Posts Tagged ‘Central Europe’

Pax Christi and Christian Anti-War Groups

December 27, 2015

Several of my relatives are Roman Catholics. I was at their parish church yesterday, as I’d been invited to join them for a special family service. Looking around one of the stalls in their church carrying the church’s religious and devotional literature, I found several newsletters from Pax Christi. They’re the official Roman Catholic peace movement, and are part of a broader Christian organisation, the Network of Christian Peace Organisations. The other Christian peace groups in the Network include the following:

Anglican Pacifist Fellowship
Baptist Peace Fellowship
Campaign Against Arms Trade Christian Network
Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Christian International Peace Service
Church and Peace
Community of Reconciliation
Congregational Peace Fellowship
Fellowship of Reconciliation England
Franciscan Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation
Martin Luther King Peace Committee
Methodist Peace Fellowship
Northern Friends Peace Board
Pax Christi
Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Student Christian Movement
United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship.

Pax Christi in Britain publishes a monthly newsletter, Justpeace. The April 2015 edition gives a brief history of Pax Christi International and an overview of their activities across the world. According to the newsletter, it was

founded in France in March 1945 as Catholic movement for peace and reconciliation following World War II, Pax Christi International is now a network of 115 member organisations on five continents with over a hundred thousand members worldwide.

Recognised by Pope Pius XII as the official Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi has also always been autonomous, with members of the hierarchy, clergy and laypeople working together as equals for peace and reconciliation in situations of violence and war around the world. The presidency of Pax Christi International, for example, is shared by a bishop, Bishop Kevin Dowling from South Africa, and a lay woman, Marie Dennis from the United States, both of whom were elected by Pax Christi member organisations.

Pax Christi International has held consultative status at the United Nations since 1979 and is working at the UN in Geneva, New York, Vienna and Paris. It is also officially represented at the African Union and the Council of Europe and has regular access to the European Parliament, the European Commission and NATO.

Among its activities across the world, Pax Christi is involved in

* a multi-year strategy to address deep-seated racism in the United States

* dynamic ‘sports for peace’ programs in South Sudan and Haiti

* strategies to integrate former combatants back into their own communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo

* courses in preventive reconciliation using the principles of haikido in the Philippines.

* efforts to address destructive mining practices in Colombia and Peru;

* advocacy and campaigning at a national and international level for the abolition of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; for a meaningful arms trade treaty; for an end to the use of depleted uranium in weapons.

* ‘peace week’ initiatives, many of them annual, in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, the African Great Lakes region, Kosovo, Russia, Croatia, the Philippines and Colombia.

* collaboration with local partners to support active nonviolence in southern Mexico.

* excellent grassroots peace education programs in Lebanon and Philippines.

* exchanges of experience between civil society from the Middle East and from Central Europe on their role in bringing about nonviolent social change

* work with the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), our partner in Brazil, in response to growing conflict over land – and

* ongoing work with civil society groups in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

The Network of Christian Peace Organisations and Trident at the General Election

The NCPO also produced a General Election Briefing for this last year’s election in order to promote disarmament and specifically to tackle the government’s intention to introduce Trident. Their very short – four page! – pamphlet outlined the way Christians and church groups could work to promote peace, and had short sections on the issues of Military Spending and Human Security, Renewal of Trident, the UK Arms Trade , the UK Armed Drones Programme and Britain’s Role in the World. It included questions and requests that should be asked of politicians respecting these issues. The pamphlet also carried details of other organisations dealing with those specific issues and their websites.

Pax Christi and Atomic Weapons

Pax Christi also produced a little pamphlet outlining their opposition to nuclear weapons. This included statements by the Church, including papacy, condemning them. Pope Francis last year (2014) declared that ‘Nuclear deterrence cannot be the basis for an ethics of solidarity and peaceful coexistence among people and states’.

His predecessor, Benedict XVI, in 2007 was much stronger in his condemnation. He said, ‘What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries?… that nuclear weapons have any place in civilised society, is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims’.

The Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World in 1965 states in article 80 that

Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities and or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and humanity. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

This is all enough to have Pat Robertson and the right-wing American evangelicals start screaming ‘Social gospel! Social gospel!’ at the top of their lungs, before launching into a long tirade about how ‘cultural Marxism’ is undermining society. And just to show you how ‘Christian’ some of these right-wingers are, a few of them flew into a rage this past year when Pope Francis said something rather left-wing. They like Christianity, but only when it appears to support their prejudices and policies.

I’m not a member of Pax Christi or any of the other organisations. But if you’re a Christian and would like to join their witness for peace, their address is:

NCPO, c/o Pax Christi,
St Joseph’s, Watford Way,
London NW4 4TY

and their website is http://www.ncpo.org.uk

Pax Christi is also on the web. Their address is http://www.paxchristi.net.

May God bless them and their work.

UKIP Appoint Anti-NHS Preacher as Candidate For Coventry

February 14, 2015

George Hargreaves

George Hargreaves: UKIP Candidate and Controversial Preacher. From the Isle of Man (Deviants! Yes! There are no deviants on the Isle of Man!)

Over on the Purple Rain blog at Hope Not Hate is the report that UKIP have appointed the controversial Christian preacher, Rev. George Hargreaves, as their candidate for Coventry South. Hargreaves was the founder and leader of the short-lived Christian party, branches of which he set up around the UK in 2005-7, following his foundation of the Christian People’s Alliance and Operation Christian Vote in 2004. Hargreaves has pronounced views on a number of controversial topics. He wishes to ban abortion, euthanasia, embryo experimentation and to introduce compulsory Christian teaching in schools. He also wants the return of the death penalty, and, of course, as a Kipper is firmly behind UKIP’s policy that Britain should leave the EU.

The article is entitled UKIP Enlist Anti Gay Zealot For Coventry South , because Hargreaves, like many other Kippers, has strong views against homosexuality. He regards it as a sin, and demands the reintroduction of Clause 28, the law Maggie Thatcher attempted to pass outlawing the promotion of homosexuality in schools. He is also against gays adopting children and has even gone so far as to say that gay men with AIDs should be denied treatment by the NHS because their illness is ‘self-inflicted’.

The article points out that Hargreave’s views on gays are remarkable, given that he was the pop producer and songwriter, who promoted the 80’s stars Sinitta and Yazz. Sinitta’s hits ‘So Macho’ and ‘Cruising’ were massively popular amongst the gay community, and partly responsible for Hargreaves becoming a multi-millionaire tax exile in the Isle of Man.

Fast Show Isle of Man

Typical residents of the Isle of Man according to the Fast Show

Where there are no deviants!

Sorry, flashback to all the jokes in the Fast Show about weirdoes from the Isle of Man shouting ‘There are no deviants on the Isle of Man’. His stance against homosexuality and AIDS is particularly remarkable, and seems particularly callous, considering that one of Hargreave’s song-writing partners, and former flatmate, was gay and died of the disease.

The article begins:

UKIP have enlisted the services of a controversial Christian preacher as their prospective parliamentary candidate for the Coventry South seat in the May General Election, much to the annoyance of the local party.

The Reverend George Hargreaves, the former leader of The Christian Party is certainly a controversial choice for the West Midlands seat and adds fuel to the fire when it comes to accusations of UKIP being homophobic.

Hargreaves is a former music producer and songwriter, who promoted 80’s pop acts Sinitta, Yazz and Five Star amongst others. His biggest claim to fame was writing Sinitta’s hit records “So Macho” and “Cruising” which both became gay anthems in the 1980’s, making George Hargreaves a millionaire from the royalties and which saw him later move to The Isle of Man as a tax exile.

During his time on the Manx island, Hargreaves embraced Christianity and became a Pentecostal minister. Soon after he became involved in politics, standing for The Referendum Party in the 1997 General Election.

Hargreaves went on to help form The Christian People’s Alliance and in 2004 formed Operation Christian Vote, which stood candidates across the UK in the 2004 European Elections. and which saw George Hargreaves stand for OCV in several parliamentary by-elections.

Hargreaves formed The Christian Party in 2005 and in 2007 saw the formation of The Scottish Christian Party, set up by Hargreaves to contest the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Hargreaves used the money, generated by the royalties of Sinitta’s hit singles to fund the campaign, which had a strong anti gay message, describing homosexuality as “a sin” and calling for a hard-line stance against abortion and euthanasia along with supporting a return of the death penalty and withdrawal from the EU.

The article’s at http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/ukip-enlist-anti-gay-zealot-for-coventry-south-4270

Hargreaves on Satanism and the Welsh Flag

Many of Hargreave’s views, although controversial, actually aren’t unreasonable. Many Christians object to abortion, euthanasia and embryo research because they feel that these violate the sanctity of human life. The argument here is that these assume that there are certain classes of human, who can be killed and experimented upon, and who therefore have less rights than the well, able-bodied or biologically fully developed. A dangerous precedent. As for his views on capital punishment and homosexuality, while they’re extreme, they’re shared by a wide section of British society, beyond those whose would consider themselves religious.

Where his views get really bizarre is on the subject of the Welsh flag. He wanted the dragon removed from it, because it was a symbol of Satan. He also objected to Manchester United having a badge showing a pitch-forking wielding devil, because it was satanic. Now, a devil clearly is a symbol of Satan, but Hargreaves missed the point somewhat. There’s a difference between cartoon devils, like the one on the Man UTD badge, and real Satanic worship. I doubt very many people have seriously gone over to worshipping the forces of darkness because of Man UTD, though a daresay the team’s rivals probably have other opinions.

What the Article Doesn’t Say: Hargreaves on the NHS

The article states that Hargreaves appears to have been appointed as Coventry South’s official candidate against the wishes of the local party, who already had their own candidate, Mark Taylor. It suggests that Farage, a very wealthy individual, was attracted to Hargreaves because he also is a multi-millionaire.

That may well be part of it.

I also suspect another part of it is that Hargreave’s shares Farage’s views on the NHS. The article doesn’t mention it, but Hargreaves is against it, and the rest of the welfare state. When Hargreaves and his white colleague in the Christian Party appeared on TV screens appealing for votes nearly a decade ago, Private Eye did a brief feature on them. Put simply, they’re connected to a number of extreme right wing American think tanks and organisations, and had made statements themselves about getting rid of the NHS and welfare state. That’s clearly not something that Farage wants to make known, as he is very aware that it will cost him votes. He does seem perfectly comfortable with someone who has a bitter hatred of homosexuals, however, even when some other Christians have far less extreme views. The I newspaper carried a series of letters from Christian ministers and theologians, who supported gay marriage. This was partly based on the existence of marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples from the medieval Byzantine and central European churches.

Hargreaves vs. Keir Hardie

Hargreave’s profoundly anti-Socialist views contrast very strongly with those of Keir Hardie, the founder of the ILP. Hardie like many in the early Labour movement had been a lay preacher, and it seems that he regarded himself throughout his life as a radical Christian. Late in his life he wrote

The impetus which drove me first of all into the Labour movement and inspiration which has carried me on in it … has derived more from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth than from all other sources combined.

In the choice between Hargreaves and Hardie, Hardie wins every time.

Meanwhile, here’s a selection of Fast Show clips about the Isle of Man.