are clear. This is a Christian Country.
III.            Church run social action projects have been given significant funds via groups like the Church Urban Fund or the Cinnamon Network, so that Christian charities like Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, Street Pastors and others flourish. The Big Society might not be fashionable on the left, but this Government is putting real resources into it.
IV.           Micro Grants from the DCLG to churches to go and ‘Love their Neighbours’ – did this happen before? No.
V.            Commitment to the Developing World by keeping our promises on Aid and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Increasing investment to build up both infrastructure and to meet the needs of those in absolute poverty and suffering around the world. Not popular with many, but the right and Christian thing to do.
VI.           Giving powers of competence to Local Authorities so that they can keep on saying prayers before Council Meetings. Thank you Eric Pickles, one in the eye for the aggressive secularists.
VII.         The PM hosting Easter Receptions for Christian Leaders, every year since getting elected in 2010 (not done before).
VIII.        The PM giving Easter Messages and Christmas Messages that are filled with messages about Jesus (not done before).
IX.           The growth in faith schools, and the freedom for churches to start their own schools if they want.
X.             Michael Gove giving every secondary school in the country a copy of the King James Bible on the 400th Anniversary of its publication.
XI.           The brilliant work of the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ministerial Team including Alastair Burt on fighting against the persecution of Christians around the world.
XII.          The work being done to create a greener United Kingdom, looking after the planet God has given us.
XIII.        The significant steps that have been taken to end modern day slavery. Some has been done, but there is a great deal more to do.
XIV.       The attempt to set people free from the over-powerful and dead hand of the state. Encouraging people to work (1 Thessalonians 4)!
XV.        Significant work being done in Prisons, where groups like the William Wilberforce Trust (Alpha for Prisons) have been funded to help reduce recidivism and turn prisoners lives around.
XVI.       The appointment of a specific Minister for Faiths (Baroness Warsi) – not been done before.

And there is more…

On top of all of the above, the Conservatives are probably the only one of the main political parties that would protect the Established Church – can you see the Lib Dem’s or Labour doing this?

Everything I have listed above will attract criticism, and I am not pretending that either enough has been done, or that everything that has been done has been done well. I am just trying to bring a bit of balance. Considering the alternatives the record isn’t as bad as most Christian leaders are making out. In summary, a lot of good has been done, there is still a lot more to do.

So before the usual suspects put their left boot in again, perhaps they might want to reflect on how the country was brought to its financial and moral knees, and give a bit more credit to a Government that it trying to get us on our own feet again.

(This article was published on ConservativeHome today)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

THE PRIME MINISTER'S EASTER MESSAGE 2013



The Prime Minister David Cameron has sent his best wishes to Christians in the UK and around the world celebrating Easter.

The Prime Minister said:

“I send my best wishes to all those in the United Kingdom and around the world celebrating Easter this year in what is an incredibly exciting time for the Christian faith worldwide.

“This year’s Holy Week and Easter celebrations follow an extraordinary few days for Christians; not only with the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop of Canterbury, but also with the election of Pope Francis in Rome.

“In the Bible, Saint Peter reminds us of the hope that comes from new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christians, it also reminds us of Jesus’s legacy of generosity, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness.

“That legacy lives on in so many Christian charities and churches both at home and abroad. Whether they are meeting the needs of the poor, helping people in trouble, or providing spiritual guidance and support to those in need, faith institutions perform an incredible role to the benefit of our society. As long as I am Prime Minister, they will have the support of this Government.

“With that in mind, I am particularly proud to lead a Government that has kept its promise to invest 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on helping the world’s poorest, and I am grateful that we have been able to partner with both Christian and non-Christian charities to relieve suffering overseas.

“I hope you have a very happy Easter.”

David Cameron

Saturday, 23 March 2013

GRAND THEFT OF MORALITY


by Colin Bloom

"You are a stylish hooligan entering a new decade of grievous bodily harm, car- jacking and general thuggery. Drive, run and shoot your way into all sorts of trouble with the law, rival gangs and civilians. Thirty-two new missions, thirty new vehicles and unlimited criminal opportunity." 

This is Japanese technology giant Sony's own 'manufacturers' description' of their 'Grand Theft Auto: London Mission' software for their ubiquitous Play Station games console. During the summer of 2011 when we saw gratuitous violence, mugging, arson and looting across the country it was tragically ironic that it was a Sony distribution warehouse that was burned to the ground in Enfield. You can take to the bank that Sony executives won't be calling the people responsible 'stylish hooligans'.

So what can be done? David Cameron has been consistent on two key points: firstly that Britain is broken and secondly that to fix broken Britain, we need a 'Big Society'. For both he has been derided by the left, mocked by liberals and misunderstood by many in his own party. In the light of the masked cowards, cynically robbing and trashing their way through town centres and the post looting, broom wielding furious majority that reclaimed their streets, wasn't the Prime Minister proved right?

We saw the worst and best of Britain as the stark chasm between the mainstream decent majority and the feral and selfish few gets ever wider. Some will argue that we need to bring these two faces of the United Kingdom closer together, to somehow cathartically create a healing betwixt the two. Perhaps the decent majority should work harder to try and understand why people, who evidently can afford top-end smart phones, felt the need to steal trainers from a sports shop before  burning it down. It's a thought, but maybe the problem is that mainstream Britain has already been getting far too close to the dark satanic mills of things that we should have been running away from. Like Sony's Grand Theft Auto...

Along with trying to end slavery, my hero William Wilberforce wanted a reformation of manners. Simply put, he wanted goodness to be fashionable. It could be argued that despite the great work he did, he left the anti-slavery task unfinished and as for making goodness fashionable, well... look around. When decent households have misogynistic, barbaric and selfish music, films and video games under their roof, aren't they unwittingly legitimising the things we also condemn?

Speaking as a sinner, perhaps we should reintroduce the old fashioned and biblical term 'sin'. Yes it's absolutist in creating a clear divide between right and wrong, but there can be no shades of grey when it comes to setting fire to people's homes and businesses. 

It's time for the majority who care to shun the violent culture of the mob. That means an end to violent computer games, and the 'Get rich or die tryin'...' attitudes. It means that we do some moral DIY and repaint the boundaries between right and wrong and as a society be prepared to point them out, firstly in our own lives and homes and then elsewhere.

The solution is not a legal one, we already have enough laws. The solution is a moral and spiritual one. So it's time for us all to look again at our own lives and the lives of those we may be responsible for and clear out the junk and furnish our minds with beautiful things. In the same book that talks about sin, you will find in Philippians 4:8

'...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things'.

Just maybe we can start with ourselves and begin to create a new generation of people that aren't 'stylish hooligans'.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

BEAUTY ON THE HIGH STREET


by Colin Bloom

Much of my life has been spent dealing, in one way or another, with society's problems. As a Street Pastor, I've been up close and personal to almost everything that a rowdy Friday night can imagine. As the founder of the rough sleeper project the Curry Union, I am often on the streets dealing with the politics of the streets. In the middle of the last decade, I spent four years as Chairman of one of the largest and most successful CDRPs in London, much of that time was spent looking at problems associated with the night time economy.

(Statutorily all Unitary Authority should have something called a Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP), it's a strategic body made up of the heads of the local Police, Fire Brigade, Council, Ambulance Service, Public Health and similar local bodies.)

Drunkenness and the rise in alcohol related diseases is getting a lot of attention at the moment. Whilst the Lancet is estimating 210,000 preventable deaths in the next 20 years, in a prelaunch of the Government's forthcoming alcohol strategy, David Cameron gave a speech about the "scandal" of drunkenness and alcohol abuse that costs the NHS £2.7 billion a year. He posited the idea of US style 'drunk tanks' - cells to keep the inebriated in overnight; and it seemed until recently all but certain that the Government would be following Scotland's lead in introducing some kind of minimum pricing for alcohol.

Whilst the rise in alcohol addiction and problem drinkers is a scandal, and things like minimum prices, drunk tanks and tougher trading standards are all good tools to have in the tool box; nobody is seriously thinking that by themselves they will solve the problem. The challenge is complex, and in truth is linked to most of our other big intractables; it will neither be fixed through a single strategy, nor will it be overcome quickly. After all, this is not exactly a new dilemma; more than a hundred years ago the co-founder of the Salvation Army, Catherine Booth was doing something about the "scandal" of alcohol, and using much braver terms than any public figure would dare to use now. Maybe we need a Catherine Booth in the Cabinet.

It is probably truer now than in Booth's time that everyone feels the effects that drink has on society. Unless you lock yourself away in your home, never go out and never turn on your telly or listen to the radio, the issue of booze is ubiquitous. For many blokes like me though, we have become totally inured to seeing men the worse for wear and behaving badly; of course I don't condone that behaviour, but I suspect we have some empathy with what's going on. However, try as we might to be very PC and equal about the subject, we can't bring ourselves to be indifferent about the relatively new phenomenon of young women getting trolleyed, smashed, blitzed, caned or worse.

A few Friday's ago, the night before the snow came, I was making my way home. It was cold, very cold; and along with some guys just like me sporting scarves, thick overcoats and briefcases we stood standing shivering at the bus stop heading for the 'burbs. All around us are a number of what are known as 'vertical drinking establishments', pubs with little or nowhere to sit, places that sell fizzy foreign lager and vodka based fruit drinks that have names dreamed up by marketing executives to sound 'wicked'.

Every night I stand at a bus stop and every night there are incidents which fall within the range between loud boorish behaviour and police sirens with street fighting. This is in an affluent area of London which is, if the crime statistics are to be believed, one of the safest places to live in the Capital; even so, every night I think up plans of upping sticks and moving the family out to the, err, sticks.

One particular night recently, a pair of boisterous starlets obviously the worse for drink teetered past, wearing what appeared to be dental floss. Such was their shivering orange hue that they looked like they had fallen out of Peter Hain's bathroom cabinet and then into a chest freezer; and in truth their make up probably weighed more than their outfits. I'm sure they were lovely, but that night they were a sad mess.

This is not an uncommon site around my way, but it was all the more incongruous because the sub zero temperature was making their skin resemble the flesh of freshly plucked carrot fed chickens. It was a tragic scene of girls wanting to be beautiful and attractive, when in reality they just looked cold and pitiful.

And then began a ten minute conversation between four complete strangers at a bus stop, all fathers of young daughters, about the plight of young drunk women.

"That's someone's daughter," one of the chaps at the bus stop muttered.

"I wouldn't let my girls out like that," said another.

"Look at the state of them. It's not an attractive look," said a third.

"But what can be done about it?" I ask.

Unsurprisingly, and since we all rated ourselves as responsible and wise parents, we hit upon the novel idea that these young ladies needed better fathers. For sure there will be some uncontrollable daughters, who have great dads that are pulling their hair out at the behaviour of their offspring, but it was obvious to us at the bus stop that most of these girls simply needed better Dads. Men that would tell their daughters that they were more beautiful sober, and much prettier when they dressed more modestly.

There is nothing attractive about being drunk; the lies of the wicked marketing men, need to be replaced by the paternal advice of a loving father. Will this problem be solved by Government? Probably not. Could it be solved by better Fathers? Possibly.

On this point, I'm sure David Cameron would agree.