Christianity is the answer.

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I was watching my 2 year old playing along side a little muslim boy in the soft play center today and for some reason I started thinking “Those two will never be able to marry”. A strange thought considering they are both babies – but I’m right aren’t I? For them to be able to marry, one of them would have to convert to the others religion – or they would both have to renounce their religions. Whichever way it would cause enormous upset to both families. However at this toddler age, they can play together just fine. I smile at his headscarf wearing mother, and she smiles back. But we both know the score.

My 6 year old came home from school recently and told me confused that a muslim child had told her that “Jesus is a slave.” I had to compose myself before answering her. I quietly asked her “Who do we say that Jesus is?” she answered “The Son of God!”  I told her “That’s right!” .  And at 6 years old, that is enough – enough for today at least. There have been other questions about why so-and-so is not baptised and I tell her “Because their parents don’t understand why it is important. But hopefully they will realise for themselves when they are older.” And in the back of my mind I have to take control of the unpleasant thought: ‘I wish so-and-so was not in my daughter’s class.’

That, of course, is not a very inclusive or politically correct thought to have. What we have all be told by the powers that be is that multiculturalism is a good thing. Diversity is a good thing. And if you say otherwise it means that you are a racist and a bigot and you are basically Hitler – or at least that is what the militant lefties tell you. They probably learned that from this book when they were kids 😉 :

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But i’m afraid that is just not true. I’m not a racist or a bigot. What I am is a realist. It is obvious to me that two cultures of completely opposing beliefs are never going to fully integrate. We can live alongside each other with tolerance and respect, but we are never going to fully integrate. What multiculturalism has done is to set up a community of tension. It also serves to destroy national identity, because to be proud of your country and of your country’s faith heritage would be (according to the secularists) terribly offensive to those of other races or faiths.

Baloney.

This secular apologetic, pathetic attitude, along with the encouraged steady loss of morality and the wanton destruction of everything Christian has been the fertile ground in which the seeds of radical Islam has been firmly planted. And they have surely and steadily grown – and continue to do so. No government has effectively tackled the root cause of the problem. No government has had the balls to do so, because to do so would be to admit that all their efforts at multiculturalism and integration over the last 20 or so years has been at best a catastrophic failure, and at worst a co-ordinated and planned attack on Christian Europe and the UK. The problem is Islam. And still, still no-one in power is brave enough to stand up and say so. Mr. Cameron, Ms. Merkel, Mr Hollande, Mr Obama? Anyone? No.

Ask any vaguely educated Muslim and they will be able to tell you that the big issue within Islam is that there is no central teaching. In very much the same way that Protestantism works, each Imam is able to interpret the Qu’ran as he sees fit. And any man can set himself up as an Imam. This leaves the door wide open for misinterpretation of scripture. In Protestantism the end result of this is groups like Westbro Baptist Church. In Islam you get ISIS.

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Al-Azhar University

And though President Obama and other Western leaders have persistently attempted to divorce the ISIS from the religion of Islam, some influential members of the Muslim community apparently disagree. A report from 2014 notes that Egypt’s oldest Islamic university, Al-Azhar University, refuses to declare ISIS heretical to Islam.

The Al-Monitor’s Ahmed Fouad details the “honorable” Al-Azhar university’s official declarations concerning ISIS, which it refuses to condemn as apostate, or heretical to the teachings of Islam.

Back in Dec of 2014, the university issued a statement refusing to declare ISIS apostates. “No believer can be declared an apostate, regardless of his sins,” read the university’s statement, which was issued shortly after some interpreted an influential Nigerian Muslim authority as having pronounced the group heretical, which the university strongly denied.

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Now let me just make myself perfectly clear on something. I do not have issue with muslim people as such – but with their creed. It is what is written in the Qu’ran that I have the major problem with. People are made by God, for God, and people can change. Ideology cannot change, and what is written in the book can’t change. The fact that several verses in the Quran tell muslims to go kill their enemies does not sit well with me. In Christianity we are told to find ways to love our enemies – not kill them.

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Islam is the problem. Each muslim sect of course claims to be the correct one with the correct interpretation. And in some ways I actually find sympathy with those who are taking the radical path. After all – I am called to be a radical Christian. I understand this desire to give ones all to their faith. I also understand the desire to adhere to what is orthodox. It seems to me that the islamic radicals are simply adhering more closely to what it actually says in the Qu’ran, than the moderate muslims who are more ‘flexible’ in implementing their religious zeal. But is this radicalisation doing more harm to Islam than good?

Angry Muslim Protestors

Islam will reportedly become the world’s largest religion 55 years from now based on recent projections, but could the barbarous practices of the ISIS actually undermine the growth of the world’s Muslim population?

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, Christianity and Islam will be near parity by 2050, with Christians expected to comprise 31.4 percent of the planet’s population against 29.7 percent who follow Islam. The study said Islam will grow more than twice as fast as any other major religion over the next half century because muslims generally have a higher fertility rate than the contraceptive loving Europeans.

However, Muslims frightened by the inhumane acts by the ISIS are now questioning their faith, and presumably considering to leave it. This is backed by testimonies from missionaries working in the Islamic world who noted the large scale of Muslims who have converted to Christianity in the last 14 years since the devastating Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. The number of converts in the recent period, they said, is greater than during the entire 14 centuries of Islamic history.

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Brother Rachid

“Many Muslims are saying, ‘If ISIS is Islam, I’m leaving.’ Some are becoming atheists,” said Brother Rachid, who hosts a Christian program reaching Muslims called “Daring Questions” in Arabic language. “There is a huge wave of atheism in the Arab world right now and many are turning to Jesus Christ. Islam was never faced with this crisis before…Islam is going to collapse,” added Brother Rachid, whose father is a Moroccan imam who lived as a secret Christian convert for 15 years.

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Pastor Fouad Rasho

This is also the case in Angered Alliance Church in Sweden. Pastor Fouad Rasho, who has  in the last few years baptized more than a hundred former Muslims, maintained that ISIS causes many Muslims to come to Jesus. But most converts keep their shift in religion a secret, fearing for their lives and for being an outcast. Imram (not his real name), a British college student from a Pakistani immigrant family, said leaving Islam is tough:

“If someone leaves Islam and becomes an apostate, he is thrown out of his family; his family will be the first ones to abandon him,” he said. “(But) Every week I meet one or more persons who come to me and want to know more about Christianity and the Bible because they are very angry about being a Muslim. They don’t want to continue to be Muslim….His friends will reject him and he will be killed or he will be persecuted. A lot of my friends said, ‘This is the last time I’m talking to you because you disrespected the prophet Mohammed, you disrespected Islam.'”

 

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The liberation of women?

When Nassim Ben Iman came with his parents to Germany as immigrants from a Muslim nation, he remembers thinking that if Germany is a Christian nation, then Christianity is a dead, sinful religion. “So nakedness on the television is because of the Christian religion. Living together not married is because of the Christian religion.” Nassim recalled thinking. Of course what Nassim was witnessing was not the fault of Christianity, but the wanton destruction of Christian values and morality in general that europe has experienced over the last century. Thankfully Nassim discovered the truth and  has since converted to Christianity. “When the people understand who Jesus is, they will love Him and follow Him more and more. And when the Muslims understand more and more what Mohammed is, what the Koran is, what the history is, then they will go farther and farther away from Islam,”

Surely Europe, with is 80 million muslim migrant influx should be promoting Christianity to those arriving on its shores? But sadly the European militant secularists have seen to it that almost every last shred of Christian heritage has being destroyed, or at least suppressed from the national identity of Europeans. Because of this spiritual and moral void, politically correct Europe has become the perfect fertile ground in which the shoots of radical Islam can flourish. I really truly can understand why young European Muslims feel trapped between secularist atheism and radical Islam. But some are finding hope in Christianity.

Let us not be afraid to confront the twin demons of radical Islam and radical secularism, and offer the solution of Christianity to the poor lost souls who are victims of both.

 

Sources:

http://www.dailywire.com/news/2161/islams-oldest-university-says-isis-are-not-james-barrett

http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=16080

From Gay Pride to True Humility: Joe’s amazing conversion story.

Ash Wednesday marks four years since I rejected the “gay lifestyle” and came back to the Catholic Church. I didn’t have a singular moment of conversion like St. Paul. Rather, it was a slow drip, a series of gradual, often hesitant pivots towards the Church.

The first pivot came when Saint John Paul II died.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II had been the only pope I’d ever known up to that time. My childhood parish had a painting of him on the altar next to the tabernacle. I’m from Chicago, so naturally I have Polish ancestry, and a Polish pope was a point of pride when other kids called me a dumb Polak or a Commie. I was a toddler when Pope John Paul II was elected, so I had never experienced a conclave before. A German? They’re calling him “God’s Rottweiler” and he was in the Hitler Youth?

Despite my secular, sinful life, I’d always had a soft spot and sympathy for Holy Mother Church, even during the explosion of the priest sex abuse scandal. I was willing to give Benedict XVI the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to know more about him. Some of the news coverage cited his pre-conclave homily as sealing the deal for the cardinal electors. Then Cardinal Ratzinger declared, “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” That hit me right between the eyes. So I started, occasionally, visiting Catholic websites, learning more about what this “relativism” is. There are some incredible resources out there.

It’s unclear how much of it was sentimentalism and how much was the pursuit of truth. I knew in my heart that my way of living was wrong. But I didn’t change my life. I was Catholic in name only. I hadn’t attended mass in years, despite a parish a block away from my apartment. The weekend gay bar hopping, binge drinking, pornography consumption, and casual hook-ups went on and on. I was young and “you only live once.” Nevertheless, a seed was planted.

The second pivot came when I found an old prayer book.

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An elderly relative had died, and I was helping family clean out their house. I found a copy of “My Prayer Book” by Father F. X. Lasance in a drawer and snuck it into my backpack. For whatever reason, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I wanted it, or ask if I could take it. Surely they’d have said yes. The book was at least a half-century old and barely used. Most of the pages stuck together. Over the course of several months, I read it cover to cover. It was astounding.

Immersed in that culture that “has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” in that book I encountered beautiful reflections on self-denial, on forgiveness, even “The Blessing of Pain and Grief.” It catechized me in a way that 12 years of Catholic schools and an ostensibly Catholic family failed to do. A few years later when I lost it, I was able to order a replacement online from Fraternity Publications. I highly recommend it.

The third pivot came after overhearing a conversation at work about the Real Presence.

The Priest says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

I’m not sure how they happened onto the topic, but the office secretary was talking to another employee about Roman Catholics, and she said, “We believe that the Eucharist is the body of Christ.” 

“We do?” I thought? Like, THE body of Christ? Huh? No, it’s just a symbol. What was she talking about? I’d never heard that before, and I’m Catholic. Whatever.

Some online research confirmed what she said. It felt like a punch in the stomach. Again, after 12 years of Catholic schools and Catholic parents I did not even know such a fundamental doctrine of the faith? How was that possible? Had I ever received worthily, validly? If one needs to be in a state of grace to approach for communion, why did everybody go up? Why didn’t my mother go to confession? How come she’d never encouraged us kids to regularly confess? The more I read about the Real Presence, the more ashamed I felt, even betrayed.

The fourth pivot came after reading an article on “the Latin Mass” on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

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The article preceded Pope Benedict’s moto proprio Summorum Pontificum. Several Chicago parishes offered the mass. “Fans” quoted in the article gushed over how transcendent the Latin Mass was, how it was so beautiful they wanted to cry. I’d always enjoyed history, and I knew this was the mass my parents grew up with. So one Sunday, I visited one of the parishes.

I expected to witness the mass I grew up with, only in a different language, with nice(r) music, and with the priest facing the other way. What I encountered was baffling and frustrating. I had no idea what was going on. For long periods, nothing happened. The priest just stood there, facing the tabernacle. He wasn’t talking at all, much less in Latin, from what I could tell. But a realization hit me, seeing the priest there before the tabernacle: This is what mass is all about: the Eucharist!

The night and day difference between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form sent me back to the Internet. I found some podcasts on iTunes by Dr. James Dobbins that dove into the history of the Extraordinary Form, about how much traces back to the Temple in Jerusalem, the symbolism of ad orientum, and so on. It was like finding buried treasure. I returned to that parish several times, window shopping as it were.

The fifth pivot came when someone asked me to be their child’s godfather.

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For one thing, I never expected that parent to ask me. We weren’t particularly close. For another, I knew this was a serious, sacred obligation I was entering into. It wasn’t merely an honorific title. For the first time in 15, maybe 20 years, I went to confession.

The Lord blessed me with a gentle and patient priest behind the confessional screen. He counselled me that my same sex attraction was, alas, a heavy cross to bear. But he didn’t make me feel dirty, or like a pervert. After he lead me through making an act of contrition, I left the confessional absolved, attended the holy sacrifice of the mass, and approached the communion rail in a state of grace for the first time since I was a child. I slid back into my sinful ways pretty quickly. But I’d poke my head out of the sewer now and then, to listen to Father John Corapi (good preacher, pray for him, sad situation) on Relevant Radio, a Catholic radio station in Chicago, or to attend Holy Week services.

Finally, two years after my God-child’s baptism, I found myself waking up Sunday mornings with my conscience telling me, “You should go to mass.” I’d trek to the “Latin Rite” church and sit in a pew near the back, watching the priest from afar, knowing more now about what was going on. My head knew what was true, but my heart was lukewarm. Sin continued.

The final pivot came came that Lent.

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My conscience had been gnawing at me. “You’re a hypocrite. You can’t call yourself Catholic but live this way.” So I challenged myself: Lent is only about 40 days, right? Six weeks? This year’s Lent, let’s try to do everything the Church teaches, especially as it pertains to purity. No more porn. No more hours wasted on gay hook-up websites. No more lusting. Complete celibacy and chastity. Mass every Sunday. Regular confession.

I did it.

The first two weeks were rough, don’t get me wrong. Whether it was through grace, or the intercession of Our Lady, the saints, somehow I did it.

What’s more, I liked it! It was liberating. I was free of the weight, the rules, the oppressive expectations that the gay lifestyle places on you. Style your hair a certain way. Dress a certain way. Decorate your home a certain way. Think a certain way. Listen to certain music, watch certain television shows. Conform.

My friends’ first hint that I’d “changed” came from seeing my “likes” of Catholic posts on Facebook and from my decision to sit out the gay pride parade despite living so close to the parade route. My social circle has shrunk considerably. My best friend cut me off after I declined to attend his “wedding.” Other friends accuse me of being a “self-loathing homosexual.” Another friend, who I’m still close to, has told me to my face, with all sincerity, that he is worried about my mental health.

Ultimately though, this is not about me being happy or freed or spiritually fed/fulfilled/whatever you want to call it. My conversion was about understanding my role vis-a-vis God, that I was made to know, love, and serve Him in this life –not myself or my ego or its desires– and be happy with Him in the next.

I cannot quite explain why I so readily accept the Church’s teachings on same-sex attraction. It’s all perfectly logical and rationale to me. I’d lived that lifestyle and knew how ugly it was, what a lie it was. If I wanted to follow Christ, I would have to take up a cross. There was no “conversion” in that regard.

In a culture that says it’s all about Me, I realized that no, it’s not, and humility and sacrifice must be part and parcel of my life from now on. He must increase, I must decrease. Perhaps that’s why the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite played such a vital role in my conversion and continued efforts to life out the Faith. The Extraordinary Form is not about me. On that account, one might argue, its silence is deafening. I would not have reverted back to the faith without the Extraordinary Form. It has helped me strengthen my faith, grow in charity, battle my pride, and strive for purity in a way the Ordinary Form, as commonly offered, could not.

I’ve remained celibate since that Ash Wednesday in 2011. I’ve struggled with impure thoughts and actions, but am light years from who I used to be. With frequently confession and the graces flowing from that sacrament and the sacrament of the Eucharist, and His most merciful Sacred Heart, I soldier on in the Church Militant. Oh yeah, I think Our Lady’s on my side too!

Since I was invited to write this story for a family oriented blog, my advice to Catholic parents would be this: Teach your children obedience. Teach them obedience to you as mothers and fathers, and obedience to God and the Church. Model that obedience to them. It will require struggle, humility, and sacrifice, potentially the ultimate sacrifice. Never forget that your role isn’t to be their friend, or to give them the happy or comfortable childhood you never had. Your role is to get them to heaven. Trust in Jesus.

May God bless us all this Lent.

Joe.

2 Priests denied joint gym membership, because they are not “In a relationship”!

Do you even lift

I was talking to one of my online priest friends today. He is so funny – he is always cracking me up and I love him TO DEATH! (Of course I would never tell him that as he already suffers from chronic ego-itis 😉 )

He was telling me the story of how he went to sign up for the Gym in full cassock and dog collar but was denied joint membership with his parish priest because they were not “in a relationship”…

“How do you know we are not in a relationship?” he said. “We live together, we work together, we eat dinner together, heck – sometimes we even just chat, for fun.”

The poor receptionist was a little bemused: “But you’re a… a… a priest??!” 

“Yes, and what’s that got to do with it? How does one define what a ‘relationship’ is? Do you have the authority to tell me I am not in a relationship with my parish priest?”

“Are you a couple?”

“Errr… no. But we live together!”

“I’m sorry, the joint membership is only for couples.”

“What if we were gay? Would that be enough to get a joint gym membership?”

“Errr…. Yes! Are you gay?”

“No. But we do live together.”

“I’m sorry I don’t understand what you….”

“You know I could sue you for this under the discrimination act don’t you? What would Peter Tatchel say hey? Not much equality in this place is there? 😉 “

“To be eligible for the joint membership you have to be in a relationship sir.”

“What if I said we were a couple living together in a non-sexual relataionship? Would you give us joint membership then? We could get ‘married’ if that would help?”

“Errr… Yes? I mean no. I don’t know. All I know is that you have to be a couple sir.”

He left it at that, stopped teasing the poor receptionist and begrudgingly signed up for a significantly more expensive single persons membership!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was satire – but its not! It’s a true story! Ha!

Top 6 reasons Catholic Parents are not fulfilling their role as ‘Primary Educators’.

Over the last two generations in the west, we have experienced a massive watering down of the faith. We are in a position now where very few Catholic parents are fulfilling their role as primary educators. How can parents transmit something that they do not know themselves? It’s not fair.

I will fight for these parents – my siblings, my friends, for as long as it takes the lazy, crazy people in charge of the church right now to actually do something about it. Until that happens I will continue to teach parents how to Understand, Live and Transmit their faith to their kids through my other blog www.understandlivetransmit.com

There are of course many contributing factors to this massive problem, but here are my top 6…

1. Poor Religious Education. 

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Sadly, we cannot assume that the religious education received by today’s Catholic parents in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s has been thorough or effective. Since the Second Vatican Council the emphasis in religious education has been on providing students with a variety of experiences such as prayer services, art projects, and community service instead of teaching such basics as the Ten Commandments, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and the meaning of grace etc. 

When this “experiential method” of teaching, along with religion textbooks which de-emphasized and watered down Church teachings, were introduced into Catholic classrooms in the 60s, proponents of the “new catechetics” promised that the new methodology and texts would make the Catholic faith relevant to youth. Instead they have resulted in widespread religious illiteracy and alienation from the Church and its teachings. I myself am living proof of this. I am 35. I came out of school with very little real knowledge of the faith. I had no idea that a relationship with Christ was possible. I had never even heard of Papal documents, the Catechism, Youcat or studied scripture in any real way until I went to Maryvale university 4 years ago. I never got taught the basics of the faith.

The methodology in teaching the faith over the last two generations has been Man centred rather than Christ centred. It has been predominantly preoccupied with the experience the student is receiving rather than the content being transmitted.

In 2000 Geraldine Stafford, Catholic Writer and Catechist for 25 years, recognised this problem and stated that: “Group prayer, art projects and community service all have their place in catechetics, but the primary responsibility of catechists is to follow Christ’s command to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20).” She recalls one student’s reaction when she told her year 8 class that she would be quizzing them on the Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and the Beatitudes. “You really expect us to learn these things?” one of her students asked in shocked disbelief. Her reaction indicated that memorization in RE class was a totally new experience for her.

She stated: “We must provide our youth with the experience of learning the teachings of Jesus and his Church if we expect them to develop a healthy, vibrant Catholic faith. As Saint John Paul II has pointed out: “The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert of a memory-less catechesis.”

In his article, “Mad Methodology,” Sean Innerst observed that “catechetical methodology is not only important insofar as it is the vehicle for imparting the content of the faith, but because, if wrongly conceived, it can undermine the whole content of the faith.” He cited this statement from the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism’s report: “When the methodological starting point is predominantly human experience, the texts at times easily leave the impression that human initiative is the prerequisite for divine action. God’s initiative appears subordinate to human experience and human action.” Innerst says that it is no accident that the “process of redefining faith and revelation in terms of personal experience coincides with a nearly 30-year process of dissent from Catholic teaching. . . . With the wrong methodology, even the best content will be no weightier than the opinion of the next person who picks up the text.”

2. Why are we playing Catechetical Roulette?

Burk

“One of the biggest challenges (for Catholic families) is the defective catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church – I can speak from my experience in the United States – for the past 40 to 50 years.”  – Cardinal Raymond Burke, Family Synod 2014.

Why do we not have a central recommended program of Catechises and Evangelisation for each diocese? It seems strange to me that in one parish you will get brilliant formation and catechesis based on Holy Scripture, the Catechism and Papal doc’s, and in the parish up the road you will something quite different based on people’s own personal opinions of what they would prefer the catholic faith to look like.

It is at the point of First Holy Communion or Confirmation that many of today’s catholic parents are suddenly re-discovering their faith. For a large majority it will be the first time they will have ever read scripture. For many families it is the chance for the non-Catholic spouse to learn about the Catholic faith. It is an opportunity for evangelization and catechesis that must not be missed.

Parishes need to make adult formation classes a priority at the same time as the children are learning their sacramental prep. Sacramental prep needs to be family focused rather than child focused because if it is important to the parents, it will be important to the child.

What I would like to see:

  • Each parish will have in place a recognised ongoing adult formation / evangelisation course recommended by their diocese such as Anchor.
  • When people request to get married or have their Child baptised, Priests need to assess where people are in their relationship with Christ and then direct them accordingly– delaying the sacrament if necessary.
  • Marriage prep needs to CLEARLY spell out what catholic marriage is. The couple then have to decide if they really want a catholic marriage or not.
  • Marriage and Baptism prep need to include content on building a domestic church.
  • Pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament.

3. Sacramentelised but not Evangelised or Catechised. 

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Here is Pope Francis famously Baptizing Giulia, who’s Catholic parents are married civilly but not in church. I hope the Holy Father took this opportunity to not only make sure Giulia’s parents are properly catechised and evangelised, but also to sort out their marriage situation. Obviously if they are wishing their home to be a domestic church in which the faith is transmitted, they will realise that their witness in being sacramentaly married (or not) will speak volumes to their child. They obviously do not see the need for a sacramental marriage. I would bet £100 that they do not realise they are the primary educators of their child and have never even heard the term ‘domestic church’. Baptism of a child presents itself as a natural opportunity for sorting out all these issues and enables and empowers the parents to carry out their role as primary educators much more effectively.

I believe the way the sacraments have been administered over the last 2 generations has resulted in a massive watering down of the faith. I believe not enough time, energy or money have been invested in sacrament prep. And from my own experience, a lot of the sacramental prep out there is variable in it’s accuracy and effectiveness.

Here is what you can get in terms of sacrament prep if you live in some of the parishes around my area…

Baptism: 1 hour

First Confession/Holy Communion: 6 months: 1 hour per week for the Kids. (Parents get 6 x 1 hour sessions based on what the kids have been learning.)

Confirmation: 6 months: 1.5 hour meeting per month + 1 day retreat.

Marriage: 1 full day

Holy Orders: 7 Years

There seems to be a lot of time money and effort put into Children’s catechesis, and very little put into Adult catechesis and ongoing formation. Why is this? Is adult formation not as important? I would argue that taking into account the lack of effective religious education and catechesis over the last 2 generations it is now more important.

Earlier this year I spent several months getting involved with a local Baptism prep class. It was a one off, 1.5 hour session. At the end of this 1.5 hours, parents were expected to go off and bring up their children in the faith! I was greatly surprised and horrified to discover that 90% of these parents were unable to recite the Our Father without reading it off a sheet in front of them. They also had to fill in a sheet during the class stating why they wanted their child baptised. Most of them wrote ‘Family tradition’. Others wrote ‘To be part of the Church’. Very few had any understanding whatsoever that Baptism is the choice to turn away from sin and to  begin a relationship with Jesus. The vast majority of these parents need to go through RCIA. A priest friend of mine feels that many catholic churches today have become “Baptism Factories”.

A friend of mine is a great example of this. She is open in saying that she had poor religious education and catechesis and as an adult she has decided that the Catholic church holds no spirituality for her, so she has chosen Buddhism instead. She wanted her son to go to Catholic school because she wanted him to learn good moral values. At age 7, he turned round and declared that he wanted to be baptized! She was very happy for this to happen. He got baptised abroad and his Godparents live abroad. His mum is now bringing him up half Catholic, half Buddhist. They do not attend church. It is great that her son got baptised, but he, like his Mum has been sacramentalised without being catechised or evangelised. The cycle continues…

Why are we dumping people after the service? Do we really think that now they have been sacramentalised they are ‘done’? This applies to all the sacraments – but especially marriage:

 

“The initial years of marriage are a vital and fragile period during which couples become more aware of the challenges and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament.” – (Para 35. mid-term report, Family Synod 2014)

The nurturing and social contact, the education and catechesis… the pastoral accompaniment must continue after the actual celebration of the sacrament.

 

4. Marrying a non-Catholic. 

Wedding-Couple

In 2013 in our parish we had 12 Catholic to Catholic weddings, and 23 Catholic to non-Catholic weddings. I feel it is safe to say that in the west, this is now the norm. Most families I know are in the position where 1 spouse is not catholic.

With one Catholic parent the transmission of the faith in the home by lived example, is reduced by at least 50%. 

Another childhood friend of ours is a perfect example of this. He is the Catholic in the marriage. However, growing up he suffered the same poor religious education, poor catechesis as we did and crucially, he is not evangelised. He has married his non-practising Hindu wife civilly and has not had the protection of a dispensation. This has resulted in their children remaining unbaptized. It is down to him to transmit the faith to his children. How exactly is he supposed to do this?

Of course every situation is different, and it very much depends on how supportive the non catholic spouse is. Another friend, for example, is married to an agnostic who accompanies him to church each week and is extremely supportive of their sons catholic upbringing. But very often the Catholic spouse compromises their faith to keep their non-Catholic spouse happy – especially (I have found) in the area of contraception. This is a subject that is never talked about and I feel Catholic parents in this position are currently offered no support.

 

5. Accepting Secularism as the norm. 

GAY_WEDDING_CAKE_1530710a

“Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached… In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life… The crisis in the couple destabilizes the family and may lead, through separations and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening the individual and social bonds.” – (Para 10. mid-term report, Family Synod 2014)

The present climate of relativism, secularism and individualism rejects nearly all that Christianity stands for, meaning that those whose faith is unstable are facing many new and unexpected perils. Most are just not well equipped enough to deal with it.

Today’s secular culture, teaches us from youth that devotion to God is a private matter. Our society makes us ashamed not only to speak about God in the workplace or to our neighbours, we are even hesitant to show a vibrant faith to our own children. In fact, we often feel uncomfortable with our own religious desires.

It is essential for parents to be made aware of the realities of our secular culture and what that means in terms of being a catholic parent today: It’s massive anti-Christian influences such as the media, consumerism and many of today’s political ideas. Catholic parents and teachers, now more than ever, need to realise that living and passing on the Catholic faith is essentially counter-cultural

Once parents are awakened to the realities of how our society is under such major influences, it will be easier for them to recognise and confidently reject the things, regarded as normal by society, that are actually totally anti Christian. This takes a lot of courage and is much easier to achieve as a community than as individuals.

6. Clericalists Despise the Primary Educator.

Finally, there is one other extremely disturbing issue. I have come across members of the clergy, religious, and even catechists that do not recognise parents as the child’s primary educators. They do not believe in educating and empowering the parents to fulfil their role, but instead feel that it is their job. This goes directly against the teachings of the church and I would recommend people to be extremely vigilant of any type of children’s catechesis that does not directly involve the parents. Parent-less catechesis is only adding to the problem. If you ever come across this issue, you might want to show the people involved this section of Gravissimum Educationis:

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbour.  Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellow men and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” – Para. 3 Gravissimum Educationis

Come on Bishops! Wake up, admit your past mistakes, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS CRISIS!!!

 

 

Bert and Ernie Gay Ridiculous Cake Court Threat.

From the TELEGRAPH:

A Christian-run bakery is facing legal action from a Government agency for refusing to produce a cake carrying a picture of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage”.

Ashers Baking Co, based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for a novelty cake with a picture of the puppets arm in arm printed onto the icing saying that it went against the directors’ religious beliefs.

They believe that producing the cake with the slogan and the logo of QueerSpace, a gay rights group the would-be customer supports, would amount to endorsing the campaign for the introduction of gay marriage in the province, and go against their religious convictions.

But the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has now written to the firm claiming that it is breaking the law.

A letter signed by the legal office orders the firm to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days or be taken to court by the commission.

It claimed that refusing to print the cake amounted to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation against the man who placed the order.

The Christian institute, which is supporting the bakery, says it is not discriminatory for managers to refuse to endorse a political campaign.

Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK in which it is not on the statute book.

Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian Institute, said: “This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted.

“The Government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts even its own MPs when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, especially those who work in the public sector.

“Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector.

“This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide good or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.

“It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual, or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.”

The customer was unable to comment.

……………

This is the exact reason i closed my 9 year cake business in January this year. I could see this sort of thing coming: 

http://faithinourfamilies.com/2013/05/22/why-equal-marriage-law-will-destroy-my-wedding-cake-business-and-free-speech/

What the Government is saying is that this cake company has no right to refuse a customer. The article makes no mention of the sexuality of the customer and it certainly is not saying that the cake company is refusing to serve them because they are or might be gay. I’m sure if a gay person walked in and ordered a Thomas the Tank Engine cake they would have no problem in being served. 

Would it be a matter of discrimination then if i walked in to the bakery and told them to make me a cake with the slogan “God does not exist” and they refused on religious grounds? Would that be discriminating against atheists? 

What about if i wanted them to make a cake with the slogan “pro choice” and they refused on religious grounds? Would that be discriminating against women who choose to have an abortion?

It’s funny isn’t it – that this issue of social acceptance bullying does not seem to raise its ugly head in any other community other than the gay community. It’s almost as if they want to pick a fight…

I’m just sayin’.

Sources: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10952494/Bert-and-Ernie-gay-marriage-cake-leaves-Christian-bakery-facing-court-threat.html

The Future of the Church in the UK

This weekend i was privileged enough to go to Portsmouth diocese to attend the ‘Called and Gifted’ workshop hosted by Sherry Weddell. Sherry’s book ‘Forming intentional disciples’ was described by Bishop Egan as being “…one of the most important books regarding evangelisation in modern times.” I totally agree with him and very much recommend getting yourself a copy (in brief, it speaks about the vast majority of practising Catholics today that do not have a personal relationship with Christ – and then sets out the 5 stages that people go through in order to become an ‘intentional disciple’.)

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Bishop Egan has become my new hero! Firstly for recognising and admitting that this issue is a reality for the Catholics he is responsible for, and secondly for actually doing something about it. My real hope is that other Bishops in the UK will see the success, renewal, and change that is coming out of Portsmouth diocese and will decide to follow its example.

While the workshop was primarily about discerning our own personal charisms, the overwhelming feeling i (and many others) have been left with is one of hope for the Catholic Church in the UK. For many, many years now the faith in the UK has been watered down and compromised, resulting in the loss of the real truth, beauty and spirituality of Catholicism. We now have Parishes and Diocese that are ‘maintained’ rather than built up, and a retention rate that is so poor it is embarrassing. Ask yourselves: How many babies got baptised in our parish this year? How many young adults were confirmed? And how many parishioners do we have in their 20’s?

Why are they not sticking around?!!

This is of course due to many factors – the main two being the pressures of our militant secular culture and the failure of the church to effectively transmit the faith. Instead of remaining confident and secure in the fact that the church is naturally counter cultural and that Jesus was a peaceful rebel who remained entirely truthful and faithful unto death, many in positions of authority have allowed a comfy cosy church to exist that just keeps everyone happy and keeps things ticking over. 

It seems that the central focus in most diocese today is on keeping the parishioners happy rather than on God Himself. (There are also those who purposefully seek to advance the Church forward in a ‘progressive’ way. I wont go into that now – the only thing i will say about that is: What are you progressing away from, and towards?)

Anyway, back to my original point – hope. How many people in your parish would you say were in a 100% committed, passionate, and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ?

Now just imagine that Everyone in your parish was in a 100% committed, passionate, and  genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Imagine that everyone knew their gifts talents and charisms and used them effectively for the the greater glory of God. What difference would that make to the life of your parish? It has been done in the USA. It can be done here. It IS being done here in Portsmouth Diocese. Keep your eyes on this Diocese and on Bishop Egan, and watch in the video below how he is leading the way in the new evangelisation in the UK. THIS is the church i want my children growing up in. Thank You God!!!

https://vimeo.com/99010731

Feeling sad? Read these really bad jokes…

These jokes are so bad its 50/50 whether they will actually cheer you up or just send you over the edge… Lets see shall we…

 

 

 

I know someone who worked in a chicken factory. She said it was a fowl job.

I wanted to be a doctor but didn’t have the patience.

I was addicted to hokey-pokey but I turned myself around.

Don’t trust atoms. They make up everything.

What did Beethoven do after he died? He decomposed.

Why did they rush the roofer to the hospital?? He came down with shingles.

I went on a really exciting camping trip. It was in tents.

The melons wanted to run away and get married, but they cantaloupe.

“Good afternoon! Urology Department – can you hold?”

Guys fresh out of seminary are greener pastors.

A man accidentally had his whole left side torn off. He’s all right now.

The quickest way to quit being vegan is cold turkey.

A dyslexic agnostic insomniac stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog.

Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.

My dental appointment is at 2.30.

What does the clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.

 

I wondered why baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

Einstein developed a theory about space, and it was about time too.

I couldn’t quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.

There was a sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center that said: keep off the grass.

I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.

Police were called to a day-care where a 3-year-old was resisting a rest.

He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

I would like to procrastinate but I keep putting it off.

I tried to catch some fog. I mist.

When chemists die, they barium.

 

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

O know a guy who is addicted to break fluid. He says he can stop at any time.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrew’s it.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

They told me I had Type A blood, but it was a Type O.

Energizer bunny arrested. Charged with battery.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A Thesaurus.

 

God Bless… Have a good day, and don’t forget to share the love! xx

 

 

Happy 1st Birthday Faith in our Families!

fiof birthday

Gay Marriage? – But what about EQUALITY???

But what about EQUALITY??? If Mr. Cameron was really interested in equality then perhaps he should take another look at the succession to the crown bill (passed yesterday) that still makes it illegal for a Catholic to sit on the throne on England! – http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/cristinaodone/100200514/gays-can-marry-a-first-born-girl-can-rule-but-a-catholic-still-cant-take-the-throne/ Or much more importantly, perhaps he should look at the way disabled children are discriminated against in the womb (abortions are illegal in the UK after 24 weeks – unless the child is disabled. A disabled child can be aborted up until birth.) But no, instead he is insisting that Parent A and Parent B are EQUAL to a mother and a father. It beggars belief that a government so interested in the problem of absent fathers would even entertain the idea of a fatherless lesbian family – or have fathers suddenly become non important? The same goes for mothers. If me and my husband suddenly died, David Cameron is proposing the terrifying prospect that our local authority could place our two young children into the care of two men – therefor robbing them of any chance of a mother. Children need and deserve a mother and a father. And however caring and well-meaning a same-sex couple are, by their pure biology, they will never be able to offer what a child truly needs.

All the Catholics in England and Wales have been asked to write to their MP’s again this week to show their opposition to the re-definition of marriage. It seems to me that we will be hearing about this topic on an almost daily basis over the next few weeks as we draw closer to the vote on whether marriage should be re-defined or not.

The more and more I think about it though, the more I am convinced that this was the biggest mistake of David Cameron’s career. We still don’t know why he decided to bring it up when he did? Was it to deflect attention away from the failing economy? Was it to keep Nick Clegg happy in some sort of party policy ‘trade off’? Was it to gain favour with the extreme left liberal media we have here in the UK? Or was just an attempt to make the Conservative party look more hip and trendy?

What ever it was it one thing is sure. David Cameron sorely underestimated the opinion of the British public. He got it wrong. He got it very, very wrong! It is becoming more and more clear that the British public (and the French it seems!) do NOT want marriage re-defined. This puts old Davy-boy in a bit of a pickle! He is going to have to go through with the vote – otherwise he would seem weak. I suppose he could try to ‘kick it into the long grass’ but that is going to be difficult as it has become such a major issue of public interest. What ever happens, re-defining marriage will go down in history as the topic that generated the most letters that MP’s have ever received on one single issue!

I have decided to publish my letter to my local MP here in the hope that it will encourage more people to do the same. If you need any further information or advice please take a look at the coalition for marriage website: http://c4m.org.uk/downloads/10reasons.pdf

to contact your local MP please visit http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ ant look in the top right hand corner for ‘find your MP’.

This may be the last chance you have before (and if) the law is changed.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Ms McDonagh,

We are constituents living in your area. We always vote at local and general elections.

We are writing today to tell you our views on the re-definition of marriage. As practising Catholics, we are fully opposed to the re-definition of marriage. Marriage is an institution for raising a family, and we believe that a child deserves a mother and a father not just parent A and parent B. Mother and Fathers have different and complimentary roles that simply cannot be equalled by two members of the same sex – however much they try.

This has been recently scientifically proven by Professor Mark Regnerus( http://www.markregnerus.com/ )of the University of Texas. His research on “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?” has found that the children from same-sex families have significantly poorer life outcomes than their peers who come from a regular ‘Mum and Dad’ families:

 
“…The differences, it turns out, were numerous. For instance, 28 per cent of the adult children of women who’ve had same-sex relationships are currently unemployed, compared to 8 per cent of those from married mom-and-dad families. Forty per cent of the former admit to having had an affair while married or co-habiting, compared to 13 per cent of the latter. Nineteen per cent of the former said they were currently or recently in psychotherapy for problems connected with anxiety, depression, or relationships, compared with 8 per cent of the latter. And those are just three of the 25 differences I noted.” – Mark Regnerus
 http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/06/gay_parents_are_they_really_no_different_.single.html
 

We are also extremely concerned that people who oppose same-sex relationships on moral or religious grounds are left open to legal prosecution. This has been the case in Canada. Hundreds of Canadians have faced legal proceedings for opposing same-sex ‘marriage’ in the public sphere following its introduction in 2005. Within five years of marriage being redefined in Canada, an estimated three hundred cases have been brought against individuals, mostly Christians, who have opposed same-sex marriage in the public sphere. The proceedings have been brought at employment boards, courts, and human rights commissions. A number of employees have been dismissed from their jobs because they have maintained a conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. Businesses have been sued and churches have been threatened with sanctions over their religious beliefs.

Examples from Canada:

  1. A television anchor on a prominent sports show was immediately dismissed after he posted his support for “the traditional and true meaning of marriage” on Twitter.
  2. A Roman Catholic bishop in Alberta, Fred Henry, was charged with a human-rights violation for writing a letter to local churches outlining the Catholic position on marriage.
  3. A Christian organization in Ontario working with some of the most marginalized disabled people in Canada was taken to court after objecting to the marriage of one of its homosexual employees. The organization faced an ultimatum and had to choose between changing its hiring and employment policy or being closed down.
  4. An evangelical Christian marriage commissioner in Saskatchewan was successfully sued for refusing to marry a homosexual couple, despite assisting the couple by putting them in touch with another marriage commissioner who would be willing to conduct the ceremony.
  5. A campaign has now begun in Canada to remove tax-free status from churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Some Canadian provinces are even considering laws to forbid teachers in private schools from teaching that traditional marriage is the ideal.

Michael Coren, writing for the National Review Online, said: “Once gay marriage becomes law, critics are often silenced by the force of the law. The Canadian litany of pain, firings, and social and political polarization and extremism is extraordinary and lamentable, and we haven’t even begun to experience the mid and long-term results of this mammoth social experiment. I seldom say it, but for goodness’ sake, learn something from Canada.”

The government has no right to mess with an institution as sacred as marriage. The British public are angry and disappointed with the suggestion that it does. Already UK politicians are voicing their concerns. For example, Michael Gove fears that the Government could be powerless to stop primary school teachers being sacked for refusing to teach gay marriage. A senior source in Mr Gove’s department said the UK was not “in control” and that the ultimate decision might “inevitably” be taken at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  It is worth remembering that he European Court recently ruled that public sector workers can be forced to act against their sincere beliefs about marriage. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9825341/Government-powerless-to-protect-teachers-from-sack-over-gay-marriage.html

Ms McDonagh, is this what you want for the UK?

It is a very, very un-popular idea – the biggest mistake of David Cameron’s career!

Civil partnerships already protect same-sex couples when it comes to legal issues like next of kin or inheritance. What exactly will they be gaining by being ‘married’? Is this all just a poor attempt by the government to try to be seen as modern and ‘fair’? Is it an attempt to win votes? – Because if it is, then it is backfiring! Many, many Labour and Conservative voters I know are now transferring their loyalty to other parties including UKIP and Christian Peoples Alliance because of this issue alone. That is how strongly people feel about this issue – us included.

The vast majority of people within your constituency oppose the re-definition of marriage. You must represent what the people want. I hope to God that as our MP – and as a practicing Catholic yourself, you will be voting NO to the re-definition of marriage.

Yours sincerely,

UK Christians take Religious Freedom Case to European Court of Human Rights.

Great article from Christian Concern…

“The outcome of these cases has huge implications for the freedom of normal Christians…”  Andrea Minichiello Williams

Michael Nazir Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, has called on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to give religious freedom “its pre-eminent place in European society” and to overturn the increasing restrictions on the religious liberties of Christians in the UK.

In a written submission to the Strasbourg Court, Bishop Nazir Ali has warned that the rights of Christians are being “vanquished” by UK judges and that Human Rights legislation is increasingly being used to remove Christian values from public discourse, whilst upholding the rights of minority groups.

The warning comes as four landmark Christian freedom cases will be heard before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg tomorrow.

This includes former nurse Shirley Chaplin and British Airways check-in clerk Nadia Eweida, who were both penalised for wearing the symbol of the cross at work.  The two other cases relate to freedom of conscience, and include Gary McFarlane, who was sacked after he expressed a possible conscientious objection to giving sex therapy to homosexual couples.

Totalitarianism

Bishop Nazir Ali warned further that unless Christian values are respected, the human rights agenda will become another “inhuman ideology” similar to totalitarianism, unfairly suppressing and imposing restrictions on individuals.

He added: “The new Human Rights agenda must respect Judaeo-Christian values if it is not to become another inhuman ideology imposing restrictions on individuals.

“There is a deep fear in the United Kingdom that the Human Rights agenda is becoming set against human rights; and seeking to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square.”

In relation to the two cross cases, he said: “The Christian faith and our Judeo Christian values are the cornerstone of our freedoms, prosperity and liberty in Europe.

“As such, the Cross is part of our culture and reflects Christian values of love, sacrifice and service so central to European culture.

“In case after case in the United Kingdom, the rights of Christians have been vanquished.

“We have reached the stage where Christians in the United Kingdom risk their employment if they wear a Cross.”

He urged the ECHR to give Article 9 (the right to freedom of conscience) its “full and intended” effect and to recognise the pre-eminent place of Christianity in the UK.

“It is not a hobby, but a fundamental right as precious as privacy or even free speech,” he said.

“In the background are a number of social factors: increasingly aggressive secularism, the drive to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square and the emergence of a multi faith Europe.

“Thus, there is a paradox; as the institutions of the West become more secular, the place of religion is becoming more important in Europe as ‘minority’ faiths have to be accommodated.

“A sensible solution is needed.”

The Government has backed the rulings against all four individuals in it’s recent submission to the ECHR, stating that they had not been discriminated against, and that their employers had every right to discipline them. It argued further that neither the wearing of a cross nor the following of conscience are an integral part of the Christian faith.

Comment

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“The outcome of these cases has huge implications for the freedom of normal Christians to be able to manifest Christian faith and live in line with Biblical teaching.

“We urge all our supporters to pray for a favourable outcome. The values based on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which have shaped our country for centuries and made it the thriving and flourishing nation that it is today, must not be supressed.”

Source:

The Telegraph, Christian concern.