Monday, November 06, 2006

Give the Secularists something constructive to do

We won. It was a peculiar feeling. We heard on the news that the Education Secretary had suddenly changed his mind about forcing faith schools to close a quarter of their school places to the children from their own faith families, and felt quite dizzy. The Catholic Church had actually won a political victory.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols was magnificent. He was serene, articulate, and kept to his points. He dealt with Jeremy Paxman’s bizarre lines of questioning in an honest, forthright manner.
My favourite moment was when Mr Paxman arched his brows so far they nearly disappeared and asked the Archbishop possibly the silliest question he had ever asked: “So are you happy that Government money should be spent on funding schools which teach that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God?”

The Archbishop could not have looked more puzzled if the great interrogator had asked when His Grace had stopped beating his wife; he voiced the thoughts of all of us when he answered, very civilly, that he wasn’t sure he had quite understood the question. Paxman blustered and backtracked onto another tack.

I imagine some wretched producer had been yelling in Paxman’s earpiece, “OK so these Catholics, they’re like, fundamentalists, yah? So if you get him to say that he wants Government funding for like, you know, schools that aren’t Christian, yah, he’ll be totally embarrassed cos all these you know, moral majority types will be watching and they’ll be like, Hey, we don’t wanna go there, yah?”

We are moving this new taste – victory – around our mouths and wondering how long it will last. It almost looks as though when enough people get together with a good case to make, and a well-led campaign, and a clear message to put across, then they can make things happen. Shortly before the Church’s victory, a petition from 4 million people succeeded in slowing down the closure of rural post offices.

The rage and hatred of the secularists is unbounded. Lord Baker called the Archbishop a liar for regarding his amendment, which laid down quotas for new faith schools, as the thin end of the wedge; which is odd, because I remember the Education Secretary being reported quite distinctly as saying that established schools would be next for the quota treatment, which sounded to me very like a wedge being tapped home.

I pick up The Times and find it brimful with anti-Christian propaganda: another huge puff for Professor Richard Dawkins’ embarrassingly bigoted book, “The God Delusion”, a news feature about the film of Philip Pullman’s atheist trilogy “His Dark Materials”, and on the paper’s main comment section – once graced by the likes of Bernard Levin – there is a spittle-flecked pub rant against Catholics by a fat man with a beard who used to write about sport. All in one issue.

This fight is not just about faith schools. It is about faith. The likes of Lord Baker, a classic Heathite Tory who is best known for making the National Curriculum into a vast prescriptive straitjacket - when all his Prime Minister had wanted him to do was make sure pupils were learning the 3Rs - do not want faith schools to exist at all and if possible would like religion to stop existing, too.Tell them that their quotas will mean that teachers will have to stop saying the Angelus at my son’s school, or displaying crucifixes at my daughter’s, then they smile, nod and say, “Good-ee.”

So where do we go next? Simple: we turn the fight round and campaign not just for Catholics but for all parents, our enemies included.

Seventy percent of schools in liberal, cool, hip, tolerant Holland are either faith schools or schools founded according to a specific philosophy, Steiner schools being among the best known. We should be lobbying politicians, the Tories in particular, to give anyone who wants to run a school on their religious or philosophical beliefs – including atheists, humanists and secularists – to do so with Government funding, as long as they can prove support from the local community.

Let the National Secular Society get the money together (Philip Pullman should be good for a bob or two) and run their own secularist voluntary aided schools. It might be tough at first (running the National Secular Society must be a bit like the National Can’t Be Bothered Society) but they ought to be allowed to have a go. It would give them something constructive to do.

We know we can win a fight for our own schools. Now we should look to fight for the voluntary aided school model - perhaps the most successful school funding pattern ever - for everyone, to bring diversity and passion back to state education.

A dangerous cult

Home Front - A Brief Introduction to Ecenics
Sarah Johnson

I hope readers will forgive me for brnging to the attention of parents a worldwide cult, under whose influence all young people are at risk of falling.

The Ecenics movement has grown to become perhaps the most extensive, most lavishly funded, massively publicized and yet the least understood religion on our earth. It is familiar to us all, thanks to its sophisticated global information network administered by a rigidly hierarchical priesthood; yet we rarely acknowledge that as a destructive force, Ecenics has an outstanding record.

Christianity’s wars against heretics and heathens, the Muslim war against infidels - these look amateurish compared with the millions of deaths which the undoubted genius of Ecenics preachers has caused.

The Ecenics church gives its priests complete freedom to wreak havoc or to produce the means of destruction under its core doctrine of NDMA - non departmentia mea, amice, (loosely translated as “not my department, mate”). The NDMA doctrine allows an Ecenics priest to work entirely without reference to the long-term consequences of his labour or the uses to which his discoveries might be put.

Freed by this dubious doctrine, Ecenics has brought massive prosperity and health to rich Western nations, but can also count among its achievements every ingenious form of mass destruction known, from mustard gas to nuclear missiles. Without Ecenicists to advise, Saddam Hussain would have had nothing to test on the Kurds; and the arms race of the 20th century would never have got off the starting blocks.

Even without the help of war, Ecenics missionaries have poisoned and transformed our planet beyond recognition. The “Global Warming” phenomenon has its roots in classic Ecenics-inspired zeal - specifically, the urge to make as much money as possible from any Ecenicist development (internal combustion engine, air travel, gas heating, electrical power etc, etc) before considering any harm it might cause. Thus, Ecenics theologians claim that global warming is everyone’s fault but theirs, even though they started the process.

Ecenics surpasses rival religions in the manipulation of public emotion (though its clergy consider “emotion” and “emotive language” to be sinful concepts). For everyday worship, the priests wear a traditional “white coat” – the colour possibly signifying the wearer‘s moral purity. For public appearances, the traditional corduroy trousers and tweed jacket indicate social superiority. The effect of this ceremonial wardrobe is to create in the mind of the laity a cringing dread of the Ecenics priest’s scantly-understood power.

Not all Ecenicist priests are male, but some of its early saints were somewhat misogynistic, and it took a long time for women to be accepted as priests. Recruitment of women priests still seems to be affected by distrust lingering from the days when early Ecenics preachers persecuted – even to death - non-Ecenics women for using un-ecenically-tested herbal remedies. Many of these remedies and practices have now been shown to be efficient, but the Ecenics hierarchy is forbidden to apologise for anything - unlike all other religious leaders, who are expected to apologise for crimes committed before they themselves were born.

Ecenics never looks back. It is a one-way religion. Only the history of Ecenics itself is allowed to be studied, the study of other histories being banned under NDMA. And by invoking the same doctrine, Ecenics priests rake in massive tithes from the laity in return for statements of the blindingly obvious, such as that “teenagers don’t function well in the morning” or “if you squirt bleach in rabbits‘ eyes, they go blind”.

Ecenics clerics are particularly famous for practicing bigotry while criticising it in older religions. In particular, because of perceived Christian snubs towards prominent Ecenics preachers which, according to Ecenics oral tradition, happened about 500 years ago, major Ecenicists spend a disproportionate amount of time attacking Christianity. Fundamentalist Ecenicists maintain that Ecenics and Christianity cannot be followed at the same time, and in America, a country which, incidentally, has probably spent more money on grand Ecenics projects - such as flying to the moon - than would be needed to save all Africa’s children from death, there are a few oddball Christians who hold the same view.

Yet most of the world’s billions of Christians admire and respect Ecenicists; and some gentler Ecenics pastors quietly admit in private that they have no difficulty combining Ecenicist observance with Christian beliefs.

The fundamentalist Ecenics response to other religions is to call for them to be banned. History shows that whenever this policy has been put into practice, only misery has resulted; but Ecenicists don’t do history.

Fortunately, Ecenics, though disturbing, is not a hidden cult. From its intimidating initiation ceremonies led by black-robed prelates in curious headgear all the way to the glamour of its Hollywood image, Ecenics is familiar to us all – not least thanks to charismatic celebrity Ecenics leaders such as Professor Richard Dawkins – so if we are blind to its dangers, we have only ourselves to blame.