Robert Hampton

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30th March 2013

Couldn’t Carey Less
Posted by at 11.47am | Gay, Politics | No responses

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, a Christian festival, and the law says that all shops over 280 square metres must close or face fines. When kids return to school after the Easter holiday, most will sit through a regular act of collective worship, which the school is obliged to provide under the law. In the House of Lords sit 26 “Lords Spiritual” – Church of England bishops who can take part in debates and vote, simply by virtue of being a Church leader. Last year, when a court ruled that a council could not hold prayers before meetings, Eric Pickles rushed through legislation to reverse that decision.

Given all the above, it’s a bit surprising to hear the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, whining about an agenda of ‘aggressive secularisation’ that the coalition government is supposedly pursuing. He says that Christians are ‘persecuted’ and ‘marginalised’.

Yes, Christian viewpoints are marginalised. That’s why Lord Carey’s opinion piece only appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail, and was obediently picked up by the BBC who had it as the second headline on their web site and radio news bulletins all morning.

It’s not even the first time the Archbishop has said this; he made very similar comments just over a year ago. But what is it that’s got him all fired up this time? You’ll never guess… (Daily Mail link)

As David Cameron knows, I am very suspicious that behind the plans to change the nature of marriage, which come before the House of Lords soon, there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society together for time immemorial.

By dividing marriage into religious and civil the Government threatens the church and state link which they purport to support. But they also threaten to empty marriage of its fundamental religious and civic meaning as an institution orientated towards the upbringing of children.

Yep, it’s the gays and their insidious plan to get married and be happy, which will RUIN every single heterosexual marriage that has ever existed.

It’s amazing that Lord Carey can cite same-sex marriage as evidence of the Government’s secularist agenda. The same-sex marriage bill contains numerous, well-documented contrivances to “protect” the Church of England from those nasty godless gays. The Church of England (and other religious organisations) are not forced to conduct marriages, not forced to approve of them, not forced to participate in them in any way.

Yet again, the Church is banging on about gay rights while other areas, which you would think would be more of a target for Christian love, are completely ignored. Polly Toynbee in Thursday’s Guardian wrote about the savage benefit cuts which start to be phased in from Easter Monday. They will leave many of the most vulnerable people in society much worse off and force a significant chunk of the population into a downward spiral of poverty and misery. Why is the Church not speaking out about that?

If the Church of England is marginalised, it is not because of any aggressive secular agenda, but simply because the Church, its leaders and spokesmen, are completely out of touch with modern life.

11th February 2012

Christians Cross
Posted by at 7.03pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

The Daily Mail claims that Christianity is under attack because of two recent court rulings.

In the first case, the Christian owners of a guest house in Cornwall lost an appeal against a fine for discriminating against a gay couple who were refused a double bed. The hotel owners claimed that they did not allow any unmarried couple to share a bed and therefore the discrimination was not on the grounds of sexual orientation, but the Court was not convinced by this argument.

I’m pleased that the original ruling has been upheld. It is not fair or right that a gay couple going on holiday should have to phone ahead and check whether the hotel owners approve of their sex life. The law reflects this, stating that no service provider can discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Incidentally, there are also protections for religious belief. Can you imagine the outcry if the situation described above was reversed and a gay couple turned a Christian away from their hotel? That would not be acceptable either, and there are laws in place for that reason.

The second case involved Bideford town council, who are at the centre of a row over the prayers held before council meetings. An atheist councillor, with the support of the National Secular Society, launched a court action, claiming that forcing councillors to attend prayers was a breach of human rights. Earlier this week the Court ruled that prayers are unlawful.

There was an outcry from Church leaders, and Eric Pickles took time out from lunch to condemn the ruling.

Again, I can see no problem with this outcome. Prayers now cannot form part of the formal council proceedings, but there is nothing to stop prayers being held before official council business begins. Surely this is a reasonable compromise – unless, of course, the Christian members of Bideford council feel the need to force their faith on everyone else, like it or not?

Leaving aside the issues of the above two cases, it is hyperbolic in the extreme to claim that Christianity is “under attack”. Last time I checked, there were churches in villages, towns and cities across the land, and Christians of any denomination could travel to any of them without impediment, to worship as they wished. Meanwhile, Wikipedia has a long list of countries where Christianity is banned entirely or subject to severe restrictions. For the Daily Mail to claim British Christianity is under attack is an insult to those Christians worldwide who live in fear of government-sanctioned persecution or even death because of their faith.

2nd October 2011

Bin There, Done That
Posted by at 11.57am | Politics | No responses

What’s got everyone involved in an animated discussion this week then? Why, it’s the always sexy topic of rubbish collection, as big-boned Government Minister Eric Pickles has announced that he is bribing councils to return to weekly collections:-

Last year, the communities secretary told the Daily Mail he was an ardent supporter of weekly bin collections, explaining: “It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.”

(Pickles wasn’t talking about himself in the above sentence, as he has clearly never thrown any food away, ever)

I’ll say this very quietly, because it will probably annoy certain people, but (whisper) I actually think weekly collections are appropriate. Now, it’s true that a home containing one or two people probably doesn’t produce enough waste to need a bin emptying every week, but there are four of us here at Castle Hampton and we generally manage to fill both our recycling and normal waste bins every week. Liverpool is one of the authorities which has stuck with weekly collections; if they went to fortnightly, I’m not sure we’d cope. Yes, I’m sure Captain Planet wouldn’t approve, but it’s not my fault that everything I buy is packaged in what seems like fifteen layers of cardboard and plastic.

There are a few things which bother me, however: first of all – we had £250m sitting around doing nothing? Where did they find this? Was it tucked away in Eric Pickles’s jowls? And, if we do have that money, is bin collection really a priority? Couldn’t we spend that money on schools or hospitals or something?

Secondly, one of the key policies of the Conservatives, as announced on their web page, states: “We are promoting the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to councils, local residents and community groups.”

So it seems the Government’s policy is to give local authorities more devolved powers, except when the local authorities to do things the Government don’t like, in which case the government bribes them to change back. Well, that makes perfect sense.