Delaware House of Reps “Recognizes Dr. C. Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles”

A bizarre statement from the State of Delaware House of Representatives:

Tribute. Be it known to all that the House of Representatives recognizes Dr. C. Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles in the State of Delaware. On this special day of the Commissioning Service, we honor Dr. C. Peter Wagner for his many years of faithful service to the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and the advancement of His Kingdom…

The Tribute, “elegantly inscribed on 8 1/2″ x 14″ parchment-type paper and encased in a folder”, was presented to Wagner in a special ceremony, and Wagner has himself helpfully transcribed it in a message to his followers.

Wagner, as is well-known, heads a branch of neo-Pentecostalism known as the New Apostolic Reformation. Leaders of the movement claim to be empowered by God with spiritual gifts – for instance, Wagner receives regular messages from God. Rival perspectives on the world are placed within a demonology of malign supernatural forces, to be battled through spiritual warfare and deliverance: for example, Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary is in fact homage to a demon known as the “Queen of Heaven“, while economic woes in Japan are the result of ritual sex between the Emperor and the demonic sun goddess.

The Tribute was signed by

Robert F. Gilligan, Speaker of the House; Richard L. Puffer, Chief Clerk of the House, Representative Daniel B., Short, Sponsor.

Wagner also has details of the ceremony itself:

For a year or more I have been in touch with apostolic leadership in the state of Delaware, the first state admitted to the union, about the possibility of organizing key apostles in the state and having their government recognized by the state.

… Much to my surprise, a good bit of field work had been done to assure the approval of the State of Delaware. As part of the ceremony, I was officially welcomed as an apostle and authorized to help commission apostles to the state. The mayor of Seaford (a committed believer) read the Commendation from his office and presented me with the key to the city. This was followed by a Tribute complete with the seal of the Sussex County Council, a Tribute with the seal of the Senate of the State of Delaware, and a Tribute from the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware read personally by the representative of the district.

The mayor of Seaford is a certain Ed H. Butler; according to the Seaford Star, “he is a member of the Victory Tabernacle Church of God, Laurel”. The “representative of the district”, who read the Tribute, would have been Michael H. Vincent, who is also the Sussex County Council President.

Sussex County Council is currently in a dispute over prayer with American United; the AU website reported in September:

Each session at the Sussex County Administrative Office Building in Georgetown, Del., begins with Council President Michael H. Vincent leading a recitation of the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer over the chamber’s public-address system. Members of the audience stand and bow their heads during the Christian observance. Since 2009, the prayer has been included in the council minutes as an “invocation.”

Sectarian prayer isn’t the only practice that sends a signal of government involvement with religion. A Ten Commandments display is prominent in the council chamber. And attendees at meetings are sometimes subjected to discussions about the council’s annual prayer breakfast.

According to Delmarvanow,

…The county has argued that the Lord’s Prayer is not an exclusively Christian prayer, so its public recitation by a government body is legal. An attorney for the county has described the prayer “as generic and universal a prayer as can be crafted.”

Whatever one’s views on that, arranging for the State of Delaware to formally recognize “Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles” is quite a robust way of giving the finger to those who have church-state qualms.

Meanwhile, Wagner gloats that

The Delaware Council of Apostles has formulated a charter document that is currently undergoing revision. When it is ready, I would hope that we could publicize it as a possible format for other states. I thought that the official sanction of the Government Mountain for this highly significant initiative in the Religion Mountain was notable. It would be interesting to know whether such a thing has happened in other states.

The “Government Mountain” is a reference to the seven domains in modern society (“government, business, education, arts and entertainment, family services, media, and the church”) of which Christians should seek to take control. Bruce Wilson has some background here, including links with Sarah Palin. Another “Seven Mountains” organisation is the Oak Initiative – this is a Christian Right outfit in which Gen William “Jerry” Boykin is a central figure.

UPDATE: The Delaware House Democratic Caucus has sent Right Wing Watch an official statement:

…Under the House tribute process, each individual Representative is responsible for making a request on behalf of his or her constituency.

Discretion for what constitutes an acceptable request is left to each individual Representative rather than subjecting each tribute to a review that could be interpreted as partisan or vindictive. The Speaker of the House is elected by the entire House and his signature appears on each tribute.

…To be clear, in no way does a tribute represent nor should it be interpreted as an endorsement by the Delaware House of Representatives. The House does not vote on tributes. They are requested and sponsored by a specific Representative or Representatives.

Unfortunately, Dr. Wagner seemingly has mischaracterized the intent of this tribute to be an endorsement by the Delaware House of Representatives. We want to be absolutely clear that the House of Representatives does not endorse Dr. Wagner or his organization.

So, the phrase “Be it hereby known to all that the House of Representatives recognizes” actually means… “Be it hereby known to all that one member of the House of Representatives recognizes”.

At Talk To Action, Rachel Tabachnick has a image of the actual document. A comment under her post from “Eleanor B” puts the award in context:

Bear in mind that the Texas Legislature once passed a resolution honoring Albert de Salvo for “his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology.” Albert de Salvo was, of course, convicted for being the Boston Strangler…

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch and Sola Dei Gloria)

Rescue Christians Helps Write Petition on Pakistani Christians; Sponsored by Italian MPs, “Possible Interest” from Vatican

Some months ago I noted a new initiative from the Walid Shoebat Foundation, entitled “Rescue Christians”. The new organisation stated that it was working on a number of high-profile cases in Pakistan, providing safe houses for Christians accused of blasphemy and their families. Although there is clearly a pressing need for such help, actual details about how these aims would be achieved and overseen were rather thin.

Since then, the Rescue Christians website has been overhauled, and there is now some further information:

Rescue Christians’ international partner World Vision In Progress (WVIP) has petitioned the Italian government concerning the plight of Pakistani Christians. We helped write the petition, which is now being sponsored by several Italian Members of Parliament. Based on our petition, we also know that the Vatican has indicated a possible interest to intervene and help. We have advised World Vision on what further measures of advocacy are required and we are following through. We hope and pray that the petition and subsequent advocacy will open doors for the ability to save many suffering people and allow them to rebuild their lives. We will keep you informed of any future developments.

…World Vision In Progress Foundation (WVIP), bearing Registration Number (kept private for security reasons) is working to help the persecuted Christian community in Pakistan. WVIP’s basic focus is to protest peacefully against the discriminatory laws such as Blasphemy Laws and Sharia Laws.

It should be noted that “World Vision in Progress” has no connection with the better-known organisation World Vision.

The director of WVIP is a man named Farrukh Harrison, and he contacted me privately a few months ago to confirm that he is working to protect Pakistani Christians – his correspondence included photos and a video in which Christians under his protection offered thanks to “Brother Walid” for providing support.

The petition followed other events in Italy; Agenzia Radicale has further details:

Domenica 22 gennaio lunedì 23, rispettivamente presso l’Università Urbaniana e presso la sala della Mercede alla Camera dei Deputati, promosso dall’Osservatorio del diritto italiano e internazionale e dal World Vision in Progress Foundation, si è tenuto il convegno “La persecuzione delle minorante cristiane un Pakistan“.

…La dr.ssa Adriana Bolchini – presidente nazionale dell”O.D.D.I.I. [Osservatorio del Diritto Italiano e Internazionale] assieme al sig. Farrukh Harrison, presidente nazionale della World Vision in Progress Foundation il dr. Paolo Valerio Mantellini – membro del consiglio direttivo dell’ODDII e il sig. 

…Erano presenti numerosi ospiti tra cui i deputati Souad Sbai e Antonio Mazzocchi e come il prof. Mobeen Shaihd di Pakistani cristiani in Italia, che si occupano della difesa dei cristiani perseguitati.

Sbai and Mazzocchi are with the centre-right PDL party;  Mazzocchi is founder and  president of an organisation called Cristiano Riformisti. Further reports can be found on the ODDII website (here and here).

These associations seem a world away from what Shoebat stands for, and I don’t just mean the well-known controversy around Shoebat’s past and activities. Shoebat has a history of excessive utterances: the Bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ; Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist working for al-Qaeda;  it’s a shame that there are more violent extremists so that “nukes” could be deployed against “the Muslim world”, and so on.

Russian Gita Ban Row: Orthodox Group and Muslims Sending Meat to ISKCON Followers

From Interfax:

Representatives of Orthodox Resistance Movement to Murdering of Children conducted an action and conveyed a batch of tinned stewed meat to the Moscow Society for Krishna Conciseness [sic – obviously should be “Society for Krishna Consciousness”, also known as ISKCON and informally as “Hare Krishna”] .

…Earlier Russian Muslims also announced that they launch an action “of collecting and sending starving Indians humanitarian help in form of Halal canned stewed meat.”

Here, we see the religious virtue of charity being applied for the purposes of insult and revenge: the Russian Orthodox group claims that it is responding to a recent burning of the Russian flag by BJP militants in India, while some Russian Muslims believe that ISKCON’s provision of free vegetarian meals is an attempt to induce Muslims to eat non-Halal food. According to Albir Krganov, first deputy chairman of the Central Spiritual Board of Russian Muslims Mufti of Moscow and Russia’s Central Region:

“If the sect persists that when Krishnaites distributed their food they made a good deed then we’re ready to pay the debt and start delivering nutritious Halal stewed meat in cans to starving Krishnaites of India. We are ready to personally distribute this meat to Russian Krishnaites,” he said.

I haven’t been able to find any other reference to the alleged flag-burning, but it supposedly formed part of a protest against an attempt in Russia to ban ISKCON’s famous and distinctive version of the Bhagavad Gita, entitled The Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Forum 18 has the background:

On 28 December 2011, Judge Galina Butenko of Tomsk’s Lenin District Court rejected the prosecutor’s suit to have the third Russian edition of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is ruled extremist.

…An “expert analysis” completed in October 2010 by three academics at Tomsk State University at the request of FSB security service officer Dmitry Velikotsky found that the book “contains signs of incitement of religious hatred and humiliation of an individual based on gender, race, ethnicity, language, origin or attitude to religion”.

…In an analysis posted on his Livejournal blog on 2 January, Nikolai Karpitsky carefully reviewed all the evidence of possible initiators of the Tomsk case… He… discounts the idea that the three Tomsk University “experts” who conducted the initial 2010 analysis were behind it, given their surprise that it would be used in court to try to ban the book and their renunciation of their analysis in court.

Karpitsky believes Maksim Stepanenko, the head of the Tomsk Russian Orthodox Diocese’s Missionary Centre, is the “the remaining possibility” as the initiator of the case, although Stepanenko denies this. Karpitsky’s post can be seen here.

According to The Russia & India Report:

On January 16 Muhammedali Khuzin, head of the executive committee of the All-Russian muftiat, in Russian Perm city appealed to the Russian authorities “not to cede to any external provocation and pressure” and “to display principal inclemency” to the Krishnaits.

However, Khuzin was opposed by Gulnur Gazieva, head of the press-office of the Russian Council of Muftis.

In 2004, an ISKCON temple in Moscow was demolished to make way for a city development, but a plot of land promised as a replacement was withdrawn by the mayor following complaints from the Orthodox Church. That decision, however, was itself overturned in June 2006, and a temple has existed in a Moscow suburb since 2008. The ISKCON website has an account here – the author lays on various chess metaphors, and the piece is perhaps unwisely entitled “Checkmate: ISKCON’s Victory in Russia”.

The “Orthodox Resistance Movement to Murdering of Children” has no other internet presence in English – from the name, it’s presumably an anti-abortion group which is branching out, and I suspect it’s linked with other nationalist Orthodox groups I’ve blogged about.

Gen Boykin: Muslims are “Precious… I Respect Them and Their Right to Worship”

Jerry Boykin, speaking yesterday at the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast (background here):

“The muslim people are a precious people and I respect them and their right to worship, so long as they don’t fall into the category of a radical who wants to destroy the constitution.”

Jerry Boykin, previously:

We need to recognize that Islam itself is not just a religion – it is a totalitarian way of life. It’s a legal system, sharia law; it’s a financial system; it’s a moral code; it’s a political system; it’s a military system. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with sharia law.


No mosques in America…. A mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate, not the sanctity or sovereignty of the United States.

Just a few days ago, the Tennessee Freedom Coalition posted a video in which Boykin warns about the “Muslim propaganda playbook”, that Muslims are “implementing their plan”, and that “the target is our constitution”. In that speech, Boykin identifies “the theology of Islam” and “authoritative Islam” as the enemies: no distinction is made between Muslims, Islamists, and Jihadis.

Perhaps Boykin has had a change of heart; more likely, though, is that he defines “the category of a radical” so broadly that a Muslim who doesn’t “want to destroy the constitution” is either uninformed about his or her own religion, or belongs to a fringe, “non-authoritative” form of Islam.

More on That “Mullah Omar Captured” Story

Back in July 2010, I was surprised to find that I had provoked the wrath of bestselling conservative thriller author Brad Thor:

I guess with Instaputz, Bartholomew, and Media Matters on the scene, the rest of the milblogging community can finally hang up their cleats.

…Lefty journalism is only fun after all when you can selectively attack sources.  Behold the utter nihilism of the left – available at a progressive website near you.

This was a strangely thinned-skin response to a blog-post in which I had discussed Thor’s alleged scoop – published by Andrew Breitbart the preceding May – that Mullah Omar had been “captured” by Pakistani authorities. Thor announced that

At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately.  From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.

When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed.

I expressed some scepticism a few weeks later, although I thought I had been fair-minded enough: I noted that Jeremy Scahill at the Nation had tentatively suggested that there might be something in it, while David Horowitz’s Newsrealblog had been unimpressed.

Thor quietly modified his position soon after, quoting Bill Roggio’s suggestion that Omar “is thought to be in a safehouse in Karachi, under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate”:

We believe we have a semantic difference with Roggio: “captured” or “protected,” why hasn’t the U.S. gotten access to Omar?

That “semantic difference” amounted to something of an anti-climax: Thor’s “explosive information” was in fact a story which was already three-and-a-half years old. As the BBC reported January 2007:

Taleban leader Mullah Omar is living in Pakistan under the protection of its ISI intelligence agency, a captured Taleban spokesman has said.

I was reminded of all this recently when I came across last week’s New Yorker, which contains a long profile of Mullah Omar by Steve Coll. According to Coll:

Alex Strick van Linschoten [website here – RB], a Dutch scholar who has been based in Kandahar since 2007 and has conducted interviews with Taliban leaders and sympathizers, told me that he believes Mullah Omar is “in a safe house in Karachi”… and that Omar’s movements and activities are closely  monitored by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Strick van Linschoten’s informants describe Omar as “essentially a prisoner”. Coll also cites journalist Anand Gopal, who regards Omar as being “effectively under house arrest”, and he notes that an Indian official at a US-Indian counterterrorism meeting last year had described Omar as being under “Pakistani protection”. Coll also spoke with “half a dozen American officials”, whose

views range from a belief that Omar is essentially under house arrest to a judgement that he enjoys considerable freedom of movement and action within Pakistan.

However, nowhere in Coll’s extensive and definitive account is there any mention of a particular development that supposedly occurred in May 2010, let alone “explosive information” that had taken the US Defense Department “by surprise”.

Anti-Islam Film Shown “On Continuous Loop” to NYPD Counterterrorism Trainees

January 2011:

This month, when a group of New York City police officers showed up for their required counter-terrorism training, they got to watch a movie.

…The film is called The Third Jihad. It is 72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches, and seething mullahs.

…Police officials agree that this is a “wacky movie,” as deputy commissioner Paul Browne said, that never should have been shown to officers. Browne initially insisted that cops had never seen the flick. “It was reviewed and found to be inappropriate,” he said. Further checking revealed that the movie had been aired for officers. It was a mistake, Browne said. “It was not approved for the curriculum. It’s not shown for any purpose now.”

January 2012:

The movie was shown on a continuous loop while officers were signing in for counterterrorism training sessions from October to December 2010, according to police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank at New York University.

…Browne said that the police brass did not approve the use of the movie and that the decision to play it was made by a sergeant, who has since been reprimanded.

…The film was used as “intermission filler” and to “provide information for students during breaks to keep their attention focused on counterterrorism issues,” Assistant Chief George W. Anderson wrote in one of the documents obtained by the Brennan Center.

As was widely reported, the Third Jihad was produced by the Clarion Fund, which was also responsible for the documentary Obsession (the Fund also promoted the “Islam doll” conspiracy theory). At least one of the “experts” featured in the Obsession film – namely Walid Shoebat – has been known to promote the conspiracy theory that Obama is “really” a Muslim, and the Third Jihad DVD includes footage of Glenn Beck.

Improper counter-terrorism training is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year: a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December 2010, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March 2011 which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins. A report by the progressive Political Research Associates also appeared in last spring, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as a report in Wired. Wired also ran a second piece in October.

The police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice can be seen here, and include the following from Anderson:

The video was not a part of the authorized curriculum in place for COBRA training; however, staff at the COBRA Unit indicated they obtained the video from DHS staff who are assigned to work with NYPD instructors in the COBRA program

…The identity of the DHS member who provided the video remains unknown. During the early inquiry into this matter, I contacted Arthur Collins, Assistant Eastern Regional Manager for SAIC Contractor Support to the Center for Domestic Preparedness (DHS), via telephone, to inquire about the video and the DHS position on its use in training programs. Mr. Collins supervises the DHS contract personnel who assist in COBRA training. Mr. Collins indicated in an email response that the video in fact is not an authorized video used by DHS personnel… I conclude that it is likely a DHS member did possess the video and shared it with COBRA staff, but not have official authorization to do so. As such, both the unidentified DHS member and Sgt. Walsh used this video in an unauthorized manner.

Collins confirmed to Anderson that

This video was not authorized to be used at any of the training deliveries either at the COBRA site in Brooklyn or at the CDP resident training program, by SAIC or FEMA.

SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) has a website here; according to a relevant blurb:

We have extensive experience with the component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and have worked hand in hand with our agency customers to meet their important training, technical, and strategic requirements. 

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that there was involvement between the filmmakers and police:

The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, through a top aide, acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that he personally cooperated with the filmmakers of “The Third Jihad” — a decision the commissioner now describes as a mistake.

…Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne told The New York Times on Monday that the filmmakers had relied on old interview clips and had never spoken with the commissioner.

…On Tuesday, the film’s producer, Raphael Shore, e-mailed The Times and provided a date and time for their 90-minute interview with the commissioner at Police Headquarters on March 19, 2007. Told of this e-mail, Mr. Browne revised his account.

“He’s right,” Mr. Browne said Tuesday of the producer. “In fact, I recommended in February 2007 that Commissioner Kelly be interviewed.”

In an e-mail, Mr. Browne said that when he first saw the film in 2011, he assumed the commissioner’s interview was taken from old clips, even though the film referred to Mr. Kelly as an “interviewee.” He did not offer an explanation as to why he and the commissioner, on Tuesday, remembered so much of their decision.

…”Commissioner Kelly told me today that the video was objectionable,” he said, “and that he should not have agreed to the interview five years ago, when I recommended it.”

This leaves an unfortunate impression. Paul Browne’s original public position was that this was a “wacky” film which had not been used. Then he admitted that it had been shown. Now it transpires that the film was shown on a “continuous loop” as an “intermission filler”, and that Browne had himself liaised with the film’s producer.

In 2008 I noted that the Third Jihad cover art had been tweaked a couple of times before the documentary came out, although at least one person who left comments wasn’t impressed by my suggestion about why this may have occured.

(H/T Islamophobia Watch)

Gen. “Jerry” Boykin Claims North Carolina Terror Ring Plotted to “Capture” and “Torture” Him

A dramatic story from retired General “Jerry” Boykin, former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence:

A couple of years ago they arrested seven terrorists down in North Carolina. A good friend of mine who is very well placed in law enforcement in Virginia called me up and said ‘Sir, I need to meet you, sir I need to talk to you”. I had been mentoring him for a couple of years. I went over and met him in a Starbucks outside of Richmond. I live near Richmond. He said, “Sir, I just came back from the FBI academy”, and he said “those seven people down there that they arrested in North Carolina”, he said, “when they got into their computer they had your name on that computer, and they were going to capture you and torture you.” He said, “they were also going to go to Quantico marine base and they were going to try to just ambush some people and kill some people there.

Boykin is here discussing a terror ring which was uncovered during 2009 and which was led by Daniel Boyd. There were seven arrests, while an eighth member of the group fled to Pakistan. The AP has details of a recent trial related to the case:

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi… were part of a group of eight men who federal investigators say raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained in preparation for jihadist attacks against American military targets and others they deemed enemies of Islam.

…Yaghi was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism and conspiracy to carry out attacks overseas. Sherifi was convicted for both crimes, two counts of firearms possession, and conspiracy to kill federal officers or employees by discussing an attack on the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base with ringleader Daniel Boyd, who had lived on the base as a child with his Marine officer father.

Presumably Boykin would come under “others they deemed enemies of Islam”, but it’s peculiar that the story hasn’t come out until now and that Boykin only got to hear about it due to a private source. There’s nothing about it in the indictment.

Boykin’s story appears in a video entitled “Gen. Jerry Boykin with the TFC”, which was posted to the website of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition on 22 January. The TFC has featured on this blog previously – it played a central role in November’s “Preserving Freedom” conference in Nashville. The TFC also has a couple of interesting British links: Paul Diamond and Andrea Williams of Christian Concern have attended TFC events, and Diamond recently announced that Christian Concern would be “coordinating their legal efforts” with the TFC. The TFC also supports the English Defence League, and the TFC’s Andy Miller calls Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) and Paul Weston “Friends of Mine”. These links are discussed here.

Boykin is well-known for his anti-Islam views (in 2010 he led an event in Texas alongside Walid Shoebat and Robert Spencer), and for his claim that economic difficulties in the USA are a conspiracy enacted by George Soros so that Obama can use healthcare legislation to create “an army of brownshirts”. Boykin is closely associated with the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner, and with Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries and Oak Initiative.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of Boykin’s presentation is boilerplate: cultural jihad is “taking over our country”; media and politicians are acting in accordance with the “Muslim propaganda playbook”; Muslims are “implementing their plan”; the name “War on Terror” was a mistake because “terrorism is a tactic” while the real problem is “the theology of Islam” and “authoritative Islam”, and “the target is our constitution”.  Further, “our government is penetrated at every level”, while the Christian church is “compromising”. Boykin also cites the claim that “81 per cent” of mosques are extremist (I discussed the study from which this figure was derived here).

Meanwhile, Boykin is due to address the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Ocean City, MD, on Thursday 26 January. People for the American Way and CAIR have issued statements asking the mayor to reconsider, and PFAW has also disseminated a statement from Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Theological Seminary.

The Anointing

Seems to be working… (from 2009)


Response to Iain Dale: Sexualised Insults Against Women Can Never Be A Social Norm

A story from Iain Dale:

Just after the train left London Bridge a drunken woman got on my carriage and asked me to move the bag off the seat next to me. I asked her politely to sit in the seat opposite as I had no wish to sit next to a drunk in case she puked on me. An entirely reasonable thing to do in the circumstances. She then continued to act in a drunken manner, albeit not so legless that she wasn’t aware what she was doing. I started tweeting about the experience. Again, she then tried to sit next to me. I’m afraid I told her in no uncertain terms to ‘piss off’. She went back to the other seat. Someone then said: “Take a picture of her”. And this is where it started. Perhaps unwisely I did so and posted the picture on twitter along with the comment that I found her to be a “disgusting slapper”.

…Where I come from in Essex it’s not a word which by definition means a woman of loose sexual morals. Indeed it can mean that, but most people I know also use it in a different sense too. According to the Oxford English Dictionary its roots lie in the East End and derive from the Yiddish word Shlepper. According to the OED it means unkempt, scruffy person; gossipy, dowdy. And anyone looking at the picture would have to agree that she confirmed to that description. I pointed this out but my detractors preferred the definition from the Urban Dictionary (whatever that is) which equates it to slut and slag. Clearly the Oxford English Dictionary isn’t good enough for them. It’s a word I use quite a lot in various contexts. I even greeted a male MP with the phrase “hello you old slapper”, the other day.

I have full on-line access to the OED through my local public library, so I took a look for myself. Dale’s use of the OED here is self-serving, selective, and distorted.

The OED lists four definitions: the first three are (1) “a large thing or object” (Northamptsonshire dialect); (2) “one who slaps”; and (3) “an implement used for slapping with”. Sense 1 is applied “frequently to over-grown females” (based on an 1854 source), but this doesn’t apply to Dale’s usage, and so we turn turn to the fourth definition, which was added to the OED as a “draft definition” in 2002:

Brit. slang (derogatory). A promiscuous woman. Freq. in old slapper.

The first citation for this meaning comes from the Guardian in 1988 (although in that quote the exact meaning is unclear), and the second is taken from the 1990 Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang:

Slapper in British, a prostitute or slut. This working class term from East London and Essex is probably a corruption of shlepper or schlepper, a word of Yiddish origin, one of whose meanings is a slovenly or immoral woman.

However, the OED itself is not sure about the Bloomsbury Dictionary‘s claim:

See quot… for a postulated connection with Yiddish schlepper ‘unkempt, scruffy person; gossipy, dowdy woman’; however there is some gap in sense.

In other words, the OED does not endorse the Yiddish etymology, and there is no history of the word being used in a disapproving away that is not also sexualised. Those who went to the Urban Dictionary were not misled.

Perhaps the above is worth bearing in mind the next time Dale reports on something; case in point here.

Footnote: The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang is by Tony Thorne, who is also the author of The 100 Words that Make the English. In this 2009 book, he mentions “slapper” as part of his discussion of “slag”, and he suggests that the word “may be of Irish or Yiddish origin”.

Nadine Dorries’ Sex Education Bill “Removed from Effective Orders”

From the Guardianyesterday:

Fridays are the day when private members’ bills are heard in the House of Commons and bills not sponsored by the government have a chance of becoming law. Today… Tory MP Nadine Dorries’s sex education (required content) bill is receiving its second reading.

Dorries’s bill proposes that girls aged between 13 and 16 are given sex education that includes information and advice on “the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity”.


Nadine Dorries’s sex education bill has been removed from today’s order paper – meaning it will not now be debated today, the Commons information office have confirmed to me.

It may be debated another day, but for now it has been “removed from effective orders”, a spokeswoman told me.

…The bill is likely to have been withdrawn by Dorries herself. “No one would be able to remove a private members’ bill without the permission of a member.”

…No one at Dorries’s office is yet able to explain why she has withdrawn the bill.

…My colleague Jessica Shepherd just got through to Dorries – but the MP said she “didn’t have time to talk”.

At least Shepherd got a civil response; according to the Huffington Post,

The bill was dropped from the order of business list for parliament on Friday, but Dorries’ office insisted the bill had not been withdrawn permanently.

“As the bill was so low down on the order paper, Nadine decided not to have hundreds of copies of the bill printed to save costs.”

Dorries herself refused to comment, hanging up the phone when Huffington Post UK attempted to contact her.

However, Andy McSmith at Independent Diary eventually managed to secure a quote:

She tells me: “The Bill is still live, but there was more chance of being struck by a meteor than getting it debated, so we told the Commons office not to bother printing a hard copy. What I didn’t realise was that if you don’t order it to be printed, it automatically comes off the agenda.

“Of course I wouldn’t withdraw it … a lot of people had paid train fares to come and protest. It would have been churlish.”

Dorries has made a few uninformative comments about the matter on her newly-revived Twitter feed, although she hasn’t posted anything to her blog (she announced early in December that “I will very shortly be closing my blog down and using wider outlets for comment”, although she has made made a few postings since).

The Bill could perhaps have avoided provoking a hostile response had the language been a bit different and had it been proposed by someone other than Dorries. As I wrote in May,  it seems sensible that in teaching young people how to navigate the sexual world, educators ought to include advice on how to resist media messages and peer pressure, and perhaps to raise awareness of saying no as an option. The special focus on girls can also be defended, given that biology means that girls suffer disproportionately when things go wrong, and that girls are more likely to have to deal with pressurizing or unwelcome requests for sex. It should be noted that the Bill does not commend the “abstinence only” position, along lines seen in parts of the USA and parts of Africa.

However, Dorries’ record of misrepresentation on a number of matters makes it very difficult to accept that anything she does is in good faith. Speaking on the Vanessa Show on 16 May, Dorries stated that she didn’t like the word “abstinence” in the Bill, but that she had been obliged to use it in Parliament as a piece of “legalese”. This seemed to me rather odd: what “legalese” requirement would this be? And why didn’t she make clear what expression she would have preferred instead? Further, what educational materials are there on “the benefits of abstinence”, besides those published by conservative Christian educators? (It should be remembered here that in 2010 Dorries misrepresented a Christian group opposing abortion as “neither pro-life nor pro-choice”) And if she only wants extra information to be provided, why did her pitch for the Bill at its First Reading include factually-inaccurate attacks on sex education?

I personally wouldn’t have gone along to a protest against the Bill (and some of the attacks, such as Chris Bryant’s “daftest piece of legislation” comment, have been excessive), but given that Dorries receives support and talking-points from conservative Christian groups, it is reasonable to be concerned about what kind of outcome Dorries’ Bill is strategically working towards.