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by Robert Graves
Witches have made headlines recently both in Germany and England. Mob violence is reported from Franconia, a Catholic province with a somewhat backward peasant population, against half-crazed old women accused of bewitching their neighbours. Farmer Sepp's best cow dies mysteriously, lice infest his house, his well dries up, his wife miscarries. Who is to blame? Old Mitzi, of course, who lives at the end of the land and once mumbled something nasty when Farmer Sepp accused her of stealing his apples. Nobody likes Old Mitzi, and the cat is doubtless a demonic familiar.
Julius Streicher, Nazi editor of Der Sturmer and Gauleiter of Franconia, exploited these old-fashioned witch-hunting instincts when he blamed the Jews for all Germany's ills. Now that the Jews have all gone, peasants vent their spite on witches again.
The sudden spread of organized witch groups in modem Britain follows naturally from Dr. Margaret Murray's anthropological studies, Witchcraft in Western. Europe and The God of the Witches, published a generation ago. She surprised her readers by -presenting witches as members of an ancient British fertility cult - akin to those of Greece, Italy and Germany - whom the Christians persecuted for their stubborn traditionalism and who, despite all witness to the contrary, were harmless enough.
Until then, the popular view of witches had been the semi-comic Victorian one of the old crones in steeple hats riding through the moonlit air on brooms. Witch-hunts were ascribed to mass-hysteria, like the frequent reports of flying saucers a few years ago; and lawyers could smile at our famous legal authority, Blackstone of The Commentaries, who wrote: 'To deny the possibility, nay, the actual existence of witchcraft, is to contradict the revealed world of God.' Blackstone had in mind I Samuel xxviii, 7-25, when the Witch of Endor raised up Samuel's ghost for Saul. But he can have placed little reliance in the confessions of supposed witches, extorted under the Witchcraft Act of 1541 by inquisitors armed with the official handbook, Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches. Witch trials had been a public scandal at the time, although Elizabeth's inquisitors did not use the rack, hot tongs, tooth-drawing, or other crude Continental methods which violated English Common Law.
The witch's alleged crimes - of blasting crops, producing abortions in women and impotence in men, causing murrain among cattle, raising gales to wreck ships, killing by use of wax images or direct means - were all subsidiary to a greater sin of a pact with the Devil. Confession of this sin was readily obtained by anticipation of modern brain-washing techniques.
The word witch derives from the Anglo-Saxon wicca, 'a magician who weakens the power of evil'; and it was held that these 'powers of evil' could be identified and weakened only by a priest. A witch was taking too much on himself by his spells. Before the Norman Conquest, however, a proved witch had merely to do penance, though in some cases for as much as seven years; it was not until 1562 that he could be condemned to death. Many thousands of witches were then hanged: most charges being prompted by fear, malice, revenge, hope of gain, or sheer fanaticism - just as, in war¬time, spies are seen everywhere. King James I intervened personally at the trial of the North Berwick witches, who confessed that they had attempted to wreck his ship by throwing a christened cat into the sea. This offended his common sense, and he shouted out that they lied. But Agnes Sampson, a leader of the coven answered quietly that she did not wish him to think her a liar. Drawing James aside, she repeated word for word the conversation which had passed between him and his Danish queen in bed on their wedding night. Such manifest proof of second sight tilled him with fear: and the witches were accordingly hanged.
Witch-hunting in England was largely the sport of Puritans. They took to heart the Mosaic command in Exodus xxii, 18: 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live !' Though a distinction had been hitherto made between 'white witches', who did cures or told fortunes in the name of the Virgin or the Saints, and the 'black witches', who followed their own dark devices, a witch's colour made no odds to the Puritans. After the Reformation their madness slowly cooled, but it was not until George II's reign that the various Witchcraft Acts were replaced by one making the crime punishable only if used for monetary fraud. In 1950, this was superseded by the 'Fraudulent Mediums Act', when a confession of witchcraft became no more dangerous than that of atheism. Three or four covens seem somehow to have survived in England when Dr. Murray's sympathetic reassessment of organized witchcraft made a revival possible. It was helped by Britain's rapid de- Christianization, which did not imply a moral decline, but rather a criticism of church-going as inadequate to spiritual needs and out-of- step with history and science. Some of the younger generation took to ideal Communism or Nuclear Disarmament. But the witch cult, presented by Dr. Murray as a more ancient form of worship than Christianity, attracted the daredevils.
Its revival allowed full play to the stronger human emotions. Witches met secretly in wooded country, not in cold Gothic cathedrals or red- brick chapels. Women took as important a part in the dancing, singing, and feasting as men.
Each 'coven' consisted of six pairs, either husbands and wives, or engaged couples, and an officiating priestess. All went naked. Tests of fortitude under flagellation and horrific danger, the raising of spirits, cauldron stirrings, incense burning, love feasts, round- dances performed back to back, served one main purpose: that of reaching an ecstatic state in which the magnetic force of the whole coven was focused on some unanimously chosen object. Strange phenomena were then experienced - among them, it was said, visions of past and future. To concentrate this force, the rites were formed in a magic circle cut on turf.
I am not a witch myself and have never assisted at any Sabbath. Although most English witches of my acquaintance are honest idealists, the craft attracts hysterical or perverted characters and, there being no longer a Grand Master or Chief Devil to discipline them, schisms and dissolutions are frequent in covens.
The main architect of this revival was an elderly Scottish anthropologist, now dead, Dr. Gerald Gardner, curator of a Witchcraft Museum in the Isle of Man, and author of Witchcraft Today, a popular apology for his fellow-witches.
Dr. Gardner was first initiated into a Hertfordshire coven whose traditions had, it seems, been reinterpreted by a group of theosophists before being aligned with his own views of what young witches need in the way of fun and games. A female deity whom Dr. Gardner identified with the ancient European Moon-goddess, was preferred to Dr. Murray's Homed God.
Witchcraft Today, with a foreword by Dr. Murray, excited immediate attention. Sensational attacks made on Dr. Gardner by the British Press as 'a devil worshipper who puts around the dangerous idea that witchcraft is not evil' seems to have been based on Montague Summers' highly coloured accounts of diabolism and blood sacrifice in his Witchcraft and Black Magic. Dr. Gardner who believes in neither the devil nor in blood sacrifice received hundreds of fan-letters and applications for admittance to witch covens.
Apparently the equal division of the sexes in modem covens is Dr. Gardner's contribution to the craft; for Dr. Murray shows that although every medieval coven had its Maiden as assistant to the Chief, men were in the majority.
That witches existed in Britain from early times is undeniable. Members of a surviving Somersetshire coven still carry small blue tattoos in woad pricked below a particular finger joint, which stands for a letter in the pre-Christian Celtic alphabet. They call themselves 'Druids', worship a neolithic British god, and meet at cross-quarter-days - Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe'en - in a Druidic stone circle. Nevertheless, I suspect that their traditions are based on reforms made by some late eighteenth century antiquarian of the Edward Davies school.
Druids are chosen, after puberty, for certain natural powers of intuition and diagnosis, second sight, and thought control. Their membership, though tending to run in local families, includes professional men and women from London and Bristol. Their practices are very different from the spell casting, love-philtres, poisonings and blackmail of ancient Franconian, or indeed present-day Majorcan, witches! There is a village carpenter, living not many miles from my home in Majorca, whose wife, hearing that he was in love with the baker's daughter, once put a spell on him. He could no longer cross the doorstep into the street without fainting; not for 13 years. Then his wife died, he followed her coffin across the threshold and is now happily married to the baker's daughter.
Dr. Murray, Miss Christina Hole, Mr. Mervyn Peake, the late Charles Williams, and other investigators seem to have ignored one important fact about the medieval witch cult: that it was brought to Europe by the Saracens, and grafted on a pagan Celtic stock. The Saracens had seized Spain in 711 A.D. (and were not expelled until 1492), controlled southern France by 889, and soon added to it Savoy, Piedmont, and part of Switzerland. Their witch groups, like the dervishes, were devoted to ecstatic dancing, miraculous cures, and the pursuit of wisdom personified as a Divine Woman, from whom comes The Queen of Elphame, beloved by Thomas the Rhymer and other Scottish witch-men.
The God of the witches is held by Dr. Murray to be a lineal descendant of a paleolithic Goat or Stag-god who later became the Gaulish Cernunnus, and Shakespeare's Herne the Hunter. Yet the lighted candle which every Grand Master, disguised as a black he-goat, wore between his horns on the great Witches' Sabbath - whether in England or in France - points in a very different direction.
Idries Shah Sayed, the Sufi historian, has shown that a candle set between two horns emblemised the ninth-century Aniza school of mystics, founded by Abu-el-Ataahia. Abu came from the powerful Arabian Aniza (Goat) tribe, to which our contemporaries, Ibn Saud's sons and the Ruler of Kuwait both belong. The candle therefore meant 'illumination from the head of Aniza'.
'Robin', the generic name for a Chief or Grand Master, represents the Persian Rah-bin ('he who sees the road'). A Berber off-shoot of the Aniza school was known as 'the Two-Horned', and in Spain lived under the protection of the Aragonese Kings, who intermarried alike with the Prophet's royal descendants at Granada and with the English monarchy. It is evidently this particular cult that reached the British Isles.
An illustration on the cover of Sadducismus Trium¬phantus, a 1681 chap- book, shows Robin Goodfellow, horns on his head and candle in hand, capering among a coven of witches who number 13 like the Berber groups. A Two-Horned devotee wore his ritual knife, the ad-dbamne ('athame' to present-day witches) unsheathed and, as a reminder of his mortality, danced in a kafan, or winding-sheet (which is the most probable derivation of coven), at a meeting known as az zabat, 'the Powerful Occasion'. Hence the 'Witches Sabbath', or 'Esbar'. Two beautiful young French witches told De" Lancre, an examiner at La Bourd, that their Sabbath was a paradise of inexpressible joy, a prelude to still greater glory, and far better than the Mass. The Two Horneq did indeed consider ecstasy no more than a prelude to divine wisdom. Some of them rode sticks, or brooms, like hobby-horses; cantering 'widder-shins', against the course of the sun, as around the Kaaba at Mecca; which explains why English witches were accused of causing storms, mildew, and blight by this means. Modern witches are careful to dance in the sun-wise direction.
It is not known at what period the Two-Horned cult entered Britain. The climate was favourable in 1208, when the Pope laid England under an Interdict for ten years, and King John sent an embassy to Morocco with secret promises that he would turn Moslem. And again, 100 years later, when the entire Order of Knights Templars was accused of witchcraft and suppressed at the Pope's orders.
The original school of Aniza achieved a state of ecstasy by beating drums and cymbals, or rhythmic clapping in ever-increasing tempo: but hallucinogenic drugs seem to have been preferred at a later period, lest the noise of Two-Horned revels might come to the ears of Church officers.
The earliest accounts of broomstick rides say nothing of levitation; later ones suggest that an English witch, when initiated, was blindfolded, smeared with toxic flying ointment, and set astride a broom. The ointment contained fox-glove (digitalis) to accelerate the pulse, aconite to numb feet and hands, and belladonna, cowbane, or hemlock to confuse the senses. Other witches fanned the novice's face and, after a while, she could no longer feel her feet on the ground.
The cry went up :
Horse and hattock, Horse and go, Horse and pellatis Ho, Ho!
and she believed the Chief who told her she was flying across land and sea.
Loathing of the crucifix is attributed alike to Templars and witches, the crucifix being a graven image of the kind which Moses (supported by Jesus himself, and by Mahomed) forbade to be worshipped. Both witches and Templars were, in fact, Christians, though heretical ones. Robin Hood ballads, sung at May Games around a pagan Maypole, suggest that the Two-Horned cult had been active in the reign of Edward 11, who enlisted Robin and his merry men as Royal archers. Robin and Maid Marian belonged to a coven of thirteen.
But the Two-Horned did not dance naked; nor did any medieval British witches. The modern cult has borrowed its nudism either from the Far East or from Germany - where souvenir shops in the Harz mountains have long been selling figurines of naked young Brocken Hexen astride brooms.
There is no need to worry about modern witches. In fact, they have a great many worries of their own: such as that of finding 'seclusion for their rites - difficult these days, except in private houses or at nudist camps. Also charges of obscenity and diabolism, still levelled at them by newspapers. The diabolic Black Masses described by Montague Summers are not witchcraft, but intellectual atheism: a revolt from within the Catholic Church against its prime mysteries.
In 1954, Dr. Gardner wrote gloomily about the future of witchcraft: 'I think we must say goodbye to the witch. The cult is doomed, I am afraid, partly because of modern conditions, housing shortage, the smallness of modern families, and chiefly by 'education. The modern child is not interested. He knows witches are all bunk.'
Yet the craft seems healthy enough now, and growing fast, though torn by schisms and Dr. Gardner's death. It now only needs some gifted mystic to come forward, reunite, and decently reclothe it, and restore its original hunger for wisdom. Fun and games are insufficient. The very latest development is that certain reputable psychotherapists are considering the possibility of curing their more socially inhibited patients by a discipline based on modern witchcraft, after enlisting coven-leaders in their service. But psychological science, even if supported by a prolonged study of primitive magic, is insufficient. Like fun and games.
The Sabbath - at which thirteen persons met by night to worship the Devil with obscene rites - was in Europe the direct outcome of the spread of Christianity. The New religion sought to enforce fasting, chastity and a generally puritanical existence. Many people were used to looking forward to such Roman festivals as the Saturnalia, when slaves were for a day the equal of their masters, and feasting ended in a general orgy. In consequence the Old religion went underground. It must, too, be remembered that in the Dark Ages there were no buses to take people from lonely villages into the towns; no newspapers, football pools or television. So the Devil was on a good wicket for tempting country folk into occasional nights of wild indulgence.
Today Sabbaths - like those recently reported from Birmingham - usually take place in houses. But one cannot altogether ignore the persistent rumours of moonlight gatherings for Satan worship in Cornwall, Derbyshire and Northern Scotland; and there is very good reason to believe that a Sabbath was held on the site of an old pagan temple in the Cotswolds as recently as last April.
Aleister Crowley, so I was told by a well-known Member of Parliament who knew him intimately, held a Sabbath, of sorts, when he was up at Cambridge. He was a brilliant scholar, and planned to produce a Greek play; but owing to its immorality the Master of John's forbade him to do so.
To be avenged he made a wax image of the Master, then induced some of his fellow students to accompany him on a propitious night to a field. Having performed certain rites, Crowley called on the Devil and was about to plunge a needle into the liver of the wax figure. But his companions panicked. His arm was jerked and, instead, the figure's ankle was pierced. Next day the Master fell down some steps and broke his ankle.
Covens always numbered thirteen - a parody of The Last' Supper. They met in lonely dells, or sometimes in a high place if upon it there was an ancient monolith. There had to be a pond near-by: if there were not the members of the Coven dug a hole and urinated into it. Sabbaths were held at full-moon, and on St. Walpurga's Eve (April 30th), St. John's Eve (June 23rd) and All hallowe'en (October 31st). On those dates Grand Sabbaths were also held, by thirteen Covens uniting at such places as the Brocken mountain in Germany and on Salisbury Plain.
The badge of office of the Chief of each Coven was a string worn below the left knee. This emblem of occult power goes back to prehistoric times, and it is probable that the Most Noble Order of the Garter originated from it.
The chronicle tells us that while King Edward III was dancing with his mistress, the Countess of Salisbury, her garter fell off; and, to her great confusion, snatching it up, he proclaimed the founding of the Order. Her confusion would have been great if it was a witch's garter; and it is conceivable that she was the Queen Witch of England. If so, by seizing her insignia he took her power to himself. It may well have been a clever political move to merge into his person as King the Chieftainship of the followers of the Old religion, of whom in those days there were still great numbers.
It is at least curious that he should have limited the Order to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales and 24 Knights - two Covens; and that the Sovereign's mantle is embroidered with 168 garters which., with the garter he wears, makes 169 - i.e. 13 x 13 signifying lordship over that number of Covens.
The attempted suppression of the Old religion did not start till much later, and had its origin in the growing Puritanism which led to the Reformation. There then began the horrible witch-hunts in which old women, often guilty only of ugliness or practising White Magic, were ducked in ponds to see if they would float, stripped and searched for a third teat from which they were believed to feed their familiars - a cat, owl or toad - and stuck with pins, to find the spot rendered painless by the touch of the Devil's finger when he had accepted them as his own.
When preparing for a Sabbath, witches smeared their bodies with an unguent. Some unguents had stupefying qualities which caused them to dream that they had ridden naked through the night on a broomstick and that the Devil had had sexual intercourse with them.
The cult of the Voodoo goddess Erzulie is of a similar nature. Today, in the West Indies, every Thursday night thousands of negroes light candles to her, put clean sheets on their beds and - as she is violently jealous - turn their unfortunate wives out of the house; then give themselves up to dream embraces with this female counterpart of Satan.
The use of unguents by those who actually attended the Sabbaths is paralleled by modern worshippers in Satanic Temples inhaling the smoke from burning certain herbs. This has the effect of overcoming the scruples of the more timid, who might otherwise be revolted by the acts they are called on to perform, and stimulating the more hardened to a frenzy of abandonment. Aphrodisiacs are, of course, taken by all to increase sexual potency.
A Sabbath must have been a truly hellish spectacle. Head masks of goats, bats, cats and other animals were worn to conceal the identity of the participants. In a great cauldron a hell-broth bubbled - 'eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog', etc. A band struck up but each member of it played a different tune, resulting in cacophony. Grabbing up food and drink, the company gorged themselves to a surfeit. Naked but for their masks, they danced in a circle back to back. The Chief of the Coven presented his posterior and the others kissed it in homage. He, or she, then 'blessed' evil amulets, among which there was some times a dead man's hand - a talisman that was said to enable a robber to enter any house without being heard. Finally, in a wild orgy they vied with one another in sexual excess and every form of perversion.
The equivalents of Sabbaths are held by the Mau Mau to initiate recruits. Among other horrors the initiate, male or female, is made to perform most bestial acts with a goat and one of the Devil's names is 'The Goat of Mendes'.
In Haiti, too, such abominations still take place. There, the most terrible rite ever conceived is performed - the taking of a man's soul. The selected victim is bewitched and to all appearances dies. After he has been buried his body is dug up and re-animated. He does not know who he is; his memory has been completely obliterated. He has become a Zombie. The wizard who has stricken him puts him to work in the fields. There he labours automatically and tirelessly, day after day, until he really dies from natural causes.
Zora Huston, a coloured American journalist of repute, carried out an exhaustive investigation into this subject. In her book, Voodoo Gods, she publishes a photograph of a Zombie.
Witches' Sabbaths, in various forms, are still held by people of every race and religion, but the Black Mass is exclusively a perversion of Christianity. It is a religious ceremony as distinct from a Satanic 'beanfeast'.
Each Holy Mass is dedicated to a definite 'intention'; so are Black Masses. It will be recalled that King Albert I of Belgium died in most mysterious circumstances ~ He was an exceptionally good man, so his premature end was a tragedy for all Europe. Soon after the publication of my book The Haunting of Toby Jugg I received a letter from a woman who stated that she had been present at a Black Mass held in Brighton the day before King Albert died, and that it had been held with the intention of bringing about his death. Her account was highly circumstantial and showed her to have a thorough knowledge of the Black Art.
Incidentally, it was at Brighton that Aleister Crowley was cremated in 1947, and the Black Magic rites that his disciples performed at his funeral led to an inquiry by the Town Council. .
The mummery indulged in during the celebration of a Black Mass might seem rather childish, were it not so horrible and carried out with intense seriousness by those who participate. It is a complete travesty of the Christian ritual and the supreme act in the worship of the Devil.
The celebrant and his assistant - who is always a woman - wear their vestments back to front, and hitched up so as to expose their sexual parts. The altar is furnished with a broken crucifix standing upside down, and black candles in which brimstone has been mixed with the tallow. The ceremony opens by the congregation reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards.
Of this particular blasphemy I was an unconscious wit¬ness three years ago in a cellar Night Club in Nice. The compere of the cabaret was a haggard-looking man of about sixty, with a shock of white hair. After a husky rendering of some questionable songs, he began to intone. My French is limited almost to reading a restaurant menu, so I asked the friends who had brought me there what he was saying 'The Paternoster backwards,' they replied, shrugging it off as a memory feat in ill taste. But my own belief is that it was a subtle form of 'invitation' - an indication to anyone present who was interested in Black Magic that the blasphemer could put them in touch with a Satanic Circle. A more usual means of recruiting for the Devil is through Spiritualism. I cannot believe that any good ever comes of trying to get in touch with loved ones who have died, although one cannot blame broken-hearted people who attempt to do so; but others attend seances only in search of excitement. At many seances the Black fraternity have what might be termed 'talent scouts'. They are on the lookout for widows 'of a certain age', for wealthy gentlemen in the fifties who have developed a prostate, and for young women who show signs of being neurotic.
They tell such people that the medium's 'act' is kindergarten stuff, and that they can show them something really thrilling. The older ones of both sexes who accept such invitations soon find their desires satisfied - at the price of having been photographed by hidden cameras and later blackmailed - the younger, drugged, dragooned and terrified, become the unpaid prostitutes of the Satanic Temples from which hideous bondage they rarely manage to escape.
At a Black Mass the whole ritual is recited backwards, then Communion wafers are defiled. These wafers are stolen from churches, and during the past twenty years the Press has reported numerous cases of such thefts. Next the sacrifice is offered up, its throat cut, the blood caught in a chalice and drunk in place of Communion wine. Finally the celebrant has intercourse with his assistant on the altar and the congregation, made frenzied by incense containing drugs, throw themselves upon one another in a general orgy.
To be of maximum effectiveness the Black Mass should be celebrated by an unfrocked priest, and the sacrifice be an unweaned babe. Madame de Montespan, the beautiful mistress of Louis XIV, ordered many Black Masses with the 'intention' of retaining the King's waning love; and, it is said, both gave herself to the infamous Abbe Guibourg, who celebrated them for her, and bought unwanted babies for sacrifice. The case of the warrior-sorcerer Gilles de Rais - upon whom the Blue Beard story was founded - permits of no doubt. After his execution the remains of 14 murdered children were found in the dungeons of his castle.
In our modern world it is not easy to buy infants, or kidnap them without risk of detection; so the usual sacrifice is a cat. Aleister Crowley, so a disciple of his told me, always used cats at his Abbaye de Theleme in Sicily. There was, too, the severed paw of a white kitten left on the altar of the Church of St. John the Baptist at Yarcombe, Somerset, in 1948. The church had been broken into and desecrated In various ways, making it evident that a Black Mass had been celebrated there.
The parallel Pagan rituals of the Carthaginians, the Aztecs and the Druids, all called for human sacrifice, but not necessarily of a child. And there remains unsolved the murder of Charles Walton at Meon Hill, Warwickshire, in 1945, to which no explanation could be found - other than that it was a ritual killing.
'They draw pentacles on the floor, sir, and late at night the men dress up in silk smocks with the signs of the Zodiac on them. The ladies come down wearing masks and red, highheeled shoes. I've seen black candles, too.
'I hadn't an idea what it was all about. Just thought they were playing charades, or something, until I read your book To the Devil- a Daughter. Of course, I tumbled to it then. There can be no doubt about it, my employers are Satanists.'
The above is from a letter written to me by a chauffeur. He was employed by wealthy people who lived in a big house in the Eastern Counties. He went on to say that these parties sometimes numbered as many as twenty people, some of whom came down from London in big cars and drove off in them again before dawn.
This man wrote to me three times. He gave his address, signed his name and offered to meet me in his nearest town. In view of that, and the fact that his letters showed no signs of hysteria, I see no reason to suppose that he was not telling the truth.
Such gatherings to practise the Black Art undoubtedly take place. There are, of course, phony imitations, organized only for the purpose of lechery followed by blackmail, but genuine Satan worship is still as prevalent today as - shall we say - the dope traffic.
Magic is a science. It cannot just be picked up. One would have to have a quite exceptional brain to make, unaided, any practical use of Eliphas Levi's Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendental Magic, or the famous Malleus Maleficarum, or even of Aleister Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice; let alone of the rare but great classics such as Le Clavicule de Salomon and Grimoire of Pope Honorius. Without a sound understanding of the esoteric doctrine it would be futile - if not actually dangerous - to call up evil forces, or to rely for protection on a pentacle the Cabalistic signs of which had been chosen by guesswork.
It follows that the sorcerer or witch must be taught his or her business, just as the priests of any other religion are taught theirs. Therefore, secret societies to hand down the Devil's mysteries, and to spread his cult as widely as possible among the ignorant, have always existed.
Their most successful operations have been to infiltrate themselves into the leadership of movements for reform. Many saintly men have led revolts against the abuses of the 'Church, but their words have been misinterpreted and their work worse than undone by the disciples of evil a generation later.
An example is cited in the first volume of Sir Winston Churchill's book, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. The Albigenses, [Cathars? ed.] a people who in the thirteenth century inhabited a large part of south-western France, were led to believe that 'life on this earth in the flesh was the work of Satan', which meant that 'they were freed from the menaces of the next'. Like a prairie fire immorality and disorder spread through the whole region. The King of France launched a 'home Crusade'; they were massacred by the thousand, until none was left.
Then there were the Knights Templar, an Order of Chivalry founded for the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre. Their main base was Malta. In their decadence, perverted by evil successors to their early Grand Masters, initiates had to spit three times on the Cross and swear allegiance to the Devil in the form of a bearded idol named Baphomet.
Their headquarters in Paris was a palace-fortress called the Temple. King Philippe IV had their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and many of his Knights arrested there, and brought to trial for heresy. They were burnt at the stake. But the Order swore to be avenged upon the Monarchy of France.
Five hundred years later it was. From the tower of the Temple Louis XVI was taken to the guillotine. And that the Temple had been chosen for his prison was not chance. The French Revolution was directed by the Masonic Lodge of the Grand Orient, which had inherited the championship of evil.
It should be clearly understood that Masonry in the British Commonwealth has no connection whatever with the Grand Orient. Continental Masonry is altogether different. Its inner circles are the successors of those of the German Illuminati and the Rosicrucians -:- two other great secret societies whose leaders started them with good intent, but which later fell into evil hands. Even its rank and file members are avowed atheists.
In the past two hundred years the Grand Orient has brought about many revolutions and in 1902-4, with the French War Minister, General André, in its toils, it succeeded in so weakening the High Command of the Army that France would have proved incapable of resisting invasion.
It is the Grand Orient, more than all other factors together, which has reduced France, once the most powerful nation in Europe, to her present pitiful condition. But now its activities are being surpassed by those of its fellow revolutionaries and atheists - the Communists. Their founder, Karl Marx, advocated the destruction of the middle classes by every means including violence, and their efforts are world wide.
The dual principle of Good and Evil, which is the basis of every religion, must continue in perpetual conflict until the end of time. On the Right hand we have warmth, light, growth and order; on the Left hand darkness, cold, decay and chaos.
Do the authorities know of any Satanic societies operating in our midst today? I can only tell you that when discussing this matter in 1938 with one of my oldest friends - a man who has spent most of his life in MI5 - he asked me:
'Does "The Shadow" convey anything to you?'
'No,' I replied.
He made a wry grimace and said: 'Believe me, Dennis, I would rather be up against a combination of the most dangerous German and Russian agents I have ever known, than up against "The Brothers of the Shadow".'
There is a 'gap in the curtain' through which some people can see. Of that I have incontestable proof.
In the 1920s I used occasionally to visit a seer named Dewhirst. He predicted to me the circumstances in which I should meet my wife' and even described the way she did her hair.
In 1932 I went to see him again. Immediately I entered his room he exclaimed: 'You've written a book!'
That was pretty staggering as I had not seen him for two years and I had only just sent the manuscript of my first novel to an agent. But he went on:
'You are on your right road at last. Someone whose name begins with H will sell millions of your books. They will be read in every country under the sun.' Then he named the seven weeks ahead, on which I would have good news about my book.
On that date I learned that Walter Hutchinson had taken The Forbidden Territory for publication..
He used no cards or crystal. Only lesser soothsayers require such aids for tuning in to the occult. And I have never 'known anyone else with such powers of supernormal vision.
Fortune-telling of this kind is not evil. But it becomes so, when cruelty to animals and/or Satanic rituals are employed. The Ancients examined the entrails of still living birds and beasts; and necromancy entails raising the dead as that dark tale in the Bible tells us the Witch of Endor did for Saul. .
Whole life forecasts are obtained by casting horoscopes. That means relating the day and hour of birth to the position of the Heavenly bodies. It is a long and complicated process, as the Sun, Moon and Planets are all credited with contributing to a person's character and influencing his acts.
Each, too, has a number, and every person has a number arrived at by a combination of. his birth date and the numerological value of the letters forming his name. The ancient belief is that from these lucky and unlucky days and periods can be foretold.
This possibility cannot be ruled out. There is good reason to believe that plants thrive better when planted under a waxing Moon. It is possible that each Heavenly body emits something in the nature of what we now term 'cosmic rays', to which the human mind is sensitive. If so, they are governed by Natural Laws not yet fathomed by science - and we regard predictions of this kind as supernatural only because we have no explanation for them.
Palmistry is definitely a science, although not yet accepted as such. I learned to read hands while serving as a subaltern on the Western Front. With practice anyone can tell character, talents and health. tendencies from the shape of the hands, their resilience, the nails and the lines on the palms. But, when it comes to predicting the future, the latter must be regarded as a means of tuning in.
Disappointment and warped judgment are the price that nearly everyone pays who seeks guidance by having his fortune told - however innocent the means. Because, even apart from fraud, the tendency is always to interpret predictions in the sense one would like them to mean. The most famous oracle of ancient times was at Delphi. In a cellar priestesses threw themselves into a trance by inhaling the smoke of burning herbs, then answered questions put to them through a crack in the ceiling. Their utterances usually contained the germ of truth, but were so cryptic that numerous Greek generals were led by them into doing the wrong thing.
The extraordinary prophecies of Nostradamus, in the sixteenth century, were so obscure that few people understood them when made; yet many of them have since been fulfilled. Among other things, he predicted that in the year 2000 Paris would finally be destroyed by fire sent down from a flock of giant man-made birds coming from the Far :East. That must have sounded sheer nonsense 400 years ago. But, were I likely to live that long, you would not find me drinking a champagne cocktail in the Ritz bar there round the year 2000. ,
Perhaps, though, by then the Russians will be occupying Paris, and the atom-belching missiles have been despatched from an Australia which has become the home base of the British people? It is so easy to put a wrong construction on prophecies. The stars may foretell that on Wednesday 'Something is coming your way'. It may be an old boot at your head.
And predictions can lead you into trouble. When Dewhirst foretold big money from my book for me, I might have gone on a spending spree. But it was not until a year later that I received more than an advance of £30, so I would have landed myself in a nasty mess.
The following shows how futile it is to make plans based on information received by occult means. Hitler employed the best astrologers and soothsayers that could be found in the Nazi empire, and never made a move without consulting them. Churchill, on the other hand, had no dealings with such people. All War Cabinet decisions were based upon reasoned assessments submitted by our Chiefs of Staff. Yet the British - for a year, alone - held the whole might of Germany at bay.
A few more words on Magic. No saying is less true than that 'The Devil looks after his own'. I have never yet met anyone who practised Black, or even Grey, Magic who was not hard up.
Finally: should you ever have reason to believe that you or yours have come into the orbit of malignant occult forces, do not hesitate to consult your parson or priest. They will not laugh. And should you ever be confronted with an evil manifestation, have no fear. Pray for help. It will immediately be given to you. Make the Sign of the Cross and 'thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night'.
I've been trawling around for something reasonably authoritative on this subject for a while - here is a first on the web tonight for these two Dennis Wheatley essays.
The Devil is just round the corner, and he is watching you. Don't you believe that? There are a lot of people who do, and some of them, even in this country, still participate in abominable rites for the purpose of courting his favour.
If you do not believe that the Devil is interested in you, then you do not believe in God, without Whose knowledge, so the Bible tells us, not a sparrow falls. You cannot believe in one and not the other. In the beginning Lucifer, to give the Devil his personal name, was an Archangel. His pride and ambition caused him to become the leader of the first revolution. God gave St. Michael command of the loyal angels. There was a tremendous battle and Michael's angels drove Lucifer and his angels out of Heaven down to Earth. That is why the Devil is known as 'The Lord of This World'.
That, too, is why, when our Lord Jesus Christ was on earth, the Devil was able to take Him up into a High Place and offer Him dominion over the fair cities and fruitful plains. To deny that the Temptation occurred is to deny a fundamental tenet of the Christian religion. In the Middle Ages it was not uncommon for people to report that the Devil had appeared to them. In those days everyone's mind was dominated by religion. Most people attended two services on Sundays, fasted on Fridays and were present at family prayers morning and evening. They had no holidays other than Saints' days and going on a pilgrimage;. they went regularly to confession and, for even the smallest sin, had to perform a penance. For them Heaven and Hell were vivid realities and, as life was cheap, they might find themselves pitchforked into one or the other with little warning. So it is not surprising that the more imaginative sometimes 'saw things'. We may, therefore, put down most of these reported 'visions' as the product of an empty stomach upon an empty brain. But not all.
Not, that is, if we can believe the late Aleister Crowley, who once assured me that it is perfectly possible to raise - he did not say the Devil, but that was what he meant.
Of course, it is not suggested that the mighty Lucifer ..... who is second only in power to the Lord God Himself appears to people in person. But each of us has a Guardian Angel, and it is his opposite number, a creature of the Devil's charged with our undoing, who, in exceptional circumstances, may become visible to human eyes. The form in which such evil entities materialise is naturally that expected of them. Hence the fire-breathing horrors with horns, cloven hoofs and spiked tail which appeared to people in the Middle Ages, and that in Crowley's case it was that of Pan - the coldly evil Greek horned-god whom he had deliberately conjured up.
Why, you may ask, are people rarely troubled by such supernatural visitors in these days? The answer is that life is infinitely more complex, and the modem mind occupied by such things as politics, sport, the cinema, travel, broadcasts, the constant change in the fashions of clothes, and so on to the exclusion of religion. They are no longer interested in either saints or demons.
But do not suppose that, for that reason, the Devil no longer exists. As part of the original Creation he is immortal. Being no fool he has adapted himself to modem conditions and gone underground. It is with good reason that one of his names is 'Lord of Misrule'. God's wish, clearly manifested in the teachings of Jesus Christ, is that we should avoid all cause for quarrels and so lead peaceful orderly lives. The Devil's province is to make us do the opposite. By luring individuals into sin he can break up families; by fostering trade disputes he can cause conditions which. ultimately lead to poverty and crime; by arousing the passions of nations he can cause war.
From the beginning of time he has made tools of the greedy, the discontented and the ambitious, stimulating them by the temptation of power to sabotage peace, prosperity and good stable government. Can anyone maintain that he has been idle during the past half century?
These subtle and ubiquitous activities apart, the Devil still plays an active role in the lives of quite a number of people. It is a fact that any day in a bus or a train YOU may be sitting opposite to a man or woman who has made a pact with Satan, or been sold to him. In the introduction to Story IV 'A Life for a Life' I have already mentioned the case of the Essex woman who was' sold as a child to the Devil; and as 'Lord of this World' the Devil does not, of course, confine his attention to Christian people. As an example there is the case of the young Australian aboriginal, Lyn Wulumu, which was recently featured in the Press.
His mother-in-law wanted him out of the way so she 'sung him the song of the dreamtime snake'. When this is done by a votary of Satan a dream-snake coils itself round the body of the victim and gradually crushes him until he can no longer breathe. Lyn Wulumu, unquestionably a dying man, was flown down by the Methodist Mission to Darwin Hospital. Four doctors could find nothing whatever wrong with him physically, but they put him in an iron lung; his life was saved and it is now reported that he has regained the will to live.
My books with occult backgrounds have brought me many hundreds of letters from all parts of the world upon similar subjects. Scores of them are, of course, from people with bees in their bonnets; but with some knowledge of such matters it is not difficult to sort the wheat from he chaff, and many are from doctors, magistrates and clergymen vouching for their personal knowledge of happenings impossible to explain except as the result of witchcraft.
The fact is that, although unrealized by most Europeans, in every great city, in the jungles of Africa, the villages of Asia, the plantations of the West Indies, and even in some remote hamlets of our own countryside. Satanism is still practised.
The dual principle of Good and Evil, which is the basis of every religion, must continue in perpetual conflict until the end of time. On the Right hand we have light, warmth, growth and order; on the Left hand, darkness, cold, decay and chaos.
Each of us, having within us a part of the eternal Spirit, is able at will to communicate with the Higher Powers and draw down from them additional power to ourselves. The Saints did so by prayer to God, which enabled them to perform their miracles. The Devil may be found even quicker to answer.
As a young officer in the 1914-18 war, while convalescing, I, played a lot of vingt-et-un. After one ten-hour session, having become bored from drawing few cards worth betting upon, on the bank passing to me, I called on the Devil to give me luck. I drew two aces, doubled the table, drew another ace, split three times and finished with two naturals and a five and under. Everyone paid me sixteen times his original stake.
That shook the other chaps at the table; but it shook me infinitely more, as, sooner or later, that sort of 'luck' has to be paid for. I have never prayed to the Devil since. Neither have I ever attended any form of magical ceremony or a séance. It is obviously such a fascinating game that even the strongest-willed person could easily get drawn further and further into it until - well, there are several very real dangers. The least is that one might find oneself being blackmailed for taking part in obscene practices. The worst, failure to pull out in time, with the realization that one had imperilled one's immortal soul. There is also the risk of slipping up in some ritual, with consequent failure to keep under control the forces one has called up. The result of that used to be called demonic possession. It is now classed as lunacy. One of Crowley's occult 'operations' misfired; so that he was found next morning a gibbering idiot, and had to spend six months in an asylum.
By prayer, fasting, and mortification of the flesh, the Saints called down power in order that they might perform miracles to the glorification of God, and heal the sick. This, the use of Supernatural Power for good or unselfish ends, is WHITE MAGIC.
The use of Supernatural Power for wicked or selfish ends is BLACK MAGIC. Such magic is of the Devil and can be obtained only by such sexual depravity and bestial rites as are described in the official reports of the initiation ceremonies of the Mau Mau.
Yet it is not only in Africa that such abominations are practised. A few years ago women were giving themselves up to hideous eroticism with a great carved ebony figure, during Satanic orgies held in a secret temple in Bayswater, London, W.2.
Perhaps the most interesting man I met while collecting data for my novels with occult backgrounds was Mr. Rollo Ahmed. He was an advanced practitioner of Yoga and made good use of it. Although a native of the West Indies he never wore an overcoat and used to go about London in the winter in a thin cotton suit. One night, when it was well below freezing, he arrived to dine with me. He had no gloves but his hands were as warm as toast.
Rollo Ahmed was deeply versed in magical lore and possessed the gift of explaining it with great lucidity. From him I learnt much of the theory of the Black Art. Briefly it may be defined as a system of short cuts to obtaining Power.
Anyone can say prayers, or think evil. God will give new strength and fortitude in answer to prayer. The Devil will give strength and resolution actually to perform the evil deed contemplated. However, the human brain resembles a radio set. It needs tuning in to get the best results.
In very early times ways were discovered of 'tuning in' more rapidly. The holy used fasting and mortification of the flesh; the unholy gross indulgence and sexual depravity. Hence the wild orgies which are a main feature of every Satanic gathering - both ancient and modern. It was also found that contact could be more swiftly achieved by the use of certain material aids. For example, the Clairvoyant does not actually see things in the crystal. It is a device to induce self- hypnotism and turn the mind inward so that it can pick up occult vibrations. To achieve this state practitioners of the Black Art consume potions composed of the vilest secretions of the human body. The Mau Mau do this; so, too, do the depraved followers of the Devil's cult who still live in our midst. Such acts may be compared to the ringing of a bell which summons a supernatural Power.
SUPERNATURAL is simply a word to express that which lies beyond our comprehension, and MAGIC the procuring of a result normally regarded as impossible by the accepted 'LAWS' of cause and effect. In the MATERIAL sphere the MAGIC of yesterday becomes the SCIENCE of today; but there remain innumerable NATURAL LAWS which are not yet generally understood. That applies particularly to the ability of certain humans to call upon forces of a SPIRITUAL nature; and since all spiritual power emanates from either God or the Devil those who employ them become priests and priestesses of either Good or Evil.
The good 'priest' uses supernatural power for unselfish ends; and the most common forms of his activities are 'paintaking' and faith healing. A recent inquiry by the British Medical Association has revealed that this type of White Magic is widely practised all over Britain. The investigators admit that warts can be charmed away, and can offer no explanation for that. Concerning more important cures, brought about by prolonged prayer, their report states:
'In the Committee's opinion it is probably better to acknowledge that the cures are at present inexplicable on scientific grounds.' In this connection I had first-hand knowledge of an extraordinary happening while staying with my sister-in-law in South Africa. Her old negro cook, Maria, complained of acute pains in the breast and displayed to her an ugly tumour. Maria was at once taken down to the hospital. After examining her, the doctor put her in the waiting-room then, just outside its door, told my sister-in-law that the tumour was an advanced cancer and that it must be cut out without delay. An hour later he telephoned to ask where Maria was. She had disappeared. Ten days later she returned with not a trace of the tumour. When asked for an explanation she said: 'I hears what that white doctor says to you, Missis, 'bout cuttin' me up. I's scared, so I slips off back to ma Kraal. The black doctor, he throws the bones for me and I's well again now.'
Another supernatural potential of the human mind which has now been recognized by the medical profession is Hypnotism. Yet no doctor can explain how it is possible for a subject to be made so iron rigid that his neck can be placed on one chair-back, his feet on another, and the hypnotist be able to kneel on the subject's stomach without his body even bending. .
The French psychologist, Pierre Janet, has even succeeded in hypnotising a patient at a distance of over a mile, at a time known only to the experimenters. That brings us to Mental Telepathy, of which countless people have had personal experience. Such happenings used to be put down to coincidence; but a few years ago Dr. Soal, by infinitely patient and prolonged tests, proved the case for telepathy conclusively. And Water Divining - a common and valuable practice - what explanation can science give for that?
Turning to more sensational manifestations of the supernatural, many people have been saved from death by warnings of an occult nature. One of the most intriguing is that which was vouched for by the late Lord Dufferin and Ava.
While staying in a house in Ireland, one night before getting into bed he looked out of the window. Below him in the bright moonlight he saw a man carrying a coffin. The man looked up; his face was striking and most unpleasant. Next morning no one in the house could offer any explanation of this extraordinary occurrence. Years later, Lord Dufferin was in Paris. He was about to enter an already crowded hotel lift. Suddenly he recognized the face of the lift attendant as that of the ghoul with the coffin. Startled, he stepped back. The man slammed the lift gates and up went the lift. At the third floor the cable broke. It crashed to the basement and everyone in it, including the lift man, was killed.
Many people will swear to having seen a ghost; but proof of the actual materialization of a spirit is very difficult to obtain. Personally, I am prepared to take the word of that great seeker after Truth, Harry Price. He carried out countless tests of reported psychic phenomena and ruthlessly exposed scores of fake mediums; but he told me once that there could be no possible explanation, other than a supernatural one, for the appearances of Rosalie.
Every conceivable check to prevent fraud was taken. Yet on using his luminous plaque he saw this little naked girl standing in front of him; and having felt her all over would have sworn - but for the low temperature of her flesh - to her being a living child.
It was Harry Price who told me of a strange haunting in Sussex. One bedroom in this old house was so badly haunted that even the most sceptical visitors woke in it to find themselves being strangled; and any food left in a semi-basement room became putrid within a few hours. An exorcist was called in. The exorcism was carried out just before dawn in the bedroom. A ball, seemingly composed of black smoke and about the size of a football, appeared, rolled downstairs, out through the window of the semi-basement room and across the lawn to disappear in a small lake. The lake was later dredged and no less than three skeletons were brought up from it.
The Reverend Montague Summers told me of an exorcism he had performed in Ireland. He was called to a farmer's wife who, it was said, was possessed by an evil spirit. He arrived in the evening. On the table in the living room the remains of a cold leg of mutton had already been placed for supper; the woman was in the same room. At the sight of a priest she became so violent that she had to be held down. As he sprinkled the Holy Water on her and commanded the demon to come forth, a small cloud of black smoke issued from her foam-flecked mouth. It went straight into the cold mutton, and within a few minutes everyone present saw that the meat was alive with maggots.
Few men had more knowledge of the Occult than Montague Summers, and his books upon Witchcraft and Were wolves are classics. But he was, to say the least of it, a curious character. Rumour has it that he was not, in fact, a priest.
My wife and I went to stay at his house for a weekend. On the ceiling of our bedroom we found a score of enormous spiders. When I mentioned this, he replied only, 'I like spiders'; and in his garden my wife came upon the biggest toad she has ever seen. He tried to sell me a rare book. When I refused to buy it, I have never seen such malefic anger come into the eyes of any man. We made an excuse to leave on Sunday morning. .
With his long silver locks and, normally, benign expression, he looked like a Restoration Bishop. Years later I used his physical appearance for Canon Copely-Syle in To the Devil - a Daughter. For that I had a precedent, as in Mr. Somerset Maugham's early book The Magician the sorcerer, Hado, bears a striking resemblance to Aleister Crowley. Mentioning books reminds me of A. E. W. Mason's Prisoner in the Opal. In it, he rightly associates the presence of the most powerful evil entities with intense cold. Dante's lowest circle in Hell was formed of ice.
I do not regard myself as psychic but I have once felt that terrifying chill. I was building a shack by moonlight in an old walled garden behind the Somme battlefield. It came upon me without rhyme or reason. I knew that something incredibly evil was watching me from behind - and it had suddenly become very cold. After a minute that seemed an eternity I panicked and fled in abject terror.
All this adds up to the fact that one cannot laugh off the Supernatural, and that like everything else in the Universe it is governed by definite laws. To utilise those laws for personal ends is to practise the Black Art. And it is still practised in England today. One of the doctors who gave evidence before the B.M.A. Committee of Inquiry into faith healing stated that Black as well as White Magic is still widely practised in Devonshire; and that among his patients he had had one definite death caused by Witchcraft. That is something to give pause for thought to those readers who will this summer be motoring through Devon's lovely lanes.
Trick or treat? I don't know about you, but my answer to this question, if I'm honest, would be unprintable in a family newspaper. Let's say it's stronger than 'push off'. Yet the little beggars will soon be round, banging and ringing at our doors with this irritating refrain. My own youngest child, and my grandchildren, are among these public nuisances. It would seem churlish to stop them. All their friends do it.
They have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks, planning their ghoulish costumes and their weird face paints, and deciding which streets will contain the richest pickings: that is,. the largest number of grown-up mugs who will be waiting by their front doors with tooth-rotting sweets to give them.
Why will the grown-ups be so gener-ous? Because it is the children's birthday, or Christmas? No. Simply because the little bleeders demanded a 'treat'. For several weeks now, the shelves in my local Woolworths have been arrayed with miniature outfits. Dwarfish witch-hats, tiny little vam-pire costumes and wizards' robes in garish artificial fibres hang in long rows, while on an opposite shelf, in the shape of skulls, werewolf faces, pumpkins and black cats, are the tra-ditional plastic Trick Or Treat bags.
Some of these are of modest pro-portion. Some are large enough to carry home a weekly shop from a supermarket.
But, you will argue before I become too solemn about the whole business, surely it's only a bit of fun? What's the difference between modern children making Trick Or Treat excursions, and an older generation trundling an old pram round the pavements, containing Grandad's worn-out Suit, stuffed with pillows or straw, and labelled Penny For The Guy?
One answer is that, in the past, the fun of special days in our calendar was enhanced, and their nuisance value reduced, by everyone keeping to the day itself. Christmas happened just at Christmas. It did not begin in the big department stores in September.
Halloween - All Saints Eve - was a religious festival that took place on October 31. And Guy Fawkes, of course, used to take place on Nov-ember 5.
But now, the approach of autumn in any of our big towns is the signal for a nondescript period lasting weeks in which the kids are at large on the streets, letting off fireworks and doing what, at other times and in other age groups, would be criminal - turning up on our doorsteps and demanding we give them something for nothing.
In today's climate, with its disdain for- history and the calendar, our spoilt modem kids have been popping and spluttering fireworks and frightening the cat for well over a month now. It suits the multiculturalists in our midst very well.
Recently I remarked how sad it was to have fireworks any old night rather than waiting until Guy Fawkes Day. An earnest Seven-year-old of the party, neither a Hindu nor of Asian background, corrected me and said: 'They aren't for Guy Fawkes, they're for Diwali, the Festival of Light.'
But the fireworks aren't for Diwali, any more than they are to commemo-rate an incident in English history which has long been expunged from the National Curriculum.
To my mind, the pops and bangs are in fact the distant sounds of battle, and it is a battle we are losing. They may only sound like fireworks, but they are the whiff of grapeshot in the Kiddy Revolution. They are one of the small signs in our society that the grown-ups have given up trying to be the ones in charge.
When I think about the approach of Halloween, for example, I am actually a bit ashamed that I allow my child to indulge in its modem manifestation.
Not because I think there is anything wrong in going round pretending to be a vampire or a werewolf, but because our contemporary way of observing this ancient festival exemplifies in a small way so much that is horrible, if not downright sick, about our attitude to material possessions in modern Britain.
Let's deal with the claim that Hal-loween is a good old English tradition. This is true, and from its name you can tell how old, and how English it is. Not All Saints Eve, which means the same thing, but All Hallows, the Anglo-Saxon word for the saints.
The night before All Saints' Day (November 1), and two days before the day when Catholics remember All Souls (November 2) - that is, the dead who might or might not have yet made it into Heaven - was a tradi-tional time for thinking about the deceased and about the various spirits, demons, ghoulies and ghosties who were thought to hover around in the atmosphere.
Before the Church celebrated All Saints, it was supposed that those who were on the side of darkness, the witches, and the evil spirits they conjured up, had one last runabout before being confined to their hellish home.
Most of these ideas were rejected by the Protestant Reformation. So Halloween, in Protestant Britain, became little more than a folk memory for hundreds of years.
You might cut out a pumpkin in the shape of a mask and light a can-dle in it. And children traditionally, on this day when most of the apples had been gathered in from orchards, would indulge in the amusing and difficult game of 'bobbing' - that is, trying to pick up apples with their teeth from a floating surface of water, usually a barrel.
The modern cult of Halloween -with garish costumes, ghost-masks and the deplorable Trick Or Treat - is an American concoction. It stems not from the ancient folk cus-toms of the countryside, and not from the liturgy of the medieval Church, but from the kitsch hotch-potch known as American Gothic.
Jokey horror films about Dracula, TV comedies such as The Munsters and Bewitched! fed the modern Halloween idea, which actually has no traditional content at all, no meaning, and no connection with -any particular set of beliefs.
It is wrong to be too po-faced about it. If children enjoy the Amer-ican Gothic kitsch side of the festivities, as they plainly do, then it seems churlish to stop them having their Halloween parties, in which the white sandwiches have been ingeniously cut in the shape of ghosts and the cakes have been cleverly adorned with liquorice, or splashed with red cochineal to simulate blackness, and gore.
There can be something beguiling about a six-year old girl with bright green face paint and a tall witch's hat.
But it is not in the least beguiling to teach them that they should go round disturbing the neighbours, waking their dogs and babies, and stridently demanding sweets, or punishing us with tricks if they fail to get grown-ups to provide them with sweets, or even to open the front door on, demand.
In my part of London, as the evening wears on, a nastier type of Trick Or Treater comes round. Last year, 12 to 15-year-olds demanded not sweets but money, and when told to get lost, they returned with rotten eggs. We were lucky. Some houses got their windows smashed. The criminality of these older children can be blamed on the odious Trick Or Treat idea.
Already our young are more indulged than any generation in history. It is forbidden by law to hit them. Probably that is a good thing, but the consequence of the over-whelming emphasis on children's rights has been that many schools have become No Go areas for teachers.
Even so-called 'nice' children are likely to regard any check on their behaviour by grown-ups as unacceptable. And they are seen, from the earliest age, as the ones who dictate the terms with their parents, teachers and elders.
In the current social climate, when children get away with any' kind of behaviour unchecked, Trick Or Treat does not seem like one silly little phrase uttered once a year. It actually seems like the motto of an entire generation.
Gone are the days when treats were a rarity. Children now expect to be amused and treated and entertained every minute of the day - at amusement parks, with video games, with computers and television.
But what has made this so much worse is a combination of political correctness and the health and safety inspectorate ~ which have together conspired to hand ultimate victory to the kiddy revolution.
In today's climate, rather than being encouraged to 'Remember, remember the fifth of November: Gunpowder, treason and plot', the authorities would far rather we forgot it altogether, certainly as far as its history is concerned.
Much better to avoid any poten-tial offence to Roman Catholics, or to loyal supporters of the Lady Ara-bella Stuart Appreciation Society (it was Lady Arabella who would have been made Queen had the terrorists on November 5,1605, been successful in blowing the King, Lords and Commons sky high).
Two years ago, on the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot, fireworks were banned from commemorations in Westminster because loud bangs were thought inappropriate with Islamic terror-ists about.
This year, sparklers have been banned in Manchester and Health and Safety officials have seen off a bonfire in Watford on the pathetic grounds that there would be a danger of smoke inhalation.
Only in Lewes, Sussex, where the traditional Guy Fawkes Day is kept in high style, with processions, flaming torches, and an effigy burnt on the bonfire, can .the reckless youth enjoy part of the essence of the celebration -namely its danger. (We are, after all, commemorating a terrorist threat that could have obliterated Parliament.)
By the time the evening round the bonfires in Lewes has quietened, the streets are alive to the sound of bangers, which the boys throw into spontaneously-lit fires.
There is something primitive, and innocent, about the Lewes celebra-tions. In the morning, they are all over. And everyone has taken part in a genuine calendar festival. But in other towns, it is all a bit different.
Because no one is encouraged to celebrate properly with a guy and its Popish significance, to learn what Bonfire Night and November 5 is all about, we have an amorphous mess of fireworks, Trick Or Treats, Diwali and children roam-ing the streets, which stretches over days and weeks.
And that is why the children have won, because autumn is now a time for them to get back to the serious business of being over-indulged and creating a nuisance with their bangs and Trick Or Treat demands on the doorstep.
Anyone who questions this unending indulgence is thought to be a throwback to some supposed bad old days. The useful word 'No' is unheard in many households today, especially in those where the parents, feeling guilty about having separated or divorced or worked for too many hours in the week, over-indulge their children to show that they still love them.
But over-indulgence is not love. It is a form of carelessness. It is a way of creating moral neuters. Like older people, children respond to the idea that reward comes for good done, not simply because it is demanded.
The Trick Or Treat craze is black-mail from a generation of spoilt brats who know nothing about their past and get treats every week of the year. They won't thank us when they've grown up.
By Tariq Ali - CounterPunch.org
Was Benedict's most recent provocation accidental or deliberate? The Bavarian is a razor-sharp reactionary cleric. A man who organises his own succession to the Papacy with a ruthless purge of potential dissidents and supervises the selection of Cardinals with great care leaves little to chance.
I think he knew what he was saying and why.
Choosing a quote from Manuel II Paleologos, not the most intelligent of the Byzantine rulers, was somewhat disingenuous, especially on the eve of a visit to Turkey. He could have found more effective quotes and closer to home. Perhaps it was his unique tribute to Oriana Fallaci.
The Muslim world with two of its countries---Iraq and Afghanistan-- directly occupied by Western troops does not need to be reminded of the language of the Crusades. In a neo-liberal world suffering from environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, repression, a 'planet of slums' (in the graphic phrase of Mike Davis), the Pope chooses to insult the founder of a rival faith.
The reaction in the Muslim world was predictable, but depressingly insufficient. Islamic civilization cannot be reduced to the power of the sword. It was the vital bridge between the Ancient world and the European Renaissance. It was the Catholic Church that declared War on Islam in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. Mass expulsions, killings, forced conversions and a vicious Inquisition to police the cleansed Europe and the reformist Protestant enemy.
The fury against 'heretics' led to the burning of Cathar villages in Southern France. Jews and Protestants alike were granted refuge by the Ottoman Empire, a refuge they would have been denied had Istanbul remained Constantinople. 'Slaves, obey your human masters. For Christ is the real master you serve' said Paul (Colossians 3: 22-24) in establishing a collaborationist tradition which fell on its knees before wealth and power and which reached its apogee during the Second World War where the leadership of the Church collaborated with fascism and did not speak up against the judeocide or the butchery on the Eastern Front. Islam does not need pacifist lessons from this Church.
Violence was and is not the prerogative of any single religion as the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine demonstrates. During the Cold War the Vatican, with rare exceptions, supported the imperial wars. Both sides were blessed during the First and Second World wars; the US Cardinal Spellman was a leading warrior in the battles to destroy Communism during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Vatican later punished the liberation theologists and peasant-priests in Latin America. Some were excommunicated.
Not all Christians joined in the crusades old and new. When Pope Urban launched the crusades the Norman king of Sicily refused to send troops in which Sicilian Muslims would be compelled to fight against Muslims in the East. His son, Roger II, refused to back the Second Crusade. In doing so they showed more courage than the leaders of contemporary Italy, who are only too willing to join the imperial crusades against the Muslim world.
'To make sure of being right in all things', said the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, 'we ought always to hold to the principle that the white I see I should believe to be black if the hierarchical church were so to rule.'
Today most Catholic prelates in the West (including the Bavarian in the Vatican) and politicians of Centre-Left/Right worship the real Pope who lives in the White House and tells them when black is white.
-Tariq Ali is author of the recently released Street Fighting Years (new edition) and, with David Barsamian, Speaking of Empires & Resistance. He can be reached at: tariq.ali3(at)btinternet.com
While some welcome gesture, others demand act of contrition
Luke Harding in Berlin and Hugh Muir
Monday September 18, 2006
Pope Benedict's admission that he was "deeply sorry" for offending the sensitivities of Muslims does not necessarily mean that the worst crisis of his papacy is over yet. Speaking in Rome yesterday, the Pope said that the views of the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus that he quoted last week - describing Islam as "evil and inhuman" - were not his own.
In Britain, some senior Muslims welcomed the Pope's apologies but suggested that he would have to make a further apology to stop the row escalating.
Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "He needs to convince that this is a genuine apology because many people are aware of the sort of things he has been saying for a long time. Threats are not the way forward but some of the things he has said have been music to the ears of racists."
The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the Pope's explanation. A spokesman said: "We very much welcome the Pope's statement today in which he made it clear that his own views do not in any way accord with those of the 14th century emperor. This is a very important clarification that we had been seeking. Had this caveat been included in the Pope's original speech it may have prevented this controversy in the first place."
Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, called the apology a "welcome gesture" but said the Pope must address the core of what he had said. "He said Christianity believes in reason, is more logical and doesn't believe in violence. But reason is also the cornerstone of Islamic belief. He should make it clear that Islam does not preach violence."
In Germany, representatives of the country's 3.2 million Muslims, most of them Turks,were satisfied with the Pope's remarks. There was now no reason why he should not visit Turkey in late November as planned, they added. Turkish religious leaders also struck a conciliatory tone yesterday.
In Egypt, Mahmoud Ashour, the former deputy of Cairo's Al-Azhar, the Sunni Arab world's most powerful institution, dismissed the comments as inadequate.
"He should apologise because he insulted the beliefs of Islam. He must apologise in a frank way and say he made a mistake," Mr Ashour told al-Arabiya TV.
And in a sign of how opinion is split, there appeared to be mixed messages from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The Associated Press quoted the group's leader as saying the Islamic political group's relations with Christians should remain "good, civilised and cooperative".
"While anger over the Pope's remarks was necessary, it shouldn't last for long because while he is the head of the Catholic church in the world, many Europeans are not following it. So what he said won't influence them," said Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But there were other reports that after initially saying the Pope's statement was "sufficient", the group felt it did "not rise to the level of a clear apology" and called for an act of contrition that would "decisively end any confusion".
In Iran, anger against the Pope was growing. As well as student protests, the Vatican's ambassador to Iran, Archbishop Angelo Mottola, was summoned "to receive Iran's strong protest against the Pope's remarks on Islam", the official Irna news agency said.
One Iranian cleric said the Pope's apology could only be accepted if the pontiff fell to his feet. Numerous other religious seminaries in Iran announced they were going on strike.
Vatican advisers will almost certainly be hoping that once the pontiff's conciliatory message filters down to the Muslim street the protests will die off.
But radical Islamist groups - or authoritarian regimes trying to deal with restive Islamist forces in their own societies - might also exploit religious misunderstanding for their own purposes.
Yesterday, two armed Iraqi groups posted threats to the Vatican and the Catholic Church on the internet.
Many still fear a repeat of the Danish cartoon row, which saw protests and violence across the Muslim world on a far greater, and more diffuse, scale than at present, after a rightwing Danish newspaper, the Jutland Post, published a series of cartoons a year ago mocking the Prophet Muhammad as a self-proclaimed exercise in free speech. It was only when, five months later, a group of incensed ultra-conservative Danish imams travelled to the Middle East with the cartoons, that the affair exploded into a cultural row.
The Pope's apology also fails to address, or acknowledge, another root problem: that sensitivities are already inflamed, and there is a widespread perception across the Muslim world that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were carried out by what many Muslims see as little more than a Christian coalition - a new Crusade.
The Vatican says it is worried about the turn events are taking. The Vatican's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said he hoped the death of the Italian nun shot dead while working in Somalia was "an isolated event". "We are worried about the consequences of this wave of hatred and hope it doesn't have grave consequences for the church around the world," he told Ansa news agency.
Conservative politicians in Europe, meanwhile, have made it clear whose side they are on.
Over the weekend, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the Pope had been misunderstood. The general secretary of her Christian Democrat party, Ronald Pofalla, went further, declaring: "All those who attack the Pope are not interested in dialogue. They merely want to intimidate and silence the West."
In the Muslim city of Istanbul, once the Christian capital of Constantinople, the Pope arrives on a huge mission: to undo the Great Schism of 1054 and reunite Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. This is not to everyone's liking: reactionaries from Opus Dei, the dark operators of Turkey's security "deep state", and the evil geniuses of Italy's P-2 masonic lodge form an alliance to stop the Vatican. In Istanbul, a journalist is contracted to assassinate the pope.
Such is the plot of the potboiler racing up the bestseller lists in Turkey. Uncannily coinciding with the Vatican-Islam tension and ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's November visit to Turkey, the Turkish writer Yücel Kaya published his thriller "Attack on the Pope" in May. The pope and his coterie will require a diplomacy lacking in the Regensburg homily to negotiate this trip.
BY MARK FORD - 12:44 - 20 October 2005
Six sheep gruesomely killed on Dartmoor may be the victims of ritual slaughter at the hands of occultists, it emerged last night.
Police are investigating whether the deaths near an ancient Pagan altar on the isolated moor are the second case of ritual sheep slaughter to have occurred in the area this year.
The animals were found with their necks broken and eyes gouged out on land at Moortown.
Four of the bodies were arranged in a square shape, another two lying near a pattern of stones.
Their owner, farmer Daniel Alford, is convinced they were killed as part of a Pagan ritual.
"You hear crazy stuff like that around Dartmoor," he said. "People believe in all sorts of strange things."
BY MARK FORD
09:30 - 20 October 2005
The spectre of occult practices in the West reared its head yesterday as police investigated a second case of ritual sheep slaughter near an ancient Pagan altar on an isolated moor.
Six sheep were found with their necks broken and their eyes removed on land at Moortown near the edge of Dartmoor. Four of their bodies were arranged in a regular square shape, another two were lying next to a pattern of stones.
In January, seven sheep were found just half-a-mile away in the same eerie shadow of Vixen Tor. Again their necks were broken, and this time chillingly arranged in the shape of a heptagram - a seven-pointed star symbol, linked for centuries with the dark arts and Black Magic rituals.
Now, the Western Daily Press can reveal that police are connecting the incidents with the presence of an ancient Pagan sacrificial altar, the stone remains of which are located just to the east of the tor.
"Our understanding is that this place used to be some sort of meeting place for Pagans," said a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police.
"To the east of Vixen Tor there is evidence of an ancient stone sacrificial altar.
They added: "We are investigating this as a matter of criminal damage.
"People obviously have their right to practise their religion, but when that involves damaging, or in this case killing, other people's property, it becomes a crime." The dead sheep, worth £600, were still warm when they were found by their owner, farmer Daniel Alford, on Sunday morning.
He has little doubt the shocking incident has its roots in Pagan ritual.
"You hear of all sorts of crazy stuff like that around Dartmoor, it's that sort of place, people believe in all sorts of strange things," he said yesterday.
"It is a bit unsettling knowing that someone has been creeping around up there doing this, but there's not a lot we can do, it's such a vast area.
"There were the four sheep and then 10ft or 15ft away there were another two, which were laid next to three stones which had been arranged in a pattern," he said.
"The stones looked like a kind a of gateway, a similar thing that had been found in January.
"After talking to a few people we established that it was probably something to do with Janus the Pagan god of January and the beginning of the New Year and banishing evil spirits.
"What this one is about, I've no idea. It was a full moon."
In this case, the eyes were completely removed from the sheep, and there were no signs of the messy pecking that could attribute the loss to an attack by birds.
Police confirmed the animals had their necks quickly broken and there were no indications of a prolonged struggle or suffering.
It is thought at least two people would have to had to have been involved, given the sheer physical strength needed for the killing and arranging of the sheep.
Vixen Tor and the Alford family have gained notoriety recently in a high-profile right-to-roam row with ramblers, walkers and climbers.
In 2003, the Alfords controversially ended 30 years of permitted access to the tor on the grounds they could be held liable if there was an accident on it.
Earlier this year, the decision was upheld by an inquiry inspector who ruled against opening up the land under Countryside and Rights of Way legislation.
Last month those demanding access to the tor and the land it stands on mounted a peaceful protest on the Alfords' land.
Yesterday Daniel Alford said he did not believe the clash over access was in anyway connected to the disturbing finds.
"I really don't think it is the sort of thing the Thermos flask brigade would get involved in," he said.
May 20, 2005, 8:18 PM -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A full-page advertisement as an open letter to President Bush signed by 823 people affiliated with Calvin College was published in Friday's editions of The Grand Rapids Press, protesting his planned appearance as the school's commencement speaker.
The signees -- self-described alumni, students, faculty and "friends" of the Christian liberal arts college -- said they are "deeply troubled" that Bush will be the speaker at Saturday's ceremony.
"In our view, the policies and actions of your administration, both domestically and internationally over the past four years, violate many deeply held principles of Calvin College," their ad said.
White House spokesman Taylor Gross said he had not seen the ad.
"The president appreciates Americans' right to peacefully protest and to express their views," Gross said. "It's an important part of our democracy and the president respects an individual's right to free speech."
School spokesman Phil de Haan called the advertisement's language "troubling" and "unnecessarily divisive."
"Many of the statements in the ad seem to suggest that those who drafted the ad somehow speak for the entire college," he said. "Obviously, this is not the case."
Sally Steenland, a 1969 Calvin graduate who consults on religious issues for the Center for American Progress, organized the ad campaign. John Podesta, President Clinton's chief of staff, founded the Washington-based research and educational institute.
She said she was compelled by her relationship with the school, her views about Bush and the religious principles of her alma mater -- not by her relationship with the think tank.
"I'm doing this as a labor of love with a team who have been working night and day to collect signatures," she told The Grand Rapids Press.
Steenland also consults for the Center for Women Policy Studies and teaches writing in the Washington area.
Newsweek magazine and other national publications speculated that Bush agreed to speak at Calvin as a way to reach out to his evangelical base in a Midwestern state. But Calvin officials said there was more to his decision than preaching to the faithful.
"I think the White House knows Calvin is not a clone of the more fundamental universities, like Bob Jones University," Provost Joel Carpenter told the Grand Rapids paper. "It's an opportunity to extend their constituency."
Bush's appearance may signal a desire to identify himself more closely with the Christian center rather than with the religious right, where critics often have pigeonholed him, said the Rev. Peter Borgdorff, executive director of ministries for the Christian Reformed Church.
Calvin, which is affiliated with the church, was founded in 1876. It is one of the largest Christian colleges in North America, with more than 4,000 students and 50,000 living alumni, de Haan said.
"I think Calvin College represents a more centrist place on the spectrum than perhaps some other places," said Borgdorff, who has met with Bush as a board member for the faith-based Call to Renewal anti-poverty movement. "He knows better than to assume every Christian college is associated with the religious right. The president is interested in being perceived as a religious moderate, not a religious extreme."
Mar 20 2005
World Exclusive by Graham Johnson (Investigations Editor) and Grant Hodgson
PRINCE Andrew's female bodyguard has been caught having sex on film at Britain's biggest VIP orgy.
Firearms cop Sarah Cox was snapped romping at the sex party alongside 300 other depraved swingers.
After tearing off her clothes, WPC Cox - who also guards PM Tony Blair at Chequers - and her cop boyfriend plunged into the orgy on a 20ft by 14 ft steel-reinforced bed.
ORGY: Revellers writhe on the huge orgy bed
Fever Club orgy bosses put Cox, 26, and PC Bernard Bourdillon, 36, in charge of security at the £150-a- couple party in a £15million London mansion.
But the police couple are regular swingers too - and as the night wore on THEY threw off their clothes and joined the throng of writhing bodies.
Thames Valley Police chiefs will be horrified by their antics and the couple - who boasted about borrowing police metal detectors to search guests - could face disciplinary action.
Only Britain's elite, including aristocrats, politicians, civil servants and lawyers, are allowed to join the secret society, which met for its first orgy of 2005 last Saturday night.
Rich brokers from City institutions Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutschebank and Commerzbank indulged in a free-for-all with scientists, lawyers, corporate directors, a TV presenter, fashion models and an Olympic athlete.
In an undercover operation, Sunday Mirror investigators posing as security men looked on as a mass of naked men and women romped on a pink satin-covered bed in the main candle-lit "playroom". Another 11 couples were having sex on marble-topped gilt tables, and on the floor two women were fondling each other while performing sex acts on FIVE men.
The night of debauchery began at 9pm. Guests arrived in a fleet of limousines and stepped on to a purple carpet across the pavement outside the 24-bedroom former ambassadorial residence opposite BBC Radio One's offices in London's Portland Place. One Italian heiress was dressed in a £4,000 Dolce & Gabbana gown.
They were greeted by the party's organisers - the men behind Fever Parties are property tycoon Jonathan Friedman, 41, and married right-wing anti-Europe politician David Russell Walters, 44.
The pair use professional events organiser Emma Sayles, 26, to front their organisation. Her father is a Cambridge-educated former Welsh Guards' officer.
For security reasons members were ticked off a photographic guest list to make sure that there were no impostors.
Then they were searched by off-duty Thames Valley firearms cops Cox and Bourdillon using handheld metal detectors.
Their job was to take mobile phones and cameras from guests.
Dark-haired bisexual Cox wore a tight-fitting, short flower print dress and Bourdillon wore beige chinos and a blue shirt. "A couple of people got stroppy," said Bourdillon, an armed police constable based at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. "But once we explained the need to do it they were like, 'Oh, all right then'."
Asked if he had found any illegal substances, Bourdillon said: "The only thing I've found is four Viagra. They were confiscated."
Cox, a PC based in Windsor, Berkshire - near where Prince Andrew lives - added: "That's our big worry. If we found anything we'd have to confiscate it because of our jobs." Later our investigators found evidence of drugs, smuggled in by guests, in the venue's toilets.
The party's floor manager was also offered a powdered cocktail called Magic by a guest - a combination of pure ecstasy and speed.
In the lobby the guests were greeted by a tanned semi-naked harpist wearing a white basque and lacy stockings who later joined the sex party during her break.
The immaculately-groomed guests were then led through to a cocktail reception where they chatted politely. Celebrity DJ Dan Lywood, former boyfriend of Zoe Ball, played dance music. Beautiful guests had flown in from New York, Paris, Italy, Germany and Holland especially for the party.
At about 10.30pm the first couple followed a trail of red rose petals up the sweeping stone staircase, through oak-panelled doors into the main playroom. The woman, a marketing executive with blonde bobbed hair, stripped off to reveal a G-string and began having sex with her partner, a city banker.
A second couple played with a sex toy while being watched by a group of women. After about half-an-hour there were 60 people having sex on the vast bed, reinforced with steel plates to bear the weight.
The room, decorated by film set designers for £7,000, was candlelit. Classical music played in the background. Around the bed three couples were having sex against radiators and two women fondled each other while performing sex acts on several men.
One fashion model having sex with a lawyer groaned in ecstasy. Another man fed her grapes from a cut-glass bowl, Belgian chocolates and Laurent Perrier champagne straight from the bottle while fondling her breasts.
The owner of the £15million mansion, toff Edward Davenport, was filmed kissing and fondling a woman on the bed.
Davenport, a property developer who is worth £133million, also has residences in Monte Carlo, Mayfair and the West Country.
He made a fortune organising debauched Gatecrasher Balls for public school teenagers in the 1980s but was later jailed for VAT fraud on tickets.
After finishing their security duties Cox and Bourdillon came upstairs. Cox took off her dress to reveal a large, tribal-style tattoo across her back and an expensive black thong and bra.
Sunday Mirror investigators saw Cox perform oral sex on Bourdillon in front of 100 naked guests while sitting on the edge of the bed. They then jumped on top to have sex with each other.
Cox later came out of the playroom wearing only a black choker and her underwear and danced provocatively with Bourdillon in the cocktail lounge.
She told our investigators: "I work as one of Prince Andrew's protection officers. It's a good laugh. I know he gets quite a bit of stick in the Press but he's actually an alright bloke. He's not so aloof with people once he gets to know them. He calls me by my first name. I work in firearms, I'm trained in that. I just have to accompany him with other protection officers whenever he's being driven about."
Talking about using police equipment to carry out searches at the orgy, she added: "We used the equipment from the station. There's no problem with it because they're not supposed to be in use.
"Next time I'll bring some evidence bags. I could have used them to put people's belongings in."
Cox revealed that she is bisexual. She said: "I'm in a committed relationship so these events are good for me because it allows me to explore my sexuality.
"It can be a bit uncomfortable if I'm with Dillan (the name she uses for Bourdillon) and I see someone I fancy but who he doesn't like because I can't always go with them, so I just have to go, 'Aww'."
Bourdillon said: "We've been doing it for a couple of years.
"We weren't going to work here tonight because we weren't sure if one of us was going to be on a shift.
"It turned out all right though and Johnny (Friedman) phoned us begging to help out. We don't mind doing it as a favour. We get in for free and have a few drinks.
"It's the first time we've done an event as big as this."
Referring to the metal detectors, Bourdillon said: "We've brought them from the station. There's no problem because there are lots of them up there so even if something happens tonight they won't be missed."
Later he denied taking them from any police station, saying they were from "central stores".
"No one else at the station knows that we go to parties like this.
"I don't really mind but I don't want them to because all they will do is take the Mick.
"I'm not really comfortable here. It's too formal. There's too many people."
After deciding that was enough, they dressed, had a couple more drinks, then left.
Last night Bourdillon confirmed he and Cox had been at the party, but denied they'd been moonlighting as they were not paid.
"I certainly haven't done anything illegal or against any codes of conduct," he said. "We were there as a favour to friends."
A Home Office spokesman said: "Police officers must inform their chief officer if they wish to pursue outside business interests for gain, be it financial or otherwise.
"It is then down to the chief officer to give permission.
"It would be inappropriate to use police equipment in non- police matters."
Fever owner David Russell Walters told our investigator: "We asked them (Cox and Bourdillon) to frisk people down. We didn't pay them because they are clients of ours.
"We took it that they would come and do that a for a few hours and they would be free to enjoy the rest of the party .
"They got free entry in exchange."
Edward Davenport said: "I was there a little bit. I am not a swinger.
"I am used to quite wild parties. But I didn't get involved.
"I'm not embarrassed about it. They had a good-looking crowd there. Mostly models."
Mar 20 2005
By Graham Johnson And Grant Hodgson
The beautiful blonde in high heels and skin-tight designer dress caught the eye of a successful young businessman.
They walked towards each other across a packed dancefloor, then she touched him on the arm - the signal swingers use to show they want to have sex.
After a brief exchange of words the couple joined 60 other swingers on a huge bed in the "party" room.
As they took off their clothes and began intimately caressing each other, they were ogled by men standing around the orgy.
This was just one of the debauched scenes at the latest swingers' party organised by Fever - one of the biggest and most exclusive sex clubs in the world.
One party-goer who witnessed the scenes said: "These are some of the most wealthy and powerful people in Britain - the capital city's movers and shakers - and they were all writhing naked together on a bed as big as a suburban swimming pool."
The event in London's Portman Square last Saturday was Fever's biggest in the capital so far. More than 100 couples paid £150 in advance - or £200 on the door - to take part. One of the guests was Harlequins rugby star James Hayter who was hired as a bouncer, but liked what he saw so much he dived in too!
Many of the partygoers - who have to be under 40, well-heeled and good looking - have since emailed the Fever website with "thank you for having us" messages, hailing the party as "mind- blowing" and the "best ever".
In a series of raunchy party recollections, they:
Last night messages from 25 partygoers were posted on the group's website.
A 24-year-old woman, who was at her first Fever party, says: "What an amazing evening. Sex, sex and, er, more sex. Ladies, if you are single or fancy sneaking away from your man, come to Fever.
"I spent most of the night with the most gorgeous couple who were fabulous in the bedroom." Another message from a 21-year-old woman says: "I had a great time and will definitely praise Fever in my London student article.
"Only joking. Sorry to have disappointed you by not being an undercover investigative journalist!"
A couple, aged 35 and 29, say: "It was absolutely mind-blowing. We met and partied with several other sexy couples - had an absolutely amazing time. The night was a perfect combination of all our best past adventures and encounters, both sexual and social, all wrapped into one great, glamorous, friendly and fun party."
Another couple, both 31, write: "It feels mildly amusing to be sitting down and politely writing a thank-you note after last night's party. Whatever would my mother say?
"The venue was superb, the atmosphere electric, with sparks of sexual tension searing between the guests almost from the first moments.
"It was impossible not to be raised to new sexual highs and not to just close your eyes and let the eager hands, mouths and bodies of everyone else there caress and stimulate you into sexual oblivion, over and over. Fabulous."
A third couple, aged 35 and 29, who were at their first Fever party, say: "We had an absolutely excellent time and were amazed at both the expert organisation and high level of talent among the partygoers."
Yet another pair, aged 31 and 30, say: "We would definitely like to attend future parties and we are still talking about that bed and how we had so much fun on it."
A 34-year-old and his 23-year-old partner say: "It was really wonderful to meet so many cool, beautiful, open-minded and respectful people."
But there is some criticism, too. Two Fever regulars, aged 33 and 27, moan: "We felt that the venue was a little cold in places. The toilets also lacked a little in cleanliness and decor. There was also quite a bit of broken glass around the bar and stair area which wasn't good for the bare-footed."
Fever organisers have also posted their own message, hailing the night a success. They boast: "Over 250 partygoers sipped champagne and cocktails and mingled for several hours between the open log fires, the vast, gilt-edged mirrors and the glittering chandeliers.
"Around 11.15pm the keenest swingers graduated up the towering, rose-strewn stairway towards the playrooms on the first floor. At the same time the first of the DJs took to the tables and upped the atmosphere. The main playroom centred on a huge specially -constructed bed covered in pink satin that was in continuous use by sometimes more than 60 people for over six hours."
EDWARD DAVENPORT, 38
Made first million in his teens organising the infamous Gatecrasher balls - now a property tycoon worth £133m. Spends six months a year in Monaco as a tax exile sharing £200-a-night hotel suite with two women. Shares £15million London pad with three more. He was seen kissing and fondling a girl on the orgy bed last Saturday night.
He bought the venue, a former ambassador's residence, from the Sierra Leone government in 2002 for the knockdown price of just £50,000.
DAVID RUSSELL WALTERS, 44
By day ex-Tory candidate and boss of anti-Europe Democracy Movement. By night, orgy master tending to guests. Looked on as four girls, one a Dutch rowing champ, pleasured each other.
JONATHAN FRIEDMAN, 42
Brains behind Fever's image. Spends hours "dressing" rooms with pink satin, chocolates, fruit, and jelly babies for energy. Seen canoodling on the bed with beautiful American blonde.
EMMA SAYLE, 26
Diplomat's daughter. Dad was colonel with the Welsh Guards and has an OBE. She is regarded as one of Britain's best and most upmarket party organisers - didn't join in the orgy.
JAMES HAYTER, 26
Professional rugby player. Hayter, who is over 6ft tall and weighs 220 lb, was Hired as a bouncer but became overwhelmed with lust. Stripped off and joined in the night's action.
International charity director had sex with female TV production company boss.
Heir to a multi-million crime empire bonked French, Russian, Italian models and a designer.
Raunchy daughter of a legendary rock star had public sex with a top media lawyer.
Movie bigwig and his catwalk model lover had sex with at least seven other couples.
FEVER CLUB parties first became notorious when senior Conservative Party strategist Douglas Smith was exposed as a founding member in 2003. The 42-year-old, who preached the Tories' morally-focused back-to-basics policy, was forced to cut his links with Fever and is now an adviser and speech writer to senior MPs.
The club started in January 1998 with a debauched launch party in a Central London penthouse. The 2,500 worldwide members include captains of industry, celebrities and multi-millionaire tycoons. Critics have accused the secretive organisation of being a sinister networking organisation.
Orgies for the rich and beautiful are hosted twice yearly in London and Manchester but there are parties over the summer in New York and Ibiza. Fever receives over 400 applications for each party and the vetting process is extremely strict. But the upper age limit of 40 was recently raised from 35 to take account of the advancing years of some of the organisers.
The sheep were found on Sampford Spiney on Dartmoor with their necks broken and their bodies in a pattern sometimes associated with the occult.
The pattern was similar to the shape of a star, or heptagram, a mystical symbol commonly used in occult ceremonies.
Chris Cole, a farmer who owned some of the sheep, said he first thought they were killed by a lightning strike.
Mr Cole, one of three farmer who owned the animals, said he thought it was lightning because "that's what happens when you find groups of animals dead like that".
He said when he realised the animals were left in the seven-pointed shape: "It's scared some people and worried them, me included, being this close to home.
"I don't really know what's happened. It's more what we are imagining happened here now."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/13 16:28:29 GMT
First published on Friday 16 August 2002:
by Julia Breen
PRIME Minister Tony Blair's former parish priest was last night facing jail after groping a ten-year-old boy at his North-East vicarage.
The Reverend George Glover - known as "Father Eddie" to his parishioners - lured the youngster into his home and carried out an indecent assault.
Last night, child protection campaigners urged religious organisations to tighten up their safeguards on child abuse to prevent any further cases.
The former Anglican vicar of Mr Blair's parish in Trimdon, County Durham, was convicted by a jury yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court.
The court heard that while Glover was at St Chad's Church in Gateshead last year, he flouted church rules when he invited the boy into his home and was alone with the youngster.
The boy had called round to visit the vicar and his wife, Maria, after school on April 12, last year.
Penny Moreland, prosecuting, told the court that Glover's wife was not at home when the boy turned up.
She said: "Glover pulled him across on to his knee, put his hand down his trousers and touched him.
"The boy said he was frightened by what was happening and did not know what was going to happen next.
"He saw it was 4.30pm, said 'I've got to go for my tea', and ran away from the house.
The boy later told his mother, who complained to the authorities the next morning, and Glover was arrested.
Last night, he was remanded in custody until sentencing for his own safety, after concerns were raised during the trial that he might take his own life.
Glover will be sentenced on October 4 after reports are prepared. He showed no emotion as he was led to the cells.
In 1997, he faced a rare ecclesiastical hearing after a parishioner in Trimdon accused him of adultery while he was vicar at St Mary Magdelene church in the village.
Margaret Orpen accused him of having sex with her in his car and making her pregnant.
Glover, who was married with two daughters, could have been defrocked if he had been found guilty.
But the case was dropped, and Glover was cleared after pregnancy tests proved negative. Mrs Orpen was diagnosed as "delusional" by a psychiatrist.
Mrs Orpen said last night she would be seeing a solicitor in a bid to have her case against Glover reopened.
She said her own doctor had contested the psychiatrist's findings in the case.
"I want to see justice done," said Mrs Orpen.
Last night, Sue Woolmore, the NSPCC's policy advisor for the North of England, said: "The NSPCC encourages all organisations, including religious ones, to look very closely at what kind of safeguards they have in place to prevent these incidents.
"We advise parents with any concerns at all of this nature to keep shouting about it until someone listens. They can speak to police, social services, or ring our helpline if they have concerns.
"But the Church of England, and particularly the Catholic Church, are working with us on their child protection policies."
The Bishop of Durham has expressed his "deepest regret" to the boy's family
A Church statement read: "The diocese acted immediately and appropriately and accordingly to the prescribed Church of England procedures as soon as the complaint was made.
"Pastoral care and counselling have been provided to the family."
In addition to the sentence of the court, Glover will face disciplinary sanctions under ecclesiastical law.
*The NSPCC helpline is 0808-800 5000.
Wednesday January 26, 2005
Rocco Buttiglione, the erstwhile Italian EU commissioner, must have some sympathy with Ruth Kelly. Instead of getting on with the job to which Silvio Berlusconi had advanced him, he was closely questioned by European parliamentarians about his religious beliefs. His candidature was eventually withdrawn, and he departed to found a new Catholic political alliance.
Now here is Ruth Kelly, eager to get stuck into her new role as secretary of state for education, and yet all everyone wants to know, apart from how she copes with a cabinet rank and four small children, is where Opus Dei fits in. If indeed she is a member. No one is saying. She has spiritual support from them, but that is a private matter, she told David Frost on Sunday.
Maybe, but her answer is rather disingenuous. Opus Dei comes surrounded by a political miasma. It was founded just before the Spanish civil war, but came fully into being in the heady Catholic days of Franco's cruzado. Camino (The Way), the handbook that guides the spiritual life of Opus Dei adherents, was published in its final version just as the civil war ended. When Opus came to prominence in the late 1960s it was because Franco's cabinet contained a remarkably large number of Opusdeistas - far too many for commentators to believe it a coincidence. Senior members, including Opus's founder St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Marqués de Peralta, were involved in negotiating the handover of power to the then Prince Juan Carlos, rather than to his father, Don Juan.
Opus members were powerful operators in 1960s Spain and again, it was alleged, during the Aznar government. The organisation's public persona in Spain wasn't helped by the discovery that adherents helping to fund its remarkable growth were involved in two of that country's major financial scandals. The sinister, secretive image was boosted in the US when an FBI agent was convicted four years ago of spying for the Russians. He was an Opus member, and his brother-in-law an Opus Dei priest. The lurid picture in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, of an Opus Dei "monk" wreaking mayhem around Europe on the instructions of his religious superior, has only added to their curiosity value.
If a member, Ruth Kelly would have been a typical recruit, the sort of person targeted by the organisation as a potentially influential member of society. They tend to recruit from the middle class, give adherents a traditional theological education, and subject them to an old-fashioned spiritual training - including wearing spike bracelets, and beating oneself with a cat o'nine-tails. Given this conservative background, it is scarcely surprising that many Opusdeistas turn out to be supporters of rightwing regimes. Kelly, on the left of centre, is therefore something of an exception.
Their moral views, however, are more of a piece, and highly unlikely to deviate from those espoused by the Vatican. And these, as Buttiglione and US presidential contender John Kerry both found, can be something of a handicap in public life, especially when the Vatican tells politicians to toe the Catholic line on matters such as abortion. From the status of women to the teaching on stem-cell research to the recognition of same-sex unions, Pope John Paul II has resolutely followed a path at odds with the modern world. Catholic parliamentarians have too often to struggle between their faith and the convictions of the vast majority of their constituents. As Aidan O'Neill QC put it in a recent debate at Lincoln's Inn presided over by Cherie Booth, should they attempt to enact a form of Catholic Sharia? Many Catholics would say no, but Opus members are fiercely loyal to the present Pope. He has not only canonised their founder, but has also given them a new juridical structure which, they believe, fits their particular way of life.
For Opus is one of a kind. Within Roman Catholicism it has a unique status as a "personal prelature", a kind of diocese without geographical boundaries, with which all its members are associated, but to which its full-time members belong. They are priests and lay people. That makes it different from traditional religious orders which are usually one or the other. Opus embraces all classes of society, married and single, priests and lay people, men and women - though in the last case, never the twain shall meet. The recently constructed US HQ in New York has separate entrances for men and women. There are even, according to the authors of The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code, gender-specific parking lots.
In this country, Opus's HQ is in Bayswater, west London. Its members run university halls of residence and youth clubs - fertile territory for new recruits. In the US and elsewhere there are Opus Dei schools, hot on traditional values. But not yet in Britain. In a variant of the postcode lottery, devout British parents have been known to relocate to Ireland where such colleges may be found. The education secretary says she wants more independent state schools, strong on discipline. Her spiritual advisers may have suggestions.
· Michael Walsh is a Catholic scholar and the author of Opus Dei
Chris Ballance MSP
Christmas is increasingly about rampant commercialism, streets awash with thousands of people pushing and shoving, and, so far one can tell, not having a lot of fun.
Somehow the whole sense of family, of community, of peaceful communion seems to have been lost along with the religious core which once underpinned our Christmas celebrations. If, as a recent survey discovered, Christmas is increasingly experienced as being a source not of joy but of stress, then we really do need to take a look at what is going on.
Of course it's enjoyable to give and receive gifts. But do we really need to do so on the scale we do? Is there really a link between happiness and owning the latest computer console and game, or getting that must have wide-screen TV? The answer must be no.
I wonder if perhaps we have lost more than a ready opportunity to sing Christmas carols or attend a midnight service at our local church, as we have rushed headlong to embrace the hedonist consumer-fest that Christmas has become. Surely Christmas should be about spending quality time with family and friends, our nearest and dearest. How could any amount of material goodies be as important as that?
I really hope that this Christmas, more people aim for a Christmas which is not about destroying the planet with consumerism, and take the time just be peaceful with family and friends. Who knows, we might even enjoy it.
Chris Ballance MSP http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ msp/membersPages/chris_ballance/
08NovN04 - Pravda.us
Between a cult of Satanic devil-worshippers and a group of Christians, which of the two would condone an act of mass murder, torture, rape, destruction of homes, wanton vandalism and acts of terrorism? The former, or the latter?
Anywhere else in the world, it would be considered that only those who walk in legion with Satan would or could support such shocking acts of butchery. Not so in the USA apparently, where the so-called Christian Fundamentalists handed George Bush the presidency on a silver platter, complete with a pat on the back and a reassuring wink. More of the same, George, more of the same.
However, what "Christians" are these and whose Bible are they bashing?
Christianity stands for the values preached by Jesus Christ, which, like other main religions, are based upon the principles of peace, love, tolerance, dialogue and fundamentally, the respect for life, property and the basic laws which govern mankind. The main religions are guardians of the unwritten bond which defines human decency and that which is considered as unacceptable.
In simple terms, easily understood by a homo sapiens sapiens who lived in islands of civilization among the wilderness, the division between these two precepts was described as the realm of God and the realm of the Devil, Heaven and Hell, Good and Evil.
Since the writing of the Scriptures, Mankind has periodically misused, abused and disused the original objectives of the word, namely to provide an explanation of the unknown and more importantly, rules within which Mankind should live.
Few civilizations have been guiltless in this impulsive act of blasphemy, mixed with the temptation to mix Church and State to strengthen the latter, raising religious banners which in many cases were historically more powerful than national ones, due to the trans-national nature of religion.
Yet today, two thousand years after the Passion of Christ and fifteen hundred years after the death of Muhammed, we continue to see acts of depravity and blasphemy justified under religious banners on a scale as primary and warped as that used five hundred years ago by the Inquisition.
One such example was the blasphemy of the Taleban regime, which usurped the Noble Qu'ran and substituted its core message with a mixture of Pashtun lore and extremist Islamist law. The result: an insult and a direct attack against Islam itself. Similarly, the so-called Christian Fundamentalists in the United States of America, whose warped and blasphemic view of their religion supports the acts of the Bush regime.
The Christian Fundamentalists of America are the mirror image of the Taleban, both of which insult and deny their Gods.
How can any Christian, in whatever shape or form, support an act of murder, much less mass murder? How can any Christian turn a blind eye to acts of torture? How can any Christian accept an act of rape? Did these fundamentalist Christians in the USA know when they voted for Bush that a substantial number of sisters, wives and mothers of men wanted by the USA in Iraq were raped in custody and rather than abort or face the humility of their condition, meted out by the soldiers of Bush, preferred to commit suicide?
Did these Fundamentalist Christians know that Bush's military forces targeted civilian infra-structures so that rebuilding contracts worth billions of dollars could be handed to Cheney's friends at Halliburton without even the decency of a tender?
In targeting civilian infra-structures, we are speaking about power plants, which keep babies alive in winter, we are speaking about water supply systems, we are speaking about electricity units, we are speaking about schools, we are speaking about hospitals.
Where in the Christian faith does it state that it is acceptable to destroy such structures? Where in the Christian religion does it state that a soldier should open fire on civilians, including children, yelling "Burn, you mother-f-. Burn"?
Where in the Christian religion is it stated that a soldier can stick his automatic weapon in the face of a frightened six-year-old boy and scream: "Get ya f- hands up, now?"
No, it is no good to simply deny everything and turn to the cross. Such instances are documented and recorded. They happened and continue to happen and will continue to happen, so long as Bush and his evil regime, which hoodwinked their people with ludicrous tales of fear, which made fools out of America's good people with their lies, continues in power. The good Christians of the united States of America have just given a four-year lease of life to this Satanistic regime.
As everyone now knows and as George Bush himself now admits, Iraq and 9/11 were unconnected, wholly and totally unconnected. Saddam Hussein is not Bin Laden, indeed they hate each other and Islamism detests Saddam Hussein as being not Islamist enough. Therefore any connection between Islamist terrorism and Iraq is in plain English, and I apologize, bullshit.
Yet this bullshit sees US troops, every day, slaughtering Iraqis, including women and children and let it be said that if any Iraqi men are resisting this illegal invasion (which breaks the UN Charter and also breached the Geneva Convention, on many counts), are only doing what any patriotic US citizen would do if his country was invaded.
Therefore every time that the Christian Fundamentalists of America enter into a Church and are faced by a barrage of blasphemy connecting Christ or Christianity to Bush, may they choke on the Host if they believe it.
The Christian Fundamentalists of the United States of America are, at best, a well-meaning slice of the population which allowed itself to be misled and deceived by its collective ignorance and bloody-mindedness. At worst, they are a gullible clique of sniveling sycophants who cow-tow to authority, whatever it is and whatever its precepts, listening blindly to the criminals who burn their money every month in acts of depravity, the hard-earned money which they donate to their "churches", so often controlled by masters of mass hysteria who once again have mastered the gift of mixing religion and politics.
The Christian religion has nothing to do with what Bush is doing abroad. The Christian religion never did, does not and never will, condone acts of murder, condone acts of torture, condone acts of rape, condone invasion of property, condone acts of disrespect for human life.
Iraq is not about 9/11, it is about oil and a geo-strategic position because Saudi Arabia is becoming too unstable. Afghanistan was not about bin Laden, it was about the pipeline for gas from Turkmenistan and Iran is (or will be) about the connectivity of the oil and gas pipelines, greatly benefiting the corporate elite which gravitates around the White House, in the figures of Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Those who wish to disbelieve and cocoon themselves in a nice, cozy, protective environment, believing that Mr. President knows what he is doing, will soon see the errors in their judgement. Mr. President, in this case, does what he is told.
And the forces behind Mr. President are not Christian or Islamic or anything else remotely religious. They are guided by greed, by the lust and thirst and quest for power, in short, they are guided by the precepts upon which Satan acts and they are wily enough to have duped the good Christians of the United States of America hook, line and sinker.
They have taken these good people, they have insulted their beliefs and they have manipulated them, through fear.
To conclude, a message from my friend of 26 years, Ali, who I spent three years with at University, whose son Rashid, six years old, was in Baghdad in the opening days of George Bush's Shock and Awe campaign.
He told me, among many tears staining the writing paper, that his son Rashid had been killed as he stayed with his grandparents in Baghdad, at the beginning of the horrific bombing campaign unleashed by the Bush regime, supported by the fundamentalist Christians of the USA.
He had been found by his grandmother in the ruins of her home, with a gaping hole in his abdomen through which blood and faeces seeped. Knowing his condition, he bravely looked into his grandmother's eyes and said: "Grandmother, please tell daddy that I was brave and didn't cry".
Then he died. Six years old.
How can any Christian anywhere on earth say that he supports such Satanistic acts of depravity? These are not the soldiers of Christ. They are the legions of Baal. And the Christian Fundamentalists of the United States of America, in voting in favour of the regime which perpetrated these evil actions, are as guilty as the demons which performed them.
Call yourselves anything you like, but do not insult Christianity and please do not insult the Christians who respect the fundamental principles of the religion, by calling yourselves Christians. Instead, call yourselves a cult of Satan worshippers, or the like.
And be ashamed of what you have done, namely supporting a regime of mass murderers and war criminals.
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
07/17/04 "New York Times" -- If the latest in the "Left Behind" series of evangelical thrillers is to be believed, Jesus will return to Earth, gather non-Christians to his left and toss them into everlasting fire:
"Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again."
These are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The latest is "Glorious Appearing," which has Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet. It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.
If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of "Glorious Appearing" and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit. We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture, and it's time to remove the motes from our own eyes.
In "Glorious Appearing," Jesus merely speaks and the bodies of the enemy are ripped open. Christians have to drive carefully to avoid "hitting splayed and filleted bodies of men and women and horses."
"The riders not thrown," the novel continues, "leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated. . . . Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they, too, rattled to the pavement."
One might have thought that Jesus would be more of an animal lover.
These scenes also raise an eschatological problem: Could devout fundamentalists really enjoy paradise as their friends, relatives and neighbors were heaved into hell?
As my Times colleague David Kirkpatrick noted in an article, this portrayal of a bloody Second Coming reflects a shift in American portrayals of Jesus, from a gentle Mister Rogers figure to a martial messiah presiding over a sea of blood. Militant Christianity rises to confront Militant Islam.
This matters in the real world, in the same way that fundamentalist Islamic tracts in Saudi Arabia do. Each form of fundamentalism creates a stark moral division between decent, pious types like oneself and infidels headed for hell.
No, I don't think the readers of "Glorious Appearing" will ram planes into buildings. But we did imprison thousands of Muslims here and abroad after 9/11, and ordinary Americans joined in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in part because of a lack of empathy for the prisoners. It's harder to feel empathy for such people if we regard them as infidels and expect Jesus to dissolve their tongues and eyes any day now.
I had reservations about writing this column because I don't want to mock anyone's religious beliefs, and millions of Americans think "Glorious Appearing" describes God's will. Yet ultimately I think it's a mistake to treat religion as a taboo, either in this country or in Saudi Arabia.
I often write about religion precisely because faith has a vast impact on society. Since I've praised the work that evangelicals do in the third world (Christian aid groups are being particularly helpful in Sudan, at a time when most of the world has done nothing about the genocide there), I also feel a responsibility to protest intolerance at home.
Should we really give intolerance a pass if it is rooted in religious faith?
Many American Christians once read the Bible to mean that African-Americans were cursed as descendants of Noah's son Ham, and were intended by God to be enslaved. In the 19th century, millions of Americans sincerely accepted this Biblical justification for slavery as God's word but surely it would have been wrong to defer to such racist nonsense simply because speaking out could have been perceived as denigrating some people's religious faith.
People have the right to believe in a racist God, or a God who throws millions of nonevangelicals into hell. I don't think we should ban books that say that. But we should be embarrassed when our best-selling books gleefully celebrate religious intolerance and violence against infidels.
That's not what America stands for, and I doubt that it's what God stands for.
Apr 24 2004
Bail after he is quizzed
By Richard Smith
A SENIOR judge has been arrested and quizzed by police as part of a nationwide paedophile operation.
Married father-of-four David Selwood, 69, was freed on bail "pending further inquiries", after being interviewed on Wednesday.
The former Army major general was listed to preside over an indecent assault trial in Portsmouth a day later, but did not attend.
He was still off yesterday and the curtains were drawn at his £550,000 home in Winchester, Hants.
Speaking through the intercom system, he said: "Thank you for your inquiry, but I am afraid I am not in a position to say anything."
A spokesman for Portsmouth crown court said: "Judge Selwood has not been at work due to illness. We are not expecting him in next week."
Judge Selwood boasts an illustrious military record and an entry in Who's Who.
The son of a naval commander, he has been a circuit judge in Hampshire since 1992 and resident judge at Portsmouth crown court since 1996.
He is also an author of the Crown Court Index, a respected legal publication which gives advice on any crown court issue.
The judge is married to Barbara and they have three sons and a daughter.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Police said a man had been arrested in Winchester on Wednesday, "in connection with a paedophile operation".
She added: "The man was interviewed at a police station in Hampshire and has been subsequently released on bail pending further inquiries."
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Arlon
The youngest survivor of the alleged child murderer Marc Dutroux confronted him in a Belgian court yesterday to ask him why he did not kill her.
Sabine Dardenne electrified the court with her evidence, eight years after Dutroux held her chained in a filthy dungeon as his sex slave.
Sabine Dardenne's evidence electrified the court
She swivelled around in the witness chair to glower through the bullet-proof glass at the man who tormented and brutally raped her - "sweating like an animal" - when she was 12.
"I have one thing to ask of Marc Dutroux, even though I know I think I know the answer. Why didn't he just liquidate me, since he was always complaining about my pig-headed stubbornness?" she said, alluding to the fate of four other girls found dead on his property.
Dutroux replied with his usual cold self-confidence. "It was never my intention to harm her in any way. I recognise that I abused her, and I take responsibility for that. Full stop," he said to gasps from the gallery.
"That is not very convincing," she replied, pulling her hands back through her hair.
Dutroux has denied killing any of the girls, including two eight-year-olds, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeuene, who starved in his dungeon. He claims that he was a lowly cog in a powerful paedophile network.
Investigators believe that Miss Dardenne was rescued in the nick of time by police. They suspect that he would soon have "disposed" of her after switching his interest to 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez, abducted in August 1996.
The first of the two survivors to take the stand, Miss Dardenne recounted "without hate or fear" how she was seized while riding her bicycle to school in southern Belgium in May 1996.
She was bundled into a van, drugged, and taken to Dutroux's hideaway in the slums of Charleroi, where he stripped her and fixed a chain around her neck.
Claiming that he was saving her from a "wicked chief", he warned her to be a good girl, "or you're dead".
For the next 80 days she was shut in a tiny underground cell, her "chamber of agony", surviving on a diet of "disgusting" tinned food and a jerry-can of brackish water.
Dutroux brought her to the surface for sex sessions, days marked with an X in her heartrending diary.
"If I gave Monsieur pleasure, he allowed me to watch television for one, two, or three hours," she said, speaking forcefully with a nervous laugh, adding that she preferred not to elaborate on the details of what he did to her.
Pol Marchal, the father of one of the dead girls, An Marchal, collapsed after hearing her speak. He was later recovering in hospital.
Miss Dardenne's evidence raises problems for the army of critics who continue to accuse the Belgian judicial system of a cover-up to protect paedophiles in high places. If a child sex network was involved, she never saw direct evidence of it. Dutroux, 47, was her sole tormentor.
Her last three days in the cell were shared with Laetitia Delhez, who said "the whole of Belgium" was searching for her. She doubted the story, believing Dutroux's claims that her family had abandoned her after refusing to pay a ransom.
Confused, she clung to Dutroux as her protector as police hauled her out of the dungeon. "I thanked him as I left. I thought he had saved us. I must have been out of my mind to believe it," she said.
Now a self-assured woman of 20, with a steady job and boyfriend, she displayed a coolness when Dutroux's wife and co-accused, Michelle Martin, begged for forgiveness for failing to alert the police.
"You knew where I was, with whom, and what he had done. I cannot accept your apology," she said.
Miss Dardenne said it was her civic duty to give evidence and show the world that Dutroux had not broken her spirit. Her testimony, devoid of self-pity, prompted effusive praise from the presiding judge, Stephane Goux, who called for "hats off" to honour her courage.
Despite her extraordinary resilience - she was back at school within two weeks of the ordeal in 1996 - some doubt she can entirely put the horrors behind her.
"Nothing is worse for a human being to be the plaything of another. There is a deep wound that will probably never heal," a psychologist said after her appearance.
20 March 2004: The father who must sit and listen to how his daughter was snatched, raped then buried alive
4 March 2004: I was a small cog in a sex-slave ring, but I am no murderer, claims Dutroux
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Belgium
The accused child-murderer Marc Dutroux yesterday denied any role in the gruesome death of four young girls, claiming that he was just a low-level cog in a powerful sex-slave ring and mostly acting under orders.
As Belgian jurors shook their heads, he claimed that he built an underground cell to "protect" his victims from abuse by the sex-crime network.
He accepted responsibility for "regrettable" acts in the mid-1990s but insisted that his only interest was the welfare of the abducted girls.
Ratcheting up his allegations that the child-sex ring reached high into official circles, he claimed yesterday that "two policeman" took part in the abduction of two of the girls, but offered no details.
"I didn't even know what paedophilia was. It was all Chinese to me," he said in his first day on the stand. He was convicted of multiple child rape and torture in 1989 after a decade-long spree of paedophile crimes.
He said the dungeon where eight-year-olds Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo were held in chains and suffered severe rape wounds was intended to shield them from a worse fate.
"I wanted to create a hiding place to save them from being sent to a prostitution ring," he said, when asked why he had concealed the entrance to the filthy cell behind a heavy trap door.
The two girls starved to death after being abandoned when Dutroux was sent to prison for 106 days for car theft.
Describing himself as the victim of a vast miscarriage of justice, he claimed that he had been vilified by hostile media coverage and was being denied "presumption of innocence". If he had strayed, it was because he was abused in childhood.
"My mother couldn't stand me and my father had trouble accepting me, knowing I wasn't his real son," he said, standing behind a bullet-proof shield.
Julie and Melissa were the emblem of the tragedy that transfixed Belgians and brought the country to the brink of revolution in 1996.
Michelle Martin, Dutroux's ex-wife, testified yesterday that she was "too scared" to go down into the dungeon to feed the girls, though she fed two German shepherd dogs that had been left to guard the terrace house under a flyover in the slums of south Charleroi.
Amid gasps from the public gallery, she said she believed that the emaciated creatures - chained to their cell - were "savage beasts" who might kill her.
Martin, 44, who is on trial as an accomplice, admitted that she never asked herself whether the girls were still alive. "I completely blocked the reality of what was happening out of my mind. I know I have some responsibility in the deaths of Julie and Melissa."
She said the reflex of years of slavish subservience to her husband stopped her going to the police to report the abductions.
"I couldn't disobey him; it was like that in our home," she said, adding that she was also concerned that her own two children (later three) would be taken into custody and abused.
Police searched the house after a tip-off but failed to bring sniffer dogs or heat-seeking gear and did not look for a hidden door. It later emerged that the authorities had been warned repeatedly that Dutroux was abducting girls, even receiving a letter from his mother.
Martin claimed that the two girls were still alive when Dutroux returned from prison. She said her husband was far more concerned about dog excrement left in the house than the fate of the girls. It was not until a day later that he called her urgently to come with baby feeding bottles, vitamins and orange juice to revive them.
After Julie died, Dutroux kept her body in the freezer. He later buried the two girls in plastic rubbish bags on his land at another property, driving them by a circuitous route to avoid a customs checkpoint.
Dutroux denied abducting the girls, saying that he discovered Julie Melissa sitting calmly on the sofa at his home in July 1995 after they had been left for safe-keeping by the child sex network.
He claimed that he locked them in the dungeon to keep them out of the hands of his fellow accused, Michel Nihoul, whom he described as the link to the big trafficking networks.
He said Melissa had been raped by one of the group - which made him "angry" - but it was "nothing" compared to what she would have faced with "Nihoul and company".
Julie and Melissa's bodies were found in August 1996 alongside the corpses of An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrechts, 19, whom Dutroux admitted snatching on their way home from a party. He claimed yesterday that "two policeman" took part in their abduction.
As Eefje's family listened in the tiny Arlon court house, he spoke of an oral sex session with their daughter - "a very nice girl".
"I found it a great shame that these girls died. It was a disaster," said Dutroux. Denying that he killed them, he said he left them with his "sidekick" and co-defendant Michel Lelievre, a heroin addict and drug dealer who planned to force the young women into prostitution.
Dutroux's wife said he appeared one day with tears in his eyes saying that An and Eefje had been killed. "We had to snuff them out."
She also accused him of torturing his French business partner Bernard Weinstein to extract more than £10,000 before drugging him and burying him alive at the bottom of the garden.
Dutroux admitted killing Weinstein in earlier police statements but retracted the confession yesterday.
The trial is expected to continue for three to four months.
VATICAN CITY (AP) --Pope John Paul II rang in the New Year on Thursday with a renewed call for peace in the Middle East and Africa and the creation of a new world order based on respect for the dignity of man and equality among nations.
John Paul presided over a morning Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica to mark the World Day of Peace, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates every January 1. He appeared in good form, delivering his entire homily in a strong and clear voice despite a relatively tiring holiday schedule.
This year, John Paul directed his thoughts to continuing conflicts around the globe. But he stressed that to bring about peace, there needs to be a new respect for international law and the creation of a "new international order" based on the goals of the United Nations.
He called for "an order that is able to give adequate solutions to today's problems based on the dignity of the human being, on an integral development of society, on solidarity among nations rich and poor, on the sharing of resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technical progress."
The pope lamented continuing violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and also offered his prayers for his ambassador to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, who was gunned down by assailants this week as he returned from a funeral.
John Paul said Courtney was killed "while he carried out his mission in favor of dialogue and reconciliation" in the central African country, which has been wracked by violence for a decade.
"Let us pray for him, hoping that his example and sacrifice will bring about the fruits of peace in Burundi and the world," he said.
Earlier this month, John Paul issued a formal document marking the World Day of Peace in which he called for a reform of the United Nations and international law to deal with the evolving threat of terrorism.
He said a new respect for international law was the only way to achieve peace and guarantee against the arbitrary use of force. He did not mention the United States by name, but his message appeared aimed at the U.S. anti-terrorism campaignand in particular at Washington's pre-emptive war in Iraq, which was launched without the specific authorization of the United Nations.
John Paul was a vocal critic of the Iraq war, dispatching envoys to Washington and Baghdad to try to prevent hostilities from breaking out and exhorting world leaders that war was not inevitable and was "always a defeat for humanity."
"Because peace is possible ... it is necessary," he said during his homily Thursday.
The New Year's Mass was the last major celebration of the Christmas season for John Paul, who is 83 and suffers from Parkinson's disease, which makes it difficult for him to speak, as well as knee and hip ailments that make it almost impossible for him to walk or stand.
He cut back some of his holiday activities and scrapped two traditional papal eventsthe ordination of bishops January 6 and baptisms on January 11.
But throughout the Christmas season, he has appeared far stronger than during the series of celebrations in October marking his 25th anniversary as pope. Then, he was unable to deliver many of his homilies and had to have others to read them on his behalf.
The Associated Press
Roy Hattersley has argued recently (Religion can't be used as an alibi Roy Hattersley Guardian, May 19 2003) that the state should in certain instances intervene to curtail people's religious liberty; or as he puts it that religion should not be above the law. He gives 3 examples: schools that teach that natural selection is a myth and that the world was created in six days just over four thousand years ago should not be subsidised through taxation, religions which regard homosexuality is a sin should not be exempt from anti-discrimination legislation, and that Muslims and Jews should not be allowed to eat kosher or halal meat because this entails unnecessary pain to animals
In defending this position he cites John Stuart Mill's 'On Liberty', but he misunderstands Mill, and his misunderstanding is so crass as to make one wonder whether he has read Mill at all. In order to explicate Hattersley's Misunderstanding I shall focus on the first of his points, that of the teaching of creationism, since it touches on themes that were especially important to Mill, freedom of speech and freedom in education.
Hattersley says correctly that questions of such moral complexity cannot be answered in a philosophical vacuum and suggests that we should be guided by Mill, I concur. He quotes Mill who said that that while we may be free to harm ourselves correct social conduct consists
'first, in not injuring the interests of one another, or rather certain interests which, either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights.
He then proceeds as if all that is needed to legitimise state intervention is to demonstrate that other people's interests are injured, thus completely ignoring Mill's very careful qualification of that point, a qualification which Mill clarifies by adding that:
The acts of an individual may be hurtful to others . . . without going to the length of violating any of their constituted rights.
Elsewhere Mill points out that whenever people are in competition with others, for example in job applications or examinations, those who succeed necessarily harm those who do not; and in such cases the state has no right to intervene unless that success has been achieved by means which are against the common interest such as fraud, treachery or force. While Mill saw the harming of another's interest as a necessary condition for state intervention he did not see it is a sufficient condition. Mill wanted to limit state intervention, Hattersley wants to extend it. Mill does indeed prescribe a condition, which makes state intervention necessary, but that condition is not whether my actions harm anybody but whether they violate anybody's rights.
This means that according to Mill the question we should ask in deciding whether the state should intervene in a particular case is not, 'has anybody been harmed?' but 'which rights have been violated?' One example that Hattersley gives of the kind of harm that can be caused by the teaching of creationism is that children might 'spend their adolescence under the impression that their teachers are cranks.' As soon as we ask which right has been violated in this case we realize the absurdity of Hattersley's misunderstanding. For a child cannot have a right not to think of his teachers as eccentric. How could such an absurd right be enforced? Furthermore there is a profound irony in this when we consider the following words:
Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
And who wrote these words? None other than John Stuart Mill in his essay 'On Liberty' Has Roy Hattersley ever read that work?
Thanks to pioneers like Mill, thinking on the issue of human rights has progressed to the extent that we need no longer think in terms merely of 'tacit understanding' when judging what ought to be considered as a right. Rather we can refer to numerous documents that have received international ratification. Chief among these is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26 declares:
Everyone has the right to education
There is a universal agreement that such education would have to include basic skills like literacy and numeracy, but there is no attempt to define what kind of education this should be, or to fix any content, it does not insist on a national curriculum, or that the government should provide such education, only that it should be free at least at primary level. This is entirely in accord with the thinking of Mill, who also had very clear ideas on how this goal might be achieved.
If the government would make up its mind [only] to require for every child a good education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave to the parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one else to pay for them
He also had clear ideas on what kind of control the government ought to exercise over the content of the curriculum: none.
A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government . . . in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body . . . All attempts by the state to bias the conclusions of its citizens on disputed subjects are evil.
So what are we to make of Hattersley's claim that it is surely self evident that to teach in schools that Eve was created from Adam's rib injures children's interests, because they go into the world believing manifest nonsense. It is not clear whether Hattersley means that holding these beliefs is harmful because it places those who believe them at a social or academic disadvantage or because holding the beliefs is somehow harmful in itself. If the former is the case, and if Hattersley had evidence to support this claim, it would raise some interesting questions about our supposedly tolerant secular society, such as why the state should, in Hattersley's view, act to offset the disadvantages encountered by homosexuals but not those encountered by creationists. However given that the school founded by Vardy in Gateshead is one of the most academically successful in the country, and that Vardy in spite of his beliefs has raised enough money to found them, such evidence is unlikely to be forthcoming. If on the other hand Hattersley believes such beliefs are harmful in themselves, and I think the use of the concept of self-evidence (always an act of desperation) implies that it is, then the question is: do some people have the right to believe what the majority regard as nonsense? Or conversely do people, especially children, have the right to be protected from such views. In answering this question Mill can be of tremendous help, but Hattersley has chosen arbitrarily to ignore the relevant passages in 'On Liberty'
On the question of whether the state has the right to silence minority opinions, Mill says quite bluntly:
We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure it would be an evil still.
This is because:
If the opinion is right (those who dissent from it) are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.
It might be argued that Mill here is concerned only with political or religious opinion and not with science but this is not so, for when talking of one of the best warranted scientific theories of his age he says
If even the Newtonian philosophy were not permitted to be questioned, mankind could not feel as complete assurance of its truth as they now do. The beliefs which we have most warrant for have no safeguard to rest on but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.
Mill had very definite views on the philosophy of science but he makes them no part of his argument in On Liberty. When he admits an exception to this general rule that both sides should always be heard in the case of mathematics, he does this not on the grounds of his philosophy of science but simply on the ground of common opinion.
The peculiarity of the evidence of mathematical truths is that all the argument is on one side . . . Even in natural philosophy (science) there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true one; and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion.
Mill believed that all science, including mathematics, is empirically based, and that knowledge progresses through increasingly sophisticated forms of induction. The sophistication of scientific induction meant, for Mill, that science so constructed was a superior form of knowledge. But it would also mean that scientific conclusions, such as the grand theory of evolution, which depend on the hypothetico-deductive method, would have a lower epistemic status. However Mill does not here attempt to provide an epistemological argument for the truth of mathematics but rather a socio-statistical one; a thing is disputable if it is disputed, no matter how tiny the number of disputants. Furthermore on Mill's reckoning no one can truly understand the theory of evolution unless he will hear the arguments against it, including the arguments of the creationists.
At this point it may be that someone would argue that creationism is not true science at all, and that therefore creationist theories are not valid alternatives to evolutionary ones. Against this it simply needs to be noted that there is no universally agreed criteria as to what constitutes science. When a teacher brought a case against the state of Arkansas because it would not allow him to teach creationism, the judge ruled that creationism was not true science because it failed the Popperian test of falsifiability. But why? It is certainly not the only philosophy of science, and if the judge had used, say, Feyarabend's anarchistic epistemology or Mill's own sophisticated inductionism, then a completely different outcome might have ensued.
But does Mill refer only to the permitting of debate among adults; are not children too vulnerable to be exposed to views held by the majority to be wrong? Mill did not think so. His approach to education was as we have seen a radical one. But he does not simply say anything goes. What he suggests in a remarkable anticipation of our current system is that the government should be responsible for administering a series of examinations, beginning with a test to see whether a child had learned to read by a suitable age. When a child failed this test its parent should be fined in order to pay for its education. Each child should be examined every year in a broadening range of subjects. Beyond that he advocates something like our current system of GCSE's and A levels in various subjects. Because children have a right to education no parent is free to deny them this right, but by avoiding our system of payment through taxation he hopes to loose education from government control. However by his system of examinations he has effectively put control of the curriculum back into government hands. He seeks to ameliorate his position in the following manner:
To prevent the state from exercising, through these arrangements, an improper influence over opinion, the knowledge required for passing an examination . . . should . . . be confined to facts and positive science exclusively. The examinations on . . . disputed topics should not turn on the truth or falsehood of opinions, but on the matter of fact that such and such an opinion is held, on such grounds, by such authors . . .
To what extent should this apply to science teaching? Clearly some aspects of science are disputed, if only by a minority, and so should not be taught as facts. What this mean in practice is that it is as important for children to understand the grounds on which a particular theory is held as to understand the theory. To make possible this understanding is far more important than to inculcate belief in the theory in question. As Mill says
there is no reasonable objection to examining an atheist in the evidences of Christianity, provided he is not required to profess a belief in them
Nor, it may be added is there any objection to an atheist teaching such evidences. So we can paraphrase Mill and say that there is no reasonable objection to examining a creationist in evolutionary biology (or in a creationist teaching evolutionary biology) so long as he is not required, explicitly or implicitly, to profess an acceptance of the theory. And here is the nub of the matter. No one who does not understand the grand theory of evolution can be said to understand modern biology, and without such an understanding no one can be in a position to rationally favour creationism, on the other hand no one can reject creationism without knowledge of both creationist and evolutionist theory. Therefore there can be no objection to a school teaching creationism alongside evolution, if that is the desire of parents, teachers and governors, providing that such teaching does not dominate the curriculum and prevent pupils from passing examinations set by external bodies. In the case of the schools founded by Peter Vardy this is very emphatically not the case.
Hattersley in presenting his understanding of creationism does not demonstrate the knowledge that would enable him to reject the theory. No creationist teaches that the world was created 4,000 years ago or that natural selection is a myth. Amongst creationists there are a range of positions on the age of the earth, young earth creationists teach that the world is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. Creationists do not argue against natural selection, which is an observable phenomenon, but do argue that it is in itself inadequate to account for the diversity of animal species and in particular the distinctions peculiar to human beings. All Hattersley has done is to demonstrate the mindless prejudice he professes to abhor.
By Kathy A. Gambrell
UPI White House Reporter
Published 3/26/2003 5:31 PM
WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush arrived Wednesday afternoon at Camp David where he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will hold talks on humanitarian relief and post-war reconstruction efforts inside Iraq.
The president and Secretary of State Colin Powell will hold a series of meetings with Blair at the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains on Thursday. Blair was scheduled to have dinner with them before beginning talks, the White House said.
The two leaders are to hold a joint press conference from Camp David at 11 a.m. EST Thursday.
Great Britain has been the United States' closest ally and largest coalition partner. Blair supported Bush in the effort to disarm Saddam despite intense political pressure from members of his own party in Parliament and a number of large anti-war demonstrations.
The discussions get underway as coalition forces in Iraq face their toughest opposition yet. As blinding sandstorms raged across Iraq Wednesday, U.S.-led forces continued to push slowly toward Baghdad against unexpectedly stiff resistance, with the prospect of even tougher encounters as they neared the Iraqi capital.
Bush left Washington early Wednesday for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, which is running the invasion of Iraq. He warned that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's "day of reckoning" was near and vowed that the United States would be relentless in its pursuit of victory as military forces continued their push across the desert toward Baghdad.
"We cannot know the duration of this war, but we are prepared for the battle ahead. We cannot predict the final day of the Iraqi regime, but I can assure you -- and I assure the long-suffering people of Iraq -- there will be a day of reckoning for the Iraqi regime, and that day is drawing near," Bush said.
Speaking in his most passionate and fiery tone since the start of the war one week ago, Bush addressed hundreds of cheering and applauding military personnel and their families, along with U.S. and coalition commanders.
"Millions of Americans are proud of our military, and so am I," Bush said.
Aboard Air Force One, en route to Florida, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters that the president would say that the war was running ahead of schedule, but at the last minute that assessment was dropped from Bush's speech.
The change came as defense officials rejected criticism that they had underestimated Saddam's forces -- in particular the Republican Guard and his paramilitary unit, Fedayeen Saddam -- a militia whose name literally translates as "those ready to sacrifice themselves for Saddam."
Meanwhile, British troops of the 7th Armored Brigade -- who earned the nickname Desert Rats during World War II -- were settling in around Basra where their path into the city was blocked by Iraqi irregulars. An uprising by some of the 1.5 million residents against Saddam Hussein's militias -- first reported by British military intelligence -- was said to be continuing Wednesday, although there was no independent confirmation.
A British Broadcasting Corp. reporter embedded with British marines south of Basra said that a column of Iraqi armor, as many as 120 vehicles strong, had emerged from the city earlier in the day, and was being attacked by aircraft and artillery.
Washington, the United Nations and the European Union are thinking beyond the collapse of the Saddam regime to Iraq's recovery and reconstruction. Humanitarian aid -- and the question of who is going to supply what -- is the subject of intense negotiation at the United Nations and the EU headquarters in Brussels.
The White House on Tuesday said the United States was providing $105 million to international aid agencies to help Iraqis secure food, water and medical aid as coalition forces continue their effort to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein.
"Protecting innocent civilians is a central commitment of our war plan. Our enemy in this war is the Iraqi regime, not the people who have suffered under it. As we bring justice to a dictator, today we started bringing humanitarian aid in large amounts to an oppressed land," Bush said at MacDill.
The administration's move to provide assistance for civilians caught in the war zone is similar to efforts to provide help during the conflict in Afghanistan, a so-called "butter and bullets" campaign.
The World Food Program would receive $60 million of the total, while $21 million would go to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, $10 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and $8 million to the International Organization of Migration, the White House said.
There have been problems moving humanitarian assistance into the region. Umm Qasr, the only seaport along Iraq's southern coast, was only secured by allied forces on Wednesday. Having seized the port, coalition forces swept the harbor for mines after two Iraqi tugboats carrying explosives were interdicted. A British vessel, the Sir Galahad, stocked with food and approximately 1,500 tons of water, was ready to dock. Australia sent two more ships, each filled with 50,000 tons of wheat, which were standing by, waiting to unload.
The president this week asked Congress to approve a $74.7 billion war budget sent to Capitol Hill as a supplemental appropriations request. The request includes $53 billion for operational activities such as moving troops into the region, returning them home and replenishing supplies and munitions.
Another $8 billion would go toward international operations and aid to countries such as Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Colombia. Of that figure, $3.5 billion would pay for humanitarian relief, reconstruction and repairs to damaged oil fields.
Bush delivered his speech at MacDill as coalition forces staged an intensified bombing campaign of Baghdad and hit Iraq's main television station and key communication facilities. The military action came a day after coalition officials said they were poised to seize the capital despite a severe sandstorm, and were engaged in one of the largest firefights of the conflict so far.
Bush said that in the early days of the mission, dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Special Forces helped secure airfields, bridges and oil fields. He said that American pilots and cruise missiles had struck vital military targets with "lethal precision" and destroyed a base in northern Iraq suspected of being used for chemical warfare.
"We have moved over 200 miles to the north, toward Iraq's capital, in the last three days. And the dictator's major Republican Guard units are now under direct and intense attack. Day by day, Saddam Hussein is losing his grip on Iraq. Day by day, the Iraqi people are closer to freedom," the president said.
Bush paid tribute to members of the coalition forces killed during combat, saying that people across the country were praying their families and loved ones find comfort and grace in their sorrow. Twenty-two U.S. soldiers have been killed and 14 are reported missing.
The president then offered a prayer for them. "We pray that God will bless and receive each of the fallen. And we thank God that liberty found such brave defenders," he said.
During three weeks in September 1940 known as 'The Blitz', about 10,000 high-explosive bombs were dropped by the Nazi Luftwffe on the London region. On October 10th St. Paul's cathedral received it's only direct hit of the war... but the bomb came through the roof and destroyed only the high altar.
The altar in churches has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity. See if you can find Jesus or his early followers telling anyone to use altars. Why should anyone need an altar to communicate with God or his son? We have the holy spirit! Pagan altars were wrongly incorporated into early Christianity (as so much else such as the priesthood, Mary worship and changing the sabbath to Sunday) by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
'The most accessible entrance into the Blairs' spirit world of paganism, spiritualism, pseudo-science and quackery is through a chat with Cherie's 'homeopathic dowser healer' - one Jack Temple, aged 86. Temple is the possessor of a 'Neolithic stone circle', which, he assured me, captures the healing energies of the stars, sun and moon and holds them for the benefit of his paying customers. He discovered the 'magic' stones in Pembrokeshire and transported them in two lorries to his home in Pyrford, near Woking, Surrey.
'I'm sorry,' I interrupted. 'The local authority and the National Trust allowed you to run off with an ancient stone circle?'
'The stones weren't in a circle,' he explained. 'They had been cleared so the field could be worked. They were dumped in a ditch and a farmer sold them to me.' 'I see. A farmer said a load of old rubble was once a Stone Age religious site and you paid ready money to get your hands on it. How did you know the stones were genuine stones, so to speak?'
An irritated note entered Temple's voice. 'I dowsed them with my magic pendulum, of course. I made the amazing discovery that each of the 16 stones relieved stress in different parts of the body - the muscles, the brain and so on.' After he moved the stones to Surrey, Temple went to the garden centre and used his pendulum to divine the aura of the herb and alpines section. The trial of the plants was merciless. He found only wild strawberries had the strength to 'contain nature's energy generated by the stone circle'.
Temple duly planted his circle with strawberries. He will sell you a small packet of their dried leaves for £10 (plus £1 p&p). It's a bargain, as Cherie Blair knows. Temple said in his autobiography Medicine Man : 'I believe I've helped the lame to walk, the barren to conceive, and the sad to smile. I've been able to reflate the lungs of children previously condemned to a life constricted by asthma. I've even seen the bald pates of middle-aged and elderly men begin to spring hair growth again.'
Don't mock him. Fergie and, inevitably, the late Princess Di have acclaimed him as a healing genius. Temple is happy to allow everyone to share the inner harmony of royalty and the Blairs. For £85 he will sell you a pile of stones and instructions on how to lay them out in the garden. (This time he doesn't mention the cost of the post and packing, which I suspect will be steep.)
Cherie Blair was introduced to the doddering dowser by Sylvia and Carole Caplin. Sylvia, 67, is a former ballet dancer turned spiritualist. On 11 November, the Daily Mail published an extraordinary piece. According to a former client, Caplin Senior 'can bring the light down' and open channels with the dead. Mrs Blair regularly visits the mystic's £500,000 house in a gated park in Dorking. It, too, is filled with stones. 'There was a particularly active period in the summer when Sylvia was channelling for Cherie over two or three times a week, with almost daily contact between them,' the Mail reported. 'There were times when Cherie's faxes ran to 10 pages.'
This can't possibly be true, I thought. I phoned Downing Street and asked if they denied the story. The press officer promised to call back, but never did. I checked if the Mail had received a complaint. The paper hadn't heard a squeak of protest. I think we can take the silence as a confirmation.
Caplin's daughter is the former soft-porn model who became Mrs and Mr Blair's style guru and confidante in 1994. She has been a lady in waiting at the New Labour court since. Her boyfriend is Peter Foster, an Australian fraudster with a criminal record that goes back to 1983. After a week of stupendous lies, the Blairs admitted Foster had somehow secured them two flats in Bristol at £69,000 off the market price - or about three times the annual pay of a fire officer.
The mother is as alarming as her daughter's crooked lover. Cherie evidently believes Caplin senior is in touch with the other side, and Caplin may well believe she can natter with the dead herself. None of her clients has suggested she played on their fear and credulity. But, so what? Whether she is a sincere fool or a sly fraud doesn't matter. A con's a con whatever the mental state of the con woman. What spiritualists say is a lie whether they know it or not.
Modern spiritualism began in 1848 when two sisters from New York State announced that they had received coded tapping messages from the ghost of a murdered peddler. The scam was a great success. For 40 years Margaret and Katherine Fox made a good living from a fraud which inspired mediums the world over. At the end of their lives the Foxes admitted that the knocking sounds seance-goers had heard were made by Margaret - who had mastered the knack of snapping her toes. Their belated honesty did no good and spiritualism continued to flourish.
Given its history, why does Cherie believe it? Well she is a Catholic and her husband is an Anglo-Catholic, and if you can believe that wine and a wafer are the blood and body of Christ you can believe anything. Or, indeed, everything. Until now, there has been an averting of well-bred eyes from the superstitions of our creepy PM and his gullible wife.
A year ago, the Times printed the following account of what they did on their summer holidays at the luxurious Maroma Hotel on Mexico's Caribbean coast. The Blairs visited a 'Temazcal', a steam bath enclosed in a brick pyramid. It was dusk and they had stripped down to their swimming costumes. Inside, they met Nancy Aguilar, a new-age therapist. She told them that the pyramid was a Mayan womb in which they would be reborn. The Blairs saw the shapes of animals in the steam and experienced 'inner-feelings and visions'. They smeared each other with melon, papaya and mud from the jungle, and then let out a primal scream of purifying agony. No one followed-up the Times's scoop - deference is not as dead as some people would have you think.
When the Blairs moved into Downing Street, a feng shui expert rearranged the furniture at Number 10. Cherie wears a 'magic pendant' known as the BioElectric Shield, which is filled with 'a matrix of specially cut quartz crystals' that surround the wearer with 'a cocoon of energy' and ward off evil forces. (It was given to her by Hillary Clinton, another political spouse who combines the characteristic Third Way vices of sharp prac tice and bone-headedness.) Then there have been inflatable Flowtron trousers, auricular therapy and acupuncture pins in the ear.
New Age Labour has spilled out of Downing Street and blighted public policy. In January 1999, for instance, the Government recruited a feng shui consultant, Renuka Wickmaratne, to discover a magical way to improve inner-city estates without raising taxes.
'Red and orange flowers would reduce crime,' she concluded, 'and introducing a water feature would reduce poverty. I was brought up with this ancient knowledge.' Three years later the Government announced that, for the first time since the creation of the NHS, 'alternative' remedies could be granted the same status as conventional treatments, despite the absence of evidence that they might cure the sick. According to the Sunday Times, 'The inclusion of Indian ayurvedic medicine, a preventative approach to healing using diet, yoga and meditation, is thought to have been influenced by Cherie Blair's interest in alternative therapy.'
The Blairs' interest, along with that of Di and Fergie (in mystics as well as allegedly neolithic circles), of Prince Phillip (a subscriber to Flying Saucer Review since the magazine began publication in the mid-1950s) and of Margaret Thatcher (in electro-shock bath therapy), show that superstition isn't always the preserve of the hopeless poor. It can appeal to the feeble-minded everywhere, from the 'anarcho-primitives' of the anti-capitalist movement to the supposedly tough Tories who turn from the exposés of the Blairs at the front of the Mail to friendly discussions of how the Bible Code predicted whatever happened last week at the back.
Nothing worth having can come from their babblings, and not only because 10 Downing Street is beginning to look like a tsar's court filled with shamans and holy-rolling petty criminals.
At the heart of New Age crankiness is a deep selfishness. The treatments favoured by the Blairs and so many from their natural constituency in the upper-middle class promise to release the true self, heal the abused self, pamper the stressed self and reassure the doubting self that deep down inside there is good. Others don't get a look in.
The only possible benefit is that at least I will stop hearing Labour MPs saying that Cherie will keep Tony's feet on the ground and make him stick to socialist principles. What's left of the Labour movement is going to have to face the weirdness of its leading couple without illusion and, I hope, purify itself by colonically irrigating the Blairs out of the system.
By Robin Emmott
Tuesday October 22, 01:00 PM
PORTOBELO, Panama (Reuters) - Thousands of Panamanians, many of them thieves, prostitutes and drug dealers, have come to purge their sins at the annual Roman Catholic festival of the black Christ, Panama's wildest and most chaotic celebration of faith.
Some 50,000 people, mud-splattered and weary, made the pilgrimage to the Atlantic coastal village of Portobelo, 60 miles from Panama City.
Many Panamanians see the festival as the patron day of criminals who may ask Christ for clemency.
Thousands of worshipers fell to their knees to crawl to the Portobelo church where the black, life-size wooden statue of Christ is displayed. The statue is reputed to possess miraculous powers.
"I'm here to plead forgiveness," said a man who gave his name only as Miguel, his body dripping with wax from candles in an act of penance.
"I've done bad things. I've done drugs and sold arms," he said. "I'm asking the Christ to help me."
Law-abiding believers also paid homage to the black Christ, asking the idol to solve seemingly intractable problems or cure serious illnesses, showering it with golden chains.
"My colleagues were seriously burned in a fire. I'm here to ask the Christ to save them," said Nelson Sioneros, 46, a fireman from Panama City, who had crawled along the street on his hands and knees.
POLICE LOOK OUT FOR CRIMINALS
The statue, carved from black cocobolo wood with an agonised face and eyes raised to heaven, is Panama's most revered religious figure.
"We love the Christ. He is our saviour," a group of homeless and unemployed men shouted in the church.
It is unclear how the black Christ came to Portobelo, once the most important Spanish colonial port on the Atlantic coast, later sacked by English pirates in 1668.
Poor children tell different versions of the story for $1.
Some say the black Christ was found floating in the sea on October 21, 1658, during a cholera epidemic, which ended when the Christ was brought into the town.
Others say the figure was on a ship bound for Colombia that stopped at Portobelo for supplies and was repeatedly prevented from leaving the bay by bad weather, sailing successfully only when the statue was left ashore.
Aside from the mystery of the festivities, police were on the lookout for fugitives from justice.
Around 400 officers, including 20 special detectives and 12 immigration officials, were combing the scene for delinquents on the run.
Thursday September 26, 2002 The Guardian
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
In an extraordinary outbreak of religious fundamentalism, the leaders of two of Britain's main religious faiths yesterday stood accused of heresy.
The chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, was summoned to Manchester to attend a meeting of orthodox rabbis to answer charges of apikoras - heresy - arising from his recent book The Dignity of Difference, in which he suggests that no religious faith contains the whole truth.
Meanwhile, Rowan Williams, the next archbishop of Canterbury, is to meet members of the Church of England's oldest evangelical body next week in an attempt to convince them that he is not a heretic over his views on homosexuality and the literal truth of some biblical stories.
The chief rabbi's crime appears to have been the passage in his book, published earlier this month, suggesting that religious leaders should listen to those of other faiths.
It said: "Each of us within our traditions must learn to listen and be prepared to be surprised by others. We must make ourselves open to their stories, which may profoundly conflict with ours."
It is understood that conservative rabbis in Manchester could still summon him to a hearing before their beth din - religious court - if they do not accept his defence that his words were intended for a gentile rather than Jewish readership.
If Dr Sacks is found guilty it would not only mean his having to recant the whole message of the book, but would discredit him with orthodox communities across the world.
Dr Williams has offered lunch next Tuesday to leaders of the Church Society, founded in 1835, who have been critical of his admission that he has knowingly ordained a practising homosexual, and other sins including attending a "pagan" ceremony - the Welsh eisteddfod.
A meeting of the society's governing council recently unanimously agreed to take a "robust" approach to the new archbishop due to his reported heresy on issues such as the uniqueness of the Christian gospel.
In an editorial this week, the reactionary English Churchman newspaper stated: "It is not enough to tell [Dr Williams] that he should be silent about his views; it is not enough to tell him he shouldn't rock the boat ... he must be told he is in error. He must be told he is a false shepherd of his sheep; he must be told to repent his views."
David Phillips, the society's general secretary, said: "Our fundamental concern is whether he is prepared to live by the teaching of scripture. I find his writings extremely difficult to penetrate.
"At the very least, his views about sexuality are a matter of gross error.
"There are folk who wonder what is the point of staying in the church, and there are days when I feel that too."
Monday, 5 August, 2002, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Crowds turned out to see Dr Williams' induction Archbishop of Canterbury elect Rowan Williams has been inducted to the Gorsedd of the Bards in a ceremony at the National Eisteddfod despite a row about the honour.
Dr Williams joined the circle of bards during the ceremony at the Maes in St David's, Pembrokeshire.
His admittance to the mythical circle of scholars and stars who have contributed to Welsh cultural life will be one of his last duties as Archbishop of Wales.
But his induction has already proved controversial, with a national newspaper repeating evangelical concerns he was dabbling in paganism.
And the Gorsedd's archdruid has used the furore to rail against the English establishment by saying he does not want Dr Williams to leave Wales - because he will be wasted in England.
Retired lawyer Dr Robyn Lewis said: "Quite frankly, we do not want him to go to Canterbury.
"We feel he deserves it, but we feel we need him here.
"He is a fluent Welsh speaker for a start, and that will be wasted in Canterbury, wasted on the desert air."
On Sunday, Dr Williams hit back at claims aired in The Times newspaper he was getting involved in druidism and paganism.
And after the ceremony at the Eisteddfod, he again sided with the suggestions that the English establishment knew little about its Welsh counterpart.
He said: "It's been rather depressing, frankly, to see how little people know about Welsh culture and Welsh institutions and how ready some people have been to accept very fishy information from very strange sources about all this."
Rev David Banting of conservative Church of England evangelical group Reform said he should "should concentrate on the celebration and promotion of the Christian faith ... rather than dabbling in other things".
Dr Williams said: "The suggestion that the Gorsedd is even remotely associated with paganism is deeply offensive...
"... not just in its suggestion that I would wish to associate myself in any way with paganism, but also to those people... who appreciate the Gorsedd and eisteddfod.
"When approached by the Gorsedd and invited to receive the honour of being admitted to the Gorsedd, I was delighted to accept.
"The National Eisteddfod and the Gorsedd are an important and integral part of Wales's national life and admission to the Gorsedd is one of the greatest honours which Wales can bestow on her citizens."
The Gorsedd is a creative invention which first gathered at Primrose Hill, London, in 1792, and made its first eisteddfod appearance at Carmarthen in 1819, standing around a circle of stones.
Today the circle numbers poets, writers, musicians, artists, sportsmen and women, and others who have made a distinguished contribution to Wales.
Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, cricketer Robert Croft, opera singer Bryn Terfel and the Queen are all members of the group. Usually, members must be Welsh speakers.
Dr Williams has written a number of books on the history of theology and spirituality and has published collections of articles and sermons, as well as a book of poems in 1994.
Like other members, he will adopt a unique bardic name in the complex ceremony, as the National Eisteddfod gets into full swing.
Premier Radio, Londons Christian radio station, has been given a Yellow Card by the Radio Authority. This means that if the station does not mend its ways it could lose its licence. But what foul could a Christian radio station possibly have committed to merit such a booking? To find out, I got hold of the Radio Authoritys Quarterly Complaints Bulletin.
It makes interesting, and revealing, reading. Like most people, I occasionally find myself offended by material on television or radio. Sometimes I even consider making a formal complaint, but my initial indignation dissipates before I can track down the relevant contact details and find the time in my schedule to write a letter. Consequently, I have often wondered what kind of people actually make formal complaints. There seem to be two main groups: ad hoc complainers and professional complainers. The former inadvertently stumble across material which genuinely offends them and therefore complain; the latter listen for material which they may exploit to promote their agenda.
The case of Premier Radio was particularly baffling. The chances would seem slim of someone casually tuning in to a Christian radio station long enough to hear something offensive, and then having the time and energy to write a letter to the broadcasting authority. But youd be surprised. The Radio Authoritys bulletin shows that of all the stations receiving complaints, Premier Radio had 14 programming complaints and one advertising complaint lodged against it, which is far in excess of any other station listed. But I was not prepared for what I spotted next: every single complaint about Premier Radio was from the Mysticism and Occultism Federation. Clearly this was not a case of ad hoc complainers, but rather of blatant professional complainers.
The federation, as I discovered from its website, has five part-time unpaid volunteers who monitor the media, particularly Christian media, such as Premier Radio, looking for unfair and offensive comments which are exclusivistic or intolerant of other spiritualities, such as Satanism, occultism, New Age, magic, astrology and divination. Apparently these volunteers are so committed to such monitoring that they carry on their activities at unsociable hours: presumably, when most of us are sound asleep, they are listening to evangelical preachers. Why these sleepless nights? It seems that they are just longing for someone to make some juicy exclusive claim about Christianity, some moral judgment, or some sermonic faux pas (for instance, they made a big deal of one pastors cheesy joke: Hinduism, Buddhism, rheumatism; incidentally, the Radio Authority judged this remark to be unacceptable and serious).
A quick scan of the website uncovers their particular disdain for what they brand fundamentalism, in which category they insist on placing Premier Radio. Christian fundamentalists, we learn, belong in the same camp as Marxists, Maoists and Nazis they are all fanatics and Scripture cultists. Indeed, they are xenophobic blasphemers whose thoughts and ideas are more sinister than racism in serving as the impetus for persecution.
Then I discovered that, irony of ironies, the pretext for this groups monitoring and complaining is in fact pluralism. The group that seems hell-bent on removing Premier Radio from the airwaves claims it is actually committed to valuing and respecting the beliefs of others. Indeed, these campaigners for religious censorship claim that their objective is to act as a check to an Orwellian-type authoritarian state.
One is surprised then to learn just how seriously this groups complaints were taken by the Radio Authority. It seems that between July and September 2001 the Radio Authority received 64 complaints, of which 17 were upheld. Of the 17, it is striking that eight relate to Premier Radio, six complaints against this station having been upheld and two having been partially upheld. And in a further two cases the authoritys acquittal was qualified in terms which indicated a sympathy with the concerns of the occultists. Indeed, the crimes of Premier Radio were such that they were shown the Yellow Card and warned that serious sanctions would be imposed on them if they continued to offend. And the Radio Authority has even pledged to join the occultists in monitoring closely Premier Radios output.
So why has the Radio Authority taken sides with the occultists against the evangelicals on so many points? Let us examine a representative sample of the occultists complaints which were upheld. An evangelical minister, Dr Michael Youssef, in a sermon on the lame man at Bethesda, suggested that mainline churches were following a PC agenda and accommodating to secular culture instead of trusting in Jesus alone, the true redeemer, the true saviour, the only one who can make them whole. He insisted that the only cure for our society was following the word of Jesus Christ. In addition, Dr Youssef expressed his conviction that it was crazy to claim that one can be a practising homosexual and a good Christian at the same time, in view of Pauls teaching in 1 Romans. Concurring with the occultists complaint that these comments were offensive, the Radio Authority judged that they denigrated the beliefs of other people and thus contravened the Programme Code. Aside from the offence many mainline Christians might feel at occultists being received as their authoritative representatives, I doubt that many mainline Christians would mind Youssefs rather innocuous intramural critique. And in regard to his comments on practising homosexuality and the Christian, is it now the case that only those Christians who interpret the Bible as permitting homosexual practice can air their views on radio?
Another well-known evangelical preacher, Dr Charles Swindoll, warned Christians of the dangers of dabbling in the occult and advised them to destroy any occult materials in their possession. In advocating this, Dr Swindoll was merely reiterating the counsel of Acts xix:19. However, in a rather fascinating PC judgment, the Radio Authority asserted that divination was a part of some religious belief systems and that Swindolls homily was tantamount to denigration of others beliefs. This ruling raises a number of questions: since Satanists worship Satan, is it similarly offensive to portray Satan in negative terms? Since the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks considered themselves to be obeying Allah, is it now denigration of others beliefs to denounce them and their British counterparts as evil and deceived and to pronounce that theirs is a religion of terrorism?
Yet another preacher said of the sacred books of the major non-Christian religions that: I cannot pretend to have made a study of these books for myself but I can say, on the authority of reliable students who have, that their content, and the teaching of them, does not begin to compare to the Bible. They are full of superstition and absurdities. The Radio Authority concluded that this was totally unacceptable and a clear and serious breach of the Code and the Broadcasting Act (1990), which states that programmes must not contain abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination. Is it out of the question that such an evaluation as this preacher offered could be regarded as empirically true rather than as a statement of prejudice? I know a significant number who would readily express a similarly negative view of the Christian Bible. Should they be prevented from communicating their view by radio? And should no consideration be given to the fact that Premier Radio attracts an exclusively evangelical audience? On this point the Radio Authority is adamant: Stations must be vigilant not to abuse any religious beliefs whatsoever, regardless of whether the audience at whom the service was aimed might themselves be offended or not. But they should surely note that none of the complaints cited against Premier Radio were ad hoc.
The authority is making an ass of the broadcasting legislation with its PC judgments which fundamentally undermine the freedom of religious expression for Christians. It is disturbing how much mischief can be accomplished by one group of occultists and religious chauvinists acting in the name of religious pluralism, who conspire to look for trouble and report every statement which is capable of being construed as exclusivistic. And their objective? Well, by early January Premier Radio has to reapply for its broadcasting licence, which is set to expire in 2003, and all upheld complaints seriously damage its chances of staying on air. Perhaps it is time the Radio Authority considered whether the yellow card it issued was in fact an embarrassing gaffe. To avoid a repetition of the same, all future complaints relating to religious matters should be entrusted to a sub-committee consisting of trained theologians. Moreover, just as football referees are kept accountable by the Football Association (as Premiership referee Dermot Gallagher recently found out to his cost), so the Radio Authority must be kept more accountable by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
We can only hope that the Radio Authority turns back from this petty madness before it goes any further. One parting thought: in the light of this rather pathetic state of affairs, in which the broadcasting legislation is being interpreted in such a remarkably draconian way, what will be made of Part 5 of the governments anti-terrorism laws, which outlaws with the threat of up to seven years imprisonment insulting words or behaviour likely to stir up hatred against a group of people because of their religious belief?
Dr Colin R. Nicholl lectures at the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge.
A specially commissioned government report will this week conclude that satanic abuse does take place in Britain. It will say that its victims have suffered actual abuse and are not suffering from "false memory syndrome".
The report, ordered by the Department of Health, focuses on the experiences of 50 "survivors". Compiled by Dr John Hale, director of the Portman Clinic in London, and psychotherapist Valerie Sinason, it will reopen the debate which started a decade ago with testimonies from children in Nottingham, Rochdale and Orkney.
Its findings contradict the claims of a report ordered by the Conservative government in 1994, which concluded that satanic abuse was a "myth". It follows the growing concern of child protection agencies, and the Government, over organised child abuse.
Last week, it emerged that police were investigating the alleged sexual and physical abuse of up to 4,000 children in care homes and council-run homes in Devon. Ms Sinason, who has treated 126 ritual abuse survivors, said yesterday that in many cases children were tortured by being held under water or made to believe they had witnessed the murder of infants as part of the satanic ritual.
"Some children are born for the purpose of abuse and are not registered on birth certificates," she added. "The abusers use trickery to convince children they have taken part in murder. This increases the power of the abuser."
The report will point to the difficulty of bringing prosecutions because of the problems of putting abused children into the witness box. There are currently at least five cases involving ritual abuse in the hands of lawyers. Lee Moore, a barrister who founded the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, and was himself a victim of ritual abuse, said it was hard to persuade people to give evidence, particularly after the 1994 report claiming satanic abuse was a myth perpetuated by social workers.
The latest report was welcomed by Dr Joan Coleman, a Surrey psychiatrist who has spent 14 years treating victims. "A lot of children are born into satanic families who indulge in this ritual abuse," she said. "It's only now that child sexual abuse is being exposed that people are beginning to believe ritual abuse exists."
The report will be studied by John Hutton, the health department minister with responsibility for child protection. He is expected to order an investigation into its findings.
An important article was recently written by Dr Colin R. Nicholl who lectures at the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge in the "Spectator" (24 November 2001) entitled "For Christ's Sake." It concerned the pressures now being brought to bear on Premier Radio, London's Christian Radio Station, to have its licence removed by the Radio Authority, which organisation publishes a "Quarterly Complaints Bulletin" which gives the subjects and themes that have given offence to listeners.
Of those who send letters of complaint to the Radio Authority "there seem to be two main groups," writes Dr. Nicholl, "ad hoc complainers and professional complainers. The former inadvertently stumble across material which genuinely offends them and therefore complain; the latter listen for material which they may exploit to promote their agenda."
It is Premier Radio that has been the target of complainers far more than any other station. The Radio Authority received 14 complaints about the station's programmes in the last three months, which was far in excess of any other station listed. Every single complaint about this Christian station came from an organisation called the 'Mysticism and Occultism Federation.'
If this federation's website is visited one learns that it has five 'unpaid volunteers' who monitor the media, particularly Christian media, such as Premier Radio, looking for 'unfair' and 'offensive' comments which are exclusivistic or 'intolerant' of other 'spiritualities', such as Satanism, occultism, New Age, magic, astrology and divination.
So we have this picture of five people taking it in turns during the hours of the night to listen to the preachers on Premier Radio and noting down any comment made about the exclusive nature of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, or some moral judgment, of some sermonic faux pas. For example there was one line (which Colin Nicholl rightly dubs a cheesy joke), 'Hinduism. Buddhism, rheumatism.' The Radio Authority were not amused, judging that line to be 'unacceptable' and 'serious.'
The Mysticism and Occultism Federation's website despise 'fundamentalism', in which category it places Premier Radio. "'Christian fundamentalists', we learn, belong in the same camp as Marxists, Maoists and Nazis - they are all 'fanatics' and 'scripture cultists.' Indeed, they are xenophobic blasphemers whose thoughts and ideas are 'more sinister' than 'racism' in serving as the 'impetus for persecution.'" Yet the pretext for the M & O Fed.'s complaints about Christianity is in fact 'pluralism.' They claim to be committed to value and respect the beliefs of others.
So between July and September 2001 the Radio Authority received 64 complaints and it upheld 17 of these. Eight of the seventeen were related to Premier Radio, six being upheld and two partially upheld. As a result our friends on the Christian station were warned that serious sanctions would be imposed on them if they continued to offend. They were told by the Radio Authority that from now on they themselves would be joining the M & O Fed. in monitoring what Christian programmes Premier Radio broadcast.
What remarks did radio preachers make to have a yellow card shown to the Premier Radio? Let us look at three:
1. MICHAEL YOUSSEF'S SERMON.
"In a sermon on the lame man at Bethesda, Dr Michael Youssef suggested that mainline churches were following a PC agenda and accommodating to secular culture instead of trusting in Jesus alone, 'the true Redeemer, the true Saviour, the only one who can make them whole.' He insisted that the only cure for our society was following the word of Jesus Christ.
In addition, Dr Youssef expressed his conviction that it was 'crazy' to claim that one can be a 'practising homosexual' and a 'good Christian' at the same time, in view of Paul's teaching in Romans 1."
The Radio Authority read the complaint that the M & O Fed. brought again those remarks and agreed that they were 'offensive' because they 'denigrated the beliefs of other people' and so contravened the Programme
Code. Dr Colin Nicholl asks, "Is it now the case that only those Christians who interpret the Bible as permitting homosexual practice can air their views on radio?"
2. CHUCK SWINDOLL'S SERMON.
Dr Charles Swindoll warned Christians of the dangers of 'dabbling in the occult' and advised them to destroy any occult materials in their possession. He was repeating the counsel of Acts 19:19, "A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly." Dr Colin R. Nicholl comments, that "in a rather fascinating PC judgment, the Radio Authority asserted that 'divination' was a part of some religious belief systems, and that Swindoll's homily was tantamount to denigration of others' beliefs. This ruling raises a number of questions: since Satanists worship Satan, is it similarly offensive to portray Satan in negative terms. Since the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks considered themselves to be obeying Allah, is it now denigration of others' beliefs to denounce them and their British counterparts as 'evil' and 'deceived' and to pronounce that theirs is a 'religion of terrorism'?"
3. ANOTHER PREACHER.
Another preacher spoke of some sacred books of non-Christian religions: "I cannot pretend to have made a study of these books for myself but I can say, on the authority of reliable students who have, that their content, and the teaching of them, does not begin to compare to the Bible.
They are full of superstition and absurdities." The Mysticism and Occultism Federation complained of this remark to the Radio Authority who concluded that those words were 'totally unacceptable' and 'a clear and serious breach' of the Code and the Broadcasting Act (1990), which states that programmes must not contain 'abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination'.
Dr Nicholl says that he knows a significant number who would readily express a similarly negative view of the Bible. Should they be prevented from communicating their view by radio? What of the fact that Premier Radio attracts an exclusively evangelical audience? The Radio Authority sternly replies, "Stations must be vigilant not to abuse any religious beliefs whatsoever, regardless of whether the audience at whom the service was aimed might themselves be offended or not."
What is Dr Nicholl's assessment of these judgements of the Radio Authority?
1. Its judgements fundamentally undermine the freedom of expression for Christians. 2. How much mischief can be accomplished by one group of occultists acting in the name of religious pluralism who conspire to look for trouble and report every statement which is capable of being construed as exclusivist.
3. Perhaps it is time that the Radio Authority considered whether the warning it issued to Premier Radio was in fact an embarrassing gaffe.
4. "To avoid a repetition of the same, all future complaints relating to religious matters should be entrusted to a sub-committee consisting of trained theologians."
5. The Radio Authority must be kept more accountable by the Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport.
6. In the light of how the broadcasting legislation is being interpreted what will be made of part five of the government's anti-terrorism laws, which outlaws with the threat of up to seven years' imprisonment 'insulting words or behaviour likely to stir up hatred against a group of people because of their religious belief'?
Is the Mysticism and Occultism Federation's attempts to stir up hatred against what it dubs Christian 'fundamentalists' in breach of that?
Friday, August 7, 1998 Published at 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
The Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, has been made a druid in a special ceremony at the Welsh national Eisteddfod.
After a solemn procession to a ring of standing stones at Bridgend, Glamorgan, Mr Davies, wearing long white robes, complete with head-dress, was officially admitted into the Gorsedd of Bards, the Eisteddfod's ruling body.
His official bardic title is "Ron o Vachen" which translates as "Ron of Machen", the village where Mr Davies was born.
For politicians, entry into the Gorsedd is a rare honour but Mr Davies was singled out for his work in steering through the government's devolution plans.
Mr Davies had played "a determined role at a crucial period in the history of Wales", said the citation read out by Eisteddfod official Huw Thomas.
The Welsh Secretary said: "This is a very exciting time for Wales, and a reflection of the interest in everything Welsh as we move towards the National Assembly next May and the prospect of taking a modern Wales into the 21st century.
"The assembly will be bilingual and the Welsh language will play a full part in its proceedings."
The Secretary of State is not a fluent Welsh speaker but is taking lessons.
The latest initiate into the Gorsedd of Bards has already said he wants to become First Minister of the assembly and a leadership contest takes place within the Wales Labour Party next month.
Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) Web Site www.cpwr.org