Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parent fury at anti-Christmas talk in school

I note that a number of conservatives have been peeved by this but I see no problem. It is a good fundamentalist Christian teaching that Christmas is a commercialized pagan holiday. Does any serious Christian believe that Father Christmas, reindeer, Christmas trees and Frosty the snowman are in the Bible? JWs just put their money where their mouth is. The only anniversary that Christ commanded his followers to observe was Passover. Should a school censor the Bible?

A school has come under fire for allowing Jehovah's Witnesses to tell pupils why they choose not to celebrate Christmas. But today leaders at Kirkby's Westvale primary said the talk was just part of its commitment to promote tolerance among all faiths, which is clearly stated to parents in its official brochure. The row surrounds a 30-minute religious education lesson at the Melverley Road school.

On Wednesday, parents were invited in to discuss why they were Jehovah's Witnesses and what their faith entails. This included the fact the religion does not celebrate Christmas - believing it and Easter are based on, or largely influenced by, paganism.

The school hoped the visit would mean students would be more understanding as to why the Jehovah's Witnesses' children were "being excused from coming in for Christmas nativity". However, the fact parents at the 250-pupil school were not asked for formal consent prior to the talk has sparked anger. One man whose eight-year-old daughter attends the school said: "How can it be that pupils who are Jehovah's Witnesses can be excused from lessons, yet the first thing I knew about this talk is when my daughter came home? "We should have been consulted. I am livid and would not have allowed my child to take part. To say I'm furious with the school is an understatement."

But headteacher Gillian Holland said the talk was the latest in a number by visitors of different faiths as part of a government expectation that schools tackle community cohesion. The school brochure made it clear RE lessons would explore all faiths and parents could make use of its "open door" policy to raise concern. "We are a Christian school but have a duty to promote tolerance and understanding of other faiths. "We encourage parents of all faiths to come in all the time. "They are accompanied by teachers and teaching assistants and will just talk about their traditions and what it is based on. "When pupils see their children not coming in for Christmas nativity they have more of an understanding why."


British woman driven 200 miles to give Caesarian birth to premature twins and then finds after delivery that the hospital has only one incubator available!

Vast lack of facilities. Even a Caesarian was too hard for three hospitals. And as for incubators for premmies! What do you think you are? In the 21st century? And this is in London, not on some remote island!

A new mother was sent to four different hospitals in four days to give birth only to have her premature twins separated after they were born. Angela Breeds, 30, was forced to make a 200 mile trip because surgeons were unable to perform a necessary caesarian section at the first three hospitals she was sent to. And when she finally gave birth to Suzie and Sonny, the twins were separated after just five minutes because of a lack of cots.

Ms Breeds, a self employed hairdresser from Stanford-le-Hope said: "I'm just so angry about being pushed around everywhere. "Then when I found out they had to be separated I was completely gutted."

The mother's ordeal started on December 3 when doctors at King's College Hospital in south east London told Miss Breeds she needed a caesarian section because one of the twins was not getting enough nutrition. She was transferred 31 miles away to Basildon Hospital in Essex that night for the operation. But after she arrived, she was told the hospital did not have the right facilities for the procedure so she was sent to Peterborough Hospital in Cambridgeshire, 96 miles away.

She waited in the hospital for three days before being told surgeons at the facility could not perform the operation either. So she was again transferred to Whipps Cross Hospital in east London, another 86 miles away, on Sunday December 7 where she gave birth the following day. But there were not enough incubator cots for both tots and within five minutes of giving birth, Sonny was taken away from his mother and sister to Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

Katrina Coulson, an NHS East of England spokeswoman said the NHS in the region was hoping to increase the number of special and intensive care cots


British Prison Bans Crucifix From New Chapel to Avoid Offending Muslim Inmates

A British prison has decided not to include a crucifix in the decor of its new chapel for fear of offending Muslim inmates.

The `multi-faith space' at HMP Lewes is divided in two sections, according to the Daily Mail. One half-features heated footbaths for Muslim worshipers; the other side, dedicated to Christian prayer, features a removable altar and a plain wooden cross - also removable.

Plans to include the traditional Christian crucifix were erased from the chapel's blueprints on the advice of a Muslim imam, the Daily Mail reported. "We see this as a vastly improved facility and very much welcome the fact that the prison has an imam." Amanda Hamblin, chair of the prison's Independent Monitoring Board told the Mail."

A source from the prison disagreed, reportedly telling the Mail, "It's just the normal PC brigade poking its nose in when it isn't needed."



SHARIA law will "inevitably" become part of the legal system and work should begin now to incorporate it into British law, a leading barrister said last night. Stephen Hockman, QC, former chairman of the Bar Council, spoke at a meeting organised by the website Islam4UK, where another speaker was Anjem Choudary, former head of banned fanatical group al-Muhajiroun.

Sharia law has become associated with executions, stonings and hands being cut off. But Mr Hockman told the Daily Express: "Given our substantial Muslim population, it is vital that we look at ways to integrate Muslim culture into our traditions. "Otherwise we will find that there is a significant section of our society which is increasingly alienated, with very dangerous results. "There should perhaps be a standing committee comprising Parliamentarians, lawyers and religious leaders to consider how this could be achieved and what legal changes might be framed."

The meeting was held at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall. Mr Hockman added of Sharia law: "The position of women is one area where the emphasis is, to say the least, rather different. "I am also sometimes confronted by those who point out that there are elements within the Muslim community who pose a threat to our very security. "My answer is not to dispute them but to suggest that it is for those of us forming part of the majority community to take active steps to address such problems."


Anglicans give Christmas a multicultural makeover

The Church of England has backed plans to turn Christmas into a more multicultural event

It may have become traditional for angels, three wise men and the baby Jesus to play a starring role in the festive season. But now Hindu snowmen, a Chinese dragon and a Jewish temple are also to be included in an attempt to make the celebrations more inclusive of Britain's diverse communities. Westminster Abbey will unveil life-size snowmen that Anglican clergy hope will help to improve relations and dialogue between other faiths. Dressed in turbans, with bindi dots on their foreheads, they are intended to demonstrate that Christmas should not be exclusively for Christians.

The Rev Jane Hedges, a canon at the abbey, said that it was important to encourage people from other faiths to join in the celebrations. "We've done this as it creates a good opportunity for Christians to meet and hear about the stories of people of other faiths," she said. "Christmas is an opportunity for everyone to stop and think and is a great opportunity for the different faiths to talk to one another. "Wherever you're coming from there should be something to celebrate at Christmas."

She pointed out that for Muslims they can appreciate the story of Christ's birth because it is included in the Koran, adding that the Hindu snowmen were not an attempt to dumb down. "Strictly speaking, the message of Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but it has a much broader message of peace and goodwill."

Meanwhile in the diocese of Liverpool, a nativity is being staged that features a Chinese dragon and lantern procession. It has been backed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is taking part in the event via a big screen. The nativity, which is being performed in Scouse, marks the end of Liverpool's year as the capital of culture. Annie Spiers, who co-ordinated the event, said that the nativity aimed to give "a fresh slant" to a familiar story.

However, some traditionalists warned that making Christmas multicultural and multi-faith threatened to undermine the Christian message. Alison Ruoff, a General Synod member, said: "Christmas is a time for everyone, but the Church needs to be confident in its message, which is that Christ came to save people of all faiths and none." She added: "Why are they putting such a ridiculous spin on Christmas? It's a nonsense and makes me really quite cross."

The Rev Rod Thomas, chair of Reform - a leading evangelical group, also expressed concern. "People want Christians to celebrate Christmas without compromise," he said. "It's only by doing this that people of other faiths respect what we stand for, not by attempting to introduce something that is sub-Christian. "This all seems very bizarre."


Britain and computers just don't get on: "One of the worst blunders ever seen on Whitehall saw a 'cost-cutting' computer system end up spouting answers in German and leaving taxpayers with a bill of more than 80million pounds. A damning report from MPs today accuses the Department for Transport of 'stupendous incompetence' in its management of a multi-million pound efficiency drive. Workers were left struggling with an IT system that issued messages in German, wrongly recorded that staff were off sick and randomly confiscated staff holidays. Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP who chairs the public accounts committee, said: 'The Department for Transport planned and implemented its shared corporate services project with stupendous incompetence. 'Department for Transport staff do not trust the system, which is hardly surprising when we hear that on occasion it took to issuing messages in German.' Tory MP Richard Bacon, another member of the committee, said: 'We saw the failure to test computer systems adequately with tax credits and with the Passport Agency. 'These were well-known bear-traps but the Department for Transport blundered straight into them. It is way past time that Whitehall learned to stop making the same old mistakes again and again.' "

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