Introduction

This page is the  Hub of South Yorkshire Counter - Evangelism (SYCE.)  It  outlines the work of SYCE in some areas of counter-evangelism, provides material on some financial issues concerning the Churches and Church organizations,  extends the material published in other pages of the site on abuse in the Churches and other serious flaws - and contains a survey of one neglected aspect of the theology of salvation and redemption - the very disturbing issues which arise in the particular case of babies, young children and young adults, specifically the young adults (as well as others) who gave their lives and are commemorated on Remembrance Sunday. Churches and Church organizations are potentially vulnerable - actually vulnerable - if enough potential and actual donors come to recognize the force of the objections to Christianity in the area of theology outlined and in so many other areas.

 

See also

 

1a. Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner: Complaint
1b. Same content as (1) but in single column
1c. Alan Billings: Ichtheology, the Billingsgate Challenge
1d. Police and Ethics Panels
1e. S. Yorks Police: IOPC
1f. S. Yorks Police, PCC, Panels 
1g. Alan Billings: 'Hate Crime' 
1h. Capability in education and policing

1b. Capability in education and policing


and these pages

2. Christian religion: criticism
3. Arise! Church Guide
4. Abuse, safeguarding and the Churches
5. Street Pastors Guide
6. Anti-woke supporters of Christian belief


In this column

 
Remembrance Sunday and the Church of England

 

 

Remembrance Sunday and the Church of England

 

I refer to this section in the Survey presented in the fourth column of the page.

In this section, there's material on the National Memorial Arboretum, Alfrewas, Staffordshire as well as the Church of England. Visiting the National Arboretum, which is part of the Royal British Legion, has left a powerful impression, a very favourable impression. I don't criticize the National Arboretum but I do criticize the Church of England and I do make a plea, with argument and evidence, for no longer holding Church of England Remembrance services there.

 

In the extensive landscape of the National Arberetum are many, many memorials: the presentation is very impressive, dignified and moving. The presentation is not so much secular as universal. There are no signs or displays which admonish the visitor or instruct the visitor to think in a certain way, such as the Christian way. There are no signs or displays alleging that humanity is tainted by sin and claiming that Jesus is the answer, that Jesus is the Saviour of the World. If there were, they would strike a discordant note, except for visitors who happen to be Christian believers.  They would interfere with the quiet reflection which the place does encourage, rightly so.

 

The Church of England service which is held on Remembrance Sunday is very different, in contradiction, surely, with the ethos of the place. In the service, the people present are expected to think - and speak - in specifically Christian ways, to surrender their own view of things, which will often be very, very different. This is surely badly mistaken. This is not Church of England consecrated ground but a place for everyone.

 

At a time when support for the Church of England has become very diminished, the Church seems to grasp any opportunity to retain and regain some of the 'prestige' it once had. The Church of England should realize that the continuance of Church of England services at public events which are open to a wide range of people - to everyone - is deeply unfair. It's not likely that the Church will come to this realization but the National Arboretum needs to take action, surely. Or is the Church of England to play this role indefinitely, to hold remembrance services based on Church of England doctrine for decades to come, even if its support declines progressively?

 

I think that the National Arboretum is in a difficult position, but it is only difficult because the Church of England makes it difficult. Voluntary withdrawal from its role as provider of services to Remembrance Sunday would remove the difficulties. But it's not likely that the Church will come to this decision.

 

The National Arboretum describes itself as 'a place for everyone to remember.' It should not be holding Church of England services in which everyone attending is expected to join in prayers. It should not be holding Church of England services based on doctrines which will not be accepted by everyone but only by a small minority, such as the doctrine that those who fell in the First World War and the Second World War and other conflicts are condemned to eternal punishment - everyone, that is, who has not accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour. The National Arboretum should not be promoting a Church which regards those who played such a magnificent part in defending our freedoms as essentially abject sinners, in need of God's redemption. What they deserve is our thanks and our gratitude for their achievements.



Commonwealth War Grave - Jewish
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Evelyn Simak - geograph.org.uk/p/5706944



Commonwealth war grave - Christian

 

This is the Website of the National Arboretum:

 

https://www.thenma.org.uk/

 

And this page is a record of the most recent   Remembrance Sunday Order of Service

 

https://www.thenma.org.uk/what's-on/events-exhibitions-and-talks/events/remembrance-sunday/online-order-of-service

 

It was conducted by The Venerable Dr Susan Weller, Archdeacon of Lichfield.

 

An extract from the section 'Confession and Absolution:'

 

'Let us confess to God the sins and shortcomings of the world ... Let us confess our share in what is wrong, and our failure to seek and establish that peace which God wills for his children.'

 

At this point, I'll quote some words from the part of the Bible called 'The Law,' Numbers 31. Moses takes a very different view of what God expects. He regards himself as acting in accordance with God's will.

 

14. Moses was angry with the officers, the commanders of battalions and companies, who had returned from the war.

15. He asked them, “Why have you kept all the women alive?

16. Remember that it was the women who followed Balaam's instructions and at Peor led the people to be unfaithful to the Lord. That was what brought the epidemic on the Lord's people.

17. So now kill every boy and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse,

18. but keep alive for yourselves all the girls and all the women who are virgins.' The translation here is the Good News (!) translation.'

 

According to Deuteronomy 20, God gives commands concerning the treatment of people in captured cities. From the translation of the 'Good News Bible:"

 

20:13 Then, when the LORD your God lets you capture the city, kill every man in it.

 

Even harsher treatment is ordered for cities intended for settlement:


20:16 But when you capture cities in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, kill everyone.

 

In the words of the remembrance service, ' ... that peace which God wills for his children.' Is this an example of 'that peace?'

 

In the third column of this page, there's material from Exodus 11 in which it's claimed that God killed the first born sons of the Egyptians - adults, children and babies - committed, in other words, mass murder.

 

To resume comments on the service. There then follows a prayer, to be said by (All).

 

Father, we have sinned against heaven and against you, and are not worthy to be called your children.'

 

This is the view that everybody, including devoted parents, army, navy and airface veterans, are hopeless sinners who have to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus before they are acceptable to God.

 

Susan Weller will then have spoken these words,

 

Almighty God have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

And those who were present, members of the Church of England, members of other churches, Jews, Moslems, Hindus and members of other religions, atheists and agnostics will have been expected to say 'Amen.' In the Order of Service at this point in the service, there's this:

 

(All) Amen

 

If Dr Weller were to be contacted for clarification, I think it's very likely or overwhelmingly likely that she would confirm that according to Church of England doctrine, not all the men and women who died and are commemorated at the Arboretum, far from it: most are not saved from their 'sins.' Of the people attending to service, God will damn all those who fail to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

 

The Arboretum should not be organizing these services, then. There should be full opportunity for debate, with the Church of England given every opportunity to explain its views, its policies - its beliefs. Events to commemorate remembrance at the Arboretum - and in public places throughout the country - should no longer be promotions of one religion and one denomination of one religion.

 

Church of England members and members of other churches can go to churches for specifically Christian commemorations. This is elementary fairness. The National Arboretum has no business to encourage in future the insincere mumbling of a response in prayer when the speaker has no belief in the Christian God.

 

In the column to the right, in the section on the Prayer Book Society, there's comment on the burning alive of Edward Wightman for heresy in Lichield, in 1612. Richard Neile, the Bishop of Lichfield at the time, played a decisive part in ensuring that the barbaric execution went ahead.

 
The work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is  beyond praise. The contribution of Fabian Ware, who founded the Commission in 1917, is beyond praise.  At the cemeteries of the Commission I've visited in  Belgium and France, I've experienced the immense dignity and calm of these places, the sobering and harrowing impact of these places. Each marked grave has a headstone, which has a national emblem or regimental badge, and the rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty, with a personal dedication chosen by relatives. The headstone includes a religious symbol, but not in the case of known atheists. In the vast majority of cases the symbol is the Christian cross, but  not for followers of other religions, such as the Jewish man whose headstone is shown above,  Of course, the fact that a headstone has the Christian cross is no evidence that the man who gave his life was a believing Christian. When asked 'What religion are you?' it was very, very common to answer 'C of E,' Church of England.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission didn't assume, then, that everyone who made this sacrifice was a Christian and has made an attempt to distinguish between Christian - at least nominal Christians - and believers in other religions, or nominal believers in other religions, as well as people who clearly had no religious beliefs.

 

The Lions of the Great War statue in Smethwick, Birmingham (which was vandalised just days after it was unveiled) is one of a number of similar monuments. The statue shows a Sikh soldier. Birmingham City Council: the statue 'honours the sacrifices made by South Asian service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in the First World War and subsequent conflicts.'


But in services throughout the country, on remembrance Sunday, not the least attempt is made to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians. When those present are expected to give the responses, what are people who disagree with Christian theology or who have no interest in it to do? What are followers of other religions to do? Stay silent? Mumble insincerely? Asking people or expecting people to show belief when they have no belief shouldn't possibly be expected. The Church of England may have its reasons for expecting people to take part in a Christian service even when they have no belief in Christianity, or to become silent witnesses in these parts of the commemorations, by far the larger part of the commemorations, in general. This is a marginal institution now, and so it may well try to maintain any influence it has, such as this influence over the people gathered to remember the fallen.

This is an Order of Service for Remembrance Sunday:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/
hi/pdfs/26_08_05_order_of_service.pdf

It contains this:

' ... through Jesus Christ our risen Redeemer'

and this bit of Trinitarian theology:
'

And the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all

and remain with you always.'

What are the Unitarians, the Jews, the Moslems, the agnostics and the atheists who are present to make of this? Is this an event they can witness and take part in wholeheartedly?

Any Anglicans present who are Conservative Evangelicals will have a their own interpretation of the words, 'through Jesus Christ our risen Redeemer.' For them, anyone who rejects the risen Redeemer has no hope of salvation. In the past, Christianity was a hellfire religion, almost completely so. That influence has waned, but not  so amongst Conservative Evangelicals, as well as some other sections of the Church.  The Jews and the atheists who are buried in the graves of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are excluded from salvation. They didn't accept 'Jesus Christ our risen Redeemer.' The status of the nominal Church of England members  is presumably  the same.

If, as I argue, Services of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday - the ones held in the open air, attended by members of the public with widely varying views on religion, not, of course, the services held in Churches - are indefensible in their present form, what can replace them? This involves difficulties, but they can be addressed. There can be continuity with the past. Very often, a band takes part in the event and I see no objection to the continuing playing of such resonant pieces as 'O God our help in ages past' and 'Abide with me,' but without the words. 'Nimrod,' from Elgar's Enigma Variations, is often played at Remembrance Sunday events and, of course, has no words, only its intense beauty.

Perhaps a choir could be present to sing the words of a hymn- just so long as the public isn't expected to sing the words as well. The music is far more important than the words to all but committed Christians, and often, far more important to committed Christians as well.

In the Christmas season, I've listened to carols very, very often - the very popular carols and such carols as 'In dulci jubilo,' 'Es ist ein Ros ensprungen' and 'Adam lay y-bounden.' And, of course, Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Again, the music is far more important than the words to most people.

 

Remembrance Day commemorations without the involvement of the Church of England would be shorter than before, but the commemorations could be extended. Consideration could be given to commemorating the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces directly after the commemoration of those who fell in previous conflicts. At present, Armed Forces Day is held in late June. Moving these event from June to Remembrance Sunday would make sense. Very often, members of the armed forces attend Remembrance Sunday events and they would obviously take part in the events to commemorate the service of present day members. The general public would be free to attend the earlier part, the commemoration of the fallen or the later part, the commemoration of the present day Armed Forces, or both parts.

 

Christian believers would, of course, be free to attend a religious service later in the day. Every year, at Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, a wreath laying ceremony is held to commemorate the crew of the American bomber Mi Amigo which crashed in the park on February 22, 1944. The ceremony is held on the Sunday nearest to February 22. A little later, a service takes place at St Augustine's Church, which is not far from the crash site. I attend the ceremony, but not the Church service, as I'm not a Christian believer. This is the pattern which should be followed.

 

A replacement for the present Remembrance Sunday services (again, the ones attended by the general public, not the ones in Churches) is essential, overdue. On November 11, 2018, I attended a Remembrance Sunday service in a nearby park, a smaller event than the one I usually attend, in Sheffield city centre. As always, I found the religiosity dispiriting, but this year more than ever. In this year which marked the centenary of the ending of the First World War, there had been the chance to find out so much more about the soldiers, sailors and airmen who took part in this war, but for most of the time, the stress was not upon human life but upon theology and ecclesiastical generalities. Not in evidence at all was any recognition of complexities, of harshness, the realities which historians have probed. The achievement of historians who have written about the First World War deserves to be much more widely recognized. Their achievement is on a very high level, so often - magnificent. A Remembrance Day event isn't a suitable venue for exploring these complexities, but a Remembrance Day event isn't the place for clergy to give their own interpretation of historical events, presenting it as obvious or indisputable fact.

 

This is what the clergyman did at the event I attended. In his address, he claimed that when the guns fell silent, peace had replaced war. This is perfectly true. Peace did replace war, for the time being. But he also claimed that hope had replaced 'futility.' This is surely the claim that the First World War had been a futile war. Many historians have contested this claim and have given arguments and evidence that the claim is mistaken.

In the booklet which gives the format of the service and the text which forms the main component of the service, the words of the Reverend Canon are often followed by the response expected of the public: in bold print.

 

Examples from the booklet:

 

After each prayer the following being [sic - insufficient care was given to proof-reading] will be used.

 

Officiant  Lord, in your mercy.
All          hear our prayer  

So, people at the commemoration who never pray are expected to make an exception now and to offer a prayer, with the expectation that God will hear the prayer? 

Later:

Officiant  Will you seek to heal the wounds of war?
All          We will

 

The officiant, like most of those attending, or perhaps all of them, has no way of healing the wounds of war.

Officiant  Will you work for a just future for all humanity?
All  We will.

 

  Any idea that injustices in vile, corrupt states - or injustices in liberal, enlightened states can be ended, so that all humanity has a just future, is utopian, impossible, deluded. Any idea that people attending the service should be expected to give assent to the notion is ridiculous.

 

The service included five 'Regimental Collects,' not delivered by the officiant. This is the first of them, the prayer for the York and Lancaster Regiment (the mangled opening is another instance of poor proof-reading:

 

'Almighty God who cans't save by many or by few and dost bid us to endure to the end that we might be saved, strengthen we pray thee, The York and Lancaster Regiment, that, as our perseverance has not been found wanting in battle, so we may be blessed in enduring all temptations, and at length, receive the crown of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

All  Amen.

 

This is a prayer which amongst other things asks God to strengthen The York and Lancaster Regiment. Our national defences are badly in need of strengthening. There are insufficient recruits, there's insufficient funding, the armed forces aren't given the resources to meet the very serious challenges they face. National defences are strengthened by well-known means, finding more recruits (recently, the decision has been taken to find recruits from other countries) by changes to the national finances, and the rest. Is it worth asking God to strengthen the national defences? Surely not, and it's no more worthwhile to ask God to strengthen the York and Lancaster Regiment.

 

The Collect makes clear reference to the Christian doctrine of salvation: ' ... that we might be saved.' This is an aspect of Christian doctrine which I've discussed in many other places. Which people, according to the officiant, according to Justin Welby, to name just two people, are saved? What are the criteria? The evangelical answer, shared by very large numbers of other orthodox Christians, is  very restrictive. The saved are far fewer in number than the damned.

 

I do, though, commend the last paragraph of the text in the booklet and specifically the last sentence:

 

'Lest we forget. The First World War came to an end at 11 am on 11th November 1918. The Second World War ended on 8th May (Europe) and 15th August 1945 (Far East.) Let us also remember all the members of the British Forces who are currently deployed in operations, world-wide.'

 

A  dual commemoration, of the present-day service of the British armed forces after a commemoration of those who have fallen in war, seems to me to be a very promising development. Present day members of the armed forces do extraordinary work. They too deserve our gratitude and practical work. The 'good causes' which I have in mind as far more deserving recipients of donated money than the churches are very wide ranging but include many, many forces charities and other organizations.

 

Not all the prayers used in the service are given in the booklet. There was, for example, a prayer for our political leaders, asking God to grant them 'wisdom.' Will our political system be strengthened in the least by asking God to grant wisdom to our political leaders? The complexities and realities of politics are far removed from this mechanical, routine exercise of prayer and response. To expect the wider public to take part in the charade is nonsensical.

 

The Church of England may well expect, or hope, that some of the people who attend a Remembrance Day service and who aren't church goers will go on to become church goers. It would be unfair to claim that this would be the primary motivation of the Church. In individual cases, this may happen, but far more likely is this outcome: people who attend who have lost a relative in a war, people who have a more general interest in the enormity of the major conflicts, the enormity of the losses, the devastating effects of much smaller conflicts, will be dismayed and deterred by the nature of the service, led by the clergy, with public activity confined to the responses to the prayers of the clergy, the saying of the Lord's Prayer, and the singing of hymns.


Below, the Menin Gate Memorial at Ieper / Ypres recording the names of 54 389 officers and men from United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces who died in the Ypres salient before 16 August 1917 and who have no known grave.

 

 


The orthodox Christian attitude to most of the names here is utterly repulsive. These people  believe that there's a penalty attached to disbelief in Jesus Christ as Redeemer or lack of interest in Jesus Christ as Redeemer.

In all this, I must stress, I feel I've far more in common with Christians who share my view of the importance of remembrance  than with those non-Christians who claim that wearing a poppy is 'glorifying war.' Christians and non-Christians can share a common understanding. There are large numbers of Christians whose war service has been outstanding. One of them is a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, who won the Military Cross for his acts of courage. He was amongst the first British soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when it was liberated by the British army.

 





Dan Snow, 'Remembrance Sunday should not be dominated by religion.'

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/06/
remembrance-sunday-lack-of-secular-presence

 

'After the first world war the Cenotaph was designed by Edwin Lutyens  as a secular memorial because the war dead were from a dizzying array of peoples, nations and creeds. The prime minister, David Lloyd George, backed him up. He insisted on a secular monument and he rejected an alternative proposal for a huge cross at Admiralty Arch. The government also rejected Church of England proposals that it should have Christian inscriptions on it or a cross on top of it. At its dedication on 11 November 1919, the King simply unveiled it, after which were two minutes silence. Many in the church were appalled by the lack of ritual.

'The Cenotaph is a state monument. It is not a religious one. About 26,000 serving members of the armed forces today describe themselves as having no religion, which makes the non-religious the second-largest belief group (after Christianity). We cannot continue to exclude a representative of these serving men and women, not to mention the tens of thousands of people of no religion who served in the world wars – men such as my grandpa, and many of his comrades.

'Remembrance is one of our most important duties as citizens. The act itself must reflect changing times. The event at the Cenotaph every November must feel as relevant and profound today as it was when it was first conceived. It must reflect the society it serves.'

 

 

Above. part of Tyne Cot  cemetery, between Ypres and Paschendaele (now 'Passendale'), with the graves of 11 954 soldiers, on land assigned in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by British and Commonwealth forces in the defence and liberation of Belgium  during the First World War.

 

Below, Remembrance Day images.

 

 

Below, the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, Surrey, commemorates by name the 20,401 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. © Copyright Brendan and Ruth McCartney and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

 

 

Below, memorial to some of the Royal Navy dead of Porstmouth: the WW1 memorial. The WW2 memorial is behind it. From the inscription: ' ... to the abiding memory of these ranks and ratings of this port who... have no other grave than the sea ...' The memorials record the names of 14 9222 men and women from the port who died in the Second World War and 9 666 who died in the Second World War. © Copyright Peter Facey and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence. See also the memorial at Tower Hill, London, for the 36 000 members of the merchant navy (all civilians and volunteers)  who died in the two world wars, very often after U-boat attack, and who also have no other grave than the sea. During the Second World War, Britain needed over a million tonnes of imported supplies each week to survive. The merchant navy transported these supplies.

 

 

Below, allied tanker Dixie Arrow  torpedoed by U-71 in 1942.

 

 

Below, dust and smoke rising from Amiens prison during the audacious Operation Jericho, which succeeded in releasing some of the members of the French Resistance imprisoned there and facing imminent execution. Mosquito fighter-bombers were used to mount a precise attack, with an escort of Typhoon fighters. Of the 832 prisoners, 258 escaped and although many were recaptured, the raid can be counted a success. Two mosquitose were shot down, with a Typhoon fighter and another Typhoon was lost at sea.

 

Below, a De Havilland Dh 98 Mosquito. The Mosquito fighter-bomber was an astonishing and astonishingly successful aircraft, constructed to a large extent from wood.

 

 

Below, Bergen-Belsen camp soon after liberation, in April 1945.

 

 

When British and Canadian troops entered the camp, they  found over 13,000 unburied bodies and (including the satellite camps) and about 60,000 inmates, most acutely sick and starving ...  prisoners were dying at around 500 per day, mostly from typhus. The BBC correspondent Richard Dimbleby accompanied the troops that liberated the camp. This was his description of the camp:

 

'...Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.'

 

Below, clearing some of the dead bodies

 

 

Father, we have sinned against heaven and against you, and are not worthy to be called your children.'

 

To return to the Church of England service at the National Arboretum, these words of one of the prayers are surely shockingly bad:

 

Father, we have sinned against heaven and against you, and are not worthy to be called your children.'

 

This is to treat the Nazis, such as the Nazi Fritz Klein and the British and Canadia troops as similar, all sinners. This is a view of  heroic people as miserable sinners -  the members of the army who risked death and injury, the members of the Royal Navy and the merchant service who risked death and injury on the dangerous Atlantic convoys and  other naval operations of the war, the airmen who took part in the dangerous Operation to free the members of the French resistance and who took part in other air operations. The members of the French Resistance too are viewed in this despicable way.

 

There is absolutely no reason why the Church of England should continue to play this prominent role in Remembrance Sunday commemorations. If the theologians, Archbishops, Bishops and other assorted clergy can come up with reasons why the Church should continue to officiate, then let them make their reasons freely available.

 

I regard the Church of England as a discredited institution. Again, apologists for the Church of England are welcome to give a contrary view, but I think - I'm sure - that it will be difficult - impossible - to transform the many, many horrific acts which litter its history into creditable acts. The burning to death in the Diocese of Edward Wightman for heresy is just one instance.

 

 

Will the Church of England continue to supply preachers and prayers to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire and to the many, many events throughout the country which commemorate the sacrifices made by the nation's armed forces? The Church of England should step down, abandon any attempt to cling on to its residual power by these means, but is very unlikely to do that.

 

At public performances, from comedy shows to operas and classical music performances, acts, comedians, string quartets, orchestras, choirs, aren't invited back year after year, irrespective of changed conditions. When performers lose their touch, become faded or worse, when they become a source of acute embarrassment, then they are not invited back.

 

The Church of England is surely a source of acute embarrassment. This wealthy organization with so many staff is completely unable to stand up for itself because it's devoid of critical intelligence - to mention just one deficiency.

 

The Church of England's defence of its long-standing privileges, including the 'right' to officiate at Remembrance Sunday services, can't possibly be based mainly on the fact that the privileges are long-standing, hallowed by tradition, too embedded in the life of the nation, supposedly, to be questioned.

 

Another image from the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. April 19, 1945. The Nazi doctor Fritz Klein  forced to do work to bury bodies. Here, he is standing, to the left, in Mass Grave 3. The bodies, predominantly of Jews. Allied members of the armed forces on guard on the sides of the grave.

 

 

According to the despicable doctrine of orthodox Christianity, all are equally subject to eternal separation from God, the allied soldiers who liberated the camp, the Jews and others who died there in horrific circumstances - and the Nazi Fritz Klein. Any believing Christians  - not nominal Christians but believers in JC as personal Saviour - have a very different eternal destiny, the one enjoyed by Ernst Biberstein, the commanding officer of Einsatzkommando 6, which executed between 2000 and 3000 people. He had a background in Biblical studies.

 

 

 

In this column

Introduction to the Survey List
The Survey List -  individuals contacted by email, with further information.

 

The groups making up the list: (
1)Dioceses of the Church of England
(2) other churches 
(3) Church organizations  
4) other institutions, eg universities with academic theologians.  Most of the theologians included belong to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham 
(5) Media: print and internet publications, eg the site 'Unherd.'   
(6) dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church

 

The List will include lay members as well as ordained members of the churches, eg members of the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England. In some cases, the person contacted is not a person criticized on a page, eg a member of staff of a cathedral receiving information about criticism of a bishop, which may well be preferable to emailing the bishop directly.

 

Miscellaneous email extracts

 

The Survey, Introduction

 

The information I've already sent to many Christian believers - it will be sent to many more - is presented below. The names of the recipients are listed, in alphabetical order of location - parish / village / town / city and in alphabetical order by surname within the location. This is the 'Survey-List.,' which  follows the introductory material in this column and the text of the Survey email, sent to many people already and to be sent to many others.

 

I've invited a response, with the realization that in the majority of cases, a response won't be made. The list will simply contain information about whether or not a response has been made. 'No response' will be changed to 'response' if a response is eventually made, of course. A response to some questions can take the form of a Yes / No answer. A response to other questions would need a longer answer in the form of comment and explanation, not necessarily lengthy, of course.

 

I request comment (or, given the fact that a response with comment is unlikely in most cases), I'd like to request at least thought on the issues raised. If thought does lead to a response, all the better, but my expectation is that this is too much to ask of Christian believers and  theologians, an expectation based upon experience.

 

The material is available for anybody to consult, obviously, anyone who looks at this page or this page of the site. The material is published here not just in the hope of reaching the Christian believers and theologians I contact - these people are free not to look up this page, just as they are free not to read the email I sent. The material here is published in the hope of reaching a very much wider public, non-believers as well as believers. As for the believers, I hope that many of these will think about the issues. I hope that many will take the issues into account when deciding whether or not they should donate to a Church or a church organization, to leave money to a church - or to give time to church activities. I use 'donation' and 'donate' in the sense of giving up time as well as giving money.

 

I take the view that studying theology at a university or some other place as giving time to Christian belief. I take the view that studying theology is a waste of time in most circumstances but not all. On the Home Page of the site, I mention the fact that in some places, I go beyond English, translating from multiple languages. I mention Classical Greek (as well as Modern Greek.) I'm not dependent upon translations for reading the New Testament. I have a good knowledge of New Testament Greek. I don't mention the fact that I had a knowledge of Biblical Hebrew which was once good enough for me to translate from the Book of Genesis.

 

I've made it clear that if a response is made, I won't publish any information about the response here or anywhere else, unless the person making the response specifically gives permission. My page About this site  includes this,

 

 'Emails sent to me are treated as confidential - they won't be released into the public domain and won't be published on this site, except with the permission of the sender of the email.'

 

Perhaps larger organizations within the churches or with theological expertise, such as University departments of theology, could consider making a response on behalf of their members - but it may well be that they would prefer not to do this.

 

The Survey questions are concerned with these broad areas:

 

A. Killing of babies / young children by God or ordered to be carried out by agents of God (eg Moses) in the Bible. A response to these questions are heavily dependent, of course, upon theological views concerning the inerrancy of the Bible. Fundamentalist views of the Bible will differ from non-fundamentalist views. I take the view that non-fundamentalist Christians should be willing and able to defend their decision to accept some Biblical 'evidence' and to reject other Biblical 'evidence.'

 

B. The killing of babies / young children at Auschwitz and in other extermination camps and Nazi concentration camps, and the killing of babies / young children by the Nazi mobile exection squads, known as the Einsatzgruppen - specifically, issues concerning the destiny of Jewish non-Christian victims according to  Christian doctrines which claim that these and other people have an eternal destiny in separation from God and in most versions subject to forms of punishment or depravation. Claims have been made in the many centuries of Christian history about the kinds of punishment inflicted by God, of course. 

 

C. The 'eternal destiny' of babies, young children and young adults - here, the young adults are specifically the young adults who gave their lives and who are commemorated on Remembrance Sunday in Church of England services across the country. In the Survey, I attempt to elicit views concerning the theology of salvation / redemption (the branch of theology known as 'soteriology,' which has close linkages with 'hamartiology.')

 

D. The very troubling issues raised aren't confined to babies, young people and young adults, of course. They apply to non-believers (people without a 'saving faith' in Jesus Christ) of any age, but by asking questions which relate to people in younger age groups, I draw attention to  crucial difficulties which many people in churches and church organizations will be aware of but which have been evaded. I hope to make a contribution towards ending the evasion.

 

Some questions which relate to these difficulties: In humane legal and penal systems, there's an age of criminal responsibility. Below that age, people who commit offences are not treated or punished in the same way as people above that age. Is there any equivalent in orthodox Christian doctrine, an age below which nobody is consigned to Hell for eternity? It seems that there isn't. An exact age would be nonsensical - but I'd claim that the whole of the Christian view of salvation and redemption is nonsensical - but far more importantly, hideously cruel.

 

A further consideration: in human legal and penal systems, no offenders are subjected to punishments which involve torture and the brutal punishments used so often in previous centuries (including the many centuries in which Christian churches held such power) have been abolished.

 

In orthodox Christian doctrine, the doctrine which includes hell for unbelievers, the brutality of the most brutal penal codes is still evident. The Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory offered a long but limited period of punishment, in conjunction with Hell, but countless Churches and church organizations, countless Christian believers, maintain that Hell exists, and is for ever.

 

I'm writing simply as an individual. The Churches, church organizations, faculties of theology have vast numbers of people available to oppose my views if they so wish. If they want to leave my objections to Christian belief go unanswered, then that's their decision. I very much hope, though, that people who donate money or time or money as well as time to churches and church organizations or are thinking of donating time or money or both will think very carefully before going ahead. As I make completely clear, my view is that these aren't to be regarded as 'good causes.' Even when they achieve some good results in limited areas, or seem to be doing that, in every case or virtually every case there are better recipients of time or money available, and generally a wide choice of them.

 

This is an extract from my page About this site.

 

The profiles published on the site

 

I regard the many, many profiles of the site as having multiple functions. They reflect an interest in people. There's general recognition that novelists have to have an interest in people. Otherwise, characterisation in their novels will be defective. I think that polemicists and protesters - and opponents of protesters - should have an interest in people, not just in issues,  reasoning, causes, evidence - not that protesters always have these interests. Very often, opponents are viewed in grotesquely simplified ways. Opponents of feminists who use the term 'feminazis' are making a bad mistake, for example. 

 

The profiles are also intended to go beyond the giving of information and commentary, to support activism, in ways which I don't spell out here.

 

My criticism isn't relentless. I completed a profile of an individual who had written an ant-Israeli piece which I considered vile but  I found that he'd had to abandon his career as a result of serious health problems. I knew immediately that I couldn't publish the profile.

 

This is an extract from an email I sent to a vicar at one Church (the name of the Church has been removed.) It should give an understanding of my approach to critical profiles, profiles of non-Christians as well as Christians.

 

In the profiles, as in other material on the site, I make use of argument and evidence. I don't use Twitter or Facebook. I see the need for criticism to be based on argument and evidence, with sufficient detail to make a case. Anyone who finds the criticism unfair is welcome to contact me, with counter-arguments and evidence, with sufficient detail to make a case. If I find the representation reasonable and convincing, I'll revise the material, taking account of the objections, if they seem legitimate, or remove the material completely from the site ...

 

But anyone who's the subject of a profile who is facing very severe problems is welcome to contact me, without giving much detail at all, and I may well remove the profile even if it can't be claimed that it's unfair.

 

In the email to this particular vicar, I went on to make a specific comment on Christian belief and believers:

 

It would be very mistaken to give Christian believers immunity from criticism.  It would be very mistaken to believe that the Christian Churches are obvious forces for good ...

 

Owners of hotels, cafes, campsites, actors and musicians who take part in public performances, authors and  people in local and national politics and many other people, of course, have to be ready to receive reviews and comments of the most varied kinds, sometimes hostile. For some reason, clergy and laity aren't the subject of scrutiny and criticism nearly as often. The profiles of the pages on Christian religion are a corrective, I hope, drawing attention to matters so often overlooked.

 

I see the need not to give too much attention to well-known names, people whose profile in the media is prominent but to give coverage to people not well known at all. If their viewpoint seems stupid, indefensible, then why not put the case against, or the case for and against, or point out some contradictions? Only a tiny minority can be scrutinized, but even so, the contradictions of people, sometimes fascinating or endearing, sometimes grotesque or hideous, are surely a study well worth pursuing

 

The Survey List, Introduction

 

The text of the email message to be sent to a wide range of recipients includes an extract from the material in this column.

 

Many of the names in the list will be the names of Christian believers already discussed, briefly or more extensively on this page and other pages of the site - I refer to these as 'profiles' -  but I also intend to include many other names and  profiles.

 

The Survey-List gives the names and affiliations of recipients, with further, very simple information, just this: whether I've received an email response. I'll add names and affiliations to the list soon after sending the email. If I receive a response, I'll include a brief note, 'response received.' In cases where I've been given permission to quote from the email response, in whole or in part, then I'll provide the information I've been given permission to quote. I expect very few responses. I do take the view that the arguments and evidence I give are very, very challenging - and that they are likely to cause embarrassment, not at all likely to prompt a vigorous defence of Christian belief. The 'specialists,' theologians at universities, high ranking clergy are no more likely to respond, to be able to defend Christian belief than people whose claim to usefulness in a church depends upon flower arranging or bell ringing.

 

It seemed inadvisable to provide a series of questions in the emails sent, including simple questions which could be answered quickly (but not easily.) An example:

 

Do you personally believe that the account in Exodus which includes the claim in Exodus 12:29 that God did kill all the first-born in Egypt is a historically accurate account? (your opinion may be in accordance with your church affiliation or may differ.)
Yes / No

 

And similarly for other issues.

 

I think this format would be convenient but too restrictive, even if followed by this:

 

If you would like to comment, please do. The comment may be very brief or much more extensive, as you wish.

 

Although the question in this example is phrased courteously, it might give a slight impression of condescension, or even of giving orders to the person.

 

I think a much more free method is better. If a recipient wants to make a response, then simply send it. If I'm not given permission to quote it in whole or in part, then I won't quote any of it, but I will add a note in the list below that I've received a response. If there's no note, then the recipient hasn't responded, but it's possible that a response will be made in the future.

 

In the list, churches, church organizations and institutions and other organizations and institutions are named, but not individuals. Posts are named, eg Archdeacon, but not the individuals occupying the posts, whether past or present. So, an email sent to an Archdeacon in a named diocese may be the current Archdeacon or a previous one. Links are always provided to material which will give the necessary information about the matter, as well as the more general information. In the list,  entries give brief information about one of the matters (or more than one matter) discussed either on this page (or another page of the site, or more than one page)  The brief information doesn't in the least amount to a claim in itself. It simply directs to material which supplies argument and evidence. The emails sent to individuals will provide a link to the relevant section in the List below.

 

THE LIST

 

(1)  Church of England dioceses

 

 

Bath and Wells

Birmingham

Blackburn

 

Bishop of Lancaster. Conservative Evangelical, restrictive view of human sexuality. Carried out baptisms at a former allotment.


Bristol

Canterbury (Archbishop)

Carlisle

Chelmsford

Chester

 

Chichester

 

Coventry

 

Derby

 

Rector of Baslow and Eyam. The plague at Eyam, issues arising.

 

Durham

 

Europe

 

Exeter

 

Gloucester

 

Guildford

 

Hereford

 

Leeds

 

Leicester

 

Lichfield

Bishop of Lichfield. Burning alive of last person to be executed for heresy in this country, with the active support of a former Bishop of Lichfield.

 

Archdeacon of Lichfield. Conducting Remembrance Sunday service at National Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

 

Vicar, All Saints Church, Alrewas, Staffordshire. Includes 'inclusive church.'

 

Lincoln

 

Bishop of Lincoln. Suspension of Bishop and disciplinary proceedings opened against Bishop amid safeguarding claims.

 

Liverpool

 

London

 

Manchester

 

Newcastle

 

Norwich

 

Oxford

 

Bishop of Oxford. Includes rape committed by Trevor Trevor Devamanikkam on young boy and reaction of the Bishop.

 

Archdeacon of Oxford. Includes 'liturgical rhythm' and crime-ridden estates

 

Peterborough

 

Portsmoth

 

Rochester

 

St Albans

 

Installation of Canon Philosopher with an interest in apologetics, 'giving a reason for belief in the Christian faith.' Admires St Augustine of Hippo (who taught that unbaptized babies go to hell.)

 

St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

 

Salisbury

 

Sheffield

 

Archdeacon of Sheffield. Communication concerning the Barnardo's report on alleged attempt to drive out demons from young person

 

Bishop of Sheffield The Bishop and Remembrance Sunday. A Calvinist view?

 

Strategic Programme Director, Sheffield Diocese  'There might be ... a bit of rubbish at the moment.'

 

St Thomas Philadelphia, part of Network Church, Sheffield. The charity Barnardo's is currently investigating claims that a young person was subjected to an 'exorcism,' an attempt to drive out demons to 'break the power of homosexuality ... through the blood of Jesus.'

 

St Mark's Church, Sheffield
All Saints Church, Aston
Christ Church, Endcliffe, Sheffield
Christ Church, Fulwood The Church with a VIP: Representing the Diocese in the General Synod House of Laity.

STC, Sheffield.  The church with a history of making people welcome, The Nine o' clock Service, The Mike Pilavachi experience.

 

St Columba's Church, Sheffield. Empowerment.

 

Sodor and Man

 

Southwark

 

South well and Nottingham

 

Truro

 

Winchester

 

Worcester

 

York (Archbishop)

 

The Archbishop of York: importance and self-importance.

 

(2) Other churches

 

Rock Christian Centre The Church preaches redemption, how to be saved - and is completely beyond redemption and beyond saving. The worst church in the country? Perhaps - at least in the worst 20,000.

 

Stephen Hill Methodist Church, Sheffield

 

(3) Church organizations

 

Chairman, Steering Committee, Save the Parish

 

Chairman, Prayer Book Society

 

 

Director of the Learning and Development Team, The Church Army: statistics and church decline

 

The Church of England Children's Society

 

(4) Other institutions, eg universities

 

Oxford University and Christ Church, Oxford: the case of Jan Joosten, Regius Professor of Hebrew`and collector of pornographic videos and images, including images of child rape.

 

Merton College, Oxford. Not just a Chaplain but Chair of the Steering Committee of the International Anglican Liturgical Commission, Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford - and Wiccamical Prebendary (Honorary Canon Theologian) of Chichester Cathedral. How does he find the time?

 

Cambridge University

Emmanuel College. Radical Orthodoxy.
Selwyn College. Fellow and Regius Professor of Divinity: 'For a Chalcedonianism without reserve.' Views on original sin.
Selwyn College. Processing of the Chaplain.
Christ's College. Chaplain. Conservative Evangelical. Has carried out research on 'scribal habits in the Greek majuscule pandects.'
Clare College. Chaplain with strong interest in orthodoxy, including the contributions of the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) and the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD.)
St John's College. Dean. 'It's difficult to do even partial justice (the most common form of justice by far) to this likeable / impressive / accomplished /predictable / reckless / flawed-but-not-in-the-least-disastrously-flawed / writer / beliver / establishment figure, the author of such varied works as 'The sermon preached on the Third Sunday of Lent' (28 February 2016 ) at St Paul's Cathedral and 'The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry.' 
Emmanuel College. Dean. A very accomplished speaker. My disagreements with him are many but I recognize his qualities.

 

 

(5) Media: print and internet publications

 

(6) Roman Catholic dioceses in England and Wales

 

Metropolitan Archdiocese of Birmingham

Diocese of Clifton

 

Diocese of Shrewsbury

 

Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cardiff

Diocese of Menevia


Diocese of Wrexham

 

Metropolitan Archdiocese of Liverpool

Diocese of Hallam

 

Sacred Heart Church, Hillsborough, Sheffield

Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle

 

Diocese of Lancaster

 

Diocese of Leeds

 

Diocese of Middllesbrough

 

Diocese of Salford

 

Metropolitan Archdiocese of Southwark

 

Roman Catholic Primary School fined after fire caused life-changing injuries to boy taking part at carol concert

Diocese of Arundel and Brighton

 

Diocese of Plymouth

 

Diocese of Portsmouth

 

Metropolitan Diocese of Westminster

 

Diocese of Brentwood

 

Diocese of East Anglia

 

Diocese of Northampton

 

Diocese of Nottingham

 

Miscellaneous email extracts

 

All the email extracts in this section are from emails sent by me, not emails received by me.

 

Sent 12 September 2023 to info@southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk

 

I made a complaint against the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. There has been no attempt to respond to the complaint adequately. The system which supposedly exists to respond to complaints against a PCC depends upon the Police and Crime Panel. No member of the panel has contacted me in connection with the complaint at any time. I have provided members of the panel with thorough, not to say, exhaustive material which is relevant to my complaint.

 

Now, rather than provide yet more thorough or exhaustive documentation which reflects developments since I last wrote -  documentation which addresses the failure to respond - I now request that the Police and Crime Panel should contact me. I will provide information to address any queries the Panel may make in connection with the complaint but I cannot possibly return to the situation which continued over a long period of time, in which I worked hard to provide argument and evidence and there was only a token response. I am justified in asking that my complaint must now be addressed. The material already supplied may be lengthy, diffuse, to a certain extent, with some of the very important points quite widely dispersed in some cases, but it  makes clear my reasons for making a complaint and provides ample argument and evidence. I will supply information in concise summary form if requested, but only if I am certain that my complaint is now being handled as it should have been long ago. The issues raised by this case are serious ones, with relevance to the role of Police and Crime Commissioners. I take the view that they  also have relevance to  wider issues, ones which concern the trustworthiness and reputation of public life in this country. I take the view that public life in this country is of an exemplary standard very, very frequently but the failures can be shocking.

 

 

Sent 18 September 2023 to recipient not identified here but not a member of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner's Office

 

On 12 January 2023 I had written a lengthy and detailed email to every member of the Police and Crime Panel, except for the co-opted member - I wasn't able to find an email in his case. I stated that I wished to make a complaint against Alan Billings and gave my reasons. The Police and Crime Panel is the body responsible for handling complaints against the PCC. There are no forms which can be filled in, no obvious procedure for making a complaint, no helpful advice available online, or none that I could find. The lack of these things I count as a severe disadvantage. No member of the Police and Crime Panel responded to my email. My view is that they have been completely unhelpful. I would put it more strongly, however. I take the view that they have failed to act in accordance with their responsibilities.

 

Sent 12 September 2023 to enquiries@southyorks.pnn.police.uk

 

I would like to make two Freedom of Information Requests:

(1)

Can you please tell me what policies or training materials are held by the Professional Standards Department of South Yorkshire Police relating to the duty to comply with Article 10 of the Human Rights Act (which is concerned with freedom of expression)? What training sessions concerned with Article 10 or general issues concerning freedom of expression have been carried out by the Professional Standards Department for individuals in the department who handle complaints against South Yorkshire Police in any capacity in the years 2016 - 2022?


(2)

Can you please tell me what policies or training materials are held by Sheffield North West Police Team relating to the duty to comply with Article 10 of the Human Rights Act (which is concerned with freedom of expression)? What training sessions concerned with Article 10 or general issues concerning freedom of expression have been carried out by the North West Team in the years 2016 - 2022?

 

Sent 22 December 2022 to a recipient not identified here.

 

... the Sheffield Church organisation 'Arise' which includes a very large number of Churches and Church organisations, including ones without a Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Police, Fire and Brimstone Churches, many, many Churches promoting a belief in Hellfire for All - except for the tiny minority who accept Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour - in a more restrained way. [The Diocese of Sheffield was a member of 'Arise!' at the time and is still a member.]

 

Members of 'Arise!' 'prayer-walked' every street in Sheffield, believing that this was the way to transform Sheffield, not the way which recognizes the difficulty and intractability of so many problems, physical, social, personal, often calling for sustained hard work, with no guarantee of success.

 

From the 'Arise!' Website. It refers to the same text from Jeremiah used by Dr Billings in his document 'Keeping Safe, The Police and Crime Plan for South Yorkshire 2017 - 2021.'):

“The prophet Jeremiah summoned the exiled people of God to seek the welfare of their city and to pray to the LORD on its behalf.  To be in exile is to be living in a situation we would not choose.  How better then, to respond to the present pandemic than by taking up that ancient challenge, praying to the LORD for our city of Sheffield and by seeking its welfare in the coming months. Arise Sheffield provides us with that opportunity and I commend it to you — with confidence in the Gospel and joy in the Spirit.”

 

– Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield

 

So the Bishop of Sheffield thinks that the best way to respond to the Covid pandemic is prayer? Over the centuries, Christians generally believed that the best way to respond to outbreaks of cholera, smallpox, the plague, other infectious diseases, natural disasters such as earthquakes was by prayer. A proportion thought that killing Jews would help.

 

Will 'prayer-walking' solve such problems as gun crime or attacks on the police, fire crews and other members of the emergency services or fly-tipping?

 

 Can 'Arise!, provide any evidence showing   an upsurge in the numbers attending church services after the Miracle of the Distribution of the Leaflets, the delivery of 240,000 Sheffield-themed Easter cards, one to every home in Sheffield, it's claimed. Did many people take up 'the opportunity to connect with someone from a church near them?' Or did most people consign them to the blue waste paper bin along with the rest of the unsolicited mail?

 

 

 

 

 

In this column

 

Churches / church organizations: donations

 

Introduction



List of churches/ church organizations / christians criticized, with links to sections

 

 

Sections: criticisms of churches, church organizations, christians

 

Visiting cathedrals and churches. Supporting them by paying an admission charge or making a donation.

 

Print publication and its finances. Supporting pro-Christian publications, eg The Daily Telegraph and the Spectator.  Buying books and buying Christian books.


Introduction

 

Churches and church organizations receive donations on a massive scale. Many people donate to a Church or church organization because they believe that everyone is destined to spend eternity in hell, except for the minority of people who accept Jesus 'as Lord and Saviour.' Many of these people also believe that children are not exempt from the wrath of a 'righteous' God who punishes sin. Many of these people believe that the punishment for sin is the same whether the person has devoted his or her life to the care of a disabled child, or is a member of the police killed on active service or is a member of the armed forces of a democracy killed on active service, or is one of the war criminals these armed forces have prevented from carrying out further massacres and executions. On the other hand,  war criminals who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are destined for heaven.

 

But many people give money to Churches because they have a vague idea that by giving the money there are 'doing good.' An awareness of the theology of the Churches would be very helpful in making an informed decision. On this page, in the third column, I outline some objections to Christianity. I include one aspect which has been generally ignored, or not taken into account, but which is very important:  the theology of salvation in the case of babies, young children and young adults. Orthodox Christian believers who believe that the vast majority of people spend eternity in separation from God - punished by God - should be challenged. Do ten year old children spend eternity in separation from God? Do five year olds? No age restriction is mentioned in the Bible. The Churches, and church organizations, are silent about the matter. 

 

Anyone who attends a Church may well be not just encouraged to give but pressurized to give. A very long time ago, in my teens, I attended a Church service at St Thomas Church in Sheffield. The vicar - I knew him quite well - gave a sermon which was all about giving money. It was uncompromising, and very, very disturbing.. He made it completely clear that the congregation should give ten per cent of their income to the church. As I remember, this was ten per cent of gross income, not net income.

 

I very much hope that more and more people will have fuller information, more generally available information, to allow the making of a free choice based on awareness of the issues involved.

 

Many of the Church activities which attract donations are activities in which secular charities are involved, such as holiday activities for children. I hope that many more people will consider giving money to organizations other than church organizations.

 

List of churches / church organizations / Christians criticized in this column

 
Rock Christian Centre
The Church Army
St Mark's Church, Sheffield
Action and inaction in the Diocese of Oxford
Network Church and driving out demons. The Barnardo's report. Forge Youth and some uses of prayer. 
STC (formerly St Thomas Church) Sheffield
Gideons International
Our Lady of the Annunciation Church, Croydon
All Saints Church, Alrewas, Staffordshire
Lincoln Cathedral: architecture, abuse, costs
The See of York and The Life of the Nation
'Save the Parish'
The Prayer Book Society
Merton College, Oxford
Free Church of England
Christian Legal Centre
St Columba's Church, Sheffield
Stephen Hill Methodist Church, Sheffield
Preaching to the converted and preaching to the unconverted: St Mary's Church and Academy, Sheffield

Oxford University. The case of Professor Jan Joosten. The Christ Church connection
The Church of England Children's Society
The case of Julie Morris
Canon Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Winchester Diocese

 

Most but not all of the examples in the list are from the Church of England. The list will be extended. The profiles in the list will be revised and extended.

 

Sections: criticisms of churches, church organizations, christians


Rock Christian Centre

 

 

 

Above, top, a photograph from the Police and Crime Commissioner's Website showing Alan Billings, on the left, and Paul Hunt, a Pastor at the Rock Christian Centre, on the right.

 

A quote from the Website of Rock Christian Centre which makes many claims, amongst them these:


God is outraged by abortion.
God is outraged by homosexuality.
God is outraged by blasphemy.

 

Rock Christian Centre is a 'participating Church' in the group of Churches, 'Arise!' Sheffield Cathedral is on the list and so too is  St Thomas Philadelphia.



 

St Thomas Philadelphia is the place where, allegedly, a gay man was allegedly subjected to an exorcism, involving prayer to rid him of the 'demons' allegedly causing his homosexuality. I have much more information below about  disturbing happenings at Rock Christian Centre and St Thomas Philadelphia below - and about the decision of Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to award them grants from public money. I give reasons for my view that this decision was disastrously misguided.

 

The photographs above show a knife bin in the Burngreave area of Sheffield, some of the people who attended a little ceremony in connection with the placing of the knife bin, and a detail, stickers on the bin with adverts for Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association. The Christian Police Association shares the hard core fundamentalist conservative evangelical beliefs of the Rock Christian Centre - the Bible infallible, 'God's Word,' hellfire for all and for eternity, apart from the small minority who accept Jesus as 'personal Lord and Saviour.' More on the knife bin below as well.

 

The original photographs above have been cropped and faces hidden in the top photograph so as not to infringe copyright. The other image in this column has been modified for the same reason. If a claim is made that any of these images do infringe copyright, then I will remove them. They reinforce the comments I make but are not essential.

 

Below, the information that Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, gave a grant - public money - to the Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association. 

From the Website of Rock Christian Centre, the page 'Why Christianity?'

 

http://www.rockchristiancentre.org/why-christianity/

The fury of Almighty God against evil is evidence of His goodness. If He wasn’t angered, He wouldn’t be good. We cannot separate God’s goodness from His anger. Again, if God is good by nature, He must be unspeakably angry at wickedness.

But His goodness is so great that His anger isn’t confined to the evils of rape and murder. Nothing is hidden from His pure and holy eyes. He [God] is outraged by torture, terrorism, abortion, theft, lying, adultery, fornication, pedophilia, homosexuality, and blasphemy. He also sees our thought-life, and He will judge us for the hidden sins of the heart: for lust, hatred, rebellion, greed, unclean imaginations, ingratitude, selfishness, jealousy, pride, envy, deceit, etc. Jesus warned, “But I say to you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. ” (emphasis added).

The Bible says that God’s wrath “abides” on each of us, and that every time we sin [in the case of gay people, by being gay], we’re “storing up wrath” that will be revealed on Judgment Day. We are even told that we are “by nature the children of wrath”  Sinning against God comes naturally to us—and we naturally earn His anger by our sins.

https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/news/south-yorkshires-first-knife-bin-launched-in-spital-hill/


Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, quoted on his own page:

 

“I am grateful to the Rock Christian Centre for allowing the bin to be placed outside their premises and for the concerns they have for the well-being of the area.”

 

Grateful for what? He made a grant - he gave public money to the Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association. He gave them free publicity - above, a detail from the bin, on three sides of the bin, publicizing the  Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association.' The Christian Police Association (hember: Sergeant Simon Kirkham) shares the hard-core fundamentalist beliefs of the Rock Christian Centre. I work actively to oppose those beliefs. I consider them harmful. But this is one sphere of activity and activism amongst many. My Web site gives information about the others.

 

Paul Hunt has produced a whole series of You Tube videos, readings from 'God's Word,' 'The Bible.'

 

This is one of them, on Leviticus 20. Other examples in the 'Supplementary material' in the column to the left.

 

 

Above, image of Paul Hunt of Rock Christian centre reading from Leviticus 20

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyAjdOLe1Ao&t=188s

 

Paul Hunt reads out the text which is provided with the video, without comment. Amongst the issues raised in this passage are these: bad language to a father or mother, homosexuality, sexual relations during menstruation and acting as a medium.

 

9] " 'If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head. 

 

[13] " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

 

[18] " 'If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people.

 

[27] " 'A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.' "

 

The Pastor mentions homosexuality at  2:10 into the video.

 

Public money given to the Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association was public money not given to charities which deserve support. I oppose the view that organizations such as the Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association deserve support, financial or other. The Rock Christian Centre isn't so short of money that the money was essential. It could have financed the knife bin without making an application for a grant.

 

From the site

 

https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/5068321/full-print

 

which gives financial data for Rock Christian Centre for the financial year ending 31 October 2021.

 

Total income: £322,067
Total expenditure: £221,799

The little ceremony to mark the placing of the knife bin was reported in the local newspaper, 'The Star.'

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/new-knife-bin-installed-south-yorkshire-bid-tackle-crime-435907

Alan Billings seems to have a liking for this kind of event. It generates more publicity for him and this event generated publicity for the Rock Christian Centre and the Christian Police Association. It gives the superficial impression of vigour, of decisive action. Alan Billings surely realizes that one knife bin isn't going to have more than a minor - an insignificant - impact on knife crime, but again and again, he doesn't think things through. His grasp of evidence-based policing is very defective. In fact, even if there were a large number of knife bins in Sheffield, the evidence that they would have an effect on knife crime is much nearer to non-existent than to overwhelming.

Knife bins and media campaigns to help reduce violence have little 'positive impact', research finds. Research suggests there is no evidence that money spent on knife bins and high-profile media campaigns to help prevent knife crime has “any real and lasting impact”.

 

This is from

 

Police Professional

 

which, unlike Dr Billings, really does have a good grasp of evidence-based policing.

 

Knife bins and media campaigns to help reduce violence have little ‘positive impact’, research finds

 

Research on the effect of Knife Bins was carried out by the 'Youth Endowment Fund,' which is financed by the Home Office.

 

It said in the few UK evaluations available on the impact of media campaigns, there were instances where – against the intention of the campaign – young people became potentially more likely to carry a knife. When asked about campaign images of knives, young people actually said that it increased the perceived threat, which meant they felt a greater need to protect themselves.

The Church Army

 

Above, the Wilson Carlile Centre, Sheffield, named after the man who founded the Church Army, in 1887. According to the Wikipedia entry for Wilson Carlile,

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Carlile

When asked, "Why 'Army?' ", Carlile's answer was that the evangelists intended to make war against sin and the devil.

What of the doctrines and beliefs of the Church Army? Are they much the same or almost exactly the same as at the time when the Church Army was in its infancy? What do contemporary Christians at the Church Army make of the Biblical extract shown above, 'The wages of sin is death?' The text in its entirety. It comes from 'St' Paul's letter to the Romans, 6:23. The translation of the King James Bible

 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The translation of the Good News Bible:

 
For sin pays its wage--death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Supplementary information: the King James of the King James Bible is the same king who oversaw the trials and torture of many women accused of witchcraft. The  King James  translation of Exodus 22:18 is 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' The King will have believed that he had divine authorisation for his persecution of witches. The Good News (!)Translation  is 'Put to death any woman who practises magic.' One of Scotland's most notable witch trials, supervised by King James, took place between 1590 and resulted in the execution of many, many women. I provide further information in this column in the section on the Prayer Book Society.

 

In Pauline theology - this 'gift of God,' eternal life is given only to those who accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. The vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries have believed this. Wilson Carlile also believed this, as well as this: Those who fail to accept Christ are eternally separated from God. Do the people at the Church Army believe that their 'clients' are condemned to eternal separation from God, in the state known as 'hell?' The Church Army makes it completely clear that the Church Army is based on Christian faith but fails to make clear these (and other) horrendous implications. Donors, potential and actual, should know what kind of organization they are supporting, so that they can make an informed choice.

 

Peter Rouch is the Chief Executive Officer of the Church Army. Dr Tim Ling is described as the 'Director of Organisational Learning' What exactly is 'organisational learning?' How does it differ from ordinary learning? The Church Army Website doesn't explain. He's also described as 'the Director of the Learning and Development Team' at the Church Army. One of his functions is this: 'He provides strategic oversight for the work of the Research Unit.  Previously, Tim led the Church of England’s ministry research, including longitudinal studies on sustaining an effective ministerial presence.' I provide further information below, including general information on the irrelevance and uselessness of the Research Unit. I do recognize that the Unit has relevance and usefulness for the people it employs and pays, but I'd claim that their activities achieve nothing of wider value.

 

I have personal experience of some aspects of the methodology of Dr Ling - the methods he's used with relevance to free expression. I've experience of his blocking and banning. They amount to censorship, in my view.

 

The Research Unit of the Church Army employs some high-level statisticians. They can be relied upon to ensure that the relatively small samples examined in the course of Church Army research conform to good statistical methodology. What the Church Army doesn't do is to look at the bigger picture, to take into account the overwhelming obstacles facing the Church and to publish findings in an honest and open way. I'm referring to such stark evidence as this, which the Church Army surely evades:

 

Reputation management' is taken seriously by the Churches - for a variety of reasons, such as the wish to maintain the flow of donations, but reversing the decline of reputations can be far from easy - impossible.

 

Reversing declines in Church attendances likewise. The information which follows concerning church attendances is quite long. To skip it and read about other matters, please  click here.

 

From the page

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/
07/church-in-crisis-as-only-2-of-young-adults-identify-as-c-of-e

 

The Church of England is facing a generational catastrophe with only 2% of young adults identifying with it, while seven out of 10 under-24s say they have no religion, research reveals.

 

C of E affiliation is at a record low among all age groups, and has halved since 2002, according to the British Social Attitudes survey. Far fewer actually attend church services on a regular basis.

 

Meanwhile, the trend towards a secular society has increased over recent years. The BSA survey found that 52% of people had no religion in 2017 compared with 41% in 2002. However, the proportion last year was slightly down on 2016, when 53% said they had no religious affiliation.

 

The demographic breakdown in the new data is particularly unwelcome news for the church. Younger people are significantly less likely to identify with the C of E than older age groups, and evidence suggests that people rarely join organised religion in later life. The trend indicates that affiliation with the C of E could become negligible with successive generations.

 

People over the age of 65 are most likely to say they belong to the C of E. But at 30% it is still a minority, and the proportion has fallen from 52% in 2002. This older demographic also saw the biggest increase in those saying they had no religion, up from 18% in 2002 to 34% last year.

 

The proportion of people of all ages identifying with the C of E has fallen from 31% in 2002 to 14% last year. The sharpest decline was among 45- to 54-year-olds, from 35% to 11%.

 

Overall, 8% of people identify with the Roman Catholic church, 10% with other Christian denominations and 8% with non-Christian faiths.

 

[Only the number of those with no religious belief have risen, new figures show]

Researchers found a significant gap between people identifying with a church and those attending church services. Of those who say they belong to the C of E, only one in five attends church at least once a month, apart from weddings and funerals. Among Roman Catholic adherents, two in five attend church at least once a month.

 

In Scotland an even higher proportion of people – 56% – say they have no religion and 18% say they belong to the Church of Scotland, although only a quarter of those attend church at least once a month.

 

Roger Harding of the National Centre for Social Research, which conducts the BSA survey, said the figures showed “an unrelenting decline in Church of England and Church of Scotland numbers. This is especially true for young people where less than one in 20 now belong to their established church. While the figures are starkest among younger people, in every age group the biggest single group are those identifying with no religion.

 

The research of the Church Army can be regarded as irrelevant - frivolous, even - in the face of such challenges.

 

An extract from the page https://churcharmy.org/our-work/

 

Through our work, we want the Jesus we know to be a household name because people everywhere have found freedom and a renewed vision for life ... Your generosity is a gift, and our work is only possible because of you.

Find out how you can give.

The pages of this site, including this one, give a very different view - of homosexuality-hating Christian communities, of Christian communities which, following the example of Jesus, actively believe in demons and think that demons can be responsible for problems, of young people encouraged to pray rather than seek professional advice for health and mental health problems - and, of course, of converts and people they want to become converts encouraged to give to the Churches and to the Church Army, to believe in Jesus and to believe that the Churches and the Church Army are somehow unique. In all the areas in which they work - except, of course, for their work in 'saving souls for Christ' - there are many, many secular organizations, statutory and voluntary,  which carry out very effective work. Donors should give their money to these secular volunteer organizations rather than to the Church Armey, which diverts a substantial proportion of the money it receives into evangelism.

A direct question to the Church Army - do you or don't you believe that of the people supposedly helped by the Church Army, only the ones who accept Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour are redeemed, and that all the others, drug-dependent adolescents, children brought up in horrific circumstances, all of them, are condemned to be eternally separated from God? If you don't believe this to be the case, then I'm sure you have some explaining to do - the fact that Biblical 'evidence' shows otherwise, the fact that the majority of Christian believers, past and present, believe otherwise. I don't think it's likely in the least that you will be willing to explain.

The Church Army can't regard the relief of deprivation and helping the needy as central to its work, since according to Christian belief, poverty, disease, human suffering in general are far less important than the correct relationship with Christ, which has consequences for the eternal destinies of individuals. My view is that the relief of deprivation and helping the needy is less important to the Church Army than maintaining its paid staff in the positions they occupy. My view is that the continued flow of donations is very important to the Church Army for this reason - to pay the salaries of its staff and to maintain its buildings, even if it's not the only reason.

From the page on the outfit with the clumsy name of 'Missional Youth Church Network

 https://www.mycn.org.uk/

Enabling 11 - 18 year olds to build community and discover faith in Jesus Christ.

The Church Army's Research Unit is a money-consuming churner-out of irrelevant data and false conclusions - irrelevant and false when considered in the light of the secular statistical data and conclusions quoted at the beginning of the section.

https://churcharmy.org/our-work/research/

The page makes this claim:

OUR RESEARCH

SEEING AND SHARING WHAT GOD IS DOING IN MISSION

But the mission is failing. An honest look at the facts would surely make this conclusion inescapable. An honest look at the facts and reporting honestly wouldn't encourage the flow of donations.

How  do the people in the Church Army Resarch Unit spend their time? Some of the current research projects, taken from the page

https://churcharmy.org/our-work/research/current-research/

Jesus Shaped People outlines a 'vision' which will supposedly lead to 'the revitalisation of the Church.' Big ambition, very big ambition. Chance of realizing it by means of this initiative? Surely, non-existent. The information ends with this far less confident assertion: 'We trust that this will bring hope to all [to all?] as we seek to become Jesus Shaped People.' That is, people who believe, like Jesus, God the Son, that all the barbaric commands and actions of God the Father cited in The Law were actually the commands of God, with God the Son in full agreement.

And a few more examples of the Research Unit in action. Donors - this is how the money you give may be spent.

The page

https://churcharmy.org/our-work/research/who-we-are/

mentions 'Bespoke dashboards to support and inform mission planning.

It also mentions 'Customised survey design and analysis, including surveys and audits of fresh expressions of Church.'

Scrolling down the page gives access to the section 'Meet the Team.' It includes this, on Dr Tim Ling, 'He provides strategic oversight for the work of the Research Unit.' My own experience of Dr Ling in action is very unfavourable. My experience is of him as a banner and blocker. More on this below.

'Fresh expressions of Church' is a phrase often used in these circles. It refers to initiatives, supposedly exciting initiatives which attempt to convert people in settings outside the buildings of the established Church. A decisive objection to these initiatives is that they leave the dogmatic core of the faith which is offered untouched. They rely upon  stale (and frequently horrific) Biblical teaching. They have nothing to offer to the modern world. They have close linkages with the Christian belief of previous centuries. I've no need to give a reminder of the abuses and cruelties of those centuries here. Other pages of the site, and this page too, provide abundant evidence.

One example of a 'fresh expression of Church:' a Garden Church. I found that a Garden Church was planned for an allotment site near to my own allotments. I don't give here the name of the person who publicize the proposed Garden Church here. She was a member of the Research Unit of the Church Army at the time. I sent her this email, with a copy to Tim Ling, who could be expected to find it relevant to his work. The Research Unit promotes these 'fresh expressions' and carrious out research into the supposed effectiveness of some of them. (I can't find any record of a research finding that the initiative was useless. In this world of ever onwards and upwards, of extreme optimism, very disappointing outcomes aren't welcome.)

  The email was courteous and simply presented some difficulties. I sent it to Tim Ling a short time before sending it to 'the other person.' the one who publicized the proposed Garden Church.  The reaction of Tim Ling must have been not far short of instantaneous. His reaction was one of banning and blocking. He blocked the email to the 'other person' - and to all members of the Research Unit. This is still the case.  This was a disturbing act, surely.

This was the beginning of a long and complex series of events. The 'other person' complained to the police about receiving unwanted emails from me on various occasions. The fact is that she has never received a single email from me. I pointed out this fact to the police, but the police took further action. More exactly, a fundamentalist conservative evangelical Christian sergeant decided to take action. The disastrous series of events is recorded in the third column of my page

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/alan-billings-pcc-scrutiny-accountability2.htm

Further aspects are recorded on some other pages.

 

A copy of the email received by Dr Tim Ling but not received by 'the other person,' the one who posted information on the St Mark's Website.

 

Dear -

'I write in connection with this post on the St Mark's Website:

'SHEFFIELD FOREST CHURCH – SATURDAY 11 SEPTEMBER AT 2.30PM

'After a summer break, we’re back! Join us for Forest Church on the theme of Creation at the Garden Church in Walkley (Walkley Community Garden, Morley Street S6 2PLfor time to be and worship in God’s creation. Bring a drink and a snack for after the service! Our services are intentionally all age and LGBTQ+ affirming, so whatever stage of life or journey you’re on – you’re so very welcome! For more information, you can find us on facebook or email

 
sheffield.forest.church@gmail.com


'I have two allotments on the Morley Street site in Sheffield. I was dismayed to find that the Forest Church is planning to hold this event at Morley Street this Saturday.

The plan is  disastrously misguided, surely. These are some objections:

'The place where it is planned to hold the event is rented land. These are Sheffield Council allotments and as such, are subject to allotment law.  The allotments are rented by Lower Walkley Community Group (LWCG). The group's decision to give permission for the Forest Church to hold the event was very misguided but I have evidence to show that throughout, the use of the land by LWCG has been incompetent.

'[You are] seemingly unaware of the legislation applicable to allotments which is intended to protect the safety of the public and the issue of legal liability. Allotments do have hazards, and in the event of injury to a member of the public attending the event at the 'Forest Garden,' there could easily be severe legal consequences.

'According to information I've received, a fundamental disagreement concerning access to the Community Garden precipitated dissension within the group, leading to members going their separate ways and the neglect of the garden, which lasted for many years until this year, when some work has been done, although hardly any of it to do with the growing of food plants. There was a short period when access to the garden was restricted, by a locked gate, but for most of the time, anyone who wanted to enter the garden was able to.

A very striking , and very off-putting feature of the garden is the very large heap of rubbish, very long as well as high - discarded plastic, rubbish of many, many kinds, with further rubbish in some Council Wheelie bins. If it's assumed that this was all left by fly tippers, it can't be the only explanation. I think these must have been left by the Group itself. [I've since received information from a reliable source, a person who has an allotment near to my own allotments, that the fly-tipping was the action of a member of the Community Garden Group. Amongst the discarded plastic containers are ones which once held organic seaweed fertilizer. 

'I've been informed that youths have sometimes gathered in the LWCG garden and been involved in solvent abuse. I can't verify this but an open garden obviously carries security risks. The  LWCG garden is some distance from the road, down the long and gloomy heavily path by the side of the Walkley Bank Allotment Association hut. The garden itself is shielded from view. It may not be likely that the church members would meet trouble but if they ever did, this isn't the kind of place where it would be easy to get help quickly. I don't think this is being too alarmist. About thirty years ago, there was a murder on an allotment site in the Rivelin Valley. Three youths were sniffing glue in the allotment. Two of them turned on the third and stabbed him with a garden tool. In the time I've had my allotments, there have been some troubling incidents affecting allotment holders, including threatening behaviour directed at them. The Forest Church has ignored the serious problems to do with security.

'A Christian event at an allotment site would set a very troublesome precedent. Allotments are primarily places for growing food but they have other uses. From the introduction to 'Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book:'

 

'In my most optimistic moments, I see every town ringed again with small gardens, nurseries, allotments, greenhouses, orchards, as it was in the past, an assertion of delight and human scale.'

Allotments  should not be places for Christian evangelism or Christian worship. Christians have many other venues available for that. There is no need to use allotments at all. Allotments are not the place for the singing of hymns  for preaching or for public prayer. 

I hope that this conveys some of my reasons for disagreement'. 

 

Best Wishes,

Paul Hurt.

 

'We challenge and equip the church to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have little or no connection with it.'

 

This is the claim of the Church Army, according to the Website of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, which also records that the income of the Church Army for the financial year ending 31 March 2022 was £6,373,000.

 

The thought occurs - how many people accepted 'the gospel of Jesus Christ' in that financial year as a direct result of the Church Army's activities? What is the approximate ratio of souls saved to £££ spent or £1000 spent? If only 20 souls were saved, it seems a very poor return. Perhaps the ratio was much more favourable, perhaps as many as 5,000. All the same, 5,000 souls is a tiny proportion of the total population. All these evangelistic operations are confronted by the same hard reality - so many people losing the chance of salvation, vast numbers of people, the majority of the population - if only the Church Army's income were far, far greater, allowing it to save the souls of far more people. Even then, the statistics would be against them.

 

The finances of soul-saving are an under-researched aspect of Christian evangelism. I very much doubt that the Research Unit of the Church Army  will have done any work on the issue.

 

St Mark's Church, Sheffield

 

 

Above, St Mark's Church, Sheffield.

 

 The church was built 1868-1871 but the building was almost completely destroyed by a Nazi incendiary bomb during the 'Sheffield Blitz' of 12 December, 1940. Only the spire and a porch survived. These remnants were the basis of a new church, constructed 1958-1963. 

Sue Hammersley is vicar at St Mark's Church. From the Youtube video 'Via Dolorosa.' Her facile and superficial address/sermon on suffering turns out to put the emphasis on something very different. She says,' This service is a reminder that God's love permeates every part of our life ... even our own sense of being crucified.' This is playing with words, words she finds impressive but with no relation to realities. From my comments below, quoting from the book by Peter Kolchin, 'American slavery:'

 

'Slaves who transgressed could look forward to a wide range of punishments - most imposed informally by owners and overseers but some officially meted out upon sentence by special slave courts that existed in all the Southern colonies - including branding, nose slitting; amputation of ears, toes, and fingers (and less often of hands and feet): castration; and burning at the stake.' 

 

Sue Hammenlsey, and the people who patiently listened to her address at St Marks, may feel 'We share your pain! We share your experience of being burned alive! They may feel that the victim has the assurance of God's love, which permeates every part of his or her life, until the flames do their work. What of what comes after? Does God's love suddenly end? Does it go beyond that? According to orthodox Christian belief, held by so many millions over the millennia, God then judges the slave burned alive, and if the slave hasn't accepted Christ as personal Lord and Saviour, then the slave spends an eternity of separation from God. It may well be that the slave was treated so atrociously (perhaps by a slave-owner who had this all-important faith in Christ) that he or she couldn't give thought to the destiny of the soul. The slave was preoccupied with punishments, such as branding and amputation, and back-breaking work.

 

if all this doesn't disturb Sue Hammersley's calm assurance that God's love permeates every part of a slave's life, then she could read the Wikipedia page on Thomas Thistlewood, an 18th century planter and slave-owner who emigrated to Jamaica. There are extracts in the fourth column of the page.

 

I take the view that Sue Hammersley finds the 'word sphere' very congenial, certain realities much less congenial. The 'word sphere' in this sense allows the believer to indulge in complacency by spinning a web of words. Inside this cocoon, the glow of calm assurance can be enjoyed and indulged.

Above, part of a wreath supplied by the pacifist 'Peace Pledge Union.' An image of the wreath appears on the St Marks Facebook page.

 

Below, material on the Peace Pledge Union and its mixed but overwhelmingly poor record in relation to Nazi German. The wreath is 'for all those who have died or are dying in wars ... '  The Peace Pledge Union obviously thinks that the fallen are equally deserving - the Nazi soldiers who had previously carried out executions of civilians and massacres of civilians, the Nazi soldiers who promoted and fended the Nazi's demented and barbaric policies - and the soldiers of the allied forces who liberated the extermination and concentration camps and freed the world of the nightmare of Nazism. Some of the people at St Mark's Church seem not to have noticed this.

 

There's a great deal of material on St Mark's Church on my page on Christian Religion as well as other material relevant here, such as my comments on Christian belief and slavery, under the graphic image of a slave who has been flogged. 

 

The Nazi Holocaust and all the other Nazi barbarities were eventually brought to an end not by prayer, not by the Churches, not by earnest but naive people - I've reason to think that St Mark's Church contains some instructive examples -  but by military action, costly in lives, necessarily involving massive financial resources and resources of other kinds, and in so many other ways. I include more material on the Second World War here but begin with material on the American Civil War. This war brought an end to slavery in the United States, something which no amount of wishful thinking, praying or any other method had achieved. Ineffectual church goers of the St Mark's kind or any other kind had failed to end this nightmare.

 

From the Wikipedia entry on the Peace Pledge Union:

 

Like many in the 1930s, the PPU supported aspects of appeasement ... It backed Neville Chamberlain's   policy at Munich  in 1938, regarding Hitler's claims on the Sudetenland  as legitimate. At the time of the Munich crisis, several PPU sponsors tried to send "five thousand pacifists to the Sudetenland as a non-violent presence", however this attempt came to nothing.

 

Peace News editor and PPU sponsor Jahn Middleton Murry and his supporters in the group caused considerable controversy by arguing Germany should be given control of parts of mainland Europe. In a PPU publication, Warmongers, Clive Bell   said that Germany should be permitted to "absorb" France, Poland, the Low Countries and the Balkans. However, this was never the official policy of the PPU and the position quickly drew criticism from other PPU activists such asVera Brittain and Andrew Stewart. Clive Bell left the PPU shortly afterwards and by 1940 he was supporting the war.

 

Some PPU supporters were so sympathetic to German grievances that PPU supporter Rose Macaulay claimed she found it difficult to distinguish between the PPU newspaper Peace News and that of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), saying, "occasionally when reading Peace News, I (and others) half think we have got hold of the Blackshirt   [BUF journal] by mistake". There was Fascist infiltration of the PPU and M15  kept an eye on the PPU's "small Fascist connections".After Dick Sheppard's death in October 1937, George Orwell  , always hostile to pacifism, accused the PPU of "moral collapse" on the grounds that some members even joined the BUF.However, several historians note that the situation may have been the other way around; that is, BUF members attempted to infiltrate the PPU.

 

Historians have differed in their interpretation of the PPU's attitude to Nazi Germany. The historian Martin Gilbert   said, "it is hard to think of a British newspaper that was so consistent an apologist for Nazi Germany as Peace News," which "assiduously echoed the Nazi press's claims that far worse offences than the Kristallnacht events were a regular feature of British colonial rule". But David C. Lukowitz argues that, "it is nonsense to charge the PPU with pro-Nazi sentiments. From the outset it emphasised that its primary dedication was to world peace, to economic justice and racial equality," but it had "too much sympathy for the German position, often the product of ignorance and superficial thinking". Research by the historian Richard Griffiths,  , published in 2017, suggests considerable division and controversy at the top of the PPU, with the editors of Peace News being generally more willing to play down the dangers of Nazi Germany than were many members of the PPU Executive.

 

Controversy over the PPU's attitude towards Nazi Germany has continued ever since the war. In 1950, Rebecca West,   in her book The Meaning of Treason, described the PPU as "that ambiguous organisation which in the name of peace was performing many actions certain to benefit Hitler". The publishers removed the phrase from subsequent editions of the book following representations by the PPU, but West refused to apologise ...

 

Initially, the Peace Pledge Union opposed the Second World War  and continued to argue for a negotiated peace with Germany. On 9 March 1940, 2,000 people attended a PPU public meeting calling for a negotiated peace. PPU membership reached a peak of 140,000 in 1940.

The critical attitude towards the PPU in this period was summarised by George Orwell,  writing in the October 1941 issue of Adelphi magazine: "Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively, the pacifist is pro-Nazi".

 

I wouldn't endorse his comment that 'objectively, the pacifist is pro-Nazi.' I do maintain that pacifists harmed the allied struggle to overcome Nazism. The harm was comparatively slight only because the pacifists were comparatively powerless, with very little influence over events.

 

Another naive group, Extinction Rebellion, have been promoted on the St Mark's Website:

 

‘On 7 October, XR launched its largest worldwide action. In London thousands of rebels joined the rebellion for up to two weeks, spurred on by the need to act now for our climate before it is too late. Myself, and other members of St Mark's, are just some of those rebels. For us, XR speaks truth to power, where a strategy of non-violent disruptive civil disobedience is a way to make effective positive change in order to save this planet from human destruction. ‘My Christian faith felt central to the call from XR to ‘Act Now’, and I spent much of my time in London with Christian Climate Action (the Christian 'wing'), praying, taking part in actions, and doing the daily offices, including Eucharist in front of the police line. Despite the noise, the clamour, the thousands of arrests, the tears, the rain, the fear and the apprehension, it felt like a profoundly holy place. I was shoved, spat at by passers-by, threatened with a night in the cells but kept on, like so many others, joined in union and in partnership that though peaceful action profound change could be made. Christ was present in the mess of it all and with a collective hope (like fresh water) that we were once again renewed in God's call to us, to be stewards of God's creation... And it was good…’ Margaret Ainger

 

Action and inaction in the Diocese of Oxford


 

Diocese of Oxford

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2023/28-july/news/uk/vicar-s-spiritual-abuse-went-on-for-decades-despite-complaints-to-his-bishop-review-finds


Above, St Margaret's Church, Tyler's Green, Buckinghamshire.  Revd Michael Hall was a vicar at the church.

 

Extract from the article on abuse and inaction.


' ... abuse was able to go unchecked in a parish in the diocese of Oxford  for almost 20 years, owing to inaction at the parish and diocesan level ...'

In one instance, the churchwardens wrote to unhappy parishioners telling them to be reconciled with Hall, quoting Hebrews 13.17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them.”

The lessons-learnt review describes an incident in which Hall blamed the parents of a seriously ill child when his prayers for the child did not improve their condition. Complaints were made to the then Area Bishop of Buckingham that Hall had told a parent that it was evil to put flowers on her child’s grave, and had told another bereaved parent that it was evil to watch a video of her child.

The reviewers found no evidence that this particular complaint was investigated, or even received a reply.

Complaints about Hall’s inappropriate sexual behaviour also went unheeded, including allegations that Hall had encouraged men to touch women sexually as they arrived at a party, and that he had engaged in naked saunas and massages with members of the congregation, which, he claimed, was part of a “healing ministry”.

Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, has been strongly criticized for his inaction in some case of abuse. This is the view of an Anglican, but a very critical Anglican,

https://survivingchurch.org/2023/05/16/why-the-bishop-of-oxford-should-be-suspended/

The writer makes it very clear why Steven Croft should be suspended, in his view. An extract:

'The future of Church safeguarding must surely now involve the unequivocal embracing of secular standards of jurisprudence and about time too; ask the many, many abuse survivors who have campaigned for vital reform in the wake of the Matt Ineson case.

 

'That case became, perhaps, the first very public cause célèbre because Matt had the courage and integrity to put his own name into the public domain as he told his harrowing story. When he saw one of the bishops who had wronged him promoted from Sheffield to the important see of Oxford, he protested outside Christ Church Cathedral at the enthronement. It was a low-key protest but it has become hugely symbolic.'

 

Trevor Devamanikkam was a Church of England  priest who raped Matthew Ineson in the 1980s. Ineson was just 16 years old. In the end, Steven Croft apologized for his inaction. The catalogue of cases of abuse in the Church of England. The catalogue of apologies for doing nothing or next to nothing grows longer and longer, as does the catalogue of refusal to apologize for doing nothing or next to nothing in cases where the facts of the matter are clear-cut.

 

The head of the college is the Dean of Christ Church. Christ Church is unique among Oxford colleges in that

 

Christ Church, formally titled "The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth" is the only academic institution in the world which is also a cathedral,  the seat (cathedra) of the Bishop of Oxford. Its Head of House, who is head of both college and cathedral, must be an Anglican cleric appointed by the crown as Dean of the cathedral church. The Dean lives on site in a grand sixteenth-century house in the main quadrangle.

 

From the Wikipedia entry on boiling alive, a punisment which has a linkage with the Founder of Christ Church, King Henry VIII:

 

In England, the ninth statute passed in 1531 (the 22nd year of the reign of King Henry VIII  made boiling alive the prescriptive form of capital punishment for murder ... This arose from a February 1531 incident in which the Bishop of Rochester's cook, Richard Roose,  gave several people poisoned porridge,  resulting in two deaths. A partial confession having been extracted by torture,  the sentence was thus imposed by attainder and without benefit of clergy.  

 

 

A contemporary chronicle reports the following:

'He roared mighty loud, and divers women who were big with child did feel sick at the sight of what they saw, and were carried away half dead; and other men and women did not seem frightened by the boiling alive, but would prefer to see the headsman at his work.'

   

Boiling to death was employed again in 1542 for a woman, Margaret Davy, who had also used poison.

 

These are episodes in the vast and horrific history of Christian cruelty. People at Christ Church, Oxford, some of them at least, must surely be aware of boiling alive, and so many other instances of cruelty committed on the orders of Henry VIII, but the depiction of the King on Website materials published by the college don't mention them, or at least the extracts I've seen.

 

It can take centuries before the Church of England apologises for obvious wrongs.

 

Eight hundred years after Christian leaders introduced a host of antisemitic laws, the Church of England apologised for 'shameful actions”' against Jews. Although, it has to be said, the Church of England was not in existence at the time, many, many people in the Church of England choose to stress continuity, the supposedly glorious history of Christianity in this country, the supposed blessings of 800 years or 1000 years or whatever of Christian history.

 

A service attended by representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury was held on 8 May 20222 at  Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford to mark the anniversary of the 1222 Synod of Oxford.

 

The Archdeacon of Oxford, Jonathan Chaffey, said before the commemoration of the Synod of Oxford was a 'symbolic opportunity' to apologise for 'the shameful actions of past prejudicial and persecuting laws of the Church against Jews.'

He elaborated: 'On Sunday 8 May we will celebrate the positive Jewish-Christian relations ... ' 

 

People like this tend to be very fond of 'symbolic opportunities,' far less interested in harsh realities, such as the harsh realities presented by the Christian faith they adhere to.

 

I've no knowledge of the exact nature of  Jonathan Chaffey's Christian beliefs. If they are orthodox beliefs, then these are some of the hideous implications: all Jews, apart from the tiny minority who come to feel that their sons are forgiven by the personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, have this fate: eternal separation from God, eternal damnation. During all the Christian centuries, this has been the majority view, the almost universal view amongst Christians.

 

Does Jonathan Chaffey believe that all the Jews murdered by the Nazis in the extermination camps or murdered in other ways are eternally damned? Does he ever find such difficult questions raised at Christ Church? Is he completely sure that his view of the blessings of Christianity over the centuries isn't based on wishful thinking and denial of realities? I wouldn't claim that the Christ Church surroundings tend to encourage these tendencies, however. The same mistakes are made at graffiti covered hard evangelical Churches in crime-ridden estates.

 

Crime-ridden estates are part of the 'wider society' referred to in this quotation, from the page

 

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/archdeacon-of-oxford/

 

'I love the liturgical rhythm of Cathedral life, but also the opportunities for prayer and proclamation that it brings. Christ Church Cathedral is unique in the world. That creates wonderful opportunities to build bridges between the Church and wider society.'

 

As well as being Archdeacon of Oxford, Jonathan Chaffey is a member of the 'Cathedral Chapter of Christ Church' and a member of the 'Governing Body of Christ Church.'

 

 

Andrew Anderson-Gear, the Director of Mission and Ministry in the Oxford Diocese, isn't very familiar with crime-ridden estates, I I would think. He writes on the Diocesan site,

 

"I am thrilled at being appointed as the new Director of Mission and look forward to getting to know those areas of the Diocese I don't know as well," said Andrew.

 

"As a lay person, I believe passionately in collaborative ministry and shared leadership and I am so excited at the energy around mission that has grown in this Diocese.

 

I understand the joys and struggles we face in our churches and through the work of the Department of Mission and I look forward to serving the churches of this Diocese in this new role and to seeing where God is leading us. "

 

This is surely affected, gushing, overeffusive, formulaic. The post is from 2015 but he's still there, in the same post. From his current Linkedin profile:

 

'Specialties: Leadership development; developing vision & strategy; fresh expressions of church; coaching & consultancy.' This too is standard stuff, despite the high claim, 'developing vision and strategy.'

 

 All the signs are that the Church of England is being led by  God, or rather the multiple failures of the Church, past and present, to a condition of greater and greater irrelevance, less and less power. Giving far less money to the Church, giving far less often to the Church is my advice. It will be ignored by people with far more money than sense, so I hope that there will be fewer and fewer of these people.

 

The Oxford Diocese has a new Director of People, Charnelle Stylianides, not an Anglican but a Roman Catholic. Information about the person and the event can be found at

 

 https://www.oxford.anglican.org/news/new-director-of-people.php

 

Perhaps one of the people she could help is the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft.

 

Network Church and driving out demons. The Barnardo's Report. Forge Youth and somu uses of prayer.

 

St Thomas Philadelphia is part of Network Church, Sheffield.  Forge Youth is part of Network Church and is located in St Thomas Philadelphia.

 

St Thomas Philadelphia is the church where it was alleged that Matthew Drapper was subjected to a gay exorcism in 2013 . Barnardo's are carrying out an inquiry into the allegations. The inquiry was announced years ago. It's time, surely, for the outcome of the inquiry to be made public.

 

My intention here isn't to criticize Barnardo's. I had a residential placement at a Barnardo's home for children with severe disabilities - including muscular dystrophy - as a volunteer with the organization 'Community Service Volunteers.' I was in my late teens at the time - this was a very long time ago. The level of care there was exemplary. This was an outstanding place.

 

My view of the Churches is a very different one. I think that the Diocese of Sheffield has put Barnardo's in a very difficult position. It may be that Barnardo's had a knowledge of the institutional failings of the Church of England which was insufficient when it agreed to undertake the report. With a fuller knowledge, perhaps Barnardo's would have hesitated to take on such a difficult task.

 

My view is that the Diocese may have expressed opposition to the practice of  'driving out demons' but that there's a difficulty, a very substantial difficulty: belief in demons is pervasive in the New Testament and has played a role, a very harmful role, in the entire history of Christian belief and practice.

 

In the column to the right,'Some objections to Christian belief,  I give further information, including this:

 

n Matthew 10:7, 8 Jesus is recorded as sending out twelve apostles, with these instructions:

 

'As you go, announce that the Kingdom of Heaven will soon be here. Heal the sick, raise the dead, heal people who have leprosy and force out demons ... '

 

(The New Testament Greek for the last clause, 'force out demons,' is

 

The translation of the King James Bible is 'cast out devils.' It consistently uses 'devils' instead of 'demons.')

 

 Later Christians have taken texts like this as encouragement to drive out demons too, to think of psychiatric conditions and many illnesses as caused by demonic possession, curable by casting out demons. If the report is substantiated, attempts were made at a Sheffield Church, Network Church - Philadelphia St Thomas, to drive out demons in an attempt to cure a young man of homosexuality. Attempts made by the Sheffield Diocese to disassociate itself from exorcisms of demons have the difficulty that Jesus himself resorted to exorcism of 'demons' repeatedly.

 

 

 A report in

 

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gay-man-told-rid-himself-26125067

Matthew Drapper:


"So from that place, when he told me that my lifestyle was being run by the demonic it was easy for me to accept that because I was already deeply involved in that community."

He continued: "They told me to speak against the sort of demonic hold that being gay had in my life.

"I was told to renounce the belief system of homosexuality and to cancel my agreement with Satan and to break the power of homosexuality in my life through the blood of Jesus."

"They told me they could see demons leave my body and go out the window. It was terrifying," he added.

A video of The Rock Christian Centre, Sheffield a record of a Sunday service where the preacher is Jon Watts and the sermon is on demons and the devil.

http://www.rockchristiancentre.org/sermons/the-gospel-of-luke-jesus-is-for-everyone-jesus-drives-out-demons/

The record of the sermon begins an hour into the video, at just before 1:00.

He asks these questions -

Do you believe in demons?
Are demons real?
Are demons around today?

Jon Watts believes in demons and makes it completely clear that he believes demons are real and are around today.

Rock Christian Centre belongs to the large grouping of Sheffield (and some North Derbyshire churches) called 'Arise!' The Sheffield Diocese is another member of Arise!

The Website of Rock Christian Centre includes these claims:

God hates homosexuality.
God hates blasphemy.

Matthew Drapper says that he was deeply involved in a Church which, like Rock Christian Centre, has  fundamentalist conservative evangelical beliefs. Jon Watts is addressing a similar community, then, and his words are calculated to make his listeners more and more firmly attached to this community, believing in the same things, thinking in the same way - and incidentally, more willing to support this Church with their money. Jon Watts emphasizes the duty of complete obedience to Jesus and people who attended the service won't want to question the word of Jon Watts, who is quoting and explaining the Word of God in the Old and New Testament.

The Ven Malcolm Chamberlain, Bishop’s Lead in Safeguarding, said: “We are responding to Mr Drapper’s complaint according to Church of England safeguarding practice guidance, and regret the length of time it has taken to reach a satisfactory conclusion. [He made this comment a long time ago. It is taking a very long time to reach a 'satisfactory conclusion.' But I take the view that an unsatisfactory conclusion is far more likely than a satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps it wouldn't be hyperbolic to claim that Barnardo's has been led into something of a moral minefield, through no fault of its own.]

'Nevertheless, we have sought to keep Mr Drapper informed at all stages of our investigation and have commissioned a fully independent review of this case, with Mr Drapper’s agreement. The Diocese of Sheffield believes, along with the wider Church of England, that Conversion Therapy is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.'

But Malcolm Chamberlain knows that a belief in demons and demonic possession is embedded in the New Testament. In the New Testament, demons appear on 55 occasions and on 46 times in connection with demonic possession.

The King James Version of the Bible translates δαίμων as 'devil' and is misleading. King James is the author of a treatise on demons, published in 1597: 'Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books ... ' The book endorses witch-hunting. King James was a relentless persecutor of witches and had witches tortured and executed. His book is an abomination. 

I have no evidence available to me on the claims made by Matthew Drapper about the attempts made to carry out an exorcism to drive out demons. His account rings true, it's in accordance with the ways of thinking to be expected in these churches - in a vast number of churches. But this is far from being proof. I wish Barnardo's well in their investigation and in the writing of the report. I doubt very much that the background information made available to them by the Sheffield Diocese was adequate. It may have been misleading. But again, I have no evidence to confirm this view.

Not all harmful influences can be regarded as forms of abuse, although the dividing line between them is fluid. In the Churches, young people - people of all ages - are exposed to influences which are harmful, even very harmful. At meetings of the Network Church organization Forge Youth, the idea is promoted that illness and injuries can be cured by prayer.

Extracts from the Website of Forge Youth.

 

Comment: the practices described are harmful, very harmful, surely. Young people should never be encouraged to rely upon prayer as the answer to physical (or psychological) problems. Young people should never be encouraged to believe uncritically that if people recover from an illness or an injury that this must be evidence of 'God's work.' Obviously, the consequences of neglecting proper medical treatment and relying on prayer can be dire.

 

https://www.forgeyouth.com/stories/soul-survivor-2015


Amongst all the fun and events, we saw young people healed, worshiping like mad to Jesus, responding to his word, encountering God for the first time and 3 young people gave their lives to Jesus! Thank you for your support.  Here’s just a handful of testimonies...

I had problems with my hamstring and pelvis so I had reduced flexibility in my legs. I got prayer for healing and after Soul Survivor I had another physio appointment and she was shocked at how much more flexible my legs were: They are completely back to normal!

 

Never experienced God as much as I did, so thankful for this experience.  Bring on Soul Survivor 2016! 

 

I've had a really bad back for years.  Recently it has been hard to walk without pain in my back. I got prayer and my back is fully healed, I can bend and there's no pain in my back!

 

https://www.forgeyouth.com/stories/soul-survivor-2016

I was absolutely taken by the worship: Standing there and singing in the presence of the Holy Spirit is such an amazing experience.  God really used that to bring me a sense of peace.  A couple of days in I had a sharp back pain and I was prayed for after the morning meeting.  Immediately afterwards, no pain! God is Good!"

 

Information on the financial status of 'The Philadelphia Network Limited'

 

From the site of the Charity Commission for England and Wales

https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/5007233


Total income for financial year ending 31 December, £2021: 1,286,000
Total expenditure for year ending 31 December, 2021: £980,000.

 

In the years 2017 - 2021, income was well above  £1 million for every year but 2019, when it was  £946,000.

https://givingisgreat.org/charity-factsheet/?regNo=1134973

 

  • 'This charity has substantial unrestricted reserves available and so may not be able to utilise additional funding'  [That is, it has more money than it can easily use.]

  •  

Objectives

 

(1) TO ADVANCE THE CHRISTIAN FAITH FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC IN THE DIOCESE OF SHEFFIELD AND IN SUCH PARTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM AND/OR THE WORLD AS THE TRUSTEES THINK FIT, THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF A CHURCH OR CHURCH (phrasing as in the original.)

 

Another donation from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Community Grant Scheme 2018/19


District: Sheffield  Organisation: 
Christian Police Association  Grant: £4,460.

 

Extracts from the Christian Police Association Website. Forge Youth and the parent organization Philadelphia Network Church have the same fundamentalist evangelical beliefs as the beliefs promoted by the Christian Police Association.

 

https://www.cpauk.net/our-faith/

 

We Believe

 

That Jesus will return to earth personally as He promised.

 

That the Bible, as originally given, is the inspired Word of God without error and is the only complete authority in all matters of faith and doctrine.


That sin entered the world when man chose to disobey God and please himself. Since then sin has affected the core of humanity, touching every part of our nature and being.


That it is only by God’s grace and mercy that the sinful person is made right with Him through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

 

That the soul of a person is eternal and that there will be a physical resurrection of the body for everyone who will then be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have died having believed and received forgiveness will be raised, and together with those believers who are still alive, will be taken to live with Christ forever. Those who have refused to believe will be condemned from God’s presence forever.

 

https://www.cpauk.net/about-us/

 

The Church is very, very wealthy, with an income well above a £1 million in recent years. Why, then, did Dr Billings decide to award a grant to Forge Youth? Should public money go to such an organization? In the same year, a grant was given to another hard-core fundamentalist outfit, the 'Christian Police Association.' Alan Billings attended an event to relaunch the association. The Gideons handed out Bibles at the event. At the time, the Gideons had a policy of not allowing women to become full members. This is still the case.

https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/app/uploads/2019/08/List-of-Grants-2018-19.pdf

gives this information about grants to these organizations. I haven't been able to find information about grants in other years.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Community Grant Scheme 2018/19

 
District: Sheffield  Organisation: 
Forge Youth (The Philadelphia Network Limited)  Grant: £4,680.


Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (as well as a Church of England ordained priest) awards grants to organizations - that is, he gives public money to organizations. I find it dismaying, shocking, that the organizations given public money include these, 'Forge Youth' and the Christian Police Association. Both of these have aims and beliefs which the majority of the South Yorkshire Public don't share and which many  people will find abhorrent - I do.

 

STC (formerly St Thomas Church), Sheffield

 


Above, STC

Historical abuse at St Thomas Church, Sheffield

 

STC was previously 'St Thomas Church.' St Thomas Church, Sheffield has an unenviable place in the shocking history of abuse within the Church of England.

 

 

Church House Publishing is the 'official publisher of the Church of England' according to their Website.

 

 

https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/authors/robert-warren

 

 

'Robert Warren was Team Rector of one of the largest and fastest growing churches in England, St. Thomas Crookes.'

 

The Website of STC, the successor to St Thomas Church

 

https://stthomascrookes.org/about/the-stc-story

 

has this:

 

'Following a visit from the well-known American Vineyard church pastor John Wimber, St Thomas’ Church became a renewal centre, and continued to grow and thrive.'

 

The Church may have grown under the influence of Chris Brain,  but it didn't thrive, not in the least. Here, the Website distorts and manipulates the truth.

 

The late-night telephone calls were not at all what you would expect from a Church of England vicar contacting female members of his congregation.

Summoning selected women to his lavishly appointed home in Sheffield, the Reverend Chris Brain wanted help with what became known as ‘putting him to bed’. At the very least this meant giving him a massage, often while he was naked.

For some of his young followers, it stopped there. But for others, the encounters are said to have gone much further, with kissing and cuddling leading to intimacy described by one as covering ‘the whole spectrum of abuse’.

 

From the Website of St Thomas Church, Crookes, Sheffield (preferred name now, STC)

 

https://stthomascrookes.org/safeguarding/

 

'Safeguarding: STC Sheffield is committed to high standards in the safeguarding and care of children, young people and vulnerable adults.  Our Safeguarding Officer is Helen Ward ... '

 

I've every reason to believe that this is the case - more exactly, no reason whatsoever to believe that this isn't the case. There is, though, evidence of much more recent transgressions. I provide it below. The evidence that this hasn't always been the case is overwhelming. The fact is that safeguarding and care of vulnerable adults hasn't been a priority at St Thomas Church at all. St Thomas Church is the place where Chris Brain undertook his Christian ministry to young adults - vulnerable young adults, and adults who should have realized what was happening much earlier. St Thomas Church was the setting for the famous/ infamous Nine O' Clock Service. The service was famous at the time - in Church circles and beyond - and infamous later, in Church circles and beyond. At the time, many people there were gripped by waves of exultation, ecstasy, the overwhelming feeling that God was there, God was guiding them, through his servant / prophet / inspired leader Chris Brain. The waves of hysteria didn't last, and Chris Brain was revealed as a manipulator, complicit in emotional and sexual abuse.

 

Strongly recommended: a viewing of the Youtube video on the Nine o' clock Service

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxwdyF3qZj8

 

From the Wikipedia entry:

 

Beginning as a simple alternative format service under the leadership of Chris Brain, the group responsible for it developed a leadership structure that was endorsed by the leadership of St Thomas' Church. The average age of the members was 24 for much of NOS's life. The membership was significantly from non-church backgrounds.

...

By 1988, David Lunn, then Bishop of Sheffield, sanctioned a move to a new site at Ponds Forge Rotunda in the centre of Sheffield. Around the same time, Chris Brain underwent training to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England ...

In 1995, a number of complaints began to surface of the sexual abuse of women in the group by Chris Brain. After an investigation by the Diocese of Sheffield, the group was shut down in August 1995. The Bishop of Sheffield demanded Brain's resignation after he confessed to having sexual relationships with young women in the congregation. There were also calls from former members of the congregation that he be defrocked. The Archbishop of York banned Brain from acting as an ordained priest. Initially refusing to step down, Brain eventually resigned in November 1995, the week before a documentary on the abuse scandal was aired. He then checked himself into a psychiatric hospital ...

 

A much more recent set of events:

 

 


Above, Mike Pilavachi speaking at a 'Soul Survivor' event. He was ordained as a Church of England priest in 2013 and made an honorary canon of St Albans Cathedral in 2016. From the Facebook page of STC, the Anglican church in Sheffield and successor to 'St Thomas Church:' 'We're so excited to have Mike Pilavachi leader of Soul Survivor Watford speaking at STC Sheffield on 9th October [2022] ... Mark your calendars because you don't want to miss this!'

 

In May 2023, Mike Pilavachi was suspended from ministry whilst under investigation for safeguarding concerns. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, 'the allegations are understood to span at least three decades and are as recent as 2020.' According to a report in the Daily Telegraph of May 2023, some people have claimed that they were encouraged to receive full-body massages in their underwear whilst being clasped by the Rev Canon in his bedroom. There have been claims of wrestling matches, some of them taking place in church. Some alleged victims stated that they had low confidence in the Church of England's internal inquiry, with criticism of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for not commenting on the allegations sooner.

 

I called at St Thomas Church Sheffield a few years ago to inform the Church about strong concerns of mine. The Church was promoting 'Streets of Light' with a video and other publicity. It was intended to draw attention to the 'Light of Christ' by decorating windows of houses and lighting up the windows.

 

It concerned me that safety was completely neglected in the video and the other publicity material. I mentioned the fact that it wasn't made clear that candles should never be used as a form of lighting. The decorations would be mainly or completely flammable. Although a disaster was unlikely, this was an unnecessary hazard. The video also had footage of a young child standing on a support which seemed to me not secure at all, near to a window. If a child fell off the support, there was the possibility of severe injury.

 

I used a quiet, courteous approach but I was interrupted by one of the Church staff, who was very angry and ordered me to get out of the Church. I did leave. I'd managed to say most of what I'd wanted to say.

 

Recently, I found that a child had been very badly burned at a Nativity event at a Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Croydon. The primary school attended by the child was fined. There's a report in the entry for the Church below.

Halloween and damnation.

 

 

 

Helen Ward of St Thomas Church, Sheffield   saw a Halloween display at a pub not far from STC. I didn't see the display. From her account, it seems to have been over the top, in bad taste -  crude but not cruel, unlike this window display, which shows the judging of souls for a future in heaven or hell. Demons attend the souls destined for hell.


 

The fear of hellfire has terrified untold numbers of people, children and adults, for hundreds of years, for millennia. The harmful effects of Halloween are nothing in comparison. Her strong feelings would be better directed at the teachings of orthodox Christianity - at her own beliefs, in fact, if she ever managed to examine them properly.

 

She decided to begin 'Streets of Light' to combat the forces of darkness represented, in her view, by Halloween.

 

The 'Streets of Light' initiative urges, or requires, people not to make pumpkins into human faces - whilst neglecting completely the possible dangers of the initiative, such as putting candles in pumpkins near to flammable materials.

 

She's responsible for safeguarding at STC. The sexual abuse and other abuse which has taken place in the Church of England are vastly more important areas for concern than Halloween displays.

 

I did attend one service at St Thomas Church, as it then was. I was a teenager at the time. This was a very long time ago.

 

All I remember of the service is the number of people in the church - it was packed - and the sermon. It was unrelenting and the vicar made it completely clear that giving money to the church was important, very important and the amount given should be an appreciable slice of the giver's income. He demanded tithing, the giving of a tenth of a person's income to the church and I think he mentioned that he was referring to gross income, not net income.

 

Over the years, the Church's income will have been very, very high. Anyone entering the Church building now will see spacious offices which are part of the radical building work which was carried out at the Church. This is a Church which spends big and which has big ambitions - ambitions which are frustrated, though, by the realities of its record over the years. Churches have ways of effacing any blots on their record. It's possible to pin all the blame on Satan.

 

People who give large amounts of money to Churches - or smaller amounts, but sums which they can barely afford - but later come to the conclusion that Christian faith is empty, a delusion, propagandist, who come to the conclusion that time spent at services was time wasted, who come to the conclusion that all the money they gave was money wasted - to me, these people can act as a cautionary story but also as a beneficial example. People can attend church services, join a church, but they need to exercise caution, to probe beneath the surface, so far as possible, think about the implications, reflect on what they've experienced, and not let their critical faculties lapse.

 

As for money, there's absolutely no shortage of good causes, good causes with a need for funds, organizations large and small, of the utmost variety, in the most varied fields - including vast numbers of causes and organizations which would be far better recipients of donations than the Churches. The Churches have become very accomplished grabbers of money. Givers of money are under no compulsion to provide them with money.

 

Gideon's International

 

Extract from the Gideon's International Website page

 

https://www.gideons.org/

 

We exist as an advocate for the lost, to bring them the saving knowledge of the Word through not only placing and distributing Scriptures, but also through personal witnessing and by associating together for service. As a united force for the Gospel, we remain rooted in tradition, but we operate under the firm belief that anyone can be a valuable asset to this invaluable cause. We provide many opportunities to partner with us through either prayer or financial support. Join us, and let's spread the Good News.

 

The reference to 'the lost' is, of course, a reference to the people who haven't accepted Jesus as Saviour and are doomed to spend eternity in Hell.

 

Another extract:

 

we have taken more than 2 billion Scriptures in more than 95 languages to 200 countries, territories, and possessions across the globe.

 

The Donate page is at

 

https://www.gideons.org/donate

 

I take the view that it would be gross stupidity to donate.

 

Extract from an email sent 20 January 2023 to  recipient not identified here:

 

In PCC Blog 78

https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/blogs/pcc-blog-78/

 

Alan Billings makes a reference to 'male imperialism.' Why did he decide not just to endorse but to attend an event which gave a prominent place to Gideons International, an organization with, I show, a very poor record as regards discrimination against women?

 

But this is only one of a number of reasons why it was a bad mistake on his part to attend the event - and, what's more,  to bring with him the then Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, Steven Watson. With all the demands on his time, I think it's unlikely that Steven Watson would attend an event like this if it were not for the fact that Alan Billings was attending. 

 

Extracts from the article in 'The Star,' 20 May, 2017

 

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/christian-police-association-re-launched-in-sheffield-470835

 

A bible reading and evening of celebration was held in Sheffield to mark the re-launch of the Christian Police Association at South Yorkshire Police.

 

Members of the public joined South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, Chief Constable Stephen Watson, officers and police support staff at the Rock Christian Centre in Carlisle Street.

 

Dr Billings and the chief were presented with specially commissioned South Yorkshire Police crested bibles by Thomas of Gideons International. Sergeant Simon Kirkham, a Rotherham police officer, delivered the reading to around 150 colleagues, support staff and members of the public who enjoyed music from the worship band.

 

Force Chaplain Reverend Alison Earl delivered a prayer to start the event and Dr Billings, who is a Reverend Canon with the Anglican Church, also addressed the audience.

 

Lee Russell, executive director of the CPA and chief constable Stephen Watson made short speeches to welcome people to the event and endorse the local re-launch of the CPA. Gideons International have printed 2,000 South Yorkshire Police crested new testament bibles, to be presented to police officers and staff at forthcoming CPA meetings and events.

So, Gideons International presented bibles to Dr Billings and Steven Watson. Gideons International have printed 2,000  bibles for South Yorkshire Police.

 

At the time when Alan Billings and the then Chief Constable were presented with bibles, Gideons International did not accept women as members. Gideons International still does not accept women as members.

 

Information from the site

 

https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/gideons-uk-in-legal-fight-to-keep-name-over-women-membership-dispute

 

In 2018, the UK branch [of Gideons] accepted women after the Charity Commission enquired into whether or not it was complying with the Equality Act 2010 and suggested women should be allowed to join for them to remain compliant.

In a letter to Gideon members in September this year, president Andrew Knight said the UK branch decided it would be better to submit to this decision rather than to challenge the Charity Commission as "to do so could be seriously detrimental to the Christian testimony of the Association. The outcome would almost certainly create negative publicity ...

 

An extract from the Premier Christian News Site,

 

 ... in July 2018, the International Cabinet at TGI refused to accept financial support from Gideons UK for worldwide ministry and removed its 'National Association' status because it was decided the UK association did not accept the 'Core Values'.


TGI is challenging its right to use the Gideons name.

 

So, the 'core values' of Gideons International do not allow for the admission of women as full members, it's claimed.

 

Extracts from a letter of John Codwell, the National Field Coordinator for 'The Gideons International in the United Kingdom.' 13 October, 2021.

 

https://gideonsinternational.org.uk/2021/10/13/the-gideons-in-the-uk/

 

For many years a small, but vocal, group within the Gideon Ministry in the UK had been pressing the leadership to change the membership criteria. They believed that a “men only” ministry was outdated and that admitting women as members would make them more attractive to churches and supporters and would reverse the declining membership ... That small militant group took this as a vindication of their opinion and expected immediate change.

When that did not happen, a certain member sought to force the action by writing to the Charity Commission accusing the Gideon Ministry of being in contravention of the Equality Act.

 

The UK Gideons’ constitution required the permission of the international governing body (TGI) before such a change could be made. Permission was refused on the grounds that The Gideons International is a fellowship of professional and business men for mutual support in their Christian walk and in the placing of Scripture. The 300,000 or so men in over 200 countries adhere to exactly the same foundational values and constitution.

The UK leadership knew that by changing the constitution against the wishes of TGI that they would be expelled from the Gideon Ministry and would not be able to use the Gideon name which is protected as an international trademark. They signed an agreement in 1974.

 

Surely, Alan Billings knew about this policy of Gideons International at the time of this event at the Rock Christian Centre? If he didn't, he certainly should have done - and it would have been far better if he'd stayed well clear of the event, and not brought along Steven Watson, the Chief Constable. If it was the case that Steven Watson was determined to attend, come what may, a wiser man than Alan Billings could have advised him that no good would come of attending. It would be better to use the time for more constructive ends. It may be  that Steven Watson had no wish to attend but took the view that Alan Billings is someone with real power - including the power to sack a Chief Constable - and it might be prudent to attend, no matter what his own views were.


Our Lady of the Annunciation Church, Croydon


 

Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark

A primary school in Croydon  has been fined £35,000 after a young boy was left with critical burns when his nativity costume caught fire during the school’s annual carol concert.

St Thomas Becket Catholic Primary School  was found guilty of health and safety failings by a jury at Southwark Crown Court  earlier in June.

 

In December 2019 the boy, then aged seven, had been in a line of pupils each holding a lit candle in Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Bingham Road, Croydon, when his homemade sheep costume caught fire, the court heard.

The fire was extinguished “with some difficulty” and the child received first aid at the scene before he was taken by air ambulance to hospital.

At hospital it was estimated that he sustained burns on 45% of his body, resulting in “life-changing injuries” that will leave him dependent on third party care for basic needs.

 

The child’s parents described the “excruciating” pain that their son, who no longer attends the school, has been through and is still going through.

 

They both commented on the life-threatening nature of their son’s injuries, with the mother saying she “thought the worst” when the boy was in hospital and his father saying he is “lucky to be alive”.

 

The court heard they were waiting for their son to emerge in the church when people started running outside and screaming, which the father described as feeling like “a bomb had gone off”.

The mother said her son’s best friend said he was on fire, prompting her to “force” her way back into the church.

 

[The boy's mother says]

 

'I haven't stepped in a church since and I don't think I ever will.' [Emphasis as in the original]

 

Both parents found their son standing “screaming” in a bucket of water in the church, the court heard.

 

The court heard how the young boy underwent “countless” surgeries and hospital appointments, which are continuing three years later.

 

“I protect my son from every look from a stranger when we are out together,” the father said. “I walk in front of him to protect him from the glares of others. I think of him growing older in such a cruel world.

 

“It overwhelms me to think that my son will never know what a normal life is.”

 

Following the incident the London Fire Brigade. issued a warning against the “completely unnecessary hazard” of candles when it comes to children and school plays, and said LED or electric candles should be used.

 

All Saints Church, Alrewas, Staffordshire

 

There is no linkage at all between the material in the first column of the page on the National Arboretum, Alrewas (which is very favourable) and the material here on All Saints Church, Alrewas (which is critical), except for the fact that the National Arboretum and the Church are in close proximity. I would have wanted to include the  material on the Church below no matter where the Church was situated.

 

The Vicar of the Church is Revd Prebendary John W. Allan. The Associate Minister is Revd Elizabeth Wall.

 

The page of the Church Website

 

https://www.alrewasallsaints.church/church-life/news

 

contains this:

 

Living churches evangelise ... Dead churches fossilize.


Living churches are filled with generous givers ... dead churches are filled with [people] who only give their spare change to God.

 

They feel they can be certain, they have absolute assurance that they are doing God's work and that money given to the church is money given to God. What form does 'God's work' take? They would take the view that the most important is evangelism, mission, bringing people to a faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, a faith which turns out to have terrible consequences - for the men, women and children who fail to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour.

 

Another page  of the Website has a list of claims concerning 'Inclusive Church'

 

https://www.alrewasallsaints.church/church-life/inclusive-church

 

It includes this

 

'We believe in inclusive Church - a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.

 

'We believe in a Church ... which is scripturally faithful;'

 

Is the eternal destiny of people inclusive too? Not according to 'Bible Truth.' If the people at All Saints Church believe that heaven is inclusive, heaven is for everyone, then this isn't in the least 'scripturally faithful.' The Church seems not to be aware of the blatant contradiction.

 

Are disabled people and homosexual people, for example, all admitted to 'heaven,' to eternal communion with God? Or are the disabled people and homosexuals who never accept Jesus as Personal Lord and Saviour treated in a very different way - a non-inclusive way - from those who do accept Jesus? And what of people with learning disabilities? The Bible is silent about them, although not silent about people with similar conditions. According to 'Biblical Truth,' these people are regarded as possessed by demons. Even now, attempts are made to 'cure' people of homosexuality by 'driving out demons.'

 

According to the account in Matthew 10:8, Jesus sent out disciples with the command to drive out demons and heal leprosy, amongst other things.

 

As with other disease conditions, leprosy has been cured by scientific and medical advances. Leprosy and other disease conditions have never been cured by driving out demons, as recommended by Jesus or commanded by Jesus. Enlightened treatments of psychiatric conditions owe everything to psychiatric advances and general understanding. Interpreting psychiatric conditions as demonic possession has caused incalculable harm. Christianity in general has caused incalculable harm.

 

Obviously, money given to All Saints Church is money not given to another cause. My view is that it would be a mistake to give money to All Saints Church, whether large amounts or 'small change.'

 

Lincoln Cathedral: architecture and abuse

 

 

Diocese of Lincolnshire

 

See also the image of a Lancaster bomber over Lincoln Cathedral, with short comment, at Home Page Images. 

 

 

 

The material here is followed by supplementary material on the architecture of Lincoln Cathedral, including material on the relationship between the architecture and ethics.

 

The costs of maintaining and repairing the cathedral are enormous, of course. There are many, many signs in Lincoln Cathedral urging visitors to donate, giving them the chance to donate there and then.

 

What are the economics of donating to such a place? Does Lincoln Cathedral succeed in bringing to Christ a thousand people a year? Very unlikely. A hundred? Not very likely, I would think, but obviously, it would be impossible to find out the figure. Whatever the number, given the enormous costs of running the cathedral, it can be said that  the ratio of 'souls saved' to every £1000 spent isn't a favourable one. It could be claimed that Lincoln Cathedral offers very poor value for money if the main object is to evangelize.

 

Most cathedrals and churches aren't tainted by  gross sexual and other abuse or tolerance of these forms of abuse, inaction when faced with clear-cut evidence about these forms of abuse. There are  other harmful events, attitudes, effects which should be taken into account.  I've commented on the less obvious harm as well as the gross harm in some detail in the pages of the site. Lincoln Cathedral is one of those churches which would appear in any comprehensive history of abuse in the Church of England.

 

Some information on the Cathedral's Website:

 

Lincoln Cathedral is a finalist in the Experience of the Year category at the 2023 Destination Lincolnshire Tourism Excellence Awards.

Safeguarding at Lincoln Cathedral

At Lincoln Cathedral we're committed to ensuring a safe environment for all.


https://lincolncathedral.com/safeguarding/

Every person has a value and dignity which comes directly from creation of all people in God’s own image and likeness. Christians see this as fulfilled by God’s re-creation of us in Christ. Among other things this implies a duty to value all people as having the Holy Spirit within them and therefore to protect them from harm.


We follow the policies adopted by the Church of England and Diocese of Lincoln.

 

Generally, material on safeguarding published on Church Websites is strictly secular. In my experience, it's unusual to find material on safeguarding which appeals to theology, to Christian faith. The material above does just that, appealing to 'God's re-creation of us in Christ.' I point out that this is absolutely no guarantee of high standards and does not seem to have deterred abusers in the least, or the protectors of abusers, or the people whose duty it is to protect and who are paid to protect who do little or nothing to protect.

 

From the page

 

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/lincoln-news/bishop-lincoln-safeguarding-disciplinary-proceedings-4199627

 

Disciplinary proceedings opened against Bishop of Lincoln amid safeguarding claims

He has been suspended for more than a year and now faces disciplinary proceedings.

 

The Bishop retired. An acting Bishop was appointed and now a Bishop-designate, Stephen Conway.

 

 

The case came after a Panorama investigation found two former bishops in the diocese knew about child abuse by members of the church but failed to act. For detailed information about these cases

 

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/local-news/victims-speak-out-panorama-investigation-2808025

 

From the page

 

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/local-news/police-reveal-seven-been-arrested-1497669

 

Operation Redstone was launched in 2015 to investigate 'historical claims' of child abuse at Lincoln Cathedral School and some churches in the Lincoln Diocese, some of which date back to 1958.

 

The Dean of Lincoln The Very Reverend Christine Wilson said: "The conviction of Roy Griffiths recognises the appalling crimes he perpetrated while in a position of trust and responsibility at the then Cathedral School.

"This case will have brought to the surface profoundly disturbing memories, for the victims of his crimes, their families, and for those who witnessed the abuse of their friends and peers.

"On behalf of the cathedral, I want to say that I am truly sorry that these matters have only now been brought to justice.

 

"It is deeply shameful that those who were abused have had to spend most of their lifetime dealing with the aftermath of the abuse perpetrated against them."

 

Christine Wilson is no longer Dean. The interim Dean is the Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones, Chaplain of Merton College, Oxford. There's  information and comment on Simon Jones in the section of this page Merton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

 

The page

 

https://www.lincoln.anglican.org/news/the-revd-canon-dr-simon-jones-is-to-be-the-interim-dean-of-lincoln-following-the-retirement-of-dean-christine

 

gives information about the interim Dean.

 

 

 

Above, shrine of 'Little Saint Hugh, Lincoln Cathedral. The shrine has presence, simple, harmonious, the product of craftsmanship and sure design - but with no impact, failing to convey a horrific historical episode.

 

Lincoln has played a part in the anti-Semitic acts which play a significant part in the history of the Church in this country and so many other countries.

 

From

 

https://jewinthepew.org/2015/08/27/27-august-1255-jews-accused-of-ritual-murder-of-little-saint-hugh-of-lincoln/

 

Hugh was an eight year old boy from the Dernstall area of the city (now known as The Strait). He disappeared on 31 July 1255. His body was found in a well on 27/29 August. Despite the lack of any evidence, the owner of the well, a Jew named Jopin (or Copin) was held for the child’s murder. Jopin was promised clemency if he confessed that the child had been crucified in a ritual murder by a number of prominent Jews who had gathered in Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The promise was reneged on. Jopin was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged up to Canwick Hill where he was executed. A further 92 Jews were rounded up and taken to London. 18 were executed for refusing to plead and all but 2 of the others were sentenced to death until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had    purchased the right to tax the Jews from his brother Henry III, made terms for them.

 

One near contemporary account of the events was by the monk and chronicler Matthew Paris (c1200-1259). In his “English History” he wrote a particularly blood-thirsty and anti-Jewish version which insisted that virtually all the Jews in England had colluded in Hugh’s murder and attributed miraculous events to Hugh’s body.

 

The body was taken to Lincoln Cathedral and buried in the South Choir Aisle. The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England. The boy was regarded as a Christian martyr. He was called Little Saint Hugh and a shrine was built over his tomb. After years of increasing persecution and hardship, the entire Jewish population of England was expelled from the country in 1290 and their property confiscated by the Crown. Jews did not return to England until 1655.

 

Cobb Hall Tower is part of Lincoln Castle, which is next to Lincoln Cathedral. It was a place where  hangings took place. Over a long period of time, the life of the cathedral and public executions were in close proximity. For comprehensive information on executions at Lincoln Castle:

 

https://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/Lincoln%20Castle.html

 

 

There were 38 public hangings  carried out on the roof of Cobb Hall tower during the 42 years up to 1859.  Three were double hangings plus one triple and one quadruple. Only twelve, including the three females, were for murder.

 

Some of the people publicly hanged in this infamous place adjoining the Cathderal, with the date and the offence:

 

John Louth

19/03/1819

Burglary

Richard Johnson

06/08/1819

Horse theft

William Fox

17/03/1820

Rape of Mary Roads

David Booth

23/03/1821

Burglary

John Parish

23/03/1821

Burglary

James Cawthorne

09/08/1821

Murder of his wife

John Rogers

22/03/1822

Highway robbery

Joseph Birkett

02/08/1822

Highway robbery

William Arden

21/03/1823

Sodomy

Benjamin Candler

21/03/1823

Sodomy

John Doughty

21/03/1823

Sodomy

John Smith

15/03/1824

Murder of Sarah Arrowsmith

James Wetherell

20/08/1824

Murder of William Berridge

William Udale

23/03/1827

Sheep theft

Thomas Lister

27/03/1829

Housebreaking

Thomas Strong

19/03/1830

Housebreaking

John Clarke

19/03/1830

Sheep theft

Timothy Brammer

19/03/1830

Housebreaking

 

Between 1750 and 1815 a series of Acts/Statutes had increased  the number of offences punishable by death, bringing the number to more than 200. Some of the offences punishable by death:

 

Cutting down trees, stealing from a rabbit warren, being out at night with a blackened face, being an unmarried mother concealing a stillborn child, wrecking a fishpond.

 

There may have been some who had reservations, but it would be safe to assume that Bishops, Deans, Vergers, just about everyone at the Cathedral in this shameful period of penal history viewed the hangings with complete indifference, or strongly supported the hangings. The Church of England never opposed hanging for homosexuality. John Pratt and John Smith were the last men to be executed (again in public) for homosexuality in England. This was in 1835.

 

Supplementary material

 

This was a long time ago, but I've undertaken visits to Lincoln Cathedral (and other Churches, such as St Botolph's, Boston, Lincolnshire)  which can be called study visits, to learn more about the architecture of the building. Alec Clifton-Taylor concludes (in his book 'The Cathedrals of England') that Lincoln Cathedral is 'Probably, all things considered, the finest of the English cathedrals. It is visible for miles: the central tower is, after the Boston Stump, the loftiest of the English Middle Ages, and one of the most beautiful ... The extraordinary profusion of ornamental carving in stone and wood, together with some fine early glass, means that however much time one is able to spend here, it is never enough ... the choir stalls, of 1360 - 80, which in the English cathedrals are surpassed only by those of Chester ... Fine early-13C. chapter-house ... marred by poor glass ... N. walk, with library over,, rebuilt by Wren, 1674.

 

My view, in brief summary form: the details, obviously not all of them, there's fine stained glass and poor glass, are superior to the overall design, particularly in the case of the exterior. Taking the time to view the building from different viewpoints is essential: the enormous advantage of viewing in three dimensions, rather than the flat surface of a printed or computer image, features emerging and receding, views that flatter the building and views that reveal faults of design or faults of detail, the opportunity to have nearer and more distant views, to zoom in and out when viewing the building.

 

Another photograph of the West front of Lincoln cathedral which gives a different experience of the building.

 

 

 

Although the building of the West front - and the rest of the cathedral - was obviously an enormous achievement, the artistic success of this West front shouldn't be taken for granted. The tall and wide facade isn't successfully contrasted with the towers. The towers seem to emerge awkwardly from an ungainly base, the facade, and the rows of architectural detail in the upper area are routine, monotonous. The presence of so much 'standard stuff' in so much of Gothic architecture, as in the architecture of other styles and other periods, is overlooked so often.

 

I'm glad to find that Alec Clifton-Taylor has a similar view of the West Front. He writes, 'unfortunately, the Lincoln facade does not repeat the success of Wells, or even of Peterborough ... the broad and lofty screen wall ... although undeniably imposing, is not happy, and is very unkind to the towers, which are left to shoot up from behind in a most uneasy fashion.'

 

A possible defence of the awkwardness in the relationship between towers and facade would be to view the conjunction as an instance of the 'playful lopsidedness which is referred to by Nikolaus Pevsner in 'The Englishness of English Art.' He writes, this delight in a playful lopsidedness dictated even the design of the choir vaults. The Crazy Vaults of Lincoln they have been called in a recent study.' Later in the chapter, he writes, 'But illogicality is only one aspect of the English screen facade.'

 

He also refers to size, or, in my terminology, expanse. The units of the Lincoln West front facade are, he writes, tiers upon tiers of blank arcading. 'The very feeling which they convey is one of interminable length. There is nothing to stop their extension left and right. In this respect, for the thirteenth century the Lincoln front can hardly be beaten.'

 

I would make the point that the towers are in conflict with this expansiveness, that they dampen it. Holding in the mind's eye such dissimilar  structures as the facade and the towers is difficult. Both elements seem to have roughly equal claims upon the attention. A distant or not so distant comparison - a photograph in which landscape and sky occupy approximately equal areas generally amounts to unsatisfactory composition.

 

The interior is very successful, an instance, I think of Gothic architecture achieving the harmonious in a way achieved more often by other, simpler architectural styles. Overall, Alec Clifton-Taylor may well be right in ranking Lincoln Cathedral above every other cathedral in the country.

 

Once attention turns from the building, the architecture to the context, the intended purpose or purposes of Lincoln Cathedral, the people associated with Lincoln Cathedral over the centuries, ethical issues which are relevant to the cathedral, its finances, particularly when the view is a detailed one, then Lincoln Cathedral becomes far less impressive, flawed, very flawed.

 

Its most important purpose, supposedly, is to bring people to Christ, to know Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. Providing aesthetic satisfactions, even the deepest satisfactions, is an irrelevance, in Christian belief. Jesus had no interest in such things as artistic success of failure.

 

Sublime architecture has sheltered hideous beliefs and practices, ambitious architecture has been the setting for petty thoughts and practices, and worse, far worse. There is no necessary linkage between aesthetic excellence and excellence in practical ethics.

 

I agree with Ruskin, writing in 'Mornings in Florence, 'The Fourth Morning,' Section 72:

 

'Mere size has, indeed, under all disadvantages, some definite value; and so has mere splendour.'

 

I quote Ruskin's claim in my page on Design principles in gardening - but the discussion, and the illustrative examples, are wide-ranging, and include ethical examples as well as aesthetic. In this extract, I have to omit material which strengthened the argument as well as illustrated it, I believe:

 

There are no great theatrical masterpieces which last only a quarter of an hour. They need longer than that for their unfolding, to have their impact. Aristotle, in the 'Poetics,' wrote that 'Tragedy is an imitation of an action that ...possesses magnitude.' (Section 4.1) The word he uses for 'magnitude' is μέγεθος 'megethos' and it expresses the need that the dramatic action should be imposing and not mean, not limited in extent. Aristotle's view here isn't binding, but it does express an artistic demand which more than the so-called 'unities' has a continuing force ...

Ruskin has an extended discussion of scale in architecture in Chapter III of 'Seven Lamps of Architecture,' 'The Lamp of Power.'

 

 In 'Mornings in Florence,' 'The Fourth Morning,' section 72, he writes 'Mere size has, indeed, under all disadvantage, some definite value...Disappointed as you may be, or at least ought to be, at first, by St Peter's, in the end you will feel its size...the bigness tells at last: and Corinthian pillars whose capitals alone are ten feet high, and their acanthus leaves three feet long, give you a serious conviction of the infallibility of the Pope, and the fallibility of the wretched Corinthians, who invented the style indeed, but built with capitals no bigger than hand-baskets.'

 

The claim that the size of the pillars and the capitals 'give you a serious conviction of the infallibility of the Pope' is obviously not seriously meant. The architecture of St Peter's cannot possibly prove the Pope's infallibility or any other doctrine of Roman Catholicism. Nobody believes that the Parthenon confirms the existence of the Greek Gods. The architecture of Lincoln Cathedral cannot demonstrate the validity of any Anglican beliefs.

 

Another extract from my page 'Design Principles:"

 

As for the use of architecture to 'prove' a doctrine, an aphorism of mine is relevant: 'The great achievements of religious architecture, painting, sculpture and literature are no evidence for religion but evidence that people with artistic gifts may have far less talent for critical thinking.' There's no linkage between the power of architecture and the validity of religious beliefs: [power of architecture] > < [validity of religious beliefs]. There may well be a linkage between baroque architecture and the values of the age of absolutism, [baroque architecture] < > [values of the age of absolutism] but the architecture didn't validate those values. Baroque architecture is to a large extent the architecture of Roman Catholicism, specifically the Roman Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation, but baroque architecture cannot validate Roman Catholic docttrines.

 

Diversification by simple alternative can be applied to Aristotle's claims concerning magnitude and tragedy, which are justified claims, I'm sure, but undiversified. He claims that there are imitations that have insufficient scale (my term) or 'megethos' (Aristotle's term) and so have inadequacy in imitating the action. What Aristotle didn't consider here (although he did consider very thoroughly similar ethical alternatives in the 'Nicomachean Ethics' ) is the diversified OR: imitations that have excessive scale.

 

There are many dramatic illustrations of this, from screen and television as well as the stage: imitations where the action is ridiculously inflated, grandiose, in general excessive for the small-minded or insignificant theme.

 

This too is a claim for disproportion of scale, D H Lawrence on Flaubert's Madame Bovary:

'I think the inherent flaw in Madame Bovary is that individuals like Emma and Charles Bovary are too insignificant to carry the full weight of Gustave Flaubert's profound sense of tragedy...'

 

The See of York and The Life of the Nation

 

 

Above, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who outranks bishops of the Church of England but is of lesser importance than the Archbishop of Canterbury. (I've no information about a different thing, the order of self-importance.)

 

 

Above, coat of arms of the See of York

 

A not completely random piece of information about the Archbishop of York, from

 

https://yorkmix.com/anger-at-90k-salary-on-offer-for-job-as-the-archbishop-of-yorks-chief-companion/

 

The Archbishop of York has been criticised for “sending out the wrong message” by advertising for a new £90,000-a-year chief of staff.

The advertisement on the Charity Job site   says the position will be based at Bishopthorpe Palace, just outside York, and offers a “competitive salary in the region of £90,000 per year”.
It will involve helping Stephen Cottrell, who became the Church of England’s second most senior clergyman when he was enthroned in October, “conduct his ministry within the life of the nation”.

Conducting ministry, mission, spreading the gospel of salvation, the implications, the hideous implications of the gospel of salvation for 'the life of the nation' - these are central themes of my pages on Christianity.


The Church of England's place in 'the life of the nation' is precarious. I don't believe for one moment that the appointment of this Chief of Staff will have any effect whatsoever on the declining power of the Church of England or the 'life of the nation.'


Some findings from a report, WIN/Gallup Survey (2014)/Pew Forum Surveys (2015-17)

UK Church membership has declined from 10.6 million in 1930 to 5.5 Million in 2010, or as a percentage of the population; from about 30% to 11.2%. By 2013, this had declined further to 5.4 million (10.3%). 

 

A 2014 survey of approximately 64,000 people in 65 countries revealed the UK to be one of the world's most irreligious countries, with only 30% of those surveyed identifying as 'religious'. In contrast, 13% said they were convinced atheists and 53% of those surveyed said they were not religious.

BSA data indicates that, over the period 1983 to 2014 :

1. The Church of England population has nearly halved (from 16.5m to 8.6m);
2. The Catholic population has remained relatively steady (from 4.1 to 4m);
3. Non-Christian religious numbers have increased five-fold (from 0.8m to 4m);
4. Persons of no religious affiliation have nearly doubled (from 12.8m to 24.7m).

In the mid-1980s, there were 1.26 million active congregational members in the Church of England. That number fell to 722,000 by 2019, which is the latest year for which the Church has released figures.

 

The Church of England has hemorrhaged just over half a million worshippers in just over 30 years, a decline of just over 40%

 

That tells us something particularly worrying for those concerned for the Church of England — namely that the decline in worshippers is vastly outstripping the decline in the number of churches.

 

A smaller and rapidly declining number of — increasingly aging — congregations remain to maintain over 15,000 Anglican church buildings, many of which are themselves falling into disrepair.

 

Meanwhile, official Church of England statistics show that the median congregation size is just 27 souls.

 

How realistic is it to lumber 27, mainly older people, with looking after a historic rural church or a crumbling Victorian edifice that needs increasing amounts of money simply to satisfy Health and Safety regulations?

 

The inevitable conclusion is that the number of churches closing will inevitably increase in the coming decades — and almost certainly speed up.

 

My anecdotal experience is that considerable numbers of Church of England churches are clinging by their fingertips to their very existence.

Leadership roles remain unfilled, necessary work deferred through lack of funds, and the residual funds already spent.

 

Such parishes are one hefty repair bill away from closure.

Is anything being done to reverse the trend?

It’s not that the Church of England has been blind to the coming storm.

The Church’s governing body, the General Synod, pumped £248 million into the Reform and Renewal program in the second half of the 2010s to attempt to stem the decline in worshippers.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, admitted that this injection of money — targeted to supporting churches in the country's most deprived areas and to plant new congregations — “has not worked.”

 

None of this will come as a surprise to those with a keen eye on societal trends.

 

The evidence for secularisation, and the declining role of the national Church, is compelling. Figures from the census taken every ten years in the UK show that the numbers of those self-identifying as “Christian” in the UK fell from 66% to 38% in the same time frame.

While there has been a slight rise in the number of people attending newly formed independent charismatic churches — fuelled largely by immigration — traditional denominations have all shown a sharp decline in affiliation.

 

By 2018, only 12% of the population of Britain identified as belonging to the Church of England or its partner churches in Scotland and Wales.

The historic residual cultural affiliation to the Church of England is now in free fall.

 

This is almost certainly going to speed up as all the figures point to the increasing disdain towards the established Church amongst younger people.

The generation of Church of England members who have faithfully supported the organization throughout much of the 20th century is now passing. They are NOT being replaced by younger members, meaning that many parishes cannot locate suitable people to fill the roles necessary to maintain a functioning parish church.

 

Increasingly, this leads to a “back to the wall” mentality where survival is the only agenda.

There is precious little energy or resources for mission and growth when the building is crumbling, and every available pound is being directed towards staving off closure.

 

So what can be done?

 

I wish I could offer words of solace. But, alas, I cannot. The Church has already attempted the most obvious solutions.

 

The Church declared the 1990s as “The Decade of Evangelism,” with various projects birthed to promote evangelism and church growth.

But as author Cole Moreton points out:

When the Decade of Evangelism ended in 2000, there were a million fewer people going to church in England than when the big push started

The stable door was closed, but the horse had already bolted.

 

We’ve already noted that the Church of England directed a considerable slice of her dwindling resources into the Reform and Renewal program.

It was money the Church could only spend once — yet there is no evidence that this investment reversed the decline.

 

And while the denomination is sitting on considerable assets of land, property, and investments, it is also responsible for the upkeep of the nation’s most extensive collection of historic “listed” buildings, which require continued upkeep.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the Church of England does NOT have spare money sitting around waiting to be invested into mission.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues.

 

The Church of England itself predicted the pandemic could see almost 20% of worshippers NEVER return to Church — which would be the most dramatic decline in attendance in history.

Honestly, this figure is likely to be conservative from my anecdotal observations.

 

Naturally, a fall in worshippers of that magnitude leads to an attendant fall in donations, which only leads to increasing numbers of churches becoming unviable and further cuts to the clergy.

In other words… a downward spiral.

 

My intention in this page and other pages on Christianity is to do all I can to accelerate the fall in donations.

 

'Save the Parish'

 

This section contains comments on some supporters of 'Save the Parish' and members of its Steering Committee: Dr Giles Fraser, Professor Alison Milbank, Revd Stephen Trott, Revd  Marcus Walker and Revd Colin Heber-Percy. Profiles of other supporters of 'Save the Parish' will be added to the section. Existing profiles will be revised and extended. There's comment on Prudence Dailey, another member of the Steering Committee, in the section which follows, on The Prayer Book Society.

 

'Parochial:' Entry in Collins English Dictionary:

1. Narrow in outlook or scope 2. of or relating to a parish or parishes [of the Church.]

 

From the Website

 

https://savetheparish.com/

 

On Tuesday 3 August 2021, a gathering was held in St Bartholomew the Great, London’s oldest parish church, to launch a campaign to “Save the Parish”. Over 100 people signed up online to attend, and thousands have watched the broadcast online.

 

The evening began with prayers for Archbishops Welby and Cottrell before two addresses were given by experts in this field. A campaign was then launched for General Synod, with people committing to stand under the banner “Save the Parish”...

 

The event was hosted by the Revd Marcus Walker, Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, who issued a rallying cry in the pages of the Spectator Magazine ...

 

[An extract from the page 'Conservatives in the C of E can learn from 'Save the Parish' ' (7 December, 2021)

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/
conservatives.in.the.cofe.can.learn.from.save.the.parish/137851.htm

 

'At November's General Synod meeting, two StP [Save the Parish] leaders in particular, Rev Marcus Walker, who combines a Trollopean manner with a fierce intelligence, and Prudence Dailey, who is as sharp as tack in debate, ran intellectual rings around CofE managers.'

 

I confidently predict that there won't be any attempt to defend  'Save the Parish' or any attempt to defend Christian belief on the part of Rev Marcus Walker, with his 'fierce intelligence' or Prudence Dailey, 'as sharp as a tack in debate,' or from anyone else at 'Save the Parish'. I confidently predict that the argument and evidence I use won't be met with any counter-argument and counter-evidence from any Christian. The apologists for Christianity will remain silent.

 

Standing up for the Parish System

 

Save the Parish is here to encourage the redirection of a greater proportion of the Church’s money and resources to the Parish system.

 

‘... a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of the church’. That sounds like an ambition worth having ... And, most importantly of all, to defend the parochial system of the Church of England.'

 

Stipend: a fixed or regular amount of money paid as a salary to a clergyman / woman. The wider world, the less parochial world, is governed by realities which are far from fixed: businesses go under, and the owners and employees lose their income. The Churches are a form of business, one that claims to be far more than a business, but they have yet to recognize the precariousness of their status  in the least, that many of their 'branches,' the parish church have effectively gone out of business. In the future, the decline is likely to accelerate. That precarious status goes far beyond the management of parishes, the system chosen to administer and organize the church, whether the one chosen is the traditional parochial model or one of the newer methods suggested, which have antagonized the supporters of the traditional parish so much. To concentrate attention on these differences of opinion, as 'Save the Parish' has chosen to do, is to ignore the staggering scale of the challenges facing the church - the churches.

 

'Save the Parish'  seems to see no disadvantages of 'a long, costly college-based training for every leader of the church.' In my experience - and it's long and very varied in this field - leaders of the church who have received exactly this form of training, long, costly and college based are absolutely unable to defend their Christian belief against criticisms based on argument and evidence. They do have available tame criticisms which they don't mind quoting, because they have the answers to this very limited range of criticisms. 

 

The  objections to Christian belief I'm interested in, accompanied with argument and evidence, include the ones in the third column of this page. They are a sample. They can be extended very easily. The can be given in much more detail, using scholarly or semi-scholarly methods, but detail might well obscure the stark outlines. I don't think the objections can be answered very easily, not in the least. If Christian believers (including theologians) are helpless in the face of these criticisms and others, then I draw certain conclusions.

 

I find overwhelming evidence that the aims of 'Save the Parish'  are naive, superficial, evasive - parochial  - and that the proposed methods of 'Save the Parish' are completely ineffectual. So too are their campaigning methods. They have faith in the Church of England Synod as a way of achieving their objectives. The supporters of 'Save the Parish' have the faith, or the feeling, that many of their supporters can be elected to the Synod, enough to form a majority in favour of keeping the parish system intact. This is very, very unlikely, and even if it did happen, what would change? The Synod is of absolutely no interest and has absolutely no importance for the vast majority of people outside this semi-autonomous region of the modern world, belonging to it, to an extent, certainly making use of many of the techniques and technology of the modern world, but also belonging to previous worlds. These Christians are 'other-worldly' but also inhabitants of previous worlds.

 

Most importantly, the Church of England faces far more fundamental problems than the matters of church organization which are the concern of 'Save the Parish' -  problems which it fails to recognize in general. An inability to recognize the fact that the vast majority of people in this country treat theological matters as an irrelevance, of no importance, and aren't in the least likely to change their mind. An inability to recognize that the Church of England is heading towards catastrophe as a result of demographic realities. These are outlined in the section of this page which precedes this section, The See of York and The Life of the Nation.

 

 The Rev Canon Dr Giles Fraser, vicar of St Anne’s Church, Kew, London is a supporter of 'Save the Parish.' He said:

 

“The historic parish has for centuries been the bedrock of the English church. It is crazy that the essential fabric of the church – so important to people and their sense of community up and down the country – is now under attack from those who are supposed to be protecting it.”

 

The Parish Church isn't important to the majority of people, or not nearly as importnant as many other things. His sense of realities is shockingly bad. Does Giles Fraser really expect the many, many parish churches which are ruinously expensive to maintain, with very small congregations, to be kept going and to be staffed by paid clergy, in defiance of financial realities? (But the Churches with very large congregations are subject to the same criticisms as the Churches with tiny congregations - the objections outlined in the third column of the page.)

 

Alison Milbank was one of two 'Keynote Speakers' at the St Bartholomew's event. She is a 'Canon Theologian' of Southwell Minster. She studied English and theology at Cambridge University. She might well find of interest one of the pages of this site, Cambridge University: excellence, mediocrity, stupidity. It contains many profiles (although not updated) on theologians and chaplains at Cambridge University, although most of the content is about other matters. I'll be adding a profile of Alison Milbank to the page. The site has many pages specifically concerned  Christian religion, of course. I

 

I don't think it's remotely likely that Alison Milbank or any other Canon theologian or any theologian of any other kind, generalist or specialist in any theological speciality - Christology, patrology, eschatology, harmartiology, pneumatology, ecclesiology and the rest  - would ever attempt to defend their faith from the kind of objections given in the column to the right. I'm confident that the arguments would resist any attempts to refute them.

 

Alison Milbank is a Professor at Nottingham University. From the Nottingham University page

 

https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/humanities/
departments/theology-and-religious-studies/study-with-us/meet-our-staff/professor-alison-milbank-director-of-pgr.aspx

 

My main focus has been on the relationship of religion to literature and culture.

As a priest academic I’m studying a tradition from the inside. I’m very interested in the church as an institution, its mission and purpose. This is reflected through my involvement in the Save the Parish movement.

 

She also supports the theological movement 'Radical Orthodoxy.' To mention just one of a very large number of criticisms of Radical Orthodoxy - the use made of the writings of Augustine of Hippo in the short history of Radical Orthodoxy. The site contains criticism of Augustine of Hippo at various points, in particular for his view that unbaptized babies go to Hell.

 

The other keynote speaker was Stephen Trott. This is the information supplied:

 

The Revd Stephen Trott is Rector of Pitsford, in Peterborough diocese, and has been a member of both the General Synod and the Church Commissioners for over twenty years. He spoke on why General Synod actually is important and gave us the nuts and bolts of how to stand and what your commitments would be, should you stand.

 

If he imagines that there's any chance of saving almost all or most or very many parish Churches for Evensong, Holy Communion, Matins and the rest and of equipping them with paid clergy who have received a long and expensive course of education / training by resorting to the Synod talking shop then he's very, very mistaken.

 

The Home Page of the 'Save the Parish' Website has an invitation to

 

Donate

 

Marcus Walker, the Rector of  St Bartholomew's the Great

would appreciate donations too. The Website of the Church has comprehensive information.


and this, on 'Ways to help,' on the page

https://www.greatstbarts.com/donations



 

Give-As-You-Earn

The best way to maximise the value of a donation is via a Give-As-You-Earn scheme like CAF, if you have an employer signed up. This allows you to donate monthly from your pre-tax income, making it extremely efficient for higher and additional rate taxpayers, and employers will often match pre-tax donations.

 

For example, a higher rate taxpayer earning £51,000 could donate £20 pre-tax and see their chosen charity receive £40, at a cost to them of just £12 – tripling the value of a donation! Just contact HR or Payroll, or ask a line manager for advice; and don’t be afraid to encourage employers to sign up.

 

People who use any of the methods suggested are wasting their money. Amongst the 'achievements' of the Church's current Rector, Marcus Walker, according to the church Website, are these:

 

He co-ordinated the first Anglican Evensong at St Peter’s Basilica and the loan of the ancient crozier of St Gregory the Great to Canterbury Cathedral.

 

Catholic Christians in particular have such an interest in things, such as crucifixes, Paschal candles, amounting in some cases to a hoarding instinct, the collection of relics, things which are supposedly holy. The crozier is the staff of a bishop which is supposedly a symbol of a Bishop's pastoral functions. Many, many Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, users of croziers, have scandalously neglected their pastoral functions. They have allowed sexual predators to go unchecked in churches, they have preferred to keep quiet, avoid publicity, allow abusers to carry on abusing. The fact that a Bishop has a crozier means effectively nothing.

 

In the case of 'St' Gregory the Great, the objections to this figure which Marcus Walker obviously venerates are very serious.

 

Gregory the Great was in a slave market. The slaves for sale in a market might include a young boy or girl who had been separated from their parents. The slaves for sale might include scattered remnants of many families. They faced a future which was uncertain, but with the prospect of floggings, beatings, sexual abuse, physical abuse amounting to torture. Nobody with humanity could have gone to a slave market and not found the practice of buying and selling people contemptible.

 

Gregory the Great's response was very different. He came out with what amounts to a witticism, but a witticism which reflected orthodox Christianity, so ever since, it has pleased superficial orthodox Christians, or rather, orthodox Christians whose ethical standards are very defective.

 

He found that the children were 'Angles,' that is, from this island. He said, 'Non Angli, sed angeli, si forent Christianian,' that is, "They are not Angles, but angels, if they were Christian.

 

He resolved, not to do all he could to oppose the slave trade but to do all he could to convert the English to Christianity. According to Bede, he sent St Augustine of Canterbury as a missionary to England. The mission would obviously mention sin, but buying and selling slaves and owning slaves and physical punishment of slaves wasn't treated as a sin in the least, unlike drunkenness or adultery or blasphemy.

 

After conversion, this would be the result: slaves (and slave owners - and floggers of slaves) would be saved from eternal damnation. Those people who resisted conversion or never had the chance to be converted (slaves, slave owners, floggers of slaves) were damned for eternity. As a result of original sin, according to many, many Christians, unbaptized babies were condemned to eternal separation from God.

 

So much for orthodoxy - including radical orthodoxy.

 

Colin Heber-Percy is a supporter of 'Save the Parish,' which published an article of his. It can be found on the page

https://savetheparish.com/2022/07/04/a-centrifugal-church-the-revd-colin-heber-percy/

The parishes he 'serves' are rural, the parishes of Burbage, Shalbourne, Ham & Buttermere, within the 'Savernake Team.'


The Prayer Book Society has published his book 'Tales of a Country Parish.' From the publicity material:
 Heber-Percy draws upon a kaleidoscopic knowledge of nature, philosophy, poetry and music, as well as religious writings ... '

 

A section on The Prayer Book Society follows this section.

 

The Prayer Book Society

 I include in this section comment on  Prudence Dailey, former Chairman of The Prayer Book Society - and now a member of the Steering Committee of 'Save the Parish,' discussed in the section above, and on the present Chairman, Bradley Smith.

 

According to its Website, '

https://www.pbs.org.uk/


'The Prayer Book Society has been actively campaigning for the wider use of the Book of Common Prayer for more than 50 years.'

 

It will be no surprise that The Prayer Book Society appeals for donations. At least the appeal, on the page

 

https://www.pbs.org.uk/donate-to-pbs/

 

is restrained and decorous. The history of The Book of Common Prayer and its contents in its successive versions are anything but restrained and decorous - crude and cruel. Giving money or leaving money to an organization promoting such a book! A book which is cause for shame - as I intend to demonstrate in this section when it has been very much extended.

The Book of Common Prayer, like the King James translation of the Bible, may have idyllic associations - such as dusty volumes to be found in quiet country churches, associations with immensely long traditions, but in fact, the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible are linked with acts and beliefs which belong not to an idyllic world but a world of cruelty and  savagery. The Book of Common Prayer was in its origins a product of the English Reformation. The date of first publication was 1549, followed by a number of other versions. Noteworthy is the version of 1604, which included significant changes, prompted by King James I, the same king who had such an immense influence upon the translation of the Bible commonly called the  King James version - and the same king who took literally the Biblical injunction to put to death women who practise magic (or, in the King James version, witchcraft). He had women tortured and he ordered their execution. He was also associated with the execution of Edward Wightman, the last man to be burned alive for heresy in this country.

 


Above, plaque in the Market Place, Lichfield. Amongst  his 'heresies' was a disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. Three weeks before Edward Wightman was burned alive in Lichfield, Bartholomew Legate was burned alive in Smithfield, London for blasphemous heresy. Bartholomew Legate had denied the doctrine of the Trinity and the creeds. King James ordered that the death sentences should be carried out in both cases.


 

Above, Richard Neile, Bishop of Lichfield.  He interrogated Edward Wightman. Edward Wightman wrote a document on his theological veiws and delivered copies to members of the clergy, as well as King James. It did him no good.

The final verdict and list of charges included

'the wicked heresies of Elbion, Cerinthus, Valentinian, Arius, Macedonius, Simon Magus, Manichees, Photinus and of the Anabaptists and other arch heretics, and moreover, of other cursed opinions belched by the instinct of Satan.'

 

He was ordered to be placed 'in some public and open place below the city aforesaid [and] before the people burned in the detestation of the said crime and for manifest example of other Christians that they may not fall into the same crime.'

 

The 1604 Book of Common Prayer,often called the Jacobean prayer book was the version in use at the time of the burning alive of Edward Wightman. It was introduced during the early English reign of King James I. it formed the basis of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is still authorized, a liturgical book not only in the Church of England but within global Anglicanism.


Supplementary information on King James I. To describe his reign as a reign of terror surely wouldn't be excessive.

 

King James VI of Scotland, who later became King James I of England, is better known for his association with the Authorized Version of the Bible, also known as the 'King James Bible,' than for his book 'Daemonology,' (1597).  'Daemonologie' endorses the practice of witch hunting in Christian society. The title page describes him as 'Defender of the Faith.'

 

 

He wrote in the book,

 

'The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devil, the Witches or Enchanters, hath moved me (beloved reader) to dispatch in post, this following treatise of mine (...) to resolve the doubting (...) both that such assaults of Satan are most certainly practised, and that the instrument thereof merits most severely to be punished.'

 

The King James Bible translation of Exodus 22:18 is 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' The King will have believed that he had divine authorisation for his persecution of witches. The 'Good News Translation (!) is 'Put to death any woman who practises magic.'

 

[King James oversaw the trials and torture of many women accused of witchcraft.]

 

'One of Scotland's most notable mass witch trials occurred under the reign and supervision of King James VI.  The trials took place in North Berwick  between the years of 1590 and 1592, and led to at least 70 accused witches being condemned to violent torture and in most cases, death. The trials took place after the King experienced terrible storms whilst journeying by ship to Denmark where he would marry Princess Anne. King James VI, having seen authorities in Denmark accuse women such as Anna Kolding of using witchcraft to create the storms during the Copenhagen witch trials turned to the "witches" in North Berwick to blame for this event. Most of the information we have on the North Berwick trials  was found in the King's book  as well as a pamphlet entitled Newes from Scotland   that was published in London.'

From the Wikipedia page, North Berwick Witch Trials,

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Berwick_witch_trials

 

'Very soon more than a hundred suspected witches in North Berwick were arrested, and many confessed under torture to having met with the Devil in the church at night, and devoted themselves to doing evil, including poisoning the King and other members of his household, and attempting to sink the King's ship.

The two most significant accused persons were Agnes Sampson,   a respected and elderly woman from Humbie,  and Dr John Fian, a schoolmaster and scholar in Prestonpans.  Both refused to confess and were put to severe torture. Sampson was brought before King James and a council of nobles. She denied all the charges, but after being tortured horrifically, she finally confessed. By special commandment, her head and body hair was shaven; she was fastened to the wall of her cell by a witch's bridle,  an iron instrument with 4 sharp prongs forced into the mouth, so that two prongs pressed against the tongue, and the two others against the cheeks. She was kept without sleep and thrown with a rope around her head, and only after these ordeals did she confess to the fifty-three indictments against her. She was finally strangled and burned as a witch. According to Newes from Scotland, Declaring the Damnable Life of Dr. Fian, a Notable Sorcerer, a pamphlet published in 1591, Sampson confessed to attending a Sabbat  with 200 witches, Duncan among them.

 

'Dr. Fian also suffered severe torture. He endured having his fingernails forcibly extracted, then having iron pins thrust therein, the pilliwinks,  and the boot. He was finally taken to the Castlehill in Edinburgh and burned at the stake  on 16 December.

'According to Christopher Smout,  between 3,000 and 4,000 accused witches may have been killed in Scotland in the years 1560–1707.

 

Explanation of some torture instruments mentioned:

 

Pilliwinks: thumbscrew
Boot: instrument of torture which caused crushing injury to the leg and / or foot.

 

Thomas Cranmer was the editor and co-author of he first and second editions of The Book of Common Prayer, which was first published in 1549. The Book of Common Prayer which emerged bore the imprint of the Protestant Reformation. Cranmer believed in Justification by Faith: the merits of a person had nothing to do with salvation.

 

Human kindness, understanding, sympathy, tireless dedication, immensely impressive personal qualities, academic excellence, scientific and technological excellence, including the excellence which has saved so many lives and benefitted humanity - none of these make any difference at all. In the deluded world of Cranmer and all the other Christians who believe in this hideous doctrine, the complexity and variety of life, of people, aren't taken into account at all. Instead, that same deadly doctrine, which makes an appearance in all versions of the Book of Common Prayer: damnation for all but the small minority of those who have accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour.

 

The doctrine of justification by faith is the doctrine which I oppose again and again in the pages on Christian belief which are part of the site, with a very wide range of illustrative examples, intended to make clear the inhumanity of the doctrine.

 

Here, I'll give just one illustrative example. Prudence Dailey of Save the Parish and former Chairman of the Prayer Book Society was a candidate at the 2001 General Election for the safe Labour seat of Pontypridd, South Wales. The election was won by Labour again and Prudence Dailey was placed third.

 

A Christian standing for election at local or national level is overwhelmingly likely to believe that his or her Christian beliefs aren't irrelevant. Do the Christian beliefs of a  candidate include the belief that all members of the electorate are destined for an eternity in hell, except for a small minority of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour? Did Prudency Dailey at the time of her election campaign (which probably didn't amount to much - as is usually the case in constituencies where it's overwhelmingly unlikely that a massive majority will be overturned, although there are obviously exceptions) have that belief? The belief that of those who voted for her at the election, any who never happen to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour are destined to hell? The 'hell' may be a contemporary hell, divested of the lurid traditional punishments, but will still be regarded as a place of punishment.

 

I have no knowledge of the hamartiological and soteriological beliefs of Prudence Dailey so I can't be certain  that she believes in justification by faith. Perhaps she would be willing to put on record her beliefs - or perhaps not. Perhaps a bold journalist could ask her about what she believes and what she doesn't believe. She's a graduate of Oxford University - she was at Merton College. The subject she studied was PPE, which includes the study of Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Surely this agile mind, or supposedly agile mind, wouldn't object to giving certain clarifications? Or perhaps that would be too much trouble, or might involve embarrassment.

 

I wouldn't wish to concentrate too much attention on Prudence Dailey. I look forward to a time in the near future when Christians will face a far more challenging response, when questions about their faith will be asked much more often, in a courteous but not respectful way. I don't myself see the least need to be respectful in my dealings with Christians. I consider Christian beliefs to be far from harmless and far from benign.

 

 

I wonder what Prudence Dailey - and other enthusiasts for the Book of Common Prayer - would make of this extract from this far from harmless and far from benign book. The extract is available on the page

 

https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/book-common-prayer/commination

 

 

A Commination or Denouncing of God's Anger and Judmements against sinners


BRETHREN, in the primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that, at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance, and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, might be the more afraid to offend.

 

 

Instead whereof, until the said discipline may be restored again, (which is much to be wished,) it is thought good that at this time (in the presence of you all) should be read the general sentences of God's cursing against impenitent sinners, gathered out of the seven and twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy, and other places of Scripture; and that ye should answer to every sentence, Amen: To the intent that, being admonished of the great indignation of God against sinners, ye may the rather be moved to earnest and true repentance; and may walk more warily in these dangerous days; fleeing from such vices, for which ye affirm with your own mouths the curse of God to be due.

 

 

NOW seeing that all they are accursed (as the prophet David beareth witness) who do err and go astray from the commandments of God; let us (remembering the dreadful judgement hanging over our heads, and always ready to fall upon us) return unto our Lord God with all contrition and meekness of heart; bewailing and lamenting our sinful life, acknowledging and confessing our offences, and seeking to bring forth worthy fruits of penance. For now is the axe put unto the root of the trees, so that every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: He shall pour down rain upon the sinners, snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest; this shall be their portion to drink. For lo, the Lord is come out of his place to visit the wickedness of such as dwell upon the earth. But who may abide the day of his coming? Who shall be able to endure when he appeareth? His fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night: and when men shall say, Peace, and all things are safe, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as sorrow cometh upon a woman travailing with child, and they shall not escape. Then shall appear the wrath of God in the day of vengeance, which obstinate sinners, through the stubbornness of their heart, have heaped unto themselves; which despised the goodness, patience, and long-sufferance of God, when he calleth them continually to repentance. Then shall they call upon me (saith the Lord) but I will not hear; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; and that, because they hated knowledge, and received not the fear of the Lord, but abhorred my counsel, and despised my correction. Then shall it be too late to knock, when the door shall be shut; and too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice. O terrible voice of most just judgement, which shall be pronounced upon them, when it shall be said unto them, Go, ye cursed, into the fire everlasting, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore, brethren, take we heed betime, while the day of salvation lasteth; for the night cometh, when none can work: But let us, while we have the light, believe in the light, and walk as children of the light; that we be not cast into utter darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Let us not abuse the goodness of God, who calleth us mercifully to amendment, and of his endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of that which is past, if with a perfect and true heart we return unto him. For though our sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and though they be like purple, yet they shall be made white as wool. Turn ye (saith the Lord) from all your wickedness, and your sin shall not be your destruction: Cast away from you all your ungodliness that ye have done: Make you new hearts, and a new spirit: Wherefore will ye die, O ye house of Israel? seeing that I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Turn ye then, and ye shall live. Although we have sinned, yet have we an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. 

 

This is a product of the same world view as the view propagated in the monument erected after the deaths of the children working underground in a coal mine which was flooded, the disaster discussed in the column to the right. This is the inhuman text on the monument erected outside the parish church -  but many Christians have no objection to inhumanity, in the belief  that God's ways are not man's ways, or the ways of humanity.

 

The Huskar Monument and a Monument outside a Parish Church

 

A monument was erected outside the Parish Church with this hideous inscription: no mention of the human cost of the disaster, instead the claim that this was an instance of divine judgment:

 

Take ye heed watch and pray for ye know not when the time is. Mark X111 Chap 33 Verse.

 

THIS MONUMENT

 

Was erected to perpetuate the remembrance of an awful visitation of the Almighty which took place in this Parish on the 4th day of July 1838.

 

On that eventful day the Lord sent forth His Thunder, Lightning, Hail and Rain, carrying devastation before them, and by a sudden irruption of Water into the Coalpits of R.C.Clarke Esqr. Twenty six human beings whose names are recorded here were suddenly summon’d to appear before their Maker.

 

READER REMEMBER!

 

Every neglected call of God will appear against Thee at the Day of Judgment. Let this solemn Warning then sink deep into thy heart and so prepare thee that the Lord when he cometh may find thee WATCHING.

 

Bradley Smith is the present Chairman of the Prayer Book Society. This is Bradley Smith, optimistic about the future of the Book of Common Prayer, publicly at least. His private thoughts may be different.Bradley Smith is someone who likes the sound of 'exciting initiatives.' This is from

 

The Facebook page of the society.

 

'The Book of Common Prayer’s time is coming again. That was the message of the Chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Bradley Smith, at its AGM in London on Saturday. (11 September)

...

'There are some exciting initiatives, Evensong and curry (Tottenham and Preston) ... and even Evensong in the City (London), with bangers, mash and booze to follow.'

 

These don't sound like 'exciting initiatives.' Perhaps he didn't give enough thought to the phrasing. What about this?

 

'There are some exciting initiatives! Evensong and curry! (Tottenham and Preston)
Evensong in the City (London), with bangers' mash - and booze to follow!'

 

But this would give an impression of desperation, a forlorn attempt to generate some enthusiasm in conditions that are far from promising.

 

A comment posted on the same Facebook page;

 

'I may be speaking out of turn Bradley but I feel concern when hear we have to offer food as a reward/incentive for attending a service. Have I got this wrong?'

 

A bleak view from Australia:

 

http://www.allsaints.org.au/prayer-book-society.html


'It is with some sadness that we announce that the Prayer Book Society of Australia (Victorian Branch) Incorporated has ceased operation.

'At the Annual General Meeting in March 2022 the eleven members who attended asked that the Committee work towards finding a way forward for the future of the Society. Our numbers continue to decrease ... we have few people available to continue the Society’s functions.'

 

Bradley Smith surely realizes that the Prayer Book Society in this country is facing similar challenges.

 

From the Website of 'Premier Christianity:'

 

Nearly three-quarters of young Britons now identify as having no religion. The number of under 16s in the Church of England has fallen by 20 per cent in five years. Three-quarters of Anglican churches have less than five under 16s in their congregation and just over a third have none. 

 

From the page

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/
2018/sep/07/church-in-crisis-as-only-2-of-young-adults-identify-as-c-of-e

 

The Church of England is facing a generational catastrophe with only 2% of young adults identifying with it, while seven out of 10 under-24s say they have no religion, research reveals.

 

C of E affiliation is at a record low among all age groups, and has halved since 2002, according to the British Social Attitudes survey. Far fewer actually attend church services on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the trend towards a secular society has increased over recent years ...

The demographic breakdown in the new data is particularly unwelcome news for the church. Younger people are significantly less likely to identify with the C of E than older age groups, and evidence suggests that people rarely join organised religion in later life. The trend indicates that affiliation with the C of E could become negligible with successive generations.

 

Prudence Dailey, the former Chairman of the Prayer Book Society, is listed as a Conservative Woman author,

 

https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/
author/prudence-dailey/

 

The profiles of authors on the site are very concise. This is Prudence Dailey's profile:

 

https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/
author/prudence-dailey/

 

'Prudence Dailey is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.'

 

This is my profile:

 

https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/
author/paulhurt/

 

 

Paul Hurt lives in Sheffield and is one of those working-class Conservatives you hear about. Voted for Brexit, of course, and drives a white van.

 

The title of my article which was published on the Conservative Woman site: 'A would-be Labour leader and the shambolic Friends of Palestine.' The article can be viewed by using this link,

 

https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/a-would-be-labour-leader-and-the-shambolic-friends-of-palestine/

 

The 'would-be Labour leader' is now the actual leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer.

 

My article was considered a success by Conservative Woman. I was encouraged to write more articles but I never did. I wrote the article at a time when my knowledge of Conservative Woman, its record and its policies, wasn't extensive at all. I quickly found that this wasn't an organization I wanted to be associated with. I give some of my reasons in the entry for Conservative Woman on the page on GB News and other anti-woke sites (including Conservative Woman). It has a long, rather cumbersome title

 

Christian-inanity: GB News, other anti-woke sites and other issues
Inanity: 'Lack of intelligence or imagination; senselessness' (Collins Dictionary)

 

The comments on sites which have comments sections always provide insights into the other material on the site. The comments on GB News pages are almost always abysmal, the comments on Conservative Woman pages generally of a much, much higher standard. At least the English isn't mangled to the same extent.

 

Below, the comments on one single page of the site 'Conservative Woman' from one commenter, a Protestant who calls himself 'Reformed Gentleman,' to another commenter, a Roman Catholic:

 

 'Protestant Gentleman,'  of course, is destined for eternal bliss, as he does seem to have accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. I've no way of confirming this, but I think it's very likely that he would consider that the Roman Catholic he is addressing won't be sharing his good fortune. It's likely that Protestant Gentleman would take the view that everyone is destined for hell, except for the people who share his theological views.

' ... you're still unhinged. I've no time for RC garbage ...'
'Are you deranged? You want to talk 'biblical' yet you cite your heretical garbage?'
'Yeah, you're still rambling, heretic. Do you ever ask yourself why you cannot derive your weird little beliefs from the Bible?'
'Subjectivist bullpoop, Catholicism personified.'
' ... there's the RC subjectivist bullpoop. Thank you, heretic.'
'You're an utter cretin. Your position is anti-objectivity and therefore champions my own view over yours ... Yikes!'
'You're a joke. Abandon the dramatics.'
'Look to your own anti-Gospel grabage (sic), heretic.'
'Wow, look at the deceitful Romanist. Bless you, heretic.'
'Tell me, Romanist heretic, where in the Bible can you find your latest wokist rant?'
'Utter drivel. What a waste of bandwidth.'
'Yes, heretic, your rambling garbage aside, we reformed know where we got the canon ...'
'Oh my. The emition (sic) is palpable. Where's your Bible, heretic?'
'Pathetic. You cowardly heretic.'



Merton College, Oxford


Walter de Merton, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester, founder of Merton College (1264.)

 

See also the section on this page, Action and inaction in the Diocese of Oxford.

 

Obviously, the information and comment here can't possibly do justice to the strengths and weaknesses of  Merton College.

 

Merton College, Oxford

 

The Oxford and Cambridge colleges have chapels and chaplains. Christ Church, Oxford refers to a college as well as a  cathedral, which should not be referred to as 'Christ Church College') have chaplains.

 

 The current chaplain of Merton College is Simon Jones (or 'Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones).  He's the interim Dean of Lincoln Cathedral. The convoluted events at Lincoln Cathedral and the case of abuse at Lincoln Cathedral are discussed in a previous section of this page.


At Merton College, Oxford, he has  has overall responsibility for the Chapel and Choral Foundation, welfare provision and student financial support. He teaches liturgy and is a member of the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion.

...

 

Outside the college, he is Chair of the Steering Committee of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation, and on the board of the charitable company Hymns Ancient and Modern.  He has been involved in the work of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission for over 20 years and is currently a consultant to it. He is an Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and a Wiccamical Prebendary (Honorary Canon Theologian) of Chichester Cathedral. 

 

The PhD thesis of 'Dr' Simon Jones was in Syrian baptismal theology.

 

Title of the thesis: 'Womb of the Spirit: the liturgical implications of the doctrine of the Spirit for the Syrian baptismal tradition.'

 

Abstract 

 

This thesis investigates the role of the Holy Spirit within the Syrian baptismal tradition and, in particular, assesses its effect upon the liturgical and theological development of initiation in East and West Syria. Primary material includes the Odes of Solomon, Didascalia Apostolorum and Acts of Judas Thomas; the writings of Aphrahat, Ephrem, Narsai, Jacob of Serugh, Philoxenus and Severus of Antioch; as well as the East Syrian and two West Syrian baptismal ordines.

 

This study provides evidence against any notion of an original Syrian baptismal pattern in which a single anointing precedes immersion, and demonstrates that the tradition witnesses to the existence of a variety of practices at an early stage. At the same time, it argues that the Syrian rite was not originally modelled upon the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, nor did its theology undergo an identifiable shift from Johannine to Pauline imagery.

 

Against this background, the incarnational image of the font as womb is identified as the principal characteristic which runs throughout the development of the tradition, functioning as the primary symbolic focus for the activity of the Holy Spirit and thereby interpreting the pre-immersion anointing(s) as a ritual preparation for baptismal regeneration by water and the Spirit.

 

The Spirit is seen as active throughout the process of initiation. It is the Spirit who identifies the candidate as belonging to Christ; it is the Spirit who prepares and brings to new birth with Christ in the womb of the Jordan; and, not least, it is the Spirit whom the candidate receives as the eschatological pledge of the final birth with the First-born, from death to eternal life.

Simon Jones belongs to the Catholic wing of the Church of England and it may well be difficult for him to enter into the world of 'graffiti covered hard evangelical Church in crime-ridden estates.' It may well be difficult for him to understand so many of the problems of the modern world. Difficulty in understanding the problems of the modern world doesn't seem to be a barrier to advancement in the Diocese of Lincoln or the Diocese of Oxford. Merton College, Oxford, is obviously a place of  contradictions, amongst its many strengths and weaknesses. A place where advanced research flourishes, in science, technology and so many other disciplines - not forgetting literary studies - and a place which benefits - or rather, fails to benefit - from the research of its Chaplain in the field of 'Syrian Baptismal Theology.'

 

Is Simon Jones a theologian who is completely unable and completely unwilling to answer reasonable objections to Christian belief? I can give a confident answer to this simple question: Yes.

 

Can Simon Jones claim that his immersion in the world of Syrian Baptismal Theology is absolutely no barrier to a keen appreciation of the problems of the modern world, such as the unprovoked aggression of Russia against the people of Ukraine, or the problems faced by people in the Lincoln Diocese? Surely, No.

 

There are limits to human versatility, allowing for rare exceptions. The chances of someone with an interest in Syrian baptismal theology having an interest in problems of the modern world aren't non-existent but not very likely in many cases. Perhaps Simon Jones can prove me wrong.

Free Church of England

 

Mentioned below, Calvin Robinson, employed by GB News as well as the Free Church of England. I have a page devoted to GB News and other anti-woke sites I disagree with, more often detest. My own views are anti-woke too, but I refuse to endorse any of the sites mentioned on the page. My page on GB News and other anti-woke sites has more material critical of Christianity and it includes some material which appears on this page, the summary of some  objections to Christian belief.

 

Some background information on the Free Church of England, which supplements whatever income Calvin Robinson's gets from GB News. Calvin Robinson is a Deacon in the Free Church of England (not to be confused with the 'Church of England.') Even in this tiny Church, with just two Dioceses, North and South, and, I believe, no more than 18 Church buildings, there are problems which get into the news so often concerning much larger churches, such as the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. Well, the problems are publicized in internet sites, less often in the mainstream media - and practically never in GB News, which I don't consider part of the mainstream media. You would never know that sexual and other abuse is a widespread and very serious problem in the churches if you're dependent upon GB News as your primary source of information. So, some snippets of information about the Free Church of England. The extracts are quotations from some Websites. I must make it clear that these are allegations and so far as I know, the allegations haven't been proved beyond reasonable doubt so far.


To begin with something that isn't an allegation. When I attempted to get through to the Website of the Southern Diocese of the Free Church of England, my Internet Security Program gave me this warning:

Suspicious page blocked for your protection https://www.fcofesd.org.uk/Your connection to this web page is not safe due to an untrusted security certificate.


The Website of the Northern Diocese is usable. The Website has this Motto / Message: 'Bringing Good News to the North.'


The 'Primus' (Head) of the Northern Diocese is John Fenwick.  of The Primus (Head) ofthe Southern Diocese is Paul Hunt.

 

 

 

John Fenwick and Paul Hunt, it's claimed, hasn't been doing his bit to ensure that they add to the good news. An extract from

 

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/
former.archbishops.aide.faces.questions.over.church.property.sale/
136699.htm

  
'The Charity Commission is looking into complaints over the handling of a church property sale and claims that the proceeds have disappeared, The Telegraph reports. 'West Midlands Police is also reviewing whether fraud was committed in connection to the sale of St Stephen's, a Free Church of England (FCE) church in Middlesbrough. 'The Rt Rev Dr John Fenwick, Bishop Primus of the FCE and a former adviser to retired Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, is reported to have assured congregants that £300,000 made from the sale was being held in the FCE Central Trust.  'The complainants allege that the charity accounts do not contain any record of the money being deposited.  'They also claim that Bishop Fenwick and another FCE Bishop, the Rt Rev Paul Hunt, "beguiled" elderly parishioners into handing over their status as trustees of church property. This property was allegedly then registered by the trust in its own name without payment or the value being reflected in charity accounts, the complainants say.'

 

Extract from

 

 https://anglican.ink/2021/04/12/a-statement-concerning-st-stephens-church-middlesbrough-from-the-free-church-of-england/

 

 'St Stephen’s Middlesbrough as an organised congregation of the Free Church of England otherwise called the Reformed Episcopal Church on 23 February. Although not a factor in the redundancy process, there had been concerns about the Minister’s pastoral ministry. Four separate complaints had been made from women about his behaviour towards them. These had been discussed by the Bishop with the Safeguarding Officer. While not requiring the triggering of Safeguarding procedures, they were nevertheless raised by the Bishop with the Minister who refused to take them seriously or discuss them. There was also a complaint about cruelty to an animal. There had been other expressions of dissatisfaction.'

 

Calvin Robinson on faith and hellfire, 'Calvin's Common Sense Crusade,' 2 September 2023

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAOpSexC7-g&t=584s&ab_channel=GBNews

 

Extract, with timings 9:10 - 9:43

 

'Sex before marriage is fornication.

Sex outside marriage is adultery.
Homosexual sex is sodomy.
These are sins. It's not a kindness to affirm sinful lifestyles, however contemporary it may be.

 

[Of priests] Their duty is the cure of souls. That means leading souls to Christ to be saved. By encouraging extra-marital sex and homosexual acts these modern priests are knowingly leading souls towards hell. Eternal damnation awaits any so-called teacher of the faith who teaches acceptance of what God has called abominable.'

 

Christian Legal Centre

 

I had never heard of the existence of the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) until I viewed part of the GB News programme 'Calvin's Common Sense Crusade' (9 September 2023) and found that Michael Phillips of CLC was giving his opinions. 

 

This is an extract from the profile on my page GB News.

 

The Christian Legal Centre appeals for donations - no surprise. The page

 

https://christianconcern.com/donate/

 

gives information about how to donate. My advice to anyone so inclined is simple: don't. According to the Wikipedia entry

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Legal_Centre

 

the Christian Legal Centre 'has lost most of its legal cases.' Some examples:

 

Graham Cogman, a Norfolk police constable lost his job for sending emails to colleagues in which he quoted Bible passages condemning homosexuality and gave information about   a group offering to 'cure' homosexuals. He complained to an employment tribunal, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, claiming harassment on the grounds of his religious beliefs. He lost his case and his dismissal was not rescinded.

 

Duke Amachree, a homelessness officer, was fired by Wandsworth Council  for subjecting a client to a "30-minute barrage" of evangelism  when he was supposed to be offering her housing advice. The client complained to the council, leading to an investigation. The council complained that Amachree revealed "sensitive personal information" about the client to the media, namely in an interview with the Daily Mail after the Christian Legal Centre  had become involved The CLC supported Amachree in an unsuccessful legal claim for unfair dismissal, religious discrimination, and breach of contract.

 

In 2018, a High Court judge expressed serious concerns over the conduct of Christian Legal Centre consultant Pavel Stroilov during the Alfie Evans case. [Clicking on the link will give information about the case.] Mr. Justice Hayden described Stroilov as a "fanatical and deluded young man" whose "malign hand" was "inconsistent with the real interests of the parents' case." The judge also accused CLC activists of doing the parents "far more harm than it does them good" and said submissions were "littered with vituperation and bile" ...  Mary Holmes, former solicitor for the parents of Alfie Evans, accused the CLC of exploiting the case for their own benefit.

Three court of appeal judges said a letter from Stroilov to the parents of Alfie Evans was "misleading to the extent of giving the father false advice". The letter in question advised Evans' father that it would be lawful to remove Alfie from Alder Hey Hospital. The court heard that this led to a confrontation at the hospital, in which Alfie was involved, and police were called. A court of appeal judge said that the letter was "disseminated on social media (presumably with the knowledge of Mr Stroilov".

 

St Columba's Church, Sheffield

 

 

Above, posters displayed at the entrance to St Columba's Church, Crosspool. The poster at the top publicizes a 'Women's Empowerment Day' due to take place at the Church on 11 June, 2022. In this section, I provide evidence for my view that the event has some disturbing implications. The speakers at the event, Nancy Goudie and Joanne Gilchrist have views which would probably come as a surprise - or a shock - to many of the owners of businesses which have displayed a poster. Below, there are some quotations from Nancy Goudie's writing - claims for miraculous cures for medical conditions at some of her meetings, 'thousands saved and healed through the love and power of God,' and this financial advice: 'how to live by faith and depend on God for all their finances both individually and corporately.' This medical advice is surely reckless - potentially harmful - to any woman (or man). This financial advice is surely reckless - potentially harmful - to any woman (or man.)

 

I don't blame owners of businesses in the least for displaying a poster. Running a business is intensely demanding and it would be completely unrealistic to expect them to find out about the background to an event before deciding to display a poster. The posters have been displayed by St Columba's 'sister Church,' Stephen Hill Methodist Church and by businesses in the locality and further afield, on the Facebook page of St Columba's and on these Website pages of Sheffield Diocese.

 

https://www.sheffield.anglican.org/events

 

which claims 'The day features two amazing speakers along side worship, prayer, songs and music.' and this

 

https://www.stpeterscollege.org.uk/events

 

'Join us for our Women's Empowerment Day. We have a powerful day packed full of worship, prayer and two fantastic key note speakers.'

 

 

Above, St Columba's Church, Crosspool, Sheffield

 

Like St Mark's Church, Sheffield, St Columba's Church could claim to be a liberal church, a church which doesn't attract worshippers with an overwhelming need to save unbelievers from damnation. In the material on St Mark's, I've made clear that I think there are many, many things wrong with St Mark's Church, and I give the evidence. For me, St Columba's Church gives a far more favourable impression, but delving deeper uncovers many flaws. I don't provide evidence here - for the time being. I'll simply state that to me, this is yet another church which is evasive in so many ways, a church which ignores realities in so many ways.

 According to the page

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-empowerment-day-tickets-296679134277

 

St Columba's Church is the  Organizer of Women's Empowerment Day.


St Columba's Church has publicized the event on its Facebook page. The Women's Empowerment Day is due to take place on 11 June 2022, starting at 9.30am, with guest speakers Nancy Goudie and Joanne Gilchrist. The cost is £20. According to the publicity, 'Bursary available if cost is prohibitive.' The person to contact for financial aid is one of the team members at St Columba's, not named here.


https://www.facebook.com/StColumbas
Crosspool/


The 'empowerment' isn't all it seems. It comes with complications and very great difficulties.

Nancy Goudie

 

From Nancy Goudie's Blog page, Spiritual Health Weekend 2022:

 

'There were so many who gave their lives to the Lord we had to stop counting – including one who was led to the Lord on the pavement on the way home!  Woohoo!  So good. All these people are followed up by the leaders who brought them. 

'We also experienced so much physical healing.  One lady who could not raise her hands above her head, or uncurl her fingers not only did both of those things but also stood from a wheelchair and walked across the room and stood for 15 minutes.  God enabled her to do all these things and when I announced it from the platform, she raised her hands to show the rest of the audience what God had done.  Another lady who had Rheumatoid Arthritis and couldn’t move her stiff and bent fingers was healed.  After prayer it was as though she could play the piano – she was moving them all in the air to show everyone what God had done.'

The claims of physical healing by God's power raise obvious questions, very disturbing questions.

 

More extracts.

 

http://nancygoudie.com/spiritual-health-weekends/

'Bring a party of 10 or more and the party leader will be invited to a special champagne reception with Nancy!'

 

http://nancygoudie.com/spiritual-health-weekends/ngshw-spain/

 

5th – 8th May 2023

 

I want to invite you to a very special, unique, exclusive five star resort on the coast of Southern Spain. This amazing five star resort has its own beach, four swimming pools (one indoor and three outdoor pools), a restaurant (with both indoor seating and outdoor seating), a snack bar, a beauty spa, a sauna, a steam room and plunge pools and a well-equipped fitness centre. The beautiful five star accommodation is in spacious, luxury apartments with private balconies and many have garden views and partial sea views. In each apartment you have either three or two bedrooms, with two bathrooms (bath and shower), a lounge, dining room and a fully fitted kitchen with fridge/freezer, oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. The accommodation is to the highest standard. Each apartment has a luxurious master bedroom with a huge bath and a separate double shower. In some of the three bedroom apartments the second bedroom has a private balcony. I know you are going to love this place.

 

This will be a Spiritual Health Weekend like no other. It will be a place to rest, relax and enjoy the sun and the wonderful surroundings ... We will have sessions with intimate worship and inspiring teaching. You will have individual prayer and prophecy slots with Nancy and her team. You will receive individual words from God and feel completely restored, blessed and encouraged inside and out. You will enjoy a free pamper treatment from one of my team(Covid-19 rules permitting).

 

She promotes her spiritual health weekends on YouTube. This is one of them:

 

Nancy Goudie's Spiritual Health Weekend 2022  Aug 23, 2021

 

Complete with claims and advice:

 

Nancy's creative and life-changing teaching!

Special individual words from God

5 star entertainment

Book your ticket now

 

Although she claims that God showers her with blessings, so far, he hasn't showered her YouTube videos with blessings, at least blessings measure by views, comments and likes. At the moment, the count for this video stands at

 

212 views  0 comments  1 like

 

According to



https://www.ngm.org.uk/resources/speakers/nancy-goudie/


Nancy Goudie is Head of the 'creative and innovative charity ngm.'

 


' ... throughout the years, ngm have trained thousands of young people in the arts and discipleship and given them a vision of reaching their full potential in God. They taught everyone who joined ngm how to live by faith and depend on God for all their finances both individually and corporately ... under the umbrella of ngm ... Throughout the 80’s they saw thousands saved and healed through the love and power of God.'

I think that anyone in debt, anyone in business facing bankruptcy would be disastrously misguided to rely upon God for their financial security. Anyone with a medical condition would be disastrously misguided to reply upon the 'power of God' for healing instead of modern medicine.

 

I think that this is an author not in the least likely to have interesting insights on power and the issue of women and power.

 

There are Christians who have achieved a degree of notoriety by claiming that 'The Lord' has blessed them in abundance - not just 'spiritual' blessings but  with expensive cars, vast, luxurious mansions or 'material' blessings. I don't claim that Nancy Goudie is in this category but it was unwise of her to make this blatant claim.

 

Deep encounters with God in a 4 or 5 star luxury hotel! I've experience of a 4 star hotel, but never as a guest. I never experienced fun, relaxation or any 'deep encounters with God there.'

 

From Nancy Goudie's blog

 

http://nancygoudie.com/blog/

 

'Helpful instructions/suggestions:'

 

'Every time you wash your hands, which should be often – then pray a ‘Heal Our Nation’ prayer – sing or speak the lyrics of ‘Heal our Nation’ and ask God to pour out his Spirit on this land.  ‘Heal our Nation, Heal our Nation, Heal our Nation, pour out your Spirit on this land.’  Sing or speak that twice.  And finish with the first line from the verse ‘Lord we long for you to move in power’ – and ask God to move in the UK but also move in our world.'

 

This advice is surely futile, for reasons which have often been made clear. According to orthodox Christian belief, God is omnipotent and can achieve anything he wants to achieve and is omniscient, and needs no reminders in the prayers of Christians. To ask God 'to move in the UK but also in our world' is asking this God to intervene but according to orthodox Christian belief, God already knows everything about every possible situation.

 

The other guest speaker was Joanne Gilchrist. Like Nancy Goudie, she  has conservative evangelical Christian beliefs.  She's a team member at the Oakes Holiday Centre, Sheffield.

 

 

 https://www.oakes.org.uk/team/faith/  

 The site has a 'Statement of belief:'

 

  1. Sinful human beings are redeemed from the guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death once and for all time of their representative and substitute, Jesus Christ, the only mediator between them and God.

  2. Those who believe in Christ are pardoned all their sins and accepted in God's sight only because of the righteousness of Christ credited to them; this justification is God's act of undeserved mercy, received solely by trust in Him and not by their own efforts.

  3. The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective to individual sinners, enabling them to turn to God from their sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.

  4. The Holy Spirit lives in all those He has regenerated. He makes them increasingly Christ-like in character and behaviour and gives them power for their witness in the world.

  5. The one holy universal Church is the Body of Christ, to which all true believers belong.

  6. The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God's just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.

 


I'd claim that these beliefs are cruel, grotesque, hideous - and false. Is it true that the Holy Spirit makes Christians 'increasingly Christ-like in character and behavour?' People in Crosspool and beyond, people thinking of spending £20 to attend the event, or thinking of applying for financial support from St Columba's to attend the event,  would benefit by having a clear-sighted insight into the hidden agenda of this not in the least innocuous event due to take place at St Columba's Church.

Will the organizers show a great deal of restraint and not emphasize such matters as the Gospel? If they do emphasize such matters as the Gospel, it may be that people who  attend are very surprised by the content. They may feel they have wasted their money, or that St Columba's has wasted the bursary money.

 

This was written before the event took place. It has been revised since then.

 

Stephen Hill Methodist Church, Sheffield

 

 

 

St Columba's Church, criticized above, has a partner Church, Stephen Hill Methodist Church. The two Churches are very near to each other.   The material relating to abuse in the Methodist Church below is general material. There are no  issues to do with abuse whatsoever at Stephen Hill Methodist Church.

 

I do claim that giving money to the Methodist Church is no more justifiable than giving money to the Anglican Church. The challenges to Christian faith, given concisely in the column to the right, apply in large part to the Methodist Church.

 

The Methodist Church has   substantial issues to do with abuse. This BBC page gives an outline.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32909444

 

This is an extract from the Website of a firm of solicitors. It is free from exaggeration. For the most part, it makes general points.

 

A three year inquiry into complaints of physical and sexual abuse involving the Methodist Church has identified allegations against almost two thousand perpetrators, taking place over the course of half a century. When you consider that each perpetrator may have had multiple victims, this means that many thousands of innocent lives are likely to have been affected.

 

200 allegations of misconduct concerned ministers of the Church, with over half of these involving allegations of sex abuse. [ I make the point that allegations of misconduct are not the same as instances of misconduct which can be proved beyond reasonable doubt. ]

 
The Methodist Church hopes the independent report, ‘Courage, Cost and Hope’, will enable it to learn ‘lessons from the past’. However, the extent of the abuse within the church has caused shock and outrage. Clearly, fundamental changes to the way the Church operates are called for.

...

 

Six separate police investigations are underway. It is likely that many of the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

 

The report criticised the culture within the Methodist Church of ignoring suspicions and sweeping allegations under the carpet to avoid an embarrassing scandal. The Church’s failure to act is likely to have allowed perpetrators of sex abuse to target further victims.

 

An apology whilst welcome will not repair the harm suffered by the victims. Sex abuse can change the course of the victim’s life.

 

Preaching to the converted and preaching to the unconverted: St Mary's Church and Academy, Sheffield

 
St Mary's Church, Sheffield is close to where I live.  The Church has an associated an 'academy,' St Mary's Academy, a Church of England faith school.

I've good reason to believe that the congregation of  St Mary's Church is very small. I have no evidence to show that the Church is influential or important or that the Church of England plays an important part in the life of the community but the members of the congregation and the clergy associated with the church will have a different opinion, of course. The policies and practice of the faith school make it seem that the Church of England is very important, that Christian faith is very important.

The Website of the school has a page on what they call 'Theological Rational.' The wording is mistaken. The word that should have been used is the noun 'Rationale,' not the adjective 'rational.'

https://www.st-marys.sheffield.sch.uk/theological-rational

This is a short extract from the page. The density of Biblical texts is not just excessive but amounts to attempted indoctrination, as I see it. The pupils at the school include children with other faith views or no faith views - but surely, children in this age group, primary school children, should be spared religious 'teaching' of the kind which flourishes at St Mary's Academy - if 'flourishing' can be used of these practices. When they are old enough to come to a considered view then religious views can be offered, together with non-religious views. 

 

' ... we look to the example of Jesus, the all-inclusive Saviour of the World, who modelled grace to everyone with whom he came into contact, no matter who or what they were, and regardless of background, beliefs or status.

Through the values that we hold dear, our actions are guided by the Christian principles which Jesus taught: to love (Jn13:34-35) and to forgive others (Matt 7:12). In our learning, we all strive to work hard (Eccl 9:10, 1Cor 15:58, Eph 6:7) as well as understand the importance of rest (Ex 20:8-9) and to simply ‘Be still’ (Psalm 46:10). We also want our children to aspire, to be supported in their learning & to have grit and determination to ‘press on towards the goal’ (Phil 3:14) - even when it is challenging (Luke 22:42).'

 

'All the children are familiar with our Theological Rational. In each class an adapted version of the rational is on display for all pupils to see.'

 

The claim on the page

 

https://www.st-marys.sheffield.sch.uk/whole-school-curriculum-overview

 

'At St Mary's we offer a broad and balanced curriculum' is surely open to objection. The curriculum is far from balanced.

 

St Mary's Church is very dependent upon visiting preachers. One of them is the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Alan Billings.

 

https://stmaryswalkley.co.uk/we-walk-on-holy-ground-14th-february-2021-the-sunday-next-before-lent/

 

The Sermon


By the Revd Canon Alan Billings. 

 

Then we have the gospel for today. We jump forward 1200 years. Jesus and his three disciples on another mountain. And the disciples have an experience which is equally strange and mysterious.

 

They see their teacher and friend, Jesus, transfigured in front of them, rather as the burning bush was transfigured for Moses. Again, a sense that this is holy ground, a little fearfulness. Yet God draws near and speaks to them out of the cloud that overshadows them, ‘This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him!’

 

And this was the Gospel he refers to:

 

Mark 9.2-9

 

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

 

Does the Revd Canon actually believe this? Does he believe that Elijah and Moses talked with Jesus? Yes, he does believe it.

 

The Revd Canon obviously has not just a high opinion of Moses but believes that Moses has a very high place in the history of God's revelation. This is a You tube video published by the Rock Christian Centre, the place he attended to mark the relaunch of the Christian Police Association - the Fundamentalist Christian Police Association.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyAjdOLe1Ao&t=45s

 

 

The text which is spoken (Leviticus 20) is provided in written form. Extracts from the text:

 

[1] The Lord said to Moses, [2] "Say to the Israelites: 'Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him.

 

[10] " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife---with the wife of his neighbor---both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. [11] " 'If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. [12] " 'If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. [13] " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. [14] " 'If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you. [15] " 'If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. [16] " 'If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. [17] " 'If a man marries his sister , the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible. [18] " 'If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people. [19] " 'Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible. [20] " 'If a man sleeps with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

 

[27] " 'A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.' "

 

Oxford University and Christ Church, Oxford

 

The case of Professor Jan Joosten and the Christ Church connection

 

I refer to 'the Christ Church connection' but obviously, this isn't in the least a reference to abuse in the wider community of Christ Church - I know of none - and isn't in the least a claim that Christ Church tolerated the abuse perpetrated by Jan Joosten. He was quickly removed by Christ Church - but not quickly removed by the University of Strasbourg, it seems.

 

Jan Joosten was a member of Christ Church, Oxford and a Trustee of Christ Church. Christ Church is a constituent college of Oxford University. Jan Joosten was Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University. He also held a post, for a longer time, at the University of Strasbourg, France.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/
jun/22/oxford-university-professor-jan-joosten-jailed-france-child-abuse-images

 

An Oxford University theology professor and former pastor who downloaded 28,000 child abuse images and videos has been sentenced to a year in prison and placed on the sex offender register in France.

Jan Joosten, 61, who holds the prestigious regius professorship of Hebrew at Oxford, was suspended [by Christ Church]. He is considered one of the most distinguished biblical scholars of his generation.

The academic, who lives in the Bas-Rhin region of France, was sentenced by a court in the city of Saverne last week over possession of about 27,000 images and 1,000 videos after he admitted the facts of the case, Agence France-Presse reported.

Prosecutors said the material downloaded by Joosten, who spent six years as a pastor in his native Belgium, included depictions of child rape.

The head of the college is the Dean of Christ Church. Christ Church is unique among Oxford colleges in that

 

Christ Church, formally titled "The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth" is the only academic institution in the world which is also a cathedral,  the seat (cathedra) of the Bishop of Oxford. Its Head of House, who is head of both college and cathedral, must be an Anglican cleric appointed by the crown as Dean of the cathedral church. The Dean lives on site in a grand sixteenth-century house in the main quadrangle.

 

From the Wikipedia entry on boiling alive, a punisment which has a linkage with the Founder of Christ Church, King Henry VIII:

 

In England, the ninth statute passed in 1531 (the 22nd year of the reign of King Henry VIII  made boiling alive the prescriptive form of capital punishment for murder ... This arose from a February 1531 incident in which the Bishop of Rochester's cook, Richard Roose,  gave several people poisoned porridge,  resulting in two deaths. A partial confession having been extracted by torture,  the sentence was thus imposed by attainder and without benefit of clergy.  

 

 

A contemporary chronicle reports the following:

'He roared mighty loud, and divers women who were big with child did feel sick at the sight of what they saw, and were carried away half dead; and other men and women did not seem frightened by the boiling alive, but would prefer to see the headsman at his work.'

   

Boiling to death was employed again in 1542 for a woman, Margaret Davy, who had also used poison.

 

These are episodes in the vast and horrific history of Christian cruelty. People at Christ Church, Oxford, some of them at least, must surely be aware of boiling alive, and so many other instances of cruelty committed on the orders of Henry VIII, but the depiction of the King on Website materials published by the college don't mention them, or at least the extracts I've seen.

 

The Church of England Children's Society

 

The charity's income:
£38.4 million in 2017-18.
The donations of supporters:  £17.4 million.

 

In June 2017, prompted by scrutiny from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into its past conduct, the Children's Society admitted to its role in historic child abuse. The charity was implicated in abuse arising from its role in facilitating the migration of 3700 children to Australia, Canada and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The charity also issued an apology for abuse carried out in its children's homes in the United Kingdom; 'We also want to acknowledge that it’s not only child migrants who suffered at the hands of abusers. We are also deeply sorry to any other people who in the past suffered neglect, harm or sexual abuse while in the care of The Children’s Society here in the UK...'

 

The charity had been aware of the abuse for many years, and had paid damages in secret to victims, only admitting to these payments in 2017 following scrutiny from IICSA. (From the Wikipedia entry on The Church of England Children's Society.)

 

Instead of giving money to the Church of England Children's Society, donors have a very large choice of other charities, from very large to very small, working in the same field and similar fields, or working on specific issues.

 

 

The case of Julie Morris

 

This is a section concerned not with a church or a church organization but an individual Christian believer. The information about this case here comes from my page Abuse, Safeguarding, Faith: the churches and their failures.   Although the page is extensive, it can only give a very small sample of the failures of the Churches. In my pages on Christian belief, the churches, Christian organizations and individual Christian believers, I argue throughout that faith in Christianity is misguided and that it would be very mistaken to put implicit trust in churches, Christian organizations and individual Christian believers. However, there are obvious degrees of failure, vast differences to be found. In the cases outlined in this section, the failures are very serious.

 

Julie Morris was Deputy Headteacher, Staff Governor and Safeguarding Lead at St George's Central Church of England Primary School, Wigan

The charges against Julie Morris were not connected with her employment at St George's Central Church of England.

 

From the page

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-59754035

 

A primary school deputy head teacher and her partner have been jailed for dozens of child sexual abuse offences, including nine counts of rape.

 

Julie Morris, 44, the safeguarding lead at a school in Wigan, and David Morris filmed themselves abusing and raping a girl under the age of 13.

The teacher was jailed for 13 years and four months.

Her 52-year-old partner, of St Helens, admitted 34 offences at a previous hearing and was jailed for 16 years.

Julie Morris, of Hindley, worked at St George's Central C of E Primary School in Wigan but the charges are not related to her employment.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the videos showed Julie Morris giggling as the abuse took place.

Honorary Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Andrew Menary, said: "Every now and again you see cases, the circumstances of which are almost beyond belief. This is one of those cases.

"It demonstrates that human depravity really knows no depths."

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was one of the most horrific cases they have had to deal with.

"It truly appears like both of them were equally involved," district crown prosecutor Damion Lloyd said.

"They've formed this horrendous sexual interest in children and they've acted out their most unpleasant fantasies on the victim.

"It feels like the relationship between them is just a self-feeding cycle where they have effectively driven each other on to worse and worse acts."

In his 20 years of prosecuting, he said it was the "pinnacle" of the most "disgusting and depraved types of acts that people can discuss and do".

 

...

 

Julie Morris admitted two counts of rape, nine of inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and two of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

She also admitted three counts of taking indecent images of a child, one of engaging in sexual communication with a child and one of possessing indecent images of a child

 

Canon Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/alan-billings-pcc-scrutiny-accountability3.htm

 

On 16 August 2012, the Home Office announced that every newly elected police and crime commissioner would be required to swear an "oath of impartiality" before taking office ...

 

The then Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Nick Herbert said,

 

Police and crime commissioners will be important public servants and it is right that they make a formal public commitment to the communities they will serve. Although police and crime commissioners may stand for a political party,   the public will expect them to represent all the people in their area impartially, without fear or favour. The swearing of an oath will be an important symbol of this impartiality, emphasising both the significance of this new role in local communities and that commissioners are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate. An oath will also underline the particular importance of even-handedness in an office which holds to account the local chief constable and police force who themselves are bound to serve impartially.

 

I do call into question the impartiality of Alan Billings, not only in this section but in many other places. His mildness of manner does not exclude the possibility of recklessness in the least. I would claim that he has spoken, written or acted with a disregard for the possible consequences on various occasions, or multiple occasions. He should have been 'above suspicion,' but has failed to avoid the pitfalls which go with the post of Police and Crime Commissioner, a post which gives very substantial powers, exercised by a single person, without the system of checks and balances which are an intrinsic part of politics at the local and national level.

 

In the pages where I discuss the words and actions of Alan Billings, I give many examples of words and actions which I claim are in conflict with the impartiality expected of Police and Crime Commissioners.

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/billingsgate.htm


A question concerning 'hate crime.'

 

Quotation from one of the Billingsgate Questions below:

 

'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.'

 

Is this verse from the Bible (Leviticus 20:13) an example of 'Hate Crime?' If not, why not? Is it harmful or absolutely harmless? Is it the 'Word of God' or not? The people at Rock Christian Centre, where Bibles were presented at the event you attended, believe it's the word of God. The passage where it appears is read out in one of the Rock Christian Centre You Tube videos discussed below.

 

Is Alan Billings certain that this can't possibly amount to thought crime or hate speech because it appears in The Bible, 'the word of God.' Is it impossible for the word of God to be hateful? Can he really claim that all the instances of thought crime or hate speech dealt with by South Yorkshire Police, with his active encouragement, are more hateful than any of this?

By inserting material on your Christian beliefs into newspaper articles, PCC blog articles, often with Biblical quotations, by inserting a Biblical quotation into 'Keeping Safe:' The Police and Crime Plan for South Yorkshire 2017 - 2021,' I claim that you've failed to adhere to the principles of impartiality. I need to elaborate, I need to give further reasons why your behaviour was wrong. Image management is big business now. It's part of Public Relations Management. 'Media mentions' are a part of image management. Companies, but not just companies, organizations of many different kinds, want to see favourable mentions, not always direct mentions, in Web and print media. They increase the Visibility of the Brand.  Churches are a kind of Brand. The public give them large amounts of money. Granted, their costs are massive - all those massive Churches to maintain - but the fact that they have all those buildings is an indication of their financial power.


Favourable mentions are free advertizing, and what you have done amounts to free advertizing. It may not have influenced many people, but people who have rarely or never given any thought to the church will have seen the names and the references slipped into his accounts.

My case is that you have attempted to further the Church and Christianity in ways which are not legitimate, given the necessary restrictions on the activities of Police and Crime Commissioners. I'd claim that you have broken your oath, which requires Police and Crime Commissioners to be impartial. 

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-pcc-international.htm

 

From the Sermonizing of Canon Billings at St Mark's Church:

 

The Church of England used to be rather good at theology. I say ‘used to be’, because for reasons I don’t wholly understand, large parts of the contemporary church have given up on theology. They have narrowed the range of experiences we can draw upon, to one. The Bible ... Whatever the question, the answer is in scripture. I don’t doubt the zeal of people who treat the biblical books in this way, but it can have the most unfortunate consequences.

At different times Christians who take this view have said that childbirth can never be without pain because it says in Genesis that ‘in pain you shall bear children’. Women could be regarded as property because it says in the last of the Ten Commandments that a man should not covet his neighbour’s property – his house, his slaves, his animals, his wife. Social welfare has been declared useless because Jesus said, ‘the poor you have with you always’. We laugh at this now, but this approach to the Bible – divorcing it from theology – is becoming dominant in the modern Church.

We need theology – reflection on that accumulation of experiences – as well as scripture if we are truly to discern God’s will.

When was this period, the period when 'The Church of England used to be rather good at theology?' This bland, sweeping statement, unsupported by any evidence, is quite shocking. At all times, recent, less recent, centuries-old, Christian theologians have disagreed strongly - sometimes violently - with each other. The list of theological 'differences of opinion,' sometimes leading to open warfare, is long and deeply depressing. Splits and schisms are entrenched in the history of Christianity. Do sinners always go to hell, no matter what good they have done in their lives? They do, according to so many theologians, past and present. Not so, according to other theologians who have maintained that 'good works' can be taken into account.

A very different example, from a sphere very remote from everyday human concerns but very important to the theologians who debated these issues centuries ago - and still debate them, the split between Eastern Orthodox views and Western Roman Catholic views.

From the page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Eastern_Orthodox_teaching_regarding_the_Filioque

The Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the Trinity  is that the Holy Spirit originates, has his cause for existence or being (manner of existence) from the Father alone as "One God, One Father" and that the filioque confuses the theology as it was defined at the councils at both Nicea and Constantinople. The position that having the creed say "the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father and the Son", does not mean that the Holy Spirit now has two origins, is the position the West took at the Council of Florence, as the Council declared the Holy Spirit "has His essence and His subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration.

My page

www.linkagenet.com/themes/cambridge-university.htm

includes profiles of Cambridge University theologians, which will make clear, I hope, that in general, these people are in no fit state to pronounce on matters beyond their arcane specialities.

Dr Billings' pronouncements are always clear - clear but confusing, again and again. On the pages of this site - I don't provide links to these sections here, since there has to be a limit to semi-scholarly citation of sources -  I discuss his use of a Biblical text about the Second Coming of Jesus (this second coming will be a time when Jesus carries out 'The Last Judgment,' according to orthodox Christian theologians). He gives every appearance of believing in a Second Coming. He stresses the New Testament emphasis upon 'watchfulness' - calls it, being 'wake' - before launching into a ridiculous claim that the New Testament view of watchfulness or being 'wake' supports present-day notions of the importance of being 'woke' or politically correct.

Watchfulness - or being 'wake' - is stressed in this extract from a theologian, quoted on the page

www.linkagenet.com/themes/fefe.htm

The extract comes from the site


https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-return-of-christ/

 

DEFINITION

 

The Return, Second Coming, or Second Advent of Christ refers to the future return of Christ to earth at the end of the age. This return will be visible and physical as he comes from heaven on the clouds to bring final judgment and salvation.

 

SUMMARY

 

The New Testament establishes the doctrine of the Second Coming. Jesus refers to his future return in glory. While the term “Second Coming” or “Second Advent” does not occur in the New Testament, there are several nouns and verbs used to refer to the return of Christ. The nature of the Second Coming is visible, imminent, and final. The hope believers have of his return gives confidence of his victory and the salvation of their mortal bodies from sin once and for all to have a glorified resurrected body that is pure, immortal, and incorruptible (1Cor. 15:35-49). The Second Coming, then, has implications for how believers live day to day in an attitude of watchfulness and readiness.

 

Introduction

 

The doctrine of the Second Coming or Advent of Christ refers to the future return of Christ to earth at the end of the age. This return will be visible and physical as he comes down from heaven on the clouds to bring final judgment and salvation. It is often associated with the great day of the Lord in the Old Testament and corresponds to the messianic prophecies anticipating the messiah coming as King of kings in victory and glory to triumph over all the enemies of God and his people. The New Testament focuses primarily on the messiah’s first advent with the ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus who came as a sinless sacrificial lamb to make atonement for sin and provide salvation through faith in him by inaugurating the New Covenant ...

 

In a sermon at St Mary's Church, Sheffield, he quotes a Biblical text about God appearing to Moses in a burning bush. He has never, to my knowledge, discussed the fact that in orthodox Christian theology, Moses also received from God, supposedly, the first five books of the Old Testament. The quotations in the first column of the page from these 'books of Moses' are horrific.

Dr Billings discussed a pleasant little story about Moses in the sermon, omitting the context or suppressing the context. Could he give an opinion - as a theologian - on this extract, quoted in my page

www.linkagenet.com/themes/fefe.htm

It's included in one of the questions which make up the 'Billingsgate Challenge'

www.linkagenet.com/themes/billingsgate.htm

Numbers 31, extract

The LORD said to Moses, 'Punish the Midianites for what they did to the people of Israel ... So Moses said to the people, 'Get ready for war so that you can attack Midian and punish them for what they did to the LORD ... The people of Israel captured the Midianite women and children, took their cattle and their flocks, plundered all their wealth, and burned all their cities and camps ... Moses became angry with the officers, the commanders of battalions and companies, who had returned from the war. He asked them, 'Why have you kept all the women alive? Remember that it was the women who followed Balaam's instructions and at Peor led the people to be unfaithful to the LORD. That was what brought the epidemic on the LORD's people. So now kill every boy and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse, but keep alive for yourselves all the girls and all the women who are virgins.

 

If a preacher includes this passage in a sermon, would the preacher be liable to a charge of 'Hate Crime?' If not, why not? Or perhaps the charge should be 'promotion of ignorance and superstition.'  My view is that Notice the pre-scientific, anti-scientific, far-from-harmless view of epidemics and their causes.

How are ordinary people supposed to recognize 'genuine' orders of God, orders which can be acted upon, and 'false' orders of God, all those repulsive and irrelevant orders which form the greatest part of this 'revelation' by far. Theologians have overwhelmingly taken the view that God did command that disobedient sons should be stoned to death, that 'witches' should be put to death - I don't need to elaborate, because there's abundant evidence on this and other pages, even though the evidence I give is only a small part of the massive, cumulative evidence which it would be possible to give, just about.

From my page

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-crime-independent-ethics-panels.htm

I think that Alan Billings hasn't been vigilant enough. He has preferred to concentrate his attention on failures of safeguarding on the part of South Yorkshire Police. Has he done enough - has he done more than the bare minimum - has he done almost anything to ensure that South Yorkshire Police have been in no danger of overlooking the problem of abuse in the Churches? I think that this extract from the 'Factsheet' is very, very instructive, as is the other content.  The Factsheet  deserves to be read with care. The extract is followed by material on abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Alan Billings has wanted to give the impression that the Christian Church - in particular the Church of England - is generally sound. He has sometimes been critical of the Church but the criticism has been mild, amounting to Church of England grumbling on the whole. He has completely misunderstood the scale of the problems, which range far beyond the issue of abuse and he has encouraged a climate of opinion which vastly underestimates the scale of the problems, for example by  his use of the media. He has found media outlets far too willing to believe that this cleric tells it as it is.

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/fefe-christianity-south-yorkshire-police.htm

 

Police and Crime Commissioners have very great powers, including the power to remove a Chief Constable.

 

'Hillsborough police chief who was fired last year after being accused of blaming the disaster on fans was "unlawfully" removed from his job,' a court has found. 

 

The High Court ruled that David Crompton, the former chief constable in South Yorkshire, should not have been forced to resign by Dr Alan Billings, the region’s police and crime commissioner. 

 

Mr Crompton was removed because of a press release issued last April which alluded to "other contributory factors" outside of police conduct, which the jury found caused or contributed to the disaster. (Daily Telegraph, 19 June, 2017.)

The relationship between Stephen Watson, the last Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, and Alan Billings seemed very amicable. The 'Chief Constable's Message,' part of the document 'Keeping Safe,' goes much too far in promoting Dr Billing's Plan, which isn't in the least free from faults.

 

The relationship between Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner shouldn't be a symbiotic relationship in the least. The two have very different roles. in a system of checks and balances, responsibilities for oversight and operational decisions and so much else. As it is, the Chief Constable has gone in for a form of grovelling - or, rather, has made not nearly enough effort to preserve a healthy distance. He writes,

 

''The Police and Crime Plan sets out clear priorities for the force and I have an unshakeable intention to ensure that the plan is implemented and we achieve our objectives of keeping South Yorkshire a safe place to live, learn and work.'

 

The Plan sets out the views of one particular Church of England 'Priest.' The Chief Constable has, or should have, a far greater knowledge of operational police matters than Dr Billings. His 'unshakeable intention to ensure that the plan is implemented' isn't desirable in the least. As for the objective of keeping South Yorkshire a safe place to live, learn and work, can this be achieved, as he claims, South Yorkshire can never become a completely safe place, unless the Chief Constable believes that he can completely end gun crime, knife crime and the other crimes that endanger the community. He's surely more realistic, less utopian, in his expectations?

 

Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner,  has identified 'Treating People Fairly' as one of the three 'Policing and Crime Priorities' in his glossy publication 'Keeping Safe: The Police and Crime Plan for South Yorkshire 2017 - 2021, Renewed 2019.'

Only a few categories of unfairness are discussed on the page 'Treating People Fairly,' for example these:

 

'Ethnic minorities point to the fact that they are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and may feel that they have undue police attention.'

 

Other minorities - such as LGBT ... - may say they are not recognized or understood as well as they should be. If hate crimes are to be properly recorded and investigated we need the police to understand what the issues are and what is at stake.'

 

Dr Billings must understand that people who don't belong to the communities he singles out can be treated unfairly by the police. I hope that Dr Billings understands that an accusation of hate crime can be completely unfair, completely unjust - and that the issuing of a Harassment Warning can be completely unfair, completely unjust.

Violent crime in South Yorkshire doesn't have a section to itself in the short list of Priorities. It's included in Priority 2, with anti-social behaviour and rates only a very brief mention: 'In 2018 we were anxious about the rise in violent crime, particularly stabbings.' This is followed by a few general comments, including this hope: ' ... we want to understand the reasons for the increase and we want to see it brought down.' Gun crime in South Yorkshire doesn't rate a mention at all, unlike the problem of off-road bikes:

 

'Often it is anti-social behaviour rather than crime that most disturbs people. For example, last year many told me how their lives were blighted by off-road bikes. I was pleased, therefore, when the police established their biker team that has been very successful in pursuing and apprehending those who cause nuisance - and crushing bikes.'

 

The police haven't been as successful in pursuing and apprehending those who cause much more than a nuisance.

In the same section, Dr Billings makes this claim:

 

'In South Yorkshire, all crime is investigated.'

 

It's alarming that someone in his position, with his power can make such a ridiculous claim. f he looks into the matter more closely, he'll find that the claim is completely false.

 

I'm a non-believer. Dr Billings isn't a non-believer. He describes himself as a retired Church of England priest. In 'Keeping Safe,' very unwisely, he includes, on Page 2, in very large, very prominent letters, this quotation from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah:

 

'Seek the well-being of this place ... for in its well-being you will find your own.' Jeremiah 29:7.

 

His Foreword ends with this:

 

The overriding message for the coming year (2019-20) is that we must get better at working together for the common good. The prophet put it this way: 'Seek the well-being of the place where you are set ... for in its well-being you will find your own'. (Jeremiah 29:7.)

 

Jeremiah's words had a specific reference. Dr Billings ignores this and ignores the context. The complete text of Jeremiah 29.7, in the translation of the King James Bible:

 

'And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.'

 

The New International Version translation:

 

'Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.'

 

'If it prospers, so will you.' Is this necessarily the case? Not in the least. Does the second statement necessarily follow from the first? Not at all.

There was, of course, absolutely no need for Dr Billings to include this quotation from an Old Testament prophet. He should have realized that he was writing for a community made up of many different groups - not just Church of England believers and other Christian believers but non-believers, people with no belief in God or the Bible, either the Bible as the inspired word of God or the Bible as a good guide to contemporary problems, a community which includes people with a wide range of religious and a wide-range of non-Christian views.

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/fefe-christianity-south-yorkshire-police.htm

 

Extracts from an article published in the 'Evening Standard:'

 

South Yorkshire Police relentlessly mocked after urging people to report one another for 'offensive or insulting words'

 

The article quotes this tweet from South Yorkshire Police:

 

'In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.'

 

'It was relentlessly mocked, with more than 5,000 responses to the Sunday night post. Many people likened the force to George Orwell's "Thought Police” from his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.'

 

'Scottish political analysis account Wings Over Scotland tweeted: “So just to be clear: you want me to phone the police when there hasn't been a crime but someone's feelings have been hurt?” '

 

Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has defended the force's view of its role - as having the right and the duty to investigate a whole range of incidents which aren't crimes. This, to me, is Alan Billings acting the part of South Yorkshire Thought Police and Hate Crime Commissioner.

 

Nick Ferrari interviewed Alan Billings on lbc radio. This gives a link to the interview, with other material.

 

https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/nick-ferrari/nick-ferrari-tears-into-crime-commissioner/

Extracts:

 

'After South Yorkshire Police asked the public to report incidents in which they were offended, Nick Ferrari had this fiery clash with their Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

'In a time when the police are stretched due to budget cuts, Nick was furious that they are wasting resources on incidents that aren't even crimes.

 

'Speaking to Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Nick told him:


"If a motorist cuts another motorist up in Rotherham and one says the other a few choice words, we now have to get the police involved, do we?

 

' "You've got enough police men and women, do you, to come and talk to me about it?"

 

'And as Nick pressed Dr Billings on the plan, it fell apart more and more.

 

'The conversation even ended with Nick having to warn the Police and Crime Commissioner not to make comments about an incident as it was still a live court case.'

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/complaints-syp-pcc.htm

 

Extract from email sent to members of the Police and Crime Panel, 22 December, 2022

 

The content of this email is wide-ranging and extensive, you'll find. My main reason for contacting you and other members of the Police and Crime Panel is to make certain that you receive a copy of a document which contains strong criticism of some actions of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. I have found great difficulties in what should have been a simple task. Before providing the copy of the document, I outline the difficulties.

 

Alan Billings holds South Yorkshire Police to account and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel to account - that's the theory. Has he been successful in ensuring that the public can comment on the work of the Commissioner? His department doesn't seem to be a model of efficiency. In fact, the initial impression would be unfavourable, if one of the criteria is this very reasonable one: ensuring that the public can contact members of the Police and Crime Panel and members of the Independent Ethics Panel easily, without the need to devote time and effort to internet searches and sending emails to find out how emails can be sent to these people.

 

If someone wants to complain about South Yorkshire Police, then it's very simple - a well-designed and efficient system is in place. It isn't only complaints and criticisms to the Police and Crime Panel which meet with difficulties. Attempts to find out information too.


https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/news/alan-billings-takes-office-as-police-and-crime-
commissioner-for-south-yorkshire/

For further details about the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel please visit: 
www.southyorks.gov.uk

 

 

Clicking on this link gave an error message:

 

 

The page 'Police and Crime Panel'


https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/what-we-do/police-crime-panel/

 

includes this statement from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner:

 

I am ultimately accountable at the ballot box during police and crime commissioner elections, held every four years. During those four years, I I am held to account by the Police and Crime Panel. The Panel is made up of 12 people – ten Councillors from each of the four districts in South Yorkshire, plus two independent members of the public ... I have to report regularly to the Panel to account for the decisions I make, or to be questioned by them and members of the public.

 

So far from holding the Police and Crime Commissioner to account, the Police and Crime Panel has shown itself to be compliant,  subservient. In this little world, Dr Billings is very much the Master, the Police and Crime Panel (and the Independent Ethics Panel) are very much the servants.

 

But this section isn't about Dr Billings' claims and the realities which make so many of his claims impossible to accept but about the basic matter of operational efficiency. He's responsible for the operational efficiency of his organization. He can't blame South Yorkshire Police for any deficiencies.

 

On the same page:

 

For further details about the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel please visit: www.southyorks.gov.uk


Yet again, clicking on the link will get you nowhere. More exactly, clicking on the link takes you to a page with the familiar message

 

This site can't be reached.

 

Minutes of Independent Ethics Panel meetings are published on the page

 

https://southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/what-we-do/iep/meetings-agendas-minutes/

 

and to give an adequate account of the Panel, I need to be able to consult the minutes. I can, but the minutes available online only go up to 16 December 2020. There are minutes listed for 25 February 2021 and 27 April 2021 but there's no link at all, not even a link which you can click on which leads nowhere. So, the minutes haven't been updated in years and the minutes for 2021, 2022 and for this year aren't available to the public at all.

 

Since the Police and Crime Panel are supposed to 'hold the Commissioner to account,' they can take account of the gross inefficiencies in the organization he's responsible for. This would be one of the easier problems to be addressed by them. The problems to do with Alan Billings' failures to follow the problem of impartiality and other failures discussed in these pages are much, much harder.

 

After an internet search, I found a promising phone number and at last, I got somewhere. I was able to send the document I'd written giving critical comments about the Police and Crime Commissioner. I asked that the document should reach members of the Panel.

 

I brought the missing links to the attention of an official. Now, I am assured, the email address PCP@syjs has been fixed. However, at the time of writing, the link to   www.southyorks.gov.uk has still not been fixed. I see it as necessary to bring the document to the attention of Alan Billings, to members of the Police and Crime Panel and to members of the Independent Ethics Panel. If the link had not been broken, I could have submitted the document to members of the Police and Crime Panel. I was able to send the document, but not directly to members of the Panel. I have reasons for thinking that they may well not have received the document. I've taken the step of sending the document individually to the members at email addresses which I know will work. I haven't been able to send the document to members of the Independent Ethics Panel.

 

Any member of the public who would like to contact the Commissioner's Independent Ethics Panel for any reason will have a frustrating time. I'm a member of the public who needs to contact the Independent Ethics Panel and I've had a frustrating time. No email addresses are provided for any Panel member.

 

From my page

 

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-pcc-panels.htm

 

    Scrutinizing the work of the Commissioner is, or should be, high-level work in many cases. To hold the PCC to account properly will often involve challenging the PCC: challenging work.  On the evidence I have, in South Yorkshire, it's much easier than that in practice. By avoiding proper scrutiny of the PCC, by failing to challenge the PCC when the PCC is open to criticism, the work becomes much easier, a matter of routine and token gestures.

     

     To what extent do the members of the two panels have the skills and general capability necessary for efficient discharge of their duties? I examine below Abdul Khayum, a previous member of the Police and Crime Panel who was Chair at meetings of the Panel over a long period. From the profile below,

     

A LABOUR Councillor who is also a practising magistrate has been placed under official investigation over social media posts calling for the violent annihilation of Israel.

 

Cllr Abdul Khayum, who sits on Sheffield City Council, is being investigated by Labour over a series of shocking posts, including the sharing of a pro-Islamic terrorist video that depicts graphic violence and reads: “O Allah, destroy Israel ...

 

[I make it clear that I don't have the result of the investigation. I don't claim that the allegations were proved beyond reasonable doubt.]

Abdul Khayum was the Chair of the Police and Crime Panel at the meeting of 7 July, 2017. One of the items recorded in the minutes was this:

 

 'Judicial Review: Outcome.' On 9 June 2017, the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division quashed the four decisions of the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) leading to David Crompton being required to resign ...'

Abdul Khayum has stated that he's required to hold the Police and Crime Commissioner to account but he did nothing, and the so-called Independent Ethics Panel did nothing - I can find no trace of the episode in the minutes of their meetings.

 

The High Court of Justice had made serious criticisms of actions of the PCC.

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/wp-content/uploads/crompton-v-pcc-approved-judgment.pdf

In the third column of my page

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-crime-independent-ethics-panels.htm

a section, 'POLICE AND CRIME PANEL FOR SOUTH YORKSHIRE VIEWS OF HM CHIEF INSPECTOR OF CONSTABULARY IN THE CASE OF CHIEF CONSTABLE DAVID CROMPTON.'

From the minutes of the Police and Crime Panel Meeting:

 

  • The Chair replied that he did not see any merit in going over the details of the judgement or reviewing the decision of the court.  The Panel were welcome to pass comments on the report or ask for any clarifications but going back over the Judicial Review and requesting the Commissioner to explain his actions was inappropriate in this forum and would not help the Panel going forward.

  •  

  • At the next meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, Councillor Khayum was the Chair. He addressed the panel in these terms:

     

    The Chair reminded Members that the Panel’s role was very clear; this was to challenge and scrutinise the Police and Crime Commissioner. Evidence that the Panel has been challenging the Police and Crime Commissioner - or even the much easier task of 'scrutinizing' the Commissioner - isn't very frequent in the minutes, but there are heartening exceptions. A few Councillors have been making an effort.

     

  • At the Panel meeting of 29 September, 2017, Councillor Otten made these comments on the Chair's reluctance - refusal - to request that the Commissioner should explain his actions:

  •  

  • Minutes:

    With regard to the Judicial Review: Outcome, Councillor Otten stated that he felt that the following statement in the minutes was inaccurate: "to request the Commissioner to explain his actions was inappropriate in this forum and did not help the Panel going forward". 

     

    Councillor Otten queried what the role of the Panel was; if these words could be spoken and recorded in the minutes. 

     

    L Noble confirmed that the words recorded in the minutes were spoken by the Monitoring Officer at the meeting. 

     

    Councillor Otten stated that, in his opinion, this was a matter arising.  He raised concerns that Panel Members needed to understand what the role of the Panel was, if it was not appropriate to ask the Commissioner to explain his actions. 

     

    The Chair recalled from the meeting that, in terms of Judicial Review Outcome, it would not help matters moving forward, if Panel Members were to go back and ask the Commissioner to explain his actions and decisions. 

     

    Councillor Otten commented that, it was a supremely narrow view of the role of this Panel’s work if there are whole areas of the Commissioner’s work, which fall outside of the remit of this Panel’s scrutiny and challenge of his decisions.

     

    I have to say that the election address Councillor Otten produced for the elections to the post of Police and Crime Commissioner was very disappointing, based on generalities.  Did he take more than a few minutes to write it? The election was held on 6 May, 2021 and  Joe Otten didn't win. He stood for election in 2016 and didn't win.

     

    From my page

     

    https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-pcc-panels.htm

     

     

    Professor A. Macaskill,  Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel


    • Introductory comment: Professor A. Macaskill is Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel. Not many Police and Crime Commissioners have an Independent Ethics Panel. I've examined the work of the Panel in detail and my conclusion is that its work falls well short of mediocrity. I think it's very likely that the mere existence of this panel, with its impressive title, enhances the reputation of Dr Billings as an impressive ethical thinker. He's nothing of the sort. His work too falls well short of mediocrity.

    •  

      'Independent Ethics Panel.' The implicit claim to genuine independence is unearned. To give a name to the panel which includes the word 'independent' doesn't guarantee in the least a panel which is genuinely independent. 

    •  

      Professor Macaskill teaches and researches at Sheffield Hallam University. 

       

      Here, I only comment on one publication of Professor Macaskill and the comment is very brief - but my provisional judgment is that, on the evidence of this piece, Professor Macaskill isn't a writer who goes beyond platitudes - academic platitudes and platitudes of the more general kind. I'll have to examine much more of her writing to see if this tentative judgement is confirmed.

       

      https://shura.shu.ac.uk/127/1/

       

      MACASKILL, A. (2005). Defining forgiveness: Christian clergy and general population perspectives. Journal of personality, 73 (5), 1237-1267.

       

      The present research contributes to the search for conceptual clarity by exploring the definitions and parameters of forgiveness employed by Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy in England and then comparing these to data collected from a general population sample. Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis, so a logical starting point is to explore the conceptions of forgiveness that they themselves hold.

       

      'Definitions and parameters' is a pretentious phrase which is surely inserted for show, or the result of the process of 'reflex thought.' 'Reflex muscle action is familiar enough, the process initiated by a stimulus. No conscious processes are involved. Reflex action which produces such phrases bypasses thought almost as completely.

       

      A much more prominent example of 'reflex action' from the article. Some thought was needed to come up with the phrase, but not very much:

       'Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis ... '


      Routine semi-mathematical equipment suitable for the manipulation of statistical data is visible on the page but what is lacking is any relevant concrete evidence.   These are pious phrases. To have included concrete evidence would have been to mix genres, to insert material which would almost certainly not have been to the liking of the editor or editors and the readership.

       

      Clergy don't provide moral and spiritual l(M and S) leadership within their communities. They only provide a form of M and S leadership within their churches, and not everyone in their churches will have respect for them or pay any attention to their pious phrases.

    • My page

       

      https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-crime-independent-ethics-panels.htm


      contains a Factsheet. It provides evidence concerning the massive - insuperable - difficulties of automatically assuming that people she assumes are 'moral and spiritual leaders' are anything of the kind.

       

      Her unargued assumption that there is such a thing as 'Divine forgiveness' (the capital letter in 'Divine' is provided by the Professor) is surely an aberration in a journal not published by some Conservative Evangelical or Roman Catholic publishing outfit.

       

    • Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

     

     


    18 March 2016
    https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/18-march/news/uk/abuse-case-turns-spotlight-on-to-flawed-c-of-e-safeguarding-practices-1

    The Church of England’s safeguarding procedures in cases of reported sexual abuse have been condemned as “fundamentally flawed” by an independent review, which was commissioned by the Church.

    ...

     

    The review, which was carried out by Ian Elliott, a safeguarding consultant with the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, considered the Church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by the Revd Garth Moore, a former Chancellor of the dioceses of Southwark, Durham, and Gloucester, who died in 1990. It concerned an attempted rape by Chancellor Moore of “Joe” (not his real name), which took place while Joe, then aged 16, was staying as a house guest at Chancellor Moore’s rooms in Gray’s Inn.

    Joe was then drawn into what he has described as an exploitative and emotionally abusive relationship by Brother Michael Fisher SSF, who later became Bishop of St Germans.

    The review, which has been seen in its entirety by the Church Times and The Guardian, is unsparing in its criticism of the way in which the C of E handled this case, accusing the Church of relying on good will, and withdrawing pastoral support as soon as the matter of financial compensation was mentioned.

     

    “This approach, of relying on widespread good will and a shared commitment to best practice . . . has been shown in other situations to be fundamentally flawed,” it concludes.

    ...

     

    Joe’s allegations are “credible”, and reveal a “tragic catalogue of exploitation and harm”, the review says. In December, the diocese of London reached a £35,000 settlement with him, and agreed to commission this report into the case.

    The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, was given the task of taking up the report’s conclusions. She said that, in a meeting last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury had told her that all the recommendations had been accepted, and would be implemented.

    She said she had been horrified by what she read. “It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable reading for us. I was disappointed. The Church of England commissioned this piece of work because it wanted to learn from this particular survivor, and from his experiences. We owe it not just to [him] but to others to say that we will listen better, believe quicker, and respond appropriately.”

    ...

     

    On many occasions he had told senior clerics and other figures in the Church about the serious sexual abuse that he had suffered while he was a teenager, but no significant action had been taken.

     

    Several of the people to whom Joe had reported the abuse told the Elliott review that they had no recollection of this. “The fact that these conversations could be forgotten about is hard to accept,” the review says. “He would be speaking about a serious and sadistic sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a senior member of the hierarchy.”

     

    Furthermore, no one had made any written record of what had been discussed, and this amounted to “unacceptable practice. . . If anyone is involved in receiving a disclosure of abuse, they should record the detail of what was said, and set out with their informant what actions would be taken by them, when they would take them, and why.”

     

     

    In 2014, Joe finally secured a meeting with the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who leads the C of E’s safeguarding work. Shortly afterwards, Joe began legal proceedings aimed at securing compensation.

     

    At that point, the Church was advised by its insurers to break off all contact with Joe. Consequently, Bishop Butler, and staff at Lambeth Palace who had also been contacted by Joe, did so. They later told the review that they “bitterly regretted doing so”.

     

    Cutting off contact with survivors is “unacceptable practice” and contradicts the Church’s own principles set out in its safeguarding guidelines, the Elliott report says. It recommends that pastoral support should never be withdrawn from any survivor simply because of concerns about financial or legal liability. Instead, the Church’s first response must always be a written apology to survivors, and then the offer of a “process of healing” for both their emotional and spiritual health.

     

    Training for the bishops and senior clergy, which is already under way as part of the Green report, must now include specific training on what to do when someone discloses sexual abuse, the report recommends.

     

    The Bishop of Butler is a Conservative Evangelical. He emphasizes 'Biblical truth,' the Bible as Guide. Again and again, it has been found that 'Bible truth' has failed to guide people in good practice - and that Bible-believing Christians can fail in understanding, sympathy and other human qualities should guide their response to acts such as rape and other forms of abuse.

     

    The abusers themselves don't lack orthodox belief, a knowledge of the Bible, a belief in the Bible and in Christian doctrine. Abusers, including gross abusers, pray, worship, deliver sermons in many cases, just like Christians who are not abusers. The Holy Spirit can be sent for the benefit of all of them, allegedly.  But none of these 'benefits' are the effective safeguards which are needed. The Church has had to learn the lesson that good practice, scrupulous care to follow various measure are needed - an approach which is essentially secular. The 'imitation of Christ' has not made the use of secular measures unnecessary, quite the opposite.

     

    Bishop Butler prayer walks for a week every year. He was prayer walking well before his decision to break off all contact with Joe, to offer him no support at all. Kind, generous, understanding, sympathetic, compassionate people haven't become kind, generous, understanding, sympathetic, compassionate by praying or prayer walking. According to the Bishop of Durham's Christian beliefs, kind, generous, understanding, sympathetic, compassionate people are destined for eternal separation from God - the state called 'hell' - if they fail to accept Jesus as Saviour. In the Bible, kind, generous, understanding, sympathetic, compassionate people are few and far between.

    On the evidence available to me, the Bishop of Durham is a very unimpressive figure.

     

    I'm not impressed by the fact that he is one of the 'Lords Spiritual,' one of the 26 Church of England Bishops / Archbishops (out of 42) who sit in the House of Lords. I'm not sure what such a person can contribute to the political life of the nation.

     

    Winchester Diocese

     

     

    • Tim Dakin, no longer Bishop of Winchester: a Conservative Evangelical. A committee member of the Evangelical Group of the General Synod of the Church of England. A member of the Church Mission Society.

       

      On 20 May 2021 it was reported that he had 'stepped back' as Bishop of Winchester for six weeks. He was faced with a possible, or probable vote of no confidence. A motion had been prepared: 'We do not have confidence in the diocesan bishop ... to lead by example, due to allegations of poor behaviour and mistreatment on his part of a number of individuals.' It described administrative and financial management in the diocese as 'unfit for purpose.' The motion  was rescinded when he 'stepped back.' 

       

      David Williams, the suffragan Bishop of Basingstoke also stepped back. He had been one of the people presenting complaints to Lambeth Palace.

       

      Extracts from a page of the site 'Surviving Church.'


      https://survivingchurch.org/2022/02/01/departure-of-tim-dakin-from-winchester-some-thoughts/

      Departure of Tim Dakin from Winchester. Some thoughts  1 February 2022


      His style of theology and administration had always breathed the supremely confident stance of the evangelical believer who claims to know the will of God at all times. This was proving now not to be true and, because of this loss of control, there was a strong sense of dissonance in his voice

      As someone who is sensitised to the use of power in church settings, I found the public speaking demonstrations by the Bishop uncomfortable to watch.  There was never, to judge from his style of speaking, any obvious space for any kind of dialogue with another theological position.  Rather, the theological vision of Dakin, particularly as revealed by his on-line performances, felt like a tank driving relentlessly forward, flattening anything or anyone who did not agree.  When I learned that Dakin’s vision was that mission should dominate everything undertaken by the diocese, including ministerial training, it set off a shudder inside me. 

      One single inconvertible fact about Dakin’s time as Bishop is that there are currently quite a number of wounded survivors of an abrasive episcopal pastoral ministry.  I have no access to actual names or situations, but there seems to be a consensus on this point among all those who comment on the Winchester situation.  Cases of bullying, wherever they occur, have a contagious effect.  One person’s bullying can cause a collapse of morale in a family, a parish or an entire deanery.  The would-be complainants at the Winchester Diocesan Synod last June, knew from their personal acquaintance, some of these traumatised individuals in the diocese.  The individual cases of the traumatised were not only those directly affected by the bully’s actions, but others who knew about them.  If we leave to one side all the other financial and administrative issues which seem to have played a part in the complaints against the Bishop, we still have this issue of damage and hurt.  How does one deal with such things?  In the Winchester situation, the moment for reconciliation between perpetrator and victims seems to have long passed.


      Visiting cathedrals and churches. Supporting them by paying an admission charge or making a donation.

       

        I've a strong interest in architecture and the built environment. In one extended period, a long time ago, I went on study visits to study cathedrals and , churches. Some of the books on architecture on my bookshelves are books on Christian buildings, for example two of the many books I have in the Thames and Hudson 'World of Art' series, 'The Cathedrals of England' by Alec Clifton-Taylor and 'English Parish Churches' by Graham Hutton and Olive Cook.

         

        Amongst the Church buildings I travelled to see and to study specifically, rather than the many  I've  visited as part of a wider tour, were Ely Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral, Beverley Minster and St Botolph's, Boston. This year, I've visited a large number of parish churches in North Derbyshire and beyond - the border with Derbyshire is near this part of South Yorkshire -  including Eyam, Tideswell, Ashbourne, Hathersage, Baslow, Youlgreave, Ashton-in-the-Water.

         

        I don't regard any of the cathedrals, churches and chapels I've visited with affection. The case is very different with the vernacular architecture of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and other parts of the country. The vernacular architecture of the South Pennines is a particular interest - a passion - buildings of stone, with stone tiles, in a setting which always has a strong interest to me and often enthralling, sometimes wild , sometimes pastoral, sometimes made up of other buildings with great visual impact. Sometimes, the vernacular buildings were built for industrial use. I'm a member of South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and the society owns buildings which are of very great interest.

         

        I donate to the Society but it's inconceivable that I would donate to a cathedral, church or chapel. I never put any money in a collection box. My visits to cathedrals were made at a time when there were no admission charges to cathedrals. It's inconceivable that I would pay an admission charge to visit a cathedral. I provide argument and evidence in quantity on this page and other pages of the site which explain my reasons for refusing to give any money for the upkeep of church buildings. Of course, I wrote the pages with a much wider aim in view.

         

        Christian believers will continue to give money for the upkeep of church buildings - or some of them will - but my view is that it would be mistaken for non-believers to give money for this purpose.

         

        I take this view for many reasons. One of the most important has to do with Christian views of salvation, a set of arguments I mention often in my writing on Christian belief.

         

        Aesthetic considerations are completely unimportant in the Christian view of salvation. The Christian view of salvation is restrictive, terrifying restrictive. Non-Christians  who visit a cathedral or church or chapel obviously gain absolutely no benefit in the Christian scheme of salvation. According to this scheme, the many, many people who pay to visit a Cathedral which charges for admission are destined to be eternally separated from God - the condition referred to as 'hell,' of course - except for the small minority who accept Christ as Saviour. Similarly for visits to cathedrals and churches which have no admission charges.

         

        I see no reason whatsoever to give money to places which have these doctrines. Visitors who put money in collecting boxes during their visits, visitors who arrange standing orders to pay money to this institutions, would be well advised to give money to other causes - to deserving causes, not to the undeserving money collectors of the churches. There are many, many charities working in the field of the built environment, many, many buildings which would benefit so much from the money - and which don't have the burden of obnoxious, worse than obnoxious doctrite.

         

        The Websites of cathedrals and churches which attract many visitors are generally slick, calculated to encourage the giving instinct. My view is that visitors, and the armchair visitors who look at the Websites without visiting the cathedral or church, should resist the pleas for money. Church buildings with a very long history tend to emphasize the history - and the history they present is generally grossly distorted, omitting all mention of the shameful, dreadful episodes which form part of the history of Christianity.

         

        Claims made in the pages of Church and Cathedral and Christian organization Websites are so often hollow, to be more exact, completely false.

         

        If giving to the churches declines, as is likely, given the declining fortunes of the churches, the generally declining congregations - and I hope the decline in all aspects of Church life will be very marked, again, for the reasons I give on this page and other pages, then the churches have available 'the power of prayer,' the supposed power of prayer. Let Christian believers pray for God's help in these stressful times, as the problem of shortage of money increases. But prayer isn't the method of choice for Christians. It plays what is in effect a minor role in so many situations faced by the churches. My own view is that prayer is  useless - for halting the spread of infectious disease, for bringing wars to an end, for all purposes except giving the believer a false sense of well-being. Prayer is useless for saving churches from becoming redundant, for halting the long term, thoroughly deserved decline of Christianity. Visitors who give money to churches could reflect on the disadvantages, which include depriving good causes of money given to the churches. Churches aren't good causes in the least, for the reasons made clear on this page and other pages of the site.

         

        Print publication and its finances. Supporting pro-Christian publications, eg The Daily Telegraph and the Spectator.  Buying books and buying Christian books.

         

        This section, and the preceding section, are the newest sections of what is the newest page of  the site. They are very recent. These sections and other sections of the page will be revised and extended.

         

        For many years, I subscribed to the Spectator. For many years, I bought the print version of the Daily Telegraph, almost always four or five times a week and more often than not five times a week. Then I cancelled my subscription to the Spectator and at about the same time stopped buying the Daily Telegraph. I haven't bought it since then.

         

        They are publications I respect and admire - the Daily Telegraph more than the Spectator. The Daily Telegraph in particular is consonant with my mainly conservative views. I vote Conservative. I voted for Brexit. The Daily Telegraph's firm view of the importance of defence - the necessity of maintaining strong defence forces to deter aggression against this country and to contribute to security in Europe and beyond - is a view I share completely. Again and again - far more often than not - articles and features in the Daily Telegraph have impressed me.

         

        Large and complex organizations almost always have failures in their way of working and failures to accompany  their record of achievement. Good organizations, organizations well worth supporting, financially and in other ways, have achievements which outweigh the failures. My comments below apply to the Spectator as well, mutatis mutandis.

         

        The Daily Telegraph's support for Christianity is what persuaded me to stop supporting the paper - there weren't articles putting the case for Christianity. That would have needed a level of insight which wasn't to be found in the articles, showing a recognition of some possible objections to christianity which needed to be addressed. Instead, there mas the blissful, and ridiculous assumption that Christianity must be true. The articles were all about peripheral aspects of Christianity. I have to say that none of the articles left an impression and that I can't recall the content of any of them, or not in the least detail.

         

        Since then, I've evidence that the Daily Telegraph is still in a state of dogmatic slumber. It has been publicizing the work of Save the Parish, criticized on this page.

         

        The fundamental objections to Christianity are very different from the differences of opinion which underlie the activity of 'Save the Parish' and its detractors. The fundamental objections to Christianity are objections to 'Save the Parish' and the view of the detractors, above all, ones concerning orthodox Christian views of salvation, shared by the majority - the vast majority - of Christians who aren't nominal Christians but the ones who go to Church  and who regard Christianity as 'God's truth' and the Bible as 'God's word,' even if they don't believe in the literal truth of all of it.

         

        To apply the orthodox Christian view to the staff of the Daily Telegraph, the readers of the Daily Telegraph, the advertizers who help to fund the Daily Telegraph, and the people who feature in Daily Telegraph news reports or other items, such as members of the House of Commons - the Christian view has dire consequences. Of these people, only the ones who come to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour have eternal life in union with God. All the others are separated from God for eternity.

         

        There are complications and qualifications. Some Christians, large numbers of Christians, may qualify this view, justification by faith, with 'justification by works,' which takes into account actions. In the large number of case histories and discussions in the pages of the site, I'd claim that I do show that the hideous consequences of Christian belief are real.

         

        It may well be that the Daily Telegraph comes to its sympathetic view of Christianity by using more pleasing features, such as the place of Christian churches in our national history and locally, such as idyllic and beautiful places. But the historical associations of Christianity, the beauty or otherwise of a place where Christianity may or may not be found, are irrelevant in Christian faith, for the purposes of determining destiny. Again, this page and other pages supply the argument and the evidence for my view.

         

        The long term decline in Christianity will obviously have an impact on the fortunes of Christian publishers, Christian booksellers and the Christians who have Christian books published and sold. The number of non-Christians who buy such books as these must be very small.

         

        I do buy books by Christians on Christianity, but not very often, simply for the purposes of adding to the content of this site, the content which concerns aspects of Christian belief.

         

        When I buy these books, my policy is very different from the policy which guides my buying of books in just about every other kind of subject matter.

         

        My house is small and all the rooms are small. One downstairs room is mainly a workshop, with a workshop, storage areas for tools and supplies and the tools themselves. One upstairs room has a workbench, more storage space for equipment and a kitchen area. I only have one room available for books, again, a small room. I've made good use of the space available. Bookshelves take up the largest part of the wall area and I have many, many books, on a very wide range of subjects, including the small theological / Christian section.

         

        Supporting the work of writers in print media, particularly in book publication but also in , newspaper and magazine publication has been very importan to me and still is in many respects, but the lack of storage space has had its effect.

         

        A significant proportion of the books are academic books, although not all the authors are actual academics. They include writers of detailed studies which can be respected. All the authors of the scientific and technological books are, or used to be academics.

         

        if at all possible, i buy books new rather than second-hand. If an author has worked very, very hard to produce a book well worth reading and study, then the author deserves to be supported financially. Quite recently, I bought a scientific book in a second hand bookshop which I appreciated very much when I read it, so I bought a new copy. It had the advanage of being the current edition, whilst the second hand book was an earlier edition, and the new edition had much fuller content, but it was important to me to show appreciation by buying a version which would contribute to the author's royalties.

         

        I've a large number of second hand books as well as books bought new, but books which are out of print form a large part of the second hand book collection.

         

        All the Christian books I have are second hand. They include some superficial books by Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. I did buy one Christian book new, a very slim one, more a pamphlet than a book, which didn't cost very much. I bought it new because I wanted to take a look at it and there were no second hand sources of supply. The book is 'Creative Tension in Urban Mission: Reflections on Missional Practice and Theory.' The author is employed be the Church Army at its headquarters in Sheffield. It presents nothing of any value, although the author is, I would think,  less naive than many others in the grossly overcrowded Christian book market.

       

       



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In this column

 

Some objections to Christianity


The killing of babies and children has been prominent in accounts of the most recent phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Clicking on the link will take you to my page on the issues.)

A Bible recommendation to kill and an account of alleged killings:

 

Psalm 137:9

'Babylon, you will be destroyed.
Happy are those who pay you back
for what you have done to us-

who take your babies
and smash them against a rock.

The Christian God and mass killing:

 

Exodus 11 [4] So Moses said, "This is what the Lord says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. [5] Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.'

 

Exodus 12:29 records that 'the Lord' did exactly what he had promised - committed mass murder, including the killing of male babies and male children, the killing of babies and children who were the sons of women slaves, the killing of husbands. They could already face separation from husband or children if the 'owner' decided to sell family members to different owners - these killings were a new horror in the horrific lives of these women.

'Bible Truth?'
'God's Word?'

 

Peter Hitchens: 'I believe in the absolute goodness of God.'
(Interview with 'Risen Magazine.')

 

Christian believers ... do you believe that God carried out the mass killing of babies, children and men, the first born of Egypt? Do you believe that God advocated the violent killing of babies, as recorded in Psalm 137? Do you believe that God ordered or carried out the mass killing of men, women and children, as recorded in other passages of the Bible?

 

Do you believe that only people who accept Christ as personal redeemer can expect an eternity in union with God. Do you believe in the eternal damnation of everyone who fails to accept Jesus as risen redeemer?

 

Cathedrals, churches, chapels appeal for donations repeatedly, on their Websites and inside their buildings. What of visitors to these places, for example, people visiting Lincoln Cathedral, or York or Winchester - do you believe that all these visitors spend eternity in separation from God, apart from the minority who accept Christ as redeemer. What of the people who built the place or keep it in good repair now? What of the people who respond to your appeal for money by donating money? It isn't part of orthodox Christianity - or unorthodox Christianity - to suppose that the big givers go to heaven or that all the donors go to heaven. Do you believe in what seems to be required by Christian doctrine, that all the donors are condemned to eternal separation from God - except for the donors who accept Jesus as redeemer spend eternity in union with God? 

 

Shouldn't potential donors consider very carefully the issues before they decide to donate?

 

There are many, many other causes they can give to which aren't tainted by the hideous cruelties perpetrated by christians over the centuries. Again and again, cathedrals and churches stress the history of the church, the glorious history of the church, in ways which amount to active distortion. For example, many many readers would never realize that Church of England cathedrals and churches in the older age bracket were once Roman Catholic, vastly different in doctrine and practice.

 

On this page and other pages, I stress current mistakes, the deeply disturbing ones and the lesser ones which are still harmful, but I also draw attention to the continuity of past and present. When Christians choose to ignore the atrocities which litter the history of the Christian churches or are very selective in the examples they are ready to take into account, then reminders of the grim facts are essential.

 

Dr Beth Keith

 

 she supports the church to engage in practical liberal theology and explore contextual readings of the Bible.

 

https://www.sheffieldcathedral.org/sunday-at-sheffield-cathedral-podcasts/2017/3/26/26th-march-2017-mothering-sunday

 

 

Revd Dr Beth Keith explores the what the Bible teaches us about mothers and mothering.

"But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile." Exodus 2:3

 

Christians, can you excuse the cruelties carried out in so many of the centuries when the churches were dominant - the many, many executions for heresy, blasphemy and witchcraft, burning alive - and boiling alive, a punishment sometimes used in Christian England - the use of torture, the massacres of Jews, Protestant-Catholic wars and atrocities?

 

From the Website of Lichfield Cathedral: 'Christian giving is ... a duty laid on us by God, and to give cheerfully and liberally is to put scriptural principles into practice.'

 

Richard Neile, the Bishop of Lichfield at the time, played a major part in the execution in 1612 of Edward Wightman, burned alive for heresy. The Bishop would have believed that he was putting scriptural principles into practice.

 

Boiling alive was a punishment ordered in some cases by King Henry VIII. Supplementary information about him:

 

Henry VIII was responsible for as many as 57,000 executions during his reign. 'Defender of the faith' (Fidei Defensor) is a title of English and later British monarchs since 1521, when it was bestowed on Henry VIII.  It was revoked when Henry VIII decided to break with Rome and to make himself head of the Church of England.The King was excommunicated by Pope Paul III. But the Parliament of England conferred on the sadist King as well as his successors (which include King Charles III) the title 'Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth the Supreme Head.'

 

In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John), Jesus is recorded as performing many alleged miracles involving exorcisms of people supposedly possessed by demons. In the 'Miracle of the Gadarene Swine,' the expelling of demons by Jesus is achieved by sending the 'demons' into pigs, who rush down a hill into the sea and are drowned. (A long line of theological commentators, including 'Saint' Augustine of Hippo and 'Saint' Thomas Aquinas, argued that the fate of the pigs showed that Christians have no duties to animals. Throughout most of the history of Christianity, indifference to cruelty to animals has been a constant.)

 

In Matthew 10:7, 8 Jesus is recorded as sending out twelve apostles, with these instructions:

 

'As you go, announce that the Kingdom of Heaven will soon be here. Heal the sick, raise the dead, heal people who have leprosy and force out demons ... '

 

(The New Testament Greek for the last clause, 'force out demons,' is

 

The translation of the King James Bible is 'cast out devils.' It consistently uses 'devils' instead of 'demons.')

 

 Later Christians have taken texts like this as encouragement to drive out demons too, to think of psychiatric conditions and many illnesses as caused by demonic possession, curable by casting out demons. If the report is substantiated, attempts were made at a Sheffield Church, Network Church - Philadelphia St Thomas, to drive out demons in an attempt to cure a young man of homosexuality. Attempts made by the Sheffield Diocese to disassociate itself from exorcisms of demons have the difficulty that Jesus himself resorted to exorcism of 'demons' repeatedly.

 

Sheffield Diocese is a member of 'Arise!' a large group of Churches in Sheffield and North Derbyshire. Another member of 'Arise' is the Rock Christian Centre. The people there really do believe in demons, like the people at countless churches.

 

From the Rock Christian Centre Website.

 

http://www.rockchristiancentre.org/what-we-believe/

They believe in

'The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God - fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.

The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.' 'The lost,' who are eternally condemned, include children and their parents if they have never accepted Christ as their 'personal Lord and Saviour,' and, of course, all people who have failed to commit themselves to Christ. They include all the allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought to defeat the Nazis, including those who liberated the concentration camps and the Jews who died in the concentration and extermination camps - except for the small minority of believers in the Risen Redeemer.

 

Very large numbers of  children have been abused by Roman Catholic priests and others in the Church, in many, many countries  - allegations, investigations, trials, convictions, admissions of guilt, apologies by the Church, attempts by Church authorities to do nothing and to cover up the cases of abuse. The abused include mostly boys but also girls, some as young as three years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14.

 

From the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, 2022:

 

'Throughout this investigation, we heard appalling accounts of child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and those associated with the Roman Catholic Church. The abuse covers a spectrum of sexual offending including acts of masturbation, oral sex, vaginal rape and anal rape, accompanied on occasions by beatings and other acts of violence. There have been many hundreds of victims and complainants over many decades.'

 

Clergy and others in the Church of England have been responsible for horrific abuse too and all too often, the abuse has been ignored by senior clergy. Despite changes in the church's approach, new cases emerge.

 

From the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, 2022:

 

'Between 2003 and 2018, the main insurer of the Church of England (the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office) managed 217 claims relating to child sexual abuse in the Church. v The Anglican Church: Investigation Report The culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide. Deference to the authority of the Church and to individual priests, taboos surrounding discussion of sexuality and an environment where alleged perpetrators were treated more supportively than victims presented barriers to disclosure that many victims could not overcome. Another aspect of the Church’s culture was clericalism, which meant that the moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach.'

 

The churches believed their own 'teaching,' that the Christian believer was a new person, transformed, now guided by the Holy Spirit, now with all the benefits of God's Word, the Bible, now part of the historic Church, a community of believers, extending deep into the past. The massive, ever increasing evidence to the contrary could not be ignored. Orthodox Christians were committing vile acts and the historic teaching of the Church had failed to control these abuses.

 

What the Church was compelled to do was this: to turn to secular methods instead of relying upon distinctively Christian methods. It has appointed 'safeguarding officers' in the dioceses and parishes. Cathedral and church and church school websites now give prominence to safeguarding policies which include safeguarding information. A significant number of these safeguarding officers will have what amounts to 'modified' Christian belief, Christian belief which takes into account modern and enlightened views of the issues, and Christian belief accompanied by some common sense. A significant number of these safeguarding officers will be completely unsuitable for their roles.

 

The responses of Churches to the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse are astonishing - and very, very revealing.

 

This is an extract from the response of the Methodist Church (1 March 2022) changes and additions to its policy after a policy review:

 

1. The policy statement now includes a definition of “safeguarding” and why it is integral to the mission of the Methodist Church. It includes a definition of the term “abuse”, information about contextual safeguarding and examples of the various forms which abuse can take, including peer-on-peer abuse;

 

2. The policy includes a "Code of safer working practice with children and young people”, which sets standards for appropriate conduct and provides a template for local churches to produce their own version of the document;

 

3. It includes a section entitled “Procedures for responding well to safeguarding incidents” which gives guidance on how to respond to allegations and when to make referrals to statutory agencies;

 

 4. Safer recruitment procedures have been reviewed and amended;

 

5. The role and purpose of District Safeguarding Groups have been made clearer and core standards and criteria have been introduced;

 

6. A new comprehensive training programme for all those involved in monitoring and supporting those subject to safeguarding contracts is being piloted.

 

This is a secular way of attempting to make improvements. This is a long, long way from 'The Way, the Truth and the Life,' the Bible-centred way promoted by those Christian Websites, the way which attracts funds and which sometimes attracts converts, with its staggeringly naive claims - that followers of Jesus become more like Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, and the staggeringly naive claim that prayer works.

 

The Christian way failed, and failed abysmally, to protect the vulnerable from harm. The 'imitation of Christ,' 'sanctification,' becoming more and more like Christ as the believer matures in faith - all these have failed. The churches encourage Christians to pray about the most diverse topics, big and small, not noticing the lack of evidence that prayer works.

 

Faced with the cumulative evidence of deeply disturbing abuse in the Churches, the Churches didn't set out to solve the problem by organized prayer. In the case of this issue, they were not allowed to get away with it. Attempts to 'solve' the problem by means of prayer would not have been accepted. They have had to use other methods,  including 'referrals to statutory agencies.

 

A contemporary version of the Book of Common Prayer includes these futile requests (V, spoken by the celebrant at the service) and responses (R, from the congregation)

V. Endue thy ministers with righteousness;
R. And make thy chosen people joyful.
V. Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R. For only in thee can we live in safety.

The expectation that God will hear the prayer and make a minister who happens to be a child abuser or someone who does nothing about cases of child abuse brought to the minister's attention is a pious, futile wish asking for wish fulfilment.

The expectation that God will hear the prayer and actually grant peace in any area ravaged by war, let alone grant peace 'in all the world' is grossly deluded.

Wars of any size are won only by the massive expenditure of time and effort, attention to detail, the proper exercise of economic power - and often by a measure of good fortune, never by lazy-minded prayer. The scale of the Allied War effort needed to defeat Nazi Germany and the other axis powers is staggering. I'd  recommend a long, remedial course in military history to theologians who have spent most of their study time on other theologians and the source materials, the Old Testament in Biblical Hebrew and the New Testament in New Testament Greek, with the realization that this is impractical.

I wouldn't, though, regard all these people as beyond redemption - using the phrase in a strictly secular sense, of course. It may well be perfectly possible to show some of them, and, I'd hope, in ever increasing numbers, to shake their faith, to deprive them of the certainty or near certainty that the Christian world is a world of illusion.

Even those people whose experience of Christianity owes so much to the soothing language of the Book of Common Prayer and hymns sing in English country Churches, I'd claim, are sometimes able to think new thoughts, to have new emotdes-, to contemplate the possibility that their beliefs are based upon laziness, a refusal to think, and feel in ways which aren't predetermined by Christian dogmas.

One experience of the horrific imperfections of the world - a very different matter from the claimed 'sins' of the world - may well be decisive, an event which can't easily, if at all, be reconciled with the Christian view of things - or a longer process, a transition which leads the believer to become more and more aware of the smugness of the Christian community, the far greater variety and interest of the non-Christian world, an increasing reluctance to take seriously the Christian claims.

 

What evidence would count as evidence that prayer is effective? Coincidences or fortunate outcomes are not acceptable as evidence. A Christian who prays for success in getting a job in the church and who does get the job isn't in the least entitled to believe that the prayer was answered and that God ensured success in the job application.

 

The entry on Network Church, Sheffield in the column to the left includes material on the alleged driving out of demons to 'cure' homosexuality. Also included, material on Forge Youth, part of Network Church, with extracts from the Website of Forge Youth, on some uses of prayer at Forge Youth. I include this comment:

 

The practices described are harmful, very harmful, surely. Young people should never be encouraged to rely upon prayer as the answer to physical (or psychological) problems. Young people should never be encouraged to believe uncritically that if people recover from an illness or an injury that this must be evidence of 'God's work.' Obviously, the consequences of neglecting proper medical treatment and relying on prayer can be dire.

 

Prayer is used for the same purposes at countless churches, of course.

 

Christians have not been able to use Bible texts to guide them in their attempts to escape from the legacy of gross abuse. St Paul and the other New Testament writers are silent about abuse. They have no reported 'teaching' of Jesus to guide them. Yet abuse at the time of the early Church and for so many centuries afterwards must have been on a massive scale, often taking exceptionally barbaric forms. that were very often exceptionally barbaric.

 

Even so, contemporary abuse can take extreme forms.

 

A case discussed in the column to the left, The case of Julie Morris.  Julie Morris was a primary school deputy head teacher and the safeguarding lead at a school in Wigan.

 

Julie Morris and her partner were imprisoned for dozens of  child sexual abuse offences, including nine counts of rape. They had filmed themselves abusing and raping a girl under the age of 13.

 

One example of a safeguarding document, the information concerning safeguarding on the Website of the Oxford Diocese

 

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/safeguarding

 

An example of failures of safeguarding, multiple failures rather than a single failure, also from the Oxford Diocese, the information I provide in the second column of this page, Action and inaction in the Diocese of Oxford.

 

This claim appears on every page of the Oxford Diocese Website:

 

 

The practice of the Oxford Diocese has been very different in many different ways. To confine attention to the claim that the Diocese is 'courageous' and one important aspect of courage, moral courage, it isn't self evident that the practice has been inspiring or just about adequate on many, many occasions. The Diocese engages in mission, like all other dioceses, like all parishes. But in my experience, none of them make an effort in one aspect of mission which should be vital: apologetics, that is, defending Christian belief against objections. The non-Christians, the lost, the 'unsaved,' are taken to be a homogeneous mass of people, in effect, wandering in darkness, desperately in need of Christian belief, the belief in the 'Risen Redeemer.' Next to no attempt has been made to address the very substantial objections to Christian belief.

 

In many, many of the 'Christian centuries,' it was easy - unbelievers could be tortured to convince them of 'the error of their ways' and executed. When countries began to secularize, when these expedients became unavailable, there was no significant increase in attempts to defend Christianity against objections by means of the spoken or written word, in print and later by means of the internet.

 

No doubt, in private prayer, Christians have continued to send prayers thick and fast to God for the conversion of X, Y or Z or the conversion of a whole country, including communities in distant countries - prayers from England for the success of missionary work in a country in Sub-Saharan Africa, perhaps. And, also prayers for the ending of conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa and terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Rational, empirical attempts to confirm the effects of prayer have been lacking. The claim that prayer is beneficial, that prayers are often answered, has never been subjected to honest, extensive appraisal by believers. So believers go on praying and praying - after all, it costs them nothing but the time taken and it enhances the believer's self-esteem. Concrete measures to address suffering, to address wrongs in the real world are very different - generally arduous, requiring enormous effort and in many or most cases twith no guarantee of success - but the successes can be overwhelmingly important and can genuinely transform lives, or aspects of lives.

 

Prayer is facile, like the claim on the Oxford Diocese Website that the diocese is 'contemplative, compassionate, courageous.'

 

Do the Christian Churches deserve to be supported?
Should money be given to them?
No, for many different reasons.

Give money to good causes,
not to the Churches.

Jesus' teaching according to Matthew 5:17 in the New Living Translation:

 

'Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.'

 

The translation of the King James Bible

 

'Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets ...' 

 

This is the King James who had women tortured and executed for 'witchcraft' and who was complicit in the burning to death of the last person to be executed for heresy in this country. This command is yet another part of the Law, yet another command which Jesus never opposed: Exodus 22:18. 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' In a modern translation, 'Put to death any woman who practises witchcraft.'

 

Advice on parenting from 'God's Word,' Deuteronomy, 21: 18-21, in the English Standard Version. It too forms part of 'The Law,' and Jesus saw no objection to it.

 

A Rebellious Son

 

18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst ... '

More from Jesus on God's Law:

 

'I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.' (Matthew 5:18, New Living Translation.)

 

Material on this site tends to be highly dispersed - a comment I make in various pages of the site.  Some of the material below is extracted from the very varied page Home Page Images. It illustrates one aspect of the callousness and heartlessness of orthodox Christianity.

 

Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield

 

The entry here is based on the entry for Jane Patterson of Christ Church on the  page Counter-evangelism: a guide to some South Yorkshire / Derbyshire churches,

 

The page

 

https://www.sheffield.anglican.org/UserFiles/
File/Synod/General/Elections_2021/-Complete-Set-Lay.pdf


gives this information:

 

2021 ELECTION FOR 4 LAY PEOPLE TO REPRESENT THE DIOCESE IN THE GENERAL SYNOD HOUSE OF LAITY


the section

'What do I believe?'

Jane Patterson writes,

 

'I believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired and written Word of God, that its pages tell us about who God is, His perfect plan for the world He created, His offer of forgiveness and a restored eternal relationship for everyone who believes in the death and resurrection of His only Son, Jesus and who confesses Him as Saviour and Lord. I believe that the Bible shows us how we should live and that ‘the great commission’, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, remains the church’s mission statement 2000 years later.'

 

Not many human lives, not a vast number of human lives but all human activities are reduced in this ultra-systematic system of belief to a simple division.

 

 

These are 'breaker boys,' child labourers in a Pennsylvania mine, who carried out backbreaking word underground, at risk of crushing from rock falls, drowning in the underground waters, being burned alive in underground fires, to supply people with some of the necessities and comforts of life.

 

I doubt if many - or perhaps any of them -  had the necessary belief ' in the death and resurrection of [God's] only Son, Jesus' The offer mentioned by Jane Patterson, 'forgiveness and a restored eternal relationship.'

 

Does Jane Patterson believe that everyone who worships at Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield is 'saved,' provided they have passed the test and that  everyone else, including the poor, the destitute, the victims of war, the carers, the scientists and engineers, climbers and mountaineers, miners, builders, plumbers, accountants, farmers, factory workers and philanthropists - people in every single human activity - are destined to spend eternity in hell or whatever polite term is the current synonym for hell? She does believe this, and so do  street pastors - who believe that the people they rescue from dehydration after heavy drinking need rescuing from a far worse fate, hell. (Street pastors who claim that this is a complete misinterpretation of their own beliefs are welcome to contact me.)

 

From the Website of Christ Church, Fulwood

 

https://www.fulwoodchurch.co.uk/partnership/

 

Can you join with us in praying for new, regular givers within the church family? If you are new, please ask the Lord to show you whether it would be right to begin supporting our ministry financially. Many Christians find it helpful to set the level of their giving as a proportion of their income. The Old Testament has a pattern of tithing 10% of income and many believers adopt this as their model. The New Testament encourages believers to give generously – and this can be interpreted as more or less than the tithe according to individual circumstances. 

Some within our church family have already reviewed and increased their giving. Thank you! If you are yet to do this, please could you prayerfully consider whether you are able to increase your contribution? In our partnership with Christ, it would be wonderful if, as a church family, our giving to the work of Christ at Christ Church Fulwood continues to be generous, cheerful, and sacrificial.

The Bible reminds us that:

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
(1 Chronicles 29:14)

Fulwood is one of the least deprived neighbourhoods in Sheffield, in fact, in the whole country. There are many big earners in Fulwood and if the Church has succeeded in persuading many members of the congregation from parting with a tenth of their income, then the takings will have been very considerable. My view is that anyone who does give to this place, whether a tenth or more or less, has more money than sense.

 

An extract from the Christ Church Staff List - wondrous to behold, or perhaps not. Be that as it may, I'm confident that despite the large number of staff and whatever theological knowledge they have, the Church won't be willing to defend itself and its Christian 'values.'

 

Jonny Dyer, Vicar (replacing the vicar who left under mysterious circumstances - more information below.)
Pete Scamman, Associate Vicar.
A curate who according to the information supplied 'enjoys chatting with young people about Jesus.')
A Minister for Training
A Minister for Students

A Students Worker
A Youth and Families Worker (who 'enjoys chatting with young people about Jesus' and 'painting toy soldiers'
A Children and Families Worker
A Junior Children, Youth and Families Worker
A Director of Operations
A Premises Manager
Ministry Support Assistants X 3 (3 of them)
Ministry Support Manager
Lead Recruiter
Ministry Trainees X 5 

 

Supplementary: extracts from

 

https://anglican.ink/2021/10/14/the-official-reason-for-the-resignation-of-the-evangelical-vicar-of-one-of-englands-largest-parishes-doesnt-pass-the-smell-test/

 

Christ Church Fulwood  in south-west Sheffield is one of the largest churches in the Church of England, so the resignation of its vicar on September 30th after a Bishops’ Visitation into his leadership is a major story. 

The church gets over a 1000 people through its doors on a usual Sunday, compared to the around 50 that the average CofE church gets.

Since Canon Paul Williams became vicar of Fulwood in 2006 after serving as curate at another CofE conservative evangelical flagship church, All Souls Langham Place in central London, Christ Church has been responsible for four church plants or grafts within Sheffield Diocese. 

 ...

After a claim on Twitter in August that ‘the head of Christ Church Fulwood’ (the tweet did not directly name Williams) had been ‘forced’ to resign, the Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox and the suffragan Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, who has delegated oversight of the church due to its opposition to women bishops, issued a joint statement.

Williams’s resignation, they insisted, was ‘made freely’ and had their ‘full support’.

But what does that mean? 

Did they want him to resign after the report resulting from their Visitation? 

This, according to Fulwood’s senior curate Rev Pete Scamman when he announced  his chief’s resignation to the church on June 27th, reported that ‘some within the church family’ had been ‘left feeling hurt by their experience of his (Williams’s) leadership’. The report also included Williams’s own account of his experience at the church over the previous year, Scamman said.

...

Fulwood is part of the Sheffield Hallam constituency once represented in the UK Parliament by former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. People living in Hallamshire have amongst the highest per capita wealth in the country.

Will Fulwood revert to a vicar who plays well socially with the expensively-educated, well-paid professionals that make up a large part of the Christ Church congregation or will the church get a pastor from a different social and educational background?

Now, material on people 'from a different social and educational background,' with an incomparably lower 'per capita wealth,' the children who died in the Huskar Mine Disaster. Jane Patterson may believe - does believe - that the affluent go to heaven (if they make the right decision in matters of faith) and those in desperate poverty aren't eligible for heaven (if they don't make the right decision) but my view is obviously different.

My view is that it  would be completely reasonable to regard a belief in 'hell for everybody except for those saved by faith in JC as saviour,' to put it concisely, as a  twisted, lunatic, harmful belief, terrifying in its estrangement from reality and in its disregard for human and humane values. I think that Jane Patterson  probably regard 'human values' as irrelevant here, since these beliefs are supposedly based on higher values, on 'God's Word,' not on sinful human values. Jane Patterson is badly mistaken.

1. The Huskar Monument and a  Monument outside a Parish Church

 

 

 

A memorial to the 26 children who lost their lives in the Huskar Mine Disaster of 1838 when the Huskar Pit (Silkstone Common, South Yorkshire) was flooded during an intense rain storm. The monument features two children, a boy and a girl, in representations of the coal seams where they were working, deep underground. The disaster led to the 1842 Mines Act which prohibited the employment underground of boys and girls under the age of 10. A book by Alan Gallop about the event's history, "Children of the