Saturday, 30 October 2010

Manx Christian tolerance... and flying pigs

Apparently: “The contribution Tynwald continues to make in its work to advance the cause of inclusivity in the Isle of Man has been recognised by the Island’s churches.”
We know this because Radio Cowshed said so today (see , though if you’d rather read what they were told to say and by which press officer from which church organisation you could have read it yesterday at ).
I was intrigued to know that: “ In making the presentation, Canon Alger, who was joined by representatives from other churches in the Island and who is soon to retire from his ministry at The Church of St Mary of the Isle, said the Covenant for Mission, in the spirit of Freedom to Flourish, reflected a desire of the Island’s churches to move forward, recognise differences and work collaboratively in mission. He added that the churches’ recognition of diversity was mirrored by that of Tynwald which similarly acknowledged the importance of shared awareness and mutual respect.”
Oh yes, and pigs just flew over the Tynwald building in a perfect V formation.
The thing is, even the reason both Brendan Alger and Robert Paterson have to appear in the presentation picture might be food for thought. One reason is that Mr Paterson is an unelected politician with our upper house of legislative layabouts, and was effectively chosen by his own management and Downing Street, not the Manx public or even church. Mr Alger may be nominally head of Churches Together In Mann at present, but the executive of that body is just four men (and it always is men) from the four largest church denominations, who can overrule any decision made by the working committees who advise them, and who in turn have continually voted to exclude certain denominations from membership.
The most embarrassing example of this was when local Quakers ran the only Manx charity to gain off-island recognition (rather than discreet investigations from Interpol) and in order to trade in on it, a Quaker had to be granted special observer status to a CTIM sub-committee set up in order that CTIM could present 'evidence' to Tynwald, which in turn claimed the charity as an example of local Christian endeavour when reporting back to some international bunfight (sorry, 'conference') which a couple of elected layabouts were using as an excuse for a foreign holiday at public expense.
And the other funny thing there is that for years there’s been a tradition where the Catholic and the ‘free churches’ representatives at either committee or executive level ring the chairman ahead of such meetings. If the other party is going to be present, they don’t turn up.
In fact, in previous years, some ‘free church’ representatives have been so sectarian they wouldn’t even attend the Tynwald ceremony if there was a guest from a Catholic country. And in general, the evangelicals prefer to do their government negotiations separately and in private (often via Noel Cringle as it happens), rather than risk the Bishop at the time relaying a CTIM message to government which reflects the broad church view, not evangelical economic interests.
And even leaving aside the continual in-fighting, sectarian hatred and editing out of all but the most powerful religious cult interests, it’s who and what the churches are deciding to collaborate against that should really worry us.
Because, in general, they are collaborating against the rest of us, against decency and honesty, against progress. In fact against anything that brings to an end their centuries of privilege, and their ability to hold us all back with their hate, their ignorance, and in particular their fear of democracy.

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