Monday, February 12, 2007

The 'Poo Lady' comes under the spotlight

Today's Guardian does a hatchet job on "Dr" Gillian Mckeith. I have always found her methods a little suspect, this article merely confirms my suspicions. We recently bought her cookbook and returned it for a refund because her recipes were so bad, it's hardly an advertisement for healthy eating!

But what I really object to is not her science or lack of it, but the way she humiliates her subjects each week by examining their bodily waste after they've been to the toilet. It's a sadistic ritual that does little to explain the dangers of unhealthy eating. Then there are the mountains of wasted food that are laid out on a table to demonstrate how badly her subjects eat. The whole programme seems to be more about shock value than anything else.

Last weeks programme featured a vicar that she managed to reduce to tears. If that wasn't enough, she then burst into the church whilst he was giving his sermon and took him away somewhere, right in the middle of the service. What self respecting clergyman would have his stool examined on prime time television? It doesn't bode well for the Church of England.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Teaching polish history in UK schools

There is an interview in the Times with the Polish Ambassador, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. She reports that Polish cultural and religious organisations were working with local authorities and teachers to get schools to offer a broader education about Poland with extra teaching in Polish language, history and geography. She spoke of discussions about Polish becoming the second foreign language at schools with a high number of Polish pupils, for instance. And she said that some schools were already keen to offer lessons about Poland to British and other children — something she would like to see go farther, as it would allow Polish children to show off their country and make it easier for British children to understand their background.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but maybe we should be making more of an effort to teach our own language history and culture. Our own schoolchildren know nothing about Britain, never mind Poland.

Over a million reject road pricing, but is the Government listening?

When No.10 Downing Street set up e-petitions, they wanted to make democracy more transparent. They didn't realise what they were letting themselves in for. The online petition against road pricing has been a phenomenal success, but all the signs are that the Government intends to press ahead with road pricing anyway.

Welcome to democracy, British style. Your opinion long as you give the right answer.

Faith charities are rapidly losing faith

Charles Moore has written a depressing piece about faith charities in the Saturday Telegraph. He highlights the case of several Christian charities that were turned down for public funding.
In 2005, Pamela Stevens, a single mother with a grown-up son, applied to Kensington and Chelsea Council to become a foster mother for older children. She had considerable experience of looking after teenagers because large numbers of them have lodged in her house over the years as language students.

Miss Stevens's application was turned down.

Cherie Colman is also a single mother. Some time after her divorce 17 years ago, she set up a charity called Cheer (Comfort, Hope, Empathy, Encouragement, Rebuilding) to help single mothers. Cheer applied for a grant from a Department for Education programme, administered through the Peabody Trust, for its holiday activities for the children of the mothers on a south London council estate. This was turned down.....

.....Miss Stevens was told that she would not be suitable as a foster mother because her beliefs, in the words of the letter of rejection, "prevent you from fully accepting a child's sexuality if he or she were lesbian or gay", and because "your beliefs do not allow you to actively promote another religion for a child"

Cheer was told by the grant officer that it would not get the funding for its holiday activities (which until then had been looking promising) because she had looked at its website, and it proclaimed that it was Christian. She said that this meant Cheer was not open to everybody, although in fact Cheer ministers to all single mothers, regardless of faith. Her letter of rejection identified Cheer's crime: its website showed "that your assistance for single parents includes extending Christian comfort and offering prayer".

In all the cases highlighted, the charities were rejected on the grounds that they were Christian. Ironically, all this is happening at a time when the Government is trying to encourage faith charities to carry out more of the "social work" traditionally done by local authorities.

You don't have to agree with the ethos of faith charities, but if you ask them to stop believing in the very thing that motivates them, you are also asking them to give up their raison d'etre. Like the new law that forces Catholic adoption agencies to place children with gay parents, local government seems to be motivated more by social control than by any desire to help local communities.