Todd Bentley Planning South Africa “Crusade Tour”

Controversial neo-Pentecostal revivalist Todd Bentley has announced details of a planned “South Africa Crusade Tour” for April, which will see him link up with “Prophet Zion Matthew” in Durban, followed by visits to the Solid Rock Church in Johannesburg, to the Jabulani Camp Site at Bronkhorstspruit (mis-spelled as “Bronkhorstpruit”) , then on to Worcester (hosted by YWAM) and finally to Cape Town, where he will minister”at Lighthouse Ministries (billed as “Light House Ministries”) and Celebration Covenant Church International.

Zion Matthew describes himself as “a HISTORYMAKER AND NATIONSHAKER”, and as an “intense worship warrior with a prophetic and apostolic thrust”, having been “impacted by  one of South Africa’s leading Prophets”; perhaps inevitably, he also runs a motivational speaking business. The “Solid Rock Church of Miracles”, meanwhile, is headed by Johan Van Wyk, who studied at the Rhema Bible Training Centre. In 2010 the church had some trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority over “miracle healing” adverts.

Lighthouse Ministries is also a Rhema church, while the Celebration Covenant Church is “a church that relates to New Covenant Ministries International, a apostolic team that is located around the world headed up by Tyrone Daniels.” The NCMI grouping comes under some critical scrutiny at this blog.

Last year, Bentley planned a visit to the UK which was cancelled after the Home Secretary banned him from entering the country. Bentley’s visit was also opposed by Malcolm Wicks, the MP for Croydon, who at the time was very ill from cancer; Wicks died a few weeks later, and in December Rick Joyner (a close associate of Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin) declared that this was an instance of God “removing opposition from His people”.

Kamal Saleem Speaks alongside World War Two Resistance Heroine

American Decency has posted online a video from its ” February morning of challenge and perspective”, held a couple of weeks ago at the Alpen Rose, in Holland MI. It was an odd pairing of speakers:

Diet Eman, World War II Christian resistance member. As a young Dutch woman, Diet risked everything to rescue imperiled Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. Diet was eventually caught by the Nazis and was sent to a concentration camp. Many of you are familiar with her life, story, and testimony!

Kamal Saleem is a bold warrior for Christ. (See our previous mailing about his testimony: a former Islamic terrorist – now a follower of Jesus.)

Eman, who is 92, is a respected figure, and she is known in evangelical circles as the author of Things We Couldn’t Say and as an associate of Corrie ten Boom. As one would expect, advancing years have not diminished her ability to give a moving and engaging first-hand account of life under Nazi occupation and of efforts to protect Jews.

Saleem, by grim contrast, is a ranting huckster who has been comprehensively exposed. As usual, his speech outlined all-encompassing Muslim plot to take over the United States: named Muslims involved with Homeland Security and the US government (such as Huma Abedin) were denounced as “terrorists”; Mike Bloomberg has been “bought by Islamic money”; the government is working to remove details of the Holy Land Foundation trial from the internet; Ramadan is a “Holy Day” (or maybe “holiday”) at the White House, and Obama is “sabotaging” the USA’s borders; etc., etc. The fact that this clownish performance followed Eman’s speech made it a particularly distasteful spectacle.

Saleem in particular also warned about “professors in Christian colleges” who are “fighting against Christianity” on behalf of Islam – presumably he has in mind Doug Howard, a professor at Calvin College who debunked Saleem’s fake “ex-terrorist” biography in a review for Books and Culture, a sister magazine to Christianity Today.

The two speeches also highlighted an interesting generational shift in evangelicalism towards a militant religious nationalism. Eman lamented how difficult it is to get Jews to accept Jesus, and she commended the work of Jews for Jesus; Saleem, by contrast, was more interested in how Christianity was the means by which the USA shares in the blessings given to the chosen nation of Israel. Saleem also explained that there were “seven mountains of influence” that have been infiltrated – the “seven mountains” is a well-known trope of a “dominionist” trend within neo-Pentecostalism, and Saleem has close links with Rick Joyner. Saleem also claimed that his family derived from a Jewish Arabian tribe that had converted to Islam in the distant past; oddly, Walid Shoebat also recently felt the need to stress an ancient genealogical link to Jews.

Ed Brayton, who lives in Michigan, explains that American Decency is “a tiny group of cranks that is little more than PO Box and a guy with an email address”.

UPDATE: American Decency has also posted a video of Saleem speaking at Grand Rapids. The man introducing him dismissed all the evidence debunking his claims on the grounds that Saleem has shared a stage with Gen. Jerry Boykin. There was one example of this in March last year, when Saleem explained to Boykin and Rick Joyner on Joyner’s Prophetic Perspectives show about how Muslims were supposedly defacing dollar bills.

Shoebat: Churchill Knew My Grandfather, Grandfather Knew Churchill

Walid Shoebat (this guy) has been in contact to express his displeasure at my commentary on his claim, made in the book Why We Left Islam, that his “maternal grandfather, F.W. Georgeson… was a great friend of Winston Churchill”. I suggested that “Georgeson’s supposed association with Churchill appears to have eluded the attention of historians and biographers”.

Shoebat draws attention to two newspaper extracts, concerning Churchill’s visit to the town of Eureka in California in 1929. I have not seen the original extracts myself, but I am willing to accept Shoebat’s testimony that his transcriptions, reproduced here, are genuine.

(1) From the Humboldt Standard, 9 September, 1929 (bracketed material is also a quote from the original source):

…continuing to Eureka yesterday morning. They [Churchill in company with his son, his brother and nephew and Gerald Campbeli, British consul-general] after leaving here, the party continued to Crescent City, where they stayed Saturday night, continuing to Eureka yesterday morning. They were met at the Eureka Inn by F. W. Georgeson, publisher of the Humboldt Standard, upon their arrival here.

(2) From the Times Standard, 7 November 1982:

…Eureka was a planned overnight stopover for Churchill since he had made arrangements to meet with old friend, Frederick Georgeson, editor of The Humboldt Standard. Arriving on Sept. 8, 1929, Churchill was treated in grand manner by high society members of British and Scot descent…

I must confess that although I consulted a couple of Churchill biographies available via Amazon search and Google Books, my claim was not based on an exhaustive survey of Churchill scholarship – in particular, I was not able to consult anything by Martin Gilbert, although I will endeavour to do so at the first opportunity.

Meanwhile, Shoebat has declared that he has “thwarted slander” and such:

The fact was ESTABLISHED that they were “ASSOCIATED”.

Do you CONFESS that you were WRONG at this point?

And if indeed I proved a “great friendship” you would still insist that by record I prove other issues.

A prejudiced person can never be satisfied.

Etc, etc.

But given Shoebat’s new wish to “thwart” what I have written about him, it would be nice to hear more about “Harris Ben Cobb” and his connection to Samaw’al ibn ‘Adiya, and, more pertinently, how Shoebat managed to discover strange symbols predictive of a “Muslim anti-Christ” in the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus Biblical manuscripts, when I consulted images of the same texts and found nothing of the sort.

It is, of course, difficult to be lectured on “slander” by a man who has made the most extravagant accusations against Mosab Hassan Yousef (“his main goal in coming to the U.S. is to infiltrate the main source of international support for Israel: the American church”); Huma Abedin (“Imagine during World War II, the U.S. government accepted Eva Braun…”); and Barack Obama (“Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers. But they are able to defeat us by sneaking in their man”).

Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett Announces “Counterterrorism Caucus”, Cites Jerry Boykin

From the Oklahoma House of Representatives (links added):

State Rep. John Bennett announced the formation of a bipartisan Counterterrorism Caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature during a press conference held today.

Bennett, who chairs the caucus, was flanked at the press conference by a number of state senators and representatives, including caucus co-chairman state Rep. Gus Blackwell, as he detailed the formation of the first-ever counterterrorism caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Rita Aragon, the secretary of veteran affairs in Oklahoma, also attended and will participate in the caucus.

…Other speakers at the press conference included state Rep. Sally Kern, who is the sponsor of the American Laws for American Courts bill, and state Sen. Ralph Shortey, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate.

According to a video here, Bennett is particularly concerned about the threat of Shariah taking over Oklahoma, although he was careful to distinguish between ordinary Muslims and the Muslim Brotherhood. Bennett and the rather unaptly-named Shortey cited James Woolsley and William “Jerry” Boykin as authorities that the threat is real; we cannot know whether they share Boykin’s view that Barack Obama may be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the AP,

Although Bennett described the group as bipartisan, no Democrats attended the press conference. The one Democratic representative Bennett cited as a member, Rep. Eric Proctor of Tulsa, said he was unsure of the purpose of the caucus.

Bennett cited inspiration for the initiative from “business and religious leaders”, and he named “Paul Blair, Paul Conrady of the High Noon Club, Glen Howard, and Dan Fisher”.

Blair, better-known as “Pastor Paul Blair”, is a well-known anti-gay obsessive, while the the High Noon Club (“A Consortium Group of Oklahoman’s which meets weekly @ 12Noon to discuss State & Federal Issues. We believe in Constitution Law & Truth in Public Service”, according to its Twitter feed) recently hosted Pastor Scott Lively, who is infamous for his inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric. Pastor Dan Fisher – who has also been elected to office – has links with the John Birch Society.

Raphael Golb Cries “Stalker” Over Exposure and Downfall

A familiar syndrome; from the New York Times:

Ronald Kuby, a lawyer for Raphael Golb, last week disputed Mr. Cargill’s characterization of himself as an innocent victim, writing in an e-mail message that “he played a vile role in this case. Among other things, Cargill spend hundreds of hours obsessively tracking down ‘Charles Gadda’ because of the latter’s online criticisms, engaged in his own sock puppetry while concealing it and condemning Golb for the same thing.” Mr. Kuby added, “Cargill is probably a lot of fun to chat with, but he is more than capable of using his hurt puppy persona to manipulate the criminal justice system.”

Mr. Golb put it this way: “Cargill was stalking me.”

The story is well-known; Raphael Golb used more than 80 aliases, including “Charles Gadda”, to harass and impersonate scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the grounds that they had failed to give proper acknowledgement of the theories of his father, Norman Golb. One of those targeted, Robert Cargill, assembled the evidence which resulted in a successful criminal prosecution. According to the Times, Robert sent Golb a message under a pseudonym which Golb would recognise as having been written by someone who knew his identity. Kuby’s suggestion that this is the “same thing” as Golb’s conduct is laughable.

Golb was exposed – and is now off to prison – because of Robert’s careful attention to detail. The lesson for who use the internet in bad faith to lie and harass is that paying attention to detail needs to be stigmatised as something weird and creepy. Hence the familiar smears of “obsessive” and “stalking”, deployed by someone whose own behaviour is transparently that of a real stalker.

There’s a lot of it about.

Tabloid Troll: A Malignancy at the Heart of British Journalism

Intro: I write this post in defiance of threats made to violate my personal privacy and that of members of my family.

Earlier today, the Twitter user who uses the name “Tabloid Troll” wrote an intrusive and inaccurate blog post about Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads, claiming that he had been forced to leave his SEO job after being exposed as having used his company’s facilities “to smear and abuse a whole host of public figures, journalists, and witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry”. The story, despite coming from behind “the coward’s cloak of anonymity” (to borrow an apt phrase from Nick Cohen), was gleefully re-Tweeted not just by right-wing gossip trolls such as Paul Staines, whom we do not expect to have any standards, but also national journalists bearing grudges: Tim has more than once uncovered instances of journalistic dishonesty or bad practice, including the “Terror Target Sugar” fiasco, which led to hefty legal bill for the SunThose endorsing Tabloid Troll’s claims include Neil Wallis, former editor of the News of the World, and Nigel Pauley, a Daily Star hack about whom I wrote previously in relation to Tabloid Troll here.

However, the blog post is not only inaccurate: it is lame, and it is clearly the work of liar and a stalker with malicious intent. That big media players should decide to jump on such a nasty bandwagon clearly shows that journalism in the UK remains as corrupt, degraded, and unaccountable as ever.

First, as regards accuracy: a journalist named Gareth Corfield decided to re-write the piece for his own purposes for a website caalled Business Technology, and he included a quote from Tim’s old boss. This quote actually destroys the whole story, which is why Corfield was careful to place it at the very end:

Rob Pierre, CEO of Jellyfish, said in a statement to Business Technology: “The blog is full of inaccuracies and as such Jellyfish have no comment on the matter. I can also confirm that Tim Ireland is no longer employed by Jellyfish.”

In other words, the anonymous claims are rejected by an on-the-record statement from someone in a position to know the truth of the situation. End of story, right?*

Second, as regards lameness: Tabloid Troll’s accusations are strained in ways that ought to set off alarm bells: Tim criticises Rupert Murdoch on his personal Twitter feed, yet the SEO company he worked for has done work for News International! Ditto for Tesco. This is then garnished with a few quotes taken out of context that may seem distasteful, but which Tim made in his own name anyway. Big deal.

Third, we come to the guts of the real story here: this is a stalker crying “stalker” as self-justification for private revenge. As Pauley and the other hacks know, Tabloid Troll hates Tim because Tim revealed strong and compelling evidence that he’s a freelance journalist named Dennis Rice (incidentally, Corfield would have known this from looking at Tim’s blog, but he chose not to mention it). Tabloid Troll was subsequently named as Rice by Tom Watson MP and by David Aaronovitch, among others, and more evidence has come to light since.

Tabloid Troll calls Tim a stalker, yet Tim has said nothing personally intrusive about Rice’s private life or about anyone else’s (he has, however, exposed dishonest conduct by public figures). Tabloid Troll’s identity was a matter of wider public interest because he claimed to be an insider with discrediting information about witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry – in particular Richard Peppiatt, who famously quit the Daily Star in disgust at the paper’s standards.

By contrast, Tabloid Troll’s posts and Tweets about Tim and others (particularly the blogger Tim Fenton) have been gratuitously personally invasive and have served no other purpose than to intimidate. Tabloid Troll’s Tweets have included the claim that he knows Tim’s daily routine, and a previous post consisted of private family information that was of no wider interest whatsoever. On one occasion, there was even a direct threat of violence:

Hide all you like, you despicable woman stalking prick, but know I’m coming for you, and its going to get bloody :-)

(Here Rice is drawing on an accusation made by Nadine Dorries MP, who regularly attempts to deflect critical scrutiny by making “stalker” smears)

Rice realised that he’d gone too far with that one, and he subsequently deleted it  (although not before it was seen not just by Tim and me, but also by a lawyer, Peter Daly, who replied to it). Tabloid Troll has also posted comments about my family, along with a threat to visit my mother’s house (and posted such information on the website of other hostile parties).

Peter Jukes seems to be the only professional writer to have noticed Tabloid Troll’s behaviour who has also taken exception to it, as several Tweets from November show:

Problem personified: @tabloidtroll idea of debate: innuendo, privacy invasion etc… the nasty attack all that’s wrong with tabloids… It’s just personal pooh flinging – and ‘who started it’ is irrelevant… Playground stuff, verging on intimidation

However, even Jukes decided that this bit of distancing was sufficient for him to continue interacting with Tabloid Troll as if he were a “normal” person rather than a disgrace to his profession and to all reasonable standards of behaviour.

Finally, it appears that Tabloid Troll has also stooped to impersonation and sockpuppeting. On Friday I received a fake comment on this blog from someone claiming to be Rob Pierre. But Tabloid Troll is the only enemy Tim has who knows of Rob Pierre’s existence; there is therefore only one conclusion. And a few weeks ago, a friend of mine received a comment under a fake name about my supposed relationship status in words that mirrored claims made by Tabloid Troll.

UPDATE: Tabloid Troll, after telling me that “I’m next”, now adds:

@flutterbyfjl New blog going up first thing tomorrow about one particularly sad cohort – wait til you see his dating site entry? #pukes
10:16 PM – 11 Feb 13

Well, I don’t know what he’s cooked up or thinks he’s found, but I have never had any kind of “dating site entry”. More to the point, though, is that making such an announcement is just further evidence of the kind of person we’re dealing with here.

Incidentally, “flutterbyfjl” is Felicity Lowde, who appears to have latched onto Tabloid Troll’s claims and is getting interaction as a reward (not just from Tabloid Troll, but also from Nigel Pauley). It’s an appropriate alliance: Lowde was jailed in 2007 for stalking the 7/7 survivor Rachel North. Like Tabloid Troll, Lowde also deployed a “stalker” smear to deflect evidence of stalking; see also this very full account and psychological assessment at Ministry of Truth.

UPDATE 2: Tabloid Troll is now interacting with Glen Jenvey, who in 2009 sent Tim Ireland threats of violence and made anonymous postings accusing him of paedophilia. Jenvey is best-known for attempting to incite British Muslims to “target” British Jews through postings made to a Muslim website under the name “Abu Islam”. These days, he writes in support of the English Defence League. Full background here.

UPDATE 3: Tabloid Troll has now published his attack piece; as expected, it simply confirms my case even more, with gratuitously invasive and pointless references to my mother and such (and – particularly bizarrely – a completely bogus and predictably indistinct screenshot that claims to show that I use the services of a dating agency called “Black Books Singles”).

However, some of the inaccuracies suggest input from Dominic Wightman and/or Glen Jenvey, and it’s interesting to note that he gives implicit support to the EDL:

The religious posts are cover for the blog’s real purpose which is attacking the likes of US-based Jewish [sic] researcher Robert Spence [sic], the Conservative Party and the anti Islamist English Defence League.

…@Barthsnotes is a sad, deluded leftist with no scruples who for years has hidden behind the fallen blogger and stalker Tim Ireland.


*This article was subsequently taken down after I alerted Bradley Scheffer, the CEO of the company that runs the Business Technology website, to various misrepresentations it contained. Corfield is now working elsewhere, but before he left he arranged for urls linking back to Rice’s stories to be placed in another piece. This was done without Scheffer’s knowledge or approval, and they have also now been removed. But it shows that Corfield actually did the very thing that he falsely accused Tim of doing – he used the resources of his employer improperly to pursue a private vendetta.

UPDATE: The TabloidTroll article has since been taken down, following a request from Jellyfish. Jellyfish’s complaint has been published by Chilling Effects, and it clearly shows that Rice was made fully aware that his story was false – but that he went ahead anyway, publishing anonymously:

Apologies for contacting you in this way, but unfortunately due to the anonymous nature of your blog, this is my only direct method It is important that any story attributed to an anonymous blogger – even if anonymously – is accurate and not based upon inaccurate or false information. We explained to Dennis Rice when he approached us for our comments about this same story in November 2012, that the content in this article is 100% false in relation to Jellyfish such that: 1 Jellyfish is a reputable business and would not and has never been associated with any of the activities you have described in your article 2 At no time has Tim Ireland been able to use Jellyfish resources or software to do any of the activities that you have identified 3 The clients you have listed have never been associated with Tim Ireland and he has never worked for them during the period he worked at Jellyfish 4 Tim Ireland is no longer employed by Jellyfish Consequently, we would like to request that you take down the offending article which is defaming Jellyfish We have attempted to email the TabloidTroll blogger, but their email account does not work, so as well as being anonymous, they are not even available to contact directly and ask for the content to be removed Jellyfish, as business that employs over 100 individuals that are all trying to earn a living and succeed in digital marketing, we will have no choice than to do whatever we have to do to protect the good name and reputation that Jellyfish has built up over the last 13 years. This would mean involving our solicitors to pursue the blogger for damages which is made extremely hard when the blogger is both anonymous and non-contactable via email Clearly, we do not wish to take this action and we will not have to take that action if you take down the offending article that defames Jellyfish. If you would like to understand the full facts, I am more than happy for you have a conversation on the phone [number edited]

Robert Spencer and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

News that Robert Spencer has been dis-invited from speaking at a Roman Catholic Men’s Conference in the US Diocese of Worcester has prompted renewed interest in Spencer’s own Catholicism; a comment posted to a short account of the cancellation derived from a Boston Globe article includes the following:

Posted by: Archpriest – Jan. 31, 2013 10:36 PM ET USA
Appalling! Robert Spencer is a Catholic deacon in good standing with [a] Melkite Diocese… To call Father Deacon Robert a “hate-monger” is unjust and adds further injury to the situation of Eastern Catholics – daily persecuted and even martyred in the Middle East. I am a retired military chaplain. Deacon Robert has addressed military staff symposia. Is the Diocese of Worcester so politically-correct that it would ignore the suffering of fellow Christians in the lands of Christ’s birth?

Spencer’s identification as a Melkite Greek Catholic is well-known, but the detail that he is a deacon is new, and can be confirmed via reference to other sites noted by Loonwatch. Spencer here follows the example of the late Paul Weyrich, whom he regarded as a mentor-figure, although Spencer’s Melkite affiliation also reflects his personal circumstances: he is of Greek Orthodox heritage (family displaced from Turkey) and married to a Catholic, and so a form of Catholicism that follows an Orthodox style has obvious attractions.

Some of Spencer’s books include the name of the priest of his church among the acknowledgements, although the church itself does not appear to promote the kind of anti-Islam polemicising for which Spencer is notorious. In 2006 Spencer promoted a report about a speech given by then-US Melkite leader Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, in which Bustros made criticisms of Islam; however, Bustros did not resort to the kind of rabble-rousing rhetoric and sloppiness that are Spencer’s hallmarks.

Spencer was less pleased with Bustros in 2010, when it was reported that Bustros had opined at a Vatican Synod that

We want to say that the promise of God in the Old Testament, relating to the ‘promised land’ … as Christians, we’re saying that this promise was essentially nullified [in French, “abolished”] by the presence of Jesus Christ, who then brought about the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we cannot talk about a ‘promised land’ for the Jews. We talk about a ‘promised land’ which is the Kingdom of God… Sacred scripture should not be used to justify the occupation of Palestinian land on the part of the Israelis.

The ADL described this as “the worst kind of anti-Judaism, bordering on anti-Semitism”, and argued that “Archbishop Bustros contradicts decades of official Vatican and papal teachings which affirm God’s ongoing Covenant with the Jewish people at Sinai, and calls on Christians to appreciate the Jewish people’s religious self-understanding, including its spiritual attachment to the land of Israel.”

Spencer, while declining to disclose that Bustros was his clerical superior, explained that 

…he is strongly in the running to become the next Archbishop of Beirut, and could be trying to reassure Muslim leaders in Lebanon that his stint in the United States has not tainted him with Zionism, and he is still as anti-Israel as he was as Archbishop of Baalbek, before he came to America. It is a pity that a Christian leader would have to behave this way, and I am not saying he is not doing it out of conviction also, but in any case it is a reflection of the situation on the ground in Islamic countries: Christians who don’t echo the Islamic political line face hard going…

Accordingly, we cannot judge… Archbishop Cyril harshly.

Those anti-Israel comments formed the basis of a follow-up guest post by David Littman; Bustros had spoken to the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Rabat in 2002, and his words had been ugly and crude:

…Today, the Jews allege that Al-Quds belongs to them only. They have made it the capital of their Zionist state, arguing that it is the land of their ancestors since Ibrahim. If only they followed the example of this ancestor, who accepted to sacrifice his own son for the love of God. Instead, they have no qualms about killing the children of the others for the sake of their racist ambitions. John the Baptist, the great prophet who prepared for the advent of Jesus and called people to repent their sins to God, told the Jews: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves. We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”[Matthew 3: 7-8]…

Littman, like Spencer, puts this down to the “dhimmitude mindset”, but the reference to “Al-Quds” for Jerusalem notwithstanding, in both 2002 and 2010 the Bustros appears to be drawing on long-standing independent Christian traditions of anti-Judaism.

However, Spencer then posted the following:

I owe the Melkite Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros an apology: when I wrote about his remarks at the recent Vatican Synod, I was relying on incomplete and inaccurate press reports, and did not fully understand his position. Now, in a Jihad Watch exclusive, Archbishop Cyril clarifies his remarks and explains his position.

Spencer does not explain how the press reports were “inaccurate”, although the statement that follows his introduction takes a more moderate line and calls for a two-state solution (this is also – surprisingly – Spencer’s own position). One wonders why the Archbishop thought it would be sensible to put things right through a exclusive statement to an opportunistic anti-Islam blog, rather than to issue a statement through more reputable channels; perhaps Spencer’s position as a “deacon in good standing” is the reason.

According to the Boston Globe, Spencer had been due to speak at the Men’s Conference in Worcester on the subject of Islam, and the paper quotes the Diocese on why the invitation was recinded:

…”Although the intention of the conference organizers was to have a presenter on Islam from a Catholic’s perspective, we are asking Robert Spencer to not come to the Worcester Catholic Men’s Conference, given that his presence is being seen as harmful to Catholic–Islamic relations both locally and nationally,” Raymond ­Delisle, a spokesman for the ­diocese, said in a statement ­issued to the Globe.

The report adds that the Islamic Council of New England had urged the Diocese to cancel “after the Globe sought comment on his scheduled appearance from the diocese and from Muslim organizations”; Spencer now alleges, citing “sources”, that the article’s author, Lisa Wangsness, had asked Islamic groups to contact the Diocese (she denies it).

Of course, the problem with Spencer goes beyond “Catholic–Islamic relations”; the man is not a sensible speaker for any organisation that wants to be taken seriously. His blog frequently carries inaccurate and inflammatory items; sometimes, he quietly deletes material without making corrections if he knows that he can’t defend a claim (see here and here), but he also sometimes lashes out, accusing those who challenge an inaccuracy of supporting Islamic extremism. Spencer also identifies completely with the lurid claims and activism of the birther Pamela Geller. In 2009, Spencer cried “libel” when it was suggested he may have met leaders of the English Defence League; yet now, following Geller, he is an enthusiast for the organisation, appearing alongside Stephen Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) and Kevin Carroll and opining that Lennon’s current imprisonment for passport fraud means that he is a “political prisoner”.

Dept of Education Political Advisers Resorted to “Stalker” Smear Against Journalist

From an editorial in the London Observer:

Today, this paper alleges that a Twitter feed emanating in part, or wholly, from within the Department of Education is using its anonymity – when not dispensing perfectly reasonable policy analysis – to defame, disparage and damage political opponents and journalists. Contributions to the Twitter feed included taunting opponents about “mental illness” and retweeting remarks suggesting that a journalist had had a breakdown.

The report itself explains that:

…the account has likened one respected reporter, the Financial Times‘ education correspondent, Chris Cook, to Walter Mitty and suggested he was a “stalker”. It has also retweeted insinuations about his personal life.

…The Observer understands that two of [Education Secretary Michael] Gove’s special advisers, Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, were approached in 2011 by Henry Macrory, then Tory party head of press, and were asked to tone down their input into the feed which Macrory thought was inappropriate.

Cummings’ correspondence with someone from the paper ahead of publication can be seen here.

The story was run as the Observer‘s front-page splash, prompting mockery and spin from British conservatives: the story is old and of  very limited interest, and its prominence is a politically-motivated attack on Gove (Damian Thompson); the story refers merely to an ill-tempered exchange between the paper’s education correspondent and the Twitter feed (a piece of misdirection from veteran smear-merchant Paul Staines, or perhaps sidekick Harry Cole); did not the Labour activist Damian McBride also take to the internet to smear political opponents (various Twitterers)?

Of course, there’s little point complaining about partisan hackery; but there’s no spinning away the fact that this kind of behaviour is corrupt, corrosive, deeply unsavoury, and not something we should have to put with from people running the country. Disciplinary action should have followed, but the Conservative Party doesn’t have a very good record here: in 2005 activists linked to Anne Milton MP were allowed to stand in council elections despite having smeared a Liberal Democrat as a paedophile via an anonymous blog.

The deployment of “stalker” as a smear is also a strategy that I’ve seen before; it is frequently deployed by those with a vested interest in stigmatising paying attention to detail.