Posts Tagged 'Religion'

Untouchable in Southall, never mind Delhi

Guest Post by Mike Cunningham

In penning this post, I have attempted to pinpoint yet another failure in this so-called Coalition Government’s ideas about true equality and their seeming all-too-readiness to pander to special interest groups, such as extremely well-funded Hindu Brahmin groups who have all the power, money and access to commerce, and wish to retain that power, money and access for themselves.

Equality Minister Helen Grant stated: “I made no secret … of my disappointment that it has been necessary for the Government to concede to making an order to include caste as an element of race in the Equality,” Grant wrote in a letter to the Alliance of Hindu Organizations dated May 9. She further stated:- We also have concerns that incorporating caste into domestic law – even in the context of anti-discrimination – may send out the wrong signal (my emphasis) that caste is somehow becoming a permanent feature of British society.”

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Some six years ago, I wrote a piece on the astounding number of ‘Untouchables’, or Dalits, to give them their Indian title, in the country which proudly advertises itself as ‘the largest Democracy in the world’. Largest, it may well be; but Democratic? No Way! Allow me to explain.

India is one of the world’s most heavily-populated countries, being second only to China in numbers, but apart from the well-known political and public figures, there is little awareness amongst the wider public in how India governs itself, both in terms of religion, politics and social structure. The main religion in India is Hinduism, and the social structure which has emerged from this belief structure is the “Caste” system, whereby a religion is allowed to dictate that people are only allowed to do certain jobs, marry certain women, and even are dictated how they are treated after their deaths. For the upper circles, who are known as ‘Brahmin’, the professions are religious priests, political and military leaders; land owners are from the ‘Kshatriya’ caste, the vast majority of laborers, artisans and technicians are ‘Shudra’; but the one “Caste” which is not well publicised or even acknowledged are the “Harijan”, otherwise known as the Dalits, or “Untouchables”. These people, sentenced by, and at birth, to be sewage workers, cleaners of filth and human refuse, number some twenty percent of the population, and in a country which prides itself upon it’s democratic roots and government, it is indeed a strange commentary that one-fifth of it’s population is barred from rising out of the sewers and into everyday life!

Although the actual discriminatory process against the ‘Dalits’ was outlawed by the first Independent Indian parliament, in practice this abuse of their ordinary rights as human beings has persisted, and in many areas grown stronger, as the ruling Hindu parties, whether in or out of power, all subscribe to the casual barring of some 220 million Indians from just about all state higher education, all technical education, most jobs which are not akin to the allegedly “unclean” tasks such as sewage workers or latrine cleaners. In many cafes or restaurants, separate glasses are kept for the Dalits, just in case a ‘higher caste’ person is defiled by contact with a “Dirty Dalit”. One Dalit who managed to attain a higher education was severely beaten by his classmates for daring to achieve a higher marks than they did. A practice for certain ‘higher-caste’ people in earlier times was to actually send servants down a road to ensure that they would not be contaminated by a Dalit’s gaze, never mind his presence.

One of the two most famous ‘Untouchables’ was Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a mild-mannered but strong opponent of all discrimination, who was elected to the Constituent Assembly by the Bombay Legislature Congress Party. Dr Ambedkar joined Nehru’s Cabinet. He became the First Law Minister of Independent India and helped write India’s Constitution. His one regret was that he did not persuade Ghandi to support stronger anti-discrimination legislation, but his attempts were blocked by strong Hindu opposition. In his later years, he saw that opposition to the emancipation of his fellow ‘Dalits’ become further entrenched, despite the supposed end of discrimination.

The other political firebrand was one Kanshi Ram, who attempted to build his own political power base within the ‘Dalit’ community, and in fact managed to engineer the election of a Dalit woman, Mayawati, as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, but has since accepted before his death that no one “Untouchable” organization is capable of coming to terms with the aspirations of a quarter-billion people!

So the next tactic of hundreds of thousands of Dalits is to convert to Buddhism; the thinking being that if they are no longer ‘Dalit’ in practice, they cannot be discriminated against, and it would be seen as doubly illegal for any to discriminate against a separate religion. They seem to have struck a nerve, because Hindi political parties in several Indian states are preparing legislation which would prevent any Hindu departing from their religion and accepting another God. Rajahstan and Madyha Pradesh have already introduced civil laws which would prevent any Dalit from leaving Hinduism without registering first with the state government, and Gujarat, a hardline Hindu state, is considering introducing a law which states that Buddhism is a version of Hinduism, so desperate are the traditional Hindu people to keep in servitude millions of their fellow countrymen.

So here we stand, in the second most populous country on Earth, with the prospect of ‘affirmative action’ as one political solution proposed for all commerce in India, where any factory, office or workshop would have to employ a percentage of ‘Dalits’ in order to comply with the law, when it is almost universally accepted that ’Quotas’ never have, and never will, work. Why ‘affirmative action’? Because it’s a politician’s dream, to lay the burden for their stupidity and cupidity on someone else’s shoulders, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t grasp the thorny problem of stating, “No discrimination based on birth, color, belief or way of life is lawful, and thus shall not be allowed!” That is the solution, but it will be many years before the wider world sees an Indian “Untouchable” as a possible Prime Minister, if ever!

I write and recollect this post because, unknown to myself and probably 99% of the population of Great Britain, this disgusting philosophy is both resident and thriving in our cities and towns. According to an item broadcast at 01.30 minutes into the programme on today’s ‘Sunday’ on BBC Radio 4, the Coalition Government has purposely  delayed even publishing legislation covering ‘Caste Discrimination’ until after the next General Election. There are some one million Hindus resident in Great Britain, and in the past I have commented on the ’fact’ that they seem to have merged into our British society with minimum difficulty, with the sole exception of changing our burial laws to allow their open-air cremations in accord with their own custom and religion. It now has emerged that some 400,000 Indians living in these Islands are discriminated on a daily basis because of their BIRTH,  and hence because of the presumed ‘Caste’ and place in the rigid hierarchy of some weird religious writings, all of which, incidentally, were composed by, guess who? The Brahmins, otherwise known as the very top of the heap, and it is some ‘heap’, in daily Hindi life.

I listened to the weasel words of the Brahmin contributor to that Sunday Programme, and I could not help comparing my thoughts to those of the great Playwright and Author himself, when he wrote, “Firstly, lets kill all the lawyers’” Not, of course, because I wished that man evil, but because he spoke of the ‘great complexity’ of the problem; of the ‘great difficulty’ in removing this disgraceful, lunatic and truly hurtful religious discrimination from a large number of people who are suffering innumerable insults because of who their antecedents were some centuries ago!

Mike blogs at Fire, Pillage & Plague

The dead hand of the State intruding on freedom of religious belief

Where on earth (for it’s not from heaven) does this government get its inspiration for this kind of policy making on the hoof?

The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced.

What next? Regulating the size and ingredients of communion wafers? Setting a maximum alcohol by volume percentage for altar wine? How about the pews? Will there be legislation to ban churches from having kneeling cushion padding thinner than an inch?

The State has no business interfering in matters of religious conscience in this way. Being somewhat libertarian I go with the concept of people and organisations being allowed to do as they see fit, providing it does not cause harm to the well-being of others. If a church wishes to sanction same sex marriage, that is a matter for them. If a church opposes same sex marriage, that too is a matter for them.

A potential can of worms involving EU law, which the government is hoping to avoid by specifically banning the CofE from conducting same sex marriages, is only looming on the horizon because government would not leave alone something it had no business involving itself with in the first place.

When a government starts legislating in matters such as this in such a way, regardless if they think they have people’s best interests at heart, it is demonstrating it is far over reaching itself and has too much power. That should be a concern for us all.

Freedom is not something that can be granted to us from an office, it is ours by right. When a government confers freedoms and rights on us, it is showing we are not free at all because it can just as easily take away anything it has given. The CofE may be the established church in this country, but nevertheless it should be free of political interference and diktat. Cameron & Co are showing it is not.

Warsi opens prejudice can of worms

This morning I started shaping my response to that antithesis of meritocracy, Baroness Warsi, who is now directing her hectoring tones to the issue of ‘Islamophobia’ and what she describes as prejudice against Muslims.

The focus of my post was on the definition of the words prejudice and phobia and how these two words are now routinely abused by those who seek to unjustly demonise people for what they think. But I have just seen that Longrider has already said it all with great clarity, and therefore I warmly commend his fine post to you.

There are people who are ignorant and hostile to a group of people purely because of their identity or race.  That stereotyping makes them bigots.  But for many people their dislike of certain individuals has been formed through experience and knowledge gained through interaction and close observation.  There is a big difference.

When such discerning people are criticised for possessing the informed viewpoint they do – which is what Warsi risks doing – that makes the critics the bigoted ones.  It is something Baroness Warsi would be well advised to be mindful of, before her comments form the central plank of a new attack on freedom of thought.

Update: Gawain also offers a valuable contribution to the debate.  Lord Tebbit explains why Warsi should not have plunged into this argument.  His Grace also turns his formidable intellect to the discussion. Dick Puddlecote says Warsi should not be surprised at concern about Muslims after the hysterical security measures against Islamist terror attacks.

‘Dad, I hate Muslims’

That was the comment a youngster in front of me made to her father earlier this evening. She could not have been any older than 12 or 13 years old. But she was clearly so angered by the behaviour of a group of thugs calling themselves Muslims Against Crusades, who burnt a large poppy and protested against British troops during the two-minute silence, she decided she felt hatred for Muslims.

I did not hear the father’s response. Having returned home and seen the reports and images of these so called protesters, their faces contorted into hate filled expressesions, it is easy to understand why that little girl said what she did.

Why should people in this country have to tolerate the poisonous presence of Islamist extremists who take what this country has to offer but despise it in return? People who select a solemn occasion dating back decades that now marks the sacrifice of altogether too many young men and women who lost their lives in wars to defeat tyranny, and use it to slander young men and women who serve their country today.

It is they, not the men and women of our armed forces, who are the terrorists. It is they who engaged in fighting with police. It is they who sought to offend people with their ignorant protest deliberately aimed to spark a reaction. It is they who demand Britain conforms to their warped medieval vision of an Islamic caliphate. It is they who conveniently ignore the fact that the majority of people who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have died at the hands of similarly aggressive and hate filled Muslims.

Who was it blowing up hundreds of innocent people at a time in markets and bazaars around Baghdad and other towns and cities? It wasn’t our armed forces. It was Sunni slaughtering Shia and Shia slaughtering Sunni. In Afghanistan who was it cutting the throats of people for having educational qualifications or bringing medical aid to civilians? Who murdered people for playing music or supporting the idea of girls attending school? Muslim terror writ large. It was the product of intolerance, hatred and a view that their form of the Islamic faith was somehow more correct than any other.

Where were these London based poppy burning pieces of scum when that was happening? Most likely they were talking big behind closed doors while shitting themselves at the idea of standing up to their ‘brothers’. Too terrified to stand against the real terrorists in their supposed Muslim homelands, they chose the coward’s way and picked a disciplined target that is trained to operate within the rule of law and would not represent a threat to them. Men and women who helped tidy up after the carnage dispensed by the adherents of the laughably self titled ‘religion of peace’.

The real victims of these hypocritical zealots will be those Muslims who have no truck with extremism and just want to live their lives here in peace, but who will be tarred with the same brush. Yet more Muslim casualties of Muslim violence. Ironic, no? Perhaps they need to put a whole lot of distance between themselves and these vile parasites in our midst.

Letter places Pope in abuse cover-up

Pope Benedict XVI, previously the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, resisted pleas from a Californian diocese to defrock a priest with a record of molesting children, putting ‘the good of the universal Church’, above other considerations, according to a 1985 letter that has emerged bearing Ratzinger’s signature.

The Diocese of Oakland requested in 1981 that Father Stephen Kiesle be removed from the priesthood because he had abused children.  Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years’ probation after pleading no contest to charges of molesting two young boys in a rectory in the San Francisco Bay area.  The Vatican failed to respond for four years, and it was a further two years after the letter signed by Ratzinger that Kiesle was finally defrocked.  Despite this, a Vatican spokesman stated:

“The then Cardinal Ratzinger didn’t cover up the case, but as the letter clearly shows, made clear the need to study the case with more attention, taking into account the good of all involved.”

This is obscene.  There was nothing to study.  A priest had admitted molesting two boys and the Diocese acted correctly in asking the Vatican to defrock him.  But the desire to protect the reputation of the Church was put before the young victims and doing what was necessary to remove Kiesle from a position of trust.

The Catholic Church is long overdue a return to the kind of pastoral approach taken by Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, who occupied the Seat of Peter for only one month in 1978.  Since the loss of this great man, the Church has lumbered to an extreme position, with fanatics from Opus Dei infesting the Vatican and turning matters of faith into political intrigues and public relations issues.

The hypocrisy and deceit of the Roman Curia on the subject of child sex abuse has destroyed trust in the Roman Catholic Church.  The constant denials have been shown to be false.  Attempts to equate the investigation into what the Pope knew about abuse cases with the persecution of the Jews reveal a sickening self pity combined with a desire to hide the truth.

If this was a criminal investigation, charges of perjury would be justified.  Sadly that will not be the case and many in the upper echelons of the Curia will continue to put the Church before law, order and the protection of vulnerable people put at risk by vile men who have used the Church as a way of gaining access to victims.

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Disgraceful Vatican sermon cheapens persecution of Jews

The reported comments of the Pope’s personal preacher, Rev Raniero Cantalamessa, likening criticism of the Roman Catholic Church about sex abuse scandals involving clergy and allegations that Pope Benedict XVI failed to act when told of an abusive priest in his charge, to the ‘more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism’, are nothing more than a sick and unjustified attempt at assuming victim status.

Father Cantalamessa, during the Good Friday mass in St Peter’s, read out part of a letter from a Jewish friend who said he was ‘following with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, [and] the Pope’. The author of the letter, quoted by Fr Cantalamessa went on to say that:

‘The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism’.

This is the most warped and fallacious interpretation of what is happening today.  The Catholic clergy is not being criticised for being Catholic, but for the failure to stop the sexual abuse of children by clergy when it was reported. An allegation has been made against the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and it should be investigated.  There is absolutely no comparison between the persecution of Jews and the entirely appropriate condemnation of the covering up of physical and sexual abuse by a relatively small number of clergy, and failure to prevent sexual predators being moved on and placed in positions of trust where they could continue to assault children. These carefully calculated comments cheapen the vicious persecution of Jews.

How can the man responsible for supporting the Pope in his faith possibly be allowed to remain in his position, after attempting to have the Church assume victim status and criticise the very people who were subjected to sickening attacks?  There can be no clearer example of self serving moral relativism than this.  It is disgraceful.

What makes this episode all the more outrageous is that it comes at the most holy time in the Catholic calendar, Easter.  This is supposed to be a time of renewal, where the Church teaches that Jesus Christ died to bring salvation to mankind from its sins. But far from an apology, a display of humility or attempt to atone for the wrongs committed by a number of Catholic priests, Fr Cantalamessa has displayed appalling self indulgence. For a man of God, Fr Cantalamessa has a questionable sense of morality and more than a sense of hypocrisy about him.

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