Call to cut millions spent by NHS on religion

THE NHS is spending millions of pounds a year on running ­chaplaincy services which offer spiritual care and religious support to patients.

Health boards collectively spend about £3.7m a year on the internal departments, including paying salaries of full-time "generic" NHS chaplains who are tasked with providing support to all who ask for it.

In addition, the NHS has made payments of almost £600,000 to churches to attend to the religious needs of individual patients in the past three years, figures obtained by The Herald under Freedom of Information laws revealed.

More than 85% of spending on the external bodies went to the Roman Catholic Church, largely in exchange for priests to come in to hospitals and perform sacraments such as the last rites, which NHS chaplains are not able to carry out.

Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said its in-house chaplaincy department was allocated a budget of £632,665 in 2013/14, with the service "providing non-denominational support to our 38,000 staff and all our patients".

It also pays £75,000 per year to the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Diocese of Paisley in exchange for "on-call" priests, "to provide the Sacramental ministry that Roman Catholic patients and families expect".

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Attorney General: Rise of fundamentalism is 'damaging' Christianity - Telegraph

Christians are increasingly reluctant to express their religious views because they are being “turned off” by the “disturbing” and “very damaging” rise of religious fundamentalism, the Attorney General has said.

Dominic Grieve said that atheists who claim that Britain is no longer a Christian nation are “deluding themselves” and must accept that faith has shaped this country’s laws and ethics.

He said that 1,500 years of Christian values are “not going to disappear overnight” and said that many people remain believers even if they choose not to go to Church.

However, he warned people are being discouraged from openly declaring their beliefs because of the “deep intolerance” of religious extremists of all faiths, including Islam and Christianity.

He told The Telegraph: “I do think that there has been a rise of an assertiveness of religious groups across the spectrum. That is why those with softer religious views find it disturbing and say they don’t want anything to do with it.”

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Cameron's Christian pledge 'could hurt thousands of British women'. Here's how

The Prime Minister hasn’t thought through the consequences of offering privileged access and public funds to Christian groups, argues Joan Smith. Many non-religious organisations helping domestic violence and sex trafficking victims will miss out

Does it matter if the Prime Minister welcomes leaders of Christian organisations into Number 10 Downing Street? He is a Christian himself and it isn’t as if he doesn’t invite other ‘faith’ groups to mark religious festivals. But wait: when David Cameron welcomed prominent Christians into his official residence, he went much further than celebrating a set of shared beliefs. He made promises which will affect the lives of people who weren’t present and don’t share those beliefs. Many of them, I’m sorry to say, are likely to be women who find themselves in dreadful circumstances.

I’m thinking about women fleeing violent marriages and victims of sex trafficking. In the recent past, a wide range of organisations existed to help them, and religious belief played a small part or none at all in the services they offered. Many of them received public funding, either from local councils or central government, but George Osborne’s austerity measures means that funding has been slashed. On a typical day in 2011, Women’s Aid was forced by lack of funds to turn away 230 women seeking refuge from a violent husband or partner.

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Tony Blair: 'West should focus on radical Islam'

Tony Blair has warned Western leaders they must put aside their differences with Russia over Ukraine to focus on the threat of Islamic extremism.

In a speech the former UK prime minister - now a Middle East envoy -said powerful nations must "take sides" and back "open-minded" groups.

Mr Blair told the BBC ahead of the speech the West would pay a "very heavy price" for not intervening in Syria.

He said the opportunity to create "an optimistic solution" had been missed.

Mr Blair gave his speech at Bloomberg in London amid high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

Western leaders accuse Russia of using undercover military personnel to back separatists in eastern Ukraine - a claim Russia denies.

No-fly zones

Before the speech, the former PM - now envoy for the quartet of the UN, EU, US and Russia - spoke to the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner.

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Irish Minister of Education 'Quinn' challenges church over patronage of schools

Minister suggests teaching of religion at either end or start of school day

Irish Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has thrown down a challenge to the Catholic Church to give concrete examples of how its schools can be “genuinely inclusive” for children of all faiths and none.

In an address to be delivered at a teacher union conference this morning, Mr Quinn says is it “disappointing” that the church has failed to provide such information to his department as had been promised in previous discussions.

He also suggests that, in developing policies on inclusivity, Catholic schools in areas where there is no alternative patronage should consider timetabling faith formation at the start or end of the day to minimise disruption to class.

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Jack Straw: 'Muslim schools must respect British values'

Muslim schools 'must respect British values' says Jack Straw as Birmingham MP admits there is a 'Trojan Horse' plot by extremists

  • Former home secretary said that extremists must accept the UK's values
  • Birmingham schools are allegedly being targeted by Muslim hardliners
  • Labour MP said determined group is trying to change schools 'by stealth'
  • 'Morality squads' of older students 'smashed pupil's Easter eggs'

Schools with large numbers of Muslim pupils must respect British values, former home secretary Jack Straw said yesterday.

He spoke as a Muslim MP said a radical ‘Trojan Horse’ plot to take over state schools was operating in Birmingham.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, claimed a ‘small group of individuals’ was trying to change the ethos of schools by stealth.

It was also claimed that roving 'morality squads' have been instituted at the affected schools, and would censor talk of non-Muslim festivals and smash pupils' Easter eggs.

Mr Straw said more and more schools were mostly or entirely comprised of Muslim pupils, adding: ‘We have to accept and the schools with a majority of Muslim parents have to accept – as they do if they are Hindu, Sikh, Jewish or Christian – that we also live within the United Kingdom.

‘Alongside values which are religiously based, there has to understanding that this is the UK and there is a set of values – some of which I would say are Christian based – which permeate our sense of citizenship.’

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Our Christian beliefs are under attack from influential and militant atheists

Of course Britain is a Christian country, says Charles Moore, in response to the 'angry atheists’ who claim otherwise. And we must defend that precious heritage

 David Cameron said last week that Britain is a Christian country. In The Telegraph yesterday, 55 mainly atheist public figures said in a letter that it is not. The funny thing is, both sides are right. The Prime Minister is correct statistically, historically and culturally. Although the self-identification of Christians in Britain is declining, 59 per cent described themselves as such in the latest census. That is still a huge figure: allegiance to Christianity is roughly double that offered to any political party.

Besides, the country that we now (until September’s Scottish referendum?) call the United Kingdom has been explicitly Christian for more than a thousand years. Its monarchy, Parliament, morality, law and education; its flag, national anthem, key texts, much of its literature, art and architecture; its health care, many of its charities and endowments, public holidays and festivals, the structure of its week and its place-names – all these and many more are Christian in origin. Prof Jim Al-Khalili, who led the signatures, derives his first name from an apostle of Jesus, as do his co-signatories the novelist Philip Pullman and the anti-religious fanatic Peter Tatchell, who is named, ultimately, after the first Pope.

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Call for End to Saudi Anti-Atheist Laws

New laws were recently annoucend by the government of Saudi Arabia that strengthens the criminalization of atheists in the country, including any communication with other known atheists or using the Internet to post or read about atheism. The laws further allow the government to prosecute atheists under the state’s anti-terrorism statutes, including the death penalty – simply for being an atheist!

This is even more outragous coming from a country that was recently elected to the UN Human Rights Commission!

Please sign the petition demanding national and international leaders to pressure the Saudi government into honoring its human rights commitments and rescinding its recent “Atheists = Terrorists” laws.

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‘Laughable’ Christian country suggestion

John McTernan (Perspective, 18 April) is correct: David Cameron’s assertion that “we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country” is doubly ridiculous.

Firstly, as a believer in the core doctrines of the Christian faith as articulated by the mainstream denominations, the suggestion that in Britain I am surrounded by people who largely hold similar views is laughable.

Ignoring nominal cultural church going and “I’ve sung a few hymns in my time” census box-tickers, I estimate that under 15 per cent of the population are Christians in any meaningful sense.

Secondly, despite David Cameron’s attempts to win over Christian voters with his superficial sound bites, the fact is that UK legislation for decades has reflected a deliberate march away from Christian principle towards amoral liberalism.

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Christian nursery worker 'sacked after refusing to read gay stories to children'

Sarah Mbuyi, a Christian nursery worker, is to claim she was sacked from her job due to religious discimination, as a group backing her case says David Cameron's defence of faith is 'failing to play out'

A Christian nursery worker is taking her former employers to court claiming she was sacked for her beliefs after refusing to read stories about gay couples to children.

Sarah Mbuyi says she was dismissed due to religious discrimination, having also been accused of “harassing” a lesbian colleague to whom she gave a Bible when she was recovering from an accident.

The case, lodged at an employment tribunal, comes amid growing concerns among some Christians that religious beliefs are being “outlawed” in the workplace. A Christian group backing the case says it is an example of believers being “robbed” of the freedom to express views.

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David Cameron says Christians should be 'more evangelical'

David Cameron says that in a secular age Christians should be even 'more evangelical' about their faith and says he has felt the 'healing power' of the Church.

 UK Prime Minister David CameronChristians should be "more evangelical" about their faith and "get out there and make a difference to people's lives", David Cameron has said.

In his strongest intervention on religion to date, Mr Cameron said that in an increasingly "secular age" Christians need to be even "more confident" and "ambitious".

He said that he has personally felt the "healing power" of the Church of England's pastoral care and highlighted its role in "improving our society and the education of our children".

He said he wants to "infuse politics" with Christian "ideals and values" such as "responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility and love".

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