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Tim Farron Resigns As A Persecuted Christian 

Tim Farron had to go as leader of the Liberal Democrats. There are real concerns that the Conservative deal with the Northern Ireland DUP to be a minority government would mean social policy against gay rights and women’s rights being more likely from Theresa May in this parliament. 

Some of Tim Farron’s past statements:

“Abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong it is wrong at any time.”

“Christianity, I am convinced, is not ‘a bit’ true. It is either not true, or it is so compellingly utterly true, that almost nothing else matters … There is no middle way.”

His Christian conviction led to him supporting faith healing claims without needing evidence, demanding the advertising agency allow as “God can heal people from medical conditions.” Usually, the burden of proof is on those claiming to perform miracles. (More on the above can be read here). 

Tim Farron had a majority of 7,000 odd at the 2015 Election. At the (let us say first just in case) 2017 General Election it went down to exactly 777. God’s own mark of approval?

It was not enough to convince people that he was the right man for the job to promote liberal values when they are in serious threat from a minority Conservative government supported by a fundamentalist protestant party.

Lord Paddick, a former senior Met police officer, had resigned as Home Affairs spokesman. For the record, Lord Paddick is gay and a Christian in a same sex marriage for last eight years. Tim Farron’s views on gay sex during the current campaign had not convinced him to stay on. 

In Tim Farron’s resignation statement, he ended:

“There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it – it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.


Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.”

We want to count on someone being whole hearted against the fundementalists not someone that wants to be in that number, when the Orange Men come marching in. If your Christianity is at one with the DUP, do not be surprised if you end up being drummed out of the Liberal Democrat party. 

I saw Farron as being a clear break from the coalition government of 2010. I hoped his secularism would mean he could show his liberal finger tips. The problem was he made a fist of it, as he admits. With over 80% of the vote going to the two main parties, and barely getting into double figures in the Commons, his position was untenable. 

Tim Farron suggesting he has been crucified for his Christian faith, is how he can forgive his own sins while leading the Liberal Democrats. After the 2015 General Election there was to be no resurrection this time. Perhaps more a stone has been rolled away. 

Whether anyone comes out of the tomb now to lead the liberal democrats to paradise, is another matter that can now begin. 

Post script:

Some have been stating that Farron’s voting record on gay rights has shown, whatever his beliefs, his secularism meant he always promoted their rights. Here that issue is put to bed: it was not as consistent as one would hope for someone promoting gay rights as an MP. I too had a discussion with Farron a few years back about his past voting record, and he admited “I have since then to show through deeds too.”

 

You can not be a liberal party leader holding views that question homosexuality, no matter how much you claim your religious anti-gay sentiments do not cloud your activism for gay rights. This election was a chance to put right. There were two years to think about, and resolve how to communicate to soothe such concerns. When Theresa May and Michael Gove appear more pro gay then you saying gay sex is not a sin … 

Liberalism tolerates different views. A liberal leader though has to be on the right side of those views in order to challenge how people act and think about people who are oppressed and vilified, for a liberal society to flourish. 

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Manchester And The World Standing Together

Shocking as the Manchester Arena attack last night was, targeting an Ariana Grande pop concert that many children were attending, it should not be surprising. We cannot afford for it to be so to understand what is happening globally. 

The terrorist jihadist mindset has no issue with massacring children in a school or explosives in a park. Nor boarding a schoolbus to put a bullet in the head of a girl that wants an education, and had blogged about how ridiculous Islamic extremists are about veiling women and children. That is just using Pakistan. More from across the world could be mentioned. 

22 are dead and 59 injured in the Manchester attack. Many are children. We might think standing together is a weak cliche response. Yet opening your doors to people left stranded after such an attack is standing together. Taxi’s giving free fares is standing together. Queuing to give blood so supplies do not run out is just that – standing together 

It is what makes the Mancunian heroes and the terrorists losers. They have to get attention for their ideas by killing weak and innocent children. They think they can intimidate and threaten us not to question their extremist Islamic fascist ideology, nor challenge them on the battle field. That the cost will be so much to bear, we will not show our solidarity with other mothers around the world who grieve for their children taken by jihadists. 

They have to be wrong that we will stand aside and let them take over how we think and act. They want to separate Muslims from non Muslims, to create enmity. Thinking of the grieving mothers of Pakistan, Nigeria and so many others, that is never going to happen. For in suffering and pain there is a bond that unites humanity in grief. 

Today is a time to grieve and give what support we can. Whilst the usual suspects will use this to further an agenda of hatred and division because it sells and gets publicity, we cannot ignore the need to tackle the indoctrination and hatred which fundamentalism fuels.

Our anger must be used to ensure the losers do not win, let alone get what they want. 

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Doctor Who and The March for Science

“Sadly, vaccination, climate change and research budgets are political issues.” I have to agree with Robin Ince. Those that have a special interest to go against science are heavily political. They need push back. It will take scientific personalities that can engage the public; that kind of politics is in the public interest. Sometimes to advance science you need to get out of the labs, and in to the streets.

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It appears that there is a condition of “Doctor Who fanboy by proxy”. Arriving at the Science museum to take part in the London Science March, there was Peter Capaldi.
It was the beat that my heart skipped.
Not for me, for my son.
He was at home.
He had done his march for the year.
Halfway around on the Women’s March, he had been told to try to be less bored.
‘I am 9 years old, you’d have been bored on a march when you were 9,” he told my wife.
You couldn’t fault his logic.
My son didn’t spot any noticeable or notable Timelords on the Women’s March (though some were there I am told), just a Gandalf, and he hasn’t got into Middle Earth as yet.
I was embarrassed, but there was no choice.
I felt I had to get a photo and an autograph for my…

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TEDxExeter 2017

The lunch interval may have been by default vegetarian, but we have had plenty of meat to get stuck into in the first half of the day at the TEDx 2017. Christina Lamb talking about the bomb attack targeting Bhutto’s motorcade when she returned to Pakistan, and what drives her to tell the stories of defiance and life in the darkest places. The chance to talk to speakers is a big part of TED, and watching the interest and excitement of schoolgirls ask her questions about journalism a reminder of the theme of this TEDx. 

Hope. 

If there is to be any, children having hope that they can write, report and be activists to bring about the promise of hope. To live their lives with hope. Andrew Solomon spoke about how travel had the social function to give you a window and a mirror as you engaged the world. That there was a need to challenge Theresa May’s assertion that there was no such thing as a citizen of the world. We have multiple identities, and they interconnect us with the rest of humanity. 

Nujeen Mustafa spoke about being more than a number as a refugee from Syria. If the name is unfamiliar to you, she is the girl in a wheel chair that left that bloody civil war. Her heartfelt plea for acceptance, an understanding of what makes her different was based on a hope that we all could understand one another. If only we were prepared to do so. 

Videos of the talks will be uploaded on the web – will try and update this blog post when they are. We are only halfway through the sessions for this one day event. 

My thanks to Claire Kennedy, the curator and licensee of TEDxExter, for inviting me to attend. It is one thing watching a TED talk. But being there, just makes it more human. 

Being more in touch with our humanity, is to have more hope. 

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On being targeted for a harassment campaign by ‘anti-Zionists’ – Marko Attila Hoare

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This is a guest post by Marko Attila Hoare.

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Last autumn, a group of ‘anti-Zionists’ launched a harassment campaign against me. Charles Frith, a notorious Holocaust denier and particularly vicious Jew-hater, who had over 32,000 Twitter followers until Twitter suspended his account, telephoned my employers, Kingston University, posing as a job-seeker. After finding out the name of my immediate manager from an unsuspecting colleague, he sent a series of abusive and defamatory emails to me and my senior colleagues, accusing me, among other things, of ‘Zionism’, and turning Kingston into a centre for ‘child abuse’. Frith is someone who refers to the ‘fake 6m Holohoax figures’. He has tweeted that ‘the Auschwitz chambers were delousing stations in Germany and France’; that ‘Israel’s Mossad did 9/11’; that ‘Jewish Al-Sisi Runs Egypt; Now an Israeli-Occupied Territory’. He has blogged that the figure of six million Holocaust dead was fabricated before World War…

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Serena Williams and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Serena is a joy to watch. Her passion and determination together with her execution on court make her one of the greatest atheletes sport has ever seen. 22 Grand slams, and decades of competitive tennis. Remarkable, and the achievement should be belittled by no one. 

When Serena Williams thanks Jehovah for winning a grand slam, I cannot help but be reminded how as a child elders banned us from competitive sports. Chess was banned as too violent by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tennis took away time preparing for the end of the world. The spiritual must come first. 

Above Serena mentions the “many, many hours on the court working for my one moment.” This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach children regarding taking up a sport.

How much you play. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.

You need to set your priorities; spiritual things should come first. Most games can last several hours, whether you are playing or just watching. “I used to have conflicts with my mom over how much time I spent watching games on TV when that time could have been better spent,” says a young woman named Daria.

To emphasise that several hours playing, let alone watching, a sport is spirtually unhealthy, they use this analogy:

Putting too much emphasis on sports is like putting too much salt on your food

I remember we had one social outing as a congregation (at my mother’s urging). One kid had brought an American football. An elder insisted we could play throw but we should not form teams. Competition was not to be tolerated.  

This was the only social outing we had as a congregation in the about six years we studied with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our social company was to be enjoyed in a new paradise earth – till then it was study the bible together and save as many people as possible before the end of this world. The apocalypse was coming, maybe tomorrow, so prepare for it. Pick up the bible, put down that racket. You could not waste several hours.

The homeschooling experience and isolation caused by Jehovah’s Witnesses insistence that children outside the faith are “bad associations that spoil useful habits” robs a childhood. Being told Satan uses other people to tempt you to leave the faith means you never switch off, Jehovah must be with you at all times. 

Even now what I write would be dismissed as that of an apostate trying to stop people seeing the light which Jehovah’s Witnesses want to share. One that should be dimmed by their failed prophesising that the people who saw the events of 1914 would be alive to see the end of the world. Apparently this does not make them false prophets that the bible warns about; it’s just more light they have now to share! They say it with a straight face while they ban children from reading books and playing games. 

Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses two things helped me find a social group, giving a sense of personal fulfilment having binged on spiritual food for so long. Becoming chess captain having gone back to school and playing LTA tennis club tournaments as a junior. 

Serena Williams is not just exceptional. Her experience studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses is an exception. Children need to be encouraged to play sports, not told that they risk undermining their salvation and perishing forever in the coming apocalypse if they do anything but read and learn about the bible.

This is child abuse – and it needs to be called out as such without the collusion of society that tolerates the social isolation of children because of religion. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Brexit The Undiscovered Country

We apparently “have our country back” as 52% vote to leave the EU. The future is the undiscovered country. It is up to us after this referendum to fulfil the promise of our nation, however we voted. 

Everything has changed, and yet the world keeps on turning though the PM will resign, the pound crumbles, stock markets fall, and finally Labour MPs might vote to get rid of Corbyn. And the SNP will jump out of our Union for a European one.  

We British have voted to leave the EU. The result is some have disowned their British identity: they don’t recognise this country. Laurie Penny went further saying  in effect she wants to take a hammer to an envisioned David Cameron face to smash all our resulting problems. Well, at least she doesn’t want to shoot a female MP, as happened this month with Jo Cox’s brutal murder. Her alleged assassin declared his name in court as “death to traitors.” The incendiary language carries on in the wake of the referendum result, on all sides. Penny does so without apparent irony when rightly calling out Farage for saying “without a bullet being fired” in this campaign to change the status quo.

Perhaps it was too much to ask that an act of terrorism might make us come together to ensure democracy was the winner – whatever the result. Real emotion was on display in the recalled parliament for one of their own. Civil activists honoured her memory and what she stood for.

Yet people trying to tell politicians their concern about immigration were branded as bigots. Concern that multiculturalism meant a back door to extremism rather than diversity, labelled as prejudice. The real far right are out there taking advantage of a failure to identify social issues with their rhetoric of hate and racism. White supremacist influence from the US and Europe needs investigating, as does the global network of Islamic extremism. 

The everyday concerns of those with the least opportunity, on council estates and in the north, were looked down on by a metropolitan southern elite. They came out in their droves; a realisation in a tight vote that their ballot box ticked was equal to any one else’s. A level playing field with anyone that had played on the fields of Eton.

Democracy needs to be cherished, even when we disagree with the result. I fear, as a remain voter, the temptation is to ignore any lessons. Leave voters got it wrong the bigots, will be the tempted lamentations on my side. If we do not understand why people voted leave, including how prejudices and racism do sometimes feed into a legitimate grievance narrative, the division and future sectarianism will grow.

That all our votes were equal made us equal citizens in this vote. Perhaps we might yet make the ideal of equal citizenship. We can but try to discover that country together. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Email: JSargeant78@gmail.com

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