20 December 2009

Gospel truth a substitute for Peace and Goodwill?

Bishop of Leicester Tim Stephens recently had a First Person article in the Leicester Mercury, Tinsel is no substitute for Gospel truth, gloating over a claimed increase in sales of religious themed Christmas cards. He complains about 'creeping secularism' in general, and Ariane Sherine's 'Atheist's Guide To Christmas' in particular.

His article seemed so out of spirit with the recent Interfaith Week (in which several members of Leicester Secular Society, including our President, Allan Hayes, were involved), that I wrote a response to the Letters page. Unfortunately my first sentence was overlong, and the edited version that appeared in the newspaper (which you can see here: Bishop enjoys a privileged role) made little sense.

Here's what I actually wrote under my title, a play on his, 'Gospel truth a substitute for Peace and Goodwill?':

Tim Stephens must be glad that Interfaith Week is well behind us now, with its themes of social cohesion and understanding between people of all faiths and none, leaving him once again free to attack non-religious people who number among their ranks some of the most active in defending good community relations against the divisive cancer of sectarianism. (First Person, Saturday 13 December)

His title is Bishop 'of Leicester'. How a Bishop is appointed is a mystery to many - it certainly isn't through a process respecting equality of opportunity, in an organisation tearing itself apart over gender rights and an obsession with sexuality. And he didn't come to be 'of Leicester' through any election of the people of our diverse city - or even by the general membership of his congregation.

Nonetheless he enjoys enormous privileges. He is part of the senior management of the Church of England, one of the country's biggest property businesses, and one whose coffers will be filled from donations in proportion to the numbers persuaded of the importance of the Nativity story enough to put their bums on church pews a few times over the festive season. Our unwritten constitution even guarantees him a seat in the national legislature.

Let's return to our goodwill and cheer this festive season, and look forward to a future time when people with a genuine spirit of peace in their hearts are our favoured opinion makers!

Merry Christmas to you all - 'War is over if you want it' (John Lennon)

Frank Friedmann

17 December 2009

Trafigura’s gag on the BBC

BBC Newsnight ran a feature on alleged dumping of toxic waste in Cote d’Ivoire – now Trafigura and their lawyers Carter Ruck are pursuing a libel case against the BBC over the news story aired in May 2009 using our arcane libel laws that restrict our freedom of speech.

You can see it here:-

and read more here