Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hal G. P. Colebatch, the Equality Bill, graven images and idols, and the end of Britain as we know it

(Above: the UK Equality Bill logo)

Exciting news from Hal G. P. Colebatch. Atheism is on the march, and may yet achieve total victory. It's all there in UK bill an attack on faith.

Silly superstitions, idle pie in the sky nonsense from clerics, prejudice based on religious bigotry, and poofter bashing dressed up as theology, and cheap almost pornographic iconography will be banished from the land. Why, if it happened in Australia, women, even the Queen's representative, the Governor General, would be allowed into the Melbourne Club.

Well, we all know that graven images and idols of any kind must be banned, as the Bible requires:

4. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Like those crucifixes I find personally confronting and affronting.

Oh wait, this isn't the good news, that's the bad news. I read it all wrong. It's just the end of Britain and all that it stands for, a rot which has set in ever since color television and the Beatles replaced umbrellas and bowler hats, and Britain lost its empire:

I wrote here in April that Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state, but it seems I didn't know the half of it.

A sinister new equality bill is before a parliamentary committee. So far there has been surprisingly little about it in the British media, although the Catholic Church has called attention to the fact it would give the government unprecedented powers to police not only public but private religious and other activities.

Sinister=sinestra=southpaw=cackyhanded=left=NedFlanders' leftorium=Christian.

Damn, another mathematical formula designed to explain everything which explains nothing. But to get back to the pleasure of persecuting Christians:

The Thomas More Legal Centre's director Neil Addison recently said that under this bill, "nearly every form ofdiscrimination is banned, even for private associations and churches. Christian churches are to be banned from preferring Christians in their employment practices except in the employment of priests or religious teachers. They are not going to be able to insist that employees live in accordance with the ideals or principles of the church, and any employment ormembership decision they take can be investigated by an unelected quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission."

Damn, and I was looking forward to cleaning toilets for Opus Dei and wearing a cilice on the thigh as per their instruction regarding ideals and principles.

So it's just the Catholics carrying on about persecution. But the English have had a long and proud history of persecuting Catholics from the days of Henry VIII through Oliver Cromwell to the starving of the bog Irish during the potato famine. Surely this isn't the arrival of the first modern soft totalitarian state, but just more of the same?

You know, tearing down the icons and ripping up holy spaces desecrated by graven images. It might be okay for the high church to imitate the heretical papists, but everyone knows they're just Catholics in poorer, cheaper drag. But the low church could always sniff out the Satanic anti-christ dwelling in Rome:

This is only the first stage. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have warned that religious schools and care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes, holy pictures or other religious symbols or icons from their walls in case they offend atheist or non-Catholic cleaners. Under the terms of the bill, Catholic institutions could be guilty of harassment if they display images offensive to non-Catholics.

It is, it is a new crusade. The glory days of Cromwell are back at last. As the poet Andrew Marvell celebrated Cromwell's work:

Till then my muse shall hollo far behind
Angelic Cromwell who outwings the wind,
And in dark nights, and in cold days alone
Pursues the monster thorough every throne:
Which shrinking to her Roman den impure,
Gnashes her gory teeth; nor there secure.

But hang on, I'm still worried about that atheist toilet cleaner. Why are atheists cast as toilet cleaners in this comedy of manners? Is that all they're good for, the whining, carping militant non-believers?

Andrew Summersgill, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, says: "The practical consequences of this are that a Catholic care home, for example, may have crucifixes and holy pictures on the walls (that) reflect and support the beliefs of the residents. A cleaner may be an atheist or of very different religious beliefs. Nonetheless, if a cleaner found the crucifixes offensive, there would be no defence in law against a charge of harassment."

It also would be illegal under the bill to refuse employment to such non-believers. Catholic schools could likewise be forced to remove crucifixes or holy pictures if atheist or non-Catholic dinner ladies found them offensive. Beyond decorations, symbols and icons, this may open the way for state interference in invisible and perhaps more profound matters of doctrine.

By golly, it gets worse. Catholics would be forced to employ atheist toilet cleaners, or those of very different beliefs, and I bet the bowl wipers would do a bad job, just out of militant atheist spleen (and don't mention the spit the non believing dinner ladies would forcibly emit in their contempt for offensive images). 

But who are these non-Catholic dinner ladies and those of very different beliefs? Well whatever you do, don't mention Islam and neither will Colebatch. Or the slack British relying on the Islamics doing all the jobs no one else wants to do, in much the same way Republicans bemoan Hispanics and then employ them to do the cooking and the gardening. And above all, don't mention the gays and the way they're always yammering on about gay marriage.

The bill is largely the creation of the Labour Party's deputy leader and Equality Minister Harriet Harman, one of the party's most committed left-wing social engineering activists, who probably has as much clout in the government as anyone. Although the bill was supposed to ensure protection for religious groups, Harman neglected to mention this when she announced the proposals in the House of Commons last month. Recently she also refused to allow a debate on the rising numbers of religious believers complaining that they are discriminated against in the public sector. There has been a string of cases of people suspended or sacked for expressing their religious convictions, wearing religious symbols such as crucifixes or, in the case of one nurse, offering to pray for a patient.

Always with the suffering of the Christians, but whatever you do, don't mention the Islamics. 

As well as bringing down the Catholic church (but don't mention the Islamics) it seems the bill will also bring down the entire political system:

London priest Tim Finigan says: "For the government to promote this agenda in extreme form at a time when the political system is suffering unparalleled contempt and the far-right groups have their best opportunity for years is stupid beyond belief."

While the potential for government interference with private religious activities is serious enough, the bill may go much further: as it stands it will, for example, also allow the government to control the membership criteria of political parties and movements, as well as private clubs and societies.

And whatever you do, don't mention the BNP and the clear intent of the bill to make its apartheid membership criteria illegal. Won't it be fun to see the blacks flocking to join that particular party after its whites only policies get a look over. 

And don't worry that if a hotel claimed to be for the religious it could still refuse to let rooms to gay or lesbian couples. And don't worry that the Catholic church and other religious organizations are only too happy to dip their snouts in the trough for public funding for church schools, adoption agencies and whatever else they can wrangle cash for to prop up their failing religious empires. That's what happens when you sell your soul for a share of Caesar's taxes, instead of tithing your own.

And don't worry that Father Time Finigan seems to be worried about cross dressing:

Fr. Tim Finigan, a south-east London priest who writes on his blog the Hermeneutic of Continuity, said the demands of transsexual activists who support the bill could mean that if a Catholic school teacher decides to cross-dress, action against his or her behavior will be considered “harassment.”

“Remember - it's what you do, not what they do that creates the discrimination," he said. (Here).

Lordy, lordy cross dressing teachers in the classroom. We're surely a long way from the lesbian nuns in penguin suits who used to teach me.

Ah well, I can understand Colebatch's moral panic and despair. I mean a bill which manages to offend Catholics, other Christians of the non-Catholic persuasion and the BNP and homophobes and faith schools is surely problematic. And it seems the list of the mortally offended is growing.

And the bill won't stop the ongoing prejudices in an island community, developed and refined over a thousand years to a level perhaps only matched in Japan regarding social structures and class stratification, and now forced to confront the detritus of its delusions of imperial grandeur (ironically also an issue for Rome as it tried to shift from a migrants welcome policy to keeping the hordes out during its last centuries, before the hordes won).

But I'm consoled by the way it might just help fix the unemployment problem in the UK and provide hope and work for atheist cross dressing toilet cleaners anxious to help the Catholic church clean up its act ...

And from what I hear the Church of England would be close to shutting down it it had to manage without gay clergy. So Derek Nimmo lookalikes can still get on with the job.

Meantime, it's a splendid opportunity for a bit of harumphing ... proving if nothing else that the rampant prejudices the bill seeks to address are alive and well. But is it possible to reconstruct a world full of people who hate color television and the Beatles? In your dreams ...

(And by the way if you want to read the actual bill, you can find it here, and you can find a more sensible look at some of its implications here.)

(Below: Harriet Harman QC MP. Why am I reminded of Julie Bishop?)

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