Muslim Plot Against Short Christians Shock!

From Appendix C of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s new report, Guidance on the Management of Controversial Material in Public Libraries:

5. Stocking of religious texts

5.1 Leicester City policy on the shelving of the Koran and other religious texts Some libraries in Leicester have received complaints about the Koran not being placed on the top shelves in libraries. Some customers go along the shelves and place the Koran so it is shelved higher than other books. This action arises from the practice in many Muslim homes of the Koran being placed on a high shelf above commonplace things, as it is the word of God.

The authority consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester about this matter, and they advised that all religious texts should be kept on a top shelf together. This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other.

A reasonable argument against:

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said:

‘Libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs.

‘This is violating the principles of librarianship and it is part of an insidious trend.’

I agree – but then he has to ruin it:

He said the principle that books should be available to everyone was established in Europe in the Middle Ages.

‘One of the central planks of the Protestant Reformation was that everybody should have access to the Bible,’ he added.

Apparently the Federation’s advice (offered when asked, and not a demand) wasn’t a welcome sign that local Muslims accept religious pluralism – in fact it’s a plot to stop short people reading the Bible! The UK Christian Right is quick to whip up some resentment:

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: ‘It is disappointing if the policy of libraries is dictated by the practices of one group.

‘It is particularly disappointing if this is done to put the scriptures beyond reach…’

And if that’s not enough, a preposterous quote from Chris Sugden:

Canon Chris Sugden, of the Anglican Mainstream movement, said: ‘This does appear to be a reversion to medieval times, when the Bible could be read only by priests in Latin and was not to be defiled by ordinary people reading it.

Of course it’s not “done to put the scriptures beyond reach” – the top shelves of modern public libraries in the UK are reasonably low, and I believe most have an ingenious system by which persons known as “library assistants” can be called upon to pass materials down to customers with difficulties.

I don’t want religious sensitivity encroaching on what should be a neutral study space in this way, but why does the debate have to be carried on at this base and hysterical level by people who should know better?

Absurd, to Comfort Them

ray-comfort

From OneNewsNow:

Book appeals to atheists, Christians alike

A new book by a well-known evangelist and former atheist is a hit with a surprise demographic.

Ray Comfort’s newest book — You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics — was recently in second place in the “atheist” book category on Amazon.com. The book contains letters Comfort has received through the years from atheists who question the Christian faith.

I’m pretty sure it’s in the “Atheist” book category because it has the word “Atheist” in the title and a computer program has consequently put it there, rather than because atheists are buying up copies. The book is published by WorldNetDaily, and has naturally been heavily promoted there.

Those familiar with “Bananaman” Comfort’s method of apologetics (see the classic clip below) will know not to expect new insights on the Ontological Argument; instead, prepare for a farrago of the smuggest pseudo-intellectualism; one “confounded” critic on Amazon gives us a taster with a quote:

…But it’s more miraculous than the air just being there. It was fortunate the air was made up of 78.09 percent nitrogen and 20.95 percent oxygen – the exact mixture that his lungs and blood needed to survive. Without that oxygen Adam would have gasped, and his first breath would have been his last. What a miracle of chance that oxygen existed in just the right percentage to maintain Adam’s life…

And so on. “Five Star” reviews can be seen here, containing a number of interesting approximations for the spelling of “atheist”.

Comfort also maintains that atheists secretly know that God exists, and that is the basis for the hostility his arguments provoke. Ed Brayton was unimpressed.

You all know the Quinque Viae – but here’s one Aquinas missed:

Farah Keeps it Classy

wnd-wife-beheader

Some might think that this WorldNetDaily headline (now on the feeds for a number of conservative websites) has been deliberately chosen to suggest erroneously that Muslims are celebrating a man for cutting off his wife’s head, with a view to encouraging other Americans to hate and despise Muslims.

Of course, though, that can’t be the case: WND editor Joseph Farah is a devout conservative Christian, and whatever his views about Islam to deliberately spread a falsehood would make a mockery of his own faith.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Accuses Abused Child Witches of Lying

Astonishing news from the Nigeria Next:

Two months after the world was regaled with the revelation of mutilated, and abused children from Eket in Akwa Ibom state for being witches and wizards, the first official reaction from the federal government has come from far away Geneva.

The Minister for Foreign Affair, Ojo Madueke, leading the Nigeria delegation to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on human rights in Geneva, Monday denied that torture is an official state policy in Nigeria, suggesting however that the “children were paid to say they were tortured.”

Madueke made this comment while answering questions in response to his official statement at a question and answer session after he presented the official Nigerian statement at the UN assembly…

The torture and abuse of children accused of witchcraft by certain Christian pastors in Nigeria is of course well-attested, and received international attention following a British TV documentary in November- I blogged on this here.

Madueke followed this up with the claim that the government was unable to find any gay people in the country.

Kurian Update

Clavi Non Defixi carries a statement from Susan Spilka of publisher Wiley-Blackwell concerning the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization:

“The publication of Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, which Blackwell Publishing Limited (now part of Wiley-Blackwell) contracted in 2006 as a major cross-disciplinary reference work, has been delayed to enable the review by its Editorial Board that was envisioned at the outset of this project. At that time, the Encyclopedia’s Editor, George T. Kurian, approved and helped to appoint an Editorial Board of prominent theologians and scholars to perform this responsibility.

After serious concerns were raised by contributors about the Introduction, which was written by Mr. Kurian, we contacted members of the Editorial Board directly for feedback. We learned that Mr. Kurian did not engage the Editorial Board in the manner we had agreed to at the beginning of the publishing process; therefore, we requested that they perform these responsibilities to ensure that the Encyclopedia meets Wiley-Blackwell’s standards of scholarship. We acknowledge that we should have been aware of the shortcut Mr. Kurian took in his editorial process sooner, but that does not change our responsibility to rectify the situation now.

We will not speculate on the outcome of the Editorial Board’s review. No decision has yet been made about the inventory that is being stored in our distribution facilities.

While we understand and share the concerns of contributors to the Encyclopedia regarding the delay, we must fulfill our responsibilities as a respected global publisher. We sincerely appreciate that many of the Encyclopedia’s contributors have taken the time to understand the issues that we and the Editorial Board are attempting to address, rather than making hurtful and damaging accusations.”

As I blogged yesterday, Kurian has accused the book’s critics of being motivated “the devil”, and he insists this is a case of PC-censorship by anti-Christians to appease Muslims. Such overheated rhetoric, it seems to me, raises severe doubts about Kurian’s credbility – although one wonders why Blackwell allowed such a fiasco to develop in the first place. A contributor to the book adds a comment to the blog here:

Hello, I’m a contributor. In response to Kurian’s email, I asked him to give me some exact examples of passages WB objected to, and the precise objections. I said, in these cases, sometimes people feel they’ve been discriminated against, but actually, it is a question of quality. He has not responded.

So I’m left in doubt about whether this is really a case of PC censorship, or a matter of quality.

At the same time, it was obvious to me as a contributor that this was always intended as a pro-Christian dictionary, and it surprises me that editors and contributors suddenly raised problems at the very end of the process, after it was printed. I don’t think this was fair to Kurian.

Another person writes:

…I have published a couple of books by both major ‘Christian’ and ‘secular’ academic publishers, and to be honest I don’t really trust any publisher that much. Regardless of the Kurian thing, W-B were hardly on top of the project; I never did get my contracts from them or many of my emails answered. There were other important drops as well I won’t mention in public. I’m sure W-B has target authors to whom they are more professional. The point is not to speak bad of W-B but to say that there is probably alot of blame to go around. And, no, I’m not Kurian nor am I on his side (his email was very unprofessional). Both Kurian and W-B left me very unconvinced.

However, another contributor, Edward Feser, complains at the National Review that

 The publisher has not explained why its academic standards did not prevent it from granting final editorial approval and printing the encyclopedia. To paraphrase John Kerry, it would seem that Wiley-Blackwell was for publication before it was against it.

In the UK, Feser’s piece has been picked up by Damian Thompson, who is quick to spin a tale of anti-Christian persecution. Thompson ignores the bizarre aspects of Kurian’s email, and he suggests that:

 The most vicious anti-Christian prejudice I’ve ever encountered has been at academic conferences in America. And US academic publishers can be fantastically craven in the face of political correctness.

I know the work of a number of American scholars of religion and I’ve been to a few conferences (albeit not in America), and I have to say I have never encountered “vicious anti-Christian prejudice”. Of course, some scholars are more reductionist than others, and certain assessments of religious phenomena may be uncongenial to “insiders”. I’ve also heard scholars privately express scorn at manifestations of fundamentalism – indeed, I do that myself publicly on this blog. However, most academics, whether personally irreligious or not, can spot the difference between scholarly interpretation and mere polemic – or apologetic, for that matter – and can judge what is appropriate in academic writing and speaking. Kurian, by contrast, does not give impression of having a clue.

Encyclopedia Editor Claims Critics Motivated by “The Devil”

From the Guardian:

 Academic publisher Blackwell has been accused of attempting to “dechristianise” the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilisation it was due to publish in order to make it politically correct.

The Encyclopedia’s editor-in-chief, George Kurian, claims that under pressure from an anti-Christian lobby, Blackwell decided that entries in the four-volume book were “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities”. Kurian also claims that the press wants to delete words including “Antichrist”, “Virgin Birth”, “Resurrection”, “Evangelism” and “Beloved Disciple” from the book, as well as objecting to “historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims”.

“To make the treatment ‘more balanced’, they also want the insertion of material denigrating Christianity in some form or fashion,” Kurian wrote in a letter he circulated to contributors criticising Blackwell’s actions. “This is the most blatant form of censorship in the history of religious publishing.”

Well, that puts the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books in its place.

Kurian is the editor of many encyclopedias, and he runs a company called George T. Kurian Reference Books. His attack on Blackwell was made a week ago in an email; blog Clavi Non Defixi has posted the text, which is astonishing in its hyperbole. Kurian claims that “the devil” is behind concerns raised by members of the editorial board about the work’s scholarship, and he wants us to believe that the phrase “not politically correct enough” was a direct quote. Here it is:

I am sorry to report a looming crisis in the publication of the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

ECC was successfully completed in September 2008. It was completed a year ahead of schedule and in four volumes instead of the contractual three. It was edited, copyedited, factchecked, proofread and finally approved by Blackwell’s editorial team. It was printed and bound and then launched at AAR and SBL where it received high praise. It was also lauded and endorsed by Edwin Yamauchi and Mark Noll and others. I have a copy of the set with me.

Then the devil struck in the form of a wrecking crew of seven malcontents led by David Morgan and Bernard McGinn and some members of the editorial board. They determined that the Introduction and many of the entries were “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities.” Under mounting pressure from the powerful anti-Christian lobby, Blackwell Religion publisher, Rebecca Harkin and Editorial Director Philip Carpenter agreed with this assessment and (illegally) suspended the publication and began proceedings to pulp the entire edition of several thousand copies of the four-volume set just because there are a dozen references to which they do not subscribe and which ran counter to their philosophy and agenda. This is probably the first instance of mass book-burning in the 21st century.

Carpenter and Harkin now demand that not merely the Introduction but also all the other 1,450 entries should be “dechristianized” to make it politically correct before it can be reprinted. This is the most blatant form of censorship in the history of religious publishing. Carpenter, Harkin, Morgan, McGinn and others are not merely censors but also intellectual vandals and arsonists who destroy other people’s intellectual property. They do so because of an innate hatred of orthodox Christian ideas which they view as subversive of their own universe.

Carpenter and Harkin are working hard to sabotage the project and strip it of its Christian content. Among the words or passages they want deleted are “Antichrist”, “Enemy” (as referring to Satan), BC/AD (as chronological markers), “Beloved Disciple,” “Gates of Hell,” “Witness,” “Virgin Birth,” “Resurrection,” “Evangelism” “Harvest,” and any reference with an “evangelical tone” or citing the “uniqueness of Christ and Christianity”. They also object to historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims, but at the same time want references favorable to Islam. To make the treatment “more balanced”, they also want the insertion of material denigrating Christianity in some form or fashion. All these I have refused to do. So long as there are people like Carpenter, Harkin, Morgan or McGinn and publishers like Wiley-Blackwell, there will be no freedom for Christian ideas or the expression thereof. Therefore, to paraphrase Churchill, I shall fight and expose them in the courts, fight and expose them in the libraries, fight and expose them in the academia and fight and expose them in the media.

In this struggle I am seeking your support and your prayers. Specifically, I need you to do three things:

1. I am instituting two legal suits against Blackwell for this highhanded act of censorship. One is a class action suit on behalf of nearly 400 contributors who had worked hard for two years on this project. The suit will seek specific performance, that is, it will require Wiley-Blackwell to publish the book as originally approved and printed, without change and without censorship of its Christian content, tone and character. Blackwell has not paid any of the contributors even one cent but rather promised them copies of the set and also free online subscription. Now they will get neither. By law contributors are entitled to seek restitution for the lost income as well as penal damages for breach of contract. Beyond the financial aspects of the suit, it will send a strong message to the politically-correct establishment that we will not allow the the freedom of Christian expression to be abridged, muzzled, denied or trampled upon. I am also filing a separate breach of contract suit on my behalf.

If you would like to join in the class action suit please send me an e-mail stating your intention to do so and I will have the attorneys send you within three months all the necessary papers. You will incur no financial costs but will share in any settlement. Please also e-mail a copy of your letter to William Pesce, president of Wiley (Wpesce@wiley.com) and Eric Swanson, vice president (eswanson@wiley.com)

2. I shall appreciate writing to your colleagues, students, university librarians, editors and friends in the media and radio and television stations about this censorship and suppression of Christian expression. I shall also welcome your ideas and suggestions on helpful resources.

3. If you have received a set or any volume in the four-volume set of ECC, please do not return it to Blackwell under any circumstances.

Blessings in His Name,

George Thomas Kurian
Editor in chief, Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization
President, Christian Heritage Society
President, Forum Against PC Censorship

The “Christian Heritage Society” and the “Forum Against PC Censorship” have no internet presence other than this letter. One suspects he is the President and Sole Member of both.

Obviously, this foolish and hysterical screed destroys any academic credibility Kurian might claim to have; the suggestion that the distinguished Bernard McGinn – who has collaborated with scholars such as John Meyendorff and is the author of a five-volume study of Christian mysticism, among much else – is part of an “anti-Christian lobby” is both vulgar and absurd. It’s tellling that while Kurian piles up this coarse vilification, he fails to discuss any actual specific criticisms.

As it happens, I have a couple of friends involved with producing work for Blackwell in the field of religion – why should they see their work devalued by association with such a ridiculous person?

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)

Glen Jenvey Alleges Guardian in Terrorist Conspiracy Against Him

 The Story so Far: As I’ve blogged ad nauseum over the last few weeks, self-styled “terrorism expert” Glen Jenvey is under suspicion of making posts to Muslim forum Ummah.com under the name of “Abuislam”. He is suspected using this name to call for British Jews to be targeted over Gaza,  and of then “exposing” this as a Muslim plot to the Sun, which ran the story on page one. The considerable circumstantial evidence against Jenvey was discovered by Tim Ireland; the Sun then removed the story from its website and is now dealing with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), and the Guardian ran a short piece on the controversy in its Media section. Jenvey’s personal friend “Lionheart” (a “former” BNP supporter who rails against “Paki Muslims”) has blustered at length that the forum is a front for al-Qaeda, and therefore that the PCC is guilty of assisting al-Qaeda by investigating the story. Jenvey has so far failed to respond to any of the circumstantial evidence – although through evangelical journalist Jeremy Reynalds he has asserted that the evidence was fabricated by the forum’s administrators by means he does not attempt to explain.

Jeremy Reynalds has now published an extraordinary second piece on the Glen Jenvey affair, in which he points out that the Guardian employs as a columnist Faisal Bodi, who has “denied Israel’s right to exist”. Bodi has links with Ummah.com (allegedly), and so he may have been “Abuislam”. The Guardian therefore published the article questioning Jenvey in order to protect their columnist. Really – it’s that weird.

Here’s the essence of it:

A journalist who has written as many as 37 articles for a widely respected British newspaper, and who was at one time the editor of a radical Islamic Internet forum, has stated publicly that Israel has no right to exist

Faisal Bodi achieved notoriety in an early 2001 Guardian editorial when he wrote the article.

…The Guardian did not immediately respond to two e-mails asking in part, “With Bodi’s connection to Ummah News, which continues to contain inflammatory comments calling for the destruction of Israel, why would you continue to use his services as a Guardian writer/commentator?”

The forum for which Bodi used to work is UmmahNews.com. Its apparent site administrator recently spoke out against a charge in a British tabloid that some of its users are extremists targeting leading British Jews.

…Jenvey said, “Could it be that Bodi is masquerading as Abuislam or another senior member of the Ummah staff?”

Now Jenvey has launched his own complaint with the PCC– against the Guardian newspaper. His complaint reads in part, “After still seeing the Guardian’s (story) on line, and the connection between the newspaper and the webmaster of ummah.com (and) ummah.net, I would like to reopen my complaint against the story as trying to discredit me.”

Jenvey added, “It is clear why the Guardian reported this story and tried to protect a terrorist web forum, as one of their reporters is the webmaster. The Sun was right to expose the evil website threats and postings.”

…Despite its self-proclaimed moderate nature, the Ummah site continues to carry material advocating the destruction of Israel and appears to continue to embrace the anti-Israel viewpoint of its former editor.

The whole thing is a blustering screed so shameless in its ad hominem attacks and conspiracy-mongering that Reynalds really ought to be ashamed of himself.

First, Ummah News is defunct, and has been for a while (Wayback has archives going back to mid 2006). I understand Ummah News and Ummah.com used to be connected, but obviously they’re not now. Second, Bodi left it some time before it closed down anyway. Third, how can Bodi be both the “webmaster” and “masquerading” as a “senior member of the Ummah staff”? Fourth, why would Bodi feel the need to “masquerade” as anyone, given that Reynalds tells us he is openly inflammatory? Fifth, what evidence is there that “Abuislam” – who registered on the forum only in January, for no other reason apparently than to suggest protesting against British Jews – is “a senior member of the Ummah staff”? Sixth, is it not obvious that an open discussion forum might carry all kinds of material from a great many sources? Seventh, the Guardian ran the story for the same reason I’m writing this blog entry – because it’s newsworthy. Bodi is only one of dozens of part-time columnists it employs. Reynalds is writing his hack job to protect Jenvey while failing to declare his long-standing links with him; it appears he assumes other journalists must operate in the same way. It is very unlikely that anyone above the Media Editor at the Guardian played any part in the decision to run its short piece, or that the journalists know or care much about Bodi. The article also came on the heels of a Private Eye piece – is Ian Hislop secretly in league with Bodi and Ummah.com too?

And what about Bodi and the “destruction of Israel?” Reynalds quotes one of his articles:

Several years ago, I suggested in my students’ union newspaper that Israel shouldn’t exist. I also said the sympathy evoked by the Holocaust was a very handy cover for Israeli atrocities. Overnight I became public enemy number one. I was a Muslim fundamentalist, a Jew-hater, somebody who trivialized the memory of the most abominable act in history. My denouncers followed me, photographed me, and even put telephone calls through to my family telling them to expect a call from the grim reaper.  “Thankfully, my notoriety in Jewish circles has since waned to the extent that recently I gave an inter-faith lecture sponsored by the Leo Baeck College, even though my views have remained the same. Israel has no right to exist.”

So why doesn’t Reynalds write to the Jewish Leo Baeck college demanding to know why it allows Bodi on the premises? Of course, the answer to this – and to the Guardian‘s continued employment of him – is that he doesn’t subscribe to an extremist “Death to Israel” position after all. Here’s some more of his piece, to give the context that Reynalds deliberately ignores:

Israel’s other potential claim to legitimacy [after the Bible], international recognition, is just as dubious. The two pacts which sealed Palestine’s future were both concluded by Britain. First we signed the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, pledging to divvy up Ottoman spoils in the Levant. A year later, in 1917, the Balfour Declaration promised a national home for the Jewish people. Under international law the declaration was null and void since Palestine did not belong to Britain – under the pact of the League of Nations it belonged to Turkey.

…However, take away the biblical right and suddenly mutual coexistence, even a one-state solution, doesn’t seem that far-fetched. What name that coexistence will take is less important than the fact that peoples have forgiven and that some measure of justice has been restored. Jews will continue to live in the Holy Land – as per the promise – as equals alongside its other rightful inhabitants.

So, Bodi promotes a bi-national one-state solution, and by disputing the “right to exist” he was questioning Israel’s legal basis. Whatever your views on that, no-one can seriously say it’s the same as a 2006 quote from a post to Ummah made by an extremist group which Reynalds dredges up:

The Followers of Ahl Us-Sunnah wal Jamma call upon all Muslim individuals, groups and organizations to show their support verbally, physically and financially to the Mujahideen who are struggling against the fascist entity called Israel so that it can be destroyed once and for all thereby liberating the land of Palestine, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip which belong to the Muslims and allowing the Muslims to implement Islamic law.

Does the fact that such a post was allowed to stand unchallenged reflect poorly on Ummah administrators? Perhaps. But does it reflect Bodi’s views as presented in the Guardian article used by Reynalds? Not by any reasonable measure. And does it do anything to explain the apparent links between Jenvey and “abuislam”, which were discovered by someone with no connection to the forum? Absolutely not. As I’ve written before, these are the points Jenvey must address:

1. Who is Richard Tims, and why was he spamming Jenvey’s “Sell Your Story” website on the websites of Ummah and of Jenvey’s friend “Lionheart”?

2. Given that Richard Tims’ message gave very little away and gave no indication of being either pro and anti Muslim, how would anyone at Ummah have known that a fake link to Jenvey could be made by linking Tims to “Abu Islam”?

3. Why didn’t Ummah make the link themselves? Surely we can’t be expected to believe that the moderators faked the trail and then were just waiting around on the off-chance that an unconnected blogger might happen to pass by and work it all out by checking “Sell Your Story” at Whois?

plus also now:

4. why do “Abuislam’s” postings have the same punctuation and spelling problems as Jenvey’s writings?

Even should Jenvey and Reynalds demonstrate that Ummah‘s moderators take instructions from Hitler’s severed head preserved in a glass jar, that will not make these questions disappear.

“Robertson” Swinton Circle to Host Gas Chamber Denialist at British Israelite Church

From an Events Diary:

Thursday 26th February 7.00 pm
The Swinton Group –
organiser@swintoncircle.org.uk 
Title: “Seven Stupid Separatist Sophisms (from Scotland and England)”
Alistair McConnachie, Publisher of Sovereignty
Public Meeting – Orange Street Congregational Church, London (Just behind the National Portrait Gallery)
Admission Free

The event is being held by the “Allan Robertson” Swinton Circle – there is a rival “Official Swinton Circle”, led by the Springbok Club’s Alan Harvey, which has nothing to do with this.

 McConnachie is a controversial character; in December Hugh Muir noted in the Guardian that:

…we see that in February, the Swintonites…will have as their guest speaker Alistair McConnachie, who, in 2001, triggered resignations from Ukip by writing to the Scottish press saying the Pope had been duped over the Holocaust. Clarifying his position, he later wrote, “I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers ever existed.”

McConnachie’s views were explained in the same newspaper in 2001:

A further split has ocurred in the United Kingdom Independence party after an executive member and five-time candidate endorsed the rightwing historian David Irving’s denial of the Holocaust.  Alistair McConnachie caused resignations from the party when he wrote to the Scottish press saying the Pope had been duped over the Holocaust and attacked the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

…Documents passed to the Guardian show Mr McConnachie took a far stronger line in emails to party members. He wrote to one critic, executive member Christopher Skeate, saying: ” I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers ever existed… there are no photographs or film of execution gas chambers… Alleged eyewitness accounts are revealed as false or highly exaggerated.”

McConnachie, however, denies this makes him Holocaust denier:

I am certainly not a “Holocaust denier”. I know there was a Holocaust. The Holocaust was real! Millions of Jews were murdered. We all know that! We’ve all seen the pictures!

I am quite prepared to accept that six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. The only thing that needs to be said is that we should all expect to be free and able to investigate the evidence for ourselves, and reach different conclusions, and share these conclusions publicly, just as we investigate any other matter of history and talk about it publicly.

Apparently McConnachie came to his views after watching Errol Morris’s documentary about Fred Leuchter, Mr Death, at the Edinburgh Filmhouse – even though the film makes clear that Leuchter is a crank whose methods are bogus and who appears to be motivated by the sense of self-worth he derives from enjoying an “expert” status among denialists.

The venue for the event is interesting: Orange Steet Congregational Church promotes British-Israelite views, and the church’s “We believe” section includes:

…the descendants of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, are a distinct and separate people from those who call themselves Jews today. The nation of Israel was divided into two Kingdoms, one was called Judah and the other Israel. Around 745-676 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel was taken captive into Assyria and never returned to Palestine and henceforth became known as “The Lost Tribes of Israel.” History tells us their migrations from Assyria via Southern Russia through Europe under a variety of names such as Cimmerians, Goths, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans.

The true descendants of Israel are in the Celto-Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Germanic and Dutch/Holland peoples in Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and America (A Great Nation) and the British Isles (A Great Nation and Company of Nations).

The Royal Family is directly descended from the Line of David.

Where this leaves actual Jews is not explained, although one 1979 essay posted on the site tells us:

In 1917 the Khazar Jews passed a major milestone towards the creation of their own state in Palestine. The same year they also created the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. There followed a Christian holocaust, the likes of which the world has never seen. The Khazar Jews were once again in control of Russia after more than 900 years, and they set about the task of destroying the Russian Christians – over 100-million of them, at the same time over 20-million religious Jews also died at the hands of the Khazar Jews. This is what the Russian Christians were up against in their 60-year struggle to overthrow the atheistic Bolsheviks, but they finally succeeded in their overthrow program, and now the 1000-year-old war between the Russian Christians and the Khazar Jews is reaching a climax.

…The Khazar state called the “Kingdom of the Jews” [Khazaria] a thousand years ago was a parasite, living on the tribute from conquered peoples. Likewise today, Israel depends for its survival on a never-ending flow of support from outside. Left unchecked, the Russians believe that the Khazar Jews will destroy Christianity by means of Zionism; so Russia’s Christian rulers are on the offensive against their enemies of a thousand years – the Khazars.

The church’s webpage includes links to a number of British-Israelite resources, including the webpage of Alan Campbell, who promotes the views of US Christian Identity ideologue Bertrand Comparet.

The Robertson Swinton Circle is proving unexpectedly pious – its last meeting was apparently a winter buffet, where the Rev Peter Mullen was invited to discourse on the shortcomings of secularism and “the doctrine of evolution”.

[NB: It is not here claimed that Mullen has any sympathies with the aims, opinions, or activities of the Swinton Circle]

Canadian SSPX Website Pulls Bishop Williamson Articles

Several weeks after Bishop Richard Williamson’s views on the Holocaust came to worldwide public attention, the Canadian website of the  Society of St. Pius X  has pulled its archive of Williamson’s pastoral letters, which I cast an eye over here. The letters were a bizarre ragbag of conspiracy-mongering about “Judeo-Masonry” and misogyny (best line of advice to women: “You wish to stop abortion? Do it by example. Never wear trousers or shorts.”). Instead there’s just a link to the website of Angelus magazine, where a few of his more recent articles can be accessed.

As has been widely reported, Williamson has also just been fired as director of an SSPX seminary in Argentina, and he has been exhorted to recant:

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X, [said] he had…barred Richard Williamson from making public appearances without his permission.

The British-born bishop “must now study the historical facts and correct his false statements,” Fellay said. “The quicker the better.”

He had “forbidden public appearances without authorisation,” he added.

Fellay also said Williamson was ousted as the head of an Argentine seminary on January 31, 10 days after Swedish television broadcast an interview in which he said Nazis never used gas chambers and that only up to 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust.

“I asked him right away, after I saw the interview, to correct this stupidity,” Fellay said.

So why didn’t Fellay demand that Williamson “correct his stupidity” in 1991? Williamson then wrote:

until they re-discover their true Messianic vocation, [Jews] may be expected to continue fanatically agitating, in accordance with their false messianic vocation of Jewish world-dominion, to prepare the Anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. So we may fear their continuing to play their major part in the agitation of the East and in the corruption of the West.

Why instead was this coarse anti-semitism hosted on an official SSPX website, to be joined by later musings on the same theme? Fellay’s Captain Renault-like response to Williamson’s recent Holocaust-denying interview rings hollow. The SSPX is appalled because it has suffered a PR disaster, not because it has suddenly discovered that one of its bishops is eaten up with paranoia and hatred.

School Disassembly

A weird contrast that highlights the complete mess concerning enforced religious worship and religious instructions inside British schools:

In January it was reported that the Welsh Assembly were proposing plans which would allow Sixth form pupils in Wales to opt out of Christian assemblies regardless of parents’ wishes.

The proposals were dubbed a “betrayal of Welsh culture” by the Union of Welsh Independent Chapels.

Earlier last year parents were outraged as two schoolboys from Stoke-on-Trent were punished by their comprehensive school teacher for refusing to pray to Allah.

The boys, from Alsager High School in Cheshire, were given detention after they said they didn’t want take part in the Muslim prayer as part of their Religious Education class.

“Sixth form” pupils, it should be noted, are aged between 16 and 18. Pupils can currently be excused from assemblies if their parents object; at my state school this meant the two Asian kids and a Jehovah’s Witness stood in a corridor while everyone else went through the assembly, which included school notices and general topical discussions mixed in with religious exhortations, hymns and prayers. As the 1980s progressed, though, the hymns and prayers became increasingly mumbled and some pupils became increasingly bold in their disdain or mockery; despite demands from the headmaster for a better show it was obviously a losing battle. At one assembly we were all given a Gideon pocket New Testament, although pupils could decline to accept if they wished. I still have mine. Presumably American readers will be baffled to learn that this kind of thing is not considered to be controversial, despite low levels of church attendance in the UK and despite widespread ignorance about and disinterest in Christian beliefs.

As regards Religious Education, I actually had, on the whole, very good teachers, but I understand that in many schools teachers of this subject still see their job as a chance to evangelise rather than a duty to provide a neutral introduction to religion. I recall that that we once had to watch an American Christian anti-abortion video; I was fascinated by the strange histrionics of the televangelist presenter, although that wasn’t supposed to be the point (and look where it’s led me now!).

The two incidents mentioned above are provided by the Christian Institute as background to this story:

A headteacher has been forced to resign after trying to scrap separate Islamic assemblies in favour of promoting a single gathering for all pupils of all faiths.

Julia Robinson said she believed the change would encourage “inclusiveness” in the school but instead was accused of racism.

…Fiyza Awan, 19, a Muslim whose younger sister is a pupil, said: “When Mrs Robinson took over she said she wanted one assembly for all the students.

“We didn’t have a problem with that but wanted a secular assembly where no hymns were sung and topics involving all the children could be discussed. But after a while hymns were introduced again and we objected.

“We told Mrs Robinson we wanted our children withdrawn and to have a separate assembly again.

Some other reports say that the head resigned for an undisclosed personal reason, although there is some understandable scepticism about this. It is unclear how and where exactly the accusation of “racism” was made; conservative commentators have been quick to declare the incident as proof of emerging “Muslim ghettos”.