Posts Tagged ‘Media’

A few good links

Friday, November 9th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Peter Ould - Appointing Justin – A Lesson in Communication

Believer’s Brain - #Headroom conference

The Void - IDS Think Tank Funded by Work Programme Contractor Accused of Fraud

The Biblical World - Living life while waiting for the end: 1 Thess 1:9-10

POPSCI – Humans Can’t Be Empathetic And Logical At The Same Time

Digital Nun - What Really Matters?

Listverse – 15 Bad Arguments We All Abuse

Premier Radio and the BNP Nick Griffin Interview Controversy

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Following the recent court judgement against B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson for turning away a gay couple, the BNP’s Nick Griffin took to Twitter to publish part of the address of the couple, and suggest a ‘British justice team’ might like to cause ‘a bit of drama’ outside their home.

This action was met by outrage, Griffin’s Twitter account suspended, the police were involved to investigate, Labour MEPs formally reported Griffin to the European Parliament, and his full address shared on Facebook.

In response to this, Premier Radio conducted a telephone interview with Griffin to discuss the Tweets.

Rather unhelpfully this interview was picked up by Christian Today with the headline: Nick Griffin says he is prepared to go to jail for Christians and was reported thus:

British National Party leader Nick Griffin has told Premier Christian Radio that he is prepared to go to prison to protect the rights of Christians and heterosexuals.


Speaking on Premier, Mr Griffin said he was “always” prepared to go to jail.

“I don’t want to, but the fact is that we are in, now, a totalitarian society where the indigenous majority of Christians and heterosexuals are the oppressed majority and I’m prepared to go to prison to protect their rights,” he said.

Quite rightly this article caused some anger and Christians demanded an explanation from Premier Radio as to why they gave Griffin an unchallenged platform.

Lester Holloway blogged:

The neo-Nazi used his radio platform to declare that he would “be prepared to go to jail for Christians.” The interview was reported uncritically on Christian Today.

It was some of the most positive media coverage the BNP has received for some time. Regrettably some Christians have allowed their anti-gay beliefs to get in the way of judgement and logic. By appearing to make common cause with the Far Right leader the radio journalists have junked a century of experience of Fascism and its’ bloody consequences, all because they share Griffin’s views on homosexuality.

It’s worth noting that the anger directed at Premier Radio occurred as a result of the poor Christian Today article and before Premier had posted the interview online.

Premier themselves took to Twitter and said:

Like the vast majority of Christians we consider some of Griffin’s views deeply offensive, but like other media outlets in the interest of news coverage we’re occasionally prepared to ask him to explain his actions and comments. He was robustly questioned by one of our journalists, and we also spoke to a spokesperson from the Christian Institute (who are representing the B&B owners in question) who was very critical of Griffin’s comments.

I decided to wait for the interview to be posted online before making a judgement, and it is now available on this link, and as you can hear Griffin’s actions were challenged and condemned by Mike Judge of the Christian Institute.

Although I have warned over and again that the far right are attempting to co-opt Christianity, I am not a ‘no platform’ advocate as I feel these strategies need to be openly exposed and challenged by Christians.

Caution must be exercised however, as giving such folk an uncritical platform serves to legitimise their views, which is precisely what happened during the Revelation TV Debate between Nick Griffin and George Hargreaves back in 2010.

As a result of the Tweets made by Griffin, Cambridgeshire police decided not to press charges, his Twitter account was reinstated, and he gained 3500 extra followers.

On the up side, the vast majority of his followers loathe his views.

Anyway, here’s the link to the interview again and you can decide if Premier blundered and were exploited by Griffin, or if they were right to air the interview in the way they did.

Tiny replica Cathedral Cleric deemed as firearm by police

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Mail have all the details in their headline:

Tiny mantelpiece replica canon which is just one foot long seized by police as it is a ‘firearm’

Outrageous, what has it come to?

Alan Craig: Stonewall Bigot of the Year Award “justifies Gaystapo tag”

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I did blog on the Alan Craig “Gaystapo controversy” at the time and said:

Now, I don’t think any of this is particularly helpful and feel that the wording and tone of Alan’s piece is overboard, but I have seen exactly the same from the other side also.

Well Alan has now been nominated and shortlisted for the Stonewall Bigot of the Year Award:

Alan Craig. In October 2011 Alan Craig caused outrage by comparing gay equality advocates to the invading forces of Nazi Germany and dubbing them the ‘Gaystapo’. In an incendiary Church of England Newspaper article he claimed ‘gay-rights storm troopers take no prisoners as they annex our wider culture’ and that the modest measure to extend marriage to same-sex couples was proof that ‘Nazi expansionist ambitions are far from sated’. In later comments he compared those who challenge bigotry to perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Alan has responded by saying:

“The Bigot of the Year Award is a vicious name-calling Stonewall annual event that reflects more on the donor than the recipient. By attempting to bully, intimidate, humiliate and generate hatred of individuals through the Award, Stonewall fully justifies the Gaystapo tag which I gave the organisation and for which apparently I have been nominated.

That said, it was this comment of Alan’s that really caught my attention:

“Nonetheless if I win the Award over the other candidates and if Stonewall invite me, and permit me without harassment to offer a proper acceptance speech, I plan to attend their Awards dinner and ceremony at the Raphael Gallery on 1st November.”

Love it. Give the man his due he’s got balls.

Gay conversion therapy, exorcism, Christianity and BBC bias

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

An article appeared on the BBC yesterday entitled: Ex-gay survivor’s tales of exorcism in middle England.

It details the travails of Peterson Toscano a Christian gay man and his endeavours to ‘fix’ his sexual orientation through Conversion therapy, ‘deliverance’ and ultimately, what could loosely be described as exorcism.

The general tone of the piece does not cast Christianity in a positive light.

To make my position clear on these issues I can only speak from my own experience. Firstly, I know that no amount of ‘therapy’ would alter my hard-wired sexual proclivity, so why should it anybody else? I believe that exorcism for sexual orientation would be about as useful as attempting to drive out demons from the mentally ill.

That aside, the ever observant Archdruid Eileen noted this little quote:

“…all right the demons are ready to come out now, all you need to do is take a very deep breath out and poof. There they go”.

An unfortunate turn of phrase indeed and Eileen goes on to note other oddities in the article.

To the heart of the matter.

Both Peter Ould and Dr Peter Saunders are quoted in the article and it’s at this point we see just how selective, misleading and biased the BBC article really is.

Here’s Peter’s comments

Well as always 95% of what I said was ignored. Also the line about “offers pastoral support to homosexual Christians, through both the Church of England” rather misses the point that I explicitly told the journalist that I do *not* operate under any Church of England mandate for the bits of pastoral work I do. It’s actually quite misleading what was written in the article.

Indeed, although the piece is presented with myself and Peter Saunders in “for balance”, notice that we don’t get an opportunity to actually engage with Peterson’s experiences and the claim that they were “psychologically damaging”. Indeed, I presented Karen Millington with details of where to go if she wanted to actually document the research on harm from reparative therapy (or indeed the lack of such evidence) but none of that appears in the piece. I also pointed her towards the best longitudinal research done on the subject, the Jones and Yarhouse Exgay Study, but once again no mention. Finally I (and I suspect TFT as well) pointed out very clearly that TFT does not now nor has never promoted orientation change, yet the piece tries to suggest that they do. And one more piece of hyperbole – the line “ Up to 1973, US psychiatrists had been classifying homosexuals as insane” is complete nonsense. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973 but the DSM never suggested homosexuality was a sign of insanity.

It would be nice, if the BBC were *really* interested in balance, if they actually gave us as much time as they give the likes of Peterson Toscano. It would also be nice if they sought to not sensationalise the facts (“insane”). But that’ll never happen, because those of us with a life story contrary to the modern sexual assumptions and facts that challenge the agenda are quietly side-lined and ignored.

Please try harder BBC.

On a pedantic note US psychiatrists could not have classified homosexuals as insane, as this is a legal concept, not a medical one.

And here’s Dr Saunders’ comments:

The full quote I gave the journalist who wrote today’s BBC article read as follows:

‘Many people believe that homosexual and heterosexual are distinct biological categories which are unchangeable, biologically fixed and genetically determined but this view is being increasingly challenged by new research. Sexual attractions are now best understood as lying on a spectrum rather than in terms of a simple dichotomous binary categorisation, and mixed patterns of sexual desire, including attraction to both sexes at the same time and changes in the strength and direction of sexual attraction over time are not uncommon. It is on this basis that some people understandably will seek professional help in dealing with their changing feelings. Professionals providing such care should do so in a way that both respects the beliefs and values of the person seeking help and is also evidence-based.’

They chose only to use the last sentence, I suspect because the other three, about the fluidity of sexual feelings, did not fit with the underlying presupposition of the article that sexual orientation is something fixed, unchangeable and genetically determined and that the only approach to people experiencing feelings of same sex attraction is to encourage them to embrace a ‘gay lifestyle’.

Well, who’d have thought it; a selective, misleading and biased article at the BBC casting Christians in a very poor light.

Film: Innocence of Muslims – The plot thickens

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

God and Politics today looks at responses to the protests and riots taking place as a result of the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims.

The English Defence League have not missed the opportunity to leap upon the bandwagon and have announced that they will be screening the film.

In the meantime, the background to the film becomes ever more dodgy.

Firstly, Richard Bartholomew points out that Joseph Nassralla – Way TV and Media for Christ – has published a statement on Pamela Geller’s blog distancing himself from the film and effectively declaring he was duped by the producer Nakoula – aka Sam Bacile – into using his filming facilities.

I Tweeted about this and received this response:


I didn’t know anything about this letter and so cathyby followed up with this:



And so it appears that actress Anna Gurji involved in the film was herself duped:

I don’t know how to start writing this letter. It’s crazy, the world is.. life.. I’m so shattered right now, I don’t know.. I feel very dead inside.

Last summer I auditioned for an indie low budget feature movie and I landed a supporting role. The movie was about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it for they thought that the comet had some magical powers.

A year later, the movie was dubbed (without the actors’ permission), the lines were changed drastically and the movie was morphed into an Anti-Islam film. Even the names of the characters were changed. And the character I had scenes with GEORGE became MUHAMMAD.

I really need your advice right now? How can I have my voice shown to the world so that I can tell them the real story.

All these media people that keep calling me are using my real story and then chopping or manipulating the interview the way they want to.

I don’t know what to do. It’s very scary, Neil.

Neil asked her to write the story of exactly what happened and I encourage you to hop over even though it’s grim reading.

I’m sure you’ll agree this is a very strange state of affairs indeed….

I’ve been looking for something to be offended over for my cronies

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Ever since this Tweet…..

….I’ve been looking for something to enjoy being offended about and I think I’ve found a couple of things.

Firstly, this Christian Post article:

Evangelicals Should Avoid ‘Muslim-Baiting,’ Says Professor

WASHINGTON – An evangelical professor who was part of a summit on foreign policy held at Georgetown University believes that evangelicals should avoid “Muslim-baiting.”

David Gushee, founder of the organization Evangelicals for Human Rights and professor at Mercer University, told The Christian Post that evangelicals should not participate in projects like the anti-Muhammad film that sparked violent protests in the Middle East.

“We certainly need to have no participation in what you might call ‘Muslim-baiting.’ If we know that attacks on the character of the prophet Muhammad evoke predictably violent reactions, it’s just foolish and unwise and immoral,” said Gushee.

“You want to avoid such things from happening and we need to quarantine out of our community this kind of Muslim-baiting that is happening on our fringes.”

I don’t know of any ‘proper’ evangelicals engaging in ‘Muslim-baiting’ or are liable to produce ‘anti-Muhammad films’, what the heck is the good professor on about? Now if he wants to talk about fundamentalist extremists that’s a different matter.

My second offering is from the Telegraph which features comments by Roger Bolton warning that Christians are being treated unfairly in TV broadcasting compared with other faiths. It’s an interesting article and I suspect many will agree with the premise.

The headline and subheadline caught my attention:

The TV elite ‘assume Christians are lunatics’

The BBC and other broadcasters are dominated by a “liberal secular elite” whose “default position” is to assume that Christians are “lunatics”, a Radio 4 broadcaster warned last night.

As you can see much is made of the ‘lunatic’ element which appears entirely derived from this comment by Bolton:

“There should at least be an effort to say that just because somebody is against gay marriage or against IVF doesn’t necessarily mean they are a lunatic – it is part of their belief, they have a genuine problem here with the legal authority or whatever – understand that position”

‘Lunacy’ is closely tied with ‘insanity’ which is a legal definition and certainly depicts ‘unsound mind’; or from the urban dictionary, ‘crazy’ or ‘psychotic’.

A couple of things occurred to me.

Perhaps it really does seem as insanity to believe as we do, especially to those without the Grace for Faith. How about this Scripture from the Aramaic Bible in Plain English:

1 Corinthians 1:18

The message of the crucifixion is insanity to the lost, but to those of us who have life it is the power of God.

So perhaps the Bible itself tells us that non-believers will consider our beliefs as ‘insane’; therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised.

The other point is where does this leave the ‘insane’ Christian? Are they less of a Christian because they are insane? Does this negate or diminish their faith?

I decided to make mention of this Telegraph article on Twitter to MentalHealthCop and he responded:

An excellent point indeed.

By the way I’m not really offended by any of this and wasn’t going to blog at all, but felt encouraged and spurred on by this comment:

Why don’t you just give up blogging and give us all a rest! What drivel you and your cronies turn out. For God’s sake get a life!

I’m heartened to learn I have cronies….

So this blog post is for you dear commenter and my army of cronies.

Goodnight x

Historian Tom Holland’s Channel 4 film Islam: The Untold Story cancelled over security fears

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Cowardly and gutless:

Channel 4 has cited concerns over security as the reason for cancelling a planned screening at its headquarters this week of a documentary film questioning the origins of Islam.

Islam: The Untold Story, which claimed there was little written contemporary evidence about the origin of the religion, sparked more than 1,000 complaints to Channel 4 and the media regulator after it was broadcast two weeks ago.

Its presenter, the historian Tom Holland, was also the focus of substantial criticism, as well as abuse, on Twitter.

The channel said in a statement on Tuesday: “Having taken security advice we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme, Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film, which is still available to view on 4oD.”


You can read Channel 4 and Holland defending the film here.

And you can watch the film here on 4oD

A few good links

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Independent (Patrick Cockburn) Neglect of the mentally ill is the great scandal of our times. Are we prepared to pay for the solution?

iBenedictines – Does Blogging Help or Hinder Online Debate?

MentalHealthCop- Suicide Prevention

Vic the Vicar – Creepy Christians and the Media

Leaving Fundamentalism – Former ACE employee turns whistleblower

Cranmer – Fascist Green Party expels Christian councillor over gay marriage

Guardian (Nick Cohen) – Our children go hungry for want of Tory compassion

Fr Z – “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much.”

Elder of Ziyon – Muslims freak over “Judaizing” Christian concert south of Temple Mount

Church of England and Revd Eva McIntyre did not say Jesus may have suffered mental health problems

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Quite bizarrely, articles have appeared today on the web with headlines such as this from the Express:


This has generated a fair amount of scorn and derision.

The first oddity is that these headlines are being derived from a joint initiative between the Church of England and the mental health charity Time to Change to combat mental illness stigma last October.

To be precise the initiative was launched to mark World Mental Health Day 2011 and a pack was created, providing ideas and resources for churches to plan worship on the theme of mental health.

I hope you’ll agree this is a fantastic resource.

The tabloids appear to have picked up on the sermon suggestion written by Revd Eva McIntyre which is as follows:

Many of the people we read about in Bible stories might today be considered as having mental health issues. For example; Would Jesus’ family maybe on occasion have said, “Cousin John is a bit odd, bless him!” when John the Baptist took to his eccentric style of life? It has long been thought that King Saul, in the books of Samuel, was displaying mood swings that suggest he had bi-polar disorder and some think that St Paul’s Damascus Road experience was the result of some sort of breakdown or psychotic episode. Even Jesus was not immune to accusations about his mental health – there is a story in the gospel that tells of his mother and siblings attempting to take him home because they are afraid that he has lost his mind. Many of the stories of the Saints, too, have led people to discuss their mental health – for example; was Saint Francis suffering from a mental health title? (You may wish to use biblical quotations in this section).

Some may find these suggestions disturbing or offensive even. Perhaps we need to ask why it would be so terrible to think that some of our most inspirational forebears might have experienced mental health illness! Do we mistakenly believe that God cannot or will not work through people with mental health illness? Do we transfer our judgment of the capacity of others onto God? Do we think that mental illness is one condition that makes people less able to do God’s work, more unlikely to be able to articulate spiritual truth, and unable to participate meaningfully in worship?

Who do we think ‘these people’ are? Statistics show us that one in four people suffer from mental health illness during their lives. That figure is based on those who go to the GP for help; the true figure is likely to be even higher. That means; in a congregation of 50 people, at least 12 people will have experienced or be experiencing mental health issues. That includes the clergy and ministers, too! These conditions are part of human living; they are often caused by life experience such as grief, trauma and loss. These are things that happen to all of us and none of us should have to suffer in silence for fear of what others might think or say!

Mental illnesses are real conditions that occur in real people – they are not a sign of weakness or an excuse; they involve real suffering and need understanding and appropriate responses, just like any other condition we might have. Those who suffer don’t need people saying ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘I know just how you feel’. What is needed is understanding and a listening ear – and not being talked to as though you are only the illness and not a whole human being. A problem shared can be a problem halved if the friend is actually listening.

If we are following the teaching of Jesus who met people where they were in life and reached out to them in love and healing, Churches will be places of welcome, friendship and acceptance. It is our ministry to educate ourselves about mental health and to make sure that our welcome is appropriate and that no-one who enters our church experiences prejudice or feels stigmatized.

As you can see there is absolutely no insinuation that Jesus suffered from mental health problems, but that Jesus was not immune to such accusations.

The Bible is not a medical text but it is no stretch to find mental troubles within the Scriptures. We have the weeping prophet, the addicted strong man, the bipolar king, the suicidal Qoheleth, the depressed Psalmist, the intensely grieved, the self-harmer, and of course the man of sorrow.

And through them all we witness the compassion and forgiveness of our loving Father and His willingness to touch us and accept us to His heart despite it all.

This is the very wonder of God, in that He works through and uses the very ordinary and even the broken.

And let’s be honest, some of our finest Saints and Forefathers certainly had their mental issues.

But the question remains: Why would the tabloids suddenly leap upon this initiative with misleading headlines nearly a year after the pack and sermon suggestion were released?

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