Church to Celebrate Mass for Strikers

A special Roman Catholic mass will be celebrated in Konkani at Holy Rood church at 3:30 pm on Sunday 11th march. This religious service is in support of the Goan strikers calling for a peaceful resolution of the current industrial dispute with Carillion. The priest celebrant will be Rev Father Francis Do Rosario.

GMB branch secretary, Andy Newman, said: “A majority of the strikers are devout Catholics, and they have organized the Mass to pray for a settlement of the dispute.” Mr Newman added “Our members don’t want to be on strike, and we are looking for a negotiated outcome that will allow Carillion, the workforce, and the union, to work together to build bridges and secure harmonious industrial relations in the future”

The union welcomes the celebration of a Holy Mass. Andy Newman explains “The church can play an important role in conflict resolution, due to its impartiality and its commitment to fairness”

3.30pm Sunday 11th March,
Holy Rood Catholic Church,
2 Groundwell Rd,
Swindon, SN1 2LU.

204 comments on “Church to Celebrate Mass for Strikers

  1. Good to see Rev Father Francis Do Rosario upsetting the hierarchy it all adds to the pressure on management.

  2. prianikoff on said:

    “The church can play an important role in conflict resolution”

    Where did Father Gapon go wrong?

  3. I suppose I should point out out that denying a labourer his just wages is one of the 7 Deadly Sins that cry to Heaven for vengence. It might help Sheffielder get his tea, sorry dinner, down.

  4. anon on said:

    omg how bad is this our soldiers getting killed and they hold a mass to help them while on strike absolutly madness

  5. Robert P. Williams on said:

    anon,

    I guess if you believe in some all powerful super-being, then you have to assume that they are capable of doing more than one thing at a time?
    I.e. bearing up the souls of poor soldiers needlessley slaughtered so some capitalists can ain a little more wealth and prestige… while at the same time taking care of striking workers….

    …perhaps even striking workers who are struggling against the same moronic system that leads to soldiers getting needlessley killed?

    Wasn’t there a care in Greece of a priest blessing Molotov cocktails?

    Anyway, I’m not a believer myself, nor do I have as much Faith in the neutrality of the church.

  6. Those idiots who raise objections to this by calling attention to the Catholic church’s objectionable positions on other things completely misses the role that religion can play, both good and bad, and doesn’t do the service of atheism any favours, just makes you look like twats.

  7. Vanya on said:

    I don’t know whether I like this more because it it’s a marvelous example of broadening the support for the struggle, or because it annoys the assorted so-called marxist atheist fundamentalists and anti-papes.

    Hey Sheffielder, if you’re so upset, go and sing a few verses of the Sash to make you feel better :)

  8. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Robert P. Williams: …perhaps even striking workers who are struggling against the same moronic system that leads to soldiers getting needlessley killed?

    O, its all part of God’s wonderful and inscruatble plan I’m sure. More seriously, it is hard to imagine people opposing this. If the strikers are religious and they draw comfort from this then why shouldn’t they have a special mass said?

  9. There is a strand of liberation theology in the Catholic church which has allied itself with the struggles of the oppressed. Often this has shown itself in struggles for justice in South America. This influence is appearing now in Britain. There is a conflict between the traditional conservative wings of the church and those who believe the church should be leading the fight for social justice.

  10. Hey Andy, do you see among the front-line activists women stepping forward who may eventually become the local GMB branch secretary?

  11. I wasn’t aware that the branch wanted to replace the existing branch sec.

    But seriously, let’s see what happens in the future. I think W15 branches record on bringing on women and ethnic minority activists speaks for itself. Winning. Presidents awards for equality twice already.

  12. John Grimshaw on said:

    #12 “…so-called marxist atheist fundamentalists.” The pope says I’m a militant secularist! And that I am a serious threat to western civilisation.

  13. John Grimshaw on said:

    Sorry Andy I’m not trying to be obtuse by asking that question. Its just I know some are (some Goans that is) and it would be bad if they were isolated from fellow workers by being excluded from the ceremony. I can see the pros and cons of such a mass and I think its a complicated subject although the fact that its the workers themselves who have organised it is good.

    Interestingly my friend, Reverend Alan Green, and no I’m not making his name up, would call himself a socialist in any debate and has supported many struggles ever since I’ve known him. I believe he was slagged off recently on this blog by one Victor Serge! But he can look after his self.

  14. John Grimshaw: #12 “…so-called marxist atheist fundamentalists.” The pope says I’m a militant secularist! And that I am a serious threat to western civilisation.

    Named you did he? Or are you just telling us you’re a militant secularist.

    Hindu’s rarely have a problem fitting Christianity within their comprehensive and sophisticated belief system.

    For monothiests of course its trickier but for Militant Secularists I would have thought its all an opportunity to sneer at the deluded ignorant folk.

    I think this initiative is imaginative and good widening support for the strike and raising morale among the strikers.

    To simply recognise that requires no blanket endorsement of religion or value judgement on the beliefs of people in struggle.

  15. Is Rev Father Francis Do Rosario one of these priests with a track record in supporting labour struggles? Or is he just the local parish priest? (Or both?) If he’s the former, can we be told more about him?

  16. #22

    I think Father Francis has been brought in as the celebrant for this mass because he is a native Konkani speaker.

    There is another priest who has been suggested to us as a possible ally who does have a track record in social justice issues, but I haven’t spoken to him yet.

  17. #20

    John Grimshaw: Sorry Andy I’m not trying to be obtuse by asking that question. Its just I know some are (some Goans that is) and it would be bad if they were isolated from fellow workers by being excluded from the ceremony.

    Didn’t mean to be brusque in my response. I am certainly not aware that any of the strikers are Hindus, but I suspect that some are non-religious. It is worth pointing out that some of the strikers are not Goan, and are white British women.

    I don’t think people will feel excluded, as the event is designed to bolster support for the strike, but it is not compulsory to go to it. It may of course make some Catholics who are currentyl not on strke fel that they shoudl join in.

  18. Omar on said:

    “It may of course make some Catholics who are currentyl not on strke fel that they shoudl join in.”

    Let us pray…

  19. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Harsanyi_Janos,

    Hey, if people in the church want to bless strikers and if strikers like being blessed… fine.

    I was just making a point against ‘anon’ who seemed to think that blessing strikers was “madness” while soldiers were getting killed. (although I’m not altogether sure what his point was actually getting at?)

    I also wanted to make the point that Andy is going a bit far to describe the church in this way:
    “The church can play an important role in conflict resolution, due to its impartiality and its commitment to fairness”

    I don’t think the church has such a brilliant track record on impartiality and fairness as that.

    People are free to follow whatever religion they like as far as I’m concerned, but the church as an organisation has deep ties with the ruling class and the state, so it would be wrong to have such an uncritical view of them.

    Also, the tendency to see society’s problems as primarily an issue of morals is ‘manna from heaven’ for right wing thinkers who want to deny the role of deprivation and the class divide: cf. the tory response to the london riots.

  20. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Perhaps they can get the Buddhists in on it… This is what the Dalai Lama said in reply to some Chinese students a little while back:

    ~~Q: You have often stated that you would like to achieve a synthesis between Buddhism and Marxism. What is the appeal of Marxism for you?

    HHDL: Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes–that is, the majority–as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.

    As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers’ International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

    I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is nor much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.

    The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

  21. Omar on said:

    #28

    The reality is that most socialist parties in southern Europe and Latin America wouldn’t have got a look in if they’d been too selective about forming alliances with Left-Christians or admitting practising Catholics into their organisations.
    As for anon, I suspect he/she was angry at the fact that brown-skinned people were receiving a blessing while apparently more “worthy” White,”real British” soldiers were dying… in other words the usual BNP-informed shit that passes for patriotism these days.

  22. stuart on said:

    In the Gdansk shipyard back in 1980 the strikers were very keen for mass to be broadcast. In the event they were bitterly disappointed at the lack of encouragement they received from the Catholic Church. Let’s hope Do Rosario denounces Carillion more effectively than Wyszynski denounced, or rather failed to denounce, the then Polish regime.

  23. They do say the Labour Party is a ‘broad church’ but maybe this is stretching it too far !!

  24. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    I sincerely hope this battle is successful. It already has many things from which those of us on the left in Britain can learn. “My friend, all theory is grey; and green, the golden tree of life.”

  25. #28

    Robert P. Williams: I also wanted to make the point that Andy is going a bit far to describe the church in this way:
    “The church can play an important role in conflict resolution, due to its impartiality and its commitment to fairness”

    My objective is to get the maximum political leverage out of this in support of the strikers. We had the first favourable item in the local pape5r for a couple of weeks, including this quote.

  26. #28

    Robert P. Williams: the church as an organisation has deep ties with the ruling class and the state

    Sorry, can you elaborate on these deep ties between the Roman church and the British state and ruling class. Has someone reversed the last 500 years of British history?

    :)

  27. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Although the Roman church hasn’t got the same formal links to the British State as the CofE. The size and wealth of all the major churches tie them into the capitalist class and therfore also to the state which is in the final analysis there to protect the wealth and power of the ruling class.
    Internationally (and the capitalists operate internationally, their ‘investments’ are not limited by national boundaries) the wealth and power of the Roman church is huge. They are still a big landowner here and abroad and have ties to the capitalist class across the globe.

    I am NOT saying that therefore the Roman church or the CofE always take a position against the working class; any support is welcome! But to cast them as neutral when they own so much property and wealth around the world is taking it a bit too far.

  28. #37
    I used the “quote selected text” function, and it pulled up the worng reference.

    TONY!! Have you been fiddling with the code again?

  29. Robert P. Williams:
    Harsanyi_Janos,

    Hey, if people in the church want to bless strikers and if strikers like being blessed… fine.

    I was just making a point against ‘anon’ who seemed to think that blessing strikers was “madness” while soldiers were getting killed. (although I’m not altogether sure what his point was actually getting at?)

    I also wanted to make the point that Andy is going a bit far to describe the church in this way:
    “The church can play an important role in conflict resolution, due to its impartiality and its commitment to fairness”

    I don’t think the church has such a brilliant track record on impartiality and fairness as that.

    People are free to follow whatever religion they like as far as I’m concerned, but the church as an organisation has deep ties with the ruling class and the state, so it would be wrong to have such an uncritical view of them.

    Also, the tendency to see society’s problems as primarily an issue of morals is ‘manna from heaven’ for right wing thinkers who want to deny the role of deprivation and the class divide: cf. the tory response to the london riots.

    I think Robert makes a good point. Therefore why dont we call off the strike or at least suspend it until the left has had its debate on the why’s and wherefores of the role of the church. I’m sure the Workers will thank you!!

  30. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Omar:
    #28

    The reality is that most socialist parties in southern Europe and Latin America wouldn’t have got a look in if they’d been too selective about forming alliances with Left-Christians or admitting practising Catholics into their organisations.
    As for anon, I suspect he/she was angry at the fact that brown-skinned people were receiving a blessing while apparently more “worthy” White,”real British” soldiers were dying… in other words the usual BNP-informed shit that passes for patriotism these days.

    Maybe, the Spanish socialists and communists were historically deeply anti-clerical. Although France isn’t southern Europe per se the Socialists were (and to a fair extent still are) anti-clerical. The educational reforms that the Mittrrand/Mauroy government sought would I think be evidence of this.

  31. Robert Williams

    Your analysis of religion is very crude. Trade unions also have “size and wealth”. Do unions also prop up the “ruling class”?

    The catholic has a good progressive record on social justice. The living wage campaign, campaigning for a route to citizenship for illegal immigrants, i believe they have expressed opposition to nuclear weapon, etc. Etc.

    The role of ideology and the autonomy of religious institutions is much more complicated than you think. The traditional doctrine of the church is organicism, for example, which is inherently and explicitly against the infettered market.

  32. #42
    Yes, I’m aware of this,Harsanyi,as are most with even a basic understanding of European politics. The relevant point is that in those countries and,especially, Italy , the majority of the memberships of everyone from the Communist Party to the Socialists were likely Catholics,of varying levels of devotion certainly,who nonetheless had no problem incorporating the two doctrines into their lives. And there is no doubt this is the case in Latin America also.

  33. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Omar: who nonetheless had no problem incorporating the two doctrines into their lives

    That is a absurd claim. The “catholic” French socialists in the early 1980s — supported by the PCF — “incorporated the catholic doctrine into their lives” by agitating for the end of state-sponsored religious education (which I agree with of course). The “catholic” Spanish communists in southern Spain “incorporated the catholic doctrine into their lives” by attacking church property and priests (which I disagree with). The PCI called for a disestablishment of roman church in the 1940s, but still was viewed as soft on clericalism by more “moderate” socialists. You seem to have lost your head with your keeness to re-write European history.

  34. Janos – I suppose it depends on how you define a “Catholic”. The Roman Church is a very forgiving institution, which always hopes its lapsed members will return. So a southern European communist could reject all ideas of gods, scorn the Jesus cult, hate the Church and its hierarchy and avoid all and any religious ceremonies – yet still be counted as a Catholic.

  35. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Francis King: So a southern European communist could reject all ideas of gods, scorn the Jesus cult, hate the Church and its hierarchy and avoid all and any religious ceremonies – yet still be counted as a Catholic.

    But he could scarcely be said to be “incorporating he catholic doctrine into [his] li[fe]” though!!

  36. #46
    Well,there are many Catholics who challenge the Vatican status quo/herarchy,largely because they don’t believe it is active enough(or may well be complicit) in fighting capitalist-induced poverty and oppression and so find common cause with whatever measures the secular-Left may employ to reduce it’s influence. I don’t think they believe this diminishes their Catholicism,particularly.As for the PCI, my mum was a member in the mid-late 50’s and many of her comrades were practising Catholics.It’s simple demographics,FFS. I’m not attempting to rewrite anything,I think in your desire to be a contrarian your assuming that Catholics have some uniform, inflexible worldview.

  37. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Omar:
    #46
    Well,there are many Catholics who challenge the Vatican status quo/herarchy,largely because they don’t believe it is active enough(or may well be complicit) in fighting capitalist-induced poverty and oppression and so find common cause with whatever measures the secular-Left may employ to reduce it’s influence. I don’t think they believe this diminishes their Catholicism,particularly.As for the PCI, my mum was a member in the mid-late 50′s and many of her comrades were practising Catholics.It’s simple demographics,FFS. I’m not attempting to rewrite anything,I think in your desire to be a contrarian your assuming that Catholics have some uniform, inflexible worldview.

    I would think its more contrarian to say that its possible to be a roman catholic and a communist at the same time.

  38. dennis on said:

    There is, of course, nothing wrong with a) strikers being religious, or b) religious organisations holding a service in support of strikers.
    But when a trade union official talks about employers and workers getting on ‘harmoniously’ then that really is pie in the sky.

  39. On the subject of dis-establishment, there are many Anglicans who support this in England and Wales.

    There is nothing contradictory whatsoever between being a Christian and wanting a separation between church and state.

    And I would have thought that the more universal nature of the RC church and the role of the Papacy means that for Catholics there is even less of one.

  40. David Hillman on said:

    I’ve met many people round the world, for example a taxi driver in Jerusalem, who identify with being Christian and communist. I think some commentators here have left their common sense behind and are being over intellectual and silly about religion. Marx by the way did organise meetings chaired by a clergyman.

  41. John Grimshaw on said:

    “My objective is to get the maximum political leverage out of this in support of the strikers.” Of course absolutely. And in any case if the workers have organised it there would be little point in the union telling them not to. It would be churlish not to attend if invited. And self-defeating.

    I am concerned though that contributors on this thread have what seems to me to be an at best naive view of the Catholic church. When Robert P Williams asserts that the Catholic church with its huge resources and wealth is part of the global ruling class he is surely right. It even has its own state and “bodies of armed men”. It has huge influence over governing decisions in many parts of the world. It has many reactionary views on homosexuality, marriage, abortion and women etc., which granted you don’t have to have to qualify as ruling class but it institutionalises them and uses its influence to permeate and pursue them. And even persecutes its own if they contradict the central line, or threaten its authority. This has extended to clergy who have supported strikes in many other cases. I know nothing about the Father in question in this case and yes of course there are/have been radical clergy, but this is different surely to the actual institution itself. In this case, the admirable Father can support a legal strike quite honestly, but at little cost to the Church but there are gains in terms of bolstering moral authority.

    I hope the strike wins with or without Church support. However I hope the point is not lost on the workers that its the union thats backed them.

  42. Janos

    On the impossibility of being a Catholic and a commumust. By 1946 the czech and Slovak parties had one in three adults in the country, and 80% of the population was Catholic.

    Do the math

    ;)

  43. BTW was the membership density of the czech and slovak communist parties the highest of any political party ever? Does anyone know of higher membership of another party at any time?

  44. #52 “when a trade union official talks about employers and workers getting on ‘harmoniously’ then that really is pie in the sky”

    Which attitude is one reason why British manufacturing’s near death and German manufacturing’s thriving. There’ll always be a tension between workers and owners, but co-operation is vital if you want to have an industry.

    (PS, Andy – still want di Canio sacked, do we ?)

  45. skidmarx on said:

    #58 You’re confusing him with Peppone. Don Camillo did visit the Soviet Union, but he was only pretending to be a comrade.

    #60 (PS, Andy – still want di Canio sacked, do we ?)
    So you like the little fascist then?

  46. SteveH on said:

    The knowledge I have of Marxism says that any schisms in the ruling class should be exploited by the left. If the Catholic church want to support strikers and take up a generally hostile position to the austerity we see everywhere then that is a good thing and a sign of division among the ruling class. We should be grasping this opportunity, but instead some want to go back to first principles and protect our purity!

    Incidentally no offence was meant by the religious term Schism!

    SkidMarx will know what I mean!

    Incidentally Skidmarx, I posted the following on Shiraz and I think it was removed! Please continue the barracking until I obtain an alternative IP to haunt them again!

    “The remark was not over the top. It was the best analogy I could find for a ruling authority pardoning the condemned. This example is burned on the human conscience and therefore was an appropriate example to use. Blame the bible!
    I am still scratching my head how it could be interpreted in any other way. Maybe the posse could explain?”

  47. John Grimshaw on said:

    It was reported on the news today that the Catholic church has sent out an agreed sermon for its parish churches to be read to all worshippers explaining why gay marriage is contradictory to the word of god. Not that this means they are attempting extra-parliamentary to influence the decisions of an elected government. Heaven forfend!

  48. lone nut on said:

    “Not that this means they are attempting extra-parliamentary to influence the decisions of an elected government”
    So you are opposed to using extra-parliamentary means to influence the decisions of this government?

  49. #63

    John Grimshaw: It was reported on the news today that the Catholic church has sent out an agreed sermon for its parish churches to be read to all worshippers explaining why gay marriage is contradictory to the word of god.

    It is annoying that the debate about gay marraige has led to so much ignorant misinformation about what the churches are actually saying

  50. #63

    John Grimshaw: It was reported on the news today that the Catholic church has sent out an agreed sermon for its parish churches to be read to all worshippers explaining why gay marriage is contradictory to the word of god. Not that this means they are attempting extra-parliamentary to influence the decisions of an elected government. Heaven forfend!

    So JOhn,

    are there other institutions that you think should not be allowed to participate in democratc debate?

    And are there other subjects you think should not be discussed?

  51. Andy: “On the impossibility of being a Catholic and a communist. By 1946 the Czech and Slovak parties had one in three adults in the country, and 80% of the population was Catholic.” Hmmmm. It’s true that more than a third of the Czechoslovak population voted for the communists in 1946, but voting communist and being a communist are not quite the same thing. At that time, the doctrines of both the Vatican and the communist parties were quite clear. A good Catholic could not be a communist, as communism was an atheistic, anti-clerical doctrine. A good communist could not be a Catholic, because Marxism rejected religion philosophically, and because the Catholic Church was a reactionary, obscurantist, anti-communist organisation. That said, there were plenty of bad Catholics and bad communists around the world who could either rationalise, or ignore, the ideological incompatibility and combine the two.

    However, it is perfectly possible to be a good Catholic and a striker, so I hope the service served its purpose.

  52. #68

    Francis King: Hmmmm. It’s true that more than a third of the Czechoslovak population voted for the communists in 1946, but voting communist and being a communist are not quite the same thing.

    No, explictly according to Mary Heimann’s book “The state that failed” Yale, 2009. p153

    “By the end of 1948, membership figures had risen to almost two and a half million out of a population of roughtly eleven million, meaning that every third adult was a card-carrying member of the Communist party, which had twice as many members as the Hungarian and almost four times as many members as the Polish Communist parties, thus became ‘in proportion to the total national population, the largest Communist Party ‘in the whole world and of all time'; it may, indeed have ‘reached a pinnacle’, not only ‘in the history of Communism’, but in the history of political parties generally.’

  53. John Grimshaw on said:

    #65 Not at all Lone Nut. Perhaps I could’ve been clearer. I merely wanted to point out in this debate about the nature of the Catholic church that it is a powerful conservative institution which is obviously not above using this power to influence the decisions of elected government. The implication is that it will call on its supporters to alter their vote at what ever the next election is if they don’t get their way. I relaise that Catholics are in a minority in the UK but should its worshippers do as asked (which they may not of course) thats some influence. Especially in areas of Glasgow for example. The Church has done this before over the issue of its voluntary aided schools and admissions policy for example. In this case the government did back down although its objections were added to by many (although not all i.e. Bishop of York) in the Established Church. In other words socialists shouldn’t be deluded about the benevolent nature of the Church it acts in its own interests. The Church is an autocratic organisation by tradition and highly centralised which it seems to me is at odds in theory at least with parliamentary democracy, never mind some form of socialist state. There are many on this blog and elsewhere who debate the right of Eurocrats to intervene in British government decisions on the grounds that they are oligarchic and unelected. Whatever my views on that I would say its a similar debate.

  54. John Grimshaw on said:

    #70 Sorry for the sake of accuracy I shouldv’e said the Bishop of Oxford. And by the way I am not being biased: the same could’ve been said about the Anglican Church, although there are differences. It is smaller globally, a broader organisation (as the saying goes) so it often seems to be openly divided in many ways. In the UK of course it is part of the establishment and has more hidden and not so hidden access to the corridors of power.

  55. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy I think I explained my views on #67 above in my answer to Lone Nut. Suffice it to say on “Are there any other subjects I don’t think should be discussed”. All subjects should be discussed by the people and its democratic institutions. “People” of necessity includes people who are Catholics.

    On #66 “It is annoying that the debate about gay marraige has led to so much ignorant misinformation about what the churches are actually saying.” I could be wrong but the current not so radical government is saying that LGBT people should be allowed to get formally married should they wish to do. They are not saying that religious institutions should have to perform that ritual if they don’t want to. Whilst I’m not really keen on marriage myself surely its obvious that opposing the desire of same sex couples to get married can only be because of homophobia? The government’s policy change is opposed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, Evangelicals and Orthodox Jewry. It is supported by Liberal and Reform Jews, Unitarians and Quakers. So it is not a common religious position.

    What I don’t understand whilst we’re on the subject however is the government’s going to European courts to get a decision that makes it legal to wear crucifixes overturned?

  56. #68

    I just checked Zdenek Suda’s book “zealous and rebels” – a history of the Czechoslovak party, and he confirms the membership as one in 5 of the total population , one in 3 of the adult population. P226

    This is all the more remarkable as the areas that had shown votes for the communists of over 50% had been in the majority German areas and these people had been expelled from the state by 1948.

    It would have been impossible to build a mass party in Slovakia without religioisly observant Catholic members on the 1940s.

    Are you saying that card carrying members of the Czech and Slovak parties were not *really* communists?

  57. lone nut on said:

    “There are many on this blog and elsewhere who debate the right of Eurocrats to intervene in British government decisions on the grounds that they are oligarchic and unelected. Whatever my views on that I would say its a similar debate.”
    So you think that the diktats of EU bureaucrats who are not UK citizens are comparable to the right of citizens of this country to lobby around their perceived interests and attempt to influence government policy? Like Andy, I would ask what other groups and subject matters you think should be excluded from the democratic process in this manner? As for democracy, there was no commitment to gay marriage in either the Tory or Libdem manifestoes in 2010.

  58. John Grimshaw on said:

    #74 Are the Pope and his cardinals UK citizens? Or for the sake of fairness the many Anglican bishops who are from other parts of the ex-British Empire?

  59. John Grimshaw

    The argument of the church is that this redefinition of marriage away from its traditional relationship with conceiving children is unjustifiable given the already existing civil partnership system.

    If you bothered to read the churches arguments you would see they are more worried about the impact of thus redefinition on heterosexual marriage than on whether gay partnerships are called marriage.

    There is a systematic misrepresentation of the church position

  60. John Grimshaw on said:

    #77 I reject the accusation of anti-Catholic bigotry Andy. In fact I think I am on record above being careful not to only critique the Catholic Churches position. I hope you’re not trying to exclude people from this debate by scaring them off?

    #76 Worshippers were interviewed coming out of their service at the Cathedral of Westminster yesterday on the BBC news. The ones shown, obviously, were very clear that they backed the archbishop’s position saying they thought marriage should only be between a man and a woman. I fail to see how allowing gays to get married will in anyway affect straights.

  61. Andy. In your initial post, you “By 1946 the czech and Slovak parties had one in three adults in the country”. Given that 1946 was not long after the end of the war, the CP did not yet have a monopoly of power, and its vote in a free election was only just over one third of the poll, that struck me as implausible. The end of 1948 – over two years later, when the party was much better organised, had an effective monopoly of power and membership conferred definite advantages – is a different matter. Dates are important in this sort of question.

    As for “Are you saying that card carrying members of the Czech and Slovak parties were not *really* communists?” by the end of 1948, in very many cases, yes, I would say that. The leadership of the CPCz also thought so, which was one of the reasons why it instigated a series of purges in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

  62. Francis

    Yes it was a typo, however the CP did have massive growth even by 1946, it had membership of over one million.

    Your argument about the purges is disingenuous as these were unrelated to the issue at hand, but if you seriously argue that card carrying party members were not really communists, then words have ceased to have meaning.

  63. John Grimshaw

    I am sure that your irrational bigotry extends or Anglicans as well as Roman Catholic.

    Of course the defining marriage in law affects the status of all marriage. Marriage occurs some 3300 times in English law, if you redefine it then it is bound to have some effect

  64. Andy. Between 1948 and 1951, around 750,000 members of the Czechoslovak CP, almost a third of the membership, were purged – excluded from the party. For the most part, this had nothing to do with the grand conspiracies of the Slansky trial (which came later), but was simply a matter of kicking out people the leadership did not consider to be good communists. How many of them were excluded for their religious convictions, I don’t know, but given that the Catholic Church was coming under considerable pressure at that time from the government, I doubt that religious observance was helpful for retaining one’s party card.

  65. And, just for fun, here is the take of the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907-1912) on the question of socialism/communism and Catholicism:

    “…The Church, the Socialists, the very tendency of the movement do but confirm the antagonism of principle, indicated above, between Socialism and Christianity. The “Christian Socialists” of all countries, indeed, fall readily, upon examination, into one of three categories. Either they are very imperfectly Christian, as the Lutheran followers of Stocker and Naumann in Germany, or the Calvinist Socialists in France, or the numerous vaguely-doctrinal “Free-Church” Socialists in England and America; or, secondly, they are but very inaccurately styled “Socialist”; as were the group led by Kingsley, Maurice and Hughes in England, or “Catholic Democrats” like Ketteler, Manning, Descurtins, the “Sillonists”; or, thirdly, where there is an acceptance of the main Christian doctrine, side by side with the advocacy of Revolutionary Socialism, as is the case with the English “Guild of St. Matthew ” or the New York Church Association for the Advancement of the Interests of Labour, it can only be ascribed to that mental facility in holding at the same time incompatible doctrines, which is everywhere the mark of the ” Catholic but not Roman” school. Christianity and Socialism are hopelessly incompatible, and the logic of events makes this ever clearer. It is true that, before the publication of the Encyclical “Rerum novarum”, it was not unusual to apply the term “Christian Socialism” to the social reforms put forward throughout Europe by those Catholics who are earnestly endeavouring to restore the social philosophy of Catholicism to the position it occupied in the ages of Faith. But, under the guidance of Pope Leo XIII, that crusade against the social and economic iniquities of the present age is now more correctly styled “Christian Democracy”, and no really instructed, loyal, and clear-thinking Catholic would now claim or accept the style of Christian Socialist…”

  66. “I hope the strike wins with or without Church support. However I hope the point is not lost on the workers that its the union thats backed them.”

    Right because they could easily forget that they are trade unionists on strike. Do you you think there is a special Catholic gene that would make that happen?

    If these workers had felt that there was a specificaly Catholic solution to their work place dispute they could have lit candles and prayed to ST Joseph the Worker asking him and the wife to intercede with the lad. Instead they took industrial action.

    I dare say their class conciousness is quite high.

    If you don’t like Catholics John you should just say so rather than disparaging a group of workers on strike who are correctly mobilising popular support.

  67. Francis

    I sometimes get the impression that the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the dynamics of 20th C politics is to analyse Czechoslovakia.

    Mobilising the mass membership of the party (including Catholics) during the 1948 cabinet crisis is what allowed the party to take power, so whether or not there were subsequent expulsions is irrelevant.

    Note that the crisis of relationships between the party and the church was not due to hostility between the two doctrines but due to the CP making Fr Josef Plojhar a cabinet minister, which the church saw as problematic. The church also objected to the singing of Te Deum at Gottwald’s inauguration as president.

    Note that in Slovakia especially the CP deliberately targeted Catholic for recruitment, and also set up the Christian Democrat party led by priests but with the same programme as the CP.

  68. Incidently Fr Plojhar was both a Catholic priest and a Marxist, who served as minister of health in Czechoslovakia’s Communist government from 1948.

    Perhaps no one told him you couldn’t be a communist and a Catholic?

  69. Incidently Francis think you are disinganuous to say that the Slansky trial “came later” the Slansky trial was like a concluding catharsis to the purges started in 1949 by Slansky himself.

    Pertinent to our current dispute, Catholicism was never a theme. The purge was of “petty bourgeois nationalists” (described as Titoists) which meant in the specific national context of Czechoslovakia, those who favoured a specifically Czechoslovsak road to socialism, or particularly Slovakian autonomy, or reverting to tradiational themes, the jews. The Rajk / Field spy trials also spun the CP into paranoia, covertly manipulated by the West.

    Signalling absent from the list of dangerous deviations was Catholicism,

  70. #82

    Francis King: Catholic Church was coming under considerable pressure at that time from the government

    Giving a priest a government ministry, having Catholic ceremonials at the inauguration of the Communist President, how was this “considerable pressure”??

    As you say, dates are important, the purge from 1949 to 1951 did NOT coincide with the later declericisation.

  71. “Perhaps no one told him you couldn’t be a communist and a Catholic?”

    I doubt that the Catholic Church would have been so remiss as to omit that part of the teaching during the good father’s training. Mind you, if the Czech Wikipedia entry on him is to be believed, he was a bit of a lad, fond of drinking and associating with girls. He seems to have had a healthy disdain for any aspects of the doctrine which might have inconvenienced him. And why not? I dare say he could rationalise whatever it was he wanted to do. Most of us can.

  72. skidmarx on said:

    SteveH: I am still scratching my head how it could be interpreted in any other way. Maybe the posse could explain?

    Perhaps because they follow this method of argument:
    http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-make-case-for-israel-and-win.html

    It’s difficult to argue with Zionists for any length of time without finding that something you say is twisted into “evidence” that you’re anti-semitic. That they are devaluing what should be a serious allegation never seems to bother them.

  73. #90

    skidmarx: It’s difficult to argue with Zionists for any length of time without finding that something you say is twisted into “evidence” that you’re anti-semitic. That they are devaluing what should be a serious allegation never seems to bother them.

    While I am inclined to be tolerant of it on this ocassion, having a conversation spill over to here completely out of context from Shiraz is a bit confusing to everyone else.

  74. Francis King,

    Well quite so, which means that at the level of mass popular parties and religious faiths, there is sufficient heterodoxy for seemingly incompatible ideas to coexist.

    This is preceisely where we started with Omar’s statement that the mass Communist parties had to, by necessity, include some overlap with people who were also Catholic. perhaps they weren’t very good catholics or very good communists.

  75. Andy, there is disingenuousness here, but not on my part. The Catholic Church after 1948 was subject to considerable state interference in Czechoslovakia, with a view to preventing it from acting as a source of opposition. So the good Fr Plojhar was favoured and advanced, while Archbishop Josef Beran, who refused loyalty to the regime was imprisoned. The Papal Nuncio was expelled (in 1950, I think). That sort of thing is the pressure I am referring to. Whether or not that sort of pressure is a good thing is another matter, but it is silly to deny that it existed.

  76. John Grimshaw on said:

    #84 “If you don’t like Catholics John you should just say so rather than disparaging a group of workers on strike who are correctly mobilising popular support.”

    I like some Catholics and don’t like others. Do you like all Catholics? What a silly thing to say. What I suspect you are really asking me is do I like the Catholic Church hierarchy which is an all together different question. As for do I support a group of striking workers who are largely Catholic in belief? Of course I do. But then I have said this already. Evidentally you haven’t been reading.

  77. John Grimshaw on said:

    “I am sure that your irrational bigotry extends or Anglicans as well as Roman Catholic.”

    What all the above on the basis of this turn in the debate? I fully expect you to accuse me of anti-Catholicism, anti-Anglicanism and anti-Orthodox Judaeism, whereas I hope you will denounce me for being pro-Reform and Liberal Judaeism, pro-Unitarianism and pro-Quakerism. Time to send for the Spanish Inquisition methinks. I smell heresy.

    If Rabbi Lionel Blue can understand this?

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/03/07/reform-judaism-backs-gay-marriage/

  78. John Grimshaw: #84 “If you don’t like Catholics John you should just say so rather than disparaging a group of workers on strike who are correctly mobilising popular support.”I like some Catholics and don’t like others. Do you like all Catholics? What a silly thing to say. What I suspect you are really asking me is do I like the Catholic Church hierarchy which is an all together different question. As for do I support a group of striking workers who are largely Catholic in belief? Of course I do. But then I have said this already. Evidentally you haven’t been reading.

    I see, only this thread is about a group of workers who seem to be mainly Catholic and who are on strike. Its not about the hierarchy but that is what you want to talk about.

    Read through your own contributions here they tell a story and its not about the strike except where you fear that going to Mass might wipe the strikers memories of being trade unionists on strike.

    Its bizzare stuff that speaks of a prejudiced point of view.

  79. John Grimshaw on said:

    #96

    ‘Wearily’ I checked SA.

    At #55 I made essentially two points. 1. That I had no objection as a socialist to workers who happen to be Catholics having a mass particularly if it helps them win,
    2. However I also thought that as a socilaist website we should counter-balance this by an understanding of the often reactionary nature of church institutions (that you clearly do not agree with).
    At 63/64 I attempted to give a contemporary example of this conservatism.

    Since then we have followed the thread wich largely consists of calling me some kind of bigot. Boring. But two can play at that game. I don’t think any website calling itself socialist can tolerant obvious homophobia. Can it?

  80. lone nut on said:

    “I fully expect you to accuse me of anti-Catholicism, anti-Anglicanism and anti-Orthodox Judaeism”
    As far as I know you haven’t suggested that it is illegitimate for Jews or Anglicans to participate in the political process with the aim of influencing government policy, whereas you have done so in relation to Catholics. I don’t think you are bigoted against Catholics in the way that the nutjobs at, say, Shiraz Socialist are, but you should think through the implications of what you are saying.

  81. John Grimshaw on said:

    Thank you Lone Nut for this at least “I don’t think you are bigoted against Catholics…” I must confess I don’t know what Shiraz Socilaists is/are or mean. I would be grateful for an explanation. It is not illegitimate for Jews, Anglicans, Catholics, Buddhists, Jainists or Wicca etc. to aparticpate in the political process. I repeat again I am merely trying to explain why I am deeply suspicious of organised religions and the often conservative nature of the hierarchies that go with them.

  82. #93

    Francis King: The Catholic Church after 1948 was subject to considerable state interference in Czechoslovakia, with a view to preventing it from acting as a source of opposition.

    True, but the interference started long before then, for example the imprisonment of Fr Hlinka by the Kaiser’s regime back in the nineteenth century, or Masaryk’s attempt to establish a national church, broadly modelled on the Church of England, back in 1920.

    You could argue that the Czech and Slovak nationalist causes (of which the mass appeal of the CP was arguably a manifestation), had a highly mediated relationship of anatagonism and incorporation with Catholicism. With the exception of Joseph Tiso’s wartime government in Slovakia, all Czech and Slovak government’s had a troubled relationship with the church.

    It is not disingenuous to point out that the mass base of the CP which propelled them to power in 1948 included the popular support of millions of catholics, and hundreds of thousands of catholics in party membership.

    Naturally, once in power the CP expereinced the church as an unwelcome potential source of opposition; but that doesn’t mean that millions of people didn’t hold some alleigance to both ideologies

  83. #99

    John Grimshaw: I repeat again I am merely trying to explain why I am deeply suspicious of organised religions and the often conservative nature of the hierarchies that go with them.

    But that is your own prejudice, as churches can also embody a deep commitment to solidarity, community and social justice.

  84. #97

    John Grimshaw: I don’t think any website calling itself socialist can tolerant obvious homophobia. Can it?

    Calling you out on talking obvious nonsense is not homophobia, nor is it homophobia to point out that the church’s objections to gay marriage are sometimes misrepresented or misunderstood.

  85. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Sorry about the lengthy cut’n’paste…. but this is what James Connolly had to say about it (from Socialism made Easy)

    Q: BUT SOCIALISM IS AGAINST RELIGION. I CAN’T BE A SOCIALIST AND BE A CHRISTIAN.

    O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations between capital and labor, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes, are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.

    But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon our daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we never heard of a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.

    These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.

    We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.

    He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be of getting into the ‘bughouse’ in this.

    And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700 applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbors in that line of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?

    As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his neighbor to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little ones?

    No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.

    This is what our well-fed friends call a ‘base, material standpoint’, but remember that beauty, and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher nature of man can only be realized in all their completeness upon the material basis of a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.

    That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists, and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an absurdity.

    Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.

    No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.

    As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.

    I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of the attitude of the church and its ministers toward Socialism?

    Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.

    He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white black-bird, and that a Socialist of criminal tendencies is such a rara avis that when one is found the public press heralds it forth as a great discovery.

    Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard their existence as ‘news’ to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist – that would be news indeed!

    Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers, forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of the capitalist political parties.

    Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing, industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls ‘comrades,’ are a wicked, impious, dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts about women.

    And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has itself been sold to the all desecrating grasp of the capitalist?

    While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good Catholic and loyal son of the church.

    At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women, and helping to support political parties whose campaign fund in every large city represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?

    These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.

  86. For those still struggling to conceive of how one can be a socialist and a Catholic,Terry Eagleton might be worth a read.

  87. Martel on said:

    # 97 ‘that as a socilaist website we should counter-balance this by an understanding of the often reactionary nature of church institutions’

    The Catholic Church has a committment to social justice, and the right to strike, written into its doctrine, which is pretty radical for a ‘reactionary’ organisation……

    Considering the reach of the Catholic Church, sometimes in very reactionary or exploitative states, it a commitment that you think socialists would be at least slightly glad for (compared to the extreme right wing approach adopted by the American Evangelicalists)

    From the Catechism…..

    ‘2423 The Church’s social teaching proposes principles for reflection; it provides criteria for judgment; it gives guidelines for action:

    Any system in which social relationships are determined entirely by economic factors is contrary to the nature of the human person and his acts.

    2424 A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order.

    A system that “subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production” is contrary to human dignity. Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. “You cannot serve God and mammon.’

    # 83 Francis I think anything from the Catholic Churches long nineteenth century is going to miss the pretty major reorientation resulting from Vatican II.

  88. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Andy Newman,

    “the church’s objections to gay marriage are sometimes misrepresented or misunderstood.”

    So Andy what IS the churches position on gay marriage and homosexuality in general?

    ########

    It’s none of my business I guess, and feel free not to answer this second question… it’s just that I have a hunch that you may be religious yourself? perhaps I’m wrong….
    Whether you are or not is your private business. But I just wondered if you were Catholic yourself.

    I know it is a personal question, but I was wondering if your faith has sometimes brought you into conflict with your politics?

  89. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    I must confess I don’t know what Shiraz Socilaists is/are or mean.

    A blog written by a few usually well-refreshed Trotskyists of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty stripe.

  90. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Robert P. Williams: So Andy what IS the churches position on gay marriage and homosexuality in general?

    I don’t follow all the ins and outs of the different flavours of Christianity; but I am aware that different outfits have different views on homosexuals and on gay marriage. While not the most hostile to gay marriage of all, RC church seems to be further to that end of the spectrum.

  91. 107. Robert, Catholic teaching on sexuality is where you start. Sex outside of marriage is a sin end of. Sex within marriage is for the procreation of children.

    Marriage is a sacrement and intended for the procreation and education of children hence no contraception.

    The Church is absolutely fine on homosexuality as long as no sex is involved. So for hetrosexuals no sex outside of marriage and for homosexuals no sex at all.

    Most Catholics find adherence to those teachings difficult.

    As to Gay marriage I’m sure you can work out the line from the foregoing.

    BTW its always nice to see Connolly quoted and I’m sure you know he died a Catholic.

  92. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    SA: I’m sure you know he died a Catholic.

    That’s surely a matter of some conjecture. I think that Connolly only ever wrote one line about his relation to the RC church and that was: “though I have usually posed as a Catholic, I have not done my duty for 15 years, and have not the slightest tincture of faith left”.

    Of course Jim Larkin described him as a Catholic and the priest who gave him last rites did the same. The American labour leader de Leon called him a “Jesuit spy” I believe.

  93. Harsanyi_Janos: That’s surely a matter of some conjecture. I think that Connolly only ever wrote one line about his relation to the RC church and that was: “though I have usually posed as a Catholic, I have not done my duty for 15 years, and have not the slightest tincture of faith left”.Of course Jim Larkin described him as a Catholic and the priest who gave him last rites did the same. The American labour leader de Leon called him a “Jesuit spy” I believe.

    His daughter said he was in conversation that’s good enough for me. But not I think a Jesuit spy witness his public debate with a Jesuit on Irish history. A great intellect JC.

  94. So this spirit of civilised and non-abusive dialogue didn’t last long into the new year. Perhaps John Grimshaw’s timing and emphasis weren’t great, and the main enemy/issue in this dispute is not the Catholic Church but I imagine the reason he focused on having a pop at the Catholic Church (and not the other religions listed) was probably because that was the religion involved in organising this mass. And probably not because he is a pope-bashing, anti-catholic bigot demonstrating bizarre irrational prejudice who needs to be ‘called out’ ffs. And to accuse him of disparaging the workers involved just seems a bit of a crude attempt to corner the poor boy. I don’t see any evidence for any of the above in this, or any previous, posts. If he was making these points in a strike meeting or in a hostile forum where there was concerted attempts to undermine the strike then some of the (irrational?) opprobium being heaped on him might be understandable. Anyway, he can stick up for himself but calm down.

    The contradictory hold religion has, or can have, on militant workers has been well covered. It won’t be fatal to this dispute, hasn’t been in most others, people change their ideas and I guess if their religious ideas clash with what is needed to win their dispute then they have a choice to make. I expect most will make the right decision (but I’m an optimist) and if it is a fundamental clash then I would hope they would break with religion rather than militancy, but that could also depend on how things pan out with the strike (and I’m not talking about this strike before I get denounced for sowing divisions). The official representatives of the church/religion can and do play a supportive role at times but they can and do play the opposite role at other times.

    And longer term I think the hold of religion needs to be broken, not just because it is wrong but because the organised church will be on the wrong side when push comes to shove. And what I do find ‘bizarre’ is trying to excuse away as ‘misrepresentation’ the bigotry of the anti-gay marriage message coming from both senior Catholic and Church of England clergy (if you think the Catholic Church was being singled out unfairly then say so, if you think what they are saying is defensible that is another thing). This is not some pedantic argument about the technical meaning of marriage but the usual symbolic messages organised religion likes to send out about homosexuality, i.e. that it is bad, or at the very least, second-rate. And we don’t agree with that, do we?

    And for the avoidance of any confusion I give full support for the strike, think it sounds a fantastic and uplifting example of workers getting their shit together in unpromising circumstances and don’t care if nobody breaks from whichever religion they have, or even if previous atheists find God for the first time, as long as you win and win good.

    And just to see if I can alienate anyone else, I reckon the only reason the membership of the Czech CP was so high was that it was the only way you could swing a half-decent job in that Stalinist hellhole….

  95. #115

    GAD: I reckon the only reason the membership of the Czech CP was so high was that it was the only way you could swing a half-decent job in that Stalinist hellhole….

    Well the high point of their membership was in the months immdiately prior to their coming to power, and in the months immediately following. The fastest growth of membership was in the period 1945 to 1948 before they came to power, so it would be unusual to say the least in such circumstances for Communist Party membership to have been a big boost to people’s job prospects.

  96. #115

    GAD: This is not some pedantic argument about the technical meaning of marriage but the usual symbolic messages organised religion likes to send out about homosexuality, i.e. that it is bad, or at the very least, second-rate. And we don’t agree with that, do we?

    well clearly this is wrong, as the Christian Church has been defending this conception of marriage at least since St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Nor was the Christian marriage conservative of existing social mores, as the Christians argued against divorce that had been permitted among the Israelites (This was a progressive reform in the social context of a society where divorce was mainly exsperienced as men abandoning their families)

    It is bizarre self-obsession for gay rights activists to beleive that the defence of a 2000 year old ideological tradition relating to marriage is *really* about gay sex. FYI, the church put up exactly the same opposition to divorce, for the same reason of defending their conception of marriage.

  97. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    SA: But not I think a Jesuit spy witness his public debate with a Jesuit on Irish history.

    No, I certainly don’t think that was true either.

  98. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    GAD: And just to see if I can alienate anyone else, I reckon the only reason the membership of the Czech CP was so high was that it was the only way you could swing a half-decent job in that Stalinist hellhole….

    The Czechoslowak CP was a rare bird in the pre-dictatorship post war days in Eastern Europe: a CP that was genuinely very popular.

  99. I know what the Christian Church argues about marriage, divorce (abortion, though with differences) and much else. I’m more interested about what socialists have to say about it. And gay Christians (and there’s another contradictory hold religion has). And whether we should be challenging what the church is currently saying as discriminatory (not just in the pulpits but every national newspaper) and if this is counter to their 2000 year old ideological tradition, well that’s often the problem with 2000 year old ideological traditions. The message (as with divorce) is about reinforcing their view of acceptable order and lifestyles. Why is it a bizarre (that word again) self-obsession to push for equality even in areas (such as the church) where some of us might scratch our heads about the point of it all? And which side should we take in this argument?

    Look, I don’t want to derail the discussion but it has branched out beyond your dispute and since these issues have been raised they do give an idea of the contradictions flagged up earlier. I don’t think it’s good enough to shrug as if this is only the business of the Christian Church. No idea what St Paul wrote to the Corinthians or what relevance this has to current arguments (the Christian Church has always been fairly adept at repackaging 2000 year old ideological traditions to address modern issues when they need to). Personally I think gay people would be better off atheist and not getting married but that’s for them to decide, not me.

  100. The Czechoslowak CP was a rare bird in the pre-dictatorship post war days in Eastern Europe: a CP that was genuinely very popular.

    Posted by Harsanyi_Janos 13 March, 2012 at 12:00 am [ Quote selected text ] [Reply]

    Just my luck to screw up what seemed an open goal of a sectarian dig. What were the chances of picking on the only genuinely popular CP? Probably time I went to bed.

  101. John Grimshaw on said:

    #115 GAD
    Thank you for making an attempt to understand exactly what I have been trying to elucidate and you’re right I can stand up for myself as well. The reason I was having a “pop” at the Catholic church is exactly because that was the semi-context of the debate. I realise of course the main issue is the strike but there is little more I can say to be supportive. Actually though the other reason I got this opprobrium if you check the thread is because I decided to take seriously comments made by a comrade from the Socialist Party #28 rather than dismiss them out of hand. I gather they are not well liked on this blog.

  102. John Grimshaw on said:

    #120 GAD Homosexual marriage is being challenged not just in the pulpit and the newspapers but also on the radio vis. Canon Angela Tilbury’s contribution on Thought for the Day on Radio 4 today. Like you I think gays would be better off not getting married and being atheists but as you say its should be for them to decide not the Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox Jewish etc. faiths.

  103. #123

    John Grimshaw: Like you I think gays would be better off not getting married and being atheists but as you say its should be for them to decide not the Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox Jewish etc. faiths.

    There are two incredibly ignorant assumptions here:

    i) the proposal for gay marriage is for civil marriage and not religious marriage, and is therefore nothing to do with being an atheist or not.

    ii) The “Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox Jewish etc. faiths” are not seeking to “decide”. It is parliamet that will decide, what they are seeking to do is influence the debate in accordance with their own beliefs.

    Personally I support the idea of civil marriage being extended to same gender couples, but clearly it is permissable for people who disagree with that position to participate in the democratic process, which si what the churches are seeking to do.

    You are also incredibly dismissive of their arguments, which are not actually irrational, that given the already existing arrangement fo civil partnership, that there is a case for maintaining a legal distinction of marriages that can result in procreation.

    Incidently, you are also missing out from your list the majority of Islamic schollars who would argue that gay marriage is contrary to al-Kitab al-manshur , which roughly translates into English as equivalent to Lex Naturalis.

  104. The way I see the issue of gay marriage,

    (1) if it is purely about allowing same sex couples to have a civil wedding it is merely a symbolic question of words to indicate equality of esteem between homosexual and heterosexual couples-ie I can’t see the actual as opposed to formal difference between a civil marriage and a civil partnership.

    (2) Religious faiths should be free to allow or not allow same sex couples to marry in their places of worship.

    (3) The anomalous position of the C of E which complicates the above position should be solved, as should other problems relating to the C of E, by disestablishment, which as I have pointed out before would not be a problem to many anglicans.

  105. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    Andy Newman:
    #115

    well clearly this is wrong, as the Christian Church has been defending this conception of marriage at least since St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Offhand as I remember, the Apostle Paul only thought that marriage was better than to “burn” , presumably with lust. He still though that celibacy would be the preferred option for men able to forgo sexual relations. Also that within the marriage partnership, women were to be subservient to the man as the church is to Christ.

    But on this thread ,from a religion/humanist point of view , the most interesting has been #30

    Robert P. Williams:
    Perhaps they can get the Buddhists in on it… This is what the Dalai Lama said in reply to some Chinese students a little while back:

    ~~Q: You have often stated that you would like to achieve a synthesis between Buddhism and Marxism. What is the appeal of Marxism for you?

    The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

  106. I think the church’s reaction, and it has been a reaction, has been a disaster. I think it speaks to the increasingly marginal role it occupies in society, a result of an adherence to social mores and a mindset that remains medieval in many respects. Its increasing irrelevance as a moral guide and moral lynchpin within society is reflected in its hysteria over the issue of gay marriage.

    What they are proposing in essence is a form of apartheid based on sexual orientation. It is a form of homophobia to deny same sex couples the same right to marriage as heterosexuals. The idea that the church should be allowed to declare publicly its advocacy of sexual apartheid under the guise of free speech is a problem. If the church of whatever denomination wishes to continue to enjoy the benefits of state subsidies, tax breaks, and any of the various other state entitlements is receives, it cannot be allowed to deny the rights of a significant section of society.

    I would prefer if the church focused its attention on inequality, poverty and the British state’s addiction to war instead of trying to promote a set of morals that are anti-human and anti-rational based on a book that was written 2,000 years ago.

    After all, these are people who still believe in an old man who lives in the clouds watching over us. I don’t think they are qualified to determine what constitutes a proper marriage in the 21st century.

  107. #127

    John: If the church of whatever denomination wishes to continue to enjoy the benefits of state subsidies, tax breaks, and any of the various other state entitlements is receives, it cannot be allowed to deny the rights of a significant section of society.

    But it isn’t denying the rights, it is expressing an opinion about what rights parliament should grant.

    My concern is that religious views are being misunderstood and misrepresented, and that leads to hostility towards religious people.

  108. #128
    That’s a valid concern, to be sure, Andy but if a gay couple wish to marry in a Church or Mosque and are denied based upon their sexual orientation,then that crosses the line from opinion to practice and could be considered discriminatory under the law. We reach that uncomfortable area where religion and the secular state collide.

  109. Martel on said:

    # 127 ‘If the church of whatever denomination wishes to continue to enjoy the benefits of state subsidies, tax breaks, and any of the various other state entitlements is receives, it cannot be allowed to deny the rights of a significant section of society.’

    I do not think any state should have the right to dictate the belief systems of established religious communities…remember the Protestant Reich Church?

    The Catholic Church, as you would expect, as been particularly strong on opposing state interferrence e.g. its struggles with in China with Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

    ‘based on a book that was written 2,000 years ago.’

    I do not think the age of a book negates its usefulness.

    I would see much more value in a moral system based on Aristotle or Cicero than a devotion to the wisdom of the charmless unimath Dawkins.

  110. #129

    Omar: if a gay couple wish to marry in a Church or Mosque and are denied based upon their sexual orientation,then that crosses the line from opinion to practice and could be considered discriminatory under the law

    You are going far further than the proposed equality between civil marraige and covil partnerships here; and your point goes right to the heart of why the churches see this as a danger.

    Requiring a church or mosque to recognise a same gender partnership as a marriage would be an interference in religious freedom, as it woudl be dictating what people beleived, and how they practice their religion.

  111. #128

    Andy Newman: But it isn’t denying the rights, it is expressing an opinion about what rights parliament should grant.

    Sorry, I should have qualified my comment. What they are ‘proposing’ is in essence the denial of the rights of a significant minority.

    Andy Newman: My concern is that religious views are being misunderstood and misrepresented, and that leads to hostility towards religious people.

    Perhaps, but it could equally be claimed that the church’s views on gay marriage could lead to increased hostility towards gay people.

    Overall, it’s clearly an issue where the role and beliefs of the church clashes with those that are held by the main current within secular society.

    But if we interpret marriage as a human right, which I do, then I think the church is in real danger of becoming even more marginalised than it already is.

    The definition of marriage by the church as a sacred institution designed to engender procreation is to me archaic and medieval. But if this definition is constrained to those who believe it and wish to live their lives accordingly, this shouldn’t be an issue. I think the problem is where the church attempts to define what marriage is for society as a whole.

  112. “…but if a gay couple wish to marry in a Church or Mosque and are denied based upon their sexual orientation,then that crosses the line from opinion to practice and could be considered discriminatory under the law.”

    Surely if they want their church or mosque to allow them to marry then they should have that debate within their faith group without recourse to the law. And if they can’t win the argument then the contradiction between their faith (or loyalty to the particular faith group in question) and their wish to marry against its views is a question for their individual conscience.

    We don’t have laws against apostacy in this country- religions are private voluntary associations and churches, mosques, temples etc are their property.

  113. #134 ie if someone in that position wants to get married they should be able to, but they should not have the right to force their church etc to carry out the wedding.

    And why would anyone want to ffs?

  114. Martel: I do not think any state should have the right to dictate the belief systems of established religious communities…remember the Protestant Reich Church?

    I’m not saying the state should. What I’m saying is that the church should not be allowed to propose the negation of the right to marriage of a significant minority, who as taxpayers and members of society must also be allowed to share in its freedoms, rights, entitlements, etc., just as the church and its followers are. They are perfectly entitled to believe and practice what they wish.

  115. Very few of the catholics I know agree with their church on these questions. Catholics use contraception and abortion, marry for the same complicated reasons that others do, are straight and gay etc. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful or useful to assume that the UK catholic church hierarchy speaks for its members.

  116. Martel on said:

    #135 ‘What I’m saying is that the church should not be allowed to propose the negation of the right to marriage of a significant minority….’

    I think the Catholic Church should be allowed by propose what it wants.

    As it regards marriage as a sacrament and as a ‘sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church’ it is hardly going to change its definition.

    Taxpayers and citizens have a right to ignore them, as they do on a whole range of other issues.

    And as Kriss points out the Catholic Church hierarchy is often very far from the beliefs of its practioners.

  117. Martel: Taxpayers and citizens have a right to ignore them, as they do on a whole range of other issues.

    No, you’re wrong. The church is actively attempting to influence government legislation that will affect the whole of society. This is the problem. It may also have the unintended consequence of isolating gay people/couples in the eyes of many, not to mention making them feel as if there is something intrinsically wrong or inferior about being gay. This has to be resisted.

    No one is asking or expecting the church to change its definition. The problem is when it seeks to define marriage for everybody else and believes is has the right to do so. It doesn’t. Else how far has society progressed?

  118. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    KrisS:
    Very few of the catholics I know agree with their church on these questions. .. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful or useful to assume that the UK catholic church hierarchy speaks for its members.

    Always been a mystery to me why people adhere to a faith when they’re in disagreement with it’s fundamental doctrines. The most essential one for Catholics is that the Pope is in direct lineage to Christ via Peter. So if they don’t subscribe to the dictates of the hierarchy I can’t see the point.

    Although I’d imagine that most would use contraception, although oppose abortion. That’s what I’ve gleaned from listening to George Galloway’s – unfortunately ,soon to be axed – radio show anyway.

  119. #131
    “…as it woudl be dictating what people beleived, and how they practice their religion.”

    Yes, but then the question arises of “can faith supercede the law of the land?”

    I can see us veering off the Goan worker’s Mass onto an entirely different subject,btw. Might it be worth starting a new thread?

  120. Evangelical atheism does nothing to challenge the religious beliefs of those who hold them, but it does allow smug atheists to feel a bit smugger and more superior.

    Religion is a decreasing force in the Western world, and long may it be so, but Dawkins, Hitchins et al are a reflection of that – not its cause as they like to think.

    “The church should not be allowed to propose..”

    Who should it not be allowed by? The state? Priests should be arrested for saying what is within the law and which they believe their faith instructs them to say?

    I know many ex-catholics and not one of them lost their faith because of hectoring atheists but because they couldn’t reconcile their religious beliefs with their lives any more. This latest campaign by the archbishop will result in even more doing so.

  121. Martel on said:

    #138 ‘The church is actively attempting to influence government legislation that will effect the whole of society. ‘

    So is B.P., the Women’s Institute, Capita, The Girl Guides Association, Brighton Council, CND and the thousands of other companies and civil institutions that lobby government.

    I think it is healthy that civil instititutions seek to participate in public debates. Regardless of how far you disagree with them.

    ‘The problem is when it seeks to define marriage for everybody else and believes is has the right to do so.’

    Yes, but most people ignore their definition of marriage and there is very little chance of Britain becoming a Catholic Theocracy any time soon.

    What the Catholic Church claims is bases its belief’s on, e.g. the infallaible word of God or what have you, can also be ignored.

  122. Martel: So is B.P., the Women’s Institute, Capita, The Girl Guides Association, Brighton Council, CND and the thousands of other companies and civil institutions that lobby government.

    A silly analogy. Neither of the aforementioned are attempting to influence government legislation that will negate the right of a minority in the country which the majority take for granted. I consider this a form of apartheid. I wonder if you would take the same attitude if the church were attempting to influence legislation banning marriage for black or Asian couples? I see no difference.

    Martel: Yes, but most people ignore their definition of marriage

    They won’t be able to ignore it if it becomes legislation, this is the point, which I’ve now made three times.

  123. Vanya on said:

    #141 In my experience the atheist fundamentalists who are to be found as much if not more among the pro-war liberals as among the real left are more dogmatic, irational and annoying than most extreme believer.

    There are a number of them that I know that I just can’t discuss religion with any more because of the ironically small minded nature of their agruments and bombastically evangelical method of argument.

  124. mike: Evangelical atheism does nothing to challenge the religious beliefs of those who hold them, but it does allow smug atheists to feel a bit smugger and more superior.

    I have zero interest in challenging anybody’s religious beliefs. Nothing in any of my comments on this thread could lead anyone to believe that I do.

    What I do have an interest in is ensuring that those religious beliefs are not allowed to influence government legislation that amounts to the negation of the rights of any minority or section of society that may not hold those beliefs.

    This isn’t ‘evangelical atheism’. It’s an argument in favour of universal human rights.

  125. Martel on said:

    # 143 ‘They won’t be able to ignore it if it becomes legislation, this is the point, which I’ve now made three times.’

    It is a rather silly point since the Catholic Church has zero chance of dictating the definition of marriage to the British Government.

  126. I have zero interest in challenging anybody’s religious beliefs. Nothing in any of my comments on this thread could lead anyone to believe that I do.

    What I do have an interest in is ensuring that those religious beliefs are not allowed to influence government legislation that amounts to the negation of the rights of any minority or section of society that may not hold those beliefs.

    This isn’t ‘evangelical atheism’. It’s an argument in favour of universal human rights.

    How can it be an argument in favour of universal human rights while you are denying people the right to speak according to their religious convictions?

    They have entered into the civil political sphere. We can take them on and beat them there. We’ve been doing it for years and I see no reason why we shouldn’t continue to do so.

    But to assert that religious peoples’ organisations have no right to even make their arguments or seek to influence government policy *is* an attack on their beliefs. It can’t be anything else if you don’t deny that right to anyone else.

    I’ll ask again – how do you propose to stop the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland (for example) from expressing its view?

  127. Martel: It is a rather silly point since the Catholic Church has zero chance of dictating the definition of marriage to the British Government.

    Well, again you’re wrong, because we’re not just talking about the Catholic Church. The Church of England and the Anglican Church have also come out against it.

    I’m not as sanguine about the church’s influence in this regard as you clearly are, especially when we have an influential Tory back bench that shares its views.

    I return to my point about whether you would be so unconcerned if the church was proposing to stop black or Asian couples being married.

    If so, why is it acceptable for the church or any other institution to declare publicly its opposition to gay marriage?

  128. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    John:

    What I do have an interest in is ensuring that those religious beliefs are not allowed to influence government legislation …

    Certainly consistent with Stalin’s dictates on organised religion.

  129. mike: How can it be an argument in favour of universal human rights while you are denying people the right to speak according to their religious convictions?

    Are we talking here about convictions or prejudice? And if not when does one become the other?

    It is the conviction of racists that black people constitute an inferior race. Indeed, the American Civil War was based on this exact dissonance between conviction and prejudice on this issue. It is the conviction of some that women are inferior to men, and of course that gays are inferior to non-gays.

    If we were still living according to the diktats of organised religion we’d be in a pretty poor state as a society, I’d say. What it is proposing here is maintaining a status quo of state legislated apartheid when it comes to the right to be married.

    Some beliefs are regressive and deserved to be attacked. This is certainly one such instance.

  130. Martel on said:

    # 148 ‘If so, why is it acceptable for the church or any other institution to declare publicly its opposition to gay marriage?’

    The point you appear to be arguing is that civil institutions only have the right to lobby government, or contribute to public debate, if they concur with a set of specified guidelines of your own concoction.

    The point others seem to be making is that civil institutions have the right to contribute to public debate, and seek to influence government policy, as part of a democratic society.

    You do not necessarily have to agree with the opinions of the said institution to believe they should have this right.

  131. onlyoneteaminessex: Certainly consistent with Stalin’s dictates on organised religion.

    Since you’ve sidestepped the question, I shall try asking it again. If the church was coming out against couples of a certain race being married, would you continue to champion its right to do so as a civil institution?

    If not, why is it acceptable in your view for it do so exactly that when it comes to gay people?

  132. John: #128Sorry, I should have qualified my comment. What they are ‘proposing’ is in essence the denial of the rights of a significant minority.Perhaps, but it could equally be claimed that the church’s views on gay marriage could lead to increased hostility towards gay people.Overall, it’s clearly an issue where the role and beliefs of the church clashes with those that are held by the main current within secular society.But if we interpret marriage as a human right, which I do, then I think the church is in real danger of becoming even more marginalised than it already is.The definition of marriage by the church as a sacred institution designed to engender procreation is to me archaic and medieval. But if this definition is constrained to those who believe it and wish to live their lives accordingly, this shouldn’t be an issue. I think the problem is where the church attempts to define what marriage is for society as a whole.

    This is confused stuff. The Mosiac religions have a fixed view of marriage albeit with doctrinal variations. That view is what we consider marriage to be.

    A new definition of marriage is now being promulgated by the State proper and its auxilleries. The Mosiac religions are against redefinition and are unsuprisingly saying so.

    Civic partnership is available, as is for heterosexuals civic marriage, neither are recognised as marriage by the RCC. This won’t change.

    It is of course possible to claim the RCC’s view on Gay marriage could produce a backlash against Gays but it would on the face of it be a demonstrably false claim.

    It would also be a mistake to assume ‘the main current of secular society’ is the same as the mainstream of society.

    You may see the RCC definition of marriage as archaic and medieval but world wide you are in a tiny minority. Nor should you worry about the RCC becoming more marginalised that is not what history tells us happens when the RCC opposes Government.

    The religious are not seeking to define what marriage is that job was done two millenia ago. What they are doing is resisting a change to the definition.

    The religious have the unequivocal right to lobby Government to uphold that right is not to endorse their views. Rather in a country prone to Religious Discrimination its the merest common sense.

  133. You mention sidestepping questions there, John.

    How about answering mine on how you propose to ban the church expressing its views?

  134. SA: This is confused stuff.

    I should have thought it was abundantly clear. No organised religion in this country, which enjoys various entitlements and privileges from the state, should be allowed to attempt to influence government legislation that would deny a signficant minority within said society a right/freedom/entitlement that the rest of society is able to enjoy. This is a form of apartheid.

    The fact that the church – and btw I repeat that we’re not just talking here about the RCC – has held such views on marriage throughout its history is no justification in this regard, else where do we draw the line when it comes to resisting any number of prejudices which have been in existence for a long time?

    SA: It is of course possible to claim the RCC’s view on Gay marriage could produce a backlash against Gays but it would on the face of it be a demonstrably false claim.

    Now who’s confused. In the same sentence you’ve contradicted yourself. On the one hand you agree that it’s possible that the RCC’s views on gay marriage could produce a backlash against gays, but then state that it is a ‘demonstrably false claim’.

    The fact that it could is enough, I suggest, to be a cause for concern before it takes place.

    SA: You may see the RCC definition of marriage as archaic and medieval but world wide you are in a tiny minority

    I’m also in a tiny minority in my support for the socialist transformation of society, but this doesn’t invalidate my belief in such, does it?

    Sorry but this is a rubbish point you make here.

    SA: What they are doing is resisting a change to the definition.

    Yes, based on prejudice against gay people and their rights to be treated as equals by the state.

  135. #148

    John: I return to my point about whether you would be so unconcerned if the church was proposing to stop black or Asian couples being married.

    More pertinantly, the RC church does oppose divorced people being married, and many Anglican churches will also decline to marry a divorced person.

    Their position is therefore genuinely based upon their biblical concet of marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

  136. #153
    “The religious are not seeking to define what marriage is that job was done two millenia ago. What they are doing is resisting a change to the definition.”

    Yes but a change in definition is necessary in order for gay marriage to be sanctioned,I would think.

  137. #153

    SA: The religious are not seeking to define what marriage is that job was done two millenia ago. What they are doing is resisting a change to the definition.

    To an extent, the churches lost that battle in (I think) 1905 when the state defined civil marriage so as to legalise its dissolution by divorce.

    Therefore the state does define what is and is not a marriage for the purposes of civil law.

    That is by the way why civil partnerships and civil marriages can be merged into a single concept, without changing the religious definition of marriage.

    It would not be unproblematic though, given that the book of common prayer in the Anglican Church is an Act of Parliament, so full legal equlaity for gay marriage would require state changes to the Anglican church, largely against its will.

  138. mike: How about answering mine on how you propose to ban the church expressing its views?

    It clearly can’t be banned from expressing its views. But just as with any institution that promotes views that are prejudicial to the rights of any minority within society, it should not be the recipient of any entitlements, privileges and/or subsidy by the State. In any society there has to be an interface where the rights of all supersede the right of any single institution. The church can hold those views, people can attack and criticise them, but what they cannot do is expect to have it both ways – i.e. preaching prejudice against a minority while continuing to receive state sanction in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, and so on.

  139. John Grimshaw on said:

    The Times Editorial
    “The state has no business prescribing the content of Christian doctrine; but it has an obligation to enact the social contract, of equality under the law, that binds its citizens. That principle implies full homosexual equality for the same reason that it led in earlier generations to the rights of women to own property and to vote.

    The Times supports that end, including the right of same sex couples to marry. It is incongruous even tragic, that parts of the Church appear intent on being the last redoubt against it. Anglicanism in particular is not used to this role……If the Church now were to assert the value of of gay relationships, it would scarcely be adopting a radical course. To paraphrase proverbs, it would incline its ear to wisdom and apply its heart to understanding.”

  140. lone nut on said:

    #127 “After all, these are people who still believe in an old man who lives in the clouds watching over us. I don’t think they are qualified to determine what constitutes a proper marriage in the 21st century.”
    And of course, gays are silly people with limp wrists who carry pink poodles around so we don’t need to take any notice of them do we? Substituting absurd and ignorant stereotypes is so much easier than entering into any kind of substantive argument, don’t you find?
    “I would prefer if the church focused its attention on inequality, poverty and the British state’s addiction to war”
    Actually the Church has had far more to say on those questions than on gay marriage over recent years, but neither the far left nor the liberal media have not been very interested. On the question of war, I would suggest the positions of the Church have been far more progressive than those of some prominent gay spokespersons I could mention.
    “Its increasing irrelevance as a moral guide and moral lynchpin within society is reflected in its hysteria over the issue of gay marriage. ”
    I think the hysteria is actually largely amongst that sector of the liberal elite which has made gay marriage its idée fixe, and that part of the far left which reflects the thinking of this sector. I rarely agree with Brendan O’Neill, but he is right on the mark here:
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100141828/gay-marriage-is-now-the-issue-through-which-the-elite-advertises-its-superiority-over-the-redneck-masses/

  141. lone nut: On the question of war, I would suggest the positions of the Church have been far more progressive than those of some prominent gay spokespersons I could mention.

    So now gay rights are to be made contingent on the positions which either they or their spokespeople hold on other issues? Surely this is outrageous.

    lone nut: And of course, gays are silly people with limp wrists who carry pink poodles around so we don’t need to take any notice of them do we? Substituting absurd and ignorant stereotypes is so much easier than entering into any kind of substantive argument, don’t you find?

    I think you will find that I have made a very substantive argument during the course of my participation in this thread. This is clearly indicated by the fact that after scouring every comment this is the best you can come up with in response.

  142. lone nut on said:

    #162 People like Gove and Danny Finkelstein part of the liberal elite? Most definitely in my view, as of course is Cameron.

  143. lone nut on said:

    “I think you will find that I have made a very substantive argument during the course of my participation in this thread”.
    I think you will find that comparing the absence of gay marriage to apartheid is one of the dumbest things anybody ever said anywhere. Maybe you think gays should launch an armed struggle to win the right to marriage?

  144. ” In the same sentence you’ve contradicted yourself. On the one hand you agree that it’s possible that the RCC’s views on gay marriage could produce a backlash against gays, but then state that it is a ‘demonstrably false claim’.The fact that it could is enough, I suggest, to be a cause for concern before it takes place.”

    Hardly so, were a Catholic backlash against Gays likely I suggest it would have taken place during the Fuck the Pope marches during the Papal visit. It didn’t, its a chimera.

    I think it does no harm to point out the limits of Liberalism’s influence in the world. As others have pointed out here the obsessions of the Liberal elite are limited in there purchase on the wider population.

    I take Andy’s points at 158 fully but it remains the case that it is unrealistic to expect the religious to change their position.

  145. lone nut: I think you will find that comparing the absence of gay marriage to apartheid i

    This merely confirms your own prejudice in this matter. Apartheid, the literal definition of the word, is separation. Only a fool would deny its applicability when it comes to denying a section of society the same right to marriage that every other section currently enjoys.

    Writing under a silly pseudonym is no excuse for stupidity.

  146. SA: As others have pointed out here the obsessions of the Liberal elite are limited in there purchase on the wider population.

    Well, speaking as someone who most definitely is not a member of the liberal elite, or any other elite for that matter, this is offensive to those who support a society based on universal human rights.

  147. Martel on said:

    #168 ‘this is offensive to those who support a society based on universal human rights.’

    I refer you to the UN declaration of Human Rights……

    ‘Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’

    You deny this since you believe that the state has a right to penalise religions if it disagrees with their beliefs, teachings or practice i.e. withdrawal of charitable status etc.

    ‘Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

    Again, you deny this as you believe that the state should categorise certain view points, i.e the religious, as intolerable and prevent their expression in the public sphere.

  148. John: Well, speaking as someone who most definitely is not a member of the liberal elite, or any other elite for that matter, this is offensive to those who support a society based on universal human rights.

    Except for the right of those who disagree with you to be allowed to speak without sanction.

    Actually that is like Aparthied.

    I’m presuming you have given up on the Catholic backlash theory.

    Thanks to Lonenut on the Brendan O’Neill link I suppose if you live long enough you find yourself agreeing with everyone at least once.

  149. Martel: Again, you deny this as you believe that the state should categorise certain view points, i.e the religious, as intolerable and prevent their expression in the public sphere.

    Freedom of conscience and thought is one thing, prejudice towards a minority expressed in law is another. I would have thought this an obvious distinction to make.

    What you’re really saying is that the value you ascribe to gay marriage as a right is less than the value you ascribe to the right of religious leaders to try and influence the government to continue to deny it.

    I have asked you this question now four times. Here it is again. Would you defend the church if the issue was black or Asian marriage?

    If not, why are gays different in your view?

    It’s a serious question. I don’t know why you feel unable to answer it, not if you’re as certain of your position as you make out to be.

  150. SA: Except for the right of those who disagree with you to be allowed to speak without sanction.

    Actually that is like Aparthied.

    I’m presuming you have given up on the Catholic backlash theory.

    What a moronic comment to make. You think racism, homophobia, Islamophobia are acceptable in society and in public discourse? Or is it only homophobia that’s acceptable to you? Was the US Civil Rights Bill apartheid because a significant number of racists in the Deep South were against it and found it incompatible with their values, convictions?

    I’ve already taken pains to point out that the RCC is not the only church involved or that I’m referring to. Yet you continue to assert that the RCC is being singled out. Republicanism and Catholicism are two separate creeds, you do realise that I hope.

    I was baptised a Catholic and received a Catholic education. Reading your comments I’m reminded why I now reject its teachings.

  151. Martel on said:

    # 171 You are picking extreme examples, rather than addressing the issue.

    You are advocating that the state should regulate belief systems and police public expression, which I disagree with.

    ‘What you’re really saying is that the value you ascribe to gay marriage as a right is less than the value you ascribe to the right of religious leaders to try and influence the government to continue to deny it.’

    The two are not mutually exclusive I support the right to gay marriage and I support the right of the Catholic Bishops to disapprove of it.

  152. John: What a moronic comment to make. You think racism, homophobia, Islamophobia are acceptable in society and in public discourse? Or is it only homophobia that’s acceptable to you? Was the US Civil Rights Bill apartheid because a significant number of racists in the Deep South were against it and found it incompatible with their values, convictions?I’ve already taken pains to point out that the RCC is not the only church involved or that I’m referring to. Yet you continue to assert that the RCC is being singled out. Republicanism and Catholicism are two separate creeds, you do realise that I hope. I was baptised a Catholic and received a Catholic education. Reading your comments I’m reminded why I now reject its teachings.

    None of those things are acceptable to me. Its just your arguements are poorly thought out stuff. You really should not decide what I may or may not find acceptable you are in no position to know.

    The comparisons you use in this discussion are not comparible things at all. The more farfetched they are the less impact they have.

    Also I doubt that anyone who is a former Catholic could come up with your “Would you defend the church if the issue was black or Asian marriage?” spiel.

    There is much to criticise the RCC for and some things to praise it for. Most people know that.

    If I have commented on the RCC its because I know it and I prefer to speak of what I know.

  153. SA: The comparisons you use in this discussion are not comparible things at all. The more farfetched they are the less impact they have.

    Okay, tell me why. Elaborate. I’ve asked the question umpteen times now. If it was black or Asian marriage being discussed, would you still support the right of the church to attempt to deny it as a right? If not, why is the issue of gay marriage different?

    And if you feel this is a ‘far fetched comparison’, please explain why.

  154. Martel: # 171 You are picking extreme examples, rather than addressing the issue

    So clearly you’re unable to answer the question then. That’s what you’re saying.

    I only make the point because the basis of my position is exactly the same – i.e. I could not satisfy myself that denying the right to marriage based on race or ethnicity is unacceptable, while denying it based on sexuality is.

    We also have to be careful that we don’t lapse into a default position of taking a certain position on this because the issue of gay rights has been adopted by pro war liberals to attack Muslims and other minorities. Context is all.

    I’m not saying you are specifically, but again I just make the point.

    Holding views we disagree with is one thing. But when it comes to the issue of legislation, the context of the debate surely changes.

  155. lone nut on said:

    “If not, why is the issue of gay marriage different?”
    Because if you believe marriage is ordained for the purposes of procreation, sexuality is relevant in a way that race isn’t?

  156. lone nut: Because if you believe marriage is ordained for the purposes of procreation, sexuality is relevant in a way that race isn’t?

    So by implication then heterosexuals married couples who don’t procreate are violating the basic tenet of marriage?

    Also, I would hazard a guess that more procreation goes on outside of marriage than in nowadays, or at least isn’t far off in this respect. And I would also hazard a guess that a fair amount of those who procreate outside of marriage are members of an organised religion, and more exactly one of the churches that have come out in public against marriage.

    But the key point is this: why should any church, or the churches taken together, be allowed to prescribe what marriage is for those who are not a follower of their church or aren’t religious?

    And if not why should they enjoy entitlements and privileges from the state, as I’ve previously mentioned, that are funded via the taxes of the whole of society, including gay people?

    We’re talking here essentially about a clash between rationalism and idealism and obscurantism.

  157. Lansbury on said:

    #178 ‘But the key point is this: why should any church, or the churches taken together, be allowed to prescribe what marriage is for those who are not a follower of their church or aren’t religious?’

    The Catholic Church does not prescribe what marriage is for non-followers.

    If you don’t like the Catholic approach to marriage you can get married in a Unitarian Church, Anglican, Methodist or a registry office.

    The benefits of living in a plural democracy.

    As Voltaire said: ‘If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism, if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats, but there are thirty, and they live in peace and happiness.’

  158. John: Okay, tell me why. Elaborate. I’ve asked the question umpteen times now. If it was black or Asian marriage being discussed, would you still support the right of the church to attempt to deny it as a right? If not, why is the issue of gay marriage different?And if you feel this is a ‘far fetched comparison’, please explain why.

    The Church recognises no colour bar to marriage as a former Catholic you presumably know this. Therefore it is a fairly idiotic ‘what if’. Anyhow Lonenut has given you the theology.

    As to your other camparisons doctrinal oppossition to redifinition of marriage is not like Aparthied nor is it comparable to the Civil Rights struggle for equality in the USA.

    The religious do not seek to proscribe behaviour for non adherents its not how they work. Nor do they have the power to enforce their doctrinal position but you must surely know this.

    Your objection is that they won’t applaud your views and you would like to punish them for opposing you.

    Most people will make their own minds up on Gay marriage but whatever their conclusion I doubt they will be suprised at the position of the religious let alone think that its expression should incurr sanction.

  159. SA: The religious do not seek to proscribe behaviour for non adherents its not how they work.

    In a thread of pretty odd claims and counter-claims, this is right up there.

    There are religious organisations which do seek to do this, and we all know there are. Why pretend otherwise?

  160. Lansbury: The Catholic Church does not prescribe what marriage is for non-followers.

    Are you deliberately being obstuse? Not only the RCC, but also the Church of England and Anglican churches are attempting to influence the Government when it comes to legislating the issue.

    Lansbury: If you don’t like the Catholic approach to marriage you can get married in a Unitarian Church, Anglican, Methodist or a registry office.

    Not if the aforementioned churches against it are successful in influencing the status quo, which doesn’t allow gay marriage.

    Again, I wonder if you’re just being deliberately obtuse. The point is that gay couples at present are unable to get married in any church and have that marriage recognised by the state.

  161. SA: The Church recognises no colour bar to marriage as a former Catholic you presumably know this

    Yes, but it does recognise a sexuality bar and I’m asserting that any bar is regressive and a form of prejudice. You obviously don’t. What conclusion should any gay person following this debate draw from that? Do you even care?

    SA: Your objection is that they won’t applaud your views and you would like to punish them for opposing you.

    are?

    When have I mentioned anything like the church should be punished? And it’s not merely my views we’re talking about, but the views of a significant section of society.

    My point, clearly made throughout, is that any religious organisation that seeks to deny the right of any section of society to marriage should not be entitled to any form of state subsidy, entitlement or privilege. Is this punishment? Or is it a logical position to take given that we live in a pluralistic society in which the equal rights of all should supersede the rights of one institution.

  162. ” When have I mentioned anything like the church should be punished?”

    “My point, clearly made throughout, is that any religious organisation that seeks to deny the right of any section of society to marriage should not be entitled to any form of state subsidy, entitlement or privilege. Is this punishment?”

    Yes it is an obvious sanction that you want applied because you don’t agree with dissent from your view.

  163. Martel on said:

    ~183 ‘The point is that gay couples at present are unable to get married in any church and have that marriage recognised by the state.’

    Which I believe needs reform, you should be able to get married in a same sex union in any church, if it is willing to do so.

    The Unitarian Church is very liberal and would support such a measure, I imagine.

    Certain parishes of the Anglican Church would be willing to do so, unless the episicopacy uses the its institutional power to ban it.

    Blessing for same sex unions are very common and there are many openly gay priests in the Anglican Church.

    But this is an internal matter for the CoE.

    ‘My point, clearly made throughout, is that any religious organisation that seeks to deny the right of any section of society to marriage should not be entitled to any form of state subsidy, entitlement or privilege. Is this punishment?’

    However, this I disagree with. I do not agree with the posistion that the state should use its power to punish institutions who refuse to subscribe to its beliefs.

    A plurality of belief systems is healthy for a democratic society.

  164. Vanya on said:

    One thing that astounds me about all of this is that it only seems like yesterday that a big political campaign for substantial parts of the left was against a law that tried to stop schools and teachers portraying gay relationships in a positive light and now we have a predominantly tory government bringing in legislation to legalise gay marriage and sections of the left are debating whether powerful religious institutions should be allowed to speak out against it.

    Whatever you think about the various issues it’s an incredible change in what seems a pretty short period of time.

  165. John Grimshaw on said:

    I introduced the issue of gay marriage it seems like ages ago not so that we could have a debate soley about that issue, but because I thought it was a good example of how organised religions, in this case the Catholic Church, seek to use their influence. And although this influence can sometimes be liberal/progressive, that part is limited and it is usually conservative and aimed at preserving its priveliges.

    The link below seems to me is a case in point. Earlier on in this thread I was accused of being anti-people of Catholic faith which I refute. I am however anti-monarchy (another institution which exists in my opinion simply to defend its own wealth and privelidge) and no doubt by saying so I will at some point be accused of being a monarch-basher, but if there is a monarch I see no reason for he/she not to be a Catholic. Some people do though:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9136295/Catholic-monarch-could-put-Church-of-England-in-peril-bishop-warns.html

    And yes I know that some Anglicans would be happy with a disestablished church but the majority in their leadership would not. Why because they would lose power and authority. The Anglican church currently has 26 bishops sitting in the second house of the UK government. They are all unelected. There is a proposal knocking around in government on Lords reform which might reduce this to 12. The Anglican church is against this. Why? Surely in the “pluralistic” society that Martel talks about the Anglican Church should resign its positions of power to allow all people of whatever faith to democratically decide who rules them? Why don’t they?

  166. John Grimshaw on said:

    #187 The answer to your very interesting point Vanya is, I believe twofold;

    First our society has changed over the last twenty years and most of the electorate, possibly including Cameron (don’t know what Blair’s view is though) don’t really see the point of discriminating against gay people. And as the quote from the Times editorial from yesterday shows. The secularist majority hardly feels threatened by such a course of action.

    “……If the Church now were to assert the value of gay relationships, it would scarcely be adopting a radical course.”

    In any case in the heightened “class war” hysteria of the 80s I wonder if clause 28 was just as much about attacking the so called loony Left?

  167. Martel on said:

    #188 ‘The Anglican church currently has 26 bishops sitting in the second house of the UK government. They are all unelected.’

    So is everyone else in the Lords. In the balance of things, I would probably prefer 26 bishops to 26 enobled special advisors, company chairmen and former ministers.

    Especially as the Bishops’s have been particularly effective in challenging Duncan-Smith’s welfare reform.

  168. One of the things which repelled me most about organised religion when I was still a kid at school was the manifest insincerity of its rituals – having to pretend to believe things you knew to be utter nonsense. Perhaps secularism’s great gift to organised religion is that, by making participation less obligatory for those who don’t believe it, religious practice has become more sincere. From that point of view, maybe obliging churches to host ceremonies of which their priests and pastors disapprove would be a step in the wrong direction?

  169. #191

    I agree. The problem with organised religion is that it automatically makes hypocrites of its adherents due to its promulgation of doctrines and laws that are completely incompatible with nature and real lived human experience. For example, with regard to Catholicism, the faith I was educated and brought up in – no sex before marriage, no contraception, the prohibition of abortion, the vow of celibacy for priests and nuns, and so on.

    There’s no doubt however that millions around the world still gain comfort and a sense of peace from religion, and therefore in this alone it still retains relevancy.

    This is why, on your last point, I also don’t support legally obliging priests and ministers to carry out ceremonies they don’t believe in. I just disagree with them seeking to make their beliefs compulsory for the whole of society when it comes to institutions such as marriage.

  170. “Perhaps secularism’s great gift to organised religion is that, by making participation less obligatory for those who don’t believe it, religious practice has become more sincere.”

    One of the reasons many anglicans would not have a problem with dis-establishment.

  171. Martel on said:

    #192 ‘The problem with organised religion is that it automatically makes hypocrites of its adherents due to its promulgation of doctrines and laws that are completely incompatible with nature and real lived human experience.’

    There are many competing theories regarding the nature of man and the Thomist view is not necessarily less coherent than a Kantian, Cartesian, Humean or Marxist view.

    Though, of course, you can argue that all attempts to define human nature are quixotic.

    The fact that it is difficult to live up to Catholic expectations is not necessarily hypocritical since it is compatiable with the Catholic belief in the fallen nature of man and the sacrament of penance takes this into account.

  172. Martel: There are many competing theories regarding the nature of man and the Thomist view is not necessarily less coherent than a Kantian, Cartesian, Humean or Marxist view.

    Well, as a materialist I disagree on that. In fact equating the coherence of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History with Genesis is ludicrous. However, this is different from appreciating the relevancy of organised religion in providing hope and comfort to those who otherwise would have none in a soulless world, etc.

    Martel: The fact that it is difficult to live up to Catholic expectations is not necessarily hypocritical since it is compatiable with the Catholic belief in the fallen nature of man and the sacrament of penance takes this into account.

    It is hypocritical if the vast majority are unable to live up to it. More than that the sense of guilt it instills in many of those is eminently damaging on an emotional, psychological and spiritual level.

    Maintaining a rigid code of beliefs, most of which were formulated in ancient history, and which fly in the face of man’s true nature and the various emotions he’s endowed with, is anti-human on a fundamental level. It has provided justification for genocide and mass crimes against humanity.

    I’m not sure any paen to an obscurantist belief in the ‘fallen nature of man’ can justify this.

  173. Martel on said:

    # 195 ‘In fact equating the coherence of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History with Genesis is ludicrous.’

    I specifically said Thomist (which is the foundation stone of most Catholic Theology)…Aquinas was certainly more coherent and systematic than Marx in presenting his view of the nature of man, whether you agree with his assumptions or not.

    Summa Theologica is a much easier read, despite its length, than anything Marx wrote.

    Alasdair MacIntyre is interesting as he describes himself as a Thomist, though he started off as a Marxist, so he certainly does not believe it is a retrograde step from Marx to Aquinas.

    ‘which fly in the face of man’s true nature’

    I am glad you are privy to this, as very few, outside the religious, are bold enough to claim such a metaphysical insight

  174. Martel: Summa Theologica is a much easier read, despite its length, than anything Marx wrote.

    So is the Beano, but that doesn’t mean it should command greater weight or authority :)

    Martel: I am glad you are privy to this, as very few, outside the religious, are bold enough to claim such a metaphysical insight

    It’s got nothing to do with metaphysics and everything to do with materialism, based on observation. I know man’s true nature because I happen to be one, and my nature – the range of emotions, impulses etc, I am endowed with and experience – are no different from those of any other human being. The only difference is the specific environmental and material conditions in which I experience them.

  175. Martel: “The fact that it is difficult to live up to Catholic expectations is not necessarily hypocritical since it is compatiable with the Catholic belief in the fallen nature of man and the sacrament of penance takes this into account.”

    Or, translated into English: make people feel guilty about having normal sexual urges, and then convince them that only by subscribing to your mumbo-jumbo can they be absolved of their imaginary sins. Result! A winning formula for 1700 years or so. Why would anybody want to change it?

  176. John Grimshaw on said:

    #190 Martel (or is it hammer?) I would rather not be ruled by anyone but if I must I would rather it be elected by some democratic process. For the sake of argument there is a difference between the lords spiritual and the lords temporal. The lords spiritual call on the existence of an unprovable higher power to justify their authority position and wealth, whereas the lords temporal just justify their authority position and wealth.

  177. John Grimshaw on said:

    #191 I agree also, but this proposed legislation about gay marriage is not compelling those homophobic religious organisations that are opposed to it to marry gay people. It wants to put gay marriage on a par with heterosexual marriage so as to avoid legal accusations of discrimination. The issue here for the Anglican and Catholic institutions is that they feel they define what is marriage and what isn’t, and the control that goes with that, not the state. In a “world of creeping militant secularism” they fear that if they lose the right to officiate over what is an important human ritual they will be further marginalised than they already are. Of course its also because they are homophobic. Other but not all religious groups also feel the same way i.e. most of Islam, Orthodox Jewry etc. but in the historical context of the UK they are not as significant.

  178. Martel on said:

    # 199 Martel, rather unexcitingly, was due to the fact I had a book by an author called Yann Martel on my desk when I first contributed to this forum.

  179. John Grimshaw on said:

    #202 Just wondered thats all?

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03629a.htm

    And many more strange attributions to this obviously real historical person. Of course the conservative side of Christianity, particularly in the Catholic church like him because he saved us all from Islam. Allegedly.