Comments: The Prospects case

Good. The time for abuse in Jesus, Spirit or Gods’ names are over. God does not show partiality nor favouritism.

The cunning spies who sought to ensnare Jesus were undone when he saw through their duplicity (see Luke 20:21-25), yet there was truth when they acknowledged. “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth”

Heed Jesus’ warnings not to hold back grace from others e.g. Matthew 5 or 25

The souls who foolishly think they can get away with partiality and favoritism might want to reread Job 13:7-12 “Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality. Would not his splendor terrify you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.

Hypocrites might want to ponder Jeremiah 8 or 24, Malachi 2 or Isaiah 30:10-16 “…the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.” It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”

When the shepherds break covenants then their staffs of Favour and Union are broken (contemplate Zechariah 9 or reconsider Isaiah 11 or Romans 11). Priests would do well to heed Paul’s contemplation “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

Re-read the Hebrew scrolls and contemplate from whom Jesus’ authority comes and which parts of scripture his priests have not only failed to completely fulfill but have actually violated. ALL souls face a reckoning when they attempt to enter Zion. Teachers are held accountable for their disciples and priests. They want a heaven separate from the rest of Creation with only Jesus and those that flatter Jesus? That can easily be arranged, the rest of Creation will sing God’s praises that they no longer have to listen to the cruel and selfish.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Saturday, 17 May 2008 at 11:06pm BST

It's an interesting case which demonstrates that Christians should live in harmony with the civil law and respect values that are, after all, not foreign to the gospel (and prophets).

Similar to the recent discrimination case within the Church of England.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 17 May 2008 at 11:17pm BST

Constantly from bad to worse :-(

We have seen this rear its ugly head many times on TA during the years...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 18 May 2008 at 5:48am BST

Strange, that the secular community appears to be exhibiting more Christian charity than the Christian charity.

Posted by Frank at Monday, 19 May 2008 at 1:10am BST

Yes, it is time for the secularists to force the religious organizations like the Catholic church to hire Hindus for clergy. Also, force the CoE to hire Zen buddhists. No, wait, we already have that.

Secularism fights on. Church attendance in Göran Koch-Swahne's Sweden is now a whopping 3.9%. That is something to aspire to.

Posted by robroy at Monday, 19 May 2008 at 1:15pm BST

Robroy clearly doesn't understand the law.

There are exemptions for specifically religious roles which already exist. Hence, no-one needs to worry about churches being forced to accept clergy of another religion.

However, for 'general' roles which are not directly religious, organisations cannot discriminate against others on the grounds of religion.

It is almost certainly the case that this group will be receiving public money to carry out their tasks. Thus, they do have to obey the secular law.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 19 May 2008 at 4:06pm BST

robroy: don't knock Sweden. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Sweden, as well as being one of the world's most prosperous and equal societies, is the world's highest per capita aid donor. So which would be the more Christian - a society with low religiosity but high levels of equality and practical charity; or one with high levels of outward religiosity but zero commitment to equality?

Church attendance throughout Europe is in vertiginous decline: the rate of decline is actually most rapid in the formerly hard-line Catholic societies. Ask anyone in Ireland what's happening to the Church there, and they'll tell you it's declining fast. And what was it like when it was strong? It was a controlling censoring force that many felt limited and bullied by, hence its current parlous state. It could certainly not be said that the Irish RC Church was socially liberal. The same thing is happening in Spain and the other EU countries now. As European societies modernise, their young people do not want to be bossed about by clergy with a mania for social control. That is the chief reason for the decline in European religion: we have been associated with power structures for too many centuries.

If we want to reverse the decline so that it's not just me, Cliff Richard and Tony Blair in church together in 2050, we need a radical rethink, not just more of the same. Your viewpoint is intellectually inadequate: show me some courageous rethinking, please, not mere restatement of where we've been going wrong in the past.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 19 May 2008 at 9:59pm BST

Note Robroy, that the organization is taking public money. Nobody forced them to do that, but once you do so you implicitly agree to certain expectations.

Is this religious discrimination? Hardly. Christ did not send his disciples out into the world to spend the taxpayers' pounds, dollars, and euros. Should his followers decide to do so, it is only fair that they should obey Caesar's rules.

Posted by John Bassett at Monday, 19 May 2008 at 11:55pm BST

"As European societies modernise, their young people do not want to be bossed about by clergy with a mania for social control. That is the chief reason for the decline in European religion: we have been associated with power structures for too many centuries." - Fr. Mark

That, I fear, is the problem with Christendom. I think that those who are longing for the "good old days" do not realize that the good old days were themselves fraught with those problems. And those problems are slowly emerging right now.

I'd say that religious charities receiving public money do have to abide by secular legal conditions, but if the debate were to be fair, I would also argue that religious charities should have the chance to argue that secular norms go too far sometimes in not respecting religious convictions--no matter how "discriminatory" they are in the eyes of the world.

Just to be fair, of course. I'm not saying that they are right.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 2:57am BST

Statisticians generally are out to prove “Secularisation”, so when they discuss church or sect phenomena they do it in terms of a “secularisation”, which they would never use in an other context (say attitudes towards religion in Indonesia)...

Ridiculous, really.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 6:46am BST

In short, the follwers of Sta Statistica would never even use the word "secularisation" when discussing folk-religious Rites in Indonesia.

But they do when it is Western.

Sheesh....

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 6:56am BST

Luke 7:29-30 "All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John."

It is not a surprise to see the secular and the masses acknowledge God's righteousness, nor is it a surprise to see the "high priests'" rejection of same.

See also Ezekiel 18:29 "Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?"

Ponder Ezekiel 33:31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.

Habakkuk 2:9-10 "“Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life."

Isaiah 10:1-2 "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless."

This is a despicable generation of priests who sought to claim that only they had grace from God and that they had the authority to deprive others of justice or dignity. Their victory in asserting solo scriptural authority is actually a testament to how collusively selfish, cruel and arrogant they had become.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 9:30am BST

To Fr Mark. There was a study that placed the northern European nation well ahead of the U.S. in terms of per capita foreign aid. But in terms of overall charity, there is no comparison both in terms of percent GDP and much more so in terms of total dollars. The U.S., by far, is the most charitable nation, giving 1.67% of GDP. France is #12 on the list, giving 0.14%. Sweden is not listed. See wikipedia (tinyurl.com/52dv8t). It is interesting to list the most and least charitable states: Most - Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, South Carolina and West Virginia. Least - New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii and Michigan. Also, Poland led the EU in church attendance with 56.7% on a given Sunday, followed by Portugal with 30% and Greece 24.5%. Sweden, Estonia (both 3.9%) and Netherlands 3.2% were last.

If the government is going to ask religious organizations to help with social problems, then it should understand that religious organizations are not...secular organizations. Should a religious organization be allowed to discriminate on religious grounds? Of course.

Secular government enters into agreement with religious organization to help address social problem. Then secular government only later asks religious organization to compromise its religious nature.

If people do not understand that the world is out to quash the gospel, then they need to reread Jesus' words in the Gospel of John.


Posted by robroy at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 11:06am BST

robroy: you haven't said anything to respond to my point about the European Church being too alllied with traditional power structures. What do you think about that?

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 12:12pm BST

Some statistics Re Sweden, Re Robroys attempts at propaganda (based on Tax-deduction), pinched from http://www.svenskakyrkan.se

In 2007
• 74,3 % of Swedes were members of Svenska kyrkan, the rest were Free church, Roman, Muslim.
• 62 % of all new borns were baptised as children
• 35 % of all 15 year olds were confirmed
• 46 % of all marriage ceremonies
• 83 % of all burials
• about 50 Registered Partnerships were blessed
• 19,2 milion participants in holy services
• 1,5 milion participants in other non closed activities
• 100 000 choristers
• in 5 500 choirs
• 100 000 participants in groups such as diakonal, internationella groups, sorrow or bible groups
• congregations co-sponsored 1 290 cultural arrangements
• 12 000 school groups visited

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 1:23pm BST

"it is not for the religious organisation itself to define its ethos, where this does not accord with reality on the ground."

Then who is it for? This is an absolutely ridiculous statement! Any major corporation is allowed to state what its ethos is, is allowed to generate a "mission statement" to define itself, for the love of God! A religion isn't? Come on. Who are they saying gets to define the ethos of a religion if not that religion? I think that if they want to be able to discriminate, they should not receive public funds. I would have to question some of the reasons why they would wish to do so. I think that the idea that to force them to hire a Hindu janitor means we'll have to hire Buddhists as priests next is the typical laughable paranoia of the Right, as is the "we already have that" bit of scorn.

"the world is out to quash the gospel"

Oh, my! Onward Christian soldiers! Hold the Fort! Get over the paranoia, robroy. You just need to get used to the fact that Christianity is no longer revered in Western society, and for good reason. We have to earn the world's respect, if indeed we want it. Get over it. We have not yet returned to the days of Nero, though we might. All the same, whether or not the world is out to "quash the Gospel" as you say, is immaterial. The Gospel is God's good news of redemption to the world. Do you seriously think He will allow it to be quashed? The last great persection of the Church in Rome resulted in practically all the bishops and clergy in jail or dead. We're not anywhere close to that situation yet. If God didn't let the Gospel die then, I doubt He'll let that happen now. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. (I hope you get the reference). What you need is more faith and less fear.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 2:16pm BST

No, Rob, this isn't America. Religious groups can bid for state money but there are always conditions to accepting this. If they choose not to, there are alternative providers. Religious groups have to operate within the civil law - same as everyone else. They know the score and they will make their choice.

As for 'charity', I prefer rights and entitlement backed up by taxation - not 'charity', which has to exist in America because state services are so lamentably appalling. The influence of right wing politics and right wing religion. That's why charitable donations are smaller in states with better state provision. Quite right too - charity should only ever be 'extra' to basic provision, not a replacement for it.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 2:16pm BST

"robroy: you haven't said anything to respond to my point about the European Church being too allied with traditional power structures. What do you think about that?"

Fr Mark, when I post here, I tend to take hits from all comers. I realize that I am a guest so I don't want to impose myself. Thus, I limit myself to a couple of postings per day.

I am not sure which countries are most "allied with traditional power structures." But I would think that the Polish church would qualify. Perhaps you are talking about countries with established churches such as England or recently disestablished such as Sweden versus countries where there is no established church such as the Netherlands. The onslaught of secularism on the Church has been merciless regardless.

Göran Koch-Swahne statement that 74% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden is nonsense. Until 1996, one was a member automatically if one of your parents was a member. Rev. Eva Brunne, assistant to the Bishop of Stockholm, even admitted in an article in 2006 that weekly participation is more like 1%. Only 23% of Swedes even believe in God!

I think a good lesson is that Christians should examine whatever the Swedes or Dutch are doing and do the opposite. What are the Swedes doing? 50% of the priests are female. Homosexual accommodation is near universal. In other words, complete capitulation to liberalism.

I do find it odd that the likes of Merseymike are cheering the secularists. Would they like to reduce weekly church participation in England to 1%?

Posted by robroy at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 1:05am BST

"50 % of the priests are female."

About 30% are - in some Dioceses, in others considerably less.

"Homosexual accommodation is near universal."

Raving?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 11:01am BST

"Göran Koch-Swahne statement that 74% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden is nonsense."

It's the official statistics. They even pay for it - but you know better?

Don't let your American anti Europe Propaganda get the better of you!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 11:12am BST

Although I find many of robroys points convincing, the point of this news as far as I can tell is that the charity operates with public funding. Given that it is public funding there are civil standards that they should adhere to. If they want to be completely separate, they should do it with their funds as well as their management.

Posted by James at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 11:50am BST

"In other words, complete capitulation to liberalism."

Of course, it couldn't possibly be that they actually take seriously St. Paul's claim that "in Christ there is neither male nor female." No. Only Evangelicals, as defined in the English language, actually take Scripture seriously. No, they must be just cowardly betrayers of the Gospel. Not possible it could be that they consider the Second Great Commandment to apply to gay people as well. No, of course not. Evangelicals know that loving gay people means browbeating them, lying about them, driving them back into the closet, jailing them, reviling them. THAT'S real Christian love. All this allowing them openly into the Church, that's just pagan liberalism. And numbers count. Whoever has the most bums in pews at the last trump wins.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 12:56pm BST

That is the members pay their Church Fee (= 1% of income).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 3:57pm BST

robroy: Poland is in an anomalous situation eccelesiastically in Europe, and is also a country where officially sanctioned racism and homophobia are currently a concern to the EU. It won't stay as it is much longer, and I predict that the Church's influence will wane rapidly as the society modernises. Compare Ireland or Spain, which were both equally priest-ridden (and I'm a priest writing this!) a couple of decades ago. In both those countries, the Church hasn't been able to retain young highly ethical people who aspire to a better life.

You need to understand the social dynamic at work across Europe. Millions of young women are now free of all sorts of inequalities for the first time, even in the formerly most sexually repressive Catholic societies; millions of gay people are expecting to live and enter into partnerships without stigma. Ethical young Europeans look for the churches to help them be modern-minded abd diversity-accepting in the best way, and yet all the conservative church leaders can do is lament and whinge.

It isn't good enough; it's just feeble, in fact, and that is what angers me. Why should our wonderful Christian tradition go down the drain because of the loud angry dominating voices of a few small-minded and socially badly-adjusted "traditionalists"? We need to speak positively to our society, and actually attract people, rather than trying to put them down and brow-beat them into submission.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 9:45pm BST
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